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PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2014 1:45 pm 
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That's... a real hard question. There's two real big things keeping me from just picking one product. First is price - FGG has a lot of very large, and commensurately expensive, books. They're fantastic books, but not everybody can afford to spend $99 on a book. It's also a hard question because of the player / GM divide. A lot of FGG stuff caters to GMs, and so if you're a player and I recommend Rappan Athuk or Tome of Horrors Complete or Razor Coast or (to go with a lesser-priced product) Unususal Suspects, the recommendation is essentially useless.

So, with that in mind:

GM Recommendations

Discounting price, I use Tome of Horrors Complete all the time - both at my game table and when writing, even when doing work for other publishers.

On the adventure side of FGG's "mega" products, I recommend Razor Coast. It takes some getting used to - it's intended to be an open-ended, "sandbox" campaign. So unlike, say, an adventure path from Paizo where there's a set plot through the whole thing that GMs are expected to herd the players through, RC doesn't really have that. It has two over-arching themes, but doesn't have a "connect the dots" method to get the players from 5th level (the starting point) to the climax. Instead, there are a series of encounters, mini adventures, and "vignettes" designed to get the players to make decisions. Those decisions lead to different events. (and usually put in motion unseen events behind the scenes - rescue NPC X causes Event Y to never happen; if Event Y never happens, NPC Z will die. If NPC Z dies, she'll be unavailable during the final combat where her spells would've come in handy.) Once you get used to the layout and nature of the campaign, it's fantastic.

Factoring in price, there are two fantastic products (in my humble opinion) that every GM should have. The first is Fire as She Bears, a book introducing a sub-system for buidling naval vessels and running naval combats with the goal of engaging every player at the table every round of a naval combat. The second is Unusual Suspects, a book with 60 interesting, fully-statted NPCs with detailed backgrounds, combat tactics, and tips on how to place the NPC in your campaign. The book has 3 NPCs of each CR from 1 through 20.

(Tome of Horrors 4 is also very good, and very underrated. But at $50 it doesn't quite count as "inexpensive' to put it in the previous paragraph. But if you're willing to spend $50 for a monster book, this one is very good.)

Player Recommendations

There are - for now - fewer player books, to be honest. That'll change... soon. Real soon. :evil: For now, though, Razor Coast Freebooters Guide (essentially the player's guide for the mega adventure) is really damn good. And while it was written with Razor Coast in mind, it works for any campaign that would take place on a topical coastal region. The prestige classes are geared specifically for
RC (how a prestige class should be, in my opinion), but should be tweakable to fit whatever else.

So yeah... you asked for one and I gave you six. Heh.

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PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2014 12:23 am 
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How do you feel about all of the exotic races Paizo has released? Some seem fun, but there are a lot of them that are almost too exotic to be used in most settings to me.

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PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 5:49 pm 
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I've always been a "take what I need and throw away the rest" when it comes to source books, from a game table perspective. So from that point of view, as long as the book is worth my money I don't mind one bit if there are races in it that I'll never use.

From a designer / developer point of view it's a little trickier - at least if you have to work with a setting in mind. Sometimes it means I have to tell somebody, "Your idea is fantastic, but you need to pick a different race for that NPC because it's not in our setting." Even then, I try to say yes to as much as possible - the more the merrier.

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PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2014 1:40 am 
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Two part question:

How much work have you done with deities in Pathfinder?

If so, what is the process of developing a deity for a world?

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PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2014 5:49 pm 
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Should deities focus on roleplaying aspects? Should there be ones that give a clear mechanical advantage? Or a mix of both?

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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2014 1:57 pm 
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Two part question:

How much work have you done with deities in Pathfinder?'


I actually did some work on Paizo's recently-released Inner Sea Gods. I actually haven't seen the final product, but I was contracted to write a bunch of wondrous items.

I have designed and/or developed deities elsewhere. Two I can think of are a god we did in "The Undead Chronicles" from Louis Porter Jr. Games, and a deity in FGG's Unusual Suspects. In both cases, we were looking for a deity to fill a small niche.

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If so, what is the process of developing a deity for a world?


It depends a lot on the world. For a world like Golarian that's well-developed, it's really hard actually because whatever you come up with needs to fit into the existing canon and still make sense. In an ill-defined (or non-existent) world, it's a bit easier. You still have to consider the existing canon material, but there's likely less of it. The worst problem here is if the ill-defined world has conflicts in the existing canon; those need to either be explained away as myths, cults, etc or one needs to be excised from the canon (and then a sidebar needs to explain why, from a meta perspective).

Once the existing canon is considered, it's really not much different from developing a kingdom or country or mountain range and so on. You have to write a compelling backstory - something that works for the world, is interesting to read, and provides both GM and players some plot hooks to grab onto. Then you fill in the "crunchy" bits - favored weapon, alignment, domains, etc. You probably know alignment and at least some of the domains up front - at least for me, I find that the most common reason to make a deity is because you want something that has domains X and Y, or you want a NE deity that has domain Z, or similar scenarios.

There's really a lot of similarity to a lot of the "pieces" when you're doing campaign setting design. What do you want it to do? ("I need a NG deity who has Strength and Magic as domains," or "I need a a city that's a major trade hub along a large river, preferably away from the delta region of the river," or whatever.) How does it fit into your existing canon? ("Given my existing canon, I can make this deity the offspring of these other two deities. That will explain why she has an odd domain choice." or, "Well, I have this river over here in a fairly under-developed region. I can start expanding my material there a bit, and put my new city at the nexus point where these other two rivers combine to make the larger river.")

How can you make an interesting story out of what you have? ("What if, by the laws of the pantheon, she needed to be cast down to the world as a mortal, even with her deifiic parentage? During her lifetime, she became the greatest magus the world had ever seen. She developed a large network of followers and disciples, such that after living a long and fulfiilling life, her ascension as a deity was assured." Or, "This city started as a small garrison during the Time of Expansion. The location was deemed militarily important, so a fort was constructed, and that lead to the buildup of a small town around it. Over time, though the fort remained the actual town began to take priority over the military operation. What started off as a small fort with some fur traders developed into a large town within a mere 25 years, and now today is a large city with a popular of around 20,000 or so people. The town's population is wildly diverse, reflecting its roots as a frontier settlement. Visitors to the town are surprised to see orcs and goblins wandering the stret without incident. The military fort remains, but no longer holds the political power of the city.")

Overall, the design goals are really the same - you need to fill a need within your world, it needs to be interesting, and it needs to have story potential both for the GM and the player.

Should deities focus on roleplaying aspects? Should there be ones that give a clear mechanical advantage? Or a mix of both?


I think it's a little bit of both, with a caveat. I don't think you should go into the design seeking to have it be mechanically superior. If it happens, you should evaluate your choices and see if it's very superior, or just slightly so. For the former, I think you should consider pulling back the power a bit.

But the RP is definitely at least as important. Assuming a d20-based game (so 3.5, Pathfinder, and even 4e and 5e) a deity is a real, tangible thing in the world, not just a concept. Gods exist and people know gods exist. So why does this god exist in that sort of structure? Why does she have any worshippers at all? (Even if they're all insane, you still need to answer that question.) What compelling reasons does a player have to make a cleric (or paladin or druid or oracle or...) who worships that specific deity? What compelling stories can the GM tell using the deity and/or her worshippers as the centerpiece?

Then turn those questions around to see if you're too powerful - what compelling reasons would a player have to worship another deity? Is the only real reason to be contrary, or do other deities offer actual interesting choices? Do GMs have interesting story options if they choose another deity? Is the only compelling GM reason for this deity that all the followers are bat crap insane, and we need that for the adventure to work? (If so, I'd argue you have some bad choices, but maybe it works.)

In a more general sense, I'm a pretty firm believer that story and mechanics complement one another, rather than competing. Sure, as a game designer I can go out right now and make a 10 HD undead creature with a death touch ability and immunity to fire. I can do those mechanics pretty easily and have a reasonably balanced CR whatever (I'd guess 9-ish) creature. So what? That's only half the job. I also need the story to complete the creature; otherwise, it's just a pile of numbers. Just about anybody can make a pile of numbers. Pathfinder makes it even easier by giving you guidelines about how many hit points a creature of a given CR should have, how much damage it should do, what it's save ought to be, and so on. Just plug and play with different numbers of HD and ability scores and you can get just about anything to fall into those ranges. so you need the flavor of the monster to bring those numbers to life.

And then turn that around. A lot of people can write a fascinating block of text about an undead creature created from the corpse of a child murderer. The sheer evilness that taints the corpse causes it to rise, and grants it the power to steal life from its target merely by touch. The writer can make it compelling and disgusting and creepy pretty easily. But without the right numbers, that "fluff" doesn't really mean much. If my creature with that background dies to the PCs in one hit every time, nobody is afraid of it, loathes it. Nobody rejoices when the evil is finally laid low. They yawn and ask if there's any treasure in the room.

But then put those together, and you have a compelling monster that player want to hate, that GMs want to build stories around, that everybody rejoices when the battle is won. And that's because you took strong numbers and strong fluff and made something that's - to use a cliche - greater than the sum of its parts.

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PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 2:55 pm 
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I have a question:

I was looking over the Mystic Theuge prestigue class from Pathfinder and it feels limited. From a game designer's point of view why do you think they made this class this way? To illustrate what I am thinking of here are a few points.

1) Is it truely worth it to give up higher level spell slots to have an increased number of lower level spell slots?

Comparing spell slots of a 7th Level Cleric to a 3rd Wizard/3rd Cleric/1st Mystic Theuge the multiclass character has 4 more Cantrip slots, 2 more first Level, 1 more third Level, but gives up the power 3 third level spells and 2 fourth level. Is that really worth it?

2) Taking Mystic Theuge classes gives you extra caster levels for two classes, but at the cost of class bonuses. Why not allow classes to add 1/2 their Mystic Theuge level to determine their other class bonuses?

3) Why put a limitation on spell sharing where you must use prepared magic slots for spell you intend to cast an extra time from a spontaneous casting class? And it must be prepared in the other class (in other words taking up a spell known in both classes!)? This feels a bit excessive in limiting their power.

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PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 4:17 pm 
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Mystic Theurge has long been considered a crap class, barring some shenanigans that you could do in 3.5. There were many debates that boiled down to, "OMG! So many spells! From two classes!" vs "No high level spells, and no class abilities? No thanks."

Pathfinder inherited the mess, and... didn't do much to fix it. They added combined spells and spell synthesis, which I guess is better than nothing (what 3.5 had, as I recall). But... not all that much to really hang you're hat on. (Actually, spell synthesis looks like a nice deal. It's a solid ability. Combined spells has some potential when you have half your character as a spontaneous character, but it's not much.) To answer your questions directly:

Quote:
From a game designer's point of view why do you think they made this class this way?


I think for the most part during the initial conversion, they just didn't care about it. As simple as that, really. I think they had a vision that was intended to discourage multiclassing (by way of making the core classes stronger, have options to select, and have capstones) and they just didn't care much about making this work. They converted the pre-reqs, slapped on a few abilities, and called it done.

Quote:
1) Is it truely worth it to give up higher level spell slots to have an increased number of lower level spell slots?


My opinion? Hell, no! Those high level slots do too many awesome, reality-bending, mind-blowing things to give them up for a couple cantrips and 1st level slots.

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2) Taking Mystic Theuge classes gives you extra caster levels for two classes, but at the cost of class bonuses. Why not allow classes to add 1/2 their Mystic Theuge level to determine their other class bonuses?


As a general design rule of thumb, it should be rare for a prestige class to advance class abilities. You want the player to give up something to get something. Sure, classes extend spell casting or sneak attack. But with only a few exceptions, prestige classes generally don't advance abilities that are based on your class level in your base class - barbarian's rage, bardic music, familiars, bonuses from domains, etc.

Could they have made this one of the exception? Sure. I think, though, they were still fiddling with power levels and such and it seems most designers would rather be too weak than too powerful if they aren't sure what to do. It's always easier for a GM to boost power than to take away power. (That is, if a GM says, "Hey, mystic theurge is kinda neat but it sucks ass. So in my campaign you add half your MT level to any of your base class abilities such as familiar advancement and domain abilities," then all the players go, "Sweet!" But if those things are part of the class and the GM says, "Yeah, all those cool things in MT? Take 'em out," the players say, "You suck!" Designers are aware of this, and so if we're not sure, we'll let the GM be the 'star' by giving them a chance to pump it up a little bit. Not saying it's right, just the way it is.)

Quote:
3) Why put a limitation on spell sharing where you must use prepared magic slots for spell you intend to cast an extra time from a spontaneous casting class? And it must be prepared in the other class (in other words taking up a spell known in both classes!)? This feels a bit excessive in limiting their power.


Again, purely a guess but I'd wager it comes back to everything above: they just weren't that invested in making it full of awesomesauce, and they weren't completely sure what effect their changes were going to have on the game balance.

(I'm short on time; we can talk more later if I left any of those answers too short for your liking.)

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PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 11:18 pm 
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I suppose I can understand those answers.

They can in some ways gauge what effect a Dragon Disciple would have on an Arcane spellcaster class or how Levels of Master Chymist effects an Alchemist, but it would be difficult to see any interactions with several class combinations that are possible, some far from practical... Lvl 7 Paladin/3 Wizard/1 Mystic Theuge! (If someone is building that they either need help or are providing a good does of their own flavor!)

Plus, I can appreciate a few things to build off of, but still would like to play a class as a player without the problem of it gimping the PC your building or wondering if the DM will allow changes to improve the class. Guess most of this is frustration that this doesn't feel complete.

Thanks for the answer.

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PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2014 1:53 am 
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Since we're talking about classes, what are your thoughts on the next ten that are being released?

(The arcanist, bloodrager, brawler, hunter, investigator, shaman, skald, slayer, swashbuckler and warpriest)

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PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2014 4:50 pm 
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The only one I've seen, to be honest, is the brawler. And that was only because you posted it in the Soapbox thread.

*

Shock - if you're willing to consider 3rd party material, Kobold Press has "the Theurge" in New Paths Compendium. (Full disclosure: I have a design credit on this product, because I originally wrote the elven archer class and it's related stuff.) I haven't looked at the class closely, but the product - amazingly - has 11 5-star reviews on Paizo. Many of the reviews talk about the class, if you're looking for more details.

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PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2014 8:55 pm 
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Zherog wrote:
The only one I've seen, to be honest, is the brawler. And that was only because you posted it in the Soapbox thread.

That's fair, currently working on converting them all to the forums in another thread in this forum. Formatting the tables is a pain in the ass.

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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 11:09 pm 
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Would you clarify a witch hex, please?

Water Lung (Su): An air-breathing target can breathe water or an aquatic target can breathe air. This lasts 1 minute. If the witch uses this hex on herself, she can maintain it while she sleeps, allowing her to safely sleep underwater.

How long does it last for? I ask because I doubt a witch only sleeps for 1 minute.

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PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 7:27 am 
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Good question. That's very poorly worded. I did a little bit of poking around, and it seems the consensus is that - effectively - it has two uses. First, a witch can touch another creature and affect them by the hex for 1 minute; second, the witch can touch herself and automatically maintain it for whatever duration she sleeps, renewing it automatically every minute without any conscious effort.

Whether you want to flavor that as the witch touching him/herself in his/her sleep is up to you. ;)

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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2014 1:35 am 
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Of all the abilities, that one is just really.... kinda stupid in some ways. I mean, the roleplay is kinda cool since she could always just find areas like ponds to nap in while traveling, but still.....

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PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2014 12:00 am 
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What has been the most memorable roleplaying experience you've had?

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2014 12:21 pm 
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One month later: Bump.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 7:10 am 
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What has been the most memorable roleplaying experience you've had?

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And almost another month later... :bump: Come on, Game Designer Boy! Answer the question already! :tantrum:

* looks around *

Oh, right. :takei:

*ahem*

In no particular order:

1) As a college freshman on summer break, spending Friday night through sometime on Sunday at my buddy's apartment, most of that time spent playing D&D. Those were amazingly fun weekends, even if we were a group of munchkins back then.

2) At GenCon 2003, right after 3.5 was released. A group of us - I'd say it was 14 or so - decided to test the rules out. So we split up into three teams and made 5th level characters. My wife made an elf wizard - her usual character. The group consisted of a lot of the more vocal min-maxers at the time, and evocation spells have always had a bad rap in that crew. Yet, my wife won initiative, and surveyed the battlemat. One group decided to start off - for some reason - in a cluster. Bam! She dropped a fireball on them. The sorcerer in the group starts crying, figuring he's dead. The others are also worried - they probably won't die, but they'll take a good hit. My wife digs out her 5d6 and rolls them. And gets... 5 ones. The sorcerer failed his Reflex save then said, "It's OK. With only 5 damage it feels like I made it anyway."

3) Also sometime around 2003, while playing the character Zherog - an elf ranger/rogue - we managed, somehow, to piss off a dragon and a vampire. I don't remember the dragon's color, nor do I remember how we pissed both of them off. I do know I'm not the only smartass in the group, so the fact we did piss them off doesn't surprise me. In a moment of brilliance, I managed - through utterly ridiculous Bluff rolls - to convince both of them that the other was actually they're real enemy, and we - the poor, helpless PCs - were just pawns in some game to insult the all powerful dragon / vampire. We were, at the time, 18th or 19th level; I had max ranks in Bluff, my Cha was good but not great (low 20s, probably), but I also happened to have a potion of glibness on me. And then proceeded to roll a 20.

We sat back for an hour and watched the GM talk to himself in character as the dragon and vampire fought it out. Then we swept in and killed the winner - the dragon - and proceeded to teleport to their lairs to scoop up the sweet, sweet loot.

4) 2005 or 06. I think. I was GMing a game over AOL IM (kids today use Skype for that sort of thing). It was an eye-opening game for me as a GM, and as a writer. It was the first time I'd GM'ed an RP-heavy game - the medium is conducive to it. Over the course of a few gaming sessions I managed to give one of the players nightmares (as a reaction to a nightmare and related experience her character had), then made her cry a few sessions later (when her mentor went nutso and ended up dying in her arms). Both very proud moments for me. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, it taught me the power of written words, and what I could do with them in a game.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 6:39 pm 
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Zherog wrote:
We sat back for an hour and watched the GM talk to himself in character as the dragon and vampire fought it out.

I'm pretty sure this is one of the things that frightens me the most about being a GM. Sitting and talking to yourself feels really, really awkward.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 10:03 pm 
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When it happens to me as a GM, I often just summarize.

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