Friday, 16th November, 2012, 10:54 PM #41
On the other hand, being the driving force behind Kaidan (Japanese horror setting) PFRPG, Samurai are decent classes, but those unfamiliar would probably be more comfortable with other martial classes. We've created four archetypes for Samurai to give them more versatility for the setting and to make them more interesting - kuge (scholarly noble samurai), nitojutsu sensei (Miyamoto Musashi; 2 weapon samurai), tajiya (kind of a paladin among samurai), and yabusame (archer specialist samurai). This and other oriental style classes are sometimes troublesome for players used to more standard games.
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"And so, after several arduous weeks of travel, you arrive at the Mines of Moria."
I dislike the broad use of the term "broken." I know that it carries the sense of "overpoweredness" or "unbalancing" in modern gaming parlance, but early on, Pathfinder has seemed in my opinion to accept the idea of "power gaming" as an accepted feature within itself, and has actually become rather transparent due to the corresponding boosts given to monsters, NPCs, and so forth. Compared to "D&D classic" (3.0E), Pathfinder characters have many, many more tricks to choose from--feat as well as class-based.
For purposes of this thread I'll restrict my use of "broken" to mean "unplayable as written or requiring some rewriting to make it mesh with the rest of the game system".
So what is 'broken'?
Firstly, I'll nominate the ubiquitous knowledge skill checks to know things about monsters. When used as intended, they break the game. And this is related to one of my main pet peeves about experienced players. (Apologies in advance for the segue.)
We all know what character level is. But then there is also a tangible quantity known as player level. Player level measures how good the *player* is at adventuring. This is most easily observed by a mediocre or poor roleplayer who lets his real-world gaming experience dictate the actions of his character, regardless of actual character level, Intelligence, Wisdom, or any other stat.
Here's a few examples.
1st-level players, 20th-level party: everyone forgets to set watches after making camp for the night, and all are eaten by worgs.
20th-level players, 1st-level commoners: despite having little or no adventuring experience whatsoever, all players automatically fall into the routine of figuring out who is going to stay up when, so the big bad GM can't launch a surprise attack on them.
1st-level players, 20th-level party: when building their characters, they forget to buy any of the following: backpacks, clothing, bedrolls, flint & steel, water skins, backup weapons, etc.
20th-level players, 1st-level party: no matter what background events caused these greenhorns to venture out into the wilderness, you can be sure they will not forget any essential adventuring items.
1st-level player, 20th-level wizard: Wizard decides to split off from the main party to explore a side corridor in a dungeon, gets separated and is killed by a save-or-die trap.
20th-level player, 1st-level wizard: Wizard knows never, never, ever go off by yourself in a strange dungeon without someone leading the way who knows how to find traps.
1st-level player, 20th-level barbarian: gains an audience with the monarch of a foreign kingdom, behaves arrogantly and insults the entire royal family, gets arrested and imprisoned for a few months while the GM tries to sort out some other way for the party to be entrusted with any kind of government-approved mission.
20th-level player, 1st-level barbarian: gains an audience with the monarch, and despite his primitive background, is able to fit right in with the rest of the court and shmooze with the best of them.
Here is what bugs me about knowledge checks:
(a) there is no reason for players not to ask for one, which means that you may have parties with at least one player whose first action or thought at the beginning of every single encounter has to do with making a knowledge check to see what they "already know" about the monster, and then:
(b) success spoils at least part of the surprise of a monster that has never made an appearance "onstage" in the current campaign. Never mind that a character had probably never known such a monster could exist outside of some unnamed second-hand source; a high skill bonus and a decent roll will demand that the information must have been acquired offstage at some point (possibly pre-generation) or that the character somehow made some amazing leaps of logic to arrive at a correct comprehension of this unfamiliar monster's abilities.
While it makes some sense for Knowledge checks to be tied to a monster's CR (where CR is a rough measure of rarity, deadlier monsters being balanced by their relative rarity within their imaginary ecosystem) but CR alone is not an accurate measure of how rare information about them should be. The system breaks down, for instance, with CR 1 beings of an endangered species limited to some obscure region of the world--no one from may have ever heard of them before but any ol' knowledge check will grant information that should not have been knowable. Conversely, DRAGONS are the most famous monsters any D&D-derivative, and some of the most powerful. How, then, could a low-level adventurer having heard bardic legends all his life about these mighty creatures be nearly clueless about what a great wyrm red dragon is capable of?
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A second feature of the game I would nominate as "broken" would be the "last-resort undoing of something really bad/automatic ability boost/choose your own super-awesome effect" aspects of Wish and Miracle ought to be moved up to their own, unique, 10th spell level, or else rewritten to behave like a 4E-style ritual that takes more than mere standard action to cast. The lower-level mimicry aspects do not exceed what a 9th-level spell should be able to accomplish, but Wish seems like it does more than any one spell of any given level ought to be able to do. In the times I have gotten a spellcaster high enough level to be able to learn Wish or Miracle, it became a sort of golden hammer, a spell of first resort. The [official] rules allow this and make it easy, but I wish they didn't.
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Another feature of the ruleset I would revise are the spell level limits on potions and wands. They just don't make sense to me, and there is no good game-balance-protecting reason why an item crafter should not be able to make a "potion of cure critical wounds" or a "wand of cone of cold" if they can afford whatever time and material cost was deemed appropriate for such limited-use items. Scrolls do not need to be protected as an item class, and wondrous items are hit-and-miss when it comes to filling in for spell effects.
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As for the other original question, what needs "vast system knowledge"? The obvious answer there is "magic". I can't see this as being a bad thing. Not every aspect of the game has to be clean, straightforward, and quick to master. The game has something for every player type--the grunt, the tactician, the leader, etc. As long as players don't metagame or accidentally break the fourth wall, it doesn't really bother me how they try to "game" the system or play optimally (other than with issues as mentioned above).
I full agree about knowledge checks ruining it for monsters. My players, who are all experienced roleplayers with 20+ years of experience, do exactly this. As soon as a new monster appears they are calling for knowledge checks to learn it's resistences and vulnerabilities, which I think takes the fun out of it. I want never encountered before beasties to have a surprise factor.
I'm not asking for characters to be lawful stupid. I want characters who care, who want to be heroes, aren't scared of doing the right thing, and players who try to help make the campaign more heroic.
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Pathfinder SRD, emphasis mine:
You can use this skill to identify monsters and their special powers or vulnerabilities. In general, the DC of such a check equals 10 + the monster’s CR. For common monsters, such as goblins, the DC of this check equals 5 + the monster’s CR. For particularly rare monsters, such as the tarrasque, the DC of this check equals 15 + the monster’s CR ***OR MORE***.
If this is a highly-unusual or rare creature that they might have only read described in books, boost the DC on the Knowledge check. Maybe bring it up to the point where they only have a 20-25% chance of getting it. If it's completely unknown, boost the DC to the range where they have a 5% chance (i.e. if they roll a 20) of figuring it out.
One might say that this isn't fair. But the idea behind the game is for everyone to have fun. That includes the DM.
Also, another quote:
A successful check allows you to remember a bit of useful information about that monster. For every 5 points by which your check result exceeds the DC, you recall another piece of useful information.
You (the DM) choose the 'useful information' that they get. Not the players. You can learn a lot about a creature from almost every bit of information in the bestiary. You can even convey other campaign or location information by choosing the information they retrieve. For example, say you're running an adventure in a tiny fishing village, which a bulette has been targeting. Information found? Bulettes normally live in temperate hills. What is it doing here? Well, that's the question, isn't it?
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I think where Knowledge is misused is where the player uses all his own knowledge of the monster book and tacks on Knolwedge checks as an added bonus. If the check fails against that Devil, then you should not assume your character knows its resistances.
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"There's a fine line between a superpower and a chronic medical condition."
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Alexander the Great
Excellent tacticians who were unique and colorful characters. All of whom, incidentally behaved very much differently from each other.
Of course, player characters are not often afforded the command role. They usually act as soldiers. In which case, perhaps the following examples would be more accurate:
Seal Team Six
Here is, in essence,my question to you: Why would a person whose job it is to get into life or death situations on a regular basis by confronting and killing his enemies, not lean to do so in the most efficient and deadly method possible?
To suggest otherwise would be unrealistic, given how real people behave in the real world. Mechanical considerations (what would make me better at achieving his goals?) should be considered alongside the roleplaying motivations (what are my goals?) as both are integral to creating a fully realized character.
Last edited by Dandu; Saturday, 17th November, 2012 at 09:35 PM.
***Henry/S'mon Super Quick d20 NPC Generation System*** The Gods of the Copybook Headings With Terror and Slaughter Return!
eriktheguy, on S'mon's latest idea:
There are 2 major problems with your idea:
1: It is far too awesome
2: see 1