Traps are boring!

Just a quickie, but traps are boring. Haunts are better.

Most traps are defeated by two dice rolls, perception and disable device. There’s no mystery, no suspense, just “roll playing”. One of the most common things players love to say “I move down the hallway, taking 10 on perception searching for traps.” It’s a valid tactic, but is uninteresting way for the game to be played.

Haunts by contrast generally have a perception to “notice something” blood dripping, spooky noises, etc. Already, we’re up one on traps (who have a perception–> you found it!). Haunts then DO something; damage, status infliction, even just “Illusionary Dancing Skeleton”. Haunts are not limited to generic damage or spells which is a fantastic thing! One of my favorite haunts is essentially a “3spooky” hallway. All it does is cause a a moderate DC fear affect on the party. It reforms after a couple minutes, and is described as “the walls begin oozing red blood and gore. Your feet freeze as the smell of death starts to infiltrate your nose. A feeling of utter terror overwhelms your mind. The only thing you can do is flee in uncontrollable terror.” Quick, simple.

Beyond having basically an infinite pool of possible haunt effects, Haunts involve knowledge religion checks and creative solutions to disable or destroy them. These two factors enable and encourage party variety and creative thinking far beyond generic traps. Haunts. Better then traps.

“I like to believe there are ghosts all over the place!” – Dominic West


Getting Angry!

So I was working on an NPC villain for my Rise of the Runelords AP group (the details of such are a secret for the moment) and I tripped across this teamwork feat.

Amplified Rage (Teamwork )
When adjacent to other raging allies, your rages become even more powerful.

Prerequisite: Half-orc or orc, rage class feature.

Benefit: Whenever you are raging and adjacent to a raging ally who also has this feat or flanking the same opponent as a raging ally with this feat, your morale bonuses to Strength and Constitution increase by +4. This feat does not stack with itself (you only gain this bonus from one qualifying ally, regardless of how many are adjacent to you).

So it’s clear to see, that doubling your rage bonus isn’t a bad thing, but you need a combat buddy to snag this feat and if they don’t get angry, well it’s a waste of a feat. However, the Inquisitor class has a lovely little feature called “Solo Tactics”.

Solo Tactics (Ex)

At 3rd level, all of the inquisitor’s allies are treated as if they possessed the same teamwork feats as the inquisitor for the purpose of determining whether the inquisitor receives a bonus from her teamwork feats. Her allies do not receive any bonuses from these feats unless they actually possess the feats themselves. The allies’ positioning and actions must still meet the prerequisites listed in the teamwork feat for the inquisitor to receive the listed bonus.

Now, smooshing these two things together, we end up with a need to multiclass Barbarian x Inquisitor for the result is rather terrifying. BUT WAIT! There’s more! Inquisitors have access to a domain (minus the spells). Usually this isn’t anything amazing as domains tend to be underwhelming. However, Inquisitors can choose an “Inquisition” instead of a domain. One of these is called “Anger Inquisition” and the last piece of the puzzle falls into place.

Divine Anger (Ex): At 6th level, you gain the ability to rage like a barbarian. Your effective barbarian level for this ability is your inquisitor level – 3. If you have levels in barbarian, these levels stack when determining the effect of your rage. You do not gain any rage powers from this granted power, though if you have rage powers from another class, you may use them with these rages. You can rage a number of rounds per day equal to your Wisdom bonus, plus 1 round for every inquisitor level above 4th.

So if you can manage until level six, play a half orc inquisitor (they were really made for one another), and want to get really mad all by yourself, this is a fantastic way to do it and it’s Pathfinder Society Legal. Do note that you’ll need Orcs of Golarion, Ultimate Magic and the Advanced Class Guide for the GM to reference to pull this off.

“Mr.McGee, don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” – Bruce Banner

My Adventure GM-ing Rise of the Runelords, Part 1

Rise of the Runelords was my first Dungeons and Dragons campaign as the Game Master. I had GM’d previously for Pathfinder Society, sessions that lasted only a few hours where most everything was laid out and ready to be read. Yet Rise of the Runelords was my first time as the puppet master, director, designer of the story. When this opportunity arose to GM an AP, I jumped eagerly at it for a few reasons.

First, the challenge. Running an entire campaign was something I hadn’t done and I was excited to be able to do that. As part of joining my Pathfinder Society group, I told my recruiter (and good friend) that there was a singular thought that I would play to, “Go big or go home.” To that end, I happily tackled this challenge

Secondly, I was envious. My pathfinder group usually maintains a couple of AP groups running at any given point and I missed landing a seat in either of them. Unfortunately for a newcomer, the AP groups are rather static and consist of good friends who don’t really care to open their AP groups to other people (to the point of dropping a campaign rather then recruit a new player or two). C’est la vie.

Third, I was attempting to mend fences between the pathfinder group and a good friend of mine. In a very interesting social dynamic, my friend had ended up as the token scapegoat for the angry feelings people had for “broken things in pathfinder.” Happily, I was able to do that without running an AP, but it was still one of the original motivations.

Starting an Adventure Path takes a lot of work. Acquiring materials, finding players, prep work, scheduling…it can be a monster to deal with. And with wild abandon, I threw myself into that. My first attempt to get a group rolling was centered on the pirate AP, Skulls and Shackles. Excited to get into it all, I got my hands on a copy of the book and spent several days pouring over it, copying out stat blocks, tracking possible party interactions and generally familiarizing myself with what I would need to have on hand to run a given session of this AP. After that I sent out feelers to see if anyone would like to play if I ran that adventure path. The response varied between “played it” and “no” for the most part and out of a group of 50 or so people, I got two people who were willing to play. That’s right, two. Such a response dealt considerable damage to the momentum I had gathered around the idea of “pirates on the high seas!” and really crushed my desire to run or even play in pathfinder.

A week or so later, I mustered my resolve and printed out an interest poll. It was fairly simple, containing nothing more then “name, contact info, AP you’d be interested in playing”. I provided three options, Jade Regent (Let’s explore Asia), Rise of the Runelords (Zombie Demigods), and Skulls and Shackles (Yarrr). I circulated this for a week before compiling the results. Out of the 12 or so people that scribbled down their names, only five people really showed any signs of interest. The two I had previously recruited, a pair of roommates who had just started coming to my Pathfinder Society group and a relative newcomer to Pathfinder and DnD.

Reflecting on myself and the lessons that I have learned from my experiences is something I believe that everyone should take the time to do. From this simple story of gathering an AP group together, I can glean a number of good lessons; “Persistence is key.” “Research is powerful.” “Cater to what is wanted, not what you want.” are all immediately obvious, but only scratch the surface. So much of this experience is tied up in events that I haven’t transcribed for you, the reader, to have read and known about. Certainly in the coming days (like any good GM!), I will begin to fill in the picture, describing the key players and their roles in this story. But until that moment, this introduction is all that I shall give you.

“I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.” – Homer