Tag Archives: 3.5e

Pathfinder Spellcaster Multiclassing House Rule

Our GM Paul’s multiclassing house rule for spellcasters in Pathfinder, in case you find it of use.

The problem: Multiclassing in D&D works fine for the martial characters and skill-based characters, the abilities of the various classes stack together well to make a stronger character. The rules are very punitive for primary spellcasters. None of the spellcasting classes build on each other and none of them stack well with the abilities of any other class. Various fixes have been attempted for this in the game (prestige classes like Mystic Theurge and Eldritch Knight etc., Practiced Spellcaster feat, variant class features, and so on), but they all seem kind of specific and kludgy to me. Why can’t I just make a fighter/sorcerer and have it be effective? These rules are intended to address that.

The rule: To take advantage of this rule, you must have at least one level in a primary spellcasting class (bard, cleric, druid, sorcerer, wizard). For every two class levels you possess that are not in that class, you advance your spells per day, effective caster level, and spells known as if you had advanced one level in the primary class. You do not gain any other benefits (like channel energy, wild shape, extra feats, class powers, etc). However, you may not take your total caster level higher than double what it would otherwise be.

You may use multiple caster classes to feed into each other (a Cleric5/Sorcerer4 would cast as a 7th level cleric and a 6th level sorcerer, but would only have channel energy and domain powers of a 5th level cleric, and bloodline arcana and bloodline powers of a 4th level sorcerer).

Any prestige class that adds caster levels to a primary spellcasting class (such as Arcane Archer or Dragon Disciple) only adds the caster levels specifically listed, you can’t count it (for the class it adds to) for the purposes of this rule.

This rule replaces hybrid classes like Mystic Theurge and feats like Practiced Spellcaster, so those are no longer available.

Examples:
A Fighter2/Cleric3 would cast spells as a 4th level cleric (but channel energy and have the domain powers of a 3rd level cleric).

A Ranger4/Wizard2 would cast spells as a 4th level wizard (but have school powers of a 2nd level wizard). Ranger is not a primary spellcasting class, so ranger spells would be unaffected.

A Fighter6/Druid1 would cast spells as a 2nd level druid (but have class features as a 1st level druid), because you can only double caster level at most.

A Paladin4/Sorcerer1/DragonDisciple2 (Dragon Disciple adds +1 caster level to Sorcerer) would cast as a 4th level sorcerer (1 for the sorcerer level + 1 for Dragon Disciple + 2 for the 4 paladin levels). Because Dragon Disciple adds to the bloodline abilities, the character would have bloodline powers as a 3rd level sorcerer. The paladin spells would still be cast as a 4th level paladin.

A Rogue3/Sorcerer1/Wizard2/ArcaneTrickster2 (Arcane Trickster adds +2 caster levels to sorcerer) casts as a Sorcerer5 (1 from sorcerer + 2 from Arcane Trickster +2 from the other 5 levels) and as a Wizard4 (2 from wizard + 3 from the other 6 levels, but maxes out at 4 because you can only double the caster level).

Buccaneers!

Interested in pirate gaming?  Looking forward to Paizo’s new pirate AP, Skull and Shackles? Enjoy following our Reavers on the Seas of Fate campaign?

Well, happy news.  Green Ronin has just released a Web enhancement to their Buccaneers of Freeport book with stats for many pirate captains! It’s available in 3.5e and True20 variants.

Buccaneers of Freeport and Cults of Freeport were odd book choices – they were statless.  This was during the Mass D&D Confusion around the 4e launch.  For Cults, that was kinda OK, but with Buccaneers it really hurt- character backdrops for a bunch of cool pirate captains, but no stats.  Well, they have now published the stats, for free! Oh, and the stats for Cults, earlier on.

Download the stats, then consider getting Buccaneers and Cults as they are fine books (and often quite on sale…).  Get cranked up for the pirate holocaust that will come soon with the S&S AP!  All the Freeport stuff is great to mix with Golarion, in Reavers I used the entire Freeport Trilogy mashed up with Second Darkness to good effect.

WotC Discontinues D&D Minis

Hm, that’s sad news - the prepainted plastic D&D minis were a great idea and were the only thing I still buy from WotC.  My gaming group has a whole trunk full of them, and we don’t play the actual minis game or 4e, we use them for battlemaps for a lot of games.  I still have old pewter minis from like 15 years ago I’ve never gotten around to painting, and I don’t want to have to.

It’s also strange news – so what will they be doing instead?  In the same article, they proudly announce their latest dungeon tiles product, which it would seem you’d need minis for.  You could do counters, and it sounds like they are putting some out, but there’s no profit in that.  Issuing counters is a “we know you have to have something so here it is the cheapest way we could make them, mostly for free” kind of play.

Do they think they’re going to get their virtual table working and declare “all gaming is virtual now, death to the tabletop?”  No – not just because they’ll never get the virtual tabletop working, but because they’re still selling cards and whatnot too, and pushing Encounters, which all are tied to tabletop.

Are they going to partner with someone else to do them?  If so, this is a ham-handed way of announcing it; also, WotC’s model has been “pull it all in house” since the development of 4e, moving it back out would be an unprecedented shift in strategy.

Are they getting more expensive to produce as fewer 10 year olds are willing to be exposed to toxic fumes even in China or wherever?  Seems like they’d just up the price or put fewer in a box if that were the case.

Are they planning to change the sales model (sell non-randomized or singles)?  Again, this is a very bad way of announcing that – you don’t say “product terminated” if you’re just changing the model.

Are they just not selling well, so they don’t really give a shit how it fits into the product strategy or game experience?  Maybe.  They seem to be understaffed and floundering. I suspect this is the only reason that makes sense – the margin is down and so they’re canceling them, and they don’t have the time or people or energy to bother about product strategy.Sure, they’re adding the cards, but that can be done with excess staff etc. from WotC’s card game lines.

Even with the rumors going around that what we’re seeing is rampup to a 5e – and it makes sense, the cycle’s been like 3e – put out 3e, fairly quickly put out 3.5e, fire most of your staff, trickle out products and begin on a new edition.  They put out 4e, put out Essentials (4.5e) fairly quickly and fired most of their staff… But even if that were true, why would discontinuing minis fit into that plan?

[Edit: I have seen Reaper's prepainted plastic minis line but they don't have many of them.  And apparently to be more 'retail friendly' they just changed their name to "Hobby-Q".]

Indulgences, Waves One and Two Reviews Posted

My reviews of Indulgences, Wave One and Wave Two by Sinister Adventures are up on RPG.net.

These two products are four PDFs each, of adventures and supplemental material for D&D 3.5e or Pathfinder specifically designed to support a Razor Coast campaign – but any kind of sea-based adventurers will love them.  Check ‘em out!

Sinister Adventures Adds Savage Worlds Support!

Nick Logue’s RPG imprint, Sinister Adventures, has put out some good lil’ PDF tidbits and is about ready to put out their first large, blood-soaked adventure, Razor Coast.  They have a couple more things in the pipeline.  They had already announced that their products would support both D&D 3.5e and Pathfinder – when  you buy, you get to pick which print copy you want, and you get both PDFs for your trouble.

This was cool enough, but today they announced that their stuff will also support Savage Worlds!  SW is an increasingly popular alternative for groups (including ours) who want a game without the huge rule weight of modern D&D and don’t like retroclones.

I’ve been waiting for Razor Coast eagerly, and being able to run it in either system will be a big draw for me because it means more potential for reuse.  So props to Sinister for this big move!

Second Curse of the Crimson Throne “Crown of Fangs” Session Summary Posted

In Crown of Fangs, Part II, it gets interesting.  We go back to assault the castle again.  And we get to use a deck of many things!  Old school indeed.  And we mostly survive!  Thorndyke gets to kill a horned devil not once but twice with the magic sword Serith-Tial.  And Malcolm gets a keep and lands; his long held goal of becoming Doctor Doom is near at hand.

Annata has a bit of a bad day – she gets tentacle-raped to death by a worm devil.  Her deck of many things draw is the only thing that saves her!  And she goes from orphan to noble in the bargain.

And our new bard Cayen has a complicated love life.  First, his brother shows up to play his barbarian girlfriend, which is weird out of the gate.  Then, he gets his alignment changed by the deck to Lawful.  And finally, the Red Mantis leader falls in love with him (again, the deck at work).  Hell hath no fury like a high level barbarian woman scorned!

Next session will be the campaign finale.    Will we defeat the Queen?  Will Snu-Snu cleave Cayden in half?  Will Vencarlo finally romance Annata?  Will Thorndyke do justice to the legend of Blackjack?  Will Annata become the next Queen?  What will Malcolm choose to defile with his bodily excretions now?  And will Korvosa finally be free?  So many questions – but nothing might and magic can’t answer!

First Curse of the Crimson Throne “Crown of Fangs” Session Summary Posted

The last chapter of Curse of the Crimson Throne starts out with a bang in Crown of Fangs, Part I.  In Kaer Maga we meet a bard and his Shoanti barbarian girlfriend/henchman who also wants to see the Queen fall in Korvosa.  We sign them up!

Behind the scenes, Patrick (Thorndyke) is in London for a month, so we had to send him ahead of the group to “scout”.  Bruce (Valash) is still stuck in a bizarre  employment purgatory where his ex-employer is keeping him on on a contract basis but he has to fly to frickin’ Minnepolis every week and is unlikely to ever return, really.  This left us with only me (Annata) and Chris (Malcolm) – we are mighty, but 2 PCs is a little light.  Luckily, there was a player who had to drop out of the other Curse of the Crimson Throne session at this point, Ed (Cayden Cailean, a bard).  To get in a better RP experience, rather than run one 8-person game of CoCT, Paul (our GM) kindly split our gaming group and ran 2 4-person games.  So we called up Ed and he’ll be getting to finish out the AP, just with us instead of his original party!  That’s a nice win-win.

After we blow all our money on the best gear the Pathfinder RPG and Magic Item Compendium have to offer, Annata Word of Recalls our group back to Korvosa, into the shrine to Sarenrae at the Temple of Many, where she spent so many years as an initiate.  We’re quickly reunited with the rest of our resistance brethren – Vencarlo, Neolandus the seneschal, Grau the guardsman, and even Field Marshal Cressida Croft has gotten off her ass and decided it’s time to fight the Queen.  They give us a laundry list of targets which we go and prosecute, including a Blackjack impersonator and Sabine herself!  Sabine, for those not following along, was at the heart of a love triangle ending in a duel between Grau and Vencarlo back in the day, and now she’s the Queen’s lesbian lover and goon squad commander.  Except, sadly, they say she’s really honorable at heart and should be turned and brought back alive.  Annata’s a good enough Sarenrae… -ite?  ist?  that she’ll do it, but it doesn’t make some parts of her heart happy.  We brought her back alive; I’m sure she’ll start vamping on Vencarlo again.

Annata is still way in love with Vencarlo and keeps trying to get him to do something about it, but he keeps saying “Yes, well, back to the struggle…”  When she was younger this would have driven her into a fit of insecurity, but she’s pretty confident in herself now and it’s starting to annoy her.  “I’m cute, smart, and can wipe out a small army solo, what’s his problem?!?”

We also go on a special ops mission inside the Queen’s palace.  The bloatmage, her new seneschal, escapes us but we kill a mess of devils and retrieve the body of an Abadarian priest.  Our comrades get things underway, and resistance forces reclaim the streets of Korvosa!

Things are going well.  Annata’s still trying to figure out Cayden’s part in the story.  She is one of those people who sees symbolism in everything, and so far she’s seen huge parallels between Malcolm and Thorndyke and the original founders of Korvosa, Field Marshal Jakthion Korvosa and original Sable Company Marine Waydon Endrin.  She wouldn’t be surprised, when it’s all over, to see them heading up the Korvosan Guard and Sable Company Marines respectively.  She suspects she’s Alika Epakena (St. Alika, who died saving Korvosa from the Great Fire).  She died once already at the hands of a demilich in Scarwall Keep, and though her comrades released her soul and got her a Resurrection, it definitely showed her that there’s ways to die that magic won’t cure, and would be unsurprised to give her life permanently in a final effort to save her beloved Korvosa.   Cayden – she’s not sure.  Maybe he represents Montlion Jeggare, the gentleman explorer who also had a hand in the founding of the city, and became a major merchant house?  The whole thing with House Arkona hasn’t been resolved yet; her deal with the hidden rakshasa Lord Arkona is chafing at her and her inclination to purge all evil from Korvosa is starting to chip away at it, so there may certainly be a power vacuum there too.  She’ll figure it out, she’s sure that destiny’s hand is laid hard upon the group.

Pathfinder Preview – The Sorceress

Paizo’s put out their third preview for the final Pathfinder rules, and this time it showcases the famous iconic sorcerer, Seoni, at level 10!   Let’s take a look.  Yep, she’s still built like a brick shithouse.  I need to figure out which Golarion country is the source of her quite-advanced cosmetic surgery.

In 3.x, I didn’t like the sorcerer that much.  It was too similar to the wizard.  A mechanical difference (spontaneous casting vs prepared casting) didn’t seem like something to bother basing a PHB core class on.  Its main niche, really, was as an NPC class, so that hideous goopy monsters could cast spells without having a spell book around. In our gaming group, it was mainly used as a dip class for someone that needed just a little arcane casting.

Pathfinder’s helped that out some with the full-scale adoption of the bloodline concept.  3.x hinted at a “draconic bloodline” in sorcerers that gave them their power.  In Pathfinder, they take that a big step farther and have a wide variety of bloodlines a sorcerer can take, that give unique powers and have different feels to them.  Seoni has the “arcane” (aka lamest) bloodline.  I wish they had showed off a more flavorful one.  In our Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign, our sorcerer Valash has the air elemental bloodline.  Check his level 13 build here.  He can do electric at-will zappies, a big blast once per day, has electricity resistance, etc.

The other bloodlines in the beta were abyssal, aberrant, celestial, destined, draconic, elemental, fey, infernal, and undead.  Bloodlines are not overwhelmingly powerful, but a nice addition that adds as much flavor as “kewl powerz.”  It justifies sorcerer more as a separate class in my mind rather than a variant wizard class option (“Spontaneous Casting: Get two more spells per level per day and you don’t have to prepare them but you can only know X/level!”  Look, there’s an entire class writeup.)

To me, that’s the big deal.  The smaller changes and tweaks (d6 HD, specific spells, etc.) are fine but not terribly interesting except to the number-wonks.

Pathfinder Fighter vs. Ice Devil?

There’s been some smack talk about the Pathfinder preview of Valeros the 14th level fighter.   It spins off into the usual “fighters are worthless in D&D 3.x” hate speech.  In particular, there’s comparisons with an ice devil. “The fighter is totally outclassed by the CR 13 ice devil!” they cry.  “Casters are the only worthwhile classes!”

Well, I can’t speak for Valeros’ build, but our Pathfinder Beta based Curse of the Crimson Throne game is coincidentally at level 14.  We have a fighter, a ranger, a cleric (me), a new bard, and an occasional sorcerer.  And I’m afraid we don’t find the fighter “weak.”  Let’s look at our level 14 fighter and how he’d fare.

Malcolm, our fighter, carries a modest +1 heavy flail of transmuting (which, after hitting a creature, gains the properties needed to bypass its DR).  Sure, he needs buffing – but with his usual loadout (he always drinks a potion of Enlarge Person, which he has scads of, when in a dungeon, and then either Righteous Wrath of the Faithful from me or Inspire Courage and Haste from the bard, either gives +3/+3 and an extra attack) – he can kill the devil in three rounds on average.

First round, he closes and gets one shot at +28 for 2d8+17 damage (not even counting it as a charge).  With Improved Critical (17-20) and Devastating Blow that’s 36 damage (minus 10 for the devil’s DR).  He does have to contend with the devil’s fear aura, and it’s true that even with Bravery he has a good chance of failing that save (45% for Malcolm) but that’s what friendly casters are for – resurgence or anti-fear stuff, of which we have a variety.  And for the flying problem – he has potions and other items that give short flying, or again one of us can help out there.

Then in round 2 with a full attack (and extra one for haste), the transmuted weapon bypassing DR, and Backswing –  107 points of damage on average in that round.  Devil’s down to 14 hp.  Even if it gets a slow hit in and Malcolm somehow fails a Fort save (unlikely!), it’s nap time on round 3 from a single attack.  Malcolm has AC 28 and 197 hit points; there’s nothing the devil can do to pour enough damage into him to kill him inside 8 rounds.  Its cone of cold only does 25 hp damage to him on average, and its full attack is only a little better.  Even without caster buffs, Malcolm can do it in four rounds (though the fear and fly problems are more of a problem without caster support, although there’s a variety of cheap Magic Item Compendium items that counteract those problems).

A three round kill on the devil is as good as a caster would do on average.  Between the SR 25 and +15 saves (+19 with unholy aura up), even the spiffiest save-or-dies from a level 14 caster only have about a 20-25% chance per round of working.  That’s three to four round survivability once you do the math.  And the fighter can keep it up for a long time.  The Pathfinder rules tweaks have helped him out a lot – the weapon training, armor training, bravery, and additional feats like Backswing and Devastating Blow boost Malcolm’s worth in this fight was above a level 14 3.5e core fighter.

Besides, adventuring isn’t about one on one.  It’s about a party, over 5 or so encounters in a day.  The fighter needs healing, buffing, and anti-mind-affecting support from someone.  But that’s worth it – it’s like someone with a heavy machine gun needs someone to feed ammo.  The two people together are doing more than they could with a rifle apiece.  Getting and keeping Malcolm on a target when it means 100+ damage easily in a round is so worth it.  As a cleric, I can at best toss 25% success chance save or dies (of which I have a very limited number), or cast a variety of 14d6ey anti-evil-outsider stuff, which is only 49 damage even before SR and save which makes them average a net 15-20 damage.    I’m definitely better off optimizing our fighter.

These caster queens also complain that fighters are “boring” and support roles are “boring” (apparently only save-or-dies are “exciting”).   To them I say – you’re doing it wrong!

Third Curse of the Crimson Throne “Skeletons of Scarwall” Session Summary Posted

Quite the drama erupts in Part III of The Skeletons of Scarwall, in which our dear priestess Annata gets killed!  The last sub-boss in Scarwall got her with a Trap the Soul, and all our anti-undead/necromancy/death magic protections were of no avail because – get this – that’s a conjuration spell.  The boys killed the demi-lich and broke the gem, but then had to Shadow Walk back to Kaer Maga to get a Resurrection.  On the one hand, dying is scary, on the other hand, she got to see Sarenrae Heaven first hand and meet the Sunlord Thalachos, Sarenrae’s herald, so after she recovers from the physical aftereffects she’s mentally and spiritually quite invigorated.

Then the Shadow Count (and pet chain devil) finally turns on us and Laori.  We spank him but Laori heads out to Cenobite Heaven to sightsee, so the Boner Squad is no more.  And sadly Laori missed her last chance to put the moves on Annata.

And then we finally get the fabled (and holy, intelligent, and badass) blade Serith-Teal!   Thondyke is chosen as its wielder; as it’s both intelligent and holy it’ll have no part of Malcolm, and Annata (though to be honest a little jealous) thinks he’ll get a lot more use out of it.

And with that, Castle Scarwall is cleansed!  We get a sending from Vencarlo that tells us it’s time to return to Korvosa and whip some bitch-queen ass.  About time, we reply.  But first, we have $50k a head to gear ourselves out like the 14th level master killers we are!  To the magic mall!

Go enjoy the full 10 page .pdf summary of the session (and all the others).  Your favorite adventurers will return next session with Crown of Fangs!

Second Curse of the Crimson Throne “Skeletons of Scarwall” Session Summary Posted

We continue to clear Castle Scarwall in Part II of Skeletons of Scarwall (8 page .pdf).  Two more of the four sub-bosses, a devil bat lady (who really reminds me of an enemy from some video game I can’t place) and a shadow dragon, fall to our swords and sorcery, leaving only one sub-boss to go and then the main boss – who we already killed once before, so no worries there.  Our party is only three strong, but we are mighty!

The main challenge is keeping enough spells held back to take care of Shadow Count Sial when he finally decides to turn on us.  He’s acting even twitchier than usual and it’s clearly only a matter of time.  I hope Laori sides with us and not him when it all goes down.  Though Annata’s not quite sold on the hot girl-on-girl Laori proposed last session, she’s been a good friend so far.

We hit level 13 at the end of the session.  For Annata, I’m thinking adding a level of Crusader (a holy martial artist from Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords) to get more combat prowess.  She’s supposed to be a holy warrior but her damage sucks (1d6+2 whether you need it or not!).  She’s finally worked through the feat chains to add one of the Pathfinder beta crit feats, which will help…  She could make her crits fatigue, stagger, sicken, or bleed an opponent, I’m still deciding which.  But with Crusader she’d get all kinds of nice boosts.  Paul’s letting me swap out Stone Dragon school for Desert Wind school to match Sarenrae’s sun focus, though counting the powers as one level higher.  I’m thinking Death Mark, Fan the Flames, Flashing Sun, Foehammer, Divine Surge, and Thicket of Blades stance.  Although Iron Guard’s Glare is also attractive, and if combined with Fire Riposte and Holocaust Cloak, and potentially the various fire shield magics Annata has available to her, could be compelling.

It’s a shame to lose a level of spellcasting, but truth be told, seventh level cleric spells suck.  First of all, there’s not enough of them.  And four of those, really the only good ones, are basically the same spell (dictum/holy word/blasphemy/word of chaos).  Spells like Holy Word and Disrupting Weapon suck because they specify that they only affect creatures of less than your caster level.  So they’re no use on big bads, they are only mook-mowers, and we have plenty of other mook-mowing options. The symbol spells which also take up several spots on the spell list suffer from the same issue.  She’ll miss the level bump to Channel Energy way more.

First Curse of the Crimson Throne “Skeletons of Scarwall” Session Summary Posted

We head out to haunted Castle Scarwall in Part I of Skeletons of Scarwall (8 page .pdf), the fifth and penultimate chapter of the Curse of the Crimson Throne adventure path.  Fighting undead is where Annata is a Viking, so we’re kicking bony ass and taking ghoulish names.  We were tickled to be fighting orcs and skeletons, it’s like we’re first level all over again.

I know it’s hard for a DM to run NPCs in a party, but these three Brotherhood of Bones hangers-on we have are worthless with a capital LESS!  Well, except for our favorite, Laori, who is always entertaining.  This session, she let Annata know she’d like to sleep with her!  I’m writing a separate blog post about how she dealt with that.  Will it violate the Paizo fansite license morals clause?  Find out, read the full summary!

At the end, we fought and slew what we think is the “main boss” but it didn’t lift the evil aura around the place; Paul was impressed that I then intuited we’d need to kill all the sub-bosses and then kill the main boss else he’d just respawn.   I’ve been playing RPGs and computer games for 25 years, I know how game designers think.

Let me say again for the record how sweet the Channel Energy power is for clerics in Pathfinder.  For those not familiar with it, Pathfinder replaced turning undead with “channeling energy.”  It heals people in short range and harms AND turns undead.  You can augment it with feats as Annata has – her channeling damages (but doesn’t turn) evil outsiders, she can make it heal only her allies (by default it heals everyone in range), and she’s quickened it to a free action with Quicken Turning.  It means that:

  • If you have a day where you’re not fighting undead, one of your major class powers isn’t worthless.
  • You can heal at range rather than always having to incur attacks of opportunity to go heal a comrade.
  • You can heal multiple party members at once.
  • You have loads of dice of healing that don’t eat up  your spell slots.  Thus you get to use spells for useful proactive things.
  • With the quicken, you aren’t wasting your time every round of combat with only healing.

Face it, as damage dealing has grown, Cure spells have not kept pace.  Even low level characters dish out or take like 20 points of damage a round – at our level, 80 points in a round isn’t uncommon and I’ve seen more than 100.  The usual 1d, 2d, 3d, 4d Cure spells are pretty much worthless in the face of that; I’d need ten minutes and my entire spell loadout to take care of just a couple rounds of combat.  So the channeling steps in to fill the gap and let the cleric do something in a round other than heal.  Neat!