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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default [PF] Help me become a better DM

    Hi, french speaking so bear mistakes I'll do here and there.

    I'm a DM since.. well since always. I'm an open minded guy that loves improvisation, unprepared stuff for a big big campaign. I've got big lines that I try to follow but I'm never caught speechless.

    That being said, I value RP a lot in my game, most of the time we can play a whole session without any fight. There's a lot of political issues (Kind of Rome-Senat-based).

    I love to give players options. I love to give them different paths, indirectly, to let them grow deeper their characters. I love, adore, those options on classes too. I love to have a ton of abilities, not just pure hack and slash TACO based stuff.

    In my games, magic is rare. Magic is almost forbidden and rarely seen. Magic items are ultra rare and a basic +1 sword is a big treasure. Players must earn their treasures.
    I'm saying all this to gives you lines to help me out.. here's it is:


    I've got a huge problem though. I am bad, a BIG ZERO with DnD's automatism. By that, I'm speaking of all those damage based spells that deal automatic damages wether the spell allows a DC or not. That frustrate me as a DM and I get BORED. And it's a lose-lose situation since those capable of doing that play them very well and will get to a point where they got more and more powers and cause more and more frustration.

    I quit DnD 3.5. I saw Pathfinder and find the core good. I like the options it gives to player. But it didn't solve my automatism problem.

    Any of you guys got some kind of solution besides the basic resistance abuses?
    I thought about some kind of RP World oriented magic distortion that force mages to make a concentration DC 10 + spell level 'till they'll solve a big campaign, bla bla bla...

    Gimme your thoughts. Gimme your experience. Gimme your big lines.

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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    I'm not sure what the problem is - you don't like direct-damage magic spells? That's pretty funny, as most of the heavy-duty optimizers here will insist that direct-damage is the worst kind of spellcasting, compared to the abusive tricks they can pull with other magic.

    If your world's already short on magic items, why not just tell people "don't play spellcasters"? (Of course, without magic items and magic spells, I have to wonder why you're playing D&D instead of another system...)
    Last edited by Arbane; 2012-10-26 at 01:44 PM.
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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    Level 1 Fighter. One of his feats is Power Attack. Greatsword. Str of 18.

    2d6+6 (1.5xStr for two-handed weapon)+3 damage (power attack)= 2d6+9, or an average of 16 damage per round.

    Level 1 Wizard. Burning hands. 1d4 damage, Reflex save for half. Average of 2.5 damage per round.

    You'll find a lot of love for/complaining about spellcasters on these forums, but melee (and archers in PF) are the kings of raw damage.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CTrees View Post
    Knowledge (local) being trained only, and not a class skill for many classes, means that your average human may well not be able to identify other humans! This may explain the exceptional quantity of half-human hybrids.

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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    Quote Originally Posted by Xcalibur View Post
    hack and slash TACO based stuff.
    ??? TACO?

    To actually be constructive, I wouldn't worry about the "And it's a lose-lose situation since those capable of doing that play them very well and will get to a point where they got more and more powers and cause more and more frustration." As a DM you can always say, "Hey guys, cool it with the no-save broken OP spells."
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    Quote Originally Posted by KillianHawkeye View Post
    As a DM, I deal with character death by cheering and giving a fist pump, or maybe a V-for-victory sign. I would also pat myself on the back, but I can't really reach around like that.
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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    Quote Originally Posted by danzibr View Post
    ??? TACO?

    To actually be constructive, I wouldn't worry about the "And it's a lose-lose situation since those capable of doing that play them very well and will get to a point where they got more and more powers and cause more and more frustration." As a DM you can always say, "Hey guys, cool it with the no-save broken OP spells."
    THAC0, perhaps?

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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    Another option: Ban all tier 1-2 classes; I'd recommend adding in some additional classes from the Advanced Player's Guide or 3rd party classes. See my signature if you're not sure about the definition of class tiers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CTrees View Post
    Knowledge (local) being trained only, and not a class skill for many classes, means that your average human may well not be able to identify other humans! This may explain the exceptional quantity of half-human hybrids.

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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    Teach your players that other schools of magic are far more useful especially at low levels. The common optimization spells most allow dcs or help set up other things rather than being goals in themselves to ''end'' encounters. End is in quotes as the best spells tend to neuter any cr appropriate encounter on their own, but they don't finish the job. We're talking battlefield control, ally buffing, summoning, enemy debuffing, and good old fashioned utility spells. You could teach the moral that since magic is rare it's important to find the most efficient ways of using it. You'd also get more complex turns with more rolling for not damage.
    Most people see a half orc and and think barbarian warrior. Me on the other hand? I think secondary trap handler and magic item tester. Also I'm not allowed to trick the next level one wizard into starting a fist fight with a house cat no matter how annoying he is.
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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    I think the OP is talking generally about spells that have an effect on a failed save, or the rare spell that has no save or attack roll at all. Personally, I don't see the problem with some effects not being subject to the d20 roll. Randomness is nice, but it doesn't have to be omnipresent. Should Clerics have to roll a d20 to see if Cure Light Wounds works?

    As novawurmson pointed out, AoE direct damage spells generally don't cause balance problems. Also, PF nerfed a lot of other spells with no save, such as Solid Fog. If blasters under the OP were more optimized than the other players, that's very specific to the OP's group.

    All that said, the OP wants to avoid automatic effects, and isn't really into the heavy mechanics. I'll suggest FATE, a game where the die roll represents a more abstract, narrative effect and therefore can be used quite broadly.
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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    Well I did read all those comments. Let me add up some more infos/explanations.

    First of all, out of game concepts are inaccepted. I cannot ban this over that. I can simply say that this book is not allowed but basic characters cannot be banned.

    We're guys in their middle 30s, born and raised with DnD. I tried some other games but my friends are addicted to DnD. They played so much dnd mini that tactical combats is an issue for me. Some of them played tournament. they're BEASTS!!! I'll explain more later.

    I was born and raised with second edition. I quit dming when third came in and I'm kinda new with 3.5. I studied it, played it and I don't like it that much. I saw in PF a good compromise over 3.5. I love options.

    I'm an old school kind of DM. I don't like killing realism. I don't like uping monsters because players are stronger. In my opinion, low level players should die a lot and have more difficulties and higher level should breath a bit. Kinda when you get a salary raise, your life is easier. It would be a pain if prices would raise accordingly.

    My campaign:

    In a tolkien based story, orcs are heavily dominating a part of the world and the players are engaged in a big lasting war with them (and political issues but that isn't a problem for me, on the contrary). Orcs are like an hybrid of those darkspawn from dragon age and those evoluated orcs from middle earth. Dominating, intelligent and strong. The more intelligent they are, the stronger they are. But, those are rares.

    Well, let's put a party of 5 players, a rogue, a warrior, a bard or ranger, a cleric and a mage. level 3.

    An ogre, 3-4-5 orcs with 2 HDs each, an orcish lieutenant coordinating it all. You got a big well balanced fight, could easily take 1 hour. The warrior tanks and deal big damage. The rogue manoeuvers and finish this one or cripple that one. The bard/ranger support, the cleric heals/buffs and the mage complete. Sometimes you add up reinforcement, it adds up stress, it's fun!

    Same party, level 5. 3 ogres, 10 orcs, a leading orc, level 5 too. Still, the fight will be easier as the players got more options. But hey, it's fun.

    SAme party, level 7. 10 ogres, 1 giant, a couple of orcs and a kinda general orc that is angry. You put some surprises in your boots, you add up some reinforcement, some traps but still.... Life's good for players. The mage is unkillable.

    Same party, level 9. Whatever i'll put, they'll kill it. The mage is unstopable.

    Now, they're level 12 in average. The mage has a big big bucket of dices for this or that spell. He'll simply kill whatever I'll put.

    One thing you'll notice: i'm predictible. I know that. But i cannot kill realism. I don't want to raise the challenge because they're stronger. I can handle the rogue, the warrior, the bard, the ranger, the paladin. But I can't with the /%"$/ mage.


    And the more Challenge Rating hard stuff I'll put, the more EXP they'll get and the mage's getting stronger. and stronger. and stronger.

    And I don't wanna cheat. I don't wanna, as a DM, make out game decisions to harass the player. I don't wanna coordonnate my attacks to cripple him as the NPCs shouldn't know what I know, that his mage is that strong.

    What do you think of this? Do not answer stuff like quitting again or starting all over. I'm simply asking for more opinions, debating style :)

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    Novawurmson: the strongest PCs in my game are a pure cleric and a pure mage....

    Yeah, goodbyesoberday. I'd love to have a taco-based fireball, icestorm or lightning bolt. It's stressful. Throwing 10D6 every round isn't stressful. It's boring. What fun is there in this? Well, winning, i'm guessing. And they sure win a lot.

    ryu: They all know. They know the rules by heart. They won't use spell slots to paralyse monsters when they can simply burn them to ashes. The cleric and mage sometimes coordonate their stuff, man, it's... almost beautiful hehehe

    THACO, TACO (toucher armure classe 0). I said it, I'm french:P
    Last edited by Xcalibur; 2012-10-27 at 07:32 PM.

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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    Quote Originally Posted by Xcalibur View Post
    And I don't wanna cheat. I don't wanna, as a DM, make out game decisions to harass the player. I don't wanna coordonnate my attacks to cripple him as the NPCs shouldn't know what I know, that his mage is that strong.
    If anyone ever _survives_ a fight with him, they'll know. And "Kill the mage first" is RPG Strategy 101.

    One possibility: Borrow the mage's character sheet. Make a copy.

    You now have an archvillain to sic on the party. Have them preceded by a small horde of meatshields, so the fighty-types don't annihilate the caster instantly.

    If you're not prepared to up the challenges, get used to the wizard vaporizing everything you toss at them. 2-3 HD mooks are constitutionally incapable of surviving a 10d6 fireball unaided.

    But remember, orcs can have class-levels, too. They can summon demons, animate undead, or even just get potions of resist fire or whatever.
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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    Quote Originally Posted by Amnestic View Post
    THAC0, perhaps?
    Quote Originally Posted by Xcalibur View Post
    THACO, TACO (toucher armure classe 0). I said it, I'm french:P
    Very cool. If I ever play AD&D I'm totally going to call it taco.

    By the way I'm very jealous of your command over English. I've taken 8 semesters of college-level Japanese, study every day and still suck at it.
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    A comment on tiers, by Prime32
    Quote Originally Posted by KillianHawkeye View Post
    As a DM, I deal with character death by cheering and giving a fist pump, or maybe a V-for-victory sign. I would also pat myself on the back, but I can't really reach around like that.
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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    Your complaints are very common with 3.5.

    Casters are more powerful than non-casters, though mainly this is due to the options they have and the ability to pose more threats. This disparity increases with level. This was always the case with high level wizards in AD&D, but the rules changes with 3.5 boosted more for a variety of reasons.

    The fact that you are running low wealth will hamper the non-casters more than the casters, which doesn't help.

    If you can only ban classes on a book by book basis, then the book you should ban first is the PH.

    Pathfinder doesn't really help with this issue.

    From your description of your play style, the variant you probably want is called E6.
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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    An ogre is CR 3. Against a level 12 character of ANY type, mage or not, it's SUPPOSED to go down like a chump, even in large groups.

    Your problem, essentially, is that your players have out-leveled your campaign setting. Any party that high level with the kind of rules mastery you say they have is going to curb stomp their way through the kind of opposition you're giving them no matter what class they are, the mage is just more obvious and faster about it.

    As I see it, here are your options:
    A) Continue as is, allowing them to effortlessly stomp all over everything they meet.
    B) Retire their characters and start a new campaign.
    C) Switch to a system such as E6 with a level cap, and force them to down-level to it.
    D) Level up the campaign setting in some way to match.

    You aren't enjoying A, and your players would probably be reluctant (or worse) about options B and C. Option D is best done from the start, but it's possible to patch it in believably later and it's what I'd recommend.

    For option D, the basic premise is to find a reasonable way to say "you've been playing in little league all your life, welcome to the big leagues now". Let them establish total dominance over the "little league" to whatever degree they want, then invent a "big league" and introduce them to it. The impression you want to give is that, rather than the challenge magically growing to match them, the challenge always existed but they're only just now powerful enough to face it.

    I can think of two ways to do this: up the ante on the current struggle, or introduce a new one. Possibly both in sequence.

    For upping the ante, basically say the top tier of the orc/ogre/giant forces, the top leaders and elites, have a bunch of class levels - as many or more as the PCs - and the PCs have made enough of a dent to either attract their personal attention or open the way to strike first. Up until now, the PCs have mostly been fighting rank and file troops; now they're up against the bosses. Let the party continue fighting the mooks if they want, and curb stomp them as usual, but make it clear that this isn't really going to have a major impact.

    Send a high level orc hit squad against them, or two. Give some of the orcs rogue or monk levels so they have evasion. Build some awe-inspiring leaders, generals who command major fractions of the entire orc nation. Build one, or a group if that fits the orc nation politics, who tower over the rest with class levels and command everything. Then pit your players against them. And when the players eventually win, let them win the entire war. The orc nation fragments, some surrender and others flee, and they are no longer a major threat to the rest of the world. The players may continue to hunt down orcs at this point, but there is no longer much point to it. They are now gods among men, probably the most powerful figures in the nation, and they can do whatever the heck they want. From here, you can either transition into essentially a free form world managing game, or use the other option - introduce a new, more powerful, force to contend with.

    So, introducing a new and more powerful force. You could reveal a secret organization that's conducting some dastardly plot, but that would likely seem contrived. I would suggest greatly expanding your campaign setting, or at least the portion of it that the players are aware of in any detail. Arrange some event that makes it clear that their little corner of the world is just that - little. Perhaps a dragon, driven out of its original home, comes looking for a new roost. Or explorers from a great empire come and start messing things up. Or an extraplanar creature visits to procure supplies and helpers for something back home. The key is something A) powerful; B) from outside the orc war area; C) clearly established as far from the top of the power hierarchy where it came from; and D) with a reason for the players to go where it came from.

    Then set it up so that, wherever this thing came from, the base and peak power levels of the residents are a lot higher than for the orcs. You can do this with class levels, the base creature, or both. Make it clear that the creatures here could have wiped out the orc threat any time they wanted, they just had no reason to care. The best choice in my opinion would be the interplanar option, as that has a very obvious reason with no explanation required for why it would be a "bigger stage", so to speak, than where the PCs are now, why it wouldn't have had any significant interaction before, and plenty of built in room for lots of powerful sides with more areas to explore.

    Also, you should greatly increase the availability and commonality of magic items in this new expanded setting. If primary spellcasters exist with the level range such a powered-up area would have, then they are going to produce significant quantities of magic items. If they don't, then the lack of magic items would be a major break in realism.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    ClericGuy

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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    Quote Originally Posted by Xcalibur View Post
    In a tolkien based story, orcs are heavily dominating a part of the world and the players are engaged in a big lasting war with them (and political issues but that isn't a problem for me, on the contrary). Orcs are like an hybrid of those darkspawn from dragon age and those evoluated orcs from middle earth. Dominating, intelligent and strong. The more intelligent they are, the stronger they are. But, those are rares.
    Your setting seems to be very low level. In LoTR, the highest level character we see is probably Gandalf, whose greatest power is something similar to Daylight.

    If you don't want to introduce bigger monsters than orcs in your campaign, you should give lots of class levels to the enemies they're facing. They're high level, they should do the most dangerous missions like assassinate 11th level wizard generals, discover high level rogue spies and taking on the whole elite of their force which is comprised of fifteen level 10 fighters and barbarians.
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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    I actually see this problem a lot from people who grew up with/played a lot of earlier editions of DnD who then come to 3.5/PF/whatever.

    They come in expecting roughly the same game, but unfortunately 3.5 is pretty different in a couple of respects that don't really leap out at you until you start comparing relative levels of power - essentially, every 2e character would probably fit into 3.5 at around the 1-10 range. Even stuff like Wish was limited and came with drawbacks and specific 'screw the players like so' addendums that it really wasn't that much better than what a 10th level wizard in 3.5 can do with 5th level spells (build an awesome castle, say).

    The game also scales a lot harder. A 1st level warrior in 2e could be a danger to even the most epic wizard if he got him off his guard and rolled lucky - the same is not true in 3.5. Due to buff spells, it being much harder to interrupt spells, and the many many ways for a wizard to have incredibly powerful minions trivially easily, not to mention his raw AC and HP, a level 10 wizard can essentially kill any number of 1st level warriors, prepared or not.


    So the problem likely isn't that your players are using specifically optimized spells to break your game (although you haven't given any specifics, so maybe they are), it's probably that you're still thinking in a 2e mindset for 3.5. In 3.5, things say 5 CR below the party shouldn't be considered a threat to them. A 7th level fireball wiped out 40 ogres even though some of them made their saves? Good. That's the game working. In DnD 3.5, even more than in previous editions, a single powerful character or monster could terrorize or even destroy an entire nation if that nation had no-one and nothing powerful enough to defend it.

    So you have to raise the stakes appropriately for your players. To quote DM of the Rings, why in the name of the gods are you sending your 7th level party to go fight orcs? If they're fighting orcs, then these orcs better have champions that are 5th level to lead them, and have tamed wyverns (CR 6) from the mountains to act as steeds, and be using siege weaponry, alchemical bombs, and massed volley archery against the PCs. Because anything else is simply a cakewalk for your players, and it's not their fault if they beat it easily.


    EDIT: If the orc army keeps attacking pointlessly against level 12 characters, then that's not realistic. Realism means that if the orc army is controlling this area then they MUST have some military power to back up that control. If your PCs are level 12 and the entire world is like level 3 or lower, then yes, they win, what did you expect? Why are you making them do combats? Just say 'your flight, arrow protection spells, and fireballs destroy the orcish army', cause that's the most realistic outcome for the terrifying magical power of a 12th level wizard vs an army of 1HD orcs and 4HD ogres without magical power, hero characters, or magic items that would let them fight or defeat the incredibly powerful wizard. It's like a bunch of guys armed with swords trying to defeat B-52 bomber - they just can't do it.

    You could theoretically go all Tucker's Orcs on them, but I don't think you have the rules knowledge to pull that off, and it's unnecessarily complex when in the reality of the DnD setting, it's perfectly normal for armies and governments to train up superpowered hero characters, and tame (losing hundreds of men in the process) super giant magical beasts. It's like governments wanting tanks and planes and better guns and stuff, there's no way they wouldn't do it.
    Last edited by Rejakor; 2012-10-28 at 04:41 AM.

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    EvilClericGuy

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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    In my games, magic is rare. Magic is almost forbidden and rarely seen. Magic items are ultra rare and a basic +1 sword is a big treasure. Players must earn their treasures.
    I'm saying all this to gives you lines to help me out.. here's it is:
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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    None of the DnD 3rd Edt. games do low magic very well.

    Think about it like this: Some RPG systems try to simulate some kind of "realistic medieval" scenario, a world where armor only protects the body parts it is worn on, where even a great warrior can die by a single wayward arrow, where horses (and ogres) are simply stronger and more resilient than humans and where once fearsome opponents become mere trivialities within a few weeks (and levels) time.
    Other RPG systems try to generate something more along the lines of playing Diablo or World of Warcraft, a world where player characters constantly increase in their personal power, where they are supposed to have magical equipment in accordance with the level, irrespective of the economics of the situation. This is a world where the power difference grows quickly and once fearsome opponents are very soon mere nuisances, while new and even more powerful and epic opponents lurk in the next region/adventure, quietly waiting to also become outclassed in another few levels. Though for some reason, those dragons and giants and beholders never seem to meet the low level guys until they are high level enough to reduce them to level appropriate challenges instead of certain death. Maybe that lurking has become too much a habit...

    In any case: DnD, ADnD, Pathfinder, all of them are squarely in the second category. In fact, they are not merely paradigm cases, (A)D&D probably provided the very blueprint on which, via a short but tedious round trip on various computers, the whole concept was built. After all, it was very early on that someone decided that by level 10 you should have 10 times as many hit points as at level 1.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    The d20 roll on a fireball, and on most spells, is the saving throw. If all you want is to give Joe the tension of rolling a d20, you can change "saving throw" to "spell attack." If Bob the Mage casts fireball at Joe the Ogre, instead of Joe rolling a reflex save (d20+REF bonuses) against Bob's save DC (10+DC bonuses), have Bob roll a spell attack (d20+DC bonuses) against Joe's reflex DC (11+REF bonuses). Outside of luck-related abilities, the math remains the same. The difference is that your player rolls the dice. It doesn't stop automatic damage, but if your enemies are getting curbstomped when they fail their reflex saves it's time for them to start facing more powerful enemies. On this point I agree with Douglas.
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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    Ok, I read all the comments. I took my pride and swallowed it deep down and tried to be as neutral as possible as I want to improve myself.

    Yeah, it was hard :)

    Orcs will be separated in 2 halves, kinda warcraft 3 style: the "honored ones" and the "corrupted ones"

    By the way I dm my games, I'll give it a shot with a orcs with classes, in a way that it will make sense. I'll give them flavors, I'll give them some purposes in either war related stuff or political. The son of the emperor will be trying to overthrow his evil corrupted father and will try to alliance himself with either part of human towns and bla bla bla. It'll be hard breaking stuff since they won't be able to handle ALL challenges, choices, sacrifices of this part of the world instead of that one...

    Ok, that part's good for me. I'll raise up some monsters too, wyvern, some low intelligence evil dragons, some orcish friendly stuff for the corrupted (like demons) and so one. I won't force them choices but will make a faction of the orcs more appealing than the others and if they decide to bash both of em, well, i can't help it. I'll try to be fair.

    That is ok.

    But some of you spoke about my failure of handling magic items. Tell me why.

    Tell me why I should allow some items and some more and more. I try to value items with more damaging aspect than to hit aspect. I despise + 5 sword for the + 5 to hit bonus, the + 5 damage isn't a problem. I prefer giving out a sword +1 with 1d6 fire. Way more manoeuverable for me. Am I wrong on this?

    Tell my why I should give armors/shields better than masterwork for my players. By limiting them with magic items, I limit their "CR". Tell me why I should make the %$ mage harder to hit by giving him bracers and rings. Wrong?

    Now, they must research and develop to get some items. They must get this to get that, and since magic is rare and almost forbidden, well, it's a quest in itself.

  20. - Top - End - #20
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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    Limiting the items is probably a noticeable part of why the fighter, rogue, and ranger would still be finding these enemies challenging, while the mage and cleric wouldn't. Short version is, the mundane classes rely on their items for a lot of their statistical power. Defense, especially. AC doesn't scale with level, but there are stacking items for it (magic armor, ring of protection, amulet of natural armor being the main suite). Casters, however, can use their spells.

    Hand out level-appropriate gear, everyone's AC is much better, no one is challenged by orcs and ogres, and the casters have slightly more low-level spells per day (since they don't have to dedicate them to defense).

    Don't hand out level-appropriate gear, the casters use their spells to defend themselves and are just as resilient as the game expects, but the mundanes are just as vulnerable (though not as fragile) as they were nine levels ago.

    Which, of course, creates the problem that now when you introduce mighty classed orcs and ogres, or dragons, or whatever, that that threaten the casters, the mundanes don't have a good enough baseline defense to withstand the now more powerful attacks.

    I mean, don't get me wrong, even with level-appropriate gear, there's a lot of potential for power disparity. But, it does exasperate it.
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    EvilClericGuy

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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    Plus these defensive items could have been thrown on your enemies to make them harder to kill, 3x lv 9 orc shamans/warlocks will drop in 1 round to your characters melee attacks if the have no magical defensive gear but will provide a CR appropiate challenge and require a good expenditure of resources if they're appropiately geared.

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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    Quote Originally Posted by Xcalibur View Post
    I despise + 5 sword for the + 5 to hit bonus, the + 5 damage isn't a problem. I prefer giving out a sword +1 with 1d6 fire. Way more manoeuverable for me. Am I wrong on this?

    Tell my why I should give armors/shields better than masterwork for my players. By limiting them with magic items, I limit their "CR". Tell me why I should make the %$ mage harder to hit by giving him bracers and rings. Wrong?

    Now, they must research and develop to get some items. They must get this to get that, and since magic is rare and almost forbidden, well, it's a quest in itself.
    Ok, well, as everyone else said mundane characters are much more hindered by a low-magic setting than casters. I currently play in a low magic, flavor-wise, setting: +5 bows are really well made bows that only people who spend a feat on it can craft. Weapons with 1d6 fire damage have burning oil coating or something. It is refluffed to be less magical. But nevertheless, mundanes still get to have nice things.

    I'm not sure what you mean with the sword comparison; but a to-hit bonus equals a bonus to damage for any character with Power Attack, and that feat is the cornerstone of many melee builds.

    (mid op examples, not really "most powerful")
    The most powerful thing a 11th level wizard with appropriate magic items is Disintegrate. The same wizard without items is still casting Disintegrate.

    The most powerful thing a 11th level fighter can do is teleport into melee as a swift action (Anklets of Translocation) and full attack for four attacks (item of Haste) with +16 to hit and 2d6+29 damage per hit, using a +1 Aptitude Collision sword and a Tooth of Malphas I think.
    The same fighter with only a masterwork weapon is charging for +16 to hit, but one attack at around 2d6+7 damage.

    See? The caster can do just about the same thing, the melee is really really a lot worse. Therefore, WBL should be kept in line to avoid making casters stronger. And as others have said, magic items can be used to strengthen enemies - and you can always make up a reason that makes them useless to everyone else after the fight. They might break, or be too big, or be tied to the enemy souls, whatever. Just remember that enemies get a WBL too.
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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    Your problem is not that you are a poor DM; I'm sure your pretty good.

    Your problem is that the game system you are running does not support the type of campaign which you are trying to run, well not beyond about level 6.

    Since you are now running a game at level 12 the problems have become obvious.
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    BlueWizardGirl

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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    You have a very common problem with 'Low Magic Games.' There are fixes for you though:

    First off, if you want a low magic game you must make magic 'low' to the players too. So you can't have normal by-the-rules spell casters in a low magic game. That is way too much magic for a low magic game. Think of the ultra low magic Lord of the Rings. Gandaf was a wizard, and how many spells does he even cast, ever? Next to none. Gandaf is a perfect example of a low magic wizard: he uses next to no magic. So a normal D&D wizard that can cast even three spells, let alone something devastating like fireball is a god in a low magic world.

    But your stuck with the rules and you can't just Houserule the normal spellcasters away. But what you can do, is change everything else in the world.

    The super easy way: just give all monsters more Hit Points. Give each one. say 3d6 bonus hit points. Then they can absorb hit point damage more. For a bit more complicated, just give everything three levels of barbarian. Or give everything a +2 or more template. Or advance all monsters.

    You can also change the way you play battles. You might just line up your foes like targets to get hit by spells. This is very common. You might want to go grab a book or two on battle tactics. A great book is, of course, The Art of War.

    And you can just increase the types of monsters. Drop the orcs and make them drow, for example.

  25. - Top - End - #25
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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    Quote Originally Posted by Gamer Girl View Post
    You have a very common problem with 'Low Magic Games.' There are fixes for you though:

    First off, if you want a low magic game you must make magic 'low' to the players too. So you can't have normal by-the-rules spell casters in a low magic game. That is way too much magic for a low magic game. Think of the ultra low magic Lord of the Rings. Gandaf was a wizard, and how many spells does he even cast, ever? Next to none. Gandaf is a perfect example of a low magic wizard: he uses next to no magic. So a normal D&D wizard that can cast even three spells, let alone something devastating like fireball is a god in a low magic world.
    Good insight into the biggest problem with most low-magic campaigns.

    But your stuck with the rules and you can't just Houserule the normal spellcasters away. But what you can do, is change everything else in the world.
    Here I'm a little puzzled; if possible, you should houserule the normal spellcasters away, because they don't fit.

    The super easy way: just give all monsters more Hit Points. Give each one. say 3d6 bonus hit points. Then they can absorb hit point damage more. For a bit more complicated, just give everything three levels of barbarian. Or give everything a +2 or more template. Or advance all monsters.
    And this is just going to have exactly the wrong effect. Specifically, it will reduce the effectiveness of mundanes already reduced in strength by the lack of magic items and blasting casters, without doing much of anything to the effectiveness of party-buffers, battlefield controllers, save-or-die tossers, or, well, any optimized full caster at all. Nor, for that matter, will it do all that much against the few optimized mundane builds (which will mostly be chargers and trippers).

    Please, please, don't suggest "fixes" that nerf low- and mid-op characters more than high-op. Instead, if you absolutely can't eliminate Wizards, Druids, Clerics, etc, then increase monster saves and use weaker monsters, and perhaps slap on certain immunities; you'll probably have to dig around a good bit to find templates or feats for this, though.

    Edit: Consider adapting the E6 variant to your campaigns, as it tends to limit the worst excesses of full casters by simply never getting to those levels; it also keeps challenges more "gritty".
    Last edited by TuggyNE; 2012-10-29 at 11:29 PM.
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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM


    But your stuck with the rules and you can't just Houserule the normal spellcasters away. But what you can do, is change everything else in the world.

    The super easy way: just give all monsters more Hit Points. Give each one. say 3d6 bonus hit points. Then they can absorb hit point damage more. For a bit more complicated, just give everything three levels of barbarian. Or give everything a +2 or more template. Or advance all monsters.

    You can also change the way you play battles. You might just line up your foes like targets to get hit by spells. This is very common. You might want to go grab a book or two on battle tactics. A great book is, of course, The Art of War.

    And you can just increase the types of monsters. Drop the orcs and make them drow, for example.
    1. While it is possible to carefully craft a world and foes so that spellcasters are not as effective and melee are more effective, it is really hard and really annoying. I prefer to simply houserule spellcasters to fix the problem.

    2. Giving everything more HP does not actually solve the problem. The orcs still can't hurt the level 12 wizard. It just takes 2 fireballs, or a fireball and a flame strike to kill them now. It makes combat last LONGER, it does not make combat more DANGEROUS. This is the entire problem with 4e.

    3. The Art of War, while often quoted, requires a fair amount of tactical/strategic knowledge to actually understand, and focuses more on the underlying principles and philosophy of war than specific simple tricks that a DM could use. It also applies mostly to the real world, not a world with rules like DnD's. There is currently no good resource for military tactics in DnD, and I should probably write one, but a short form is;

    Avoid area spells - use tower shields, spread formations, and the like, to not lose all your men in one fell swoop

    Counterspelling is God - counterspelling stops a single cloudkill wiping out 10,000 men

    Warriors need buffs - bards, marshals, dragon shamans, crusaders, warblades, all give buffs to units of men at a time, each unit of men should have these

    Small elite units are worth more than armies - armies can be used for patrolling, building siegeworks, or even, messily, with the use of nets, massed archery and massed grapple checks, to defeat elite characters or monsters. But a small elite unit, with a wizard and cleric to drop buff spells and protections on them, can achieve victory on it's lonesome.

    Nets, alchemical touch attack weapons, the Mass Volley rules in MiniHB and Heroes of Battle, siege weaponry, and Aid Another are the way the common man fights back against elites and monsters. There is also the Mob template, but it can get pretty broken pretty fast so it needs a bit of homebrew to make it more accurate and useful.

    And finally - don't let the enemy dictate the pace. The PCs are holding the pass? Sneak orc mountaineers over the mountain and sack the city behind their backs. PCs fly away? Have goblin ambushers ready to attack them the moment they try to sleep. And then again 4 hours later. And so on. Don't let them get their 8 hours of rest.

    PCs are the front line of the enemy army? Go through the forest and hit the sides. Teleport an elite strike force in and take out the leaders of the army while the PCs are killing mook orcs.

  27. - Top - End - #27
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    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    Quote Originally Posted by Novawurmson View Post
    Level 1 Fighter. One of his feats is Power Attack. Greatsword. Str of 18.

    2d6+6 (1.5xStr for two-handed weapon)+3 damage (power attack)= 2d6+9, or an average of 16 damage per round.

    Level 1 Wizard. Burning hands. 1d4 damage, Reflex save for half. Average of 2.5 damage per round.

    You'll find a lot of love for/complaining about spellcasters on these forums, but melee (and archers in PF) are the kings of raw damage.
    getting a little OT here, but...

    while I agree that it is simple to make a 1st level melee who can cleave through the opposition, it's very possible to make a 1st level caster who can do it better.

    I'm talking 1st level sorcerers who can do 5d4+10 burning hands or another variant who can do 3d4+8 magic missiles, if you preferr to auto-slag 1st level encounters from range.

    I think he was complaining about casters getting auto damage with no to-hit roll required with some spells. While a power attacking melee still at-least has to make a roll to hit.

    One suggestion might be, giving a caster a magical BAB equal to a fighter their level (adjusted by their primary attribute) and force them to make a to-hit roll with the spells you have problems with... this won't help you much with the area of effect spells however :/

  28. - Top - End - #28
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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    You see, I found a "solution" way before to compensate magics by giving maximum health points to every monsters. To be fair with combat oriented characters, I simply put less monsters. So in combat, it's a bit harder but since they're less, melee/ranged PCs had a good compromise. But eventually the mage (and cleric with some spells) save the day.

    We're about to enter PF. We'll transfer 3.5 characters in PF.

    I'll houserule the following: no stats beyond 18 (20 if you get the +2 racial) to any stats besides having magical rises. While not hurting much the melee/ranged who got more than 1 important stats, it'll cripple the mage and cleric. They'll whine but I'll handle that. They'll whine more, I'll tell them to find in-game solutions to enhance their stats.

    I'll put a bit more and more items here and there for the combat oriented guys to justify the increase of orcish npcs with classes.

    Eventually, some orcs will come with some tower shields or SR. I agree, that'll force the mage to try something else besides those damned fireballs/buckets of d6s/d8s spells. I'll manage to balance quantity with quality.

    thanks for your insights... I really appreciate it.

    p.s. I read the Art of War every week. I simply adore that book :)

  29. - Top - End - #29
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    Quote Originally Posted by Xcalibur View Post
    You see, I found a "solution" way before to compensate magics by giving maximum health points to every monsters. To be fair with combat oriented characters, I simply put less monsters. So in combat, it's a bit harder but since they're less, melee/ranged PCs had a good compromise. But eventually the mage (and cleric with some spells) save the day.

    We're about to enter PF. We'll transfer 3.5 characters in PF.

    I'll houserule the following: no stats beyond 18 (20 if you get the +2 racial) to any stats besides having magical rises. While not hurting much the melee/ranged who got more than 1 important stats, it'll cripple the mage and cleric. They'll whine but I'll handle that. They'll whine more, I'll tell them to find in-game solutions to enhance their stats.

    I'll put a bit more and more items here and there for the combat oriented guys to justify the increase of orcish npcs with classes.

    Eventually, some orcs will come with some tower shields or SR. I agree, that'll force the mage to try something else besides those damned fireballs/buckets of d6s/d8s spells. I'll manage to balance quantity with quality.

    thanks for your insights... I really appreciate it.

    p.s. I read the Art of War every week. I simply adore that book :)
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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: [PF] Help me become a better DM

    If you read the DMG, it tells you that you should be using CR appropriate encounters.

    For a party of 12th level characters, 100,000 orcs is too weak. Orcs are CR 1, they NEVER add up to a 12th level encounter unless they have npc or class levels (npc levels count as 1/2 class levels for CR, it's all in the MM how to calculate it) or they have a bunch of actually appropriate encounter monsters as mounts.

    Adding HP never solves the problem, it just makes it slightly harder to kill the orcs that still have no way to hurt the party (+4 to hit with a falchion? oooooohhhhhh nooooooooo).

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