New PFS Character

17 June, 2013

So! I have my new PFS character.

Crunch:

Half-orc Magus. 14, 15, 14, 14 +2 racial, 10, 8.

Favoured class: Magus. +1 hp.

Combat Casting. +4 to cast defensively.
Alternate racial feature – Scared Tattoo. +1 to all saves. Replaces Ferocity.
Alternate racial feature – Shaman’s Apprentice. Endurance as a bonus feat. Replaces “intimidating”.

Three traits from Phemom ’13 DM freebie.
Combat Trait – Armour Expert. -1 to armour check penalty.
Orc Trait – Unbreakable Hate. +2 to all concentration checks.
Cheliax trait – Desperate Focus. +2 to all concentration checks.

Gold and XP from We Be Goblins and from DMmming Quest for Perfection 1, so I have enough cash for decent gear.

Gear:
MWork chain shirt.
MWork battleaxe.
Composite Longbow +2 str.
20 Arrows.
20 Blunt arrows.
20 Paper candles (we be goblins)
Magus’s Kit.

  • 1/2 Orc for darkvision. I’m happy to swap the other orc goodies out for other things, but darkvision is worth paying for.
  • The magus ignores arcane failure from light armour (same as a Bard). Masterwork + Armour Expert means the armour check penalty is zero. Note that Gark can sleep in light armour with no penalty via Shaman’s Apprentice.
  • Battleaxe can be wielded one or two handed, so 2-handed when not casting for that extra 1 point of damage.
  • +8 to cast defensively. The workhorse spell at low levels will be Daze, a cantrip. At level 1, I’ll be able to cast it defensively on a 6-20, and no biggie if it fizzles. Also packing Shield and Colour Spray.
  • I will make him a wand user, I think. It’s the only way to get one spell after another off in combat. But you can’t use a wand “defensively” … hmm. Have to think about it.
  • Good Dex for AC and bow usage. Khadem participated in a TPK because we didn’t have a ranged combatant with darkvision. Don’t care about precise shot, because when it comes to melee he’ll be in there with the axe.

Main issue is that without social skills, he’ll have trouble with faction missions.

Fluff:

Gark is puny compared to most half-orcs, but way intelligent. He also lacks the “Graahh!” factor, not having ferocity or intimidation. Furthermore, he’s Chelaxian. LN, worships Asmodeus. So:

Gark’s mother was a chelaxian human mage, who offended the wrong person. For her punishment, she was handed over to the guards for a night, with stern orders that they were not to kill or permanently maim her. She fell pregnant, and although no-one actually knows who his father was, he was named “Torgson” after Torg – the local idiot.

Thanks to his comparatively puny frame, he learned early on not to challenge other half-orcs, and focused the orcish rage inwards. He hates half-orcs, particularly big & dumb fighter/barbarian types. This spills out to monstrous humanoids in general (he has Goblin, Orc, Giant and Drconic as languages).

And almost as much as he hates the bigger half-orcs, he despises his mother for her weakness, and for passing that weakness onto him.

IOW: he’s pretty fucked up, emotionally. Hence the low charisma. He takes offense too easily, and hangs onto grudges unnecessarily.

But he got an education in the arcane, and learned discipline in his own way (shaman’s apprentice). He has polynesian-style tattoos over most of his body, which earns him a little respect in some quarters.

He’s LN, which is his answer to the Orc beserker rage. His anger runs cold, not hot. He serves Asmodeus first, the Pathfinders second.

One day, he’ll die by refusing to back down in the face of something he should run from. But he’s not a hero. In his mind he’s just a runty half-orc who learned some magic from his mum.


I want me a woman

16 June, 2013

I want me a woman, one who is as drunk as I am, right now.

I’d hold her hair for her, and tell her “It’s ok” while she vomited into the toilet. Then I’d kiss her right on the mouth and pretend I couldn’t taste it.

Then we’d go to bed and fall unconscious. About ten we’d wake, and both be thinking the same thing: “I totally need to piss, and also I am incredibly thirsty”. We’d take turns, one of us using the bathroom while the other slurped water straight out of the tap. Then we’d go back to bed and hump, although nothing much would come of it.

(I once has sex with a woman who felt, seeing as we had had sex, that it was totally ok for her to leave the door of the bathroom open while she had a piss. What the fuck? Maybe it’s having kids does that to a person. They lose their sense of propriety when it comes to bodily functions.)

About two we’d wake again. I’d tell her: “babe, I have D&D at six” and one of us would catch a taxi home. Probably me.

Just a little slice of happiness is all I really want.


DMming PFS

13 June, 2013

Well! My first week running a PFS game. Went well, I think.

One character death, due to the party splitting up and scattering in an area they knew to be dangerous. As a result, they came at the BBEG one at a time like the bad guys in a martial arts movie, with the usual result. The final combat was great, though, and their dropping of the boss was cinematic. I’m especially pleased how the samuari’s “you get one final round after being dropped below 0” came into play. He got the killing hit, after it had been softened up by the sorcerer. The player has good reason to be pleased with how his character performed.

Got it right: I used my iPad to access the paizo site to make the record of the session. This means that the players don’t get that delay waiting for the DM to put up the record – entered the PP and XP straight away at the end of session.

Got it wrong: I was missing two items that I should have brought with me – pregen sheets and my map eraser.

Permit me to record here what you need to run a game, both for you and for my own benefit next fortnight.

General source materials
Core Rulebook & Monster Manual
Rookie error to forget these. The modules don’t have statbloocks for standard monsters. You must have these books.
Pregens
I think I’ll print these out and laminate. This means I can reuse the sheets.
PFS rules
Didn’t need these on the night, but I out to have brought hardcopy of the character creation rules, at least.
World maps
When playing, I like to know where I am, and I assume the players want the same. I had a map of the continents of Golarion, the inner sea map, and a map of Xian Tia. Laminated for reuse. Ultimately I’ll wind up with a collection.
From the scenario:
the scenario itself
nasty moment there, when I though I had missed this
chronicle record sheets (8)
eight of these. I wound up with six players at the table, which is more than I expected, and you may need a spare.
GM record sheet
Didn’t need this, because I use the iPad and went straight to the site. Want to get myself a small bluetooth mouse/keyboard.
Faction missions (handout)
One of each is enough.
Major colour text (handout)
Didn’t actually use these, but I’d prefer to be able to hand out the mission briefing than to have to read it multiple times, if payers have questions.
Knowledge checks
I like having these as a handout. Just print each set in a column (c/p into a word document with narrow columns), cut out pre-game and at the table fold under the sections that the players didn’t get a good enough knowledge score to know. This means that the players can RP sharing what they know (or not, if their characters are of a secretive bent).
Scenario artwork
A pic of the venture captain, and the BBEG. Over time, hopefully, players will come to recognise the venture captains they have worked with, and this will provide a sense of continuity.
I find that on the mac, a copy/paste from preview grabs everything on the page, but the adobe reader will permit you to select the underlying images. This means you don’t have to edit the image to remove text.
Items for running encounters

Map, pens, eraser
I use a few a1 sheets which I prepared fairly cheaply. Generated a grid, printed them off at Officeworks at the cheaper “plan printing” rate, stained the paper with coffee, then took it back and had them laminated. About $20 each, all up. Brad at Good Games is kind enough to allow me to keep them at the store.
I mark maps with whiteboard eraser, which comes off the map with one of these weird chux sponge things. They are slightly abrasive, but don’t score the map excessively. Clean the map after the session! The whiteboard marker becomes difficult to remove if you let it sit for a week.

For the monastery itself, I had a Paizo map, borrowed from Ben.

Minis
For the monsters, and a few assorted ones for PCs and NPCs. I actually had a couple of my minis repainted for the purpose (I have a stack of wizards minis).
Dice, pencils.
Spare dice in case your players need them. (EDIT) but a better solution, when playing in a games store, is to point the players at the shop counter.
Spare paper
Always a good idea.
Pens
For the chronicle sheets. Buy a pack.
Initiative
I dislike those fiddly magnetic initiative boards, I prefer to mark out the numbers 25 to 0 on the edge of the map and write in initials – blue for PCs, red for monsters. Everyone knows where they stand. If people’s initiative changes, it’s a simple matter to scribble out the initials and write them elsewhere in the order.

(I tend to get a little brusque with “Oh? Is it my turn? Hmm … I wonder what to do.” My response to this is “Delay. Next!” Inexperienced players get cut some considerable slack, of course, but it’s not fair for one player who should know better to waste six other people’s time. Especially when time is tight, which it tends to be in organised play.)

Things you need to do
Register the session on the paizo website
Makes everything run more smoothly
Read the module
Do I even need to mention this?
Pick out minis for the encounters
Bookmark monsters in the MM
I like post-it flag notes
Review rules
This means monster special attacks that you are unsure of, spells that you are unsure of, rules (such as altitude sickness) that you are unfamiliar with, condition effects that you are going to need to know.

I’m sure I will refine this list, but this is how it stands at the moment.


The weekend that was

11 June, 2013

Big weekend. Enormous weekend. Pheno ’13 Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, home game on Sunday, Good Games on Monday. I’m wrecked.

My PFS character got killed. Should have seen it coming – the DM announced that “if you don’t tell me, then it didn’t happen”, mumbled some crucial colour text (which in-game our characters would have been studying for days), and then when we reached the Door of Doom announced that he needed us to repeat exactly the right words – no, the fact that out characters would have made notes of this was not good enough. AKA: “so you walk downstairs with no pants on” DMming (you know, ’cause you didn’t tell me that you were putting on your pants).

Should have turned back then and there. Oh well. Khadem is dead. I think my next character will be a half-orc ranger. Darkvision and a bow.

Home game was big, too. Army battle, then a lesser Jabberwock (which was the toughest thing we had ever faced – confusion is a bitch and any one of our characters can one-round kill any of the others), then we had to recite a magical chant to open the portal to the Other Place. The chant involved something about a “Highway to Hell”, and the DM gave us a handout with the words to recite. Correct method, there.

Monday was way more relaxed. Navigating through a trapped vault, most of which traps were nonlethal. I used a mundane item (Foaming Plaster) which I had purchased on a whim, in-character. Eunice spoke to an angel who, sadly, had to inform her that no – she was not dreaming all this.

And it’s not quite over, yet. Tomorrow I run Quest For Perfection part I. I have run PFS before, but now I am dealing with an organiser for Canberra and I want to perform well as a DM. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, and I discovered on the weekend that I don’t know some of the intricacies of the rules as well as I should.

Need to print out some handouts. I loathe reading blocks of colour text.


PFS at Pheno ’13

9 June, 2013

Well, it’s Saturday.

I have played 3 games, leveling up my Bard to 4. Fun times. PFS is not really my favourite thing, but is an ok way to spend a weekend.

Highlights for me so far were:

Beating the no-win scenario.
There’s a game where you really can’t achieve both goals A and B – you have to choose. Except we totally did, thanks to the party rogue.
Actually using bardic fascinate.
The dudes needed to make a sneak raid on a patroled station. My bard went around the front and commenced a comedy/acting performance, involving a halfling attempting to use a fishing net just a bit too big for him. Bluff check to disguise the fact that he was distracting them, perform check to be funny enough to watch. After attracting the attention of the guards, the supervisor came out and told them to get back to work. Bam – that dude became the target of the fascination attempt. I like to think that my bard watched the audience and timed a particularly brutal pratfall for that split-second when he had that supervisor’s attention. The suprvisor failed his save, and with him watching the hilarious antics of this halfling, the rest of the guards kept watching too, and we got three melee guys in there before they noticed. It turned a brutal scenario involving getting over a defended wall while being pelted with missiles into an easy win.
We talked to an aberration.
Rather than attacking an aberration, we talked to it. Managed to exchange food (some live chickens) for passage. The DM was great.
We talked to a mushroom.
Same DM. The mushroom spoke druidic, and we had a couple of druids who negotiated our way past. Basically, we blitzed the scenario by having just the right people to get through nonviolently.
Saving finale.
I like playing support casters that save the day by rescuing other characters with a well-placed spell. Saving Finale turns an “Oh, Shit!” moment into “Not a problem.” It’s the main thing I did not enjoy about epic Die With Honour – everyone has jewelry, and there isn’t a lot of co-operative play.

And just generally being inspiring. At the end of the day, +1 to everyone’s damage comes to quite a few hp to the credit of the bard. Still not my favourite class, but this dude is turning out to be ok to play.

2nd-level spells: Glitterdust (because it’s awesome to the point of being broken) and Gallant Inspiration, because that’s how I roll. One of the DM’s recommended Heroism, but it’s single-target only and meh. It’s good, but not good enough.

Goddammit, it’s nearly half-past midnight, and game on at 9AM tomorrow.


PFS – Defenders of Nesting Swallow

6 June, 2013

THIS WRITE-UP CONTAINS SPOILERS.
DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT PLAYED PFS SCENARIO #3-13, The Quest for Perfection, Part III: Defenders of Nesting Swallow.

Khadem Aleghaderh, dispatch 7

Journal of the Journey to and Defence of Swallow’s Nest, Khadem Aleghaderh, Pathfinder level 3

We have sucessfully landed. It seems that our loss of our boat and it’s cargo had become common knowlege. We are a laughingstock. Trading is impossible, and the local venture-captain has regrettably mislaid the horses that were to be our mounts for the voyage. In all frankness, I cannot blame him.

On a brighter note, my studies of the Tien language have borne fruit, and I feel I am competent to communicate.

We journey onward. The weather is miserable, and everyone tetchy. Even my new campfire bead – purchased at great expense – is sodden. I have elected not to attempt to cheer people up. I do not think it would be well received.
Rain.
Rain.
Rain.
Rain.
Thank the gods – the rain seems to have taken a break. The mud is as bad as ever, though.
We approach the village of Nesting Swallow, led by two of the inhabitants of that village. They were fleeing bandits, it seems, but were attacked on the road. Tengu. It seems that the town is beset. We will travel and meet the village councilmen.
It has been a productive evening. It seems these bandits attack every year, stealing most of the harvest, leaving just enough for the village to survive on so that they may attack again next year.

The last descendant of Lee Yeow is here, but she will not help us unless we first assist the village.

We begin making preparations at dawn tomorrow.


Brother (?),

We have arrived at Nesting Swallow. The people of this village are set upon by bandits every year at harvest, and I am determined to help them prepare defences. This year shall be different!

Our first priority is the erecting of barricades and bringing in the harvest. Josinda and Ross are out “scouting”, so they call it. But I have had a spot of luck. Caella has approached me to assist him with assessing the material worth of this village. Easy enough – there is almost nothing here, save that they are strong on spirit, or shall be, once I infuse them with some andorran grit! The point is, he and I have struck a deal: in return for my wasting a day assisting him to make a stocktake, he shall act as I direct for the remainder of the time until the bandits attack. His help should be invaluable, as he has a way with traps.

In the meantime, L and T assist the farmers to get their harvest in.

And yet another spot of luck! The harvest is taken in, and L desires C’s help to help value it (I suspect Qadira at work, here). I offer him a day of C’s time in return for the same bargain – he will work as I direct to strengthen the defenses of the village.

I shall put him to work training the archers, of which the village has only a handful.

With the harvest in, we shall flood the rice paddys to defend the southern edge of the town. The whole area will be quite impassable to horses, and anyone attempting to come through there will bea easy pickings.

C has nearly completed strengthening the perimeter with traps and other devices. R and J are still “scouting”. Mind you – their efforts are not entirely useless. They report that a small army of bandits is indeed massing, and seems to be arranging to attack in 5 days. The barricades are not complete.
I have pulled some of the locals off the construction of barricades and had them train. This has been a mistake, as we are now behind. The defenses must be ready!
R and J have at last come in from their scouting. They assist with training. The barricades will be done tomorrow.
The defenses are as ready as they can be. We are spending this day and the next training our troops – such as they are – to fight. We make arrows.

The locals swing between optimism and despair. But I am satisfied: whatever the outcome, they have learned that freedom must be fought for! If they fall tomorrow, they will die on their feet, not on their knees. They have thrown off the yoke of their oppressor, they will spill the blood of their enemies that would enslave them.

I think everyone succeeded in their faction mission, mainly because we cooperated with one another to get them done.
We are victorious. We fought with the villagers, fending off waves of tengu bandits until the leader himself astride an axebeak entered the village through the burned-out eastern barricade. There is little to tell, save that we slew him.

Tomorrow, Je Tun, only living descendant of Lee Yeow, will perform a simple ceremony and awake the power of his braid.

Tonight, we rest – we are too weary to celebrate. This village will not soon forget that it was the pathfinders of Absalom who came to their aid.


Khadem Alegdh – level 3

2 June, 2013

Woot! Level 3!

So. Skill ranks in perform oratory and perform comedy. Versatile performance means I use oratory instead of diplomacy and sense motive. At level six, I will be using comedy instead of bluff and intimidate.

A skill rank in linguistics, Khelish (that’s the local language, right? I’ll modify it before play if I have that wrong). Khadem studied the language prior to leaving on this trip, and hanging around the marketplace where we have docked has smoothed out his pronunciation.

Feat: Spellsong. Has two uses. One – burn a bardic performance round to maintain concentration on a spell while casting another one. Meh. Two is far more interesting: burn a bardic performance round to disguise the act of casting a spell (perception or sense motive vs. your perform check).

What spell might I need to disguise? My new 1st-level spell! Charm person. Obviously!. Fits right in with the Oratory and Acting.

Next level, I will grab Gallant Inspiration and I think Pilfering Hand as my second-level spells. Pilfering Hand means that he’s finally useful in combat. But that’s 3 games off. Also need to put ranks into Perform (Dance) for the 10th-level versatile performance (acrobatics). But that’s 21 games away. Nearly a year, if we play every fortnight. Of course, I could always find another group for the off week – that’s the charm of organised play.

Or I could DM myself on the off week. I’d run a different game, of course. Or maybe not! Co-ordinate with Ben, perhaps. Hmm.