GG5 – Urban Survival

12 February, 2013

I attempted an urban adventure this week – a change of pace from “here are some monsters, fight ’em!”. Doing this requires improv, which is just something that I am not awesome at. But I know someone who is, and by a twist of fate this week of all weeks the man himself was there at the shop.

I am, of course, talking about Matt.

Matt isn’t playing this campaign. He has, like, a job or something and can’t be there Mondays. Yeah, I know: obviously his priorities are screwed up. But spending a while more or less broke and then not being broke anymore will do that to a bloke.

Anyway. I ran into him in the bottle shop – funny story there, too – and described the night’s game which I was hoping to run. He sat in and very kindly took over to describe the scene where the players met a lord of the dragon clan (we are using l5r as background flavour for the elves).

It was just as I remember – vivid, memorable, and players shutting up because they were keen to hear what happens next. I was as enthralled as everyone else.

Anyway. This was what went down.


So the two brothers Haddock and Sam reunite at the agreed-on rendezvous, and Haddock announces that they will sail again in a week, so they may as well hit the tavern. Miston cuts in and says that he would like an escort around town, say about four of the more presentable members of crew.

John, Daniel, Drewf and Brendan. Don’t know the character’s names yet. Wizard, Alchemist, Bard, and I think sorcerer. Yes, I know what you are all thinking: oops, this could be a problem.

The first day or two passes uneventfully. They do some shopping, tag along after Miston as he visits the libraries in the clan quarter of town and some less reputable spots. After the first day, the other group have gone off on a paid job somewhere.

The town is, is … restless. The bard makes enquiries. First, a elven child has been abducted. Second, in a few days there will be a lunar eclipse. Bad times, and people are planning on staying safe indoors over the inauspicious interval.

By chance, one of them mentions this to Miston. He is alarmed, and asks them to please investigate. The child is of the dragon clan, and it is there they make their first call.


They march up to the front door of the Dragon Clan compound – an embassy, perhaps, or a holiday villa. The bard works his wiles and persuades the guards on the door to go get the butler, who is likewise persuaded to see if the master is receiving visitors. It seems he is, and the party are conducted in.

The bard got his chance to shine. To tell the truth, most of this week’s play was me and Brendan, with interjections from the always irrepressible Daniel. It’s nice to give the bard something to do other than sing his song while everyone else is fighting the monsters.

This is the bit where Matt took over for a while. I can’t do it justice.

They were conducted to a large chamber where, in silence, they participated in a tea ceremony. The tea was drugged, of course, and the Lord’s Lady checked out the party magically, announcing “this is not they” at the end.

Released from thier enscorcelment, they offered thier respects. The rat-man and the human mage were politely rebuffed, but Brendan’s half-elf bard and Drewf’s Ifrit Sorceress were welcomed more warmly – particularly in view of the the sorceress’ command of Ignan.

After a fair bit of table-talk, Lord Tatsuo (?) announced that since fate had sent these to him, that’s what he would work with. His daughter had been kidnapped while shopping about town. He had been hoping to receive a ransom demand, but in view of the fact that he hadn’t got one – well, that was bad news.

“Perhaps it is well that you are not of the clans. What I tell you now must remain in confidence – will you agree to this?” The players agreed, and truthfully (so not running afoul of the Zone of Truth). “Very well – I will tell you this: our daughter has power. Power that she must not use.”

Dun dun dun! And after a bit more, they depart. Having not discussed money. They turn the kid’s room over for diary clues, but nothing there. Then it’s off to town, to check out the route she took on the day.

Dragon clan are mystics. Class-wise, they tend to be monks. They inhabit a mountainous, volcanic set of islands to the north of the rift. As for the cold shoulder to the rat-man and human: ok, he might be a good guy; doesn’t mean he isn’t racist.

Campaign-wise, I wanted the characters to make peaceful contact with some of the elves. As Daniel pointed out: “these are the first elves that haven’t been trying to kill us”.


So they went and spoke to some shopkeepers, waving about a dragon-clan seal. Eventually they tacked her down to a alleyway, a shortcut that she and her four guards took. Signs of struggle? Possibly, but although out-of-the-way, the alley is not unused. Difficult to tell. There was a street-kid clumsily inserted into the alley. The bard tried to fascinate him, and the wizard to approach him, but he beat the save and took off.

The party pursued him over a open hatch for some bakery’s underground oven. They nearly cornered him at an alley, but he managed to scamper over the wall and across a crowded street – the party in pursuit. Finally he tried getting over a roof but slid back: the bard tripping him with his whip. Finally cornered, the party commenced to question the frightened and sullen kid.

We used the paizo chase cards. It went ok – I’ll use ’em again. The main problem for a DM is that you have to have a backup plan for what happens if the party don’t catch him.

And all they really got out of him was that it was ninjas what did it. So they decided to check the bad part of town. They proceed to make clumsy enquiries (Drewf or John rolled a 2) and were ambushed by 4 ninjas!

But these ninjas were crap. Two falling to a Colour Spray, and two simply being killed. After regaining consciousness, the bard proceeded to intimidate the crap out of them (need to check the rules – is there a limit to how far you can shift someone’s attitude with repeated intimidate attempts?). The ninjas revealed that the girl was being taken to Takaoka (High Hill) by some gaijin.

Everyone is “OMG, we is goig to die!”, but the spellcasters did just fine, even without fighters.

The ninjas were then permitted to commit ritual suicide.

Then it’s back to Miston to ask where TF Takaoka might be.

I gave ’em a geography, nature, local and I think arcana check to know about this hill, but they persisted in rolling crap.

So next week – heading out to a high hill, killing some dudes, and rescuing an elf. Yay! It’s that simple – what could go wrong?

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I think some of the players have worked it out

5 February, 2013

The party returned to the ship. There, Capt’n Haddock was able to give them three extremely crappy underwater lanterns. Next day, they returned to the underground fort.

OOC: It was Australia Day long weekend, but the guys on my table last week had agreed to come play at about 6 – a bit earlier than usual. On the night, I had my players but Alix didn’t have hers and left. Wouldn’t you know it – the players on the her table mostly turned up at the usual time. So I had seven players. Arrgh! I slotted them on on a “look, we won’t bother trying to justify this in-game, we’ll just play” basis.

I pumped up the encounter … possibly just a little too far.

But the spriggans were ready for them, and had called on reinforcements. They had put a barrier across the entrance and had a couple of pixies.

It was a bit of a demo on how to use magic to fortify an area. The pixies dropped and entangle over the area, slowing down the assault and making that party easy targets. The spriggans used their scare to run off the tanks, and Fluffy – who was not scared – was dealt with by a sleep arrow.

I forget the details. Half the party – having lost the tanks – turned and ran. The pixies followed them. The ninja ran forward to a breach in the barrier and got clobbered to death and quite a bit of the way past it. Eventually the scare wore off and the tanks returned. They made for the breach and dealt with the remaining spriggans.

The barrier was some crap put across the entrance, 10ft deep. I treated each square as a wooden door for purposes of clearing it. The pixies flew off to follow the characters that ran because shit, they were a bit much and everyone at the table knew it.

A real stand-out was the mage with the wand of Magic Missile, especially with archers behind arrow-slits. He and the other archers made steady progress clearing up the dudes.

We discussed this encounter in email over the following week. Fact is – the EL was insanely high: 8 CR4 monsters vs 7 2nd level characters. It was a DM fuckup, but on the positive side I do think it showcased tactics and magic. This week, the party was far more cohesive.

The party returned to the flooded stairwell and followed it down. It finished at a 20 by 20 room completely underwater. One of the characters, failing to see the danger, walked straight into a Gelatinous Cube. The Gelatinous Cube paralyses its victims, but with seven in the party and counting here was never a danger that they would all fall prey to it. They fell on it and tore it apart, it’s remains carrying a great deal of loot and magic.

I hadn’t been doing treasure as I should, so I put enough loot in the cube to be reasonable wealth for 4 3rd level characters. The drop-ins scored some cash (gems) – I didn’t want to screw up Alix’s table by giving them items. A +1 buckler, +1 weapon, a pearl of power and some cold iron weapons, and some consumables – scrolls for the wizard. I missed including something for the druid. It all adds up, and was actually quite a haul.
This was all according to plan, BTW – I foreshadowed the gelatinous cube by telling the party that the complex was oddly clean, that the floors looked like they had been swept.

After the fight with the cube, some of the party went back to the ship, and a new person turned up – an Assimar Paladin (Maddie’s new character). They then exited the room. It opened out onto a 25′ wide colonnade – all underwater – opening out onto the ocean. A look over the edge revealed a sheer worked stone wall, dropping 30′ to the seabed below.

The party wanted to summon a dolphin to explore, but when you summon a monster, you don’t get a super intelligent talking dolphin – you get a dolphin. It can fight, and you can attempt to get it to do a “trick” (I think). But without a way of talking to it, it’s just an animal.

Proceeding along the colonnade they investigated another room, inhabited by a giant salt-water leech (whatever). It was dealt with by battle-pig and (I think) the bard. As they did so, a circling shark decided to have a go, and was also dispatched without trouble.

Underwater combat and movement is savage if you don’t have a swim speed. Even with a successful DC 10 check, your are at 1/4 movement with penalties to hit. We had a couple of ranged combatants who discovered that being underwater makes bows damn near useless, although I think one of them did manage to kill-steal the shark.

Having said that – perhaps it’s as it should be. I am going to have to trawl some of the supplements to find purchasable mundane gear to make underwater fights possible to do.

Battle pig has barding and +6 natural armour. Ow! Damn near impossible to hit.

Further along the colonnade was another door, but in the gloom beyond it the paladin detected eeeeevil! At the base of the great ramp leading down from the upper floor was some sort of platform on wheels and six undead – one of which had webbing enabling it to swim. Again, the fight proceeded without major incident.

Four zombies, two ghouls, one of them a lacedon. The ghouls didn’t get a hit in, mainly because the party are putting the fighters up front. The better tactics are making it tougher.

The undead dealt with, they investigated a little more. The platform had a mound of some stuff on it, and an old, nearly rotten cargo net over that stuff that radiated very faint transmutation magic. The spell casters agreed that the aura was faint on account of the enchantment being very old. The stuff turned out to be rust, but where the net was touching the rust was still fragments of bright steel. Hoping that underneath all that rust might still be some salvageable loot, they investigated and got lucky – several ingots of steel, and a couple of cold iron, each stamped with a hallmark of some strange script.

In the final room was a magical ring, a pearl of power, and crates and boxes and piles of thin clay tablets – mostly broken and old, but many still legible, covered with that same odd writing.

The ramp up was blocked by a stone portcullis. They considered breaking or open in it somehow, but then decided that an easier solution was to bring the ship around and lower a net which they could load underwater.

Didn’t think of that. A better solution than the one I provided – raising the portcullis and using the ramp.

On the way out they discovered the lairs of the spriggans, and a small network of secret passages leading to the arrow-slits above the stairs, and to the wheelhouse above the portcullis.


Well, Capt’n Haddock was most pleased to hear about a load of steel ingots. Less pleased when the party reminded him that all loot bar writings was theirs. He tried to negotiate for a salvage fee, but the paladin persuaded him and the crew that since they had lost a man, he should be a little less miserly.

During the negotiations, Miston prompted the captain – in elvish – to try to grab the cold iron if possible. Andrew’s character confronted Miston in private, demanding to know why. Miston was unimpressed:

He rolled a 2 on his intimidate 🙂

Boy, I am 800 years old. I have faced nightmares. The cold iron is particularly useful against some of the nightmares we face. Sail with us for long, and you may find yourself wielding weapons made from the very iron you brought back today.

They set sail to return to rendezvous, dropping in to the Naga Clan magick shoppe and chandlery on the way.


Summer, bloody summer

22 January, 2013

Man, January is not a good time for gaming.

Everyone’s head is fucked up. I’m depressed, Alix is not 100%, the players got no concentration. I outright forgot stuff because my brain told me my minis were at the shop. They’re not – there in a bag right bloody there where they always are. But – summer. Is it the heat? Of course it’s the fucking heat. It’s 40 degrees.

Not just that, but it’s light outside. No-one really wants to start game until 8. Interestingly, that’s when the pubs move trivia to, during summer. Daylight savings and longer days – people don’t want to be doing indoor things till it’s dark, and it’s not dark until 9. Shop shuts at 11. I’m lucky to run two encounters.

Another month or two of this shit, then colder days and we can all play some D&D.


Last week, we split the part. Half went with Tinkerbell to help out a dryad. The other half (my table) with Miston to check out some ruins – an old port.

First, my guys needed to organise some amulets of water breathing. A visit to the naga clan turned int a quest, as the elves were a bit WTF about selling a dozen of the things. Happily, a naga dropped in on the conversation and indicated that he would approve of the sale if the players could demonstrate their worthiness.

The party dealt with some aquatic troglodytes that had ransacked an immature pearl bed, and then dealt with the sahuagin that were behind the troglodytes.

The elves permitted the party to keep the pearls they got from the troglodytes (immature pearls – little better than rubbish. No magical use at all.) And permitted then to purchase the amulets.

The naga sent them on their way with a bit of a – Warning? Prophecy? “You do not know who you serve.”


And so they came to the nameless isle, home to an ancient port according to Miston. Why this port was no longer a port was a mystery. One side of the isle was cliffs, the top of them sloping down to a more or less sheltered beach on the other side.

Captain Haddock anchored and called for volunteers to search the ruins: “Any loot you find, apart from writings of interest to Miston, is yours to keep.”

Four volunteers. A ninja, a mage, a samurai and his pig, and a bard.

There were ruins of a town, very old. Curiously, the ruins extend down into the surf. The explorers spot a high point – an old temple or other prominent building. They head up to investigate. And are set upon by a leopard which had been stalking them, it nearly killing the mage.

After dealing with it, they determine that the roads seemed to head up the hill towards the cliffs and down into the surf. They decide to go up.

The road crests a rise and then heads down to a curious fortification set into the ground. A gaping entrance where there once were great gates stands before them. They head towards it, and are fired on by archers standing behind arrow slits. Charging forwards into the structure, they see three small twisted little creatures which drop their crossbows and magically enlarge to the size of small giants, drawing monringstars. Upon death, the revert to small size, their faces even in death still twisted with hate. The bard (or possibly the wizard) is somewhat at a loss to identify them. Plainly they are humanoid, they bleed normal blood, but there is something faintly otherworldly about them. They are not from around here.

Inside the structure it seems built into the hill, but not a nest of goblin-tunnels. No: a wide area with a vaulted roof – some sort of work area. A great passage leading down into the hill, towards the cliffs outside, and stone posts where (the sailors recognising it instantly) a pair of great capstans once operated, the ropes or chains of it pulling something up from the unlighted deeps. The floor is tiled with masonry tiles which, while old, still are arranged in a pleasing but practical geometric pattern. A smaller passage leads off into the darkness, it too is well made, tiled, and with an arched roof.

They investigate. They check for tracks, but the passage seems swept clean – not even the dust your would expect. A passage leads off to the left. They leave it for now and press further on. They come to a large room – a hall – perhaps a barracks, a mess hall, a meeting room. They notice the remains of a mosaic on the wall, the pattern of the design only just visible – a harbour set against cliffs, and ships.

It becomes plain. This hall is the harbour of which Miston spoke, the great capstans pulling goods up from the passage leading down to the water at the cliffs. But much is still a mystery.

At the pack of the hall are two smaller passages, one leading down, one level.

They choose to go down. The Ninja notices that the ceiling is suspicious – textured with a deeply cut geometrical pattern. They is nothing behind it at the entrance, but the texture is made to conceal something, without a doubt.

The bard conjures a small rubber ball and tosses it down the stairs. The mage, of all people, hears ever so faintly a sound.

“Twang”.

The samurai elects to charge down the stairs, shield raised over his head. Two arrows rattle off it. The others follow, the mage firing a “sleep” spell into the darkness above the stairwell. They head down – 80, 90, 100 or so feet, perhaps more. And come to the waterline: the stairwell is flooded with salt water.

They have their amulets, of course. But after a brief discussion discover that they have no way to light their way underwater – only torches. They must turn back, running the gauntlet once again. Quickly they check the level passage at the back of the hall. It leads out to the cliffs, to a concealed lookout.

Unable to make further progress, they turn back, returning to the ship. The bard recounts their story. The scholar Miston tries to hide his reaction, but is unable to conceal his excitement at their description of these ancient stone ruins.

They ask for some waterproof light source, and it seems Captain Haddock has just the thing. It is an hour or so to midday.


GG5 – Week 2

18 December, 2012

A good second week, I think. The encounters were beefed up considerably – someone at my table one-shotted a 3HD Orc (Fighter/Rogue/Fighter). I had 3 characters down, Alix had 4 down, everything going great. I thought I might have to nerf things a bit, but no – they came back. Then it was 11PM and I didn’t get to run the third encounter for the night. Pity, ’cause it involved something cool. As it was, my table just did orc sailors and a couple of elf samurai.

Oh – and someone’s animal companion decided to jump onto a ship of enemy sailors all by himself (tiger). Got creamed. Druid goes “give fluffy back” as the ship is pulling away, and dude goes “? Ok! Men – throw that tiger overboard.” We all found out about the pathfinder drowning rules. Turns out being submerged while you are unconscious is bad news. Second encounter, someone else decided to jump onto a ship full of enemy sailors, all by himself. Got creamed.

The cleric also discovered why you take “selective channel”. A few of the sailors were unconscious, not dead.

As for me – “how high is the ship’s railing above dock level?” – (thinks “Fuck, I dunno”). It’s what happens. I was giving people DC 10 (or 15) acrobatics checks. In retrospect, the entire point of a pier is that it is at about deck height. I always find that I don’t think things through far enough before the game.

The big meeting – all the long-time players were jerking me around, man. It was the newb who said “so one group gets the dude, another group brings the ship around.” I mean – everyone had already worked out that that was the plan, they were all just being deliberately obtuse about it to screw with me. Pricks.

The broader point is that this campaign looks like being a bit railroady, and it is railroady at the moment. I’ll have to work out what to do, there.

Still haven’t figured out how CR relates to EL. So we just went “ok, everyone is second level”. Six encounters – probably about right.


GG5 – Week 1

15 December, 2012

Yay! Week 1 not a disaster! W00T!

Now, it should be noted that this is not really “story” I am writing, but DM notes. There won’t be plot spoilers, but you might be able to see the gears turning, which may take some of the magic away. For a more story-centric view you’ll need to see the player’s blogs – which I am sure they are all busily writing.

We split the players into two groups who have not met each other in-game, yet.

Paul’s Table

Aboard the good ship Pilchard, with Captian Haddock. “Good ship” being a mere politeness – the ship is a flat-bottomed bucket, a coastal trader. At this stage, the players are simply some of Haddock’s crew.

Encounter 1

The captain sent a few of the crew (ie: the players) onto a small sand island to pick a few coconuts. They were attacked by crabs.

Four giant crabs. About the right level of difficulty – a couple of tense moments, but it was never really in doubt. I wanted a simple fight to start with, and it worked out ok. No loot, just crab meat and coconut. Yum!

Encounter 2

The Pilchard is attacked by the Shirley-Jane.

The players were meant to lose this fight. I used the mass combat rules, pulling crew into the fight as they were killed.

It didn’t really go well. I massively underestimated how good the characters are, and had to pump the numbers – the Shirley-Jane crew were just not good enough to be obviously, convincingly better. To the players, the combat looked like new crew were just popping in out of thin air.

When running group combat (If I try it again), I’ll make the crew numbers public rather than hiding them. When running something they are meant to lose, I’ll pull more enemies out of melee than just one per player character, and make bloody sure that they are seriously better.

Eventually they worked out that they were supposed to lose, but it was an out-of-game thing. Which is what you don’t want.

Meh. Live and learn.

Encounter 3

At the destination, the elven harbourmaster took most of the rest of Haddock’s cargo as tax, citing the ship’s manifest rather than how much wood he actually had. I wanted to play up the racism of my campaign world – I believe “gaijin dog!” was used.

Some of the non-elf dockworkers indicated to Haddock that for a consideration, they could be elsewhere that night (not sure if I made this clear to the players), and so Haddock decides to (ahem) remove his lumber from the customs house and shift it to a warehouse next door.

The place was guarded by four samurai and the harbourmaster in his office. A couple of the stealthier characters snuck in, sniping from the rafters once combat started. The players pretty much rolled the joint – the harbourmaster downed with nolethal damage from Andrew’s character.

Loot was a couple of potions (cure light, barkskin) from the first-aid kit, and a chest of money (which Haddock took). [edit] and yes, a ring of protection +1 and a +1 elvish longsword. With Hare Clan markings all over it. Try explaining that to the authorities.

Alix’s Table

The other half of the players were retained in town to go investigate a ruins by a scholar. They headed off overland, dodging leeches, skellingtons, and a Kelpie (which took the form of a crocodile). Apparently it managed to death-roll one of the characters to unconciousness, which is just great.

Loot was some gear from an ill-fated prior expedition, and a curious wand. Mechanically, the wand is a wand of Cure Light Wounds. But it’s shaped like a small hammer. (Dun dun dun!)

On their return, the scholar who was going to be paying them is nowhere to be found.

So …

On the whole, we are setting the bar a little low, which I suppose is better in the first instance than killing characters first session. I don’t know how much plot and atmosphere the players are getting, yet. I suppose we need to get further into the story first.

I like standard magic items – wands, scrolls, potions – that are flavoured. In my wednesday game, Salty Bob scribes scrolls by way of scrimshaw. Elves (in this world) are druidic, so the potions I gave the players were enchanted fruit – cherries for the Cure Light, and a brown pear for Barkskin. They are the sort of things that a medicine kit might contain – I might retcon that the kit counts as a healer’s kit with a few uses.

Story is still on-track, after one session. Which is good – the players haven’t managed to derail things yet 🙂 . Players are participating by dropping story hooks, although we can’t incorporate them all. I have found that it is a Kajillion times easier to plan sessions with another person – the co-DM aspect is working out superbly well. At present, she does right-brain and I do left-brain.

Haven’t nailed down XP, which is very important. Players play for loot and XP – you want to power up your character. I’d like to go with actual tracked XP, so as to encourage people to actually show up on game night.

Next session has cool (well, I think it’s cool) plot and world-building stuff, but obviously I can’t talk about it here. I shall have to do it either though the medium of interpretative dance, or though the game itself. Which is the whole idea.


Season 5 prep

20 November, 2012

My glamorous co-DM and I playtested the Seas of Blood rules for tactical ship movement and mass crew combat.

The consensus was: tactical ship movement suffered the flaws of turning the game into a chess/wargame, and that of being between one player (the captain) and the DM – much like the “Crime Pays” game add-on that I have discussed before. D&D is about encounters. They can be social/skilly sort of encounters or they can be combat, but maneuvering ships around a grid is not D&D.

The group combat rules were fine, though. The entire “crew” is turned into a single stat block, and the two crews fight one another while the players have their fight with the bosses. The crew’s hit dice serve in place of hp, and if one crew is much bigger than the other, it gets bonuses to hit and damage. The upshot is that the crew combat happens at pretty much the rate that the player’s fight happens.

The great advantage of this system is that as players whittle down the mooks in their boss fight, you can pull them out of the general crew-on-crew melee. Your crew has 20 HD left, the opposing crew has 24. Pulling out 3 second-level fighters into the player’s melee means shaving 6 HD off the opposing crew. No probs. You could have two of those guys already beaten up on half hp, say, and only take 4 HD off the opposing crew. You can do cinematic things – the boss fight is already in progress, say, with good and bad guys. As the players enter the fray, those guys peel off and join the general melee.

The mass combat integrates nicely with the actual game and avoids, on the one hand, having to manage stats for each of a dozen or more crew; and on the other, having the player’s fight occur in some eerie parallel dimension or bubble that’s unconnected with the more general fight.

The “Book of the Sea” system for mass combat looks like too much work. Way too war-gamey. A “unit” has a number of “faces” – one attack per face. Opening a face is a move action. To move you need to “close” all but one “face”. You can be in skirmish formation, close ranks formation, and so on. Meh. Cool and playable, maybe, but not D&D.

This week I think we two need to look at overland movement. It’s also not as exciting as combat, but I think it helps give a feel for the world having size and scope. Paizo published a set of rules for moving around the island of Smuggler’s Shiv in the “Serpents’ Skull” campaign, and we might be able to re-purpose those. Maybe there was more detail than we want – stuff about making camp and foraging. The islands in this part of the world are mostly civilised – wandering through and making camp in most places will earn you a visit from the local samurai. But it would be cool if it takes two days to bush-bash across an unpopulated island on foot, and a ship can get from one side to the other in four hours. As in “this is why people invented ships in the first place”.

Most of the Paizo modules have minigames with auxiliary rules. It might be nice if Paizo could do some sort of omnibus volume integrating those rules from all of its adventure paths – factions and fame, money and trade. Kingmaker’s rules for city building, and war. It’s the book that the Game Mastery guide should have been, and isn’t.


Notes on movement and area of effect in pathfinder.

16 November, 2012

Pathfinder does not use the 4th ed rule that a diagonal move is the same as a horizontal or vertical move. Instead, the rule is:

“Every second diagonal move counts as two squares.”

Oh, rather than the abstract “squares”, we say “five foot”, so the rule is:

“Every second diagonal move counts as ten foot.”

The effect of this is that bursts and ranges have a much more natural looking circular shape (actually, it’s a slightly wonky octagon, but whatever).

So, no more square fireballs.


Lets say you have a 30′ move. If you are moving in a straight horizontal line, you count off the distance:
“five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twentyfive, thirty”

If you are moving in a diagonal line, you count it off like so:

“five, ten-fifteen, twenty, twentyfive-thirty”

If you are moving along a path to get around an obstacle, well, you have to keep track of whether your previous diagonal move was five or ten. But jeez – it isn’t all that difficult!

Spell areas of effect – bursts and blasts – are similar. A spell is taken to originate from a grid line intersection, not from a square. This means that a “radius 5” spell hits 4 squares.


The template for bursts looks like this. Note that the horizontal cone shape is slightly adjusted, but otherwise it’s pretty normal.

For line effect spells, you nominate an intersection on the foundry of your character (for normal size characters, that means on of the points on your square), an end point, and we draw a line.