Monday, April 29, 2013

More On Combat

I guess I feel like talking about combat some more, but about weapons instead of armor. I guess I'll start  with the beginning. My understanding is that back in the day, it was a Wednesday in the seventies, all weapons did 1d6 damage because it was believed that 1d6 damage could kill your average zero level human, and pretty much anything can kill a man. One-handed weapons did 1d6 damage, smaller one-handed weapons rolled 2d6 for damage and used the lower die result of the two for damage, and two-handed weapons rolled 2d6 and used the higher die result of the two for damage. I know for certain that in Basic Dungeons and Dragons all weapons did 1d6. I'm not sure where I heard about the rules for light weapons and two-handed ones though, so that might be of questionable accuracy. I'm not sure what the ruling was on critical hits either. As the game progressed, weapon statistics increased in complexity and variable damage for weapons became a rule instead of an option, critical hits were a rule, and so on. In 1st and 2nd Edition there were differing damage values for weapons when used against a small or medium opponent and a large opponent and there were weird base weapon damage values like 2-5 (1d4+1) or 2-7 (1d6+1). In 3.0/3.5 Edition, it got really complex with weapon qualities like reach and disarm and different critical ranges and multipliers, which in 2nd Edition were just 20/x2. 3.0/3.5 also added weapon damage based on the weapon's size. A regular sized shortbow for a medium character deals 1d6 damage and a regular sized shortbow for a small character deals 1d4. A solid and sensible rule, but I like 4th Edition's version better.  In 4th Edition, small characters can't use two-handed weapons (unless they have the small special quality) and weapons with the versatile quality (the weapon can be wielded in one or two hands and using two hands offers a +1 to damage) must be wielded in two hands by small characters and it doesn't get the normal damage bonus from doing so. Pathfinder uses pretty much all the same statistics and rules and damage notations as 3.0/3.5.

Damage types are broken down into slashing, piercing, and bludgeoning damage. This is pretty consistent with the kind of damage weapons deal in real life in my experience. Beyond that and the fact that every weapon has the potential to kill your average human, weapon statistics and abilities go bug nuts crazy. The general theme of the weapon charts in Pathfinder's Ultimate Equipment, which is a compendium book of all the gear found in Pathfinder books up to this point, is that "precision" weapons (rapier, dagger, etc) tend to do less damage and have smaller critical multipliers but have wider critical ranges, while brutish weapons (greatsword, greataxe) have larger base damage, tiny critical ranges, and larger multipliers for damage when they do get a critical. The way I interpret critical hits is that they are the knife to the kidney, the blade to the hamstring, the debilitating blows that hit organ systems or are savage enough to break bones and sever limbs, if Pathfinder combat allowed that sort of thing.

That theme makes a certain amount of sense, a well struck blow from a greataxe is much more likely to inflict grievous physical injury than a well struck blow from dagger. A rapier is a precision weapon that must be used cautiously and intelligently, you can't just swing it around willy nilly, so when used properly it is predisposed towards deadly strikes. Yeah, makes a certain amount of sense. On the surface. Because combat is way abstract.  This system makes everyone into a fucking fencing master. When an Orc Barbarian picks up a rapier, for whatever reason, he immediately knows how to parry and riposte and lunge to make deft strikes to slip through defenses or gaps in armor to strike at vitals to get a critical hit. Even if he has up till this point in his life been a Barbarian with a Strength of 24 and a Dexterity and Intelligence of 9 or 10 and is used to making these huge, two-handed, sweeping strikes designed to create a furious whirlwind of death dealing steel in an arc around him. A rapier is only a precise weapon if you wield it like a precise weapon. If you don't, it is a really long dagger that snaps because its thin blade is not designed to be swung around and wielded like a greataxe. Luckily, all weapons in Pathfinder impart ancestral knowledge of how to wield them effectively to anyone that picks them up.

I get that weapon proficiencies represent basic knowledge of how to use weapons without embarrassing yourself. Returning to the rapier example. Two Fighters with the same level, ability scores, and so on pick up a handaxe and a rapier. These weapons have much different stats, other than a base damage of 1d6. One is slashing, the other piercing, one has an 18-20 critical range while the other is just 20, one does x2 on a critical hit and the other does x3, and historically they would be used in battle in very different ways. Axes hack and slash and rapiers are deft and pierce. However, these two hypothetical Fighters with all the same ability scores and feats wield these weapons in precisely the same fashion in combat, even though a rapier is useless to a big clumsy brute that doesn't know how to fence. The rapier requires agility and deft footwork and quick reflexes and hand eye coordination to be an effective weapon. I'm not talking mastery here, merely just picking up a rapier and being able to defend yourself and be seen as a threat by enemies. You can take all the Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization, and Improved Critical feats and effectively wield and be deadly with a rapier and slap on full plate armor and have an 8 in Dexterity and you will be deadly in combat. Despite the physical ability score and armor being completely counter intuitive to the way a rapier is utilized historically. Because, abstract.

Ok, yes, you can take Weapon Finesse with rapiers and use them similar to the way they were used to duel with historically. But you can do that with an elven curve blade that weighs almost four times as much as a rapier. Apparently all the curves and leafy art stuff elves put into their steel weapons makes them more aerodynamically efficient and allows one to wield them like a dagger or rapier, despite the size and different damage type and style of combat. Let's be honest though, in the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring when Galadriel is doing her voice over and the line of elves is meeting the line of orcs and Agent Smith and his guys whirl all their curvy elf swords into the faces of the orcs, it was kind of neat. Ok, this is weird. The description of the elven curve blade says it is basically a longer and thinner two-handed scimitar that you can use Weapon Finesse with. Meanwhile, you cannot use the Weapon Finesse feat with a scimitar and a steel scimitar is only about half the weight of an elven curve blade. I guess you can make the argument that you use two hands with the elven curve blade and it only weighs seven pounds and a scimitar weighs four, so technically the elven curve blade is lighter when taken as a weight per hand kind of thing.

Actually, you know what. Fuck Weapon Finesse and rapiers. A weapon quality that states that a melee weapon uses Dexterity instead of Strength for attack rolls isn't a bad idea. It's no different than thrown weapons like daggers and javelins adding Strength modifiers to damage while using Dexterity to hit. I mean, it is one thing to say that yes, a dagger can benefit from it when wielded by a warrior with deft hands and another to say that about the rapier. As far as I know (once again I have to cite my status as a Wikipedia alumni with a dual degree in armchair history and smithing) the only way to effectively wield a rapier is with deft hands and fast footwork. Look, all weapons are going to benefit from being strong and having fast hands. But with some of them, physical strength is going to be more important or of more benefit and with others, reflexes and agility. A clumsy oaf with an 8 in Dexterity can wield a rapier as effectively as one with a 16 in Pathfinder if they have the same feats and same Strength score and neither has Weapon Finesse. Every movie I've seen and book I've read says that rapiers and other fencing weapons don't operate efficiently when used by clumsy brutes.

Evidently I have strong feelings about rapiers, probably because I played too much Soul Calibur as Raphael. Got kind of sidetracked. Wandering back around to the theme of the weapon tables.

Hmm. I had some more examples I was going to list and a few more paragraphs of nonsense I was going to type. I'll TL;DR it, this post has been long winded enough. If a weapon is built in such a way that it is more likely to leave a truly grievous wound with a x3 or x4 multiplier when it gets a critical hit, doesn't that make it more likely to perform a critical hit in the first place? A greataxe is a fairly large axe that requires two hands to wield. If you manage to penetrate a target's armor and get a solid hit with it, isn't it more than 5% likely that you'll lop off an arm or bury the large blade in their rib cage? Piercing weapons are more likely to leave lasting injury or result in immediate death, as they pierce, which by definition means they deal damage by being inside of you. Slashing weapons slash, which means they tend to leave a larger wound area than piercing weapons, but the depth of the wound will vary depending on lots of factors. A scimitar that penetrates armor is going to wound, but a two-handed axe that penetrates armor is more likely to leave a deeper wound because the weapon by default has much more force behind it (due to the weight, being wielded by two hands, and the likelihood of being used in a overhand chopping style). Doesn't that logic mean that the greataxe is more likely to get a critical hit than a scimitar?

I dunno, this whole system seems kind of janky to me. Big nasty weapons deal more damage when they hit well, but they're less likely to hit well? Slimmer weapons that rely on precision are more likely to hit well, but do less damage when they do? If a weapon is designed to hit hard and hurt a lot, shouldn't it be more likely to hit hard and hurt a lot more often? If a weapon is "precise" and more likely to hit hard and hurt a lot, shouldn't it do more harm when it does? 

This is all pointless meandering and doesn't really mean anything, despite writing about it entertaining me. Because, abstract. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Armor as Damage Reduction and Wound Points and Vigor

While talking with Jason this afternoon he suggested that I just bite the bullet and give up on the Unarmored Combatant feats and use a wounds and vigor system of managing the health and survivability of characters. I've spoken before of how I want to reduce the ferocity of the Unarmored Combatant series of feats. The thing is, I don't want to remove Unarmored Combatant from the game, as  it fits my world, and saying that it doesn't belong is along the same lines as saying Monks shouldn't have it either. 

The theory in The Known World is that guns are common and seem to hit flesh beneath armor with relative ease, so why wear armor if it will only slow you down with reduced move speeds, encumbrance, and armor check penalties? It stands to reason that it would become common practice to eschew armor and run like a rabid great ursine is after you to get the fuck out of the way when folks start slinging bullets around. This method of fighting already exists in the Monk AC bonus and the Dodge feat, so I felt there was plenty of precedent for coming up with a similar system. What I'd like to do is rip out the three feats I have and replace them with a single one that copies the +5 over twenty levels that the Monk gains and require a higher than average Dexterity and the Dodge feat as prerequisites. I think I'd also end up removing the Unarmored flaw and make a rule that allows any class to exchange all armor and shield proficiencies it has, assuming it has any in the first place, for this feat at first level.

With this change, the Monk still maintains its role as being innately better than any other class at this, as they have their Wisdom bonus to AC as well, but the non-Monks gain a viable means of keeping out of the way of bullets. This bonus to AC is initially low and doesn't exactly skyrocket over twenty levels, and ends up making Dexterity a pretty important stat to characters, but it should be. That is the nature of warfare. As it progresses, war becomes less about using metal, wood, and stone as a lever to apply greater force and more about speed and hand-eye coordination in striking targets from afar or evading the attacks of others. There is a reason modern military primarily uses rifles instead of swords. There's also this thing called cover that becomes important. It centers on the concept that you are harder to hit if you hide behind something while people throw or shoot things at you, no PC I have ever observed has ever utilized this concept. I assure you, it's kind of neat, and if two Elduman hadn't started flinging fire around their camp of wooden barrels and crates, the pirate deserters from last scenario would have been doing their best to stay low behind stuff while exchanging shots with the players. We all know barrels and crates and car doors and plywood and particle board are surefire defenses against zipping bits of death lead buzzing around the air. 

Looking at Pathfinder's system for wounds and vigor from Ultimate Combat, I do like some of the concepts of the system. I'm not sure it is something necessary for our game though. If people do not understand that hit points are horrifically abstract and in no way represent your ability to suffer injury at this point, they never will. The same goes for attacks per round and armor class. To return to abstraction for a moment (because it is a peeve that I have made a pet of): Seriously, think about it. A dagger wound to your throat kills you and daggers only do 1d4 damage. This is logic of our world, if you jam a dagger into a throat, that person dies unless they are already in an operating room in a hospital with surgeons and blood transfusions on standby. In the logic of Pathfinderland, a high level Barbarian can literally stand there surrounded by eight 1st level Commoners not defending himself and be attacked dozens of times without dying, even if the dagger damage manages to penetrate the damage reduction of the Barbarian class. Think about that for a moment. Daggers do 1d4 damage. A 19th level Barbarian without an archetype has DR 5/-. Does that make Barbarians immune to throat slitting or heart stabbing or kidney stabbing via dagger? Oh, no wait, those are critical hits/coup de grace actions, or called shots, depending on which subsystem you use and your interpretation of them. The critical hit system means you can do a maximum base damage of 8 with a dagger to someone's throat, but you're more likely to do 5, as that is the average result of 2d4, so our Barbarian is clearly immune to throat slitting from these Commoners that surround him with their average ability scores, maybe the town blacksmith can whittle him away with his Captain America level 12 or 14 in Strength. Using the called shot rules from Ultimate Combat you'd have to do a base 120 damage with a called shot to the neck to do anything more than just damage, and that doesn't kill, you just take bleed damage to your Constitution score and can't talk and potentially have difficulty breathing, which leaves a high Constitution Barbarian plenty of time to keep raging while a Cleric walks over and hits them with some shiny lights from on high. There is no logic to this system. It is so abstract and nonsensical that even pretending there is some semblance of logic to it like I am right now only results in ridiculousness. 

Wound points and vigor do make your character's durability less abstract, but it complicates how all the currently used and well understood features of rest and healing work. This forces everyone to relearn time honored rules they've understood for edition after edition. This shouldn't be too big of a deal, most of my players are engineers or something. I feel like changing the simple math used to adjudicate combat to a different system of simple math is something they can handle. It basically boils down to your Constitution score x2 is your hit points and is now called your wound points, and what would normally be your hit points are now a set of permanent temporary hit points that replenish through rest and healing and do not gain a bonus from your Constitution modifier and are called vigor. 

Your vigor is a buffer of endurance and rolling with blows that soaks up damage and your wound points are your actual physical health in terms of being dealt damage. When your vigor is all eaten away by blades and bullets and fire and lightning, it all starts taking chunks out of your wound points. When you hit half your wound points, you are staggered and doing pretty much anything deals you an additional point of damage to your wound points and you have to save or pass out if you so much as move. I like the system, it is sensible and reasonable and seems slightly more realistic than hit points. Perhaps I'll institute it in future campaigns, perhaps not. I don't have strong feelings about it either way and if it isn't a house rule directly related to the background of the world and I don't feel strongly about its merit, it is probably something that could be left out of the game. 

Armor as damage reduction is something I do feel strongly about. I really feel like armor class is janky as fuck. The following is of questionable veracity, as I am nothing more than a Wikipedia certified armchair armorer and historian. The medical stuff is legit as far as I know though. The way armor works in our world is similar to the way your rib cage works to protect your vital organs. The deadly piece of metal speeding for your heart has a lot of energy that it wants to convert into force that it will inflict upon your internal organs as traumatic injury and your ribs are there to stop it with a rigid material harder than your skin. If they don't stop it, they break or fracture, which takes energy to do and dissipates some of the force of the object to prevent the full force of it from unleashing itself upon your heart or lungs or whatever. Armor works the same way, except that it uses tougher material like layers of hardened leather, scales or rings of linked metal, or big fat plates of metal. There are other armorer tricks the are built into metal armors to help make armor harder to penetrate, and some armor types are better against certain types of weapons. It's really really hard to slash apart a guy wearing a full suit of plate, but hit him enough with a mace and you're going to start deforming the plates and he's still taking the blunt force trauma of the blow and a nice thin blade can get all up in the joints and such. Regardless of the type of armor, you're still getting battered around in it and it still hurts and you can still get bruised and broken, but it's definitely better than standing there in your boxers. Although, in your boxers you could probably outrun all the other guys trying to come at you that are wearing all kinds of armor to keep other guys from bashing apart their insides. They'll probably pass out from exhaustion or heat stroke first, as there's no air conditioning under the sixty pounds of steel and padding and leather they're wearing. 

The point is that armor does not make stuff miss, and that isn't what armor class means in the game rules either, it's just how it ends up looking. Armor reduces the force of an impact on your body or gives you blunt force trauma instead of a spear through the chest, thereby reducing how much injury you take from such an impact. The system of armor as damage reduction in Ultimate Combat is a little more complex than wound points and vigor, and I think it takes an excessive hand with renaming things, but it is a solid system. It also has a very interesting and appropriate modification to the way shields work. In regular combat, touch attacks ignore armor and shield bonuses while being flat-footed makes you lose your Dexterity bonus to AC. The armor as damage reduction rules essentially make all attacks touch attacks, because armor bonus no longer factors into your AC outside of the armor's enhancement bonus from being magical. However, you retain your shield bonus to your AC. If you are flat-footed, you lose your Dexterity bonus like normal in addition to losing your shield bonus. This is a really logical change to the way armor and shields and defending yourself works. 

Your shield isn't something you just strap on and it does its job. You actively wield your shield in combat, interposing it between you and an incoming attack (if I wanted to be really savage, I'd rule that to use a shield effectively, you have to have the Two-Weapon Fighting feat). It stands to reason that if you are unaware of an attacker or unprepared to defend against him, you cannot use your shield to defend against the attack. I've never thought of shields like that before, but it makes a lot of sense and if I wasn't already planning to include Pathfinder's armor as damage reduction system in a future version of my campaign world's rules, I'd certainly plug in that rule about shields and being flat-footed. This system does have sort of an equalizing effect on the benefits of firearms against certain types of enemies though. They still offer some benefit, as they ignore shield bonuses and enhancement bonuses, but people would hit a lot more with this system in the first place so the advantage they bring when fighting against heavily armor foes would be less noticeable. The damage reduction aspect would be much more visible with firearms. Firearms already hit a lot more easily with heavily armored foes, but now heavily armored foes can soak up damage from those hits with their damage reduction from armor instead of it being a binary damage/no damage system. In my current game, the guys pretty much always hit any Asosan they target, but in this armor as damage reduction system, each of those hits would do less damage. Logically, if armor doesn't do much to protect against bullets, it shouldn't do much to reduce the damage from them. I haven't been able to find any special rules about firearms and armor as damage reduction in my research today, so I'm not sure how the developers of the system intended it to interact with firearms. A brief bit of Googl-fu doesn't seem to reveal anything either. Hrm. 

Well, there's a few random thoughts for you, accompanied by some ranting. Huzzah.

Monday, April 22, 2013


This is equal parts explanation of how dialogue skills work in my world, justification to myself regarding the events of the Great Asosan Recruitment Debacle of '003, and clarification on how Diplomacy works in general. 

I hate dialogue skills. Why analyze your opponent and create a convincing argument or lie when you can make a skill check? It's lazy and leads to poor planning. Luckily, I have house ruled dialogue skills in my campaign. The way they work, as noted in all versions of my campaign book, is that your check result does not guarantee success or failure. A poorly thought out line of dialogue can negate a super high check and a well thought out line of dialogue can compensate for a low check. This means you have to actually say something to the NPC in addition to making a check and it does not solely depend on the die and your bonus to the check, and some people just plain won't believe your lie, agree with you, or do what you want. Because they're assholes. 

I like this for a few reasons. Firstly, it renders any sort of super optimized min/maxing for talking your way past everything completely inert. Secondly, it forces a player to interact with my NPCs. Thirdly, it makes players think before they start talking instead of making a skill check and then start talking. Fourthly, it still allows a player who may not be the best at public speaking to utilize dialogue skills and allows a crafty orator to talk his way out of a bad roll of the dice.

The reason I bring this up is because during our last session Cary tried to recruit some Asosans to the cause of Fort Jagged Tooth. They were deserters that did not approve of the priesthood of the Armiger being all gung ho about putting Asosans in front of bullets, and they were unwilling to fight people with guns, against Asosa, or alongside Goebleen. I don't know if you are aware of this, but Fort Jagged Tooth is completely reliant upon the Goebleen. There are like thirty Goebleen hanging around the Fort pulling guard duty and patrol duty and lookout duty and all the Fort's food and supplies come from the Goebleen. I also don't know if you caught this, but the Goebleen are not exactly super tolerant of outsiders. They grudgingly work with the pirates, but don't trust them and are nearing the point where they sever relations with them. They also have a bit of a chip on their shoulder because no one helped them out when the Asosans sterilized a large portion of their women folk and stopped paying their tithes to the Underhel races so the demons and undead would wreak havoc among the Goebleen warrens in Asosa. They're not terribly trusting or inclined to be nice to outsiders, unless they have something they want. Something like guns and explosives, which they've pretty much figured out, so they no longer really need to deal with the pirates.

Anyway, Fort Jagged Tooth is primarily populated with Goebleen. The Asosan deserters said they won't work with Goebleen, because you know, several hundred years of mutual hatred and terrorist attacks and warfare and bitter stalemate status. Since Gob was with the group, the Asosans can clearly see that this group works with at least one Goebleen and seeing this, were reluctant to jump aboard the Fort Jagged Tooth bandwagon. Cary, as Donovan, ignored this (and the fact that Gob said he and his crew would peace the fuck out if a bunch of Asosans and giants got on the company payroll) and continued to make a skill check in Diplomacy. You cannot convince a Holocaust survivor to work alongside a former Nazi oven technician and to act as scouts in Jewish ghettos for you while they're at it, at least not for minimum wage and no health insurance. Words aren't magic. They're words.

This kind of house rule doesn't mean I need to know every single detail of every NPC's life. It just means I need to understand my world, and knowing that Asosans and Goebleen don't like each other is a pretty common/basic chunk of background info. It's along the same lines as pirates like liquor, sorcery is unreliable in The Known World, Fallen are good at magic, Sereth really like/are good with rifles, and Elduman are organized. The rule isn't meant to be a trick either, I've never pulled out nonsense like, "Oh, you didn't know it, but this NPC's daughter was raped and murdered by thugs asking him to lower his prices on supplies, so he attacks you for complimenting her beauty in the photo he has while asking him to lower his prices." That's just crazy. Unless the NPC is important, like Gob or Vanden, the automatic fails and noes are going to be broad strokes stuff. Stuff like Kussethians don't like Dwenoren and Rankethlek probably distrust sorcery and don't like Fallen. These aren't complex or secret details of my campaign setting, this is common info readily available to the players. 

Ultimately, this isn't even a house rule, it's a rule of the game. If you read the Diplomacy skill description, there is a line that says, "Some requests automatically fail if the request goes against the creature’s values or its nature, subject to GM discretion." So it's not like I'm an innovator here introducing alien concepts into the game. I guess it's more along the lines of clarifying things. I dunno, I hate dialogue skills and would remove them from the game if I could justify it. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Wheel of Time

This will have spoilers for the last few books, I'm not planning on deliberately spoiling anything, but I won't be especially careful about things either. You have been warned. 

Finally, after over twenty years, The Wheel of Time is freaking finished. Took Mr. Jordan long enough, though I imagine illness and dying had something of an impact on his productivity. I've been reading this series since high school, which is over a decade now, and finally having it on my Kindle and being in the process of finishing the final book is somewhat cathartic. It also has me feeling a little nostalgic and a little, I dunno, melancholy. I really like this series, though I have a wide variety of issues with the writing and some of the characterization. I guess it is because this is the last book, there are no more to come. No more Rand and his flaming sword or rays of balefire, no more Mat and his hat and dice, no more Perrin and his wolves and hammer. This is it. Ragnarok, I mean The Last Battle, has come and it is time for Tyr, I mean Rand, to die.

Part of me strongly desires to just blast my way through this book and finish it one fell swoop. I'm 30% through it, which leaves me like six hundred and ninety or so pages left to read, but I know I could end the thing tonight before bed (it's a quarter after eight Thursday night right now). I read fast. Part of me is resisting this though. Part of me like, I dunno, wants to savor the book, make the experience last. Which is kind of an alien concept to me. Normally I just eat the fucking words with my eyes, devour them, and gulp them down between gasps for air. I guess I just don't want the series to be over. 

I think the series is fantastic, despite the constant men vs. women nonsense and yanking of braids and wool-headed nature of everyone that is irritating the narrator of the moment. So far, Mr. Sanderson has not included any of Mr. Jordan's constant, once a page, reminders that women think all men are wool-headed and vice versa in this book. Which I am gloriously appreciative of. I've kind of started to love that Perrin named his hammer something that I pronounce as Mjolnir, even though I was exasperated by the naming decision when he did so a book or two ago. Rand is Tyr, Perrin is Thor, and Matt is Odin and I was kind of ambivalent about that when I first figured it out, but now I see it and it makes me smile inside. I'm not sure why, I just like it. It's swell.


I dunno. I love this series, even after not reading it for like seven years and only catching back up on it nine months ago. I'm glad to finally see Mr. Jordan's story reach completion, but I'm sad to see it go and fearful of what the conclusion of this last book will be. The general assumption by characters in the world is that Rand is going to die, and him somehow surviving the final battle seems too much of a happy ending. But he's suffered so much already, doesn't he deserve some kind of reward? You know, aside from having a harem and being the most powerful Aes Sedai on the planet and ruling most of a continent and stuff. I kid. Those are fun, but doesn't he deserve to not be in pain every moment of every day? Doesn't he deserve idle moments with his ladies and his friends? Shouldn't he be allowed to sit down with Lan and just rock back on a stool and enjoy a fucking beer?

Part of me longs for a happy ending. Part of me wants to read a scene of Tam playing with his grandchildren while Rand and Elayne watch on happily. But a bigger part of me rails at the possibility of that ending, screaming that it would be disingenuous. Rand's schtick during these novels has been to suffer while he attempts to keep the world from destruction. He has been tortured and dismembered and haunted by various entities and situations throughout the series, and a peaceful ending where he gets to enjoy life after The Last Battle does not feel like it fits the story. Mr. Jordan and Mr. Sanderson have never been quite so murderous in intent towards Jordan's creations as a George R.R. Martin has been to his own, but no one has had an easy time of anything in The Wheel of Time series. 

Honestly, I think I am writing this post to delay reading the book. I just read an amazing sequence a few dozen pages ago. Two actually. The first was Rand sparring with his father and wielding a sword again for the first time since he lost his hand. We also finally get to see Tam al'Thor as a blademaster. It was glorious. There haven't been a lot of father and son moments with Tam and Rand since the first book, and Rand has changed so much since then. It was very nice to see them together once again, and I really loved getting a look at Tam as a blademaster. I went into it expecting Rand to trounce him, as I'd completely forgotten that he'd lost his hand and had not picked up a sword since then. I'm always under the assumption that once Rand starts channeling or brings out a blade, he wins. It was nice to see him failing in a more mundane way that two dozen dreadlords shielding him and stuffing him in a box to suffer alone with the madness of Lews Therin Telamon. He is a blademaster and still quite good, but his muscle memory from his training combined with not having practiced using a blade one-handed made him a clumsy novice compared to his father. 

The second scene was Mat and Rand finally meeting once again after about half a dozen books apart. They mention that the last time they were together was when Rand asked Mat to go after Elayne to protect her, and I draw a blank as to when that was. This series is so massive and has such a high page count (11,916 over the course of fourteen books, supposedly) that I forgot when two of the more important main characters last saw each other and what the context of that parting was. I mean, yeah, I have a bad mind for remembering details sometimes, but this series is something I've read through at least two or three times and I recall a lot of the details of the plot, and those I forget usually take only a little bit of prodding to recall. There's so much in here about the world and the characters, so many details and bits and pieces of lore. It is extensive. Granted, probably 10% of the word count (which is supposedly over four million) is the word(s) wool-headed, but still, this series is huge. 

Like I said, I'm only like 30% through the last book here, but I have really enjoyed it so far and look forward to the next 70%. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Alternate Rules: Challenge Ratings

This appears a little later than normal (the time stamp doesn't show it, but I didn't post it till 2:30 AM) because I kind of forgot about the whole blogging thing. Whoops, sorry. Honestly, I didn't have anything in mind to write for tonight. We just finished gaming and my brain has been pulling out my hair trying to find something I want to write about. Luckily, during some post game discussion with Eric I was able to settle on a topic. Challenge ratings. 

Challenge ratings are used to give you an idea about what kind of challenges your player's can handle. They're based on your party's APL, average party level. You get that by adding up the levels of the PCs and dividing them by the number of PCs and rounding up or down to the nearest whole number. This calculation assumes a party of four or five members. If a group has six or more PCs, add one to the APL and if the group has three or less players, subtract one from the APL. So the APL of my current group in Orcunraytrel is seven, four 7th level PCs and Gob as a 7th level NPC attached permanently (unless they boot him from the group to get a new NPC or decide they don't want me to have an NPC, it's really up to them).

So APL is how you figure out the appropriate CR of an encounter. An easy encounter has a CR equal to the APL-1. An average encounter is one with a CR equal to the group's APL. A challenging encounter has a CR equal to the APL+1. A hard encounter has a CR equal to the APL+2. Finally, an epic encounter has a CR equal to the APL+3. There is a chart that details how many experience points should be rewarded for an encounter with a particular CR. For instance, a CR 7 encounter (which could be a trap or fight or hazard or some such) should consist of 3200 experience points worth of enemies or obstacles. 

There are additional adjustments to be made to the CR of an encounter based on what you include in it. I use a lot of enemies with class levels, so I use those rules a lot. NPC classes like Adept and Warrior that I used earlier in the campaign count is having a CR equal to their class level -2. So a 4th level Warrior counts as a CR 2 creature worth 600 experience points and you can pack five of them into a CR 7 encounter and have 200 experience points left over to throw in a level 2 Warrior that counts as CR 1/2 and is worth 200 experience points. PC classes like Fighter and Gunslinger count as having a CR equal to their class level -1. So you can pack four 4th level Fighters with a CR of 3 and worth 800 experience points into that same CR 7 encounter. So the Fell Human deserter encounter in last night's (at this point) scenario with a 6th level Gunslinger leader and four 4th level Gunslinger cronies were worth 4800 experience points and were considered a CR 8 encounter. The Asosans with five 4th level Fighters and a 5th level Fighter were a 5200 experience point encounter, still much closer to CR 8 than CR 9. The giants were valued at 4800, a CR 8 encounter. 

There are also some adjustments to be made to the CR of an encounter based on the environment and whether it is particularly favorable or unfavorable for an enemy engaged in it. Plus or minus one to the CR. There are also adjustments to be made based on gear. NPC classes have a much lower wealth per level value than a PC class, a 5th level Warrior or Adept for instance has 2400 gp for gear, while a 5th level Fighter or Gunslinger should have about 10500 gp worth of gear. Using NPC gear values is a neutral feature, depriving them of gear in a way that negatively impacts them offers a -1 to their CR value, while using PC wealth values offers a +1 to their CR. 

So the bug up my ass is challenge ratings. The guys fought two owlbears last night, a CR 4 monster. However, I applied the advanced template to them to juice them up, which basically just improves stats and natural armor and increases a creature's CR by one. So they fought the two CR 5 owlbears in an encounter with a CR value of 7 with an experience point value of 3200. This is an average encounter, one that expends a few resources but doesn't pose the players a super serious life threat unless someone rolls bad or the enemies roll really well. 

This encounter lasted one round. The one attack the owlbears managed to get off missed Jason's PC Karrak and that only happened because the owlbears had scent and smelled the guys before they launched their attack and rolled a particularly good initiative check. The problem is, I think, that the guys are a little overpowered, and have a bunch of cronies. Cary's thrall is level 6, and Eric and Jason have cohorts that are both 5th level.  Lance's PC has a wolf, but he is more like a familiar than a cohort. Now, it says in the leadership feat description that your cohorts (thralls as well I assume) don't count as party members when you determine experience point allotment. I am under the assumption that this extends to figuring out APL. If we do add them into the group for APL, we end up with an APL of 6.375. Four PCs of 7th level plus an NPC of 7th level, plus two 5th level cohorts and a 6th level thrall, adds up to 51, divided by eight and it comes out to 6.375. You add one to the APL because there are more than five of them in the party and then we round down and we come all the way back around to an APL of 7. 

This leads me to believe that the way I am calculating what is difficult for the group is skewed and that the number of people in the party isn't really the problem. I'm making encounters based on rules for normal core Pathfinder games. These normal rules don't factor in things like advanced firearms rules, psionics, Elduman and their ability to reduce damage with power points, and my unarmored combatant feat. The only time the guys really had a difficult time during the scenario was when they were facing the pirates. They came really close to wasting Donovan, possibly because they focused completely on ending him. 

I think the reason the guys didn't just steamroll the pirates was because they were utilizing things like advanced firearms, grenades, and the unarmored combatant feat. The problem is that everything the guys are fighting right now either wears armor or has natural armor and has a fairly low Dexterity bonus to AC, which means that every bullet generally hits its target because they resolve as touch attacks. If my "bad" guys can manage to get to melee range, they can do some damage. The half-giants could have cleaved and the Asosans were using power attack in conjunction with their spears. The problem is that there are a lot of firearms in the group, I don't think anyone actually uses melee weapons. So we have a total of six players and cohorts and NPCs using guns, along with a player and his thrall using psionics. Melee opponents should steamroll the guys, that is their weakness, but melee opponents can't seem to get past the hail of bullets to come into range with them, and I already give most of them stuff like the toughness feat to aid in getting close. 

I don't know what to do to provide the guys with reasonable challenges. I revel in their successes, but it isn't really a success if you just cakewalk your way through encounters. The Asosans in the toll booth seemed to be closer to the mark in terms of the sweet spot of difficulty, but they were a very varied force. They had range and melee units, along with some spellcasting support. The half-giant shaman had some success with his control spells on the guys, but that had minimal benefit when the other half-giants were getting cut down by a scything hail of bullets and psionic powers. 

Don't get me wrong, Orcunraytrel is supposed to be backward and weaker than The Known World, they have no guns and still primarily use iron. But, this is a game, so as the players progress they must face more difficult challenges. So I have to scale up the difficulty, which is why after 5th level I upgraded from NPC classes to PC classes. This was something I'd always intended to do, and it didn't ultimately have much impact on the way my enemies were constructed, or combat for that matter. It just gave them more feats and abilities and the potential to hurt the players more.

I think what I'll end up doing is adding a +1 to the APL of the group to account for their heavy use of firearms and the unarmored combatant feat. I'm not doing so to punish them, I just want to have a  rules structure in place to allow me to challenge them. As it is, my encounters this last scenario tended to be experience heavy but the reward didn't exactly match up with the amount of challenge they faced during the encounters. Adding to the APL of the group will end up netting them more experience, but also hopefully provide more of a challenge to make the experience point reward earned. I think I'll play around with this a bit more, maybe even run some test battles to kind of see how it goes. 

There are other routes I could go to challenge them in the realm of combat, but those are things I don't think are appropriate. The country to the northeast of Asosa has limited forms of explosives, mostly because they use Alchemists the way Asosa uses Wizards, Clerics, and Paladins, but they're not scheduled to develop firearms to the point where they can use them in their military for a few years yet, and when they do they'll just be early single shot black powder weapons that can't compare to the stuff the pirates use. 

The pirates have been around Orcunraytrel with their guns and explosives for something like four years now, so it is reasonable to expect that Asosa has a few captured firearms. It feels like cheating to suddenly allow the military access to them to use against the pirates though. Regardless of the rightness of it, it isn't a route I want to go. Asosa is a fairly sedentary nation, they're not prone to innovation and sudden advancement, so having them using a bunch of looted firearms to revolutionize their methods of warfare doesn't make logical sense to me. 

I dunno. This is something weighing heavily on my mind. If anyone has some thought on the topic, I'd love to hear them. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Fucking Minecraft

Everyone knows of my obsession with Minecraft and how much I love digging and building and crafting things. I also love city management/economy simulation games like Anno 2070 and Patrician IV. I dunno exactly what it is about those games, but they make me happy inside and I can spend lots and lots and lots of hours puttering with them.

So a several months ago I bought this game called Towns on Steam for cheap. It was still in like the alpha or beta stage, but preordering it allowed you to play it. They're still updating and patching and refining the gameplay and so on. The premise is a bunch of people found a town in the middle of a wilderness and you organize them and give them tasks and set up resource collection and production facilities and building houses and such for them. The game's graphics are pretty low end, kind of pixelated and you observe the various levels of the world in an isometric view and use like a mouse wheel to scroll up or down to the next level of the map. Periodically monsters invade from the borders of the map and if you dig too deep too quick, you can find progressively stronger monsters beneath your little town. I spent a lot of hours playing that game.

A few days ago I discovered a similar game called Gnomoria. Same concept as Towns, it's just gnomes instead of human villagers. There are also fairly hearty RPG elements to Gnomoria. There are heroes that gain levels in Towns, but in Gnomoria there are no levels, just skills and stats that improve through use. This includes stuff like healing wounded in the hospital, farming, dodging, wearing armor, and hauling stuff from point a to point b. Even your yaks have stats. There are no classes, but each gnome can be assigned a profession, which isn't really a class. It's more like a guide for the game to determine what the gnome does, as you have no direct control over your gnomes. Gnomes you designate as soldiers will attack a target if you direct them to, and you can assign different priorities to the various farm fields and pastures and workshops you build to determine which of them get more attention from the gnomes with professions that allow them to use them. Professions don't really matter, as you can make up your own or just click a bunch of boxes and have everyone doing everything. This is kind of counterproductive though, as it means no one will specialize and the higher a gnome's skill level, the quicker they perform a given task.

Every so often goblins and other nastiness wanders onto your map, along with wandering gnomes and merchants. This isn't exactly a strange or unique mechanic. What is interesting and unique is what drives the immigrants, traders, and enemy attacks. You have this stat called kingdom worth. It is based on the value of all your workshops and buildings and the resources you have collected. As the kingdom worth value goes up, you attract stronger and stronger enemies. It's kind of a neat concept. Of course, the easiest defense against enemies is to just put a wall around your little village without an entrance inside of it. The enemies will eventually starve to death outside of it, but so will immigrants, if the collected enemies don't get them. Additionally, all those enemies will drop all their weapons and armor on the ground when they die, which will add to your kingdom worth and draw progressively tougher types of invaders to your kingdom while your soldiers sit inside the walls not improving their combat skills on weak enemies.

Additionally, there is a tinkering mechanic to the game. If you build a tinker's bench, periodically a gnome will sit down and tinker and develop mechanisms. You can use those mechanisms to put together mechanical doors and walls and hatches and guns and stuff. I've seen some stuff online and there are some fancy mechanisms for defending your kingdom and such. Pit traps and collapsing walls and bridges that the bottom drops out of into a pit. It's all pretty nifty.

Anyway, I dunno, it is a fun little game that I have enjoyed spending stupid amounts of time on. Took me forever to get the hang of surviving the first few goblin attacks though. For some reason, it never occurred to me to put a dirt wall around the village to make a constricted access point and guard it with soldiers, rather then leave everything open and have the goblins kill my working gnomes before my soldiers could get there. I may have ragequit the game several times. I never stooped turning down the enemy stats and making metal deposits shallower though. That's one of the things you can do when you create a new game. There are a whole bunch of things you can tweak when you create a new map. You can determine the size of the map, how flat it is, how mountainous/hilly and how wide the bases of hills and mountains tend to be. You can also reduce the frequency and strength of invaders, along with determining what kinds of invaders can be on the map.

I think it is a neat game with some interesting mechanics and a bit of charm. It is also still in alpha or beta or whatever, so I'm very interested to see what the final product ends up looking like and what additional features they add. A bell to wake up sleeping soldiers would be really fucking handy, just saying.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Alternate Rules: So. Many. Dogdamn. Options.

At a certain point in the life of a game, there are just too many options and subsystems (2e Skills and Powers anyone?). There is just too much crap in too many books for any single character to be able to use all or even a sizable chunk of it, even if they want to. Most game developers respond to this problem by burning everything down to the ground and creating a new edition of the rules and then proceed to start the process all over again. Because they are companies and like having all of our dollars, and also because they are jerkfaces.

In Pathfinder, one of the main ways you show your character's capabilities and specialties, aside from class choice, is with feats. You take feats that are cool or make your character better at whatever it is exactly that he does. Each character gets ten feats over twenty levels as a base. Most classes gain bonus feats related to whatever it is that they do and choose from a selection or get specific ones as a bonus at certain levels, or at least have the option to gain bonus feats through something like the rogue talents of the Rogue class. The Fighter is the big boy of the bonus feats, he gains eleven bonus combat feats over twenty levels, along with the ability to switch out some of those bonus combat feats for others at specified times similar to the way intuitive casters have the ability to switch out their known spells at certain levels. I think there is a lot of feat envy for the Fighter from people that play other classes, and I've never understood why. Oh, you have twenty-one feats? Cool. Are you hitting someone with something to try and injure them or outmaneuver them? No? Guess what, at least eleven of your feats are (more than likely) useless. Go sit in the corner quietly while I use Diplomacy, Skill Focus (Diplomacy), and Spell Focus (Enchantment/Charm) to resolve this non-combat encounter so we can finance building our fortress. Not going to lie, I'll probably be using them later when we have to kill a bunch of guys too. But don't worry, we're all still real fucking impressed with your twenty-one feats.

I have a strong affection for the Fighter, and I don't always buy the 'spellcasters are gods and combat classes are their bitches' mindset that most people seem to have, but depending on the build, a warrior class can potentially have a very narrow focus that can make them seem weaker when compared to full casters. But, you know, that's what the steal combat maneuver is for. Because now god doesn't have his spell component pouch and can't cast any spell with a material component. Unless he has an awesome CMD. Wizards are good at defending against combat maneuvers, right? Or unless he has the eschew materials feat, but who takes that? Ok, Sorcerers, fine. Whatever. All I know is that it took a 19th level Sorcerer to take out my 15th level Rankethlek Fighter Kethranmeer, and Kethranmeer didn't so much as fight Nakmander as he did weather the onslaught of spells in an attempt to break down the sorcerous shield protecting to ritual casters while Nakmander tried to, and succeeded in, reducing him to molten slag. How many finger of deaths and lighting bolts can a Wizard or Sorcerer with no magical gear take on the chin?

Do not underestimate a well designed Fighter, and casters, do not underestimate the damage a Fighter (or anyone really) can cause you by taking your spell component pouch or alchemy crafting kit (the Alchemist equivalent). Seriously, consider the ramifications of not having your spell component pouch. No fireball, no lightning bolt, no mage armor (though that should already be on), no hold person, no enlarge/reduce, no sleep, no summon monster spells, and so on. Most charm/dominate stuff is just verbal and somatic, but Fighters have lots of feats and taking Iron Will and Improved Iron Will is probably never a bad idea when you have a crap Will save. Unless you like getting mindfucked into destroying your allies. 

This wasn't supposed to be a lesson on how to properly play a martial or caster class, so I'll get back to my point, option overload. Looking at Pathfinder, we have all the core stuff involving combat, magic,  skills, and maneuvers along with subsystems for dueling, called shots, city building, performance combat, traits, martial arts styles, gear made from substandard materials, hero points (irrelevant for Hekinoe), spell duels, binding outsiders (irrelevant for Hekinoe), racial ability feats, modifying constructs, and so on. On top of this, my world has wonky magic rules, two series of feats involving weird bodily effects, guns, and psionics. Each of these subsystems and wonky rules systems has a bunch of feats associated with it. My question is, how are you supposed to take advantage of any of it while still trying to cover basics like Improved Initiative or Weapon, Spell, or Skill focus?

I've instituted a flaw system, which helps. But sometimes it is a huge buzzkill to take a fat penalty on saves or skill checks to be able to get that one feat you need, and sometimes it is dull to play a human or its equivalent, and sometimes you don't have an RP reason for a flaw. I'll straight up take a machete to a player's goals and dreams if those goals so much as give my oh so sacred background material a dirty look, but I dislike slapping someone down because rules. Unless those rules work the way they do to prevent a system from completely melting down.

Blah blah blah. Point, what I am considering doing is implementing a new rule that grants everyone a bonus feat at like every fourth level, simply so they can take advantage of more of the interesting subsystems and house rulings of our game. It would only grant five more feats over twenty levels, and I don't feel it would completely upend the balance. I'd give enemies the same bonus at every fourth level/hit die. I assume everyone would completely ignore my various house rule related feats and neat stuff like fighting styles and go for standard core material choices, but I'd feel better knowing the option was there for them to utilize that stuff without slowing down the development of the core concept of their characters. I guess this rule would be more for my peace of mind than for my players. I've heard one or two of them bitch about needing more feats, but never anything like they'd really like to take a feat from my campaign book, if it wouldn't completely screw up their character concept. 

I dunno. I'll think about it I guess. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Alternate Rules: Cultural vs. Biological Traits

So one thing I've thought of and talked about doing is splitting up the biological and cultural attributes of races. Just as an example of what I mean, the Vyanth spell resistance and bonus to CMD vs. disarms from having extra long and flexible fingers and having extra fingers are biological attributes, their ability to count all weapons with Vyanth in their name is a cultural attribute. Elves having low-light vision and resistance to sleep effects are biological attributes while their bonus on caster level checks to overcome spell resistance and their ability to count any weapon with Elven in the name as a martial weapon are both cultural attributes. I know I've said this kind of thing before, I'm just reiterating my thoughts for the sake of the post. The reason I am thinking of doing this is because I do not like the way biological features and cultural features get lumped together in race documents. Which is also something I've said before.

Perhaps you've heard of Pathfinder's Advanced Race Guide? It's a really neat book that breaks down racial features from pretty much every single Pathfinder race currently in print and supplies a point cost for them based on what abilities they have and what those abilities cost individually. It is kind of neat and it also gives some guidelines on how to gauge the power level of some of the beefier races like Tieflings and Drow when they are in a party of more mundane core races and you are fighting normal encounters. Most of the core races like Elves and Dwarves come in at around 8-11 race points, Noble Drow come in at like 41 and Ogres are like in the high thirties, I think. Another neat thing it does is offer some alternate traits to replace the standard features of the races with. So Elves can switch out their elven magic trait for the eternal grudge trait to gain a +1 bonus on attack rolls against Dwarves and Dwarves can trade out their bonus on saves against poison, spells, and spell-like abilities and gain spell resistance.

I don't want to alarm anyone, but my races are not balanced. When I started statting out Hekinoe's races I looked around in my various 3.5 books to try and find a race that best fit the flavor of a Hekinoe race and went from there. The Rankethlek and Soulless are based on Eberron's Warforged, while the Fallen are based on the Undead from a d20 World of Warcraft book I have. When we ended up playing Hekinoe with 4e I tried to use those races as a base. There were tweaks and changes and shifts along the way, but I always try to use pre-existing material as a base when I can. The reason I do this is because my theory is that someone, somewhere, probably, maybe, at least playtested it a little. Probably.

So ever since I got a hold of the Advanced Race Guide I have been wanting to run through all my races and figure out their point costs and even things up if I can or tone a race down if I need to. Recently I've been wanting to strip out what I consider to be cultural abilities and replace them with something like a rule saying each character may select one suite of cultural traits from a country they are native to. With The Known World being the way it is, it is fairly easy for a race to not be native to that race's normal homeland. Any race could grow up in Kusseth, so it seems to me that a player should have the option of showing this, instead of being stuck with some nonsensical racial ability like having knowledge of Vyanth weapons when they grew up as an orphan in the slums of Kusseth and joined a youth gang. I already have a cultural section in the traits section of the campaign book, and this system I am thinking of implementing would absorb those traits. I might just replace the entire trait section and system, depends on how far I decide to take this nonsense. I don't think the trait system is that big of a deal anyways, no one has ever taken the additional traits feat, so they're obviously not a super big deal to my players.

Anyway, just kind of outlining some of my thoughts on future alterations to the campaign book. I like the concept behind this system, so it will more than likely make an appearance in the campaign book in the future. Along with corruption rules and other things I've slide somewhere into a folder on my computer to await the day when one campaign ends and another begins. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Vyanth and Some Alternate Rules Type Stuff

So I have some thoughts about the Vyanth in my campaign world. Specifically the mechanics and nature of their warrior types. There is a fighting style specific to the warriors of Vyanthnem represented by the Talon Blade Duelist feat in my campaign book. The talon blade is a culturally favored weapon modeled after our world's falcata and the fighting style focuses on using a buckler and the talon blade and being agile stuff. I don't have a plethora of information written down about the Vyanth and the culture of Vyanthnem because no one seems to really favor them, but I do have a decent amount about them rambling around in my head. Now, I envision there being an elite guard of Vyanth warriors serving as the Silver King's bodyguards and honored soldiers and such. I imagine these warriors being Magi, with the majority being of the Kensai archetype, though that name is a bit more eastern themed than is appropriate for my world and if people in my game world ever referred to themselves by their class, it would probably be called something different. These warriors are drawn from the Silver King's most loyal lords and such. 

The problem with the Magus class and this whole elite guard thing is that the Vyanth are not a very disciplined society. They are definitely a very sorcerously inclined race, but the spellcasters of the race are primarily composed of intuitive casters like BardS, Sorcerers, and Summoners, rather than Alchemists, Magi, Witches, or Wizards. So these elite warriors, these paragons of Vyanthnem culture, being Magi seems to be somewhat out of character for the race. What I'm thinking is kind of a cheat, but I want to make a Magus archetype based on Charisma and intuitive casting, rather than based on Intelligence. It basically amounts to keeping the spell list, but pulling out the current spells per day table and replacing it with the spells per day and spells known tables from something like the Summoner, which is another middle power spellcasting kind of hybrid class. The switch to Charisma extends to Magus class features of the class that involve spells or spell-like and supernatural effects as well, the arcane accuracy Magus arcana for instance.

I do have one concern that the increased spells per day  of an intuitive caster in comparison to the baseline learned caster spells per day might offer a slight advantage with the Magus' spellstrike abilities, but I don't see it being too a big deal game breaker though. One interesting thing I've noticed is that there is a line in the Magus arcana abilities, specifically each of the ones related to metamagic feats, stating that the use of the ability does not increase the spell level or casting time of the spell. Which is odd, because learned casters like the Magus do not increase the casting time of spells enhanced by metamagic feats, but when an intuitive caster like a Sorcerer uses them it increase the casting time from a standard action (assuming the spell doesn't already have a longer casting time) to a full round action. It's kind of a weird thing to include in a class where it would not really be relevant. Make me wonder if they were initially going to make the Magus an intuitive caster, or perhaps were planning at one point to include an intuitive caster archetype for the class. Which isn't that odd of a thing to include. If you look at some of the Sorcerer bloodlines, a few of them switch the casting statistic from Charisma to Intelligence or Wisdom.

Pause for a moment while I scream myself hoarse into a pillow because my Blogger app had an error and I lost the second half of this post. 

Ok, so what I wanted to say was that I am considering making an additional restriction to the Sorcerer class based on only certain races being able to be members of the class. The races allowed to be members of the class would be Fallen, Fell Human Descendants, Fell Humans, Fell Soulless, Sereth, Soulless, and Vyanth. Each of these races has a long established tie to sorcery in my campaign material, so it is consistent with my background material and each race fitting the criteria of having some innate tie to magic that might manifest is wild and somewhat uncontrollable power. 

I was considering adding a similar restriction to Bard and Summoners, as those classes are intuitive casters as well, but the material about their magic is somewhat different than the material for the Sorcerer. If you read through their class descriptions there is nothing about magical ancestors, just some stuff about inborn talent and cunning and that sort of thing. My take on that is that the Bard and Summoner have the talent for magic the same way a Wizard initially does, but they rely on their talent and specialization with that talent, and other abilities instead of pursuing magical learning and expertise the way a Wizard does.  The Sorcerer on the other hand has an extremely potent and difficult to control spark bestowed on them by a magical ancestor like a dragon or elemental or troll. I dunno, that's just my interpretation of the classes. Regardless, it is kind of irrelevant since the various bloodline abilities and defenses that Sorcerers gain as they increase and level are not granted by a magical ancestor in my world. They're just the side effects of messing with sorcerous energies warping your flesh over time. 

I was thinking of adding an additional restriction to the class as well based on each race only being able to select certain bloodlines during character creation. For instance, Soulless and Fallen are pretty sorcerous in natures (despite never exploding because of unreliable magic), but it would be odd for them to suddenly manifest some of the Aberrant bloodline abilities like suddenly having longer arms like the Sereth and Vyanth. I have several ideas and whatnot about all of this, but I still need to run through all the bloodlines and figure everything out.

Writing all of this out brings another thought to my mind. My world has a lot of restrictions on stuff. Lots of little noes in all of the campaign material related to rules that restrict this or that or the other. Don't get me wrong, I love all my little restrictions and refusals and noes. They are consistent with all of my background material and they help me represent Hekinoe with the Pathfinder rules in a truer and more pleasing fashion. 

So fine, cool, I like all of the restrictive rules that I made up to make Pathfinder Hekinoe look like In My Head Hekinoe. I pile on all these little rules and tweaks that make sense to me and because I have all these preconceived notions of what Hekinoe is and I am so heavily invested in the world, I'm all too happy to take a machete to the mechanics of Pathfinder. I guess it just concerns me that my game world and all its restrictions and special rules make the game a little inflexible and allow a little bit less creative freedom than a more typical Pathfinder campaign. I haven't heard anything like angry mutters or grumbling from my players (much), but it is still something I am now worrying just a little bit about. 

Just a couple thoughts on some stuff on my mind I guess.