pathfinder 1e – Does the Monstrous Combat Options rule of breath weapons scaling with creature size apply to PC’s?

While discussing build options with a fellow party member (an Alchemist), they mentioned a rule granting breath weapons increased area when the user increases size category. After a bit of searching, I was able to find the rule in question:

Breath Weapon: The monster gains a breath weapon that deals 1d6 points of damage + 1d6 per CR. A target can attempt a Reflex saving throw to take half damage. If the breath weapon is a cone, it’s 30 feet long, increasing by 10 feet for each size category above Medium, and decreasing by 5 feet for every size category below Medium. If the breath weapon is a line, its area of effect is twice as long as a cone would be.

However, said rule was located in a section about monster creation/advancement, and now we’re debating whether or not it applies to PC’s changing size due to spells or buffs. Is there any other RAW indication whether or not gaining or losing a size category would generally affect breath weapon areas in this manner, or would this ultimately be a matter of GM fiat?

gm techniques – As a GM, how do I encourage PCs to share and play out their backstories?

The best way to make sure your players invest in character backgrounds is, in my experience, to actually use those backgrounds, and reward players that provide them. Players will not do something they don’t consider worth doing.

The rewards vary from group to group. If you haven’t done so already, I suggest taking notes of what kind of thing is the most interesting for each of your players: some look for a cool story, some look for roleplaying experiences and personal drama, some look for power-ups, some look for ways to do cool stuff with their characters they can brag about later, some look for some fun while not being at the center of attention. Remember, each of these is perfectly fine and everyone has a different way of having fun. It’s alright if someone only cares about his kill count, as long as he’s happy playing and the rest of the group is cool with him; and for the love of everything, don’t “reward” such a player with a deep intricate story arc centering on him. Give him a bigger axe instead.

The next step is to actually use that information during the game. If your character values the story, have his background be a central part of a story arc. If he values his shiny magical items, make sure a powerful magic item comes up from his background and that he needs to investigate and make use of his personal story to gain it. And so on, and so forth.

This can, of course, be kind of like a dog that eats his own tail, with the DM not being able to use backgrounds for his story since his players do not have any background, and the PCs not providing background info since the DM does not reward them. However, there are three tricks to avoid that situation. First, you can talk to your players. Seriously, mature players will easily abide to your request. Second, if your players have similar interests (not that uncommon), even just one character’s background “paying off” will entice the others to follow in the next campaign. And thirdly, you can offer actual, practical advantages for backgrounds in the first few adventures / campaigns you have with your group: for instance, you could give extra starting money, or a clue to an enigma, a powerful NPC’s help, or even just a Good Player Cookie to “bank in” later in the adventure for some extra benefit in a certain situation. Heck, depending on your players even actual cookies could be good.

Remember, you don’t need a GOOD background to start: if you have even just a vague short background story, like “I was hit and have amnesia, but I have a strange feeling I might be the son of the emperor” is enough to start providing those rewards that will make sure the rest of the players will put more effort in their backgrounds. Just make sure to reward better backgrounds with better rewards – even when the rewards themselves are incomparable, the amount of time a smile stays on the player’s face afterwards is a good indicator of how “good” a reward is.

pathfinder 1e – What do I do about PCs using Con damage to “nuke” bosses?

If the PCs have really gone all-in on this, then they should start getting famous (or infamous?) for it. You can start hinting at this in towns. Once they get famous for their tactics, it starts to make more sense that the villains would hear about them and, if they know the PCs are the ones following them, prepare accordingly.

I’m assuming that the players are using poisons with a short onset time (or no onset time at all). If that’s the case, One possibility might be to introduce this concept using a villain who heard the PCs were following him, and came prepared with a good stock of antidotes. The thing about this is that it won’t save him: short-onset poisons won’t leave him any time to stop primary damage, so eventually he should still lose to the same tactics the PCs used before.

But it should make the fight noticeably more difficult and/or tedious. With only primary damage to rely on, the PCs will need more doses of poison than usual, and they’ll waste more time applying it to their weapons. At some point, it should also be clear that this villain heard the PCs were following him, knew their reputation for using certain poisons, and tried to prepare. His particular scheme was intuitive and sensible, and although it didn’t work out in the end, it wasn’t totally ineffective either. It’s only a matter of time before someone figures out how to improve upon it. Or even if it was ineffective, it sends the message that villains are starting to get wise to the PCs’ tactics, and are trying to develop a way around it, even if they haven’t succeeded yet.

The idea behind this is to maintain the players’ sense of agency. They changed the world, not some random piece of DM-fiat falling out of the sky.

One other thing to consider is copycat adventurers. The most literal version of this is absolute gold as recurring comedic rivals if your campaign is into that sort of thing, but it also makes sense that if the PCs are so successful with this tactic, other adventurers might start to try it too. This makes it more sensible in general for villains to start preparing for.

dnd 5e – How are PCs supposed to know this detail relevant to Area 4 of the Redbrand Hideout in the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure?

Spoilers ahead:

The most information we can get from the book can be found in the General Features section of the hideout description, in the box titled “What the Redbrands know” (page 20):

The Redbrands have a handful of captives in a holding area “near the old crypts,” which are guarded by skeletons (see areas 4 and 5).

This only tells us that the Redbrands are aware of the skeletons (it’s their trap after all). However, it is likely that at least some of the Redbrands would know the command word as well, as the trap is positioned right in front of their prison, and the skeletons might otherwise interfere with prisoner transfer.

If this doesn’t seem likely to you, there is at least one person in the hideout that is expected to know such things: Glasstaff himself. Though it is not strictly specified in the book, it is very likely that he’s the one who set up the whole trap, and thus would know the codeword.

As for how could your PC-s find this out? Interrogation, persuasion, magical effects, and others. While getting information that you don’t ask for in an interrogation seems unlikely, a particularly successful one could yield it. For instance, if your PC rolled an Intimidation check while interrogating and got a very high score, an NPC might be so scared that he starts spewing out everything he knows (possibly pissing his pants at the same time). Or a well worded Suggestion (“Lead us safely through the hideout”) spell might prompt an NPC to divulge such secrets. It’s even possible to make allies out of enemies, and an ally would be incentivized to keep his new friends safe from skeletons.


As a side note: the adventure book you’re using is not a rulebook. It is merely a suggestion on how to play the adventure the way the author imagined it. DM’s are allowed (and required, imho) to adapt the adventure according to how the campaign is going.

Sticking to the book is handy for new DM’s that are still struggling with all their other responsibilities and don’t want to add adaptive storytelling to the list. But the book was not meant to be a cook book, so there are naturally some holes in the text that the DM is required to fill in. This is also good practice, as modifying the initial script in reaction to PC’s actions usually leads to a much more enjoyable campaign than just going by the book.

In short:

The PC’s might not enter the skeleton room at all, at which point the keyword is irrelevant. It is also irrelevant in case the players stumble upon the room before gathering any information. But it’s good for a DM to know it exists so he can throw it in at any point in the game where it would make the game more enjoyable (as a reward for a high roll, or even as a new plot point that enriches the original adventure).

How do "monsters" attack if the PCs don’t engage in combat first?

  • Forgive me if this seems a total newbie question…I’m not that, and have played ‘solo’ DW with my partner for at least two years…we both have a number of level 3 characters who we run through non-GM’d scenarios we generate from various GM emulators and in the spirit of DW explore the world and find out what is happening.
    So intro over….few days ago we had visitors and took them through some scenarios and they immediately raised a point we had never considered……how do ‘monsters’ attack if the PC’s don’t engage in combat first.
  • Do they simply deal damage?
  • Do the PC’s defend?
    OR,
  • Do they use their attack moves (via the GM or in our case via our adherence to the fiction) and make a hack and slash move, or again do they simply deal damage?
  • I appreciate this is maybe a simplistic question, but, we have never really thought about it before.
  • Surely there is some mechanism outside the fiction that governs their method of determining whether an attack move on their part is successful?

dnd 5e – How can I best handle monsters/NPCs using social skills vs PCs?

While “DM decides” is a standard tool to keep play moving, removing player agency for what players decide to do can turn role playing into roll playing (letting the dice drive everything) and lead to low player satisfaction. The best way to deal with this is to role play the situation.

Ability checks are not saving throws.

You are right: most players will feel cheated if they are forced to do something they didn’t choose to do (player agency) that isn’t the result of a failed saving throw. Ability checks are similar to, but not the same as, saving throws. (DMG p. 237 and p. 238).

Saving throw fails can lead to players doing things against their will, but they are being influenced by some sort of power … something like magic.

Examples:

  • The Fear save (failed) due to a Dragon’s power to instill fear causes the character to flee rather than fight.

  • Failing to save versus the Umber Hulk’s Confuse power can lead to characters running off, standing around, or even attacking someone in their party.

Ability check is a test to see whether a character succeeds at a task that he or she had decided to attempt.

Note that it is the player initiating something: player agency in action (which may fail anyway).

Compare that to a Contest (p. 238)

A contest is a kind of ability check that matches two creatures against each other.

If two NPC’s are in a contest, the players can watch it play out as part of a scenario. Rolling for the result is an option you have … or you can play out the scenario based on how you want to set up the follow on challenge for your players.

PC to NPC contest? As your question suggests, is it because the player initiated action, or a course of action, or is it a result of a DM initiated course of action? If the latter you are already driving the narrative: why roll? If rolling dice helps you get a feel for how strongly the NPC reacts, then the dice help you role play. If it is to create a saving throw for a social interaction that forces a character to act in a certain way, you may be headed to the railroad station.

What happens when a thug tries to intimidate a PC?

The DM’s role playing skills come to the fore. If you set the conditions where the PC feels that she needs to choose a course of action, or feels threatened because of what the thug can do, or who his friends are, then role play the thug and the setting, then let the player choose. Otherwise, you can end up in a situation like this:

DM: “You feel intimidated.”

Player: “I go ahead and do it anyway, he doesn’t scare me.”

DM: “You can’t, you are intimidated, he won the intimidation roll.”

Do you want to be the engineer on that railroad?

  • Scene: the PC bard is meeting a thug in a warehouse near the
    river docks. She is following a lead, and has been told to “come
    alone.” (The wizard’s bat familiar is flying high cover while the wizard
    hides/remains invisible at the extreme end of range.) Thug arrives with two
    associates, both of whom have heavy crossbows loaded. Thug’s line of
    conversation is that bard is messing with stuff not her business, and
    she needs to buzz off. Bard (player agency) tries to role play a
    diplomatic quid pro quo deal with the thug, offers information, help, services,
    cash, something. Here, a social skills check for Persuasion makes
    sense: you want to gauge how well the NPC receives this unless you
    have already decided that he’s not interested
    , in which case no roll
    matters
    .

Let’s say the persuasion check fails.

  • The thug now threatens the bard with something more than harsh words
    if she doesn’t mind her own business. (A passive Perception check about now to see if she or the wizard/bat detect the other three armed ruffians hiding behind some crates of mining equipment would be timely. Picking up on that is further intimidation, or a sense of threat).You don’t need to roll for whether or not the bard feels intimidated: she’ll either take the hint or not. Once again, her player agency is preserved, and you set the conditions for her to operate. What she chooses will determine whether or not there is a fight, or she gracefully bows out and looks for other leads. (If you want to roll for your own benefit, to see how aggressive, scary, or intimidating the thug’s trying to be, that’s something I did for years as a DM: let such rolls help me with flavoring the role playing. )

Social interactions between the PC and the NPC need to be in the hands of the player as much as possible. The NPCs are your tools for creating the environment and the challenge.

On pages 244-246 of the DMG, “Roleplaying Interactions” walks you through starting attitudes of NPC’s, Conversation/Interaction, Charisma checks, and role playing. The details includes reactions and DC’s based on the creature’s initial status: Friendly, Indifferent, and Hostile. It also provides advice on how to use your body language and voice in enrich the encounter.

In Summary

The DM role plays these interactions, rather than relying on dice since this isn’t a saving throw scenario. You can let the dice help you shape the role play of the NPC.

Why?

  1. It’s part of the fun.
  2. Preserve player agency wherever you can.

Coda

I had a DM years ago whose theory on dealing with players was “give them enough rope, they’ll hang themselves.” He was mostly right. We got ourselves into all kinds of scrapes on our own volition by making decisions regardless of the signals he was sending us. Player agency to the limit, and immense fun.

networking – Error connecting Windows 10 PCs to a MAC on a LAN

The Setup:

1x Mac Mini (MM), running OS X El Capitan Version 10.11.6(not Mac server)

5x Windows 10 (W10) PCs

1x LAN wifi

1x LAN ethernet

The Challenge:

Connect all 5 PCs to the MM over the wired LAN or Wifi and map folders on the MM as additional Drives (Eg, P, Q, R etc) on the W10 PCs, as so as to share files stored on the MM. BTW: The MM is not used as a workstation, more as a “server” or pseudo-server.

The Method:

From the PCs Command prompt on the W10 PCs run “net use T: “1nn.nnn.1.14ffffff” /persistent:yes. (real values hidden for security)

The Initial Outcome:

2 of the 5 PCs connected and drive letters assigned – no problems,

3 of the PCs could not connect, error message 71, “No more connections can be made to this remote computer at this time because there are already as many connections as the computer can accept.”

Attempted Solution:

On the W10 PCs; increased the number of currentlogons in the registry from 10 to 100, but this made no difference. I think i should be doing something like this on the MM…

Second Outcome:

No effect.

Question:

How do I increase the number of (network?) connections that the MM can accept? I believe this would solve the issue, but if I’m barking up the wrong tree, I would gladly be pointed to another one.

Thanks in Advance
Dave

dnd 5e – How do you handle monsters using social skills vs PCs?

While “DM decides” is a standard tool to keep play moving, removing player agency for what players decide to do can turn role playing into roll playing (letting the dice drive everything) and lead to low player satisfaction. The best way to deal with this is to role play the situation.

Ability checks are not saving throws.

You are right: most players will feel cheated if they are forced to do something they didn’t choose to do (player agency) that isn’t the result of a failed saving throw. Ability checks are similar to, but not the same as, saving throws. (DMG p. 237 and p. 238).

Saving throw fails can lead to players doing things against their will, but they are being influenced by some sort of power … something like magic.

Examples:

  • The Fear save (failed) due to a Dragon’s power to instill fear causes the character to flee rather than fight.

  • Failing to save versus the Umber Hulk’s Confuse power can lead to characters running off, standing around, or even attacking someone in their party.

Ability check is a test to see whether a character succeeds at a task that he or she had decided to attempt.

Note that it is the player initiating something: player agency in action (which may fail anyway).

Compare that to a Contest (p. 238)

A contest is a kind of ability check that matches two creatures against each other.

If two NPC’s are in a contest, the players can watch it play out as part of a scenario. Rolling for the result is an option you have … or you can play out the scenario based on how you want to set up the follow on challenge for your players.

PC to NPC contest? As your question suggests, is it because the player initiated action, or a course of action, or is it a result of a DM initiated course of action? If the latter you are already driving the narrative: why roll? If rolling dice helps you get a feel for how strongly the NPC reacts, then the dice help you role play. If it is to create a saving throw for a social interaction that forces a character to act in a certain way, you may be headed to the railroad station.

What happens when a thug tries to intimidate a PC?

The DM’s role playing skills come to the fore. If you set the conditions where the PC feels that she needs to choose a course of action, or feels threatened because of what the thug can do, or who his friends are, then role play the thug and the setting, then let the player choose. Otherwise, you can end up in a situation like this:

DM: “You feel intimidated.”

Player: “I go ahead and do it anyway, he doesn’t scare me.”

DM: “You can’t, you are intimidated, he won the intimidation roll.”

Do you want to be the engineer on that railroad?

  • Scene: the PC bard is meeting a thug in a warehouse near the
    river docks. She is following a lead, and has been told to “come
    alone.” (The wizard’s bat familiar is flying high cover while the wizard
    hides/remains invisible at the extreme end of range.) Thug arrives with two
    associates, both of whom have heavy crossbows loaded. Thug’s line of
    conversation is that bard is messing with stuff not her business, and
    she needs to buzz off. Bard (player agency) tries to role play a
    diplomatic quid pro quo deal with the thug, offers information, help, services,
    cash, something. Here, a social skills check for Persuasion makes
    sense: you want to gauge how well the NPC receives this unless you
    have already decided that he’s not interested
    , in which case no roll
    matters
    .

Let’s say the persuasion check fails.

  • The thug now threatens the bard with something more than harsh words
    if she doesn’t mind her own business. (A passive Perception check about now to see if she or the wizard/bat detect the other three armed ruffians hiding behind some crates of mining equipment would be timely. Picking up on that is further intimidation, or a sense of threat).You don’t need to roll for whether or not the bard feels intimidated: she’ll either take the hint or not. Once again, her player agency is preserved, and you set the conditions for her to operate. What she chooses will determine whether or not there is a fight, or she gracefully bows out and looks for other leads. (If you want to roll for your own benefit, to see how aggressive, scary, or intimidating the thug’s trying to be, that’s something I did for years as a DM: let such rolls help me with flavoring the role playing. )

Social interactions between the PC and the NPC need to be in the hands of the player as much as possible. The NPCs are your tools for creating the environment and the challenge.

On pages 244-246 of the DMG, “Roleplaying Interactions” walks you through starting attitudes of NPC’s, Conversation/Interaction, Charisma checks, and role playing. The details includes reactions and DC’s based on the creature’s initial status: Friendly, Indifferent, and Hostile. It also provides advice on how to use your body language and voice in enrich the encounter.

In Summary

The DM role plays these interactions, rather than relying on dice since this isn’t a saving throw scenario. You can let the dice help you shape the role play of the NPC.

Why?

  1. It’s part of the fun.
  2. Preserve player agency wherever you can.

Coda

I had a DM years ago whose theory on dealing with players was “give them enough rope, they’ll hang themselves.” He was mostly right. We got ourselves into all kinds of scrapes on our own volition by making decisions regardless of the signals he was sending us. Player agency to the limit, and immense fun.

product identification – RPG with Rats as PCs?

I am tryting to remember what the name of that (german?) RPG was where you play a rat in some sort of decrepit house or mall or something. One of the worst enemies would be Cats.

I remember that it used a rather simple mechanic of just d6, some keywords on each chacarter and some… checkboxes I believe.

Rats were of different breeds (tribes?) and one of them were labrats.

dnd 5e – Which balancing issues, if any, would arise from allowing PCs to spend actions on bonus action features?

Normally, the rules are very strict in that you only ever get one bonus action. If you were to convert that bonus action to an action, then there would be instances (Action Surge, Haste, etc.) that would then allow you to do this more than once.

The specific impact will be variable based on the specific bonus action under consideration, but changing it to a mechanic that would enable more than one could be very problematic.

I will review several interactions below that highlight the problem. The spellcasting actions are most problematic not because of being able to cast more than one spell (or not), but because many spells utilize the bonus action mechanic to control the spell. If you can use that mechanic twice, you are doubling the output of every spell that has that control mechanism.

Ready Action and Bonus Actions

Typically, you can not use a Bonus Action in a Ready Action. If you can convert your Bonus Action to Action, then it potentially works with this mechanic as well – giving further flexibility in how you use it and allowing for greater use/misuse of the secondary damage dealing that I cover later in this answer.

Bonus Action control mechanics and Bardic Inspiration* are two things that would benefit immensely from this

Bardic Inspiration

For instance, a Bard could now be able to hand out two Bardic Inspiration dice in one round. This doubles their current limit of one die.

Being able to hand out multiple instances of this limited resource could sway an encounter by boosting your party’s effectiveness at twice the speed.

Spiritual Weapon/Heat Metal (or any other bonus action damage/attack mechanic)

Giving more than one Bonus Action here will allow multiple instances of damage delivery from these spells. If upcast, you could be looking at a max of 5d8+Modifier for spiritual weapon or 9d8 for Heat Metal. Any spell that allows a delivery of damage via bonus action would benefit and would become significantly overpowered as it doubles the damage output over the length of the spell (generally 10 rounds.) Especially if you compare that against other 9th level spells like Meteor Swarm. (Big Thanks to Axoren for this inclusion!)

To be clear, this is not casting the same spell twice, or overlapping effects. It is using the bonus action control aspect of these spells twice.

The damage output of spells that use bonus actions to damage would increase

In direct comparison, let’s look at the damage outputs (assuming failed saves and successful attacks) for some of these to highlight the power of allowing two bonus actions to deliver damage from an ongoing spell/effect.

Meteor Storm as our Control example

Meteor Storm is one of the most powerful damage dealing spells available. I’m going to use the damage output from this as my measuring stick to compare against the effects of a dual bonus action mechanic.

Meteor Storm is an AOE, so it could effect as many creatures as you can fit within it, but each one would get a total of 40d6 damage. That’s an average damage of 140 per creature in the range.

Spiritual Weapon

Spiritual Weapon is a single attack spell, but lasts for 1 minute with an average damage of 27.5 (assuming +5 modifier) being delivered twice for 55 damage per turn for a 550 total over duration. In order for Meteor Swarm to be outperform this, you’d need to get 3 targets which may be difficult to achieve.

Bigby’s Hand

Bigby’s Hand provides another OP option. In this case, the hand is much more versatile. It can be used via a bonus action to act as a controller (interposing itself between two creatures or shoving them) and as damage (Clenched Fist/grasping). Utilizing the single hand to have two potential targets alone is very powerful. If we look at the damage dealing for Clenched Fist, we have a delivery of 108 damage per turn or 1,080 over the duration. Meteor Storm would need to target 8 creatures in it’s area in order to have a similar output.

Heat Metal

Heat Metal is only effective against someone wearing armor, but in this case it would deliver 81 fire damage per turn guaranteed. Meteor Swarm would have to target more than 10 to become equivalent.

Dual Bonus Actions are very powerful

While you may get 5+ targets in a Meteor Swarm attack, it’s highly unlikely that they’d be arrayed in such a way and one of the most powerful spells in the book becomes dwarfed by many other options.

But the real kicker is you are now spending a minute dealing massive amounts of damage with only a single resource having been spent (especially for things that don’t involve concentration where there is no risk of not completing the full minute.) The economy of doing that is overpowered.

Not only all of the above, but the one class ability where you could start to challenge the need for this is with the Potent Spellcasting. This class feature is a method for increasing the DPR of that specific class. If you do allow two bonus actions, thjen it completely negates the increase that Potent Spellcasting provides and greatly minimizes that level 8 class ability.

*Although Bardic Inspiration uses a limited resource, it shows that it removes limits on other features as well.