IMPORTANT INFO - READ ME.   Posted by Dungeon Master.Group: 0
Dungeon Master
 GM, 1 post
 Teller of tales
 Lord of lies
Fri 15 Apr 2016
at 00:18
Keep these in mind and you'll do fine:

  1. When in doubt ask.
    If you're stuck in-game or out-of-game, not sure how to react or feel like there is anything preventing you from posting, either drop a line in any OOC chat or send me a PM. If you don't get an answer within 24 hours, poke me in the GM poke thread. While I may not update every day, I do keep an eye out for PMs and questions.

  2. It's your character.
    I spend my day trying to figure out plot lines and run encounters. I do not memorize character sheets. If there is important information pertaining to your character (like how you have dark vision so you don't get the dark penalties I posted) it is your responsibility to bring that up, not mine to remember it. You are the advocate for your character, it is your job to give them every advantage they can have. If you have questions, see Rule #1.

  3. If you have to leave, drop me a line.
    If you're going to be absent for longer then a week, or your RL schedule means you're going to be busier then normal, or school is starting and RL has to be adjusted...whatever the case, drop me a PM before you disappear for longer then a week. If you haven't posted in a week I will view you as an AFK player. I will then begin to NPC your character if they are vital to the plot, finding a replacement player, or working them out of the story. If you disappear for two weeks without prior warning, don't be surprised to find that you no longer have a character. This doesn't mean I can't work you back in, but it would ALL be resolved much better with a bit of forewarning. Even if you don't KNOW but just THINK you might have difficulty posting, see Rule #1: When in doubt, send a PM.

    If you have not logged in for a couple of weeks I may mark you as (AFK) after your name. If you have (AFK) on your name I am NPCing your character through encounters and you are at risk of either being replaced by another player OR being killed off for dramatic purposes. To remove (AFK) all you have to do is come back and post.

  4. If you take too long, I will advance the story.
    PbP can be slow enough without spending weeks/months trying to create a plan. I've seen this happen game after game after game where when the party has to make a decision nothing gets done and the game grinds to a halt while people just mill around without anything to do. When you are ready for the scene to advance you can notify that clearly by writing in an OOC line at the bottom:


    This will signify to both me and the rest of the group that you're ready to move on. When the majority is ready (or I get bored :P) the game will advance. I will post a default plan and if the plan hasn't changed before then, then that is what you're going to be doing. If you don't like it you'd better speak up and get a new plan in the works before I get bored and hit the fast forward button.

Dungeon Master
 GM, 2 posts
 Teller of tales
 Lord of lies
Fri 15 Apr 2016
at 00:19
Skinning is the idea of taking a set of rules or mechanics and applying a new "skin" to it to provide a new and unique experience for the purposes of roleplaying.

For example:
  • A tiefling ninja that generates the ninja's ki pool from his infernal heritage instead of the traditional Eastern flavor.
  • A Samurai class re-branded as a Knight wielding a bastard sword instead of a katana
  • A dog familiar that is a chicken or a goat or pretty much any animal.

I am all for skinning and re-branding as long as it follows the following guidelines:
  1. It must have a good reason with some solid reasoning from the player. I'm not going to let you reskin your generic 15gp long sword as a negative energy blade just because you want to pretend to have a level 20 character at level 1.

  2. The underlying game mechanics are unchanged.
    In the above example the tiefling's "infernal" pool is still impacted and follows all the same rules as the ki, the bastard sword has the same stats, cost, and proficiency requirements of the katana, and the chicken providing the benefits of the dog familiar will find itself hated by every goblin it meets.

So if there is a feat or power or spell or whatever that you really want to use however the aesthetics attached to it aren't your style just let me know and we can work on re-branding it into something you can really dig but doesn't unbalance the game or alter the mechanics.

This message was last updated by the GM at 00:19, Fri 15 Apr 2016.

Dungeon Master
 GM, 3 posts
 Teller of tales
 Lord of lies
Fri 15 Apr 2016
at 00:19
Combat Posts
So I'd like you to use the following format for combat posts:

Underneath your descriptive post I would like you to clearly spell out each action you are taking and what you're doing with it. If you take a Move and a Standard action it should go like:

Move Action: blah
Standard Action: blah

If you squeeze in a swift or immediate or free action again please clearly state you are taking X kind of action and you are doing Y with it. You do not have to call out talking as a free action, however but a common tactic might be to switch from a bow to a sword, for example so it would look like:

Free Action: Drop bow
Move Action: Draw sword
Standard Action: Attack Bad Guy #1

Finally if you do make an attack please append the AC that you hit and the amount of damage (as well as the damage type if it's doing something unusual like fire or cold etc.) Then append your dice rolls below it. For example:

Move Action: Pass
Standard Action: Scorching Ray at Bad Guy #3 hitting touch AC 15 for 5 pts of fire damage.

All in all it should look something like this:

Gnomey the gnome lets out a fearsome roar and moves next to this guy and stabs that guy.

Move Action: Move 20 feet from Q5 to Q9
Standard Action: Attack that guy with dagger, hitting AC 17 for 2 points of damage.

09:21, Today: Gnomey rolled 17 using 1d20+3. stab that guy
09:21, Today: Gnomey rolled 2 using 1d3. dagger damage

In previous games I have done my best to have everyone move in initiative order but it screws up the game because people are attacking things that are already dead or have moved out of reach. Normally I "re-interpret" things to make the most sense but that hasn't been great for me so far. THERFORE I am instead going to handle initiative this way:

  1. Everyone rolls initiative as normal with normal modifiers
  2. I take the AVERAGE initiative for both sides
  3. Whichever side gets the higher average "goes first" as a side. So players go then enemies go. I am not expecting players to post in initiative order and I'm going to be resolving everything pretty much in the order that players post so if you want to go first, post first, at least for your team.
  4. I will be keeping track of individual initiatives just in case it actually matters. For example, determining if someone is flat-footed when the rogue attacks them

This is a trial thing and if it gets weird I can go back to doing it the "normal" way. If it works out I'll spread it to my other games.
Dungeon Master
 GM, 4 posts
 Teller of tales
 Lord of lies
Fri 15 Apr 2016
at 00:19
Pathfinder Unchained
I will be using and encouraging the use of Unchained classes (Monk/Barbarian/Rogue/Summoner).

All of those changes are available online and mostly are just a re-balancing of the existing classes. Barbarians get more straight forward abilities and better rage powers, Rogues can inflict status effects with their sneak attacks and get skill unlocks, Monks get completely revamped, and Summoners get a bit of direction so you don't end up with a blob with 10 tentacles coming out of it.

In addition I will be using the Unchained rules for Poisons & Diseases: Link

Basically it allows any disease/poison to be eventually fatal but overall there's a lot more to them then just "Ability Damage, Ability Damage, Death".

Considering that non-CON diseases/poisons can be fatal and even minor hits can cause debilitating status effects, hopefully poisons and diseases are a bit better of threats then they used to be.

Finally, Stamina Pools will be allowed. Fighters get access to it as a free feat, other characters can select it as a feat and unlock stamina options for their combat feats as they wish.
Dungeon Master
 GM, 14 posts
 Teller of tales
 Lord of lies
Fri 15 Apr 2016
at 19:54
Why I Am the way that I am (...difficult...)
So just as a bit of background, some of you might be wondering just why I can be so difficult and such a stickler about "building a character, not a set of numbers" and why I crack down so harshly on min/maxing.

What follows is a background story about why I am the way that I am and is purely optional to read.

When I first started "serious" gaming (i.e. where we actually played by the rules and weren't 14 yr old kids laughing about how drunk we were getting at the taverns all the time) it was in college and I played with two good friends I nickname "The Crunch Brothers". These two guys were great roleplayers and a blast to be around, but they took the most pleasure in bending a game system over the barrel. They would just sit around, the two of them, and crunch the numbers. They were the kind of guys that would just spend an afternoon tweaking builds until they could solo gods at mid-levels.

One was always a cleric, the other always a mage (both of them considered the most powerful classes in D&D). I on the other hand liked playing Bards, Rogues, Fighters, Samurai...basically everything considered Tier 4 or Tier 5...bottom of the barrel. Especially back in 3.0 when we were really doing the heavy gaming I would spend all my feats/skills etc. trying to be THE BEST at stealth or THE BEST at bluffing, basically a typical skill monkey but the system as it was designed was entirely against me. They were nice and would try to help me get a bit of the spotlight but when the gauntlet was down and brown stuff hitting the fan, those two would step in and clean house. Not only with a couple of buffs could they out bluff and out stealth me, but they could also do it while solo-ing a dragon that should have been waaay out of their league.*

I had fun with them because they were good friends and we had a laugh but from a gaming perspective it felt very hollow. I thought I was making this badass adventurer that could save the day but these guys quickly regulated me to just being the pack mule that they would sometimes indulge and let me swing a sword when it wasn't critical to the mission.

Frankly, it sucked though but because I was stubborn I refused to just pick a mage or cleric or druid to compete with them (although even if I did they would often insist on picking your stuff for you because they crunched everything and knew what worked and what didn't so there wasn't a lot of wiggle rooms in builds in their parties). I consider myself a decent gamer of board games in general so I KNEW the rules were against me but I refused to give up and got crushed time and time again...

Anyway now that I'm a GM I get to set the theme/story etc. The GM that we played with ran more of a loosely linked arena where all his time was spent on developing "awesome encounters" and the fights were epic (they had to be to keep pace with the Crunch brothers) but the storyline was pretty lacking. "The King says go here and recover the McGuffin." We go there and go through dungeons and fight after fight but nobody had any depth, there were no emotional charged scenes of loss or remorse or love or laughter. It was a popcorn blockbuster, a thinly veiled excuse for action scene set pieces. I loved hanging with my friends, but I hated the way the game was played.

(NOTE: That's not to say EVERY game was like that. My high school gaming group was very different and many were VERY story oriented...I have some pretty epic Hunter: The Reckoning tales...)

So now that I'm a GM, you could say I'm overcompensating but I say that I want to make characters, not numbers. I am not one of those GMs that just shrugs and says "oh well, it's in the rules, go ahead and bend the whole game system to your every whim. For me, it is ALWAYS Characters first, Story Second, and game mechanics dead last after some other stuff I haven't bothered listing.

HOWEVER I like having game mechanics as a framework to help determine the odds of success/failure and because I buy Hero Lab that crunches everything for me it is easy to get you guys audited down to the penny. In addition by paying such close attention to your character sheets it really helps me get a better understanding of who you are.

SO here I am as a stickler for game mechanics as well as a watchdog for people trying to exploit the system. It's a hypersensitivity that leads me to intentionally imposing handicaps and restrictions. BUT I do it out of love. Love for the story, love for the game, and love towards you, the concept of a player (not you specifically, you specifically I could take or leave ;D). I want everyone to know that you don't have to go the easy route, you don't have to sit down and analyze cost/benefit ratios to have a good time in my games. What you need is a strong character in mind and make your character creation decisions to support that strong theme.

So from my perspective if I tell you X should be Y, if you are building it around a strong character concept you shouldn't care at all and while I appreciate a bit of efficiency don't tell me you're a good looking guy natural born leader and have a charisma of 10 because you can squeeze more points out of your character if you raise skills instead of attributes.

And also I hate loopholers and system breakers and hope they all rot and die.


*The old Shivering Touch shenanigans. For those who don't know, Shivering Touch was a spell that did DEX damage, not HP damage. Dragons, despite being big bundles of HP and armor, typically had average (8-12) in DEX. One or two castings of Shivering Touch dealt enough DEX damage to drop a gargantuan ancient dragon to 0 DEX which, as per 3.0/3.5 rules instantly killed it. Yes, it was that retarded. Also the attack had no saving throw against it and was a touch attack (which meant that the +40 armor that the dragons had was useless as it could only use it's non-existent or negative DEX to AC)
Dungeon Master
 GM, 15 posts
 Teller of tales
 Lord of lies
Fri 15 Apr 2016
at 19:56
Character Creation (aka WHY MUST YOU TWIST EVERYTHING!?)
I had a player some time ago complain to me during character creation about why I had to twist every idea he submitted and, in his words "make it suck".

What follows is another long winded explanation that is entirely optional and should probably not be read at all. Seriously, don't indulge me. This is not healthy behavior :P

Anyway the reason why I always seem to twist your ideas is because I care. As many of you already know or soon will as we dive into character creation, I love to throw out ideas at you that might range from minor cosmetics to fundamental shifts in character design. I do this mainly because I as a person love to work with other people's ideas. I consider a strength of mind (other people probably don't agree) but I feel that the best ideas I have ever come up with are those I have bounced back and forth with other people.

Therefore because I want each of you to have the bestest character in the whole wide world I want it to be bounced around a bit before it gets finalized. I also believe that if we work on the concept together that it will create a stronger impression on the both of us and overall have deeper meaning. (And hopefully keep you from ghosting away and stealth quitting the game). You may not feel that way but I always appreciate characters that I've had a touch in creating far more then just a cookie cutter character that was just dropped out of the box, so to speak.

Even if it's an idea you've been refining for twenty years, I bet I can find something that can be tweaked to make it fit just a little better with the theme and setting of the story.

On that note, another reason I twist and turn is because I have the position of seeing EVERYONE and knowing ALL the plot lines that you will face. Often times I tweak and twist because I am trying to set up a scene later on where two character discover something in common in their backstory or that the plot lines are integrated into their personal story. I also love surprises and try to be all cool and coy about it so you might think I'm being meddling until waaay down the road you see the reason why I poked things in that direction.

On the other hand, I am also at least aware of the fact that I can be "meddlesome" (to put it mildly" and not every person wants "their" character "touched" in so many ways. Many times you are free to say 'no' to my ideas but it helps my hurt feelings if you spend a little extra time to explain WHY it's important that things not be touched and tweaked.

Another insight is that while I will let you say 'no' that doesn't mean that I give up or lay off the pressure so you can easily tell if I really like an idea when you hear me bring it up over and over and over again. Again, don't let peer pressure force you into making a decision you'll regret. I know I have all the power but I don't want you to be forced into playing a character you dislike. Instead just re-evaluate how strongly you feel about that 'no' versus how strongly I'm pushing for a yes.

Or if it really bothers you, just tell me to knock it off or (if you're too nice to do that) just keep saying that you have heard what I'm saying but you'll pass. If you try to be coy and dodge around it I will force an answer out of you thinking you just missed it among the walls of text and PMs I can sometimes produce.

Phew... that was intense as I wrote these last 3 items in a very short time frame.
Dungeon Master
 GM, 83 posts
 Teller of tales
 Lord of lies
Fri 13 Jul 2018
at 19:29
NPC Dialogue
NPC's will have colored dialogue based upon their attitude:

Helpful is blue

Friendly is green

Black is neutral/indifferent

Unfriendly is orange

Hostile is red
Dungeon Master
 GM, 175 posts
 Teller of tales
 Lord of lies
Wed 6 Mar 2019
at 22:13
HP by Level
For a PC there are two ways to do hit points:

One is to take the average (round DOWN). So 3 for a d6, 4 for a d8, 5 for a d10, 6 for d12

The other is to straight up roll. No "rerolls for 1s" etc, you get what you get.

HOWEVER every odd level past the first you gain a bonus hit point.

So for a d6 it would go like this:
Level 2: +3hp
Level 3: +4hp
Level 4: +3hp
Level 5: +4hp.

This bonus HP happens whether you roll or take the average as a way to keep both systems fair. The only exception is that if you roll max HP then you don't get the bonus happy with having rolled a max HP for your level :P

For animal companions, cohorts, NPCs etc then the only option is to rolls. They do not get the bonus PC hp every other level. this does mean that animal companions/purchased mounts etc. might be weaker or stronger than normal and that is to be expected.
Dungeon Master
 GM, 613 posts
 Teller of tales
 Lord of lies
Wed 2 Dec 2020
at 15:06
I want to encourage people to be creative in their combat posts. Feel free to narrate different scenes with the NPCs you're fighting to help flex those creative muscles.

One thing to consider is that an attack roll does not always mean you took a swing and a miss doesn't always mean you didn't hit.

For example any of the following could represent a "failed attack"

Gnomey the example gnome gripped his dagger, waiting for the right time to attack but his opponent's defense was flawless. Every time Gnomey shifted his stance the bandit brought his sword to defend or angled himself denying gnomey a strike. He cursed and continued the dance, hoping to find a gap in the bandit's posture.

Gnomey lunged with an attack but the bandit brought his sword up and deflected it. Gnomey pressed inward, trying to twist the blade around and stab the bandit in the chest but the bandit's boot kicked out hitting Gnomey square in the chest and driving him back.

Huge epic combat posts aren't a requirement. I understand that between referencing character sheets and maps and rolling dice it can really suck your time away but if you find yourself feeling like combat is dragging on or you're tired of writing "I swing and I miss" over and over again consider the above as a way to help make combat a bit spicier not just for you but for your fellow players as well.