Rambling on E6

•February 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

So as I’ve said a time or two, I’m getting into an E6 (or more accurately P6 – pathfinder system) campaign.

One of the things that’s already triggered my analysis paralysis is that there’s a really close cap to skills and feats. You go to level 6, and that’s the top of your character.

Now not entirely. You can still add feats, and indeed it’s enough that one limit essentially goes away. You no more need to be careful which feats you pick first in P6 than you do in Pathfinder Society or even the full spectrum. Because you will eventually get most of the ones you want. You only have to decide the order.

Well, not most of the ones you want. If you want stuff that requires a double digit BAB you’re pretty much out of luck.

But that’s the feats. Where things get interesting is skills. Because unlike feats, when you reach level 6 you’re done earning skills. (You can buy a skill focus feat for each skill, but that’s pretty much it.) This… can require a little planning. Because our 6th level characters are going to be traipsing around trying to find and defeat ultimate villains for a while – and if we don’t swim (for example) we’re in a bit of trouble.

We don’t get the massive multiple attacks with great pluses that high levels bring. We don’t get double digit skills that make most of our attempts automatically successful.

It looks like fun.

Beginner stuff (pathfinder)

•February 7, 2014 • Leave a Comment

One of the good/bad things about a crunchy game like pathfinder is that you have to have an inventory. Now it’s fantasy so aaaallll the details aren’t handled, but there’s still lots of opportunity to go hungry.

The thing is, it’s impossible when you first start to buy everything you might need. My suggestion? Don’t. Buy the absolute, always gotta have stuff, and stop. Wait for the adventure to start, find out where you are and what’s going on, then buy what you need.

See, the thing is almost every first level adventure starts with an intro. Even if it’s “your all sitting in a bar and in walks…” it’s an initial setting.

No, let me be a bit clearer. You start in one of two situations. Either you are running in medias res or someone hires you – whether paying by money or fame or karma there’s someone telling you of a problem and asking you to fix it.

And the neat thing about someone hiring you is that sometimes – surprisingly often if someone remembered to be diplomatic – you can get part of your goods provided or a little more cash up front.

Because you’ve got money, if you suddenly need fancy clothes or a trip to the coastal city of Beachview or anything else you can afford it.

Now there’s the chance your GM will start with “you’re in a tavern, and in storms a troll. Roll for initiative.” In medias rens, in the action. So you can’t just stand there in your free set of clothes and say, “let’s go.” You have to have some minimums.

You want a knife – a dagger. You want a sling. And you want a club. If you’re a caster you want your caster component(s). In this case buy two – one you have easily available, one tucked inside your jacket for when you get a nasty GM who claims your pockets have been picked just before the game began. (doesn’t happen often, and those GMs are either a lot of fun or deserve what players do to them. Or both.)

Armor? Yes, because if you can’t be wearing it in that situation the GM will say so, while it’s impossible to wear it if you don’t have it. I recommend leather – studded leather if you must. It’s inexpensive enough that you can afford better if the situation permits, but tough enough to make a difference if you start with a bang.

If it makes you nervous only having a club and a dagger for melee, get a morning star. Relatively cheap, good damage that’s both B and P. If your character will live and die by the bow, wait anyway.

If you’re a melee type add a morningstar. It’s a simple weapon so can be wielded by almost everyone of that sort, yet it does a surprising amount of damage. Ranged? stick with the sling for now, but pick up a bundle of bullets. Trust me. Because if you’re in the thick you can’t do ranged anyway, and if it’s not in the thick you might negotiate for enough more to get a better bow.

Add some chalk and string to a pocket. Flint and steel in another. Put an empty pouch on your belt. Now put all but 5 gold into another pouch that you put inside your jacket, right next to the spell components if you have them. That 5 gold gets broken into miscellaneous change and split between your pockets and external pouch.

And that’s it. The minimum necessities, a couple of useful odds and ends, and your money. Then stop to hear what is really going on to decide what you need. That’s what the beginning player gets at first.

Have fun.

Sorta overpowered and broken. PF, E6

•January 29, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I’ve run across a sorcerer ability that’s sorta broken for pathfinder, especially for E6.

Now there are a few out there who will sarcastically express their surprise. The thing is, I haven’t seen anyone else catch this one, so it appears to be a new sneakiness for people still playing.

Take the Wildblooded archetypes of either Rime-Blooded or Void-Touched. Now neither is a complete loss anyway. But the nastiness occurs when you bring in cantrips.

Take for example Ray of Frost. It’s only a d3 damage spell. It’s got an ok range of 25 + 5 per two caster levels. But…

But Rime says any spell with cold carries slow and Void says an evocation spell carries silence. Which means a 16th level sorcerer can cast a slow or silent spell at a range of 65 feet, DC 18 + charisma bonus, every single round for as long as the engagement takes – and still have a full stack of ready spells for the next engagement.

Oh, a couple of devilish details. The void’s effect requires you to fail a saving throw. Ray of frost doesn’t have one so technically it can’t trigger the silence. But Spark and Flare, also both evocation cantrips, do require a saving throw. And for a player wanting a little off-the-wall, this is one of the places where cross-blooded can work. The Rime adds the saving throw to trigger the silence, which means the ray does double duty. (Let’s face it, 1d3 damage isn’t going to bother anyone.)

Now I won’t be doing this. First, I think it unbalances the game. So does my current GM. And we’ve got some small counter-actions against those who unbalance the game. First is simply ask them not do it or to leave. If they insist on breaking the game when we’ve asked them not to do so, we don’t need them to play.

But for the few times we have to deal with people we can’t eject, we use the Karma rules. No, you won’t find them written. It’s fairly simple, though, and harkens back to the bad old days of RPGs where the GM’s job wasn’t to help everyone have fun, it was to kill the players. For that there are plenty of abuses, the easiest of which is to have the players start running into a large number of sorcerers who also happen to use the silence/slow cantrip. Payback sucks, and the house’s resources are always larger.

But if you’re in a game where being overpowered is necessary or normal, by all means consider this little touch. It can be devastating in some campaigns.

On E6 (pathfinder)

•January 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I think I’ve mentioned E6 before, though I’m too lazy to look it up. The thing is a large number of my posts from here on out on pathfinder will be at least somewhat influenced by the ruleset variation.

While I’ll summarize, here is a link to one of the enworld forums in which E6 was developed.

Summarized: stop leveling at 6th level. No increases in BAB, no increases in numbers of spells cast or levels of spells achieved, no additional hit points, etc. There is some continued growth in that every 5000 XP you get another feat. Depending on minor variation that may be a ‘feat or skill point’. On the other hand it’s something of a violation of concept as intended to wind up with double-digit skill ranks.

Now the big thing this does for crunch work is it forces a major revisit of ‘what is good or bad’ for various classes. If you are rating a wizard build based on the strength of things you’ll get as you reach levels 8+, your rating fails. And if you find a guide that says “great for lower levels worthless for mid to upper” it becomes “great.”

Much of my crunching is going to be from this point of view. As an example, I just did a crunch of weapons for best ‘base’ DPR. Something sort of important happens if you have static bonuses in the double digits – if you’re getting +11 to hit and damage due to BAB and such. Crits start being more important. But in E6 you’re pretty much never going to get those levels of static bonuses. So base weapon DPR matters more.

I’ll try to remind folk that this is my bias when I do more evals, but I’d like to get it out front for the regular readers or those who read the archives.

Two handed v dual wielding (pathfinder)

•January 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

One perennial argument in every fantasy game system I’ve played (online and pen and paper) is in regard to dual wielding. Does it do more or less damage than the Big Honking Sword? As always It Depends. It depends on system and mods from feats and skills and so on and so forth.

(Bottom line up front: in pathfinder the big honking sword beats all the dual wield combinations, assuming only TWF for mods.) But it’s worse than that – see the post for why.

And again, your humble fool is going to try to answer despite ‘it depends’. I’ll do so again by staying in one system (Pathfinder), and answering just at the core with minimum mods.

Minimum. One, to be precise. TWF without which smashing things with your face is almost as effective.

I’m going to only show some weapons – basically ‘best’ (bastard, long, and short swords) plus a shield combo for the people who recommend TWF with sword and shield. I’m doing to show greatsword and singles of the weapons for comparison.

Let’s get the table out of the way first.

Weapon DPR at 14 DPR at 20
Greatsword 2.695 0.385
Bastard only 2.1175 0.3025
Bastd+Short 1.99375 0.380625
Long only 1.7325 0.2475
Long+Short 1.71875 0.328125
Long + Spiked Lt Shld 1.565625 0.301875
Twin Bstd 1.36125 0.433125
Short only 1.3475 0.1925
Twin Long 1.11375 0.354375

Yes, those numbers are right. They’re the DPRs at 14 and when you need a natural 20 to hit. Now to defend it.

First, keep in mind that using two weapons (with TWF) is -2 for both if the off-hand weapon is light, -4 if not.

Now here’s the math so you can double-check. We start with the original formula and make a couple of changes.
DPR = ((dmin + dmax)/2 * ((21 – tgtnum)/20 – ((21 – pot_crit)/20 * (21 – tgtnum)/20)) + ((dmin + dmax)/2 * X *(21 – pot_crit)/20 * (21 – tgtnum)/20))
DPR = ((dmin + dmax + dmod)/2 * ((21+ hitmod – tgtnum)/20 – ((21- hitmod – pot_crit)/20 * (21+ hitmod – tgtnum)/20)) + ((dmin + dmax + dmod)/2 * X *(21+ hitmod – pot_crit)/20 * (21+ hitmod – tgtnum)/20))
Changes are in italics, and there are really only two (done several times).
+ dmod. Add any damage modifiers to the average damage. This isn’t going to come into play in this post but will be happening soon when I look at some other feats.
+ hitmod. This lets us add the ‘to hit’ modification. It’s intentionally inverting the apparent effect because of where I’m applying it.

Also in the spreadsheet you need an IF statement. IF the mod makes 21-tgtnum+hitmod less than 1 then you need to ignore the hitmod. That’s because a 20 always hits. You also need to make the pot_crit a 20 as well – you can’t crit on 18 or 19 if you can’t hit on 18 or 19.

That’s it. I’m open to people saying the formula is wrong, and if so I’ll be happy to adjust (tell me in the comments). But as it is, the rule is that barring possible special modifications TWF is the worst option between two-handed, single weapon, and TWF. The exceptions are where everyone needs natural 20s to hit.

Best weapon (DPR, Pathfinder)

•January 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

It dawns upon me that various searchers may find this post. So bottom line up front: weapons, no mods or bonuses, the greatsword and the dwarven longhammer share the top spot. For one-handed it’s the bastard sword alone. If you can’t or won’t go exotic the one-handed highest DPR is shared between longsword and battleaxe.

So the most recent number crunching I’ve done has been for pathfinder. That’s one of the Dungeons and Dragons editions for the one or two who don’t know. Now I’m not talking online gaming. I’m talking on the table-top – pen and paper (PnP) playing with a GM and a group of friends. What this means is that there are always a lot of caveats to apply. Every table has house rules, and the GM may be playing for god-slayers or E6ers, in low to epic magic levels, perhaps with dimensions, perhaps with a touch of steam, … yeah, you get the idea.

(God-slayers and E6ers are my terms so I’d better explain them. Godslayers are the players at level 20, who brag of killing various gods, who wander into hell to give Satan a wedgie. E6ers are the players using a variation that puts and mostly keeps them at the opposite end of the spectrum. I’ve got a post on E6 coming at some point, so I’ll refrain from full disclosure here.)

Despite all this making the correct answer ‘it depends’, there are continuous discussions of what weapon is best for various players. And despite knowing it depends, I’m going to take a whack at the answer.

The thing is I’m going to strip away as much flavor and variation as possible. I’m making a very specific definition of “best” for this post.

‘best’ is the weapon that does the highest DPR (damage per round) without any modifiers.

Before I get into the nuts and bolts and also-runs I’ll answer the question. There are two weapons that tie for the best DPR: the greatsword, and the dwarven long-hammer. The greatsword is a martial weapon found in the core rulebook, the dwarven longhammer is an exotic weapon found in the Advanced Race Guide.

Oh, ok. One-handed best DPR is the bastard sword wielded one-handed: core rulebook, exotic weapon. If you’re going to stick to martial weapons it’s tie between the longsword and the battleaxe.

Before I go into the crunch I can give a fast guide – a set of basic rules which I’ll be defending and expanding in the rest of this post.

Rule one: The higher the max damage the higher the DPR. If the top is 12 it beats 10. Seems obvious. What makes it not so obvious is criticals – see rule three. But first;
Rule two: If max is equal, multiple dice give a higher DPR. In other words, 2d6 beats 1d12. Again seems obvious (mean 7 beats mean 6.5). Again, criticals confuse. Fortunately it’s time for;
Rule three: The crit sequence is x2 < x3 = 19-20×2 < 18-20×2 < x4 = 19-20×3. Rephrased, the lowest is 20×2. Working upward there is a tie between 20×3 and 19×2, then 18×2 alone, then 20×4 which ties with 19×3. T

Onward for the crunchy goodness.
Continue reading ‘Best weapon (DPR, Pathfinder)’

Return again, again

•January 23, 2014 • Leave a Comment

So I started to put this in my more-or-less active blog, but remembered I’ve got a gaming blog and hey, it needs a little love as well.

I’m not doing online gaming (much) but have managed to get regular with tabletop RPGs and other games. I’ll be talking about them here over the upcoming …. however long I keep going.


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