Sometimes, there is a concept for an NPC that just goes outside of the boundary of the rules. They do something that is impossible for the Player Characters to do, and sometimes this concept is a bit too powerful and can easily be abused if not carefully played. For example, maybe the concept is the NPC can control the flow of time at will nearly instantly. If a PC could have those powers there would be little I that could stop them. There are benefits to having impossible NPCs though, if you do it right.
First, the main villain cannot be this impossible NPC. They can be close to impossible, slightly toeing that edge and nearly breaking rules to make them into challenges to fight. But they cannot be the impossible ones because those are either impossible to fight or frustrating to run in combat. In fact, these are not NPCs that should be in a combat at all unless you have carefully thought through every round of what they are going to do.
These impossible concept NPCs are useful though. They represent something unique in the game world, a singular anomaly that does something that the players can’t. This can be used a tool to guide the players, or even reward them. For example, an NPC that is all knowing can give them information that would be otherwise impossible to gain. An NPC that shape reality can reward the PCs with new abilities or treasures. The problem comes when you are using the impossible NPCs for due ex machina, which is a poor practice and something to be avoided. These NPCs can’t swoop in and solve the conflict of the game with no warning or explanation.
You need to use them sparingly, but in powerful ways. If you downplay their abilities too much the concept is lost on the players. Sometimes, you don’t even need to have the NPCs be present in any of the sessions. These can be historical figures that left behind such great legacies that their influence is felt for hundreds if not thousands of years. A great wizard that rules over an empire they created through forgotten magic. A warrior that could never be killed and destroyed whole armies. A thief that stole the source of a nation’s power. The tales the players hear about them will only make things more poignant when they finally meet them or find a McGuffin connected to them.
Never be afraid to let your characters do impossible things. Be cautious, and use sparingly, but go ahead and use them. In literature, they are the legends and driving forces. Use them in the same way.
I have been using this app for a while now and it has only been getting better with updates and bug fixes. The example in the picture is a dungeon I ran back in October. As you can see, I can keep track of rooms, what is in them, and any details I need to quickly reference. Color coding and text formatting allow me to mark combat, traps, special areas, and NPCs clearly. You can use this for other tasks as well. For example, one of my players has the same app and instead of reading loot from a list and waiting for them to write it down, I can share loot lists through google drive, Dropbox, Evernote, or email. As a player, I keep track of NPCs, loot, locations, and plot points. My GM is a little impressed at how I am on top of things, but possibly annoyed that I have “remembered” everything.
Using the app is simple and easy to learn. Most of the functions are done by pressing buttons, but there are also tapping and keyboard functions that make everything quick and easy.
Check it out, and let me know what apps you use in your games.
Cohorts are probably the craziest thing about the Leadership feat. They are defined in a few paragraphs but left somewhat ambiguous as to their nature. The Core Rulebook feels like it is suggesting a cohort who has a core race and player character class, but only because they gain levels and appear to be treated as lesser PCs. In the Bestiary there is a list of suggested monstrous cohorts, which opens up possibilities even further into the bizzare, mostly because a few of the suggestions are creatures you wouldn’t consider having class levels. Read More…
Followers are the little people, the help, and the minions. They go out and do the small tasks, the errands, and the dirty jobs that the player character just doesn’t want to do. They are not meat shields, cannon fodder, or the lemmings you throw at your enemies. They are all NPCs but are unified by their loyalty to the player character and his cause. Read More…
Leadership is arguably the most overpowered feat in Pathfinder. In earlier editions of the most popular fantasy role playing game your character would naturally attract a cohort and followers. It was a built in, somewhat optional, feature that showed just how influential your character was upon the world around him. From the 3rd edition and into Pathfinder this has required a feat, which has only a few paragraphs describing its limits and abilities along with a couple of tables. For the munchkin, this feat can be abused to a point where GMs ban it outright. Used right, and given the correct limitations, this feat can actually be very balanced and useful to the whole party and the GM. Read More…
No, I am not going to try and create a table top Assassin’s Creed. The creed of the assassins is one to think on for all parts of your life though, and I think a creed that GMs and Players should consider more often in their gaming.
What does this creed mean? Play the video game or google it if you want a more philosophical meaning. For gaming, it represents a philosophy that was familiar in early Dungeons and Dragons but isn’t so often used today. Today, the rules are strict laws, followed to the letter or by the spirit of intent. You do not stray from them, you do not try to break them, you do nothing that isn’t covered by them. You are limited by what is written, and you only act with the abilities given to you.
This was not always so. In the beginning of the table top role playing games the rules were suggestions and guidelines that people would alter, adapt, and exclude to fit their games. Players did not question the GM on his rule choices, and often times things were made up on the spot if a rule was not in place for a specific action. Players were limited by the class they chose, but were allowed to at least try anything they could imagine. Imagination was the key here, as it was used more often than rules.
In a sense, nothing was really true when it came to the rules and imagination allowed everything to be permitted.
While we still have that to a certain extent in modern gaming, I am finding that players and GMs alike are limiting themselves to the rules. The question of, “Can I do that?” is often answered by a quote of the rules. I answer it by responding with, “I don’t know, can you?” This is became a running joke with my own players for a time, but my point was made. You should have to ask if you can do something, and you shouldn’t be afraid to try. If it doesn’t work out, you at least tried.
So the next time you are sitting at a table and thinking, “I wish I could jump onto that dragon’s back and fight it while riding it,” you should try it. Sure, you might die. What glorious death it would be though, and how amazing would be the story you could tell.
We have been working on a collection of vehicles for a few months now and have some great examples of our work. While we are not sure yet when the full collection will be finished, we are just too excited to wait.
So here is the smallest vehicle we created, the bicycle. We ended up cutting it because we had too many land vehicles but we still wanted to let people see it. Without further ado, here it is!
Medium land vehicle
Squares 1 (5 ft. by 5 ft.); Cost 20 gp
AC 10; Hardness 5
hp 15 (7)
Base Save +0
Maximum Speed twice the speed of the rider ; Acceleration speed of the rider
CMB +0; CMD 10
Ramming Damage none
Bicycles are made up of a thin frame and two wheels. The rider straddles the frame and steers with a handle bar that rotates the front wheel. The rear wheel is turned with the help of foot peddles, chain, and a gear. The bike is designed for one rider only, and riding with a passenger is very dangerous. The max speed doubles if riding down a hill and halves when moving up a hill.
Propulsion muscle (the rider)
Driving Check Acrobatics
Driving Device handle bar
Driving Space the entire bicycle