View Full Version : New to Pathfinder Questions

2011-08-27, 11:11 AM

I'm about a week or so away from starting my very first Pathfinder campaign as a player or GM. I'm a player (playing a Sorcerer), and between the four other players and the GM, only one of the players (not me) has any significant experience with anything other than 4e. My only 3.5/PF experience (outside CRPGs) was a one-time session at a local gaming shop.

In the preliminary discussions with my GM (who's never GM'd anything, and to my knowledge never played anything but 4e Encounters), a number of concerns came up, which I'll get to in a moment. Before the avalanche of "don't let him GM" starts, let me go ahead and say that I have nothing but the utmost confidence he WILL be a good GM, once we all get the hang of what we're doing. I just want to make sure the group stays intact to get to that point. Another point to be considered is that our GM is one of my best friends, personally and professionally. And since I haven't got a wealth of experience from which to draw, I can't just say "Well this is how we usually do it." Therefore, I want to see if what we've discussed is par for the course.

First, I'm afraid he might be a tad too... adherent to RAW when it comes to things like encumbrance. Now, I totally understand not allowing our Fighter to carry ten different sets of full plate without some kind of magic container, and would wholeheartedly support a ruling against that. However, our talks have led me to believe that we may face a real problem when looting various encounters in the midst of a dungeon crawl. Since we're starting at first level, we'd lack any truly viable means to go back and forth to and from town to unload everything after each encounter, not to mention the tedium such an endeavor would create. My questions on this point are: Is this ruling par for the course, or do most groups handwave these things in the absence of blatant abuse? How do y'all deal with this?

Another key point in our discussions deals with the implementation of magic. A minor point of debate has been with Prestidigitation. Can it do (very minor and innocuous) things not listed in the spell description? Our example was lighting a campfire. In 4e, Presto specifically says it can do this, but not in 3.5 or PF. I'm not looking to cover someone in pitch and set them alight, as I agree with the GM that this would outside the purview of the spell. I just wanted to have a more reliable means of lighting a torch or campfire than flint and steel, while not having to waste a precious spell slot. Also dealing with Presto, we discussed our differing opinions on how long clothing colored by Presto would stay colored. I wanted my character to have the freedom to wear a red vest one day, and a blue one the next, as I would find wearing the exact same thing tedious RP-wise (I mean, we're NOT cartoon characters). I said that it would act as if I had "soiled" the clothes with dye. He said I would have to cast it every hour to keep the color change. These are minor points, but I was just curious as to how our gaming sistren and brethren applied this spell.

Of far more critical concern to me was his attitude on casting spells outside of combat. This issue came up as we were discussing Charm Person, and whether the target would know it was being cast upon them, but the discussion would apply to any non-combat spellcasting. I had planned to make considerable use of this spell outside of combat, as the role of party face (one I greatly enjoy, and had been looking forward to) had basically defaulted to me. However, our GM told me to be ready to be attacked ANY time I cast a spell outside combat, as most people don't care to have spells cast near them. A somewhat reasonable rationale, but my point is that by ruling so, he has rendered the spell all but useless until Still Spell and perhaps Silent Spell come into play. Because either A) the target would have to be unaware of my presence, which doesn't make a lot of sense given the spell's purpose; or B) it's now a combat-only spell because we'd either be in combat already, or I'd be attacked immediately upon attempting to cast.

Basically, the contention came down to whether non-magic adept NPCs would realize a spell was being cast in the first place, and whether or not they knew it was intended for them. So basically the question is how do your groups tend to rule non-combat casting?

I'm really looking forward to trying my hand at PF (and have been for some time now), from both sides of the GM screen. So keeping the whole group interested and not discouraged is the paramount goal. I have a few other concerns, but I've already taken too much of y'all's time, and the less said about our discussions of UMD, the better. So thanks for any insight, and thanks for your time.

TL;DR - New PF Players, New GM. How to best get around strict RAWism and different interpretations. Or is this done at all? What is the procedure/etiquette? Thanks.

2011-08-27, 11:28 AM
Just a few things to note...

Prestidigitation is a Cantrip, which means you could cast it as many times per day as you felt like since you are playing in Pathfinder.

Your DM needs to learn how to deal with out of combat spellcasting without limiting your character and/or tell you that he's running a non-magic world. Being attacked by a non-hostile NPC each and every time you cast outside of combat is insane. On a case by case basis, persay in a region where spellcasters have been doing terrible things or people are really superstitious... sure. But just average day in a world where bags hold small town's worth of loot, trolls can reattach limbs, clerics can bring you back from the dead, and somehow humans remain the semi-dominate species despite a complete lack of means to defend themselves against housecat homicide... no. It just doesn't make sense to be attacked for casting a spell.

2011-08-27, 11:31 AM
As far as encumbrance goes, a new GM probably has bigger things to worry about than exactly how much each of you are carrying and how it effects your movement. I would try talking to everyone together and suggesting that you handwave it, on the condition that no-one abuses it (like the ten sets of full plate).

RAW prestidigitation (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic/all-spells/p/prestidigitation) only lasts 1 hour. But if it's an roleplaying thing you want to do with it (colour changing clothes), I would talk to the GM about having developed a spell specifically for that during your apprenticeship (or what have you) and use that instead. I don't think getting a spell that can change the colour of clothing for a day or even indefinitely is going to be unbalancing unless you start up a dye shop or something, but that's just cynical.

I would rule that if you succeed in charming a person that they don't notice the spell was cast (they're charmed right?). If they make the save they would notice something but the average commoner would probably just ignore it. d20pfsrd.com doesn't have a spellcraft (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/skills/spellcraft) DC listed for identifying that a spell has been cast (non-specifically), but the DC for as specific spell is at least 15, not to mention that it can't be used untrained. You could run that by your GM if he's really trying to stick to RAW.

2011-08-27, 11:51 AM
For encumbrance, there's nothing wrong with strictly enforcing it. It stops the MMORPG habit of looting everything you kill and vendor trashing 99% of it and encourages the idea of only looting things that you care about or are particularly valuable.

For the specific example of lighting a campfire, there's spark from APG. I would suggest the following reasonable standard for dealing with prest: if there is another spell that can do it, prest cannot do it.

For dealing with noncombat casting, depending on the setting, that is not a highly unreasonable reaction. It does depend on how he does it though. If casting merely causes people to call the town guard immediately that's fine. If he establishes that everyday life is filled with magical effects and commoners still react hostilely I'd call that DM spite. It is a perfectly fine move to pull, however the DM needs to be justified in the reaction and act realistically.

If you really take issue with some of the stuff that the GM's doing, then in between games simply ask what his reasoning for enforcing particular things are and tell him that you think some of the stuff is unreasonable.

2011-08-27, 12:16 PM
I would suggest the following reasonable standard for dealing with prest: if there is another spell that can do it, prest cannot do it.

For dealing with noncombat casting, depending on the setting, that is not a highly unreasonable reaction. It does depend on how he does it though.

First, regarding Presto. If that is the rule, and it's strictly construed that way, then get rid of Presto. Wanna lift somehthing? Mage Hand/Telekinesis. Wanna change your look (in a general sense)? Disguise/Alter Self. Etc. So I would rule, were it me, that very minor things can sort of cross into another spell's territory. The GM mentioned Spark, and I opined that I wasn't intending to use the flame offensively, as Spark can. I just thought "Hell, I'm a mage, I can light your campfire for you." So yeah, there's any number of spells that can reach the general goal of making fire (from Spark to Fireball and beyond), so I don't think using Presto to light a campfire or a pipe is a game-shattering abuse. Besides, it does say it can warm nonliving matter. It may take 2-3 rounds, but I figure this means it could warm tinder to the point of combustion. Not quickly or effectively enough to be used in combat, but fine for general utility.

Second, the idea of non-combat spellcasting. While I agree that if I have the reputation of running about wreaking havoc with spells in a certain region, then the citizenry SHOULD alert the authorities when I start to cast, I have a hard time with just no non-combat casting. At that point, I can't even cast Detect Magic on the Fighter's new sword to be sure the smith isn't swindling him. And again, it seems to render Charm Person almost completely useless. To me, there's got to be a happy medium to what makes sense, but is also fun to play and encourages non-combat solutions to problems. I think we'll find it, but I was just curious as to how other groups play and rule these things.

Again, thanks for the insights, and keep 'em coming

Stone Heart
2011-08-27, 04:54 PM
Huh, I suppose I never thought of magic being startling to people in our games. My group has a tendency to just do things like cast spells all over the place and nobody ever cares.

As for Presto, it generally is that if another spell can do it, presto can't, but it can often do close to them. It specifically states (in the pathfinder version) that it can lift 1 lb where as mage hand and telekinesis do more. As for the lighting a fire, thats really all the spell spark does, and why not just use spark as well, they are both cantrips that can be used an infinite number of times. As for the changing color of your clothes, since its a cantrip just keep casting it once an hour.

As for the charming and them becoming hostile, thats rather silly, its clearly a spell intended for noncombat use.