Finding the answer in the skies #RPG #DND #Pathfinder

Viper was face to face with the dreadful creature. An undead apparition in black metal armor covered in dreadful runes, wielding a shield and a mace covered in black fire. He felt a surge of freedom in his body and did what he had to do, swinging with his own mace. Only to be blocked by the creatures shield, which then lashed back in response, smashing into Viper, and then all was blackness.

As he became aware of himself in the formless void he looked around. Wondering if this was death. And then he saw it, the Great Serpent. Only instead of crawling towards him he saw that the Serpent now had wings, and was flying in the void. The Serpent swung towards him.

‘Now is not your time Viper. You will soon return to your world. Know that you are still needed there. Your time is not done. But your vision is clouded, you wonder if the forces of Death can be met with trickery and guile. You can defeat them if you continue to aid your mighty friends. But you must free yourself from the earth in order to do so. Look to the skies, for there is your answer.’

‘But serpents do not fly, Oh Great One’

‘That is where you are wrong, your answer can be found in the skies’

And then the Serpent flew forward, lunging to bite Viper, sinking its fangs into his neck.

‘Serpiente del vuelo, that is your true spirit name. Using your fangs to strike from the air and from afar.’

With that Viper fell back into the Black, waking up on the chariot, watching Thorvald throw his mighty hammer once more, striking the terrible foe down.

I had an enjoyable game in Denver yesterday. Many zombies and ghouls were slaughtered. And the worst of the zombie invasion of Alexandria was thwarted. And Viper certainly did his part, until ending up face to face with the Anti-Paladin leader of the zombies. And then he paid for his attempted heroism.

I admit I was a little disappointed after the game, though. First, my dice luck was average at best. I failed some fairly easy saves. And I failed to hit when I should have been able to do so. Second, I am getting a little tired of the style of fights we have been in lately. My mobile, skirmishing fighter with a bunch of points in mobility and stealth has been denied a chance to use any of those skills.

This is one of those contradictions that are part of Pathfinder. You can put a lot of points into the skills you need to turn yourself into a Legolas-type of fighter (from the movies.) You know what I am talking about, dashing all over the place, jumping into the rafters to shoot, jumping on top of creatures, shooting from all over the place. So you have this cool character, with all of these capabilities.

But, the combat system, with the concept of Opportunity attacks, reach, and what some of us old school gamer types might call ‘zones of control’, really limits the ability to perform those actions. Here is how it breaks down:

To use Acrobatics to move through a threatened area I have to exceed the enemies Combat Maneuver Defense.

My character has a +14 in Acrobatics, which is really quite high.

But let’s look at the CMD of a Big Bad Creature of similar CR: a base Vampire is CR 9, and has a CMD of 24, so I would need to roll a 10+ each time I tried to move through one of the threatened squares. Which means I have slightly more than 50% chance to succeed. A Frost Giant has a CMD of 29 and because of Reach has a much larger threat zone.

Now I admit I could take a risk and do more dancing around, but I’m not a risk taker. But even so, it is frustrating to pour resources and points into something and then never get to use it.

To compound this we have been fighting large hordes of creatures in wide open spaces so the even larger amount of resources I have put into my Stealth skill has gone for naught since there is literally no place for my character to hide. But that is not a game specific complaint, that is the GM style.

This morning I pondered my options, how to make my character more effective and fun at the same time? I looked over practically everything. And then it hit me. The winged serpents, the Couatl, that would be Vipers true spirit animal. I would focus on getting a flying item, and then be able to keep myself at a distance while I unleashed the hell of my archery. If the location was right I could even use my stealth and flying. I can see it now.

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