Reach weapons

UPDATE: A new (as of January 2015) FAQ entry from Paizo indicates Reach weapons do reach the second diagonal. This means the diagram below is now wrong. See the FAQ entry here.

Most small and medium creatures (which includes pretty much all PCs) threaten the squares they occupy and the squares immediately around them. This determines whether they can make a melee attack on a target, flank and provoke attacks of opportunity.

Characters can buy some weapons, such as paricularly long polearms, that are longer than usual. However, these reach weapons do not threaten the squares immediately around their wielder, but the squares 10 feet away (see Core Rulebook p145, or the PRD here).

Reach weapons available in the Core Rulebook are the longspear, the glaive, the guisarme , the ranseur and the whip.

This can cause some confusion because of the way Pathfinder calculates diagonal distance in 5-foot squares (the first diagonal square is work 5 feet, the second 10 feet).

Some GMs disregard this, and say reach weapons threaten the far corners, even though they’re technically 15 feet away (this was a rule in the 3.5 edition of the game Pathfinder is based on).

I favour the strict interpretaton of the Pathfinder rules, that reach weapons do not threaten the “far” corners (see this post by Paizo Creative Director James Jacobs).

This has an effect on the reach-weapon user’s attacks of opportunity and potential targets. It’s possible to attack someone with a reach weapon without being threatened by them, if you’re clever (and they stay still): move into a corner square, and stop. You’re not threatened. Next turn, take a 5-foot step to stand next to them, and attack. They still aren’t threatening you (they’ll need to step back to do so).

But you can’t simply use a regular move action to dash in and attack a reach-weapon user along his diagonals without provoking an attack of opportunity, because you’ll still cross the 10-foot threashold on your way in (see this post from Pathfinder co-designer Sean K Reynolds).

Here’s a diagram showing how it all works. The cloaked charatcer in the middle has a reach weapon and is surrounded by enemies:

Reach weapons threat zoneIf you have a reach weapon, you should ask the GM which interpretation of the rules they apply – and let them know you’re using a reach weapon!

Aid Another in combat

In last night’s game, players were the epitome of co-operation by using Aid Another in combat a lot.

This is a little-known but extremely effective tactic, particularly when facing opponents that are tought to hit, or who hit too easily. We didn’t handle it precisely as per the rules, though we were pretty close.

It’s worth understanding exactly how it works, because it can make the difference between life and death, allowing your heavy damage melee expert to hit more often, or protecting her from hits.

The rules are on Core Rulebook p197 and in the PRD here.

Key points:

  • You must be in melee combat; missile combat can’t be used to aid another.
  • You can choose whether to add +2 to one ally’s next attack or +2 to her AC. Bonuses stack, so several people can aid one.
  • To Aid Another, you roll your attack, with all relevant bonuses, against an AC of 10. That often makes it much easier to Aid than to hit the enemy. If you fail, your Aid attempt is ineffective.
  • All combatants move in their standard initiative order. Aid bonuses apply until your next turn. If an ally you want to Aid moves before you, she must either delay her action until after your turn, or make a attack without the Aid, but get the bonus on her turn in the next round.

Visualising what’s happening: you’re distracting the enemy, or attempting to wrong-foot or hinder them.

One interesting possibility would be to use an attack-trained pet to Aid your own attack. You’d need to command the animal to attack (using Handle Animal); if the animal knows the Attack trick this is a move action (or a free action for druids and rangers), and you need to succeed at a DC10 Handle Animal check.

If the pet isn’t attack trained, it’s probably not worth the effort unless it’s about the only thing you can do (you’re severely injured, unable to close, out of missile ammo/spells, etc) ad you want to to aid an ally. Getting an animal without the Attack trick to attack is a full-round action (a move action for druids and rangers), and you must succeed at a DC25 Handle Animal check.

New races, new mode of play

Paizo’s latest Pathfinder Society blog reveals that from August 14 aasimar and tieflings will be dropped as playable races (unless you have a special boon). You can continue to play aasimar and tieflings characters who’ve earned at least 1XP before that date, but won’t be able to create new characters after that (without a boon).

Instead, three new races – previously availabe only with boons – will be available: the kitsune (fox-people), nagaji (snake people) and wayang (shadow people). Remember, you’ll still need to bring a copy of the Advanced Race Guide (either print or PDF) to games in order to play these races.

And the campaign co-ordinators have also unveiled a new form of play – ultra-short quests, quicker to play than a full PFS scenario. Several of them strung together earn 1XP and a Chronicle sheet, just as a scenario does. This short form is aimed at cons and other situations where a 4-5 hour session isn’t possible.

More details on the PFS blog.

Catch a falling star…

My print copy of Numeria: Land of Falling Stars arrived in the post today, well in time for the start of Season 6.

The hook for Numeria is that it’s the site of an ancient spaceship wreck. There are fiercely anti-tech barbarians, the Technic League (who attempt to keep the alien technology to themselves), robots and, yes, laser-wielding Gunslingers.


Season 6 is approaching

PFS co-ordinator Mike Brock has revealed some of the details of the upcoming PFS Season 6: The Year of the Sky Key. The new season will start at GenCon Indy in mid-August – remember, you’ll need to download new Guides to Organised Play when we enter the new season.

Being a new lodge, starting in the middle of Season 5, we haven’t really caught up with seasonal play yet, but each season does have an overall theme – and what your characters do in games can affect the storyline. Some players may have noticed many of the the Season 5 adventures revolve around the Pathfinder Society’s attempts to explore a newly found Dwarven Sky Citadel, and to send troops to aid the Mendevian Crusade against the demon-plagued Worldwound.

Season 6, as far as we can tell, will be focusing on some of the science fantasy elements of Golarion.

Alongside that, Mike and PFS developer John Compton have explained how your faction actions affect the overall plot of the seasonal campaigns, and what some factions can look forward to in the coming season. The Piazo blog post Faction Evolution explains the basics. Faction Evolution II takes a look at Cheliax and Andoran factions,  Faction Evolution III focuses on Osirian and Taldor factions, and Faction Evolution IV looks at the Scarnzi and Qadira factions.

Games in Abu Dhabi

Lodge Venture-Captain Mike Labny will run a regular series of PFS events on at the Book & Bean coffee shop at Ace Hardware, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.

The first confirmed event will be on the evening of July 15 (see the events calendar), when Mike intends to run the Tier 1-5 scenario The Merchant’s Wake.

Mike has also pencilled in July 8 (evening), July 19 (day or evening) and July 25 (day or evening) as possible game days at Book & Bean.

Post-con thoughts

The GRC’s summer minicon in Abu Dhabi was a huge success, and in some ways I wish we’d organised more PFS during it. Waine ran an entire module, Crypt of the Everflame, for six players, though, which saw each of them rise a level (though I screwed up advising him on XP, prestige point and gold gains, believing he’s only run the first part of the module – next task: email corrected chronicle sheets to each player).

More PFS sessons were on Saturday morning. My 5-08 Confirmation table was significantly oversubscribed, so Jerome stepped up to run 4-18 The Veteran’s Vault.

As well as recruiting several new PFS players, the weekend saw a good deal of levelling up. As a pretty new lodge, we’re still eyeing Tier 1-5 scenarios, but we now have several level 3 characters.

The appetite for PFS games continues to amaze and delight me. I’m a little concerned we won’t keep up with demand, but as we enter the holiday season, one of our regular GM’s has left town for the summer, but another GM has stepped into the breach.

The end of the school term this summer also co-incides with the start of Ramadan, which may require us to reschedule our regular afternoon games to the evenings, after Iftar. Whether or not our Bean Machine gets a daytime serving licence, I won’t be able to smoke outside the mall before sunset…

Hollow’s Last Hope isn’t PFS-compatible

We’ve had a couple of GMs suggest running the Paizo module Hollow’s Last Hope as a Pathfinder Society game – possibly because it’s a free scenario, it was produced by Paizo, so it’s got to be PFS compatible, right?

Unforunately, no, it isn’t. Hollow’s Last Hope was written for the 3.5 rules system, before Pathfinder was published. While most of the Season 0 PFS scenarios (also written for 3.5) have been adapted for Pathfinder, none of the other modules have.

If you’d like to run modules or adventure paths that are not specifically written for Pathfinder Society, check the PFS Additional Resources document for any specific changes you may need to make. If the module you’re interested in isn’t in the Additional Resources document, it isn’t legal for PFS.

Another clue is that PFS-compatible modules include a link to their Chronicle Sheet in their product description.

GRC Minicon, Abu Dhabi

We’ll have one game running at the Gulf Roleplaying Community’s summer minicon at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Friday June 20. More on that when our volunteer GM lets us know what scenario he’ll be running.

The morning after the minicon, June 21, Andy will be running 5-08 The Confirmation at the Westin Hotel at Abu Dhabi Golf Course, with priority for players who haven’t played it before.

A growing lodge

We started the UAE lodge back in January, and it took us a while to find our feet, but over the past few weeks we’ve really picked up pace, especially in Dubai. From a game every two or three weeks, we moved to a single-table game most weeks, then two tables.

Last weekend (June 13 and 14), we had 3 full tables playing over two days. With three GMs now running sessions in Dubai, I hope we’ll manage to keep the momentum to ensure at least one table a week, even if we have one or two GMs on holiday or otherwise unavailable. There’ll be occasional exceptions – such as this coming Friday, June 20, when we’ll all be in Abu Dhabi for the Gulf Roleplaying Community‘s summer minicon, but hopefully those will be limited (and game-related).