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fenriswolf
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Join Date: Aug 2009
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Old January 10th, 2011, 10:16 AM
I just started up a Pathfinder game (Rise of the Runelords) for my group and was wondering how useful HL would be from a GM point of view. I can see where it would be really helpful for players to keep track of their characters but what specific uses does it offer for a GM? I don't plan on creating my own character classes or custom feats and really only plan on using the ones already written. Any Pathfinder GMs care to add their 2 cp's?
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Jasper
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Old January 10th, 2011, 10:51 AM
As a new Pathfinder player myself I've found it useful for checking my understanding of the rules. I haven't played much D&D 3.0/3.5, heck I haven't played much D&D since 1rst edition. My players would create characters which I'd punch into HeroLab to double check totals etc. I'd frequentely notice our additions were off and would have to investigate why. Can't remember all the things I learned that way but I remember learning about AC size mod that way. I don't use it while playing though I recently bought a new laptop and plan on moving HeroLab over to it off my PC.
If I had one complaint it would be that while HeroLab may add up, let's say a plus 11 attack bonus to hit for a certain weapon I can't figure out a way to get HL to break down all the pieces of that plus 11 bonus. That has been a bit of a pain when HeroLab's total is different then mine, though each time HL has been correct after I eventually figure out what I did wrong on paper.
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Evilkele
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Old January 10th, 2011, 11:10 AM
I've used HL as a player and a GM and I find it very useful. You can create your goblin warrior, druids sorcerers etc. fairly easily and more quickly than on paper. Also adjusting NPC's and monsters to better suit the player's level or party composition is easy too. Hope this helps
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Maidhc O Casain
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Location: Jonesboro, AR (USA)
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Old January 10th, 2011, 11:14 AM
I use it for all of the games I run (besides one, which uses Gestalt rules - I'm still working on getting the classes to work properly in HL).

I use the Tactical Console extensively for tracking combats. It's been an invaluable tool for me as it allows me to account for all sorts of conditions and effects with just a few mouse clicks. (Now that I'm used to having it I really miss it in my Gestalt game).

I keep a portfolio with my players' characters, then for each combat I import a portfolio with the foes to the character portfolio. The console keeps everyone in initiative order, remembers that AC is flat-footed until the character has acted, etc.
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JMD031
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Old January 10th, 2011, 11:32 AM
Very.
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fenriswolf
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Old January 10th, 2011, 11:38 AM
I have played 3.x since it came out and I ran a 3.5 game for a while. I haven't ran a Pathfinder game though but most of the rules are the same. I was just curious as the overall help that HL offers a GM. I'm currently running my group through an AP so the adventure has most of the stat blocks already figured out.

I'm not sure if I would feel comfortable using the Tactical Console during a game. I guess I'm an old school pen and paper guy during combat and I feel that using the tool may slow down the flow for me.
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djc664
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Old January 10th, 2011, 12:25 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by fenriswolf View Post
I have played 3.x since it came out and I ran a 3.5 game for a while. I haven't ran a Pathfinder game though but most of the rules are the same. I was just curious as the overall help that HL offers a GM. I'm currently running my group through an AP so the adventure has most of the stat blocks already figured out..
I have been running a group through Rise of the Runelords (pretty slowly) starting as 3.5, going through PF Beta and now through Pathfinder. I've played D&D since Basic, and didn't get a laptop at the table until two years ago because I was actively against having technology at the table. Here's my take on this question:

Going from 3.5 to Pathfinder just by itself... enough of the rules are different that it makes the conversion a little tricky. There are just so many small changes across the board that you can't rely on almost any 3.5 rule recall. :/ I would suggest to anyone new to Pathfinder to not assume you know the rules for anything no matter how much experience in 3.5 you have. It's always worth a check of the book. Hero Lab "remembers" these differences for you, so that means less book checking for my table.

The Tactical Console is very nice for you if you're the type who puts Initiatives on a white board or index cards. If you just list them on a piece of paper behind your DM screen old school style, then I think it's a steeper curve to learn it. Once I learned the keyboard shortcuts, I found it very smooth and handy to offload a lot of manual work when you get into the entire party and 6+ NPCs.

Where it REALLY shines and makes it worth the trouble of learning is how easy it is to "activate" all those little buff spells and bonuses like charging effects, deadly aim, power attack, bless, inspire courage, a bulls str. potion, etc. All of the ACs, attacks and saves get automatically updated with a click. WAY easier than scribbling down every single +1, +2, -4, +3, +2, +2 every round for your players and monsters... oh yea, this round this guy is sickened... and took 6 pts of con damage so his total HP went down...

Yea. WAY easier to do all of that on the fly with a few clicks and check boxes.

With the addition of the Bestiary & Bestiary 2, you have the options of entering and easily adjusting any NPC / Monster in the game (including the random list in the back of Volume 3) in a matter of minutes. So you decide on the fly that you need a wanding monster while your party is hanging around the woods? Roll a die, import a stock monster from the list, and you're ready for a combat in less than thirty seconds. Less than that if you use the Tac. Con.

If you use a virtual table-top, for either remote players, a digital table or both, there are exports to D20 Pro. This, for me, doubles the benefits of the program because it means the work I do to create anything in Hero Lab effectively duplicates in D20 Pro.
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chava
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Old January 10th, 2011, 03:23 PM
It's been a few years (i think) since I last looked at Hero Lab. If it is the same program, then I love the improvements.

However for my purposes of GMing I was wondering two things (with the first one being important and the second just a pipedream):
1) Can you print out the info as a Pathfinder-esqe statistics block
2) Can you do weird rule things such as gestalt?
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Maidhc O Casain
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Location: Jonesboro, AR (USA)
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Old January 10th, 2011, 04:24 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by chava View Post
It's been a few years (i think) since I last looked at Hero Lab. If it is the same program, then I love the improvements.

However for my purposes of GMing I was wondering two things (with the first one being important and the second just a pipedream):
1) Can you print out the info as a Pathfinder-esqe statistics block
2) Can you do weird rule things such as gestalt?
  1. They've said they plan to make improvements to the stat block output . . .
  2. Gestalt is difficult. The best way I've found to do it so far is to make a new class combining the two classes you wish to use for your Gestalt. Even then, only one of the classes can be a casting class, as HL won't allow you to have two different spell sources in the same character.
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Aldaron
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Old January 10th, 2011, 04:47 PM
Personally, I'd be lost without HL these days. I rarely play - I almost always GM for our group, and I use HL constantly, both in preparation and during the game.

In preparation - well, nothing beats either fast creation of NPCs or modification of monsters, or just the straight import and then modification of existing NPCs (such as all the ones in the GMG).

In play - yeah, the Tac Console can be a bit daunting at first, but once you've gotten used to it, it makes life so much easier. I suggest getting your group together for some "training sessions". Whip up some characters and just run them through combat after combat using the Tac Console in order to get used to it. It won't take that long (and it's a bit of fun on a rainy Sunday when nobody can be bothered running a full game session).

Once you have the individual portfolios created, you can import them into another portfolio called "Group" or "Party", and use that for the game itself, keeping track of treasure, XP, etc. There's even a journal section to enter the game dates and real-world dates of encounters and the like. You can then export the characters to individual files again for each player (assuming they have HL themselves).

In my group, the players that don't live at my house (my wife and son play, as well as friends) have HL, so on character creation I simply put together a portfolio at its most base level, which includes the number of points for ability scores, and what additional resources we'll be using (such as expansions, etc). I email this .por file to the player, who then uses it to create their character according the rules for the campaign.

Seriously, I don't think I could go back to "traditional" tabletop GMing! It would just take up too much time!
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