A New Way to Play the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Before we get into this week's blog, we have a couple of things we want to share with you!

First, we have a massive Pathfinder Adventure Card Game sale running through April 30. You can get complete PACG Adventure Paths—the Base Set, all 5 additional Adventure Decks, and the Character Add-On Deck—for the price of the Base Set alone. Choose the Skull & Shackles Collection, the Wrath of the Righteous Collection, and the Mummy's Mask Collection! You'll also find the first 19 Class Decks (up through Warpriest) on sale for 50% off through the end of the month!

Next, let's spill the beans on this year's Free RPG Day promo character, Nok-Nok:

Nok-Nok comes to us from Pathfinder: Kingmaker, the party-based, single-player, isometric computer RPG coming this summer from Owlcat Games! (Don't miss their new trailer here!)

Nok-Nok's PACG incarnation will initially be available for free at stores participating in Free RPG Day on June 16. We will then send him free to subscribers of the main Pathfinder Adventure Card Game line alongside the Ultimate Wilderness Add-On Deck in July. After that, he'll be available for sale on paizo.com and at our Gen Con booth in August.

Now, I'll cede the floor to Tyler "Cartmanbeck" Beck, our new Venture-Captain for Pathfinder Society Adventure Card Guild Online Play!

Tyler: It's hard to believe that the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game was released almost five years ago now. The game has evolved through four full base sets and dozens of character and add-on decks, and has been the focus of a successful organized play campaign.

Speaking of that organized play campaign, in the recent 5.0 release of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Guild Guide, the option was added for online play. I know a few people have been asking things like "What?" and "How?" and "Really?" Thus far, the answer to all of those questions has been "Let's take it slow." So to that end, the Card Guild has become a (relatively small) part of the OutPost play-by-post gaming convention, currently being held right here on the Paizo forums. We've currently got 11 tables running currently, with several box runners (BRs) each running one or more tables of PACG newbies and veterans alike. I'd like to introduce you to two BRs who will tell you a bit about how things work.

Ray (redeux on the forums): Most of my experiences so far have been as a player at one of the play-by-post tables. It's been a blast! Five of us has been working through Season of the Runelords, and over the course of several months we've progressed all the way to tier 5. I'm fortunate enough to also have a local group that gets together for organized play, but what I like about the online play-by-post is that it can be done from anywhere, and it takes much less time out of my day spread throughout a week rather than all in one afternoon. In that regard, it has been super convenient to get a little dose of PACG on a regular basis without straining my schedule. The format also makes it easy to back to look back and check what happened, like that time Kyra unleashed a fire attack with her sword, making sure her fire-loving goblin teammate Reta was nowhere in sight so she wouldn't get any heated ideas.

With the OutPost event, we have been working hard to expose more people to the play-by-post format for PACG. I'm currently running two tables for the event, and I have players from the US, UK, Asia, and Australia, which shows that the game can be played globally. Some of my players are fairly experienced with the ACG, other players have a lot of experience with the RPG but little ACG, and a few started with little to no experience with either. We all work together to help everyone learn and overcome the scenarios!

Let's tackle how it all works. As Tyler mentioned, one person runs the box. This is currently is being handled through a database that contains the card information for each scenario. The database is able to build locations, shuffle them, move cards around, and manage just about anything you need to do during a normal ACG scenario. The scenario is then posted on the campaign page, looking something like this:

The scenario post has all of the "During this Adventure" and "During this Scenario" text in it, as well as turn info, blessing deck info, and location/location deck info. All of the cards in the location decks are hidden through spoilers. This allows players to explore multiple times in their turn without waiting for a new card to be presented to them.

Players use a Deck Handler spreadsheet on Google Docs that handles drawing cards from your deck, discarding, recharging, burying, shuffling, etc. (Tyler provides some instruction on how to use it here. The Deck Handler includes only card names, so you still need to have a physical deck to reference the card text. It provides an easy way to let everyone know what cards you have in hand, and what blessings or other cards you are willing to let people use on their turns. When you finish your turn, it gives you templated text to paste into the forum to communicate your decisions.

Mark (MorkXII on the forums): During last year's online runthrough of the Cosmic Captive PFS Special, I was able to join one of two ACG tables run during the event and had an amazing time, and I couldn't wait to do it again. When I missed the chance to play in a Season of the Goblins game> that Tyler started in November, I asked him if I could run my own table. He agreed, so I recruited four players (and a fifth joined later) to play through Season of the Runelords. That campaign is still going: the group has finished 23 scenarios in roughly 100 days, and we're on track to finish the entire Adventure Path by the end of OutPost on April 30.

Playing the ACG by forum post is obviously not the same as playing in-person: the pace is much slower, and sometimes it's tricky to collaborate on group efforts, such as who's handling temporary closes and multi-check encounters, and who's supplying all the blessings. Some rules and scenarios are a little tougher to implement for forum play and take an extra bit of effort or creative thinking (I'm looking at you, Adventure #2-3C!). But overall the game still works well in this format, and the slower pace also means you spend more time getting to know the group than you would around a table. Early in our Season of the Runelords game, we moved most of our game discussion to a Google Hangouts chat to allow for more real-time discussion. This made it easier to plan out those group efforts, but also enabled more off-topic and personal discussion, and it's been wonderful getting to know some other Pathfinder fans from around the world.

The slower pace of play also means that everyone has more time to take their turns, and many players put in effort to go beyond just listing what cards they encounter and play. The roleplaying and storytelling are my favourite part of playing a game online because it's so entertaining to read! When Reta fell into a giant pit and dragged all her goblin friends along with her, it made for a series of very fun posts. And a different Reta seemed very pleased with herself when she clubbed the villain over the head with a Lamia henchman. (At least she didn't offer anyone any of her... questionable pickles that time).

And playing online, you still get the same exciting moments that you always get from Pathfinder. Who doesn't love clearing out an entire location deck in a single turn? Or blasting away the villain on a last-ditch effort with just one blessing left in the deck?

Tyler: We have a vibrant community of players on the Paizo play-by-post forums, and I'm excited that we've been able to add Pathfinder Adventure Card Game play to that community. As OutPost winds down at month end, watch for new developments on the forums and more ways to play PACG in play-by-post form yourselves!

Vic Wertz
Chief Technology Officer

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Tags: Adventure Card Guild Free RPG Day Goblins Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Pathfinder Society
Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Online play tools are really neat! I'll have to give it a go sometime.


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Great to read that ACG is taking off online. I can heartily recommend it!
/Flenta waves to her former companions from Cosmic Captive. :D

Also, these deals on those boxes look great and I'd really like to pick up Shackles, but I'm afraid shipping to Europe would negate any of the discount. :'( Still, awesome way of Paizo to boost interest in the game.


I wonder if this means that they'll come out with a Kingmaker AP. That would be awesome! The ones they've put out since RotR haven't really interested me. At least not enough to bother buying them. S&S, MM, and even WotR always just felt like tangents to me. I kept hoping for something thematically compatible so that I could mix and match sets to create my own adventures. Maybe this will be it.

PS. Yes I know I can make my own cards but it's not the same.

Shadow Lodge

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Huzzah! I shall have to gather Wei Ji and Phylotus for some ACG.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

As the former Cosmic Captive Overseer, I must say that I loved watching the ACG tables — Who knew so much roleplay could be done during a card game? I love that ACG has come to play-by-post as a regular thing now!

Hmm


If I'm only going to pick up one of those bundles, which one should I get?


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Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

The role playing is so much fun!
One of my favourites is the constant arguing between Reta and Poog about who is the greatest goblin leader (although some of the others seem to think Reepazo is pretty great too). :)

(Hi Iff! Hopefully Flenta and Alase will be able to team up again sometime!)


Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

Am I the only one that sees the irony in the image of Nok-Nok appearing above the quite contentious blog discussion about goblins as a new core race in the PFRPG?

"Godthief" sounds ... intriguing. I'm looking forward to seeing this character.

The online (role)play sounds quite fun. Maybe one day I'll be able to give it a shot.

Paizo Employee Developer

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Gwaihir Scout wrote:
If I'm only going to pick up one of those bundles, which one should I get?

My two cents here. If you have a group of casual players who don't really want to invest a lot of time or strategy, then Rise of the Runelords (as it's more straightforward and generally easier).

Otherwise, Mummy's Mask.

Paizo Employee Developer

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Arikiel wrote:
I kept hoping for something thematically compatible so that I could mix and match sets to create my own adventures.

Combine them anyway! I sprinkled quite a lot of Skull and Shackles into Wrath of the Righteous to make my God Callers of Sarkoris variant adventure path.

Otherwise, just rework the cards you've already got, like I did with Shield of Rannick.

They're both at www.welbybumpus.com. (And more!)


Just sharing that as a current participant of the OutPost play-by-post tables, I'm having a blast with it. In particular - and an element that isn't covered in this blog post - it's worth noting that this is my only opportunity to participate in PACG Organised Play, as a result of my specific locality, which is a blessing in and of itself.

Can't wait to participate in more online PACG play for the long haul, and it's triggered the purchase of several Class Decks - a product line I had previously avoided.

I do have a question as to whether the tools utilised for running these campaigns (used with the Scenario Updates) could be released to individuals for use on non-Paizo forums in the future? I can see a number of issues with opening it up (mostly in regards to Paizo's own intellectual property if it's distributed without authorisation) for the use by more people, but the idea is still fascinating, and I'd love to be able to offer such a thing to friends and guildmates from other sites.


Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber
Gwaihir Scout wrote:
If I'm only going to pick up one of those bundles, which one should I get?

No doubt this could be a lengthy response, so I'll try to keep it relatively short.

Mummy Mask - I think in general most people consider this one the "best" or at least the "most balanced."

Wraith of the Righteous - Considered the most difficult set. If you're looking for a challenge, look no further.

Skull and Shackles - I enjoyed this set quite a bit, but I think the general consensus is that 1. if you're looking for a challenge then it can't compete with Wrath of the Righteous (though there are a few notoriously difficult scenarios in Skull and Shackles). And 2. if you're looking for a well polished set, Mummy's mask has it beat.

For the sake of completeness - Rise of the Runelords is the most basic/vanilla. It is probably one of the more approachable versions of the games to start with since there are less mechanics to keep track of, though this doesn't mean other sets are clunky. This is just slightly more beginner-friendly. The potential downside is that it is also considered the easiest.

TL-DR - Mummy's Mask would be the general popular choice unless you love the toughest challenges in which case I would get Wrath of the Righteous.

PS also wouldn't be a bad time to pick up a class deck or two if you're wanting to try the online ACG format in the future, or happen to have a physical PACG PFS event near you. They can also be added to any campaign box as well.

Scarab Sages

Please keep in mind.

Just because you have to use the forums, doesn't mean you have to go at play-by-post speed. I plan to organize games that run in real time with players communicating via Discord, Teamspeak or some such.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

Can virtual tabletops be used with guild play?


Gwaihir Scout wrote:
If I'm only going to pick up one of those bundles, which one should I get?

+1 to Mummy's Mask as the most well-rounded set, and the one I recommend to you.

The caveat is MM has a bit more going on than RotR. If your group is comprised of casual gamers or non-gamers who might take a while to get the hang of things, RotR may be a better choice.


Great blog post, Tyler & Co.

Online play is a lot of fun. It definitely brings its own challenges regarding coordination, but it's a great way to play PACG when you don't have a IRL group.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

The Rise of the Runelords boxed set isn't included in this sale?


While it's great to see this sale -- when's the next set of promos coming to the store? The Rise and S&S promos were put up in a giant batch before, but the Wrath and Mummy's promos haven't been available for purchase yet.

And still waiting on the digital assets -- the character sheets, etc, since Summoner. I saw threads addressing that though.

(And to chime in on "which set?" Only bother with Wrath if you've played and enjoyed every other set first. It's a frustrating -- not just challenging, but frustrating -- experience.)


Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I have been having so much fun with the play-by-post version of the PACG. It lets me play what I couldn't otherwise, and it got me to invest in some class decks, so it's a win for Paizo too.

One thing I've noticed as a player is that though you lose out a bit by not being able to see the artwork or design of the cards, it actually inspires me to pay more attention to what the cards are describing. I read the traits and powers on a card, or the combination of powers that affect a scenario, and try to imagine what the designers were trying to evoke. Sometimes I'll look up images online, or compare to the Pathfinder RPG if there is an equivalent, or just use my own imagination, and try to creatively piece together a description of what is happening. I see the other players creating their own mini-narratives and it inspires me to do more. It's fun to bring the iconic characters to life like that, in a way I never bothered to do before with in-person play.

I'm looking forward to more! :D


Midnight Anarch wrote:
The Rise of the Runelords boxed set isn't included in this sale?

As someone who has not played any of these and would be a new learner, RotR interests me the most. The sale is good, but I'm comparing the 'complete' bundles with a beginner thinking about RotR. A 'complete' offering for RotR would be very tempting.

Question for the experienced: can you play any of the classes in any of the version? Can I pick up the Hunter Class Deck and play it in RotR?


Thanks for the suggestions. I've got the digital version of Runelords (not that it seems to be part of the sale anyway), so I'll pick up Mummy's Mask.


Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber
Swiftbrook wrote:
Question for the experienced: can you play any of the classes in any of the version? Can I pick up the Hunter Class Deck and play it in RotR?

For sure! The rules say you can just mix in the cards from the class decks into the game box as you start each Adventure (so when you start Adventure 1, you would add all the cards from Adventure Deck 1 to the game box, and all the cards with a '1' in the corner from your Class Deck box).

EDIT: This is the official rule from the card that came with the Oracle deck:

Adding Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Class Decks To Any Set wrote:
Class Decks are designed for use as an accessory for any Pathfinder ACG base set and its corresponding Adventure Decks. You may immediately add all of the Class Deck cards that the letter B in the upper-right corner to the other cards in your base set. When you add cards from a new Adventure Deck to the box, you may add all of the Class Deck cards that have the same adventure deck number as the Adventure Deck cards you just added.


Is is a sign of devotion or addiction that I already own all of the PACG items on sale?

I think I need to try out forum play since there are no PACG Society play groups in my state (Utah), and my attempts to get one started have not worked out.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

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Yewstance wrote:
... I do have a question as to whether the tools utilised for running these campaigns (used with the Scenario Updates) could be released to individuals for use on non-Paizo forums in the future? I can see a number of issues with opening it up (mostly in regards to Paizo's own intellectual property if it's distributed without authorisation) for the use by more people, but the idea is still fascinating, and I'd love to be able to offer such a thing to friends and guildmates from other sites.

The tools CURRENTLY utilized for running these campaigns can't really be made public, because they involve a lot of the card text being available in an easily-accessible database format.

However, I'm currently working on a new system that will be available to everyone, which will allow the game to be played without the security concerns we have about the current set of tools. More information about this will be coming out in the next few months, but suffice it to say that I'm planning that this new system will be usable for play-by-post games on the Paizo forums as well as several other popular forums, and I hope to make it accessible to those who might want to play in a more real-time style (using voice chat, etc.) as well.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Cyrad wrote:
Can virtual tabletops be used with guild play?

There are not currently any virtual tabletop programs that we're able to sanction for play, no. However, stay tuned for more information on the system I just described in my reply to Yewstance... I hope to make it work for play-by-post as well as people who want to play online in a more real-time fashion.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Robb the Pathfinder wrote:

Is is a sign of devotion or addiction that I already own all of the PACG items on sale?

I think I need to try out forum play since there are no PACG Society play groups in my state (Utah), and my attempts to get one started have not worked out.

We'd be glad to have you, Robb! Consequently, I also just opened the brand-new Flaxseed On Deck Lodge, where people can recruit for games and discuss online play, so go check that out as well!


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I heartily endorse the online play for PACG. I had a ton of fun in the Cosmic Captive and regret not taking part in OutPost, but I was concerned about other time commitments at the time. It's definitely a good option for people who don't have local PSACG groups and offers a fun way to integrate some RP into the mix while playing.

Shoutout to Hawkmoon for running the box and to my Flenta, Alase, and Arabundi for the best group for some crazy scenarios in the Captive!

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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Midnight Anarch wrote:
The Rise of the Runelords boxed set isn't included in this sale?

The Rise of the Runelords Base Set has officially sold out.


I'd like to see an online whatever let you input what sets you have and which your characters have completed, and what difficulty level you'd like, then spits out a new scenario or adventure path, including those scenario-specific rules. I guess this would be somewhat similar to how the computer game works on difficulty levels.


Would have really loved to get something from the sale, since there is no german version of WotR and Mummys Mask, but shipment is twice the price of a set for one shipment :(


Niels Kuehn wrote:
Would have really loved to get something from the sale, since there is no german version of WotR and Mummys Mask, but shipment is twice the price of a set for one shipment :(

Yeah, chalk me up as another lost sale.

I can buy this cheaper at full price elsewhere because of the frankly ludicrous cost of international shipping.


The surge of online PACG activity has ignited my already-strong interest in the game (or rather enabled it, since my issue was getting the opportunity, not the motivation)... but sadly I'm in the same boat. International shipping costs to Australia from Paizo are absolutely obscene, such that this sale is not really meaningful compared to what other merchants are offering (even shipping internationally as well for free or fractions of the cost here).

The Mummy's Mask collection (single-handedly) is costing a staggering $100 USD price tag on the shipping alone from the only option available (USPS International); well over 150% of the cost of the product ($60 USD) alone. I can certainly procure the entire collection for less than $210 AUD (the equivalent of $160 USD) with a bit of hunting here. It seems even higher than it's been in the past, which is on USPS's end, of course, but it's absolutely bizarre.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I'll echo the other comments that the OutPost play by post has been a blast! I'll also be picking up some goodies with this sale. Thanks to all the box runners for managing the online play, and everybody at the Paizo/loneshark teams for creating such an amazing game!


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I've also been playing in Outpost, and it has surprised me how much fun the ACG is online! Small time investment per day, and once you get the hang of the spreadsheet and how to format your post, it's pretty fun! And, as others have mentioned, there's a lot more RP'ing going on online!

I got a bit burned out on the physical card game. I was playing in two separate groups, and it just got to be a chore. Everyone was just dropping cards and crunching numbers, little role playing, heck we basically just skimmed the card for the stats we needed. It felt more like a mechanical exercise than a game.

But, PbP has brought me back in! I dusted off my Witch deck for Outpost, and just picked up the HV2 deck (cause I'm totally crushing on Nyctessa!) that I plan on using either online, or perhaps in my local Society card group. I'm even looking at that Mummy's Mask combo, thinking it would be nice to have that next to my RotRL set if my group ever wants to get back into it...

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Just thought I'd post another entertaining turn that was just had... That time that Feiya just wanted to have a relaxing smoke at the Tooth & Hookah, but ended up punching a golem to death, then running from a huge rolling boulder, then getting stabbed in the back by a rowdy smuggler.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Cards, Class Deck, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I might be biased (I'm playing Ostog), but I think Ostog also had a fairly enjoyable experience in the Canny Jackal on the turn immediately after Feiya ...
Another rowdy gathering, another location closed, and another smuggler.
It's not often you pick up nine cards in a single turn!


Poog has been crowned King of PbP a couple times.


Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

Victory!

Seoni, Lirianne, Reta, Kyra, and Raz just finished Season of the Runelords in 138 days (4.6 days/scenario). Well done, team! It was fun. :)


Huzzah!! Thanks for the experience!!

Scarab Sages

Who would like to try playing in real time with all players chatting over Discord or something else? Games are slower online so I'd expect up to 3 hours to play one. We would use the same Paizo forum system the PbP games play, just much, much faster.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Would it be possible to know which class deck Nok-Nok will be playable with for adventure card guild before Free RPG Day? If he is legal to play then those lucky enough to pick him up at a store also running card guild games can play him.

Thanks.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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You can play him with Goblins Fight!


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Awesome. Thanks.


Vic Wertz wrote:
You can play him with Goblins Fight!

Great, thanks. Any chance Nok Nok might be added to the GF character database? I'm using him in an OP campaign that starts up in a few weeks - and possibly also in the play-by-forum con.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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wkover wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
You can play him with Goblins Fight!
Great, thanks. Any chance Nok Nok might be added to the GF character database? I'm using him in an OP campaign that starts up in a few weeks - and possibly also in the play-by-forum con.

Added. Thanks!


Awesome. Thank you.

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