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Shattered Star Player's Guide

Thursday, August 2, 2012

About a month ago, someone in our messageboard community started a thread asking when the Shattered Star Player's Guide was going to be released. Our answer at the time was "before the release of the Shattered Star Adventure Path." Well, that time is now!

In this Player's Guide you'll find tips for making a character that fits well in the campaign. This lets players make some crucial early decisions without fear of wasting feats or making bad choices when it comes to certain class features. We also present a bunch of campaign traits and traits suitable for characters that are closely tied with the Pathfinder Society. Speaking of the Pathfinders, in this Player's Guide we give readers a rundown on the organization, since the campaign assumes the PCs will either be members of the Pathfinder Society or at least closely tied to them. Seeing as the Shattered Star Adventure Path starts in Magnimar, the Player's Guide gives a spoiler-free introduction to the city, and shows a map of Heidmarch Manor—a place that can serve as a base of operations when the PCs aren't waist deep in some dank dungeon. Finally, the Shattered Star Player's Guide provides the rules for using Fame and Prestige Points in your Shattered Star campaign. You can even get your own scribe to record your glory for future posterity!

So don't hesitate! Download the free Shattered Star Player's Guide now!

Adam Daigle
Developer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Pathfinder Adventure Path Shattered Star
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1 person marked this as a favorite.

I see pugwampi! *flees in terror*

Andoran

Even though it will be years before I have the time to play in Shattered Star, I appreciate that this Player's Guide is being released weeks before the first installment of the AP. I hope this is how the Player's Guides are released from now on.

Andoran

Oh Snap didn't expect this today. <goes to download it>


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

downloading


This. Is. Awesome.


Still reading, but pages 8 and 9 seem like they would make a good "What is PFS?" flyer.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

YAY

Cheliax

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Great picture of Magnimar and the Irespan! I've been having trouble really grasping how big it is and this picture really helps.

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

Jenner2057 wrote:
Great picture of Magnimar and the Irespan! I've been having trouble really grasping how big it is and this picture really helps.

That's from the new and improved Player Companion line debuting in just a few weeks here. If you want more shots like that of all of Varisia's major cities, you'll have to check it out!

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Jenner2057 wrote:
Great picture of Magnimar and the Irespan! I've been having trouble really grasping how big it is and this picture really helps.
That's from the new and improved Player Companion line debuting in just a few weeks here. If you want more shots like that of all of Varisia's major cities, you'll have to check it out!

You mean the Varisia book? and can we get the images of city skylines in larger images on the blog? pretty please :)

Andoran

Dark_Mistress wrote:
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Jenner2057 wrote:
Great picture of Magnimar and the Irespan! I've been having trouble really grasping how big it is and this picture really helps.
That's from the new and improved Player Companion line debuting in just a few weeks here. If you want more shots like that of all of Varisia's major cities, you'll have to check it out!
You mean the Varisia book? and can we get the images of city skylines in larger images on the blog? pretty please :)

Yes please. Very good idea

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

Dark_Mistress wrote:
You mean the Varisia book? and can we get the images of city skylines in larger images on the blog? pretty please :)

Yarp! I still plan to do a bit of a Player Companion preview in the next week or so here, so stay tuned and I'll see what I can do!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

First thought: Disappointment that this isn't a high fantasy space opera campaign, which is what my mind jumped to when I first heard the title.

Second thought: As much as I like Varisia, I'm a little tired of adventure paths that focus on it.

Third thought: Oh, but making the Pathfinder Society a central element is cool! It's always been one of the setting's more memorable features.

General impression so far: It looks like a fun return to basics, but unless I'm missing something there doesn't seem to be a big "do all this and you'll be able to achieve X!" hook. Skull & Shackles let you become pirate lords, Jade Regent sent you on a journey across continents, but all I'm getting from this is relatively generic threats of ancient evil. Seems like wasted potential, especially when the Pathfinder Society's role could give you an excuse to travel across the entire Inner Sea region.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Well since you can gain fame/prestige in the Pathfinder Society in the books. The players very likely will end up as big movers and shakers in the Society by the time the AP finishes. Not the same thing exactly.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Xenophile wrote:
General impression so far: It looks like a fun return to basics, but unless I'm missing something there doesn't seem to be a big "do all this and you'll be able to achieve X!" hook. Skull & Shackles let you become pirate lords, Jade Regent sent you on a journey across continents, but all I'm getting from this is relatively generic threats of ancient evil. Seems like wasted potential, especially when the Pathfinder Society's role could give you an excuse to travel across the entire Inner Sea region.

How about:

"Do all this and you'll gain a powerful legendary artifact!"

That said, while there is an unfolding storyline in the background of this Adventure Path, it's very much NOT as key an element as we've done on the last few. This one's in a lot of ways a nostalgic Adventure Path, one meant to evoke the old-school fun of exploring dungeons and fighting monsters and gaining treasures. It's good to throw variety in there now and then.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm quite excited for this path, especially since i fall into the old school gamer category:)


Is this Players Guide really only 12 pages long? It seems like it was cut off and there should be more. There is no character class recommendations, etc.

-- david
Papa.DRB

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Papa-DRB wrote:

Is this Players Guide really only 12 pages long? It seems like it was cut off and there should be more. There is no character class recommendations, etc.

-- david
Papa.DRB

Sounded like these were being moved to the Player's Companion series.

Xenophile wrote:
Third thought: Oh, but making the Pathfinder Society a central element is cool! It's always been one of the setting's more memorable features.

Interesting idea.

Would it be "okay" for the player characters to belong to the different factions within the society?

I realize that there are no faction missions, per say. ... except as GM added side quests.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
That said, while there is an unfolding storyline in the background of this Adventure Path, it's very much NOT as key an element as we've done on the last few. This one's in a lot of ways a nostalgic Adventure Path, one meant to evoke the old-school fun of exploring dungeons and fighting monsters and gaining treasures. It's good to throw variety in there now and then.

There's still enough info presented to serve as a framework for those that want to push that plot further into the foreground though, right? The note on (possibly recurring?) rivals in the player's guide seems like a good point to build around as well.

Spoiler:
Some of my players voiced a preference for Curse of the Crimson Throne-style campaigns(one new player is actually joining partly because she heard so many good things about how CotCT turned out), and I have to admit they're my preference to run as well(and play; from a player's perspective, Jade Regent seems to have that feel as well). Something with a dramatic plot to buid upon, that unfolds and becomes further complicated as things go on and as the players uncover it bit by bit, and a cast of well-developed and engaging NPCs. I'm pretty much committed to running Shattered Star though, after the group got excited about it and their potential characters, so I've told them I'll probably be fiddling around with the AP to push it a bit more towards that CotCT/JR feel.

I think the thematic angle I'm shooting is dealing with the peoples of Varisia and how they're still living in Thassilon's shadow, with the events of this AP possibly calling that into focus and possibly being about the Varisians, Shoanti, and everyone else touched by Thassilon's legacy confronting it, at least on a microcosm level centered around the players and affiliated NPCs.

Paizo Employee Developer

Papa-DRB wrote:

Is this Players Guide really only 12 pages long? It seems like it was cut off and there should be more. There is no character class recommendations, etc.

-- david
Papa.DRB

We've cut back on listing that kind of stuff for each race/class a few Player's Guides ago. Hints and tips are still present in this one, it's just more condensed. For a while, and especially the first few Player's Guides, presenting that information was far more vital because it was also serving double duty in explaining the world of Golarion. Now that we've said so much about the world, specifically the Inner Sea where pretty much all these APs take place, that kind of information seems redundant.

Also:

James Jacobs wrote:

The primary reason that the character-specific material has shrunk in size is because we're trying to manage our time better. Building a player's guide is a significant hit to our design, development, layout, and editing time, since it's not a For-Sale product it's "traditionally" ended up being a "do this in addition to your actual job" type job.

We've recently made a lot of changes to staffing levels and organization to address some of the resource issues, so maybe some day in the future we'll be able to go into a bit more detail, but for now we're trying to do less so that we DON'T burn ourselves out.

It's going to be a constantly evolving process of adjustments that, by the nature of the situation, we only get to adjust twice a year. If folks want to see longer "how to build a monk" or whatever sections in these Players' Guides... please look at what we're doing now and let us know if THAT is enough or not enough.

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

Honestly, the whole reason we ever started doing player's guides was to give players the details they needed to avoid basic sub-optimal choices--rangers and their first level selection of a favored enemy being among the primary motivators. The race-by-race, class-by-class format was born from the Rise of the Runelords Player's Guide, when we had a whole world to introduce players to. In the years since then, players have whole product lines full of choices for classes, abilities, backgrounds, and other options - we don't really need to explain who Varisians are, where elves come from, or what Hellknights do any more. Additionally, with the exception of advising against paladins in Skull & Shackles (and even then only lightly) these guides have always been wildly permissive, so spending pages to convey the idea that you can play any character you're excited to play - a concept I feel is hard coded into the DNA of the Adventure Path line - seemed excessive, and by this eleventh AP, repetitive. So we've replaced the hand-holding of race-by-race, class-by-class descriptions (which sometimes had dubious campaign relevance and existed only to fill the format) with the more succinct campaign advice section that this player's guide opens with.

The matter is largely one of elegance, as the goals we've always most hoped to achieve with these player's guides can be accomplished with a smattering of pointed advice and deliberately designed campaign traits. Players interested in tying their characters more tightly into the lands where Shattered Star takes place should check out Player Companion: Varisia, Birthplace of Legends, the upcoming source for everything players need to aid and bring to life Varisian adventurers.

Lord Fyre wrote:
Sounded like these were being moved to the Player's Companion series

Not the case. The first two pages of content in this Player's Guide comes from the related Player's Companion. While Player Companion: Varisia, Birthplace of Legends has TONS more stuff that will interest characters with their origins in Varisia or who are adventuring in Varisia, the sum total of the Shattered Star specific information from that product appears in the Player's Guide. There's plenty more options for characters from Magnimar, or characters seeking ancient artifacts across Varisia, or members of Shoanti tribes, or those interested in hundreds of other uniquely Varisian topics, but they prove equally as useful to players of Rise of the Runelords, other Varisia-based APs, or homebrews as they do Shattered Star.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Adam Daigle wrote:
Papa-DRB wrote:

Is this Players Guide really only 12 pages long? It seems like it was cut off and there should be more. There is no character class recommendations, etc.

-- david
Papa.DRB

We've cut back on listing that kind of stuff for each race/class a few Player's Guides ago. Hints and tips are still present in this one, it's just more condensed. For a while, and especially the first few Player's Guides, presenting that information was far more vital because it was also serving double duty in explaining the world of Golarion. Now that we've said so much about the world, specifically the Inner Sea where pretty much all these APs take place, that kind of information seems redundant.

Also:

James Jacobs wrote:

The primary reason that the character-specific material has shrunk in size is because we're trying to manage our time better. Building a player's guide is a significant hit to our design, development, layout, and editing time, since it's not a For-Sale product it's "traditionally" ended up being a "do this in addition to your actual job" type job.

We've recently made a lot of changes to staffing levels and organization to address some of the resource issues, so maybe some day in the future we'll be able to go into a bit more detail, but for now we're trying to do less so that we DON'T burn ourselves out.

It's going to be a constantly evolving process of adjustments that, by the nature of the situation, we only get to adjust twice a year. If folks want to see longer "how to build a monk" or whatever sections in these Players' Guides... please look at what we're doing now and let us know if THAT is enough or not enough.

Personally I preferred the old style better. This seemed more like weird hybrid between a Pathfinder Society Guide and the Intro to the AP itself (I mean the literal intro, that you would start off with, I realize there would obviously be some overlap). I guess it is important for the players to know how preside works, but it did not really feel much at all like a Players Guide to me. I never felt inspired to make a certain type of character or really got anything out of it that I felt with the character making process, which is what I liked most about the players guides. My players are lazy so they are not going to read the Setting Books, and have all sorts of intimate knowledge of the world like I do. That is why I liked the Players Guilds before, they could read a few pages and get a feel for the kinds of characters that would make sense both mechanically and thematically. My players need little motivation finding ways to get free stuff.

Now I realize this is a free product, so my complaining is more or less my personal opinion and I know I do not have the right to be overly disgruntled or anything. I thought that is was a quality product, I just think it left me disappointed as a Players Guide.

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

Timothy Hanson wrote:
Now I realize this is a free product, so my complaining is more or less my personal opinion and I know I do not have the right to be overly disgruntled or anything. I thought that is was a quality product, I just think it left me disappointed as a Players Guide.

I know I'm going to sound like a broken record by the end of this, but do check out Player's Companion: Varisia, Birthplace of Legend, releasing at the same time as Shattered Star #1. Ideas for races appropriate to the region, how certain classes are specialized in the area, new gear, magic, backgrounds, and tons of other options fill that guide in a format several orders of magnitude more attractive and art rich than we could ever provide in a "in our spare time" free download. The format of this newly refreshed line - getting it's new design and focus starting with Player's Companion: Varisia (and which I'll be previewing next week) - is also meant to appeal to exactly the sort of players it sounds like you have, ones that want an idea but don't have the time to search through thousands of pages of supplements they probably don't even have. The two-page articles filling these new Player Companions are meant to be brief, accessible, and digestible, giving interested players the tools they need in a focused blast, while moving on to a new topic and options for those who want something different with every turn of the page.

In the future, we'll be releasing Player Companions with tight ties to Adventure Paths significantly farther in advance, so players will have a bit more time to process what options a region or theme affords, and so a GM who wants to get playing an AP right away can have their players mulling over new character options in advance.


Before Skull & Shackles (which I hated, in concept and execution) I'd have likely baulked at a no-frills, plot-free, no-big-bad old-skool dungeon crawl.

But the more I think about it, this seems a good time for something like this. Get back to the basics, something with a retro feel - adventuring, Varisia, the Pathfinder Society, those things that are core to the game.

It feels like most people should be able to use this 'straight out of the box', instead of having to chop and change things as I've had to do with the more linear APs.


Adam, Wes, et. al.

Ok. Thank you for the responses. It just seemed cut off to me. I understand what is going on now,

-- david
Papa.DRB

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

Papa-DRB wrote:

Adam, Wes, et. al.

Ok. Thank you for the responses. It just seemed cut off to me. I understand what is going on now,

-- david
Papa.DRB

Live to serve, Cap'n.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Hey, another thread about the player's guide.

Jenner2057 wrote:
Great picture of Magnimar and the Irespan! I've been having trouble really grasping how big it is and this picture really helps.
Anlerran wrote:
Skull & Shackles (which I hated, in concept and execution)

Glad to see, somebody else echoing my thoughts (on both accounts, no less)

Seems like a doubling of threads about the same topic - are you going to recommend posting in one or the other? *smirk*

Ruyan.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

For the record I like the new PG, I found it more useful than some of the previous ones.


I like the new style as well. I don't think the "how to build a useful character" part needs to be broken down for every class. This way is more to the point.

Silver Crusade

Dark_Mistress wrote:
For the record I like the new PG, I found it more useful than some of the previous ones.

I have to agree. Now to the new Varisia sourcebook! *grin*

Paizo Employee Developer

F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Papa-DRB wrote:

Adam, Wes, et. al.

Ok. Thank you for the responses. It just seemed cut off to me. I understand what is going on now,

-- david
Papa.DRB

Live to serve, Cap'n.

Yup! Thanks, Papa... and everyone else who has (or will) comment! Thanks for helping through feedback.

Taldor

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Tales Subscriber

I like this a lot, I do think it could do with a little bit of places-your-character-might-be-from but I can see how the Varisia book is meant to cover that.
Good job Team Paizo.

Shadow Lodge

It seems very, I dont know, I dont want to say bland. Uninformative. Actually the last few PGs where like this as well, just not really saying much or being that helpful. Half of it seems like an intro to PFS, and honestly I rather hate the Pathfinder Society. So I hope that they are not to needed for this one. On the up side, I think that the border and stationary work is the best Ive ever seen in a Paizo book and its nice to not see the Iconics in a book every once in a while. The art is very nice.

I would rather have PGs like with the Legacy of Fire, personally, offering some gear, class options and tips, and the like, even if other books get a little pushed back or whatever, but it is what it is.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I want to echo Beckett's thoughts, I told my players to not even bother DLing this.

I also want to restate my displeasure at connecting the paid for companion line as a replacement for the older style PG.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I like the new format. In previous versions, I spent time flipping around between class suggestions to see what other skills I should pick up. It got a bit tiresome and I wished there had been one spot for just a "these are the kinds of skills that will be useful for this campaign" spot.

I also think it inspires more character types now by talking to the various themes of the adventure. Lets your players really find something that sings to them as well as gives them a much better spoiler-free idea of what they should expect, and therefore plan their character around.

If you don't want to go hunting through sourcebooks to find more on Varisia, check the PathfinderWiki. It has almost everything there.

Taldor

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Tales Subscriber

Nothing has touched the guides to RotRL and CotCT.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

LoF was a fantastic PG. Added flavorful items, traits, feats and background info. I liked the achievement feats, shame they never did more with them.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Coridan wrote:
LoF was a fantastic PG. Added flavorful items, traits, feats and background info. I liked the achievement feats, shame they never did more with them.

A lot of the things we tried out in the Adventure Paths were popular enough to do more with them, like character traits, haunts, chases, etc.

Achievement feats were actually relatively UNpopular, alas. Hence we never went back.


Coridan wrote:
LoF was a fantastic PG. Added flavorful items, traits, feats and background info. I liked the achievement feats, shame they never did more with them.

Tricky Owlbear updated the originals and added some more in their Achievement Feats product. I guess they sold well enough, as there was a second volume done.

More on-topic, I have been expecting the advice to "condense" for some time. Advice about enemies to be faced, while crucial for a Ranger's Favored Enemy selections, is not limited to the Ranger.. other classes can benefit from the same information when selecting archetypes, bloodlines, mysteries, and more. Making the advice more Function-oriented than Class-oriented is good, I think.

Part of the "dismay" I see is people pointing to the first couple of Players Guides.. RotRL and CotCT. Those had to do double-duty, explaining the world and providing stats for new gear flavored to the area. Once the Gazetteer, and the Campaign Setting hardcover, and later the Inner Sea World Guide and Inner Sea Primer were produced, there was less need for that content to be provided again.

It was *nice* to have that, but there's no *need* for it, as most of that material is also available now on the Wiki. So I am not surprised that the Players' Guides are going "back to basics". It has been mentioned several times that they are an "extra" work item that was often a scramble to complete on-time for the AP to begin. Simplifying them also reduces that workload, I would expect.

Taldor

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Tales Subscriber
Urath DM wrote:


Part of the "dismay" I see is people pointing to the first couple of Players Guides.. RotRL and CotCT. Those had to do double-duty, explaining the world and providing stats for new gear flavored to the area. Once the Gazetteer, and the Campaign Setting hardcover, and later the Inner Sea World Guide and Inner Sea Primer were produced, there was less need for that content to be provided again.

It was *nice* to have that, but there's no *need* for it, as most of that material is also available now on the Wiki. So I am not surprised that the Players' Guides are going "back to basics". It has been mentioned several times that they are an "extra" work item that was often a scramble to complete on-time for the AP to begin. Simplifying them also reduces that workload, I would expect.

How much of the RotRL guide was actually about Golarion?

In any case, they are still a tool for getting new players involved in Golarion. Many people who have never played before will start with an AP and might only read the PG, I know two of my players have only ever read the PG, add on flicking through the CRB and you have their entire reading list.
Assuming they will read the ISP, wiki or Varisia guide doesn't work out.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I disagree with the notion that the info wasnt there when those PGs were being produced. Excepting maybe Runelords and Second Darkness. Guide to Korvosa and Katapesh both came out roughly around the same time as Crimson Throne and LoF. Cheliax companion was out before CoT;there is still stuff the PGs could cover.

In regards to this particular AP PG

Breaking down the info by something other than class is ok, ut there should have been more info.

The campaign traits were lackluster, I have a few ideas of my own I will post on my lunch break. The society trait reprints were irksome, mostly because I think they are too powerful and class specific for traits.

The Magnimar at a glance section was good.

Reprinting the PFS prestige stuff was utterly useless for me and annoying for being a reprint of information freely available already.

I would have liked to see some mundane/alchemical items good for dungeon crawling, maybe some premade bags full of useful stuff new players could get (rope, chalk).

A little more backstory on the PFS in Varisia, Sheila was hardly the first, maybe a mention of Eando? Maybe some local rumors that players could know about the current state of affairs.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

GeraintElberion wrote:
Urath DM wrote:


Part of the "dismay" I see is people pointing to the first couple of Players Guides.. RotRL and CotCT. Those had to do double-duty, explaining the world and providing stats for new gear flavored to the area. Once the Gazetteer, and the Campaign Setting hardcover, and later the Inner Sea World Guide and Inner Sea Primer were produced, there was less need for that content to be provided again.

It was *nice* to have that, but there's no *need* for it, as most of that material is also available now on the Wiki. So I am not surprised that the Players' Guides are going "back to basics". It has been mentioned several times that they are an "extra" work item that was often a scramble to complete on-time for the AP to begin. Simplifying them also reduces that workload, I would expect.

How much of the RotRL guide was actually about Golarion?

In any case, they are still a tool for getting new players involved in Golarion. Many people who have never played before will start with an AP and might only read the PG, I know two of my players have only ever read the PG, add on flicking through the CRB and you have their entire reading list.
Assuming they will read the ISP, wiki or Varisia guide doesn't work out.

Not much. Because at the time... there really WASN'T a Golarion. Much less an entire Inner Sea region. The first 64 page gazetteer to the Inner Sea region was published nine months AFTER the first Pathifnder Adventure Path. That book hadn't even started being written by the time we were writing Rise of the Runelords.

But we still needed a place to set the adventures.

And so Wes and I built Varisia. To save time on the design, I drew a LOT of stuff in from my homebrew world. We basically built the Rise of the Runelords Player's Guide to not only introduce the players to the world, but to give the GM who was running the game as much of the world background details (such as deities, new gear, new feats, gazetteer stuff, info on how races and classes functioned in this new setting, and so on).

It would have been a lot more accurate to call it the "Varisia Player's Guide' and the Curse of the Crimson Throne one the "Korvosa Player's Guide," but we didn't for obvious reasons.

In any case, once we got to Second Darkness, the need to get that info out to players and GMs had faded, and which each successive book and AP we've published, that need fades all the more.

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Coridan wrote:

I want to echo Beckett's thoughts, I told my players to not even bother DLing this.

I also want to restate my displeasure at connecting the paid for companion line as a replacement for the older style PG.

I hope you'll take a look at Player Companion: Varisia (if you haven't already) before you make your mind entirely up about this.

The type, amount, and quality of the content we can present in a product like a Player Companion as opposed to a free PDF of any stripe is starker than night and day. I think we at Paizo have a reputation for putting out products with high design and artistic standards - and if not, we aspire to such. A free PDF has associated with it an equally non-existant budget for writing, design, editing, and art, and as such these products have been put together as fast as possible with no or entirely reused art.

And you know what? Speaking as the person who wrote the first product to ever claim to be a Pathfinder Player's Guide and who has had his name in the credits of all of them - as often as not as a or the author:

They've been weak.

And worse than that, they've been below our standards on numerous levels. I absolutely understand why they've been that way and the concessions we've deliberately made just to have them exist (because we think that sort of content is important). I also think everyone who's worked on them have done heroic jobs with the restrictions they've been under. But honestly, there hasn't been one I've been proud of since Player's Guide: Curse of the Crimson Throne. I'm not saying they've been abominations, but hold these up to any printed product that comes out of our publishing operation and you'll see that there's absolutely no comparison.

So we made the choice - largely at my own spearheading if anyone needs to know where to cast stones - to incorporate these into a product line directed at the exact same audience where we can make them a piece of something to be proud of.

Player Companion: Varisia, Birthplace of Legends is not a 32-page Player's Guide to the Shattered Star Adventure Path. Only two pages of that Player Companion are focused on that particular Adventure Path. In those two pages we fulfill the objectives for which we created the Player's Companions (as I described up thread) and present a host of campaign traits to help segue new characters into the Adventure Path. This focused content, as well as a number of other pieces the Adventure Path team deems useful to the AP, are compiled and have been released for free to anyone who wants it. We are not going to stop providing Adventure Path GMs and players this compilation of free advice, rules, tools, and resources.

The other 30 pages of Player Companion: Varisia, Birthplace of Legends, is designed to be the go-to source for any player creating a character from Varisia or who plans to adventure in that region - which, of course, includes players of the Shattered Star Adventure Path, but also Rise of the Runelords, Curse of the Crimson Throne, Second Darkness, and Jade Regent. Every page has a wealth of new options, advice, information, and resources exploring Varisia in a way we never have in a single product. There's introductions for players who have never even heard of Varisia, deeper explorations of topics we've touched on a dozen different times in as many different places, collected and updated player-favorite options from the past, an entirely new system called "roles" to help players create characters tied even more tightly to the campaign setting, new rules utilizing many of the Pathfinder RPG's most exciting systems, views of several of the region's most famous locales like we've never seen them before, a two-page map of the whole region designed just for players with roads and distances so they know how to get around and how long it takes, and way, way, way more.

If you're playing an Adventure Path set in Varisia, you should absolutely check out this book.

And we couldn't have done half of that - the fantastic player's map, the awesome art, the great info-graphics, the innovative new layout, the comprehensive indexes, the introductory content, new systems like roles, the breadth of options, and more - if this was something we had to do with no budget and a schedule of as fast as humanly possible. As it stands, this is a product that not only am I phenomenally proud of but will strongly be recommending we submit to next year's ENnie awards.

Now, I know that the Player's Guides and Player Companions have almost always been distinct things, but by making the Player's Guides a part of the Player Companion line and treating that entire line (especially the AP tie-ins) with a Player's Guide philosophy, we can create something far more useful, informative, artistically appealing, and welcoming than anything that spools off even the sharpest home printer.

I understand this is a change and something that bucks years of precedent, I understand this is a company putting content that could be in a free product into something with a price tag (though, I hope most would agree, a relatively modest one), and I understand bare bones PDFs have a certain charm. But I hope that most will see that our reasoning behind this isn't to deny readers content, isn't to squeeze blood from stones, and isn't to lighten our own workloads at our most devoted supporters' expense. Rather, every decision we've made has been with the intention of creating a product that players will be as excited to use as we now are about creating.

All I can ask is that readers - especially Shattered Star players (and, even more so, skeptical players) - check out Player Companion: Varisia and the new Player Companion format so they can judge based on what they see there whether or not it's a resource they feel is worthy of including in their game.

Thanks for looking!

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The PGs shouldnt be looked at as a product so much as they should be looked at as advertising. You put out good stuff for free rpg day each year, and IMO the PGs are far more essential since they are promoting your flagship product and are more player oriented (and thus read by more people who are usually not willing to spend as much to begin with) as opposed to DM focused stuff you put out for FreeRPG day.

And Crimson Throne was a grrat PG but so was SD and LoF. It has been a downhill trend since then, but not because of inability to do them better but choice.

I havent looked at the Varisia companion; Pirates of the Inner Sea/Skull and Shackles was the same though. PoIS was awesome for making new chars but I was the only one who read it because we all make characters at home concurrently and there is only the one book.

You want to shy away from the PGs? Fine, make the Varisia companion pdf free, and do the same for whichever one comes out for RoW. I doubt it will be a huge loss money wise, but a huge a boon promotion wise instead.

Taldor

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Tales Subscriber

I've got to admit, the Varisia book is outstanding.

I love the inside covers (Shoanti tribes, Varisian trade-routes), I love the '5 Things Everyone Knows ABout Varisia' sidebar, the awesome in-game map, the Varisian traits.

Most of all, I love how modular it is; a player can dip in and out really easily: read two paragraphs here, one there, three there and begin to build up a picture of the place.

One criticism, it does feel like only Shoanti and Varisians live in the region, I know that Chelish are the 'typical' townsfolk but that could have, perhaps, had its own section. As it is, only a bit on page 4 hints at that.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

I really like the sound of that philosophy, Wes. Paizo's most outstanding feature (in my view) is quality. Anything directed towards enhancing that is a plus as far as I'm concerned. It's nice getting free stuff, but what I remember about paizo products is the wow factor, not the price. (the fact that your prices are so reasonable is just icing on the cake).

Really frustrated to be at the back of the queue this month!


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Coridan wrote:

And Crimson Throne was a grrat PG but so was SD and LoF.

The Player's Guides to Second Darkness and Legacy of Fire were actually part of the Player Companion line and thus not a free download. So that kind of works against your argument that free stuff can be as good as stuff with a price tag on it. If things have gotten worse since then, maybe it's because they went from a paid product to a free one.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I liked the book and it feels more like a players book than most of the previous ones have.

One thing though, I would LOVE to have a big image of the center map up in the blog. It is nice in the book but I would like to print out a copy of it and give it to the players as a hand out. Especially so i can age the paper a bit and make it look more like a real map might.

Taldor

James Jacobs wrote:
Coridan wrote:
LoF was a fantastic PG. Added flavorful items, traits, feats and background info. I liked the achievement feats, shame they never did more with them.

A lot of the things we tried out in the Adventure Paths were popular enough to do more with them, like character traits, haunts, chases, etc.

Achievement feats were actually relatively UNpopular, alas. Hence we never went back.

Is it too late to throw my hat into the Achievement Feats revival ring? I liked the way they worked quite a bit. They gave the PCs a goal to get them into a certain mindset early on, they gave tangible and flavourful rewards, and they made sense from a progression point of view (i.e. it makes sense that killing a slew of gnolls would make you better at killing gnolls).

I'd love to see what Paizo could do with them in future Adventure Paths, but if they were really that unpopular, I suppose it's not meant to be.

Taldor RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Nameless wrote:

Is it too late to throw my hat into the Achievement Feats revival ring? I liked the way they worked quite a bit. They gave the PCs a goal to get them into a certain mindset early on, they gave tangible and flavourful rewards, and they made sense from a progression point of view (i.e. it makes sense that killing a slew of gnolls would make you better at killing gnolls).

I'd love to see what Paizo could do with them in future Adventure Paths, but if they were really that unpopular, I suppose it's not meant to be.

I really liked the concept of the achievement feats too. There were some that were way to much bookeeping/too hard to qualify for, however. When I ran LoF the group's healer got to the last adventure without having healed 1000 points of damage via spells. She was at about 600, I just let her take the feat anyway so she would have a chance to use it.

So I have to wonder if was the concept of achievment feats that wasn't popular, or if it was those specific feats that weren't the best way to do achievement feats.

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