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Pardon Our Dust: What We Said (and Didn't Say) About the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game at PaizoCon

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Every year for the past four years, I have gone onstage at the PaizoCon banquet and talked about upcoming releases for the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. This year, that didn't happen. This is because I wasn't ready to say what everyone wanted me to say: what the name of the next base set is. I do have one in mind, but what we want to do with it isn't something we're sure we can do with it.

The adventure card game has been way more successful than we ever imagined. We're now four base sets, 24 expansion decks, four and a half Pathfinder Society Adventure Card Guild seasons, and 20 Class Decks into the release cycle, and that's not even counting the things we've finished but not released. Plus, there's another whole adventure card game, Apocrypha, that my company Lone Shark Games is about to release, and it does some things in different ways than the Pathfinder ACG does. We'd be fools not to learn from all of that. So here are our plans.

What We Expect to Do With the Next Base Set

Each PACG Adventure Path is massive. To play it you have to make a huge commitment: $180 at retail. And playing one base set doesn't make playing another any cheaper. Plus, when we change from one Organized Play season to the next, we make you crack open a box you might not yet own. We have big expensive game boxes and relatively inexpensive tuckboxes, but very little in the middle. The big boxes don't fit so great on many retailers' shelves, and some retailers put the smaller boxes behind the register, making them harder to buy.

So we'd like to change the product mix and presentation of the game. We're asking ourselves a lot of questions. Do you really need a new Cure card every time we start a new storyline? Does every chapter of an adventure have to use exactly 110 cards? Is there a way we can introduce a location in Adventure 4 and use it again in Adventure 5 without violating the Afghanistan Principle? What if we want a new Adventure Path to have a lot more monsters (or a lot fewer armors) than we put into Rise of the Runelords? Does it make sense that scenarios are limited to the number of words we can fit onto a single card? Does story really have to be constrained to a couple inches of text on a handful of cards?

And also: Not every story we want to tell is a sprawling Adventure Path that takes RPG characters from 1st-level pipsqueak to 20th-level potentate. There are a lot more tales in the Pathfinder catalogue. We'd like to be able to tell some of the smaller ones too.

If you've played a Pathfinder Society Adventure Card Guild game, you know that we've already explored some of these questions. PFSACG adventures feature much more story, wildly complex scenarios, and deep cross-adventure development. We've even experimented with smaller stories in the 2-part Season of the Goblins. And now it's time to bring all that to the bigger picture.

But it's important to recognize that these big changes we're talking about are primarily about presentation, not game mechanics. We're not talking "PACG: Second Edition" here; we don't need to change the rules and mechanics much more than we usually change them for a new Base Set. Let's be explicit: we're not going to invalidate your old cards. The things we've made so far will play just fine with things from the next base set, and we'll give you easy fixes for anything that doesn't, like when we changed "before the encounter" to "before you act" between Rise of the Runelords and Skull & Shackles.

We have a lot of theories as to how all these things will work, and what Adventure Path is best to go with such a rethinking. When last week came around, Paizo asked me if I was ready to talk about it. I wasn't. So Vic stood up at the banquet and announced that we aren't going to release a new base set until Gen Con 2018 at the earliest. We're going to try a lot of things; some of them won't work, and that's going to cost us time. And once we do figure out what we want, we'll have to make some prototypes: new boxes, a new tray... maybe even multiple trays. So maybe the 2018 holiday season is more likely, or even Spring 2019. But we won't leave you with a vacuum in the meantime.

What We Expect to Do With the Class Decks

We expect to continue releasing Class Decks with as many cool ideas as we can think of. Decks for August through October went to the printer last week; decks for November through February are in active development, and decks for March through May are... um, on deck. (We've started unofficially calling them character decks, because at best half of the new ones revolve around a single class. Of the next seven decks starting in August, only two—Magus and Hunter—are single-Class Decks.

I talked a little about those two at the PACG seminar at PaizoCon. The Magus Class Deck fills a giant hole in the product line, as we don't have a focused Arcane/Melee deck. In addition to a new take on Seltyiel, we're introducing PACG's first angelkin (you might call her an aasimar), alongside a character that has appeared twice in the RPG line. (I'm expecting your guesses in the discussion thread!)

The Hunter Class Deck is Adowyn's set, and it's loaded with animals. In fact, it's a pretty darn good alt-Ranger deck, which is one way of addressing another concern of players at PaizoCon: that the initial seven Class Decks—the ones that had four characters in them—had a smaller set of boons to choose from than the subsequent three-character Class Decks. If you want another way to play Harsk, you can get pretty far with the Hunter Class Deck. (We're thinking about ways to upgrade those initial seven too. Nothing to say yet on that front, but it's in our brains.)

The other five decks in these waves—Pathfinder Tales, Hell's Vengeance 1 and Hell's Vengeance 2, and Occult Adventures 1 and Occult Adventures 2—let us flex our design muscles in ways we've never done. I didn't have much to say at the con about Occult Adventures since those decks aren't designed. But I did talk about Tales: In addition to the characters of Radovan, Varian, and Celeste, Tales has all new allies, and a whole lot of them at that. They work together in interesting ways, too. If you like Zae, Keren Rhinn, and Appleslayer from Gears of Faith, you'll be rewarded for keeping them together.

The so-called "evil iconics" in the Hell's Vengeance decks take the more antisocial behavior demonstrated by our goblin characters to a new level. And these might be the best characters to play in Wrath of the Righteous. On the PACG panel, Pathfinder Society coordinator Tonya Woldridge mentioned that the evil characters in PACG are your only opportunity for playing evil characters in Pathfinder Society. Speaking of which...

What We Expect to Do With Organized Play

Tonya unveiled Season of Factions' Favor, the next season of PACG Organized Play, which will debut at Gen Con in August and conclude at next PaizoCon in May. Plotted by Tonya and John Compton, SoFF will weave into the Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Year of Factions' Favor storyline, which in turn will weave into the War for the Crown storyline in the Pathfinder Adventure Path line. Season of Factions' Favor will use the Mummy's Mask set, just like Season of Plundered Tombs did.

SoFF will also do something we've never done before: tie new Class Deck releases directly into the storyline. A pair of special scenarios will explain exactly how those evil Hell's Vengeance folks wind up working for the Pathfinder Society. It'll be really cool.

That may or may not be the only season we launch between now and the next base set. At PaizoCon, I sat down to play the unofficial We Are Dragons "season" by Tyler Beck and 2017 Pathfinder Society Volunteer of the Year David Jacobson, where the main characters are kobolds. I'm not saying we're going to make that official, but man, kobolds are wicked fun.

What We Expect to Do With the Digital Game

Our partners at Obsidian also had some great news at PaizoCon. Their Pathfinder Adventures app, currently available exclusively for iOS and Android phones and tablets, is coming to PC and OS X soon.

And oh man, did the crowd love it when this was revealed:

Rise of the Goblins will introduce five new scenarios inspired by We Be Goblins and our Season of the Goblins, with Ranzak and Poog of Zarongel as playable characters, plus alternative goblin skins for the 11 core iconics. And new asymmetrical goblin dice. If goblins could read, they'd be cheering this news right now.

What We Don't Expect to Do Any Time Soon

The Starfinder Adventure Card Game, that's what. Starfinder was the buzz of PaizoCon, and all anyone could ask me about was whether we were making a Starfinder ACG. I crushed that speculation dead on the spot. One of the main reasons we decided to make Pathfinder our first adventure card game was the ten thousand or so pieces of awesome Pathfinder art that we could use. Starfinder has less than ten thousand pieces of art at this point. A lot less. (But it is all awesome. In particular, Remko Troost's iconics. Sweet stuff.) With PACG, it also helped that we had great storylines to adapt, but the first Starfinder Adventure Path, Dead Suns, won't be completed until next June.

So, maybe ask me about that next PaizoCon, or the one after. Meanwhile, we've got a whole lot of work to do on Pathfinder. Thanks for reading, and thanks to PaizoCon for having us there!

Mike Selinker
Adventure Card Game Lead Designer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Thanks for the information, that is very enlightening!
Definitely looking forward to what you come up with in the future.

And an Aasimar Magus is a combination I'm especially excited for :)

Lone Shark Games

After writing this, I regretted not going on stage and saying all of it myself. Live and learn.


Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thanks for the update.. I was left wondering since there wasn't a whole lot said at the banquet.
I will say that the news about goblin antics in the digital version is great. In our Mummy's Mask group, 2 of us are playing the Goblins Fight & Burn decks... hilarity usually ensues.

I'm kind of relieved to have a break before the next base set.I have all 4 and it will probably take a while to play through everything.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Card Game Subscriber

"But it's important to recognize that these big changes we're talking about are primarily about presentation, not game mechanics. We're not talking "PACG: Second Edition" here; we don't need to change the rules and mechanics much more than we usually change them for a new Base Set. Let's be explicit: we're not going to invalidate your old cards. The things we've made so far will play just fine with things from the next base set, and we'll give you easy fixes for anything that doesn't, like when we changed "before the encounter" to "before you act" between Rise of the Runelords and Skull & Shackles."

That's exactly what I wanted to hear. I do love seeing new core sets, but I can wait (one group stalled out in S&S, with my other friend we're chugging through MM, but maybe we'll try one of the Seasons after).

Oh, and I'd love to see Starfinder ACG, in part because the card game is a lot easier for my group to get into than the RPG (although playing the cards did bring us back to the RPG...) but yeah, totally reasonable that you'll need more art to make a product.


Pathfinder Class Deck Subscriber

Thanks for the update Mike, to be honest, I am grateful for the hiatus in the release of a new set. I look forward to seeing where PACG goes in the future.

I am curious about a couple of things though...
At the banquet, there was mention of stories carrying over/interweave from PACG to the Pathfinder Society storylines. Will this mean PACG players will get an incomplete story from future planned sets if players don't invest time and money in other aspects of Paizo products such as those of the Pathfinder Society?

Also, whilst the big box sets are large they are also practical especially once drivethru 'season of' cards are added along with all of the tuck boxes and extra dice etc and sleeved cards. I am curious to see what form the new storage boxes will take, will Paizo allow space for players to grow their sets in the same way as the current base-sets do?

Lone Shark Games

Beagle wrote:
At the banquet, there was mention of stories carrying over/interweave from PACG to the Pathfinder Society storylines. Will this mean PACG players will get an incomplete story from future planned sets if players don't invest time and money in other aspects of Paizo products such as those of the Pathfinder Society?

Uh, no. That was certainly not what we intended to convey. Pathfinder Society will always be an optional part of our product line. We just might have Pathfinder Society learn from all of the parts of the product line we create.

Beagle wrote:
Also, whilst the big box sets are large they are also practical especially once drivethru 'season of' cards are added along with all of the tuck boxes and extra dice etc and sleeved cards. I am curious to see what form the new storage boxes will take, will Paizo allow space for players to grow their sets in the same way as the current base-sets do?

That is an excellent question, and one we're not sure about at this time. We certainly do intend to continue to allow players to make their own cards at DriveThru, though.


Pathfinder Class Deck Subscriber

Thanks for the swift reply Mike, I look forward to reading more over the coming months. I am pleased to hear the Hunter set will have lots of animals. I have been planning to make a few animal cards at drivethru (I have some of the art done) but I just don't get the time in general.

Is it possible to make the blessings cards available through drivethru?, so that we can print extras for our other sets inc. the Promo blessings? These are the only cards from any of the base sets that need extra copies if you want to keep your 'in play' character sets complete.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thanks for the shout-out, Mike! Having you sit at the table and play was a highlight of the con for both me and the players! I'm excited about anything we end up doing with kobolds!


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Beagle wrote:
Is it possible to make the blessings cards available through drivethru?, so that we can print extras for our other sets inc. the Promo blessings? These are the only cards from any of the base sets that need extra copies if you want to keep your 'in play' character sets complete.

Two of the promo blessings can be purchased at the Paizo store.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

I'm glad you're changing up the base set format and the boxes. It's one of the reasons why I struggle getting local friends into the game as the game isn't as modular, portable, or flavorable as other adventure card games.

The base set boxes are enormous to fit all of the expansions. While it's nice when a game box has room to store expansion, the problem is that the expansion/deck boxes are terrible. They're a hassle to get cards out of them, and I had problems with cards getting damaged.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Maps, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Thanks, Mike!

Lone Shark Games

Oh, Occult Adventures 1 is a thing now.


Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

When I read through all of that I was reminded of Dominion. Get the base set of cards and then use those with any expansion they make.

No matter how you guys decide to do things; I have plenty of faith in Vic, Mike, and the Sharks.


Thanks for the info. Here's my opinions, for whatever they're worth. :)

Delaying More PACG: fine with me. There's plenty of adventures our group has yet to complete.

Changing PACG Base Sets: We had a pretty good thread on this a year or two ago, with plenty of ideas that match up with the questions here. (IIRC.)

Upcoming Class Decks: Magus good, Hunter meh, others bleh. I already have a ton of characters I haven't gotten to try, and the theme decks and Occult characters don't grab me.

More OP: We'll get to it eventually, though probably not in time to influence the PFS storylines.

Digital Game: I've been waiting for a Windows version. Hopefully it ends up a bit less clunky and laggy (after a few months of bug fixes, of course). I'm not a fan of Paizo's goblin mascots, but I'm not surprised they're the first set of new content since their miniseries used the Runelords box.

Starfinder ACG: Not surprised.

Overall, I don't think any of this is too surprising. Good luck with the Starfinder RPG stuff in the meantime.

Aside: The Paizo blog template really should put the author's name at the top, so that we don't have to scroll all the way down to see who is talking.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

Thanks for making the info clear Mike.


As a relative newcomer (learned about PACG from the digital version), looking forward to the future of the product!

If I may share a slightly cynical thought, though, it strikes me that the digital version developed with Obsidian Entertainment has no intention of being expanded into featuring multiple sets/adventure paths and progressively developed over a long period of time, is it?

There is already going to be some short term confusion, and possibly PR issues, from the release of the PC version at $25 when the mobile version is free. In my case, I've unlocked all of the content (except some vault content and alt-character skins and dice) by paying very little - approximately $10, I think - and I could have earned all of it without much more difficulty for no price at all. We are waiting on some clarifications as to the pricing model, but there is little sign that I, for example, serve to gain anything by merging my accounts and spending $25 on a game I already own just to move from one screen to another.

More tellingly, from my perspective, is the $40 special edition which features "all future DLC and content" for free, which seems unsustainable were this game intended for development spanning multiple years with further set integration and large content updates. Not that any of that was formally announced in the first place, but it still seems something of a wasted opportunity to leave the digital version with Rise of the Runelords. It's just I can't see a way, with this current payment model, of making it extensible and still financially viable.

Regardless of the future of the digital product, and my cynicism thereof, however, I'm looking forward to the future of the physical game. Great work!


Hey Yewstance -- Paizo is talking about the digital game, because they license the creative material, but all pricing questions should be directed at Obsidian (see Obsidian forum here). I'm sure Paizo has zero control over Obsidian's pricing model.

EDIT: There's actually a third company involved, as well -- Asmodee Digital. See this post.


Parody wrote:
Aside: The Paizo blog template really should put the author's name at the top, so that we don't have to scroll all the way down to see who is talking.

+1 to this.

Yes. Please.


elcoderdude wrote:

Hey Yewstance -- Paizo is talking about the digital game, because they license the creative material, but all pricing questions should be directed at Obsidian (see Obsidian forum here). I'm sure Paizo has zero control over Obsidian's pricing model.

EDIT: There's actually a third company involved, as well -- Asmodee Digital. See this post.

Eh, I'm mostly aware. I don't know of the full contractual details, however - has Paizo given Obsidian the rights to develop further games/content based on sets outside of Rise of the Runelords? Is there an expectation as to what platforms or marketing requirements they look to fulfill? The Magic Duels series is a fascinating example as to how contracted developers have to adjust their development and marketing methodology to fulfill contractual obligations.

A lot of topics unsuitable for public disclosure, to be sure, but ones that I find myself extremely curious about.

Though more on the topic, I've been posting pretty actively in the obsidian forums in the past couple of weeks. Verrry quiet for the most part, with developer/employee/official posts extremely few and far between, and generally tight-lipped. So I'm trying to maintain a wait-and-see approach, but the little I've heard just seems... odd, or leads towards business goals that indicate a search for short-term return rather than supporting it as a digital franchise.


Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

As for digital version I Expect that those "future dlls" only handle Rice of Runelords set based dlls. Aka more goblings. There Are two adventures made by Paizo at this moment 2*5 scenarios. And Obsidian has rewealed that They will release one adventure aka 5 scenarios with the next release, so there would be option to make remainning 5 scenarios aka one adventure later, if the company aprovess that.

If there will be Skull and shacles or Mummys mask or something different, They Are separate products that you have to buy separately, just like physical boxes from the Paizo.
Obsidian has option to make those other boxes too, it was rewealed when the Runelords was released, but it seems that releasing other big boxes would be economical failure so I am not keeping my hopes too high.
But in anyway They most like will be completely separate products from the Rice of the Runelords release. IMHO.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Yewstance wrote:
...has Paizo given Obsidian the rights to develop further games/content based on sets outside of Rise of the Runelords? Is there an expectation as to what platforms or marketing requirements they look to fulfill? The Magic Duels series is a fascinating example as to how contracted developers have to adjust their development and marketing methodology to fulfill contractual obligations.

Obsidian's license allows them to make use of any content we've created for the game. As far as expectations go, they've been good partners, and we expect to keep working with them as long as they want to keep doing it. As far as platforms, marketing, and the like, we don't dictate how they run their business—we expect that they understand it better than we do, and we wouldn't be in business with them if we didn't think they were capable of making good decisions.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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Hannibal_pjv wrote:
There Are two adventures made by Paizo at this moment 2*5 scenarios. And Obsidian has rewealed that They will release one adventure aka 5 scenarios with the next release, so there would be option to make remainning 5 scenarios aka one adventure later, if the company aprovess that.

Rise of the Goblins is *not* a direct adaptation of Season of the Goblins, though it does draw some content from the first couple of SotG scenarios. The two storylines diverge pretty quickly.


Vic Wertz wrote:
Obsidian's license allows them to make use of any content we've created for the game. As far as expectations go, they've been good partners, and we expect to keep working with them as long as they want to keep doing it. As far as platforms, marketing, and the like, we don't dictate how they run their business—we expect that they understand it better than we do, and we wouldn't be in business with them if we didn't think they were capable of making good decisions.

That gives me all of the information that I wanted to know (within the bounds of what, I imagine, can be shared). Thank you very much!


Will some of the "construction" include the outstanding errata for class decks and base sets? Skull & Shackles and some of the early class decks are getting long-in-the-tooth.


Pathfinder Class Deck Subscriber
Autoduelist wrote:
Will some of the "construction" include the outstanding errata for class decks and base sets? Skull & Shackles and some of the early class decks are getting long-in-the-tooth.

I'd also like to know this since I'm guessing it's going to cost a fair chunk of money and the best time to pay for this would be before the release of any new set.


A 2nd OP season from Mummy's Mask? **PLEASE** make Yoon playable in OP by then!! :)

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Season of Factions' Favor starts in August, with releases continuing through May.

Occult Adventures Character Deck 2 will be released in February; it includes a new version of Yoon, and in OP, you'll also be able to use the Mummy's Mask version of Yoon with that deck.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Class Deck, Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Kobold Decks plus season of the Dragons! YES PLEASE. (So must have Hats)

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