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Grey Maiden

Alan_Beven's page

Goblin Squad Member. Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Tales Subscriber. 233 posts. 1 review. 1 list. 1 wishlist.


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James, you have spoken a number of times how you feel that the usage of prophecy can result in lazy storytelling. Do you feel the same way about the excessive use of good vs evil in adventure design? I personally strive to achieve complex morality in my games, but I do find it very tough to pull off. It seems the goodies vs baddies trope is very heavily embedded.


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Backwards compatibility to 3.5 also means, in a large part, backwards compatibility to Pathfinder of course. There are certain parts of the rules that do not appear in the print products (and I am talking player, settings and AP books here) all that heavily, such as the action economy and the crafting rules. These rules are largely applied by the group and very lightly referenced in PF books (again non rules books) and as such changes to these areas of the game would retain a large degree of compatibility with prior non-rulebook materials. Changes to classes such as their features, math, or way of operating will of course clash with previously published statblocks. That is what I am quite interested to see how they handle.


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I personally think this is SMART from a 3PP and something the Frogs have been honing for a few years now. Build a fantastic adventure, sourcebook, what-have-you, and maximise your customer base by high quality conversions to multiple systems. S&W, Pathfinder and 5th Ed are cut from such similar conceptual cloth that it works a treat. Another clever usage of this concept is the Achtung Cthulhu books that have been coming out for the last 18 months with Savage Worlds and Call of Cthulhu support in the same tome.

Clever stuff guys.


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James Jacobs wrote:


That's part of the problem too. Everyone would want it to be something different.

It could be a book about relationships and family and social interactions.

It could be a book about how different races might cross-breed to produce hybrid races and be filled with templates or the like.

It could be, as you say, a "How to get laid" book with rules for sexual encounters.

Of those three topics, it's the first one that I'd be interested in seeing done as a book; a book that covers romance traditions and the like in the Inner Sea and perhaps explores things like the church of Calistria or whatever.

I'm not really interested at all in a book that does the second or third options above, and I get the feeling that a lot of folks who want this book want those options the most.

I surely hope you are wrong about that last bit, but I suspect you are not. I thought I would post this link here which is an excellent review of the previous PDF, showing that a book on the topic of love AND sex can be written, and written well. http://feministing.com/2014/04/09/shattering-the-sexual-skyhook-a-review-of -numeneras-love-and-sex-in-the-ninth-world/

The world (and most fiction) revolves about money, power and love/sex. RPGs seem to only ever focus on two of those three, which is a shame.


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Hi James. On the topic of a romance book, have you by chance seen this? http://www.montecookgames.com/product/love-and-sex-in-the-ninth-world/ It to me is the perfect treatment of the topic for a RPG (well the most perfect I have read to date)


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James Jacobs wrote:
...so apart from making frowny faces in meetings and so on...

This statement amused me far more than it probably should have :-)


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Call of Cthulhu rules question (if that is allowed! no rules forum to reference!). If an investigator is wearing only helmet armor worth say 2 points of damage reduction, would you remove this from all firearm attacks against the investigator? (I am playing WWII Cthulhu) I am leaning towards calling for a luck roll on each hit myself.

Thanks for any help you can provide :-)


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My thoughts on system compatibility. There are so many quality systems out there now that the new approach for 3pp has to be "spanning". Come up with great worlds, and great adventures and publish for multiple systems. Of course this requires work, and perhaps even design compromise, but to me seems to be the future for RPGs. I find myself frustrated that Paizo only publishes Pathfinder compatible adventures to be honest!

The software world has been re shaped by the web providing a common language. I think within reason a product could meaningfully be run on multiple RPG engines. Frog God for example produces two versions of most of their products.

One "cheaty" way to do this is to reference existing monster books for each system, only spending time with custom stat blocks for those foes that really matter.


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It's not really a typo more that it is not 100% clear in the wording. Both books are not campaigns in they are essentially a players guide and a GMs guide. There is however tons of campaign backstory, hooks and world detail in both.

There are two linked adventures already published in the series however, and they have named this campaign Achtung Cthulhu. I suspect this is what the last few lines is actually referring to. (Three Kings starts in 1939 for example)


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I have this book and it is indeed fantastic. I can highly recommend the entire "Achtung" series in fact. I love the whole idea of the Nazis pursuing "alternative weapons" sourced from the Mythos.


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James Jacobs wrote:


People favor low magic because it keeps magic, well, "magical" rather than mundane.

Agreed. I like the "sweet and sour" approach to magic as well. Contrasts can make something feel greater.

Have you read Deep Magic from Kobold Press? Some very impressive magic design in there.


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BPorter wrote:

Lots of good stuff.

I feel similarly to you. Disclaimer: this is not edition warring. I personally found the 4e smoothed out some of the problems you mentioned. You could take a look at some of it's ideas. 4e was a little heavy handed.

One of my house rules comes from it however. Teleport only allows you to arrive at a teleport circle.


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James, would you rule that teleporting onto a moving ship that you cannot see, but are otherwise familiar with, would use the "false destination" area of the teleport chart? Would any moving thing count as such (wagon, horse, flying citadel)?


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Ok after reading this I HAVE to get my hands on this game!!


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I would suggest giving the GM a break. They are human and spend a bunch of time and usually money providing a game for you to all play. No GM no game. Assuming your side of the story is totally factual it sounds more like a GM whose story has been derailed trying to force you back to where they intended. Not done gracefully mind you. But sometimes players need to understand that the GM needs you to cut them some slack.

And Paladins suck and always cause this sort of grief.


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Some more:

I want to be able to run a multi transport type long range journey involving horseback, wagons, ships etc. 4000 miles or more. Requiring hirelings, and other NPCs. Would like to have details on costs of setting up this type of thing. Wages, weights of items, how much provisions, types of trade goods, etc. also the types of encounters that would occur, broken wheels, impassible terrain etc. Basically how to establish and maintain profitable trade routes, as well as just general interesting long range travel.

In a similar vein, a sandbox type of game system for generic overland exploration. Food, water, weather considerations. Interesting events that are not combat events. Hex style exploration. Reasons to carry fresh good over trail mix. Why sleeping in a tent matters. The works. There is plenty of the elements of this stuff out there, but I know of nothing bringing it all together into its own "mini-game".


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Some others:

Details on how a medieval village works and grows. How much population before a mill is needed. How many hectares get farmed per capita. Throw in magic on top of it all, magic fountains, cauldrons that multiply food.
Hedge magic, hard to repeat pseudo magic that is passed along from generation to generation. Hexes, charms etc.
Ways to amp up simple creatures to be terrorising. Spriggans that inhabit the rafters of buildings and whose presence curdles milk. Creatures who take to the wing at night by tr full moon and whose passing shadow strikes livestock dead.


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Jesper at Blood Brethren Games wrote:
Alan_Beven wrote:

A few things:

Robust mass combat system that scales to squad level, minor skirmish and major battle. The Paizo one is fine but very shallow.
A bolt on to the magic system that allows for much more epic casting. Kinda like get 20 casters together and they can cast an uber fireball that wipes out a town.
A book full of intrigue storylines that can be threaded into your campaign.
More Artifacts. Way more artifacts. And minor artifacts like +1 swords that have a really great backstory.
Really deep support of the Paizo planes. City of Brass is awesome. Let's see a book of 20 planar locations or waypoints.

These are the first things that come to mind anyways.

Some really good ideas there, Alan, and several of them have crossed my mind before. I can't set a specific time table but I hope and believe you'll see a couple of items from that list from Blood Brethren Games in 2014 :-)

Very cool!! Happy to elaborate on some if you have any interest.


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A few things:

Robust mass combat system that scales to squad level, minor skirmish and major battle. The Paizo one is fine but very shallow.
A bolt on to the magic system that allows for much more epic casting. Kinda like get 20 casters together and they can cast an uber fireball that wipes out a town.
A book full of intrigue storylines that can be threaded into your campaign.
More Artifacts. Way more artifacts. And minor artifacts like +1 swords that have a really great backstory.
Really deep support of the Paizo planes. City of Brass is awesome. Let's see a book of 20 planar locations or waypoints.

These are the first things that come to mind anyways.


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Purchased in print and PDF, thanks for the awesome work Rich!!


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Yup. No updates on the website or social media. No responses on the regular contact links. Hyrum seems to be MIA which does not bode well for DaD which is a real shame.


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Just thought I would link to this really great Kickstarter. Slayers of the Great Serpent II. I have part one of this series and it is a really fine adventure, with some fantastic scenarios and really great writing. The price I think is very reasonable and you can pick up part I as well for very cheap. Best of all David delivered on time on the last installment, he is a really good operator.


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James Jacobs wrote:


Via the troop rules from the penultimate Reign of Winter adventure, "Rasputin Must Die."

Will there be any more details on these going forwards? It is not evident to me how to stat up a troop of say orcs using those rules.


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James Jacobs wrote:
Alan_Beven wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Starsunder wrote:
So now that bestiary 4 is out, I was wondering if you could see Randall Flagg statted up as a Great Old One?

Nope.

1) He's Stephen King's IP.

2) He's more powerful than a demigod if his claims to be who he says he is in "The Stand" are legit, so wouldn't get stats anyway.

I have just finished The Stand. I don't recall Flagg claiming to be anyone specifically, I took him to be a fallen angel. Perhaps THE fallen angel. But he certainly was fallible, and even sort of killable. What makes you think he is above a Demigod?

well...

** spoiler omitted **

Ahhh I had forgotten that part. That claim is certainly interesting, did not realise that King was picking up some Lovecraft lore! That adds a certain spin on what I had been taking as a "straight" dark Christianity story.


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James Jacobs wrote:
Starsunder wrote:
So now that bestiary 4 is out, I was wondering if you could see Randall Flagg statted up as a Great Old One?

Nope.

1) He's Stephen King's IP.

2) He's more powerful than a demigod if his claims to be who he says he is in "The Stand" are legit, so wouldn't get stats anyway.

I have just finished The Stand. I don't recall Flagg claiming to be anyone specifically, I took him to be a fallen angel. Perhaps THE fallen angel. But he certainly was fallible, and even sort of killable. What makes you think he is above a Demigod?


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I backed this on Kickstarter and it is just great. Really top notch writing combined with a very non linear flow and an imaginative setting. I can highly recommend this!

Furthermore David is a class act. Super professional and delivered on time. I am really happy with the whole package!


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I will throw in here that some images are a touch blurry and in some cases a bit dark. This could be artifacts of the printing itself I may add. It did not lessen my enjoyment of the book, but it is noticeable enough to be worthy of comment.


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Steve Geddes wrote:
Alan_Beven wrote:
The point of a balanced system is NOT that it is balanced. It is that there is a balanced baseline. From there the players and GM can unbalance it to their hearts content. Pathfinder is difficult for some people because by level 5 you can have characters that are really well optimised and some really badly built characters. And that is never fun, your character is doing less well than others because you didn't know how to build it. Sure some, like Steve above, have fun intentionally playing dump characters. But note the intent.
That's a good point, although I still dont think it matters (to me anyhow). We just dont make that same comparison as to how much we're "contributing" vs how much everyone else is that seems common in these kinds of online discussions.

Yep I agree for some groups it's irrelevant. My games feature tons of mechanical interaction (combat etc) and on multiple occasions I have had to alter players characters for them as poor choices made while playing Pathfinder has led to situations where some players were doing 80-90 points of damage per round vs some doing 20-30. As stated some people are fine with this, most of the folks I play with have felt disheartened from it.


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GM DarkLightHitomi wrote:

Clearly you dont understand me. I love dnd, it is very useful and mostly plausable, really the three changes I would make to it would be to go classless, add bellcurve instead of straight d20 and to use spontaneous casting instead of the misnamed vancian casting, or perhaps something truly vancian.

Really, I dont think it would be very noticable IC at all.

I think the big difference here, is I want the rules and rulings to reflect the world, while I believe others want the world to reflect the rules, the suggestion of altering casting times for example is clear that the IC world is less important then their rules balance. Instead of portraying a character who is trying to figure out a way to contribute they want to change the rules to let their "underpowered" characters contribute along the lines of concepts and ideas based on a world with no magic whatsoever, and in no fashion even comparable to the world their characters exist in.

I don't buy that argument. A huge part of DnD is combat, skill checks and casting magic spells for most groups out there. Of course there are plenty of other play styles out there, but the mechanics of DnD is what makes it DnD. Of course anyone can contribute to the story non-mechanically. What I think works well in 4e is that it's very hard to make poor decisions about mechanics and have your character underperform against the game mechanics. In essence, system mastery is a bad idea. I have no ideas how that leads to your above conclusion about the interaction with the world. The mechanics should be reflected in the setting and be reflective of the setting.


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The point of a balanced system is NOT that it is balanced. It is that there is a balanced baseline. From there the players and GM can unbalance it to their hearts content. Pathfinder is difficult for some people because by level 5 you can have characters that are really well optimised and some really badly built characters. And that is never fun, your character is doing less well than others because you didn't know how to build it. Sure some, like Steve above, have fun intentionally playing dump characters. But note the intent.

Why I love 4e is that I can have players build characters and be very sure that they will all have the ability to contribute to the story. And then I go about intentionally unbalancing the party. In my latest campaign the ranger has just had his companion awakened, I have essentially statted it up as an artifact level of power, and it now acts as if it was a separate PC. I have now given that PC two turns per round of combat. And I did it knowing all the implications of that decision.


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Hi James. I realise you aren't the rule guy, etc, but I would like your take in this one. Mythic surge is written up as:

Surge (Su): You can call upon your mythic power to overcome difficult challenges. You can expend one use of mythic power to increase any d20 roll you just made by rolling 1d6 and adding it to the result. Using this ability is an immediate action taken after the result of the original roll is revealed. This can change the outcome of the roll. The bonus die gained by using this ability increases to 1d8 at 4th tier, 1d10 at 7th tier, and 1d12 at 10th tier.

Let's say you use this on an attack roll, and get a 16 on the d20 and a 4 on the d6. My reading is that you effectively rolled a 20 and you therefore crit. Conversely, you can never miss due to a 1 since the minimum is a 2. I am making this assumption since the wording is "increase any d20 roll" rather than referring to a bonus of some sort. Do I have the right of this?


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Frog God Games guys will have my business for many years to come. Class act all the way. Can't wait to blow some more gold pieces on this one!!!


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daemonslye wrote:

Thanks much for the support! I have updated the files (just use the link I sent you previously) - As I work through Book 2, it is definitely turning out to be a trilogy. So there will be a Book 3.

I have also put a preview of Book 2 up there. Just change the "1" at the end of the link to a "2".

Let me know what you think - I don't follow other genres, so it wasn't until after I roughed out the story and was rummaging the Internet that I noticed the similarities to a certain other game (that I never really paid attention to). Oh well, given the story line, a bit of synchronicity is almost a requirement :)

Hope you like it - Since I'm in the writing phase, I'm certainly open to ideas and feedback.

Cheers,

~D

Wow, I just checked out the preview for Book 2 and I cannot WAIT to get my hands on it!


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It is not a clone per se, but 13th age takes most of the good stuff from 4e and 3e and packages it into a nicely done storytelling game.


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Lord Mhoram wrote:
memorax wrote:
I wonder how long it will be before the fans of spellcasters cry bloody murder because a company wants to give fighters nice things.

I'm a huge fan of spellcasters and I want to give fighters nice things. :D

I just want it to work within character - if the character has a limited resource (like /day abilities. or like spells) there should be some in story reason whey it is a limited resource that the character would know he is expending when he uses that ability - something under the character's control, rather than the "the opening for that only came up once that day".

That was my only issues with the original ToB.

Agreed. I don't have a huge issue with it myself, but the feedback from some seems to show that the fluff needs to justify the crunch for some folks.


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Fabius Maximus wrote:

I had a look at the document and was very disappointed. Like Zaister, I liked the idea of ToB, but hated the implementation.

It's the same system with its dissociated mechanics again, complete with the pseudo-vancian spellcasting system. There can be no in-game reason for the Warlord not to have all his tricks available at any time. (Within reason, of course; a system like for spontaneous spellcasters might work better in that respect, even if it's another spellcasting system.)

And before anyone answers with something like "You are the reason why we can't have nice things" (happened to me to often while discussing this issue): new toys for martial characters would be nice (if not necessary), but please not a spellcasting rip-off that makes no sense when it comes to non-magical characters.

I am genuinely interested in the reasoning here. Pathfinder already does this!! Why are barbarian rage rounds limited per day? Why can the bard perform only so many times? Why can a monk only flurry so many times per day? Why can a rogue once per day possibly avoid going below 1 hp? Why can a cavalier do heaps of extra damage only a couple of times per day, and even more weirdly, if someone else kills your target you can't repeat it? Why can the gunslinger only do a couple of "grit" tricks per day?

There are plenty of classes in Pathfinder that have precedent for this type of limited tricks. Why does this mechanic strike such a nerve?


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In my opinion what was a HUGE missed opportunity for wizards was to develop the rule system outside the core. Here is how I see 4e core. It's a nice, dynamic combat system with enough standard adventuring skills thrown in to work in your standard fantasy adventure scenarios. It is balanced enough that picking a class is more about what role you want to play, not about having to follow a certain build to drop out of the effectiveness curve. And within tolerances you cannot build a character that massively overshadows others in combat, or for that matter a character that is hopeless in combat. In short, it is a hugely solid CORE.

What that means of course is that if you build subsystems outside of that core you can do so with the intention of NOT being so balanced. Professions, crafting, backgrounds, downtime, mass combat, social combat, subsystems could have been plugged in (not skill challenges!!!) on top of the solidly balanced core to purposely allow imbalanced characters in other ways. The bugbear of Pathfinder for me is trap feats and skills points that go to more flavour skills in place of "more useful" skills. 4e solidly addressed that issue, but failed to capitalise by building subsystems and supporting them that allow for purposely designed imbalance.

For example better ritual design could have given arcane casters their own "thing" with rituals on other classes could get. Druids and rangers could have pets that were just flat out better than other classes. Fighters and other Martials could have taken Warcraft, siege and leadership of troop roles. I could go on. This is in essence what pathfinder does over 4e, it understands that classes can be better or worse than other classes in certain roles. 4e was "that close!" to being able to really pull that off. And it would have been glorious!


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Just to put some context to my "like or dislike" of this video clip (spoiler: I didn't like the music) I was commenting within the context of:

Paizo: Watch our new video clip it roxorz!
Me: Meh, thematically music doesn't work to my tastes
Internet: Well make your own video clip you hack or you don't get to comment

You will notice from my tags that I am a heavy subscriber to pretty much everything Paizo makes. This invests me in their world of course, but also as a paying customer I think also allows me to make my voice heard as to whether something they are doing works to my tastes or not. I COULD vote with my wallet, the traditional way to show a company dislike, but I like most of what Paizo does so I keep my subscription in place even for products that I am not 100% sure I want or will use. Instead I choose to say in a measured way (I hope) when something does not appeal to me in the hope that Paizo will learn that at least one person did not go for that idea, not so that I can get something off my chest or demand a product direction shift, but more so that Paizo as company can learn from the "misses" (there are very few) to make more "hits".


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Yep I agree the music missed the mark for me. I actually liked the track itself, but it totally missed the mark of evoking a sense of Golarion for me.


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Anguish wrote:
Alan_Beven wrote:
I have personally had multiple Paizo items with banged up covers unfortunately. It probably is running about 20% damaged for me. Items are very usable but I just wanted to throw in the not every customer is getting pristine stuff.
Could you throw in your location and any other details that might be useful?

Sure. Shipping is to Australia. The damaged items are almost always packed in those flat white envelopes. Generally the corners get banged up but sometimes there is spine damage. I can live with it but I don't love it.

It's not just Paizo of course. All my Frog God kickstarters have also suffered damage, again almost always on the corners.

I am not "bothered" by the damage all that much, but I would not hate the items to turn up undamaged!!


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I have personally had multiple Paizo items with banged up covers unfortunately. It probably is running about 20% damaged for me. Items are very usable but I just wanted to throw in the not every customer is getting pristine stuff.


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James Jacobs wrote:
ulgulanoth wrote:
what kind of tropes do you think fantasy settings (in general, and looking at Golarion) are missing out on?

Before Game of Thrones came along, I would have said "Mature topics for grown-ups—AKA fantasy stories that are rated R and aren't aimed at children." But thank Desna for HBO!!!

I DO wish we could get away with doing more mature content than we already do in Golarion—I think we've pushed things pretty far as it stands, though, which is a nice change from the "safer" fantasy that has held back D&D in times past.

As you probably know White Wolf had an imprint called Black Dog that they used to publish their more mature content. Do you think that something like that could work for Paizo to allow a release of more mature content?


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Hi James. Just reading Dragons Demand and the quests in that book are interesting. You call them out specifically right up front, something I have not seen before. The APs generally call out a particular accomplishment rewarding you with some xp but this is a new way do do it for Paizo (I think?). What is the idea behind this change?


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I would be all over boxed sets like this. I also vote for Absalom for what it's worth!!


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edduardco wrote:
137ben wrote:
Ultimately, though, the idea that "not many people like epic play" is the result of a viscous cycle. People who wanted epic power in 3E either homebrewed a lot of new feats/items/classes/monsters, due to the extreme lack of support, or they played another system. Right now, pathfinder doesn't support epic play, so people who want high powered games are likely to play other systems. That leads to Paizo hearing from their fan-base that their regular PF players want low-powered games, so they...

I totally agree with you, great part of the problem of 'few' people looking for high level games is because of the lack of support. I think that is one of the reason because Immortals Handbook was/is so popular, even if is among a little group.

Can you point me some system that actually support high level styles?

Exalted scratches that itch for me.


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Implemented in 4e. I liked it. Lots of people didn't.


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Joe Wells wrote:

For me (in no particular order): Psychic, Planar, Monster design / tinkering / templates, Skillmonkey, Environments (including space and underwater).

I concur with all of these suggestions.


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This game has to happen!


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I want to chime in here as well and say how much I am also enjoying this book. It is great to see Paizo tackling these areas of the game with rules codification. Some of these systems are going to be trickier to adjudicate the the more traditional core rules, I would expect that some of the player base will take a little while to get their heads around these rules.

One overarching comment on the rules in chapter 3, these rules could have used some cross standardization. Contacts operate across a 1-5 range, fame 0-100, relationships to 40ish if I recall. A standardized new set of stats that were uniformly graduated may have been a bit less fiddly. Love this chapter however.


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GrumpyGM wrote:
Alan_Beven wrote:
GrumpyGM wrote:
I love the fact that you have moved away from an economy based on selling other people's stuff (my players, not so much). One major question though: Why do Waterfronts still cost 90BP and Magic Shops cost 68BP? After all, not only can't you profit from selling their major items, but the upper limit of a settlement's Base Value is set by settlement size, so their boost to bv is insignificant: any settlement with basic buildings will hit that limit in short order.
For the benfits of piers and waterfronts check out page 232 bottom right hand side.
That only helps if one is planning to establish long-distance trade routes. (Due to the way the rules are set up, Trade Routes are virtually impossible to establish with the Kingdom-next-door, but much easier if you want to trade with Tian-Xia.) They certainly aren't worth the cost if one wants near term benefits.

Well.... Yes. Piers and waterfronts are key economic drivers in worlds that lack aircraft. If your settlement does not want to trade there are better options. Water hex trade routes are easier to establish and can bring in a lot of BP.

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