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The Sword wrote:
This does create a situation where it is difficult for new GMs to take on the role since it requires such in depth knowledge of how the game mechanics work and how they can influence the story. I know from personal experience how off-putting that can be.
They have also historically done almost no marketing/advertising at all, at least on the sites I visit. Which is a shame, since their stuff is so high quality and deserves to be enjoyed by as many people as possible.
Mark Seifter wrote:
Thanks for the extra info Mark.
Mark Seifter wrote:
Would it be accurate then to summarize the advice as constraining the outcomes of the skill system for diplomacy within the mundane and not extending into the fantastic? It sounds from the description above, that silver-tongued tricksters have to rely on magic or supernatural power sources now and cannot achieve the same effect through incredible skill. This is also more consistent with the rest of the skill system and the types of outcomes it allows.
And then, even worse after having a user-unfriendly initial introduction to the site, the new customer is met with ridicule and hostility from the board veterans.
Take a look at Cerulean Seas for how electrical attacks are modified underwater. It has pretty comprehensive rules.
Cerulean Seas, Chapter 6: Magic of the Sea wrote:
Electricity Energy Effects: Electricity is a common element under the ocean, though it assumes a much different form than it does on land. On land, electricity is known for its bright crackling arcs of lightning. While these are not unheard of in an undersea setting, the fact is that the oceans rarely get hit with lightning. The surface water of the sea does not typically heat up enough to cause the positive charge needed for lightning to occur. When it does occur, it is almost always near shore. After lightning hits the water, it disperses in a great and terrible electrical sphere that is as deadly as it is undetectable. The picture this paints of underwater electricity is more commonly exemplified by the electric eel. Instead of flashy and sweeping arcs, electricity is known for its invisible spheres of damage. The lightning bolt of the sea, electrical surge, is actually a small sphere of electricity that travels towards the target, rather than a continuous arc. Aside from a trail of dead plankton and the occasional bubble of steam, this effect is relatively quiet and undetectable compared to its drylander equivalent.
Cerulean Seas, Chapter 6: Magic of the Sea - Electrical Surge wrote:
Based off these two, if you wanted to modify electrical spells in the water when they haven't been designed for the environment, you could make them touch ranged spheres rather than their normal effect.
Speaking as a person with less GM experience, I would prefer to have the CR of dragons/outsiders etc reflect their actual capabilities and be consistent in how they are applied compared to other creatures/NPCs. This would make it easier to use them in encounters that I design because it doesn't have a hidden assumption that they are going to be used as a solo monster.
If you want to make it easier for a GM to use as a solo monster, maybe a general rule or template could be designed to help turn a creature/NPC into an appropriate solo monster fight. The PF system already has problems in encounter design for solo fights. Enemies are either too powerful and wipe the floor with the players if they aren't holding the idiot ball, or they are overwhelmed by the action economy.
If you look at how other games treat solo enemy fights, they normally have padded HP, more actions, and attacks/moves that put pressure on the entire party, but not high enough damage/threat that they can one-shot party members. Then again, many games also make their solo enemies hold the idiot ball and not use their abilities to the fullest. Personally, I've always found encounters that involve multiple enemies, terrain, and hazards to be much more interesting and satisfying.
For enemies that normally come in groups, I can see a potential problem in the other direction. Solo they are weaker than normal, but group synergy can raise their threat level above what multiple monsters/npcs would normally provide. I'm guessing you have some sort of adjustment factor to the CR calculations, but if you don't, a tool such as this would make it much easier for GMs to design encounters and have the expected difficulty levels.
From my experience with technical writing where it is important to eliminate ambiguity, writing less is often the best approach. It takes more work but you can frequently find a way to communicate a concept or meaning using fewer words with less ambiguity.
Even within the legal community, there is a movement to eliminate legalese as it is difficult to understand and frequently creates additional ambiguity which in turns requires additional text to eliminate.
Yes, I do a lot of technical writing at work and frequently the phrasings with the most clarity actually use substantially less words to so. It does require someone with skills in technical writing.
Norman Osborne wrote:
A lot of the stuff may be allowable in a strictly RAW manner, but there's a ton of stuff that is RAW-legal that any GM who is even halfway competent isn't going to allow.
Okay, then that is saying that there is lots of material in the game which will trip up any new GM and thus newer players/GMs should either find another game or expect to have lots of problems until they have stepped on all the landmines.
I've done it as well in the past. I'm just saying, that on other forums it is something I've observed that gets weaponized when lots of the other ways people can be unpleasant and nasty to each other gets locked down. Also, even if we don't mean it that way, it is very easy for the person to get moderated to take it as others attacking them if they see a moderator post with a huge number of agrees. It contributes to the feeling of being dogpiled. If you want the moderators to be seen as not taking sides in an argument or more of a neutral faction that enforces the spirit of the rules, it has been shown to be better to prevent one side or another from co-opting them or be seen to co-opting. This isn't for some high-minded reason, but rather just what I've seen work best at other forums.
I saw your review this morning and it made me remember my promise to post my own review. There's a number of subsystems that have been done by others, very well, but even still the ones in this book work well or are complementary to those other sources. Most of the systems are very simple and easy to implement.
I look forward to seeing your review posted over here as well :)
I finally added my review. As I note in the review, while the classes and archetypes are pretty awesome and provide a huge amount of customization, the secondary systems are the real draw of the book for me. Nicely done!
I'll probably regret this, but here is the opening post.
Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:
Pretty sparse on the rules and arena. The arena seems to be "everywhere" and the rules are "all-out battle" which sounds like anything valid under the rules of PFRPG goes.
Further down the page in post 27 you add
Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:
Now there is an arena, and you cannot gate or teleport in or out of it. The size of the arena is not defined. There appears to be no limitation on monsters summoned via the Summon Monster/Summon Nature's Ally and related spells. No word on Planar Binding/Planar Ally line of spells.
On page two in post 67 you add:
Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:
In this post, you have retconed your previous posts and added an additional limitation that everyone enters the arena unbuffed.
Further down in post 72 you add
Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:
Which clarifies that only Summon Monster I-IX is a valid summon. No word on things that can be summoned by Summon Nature's Ally or anything that is not able to be summoned by Summon Monster IX, but is in one of the related Summon Z series of spells like
Summon Ancestral Guardian
In post 78 you add some additional limitations on what "gear" constitutes in response to Anzyr.
Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:
In post 88. You add an additional prohibition on the use of Wish.
Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:
This also appears to prevent one from using Summon Monster IX to summon an extra-planar being, but I'll assume you meant to say that Summon Monster X creatures are still okay.
In post 89 you add some information on what the ground is made of, what materials are present, and what flora is present.
Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:
The arena is floor is made of grass and. It is like a forest with tons of trees. The only stone you can get is from small rocks.
In Post 103 you add some dimensions to the arena, which has now gone from "all of reality" to a much smaller space. You have clarified again that only Summon Monster I-IX and eidolons work. Druids and other users of Summon Nature's Ally are out of luck it seems. You also add some more geography and flora information about the arena and then stipulate that the arena cannot be escaped from, similar to Ravenloft.
Yoshu Uhsoy wrote:
So, as you can see, there have been lots of clarifications, restrictions, and additions to the rules. I stand by my suggestion that everyone wait until you have finished defining your rules, restrictions, and any other limitations before continuing the discussion, so we can all have a common point of reference and understanding to work from.
The thing is, and I've written about this before, the game is extremely difficult and unwelcoming to new players if you do not have a more experienced person to guide you through things. From things I've said previously, and I apologize in advance for the walls of text.
Essentially, I was a new player at the beginning of Pathfinder. I was really into it, purchased lots of books, found a group of friends who were willing to try things out. But the system defeated us. The burden on the GM to prevent the basic mechanics of the system not fall apart is extremely high, which leaves less time for coming up with cool stories and scenarios. The Beginners Box is a step in the right direction, but as soon as you progress beyond it you start running into all sorts of problems. Even with the Beginner's Box there are still all sorts of unstated assumptions baked into the system.
As for something like PFS, a quick look at the threads on this forum and the attitude of the PFS GMs will show an incredibly unappealing 'my way or the highway' approach. There's lots of "expect table variation" for what appears to be straightforward mechanics of things that aren't even disruptive to the rest of the group.
So, the TLDR, is if Paizo intended to make the game easy and approachable for new/casual players, they are not succeeding. There are so many unwritten assumptions and conventions that experienced players aren't even aware they follow that the new player will be entirely ignorant of that they can easily derail a game or get it bogged down in confusion over the rules. I really hope there is a cleanup of the rules whenever a Pathfinder 2.0 comes out, because I really like the potential of the system.
Depending on the caster's level, it can be better to keep the caster unconscious rather than dead, as dead could trigger a clone to activate or some other way of coming back from death. Then again, incapacitation could be a trigger for some of the caster's contingency... so you really need to have done your research or have multiple redundancies in your methods of restraining the caster. At lower levels, this is going to be less of an issue.
Following this design philosophy is a good way to make the game unfriendly to new players/GMs and groups who do not have a bunch of experienced experts to guide them through it. You'd think that they'd want to at least include a sidebar alerting GMs to the issues the spell might cause and ways they might want to help control those issues. Maybe the lack of that information is a deliberate form of gatekeeping, but it's a decision I continue to be surprised that a business intentionally makes since it limits their playerbase. Note that this doesn't just apply to the Simulacrum spell, it shows up in lots of other areas of the game.
To the OP, if you want a list of how crazy you can get with the spell, check out the Standard Level 20 Wizard thread for some zaniness.
I am a little disappointed it didn't manage to include the bit about katanas cutting through tanks as an example of martial superiority.
Liz Courts wrote:
Actually, the floor design would be extremely easy to reproduce for a flip mat, since it would have been generated by following a specific set of steps for drawing arcs/circles/lines and then colouring in certain areas based on the patterns. I drew lots of stuff like this when I was 9-10 years old and they are surprisingly easy to do once you know the procedure.
Something to keep in mind if you want to spice up your BBEG sanctum flip mats.
It isn't Paizo, but all of the 4 dollar dungeons are very well crafted adventures that taken together cover most of the various adventure types. They are also all highly detailed and contain about 99% of the material you need in order to be able to run them without any other resources.
Congratulations Richard. I'm glad to hear that so many people have picked this up. All of the 4 Dollar Dungeons sound like excellent adventures and I will check them out when I am in a position to run a game again.
James Jacobs wrote:
As an amusing corollary to this with respect to being dead not preventing a player from taking actions, is that the Great Beyond's section on the life-cycle of a soul presents some good evidence that a player could be allowed to take actions for what their soul does/experiences while traveling from their location to Pharsma's realm via the astral realm.
There's some interesting games that could start with a TPK instead of the group meeting in a tavern.
I actually wasn't thinking about the Deathless and non-open content (which I didn't know about, since I came to D&D around the time of the Pathfinder Alpha), but instead was referring to things like the morality of creating Golems vs undead and the various inconsistencies pointed out in Tactic Lion's and Ashiel's very long posts.
Anyways, thanks for the responses and the peek behind the screen.
James Jacobs wrote:
Sure, but previous designers also included non-evil undead and Paizo has gone on to change most of them to be always evil in Golarion. This isn't levied as a criticism of the game, setting, or designers. I'm truly curious about the behind-the-scenes decision-making process.
From what you've posted, it sounds like the always-evil undead position was something that had stronger internal proponents of the concept and the issues around Golems/elemental souls or other areas were not topics that received as much attention or had people arguing as strongly for.
A game mechanic is not automatically a "bad idea" just because someone can bend an extreme corner interpretation of the RAW text to get a result that's clearly spelled out as not intended in the context of the whole.
Or if it is an entirely valid interpretation of of the text as written that a new player could read and not realize that Paizo meant something entirely different.
Since the discussion has turned more to the game design, I figured it might be useful to repost some observations/rants I made in another thread from the perspective of someone who started playing D&D around the time of Pathfinder's Alpha and how newbie unfriendly the game actually is if you don't have someone more experienced doing the heavy lifting of introducing the game to you.
And a follow-up comment:
And a final follow-up
So, the long and the short of it is, the game is hard enough to get into for new players given the size of the rulebook and the organization. On top of that, you have to deal with loads of traps and additional work to balance the game and keep things from falling apart. This is extra hard when your whole group is completely new to the game and doesn't know all the "obvious" things to do to balance the game. Rules are written with little to no wording standardization and a review of the forum thread/FAQ shows that something might be intended to work or not when the meaning appears to be the same, but the wording is just slightly different. All of this together means that a new GM is going to be overwhelmed quickly and they will spend most of their time dealing with balancing/rule issues and not acting as the creative person helming the game.
Mark actually did some great community engagement in the ACG errata threads right after they came out. I noticed that the tone in the threads was much calmer and more accepting of some of the changes after Mark explained the reasoning behind them.
It's okay. He gets a free pass at such things.
These two are pretty much exactly the Gentleman's agreement that Kirth is talking about. The response to the GM saying "if you do X, then NPCs will do X" in a balanced rule set should be "sure, I expect as much", not "oh no, now the game will be ruined". Pathfinder doesn't stand up to NPC casters making full use of their capabilities, and hence the system of Gentleman agreements referenced earlier in the thread.
Kirth Gersen wrote:
Ever watched a movie and said "well, why don't they just do X obvious solution to their problem?" That's the problem with the APs. The game gives you a set of abilities and capabilities and most APs can't deal with what the game provides when someone with even a modicum of problem solving skills and no blinders/gentleman agreements. In which place, why are we playing this imagination game when the rules are heavy, inconsistent and can't even tell the story you want to tell without lots of unwritten assumptions. It wouldn't be so bad if the developers explicitly called out stuff that won't work or things that will need to be removed to work, but it is very rare that they take that step. Even more irritatingly, they will frequently act as though the problem doesn't exist, or it is some sort of personal failing on the player's part if such a problem arises.
Like I ranted above, this makes the game very new player unfriendly and presents an unwelcoming old-boy's club for the community of players who play the game.
This really makes the game difficult to pick up and I've had a number of people who expressed interest in trying out the game give up on it because in their words "the game isn't even remotely balanced and I'd rather not waste my time on such a flawed system". Of course, this typically means we end up not playing and TTRPG and so I'm left disappointed we can't play the game together. That said, I'm pretty sympathetic to this point of view. Part of the fun in playing with a mechanical system and not a game of imagination is being able to find cool combinations and being inspired by the system. Part of the appeal of a system like D&D or Pathfinder is the breadth of the system and all the different character archetypes you can potentially create. That the game doesn't actually live up to what it claims it does leaves a pretty bad taste in the mouth.
Also, the other thing that drove my group up the wall was the very poor consistency in rules language. This is a game, not an imagination book. Games have their own structures and rules language. Pathfinder and D&D in general appear to have been written with almost no effort to creating consistent language for rules. It's like every time someone comes up with an idea, they just write up some new rules for it rather than looking to see if something similar has already been done. It reminds me of the old "engineer designed programs" which have an extra toggle switch, an extra menu option, or an extra entry field instead of trying to create any sort of unified UI or any sort of design pass to make sure they aren't duplicating a function in a way that is 99% the same.
Sorry for the rant, but as a newer player who has tried but failed to pick up the game several times, the denials that the game rules are unfriendly to new players (and not just the length) really looks like the old boys club sticking their head in the sand.
This rant also ignores the atrocious layout/organization of the books, which make sense for someone who has been playing for 20 years, but not so much for a new player. The beginner's box made an attempt to clean things up, but good luck having a chance of picking up the game without lots of mistakes if you try to switch to the CRB.
Yeah, the high level characters are mostly in the Silmarillion. The old school elves were pretty hardcore in what they did and Pathfinder doesn't do that great of a job replicating their feats.
The Quenta Silmarillion in fact was rejected by a publisher for being "obscure and too Celtic", and the power level in these stories would fit in fine with many other Celtic myth cycles.
I'm looking at the fabricate spell more closely, and I'm wondering actually what limits are placed on what can be targeted with the spell. The spell appears to target a mass of material equal to 10 cu ft/level (or 1 cu ft/level if a mineral, which I'm not sure if uses the real-world definition of mineral or uses an undefined game version), but doesn't say that the mass of material cannot be part of another object already, except that it cannot be a creature or magic item. This makes me think that a caster could just walk up to the adamantine doors, and unless they were a magical item, just cast fabricate on the doors to create themselves some weapons or simple to make items as well as remove the doors as an obstacle. They can also potentially do that to walls, floors, ceilings, and many other potential obstacles. Aside from GM fiat, does anyone see anything in the rules/mechanics that would prevent this? Or, is this just another capability that comes online once level 5 spells become available and the types of obstacles that cease to be for parties with a member able to cast these spells?
I've had a chance to look through this in more depth and I continue to be impressed. This is a $30+ sourcebook full of ideas and a very fun sword and planets space-opera style setting and rules to run it. It would be a shame if more people didn't take the chance to check it out. I keep on coming back to how well this would let you play a Star Ocean, Xenogears, or other planetary romance-style games.
Thanks for the review Endzeitgeist. This sounds like a really cool fusion of sci-fi and fantasy that reminds me a bit of the Star Ocean or Xenosaga series of games in how it blends fantasy with space opera. You can't beat the price either.
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Geisha's inspire ability was originally supposed to last longer (an hour, I think), but someone else felt that was too long and reduced it to 10 minutes. Which makes the ability kinda pointless, honestly.
@Sean: I really appreciate the insights into the design process. I was always confused by the discrepancies between some of the things you'd written about design methodology/recommendations the design approaches taken in a number of Paizo works which seemed to go against what you'd written. In retrospect, it makes a lot more sense that the different cooks in the kitchen would have different opinions on matters, but with you being the public face for many rule/mechanics issue and a very fierce arguer on their behalf it was hard at times to keep that distinction in my mind.
Four Dollar Dungeons wrote:
I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with these materials, as your adventures to date have been works of art.
Here are the criteria I like to use when evaluating a new class:
First off, these questions should be asked for the major level ranges (feel free to modify slightly).
And on to the questions:
Can the class contribute meaningfully in:
1. Combat - This includes level appropriate:
a. defenses against physical and magical attacks
2. Investigations/information gathering
The 5 areas don't all need to be filled, but the class should be able to participate or have decent options for participating or contributing meaningfully in all categories without crippling themselves in other categories.
If you are looking for a full adventure path, then Way of the Wicked is one of the better ones (though not for heroes)
If you are looking for smaller adventures or short linked adventures, then you might want to check out the reviews here. There may also be some full APs here that I'm not aware of:
Make sure to click on the "older Entries" button at the bottom for more.
I'll let others mention their favourites
So, first off, I mean, don't just report the results of how your group did, because that is going to have all the usual problems with luck/lack of luck with the dice, but instead look at each of the parts of the scenario/module that interact or can interact with the mechanics you are testing and report what the odds of success are whenever a dice roll is called for with the builds you are using. They should also report if the class is able to significantly participate in the check or if they cannot.
The testers should also report where the new mechanics allow them to interact with the story, places where the GM had to fudge things a little to make them fit (this can be great anecdotal data to help flesh out examples in ability descriptions or maybe add another example on a table of possible skill uses).
Other useful data points are going to be how much a class depends on the other group members, are there any large achilles heels in the class or blindspots and to what degree the class is able to offer something new to the box of tools used for problem solving.
This is a rough framework and I'm sure it can be refined to be much better at organizing the questions/data collection, but it should also help minimize the usual issues of playtesting where the developers get a lot of unbalanced or misleading data or just less useful data because there's the guy who can make the commoner shine or the guy who can make the greatest blending of flavour and mechanics ever seem to be boring.
As for the simulated part, that is there because to do the mechanics heavy part of this analysis, you don't really need other people present. You can look at the target AC, saving throws, skill checks, range of skills required in the module and compare them against the sample build being used for testing the class. But, by comparing it to published modules you are working from a comparable baseline and it puts it into the language of the developers rather than the theorycrafters. Using the module also helps calibrate the theorycrafting because it lets the theories be put to the test of an actual module and helps refine the models used in the theorycrafting.
This is basically a stream of consciousness description of what I was thinking, but it roughly lines up with the evaluation/playtesting method used by some reviewers
The key for me, is if Paizo/the players can come up with some good modules to use as testing templates, then the people who like to do the step one theorycrafting can also delve into some deeper analysis and review of how the classes actually handle in a game, without having to get a group of friends together. It should help increase the highly relevant participation in the playtesting.
It would also let players test out the mechanics at a broader range of levels (this will depend heavily on the choice of level appropriate modules, no level 1 dungeon crawling at level 18) and avoid the issues where Paizo doesn't have the time, or planning needed to properly review the mechanics design at all level ranges in semi-real world settings.
Like I think I've mentioned upthread, from watching the playtests, I get the impression that most theorycrafting feedback is largely disregarded, especially when it gets more complex. By putting the feedback into the module format, it will hopefully help the players get their message to Paizo more clearly and lead to a more useful playtest for all. With proper testing methodology setup, it shouldn't really take the playertests all that much longer than a normal detailed theorycrafting post either.