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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.
As someone who has gotten into D&D around the beginning of Pathfinder, all of the unspoken assumptions just drive me up the wall. It's like there is a giant elephant in the corner of the room and all of the oldtimers and developers act like it isn't there at all and even get upset if you mention it. This game has a huge amount of pitfalls that the more experienced players navigate around without even thinking about.
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.
Instead of Full-Attacks, for combat I'd look at % chance of removing the target from being able to contribute to combat. You'd basically be looking at which side is able to reduce the other sides actions/round to zero first.
Orfamay Quest wrote:
If it rubs against your sensibilities, try substituting the word "insist" instead of demand and reading the entire post. It isn't as nefarious as you seem to be afraid.
Vancian/Slot based casting is basically Yu-Gi-Oh. You have a deck of cards. You select your cards for the day, and then have a chance to spend those cards. You just have to hope that you've selected the correct set of cards for the challenges you encounter and that you have enough of each card. It's a conceptually interesting magic system, but not one that gets reflected in fantasy literature very often.
Owen KC Stephens wrote:
I'd be interested in that. The Paizo Time Dragon is fairly paint-by-numbers, while the RGG Chronal Dragon is one of the best blendings of mechanics with flavour I've seen in the entire game system.
Will McCardell wrote:
Hmm, I have the sneaking suspicion that Endzeitgeist likes this one.
I have no idea why you would say something like that. None at all.
There's already a PFRPG compatible Warlock (different name though). In fact, Endzeitgeist (reviewer extraordinare) called the Ethermancer by Interjection Point Games "the best Warlock currently available for any d20 system". The previous link is for the Kickstarter to expand the existing content and bundle it together in a PFRPG Tome of Magic type collection, which would also feature the best version of the Truenamer, an awesome composer/music based class, and potentially an updated version of shadow magic. The individual reviews (and links to where you can purchase the pdfs) for the Ethermancer (warlock replacement) and it's first expansion are below
For explosive runes/symbol spells, it might be better to have an unused rune/symbol lock out that spell slot/use per day until it is either dismissed/dispelled or activated.
Kirth Gersen wrote:
The advantage of following option 3, is it makes the game easier for new players to pick up and easier to GM as well, since you don't have to worry as much about hitting all sorts of landmines that experienced players and GMs know to avoid.
You can also have a Paladin who views Asmodeus's job to be the tempter and jailer of those who are evil or who might do evil. Asmodeus isn't there to be a nice guy, but in the end he still wants the world to continue. Even with the bad parts of Asmodeus, an order of Paladins who worship him could still base their structure around the Lawful parts and basically play the good-cops who work towards a world that will not fall to the temptations of Asmodeus or be sent to him when they die. Asmodeus helps identify and draw the evil out so the Paladins can target them.
Sure, these are non-Golarion interpretations of the god and Paladins, but they seem consistent with how religions have been handled in the real world by worshippers (see Hinduism, Christianity, etc.) where aspects of a god or agents of a god are what would be considered evil in Pathfinder.
From Kirthfinder, here is one way to deal with the Explosive Runes issue, and other glyph type spells:
I could see a paladin worshipping an evil god, while not falling. Basically, the Paladin would strive towards the Lawful Good interpretation of an evil deity's portfollio, while the god they worship is there to act as the jailkeeper/punisher for those who fail to live up to the ideals. This obviously wouldn't work for every evil deity, but you can totally set up a good cop/bad cop arrangement.
To use a real-world example, in some biblical writings/apocrypha Satan/Lucifer plays the role of the punisher and the one who tries to tempt those with evil tendencies.
The Relluk entry on d20pfsrd.com produced one of my favourite fan responses. Quoted below:
@Set: Were you the one who proposed that different classes be able to get more out of weapon/armor enchants? I remember someone writing some in-character examples regarding a kid playing around with the parent's sword, the father showing the kid how he could light the sword on fire, and the mother (who was the owner of the sword and the higher level fighter) being able to wreath their entire body in flame and basically turn into a sword wielding fire elemental.
I've tried to find the post, but have had no luck to date.
My request for all of the new classes in Pathfinder Unchained is that they all be able to contribute meaningfully in all areas of the game at all levels.
This would include
Obviously, some classes will be designed to be better in some areas than others, but it would be very nice to allow players to have a chance to participate (be the main person or be a helper) in overcoming challenges in all areas and not just be a load for their other party members to carry.
As I mentioned above, it is also important to make sure to extend the ability to participate across the entire level range and not just a narrow low-level range. Look for the challenges the players can be expected to encounter in each level range and then come up with thematically appropriate ways for each class to contribute to solving those problems. Otherwise, if you design the class first then every problem is going to end up looking like a nail and you may end up creating something that will result in the players sitting around waiting for a chance to contribute for whole swaths of the game.
My issue with Reactionary is the following
The Dictionary wrote:
None of these meanings have anything to do with a person with fast reflexes.
Yeah, I don't think it's a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but with the terminology being used for a powerful and popular (everyone likes the Blue Mage) ability of the arcanist, I'm guessing the question of enemy/ally and the consequences of how that is ruled on other parts of the game is going to come up more often in the next little while, and as such it's worthwhile considering what those implications might be.
Here's a question, would an arcanist with Suffering Knowledge be able to take advantage of the ability if they were hit by an ally who was charmed by an enemy (but not known to the characters) who cast a spell on the arcanist? Why, or why not and is the answer to that question consistent with how enemies are determined elsewhere in the rules?
I'm not sure that the 50 pound weight limit for teleport should include a monster's normal gear. Look at some other Outsiders such as Star Archon. They wear large full plate and large heavy steel shield which is well above 50 pounds. I don't think the intent was that they couldn't teleport in their standard gear.
I think it is more likely that the designers forgot about that limitation when designing the creature and it's item loadout.
While the summoner already has a lot of a "build your own class" nature to it, the mechanics have all sorts of exceptions from the normal way the rules work in other areas of the game. I'd be interested to see what you can create when working on the Talented system version of the class, and if you could make it mesh better with the general mechanics.
Similarly, I'd be interested to see what you have planned for the Paladin. I could see you potentially creating a holy knight that would cover the paladin, anti-paladin and other alignment based holy knight types all under the one umbrella. My first impression is that you could link certain powers to the codes of conduct, which would allow you to recreate the core classes using the talented system, but expand the class offerings somewhat and make them less linear in nature.