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Chris and Mike,
I have actually allowed a neutral aligned gnoll in my Mummy's Mask campaign.
(Personal tragedy caused her to become disillusioned with Lamashtu and convert to Pharasma... and her work with the poor and destitute as a skilled midwife has granted her tolerance and grudging acceptance by civilized locals)
Does this book have stuff for neutral gnolls?
That's fine, Tangent101.
I sort of want back up a little, because I don't want to attribute everything to "Gms telegraphing the plot", because I actually don't think that sums everything up in a single neat package.
It just feels like a lot of the push back comes from GMs who are reading but not actually running the AP. I maintain it is not a novel.
I'm not sure about the other chapters, but that is not the feedback I am receiving about Chapter One. Unless I am misunderstanding some folks, GMs seem to think that Chapter One relies too much on Players/PCs being self-starters.
(The following is not a reply to the quote)
Though that sparks an interesting though (to me). I wish we had a metric to just evaluate player/PC reaction without input from the GM.
Some of the comments make me wonder two things:
This is based on comments like, "Chapter One feels disconnected from the plot." I'm being completely serious when I suggest that the only plot that the players should concern themselves is the one described in the Players Guide. The rest of the worries seems like a "meta-concern" that Reader/GM is projecting on to the campaign without actually knowing one way or another how the players would react. Plus, if the Reader/Gm conveys that concern, either vocally or just in their attitude, how do they really know how well it works? If one determines in advance that the campaign is flawed and undermine it from the beginning, a disappointing outcome shouldn't be surprising. That's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
When Reign of Winter was coming out, I thought one of the coolest things would be to start the campaign (in Taldor) with ZERO advance knowledge. No thoughts of Baba Yaga, Dancing Huts, Cold Monsters, or Rasputin. Taking the story in, as it unfolds. Likewise, I think the Half-Dead City works best with the same premise, excepting of course what is in the Players Guide.
Simply put. Chapter One is a long set-up, but without a preconceived notion of the story or expectation, that set-up goes rather quickly. I'm running right now while telegraphing as little as I can. It's working quite well.
Lincoln Hills wrote:
I appreciate the information and the viewpoint, Jim. I'm usually quite pleased with the flavor and the power level of what appears in APs; the "lonely boss monster" was worth noting because it seemed to me to be one of the few cases where there is a disconnect between the way the game plays and the way the adventures are written.
Absolutely.For the record, I think your comments are entirely accurate as well as helpful.
Obviously I can't actually speak for all writers. I like to think, however, that we are all continuing to adjust and refine as we learn. Plus for the health and frankly the variety—the developers are always adding to the author pool. They have to. It would be unwise to rely on the same 8 men and women, plus the adventures need different people in order to remain fresh. Each new author has a bit of a breaking in period and that is hard to avoid no matter how naturally talented they are.
Although! Our Developers do not change and they are always the vigilant watchdogs and vangards of quality and innovation.
A couple factors I'd like to throw out there for your consideration. Writers and developers need feedback. That also includes hearing what we could have done better. Unfortunately, sometimes the feedback we get is so hostile its difficult to read it. That's not an excuse for not continuing to improve. I'm pointing out that we get a lot of sarcasm. That doesn't help. That stuff gets tuned out.
Incidentally, your posts in this thread are helpful. I'm not even speaking about this specific thread or any post in it. There's no finger pointing happening in this thread, I'm speaking in general.
Another thing to consider, there is a significant delay on the feedback an author receives and what we can then do about it. I am not making this thread about me, but I am going to use me as an example:
By the time I got any feedback on The Shackled Hut, Demon's Heresy was turned over. It was gone. There is literally a six month delay in our ability to compensate from what was learned. So, by extension, The Half-Dead City is more of a reflection of Reign of Winter than it is Wrath of the Righteous.
I can tell you this.. Say I hypothetically wrote another AP chapter, there would be only one or two solo encounters in say 52 hypothetical pages, and neither of them would be the final encounter. But they would be well suited to an entire group.
Hypothetically this would be evidence that we're listening and acting on it. Nevertheless, there is a delay before the echo comes back.
Hope this helps!
Love the art of the book, especially for Urgo Axebiter. I love the fact that Paizo made him much more threatening than the standard imbecilic look of hill giants. He looks much more hardcore badass.
That's sort of how I design.
Sometimes when you come across the seed of an idea in the Inner Sea Guide, you can find yourself attacking the premise or finding a way to make it work. I much prefer the latter, because that is what makes a richer and more interesting world.
For instance, if the INSWG suggests the Pharaohs of the First Age could do impossible things with magic by today's standard, I think writers should back that statement up.
If Urgo Axebiter was said to unite 30 tribes of giants, I'm not going to just look at the hill giant stat block and raise one eyebrow..
(Well, I did, but that's NOT ALL I did!)
...Urgo is just going to have to be badass enough to make that not an idle boast. That's all there is to it.
Does anyone else hope that we'll be seeing a module involving a diabolic cult opening a Hellmouth in Numeria thus enabling an invasion of cybernetic enhanced Devils (led by a particularly ambitious Pit Fiend with a rocket launcher for a arm)? ^_^
The Chapel of Rent Flesh is pretty darn close. :)
Feel free to suggest it as a module, after you read about it.
I certainly did read your review. I have some friends, bless their hearts, who text me while I'm eating out or at the movies, to let me know who said what. I'm serious. I probably need to tell them to stop, but I'm a gentle soul that way.
Against my better judgment, I'll talk a bit about your comments. Not to argue with you, but perhaps to present another perspective.
INTRODUCTION: The introduction is actually quite short, as it stands. You suggest that we have no introduction and just start them at the tomb. I see that as a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" proposition. If some introduction is not present, I feel many GMs would be much more upset. As it stands, the introduction is easily expedited. You suggest this is a long drawn out scene when its two short read-aloud texts, which are incredibly easy to zip through or bypass. There is a generous amount of background information, but that is there to provide a contextual rationale and verisimilitude. I feel you're depicting me as standing over your shoulder rapping your knuckles with a ruler if you don't spend 20 minutes droning aloud. That's a bit unfair.
This is where I question "armchair reviews" because I have to wonder how it would actually play out if I got you at a table with some players in front of you. Whether that opening scene might not just be over with in a few minutes and then you would be on to proper play with the PCs fully engaged.
FIRST TWO DUNGEONS: That's somewhat unkind to the PFS freelancers and developers who work very hard to deliver some great adventures. That said, you sound like you're looking for the "crisis trigger". I respect what you've said. One thing to consider (very mild spoiler, probably won't wrreck the story, but I err on the side of caution):
By delaying the crisis to chapter two, the follow-up author, Crystal, can utilize monsters and encounters that are out of the CR 1/2 range. The players have more interesting spells and special abilities, as do the creatures. Then the crisis transcends the back and forth "swing and miss, shoot 1 magic missile for the rest of the day" stage. I really think this point gets overlooked. This allowed us to make a more thrilling crisis.
WATER TRAP: I appreciate the point Laric, I really do, but that trap is killing PCs. I don't do a happy dance reading that, because that's not my goal. However actual play experience is pointing towards it being a meaningful challenge. Again, you might not see that from an abstract reading.
I DO take your other comments as constructive feedback. You have a lot of worthwhile observations and I really did read them when you first posted them a few weeks ago. Again, I'm sorry it disappointed you.
I do appreciate the feedback about the first chapter, and I don't want anyone think that it falls on deaf ears.
I do wonder what the take-away is from this?
We can't expect players to be self-motivated? We can't tell the GM, "Players should make characters that are interested in exploration and the recovery of valuable treasures" and expect them to communicate that to the players and have them work with an established premise? Are some of you saying, "Yes, please, milk the guilt, responsibility, or fear angle, because otherwise its not really roleplaying."
That might sound sarcastic, but hear me out, if that is really the case—then its good to know. Be aware, your feedback can shape future design, so its good to be aware of the message you're communicating.
I find adventures to be fun to read, as does our Creative Director. That said, adventures are not the same as a novel, because the main characters are missing. Those are the players and their characters. Everything else is a stage for them to tell their own stories.
Now.. it is fair to say that the Half-Dead City might be challenging in that you (the GM) get a greater benefit from incorporating the gazetteer and developing stories for the individual players.
Now, if folks find the backdrop to their characters lacking, you have my regrets. Honestly and sincerely.
But please know that I have and continue to find some of the critiques to be somewhat puzzling. If this post offended, you have my regrets.
Mike, it really DOES matter if you disparage a piece of work but you neglect to mention that you're frustrated that it doesn't covert easily to a completely different rule system, especially one that is deliberately streamlined, has a radically different player economy/reward system, and is generally more narrative.
I really hesitate to write this, because of the school of thought that "all feedback is good feedback" and "the customer is always right".
Nevertheless, you have been extremely critical without being forthcoming that you actually think The Half-Dead City is a lousy Savage Worlds adventure. I have to admit, when I read that I was both relieved and disappointed that you weren't forthcoming about that to start with.
I do appreciate the frustration. I tried to convert Curse of the Crimson Throne to 4E with very mixed results. Yet, I didn't blame the product for it, or even Wizards for their RPG. It just didn't work out.
edit-Bravo, whoever wrote the Chapel of Rent Flesh. That last line was especially chilling. D: Xaubunchror's artwork also just screams Dominion of the Black to me.
I wrote the background. My esteemed colleague, Mister Russ Taylor wrote the creatures and the mechanics. James Jacobs I believe provided sensitive material on Starfall, as it overlaps Iron Gods. (NOTE: I mean only that he was the best qualified to do so, as it was being developed, not that there is duplication of material).
I like to think Mr. Moreland played to our strengths. I don't consider it my book, but one the four of us share. Russ, Mark and James did an outstanding job.
Adam Daigle wrote:
Rubs hands together excitedly
What a handsome and interesting group!
I am excited to see how Professor McCreary, ahem.. entertains you with our plethora of dynamic challenges. Watch that first step.
Devastation Bob wrote:
In the first dungeon, my pbp players aren't sure that piton is "safe" and want to try to tie the rope to the big rolly door. IMHO there's not enough room to do that, but wanted to run it by you guys here first in case I'm being too harsh. What do you think?
I am not sure what part of the rolling stone they would tie it to, but their suspicion is not completely unwarranted. Would you trust your life to some stranger who packed your parachute a hundred years ago?
But, from your perspective, tying a rope to a piton is a time honored tradition done by adventures since 1974 or something..? Let them bang in their very own piton to put their mind at ease. If they still don't trust that, offer a DC 5 Climb check as a modified special Knowledge check. If they succeed (which I am sure they will) you can then promise them that it will hold their weight safely.. and that they should worry about not failing that Climb check instead!
My guys actually tripped, grappled, and pinned.
I regret if I was terse. Balance is always something I watch keenly. From previous APs, I've come to a conclusion that if an encounter leans towards being difficult, than 50% of the people will be upset. If its too easy, the 100% of the people will be upset. ;D
Personally, I would just make fire 100% effective, but not 150% effective. That lends some credence to the hardness rules. However, you know your group best and you're the most qualified person to make that call.
PartTime GM wrote:
Yes I did!
The Aucturn Engima. The Harbingers of Fate. The Book of 1,000 Whispers, The Way of Kirin, Aleh Almaktoum, and The Inward-Facing Circle
All the authors and their sections are listed in the preface.
The right decision was made.
The AP Bestiary should have culturally inspired monsters based on folklore. Egyptian mythology has some unusual creatures, but that was THEIR CULTURE.
Snakes and big cats were two creatures they feared mightily. What could be worse than having them combined?
If we lose sense of cultural authenticity, the game suffers. Hooray for Wes for asking questions and doing some research before he acted. Hooray for Adam for standing his ground.
And yeah, I know, somebody could turn that table on me re: LGBT issues. But thankfully, this...
I hear ya, and I am not your father so I won't say any more after this..
I just think when you suggest that someone might be reacting because of their background or some other factor, you're implying that you know something personal about them. That can be a very charged statement to make in a conversation. It depicts the other party as very reactionary and not self-determined. That takes their personal power away and kinda predisposes them to a negative reaction.
I'm saying let's take them at face value.
Anyway, lecture mode off. I am thinking I might duck back out of this thread anyway. Cause the whole internet and my bosses are watching me right now. ;)
This started because Lord Snow made a dry remark about the cover in another thread. I asked L.S. if the cover offended him. So, if anybody is responsible for this thread, its me.
You see, I find it very easy to be passive aggressive and sarcastic. Rather than confronting L.S. in an unpleasant and confrontational manner, I just asked him straight out. "Do you find it offensive?"
Note: I did not mean to accuse of L.S. of being passive aggressive, but I wanted to raise the level of discourse.
But.. Lord Snow replied in a very clear, reasoned, and mature way. The cover did offend him. At that point, its no longer my place to judge him. I asked him to explain and he did, honestly and forthrightly.
Plus, he asked me a question. Which I started to answer but Customer Service pulled the plug on the thread. I replied in Private Message and we came to a point of mutual respect.
Tinkergoth wanted to facilitate the conversation but I found that I was satisfied. That's why I didn't really want to post any more.
I don't find this particular cover to be too much for my taste. However, having listened to Lord Snow, I don't think he's coming out of left field either.
I like you Gorbie, but I think the nationality bit was a cheap shot, but maybe we can just overlook it before the Powers That Be intervene.
TL;DR -- I prefer more story continuity in my APs. This is my way of adding it in.
Sounds wonderful! Pathfinder groups are absolutely valid choices. I resisted "plugging" the PFS more because of the pushback from Shattered Star (where, rightly or wrongly, some groups chafed at being forced to be allied with the PFS).
I personally love the idea of the Society and I applaud your approach. There's NOTHING wrong with adjusting any AP to the taste of you and your players. Its the sign of a good GM.
There's a delicate balance to be struck between structuring the campaign too much and leaving it so open and flexible that it lacks something in terms of a campaign. This one doesn't start with a strong, driving agenda because its trying to set the stage. Some folks aren't sure what to think and some are resistant. I'll be curious to see how they feel by Book 3 or 4, and whether their opinions change at all.
Thanks for the comments!
For a group who can be that human pyramid to get them up to the shaft, the shaft does not present a "magic only" problem. Instead, it become a "group only" solution that a sole tomb raider cannot bypass. - especially with broken legs. :)
I admit, I never thought of that! I would definitely allow that level of ingenuity. Mine are only observations, not absolutes. I congratulate any party who thinks that up on their own. :)
Not to be a wise guy, but I don't really get advance publication materials. I only just got my subscriber copy of #2 last night. :)
Edit: I did see a peek of #1, but after that I gotta buy them.
** spoiler omitted **
That was not a mistake, that was quite intentional. I actually put a quite of bit of thought into it that minor bit. It is left deliberately unexplained. The rope was cut and the tomb was resealed. Who did it? That was left open-ended for the GM to answer. Seriously.
And as GM, you don't need to explain it to the players. Once upon a time someone got in this tomb, fell from a great height after their rope was cut. Then the tomb was sealed up behind them. There they died alone and in the dark.
Let me explain why that is in there—the bottom of shaft opens into the center of the ceiling of a ten foot tall room. Let's assume the PCs use their own good rope to descend. Hypothetically, if the PC's rope gets cut, how the heck do they do they get out? How do they even "climb" up to get back in the shaft? Magic would be an easy fix with something like spider climb but at that point the PCs are solidly 1st level. Most groups entire life line will be the rope that the used to climb down and may the gods help them if it gets cut. That's what I meant by "passive deathtrap". A reminder just how vulnerable "adventuring" can make you. Now, as GM, just hint at the idea that other groups are roaming the Necropolis. Not a comforting thought, is it? Any one could just come in after you and leave you stranded in the dark.
Now let me be clear. I don't think GMs should threaten the PCs with someone cutting their rope after they've descended. That's a jerk move. Or rather, if they play around with that tension the GM better have a plan have plan besides putting the PCs completely at someone's mercy. Its not fun to be screwed by GM in such a way you can't do anything about it. Not what I intended.
But it is meant to be chilling, yet subtle, in the implication.
I can readily see the rope being cut at 3 feet, however, instead of five. Mea culpa. :)
Update: I may have to wait 'til later to read it; my cat has decided that she likes your book more than I do, Jim :)
This is an obviously intelligent and sophisticated feline. :)
Thurston Hillman wrote:
I deleted it while searching for a candlestick...
Hillman the Maniacal wrote:
Except that Jim Groves guy, he's still my archenemy.
Dear Kyle Baird,
I regret to inform you that I must cease being your archenemy. A pressing (albeit minor) matter has come to my attention. I have enjoyed our rivalry and if circumstances permit, I would not be adverse to continuing it a future date.
In the interim, there is a matter of pest control which demands my attention. If I might make a recommendation? Larry Wilhelm is lacking an archenemy. Don't let Larry's easygoing demeanor deceive you. I've been told he's good in a knife fight.
Mr. Gerbik wrote:
There's also a spell trap in the first dungeon that uses the summon swarm spell. The thing to bear in mind there is that summon swarm lasts 2 rounds without concentration. There is no one to concentrate on the spell, once triggered, so the swarm disappears after having 2 rounds to harass the party. That was a design trick I devised to give the PCs a taste of the thematic Egyptian swarm encounter without having it be super punitive. Otherwise swarms are murder on low level parties.
After 1st level, however, the gloves come off.
After sleeping on it, I wanted to add one quick thing.
The word "trait" is one of those crazy sound alike words that confounds the rule system sometimes. After consideration, the OP is referring to an optional race ability. One in which you trade for drow immunities. I was starting to make the point about traits being a half-a-feat, and while there is some validity to that.. the same level of parity does not exist with a racial ability.
I wanted to call that out before someone else does and uses it as a means to try to dismiss my point out-of-hand. I think my logic holds notwithstanding.
When it comes right down to it, I believe the seducer alternate racial ability is a fair trade for drow immunities. It may not be the best suited for all drow characters, but that's why it is optional.
Let's talk about why I made that trade-off. Thematically, by exploiting the desires of others, you open yourself up to the same kind of temptation. The struggle then becomes for you to always maintain control while bending and breaking the will of others. Also, mechanically, offensive bonuses are usually considered more valuable than defensive ones. This combined with the ability to stack with the Spell Focus feats, I still maintain this is fine the way it is.
I think I have said all I could! Thank you! Good luck with and to the Design Team!
I am going to step out of the shadows and identify myself as the author of the trait and see if I can help!
First off, I'd like to say that I am a freelancer. I can speak to my reasons for the design and offer my opinion. Jason Bulmahn and Stephen Radney-McFarland are the governing authorities. If they decide to alter the trait, I will not be upset. Nor am I offended by anyone who questions the design and has asked for a FAQ. No hard feelings whatsoever. The freelancer and the Design Team are partners and any freelancer worth their salt should expect to have their design decisions questioned and even altered for the good of the game. We all continue to learn and grow with the game all the time.
That said, I've reviewed what I wrote and I stand by it. Now I'll answer some questions and explain my reasoning.
They may have made it key off Wisdom because Drow get a Charisma bonus, which would make it very easy to reap the extra benefit.
All these factors stated, I think this racial trait is fair and working as intended. If anything it leans towards being too good, not too weak. My recommendation is to leave it alone.
As a footnote, even without a WIS 15 ability modifier, this is a fine trait for a drow bard.
Any humor was intended to be light-hearted and not disrespectful. I welcome further discussion, however it might not be productive if *I* say too much more. (Sometimes a freelancer has to learn when to just leave a topic alone). I respectfully leave the Design Team to make whatever decision they see fit.