Michael Brock wrote:
That is a decision that is made by development, not me. I can certainly offer the thoughts people have here to that department in or weekly meetings.
Please, could you push for it? Session length has gotten out of control, at least locally. Last Friday's Words of the Ancients session wrapped up in around 5.5 to 6 hours, and we did not fight all the combats we could have. This length has become typical in the later seasons.
Our ending-at-3AM, eight-hour King of the Storval Stairs table was particularly bad. With it, though, we made a key observation. When a different table of Storval Stairs went off, one with characters we have all accepted are overpowered (including one PC who killed the big bad in a single full-attack, and another who finished his pal with a single spell), our session length was much like Words of the Ancients, about five and a half hours. But when the table was not playing overpowered characters, it went to eight hours. We did not enjoy the feeling of being required to field overpowered PCs in order to play a weeknight game.
There are just too many combats in too many scenarios. Season 4, with its expectation of six-man tables, a number which adds to session time alone, and more difficult fights, which also add to session time, has created a session-time problem significantly worse than in previous seasons.
I do hope it gets fixed by reducing the number of combats per scenario.
The Red Ninja wrote:
I certainly favor this kind of thing. I don't know if there are people who like the long mods though. There are some design issues raised, again, if you try to satisfy both groups. The individual encounters have to be a lot harder the fewer of them you have...
First of all, under an arbitrary XP system, they can be at whatever challenge level, whatever CR rating, the author and the administration wants.
Secondly, it would be nice to be able to have weeknight sessions again, where we can start at 7PM and be finished before 1AM. Having fewer combats in every scenario would really help. The weeknight session for players with full-time jobs makes a very good objective measurement to work with when determining whether a session is too long.
Michael Brock wrote:
I respect that. Unfortunately, we have had many complaints from across the world that scenarios, especially season 3 and 4, tend to run long.
On this note...
Is the thought of reducing the number of combats per scenario, perhaps down to, say, two, being considered at all? Not for scenarios here and there, but for every scenario?
This is a request not born out of theorycrafting, but out of actual experience, by the way.
Perhaps if PFS did not continue to place so many combats in each scenario, and instead focused on telling good stories in every scenario, perhaps the challenge level of the scenario's combats would not be so important.
Stop publishing optional encounters. Use that page count to show us more of the Golarion canon.
Stop publishing 4+-combat scenarios. Set a maximum of three combats per scenario for slugfests, and two for story-driven scenarios, and use that saved page count tell a good story which lets the players bask in Golarion canon.
If the measure of a scenario was not its fights, and was instead the story it told and the canon displayed, perhaps this problem would not be so severe.
Banning the Synthesist and the Vivisectionist was a good start. The campaign needs to go further to remove overpowered options, thus directly addressing Red Ninja's observation, an observation which is all too familiar.
I imagine the campaign staff and the Venture-Officers are pretty sure what some of these overpowered options are. Get rid of them. Stop sentencing us being forced to choose between watching Bond play or walking away. Then there would be a much better baseline to design the two-to-three combats per scenario for.
Previous organized-play campaigns would place labels on their scenarios merely based on trusting the author's and the editor's judgment. If the author and the editor know the game they are designing for, they should be able to do just fine, as they did in previous organized-play campaigns.
Not all the CR are fights and I think the optional encounter is included as well.
I was assuming a non-combat encounter in there when I said 'five.' That's still a lot of combats for a single scenario.
Has anyone considered that not only have CRs gone up due to the new six-PC assumption, but that perhaps having so many fights in a scenario increases the difficulty level as well?
Maybe there is a problem here, where the number of combats is putting PFS "too far into hard mode?"
The game changes at tier 5-9. All of a sudden, you can get blindsided by the consequences of a poor choice made months earlier. This can be as simple as having 'wasted' money by enchanting a sub-optimal weapon, so when you eventually realise you should have had a weapon of a different type (or size), or one made of a different material, you end up paying more than a character built by a more experienced player. I don't like having to plan my characters five or more levels ahead to avoid this (let alone the insidious traps in areas such as feat tree progression), but it looks more and more as though this is necessary.
I would love to see some sort of method of perhaps paying a Prestige cost in order to retrain a choice or to sell an item for full gp value.
In a typical Pathfinder campaign, if a mistake is made, you get to work with your GM and repair the issue. In Organized Play, you're out of luck. That is, unless Organized Play were to institute some sort of system for repairing mistakes. Prestige makes an excellent mechanism for it.
I'm in for assisting with non-sanctioned fun. Though, admittedly, I'm more interested in a non-sanctioned plot-focused adventure with skill-based challenges.
1) There was some sort of a raise option available at that level
Perhaps the Prestige cost for raise dead could be based on character level and not be a flat cost?
Or what if, as a PC's Fame score rose, they would receive a number of zero-cost raises based on hitting certain Fame thresholds? That way, Prestige could go for cool things instead of sitting in the bank as a buffer against death.
Thank you for the clarification, but it is unfortunate to learn of a combat-focused Special this time around. PFS scenarios are already loaded with combat; more combat is just not very Special.
I ended up doing a post in the End Boss thread which features a siege, a story arc in which very little combat actually occurs, thus showing that the word "Siege" does not imply combat. In fact, the nature of a siege is an environment featuring the threat of combat, combat as ambience, rather than combat-in-initiative as the main event, as a battle in the field would feature.
PFS already has a ton of combat. If more combat is what the coordinators believe is best for a Special, then I'm just going to have to live with that.
Thurston Hillman wrote:
Hmmm. This hackfest all-but-confirmation is unfortunate news. Thank you for warning us in advance about all the combat, as it is a significant stray from the Convocation set out to accomplish last PaizoCon.
The Beard wrote:
The latter. It is nice to get to play the game, rather than wasting my time and one of my limited scenario slots before the PC retires watching the former play. In addition, it takes multiple extreme examples of the latter to create a negative experience, one which can be corrected with teamwork, tactics, and my own efforts. It only takes one example of the former, which is not very hard to accomplish in Pathfinder, to wreck the experience.
The problem our group is discovering with Season 4 is that we are easing off the overpowered builds for the sake of fun, but there are so many combats which now take a long time (due to Season 4's upgrade in difficulty) that our sessions are taking way too long.
So we are stuck. We can either play overpowered characters and be done at a decent hour, or we can maintain our gentleman's agreement and be unable to play weeknight games or two-session weekend games. All because of too many combats. We can deal with Hard Mode; we don't want Marathon Mode. It's frustrating.
I just want to say thank you to you guys for the encouraging words in response to my "Siege of Absalom" post. I even had someone private-message me with encouragement to bring it to PaizoCon!
As for submission... I don't think that would work very well. The events of The Siege of Absalom stretch over at least three scenarios, and it actually could take place over an entire Season, even. There is a lot that happens, or could also happen, in that post, and there is a lot of time between fights, making the Siege a bit inappropriate for the heavy-on-combat scenario formula.
It'd make a good Module, though. Anyways, thanks for the support!
Walter Sheppard wrote:
At our level, there is no real difference between 12 or 25. When the creatures have a +24 or higher to hit, it becomes fairly irrelevant.
Walter and Jason bring up an excellent point. In the changeover from 3.5 to Pathfinder, AC became less important for PCs on the low end of the scale, due to the change in how Power Attack works. When facing a monster with, say, +29 to hit, +25 after PF Power Attack, it doesn't matter whether you've got an AC of 10 or 27; the monster is still hitting on a 2.
However, back in 3.5, it did matter, because Power Attack was variable. The feat's user chose how much to-hit to sacrifice. Thus, there was a difference between AC 10 and 27 in this example, because the monster could safely Power Attack for another -17 to hit, capped by the monster's BAB. Having a lower AC translated into taking more damage at higher levels when the to-hit-versus-AC spread got really wide.
What this means is that in Pathfinder, when it comes to AC at higher levels, either really invest in it or don't try at all.
Or look at miss chances.
Rather than make it more expensive, I'd prefer if it just didn't add to some of these extraneous things. The social rogue who wants to up his skills a bit (ie, what it was intended for) shouldn't take a hit to the wallet just because the Sorc can abuse it for a sizeable Init and concentration bonus.
I'll have to research this further, but I am unsure about whether a concentration check is also an ability check.
In all fairness, my quote was from d20pfsrd.com, who was quoting the 3.5 rules on bonuses, which are much more in depth than anything that Paizo has put out. I didn't realize that at the time of my initial posting.
The thing about this rule, if it stuck around, is that the general rule never shows up in play, only specific things do. Only specific abilities, feats, items, etc. grant competence bonuses to specific things; there really aren't any "general" competence bonuses out there.
But that's a digression.
So, if that rule doesn't apply to Pathfinder, we know that:
PRD, Initiative wrote:
At the start of a battle, each combatant makes an initiative check. An initiative check is a Dexterity check.
So, an initiative check is an ability check, which Noble Scion can turn into a Charisma check. Thus, the circlet of persuasion's +3 would apply.
It does not apply on ability checks, damage rolls, initiative checks, or other rolls that aren't related to a character's level or skill ranks.
That's a good catch there (could you link us to it?), but there is one problem.
If we use that text for competence bonuses, then Inspire Courage cannot add to damage rolls, because the ability applies a competence bonus to damage rolls. In addition, a pale green prism ioun stone adds a +1 competence bonus to ability checks.
Without that contradictory sentence, the circlet would add to your initiative rolls, because an initiative check is an ability check, which would become Charisma-based.
Mark Moreland wrote:
As an alternative, GMs could opt for a story feat to take up a feat slot but then grant Power Attack as a bonus feat. We wouldn't want to paint GMs into a corner by saying it's got to be handled just one way.
So which one is it? Does the story feat take up a feat slot, or doesn't it? What's the RAW?
That's a bit strange...
From this FAQ entry, it's possible for one person to be under the effects of two "diametrically opposed" spells. A PC can be both baned and blessed, both hasted and slowed, because, it seems the two opposing effects don't automatically cancel each other out when they are affecting the same person?
It also seems to contradict the rules on opposed spells:
PRD, under "Combining Magical Effects" wrote:
Spells with Opposite Effects: Spells with opposite effects apply normally, with all bonuses, penalties, or changes accruing in the order that they apply. Some spells negate or counter each other. This is a special effect that is noted in a spell's description.
Dennis Baker wrote:
Should PFS be challenging or should progress be achievable simply by showing up?
It would be nice if the table got to choose its level of challenge instead of being tied to what is written. If having a choice is the same as "progress by showing up," then progress in PFS should be achievable simply by showing up.
Personally, I believe the main problem is waaaaaay too much focus on combat, which is tied in, but another matter at the same time.
Blood money does not actually work with raise dead or restoration. Take a look at the casting times of those two spells. The generated material components stop functioning long before the casting times are complete.
Now alchemical allocation, and its ability to leverage 2nd-level slots to generate 3rd-level spell effects, that's overpowered.
Also, one thing I didn't like that was mentioned in the podcast last week was that the change to the faction missions would be retroactive, so people playing season 0-4 scenarios would no longer get the faction missions for those scenarios.
Holy cow, seriously? That's a really bad change for those seasons!
Joko PO wrote:
The primary problem with Faction Mission is one of time. Time is a precious resource for a PFS scenario. Trying to tell a compelling story, advance a meta-plot, engage is exciting and challenging combat while completing so many side-quests is simply too much for the time frame required of a PFS scenario.
That reminds me...
Why does there need to be so much combat in scenarios anyways? Has anyone considered reducing the number of fights per scenario to make room for, well, other stuff?
But that's a side-concern. Let's wait and hear Mr. Compton; what will happen is likely to be much better than we are speculating.
Well, now that you went first... that's reasonable.
Mark Moreland wrote:
Referring only to the OP, we hear your concerns and are watching the difficulty of the campaign closely to try to reach that ever-elisive balance that will both serve the overall needs of the campaign and players of all levels of experience. In terms of what your VL and 4-star GM friends told you, I don't know how they have insight into the difficulty of Season 5, as the only folks who know how the "hard mode dial" is going to be set are John, Mike, me, and the freelancers with whom we've already shared our Season 5 design guide.
Something else very important for the three of you to consider...
Going forward, could you guys consider reducing the number of combats per scenario in order to make up for their increased difficulty? Our local group has gotten sick of six-hour sessions. We would like to be able to play weeknight sessions again with some assurance that we will get out of there before 3AM.
If our problem is unique, it is because we have been backing off of overpowered builds and tactics lately. Unfortunately, our self-restraint and courtesy to our tablemates has only led to super-long sessions.
Funky Badger wrote:
The characters are meant to be Pathfinders first and foremost, faction agents second.
Yeah, that's kinda what I'm afraid of seeing happen.
I don't know if I am alone in this, but being an instrument of pillage and murder for ten masked entities is pretty depressing. The Decemvirate have done very little if anything to inspire loyalty in their soldiers, while they continually amass more and more of the world's magical items. The Hao Jin Tapestry, especially if they succeed at unlocking the power to connect the Grand Lodge to anywhere on Golarion, would arguably become the most powerful magical item ever known, in that it would be an infinite-use, infinite-range teleportation effect. That right there would vastly increase the Decemvirate's military and economic power, granting potential for trade and conquest unseen in the rest of Golarion. And we don't even know what they want, beyond, as we know, more power.
It's pretty depressing, working solely for these guys. Being an agent of a faction, a group with ideals and goals, is much more interesting and motivating. Getting to do something, even if it is very small, for one's faction every session has proven to be much more interesting than being a mere soldier for the faceless Ten. It would be sad if that went away.
Yes, faction missions as they are have not been implemented very well in most cases, and can be a pain to handle as a GM. Getting rid of them and replacing factions with periodic relevant tasks padded by working for the Ten would be even worse.
That's why I'm asking Mr. Compton for some more detail on how it'll work, because I must be fearing the worst.
Bob Jonquet wrote:
By encouraging characters to play up (as I feel your system would) a wider set of characters would be out of synch with WBL.
James has been advocating for this since before PFS began. IIRC, in what he proposes, PCs would receive wealth appropriate to their level, whether they played up, down, or at-level.
So, from what you're telling us, it would be ideal to maintain PCs from a variety of factions, so that we can be sure to play the scenarios which correspond to each of our PCs? That we should each have an Andoran PC for the Andoran-focused scenarios, a Sczarni PC for the Sczarni-focused scenarios, etc?
For a particular faction, about what percentage of scenarios do you foresee us having something to do for our faction within the scenario? For my, say, Cheliax PC, about how often do you foresee him doing something for Zarta, compared to just working for the Decemvirate?
Will it be more rewarding to have a stable of PCs, so as to maximize one's opportunities to do something faction-related?
Rogue Eidolon wrote:
True, but unfortunately it would be even sillier to give that kind of benefit (greater heroism) for 12 hours for such a low cost.
Unfortunately, it looks like we'll never know how it works, as this item is just too specific to receive errata or an FAQ entry. It'd be nice to know one way or another, but then again, my PFS PC with one is unlikely to play outside of our home group now that she's approaching 12th, so I guess it's not important.
So, does this mean that my, say, Taldan PC will not be able to do something specifically for Taldor every adventure? That most of his adventures will have him doing things for the Decemvirate and not doing things specifically for Taldor?
Can you tell us one way or another?
It would be nice if the bottom three listings were more clear, but it would be pretty silly to have an hour-long tea ceremony for eleven minutes of greater heroism.
It would also be silly if the user were wanting to not roll over 26, just because heroism lasts ten times as long as greater heroism. There'd be a problem of the lesser effect being more desirable than the greater effect!
I guess the real question here is whether the use of the term "benefits" implies that durations are carried over?
It's not crystal-clear, but it seems that all effects last twelve hours.
Patrick Harris @ SD wrote:
If that's the resolution, it's going to present problems.
On the other hand, it would help to take away the incentive to build a super-powered PC which strips the fun of his tablemates away.
And tables could play up solely for a challenge, not for any additional rewards. Tables could play the Tier that's most appropriate for them, instead of what's best for their gold purses.
Lantern Lodge and Osirion seem most likely as drop targets. We'll find out in 30 hours, though.
Based on the content of two sets of faction messages, I'm going to put my chips on Cheliax and Osirion.
Though, it would be nice to instead see the Lodges Whose Storylines are Over, the Opt-Out Lodge, and/or the Easy Mode Crusade go instead.
Which is why you don't sanction it.
I was wondering when the "homegame suggestion" would come up.
There is already an assumption of sanctioning being made here, an assumption that everyone is looking to add a Chronicle to their pile at the end of the session. The homegame suggestion doesn't really fit, because we are not talking about homegames. If non-sanctioned play was at all appropriate for players and GMs who want a better experience, then there would be no problem with the constraints-as-written issue.
But it's not.
Handle with care is another concept that doesn't go down well at local game days. Every newbie GM will be asking their table if they can make an adjustment and add the Terrasque to the game.
That sounds a bit extreme, but you are correct. That's why adapting modules to fit a group, and the group trust required, isn't very suitable for local game days populated by "newbie GMs" who would even consider a Terrasque to be an appropriate adaptation.
I personally know of at least one prolific GM that that thinks he is very trustworthy, but many of his players would disagree.
Well, if he's that bad, then why are players playing at his tables? Would they not have a better time playing under someone else?
Adapting scenarios to fit the table should be a group decision and a group effort, one which is not very suitable for public gamedays with assigned GMs. What's going on here is a social contract that everyone signs for the benefit of all involved. If it's treated as a group effort, and everyone understands and follows that, there really shouldn't be a problem. In other words, handle with care, and everyone will be happier.
Sure, but this leads to an uber-uncomfortable version of the already-uncomfortable situation of the contested play up/play down decision. Who wants to outright say that they don't trust the GM?
It's my understanding that if a GM is truly trustworthy, this shouldn't be a problem, because he'll be cool enough to broadcast what he's up to beforehand, the players who play under him will have a good idea of his style and the circumstances, and will all trust him to provide a good time. This sort of thing, obviously, works better for close-knit groups rather than public gamedays, and a truly-trustworthy GM would probably know that.
It would be nice to be able to adjust things for a table where everyone knows each other pretty well, without losing the sanctioned nature of the session.
Michael Brock wrote:
Are you willing to allow a first or second time GM some wiggle room, to run your characters in an adventure, when that character may not have enough for a raise dead and be removed from play permanently? If your character was removed from play permanently because the GM decided to "make the game more fun," are you ok with that decision and consequence without any complaining to me, a VC, or anyone else? You are just going to take it in stride? What if it happens three times in a row, and three different characters are removed from play because of permanent death, all due to GM fiat to make the game "more fun and interesting"? Something tells me the answers to all of those are probably not.
If I trust my GM to provide a fun experience for the table, and I lose my character, that's OK. The key word here is "trust."
Michael Brock wrote:
I have emails from players in 11 different countries.
Something tells me they did not actually trust their GM.
So, if the players all trust their GM, such as by unanimous vote, then there is really no problem at all with letting the GM do what he needs to do to provide the best experience possible. If the players are all okay with it, then change away.
The Fox wrote:
Your analogy actually highlights the problem with this sort of suggestion, and with Bonekeep. The existence of super-tough scenarios and of Bonekeep encourages the "hardball" players to get better at hardball, and bring those hardball skills and tactics to softball games. This is bad for the softball players, whose fun is hurt by the hardball players' participation.
The problem with this sort of suggestion and with Bonekeep is that their existence encourages players to build superpowered characters in order to take on the supertough challenges. These characters then stomp everything else they encounter into the ground, and hurt the fun of their tablemates.
Instead, what we should be doing is encouraging players to not do that. We should be encouraging the "hardball" players to get better at playing softball with a group of softball players..
Andrew Christian wrote:
This coming from someone who uses that weapon as their primary?
Hehehe, yep. 1d4 damage, Piercing or Slashing, 20/x3 crit range... it's equivalent to a dagger! I remember being very surprised when it was decided that monks didn't automatically get proficiency. I'm so glad it doesn't take a feat!