The 8th Dwarf wrote:
Well, I'm in Parramatta at the moment and it's not that windy here :)
I've decided that any game that requires me to break out a spreadsheet or a calculator just to generate a character is probably too complex for my tastes.
I love Golarion as one of the finest RPG worlds ever devised and I respect the work of certain third-party publishers, but I'm increasingly alienated from the Pathfinder RPG system itself. I look forward to reading each new Paizo release, but I'm not sure that I ever look forward to running them as a GM. With young children and a shrinking amount of free time, the amount of prep time required to run a Pathfinder session well is a burden. Although I'd love to use a different rule system, finding gaming groups prepared to play anything else is becoming harder and harder as the size of the RPG community shrinks.
With the benefit of hindsight, I think that the decision to maintain backward compatibility with 3.5 was a mistake. I understand why Paizo made that decision from a business perspective, but it meant that their efforts to streamline the rules went didn't go far enough. The areas where Paizo did make changes are definite improvements over 3.5, but too many of the underlying issues weren't addressed because of concerns about breaking backwards compatibility.
On the bright side, these days I'm increasingly getting into the various d100 systems descended from Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying - Call of Cthulhu, Runequest 6, Legend, OpenQuest, Renaissance, and the current edition of BRP itself. All of these games seem to hit the right balance between detail and ease of play for my tastes. Plus they work great for classic pulp fantasy action. It's just hard to find people who want to play them...
Oops...I'm sorry to be a pain, but it looks like the subscription copies sent back were from order 2661207 rather than order 2707262. As the replacement copies that you added to my sidecart are from order 2707262, I was wondering whether you could replace them with the ones from 2661207 instead?
I haven't received either shipment 2661207 or shipment 2707262 yet - we don't receive international postage quickly down here in Australia. Hmmm...Maybe Paizo should move down under - I hear that we have better beaches ;)
I've just been informed by my post office that the most recent shipment on my subscription may have been returned to Paizo by mistake. What is the procedure if this occurs?
(I should add that I'm an international customer, so this is a real pain)
I think a sword and planet adventure path has a lot of potential. The trick would be designing something that is respectful of the original source material but that doesn't alienate the folks who want something closer to Spelljammer in feel.
Another thing worth mentioning is integrating non-combat objectives into combat encounters. By adding a non-combat objective such as sabotaging a mechanism, deciphering an inscription, stealing an object, or disrupting a ritual, you can manipulate the Action Economy to favour the monsters over the PCs. This is something that should be done sparingly, but incorporating a non-combat task into a climactic battle can turn a normal boss fight into something truly memorable.
There are two tricks to using this technique. Firstly, you need to give the PCs a compelling reason to deal with the non-combat problem in the middle of the battle or they will simply ignore it until they have mopped up the last of their opponents. The simplest way to do this is to place a time limit on resolving the non-combat problem, but there are more subtle approaches - for example, perhaps if if the non-combat task is not successfully completed the nature of the battlefield may be altered or new terrain hazards.
The second trick is designing the non-combat task in such a way that it can't be resolved by a single skill roll. Ideally, the objective can only be achieved by the expenditure of multiple standard actions involving rolls against different skills or abilities. Remember that the skill rolls involved are only incidental - the real goal here is to force one or more members of the party to burn up valuable actions.
Umbral Reaver wrote:
Even if I do keep the basic mythic progression, I'm definitely changing the +2 to an ability score to +1 to three ability scores. SADs have enough fun and shouldn't complain about +5 to their main stat over 10 tiers, and MADs aren't left out in the cold.
I think that there is so much new material in the book that it's going to take a while to absorb it all - it doesn't surprise me that its a bit uneven in places because it looks like one of the most ambitious products that Paizo have ever released. There are some amazing new concepts in the book but it's hard to know how they will work in actual play. It looks like there are some fairly complex interdependencies between different sections of the new rules that will take time to fully understand.
I suspect that we may need something like the old Dicefreaks community to start developing house rules that extend the new concepts in the Mythic book in various directions though...
Just glancing over the final rules and my impression is that Mythic isn't something that you do lightly. It looks like fun in its own way, but you REALLY don't want to mix it in with your normal game or there will be tears all around. I'm also worried about the amount of additional preparation required to run a Mythic game.
Still...it looks like a more solid effort than the Epic Level Handbook for 3.5.
I prefer an old school feel to my games and have been known to use the following table to randomly determine the level of NPCs:
D100 NPC Level
For special NPCs, I use the following table:
D100 NPC Level
I've also got tables for class distribution, but those are off-topic...
Keep in mind that most of the rules content of the White Wolf Everquest book was specifically designated as Open Game Content, so there's no reason why a Pathfinder adaptation couldn't be made. Sony retains all rights to the intellectual property specific to the Everquest setting, but the rest of the material is fair game.
Personally, I always liked the way that the EQ RPG handled weapon speed and iterative attacks - it seemed much closer in spirit to second edition AD&D.
Lisa Stevens wrote:
That just means that you'll have to do another session sometime :)
It was very interesting listening to the "war stories" from the early days. I'd love to hear the story from Peter Adkison's side as well. Perhaps you could interview him next time?
(I've still got a copy of The Primal Order with the "Rantings and Other Gibberish" by Lisa Stevens in the back. Plus our group still used the Whimsy Cards from Lion Rampant until quite recently..lol)
Damn, this is a real pity. I was hoping to see Gardner Fox back in print some day. But at least we got some Manly Wade Wellman and the series exposed Leigh Brackett and C.L. Moore to a wider audience.
I guess that it's back to haunting second-hand bookstores for a while :(
One question - is there any chance that you would look at negotiating ebook rights for any of the works published under the Planet Stories banner?
I notice that Gollancz seems to be having some success with the SF classics that they are releasing in electronic format under the Gateway branding. They had a blog entry a while ago stating that although it wasn't economically viable to republish these works in 'dead tree' format, releasing them in electronic format effectively allows them to stay in print indefinitely.
Goons are probably the best example you can make for any game to not have any form of Open PvP. They destroy every game they touch.
However, the Goonswarm wiki does have a nice introduction to Eve Online that outlines the things that they do and don't like about the game. This list should give PFO devs insight into the features that attract griefers and those that they don't like.
I think the decision to reveal your plans so early is risky, but it's probably the right way to go about it. Ryan is no fool and I'm sure that he has addressed the issue of risk management in the business plan. He's also a guy who makes bold moves to secure business opportunities and has a decent track record in that area.
I think that the decision to remain public about the development process is an interesting one. However, the open development model has served Paizo well in the past and it may do so again. They probably have more experience in open development of game rules than anybody than anybody else in the world - in either the traditional hobby games industry or the computer gaming industry. This may be a competitive advantage that can be leveraged to validate design choices and ensure that the game satisfies even its toughest critics ;)
Sociopathy isn't an alignment thing (though I'll admit evil sociopaths are more common than neutral ones) it's a behavior thing.
Is it possible to be a lawful good sociopath? What about a Chaotic Good sociopath? Can there be a true neutral sociopath? Forget the MMO for a second - these are interesting questions from a pen-and-paper perspective....
I've got a suspicion that any alignment can produce dysfunctional individuals. For example, a lawful good character might mete out justice a bit to quickly, without making sure that all of their facts are in order - there's a reason why people say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Similarly, evil characters can be regarded as heroes under the right circumstances. Heck, how many times in human history have people admired ruthless dictators for restoring a sense of pride to a nation or religious minority or ethnic group? I can easily imagine situations where good people support a tyrant because he or she seems better than the alternative.
Perhaps players who hit a certain negative reputation threshold should become lootable upon death? Or perhaps the person who wins the bounty on a wanted murderer gets to choose one of the murderer's items as part of their reward for serving justice. Maybe griefers won't be so keen to cause havoc when their cool toys are at risk.
I personally prefer PVE to PVP, but PVP appeals to many people and the game needs to cater for it.
In my own experience, most PVP enthusiasts are decent people who don't want to ruin everybody's fun. Griefers are a small minority of the PVP players out there, but they have the potential to ruin the game experience for the majority of people. It's one thing if you occasionally get defeated by another player who has a clever PVP build. It's another thing entirely to get repeatedly ganked by the same group of griefers over and over using exploits (such as ambushing players as they move from one zone to another while they are stuck behind a loading sreen). The first type of PVP player is an asset to the game; the second is a pain who drives people away from the game.
At the moment, the methods proposed for controlling PVP abuse in PFO look very weak. I know that it's early days, but this is a critical issue for the devs to get right. Failure to do so will drive a lot of people away from the game - myself included. Griefers are such a major issue in some MMOs that they effectively sink the game.
The game needs to have a clear vision of what is legitimate PVP and what is not from the outset and use every method available to discorage griefing.
The choice of the River Kingdoms as the setting is interesting. It permits the injection sandbox elements that might distinguish the game from the other MMOs out there. I suppose that a lot will depend upon how well the implementation is done - nobody has done a sandbox-style MMO well yet!
I wonder if the new game will generate any pen-and-paper tie-in products?
I had an inquisitor that ran into a summoning circle at the wrong moment, and wound up infused with the essence of a cornugon demon. Just goes to show that breaking up a cabal of evil wizards isn't always a good idea.
Oh...an involutary acquisition of the half-fiend template! Nasty...
Mind you, I imagine that receiving the half-celestial template comes with some disadvantages too. You acquire a heap of nasty enemies and the higher powers start contacting you regularly to do their dirty work.
I dunno. On the one hand, I figure that the Empyreal Lords might imbue a mortal champion with the half-celestial template as a reward for a great deed performed in their service, but it would need to involve a truly epic achievement - such as slaying a minor demon lord or the destruction of an evil artifact.
On the other hand, this is the sort of thing that should be reserved as the Crowning Moment of Awesome for an entire campaign, rather than something that happens during the course of play. The miraculous transformation of the character should be clearly shown to be an extraordinary event - it's not the kind of reward that the higher powers hand out to their mortal servants on a routine basis. Speaking personally, I would expect any character who ascends to half-celestial status to be retired from play shortly afterwards to continue their journey towards full transcendence.
However, if you allow want to allow a character in your campaign to become acquire the half-celestial template during play, I strongly recommend picking up the old Anger of Angels sourcebook from Malhavoc Press. This book was written by some random guy named Sean K. Reynolds long before Pathfinder came around. There is a section on Becoming Angelic on pp.48 - 50 that might give you some ideas. This section is open game content and could easily be adapted for the Pathfinder RPG. Some of the organizations and factions in this book might also be a useful addition to any campaign in which the celestial powers are pulling the strings from behind the scebnes. I believe that this book is still available in PDF format - although sadly not here at Paizo.
The Advanced Player's Guide introduced the concept of Alternate Racial Traits. These allow you to exchange one or more standard racial traits in order to customize your character to reflect his or her individual heritage.
Is there a way for a GM to use the new system to offer players a couple of alternate racial traits for a campaign-specific custom race?
How would people handle this? Is it reasonable to allow players to swap out one racial ability for one with an equivalent RP cost from a list offered by the GM? Is this a good way to model variant subraces within a single species?
I still remember a trap that we used back in an older edition involving a wizard who was selling frozen meat to adventurers heading off into the wilderness. The 'meat' was actually a chunk of frozen troll and as it thawed it began to regenerate. It gave the adventurers a nasty fright when a hungry troll crawled out of their baggage in the middle of the night! Unfortunately, the character on sentry duty was concentrating on what was going on beyond the mouth of the shallow cave where they were camping - he didn't consider the idea that his companions would be eaten by a ravenous escaped troll from the area that they had thoroughly searched only a few hours before.
When the characters got back to town, they searched for the wizard who had sold them the frozen rations only to discover that he had vanished. Upon investigation, they discovered that he was actually an assassin hired by a nemesis of one of the adventurers.
Although you couldn't get away with this trick in Pathfinder, barrels containing frozen troll parts would be a good way to sneak a nasty assault force into a well-guarded stronghold....
I'm sure that Paizo will eventually release a new edition of the Pathfinder RPG....but this is probably still a few years away. Pathfinder is still early in its edition cycle and has a lot of life left in it yet!
However, with that in mind, here's some general speculation.
When the Pathfinder core rulebook came out, Paizo worked hard to maintain a degree of backward compatibility with 3.5. However, from the release of the APG onwards they have started to put their own stamp on the game and take it in new directions. For example, witness the way that Prestige Classes have been downplayed in favour of Archetypes. I'm sure that at some point Paizo will want to consolidate some of these innovations into the core rules. I suspect that when Pathfinder 2E comes out, it will involve incremental improvements to the existing game system rather than a radical redesign. In fact, I expect the biggest change in a future Pathfinder revision might involve changes to the way that the rules are presented - I get the feeling that Paizo has learned a lot about how to present the rules clearly and succinctly from their recent work on the Beginner Box Set.
The idea hat WoTC will produce a modular "meta-edition" of D&D that is compatible with every previous edition is an intriguing concept. I know that Mike Mearls has mentioned something along these lines a while back. It would would be really clever if such a version included a Pathfinder plug-in that integrated the Pathfinder RPG into the expanded D&D ecosystem on a formal basis. Such a move would benefit both companies, enabling them to strengthen both brands. However, I'm not sure that it is very likely.
I find that the following two quotes from the first edition DMG still inform my attitudes towards fudging. On the one hand, Gygax advises the GM that it is OK to fudge under certain circumstances:
Gary Gygax wrote:
You do have every right to overrule the dice at any time if there is a particular course of events that you would like to have occur. In making such a decision you should never seriously harm the party or a non-player character with your actions. "ALWAYS GIVE A MONSTER AN EVEN BREAK!"
Buit on the other hand, Gygax provides some fairly stern guidance about the wisdom of fudging to save the characters from certain death:
Gary Gygax wrote:
Now and then a player will die through no fault of his own. He or she will have done everything correctly, taken every reasonable precaution, but still the freakish roll of the dice will kill the character. In the long run you should let such things pass as the players will kill more than one opponent with their own freakish rolls at some later time. Yet you do have the right to arbitrate the situation. You can rule that the player, instead of dying, is knocked unconscious, loses a limb, is blinded in one eye or invoke any reasonably severe penalty that still takes into account what the monster has done. It is very demoralizing to the players to lose a cared-for-player character when they have played well. When they have done something stupid or have not taken precautions, then let the dice fall where they may! Again, if you have available ample means of raising characters from the dead, even death is not too severe; remember, however, the constitution- based limit to resurrections. Yet one die roll that you should NEVER tamper with is the SYSTEM SHOCK ROLL to be raised from the dead. If a character fails that roll, which he or she should make him or herself, he or she is FOREVER DEAD. There MUST be some final death or immortality will take over and again the game will become boring because the player characters will have 9+ lives each!
Gygax also makes an interesting comment in his afterword to the module Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth that might be relevant to this discussion:
Gary Gygax wrote:
Players will not improve if the DM pampers rather than challenges them. If your players perform badly, do not allow their characters to increase in experience level...Allowing foolish and ignorant players to advance their characters to high levels reflects badly upon the game and even more so upon the Dungeon Master who allowed such a travesty to occur. In effect, it is the excellence of the DM which is judged when the caliber of play by any group is discussed. Keep yours high!
Based on these quotes, I summarize the intentions of the game's original designer like this:
Call me an old-school GM, but I find this to be a balanced set of guidelines.
Feel free to discuss :)
EDIT: I would also draw attention to the following quote from Gygax's book Role Playing Mastery:
I would also quote from Gygax's book "Role-Playing Mastery":
Gary Gygax wrote:
There are times when the GM will bend or break the rules of the game system in order to allow his players to maintain their characters. Just as he sometimes metes out punishments for infractions, the GM at other times intervenes benevolently, spreading his aegis over the PCs to save them from probabilities gone awry....If the party is in danger of extermination through no direct fault of its own AND because a string of unlikely occurances have all somehow come to pass, then it is time for the GM to step in and set things back on the right track, or at least keep them from getting any worse.!
I find it interesting that Gygax emphasizes again the importance of being even-handed - if you are going to help pou the players every now and then, you shouldn't hesitate to punish them harshly if they do something stupid. He clearly sees the two ideas as being closely related...
Vic Wertz wrote:
"How we teach you" and "how it looks" are very much intertwined, and there was much more of a collaboration between graphic design and game design than we've ever had in any other product.
This is a good thing and I suspect that this is the way of the future for the whole industry. If we are going to make it easier for newcomers to enter the RPGs hobby, we need to make it simple for them to pick up the concepts behind the rules quickly and painlessly. And strong visual design can play an important role here.
I wonder whether the work on this product will influence the graphic design of future Paizo products? Were there any lessons learned during the work on this product that would make Paizo change the way that they would handle a (theoretical) revamp of the core rulebook? Was it possible to explain key elements of the system in a more concise way?
Not only did early editions of the game assume that the distribution of attributes amongst the general population followed a bell curve, they assumed that player characters WERE typical members of the population who achieved greatness through their deeds - rather than starting out with the advantages conferred by atypical attribute scores. There was also an assumption that certain character classes were far more difficult to gain entry to and their incidence amongst the population was much lower.
Neither approach is inherently better than the other, but they do reflect very different assumptions about the kinds of fantasy tropes that the game is intended to simulate. Early fantasy RPGs draw much of their inspiration from Sword & Sorcery fiction where the heroes are more human in scale than they tend to be in High Fantasy. Their ambitions often revolve around getting rich or having interesting experiences rather than saving the world.
However, later editions of D&D have tended to draw more inspiration from high fantasy novels where the characters tend to start out as "special snowflakes" - the lost heirs of important bloodlines or the inheritors of important artifacts. It's easy to point to the release of the original Dragonlance modules as an important turning point in this trend, but I would argue that TSR was merely responding to broader market conditions when they embraced that style of fantasy - this was the period when authors such as David Eddings and Terry Brooks were at the height of their popularity.
By the end of the 2E Era, the RPG industry had embraced the idea that an interesting character concept required an interesting backstory - the idea that your PC might start out as some peasant schmuck was becoming anathema. Things such as character kits (remember those?) encouraged the shift in expectations and fed into the design assumptions for 3E.
In addition, the mechanical complexity of character generation for 3e meant that people were investing a lot of time in creating their PCs. If Pustule the Fighter (CHA 5!) wasn't made of sturdier stuff than a typical peasant, he might not even make it to second level - and that would mean that an hour or two had been wasted. So there was another pressure dictating that PCs should be above-average in at least some areas. Ironically, both Pathfinder and D&D have reduced the need for exceptional stats at 1st level by beefing up low-level characters slightly to improve their survivability.
To me, one of the most interesting relics of how far the game has drifted from it's sword & sorcery roots is a little-known table from one of the early Greyhawk products that spells out the expected distribution of the various classes amongst adventurers (fighter types 50%; thief types 24%; cleric types 15%; magic-user types 10%; and others 1%). This seems distribution reflects the assumptions of swords and sorcery fiction very well - where protagonists tend to be warriors or rogues and arcane spellcasters are quite rare. It doesn't reflect the assumptions of high fantasy, where the protagonists often possess some kind of arcane magic talent that gives them an edge against the Dark Lord. A world where barbarians and assassins are more common than wizards or clerics speaks to a very different set of assumptions than modern RPGs such as Pathfinder do.
These days GURPS and Runequest are better at enforcing the bell-curve than just about any game derived from D&D
James Sutter wrote:
We have indeed! Sojan the Swordsman/Under the Warrior Star was our attempt to do some new material. Whether we do so again really hinges on how well things sell. New fiction is a LOT more expensive than reprints...
I quite liked Under the Warrior Star. It's not the best work that Joe Lansdale has ever produced - I still think that The Bottoms is his best work - but it was still an enjoyable riff on traditional Sword & Planet themes.
Unfortunately there aren't many outlets for original fiction in that style any more - with the obvious exception of Black Gate magazine. Perhaps Paizo could do some web fiction under the Planet Stories imprint someday (although I don't know whether that would be financially viable).
James Sutter wrote:
No Planet Stories announcements quite yet...
Hopefully we'll hear something soon!
It's interesting that Gollancz has recently announced a venture similar to Planet Stories with their SF Gateway initiative, which aims to make out-of-print titles by classic genre authors available as eBooks. Doing a bit of a search on Amazon, it looks like they've managed to secure the ebook rights to about half of Appendix N.
As an aside, has Paizo considered commissioning new sword & sorcery novels in the vein of the classics to build the line? I'm not talking about Pathfinder-specific fiction here - I'm talking about entirely new works.
I love me some Guinness, but down here in Australia we've got a good range to choose from.
I agree that the beer garden at the Great Northern is nice when the weather is decent and the food is pretty good for pub fare.
Reebo Kesh wrote:
No problems...I'm actually busy settling into the new place and a new job, so it'll be a month or two before I'm free.
Hi, everyone. This thread is very interesting to me as I've just moved to Chatswood from the Blue Mountains ;)
I don't have a huge amount of free time at the moment, but I'm hoping to get some space for gaming again over the next few months. I've been a gamer since 1980 and my main interests these days are Pathfinder and the various retroclones.
I'm interested in running a new campaign in the near future, so if anybody in the local area would be interested, please let me know. I tend to prefer sandbox-style games over tightly plotted ones. In addition, my tastes run towards old-school sword and sorcery rather than high fantasy.
Hmmm....as much as i hate Bill's work and his destruction of whatever he gets his hands on, i am sad that a man lost a job. Hope that Paizo doesn't take him in though.
Bill Slavicsek did some fantastic work for the old d6 Star Wars RPG from West End Games back in the day. He also worked on the Dark Sun campaign setting for TSR and did some good work for WoTC in the early days of 3E - including large chunks of the d20 Modern product line. Although I don't like the direction that D&D has taken with 4E, I respect a lot of Bill's past work and wish him all the best for the future.
And the forums are way too long because of all these thread thingies ;)
Marc Radle wrote:
Oh...I didn't notice that! And I agree that Raging Swan's stuff is excellent. But I'm also a big fan of the production values of LPJ Designs.