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I haven't as I'm not a big fan of the Verbal Duel feature. It reminds me too much of how hackers used to work in early editions of Shadowrun. There wasn't a lot for them to do until it came time to jack into something and then there wasn't a lot for anyone else to do. I don't think PF's system is as bad but it's still something that, for me at least, sounded better than it actually worked. Though, by that point, I realized that I didn't need Batman in my games and so just dropped the class entirely.
I could not agree more. In fact, and SKR even mentions this in the interview, is that some things that were put into 3.0/3.5 never achieved their intent. But all that stuff still got carried over to PF.
As some have suggested, you could use Unchained as sort of the Core rulebook (I would do this as I don't like the action economy of iterative attacks and skills are overvalued in PF (IMO)) but the problem with that is that no books or AP's are written with that in mind.
You yourself state there is a dichotomy between PF at release and PF now. That is the difference between PF editions. Gradual, incremental change that doesn't invalidate rulebooks, only updated them. Paizo doesn't think rewriting the entire system at once is necessary to enact change.
Oh come on, Tri. Taking one line out of my post and using it to change what I was saying is annoying.
The dichotomy of PF "then" as opposed to PF "now" isn't one of rule changes. Adding more stuff to a game isn't a rule change, it's just adding more stuff. The dichotomy comes from the Core Rulebook, Bestiary, and Gamemastery Guide being designed specifically with the intent of continuing 3.5 (and thus why PF received the 3.75 moniker) but that is clearly not the design goal anymore (as I already stated)
As I stated quite clearly in the very first line of my original post, I was attempting to address why so many threads and arguments just seem to go around in circles even when everyone seems to agree on the general philosophy. That I've now had to completely restate what I already mentioned (in under 24 hours) has pretty much validated my entire point.
I will amend one thing from my original post: I would change "probably pointless" to "definitely pointless".
I don't see how I can view it as anything other than 3.75 when the entire foundation of the game is still rooted in the Core Rulebook, Bestiary, and Gamemastery Guide (EDIT: All of which are still, by design, rooted in 3.5).
EDIT: Perhaps I'm misunderstanding. Are you advocating dumping those books?
Alright, I'm going to make a (probably pointless) attempt to address why "balance" is an issue and why most of our arguments about it seem to go in circles.
I got into PF before it was PF; it was Golarion that fascinated me. When I got the Beta rules and the playtest stuff the goal was very clear: continue with 3.5 because a whole lot of people had no interest in 4E but fix the most egregious errors of it (e.g. dead levels, classes that had no value except for level dipping, etc.). The Core Rulebook, the Bestiary, and the Gamemastery Guide were all written with that focus in mind - a continuation of 3.5. Paizo themselves billed the game as that ("3.5 doesn't survive, it thrives!" posters are still hanging in every game store in my area).
At the time, PF was just as often called edition 3.75. No one calls it that now; but why? We still have the Core rulebook, the Bestiary, and the Gamemastery Guide. Because ever since the APG came out, the game has quickly moved away from being 3.75 and quickly became it's own thing. Except that it hasn't because the entire foundation of the game is based on 3 books written specifically for the purpose of maintaining 3.5 (albeit to a higher standard).
Pathfinder is the rpg equivalent of Stretch Armstrong and we have pulled and twisted the holy crap out of him. And every new book that has been released has injected more of that gooey stuff that makes ol' Strech work into him. The problem with that is that Stretch Armstrong is now Stretch Fat Albert. Yet, we continue to pull and twist the holy crap out of him.
There's too much of a dichotomy between what PF originally was and what it has become. However, most people don't want a PF 2.0 (even though this would solve many problems) because it would require an update of an ungodly amount of material.
Yet, until that happens, we will continue to have 20+ people on one thread who all share the same philosophy and yet agree on absolutely nothing despite sharing the exact same ruleset.
There aren't enough choices. Most of Golarion we have no information on. Even the kingdoms of the Inner Sea region have been covered in wildly varying levels of detail.
I would expect that "fantasy superheroes" would be dealing with threats from the Great Beyond or master Aboleths with their galaxy spanning magic but there isn't enough information on any of that to get players invested in it.
This has been my main complaint about Paizo over the last few years: they seem unwilling to expand on Golarion knowledge. Distant Shores was a neat read but raises more questions than it answers and gives too little information for me to invest my players in it. Occult Mysteries (the only Paizo book I've sold away) is nothing more than paying money to be told what you aren't going to be told.
Golarion is what interested me in Pathfinder before Pathfinder was its own thing. It's sad to see that it's become nothing more than a reference point for AP placement.
I disagree with this (and the sentence that I put in bold is factually incorrect) because, as the Internet and social media have shown over the years, people have a terrible time understanding each other. When people aren't using the same rules, nor even making the same attempt to do so, you get miscommunication. The Internet and the various social medias are the poster children for miscommunication.
When speaking, we're often very sloppy with our language because meaning is often made clear from context. Context is less clear, if not absent entirely, when writing/printing. In such cases, clarity comes from adherence to a common set of rules. When those rules are ignored to the degree that most people can't even remember what they are, not only are you engaging in miscommunication but you're actively encouraging it (deliberately or otherwise). That you might still be understood doesn't change that fact.
No usage of irregardless is correct as irregardless is not a word (no more than kdbgxkjcflkds is a word). Adding a prefix or a suffix to a word does not necessarily create a new word; there's more to it than that.
While at first it seemed that the Metamorph did not quite fit, the archetype does fit better if you consider this book to also be for Pulp fiction mystery men type stuff.
Where do people think "pulp" fits in the best in Golarion?
When I think of horror: Ustalav. Guns: Mana Wastes. Androids: Numeria etc . etc
When I think of pulp: uh...er...okay, I've got nothing.
So what do you think?
I agree. Mysteries are only interesting when they're solvable; otherwise; players never get invested in them.
There are still so many regions of the Inner Sea, despite multiple campaign book releases, that are little more than a blurb description in my head. And 'Distant Shore' really drove home that, even after all of this time, I don't know enough about most of Golarion to use it. I mean, I use it for the AP's but that's it. Too many holes in the setting (on my end) to use it for anything else.
So, yes and yes?
I find it astounding that people are still surprised that people make combat monster builds even if the campaign isn't described as that.
So, no and no?
Not for me, no but your group might be different.
I'm the only GM and world-builder for our game so books that are just "interesting reads" are providing information that's too incidental for my players to acknowledge and money is getting too tight to buy hardbacks that don't have an immediately serviceable use.
Most stuff that comes out now is just ported to my homebrew anyway. I've been buying PF since the beginning and I've still lost track of half of what has come and gone.
My changes started off small but grew quite extensive to the point that I stopped using Golarion completely.
Part of the problem is that things that were interesting reads to me as a GM and worldbuilder mean nothing to my players (e.g. Aroden's death). Paizo refuses to detail much of the world and even many Inner Sea kingdoms are little more than a blank space on the map. Every re-release of the setting changed just enough to screw up how I had the world developing which made it increasingly difficult to run AP's as written or use sourcebooks.
A book being an interesting read doesn't necessarily make it useful for my game. When Paizo doesn't seem invested in something it's hard for me to be as well ("We know all about Aroden but we aren't going to tell any body; neener, neener") and my players certainly won't care.
Too many blank spaces on the map and too big of a "vagueness and lack of info is a feature, not a bug" attitude. It became far easier to go back to my homebrew where I can make stuff up without having to second guess Paizo's worldbuilding strategy (such as it is).
I had thought about jumping ahead a few centuries and taking some of thw rost outcomes from the AP's and applying them (the north is a demon-infested wasteland, the computer AI becomes a god, there's a new pahroah with a flying city in Osirion, etc.) but, again, it was less time intensive to go back to my homebrew.
I have trouble believing that Norborger (or any god) sits around wistfully looking back on the good ol' days when they were a mythic mortal and could interfere more directly.
Also, I'm not seeing "divine balance" anywhere in anyone else's posts - I might be missing it, though. Who are you arguing with there?
No one in particular; rather the notion of how the gods are presented as a whole
I don't think any of the gods care about balance, except maybe Pharasma... maybe. I think they care about doing as much as they can get away with.
Really? From everyone's post it seems to be the entire crux of why the gods do and don't do things. And the vibe I'm getting now is that the gods can't do much of anything except grant spells; and you don't even need to be a full god to do that.
This all seems to completely neuter the gods. What would the point of becoming a god even be if you can't take action even within your own spheres of influence without a bunch of other gods smacking you around for it. It seems like the gods just sit back and do nothing which seems counter to the relevance of having gods in the first place.
In Iron Gods when
Cassandalee ascends to godhood it seems like that should be a big deal but really, why? If she tries to do anything she's just going to get whacked upside the head by other gods; who cares what her portfolio is?
It kind of turns the idea of the Mythic Journey on its head when gods can't interfere without screwing things up. It's hard to care that Aroden died when anything that he would have done would have just made things worse. In fact, what difference does it make that any god dies (except Pharasma)?
This is partly why not a single player that I've ever GM'd in PF has given one hoot about Aroden's death. It's never going to be explained and has no impact on the players so no one cares; it's just a piece of background fluff that most players have forgotten or pay no attention to even if they remember. That's fairly lackluster for what's supposed to be one of the grand mysteries of the setting.
Lord Twitchiopolis wrote:
Eh, that's the excuse forgotten Realms use in 3.0 for why the plethora of epic levels wizards never killed each other. Elminster's line was, "Sure I could kill so-and-so, but they could do the same to me". My first thought when I read that was, "No, he couldn't, you just killed him!"
I don't care for the notion that the gods can't really do anything major because of nuclear detente. It makes the gods seem as if their made of porcelain. Mortals can become gods (Cayden), they can die (Aroden), or become utterly corrupted to the point that their profile changes (Zon-Kuthon). Heck, even a computer AI can become a god. They can be ganged up on and sealed away (Rovagug). None of these things caused the apocalypse.
Lord Twitchiopolis wrote:
I have trouble believing that any of the Outer Gods or Great Old Ones cares one whit about "Divine balance". Divine balance makes sense in a cosmology where duality is perfectly maintained but Golarion's about as far from being divinely balanced as you can be; even before taking into account Empyreal Lords, First World gods, Devil/Demon Lords etc. etc.
I agree with Darkholme.
While I understand that the specific outcomes of of an AP aren't canon (as different groups will have different outcomes) but the general events have to be considered canon-applicable otherwise there's no point in having them in Golarion.
Maybe the events of Jade Regent never happen in my campaign because I never run it. Nevertheless, I have to assume that all the events that could happen fit within the logic of Golarion canon.
So I have to believe, regardless of whether I actually run Wrath of the Righteous for my players or not, that deities can alter players alignments at will.
One thing I can't do is assume that AP's are violating canon; that way lies madness. But having deities arbitrarily changing a person's alignment raises a lot of questions that need clarification. If not, then the whole issue seems to validate all the negative complaints about alignments that people make.
A lot of these arguments make sense if you've been buying since the beginning of PF and have had the 10+ years to digest the rules as they've been released. But every year that passes there are more and more gamers who haven't had that luxury. I don't want PF to become one of those "cliquish" games that only the long-term and/or wealthy are playing.
GURPS is a horrible example. With the release of 4th ed. (back in 2004), Steve Jackson stopped doing the wave of both licensed and generic splatbooks.
I don't see how you could continue buying AP's without buying the rulebooks. Looking at the Mummy's Mask AP and the books it expects you to have, out of the hardbacks you need a fairly up to date collection. Add in the softcovers and it's overwhelming. PF has more softcovers OOP than most games (successful or otherwise) will ever release.
The cost of entry makes it very hard on the new gamer and every release makes it harder. As I said earlier, I can't get anyone to play PF; they'd rather play 13th Age. I could write an entire encyclopedia of why I think PF is better than 13th Age and it won't matter because they see PF as too big an investment.
The problem I have with PF is that I can't get anyone else to buy the game because people are too intimidated by the 15 hardcover books on the shelf and they don't feel like spending the time (and don't have the luxury) to achieve the system mastery that those of us who have had 10+ years to slowly digest the rules have had.
And if I go to someone else's game I find they've banned half the material I've bought anyways. That makes me feel like I've wasted my money. So that's no new people coming into the game plus me who is now reluctant to buy anything, regardless of how high quality it is, because it's unlikely that I'll ever get to use it.
According to 'My Subscriptions', the Iron Gods #2: Lords of Rust book was shipped to me on the 19th. I haven't received it and I also never received the confirmation email telling me that an item has shipped (which is what led me to check My Subscriptions in the first place). While that's still within the 4-8 day window of delivery, I've never had a subscription take more than 3 days to arrive after receiving the confirmation email. However, I never got that email. This is the first time a product has ever been late and the first time I haven't received a confirmation email so I'm worried that something's fallen through the crack somewhere. I don't see an order # listed under My Subscriptions.
What's the actual problem?
a) Women are hyper-sexualized
b) Men aren't hyper-sexualized enough
If the problem is "a" then the solution is to stop doing it. Doing the same with men doesn't solve the problem nor does it "balance it out"; it just creates two problems where there was one.
If the problem is "b" then artwork, especially on covers, needs to be planned ahead with far more care and thought.
Both "a" and "b" can't be the problems though. Either hyper-sexualization is wrong or it's not. If it is then doing "b" is just as wrong and if it isn't then "a" isn't really the problem.
Yes, but that hardcover book would be useful when you add psychic related player races, monsters, magic/tech items, feats, archetypes, spells/abilities, places, and psychic phenomenon along with those classes, archetypes, and PrCs.
But not needed. You could say the same for just about anything: gunsslingers, tian xia martial arts, Numerian super science, Mwangi animism/totemism, evocation specialists, etc., etc.
All that stuff is interesting but you don't need a hardcover detailing every possible permutation of its use. That's what 3.5 did, bloat themselves into uselessness. We don't need a hardback for something that's only going to pop up in two or three places on the planet.
To be honest, that's what I didn't care for about the Gunslinger. Not the mechanics but the notion of making a core class for something that's ultra-rare outside of one point in the world. Most gunslinging, outside of the Mana Wastes and what-not, is likely represented by the Amateur Gunslinger feat. But once you make it a core class you've made it as common as any fighter.
Whatever book they do I doubt it will be a hardback. You don't need an entire corebook sized set of rules to cover psychics (or whatever). Three base classes with some archetypes and PrC's will be enough. A lot of psychic (or whatever) stuff can already be done with the existing rules so I doubt they're going to reinvent the wheel (plus, I'm assuming, they probably don't really feel like churning out 200+ pages of psychic "spells").
I'm sure they'll do something eventually because otherwise all those places where they've already mentioned that such things exist just become white blanks on the map; they might as well not even be there then. I highly doubt they'll use another companies system, not matter how good; especially for Society play. That can of worms is just too big.
I bought and read 13th Age when it came out and thought it looked really good but I haven't looked at it since. Glad to know they're coming out with more stuff. I'll need to go through the rules again though. I'm thinking maybe a rogue/thief type. Everyone complains about how bad they are in PF; maybe I'll give the 13th Age version a shot.
Based solely on the information given, you did the right thing.
However, I'm not surprised to hear a story like this. Going through forums for a lot of "modern" games a common recurring theme seems to be that the GM isn't really a Game Master anymore but rather a circus performer present only for the sole benefit of the player's giggles.
It's not an issue if you only worry abour reprinting OOP modules. New players can't get any of that stuff except through vastly inflated secondary market prices (and Paizo doesn't see any of that money either). There wouldn't be a reprint if the original never sells out. Telling new players, "You can't have this, you should've gotten in earlier. Neener, neener." isn't a sound strategy. The amount of material, its cost, the level of system mastery needed, and lack of availability for current edition products are all blocks to new players coming in; that's lost money too. PDF's can be nice until you have to print them out in a durable format at which point you're paying more for the product than you would have buying the book; also not attractive to new players. Paizo has a loyal fanbase but selliing only those who are already playing is going to give diminishing returns over time unless all current players buy everything that comes out. To new players, PF is becoming an increasingly harder sell.
You would only do a compilation when the original is OOP; in whole or in part. If the AP is still fully available then there's no need to do a compilation but once even one module goes OOP the market for it is pretty dead if you aren't going to re-realease..
That's the problem I have with PF: if you've been following since the beginning (or close to it) it's great but new players kind of get the shaft. There are a lot of books, it's very expensive, and even if you're willing to pay all that there are still many things you just can't get.
I'm not trying to GM a video game. I don't think players are entitled to a "god mode" just because they can't handle the occassional loss or need to run away. I think there are far better outlets for that than a tabletop rpg. In my opinion, I don't think its the role of the GM to play court jester handing out mechanical benefits like candy to players who can't seem to envisualize a concept without them. The GM is playing the game as well and is entitled to as much fun as the players. Being the clown for the players amusement doesn't strike me as fun. If that's how you enjoy the game though then knock yourself out but I think most GM's would get bored with 1-round encounters all the time.
Ninja'd by Thunderfrog.
The reason people think concepts suck is because GM's super optimize their encounters as they think the players will do the same with their characters. So a concept only sucks when the rules don't allow it it to be super-optimized. If you take away the need for super-optimization then less concepts will suck (and you'll have less math to do to boot) since you don't need to go hog wild nuts with the build.
All that super optimizing just makes fewer builds viable and takes longer and more effort to get the ones that do to work. There's no need to go to the hassle of nuclear power when steam works perfectly well.
Then it's smart not to have him go down the well then. Lol.
In that case, it would probably be smart not to go down at all then :) Unfortunately, Adventurer Personality Afflictive Disorder (APAD) trumps having a high Wisdom.
Out of curiosity, if we do go down the well and make it do we get t-shirts that say, "I went down the well!" on the front with "And survived!" on the back?
It's still fun to create a race even if I end up not needing it since I'll have the time. I don't have a solid concept yet, I may have to pull out some oldies but goodies for inspiration (Talislanta, Skyrealms of Jorune, etc.).
I haven't posted crunch yet as there seems to be a problem with the Wolflair store that has prevented me from downloading the ARG data package for HeroLab. I always prefer to use HeroLab as it's so much quicker and I don't have to worry about my math being wrong (I can also export the character straight into BBCode so it's like two clicks to copy the character into my alias). It's also nice not having to look through 5-6 books trying to remember which book that one feat was in.
As a sidenote, I don't drop stats below 10 except for racial modifiers. It's just my personal preference. I mainly bring it up to forestall questions like, "Why didn't you dump "X" down to 2? Monks don't need it anyways!"
It just occured to me that I could still go ahead and create a race and just set it aside for a "next" character; that would give me the time to develop it better. I've never played through Rappan Athuk before but, from what I understand, it's degree of difficulty is higher than your standard PF AP which will (likely) mean a higher percentage of PC deaths.
I had thought of designing a race but was afraid I wouldn't have time to do it justice. If I design a race, I want more than just a list of abilities; I want at least some idea of what it "means" to be that race, where do they come from, why has nobody ever seen one before, etc., etc. I also find it's (usually) better to create races in a vacuum otherwise, it's too easy to fall into the trap of making a race that simply pumps up whatever class currently catches your fancy. I've found that to be a big problem in a lot of science fiction rpg's; certain races are so obviously geared to a certain class/role that if you're playing "X" then you're almost always playing "Y" too. At that point you might as well make the system "race as class" saving the designers and players a lot of time and be done with it.
Brown Lotus lacks a strong sense of self-personality. He's never had to show initiative on his own before and, when left to himself, lacks (to a certain degree) the sense of context that life experiences give to help with decision making. The high rarity of his race diminished the sense of identity that the revelation of what he is might otherwise have brought. He would likely have been very happy to have stayed at the temple, where he could have identity as part of a welcoming group, but the monks there realized that this would only have stunted his need for individual development.
An adventuring group would be a natural fit, if given the opportunity, as it would remove much of the social pressure from him while allowing him to get vital life experience. Also, his oddness isn't out of place in an adventuring group who are considered by many to be a rather odd lot to begin with.
As for heading into dungeons, I see it as doubtful that he has any preference for one adventure type over another and is likely to go along with whatever the group consensus seems to be. This will be mostly true at lower levels where his lack of experience makes him hesitant to venture an opinion of his own volition. After a couple of levels, his confidence and sense of self will grow and that will start to change.
In my head, the Temple of the Transparent Lotus was mostly LG so that's the alignment I see him as. If the group ends up as almost all Neutral though I can change him to LN as this would have been a large factor in deciding whether or not to join a given group.
I have an idea for an Oread Monk (Qinggong). He was once the property of a merchant of Katapesh who was killed, while travelling, by an overzealous (and not quite all right in the head) Inquisitor of Hanspur, the Water Rat. Unsure of what to make of the "golem" travelling with the merchant, the Inquisitor decided he didn't really care and wandered off. Unsure what to do with his newfound freedom, and believing himself to be a magic object and not a sentient being, he wandered randomly until stumbling upon the Temple of the Transparent Lotus where he was informed that he was an actual being and not a construct. He has no true name that he knows of and so goes by his temple name: Brown Lotus.
In my opinion, "The campaign timeline never moves forward" is problematic over the long haul.
Personally, I agree. People who have both the time and inclination to make radical changes to a world based on their characters actions are often playing in a homebrew already because they have the time and inclination to do so (though, certainly, this isn't always the case).
The reason many people buy published settings is so they don't have to do all that work. Some people just don't have the time to keep track of the sensical changes that should be occuring and also might be timid of making a change which might conflict with an upcoming AP or story. Also, not everyone is a great worldbuilder and so they look to the company to provide it for them. Keeping that world in a frozen point of time is, imo, a mistake.
As for the original topic: Eventually, love it or hate it, PF 2.0 (or whatever they choose to call it) will come out. It may be sooner and it may be later but it's going to happen. How big a change that edition will be we'll just have to wait and see.
Paulcynic: If I'm playing a Plot-based game (the way you describe it), I'm not playing PF at all. Nor any game that uses a level-based mechanic. Level-based systems are already arbitrary abstractions. XP is no moreso than the levels themselves. Using levels without using the method that defines them seems backwards to the point of having a level system at all. If that's the kind of thing that negatively affects our narrative, then I'm going to switch to a more freeform point-based system and remove the stricture of levels entirely.
I should point out that, going back to OD&D to today, we don't let players calculate or track their own XP. When it was time to level the DM would say so. In the older editions characters advanced at different rates anyway so it didn't stand out as much.
With XP, the player(s) were/are rewarded (even if the didn't know how much) for making good decisions. Without it, as long as no one dies, it doesn't matter what kind of decisions player(s) make as the rewards are the same either way. To me, that's a more negative impact on the narrative than what you describe XP as doing since it seems, to me, to trivialize decision making outside of your build . As a GM, I want the players to consider whether the the decisions they're making are good ones or not and as a player, I want to have to consider that.
The way you describe "Plot-based" sounds like exactly how I want a non level-based game to run. But with levels, you're already adding in arbitrary plateaus of power. I don't see how removing XP makes arbitrary levels of power less arbitrary. If there's an arbitrary detractor here it's the levels, not the XP (especially when the classes aren't all balanced against each other--and, in PF, they aren't). And if levels aren't part of what the players are striving for, then why use them?
The players wouldn't know the XP rewards which should, IMO, be based on how well and/or cleverly they dealt with it anyways. There are better and worse choices in dealing with any challenge and the reward should be adjusted accordingly, IMO.
If they're going to be rewarded every 3 sessions regardless what difference does it make how they handle the challenge as long as it doesn't result in a TPK?
Characters are going to have a wide variety of motivations and reasons for doing things. You're not going to have every challenge perfectly mesh with every players in character reasons. And if by some means you manage it then there's no reason to even bother offering the other challenge as an option.
It's far more entertaining, for me, to give and receive rewards based on what the characters do and how they do it rather than just, "It's been three sessions and you all lived so level up."
But when you've been leveling the players every three sessions then, at some point, they're going to start expecting it.
It isn't so much about chasing the loot as it about you're going to get the loot regardless of what decisions you make. Stay in town and deal with the corrupt mayor or ride north to fight the bandits or explore the swamp to the south? Doesn't matter because it's level and loot in 3 sessions regardless. As a player or a GM, I don't find that very entertaining. For me, player decisions need to have more importance than just, did they survive the three sessions to level?
DM Locke wrote:
And characters didn't advance at the same rates anyways.
It happens because players stop thinking about the here and now of the game and are instead looking at that feat they're going to get at the next level instead of deciding if they should go stop the marauding dragon or instead rescue the princess from the evil sorcerer because, either way, that feat is coming in 2-3 sessions regardless. There needs to be a reason for players to consider the decisions they're making.
Unless the decision is so absurdly bad that it TPK's the group there really aren't any bad decisons. It's hard to be invested in a decision or course of action when there's no relevance to it. I prefer there to be more of a gradient to player/group decisons: stupid, bad, mediocre, good, excellent and reward appropriately rather than just having every 3rd session (or whatever) be the "level-up" session.
Having powerful character isn't something you earn.
This part I disagree with. Too many players seem to have a sense of entitlement about progression. Not only do they think they're going to level every 2-3 sessions (or whatever), they expect it because they feel it's their "due".
For me, that's always created disinterest in players rather than fostering interest. Decisions become meaningless because those levels are going to come regardless (so they typically choose the path of least resistance) and the lazy player who only shows up half the time and only plays half-heartedly gets the same rewards as the full-tilt, gung-ho, never misses a session player does. That creates player antagonism and tends to bring the whole group down to the lowest denominator of play style.
I've never thought of rewarding good play as a "bribe" and it seems, to me at least, a rather strange notion to view it as such. To each his own, I guess.