|Paizo Pathfinder® Paizo Games|
|About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ|
That's kind of the issue though, isn't it? They shouldn't need to be mythic to pass the Test of the Starstone. It should be just as feasible for a player who is level 20/tier 10 to pass or fail as it is for a character who is level 1 with no mythic tiers. This Test should blow all other tests out of the water in scale and scope, yet be different for every person who takes it.
Oh, and the chances of passing it should probably be exceptionally low, too!
Xanderghul and Sorshen are going to have disappointing story-arcs, unless we wait long enough for Mr. Jacobs to like the idea of another Mythic path.
I'm not so sure. Granted, you might need a couple mythic levels for it, but you don't need to get all carried away like WotR. I've got a group of players that are now level 19/tier 5 going up against Cthulhu and a small host of Starspawn Tuesday, and based on what I've seen them able to do with the mythic rules, I'm pretty sure they'll handle it without a lot of problems. I'm hoping it'll be something of a challenge, but we'll see . . .
I think you could get away with an awesome AP involving either of those characters with the granting of maybe 2-3 tiers only. Oh, and I've outlawed a great deal of the different mythic feats and whatnot that provide for stacking criticals, so I still gimped my players, and they're still way powerful! Anything built by Paizo will be weak by comparison due to their policy--not that I have a problem with their policy, it's just the way it works.
captain yesterday wrote:
Not to mention that the continuous string of items found throughout the adventures that are made of nymph's hair is a pretty good tipping point that perhaps there's a nymph behind the scenes doing things to drive the plot forward.
My players were already debating that very thing at the end of the first adventure, after recovering Nyrissa's boon found on the Stag Lord. Subsequent findings of nymph's hair boons in later books helped to reinforce that point. Granted, they were not expecting what hit them in Book 6, but I very much appreciated that fine twist into the campaign.
Pedantic Pundit, The wrote:
Another thing about themes ran into the ground, by now, demons/devils/other evil outsiders have been run into the ground just as much or more than dragons have.
You can keep on preachin' on, my friend. Especially succubi and other such lust demons/devils. That stuff hasn't just been run into the ground . . . it's dug a deep tunnel through the crust and mantle and exploded in the planet's core. If I never saw another lust-related fiend in a roleplaying game ever it would not bother me one iota. And demons are so much more boring than dragons!
I'm right there with you SW. I'm tired of hearing all this "cliched" this and "cliched" that crap. Everything that's written these days has call-outs to what's been done in the past because every genre is saturated. Even the authors that write these adventures are constantly making comments about how they're paying homage to this adventure or that author's story . . . . To say that Paizo shouldn't do something because it's been done before is akin to saying that Paizo should just stop doing anything.
Dragons are as iconic as it gets in the fantasy genre, and they have a rich history in real world mythology, as well. They've been beloved by many for a very, very long time! Even a few years ago, there were some seriously awesome authors chomping at the bit to make a go of a draconic AP, but the Paizo developers were afraid they couldn't do anything creative enough to make it worth while. I'd love to see them take a stab at it now, especially with the phenomenal writers that they've got now capable of creating wonderful roleplay experiences. Authors like Jim Groves and Crystal Frasier, who are masters at writing adventures that are roleplay intensive and not just combat fests, alongside older favorites like Neil Spicer, Richard Pett, and Brandon Hodge could put together a draconic AP that would be amazing.
So, enough with the excuses; they've become cliched themselves by this point. I think the time has come to give this some serious thought again!
A couple possibilities that I plan to use for my game are from the PFS scenarios:
1) Echoes of the Everwar, Part III: Terror at Whistledown (either season 1 or 2); it's honestly not the greatest written scenario, but it gives you some decent detail on Whistledown and a vampiric problem happening there that you can easily manipulate into something more interesting. The mystery is easy to hook players passing through into without any Society stuff necessary.
2) The Night March of Kalkamedes (Season 4 I believe); this one is designed for lower level play, but can be easily adjusted. I think the story to this one is stronger than Terror at Whistledown, and it takes place in the region just east of the Fens, within the Fenwall Mountains. Again, it would be simply to adjust this adventure to PCs just passing through (such as having them come across this dude sleepwalking in the middle of the wild). Also, it might be an interesting mystery for them to solve in a quick fashion so as not to interrupt their progress toward Korvosa too much.
Not sure if these are examples of what you're looking for, but there you go!
captain yesterday wrote:
I think calling it nonsense is a little harsh. Granted that Mr. Jacobs has said it's not going to happen for a couple different reasons, but it's still a viable wish. I, for one, think that Thassilon is one of the best parts of the entirety of Golarion. It's been the main focus of a couple different APs, and been included in a host of other modules and such (at least in bit pieces), yet I still don't think we've been given enough. The history there is so rich and incredible, I can't get enough of it. Jacobs once said he'd like to do an entire hardcover campaign setting book akin to Inner Sea Gods but about Varisia . . . I'd love to see that come to life, and when it does, I'd hope it would have 100 pages on Thassilon (I know it wouldn't, but still). Stated simply, I love that history, and I want to know much more about it than they've given me, and they've given out quite a bit!
What's more, I know that I'm not the only one who loves Thassilon, and would love to know more about it. Frankly, when something gets AP status, Paizo does a fantastic job supporting it. If we got an AP, then, involving going back to Thassilon (time travel or just historical), that means we'd get a ton more Thassilon history than we have now. I'd gobble all that up, and I know a great many others would too.
So, it's not nonsense, as far as I'm concerned. It's one more vehicle to get a whole lot more of something I absolutely love about Golarion. So, I'd back anything that gives me a possibility of more Thassilon . . . even an unlikely historical or time travel AP.
Thus, I'm keeping focus on what's important to me in all this.
We should be done with our Rise of the Runelords campaign before December is done (okay, maybe first week of January, but close enough). My players have already got their characters ready for Shattered Star to come next. Their defeat by or defeating of Karzoug will determine whether Shattered Star is a nice, leisurely campaign or becomes a race against time to forge an artifact that can defeat Karzoug, who has started his conquest to reforge the Thassilonian Empire in northern Varisia.
Either way will be fun. =)
For the record, I'm GM for my group about 90% of the time (though one of my friends has picked up on the idea, done really well as GM of a campaign, and will probably continue, giving me the opportunity to play a little more . . . Yeah!).
I think Tangent is dead on. In the end, every game is your game, so feel free to make it yours. Just because I'm sitting here with a six-book series in front of me doesn't mean I can't let my players go their own way. My job as GM is to facilitate their fun by letting them do what they do and figure out ways to get them back on track later.
There was a great moment in our Kingmaker campaign that took place in the second book. A bunch of loggers from Mivon (realm to the south) that were cutting down trees around a pond and got involved into an altercation with a nixie. The players took the side of the nixie and convinced the loggers this was their territory now through some good diplomacy rolls. However, one of the characters was a bit more vindictive, and she sneaked down to the loggers camp and firebombed the whole place, destroying all their equipment and goods.
That heinous act led to a great deal of trouble with Mivon that required some serious diplomatic RP to avoid war, as the Mivonians also didn't like how the PCs kingdom apparently elevated fey above their own kind! With the PCs kingdom being so young yet, they didn't have money for building significant armies, so a war would have been very bad for them. As it turned out, they were able to make amends for their mistake by helping with the elves in northern Mivon, eventually convincing those elves to leave Mivon's territory to the loggers and settle in the Narlmarches, where the PCs gave them their own land for a small elven kingdom.
It was one small encounter within the book that led to a ton of political encounters not scripted at all. We're just finishing that AP after about a 3-1/4-year run, and it's been filled with unscripted situations where the PCs actions and desires determined things that happened.
Running APs doesn't have to be by the book ad nauseam! They can very much be your own . . . add to them, take away from them; make the story what you and your players are looking for! It provides a beautiful outline of a wonderful story with little work required (most of the time) though, which makes them perfect for me. And, like I said, there hasn't been an AP we've started that we haven't gone all the way through. I love them, but don't let yourself get lost in the text!
Throughout my younger years, when I had the time to create the vast majority of my own campaigns, their lengths would be between 2-4 years. That's about the period of time I felt comfortable telling a genuine, epic story, while still giving my players enough time to truly delve into their characters. It meant I didn't need to level them too quickly that they felt the whole thing a race to the finish, yet they weren't waiting forever to attain that next level of progression. I've probably run nearly a dozen campaigns in my time, but there are only two that I haven't brought to completion (one because I simply grew bored with the setting; another that after 2 years of gameplay, I realized we had only scratched the surface of my story, and that it would be another 8-10 years before we could finish . . . far too long, even for my own tastes!).
So, are the Paizo APs too long? I would say definitely not! If we just run through them, my group can usually complete an AP in about 18 months. The Kingmaker AP (which we've loved from book one through book six) is one we've been at over 3 years now and should be finishing soon (we're done with the books, and are completing the finale of my own Dark Tapestry storyline interwoven through the campaign).
If anything, I'd say the APs--as they currently are--would be too short! That's not to say that I expect or want them to lengthen them, as that's something I can do on my own if I so desire. Up to this point, my players and I have never yet found an AP (we've completed only one, but are near completion of three others--Runelords, Jade Regent, and Kingmaker) we haven't thoroughly enjoyed! Don't mess with a good thing, I say.
I agree whole-heartedly! I want the physical book in my hand! I'm old-fashioned that way, I guess.
As for players walking away from something, I've heard several references, where a GM described how they had spent a lot of time preparing a whole big story arc for their campaign based on things the players asked for... and then when he was ready to start it they all suddenly decided to go for something different. If it were me, I'd just work the new idea they wanted into the rest of the plans, let them start with the new thing and have it feed into the planned events.
This is exactly how I created an entire campaign in my last real campaign in the Realms. I built the story, but let the players go and do whatever they would, installing story elements wherever they went. Eventually, they got hooked into the story and decided to follow where it led. Worked incredibly well, and all of them felt very much as though they drove the story forward, not me.
I've got two:
Sound of a Thousand Screams - Probably my favorite finale of any AP, but admittedly part of this is because it involved the First World heavily, and I love fey-themed stuff! However, I also loved that the PCs actions had ramifications throughout the adventure. The fact that they could do this and cause that to happen gives them a feeling of accomplishment well before the adventure climax occurs, and it's always significant when the players can feel like their actions actually mean something! I also loved that the threats in this adventure were often real. My players are a pretty tough crew, but this has not been a walk in the park for them at all. A fantastic completion chapter for a wonderful AP!
The Dead Heart of Xin - I think Brandon Hodge has become one of my most well-loved adventure writer because he's mastered the art of pacing and PC significance. A lot of what I love about this AP has been described above by captain yesterday. What's most awesome about all of it though is that it shows how Mr. Hodge continually evolved his adventure writing based on feedback from those that ran his past adventures. He listened to the players and wrote an adventure that gave them what they asked for. Again, player actions throughout the AP and the adventure adjusted its play. I love it when this happens. Another thing I loved about it was the opportunity for roleplay encounters throughout . . . it wasn't just a slugfest.
Great thread, Mr. Groves! Best of luck in the continual honing of your craft! I'm a big fan of your stuff, as well!
They've pretty much already said not to get any hopes up, actually. Many times. While the six books in an AP do cost more than a single core book, the page count is also significantly larger, so that makes sense. The other problem that has been repeatedly documented, which you also state openly here, is that if they started making hardcover omnibus of every AP for cheaper than buying the AP books themselves, there is no incentive for purchasing the AP books . . . which, inevitably, destroys their subscription numbers. Thus, they begin competing with themselves, as AP subscriptions are pretty much their bread and butter, and the income they get for those subscriptions is what helps pay for all those other fun things they do (such as the opportunity to do the Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition!).
In short, don't expect any hardcover omnibus to get done. If they ever do another one, it'll probably be either Crimson Throne, or one of the other unconverted APs.
So, I know it's early yet (having not even gotten the first adventure to read and all), but has anyone else given any serious thought about how to incorporate the Queen's Hand from the PCS: Rival Guide into this? I mean, c'mon! A team of highly trained special investigators that works directly for the queen? A province (or whatever they're called in Cheliax) in the early stages of rebellion? These two have to go together somehow!
Scott Calnan wrote:
He may have already been suffering from Ghoul Fever when they met him in Burnt Offerings, but wasn't showing any symptoms of it yet, or not bad enough symptoms so as to be recognizable. His slaying merely finished the process a little quicker, and now the Strix has an obsessed mortal enemy on his hands!
Nobody, huh? Any idea on how to price these things? Any standards? A friend of mine said that some general pricing for abilities equating to a feat to be around 5k gold, while abilities that generate powers equivalent to class abilities could be anywhere between 10-26k gold.
That's a good start, I'd say. Still, some of the above abilities for the items listed don't fall into those categories either (although the fly spell as a swift action could equate to the Quicken metamagic feat, which would mean that cost would be 5k).
So, I've tried to reconstruct how some of the Unchained Scaling Item examples were created, but I'm getting some weird variables here that I can't pinpoint. I'm not the greatest mathematician, so please forgive that!
I understand how the system works. I've gone over that rather extensively, and I've figured it out pretty well. It's the cost for applying certain abilities that does not make sense to me. Thus, I was wondering if others may have figured out some of the standardized pricing for this stuff.
For the Armageddon Plate:
What would the pricing be for the 8th level fear ability? It appears to mimic a monster special ability, not the spell (the spell would cost too much anyway for the level it gets unlocked), and I see nothing on the magic item pricing chart that equates to this.
Additionally, how would one price the DC increase and ranged attack retaliation for that fear ability at the unlocked 13th level?
Or the change of Damage Reduction from DR/magic to DR/- in the modified Invulnerability ability for the unlocked 16th level ability?
For the Armor of the Celestial Host:
Is there a standardized pricing for all of that fiddling with the maximum Dexterity bonus and Armor Check Penalty? I know that the original price factors in the armor being mithral (or so it appears to me), but how about all the other changes applied to it both at the start and throughout the unlocked leveling process?
What about the changing of the fly spell casting becoming a swift action?
There's all kinds of examples of this throughout the example items where I don't see rules that apply to their cost in creating magic items.
Is there a chart I'm not finding somewhere? Are there become a de facto magic item creation equations that have been agreed upon for the pricing of these kinds of things?
Thanks in advance to anyone willing to tackle this issue and help me out a bit!
Rogar Stonebow wrote:
Look up paizo's rules for class building, they consider spell progression as an ability that happens at the specific level. They build classes so that something happens or improves almost every level.
Boy, they sure did fubar the sorcerer's 2nd level then. What a horrific level! I'd play a sorcerer over a wizard any day of the week. The bloodlines give them far more flavor, as does the spontaneous spellcasting when trying to make a character of theme. I love everything about the class (even with their gaining new spell levels one level later, which I have no issue with whatsoever). I do wish the developers would have given the sorcerer something to look forward to at 2nd level though! Would have been nice!
(And before anyone points out - again - that there are canonically CE Lovecraftian beings, I know there are. But there are also ones that aren't evil. And if new ones are introduced, I hope they will also not be evil. Essentially, I'd like for the evil ones to be considered outliers, not representative of how most of the Old Ones are.)
There is a 3rd Tier Universal Path Ability in Mythic Adventures called Beyond Morality that effectively removes any alignment from the individual. Whenever someone tries to use an alignment-based spell or effect against someone with Beyond Morality, it treats the individual as though they were the most favorable alignment. One might interpret this to mean that such a person would be immune to things like a Paladin's smite ability, for instance.
It might be worth it to you to turn this ability into a feat in which to give to all mythos monsters and Great Old Ones so that their alignments aren't necessarily a detriment to them. Instead, these unthinkable creatures are simply beyond any type of common morality that exists in the world.
Just a thought!
So is there any chance this won't involve 17th level PCs vs a CR 20 Star-Spawn of Cthulhu as a BBEG in the final adventure?
Honestly, I hope not! The Starspawn of Cthulhu is a truly wussified CR 20 creature. They'd need to do something far more epic than that for a finale in an AP as incredible as this one should be!
And yes, I am absolutely looking forward to this one! I'll most certainly resubscribe for it after HV!
And it would be even more fantastic if they gave us a three-dimensional map to be able to pull off the combats easier!
Turin the Mad wrote:
Whether or not the GM can hack it is another matter. ;)
See, I'm not one who ever wants to see evil win. I prefer to back the good guys. Thus, if as GM, I'm playing the good guys, it means I have no incentive to want my PCs to succeed. A full party TPK is not something I'd seek to avoid, but would actively seek to perform because I don't want to see evil win. That's not a healthy game style for us! (Then there's the fact that none of my players desire to play evil characters either . . . )
Of course, Paizo could always choose to do the evil vs evil scenario, but that doesn't at all sound like what the vast majority of the people want to see either. They want to be evil defeating good (which I can't understand, personally). If Paizo chose to do the evil vs evil thing, it would probably disappoint a great deal of people who actually want this AP! Again, it would not do a thing for me, since I wouldn't want either side to win, then!
It's just best I stay away from this one! ;)
It would be difficult for me to run or play in.
Barachiel Shina wrote:
See, I actually think that the kineticist is the most boring class in this book. It's the one I'm least looking forward to. However, I've rather psyched about the Mesmerist and the Occultist.
Yes, I went there . . .
Luckily for both of us, all of these classes will be available, so we can both be quite happy!
Conserving resources isn't terribly difficult when you're a martial class. It's those characters that need to keep the martials alive via healing and whatnot that tend to need such breaks. However, as a martial, it can be useful for both you and them if you can regain a bit of those hit points without magical healing (via spell or potion).
Regardless, I thought the idea of quick breaks a useful one.
The one set of rules I've been thinking about incorporating from 5e were the resting rules, where you can rest for one hour and recover a certain number of spells, hit points, and special abilities. I love this idea simply because adventurers having to take 8 hour breaks constantly in the middle of dungeons feels a bit off to me. This gives them options to take short breaks--especially during more time sensitive situations--and keep the ball rolling.
Just a Guess wrote:
I didn't have it follow him. He uses his breath weapon to create it, so it's not a spell effect, but supernatural ability (I picture him breathing out all around him to form a blizzard vortex). Thus, where he breathes it out is where the blizzard stays.
I have a five-person crew for Runelords, and Arkhryst definitely did her job for me. Next to Xanesha, he was probably the most difficult fight they've had thus far (we just finished Book 5 yesterday). He never landed in my fight either, though he only destroyed one of the giant zombie minions of our undead bloodline sorcerer.
I can tell you that blizzard worked to tremendous effect for me! Its hindering effects on sight and movement (1 square = 4 squares) made the party struggle for a while since they hadn't pre-buffed with flight spells at all. Eventually, they forced Arkhryst to retreat back to his lair, but he didn't come out to fight them there. Instead, he hid in his network of tunnels for them to open the portal to Runeforge, then stealthily followed them through.
While they were exploring, he was doing the same and went into the Necromancer wing where the lich there turned him into a Ravener. That led to an awesome and hair-raising final chase through the Halls of Wrath with Arkhryst the Ravener seeking to destroy them all the way through! They finally tried to ambush him in the Hall of Preparation, which turned bad for them in a hurry -- blizzard in that room worked to his advantage with the high stealth score he had! They finally put his down, but it wasn't until he had virtually wiped them all out.
The APs I've completed as GM are but one:
Serpent's Skull - Players had a blast. Was a lot of work, but worth it in the end.
The APs I'm currently running as GM are two:
Kingmaker - This campaign will be closing on the completion of its third year at the end of the summer, and we should be finishing the campaign about that time as well. We just completed Book 5, and there are a few things to do before Book 6 can begin. Everyone has loved this AP. It's been an absolute success.
Rise of the Runelords - We gather to play this one about once every 4-8 weeks. It's the first AP we ever started in PF back in 2010, and we are at the very end of Book 5. Players have enjoyed it despite the rather hectic scheduling through the years.
The APs I'm currently playing in, but that are not finished are one:
Jade Regent - I've been thoroughly enjoying this one. I've enjoyed the Asian flavor thus far, and the group has been a great deal of fun. It helps that I am now an enlarged dwarven magus using the Hammer of Thunderbolts. Joy!
The APs I am getting ready to run as GM are two:
Shattered Star - My group and I love all things Thassilonian, pretty much from our experiences with Runelords. Thus, this is the campaign we will be starting when Kingmaker reaches its conclusion.
Carrion Crown - I also have a group that enjoys the old Gothic horror schtick, which makes this a no-brainer for them also. Will be looking to run this one after Jade Regent has concluded, probably about the beginning of next year.
Rogar Valertis wrote:
My two cents: playing an evil campaign is possible if your players are mature people and the GM is experiences. Is more about trying a different prospective on adventuring than "being evil" per se. If your players enjoy roleplaying and deeply complex characterizations and you are good at curbing excesses and situation with the potential to ruin fun for everyone then an evil AP is a great opportunity. If you don't have that kind of human material or experience then evil APs are probably not the right choice for you.
Nope. I'm not buying.
All of my players are incredibly mature . . . mature enough to know beyond all reasonable doubt that playing evil characters is not something they're interested in. Also, mature enough to know that to desire evil to gain victory isn't their cup of tea at all.
I would also argue that playing evil is quite easy, actually. It doesn't involve a great amount of depth at all, as evil is very much engrained within human nature. Unwillingness to lie, cheat, steal, or even bend the rules to get what you want or desire (lawful evil characters do this according to the society they wish to uphold, as well, though they do it in a fashion that would be logical, with loopholes -- think lawyers!) isn't easy to play. If you don't believe that good would be more difficult, look at all the Paladin alignment threads out there! People can't seem to grasp how good can even be quantified in-game!
I've also been running games for over 20 years, so I've got plenty of experience doing it. My friends would say I'm pretty good at it. ;)
For us, it's a question of morality and ethics, even in the characters we're portraying. I run evil characters as GM with the knowledge that such characters will get defeated by my players. It's not about evil winning with us. Evil is there to be defeated, not to be the stars of the show.
Thus, I disagree with your two cents. But, I will not argue with your play style! If you enjoy evil, have fun with it RV! I wish you many happy hours of gaming!
My group would be all about going that difficult path to suicide if it meant doing the right thing. They're awesome that way! =D
Iron Gods was in no way my cup of tea. I'm a fantasy nut, but not overly big on sci-fi. However, I'll admit that their story and continuity in Iron Gods was great. Even more important than my appreciation that they created a great AP in a genre I'm not big on, though, is that I have players who would choose it as an option for a future game.
Hell's Vengeance, being an AP for evil characters, does not give me such an option. My players won't do evil. Period. Doesn't matter how great the story might be. You can criticize that all you want, CM, and tell me I'm being silly, ridiculous, unfair, or a whole host of other flavorful titles. What it comes down to in the end is: My players won't play such a game, and I don't enjoy running evil campaigns either.
Thus, there's no purpose for me to spend my money on this one and give it a chance. I hope it's fantastic! I want Paizo to make money because I enjoy the products Paizo puts out.
This one is a no-go, however. I'll look forward to Hell's Rebels and whatever AP follows Vengeance!
No threat here, my friend (Duiker)! I meant no disrespect to Paizo at all, which is why I wished them all the best with this one. This simply comes down to play style. This AP could be the greatest, most unbelievably awesome story ever conceived in modern day gaming . . . but once you've slapped the "Evil PCs" tag upon it, there's nothing about it that my group will buy into. Nothing.
I don't blame Paizo for making this AP. I know there has been an outcry by many for an evil AP, and now they've got it. Which is cool! I buy APs to give my players options of campaigns to play, however, and this provides us with none. My players want to play heroes, and good-aligned ones at that. Literally, there is one kind of AP that is of absolutely no use to me, and an evil one is it.
I'll plan to resubscribe after this one is done. Has nothing to do with giving benefit of the doubt though, and everything to do with a play style that's useless for myself and my group. I suppose you can take that as you will.
I'm with you there, Samy. My players don't do evil. No use for this AP at all. I wish Paizo the best with it, of course, but I'll not keep my subscription up for this one.
It will also be the only AP in their line that I'll not own. Sadness . . . :(
Doomed Hero wrote:
I just looked at this magic item . . . unfortunately, according to the rules, it won't allow me to wield it one-handed, but instead wield it two-handed without size penalty. I was disappointed.
Plus, it appears effortless lace only works on slashing and piercing weapons, not bludgeoning. Something else I find absurd, personally.
I have a dwarf character who just got a Hammer of Thunderbolts. Is there a way for a medium-sized character to wield the artifact with one hand? He's a Magus (Spellsword Archetype), and I'd love to be able to continue to use the athame if possible!
That whole large weapon for it the warhammer is what's stifling me on this. How do medium players wield it without size penalties?
You absolutely could interpret it that way! my interpretation of the quote, however, would be that if one enjoys soloing games, perhaps it would be more fun for you and those around the table if you played solo games. ;)
Clarification: "You" here not intended to point a finger at anyone in particular on these forums.
little bit on Multiclassing that actually sounds pretty neat. Kind of like 4E feat dip multiclassing.
This actually scares me just a touch . . . When you start looking to 4E for inspiration . . . Oi!
All the same, I'm looking forward to this one.
Still there was never any need to get those high-level-NPC more involved in your campaign than the high-level NPCs from the Golarion setting. While they had a lot of exposition through the novel line that hadn't to mean anything for one's own campaign (And if you needed a reason why they didn't interfere in one's campaign, well it was the novels which gave it to you - they simply were busy elsewhere).
All those powerful NPCs in the Realms made it difficult to justifiably explain why they never showed up when a huge problem arose though. They were everywhere! And their driven purpose in the Realms was to affect it, both overtly and covertly. Having some great Realms-shattering storyline happening and not working these NPCs into it was virtually enough to destroy suspension of disbelief. Even those players that hardly knew anything about Realms continuity still knew about Elminster and Drizzt and the Seven Sisters and so on. If everything in Faerun was going to the hells in a handbasket, did it make sense for a few of these superpowers--namely the ones that could teleport around the world on a whim, and who were so connected with the Weave and the gods that they knew everything that was happening anywhere in the world--to not show up and do something about it? It didn't make sense.
To Paizo's credit, the NPCs they have hovering around their world aren't nearly as intrusive. Yes, there are powerful ones, but they either keep to themselves or are the big bads your characters are supposed to beat! The ones we read about in their PF Tales novels are cool, but none of them are overly powerful. The two coolest, in my opinion, are Radovan and Jeggare from Dave Gross's novels, and I've got PCs in the world that could easily walk either of them, or both of them together. That's good thinking on Paizo's part, as far as I'm concerned. They saw the problems an overabundance of potent NPCs created and learned from it.
And WQ, this is coming from a person that still enjoys reading about the Realms. I always enjoyed that world!
Some people here in this very thread have argued that they had problems with the realms because of new published material antagonizing what they had developed in their own campaign. That's something I never really understood. Why should I let myself get stifled by anything an author writes?
At one point in my campaigns, I had ten players around the table. (One thing I loved about 2E, you could run a game with these types of numbers no problem--not the same in PF!) While the majority of them were the folk I described in my post above--they had lives and other things to do other than keep up on Realms continuity, there were a couple of them that were exactly the opposite. They read every book (including ones I hadn't read!), and knew every little thing that went down in the Realms. It meant I had to try and decipher this intricate puzzle to keep everyone happy. You know how some people are! If the world's creators make it canon, how can you say it's not? Telling those people, "In this game, that and that and that never happened, but this and this did" just never really worked, because it all created the whole to them. Missing anything meant it affected everything else.
Thus, the majority of my group back in the day would argue that this bit of continuity really screwed them over, while the minority of the group would argue that that bit of continuity was crucial because, without it, these other things don't make sense! Either way, you're ruining the experience for some people or for all people.
Again, haven't had this problem in Golarion yet because they created a static world in which the players' continuity is the only thing that matters. (And what I want to do with the rest of it, of course, as it sounds like you do, WQ!) From a gaming and player perspective, this works better for us.
That's not to say I'd get all disgruntled if they did it otherwise. I played in the Realms for 15 years plus, as I stated, and we made it work. There were just a lot more complications involved.
One the other hand, why should the authors of a campaign setting let themselves get stifled in their creativity, because some readers could take offense with it? Because that's exactly why they thought they had to destroy the Realms and create a new version.
This was an interesting note you made, too, as I'd not heard this one. I do recall listening to Greenwood, Salvatore, and a couple of the developers (Baker, I believe was one of them) comment that because 4E was so drastically different mechanically, they needed to jump the Realms so the world would work mechanically with the system. The price one pays for having a world that requires adaptation to the game that's being played in it, as opposed to stories just being told via novels.
Perhaps there was a little of both going on!