See, I look at it in such a way that I don't really worry about balance concerns. By definition the mythic rules are imbalanced. Really. The way I see it, a party with mythic characters will be playing a different sort of game. Sure, they can accomplish crazy things. Great! So they should be actually doing crazy things.
They won't be ridding the town of that goblin tribe, nor tracking down that pesky owlbear lair, nor going after a few random bandits. That's not the point. They should be doing the kind of crazy, off the wall stuff that you see in superhero comics. That's the point :)
I'm dealing with a bit of the same issue with the new campaign I'm preparing to start up. They've all designed their own races (using a 20-point ARG build), and have a 25-point buy. AND they're all first level. In their first game, they took out a wyvern with ease. So what? It's not like I'm going to punish them for it - I'm still in the phase of judging what the difficulty level ought to be for them, and then we'll start getting to the heart of the matter.
And they did make the observation (similar to above) that while they're really powerful because of their monstrous builds, they are still first-level characters and have a bit of a glass heel, too.
Anyways, I don't view this as any different than the old 3.5e epic rules, or, really any high-level play in general. If you're going to try to min/max the Mythic rules, you will break the game. No question. So you can't play as if that's the point. You have to play as if you now can tell epic, world-spanning stories you'd never have been able to tell with the core rules.
And if someone has an "I win" combination, well, either create an in-game reason why it can't be done every time (I've done that in the past), have a tacit agreement that it won't be used all the time (not as good, but that's been done too), or have lots of opponents for whom that magic combo doesn't work (my least favorite, as I'm a fan of versimilitude, and to suddenly have 95% of the opponents immune to sleep just breaks it down for me).
That's one hell of a thread. Okay, some things I want to comment on.
1. Hands down, Paizo has the best customer service of any company I've ever dealt with. Period. Discover is close; they're pretty damn good, but nobody has ever made me feel like I mattered as much as Paizo has.
I've been a subscriber since day one, though initially *only* of the Adventure Paths, and even then it was outstanding. Now I'm sure the warehouse staff finds my orders staggering ( as does my bank account :O ) and I still feel the same way.
2. Holy crap folks, they're releasing a record-breaking amount of material at the same time as the single largest yearly event they support and *anyone* is surprised that the company is strained?
It's a fact of life that statistics (and its buddy, queueing theory) suck. It causes rush hour traffic, it causes your line to always seem to go slowest at the grocery store, and it means that yeah, once in a while your service will be crappier than every single other persons.
I mean, *someone* is gonna be last ... and sometimes it's you. Hell, feels like it's me a lot of the time too, but I realize that's all the psychology of the situation - if you're not one of the first people who has access, then you feel like you've been slighted.
But put things in perspective, folks. You're dealing with a company that really, truly wants to do the right thing for their customers. Lisa didn't start this company to be a millionaire ... she started it because this is something she loves. And that shows in every aspect of the company. Unfortunately for us sometimes, one part of her view of the company is that it's a small company, and that does have an impact at times like this, meaning that they don't (and won't) have the staff to make deliveries of this magnitude a breeze for them.
There's things you certainly should be concerned about waiting for: an ambulance ... the fire department ... the police to respond to that 911 call you just made. But this? I just can't see this being the world-ending, angst-inducing event people are making it out to be.
Um, you realize paizo actually releases more gm oriented products then any rpg company in history right?
Perhaps a bit of hyperbole there :)
However, I think Auxmaulous's point is far more valid than you're giving him credit for. He said GM exclusive books. Adventures (modules and adventure paths) are not GM exclusive - they're for the whole table. Ditto for all the Ultimate books (including Ultimate Campaign) the APG, the Core Rulebook, etc.
Many, many books are toolkits for players to customize their PCs. Great. Yeah, GMs can use those too, but the reality is that making NPCs is far, far too expensive of an activity for me to do for the throwaway opponents that are typical for encounters, and it gets more expensive the higher the CR.
Books like Libris Mortis, Lords of Madness, Savage Species, and Green Ronin's Advanced Bestiary are invaluable tools for GMs, and we have exactly zero books like that. Heck, Exemplars of Evil and especially Elder Evils were pretty good too, though I could have done with a bit more toolkit and a bit less canned material.
Throwing 5 levels of fighter on a monster is not the same as tools for customization, regardless of the repeated refrain that GMs can use the same books :)
I like the concept of this book, but really wish they'd done the same thing for monsters first :)
I mean, we already have one book that has all my players drooling over options - the Advanced Race Guide. For the new campaign we're starting up, they're (mostly) all designing their own races, and that's cool - I'm designing the campaign world so that makes sense.
However, I'm really, really hoping this is more like the Advanced Race Guide than the Advanced Players Guide, and I suspect it is. I'm guessing Paizo doesn't want to dump another 10 classes into their universe - in fact I'm guessing that the 10 new classes will be as much a part of Golarion canon as the new races in the ARG are part of Golarion canon.
Regardless, I suspect it will be a good read :)
James Jacobs wrote:
I understand what you're saying, but I'm not talking about making new material that matches the module. I'm talking about using some of the nearly 100 published flip mats and/or map packs for an encounter in a module.
Case in point: Broken Chains:
Broken Chains relies very heavily on travel through the sewers in the middle of the module. While it gives lip service to the excellent Map Pack: Sewers product, it really doesn't use it in any useful way; most of the sewer map can't actually be represented by that map pack
Case in point: Murder's Mark:
Though an excellent introductory module, Murder's Mark could have used one of the existing warehouse flip mats for area D, but instead created its own map instead. There's little reason for a level 1 module not to use an existing flip mat especially for something as standard as a warehouse.
My point is, all these adventures are being written, yet none of them leverage the wealth of GM material in the form of flip mats and map packs, and it would be wonderful if they did :)
While I understand the difficulties involved in tying the flip-mat and/or map pack line to the modules line, it would be really cool if the module line did a better job of leveraging existing material.
Hell, there's something like 45 map packs and 52 flip maps out there now; it can't be *that* hard to use at least one or two of them for encounters.
Yeah, I know it breaks the ability to design things from scratch a little bit, but in terms of GMs actually being able to use the stuff they already own, it's a huge win.
I'll take a flip mat or a few sheets from a map pack over my own chicken scratch any day of the week.
Liz Courts wrote:
Not in the slightest. The bestiaries are the equivalent of the Core Rulebook. We want the Advanced Monster Guide, Ultimate Monsters, and Ultimate Encounters :)
brent norton wrote:
still sad........I was all excited and everything. Normally when it says "you purchased this" the PDFs are available.....Still sad.
Yeah ... it's always like that. But so long as you get used to the first email not actually meaning anything (and virtually always being on a Thursday) you get used to it.
It is actually worded differently than the ship email, if you look carefully. You just have to be in the mood to look carefully instead of being all woot! got my ship noti... errr crap.
This is a really cool discussion, and it finally illuminated to me the disparity between my opinion of epic level games and many other people's.
As some of you perhaps know, I ran an epic game for just under 7 years, most of it above level 20. Over and over, I'd read about how completely broken the epic rules were, how the math doesn't work, how it was unplayable, etc., and yet week after week for years we happily got together bi-weekly to play our impossible, unplayable game.
It worked because we were there to have fun.
Any single player at the table (or myself) could have broken that game in a second. But why would they? This wasn't theorycrafting; this was us trying to get together, have a few beers, and enjoy ourselves.
Sure, the epic 3.5e druid was a nightmare for me. The epic dervish dancer/fighter with a slew of Luck feats was horrific. The wizard was played by a pre-teen who could have been a million times more effective had he optimized his character better. Generating throwaway CR50+ threats got a bit overwhelming at times. The PCs could easily have overthrown half the damn universe had they chosen to.
Our goal was to play the game, and we did, and we had a blast, and when we finally retired the campaign this past June, nobody was relieved to finally be done with the game. In fact, I'd planned on taking a few months off (felt kinda deserved, ya know), instead after about a month they're all now saying "sooo ... when are we starting up again?"
Good thing the Mythic book is coming out this month. And to hell with that supposed level 20 cap :)
Evil Lincoln wrote:
Well said. I've been hoping for the same thing for a long time. Ideally it'd be a bi-yearly event; I've always thought of it as 'Part 7 of 6' of the adventure path, but I could certainly see making it once a year or so instead due to the effort involved.
In my mind this would be a separate subscription item. Doing so covers several bases:
Hell, since it would probably take them a year to get the first one out the door, they could probably announce it and see off the bat whether it was a worthwhile exercise.
Hmmmmm ... perhaps we have a new possibility for RPG Superstar ... design a part 7 of 6 for an existing Adventure Path, to be part of the new Adventure Path Epilogue subscription .....
(*sigh* if only ...)
Steve Geddes wrote:
+6 (an epic plus :)
I second this in a big way. I cannot underscore enough how handy it would be to have a section for each condition in the Conditions Deck giving common ways of overcoming and/or preventing that condition.
And I'd call it just that: common (or typical) solutions; it's not intended to cover every obscure spell and/or class power that might have an effect, it's meant to give the top few and/or most likely ways to deal with it.
It would be handy for the players, and I wouldn't end up feeling like I was either giving it away (when I know the players are missing an easy solution to their problem) or being a jerk (when I know the solution is simple and they're not seeing it and and the party is going down in flames).
Captin Kuro wrote:
I'm actually psyched for this book, whenever I start a new game my players say "Epic?" and I always say, "No" simply because I don't feel the 3.5 Epic rules go well with Pathfinder. Now I have something that, while not Epic, will definitely be able to give my players what they want. Thank Paizo!
That's all I have to say on the matter.
Better ... hmmm ... hard to say.
Frankly, I think the contest does pretty much exactly what it needs to. I think the open voting may have revealed a bit more than Paizo wanted about the actual size of the playing field, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
In reality, I don't think I'd change much besides speeding it up a bit. Sure, that would make it frustrating for those of us trying to make sure our items made the cut, but hell, that's hardly the point of the contest - a good enough item will make the cut, and one that's not good enough won't, and whether or not someone sees their own item isn't really relevant.
So I'd say don't really change much except timelines. After all, if you really want to see the effects of changes, you only change one thing at a time, otherwise you can't be sure of cause and effect.
Vic Wertz wrote:
Hopefully the net result isn't "ignore the GMs."
Because I'll ask a counter question. Of the people who buy ALL the books, how many are GMs and how many are players, you think?
I had a complete and utter blast running this module. I'll freely admit that I pulled a punch or two at the end, but really, given it was a pretty newbie play group and they had made some truly fascinating decisions along the way...
Like, for example...:
Like, for example, the sorcerer deciding that heading off in the middle of the night with a local in the creepy children of the corn village was actually a good idea, meaning that he was shackled to the sacrificial table in the corn maze...
Or, going in the front door, retreating from the scarecrow, trying to climb in the windows of the building and thus gaining the notice of Alizna, then half the party sprinting for the corn maze while the other half stayed behind ... and then further splitting up in the corn maze, resulting in a scarecrow and aranea behind, a trio of cultists from the barn in between, and them surrounded by cultists, mosquito swarms and Kriegler in the maze while all separated ...
Oh yeah, and then ...:
Oh yeah, and then when someone finally reached the middle, they didn't bother to release the sorcerer. So the sorcerer spent the entire final combat shackled to the table while the other 4 members of the party tried to fight off the cultists, swarm, faceless stalker, scarecrow, aranea and the blightspawn.
So, yeah, they were all pretty new players and I cut them a break :)
I think the majority of people are missing the OP's actual point. Desna's Angel isn't saying that the setting material is lacking; they're saying that less rules content consisting of feats, spells, archetypes, mysteries, bloodlines, domains, etc. should be published.
People are jumping on the "moar setting!" part of it but ignoring the crux, which is essentially "please spend the effort you're spending on game mechanics on more setting instead."
A sentiment I 100% disagree with, by the way :)
I know the epic skills stuff from the ELH was often reviled, but I thought it was pretty darn cool - the kind of stuff you expect to see from legendary characters. Walking on water (or clouds), squeezing through tiny openings, jumping incredible distances, etc. - I'd really love to see a section on mythic skill usage if it doesn't make it into the core mythic book.
Also, some kind of generalization of increasing spell effects would be cool, after all, pretty much every mass spell is just the same spell with level + 3; why not make that a form of metamagic available to mythic casters?
How about a feat like Signature Spellcasting. When you cast a spell, everyone knows that you personally cast it. Maybe you can add a personalized little tweak to it (the archmage Zarkovan's evocation spells all leave a lingering foul taint in the air that can sicken people, while High Priest Casanir's enchantments (like prayer and bless) actually provide fast healing 1 for their duration). But in a design-your-own sort of way so it's personalized.
Primarily, I want mythic player options to be cool. I'll take a cool option over a power-up option any day. In my mind, mythic games should look like the movies: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Sucker Punch (while lackluster, the fantasy combat scenes were outstanding) and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World all come to mind here, as do some of the fight scenes in the Lord of the Rings movies (but NOT The Hobbit, holy Mother of God were the scenes in Moria unfortunately video game like). Heck, the better X-Men movies are a good example too.
Just don't forget the poor GMs. There's ever more power-up material for PCs, and yet in years of development, we're not even close to books as awesome as Lords of Madness, Libris Mortis and Savage Species.
Yeah, but he's our jerk (cue nostalgic music).
Steve Geddes is ok, but only when he agrees with me.
That's funny, I was just thinking "hey, Steve Geddes is an okay guy except when he agrees with Skeld."
Strange how that works out :)
Well, the judges and I agreed on precisely 4 items.
Given that they've been exuberant about being in complete agreement on nearly the entire set of 36 items selected (32 + 4 alternates), I'd say I should take that as a quite significant piece of information :)
James Jacobs wrote:
Even if I point out that there's gonna be about 17 new monsters, of which 2 are new templates?
Om nom nom templates nom nom templates!!
Eric Morton wrote:
I've recorded the names of all 810 items I've seen, and I plan on posting an alphabetical checklist once the Top 32 are announced. No commentary. No descriptions (since Paizo owns all rights to the items). Just item names.
When you do so, can you note which ones you only saw before the 25% reduction? I saw 787 items, and of those there's 192 I never saw after the reduction, so I'm curious to see what overlap there is between our two lists :)
I was so excited that i entered my item on the VERY first day ( this is the first year i had even heard of the contest) , and NOW i regret Being so quick. Excitement got the better of me. I think my item was pretty decent , but it was only AFTER i entered it that i read SEAN's post on things NOT to do to be successful! LOL My item is decent BUT there are a few possible problems with it. AND i thouight of two seperate items LATER that i thought wouldve been BETTER submissions!! hahah So we will see.... IDK......
Never count yourself out. Look back at the past few years and you'll see there's more than formatting involved in getting into the top 32. :)
Personally, I'm hoping that at least one with terrible formatting gets in just because of all the obsession about it :)
Jacob Kellogg wrote:
At that point the thread will turn into a monk archetype with flurry of posts replacing flurry of blows.
I voted for my item all three times I saw it. If it was one of the items I saw lots of times, perhaps I might have voted against it if it was up against a really cool item, but there's very few items in that list.
(Ironically, it came up against one of those 8 items the second time I saw it, and I still voted for my item.)
I see it as being like voting against your kid if they're running for office, no matter what you think of the other guy. Maybe if they've been in office already, and they're lousy but still trying to get re-elected, but for their very first time? Of course you'd vote for them. Or at least I think you should :)
There were two items that would probably be considered godawful that I always voted for just because I liked them.
And in terms of voting when I didn't really like either of the items, I never gave it much thought - my assumption was that both would be relatively near the bottom of the list and a relative ranking wouldn't really be all that important.
It wasn't often I had to give really serious thought, when both items were pretty good; in those cases the relative ranking was probably more important and I'd consider it thoroughly.
Matrix Dragon wrote:
Is the "no more than one spell per round" restriction really that bad? I was thinking that it would make things more interesting by forcing spellcasters to mix in spell-like abilities, supernatural abilities, and items (such as staves, which suddenly become really useful for a mythic spellcaster).
Is it the end of the world? Clearly no. Is it arbitrary, illogical, and hard to justify within the context of the rules given that there's already swift action spells, immediate action spells, Magus spellstrike and the like? Yes.
Is it illogical that a spell is a standard action, but even if you get another standard action you can't cast a second one "just because?" Yes.
Those are the reasons for my dislike. It just makes no sense. It's like the (revoked) flurry of blows/two-weapon fighting thing or the completely illogical "reach weapons don't threaten corners" thing.
When rules are logical, you can assume that if you have to make a spot ruling, it has a good chance of matching the actual rule hidden somewhere in a book.
When rules are specified "just because," odds are good that someone's intuitive ruling will be wrong because it doesn't match the seemingly arbitrary rule that's in place.
Can a fighter make two Vital Strikes if they have two standard actions? Sure, because Vital Strike is a standard action. Can a sorcerer cast two spells if they have two standard actions? Uh, no. Why? "because"
I don't want someone to hack away at the rules in order to make abilities that are used less often "more useful." It just makes the rules illogical.
Matrix Dragon wrote:
Anyway, thanks for thoroughly looking into the new Amazing Initiative rules. It is definitely a good point that we don't need rounds getting longer, and I think upping the cost of using the old Amazing Initiative to 2 points would balance things out.
My group has been looking forward to the mythic rules for a long, long time. We've been playing at crazy high levels for years, and were quite interested in how they'd play out. All of the games were good, but since we're used to dealing with adjudicating crazy stuff, having to adjudicate crazy illogical stuff is just an annoyance.
Matrix Dragon wrote:
I don't understand all the dislike for additional spells, nor the desire to arbitrarily force people to use different abilities. They're all there to be used, and twisting the rules to force people to change up what they do will just be an irritation, since what someone can intuitively do (cast two spells with two standard actions) they can't do simply because a designer wants to force their spellcaster to do "something else." But just the spellcasters.
Furthermore, any spellcaster can cast as many spells as they want, they just have to use time stop, (in which case d4+1 additional spells (and an equivalent number of quickened spells) can be cast all within that same round.
Matrix Dragon wrote:
Edit: Another option would be to allow people to spend 1 point to get an extra standard action -20 init later, and 2 points to get a full round action -20 init later. This could favor spellcasters though, if the melee doesn't invest in things like vital strike and cleave.
That's exactly what I'm for; in fact make it a 1/2/3 thing; pay 1 for a move action, 2 for a standard/move, and 3 for a full turn (i.e. an extra swift action). With the mythic rules as written, everyone is going to be starved for swift actions.
In any event, any optimized character will be favored in combat over a non-optimized character. That's not really something that worries me, and I like the extra actions, I really think it makes combats feel more mythic.
For me, this isn't the 1 on 1 arena. Whether the fighter can beat the wizard or vice-versa is 100% irrelevant, since they're not supposed to be solo. I intend to use the mythic rules for full parties, and in an adventuring party that plays together for a long time, everyone has their place, what they're good at, what they step forward to take care of, and what they stap back and let someone else take care of. That's what balance is about, not artificially hamstringing characters by altering the rules so they can't do things that by intuition and RAW (without the "but wait" exceptions) they'd be able to do.
Now, all this has been only about combat because that's pretty much all we've been giving, but I've been saying for years that if all a super-high-level game is is a never ending string of super-high CR combats, it'll pretty darn quickly implode. Plot is infinitely more important than combats, and I'm quite interested to see what's in store in that arena.
It's interesting that the best element in that regard was the mythic weaknesses and mythic advancement, and I'm glad to see it being moved solely to the domain of the GM - after all, plot is the responsibility of the GM, and putting it in the hands of the players by letting them choose their flaw or define their daily set of metagame tasks really took away from that; I think the choice as defined in the update was the correct one.
We had our final playtests on 1/4 and 1/11, using the updates to the rules as requested by Jason.
This post comments only on mythic damage.
I suggest the concept of mythic damage be dropped from the final version of the rules.
We found it to be a record-keeping issue, almost as if every character had to keep track of two completely different sets of hit points, and from what I can see, it virtually never had much of a practical effect on gameplay.
Something very similar could be gained by granting mythic characters bonus temporary hit points after every rest, for example, a mythic character might gain temporary hit points equal to their normal hit points every morning regardless of what their actual status is.
This would have the cool side effect that mythic characters could take more punishment while keeping going while still being beat to hell because they're at 15 hit points out of 100hp yet after a rest they're kicking with what's effectively 115hp. Sounds like a lot of movies I've seen :)
In any event, this caused us nowhere near the agitation that Amazing Initiative or mythic time stop did, but nor did it really seem to have much of a noticeable benefit, thus slowing gameplay for little reason.
We had our final playtests on 1/4 and 1/11, using the updates to the rules as requested by Jason.
This post comments only on Amazing Initiative.
We used the new rules for Amazing Initiative, and not a single person in my group liked them, including me.
This could be because we're used to high-level play under 3.5e, with spellcasters liberally using Multispell in conjunction with the full Automatic Quicken feat tree, but we all enjoyed our games pre-transition significantly more; everyone agreed that multiple turns per character instead of longer turns per character was an improvement.
When all the players had the option of taking two full turns (and before I realized there was an artificial limitation buried in the Pathfinder system that mandated no more than one spell per round, something I dislike with a keen intensity), everyone was contributing and there was no feeling of any player monopolizing the table (but see my post to follow about mythic time stop).
After the change, we ended up back in the 3.5e mode of individual players' turns taking even longer because even though they only got an extra standard action, it was glommed onto their regular action. Furthermore, there were many discussions and much confusion about what a PC could and couldn't do, given that it was only an additional standard action and additional spells were administratively prohibitied (but not spell-like abilities, supernatural abilities, etc.). Frankly, the previous rules were just plain simpler (especially since at the time I was unaware of the arbitrary "1 spell per round" limitation).
For us, this new set of initiative rules was neither simple, logical, nor something that helped the game move quickly (quite the opposite). As such, I have the following recommendations for Amazing Initiative in the final system:
A framework such as this is straightforward and doesn't depend on all sorts of exceptions and the like:
It's much more straightforward, and from what I've seen in the four games I've run, easiser to GM, easier for the players, quicker at the table, and it feels more mythic.
Yeah, it took me this long to get to 1000. I can't imagine reaching 5000. Think about it, that's at least 5,000 minutes, which is a minimum of 83 hours 20 minutes. Craziness, I say :)
There's a reason I've doubled up my maps subscription :)
Vic Wertz wrote:
Just like we're not obsessively, repeatedly, and for no good reason voting over and over, keeping detailed logs, creating vast Excel spreadsheets with graphs, and deriving sum of geometric series equations approximating sums of sequences in order to estimate values.
I strongly suspect that if next year's voting period is *much* shorter, many people who are obsessively voting (but certainly not me, of course) will appreciate the hours and hours of time freed up.
You know, after reading so many of these items, I'm convinced that a lot of people have been screwed by their GM and have created the perfect "if only I had this item" entry to fix the situation.
Seriously. A lot of them look like reactions to one specific thing that probably happened in their game sometime in the past year.
They've said a number of times before, there's no preview available for freelance turnovers; you just have to Do It Right. So it makes sense given the point of the contest (to identify people capable of being a freelancer) to not hold people's hands in the contest.
I'm okay with that.
Jacob Kellogg wrote:
Not quite sure what your question is. However, my point is basically that I don't like being negative like that.
A: "We've chosen the best N items and kept those. Congratulations to all who tried!"
B: "We've chose the worst N items and gotten rid of them. If one of them is yours, you clearly suck."
I prefer to speak along the lines of A :)
Items like that remind me of the lay of the land spell from the Spell Compendium. Sure, it was a 4th-level druid spell, but...
lay of the land wrote:
You instantly gain an overview of the area around you. Lay of the land gives basic information relevant to major landmarks, such as rivers, lakes, and settlements (of at least hamlet size). It indicates the direction and distance to each from the current location. You have a good understanding of the terrain up to 50 miles from your current location.
Uh ... 50 MILES??? Oh, and I almost forgot. It takes 3 rounds to cast and is also a level 1 ranger spell.
Great. Now I have to draw a 50-mile radius map of the area every time one of the PCs gets it in their head to cast this spell. Furthermore, I have to adjudicate exactly what "major landmark" means. What about a bridge? How about if it got washed out in last night's storm? Is the bandit outpost they're supposed to find hidden in the wilderness a major landmark? How about the ancient black dragon's secret lair? Imagine using lay of the land during a Kingmaker campaign.
Note that I'll vote for someone who's got incredibly awesome ideas but needs some formatting help over the reverse any day of the week, and I suspect I'm far from alone in that regard.
So don't obsess about format to the exclusion of actually having something interesting to write about :)
And while I double-checked which button I was hitting about 18 zillion times before I hit it, I was paranoid each and every single time I'd hit submit instead of preview.
I can BET at least one person out there went "OH CRAP!" when they hit the wrong button.
Garrett Guillotte wrote:
Given the image is named avatar/PZO9040-Monkey.jpg, I feel safe saying it's a monkey :)
Oh, I agree 100%. It just makes coming up with a correct formula that much trickier :) All those little caveats and gotchas can add up.
Unfortunately, it's not that simple. I've been kind of trying to figure it out myself, but there's several problems:
1. You see two items at a time, item 2 is guaranteed not the be the same as item 1.
2. What's actually being done is more like mark and recapture with re-release into the pool. That's much more complicated.
3. The fact that the items you see are NOT completely random (you see the item with fewest votes) complicated matters, making it depend on timing and a few other things.
It can be done, it's just way more complicated than the relatively simple equation in the first post. I think in order to even treat it as mark and recapture with release, you have to treat the left-hand and right-hand sides as two different sets of data, but that's just a hunch.
I'm restarting my figures from when the field was winnowed, however my initial guess before they trimmed 25% was somewhere between 1700 and 1900 items, which makes it highly unlikely I'll see all of them even post-removal of the 25%. I haven,t run my stats since the cull, but I've voted just over 150 times since then.
Edit: As you pick more and more items, your count will asymptotically approach the actual count. In this graph the green line is the number of unique items I'd seen; it was still aimed pretty strongly up when I'd seen over 500 unique items (I'd seen just over 30 pairs at that time).
Further Edit: As of now, I've seen 82 pairs (164 non-unique items) and 145 unique items (126 once, 17 twice, and 2 three times). I haven't seen my item since the trim. My ugly approximation tells me that means about 1415 items post cull (which would mean approximately 1887 pre-cull). So I'm sticking with my guess of 1800+/-100 items (post-initial DQ).
Now, see, that was just unfair to those of us at work :)
And you know what? Looking at my entry again after seeing 527 other items, I'm happier with it than I expected to be. And thankfully it wasn't paired with an item that caused me to second guess my rationale for voting for it :)
By the way, here's my item viewing statistics, for any interested. At this point I've seen:
(Note that the graph isn't labeled right: the twice, thrice, 4x and 5x lines are actually 2+ times, 3+ times, 4+ times and 5+ times, not individual statistics)