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Alurad Sorizan

magnuskn's page

6,203 posts (6,205 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 alias.


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I recommend against Kingmaker and against Wrath. Wrath has a decent story but, as you said, too much cheese through mythic rules. Kingmaker... well, if you like supplying 200% of the work that is done for you in the AP itself, it has a chance of being decent. Without that, it suffers from not enough story and one-encounter-per-day-itis.


Alright, my opinions. I'll leave out Iron Gods, since it is not out yet. From what I've seen from the individual AP blurbs, I must admit that I am a bit underwhelmed about the scope of the AP (then again, I am currently running Wrath, so that kind of scope can't be expected). I'll just say that I think it will heavily depend on if you and your players can abide all the laser guns and combat droids in your fantasy world.

Second Darkness is an AP I am currently playing in, although it has been on hiatus for more than two years now. I'll just say that there is a very noticeable break in the story after module two and the AP itself has a rather poor reputation because of that and other problems on the board.

Jade Regent is an AP I have GM'ed to conclusion. In my opinion, it is one of the two best AP's Paizo has published so far. There are some pitfalls however, which I've pointed out in my review of the AP from last year and again in the latest AP grading thread.


Since I GM'ed this one, I should give my opinion, too, although I already did a review of it on its very board a few years ago.

1) GM Ease of Play: 8/10 I did not have to change up too much, aside from the problem with story cohesion between modules. I actually had to prune encounters a lot in the last module, because it was just too many combat encounters strung together.

2) Synthesis of the Story: 2/10 Yeah, it was bad. Not the story of the individual modules, but the overall story really didn't gel together. I somewhat managed to salvage it by introducing Adivion in module one and keeping him a presence throughout the entire AP.

3) Role-play Friendly: 8/10 Five out of six modules gave interesting roleplaying scenarios which filled half the module. Sadly, module six dispensed almost entirely with that and just strung together combat after combat.

4) Combat Design: 6/10 All the usual problems Pathfinder AP's often have. Single boss encounters, weak MMO trash encounters which can't even really touch the party and at the campaign mid-point, I just had to buff and combine encounters all the way to keep them interesting. Then again, it also had some of those "OMG, WTH?" difficult encounters until part three which pop up randomly, like on the bridge in Schloss Caromarc.

5) Fun factor: 8/10 Until module six rolled in, things were really fun. Module six wanted me to get it over with as fast as possible. Nonetheless, overall a good AP.


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richard develyn wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
Not necessarily. I referenced the Jade Regent module four stuff a lot in this thread. While it had two pages setting up the location, it only needed two more pages to give enough of a roleplaying scenario for four days in-game and two entire sessions of gameplay. Given how the average module takes something like eight to twelve sessions to resolve, that is not a bad space/gameplay ratio.

Maybe I should give Jade Regent a try. It's had mixed reviews, though mainly because of the caravan rules. Skull & Shackles is the other AP that's generally mentioned with regards to RP so I had thought I would do that one next. Or maybe I should persuade someone else to do Jade Regent - we run three APs at the same time in my group.

Richard

Caravan rules do really suck and so do the relationship rules, but those are sub-systems which can be substituted or left out completely. The AP itself is a winner (although with reservations on book three and the later part of book four).


richard develyn wrote:

I think that the biggest problem APs have with RP is page count - c.f. my first post on this thread.

RP takes quite a lot of writing. In my own Journey to Catreay (excuse the plug, though it has just had a very nice review over here) an adventure with lots of RP in it, I wrote about 35 pages of text in support of 13 encounters.

Richard

Not necessarily. I referenced the Jade Regent module four stuff a lot in this thread. While it had two pages setting up the location, it only needed two more pages to give enough of a roleplaying scenario for four days in-game and two entire sessions of gameplay. Given how the average module takes something like eight to twelve sessions to resolve, that is not a bad space/gameplay ratio.


Wrath wrote:

@Magnuskn, I agree. It's obvious we both have completely different mind sets for the game.

I believe there is a place for a book range on roleplay encounters, just like bestiaries and NPC codexes. Suggested mechanics and tricks for making them as complex as combat using skills and social interactions. 4th edition tried it with skill challenges but their implementation was a little off. Paizo could seriously do great work here.

Many APs have this kind of stuff as addendum mechanics (chases, kingdom building, affection gain rules from jade regent etc). However, if stuff like those were presented as whole books, detailing mechanics for complex roleplay interaction at various levels, that would probably suit groups like yours.

I don't need that stuff in my games. I like free form decision making for my NPCs based on background info. Paizo already does this for me.

Your group obviously prefers/wants/needs more detailed stuff.

James has said he'd like to squeeze more stuff in like you're asking for. Maybe there's room for a book like I've suggested above too. That may give writers a tool to use to help them get more of what your after into APs but still give groups like mine what I want as well.

Cheers

In any case, not every AP needs to be the same. They are written for different audiences already in some regards, so I think there would be space for an RP-heavy AP. James already said that he wants to move at least a bit in that direction, I am just encouraging him to do so a bit more. :)


Wrath wrote:

To you maybe.

You've made quite a few sweeping statements in this thread Magnuskn, painting many of us with your own perspectives rather than accepting there are other view points.

That's your interpretation of me. Incorrect.

Wrath wrote:

My group love combat encounters. They love the tactics of high end gaming and this game system in particular.

Having DMd many campaigns to conclusion, what kills the game is having to remember everything that's going on. Mental fatigue for DMs is a very real thing. Roleplay scenarios don't make this any easier, because you're still dealing with high level situations where so much complexity and abilities are in play that its crazy.

The more you detail responses and possible outcomes in a roleplay situation, the more you're forcing a DM to have to learn. Far better to sketch an outline of a situation and provide motivators for NPCs so the DM can just run with it and be spontaneous. That's far less debilitating on the mind at high levels.

Apparently our brain structures are way different.

Wrath wrote:

I agree that stat blocks can be summarised by using bestiaries, move codex etc, but those aren't necessarily owned by people running APs, nor is it something people may have time to be looking up.

Remember that many people run APs because they don't have time. Having it all presented and ready to go right in front of you is just great.

Cheers

The very same goes for putting together roleplaying encounters, only that free statblocks are not as readily available as they are to you.

Wrath wrote:
I dont remember too many encounters where it specifically states fights to the death, in all honesty. However that could just be my memory failing.

It is. About every Paizo AP I've GM'ed (four to conclusion so far) has had the majority of them, especially in the later modules, being "to the death" for NPC's.


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captain yesterday wrote:
mostly i think the "Lack" of roleplaying in higher level stuff is partially attributed to GM burnout, by the time you get to the higher stuff you've already been at it for at least 6 months and you just want to get it over with.

Constant combat encounters for the last three modules do much more to "want to get it over with" than RP sessions. Rather the contrary, those RP sessions are what motivate a GM and a party to enjoy the entire AP.

Seriously, that assertion of yours makes no sense. :-/


HarbinNick wrote:

I'm going to have to agree with the other posters...

...I love and RUN RP heavy games if I can. I'm usually sad my players don't like heavy RP. That said, I don't think you can ever, ever expect a published adventure to have the support for heavy RP because it is a chaotic situation, that can't be prepared for in advance.
Let's make an example, the Dwarf Vampire Female Cleric Mini-boss
...What if the party is all Dwarves?
...What if the party is all neutral or evil?
...What if the party is all good divine casters?
...What if the party is all motivated 100% by money?
...What if the party thinks she is hot? (yes sex is a motivator, or I wouldn't still be in Asia!)
The party would react, and she would react, in so many different ways, that thinking any published product would cover this is just too hopeful. It seems, from reading PBP threads, that the AP's over plenty of roleplay opportunities...

That school of thought originates from the fallacy that scenarios can't be written in a way which accomodates all those (and more) set-ups. In fact, most RP scenarios just give you a situation and minor modifiers like race and so on simply are expected to be adjudicated by the GM.


All those scenarios assume that the gods of the setting will just go "Meh, divine rules prevent me from intervening. Too bad, worshippers!" on all of those catastrophes. I find that unlikely. At some time, even most of the evil gods should have had enough, after all what use is a world if its worshippers have all been eaten/turned into undead/etc.? Yeah, yeah, "if we make a move, then all the others move, too", but there have been pan-alignment alliances in the past, for example when they did a team-up against Rovagug.


mikeawmids wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
Skeld wrote:
Ha. Yeah, I did that, because I'm genuinely curious what type of role play scenarios you're talking about. It's interesting that you're asking for role play scenarios like that to be added in as standard fair. I always assumed that's the kind of thing GMs added to campaigns as they saw fit (at least that's been standard for my group since before 3e came out).
You know what, I am not even going to respond to this level of snide condescencion. No decent discussion can come of it.
You do that.

Yeah, I did that.


He's a decent replacement (unlike someone like John Walker). I wonder, though, how long it will last before Steve is back in the saddle.


Skeld wrote:
Ha. Yeah, I did that, because I'm genuinely curious what type of role play scenarios you're talking about. It's interesting that you're asking for role play scenarios like that to be added in as standard fair. I always assumed that's the kind of thing GMs added to campaigns as they saw fit (at least that's been standard for my group since before 3e came out). I didn't realize anyone that's an experienced GM/roleplayer would need that level of hand-holding to make their campaign interesting from a role playing standpoint. On the other hand, APs are created with the intent to appeal to a wide audience , so I shouldn't be surprised.

You know what, I am not even going to respond to this level of snide condescencion. No decent discussion can come of it.


I got no money to buy modules for an RPG which I am not going to use, sorry.


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It most certainly did for my group.


Skeld wrote:
That doesn't really answer my question. For example, we know what comprises a combat scenario: a description of the encounter area, environmental hazards, stat blocks or pointers to stat blocks, tactics, morale, and development descriptions. Given that, what are the components of a role play scenario? NPC descriptions, backstory, expected questions or interactions, etc.?

I was setting up the second part of my post.

Skeld wrote:

I'll have to look at Jade Regent to get a better idea of what you're referencing.

-Skeld

You do that.


I consider Jade Regent to be one of the best AP's from Paizo and it shares the first spot with Curse of the Crimson Throne for "Best AP I've GM'ed".

1.) GM Ease of Play: Seven out of ten. Mostly it is very good to be played out of the box in terms of story. I am not judging it on terms of difficulty, since that perspective seems to vary wildly between individual groups (although I firmly fall on the side of the "make AP's harder, they are too easy" crowd).

Points which bring the AP down are the horribly implemented sub-systems (caravan combat, relationship rules), the way too drawn out trek over the north pole of Golarion and the dreary megadungeon in module four.

All the rest, though, is really good.

2) Synthesis of the Story: Nine out of ten. The story really is very good. The hick-up is, again, the trek over the north pole and also that module five fits a bit too neatly together.

3) Role-play Friendly: Ten out of ten. Extremely RP-friendly. Definitely the best AP in terms of that from Paizo, IMO.

4) Combat Design: Eight out of ten. Excellent. However, brought down two points by the caravan combat rules not working and overcomplicated (yet still not threatening) combats in module three. Yes, module three being a problem is kind of a pattern here.

5) Fun factor: Nine out of ten. As I said, best AP published by Paizo, IMO, with only Curse being in the same category. Loses one point from a perfect score because of book three and the dungeon in book four.

If I would give tips to new GM's looking to start the AP, they would be as follows:

1.) Cut one or two of the permanent NPC's. I personally would recommend Sandru or Koya. They are (IMO) the blandest of the four and it was difficult for me to add much motivation to their storyline.
Ameiko and Shalelu have more going on in terms of character development. You can always add Ulf later to the party if you need a strong male lead character and there are three possible female characters to add to the party in later modules.

2.) Ditch caravan combat rules and the relationship rules. They are bad and the former may even lead to a TPK if you play them by the book. Keep the caravan supply rules if you or your group like fiddling with numbers and provisions.

3.) Cut the megadungeon in module four, replace it with the Ruby Phoenix Tournament. I did it and it worked splendidly. You might want to put some limitations on the "pick any item you like" reward at the end, my group ended up with a +10/+10 double weapon for the party Ninja. ^^

4.) Book three is long and grindy and tedious and adds nothing (and I mean NOTHING) to the overall story arc of the campaign. I highly recommend cutting the interminable travel and random encounters down, which the AP does for about everything else in the entire campaign but this module.

If Paizo would write another AP set completely in Tian Xia, I would be so there. The second part of the campaign definitely was better than the first part (which happens pretty seldomly in AP's, IMO), although Kalsgard had its own rustic charm. And ninjas on burning viking ships, which was trés cool.


It's definitely a possibility, but I'll have to choose one who can deal with two characters (or more, if some people show up late) at the same time.


Skeld wrote:
What does a roleplay scenario in an AP look like? What is needed for a roleplay scenario that isn't currently included?

IMO, the ratio of roleplaying opportunities with guidance by Paizo to combat scenarios needs to be adjusted in favor of roleplaying scenarios. AP's are way too combat focused and since combat encounters take a ton of time (and often are not even threatening to the party) that alone tends to skew the total time spent in an AP heavily towards the combat part.

While you can't easily categorize all sorts roleplaying scenarios, I liked the ones at the beginning of module four of Jade Regent very much, since they were short, succint, but yet gave the GM all the tools needed to fill several evenings with them.


Sub-Creator wrote:
That . . . does nothing, except increase the math. If my players are gaining 100 additional hit points every tier, and my baddies are increasing 100 hit point with every rank, I'm just blowing up the math department, but doing nothing to fix the problem. As far as gameplay is concerned, you're increasing the fights by--what?--a round? Half a round? Still not superhero material here.

Yeah, well. Paizo increased the math mostly one-sidedly on the part of damage output, while neglecting to adjust monster AND PC durability. I mean, what are we supposed to do? We either increase HP across the board or we nerf the insane damage output. Otherwise the mythic endgame (which begins as soon as tier 3 rolls in) consists of "who wins initiative wins the fight".

As I said, I already pointed out that normal high-level combat is skewed towards rocket tag in 2009 and I've repeatedly pointed that out during the last five years. I got an unusual group make-up (six experienced players, of which two build mechanically good characters and the rest mostly takes standard stuff, nothing crazy), but since I am buffing encounters all along the way and later in the campaign start combining three or four encounters into a single one, I think the point still stands that opponents die too quickly in normal high-level play.

Nobody seems to have bothered to do the math for the mythic damage vs. durability and now everybody who runs this AP or a new mythic game will have to deal with it. Hell, I'd love to know if James and the others will adjust existing mythic opponents any time in the future. As those monsters are now, mythic is a sad joke. On them.


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Wyntr wrote:
The module does go from level 1 to 7 in 64-pages, which fueled some of the criticism about the amount of "free" XP.

I think we got the culprit for those "free XP" right here.


Herbatnik wrote:
As a GM I want to add my observation - 2/3 classes don't have proper social skills trained ( Intimitade as RP skill is very dependent, usually provokes fight ). Why bother to heavy RP if this give +2/+4 to roll and we have +1 oraz +2 in skill?

AP's always make some classes less desirable than others, so that argument really doesn't hold much merit.

Herbatnik wrote:
Second observation- everyone want to have their 5 minutes. More sociable players are quick to dominate this kind of scenes. In some groups there will be issue about spotlight

Nobody says that you can't resolve encounters with some diplomacy rolls, if one or more members of the group are tongue tied. That is how it has always been in D&D/PF.

Herbatnik wrote:
Third observation - RP scenes tends to bog down pace of session, especially when there are players with "secret missions".

So does a combat, not to mention several ones.

Herbatnik wrote:
Really, this kind of game depends in 90% percent on proper group of players. I think that this module will be hard to handle in typical PFS session with group of unaquainted players.

Are all AP's now PFS legal scenarios? I thought only a number of them were.


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captain yesterday wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:

another thing to consider, how many levels are you willing to give up for it?

Council of Thieves tops out at 13th level and to this day they still get crap for it, a lot of people won't be happy their characters only get up to 12-13th level after a long ass campaign, if you do that too much you will lose your customer base

Fallacy argueing 101.

You can give XP for roleplaying scenarios just as well as for combat scenarios.

go check the message boards for Dragon's Demand in the modules line, they got tons of grief for handing out those in huge chunks, i like story awards as much as the next guy, just presenting a counter argument:)

also not i'm not sure if you say James' response above, but you seem to have won your argument :)

Well, I'll register my countercomplaint here, then, that there should be more XP for roleplaying scenarios and that they are just as valid as combat scenarios. ^^

And I noticed that James seems favorable to the idea of a more roleplaying heavy AP. I hope my arguments had something to do with it, but even if not, I am not complaining. :D


James Jacobs wrote:
I'm VERY interested in exploring a more roleplay-heavy adventure. And I work most on the Adventure Paths, not the modules. Make of that what you will. ;-)

See, that it what makes me hopeful that good feedback will lead to good results.

And just to make it clear, I think you have already integrated a lot of the feedback we've given over the years into the new AP's. So thank you for that.


captain yesterday wrote:

another thing to consider, how many levels are you willing to give up for it?

Council of Thieves tops out at 13th level and to this day they still get crap for it, a lot of people won't be happy their characters only get up to 12-13th level after a long ass campaign, if you do that too much you will lose your customer base

Fallacy argueing 101.

You can give XP for roleplaying scenarios just as well as for combat scenarios.


Seannoss wrote:

I do agree with that concept, no single fights should take that long. (not to bash much) But it was one of the big things I disliked about 4 Ed, that fights lasted too long.

But Pathfinder is a dice rolling based game. Even if, or more likely when, Paizo includes a major social challenge I bet that there will be a system involves that requires skills and dice rolling. It is the core of the game.

There already are systems to do that. Some of them we all know (social skills like Diplomacy, Sense Motive), some of them which are bad (relationship system from Jade Regent), some of them which are new (there is some sort of research system in Mummy's Mask), some of them which have not been used in an AP before (honor system from Ultimate Campaign, fame system from the Faction Guide).

If Paizo were to write a more RP-heavy AP, they easily could integrate some of them into it.


I am using the upgraded version of Xanthir provided by Thanurel. I've changed out some spells for the adepts, so that won't be a problem.

Flanking bonuses won't really help as much as you'd think and I am unwilling to have to deal with even more creature types in this combat and especially even higher creature numbers.

I am not concerned that this fight will be too easy, rather that it will be too complicated to finish in one session. It'll depend a lot on how quickly the party can clean out some of the different monsters. As for the difficulty, it's a combined CR of about 19, so it should be okay for a level 12, tier 4 party of six PC's.


Bendis is one of the best writers Marvel has, IMO, just to make a counterpoint here.


MMCJawa wrote:
Paizo's new cookbook series, starting off with Ultimate Pizza

Eh, I think it'd be "How to serve man", written by some orc in Belkzen.


Steve Geddes wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
Okay. Here's one problem I have with the d20 system - it de-emphasizes roleplay and increases the importance of die-rolling.

...

Quote:

I want roleplaying. Roleplaying! I want my players to go through an encounter and have that plaintive little voice ask "can he do that?" I want my players to prevail without ever having drawn a sword. I want them to pull an Asimov in "Foundation and Empire" and defeat the Mule in a verbal argument within the first page of 11 pages of debate and dialogue.

And I want Paizo to take that chance and create that product. I think they would be better for it. And I think we as GMs and players would be better for this.

I dont quite understand why you want them to do that within the system you think isnt really designed for it. Given you think the system de-emphasizes roleplay and you want roleplay - why not just play another system?

Pathfinder seems to me to involve lots of numbers and other objective elements and is well suited to combats or other events resolved with dicerolls. I dont see much value in trying to write APs to suit an approach which isnt so heavily aligned with the system's strengths.

I disagree with your assertions.


Yeah, he already knew that they are coming, the party did not try to disguise their approach. ^^

I've determined that I'll keep the opposing force at its current level, with the additional summons Xanthir already will do per round, it is going to be incredibly complex, anyway. That's seven enemy types, plus Xanthir, plus Arueshalae to manage. oO


Yep, the devs vastly underestimated the damage output PC's have at the high (meaning: after 3rd ^^) tiers. Now, the problem here already is that they have published a lot of mythic creatures and redoing all their hitpoints would be awkward. I wonder if the writers are willing to go to that length.

Then again, I've said since the alpha of the CRB that at high levels hitpoint totals for opponents (and PC's, to be perfectly honest) are way too low compared to the damage output of a normal party.

magnuskn wrote:

Have hitpoints and AC been adjusted upwards for the higher CR monsters?

A problem I generally encountered in my campaigns was that at higher levels, players were able to put out several hundreds of points of damage in a round, making fights even against a dragon generally last only about two to three rounds.

That's from June 2009. ^^


thejeff wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
mikeawmids wrote:
I imagine there are also financial implications to consider. Paizo seem to sell a lot of miniatures, battle maps and cardboard monsters. You're not going to need those in a heavily roleplaying orientated AP, which would cut into their profits, to some extent.
That does not sound like a logical explanation. RP characters make as good miniatures as ones from dungeon heavy AP's.

But you don't need to lay out a bunch of miniatures for a RP encounter.

Of course you can buy miniatures anyway, even of characters who'll never show up on a battlemap and you can just use tokens instead of buying miniatures anyway, but the motivation is there.

If I'd be affluent enough to afford any miniatures at all, I'd buy them for the value alone of having a diverse selection. :p


mikeawmids wrote:
I imagine there are also financial implications to consider. Paizo seem to sell a lot of miniatures, battle maps and cardboard monsters. You're not going to need those in a heavily roleplaying orientated AP, which would cut into their profits, to some extent.

That does not sound like a logical explanation. RP characters make as good miniatures as ones from dungeon heavy AP's.

captain yesterday wrote:

If you venture too far into role playing while eliminating combat, then you might as well be LARPing, or playing with action figures and Barbie Dolls (which with an inmaginative ten year old i've been doing for years any way:)

myself personally, i'm fine with the status quo as it is, a little more interaction is cool, just not too far, a balance must be maintained

And once again you manage to (probably unintentionally) insult people who disagree with you. Congrats.


Wrath wrote:

@magnuskn. Mate, I agree that advice for what people think are improvements are something Paizo appreciates, especially when presented well. It's just in this case I truly believe that if Paizo took on board what you want, the APs would be less of what I want.

Well, I don't really believe that. You really like spending hours and hours on pointless filler encounters, which do nothing but cost time?

Essentially what you are saying at the moment is that your taste is more worthy of Paizo's attention than mine and that I should just suck it up and take what they give me. The argument that "you can always change it up as GM" is so fallacious that it isn't even funny, because I could just reverse it ("If Paizo would just put 20% combat encounters into their AP's, you could as a GM always add your own!") and it would be just as much a fallacy as your argument.

The only thing I am doing here is giving feedback in the most cogent way I can and hope that some of it resonates with James and any other writer who happens to be reading this.


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I'll be honest, I don't see why we couldn't have a "mythic" storyline within the normal rules. Mythic rules don't really add much than additional levels to the entire thing and just crank the numbers game higher. It's kind of like with a new World of Warcraft expansion, where suddenly all the stuff you did before is meaningless and there is a number explosion.

If Paizo would tighten the leveling pace for a more "powerful" storyline so that the last module goes from levels 17-20, then that would make for an extremely powerful finale all by its own, no need to add the mythic rules on top. IMO, a level 20 group would have no problem downing Tar-Baphon.


Against. Until the developers actually take care to make mythic opponents mythic, instead of cannon fodder.


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Mattastrophic wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
I'll just respond quickly to this: I am writing a campaign set in Oppara at this time. While I am stuck at the very beginning , due to a full-time job and other commitments...

What a coincidence! You and I see eye-to-eye on a lot of things about the APs, and I am also slowly developing a campaign set in Oppara. Naturally, I am also stuck at the beginning, due to a full-time job and other commitments.

That's great!

-Matt

<fistbump>

Wrath wrote:

I've run homebrew. They're tough to do from a time perspective but give you exactly what Magnuskin is asking for. The best homebrew I ever ran was when I had my huge collection of Dungeon magazines and use those to create encounters and jobs for the pcs on the fly. 90% of the work was done for me and all I needed to do as DM was come up with clever ways to tie them into the game. It was great, and gave the players the freedom to create and run what they wanted. Lots of bookkeeping in the end though. Especially after the first year and half, tracking everything became hard.

Then I discovered APs. It has everything. A n overarching plot to help keep the game focused. It has all combat stats ready to go assuming the players follow the AP. Most importantly though, it has enough background on major players that I can absolutely allow players the freedom to build into the world around them as necessary. I've run PbP on these forums and the roleplay was so intense the games became real. I've had one table group that took NPCs as wives in the end.

The trick is to find what your players want and what you've got time for. APs took most of the work out of my hands. I still book keep if necessary, but I don't need to find reasons for missions to tie together, nor do I need to spend time creating NPCs etc. if my players save a nameless NPC I just go to suggested names for race from the setting and use one of them. If I need some idea of what saved NPC will do then I use background info from the APs themselves to make those decisions. Which they provide for you. It's called extrapolating and is a skill you need to use if you want to run sandbox feel game but only have time to get APs.

Paizo presents exactly the right blend for me and my party. It's the combat stats that take the most time to design and put together. Story elements can be made up on he the spot with enough background knowledge to understand how the NPCs are thinking. The DM's job is to be familiar enough with that background that they can make...

Well, I am someone who basically was (and is) in the position you are in. However, I think that the AP's still can use improvement in some sections, which is why I criticise aspects which I think need those improvements. The argument that "GM's an always make adjustments" is, IMO, not a valid one to not make improvements, since with this argument Paizo could as well forego any roleplaying aspects and just publish 50 pages of statblocks and flavor text for rooms every month.


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Session of July 22nd 2014:

Five players in attendance. Pretty standard session today, picking up from the two week hiatus. Basically two big fights, against a.) the colloxus demon, four blackfire adepts and two scions of Baphomet and b.) afterwards against a greater thanadaemon and its summoned elder styx water elemental. The two fights and prior exertions burned enough resources that the party had to rest one hour (via recuperation) to feel confident enough to advance to the final fight against Xanthir Vang. Since I was concerned that the party might not be up to the fight against Vang in their current state, I dropped some Nectar of the Gods (six vials in total, so one per character) on them. In my game, that stuff is a minor artifact, so I am not anxious that they can produce their own. Vang already had retrieved two doses for himself prior, so I can boost him a bit up if needed.

In any case, so far the line-up for the final fight of module four looks like this: In the corner of the good guys, all six party members plus Arueshalae; in the corner of the bad guys, Xanthir Vang, four blackfire adepts, one glabrezu, two advanced retrievers, two apocalypse locusts, one shadow demon. I am not sure if I should add even more to Vangs line-up, since he had an additional hour to get ready. In any case, this will be getting seriously complicated to run, although I am pretty sure that the deck is going to get cleared fast of some of the more minion-like opponents.

My main concern is to get Vangs defences up early in the fight, so that he has his mythic Globe of Invulnerability + his mythic Wall of Force up in round one. Otherwise, I fear that he'll get an angry barbarian to the face and that would seriously cramp his style for the rest of the encounter. After that, he should be free to do stuff at will until he runs out of minions + summons.


So, what about Nameless Cultist #23? :p


The problem with "fight to the death" is that, very often, PC's don't kill the opponent, either wittingly or unwittingly, just by the nature of the game. But if you got "fight to the death" in the morale statblock, it seems that the author assumes 99% that the enemy will be dead at the end of the combat and so will play no role anymore in the AP. So there is almost never any thought given to how the opponent will react to having lost, being alive and so on.


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I'll play a Sorcerer every day of the week over a Wizard. The only thing that Paizo needs to "unchain" on the Sorcerer is more bloodlines. ^^


Ashiel wrote:
I dunno, but if I was going to stat out clerics for him, I'd need to homebrew a hypocrisy domain just for him.

Now that sounds a bit hostile.


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Thanks, you guys. It went... well, I guess. Aside from the knowledge test of laws (something I never touched before studying for this), I think I did passingly well on all other topics.

We'll see if it is enough to be in the 10% of the over 2000 people who took the test in all of Germany and advance to the oral exam.


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I am not stopping with this AP so far, I only had to put it on hiatus for two weeks, due to RL.

Speaking of that, I am off for the written examination for the foreign affairs department of Germany. Me and a thousand other people around Germany, so let's see if I do okay. I got the karmic advantage of it being my birthday, at least. :p


captain yesterday wrote:

Magnuskn, Happy Birthday! and best of luck with your job exam and the rest of your job hunt:)

also have you considered Skull & Shackles? is it that the Pirate theme is hard for you and yours to embrace? i get that, however it is one of the best for what you describe and with the add ons coming this fall from Paizo and already available from Legendary Games the sand box feel can be mostly hiddden, just a thought:)

A bit premature with the birthday wishes (it's on Monday), but thank you for all the good wishes, nonetheless. :)


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Well, I'd be up for such a group, if a good timeslot could be found. However, since I am just now urgently looking for a new job (and the next days also got a very important exam/job interview coming up on Monday and I will spend the next two days memorizing German history / German politics / International law / economics / trivia knowledge and dates as well as I can, after weeks of reading up on those topics), that date may be difficult to nail down. :p

Anyway, thanks to James for acknowledging our feedback. I think the most important part to take note of is really that the comparative damage output of PC's to durability of opponents is wildly off in favor of the PC's and there needs to be adjustments made on how tough opponents are in Mythic.


Yeah, we will play again on Tuesday, so we'll see how it goes then. The party actually is low enough on resources that I am beginning to worry that the rest of the Ivory Sanctum may be a bit too much at this point.


Graeme Lewis wrote:
This assumes that the PCs are immediately going to be super-aggressive to every NPC presented as an enemy, which isn't necessarily how it goes. I can't speak for your groups, of course, but I doubt attacking every NPC that stands in their way is the way PCs should be expected to respond.

If you are storming a cathedral full of high-level death cultists who want to ressurect a demi-god lich, you really expect a party to chat up the next undead horror they encounter?

Anyway, I fear I must adjourn any further discussion until at least Wednesday, since I have two days of intense studying ahead of me, one day of a very important exam which goes from morning to evening plus my birthday and then the next day prep time for the other RP round and getting out as many job applications as I can.

Sorry to temporarily bail on the discussion at this point, but these next days are very important for me and I can't spend hours composing long replies, since tempus fugit.


James Jacobs wrote:

It kind of sounds to me, Magnuskn, that the product you're looking for to run your campaigns isn't actually an Adventure Path, but a detailed campaign setting. After reading so many of your posts, I really think you're using the wrong tool (Adventure Paths) to run your games. Not that there's anything wrong with that! But I suspect you'd have a lot more fun taking a book like, say Magnimar (choosing that 'cause I'm familiar with it) and simply using that book to generate ideas for adventures and NPCs and stories for your group to go on.

Adventure Paths are not for everyone. They're pretty popular, though, and as evidenced by a fair number of the replies your posts have been getting, for most of our customers they do the job they're trying to do. They just don't for you, and that's fine... that just means you should consider using different types of resources to run your games, perhaps.

That all said... I do value your feedback (and ALL feedback!) and use them to constantly adjust and refine the Adventure Paths I work on and develop (which means that any feedback I get on a particular element of a particular adventure may need to wait six to twelve months before I get a chance to actually put that feedback into practice)... but I don't have the luxury to hand-tailor each Adventure Path to each GM who runs them. Especially since a not inconsiderate amount of my time available to tailor and adjust and develop an AP is whittled down by the number of posts I make to these boards trying to explain why we do things the way we do... ;-)

I need to leave for work in 10 minutes (and won't be able to do much before tomorrow, RP this evening after work), so I'll just respond quickly to this: I am writing a campaign set in Oppara at this time. While I am stuck at the very beginning , due to a full-time job and other commitments, the cause for me to do that was that I had noticed that my players were falling into a rut with the way they handled roleplaying with NPC's. And I do blame much of how AP's are structured for this, since NPC's so often fall into the background after being introduced.

James Jacobs wrote:
I've actually taken that to heart for most of the encounters I do. That's why I try to ensure that all major NPCs or creatures have backstories, in fact... for the ones that DO happen to end in any one session in something other than combat.

Got to respond to this, too. A way to ensure that those backstories might get used is to write less NPC's which will fight to the death. Just saying. Also, one of my two RP groups is very much trying to not kill their opponents. Giving more options what you can do with captured opponents would also help.

Even on a technical level, you very often don't kill downed opponents. AP's assume too much that they are out of the picture forever after being defeated.

Anyway, I'll try to expound on some more of the things I think could be done a bit better in AP's in terms of coherent storytelling when I get time again, i.e. Saturday. Thanks for listening to our feedback, James!

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