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I understand the Slumber hex makes it necessary for GMs to retool encounters so that they're not pushovers, but on the other hand perhaps it's not that, dare I say, "unrealistic"?
You're in a world of fantasy, and PCs *are* extraordinary individuals who do amazing things, such as... ensorcell a giant. And then a commoner comes along who stabs the giant in the heart.
The opening question was less out of a concern for a game balance and more about whether it changes the game world significantly. Well, it's a world of fantasy where David sometimes beats Goliath. No biggie.
Markolius Craggmorn wrote:
it looks like a book that can easily be replaced by talking amongst your gaming peers in real life or online.
Not everyone has a circle of "gaming peers" who will take some real time to get them to understand the game.
And no one wants to be beholden to someone else's mastery. Sure, a new player can ask you X when X comes up, but why should they have to wait for X to come up in the first place? I'm sure they'd prefer to have their own eagle's eye view of the game and see how all the pieces of a complex puzzle like Pathfinder RPG fit together, than just get ad-hoc advice from those who just happen to be able to pore through that imposing tome (the Core Rulebook).
And to be frank, I have found in my experience that many gamers don't make good teachers. I have seen gamers tell people who are new, "Do this! And then do that!" but not figure out where they're coming from, plug up holes where in their misunderstanding, and present a variety of choices with pros and cons to each choice.
I haven't had formal teacher training (though I do teach a Pathfinder class!), but I would imagine this is the "independent study" component of well-rounded learning. Just as direct instruction has its place, so does study.
And as for that, there is no "textbook" for Pathfinder -- sure, the Beginner Box provides guidance for beginners, but what comes after that is a reference tome (the Core Rulebook). But there is no textbook.
el cuervo wrote:
Thanks for the encouraging words, everyone. I had a talk with my most problematic player yesterday. When we spoke, he explained, in his words, "It's not my job to make it easy for you," which I pointed out to him was the kind of statement a selfish jerk might make. I then went on to explain that I'm not the enemy and I'm not trying to kill anyone, my goal is to run a smooth game and make sure everyone is enjoying themselves (including me).
You've already caught on to Step One: opening the lines of communication. It sounds to me like you're very determined to get this to be successful, which is the most important thing. It sounds to me like dumping these players isn't an option, them being long-time friends and all.
I think letting them know that expectations are on them as well is the key for now. Sure, the GM bears a disproportionate share of the burden, but this is a SOCIAL game after all, and the attitude that "I don't have any obligations to my friends" is a selfish, unproductive one.
My only other suggestion would be to involve them a bit in the "brainstorming" of the campaign. It sounds like you have big ideas in store, and perhaps getting them to give more input on what kind of campaign and storylines (campaign, and personal stories) they want can get them more invested, as well as give them more of a sense of how much work YOU are doing to prepare for every session.
CR levels are approximations and not perfect quantifications (is that a word?) of a creature's difficulty. A system with the complexity and interactions of Pathfinder means that any chart that claims to scale only ONE metric (hit dice) with CR would be misleading. And anyone who thinks this is what the CR chart accomplishes is misled.
I'm curious to see how the Adventure Paths rank, if one were to "add up" everyone's rankings and come up with a "master list" of sorts. After I give my rankings in my second post, I hope other people will join me!
(WARNING: THIS THREAD WILL PROBABLY CONTAIN SPOILERS)
A barebones ranking isn't very useful to other people, so I am giving double weight to your vote if you do the following:
1. Give your criteria. For example, are you judging by meta-plot, by your group's particular experience, by what was provided to the GM versus what the GM added? Everyone has different reasons for their rankings -- please state YOUR reason(s).
2. Rank each AP with at least a phrase on what you thought of it. Rank those APs you feel you know enough about to rank. You must have either read, played, or GMed part of the AP enough. (Exposure to only part of an AP is okay.)
I will check here regularly and tabulate the results using my overly-complicated system detailed in the spoiler.
Here is the listing of the Adventure Paths. I include the Dungeon magazine APS as well:
A. Shackled City
Here is my scoring system:
For the APs that you DO list, the #1 ranked AP receives 16 points. The remaining APs get less than 16, in proportion to the number of APs you list. If you mark any APs as a tie, they get an equal number of points.
For example, if you list 5 APs, they receive:
I then mark down the average points that each AP receives. If you followed the guidelines above, then you effectively cast two votes.
Wow, 10 players! Especially given that this campaign is mythic, I'm wondering how you expect to handle the complexity of combat in the higher levels.
I'm definitely for tying each scale to one PC -- it will give more of a personal connection to Terendelev. You probably don't want to randomly assign the scale boons -- for example, one has an align weapon ability, which would not be as useful to pure casters. Having the boons be tailored also underscores the fact that Terendelev had a sense of the PCs' future destinies.
Does anyone have other ideas of how to run the very first scene? I see the AP's reasoning for not getting the PCs tangled up in a high-powered battle, but I'm concerned about my players being underwhelmed by a long textbox of "what you remember."
I want to frontload some of the mythic feel of this campaign in the first scene, while SOMEHOW not endangering the PCs themselves too much. Perhaps they are part of a large crowd, and hundreds suddenly are incinerated in one instant by one of the demons? Perhaps the large fissure opens in the ground, and PCs have the task of trying to drag people out of it, while the main fighting goes on elsewhere? Maybe even have the PCs team up with Anevia while doing this?
I also want to underscore the tragedy of the fall of Kenabres a bit more. I love the intro to Rise of the Runelords because you get a feel of some of the personality of the town before all hell breaks loose, and I'd like to have a little of that here. Maybe Hulrun can lead the day's ceremonies, so that it's all the more shocking when he shows up again later. Some visuals of the majesty and power of Kenabres' crusaders. Also, perhaps work with my players on the backstories, including having connections to Kenabres and its organizations, etc., to have them represented in the opening scene somehow. And of course, when the PCs finally return to the surface (punctuated by large rumbles that rattle the underground caverns and cause rocks to fall, even new cave-ins), they see utter devastation. I will also key some of the encounters and locations to instead be things tied to their backgrounds (a home, a wizard's guild, etc.).
I think my young players will have a blast playing this AP, which I'm billing as "Diablo" on tabletop (I know for some of you, this might be a turnoff, but not for my kids!), the "Mythic" campaign, and the "WAR!" campaign. This AP definitely is high-powered, and turns up the action and "epicness" several notches. First impressions are lasting ones, and that's what I want when I run this AP.
Wow to some of the comments here. Speaking from the perspective of a gay man, I find it completely "forced" to see so many heterosexual characters predominating in fantasy fiction. That just doesn't reflect the reality that exists!
How many transgendered characters can we point to in the Adventure Paths that have appeared before? I cannot remember any. I wonder how I would feel if I were transgendered myself, to see this AP and think "Wow, there is an acknowledgment I exist!", and then to come on these boards and see others in the RPG gaming community say that the mere inclusion (the first!) of a person like me is "forced."
I literally feel somewhat nauseous reading some of these comments.
@Tel Alber, I agree with you. I think the main job of a Player's Guide is to make a potential player's mouth water, and I think the traits suggest that thought has been put into how to make the AP "matter" to individual characters more on a personal level. I also like the sketch outline of the previous crusades, giving players a sense of where their characters fall in the Grand Scheme of Things. (The rules on redemption? Not so much. I prefer their place in Ultimate Campaign as a suggested option for GMs and players shopping for optional system, not given to all players of this AP.)
Back to the mouth watering: I think this Player's Guide could have used a short description of the campaign at the beginning aimed at getting players excited about this particular AP. A selling pitch of sorts, just something like: kick some demon butt, save all of Golarion from catastrophe, rise to become the mythic legends of your time, etc. As GM, I of course will do my part to spread the Good Demon-Stomping Word. But this is also likely the only concrete thing in writing I'll be giving potential players, and I think if I'm doing my part, it should do its part as well. (By the way, I don't give my players the product descriptions of APs since they usually give way too much of the plot for my tastes.)
Overall, I'm happy with this Player's Guide. (More so than with the Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition players guide, which ugh compelled me to write a lukewarm review about it--it said nothing about the hometown, gave info I considered too spoilery, and used most of its space on a gazetteer of Varisia, most of which never was going to come up in the AP anyway.)
Does everybody have really crappy GMs or what?
Seriously, since when did we forget that this is a game of our imaginations, and that we aren't to take everything published as a proclamation from the gods, as shackles on our stories? Aren't these all suggestions, and explicit ones at that?
Even so, my approach guiding my players to create PC backstories, will be to see if any of my players are already committed to a certain backstory that is incompatible with some of these trait backgrounds. If so, then I will change the trait backstories to fit them with their future Moments of Ascension.
Another thing I think is getting lost in these complaints is that the "Moments of Ascension" to become mythic characters are story-based, not XP-based, and so this AP has set up default ways for GMs to have these Ascensions. Because this is an AP of mythic heroes battling the Legions of Hell, it makes sense that, in the default scenario, the gods themselves have taken an interest in the characters' lives since childhood. Once we see Volume 1, the picture should become clearer of how these trait backstories can strengthen the players' experience with AP, and also how they could be changed.
Yes (and this is actually more in response to some more posts as well), I think the goal of this product is not to show people who already know the system how to optimize our characters, but rather to overcome a novice's "size shock" when they see the Core Rulebook, or their "player's block" when they see the huge number of options. It's to help that novice player who wants to create a character, but freezes upon seeing the feats chart and concludes, "I'm not cut out for ANY of this. i'll jut have somebody else do this stuff for me."
Now, I can tell that person, "Oh, so you like having powerful creatures with you in battle? Maybe try a ranger or a druid." But what if that person would actually prefer being a wizard who can summon a dragon? Or maybe they like the idea of having a connection to nature, and would enjoy a sorcerer with the elemental or fey bloodline? Also, they would never get a grasp of the whole system that way: they'll come to the table but feel lost 50% of the time, not knowing their teammates' abilities and how they work? Part of the social aspect of the game is collectively coming up with a plan like: "Cast Haste on our paladin because she does more damage, and enchant the ranger's arrows because they bypass the demon's damage reduction, and the cleric should focus on buffing because the paladin can heal herself on her own," etc., etc.
As for the title of "Strategy Guide," let's remember that this book is intended for people who are NOT us! It's not "strategy" for vets to create optimal characters -- we already have the great class guides linked on these forums for that -- it's "strategy" for novices to develop their character concept, with a healthy helping of basic tips. There are options that many novices don't use that many of us take for granted: such as scribing scrolls, crafting magic items, or using Acrobatics (and needing a light load and light armor) to move into position to flank.
The title of the book is one of the main factors influencing sales, and that is what the Paizo folks will prioritize -- and their main target audience is players who are relatively new to the system, and the GMs who have them...
I am an adult with three years of experience with the system, and I have a class teaching Pathfinder to middle schoolers, and I think this is a GREAT idea.
I'm not surprised that the reception here isn't uberly enthusiastic, given that many here are vets to the system, but oh-how-many-times have I seen players not want to tackle the Core Rulebook because it seems too daunting?
I think this book fills an important niche. The Beginner Box introduces the game and has everything you need to play quickly right out of the box. It's focused on teaching a simplified version of the game. The Core Rulebook is a great REFERENCE book for the full Pathfinder rules. But there is no book currently that is dedicated to LEARNING how to play the full Pathfinder RPG.
Some of my middle-school kids are voracious readers and are ready to jump in to the difficult stuff. But what they usually get, in their enthusiasm to play a particular race or class, are the rules to play a certain race or class but now how generally how all the rules in the system INTERACT. So, for example, they read the Paladin class abilities. But do they get how important it is that they can lay hands on themselves as a "swift action"? Or the huge difference it means that laying hands on someone else requires a "standard action"? Or that the ranger's free Endurance feat means they can also pick the Diehard feat, which is awesome but usually not considered because of the feat tax? It's those kinds of interactions that I constantly I have to tell them at the table -- but not all tables out there have someone like me. And there are people out there who need to learn *gasp* entirely on their own!
Some of my kids would benefit from getting a more systematic, self-guided "trip" through the rules rather than be "coached" on an ad hoc basis. It would give them a degree of independence and a sense of the system rather than a jumble of discrete rules. Some are voracious readers, but have not barreled through the Core Rulebook. I see something like this product -- which is not too big and which directs the reader around to only the sections they need, when they need them -- as a great way to get this "self-guided tour."
This book would be useful, not just for people who are transitioning from the Beginner Box, but also for people who hear about "this cool game" and sit and watch their friend or sister or uncle play Pathfinder and want to check it out. They see the Beginner Box, which seems a bit "young" to them -- and besides, why get that when there are 20 levels and so many more classes in the full Core Rulebook? But to take the CRB and try to learn from it on one's own is a BEAST of a project. They will probably give up on getting a comprehensive grasp of the rules, look only at those section they need to fill out their character sheet, and jump into a game where the people already know the rules and "I can just learn by doing."
Vic Wertz wrote:
It's about helping players find the tools to assemble the character they envision. Take the wizard: we might explain that there are several flavors of wizard. Some are about blasting stuff, some are about summoning stuff, and so on. And if you want to play the blasty type, and you're gaining access to second-level spells, here are the spells you might want to look at. If you want to play the summony type, and you're gaining a feat, here are the feats you'll want to consider.
This would be great. In the Core Rulebook, there is nothing to help someone go from their character concept to the specific choices within the manifold choices within Pathfinder RPG.
Vic Wertz wrote:
The inclusion of Scribe Scroll as a free feat for 1st level Wizards is PREGNANT with significance! It means that one could prepare scrolls of Mage Armor for an adventure; or for a higher level wizard to spend gold to prepare an arsenal of spells to cover more contingencies. However, this involves a level of STRATEGIC thinking that, given the Core Rulebook's already-massive page count devoted to being a handy reference for the rules, just wouldn't fit in it.
I just wanted to share one positive thing that has come out of Ultimate Campaign: inspiration! The background info on how an Oracle of Bones becomes one -- by being buried alive in a graveyard and your panic turning into comfort -- has inspired one of my 11 year old players who now has a very strong character concept!
I posted his character bio on my RPG class blog if any of you want to see it :D
Such a coincidence that I happened to log-in now! I've been running a middle-school Pathfinder club and have started to post about the experience. Here are some links:
Discussion thread here at Paizo (Warning: my initial ideas were very different from what I do now!)
As to your questions...
TIME LIMITS: For hour-long encounters, look at the Beginner Box Bash Demos. As for PFS scenarios, I would be surprised if there were any that fit easily into a 2-hour time frame. But to be honest, my initial concern about continuity was not shared by the kids -- they basically were ready to jump into anything at any point, including into the middle of an adventure. Also consider adapting from books that contain short mini adventures. Here is a discussion thread that I've used to find resources.
Also, I've found that my kids really love to create their own adventures, based on simple encounters or battle setups. But they're middle school students -- perhaps because your students are older they'd be more interested in moving beyond that?
GROUP LIMITS: If you have an overly-high proportion of students who want to play vs. GM, there kind of isn't much to do -- either have some overly-large groups, or allow some players to "wing it" and improvise an adventure. As for what I've done in my class, I have created an XP system by which STUDENTS (not their PCs) earn XP for adventuring and doing various other things. For GMing, they get a clear bonus. Just something to consider.
CHARACTER PROGRESSION: There is now a wide range of levels in my class -- characters from Level 1 to Level 9. I try to avoid level spreads greater than three in any one given adventure. If there is a big disparity, I've had the high-level students create "apprentices" -- level 3 characters -- to adventure with characters who are between Level 1 and Level 5.
As for treasure, I have basically seized the reins and decided who myself gets wait based on a notion of fairness and drawing a balance between what makes sense for the group and not letting any one character get too powerful relative to their peers. So perhaps that one student gets the magical sword -- but the rest of the coins and gems go to the other characters, and next time there is a dispute over who should get wait, the student with the magical sword will lose out.
RESOURCES: Haha, Paizo knew what they were doing by limiting the classes to four in a product that is geared toward children. They soon want to try out EVERYTHING!! Yes, the Core Rulebook is the next purchase. The other thing they will really want to see is the Bestiary (which besides includes important core rules within its appendices.) Also, see the Beginner Box "Transitions" document from Paizo which functions as sort of a reading guide to the Core Rulebook.
Also, feel free to point them to my class's website, where under "Character Creation, Game Rules" I have set up pages with info on all the various classes and races in the Core Rulebook, Advanced Player's Guide, Ultimate Magic and Ultimate Combat.
Consider using EdoWar's excellent Beginner Box class conversions, which simplify and make adjustments to the classes so as to be compatible with the Beginner Box rules. I also include links to those on my website as well.
Basically, they will want to jump on top of the new options and learn what is important to THEIR character before trying to get an overall grasp of the system. At some point, they will want to start trying out the full Core Rules. At that point, make sure to explain to them about attacks of opportunity (if you decide to use them), and about the various kinds of action types (standard, move, full-round, swift, free). They won't get everything right, but that's okay.
Nualia's stat block on page 61 seems off to me, and I can't seem to find any threads about it...
Doing my own calculations, it would seem to me that her likely attacks will be buffed quite a bit beyond how she is actually statted out in the Anniversary Edition. If there are mistakes in my math please point them out to me!
Although her AC incorporates the penalty from Fury of the Abyss, FotA doesn't seem to be factored into her bastard sword attack. So when I factor it in, it becomes:
It then says she casts Divine Favor (+1 luck bonus to attack and damage rolls) at the beginning of combat, so this becomes:
When you combine this with the fact that she can use her Ferocious Strike (+2 damage) on 6 melee attacks, when she does this and combines it with her Power Attack, her bastard sword attack becomes:
Did I mess up anything here?
Why aren't the baddies teaming up and concentrating their forces against the PCs?
OR... why isn't the village that is threatened by the baddies helping out the PCs more?
First of all, I am sympathetic to Paizo's writers because you often have to serve several masters at once: give the PCs a fighting chance to win, a chance to be the heroes, and a realistic world and set of NPC personalities, all while not overwhelming the GM with massive battles.
But I am just now reading through an Adventure Path chapter (I won't name it), where the PCs are liberating some territory, and they track down the military leaders in their headquarters. For each military leader (in each in his own room of course), they do not respond to ALARMS that their HEADQUARTERS is being invaded because they are too busy focusing on commanding their army outside the headquarters.
This AP chapter is:
Chapter 6 of Legacy of Fire
And of course, when these leaders are slain, their army collapses. So why didn't these generals focus on saving their own skins? As commanders of their army, isn't their own survival vital to the success of their military?
As a GM, I find myself always bothered by my brain. Why do the baddies stay in their own rooms, waiting to be plucked off? If the town is really threatened, why don't they help out? What if one of my players asks the dwarven kingdom's leadership to send a squadron of high-level fighters with them?
It's gotten to the point where I'm so jaded that, whenever I hear or read something explaining why an enemy is occupied, or why a town guard must stay in town, I think to myself, "Oh, that's because the adventure writer or the GM is forcing us to act alone." I don't know how many times I have seen a BBEG tied up and staying in one place, because they are about to accomplish the final stage of some evil ritual.
So I figured to hell with it: I am running an AP right now, and I'm having a portion of the town guard join the players in raiding a fortress. But now, as they explore the dungeon beneath the fort, they find themselves ambushed by the intelligent denizens of the place, who of course are on high alert because the fortress above has been destroyed by a superior force. But now the PCs' escape route is cut off by an overwhelming force.
But also, the adventure I'm running doesn't address these possibilities, or what I should say to players if they want to recruit the town or when the enemies think smart. I see a running assumption usually that I will run things as written, as static.
Are there others out there who are bothered by these questions? And how do you handle it?
Frogimus, your question inspired me to write an article/review on my blog, in which I most decidedly come down on the side of the Pathfinder Beginner Box. Of course, it is only my opinion. But reading it should help you form a more-considered judgment. I hope it helps, and enjoy! :D
As someone who read the Basic D&D box sets voraciously as a kid and who now teaches role playing games (specifically Pathfinder) to middle-school students, I actually recommend the Pathfinder Beginner Box to the OP, while not including certain parts of it that I say more on below.
I think that your dislike of complexity is dislike of a particular sort of complexity, since you specifically are comparing Basic D&D to Advanced D&D.
I see two concerns about complexity in your original post.
First, reference to a myriad number of charts. While it is true that Pathfinder has added many more options for character creation, the basic mechanic of resolving attacks and saving throws is simplified.
AD&D took the basic approach of Basic D&D -- creating a separate table to determine an action's outcome -- and applied it to many more and more-specific situations (i.e., item saving throws versus specific effects, different charts for resolving various unarmed-fighting attacks). However, D&D's approach from 3rd edition forward (including Pathfinder) is to make it so that you refer to a chart ONCE -- at character creation, or whenever you level-up -- to assign your character a static bonus to carry out an action, and a static number to defend against that same action. So to resolve a basic attack, you roll a d20, add your attack bonus, then see if it meets or exceeds the opponent's DC. The "work" comes in when you create your character sheet, or update it. Thereafter, you just look at the number on your sheet without needing to flip pages for a chart.
Saving throws are simplified in this fashion as well. Additionally, it's a bit easier to figure out which saving throw to apply in a situation, since it's now based on the manner of defense versus the manner of attack: Fortitude, Reflex, or Will. (Before 3rd edition, it was confusing which saving throw to use against a "Death" magic "Spell" that was cast out of a "Wand," for example.)
However, Pathfinder IS more complex in different ways than AD&D was. First, certain specific actions have rules for them that previously didn't. For example, if you play Pathfinder you might not want to use the Skill rules for Diplomacy (rolling a d20 vs. a number), and roleplay that instead. Or, you might want to have players talk through how to find and disable a trap instead of roll their Perception and Disable Device skills.
Also, if you go beyond the Beginner Box, you'll see that the full Core Rules have something called Combat Maneuvers -- rules for tripping, grappling, and so on, that by their inclusion imply that you CANNOT do those actions otherwise. A number of these and other things are systematized/reified in full Pathfinder that you might prefer to remain more freeform and talked-through in a gaming session.
Your second concern against AD&D's complexity, that "[e]verything that was in the least bit 'fantasy' related was crammed into the game," I'm a bit unclear on. Do you mean the addition of new classes like the barbarian and the ninja in Unearthed Arcana and Oriental Adventures, respectively? Is it that you preferred a specific western/medieval flavor for the game, or that in AD&D there emerged a much larger variety of options that gave players and GMs more to wade through?
I have to say, though, that a number of my students LOVE the complexity that comes with having a large number of options for creating characters. They LOVE thinking about and experimenting with new character classes, like the ninja, the oracle, and the gunslinger, or races in the Advanced Race Guide like the orc and kitsune. I think that there would be a near consensus among my students that they wouldn't like Basic D&D, if they tried it out, because of the small number of character classes, that race = class, that every member of one class is too much like the next member of that class without the ability to specialize within that class, and how the game is relatively fatal for low-level characters.
I highly recommend at least checking out the Beginner Box and read the rules yourself! :) Otherwise, you might miss out on an experience that you could pretty-easily tailor to your own gaming preferences, by ruling out certain skills (and feats) that reify aspects of the game that you'd prefer as more freeform.
Mitch and Abadar, your interest has inspired me to try to put my thoughts together on my blog! I'll let you know when I post, and I'll share some of what I write here, too.
Abadar, perhaps to begin answering your questions, here is the class description I included in the afterschool program guide:
Tabletop Roleplaying Games
Do you love tales of heroic fantasy like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings? Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (similar to D&D) lets you create your own hero and enter perilous worlds fraught with monsters and magic. What better way to make friends than to cooperate to escape a trap-filled dungeon, or foil the evil wizard’s elaborate plan? Roll dice, fight monsters—play out your own thrilling story. Ambitious students can be “game masters,” crafting the worlds and devious traps and villains the heroes have to overcome. You’ll be having too much fun to realize you’re learning creativity, logic, problem-solving, probability, and teamwork. Join "The Guild" today!
I have not encountered any issues from parents regarding the violent themes in the game. I would imagine that if any of them are concerned about such influences, it would be from video games -- Pathfinder is so mentally rewarding and challenging (and, as one of the parents mentioned, can "light a fire" in the kids) that the parents see the benefits far outweighing any of the potential negatives. A number of them have very definite ideas about childhood development and see tabletop RPGs as a way to develop imagination and confidence. Finally, by the time their kids come to me they have already approved of their participation.
I'll say first that there is no absolute right or wrong way to approach it here.
But as a Paizo customer, I'll just say that I PREFER Sean K. Reynold's approach!
Do I want devs who are obsequious and give me bland corporate-talk all the time? Nope. Sure, there are genuine issues out there that call for delicacy -- dealing with strong opinions on the monk class or on mythic rules, for example. And the Paizo staff gives that in spades.
But bending over backwards for every individual in the ether who has a bone to pick? I think not. I think Sean Reynolds treated the OP with as much consideration as the OP gave the company -- not much. Which, in THIS case at least I think was appropriate.
I know that if *I* were in the corporate chair always dealing with customers with innumerable complaints, some of which were not-well-thought-out but still required some sensitivity and care, the occasional WTF non-sequitor would make me laugh out loud and relish the opportunity to respond with appropriate disdain.
Just my +1.
Thanks to the OP for posting this topic. I've found this entire thread a great read! This entire discussion has got me ruminating about the differences between editions, and so I started to write a reply that grew into a new post on my blog, heh. But to save you having to click over, here goes:
Several people in the thread have said that old-school play involved more real-world time passing between gaining new levels of experience.
Sure, I can see that being true once you got to higher levels of play in 1e and 2e, but that wasn’t true at the earliest levels: to take the most extreme example, the Thief in AD&D 1e achieved 2nd level at 1,251 XP, then 3rd level at 2,501 XP. And advancement speed also depended on the GM, who could drop a big treasure hoard in 1e, where gold equaled XP, and level up the characters as he or she saw fit. Heck, Gary Gygax even introduced a rule that no character can advance more than 1 level of experience at a time from a single play session — something unheard of in D&D in later editions.
One thing I like about the older rulesets was that the “sweet spot” of mid-range levels — at which the players no longer were common pushovers, and still had not maxed-out the limits of the game system and able to overpower all monsters and obstacles in their path — was baked-in to the XP progression charts. Sure, the first few levels were obtained fairly quickly, but because advancing to the next level involved a doubling of the previous level’s XP requirement, each subsequent level involved a much longer effort than the previous one.
At the same time, each character class could only obtain so many Hit Dice; after 9th level or so, you could only get +1 hit points or +2 hit points per level, and regardless of your Constitution score.
Together, these rules presumed a “training period” during which adventurers strove toward a heroic ideal, with progress being quick at first but eventually slowing-down and plateauing. This was definitely true of the Fighter and Thief classes, but then there were the spellcasters who continued to uncover new secrets of the universe, who at the very-highest levels continued to obtain new tiers of power. Still, for them the XP requirements were so large that every “unlocking” of a new tier of power entailed a significant amount of play. This led to increasing imbalance among the classes, but at the same time it was consistent with the concept of magic being all-encompassing and powerful and was seen (for the Magic-User at least) as the reward for being extremely weak at the lowest.
Starting with D&D 3rd Edition, there was assumed to be a standard number of encounters to advance to each new level — about 13 encounters — and this remained at each level, all the way up to 20th. So the new norm of what every Level 1 adventurer was potentially capable, if they “simply worked hard and tried,” was to the 20th level adventurer. Gaming-time-wise, you skidded past the “sweet spot” at the same rate as you did the earliest levels. At the same time, the Fighter-type and Thief-type classes also continued to obtain abilities that kept them power at a closer pace with the spellcasters.
The end result is the opposite of a plateau in the “sweet spot”: a geometric curve upward in power that parallels the progression between levels of spellcasting power. And these new tiers of power are achieved at the same, unchanging rate. This is figured into the math of D&D 3rd Edition and its derivatives (including Pathfinder): the XP rewarded for defeating a creature is doubled for every 2 Challenge Rating (CR) levels one goes up. And CR by definition is equivalent to PC levels. So therefore one 5th-level PC “packs the same punch” as two 3rd-level PCs, just as one 13th-level PC packs the same punch as eight 5th-level PCs. And so on, and so on.
This, combined with the flat rate at which one obtained experience levels, has two effects: (1) the “sweet spot” is truncated and supplanted sooner by high-level play, and (2) gone is any sense of any an ideal to what mortals can achieve. To clarify this second point, there no longer is an in-world “elite club” of the mortal world’s movers and shakers — in 1e, there wasn’t much of a difference between a 14th level Fighter and an 18th Level Fighter. But in 3rd Edition forward, the difference is immense. The legends of your community are not nearly as legendary, when viewed in light of their higher-level neighbors, or in light of what they eventually could be if they went on, say, two more adventures. (Incidentally, this also compounds the difficulty of creating a believable “sandbox” setting with widely-varied encounter levels, and makes the escalation of monsters’ power over the course of a campaign more extreme and conveniently-coincidental.)
And so, in 3rd Edition D&D and its derivatives, the “pinnacle,” that achievement of legendary status, lies at 20th level. Instead of savoring the taste and feel of the “sweet spot,” the players during middle levels of play are still hurtling toward ever greater levels of power, with the expectation of attaining that greater power baked-in to the XP and rewards system.
This is my long-winded way of saying that, when Pathfinder RPG goes through its next iteration years from now, I would like the “sweet spot” to stay sweet much longer. In the meantime, I am wondering how maybe I could “fix” the recipe to make it better suit my tastes.
So to answer the OP, here is a draft houserule I am thinking of for Pathfinder:
To recalculate the XP chart so that I can expand the "sweet spot". The Medium XP progression assumes a 20-encounters-per-level progression. I would recalculate the chart so that each level of experience assumed so many "encounters". It would be roughly like this:
Levels 1 and 2 - 13 encounters
Haha, I think I know why there's been a sudden uptick in views on our website! (Also the fact that I just got them started creating characters yesterday from the full rules.)
10 of the students' parents are having me run campaigns for them outside of the club, in what you can call a quasi-babysitting job. But babysitting that's AWESOME. My guilty pleasure is now a little less guilty, and putting food on the table.
Might I add, that 80-90% of them are 6th graders! They are very bright and eating it all up. Do follow the blog starting next February, if you want to see how 11 year olds deal with Rappan Athuk. ;)
In case anyone was wondering, the club started last month and has been a big success! We started at 12 and attendance was stable for a while, and suddenly over the past 3 weeks we have started growing! We now have 18 members.
THE BEGINNER BOX WAS A BIG SUCCESS. And the streamlining of the rules has meant that literally when a 6th grader walks in, I can give him a pre-gen and have him jump in a game, or pair him up with someone to help him with his character, and he joins a group within an hour!
I feel like writing some entries on my own blog about this whole process, and some ideas I've used to generate interest, some surprises I've encountered along the way, etc. The entire endeavor has been extremely fun, and the kids are great.
But in the meantime, I'd like to share the website I've made for the club! I'm restricting comments to the students but if you have any questions definitely let me know here. :D
Here it is: http://guildmlk.wordpress.com/
I think a lot of factors come into play, such as whether a player makes a stupid mistake, and the significance of death in a campaign. I think there can be too much death in a campaign so that death only becomes a speed bump and the PCs only become bunches of stats, and there can be too little death as well so as to make the risk of adventuring meaningless.
I think that terrible decisions should have consequences, even in a random encounter.
And there is the other issue of player expectations. Now, if I had a group of players who threw a fit simply because someone died despite poor decisions, or who demand that all encounters be balanced for character level and/or complain that an encounter was "unfair" even though the PCs had been fairly warned that a monster was too much for them to take on, well in that case I would consider not gaming with that group anymore.
Bill Dunn, while true that these recent posts are less angsty, the "win" is no less automatic. I am impressed by the beginning of the post, where basically they made every decision based on what they thought customers would want, despite the risk involved. They were to reduce their core books to 2 instead of 3? Have PDFs? Have PDFs priced to accommodate having the rules posted for free? Create a Compatibility License in the spirit of the OGL? Create a Community Use Policy to encourage free fan-made products? Paizo, are you insane!?
And it seems like this all paid off in goodwill from the community.
To paraphrase a famous statesmen, the problems of growth, while more agreeable, are no less difficult. ;)
Goodwill that Paizo leveraged so that its PFRPG product, and its first player-focused product, outsold so many of its previous releases. You guys were able to assume the risk of those first gigantic print runs, and successfully transition into a new era for Paizo.
That this month's post is more glorious makes it no less stirring.
I am running a middle-school Pathfinder club and having a blast! I have not been very strict with the game's rules so far (we have met 4 times), but I do want to make sure they know the basic rules as well as possible.
Understandably, the kids want to get straight into playing as soon as possible once the club starts. So I have devised a time-tested device -- a Test -- to motivate them to look more closely at the Hero's Handbook. It's a take-home "test," and the students can help each other. Those who do well on the test will be rewarded with XP. :D
I found that making the test reinforced my own knowledge, so I'd imagine it will help others as well. So I thought this might be useful for other people who are learning the rules. I made sure to include both basic questions and a few trick questions too, hehe.
Feel free to share your scores and to comment. (I give this to the students on Monday, so point out any errors if there are any!)
Brinymon DeGuzzler wrote:
My story is from the other side of the table. GM'ing to a group of D-Bags. Right out the starting gate they start attacking and killing friendly NPCs that were obviously vital to the plot line. So, being the nice guy that I am I let it slide and just introduced more powerful NPCs to keep things moving. What happens then? They complain that the CRs are to high and they still didn't get it that it is wrong to attack an 8 year old girl for defending herself with an iron skillet after they broke into her house... (that is just one of many instances) needless to say the campiagn ended abruptly with the goal never even coming close to being accomplished.
I think if I were the GM with those guys I'd be taking my dice and trying to sneak out lol.
FYI, I've done the math and calculated the contents of the Bestiary Box:
56 small pawns
I'm assuming that Small pawns are the same size as Medium pawns, since they both take up one square. Also, the large pawns are 2" and the huge pawns are 3".
According to the OP, 3 medium pawns fit in each slot, and the large pawns each take up a slot.
That comes up to 189 slots -- so you'll need 2 packages of the product linked in the OP, in order to accommodate the Bestiary Box.
If you want to store the 80+ pawns from the Beginner Box as well, you'll want a 3rd package.
*pats self on back* :D
I'm not willing to comb the entire thread, but is there a compilation of these rules that people can easily find and later access?
Here's one, in the CRB Combat chapter (p. 199), that I found and never noticed before:
Performing a Combat Maneuver... Unless otherwise noted, performing a combat maneuver provokes an attack of opportunity from the target of the maneuver. If you are hit by the target, you take the damage normally and apply that amount as a penalty to the attack roll to perform the maneuver.
I always applied d20 + CMB against CMD. But if I'm hit while trying to use a maneuver, then I'm penalized on the roll. And this also applies when monsters try to use maneuvers against me.
This last one is more of a suggestion for the next errata...
The same paragraph quoted above there is a +4 bonus to the combat maneuver's attack roll, if the target is stunned. In the CRB glossary, the "Stunned" condition does not mention this. There should be a way to make this harder to miss (perhaps make it a -4 penalty to CMD).
I'm a 35-year-old gamer who doesn't have much opportunity to game, having been separated from my normal gaming group. I've also been running thin on money recently.
I've just found out that a nearby middle school has a program that pays people to run afterschool clubs: chess clubs, drama clubs, activist clubs, you name it. I love kids, especially of this age group. I'm going to start a Pathfinder club!
I've already come up with a lot of ideas of modules and adventures, and ways to incorporate math, literature, and creative writing into the club. It will be called "The Guild." I've already talked to a teacher who will help me get sponsorship for it.
Tomorrow I'm going to meet with some of her kids and do a trial run using the Beginner Box. I'm so excited! :D
If it has the storytelling richness that Paizo is known for in its tabletop modules and APs, I will take a look at this.
I for one am very interested in knowing what the character and play design will be like. Will there be daily spells? Feats? Or will characters be streamlined? If so, by how much? Will it resemble Neverwinter Nights in gameplay?
After all, one complaint about 4e vs. Pathfinder was that 4e was "like an MMO on paper" lol. Still, this is very exciting news!!
I thought folks would be interested in reading one blogger's account of the Beginner Box. He had never been able to convince his wife to play tabletop RPGs, and had long awaited the day he could get his son into the hobby.
Then comes along the Beginner Box and Voila! Family united! :)
The Beginner Box assumes the Medium XP track.
Assuming that all encounters have Challenge Ratings (CRs) that match the Average Party Level (APL) of the characters, then every advancement of level takes 13 encounters in the Fast XP track, 20 encounters in the Medium XP track, and 30 encounters in the Slow XP track.
The intro adventure that comes with the Beginner Box has about 10 encounters and takes you halfway to 2nd level, assuming a Medium XP track.
So if you double that, that might be a good guess of how long it will take you to go up a level. It's hard to say how long that will take - every group is different. Also, this also assumes you're always doing solid dungeon crawling. Campaigns that have more storytelling, roleplaying, and exploration tend to take up more time compared to the amount of XP you get.
Personally, I prefer slow advancement. But then again I'm a GM -- I'm sure my players would think differently. :)
I getcha. I can see the balance considerations involved here.
I like your proposal of a coma-like state, actually, and I think it's a good compromise between fluff and game balance. My only complaint is that there's limited cuddling potential when the cuddlee in this case is in a coma lol. I don't see her complaining or drawing a hard line on around this, however. And I can always respond: "I'm willing to blur the line between planes for ya, whaddelsedayawant?" :)
I had this humorous conversation with a player (a nature, animal-loving type). She's considering a summoner, and her eidolon, not able to fly yet or have those other cool powers that require mucho Evolution Points, is pretty basic with a bite and claws. She likes dogs, so it's kind of like a magical wolf-like creature right now.
She hesitated before switching from a nature mystery Oracle (with animal companion) to the Summoner, however, when she saw the following in the APG:
A summoner can summon his eidolon in a ritual that takes 1 minute to perform. When summoned in this way, the eidolon hit points are unchanged from the last time it was summoned. The only exception to this is if the eidolon was slain, in which case it returns with half its normal hit points. The eidolon does not heal naturally. The eidolon remains until dismissed by the summoner (a standard action). If the eidolon is sent back to its home plane due to death, it cannot be summoned again until the following day. The eidolon cannot be sent back to its home plane by means of dispel magic, but spells such as dismissal and banishment work normally. If the summoner is unconscious, asleep, or killed, his eidolon is immediately banished.
She said, "Well, but I couldn't sleep with my eidolon so that kinda sucks."
You can imagine the jokes that ensued from there.
Well, I'm houseruling that the aforementioned sentence, given its context, is referring to battle-caused unconsciousness and sleep. Thus, she may cuddle with her eidolon without burning any Evolution Points to do so. :)