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I'm surprised how few people use the Organic Method from the 3.0 PHB:
1. Roll 4d6, in order.
That's been my default system for years. Keeps the fun of randomness. Doesn't force someone to play a different class than they wanted.
The Rot Grub's "Catchup XP" and "Background XP" house rules seem kind of interesting, but since most of our groups are kind of small at the moment we generally only play if everybody is available. An exception is our Goblin Game, which has a "No Goblin Left Behind" policy so that players who can't attend regularly don't fall more than one level behind. There aren't any extra calculations, when somebody would be 2 levels higher than you it just forces your XP to the bottom of the next level and you proceed normally from there.
Yes, I think that would be a hidden caveat. Depending on the player (some might enjoy the challenge, others not), I might allow for a "no further than 2 levels behind" policy. I haven't encountered that situation yet. I hope that changes when I run Rappan Athuk/Slumbering Tsar hehe.
I recall reading some article somewhere comparing the 3e reboot to the 4e reboot. And one main contrast was that the TTRPG community had stopped playing 2e, and moving on to other systems for various reasons (level limits, racial restrictions on classes, etc.), while WotC released 4th edition while there was still a strong and enthusiastic player base playing 3rd edition.
If anyone has enough hindsight to remember what the D&D world was like in the late 1990s, I'd like to know. But I'm guessing that there was more discontentment about 2e then than there is about Pathfinder now.
Sigh, yet even more Paizo Publishing promotion for what is, in a nutshell, just another version of Wizards of the Coast's "D&D Tools" (aka a stat block generator we have to pay for). One day we'll get a free stat block generator I guess...one day...one sweet sweet day...
I agree with everything Robert Little said above.
"Free" basically requires that people volunteer to do it. There are already free character generators out there if you look for them. But there are reasons why Hero Lab has a lot of customers, and those are its functionality and that it is always kept current.
Bemoan the lack of a free, Hero Lab-quality character generator, sure. But what you're asking for simply isn't going to happen.
I've decided to form this thread because I'm kinda tired of debates about the value of a theoretical future edition, when I think it's more interesting to talk about what, among the options in Pathfinder Unchained and elsewhere that exist right now , do I like?
So I thought: what would MY Pathfinder be like? They say there are as many ways to make chili as there are people who make it. Since, with Pathfinder Unchained, Paizo has given us a smorgasbord of options for our tables, I'm curious to see what other people are using from Pathfinder Unchained and other places to make their version of Pathfinder!
Here's what I'm thinking of using from Unchained:
Barachiel Shina wrote:
This is a book of optional rules. The section on the Stamina system says outright that the GM has the option of making Stamina available to fighters only. It also says that you can give it to fighters via a free Stamina feat that can be taken up by other characters who are willing to spend a feat on it. It is just like the rules on firearms: you can incorporate it in your world however you like to.
Just got my PDF!
Here is the Table of Contents:
INTRODUCTION, p. 4
CHAPTER 1: CLASSES, p. 6
CHAPTER 2: SKILLS AND OPTIONS, p. 44
CHAPTER 3: GAMEPLAY, p. 92
CHAPTER 4: MAGIC, p. 142
CHAPTER 5: MONSTERS, p. 192
INDEX, p. 254
Here is the thread about that game. (Also started by me! Heh.)
I share the wish of many others that the Obsidian/Paizo deal might lead to a single-player CRPG based in the Pathfinder ruleset sometime in the future. But I wonder... does this bode good or ill for my fantasy? It shows that Obsidian has the development chops, but it seems like they're putting a lot of effort into developing their own rules and campaign setting. Hmm...
Also, I like how the upcoming D&D CRPG is made with the intent of empowering DMs to make their own adventures.
Insain Dragoon wrote:
Perhaps we have the disadvantage of being experienced players to gain perspective... for new players, the hundreds of spells and 100+ feats in the CRB alone make a guide like this quite useful.
The ability to make your own adventures would be the shizzle. I've wanted something like that for Pathfinder for a while, too.
Turn-based combats would basically preclude animations in which the characters are acting simultaneously. It means much slower gameplay.
I'm not sure how real-time with pause would work in multiplayer. Maybe if everyone declares their action at the beginning of a round, and then each round plays out after exiting pause?
The press release basically doesn't say much at all -- basically it drops some names of well-respected CRPGs from the past. I still would like more information.
My personal opinion? The screenshots and the hotkeys suggest more of an action-focused game to me. For me, the magic word I want to see is "turn based", but I understand them trying to reach a broader market. Also, my quick internet research shows Dan Tudge to be the game director and executive producer behind Dragon Age: Origins, which I enjoyed a lot.
I presently play and prefer Pathfinder, and I want to comment on some of the recent discussion.
For some GMs, Feats are a simpler way to present a creature because the GM already has the Feat memorized. For others, they just aren't facile in recalling the Feat's subroutine, so they need it printed on the page. And for some Feats, there are subtle wordings that have a vast effect on play. I just did some research recently preparing for a dragon encounter, and realized that Flyby Attack, when used to grapple, meant that the dragon had to end its turn where it grappled the creature, since moving a grappled creature requires a 2nd grapple check. And the answer for that is not in the Feat itself, but in the portion of the Combat chapter that deals with combat maneuvers.
However, if a GM is able to internalize the rules, then the designer need only a few words to present a lot of information.
Someone mentioned above that the Pathfinder monster design is too belabored, for example that giving a creature two battleaxes requires a minimum DEX of x and applying two-weapon fighting penalties; why not just add two battleaxes and be done with it?
I would argue that, if I were the Pathfinder GM in that situation, my FIRST concern would be asking myself "is this a fun encounter"? If I give 3x-crit battleaxes will that one-shot-kill one of my players? Given that, I ask myself what is the ACTUAL level of challenge presented to the players? Still, I like having the Pathfinder rules available to me as guidelines, first because I LIKE designing creatures from the ground up, and second it gives me some confines to work within so that if I break those confines I know I'm going into new territory.
Where the power scale ramps up as steeply as it does in Pathfinder, this danger of creating an over- or underpowered encounter becomes a trickier business. Where Bounded Accuracy is involved, there is tolerance for "error."
What I like about 5e's design philosophy is that it sheds this idea that there is a precise arithmetic to encounter design. The rules in Pathfinder gives this illusion that you can calculate the power level of a creature. But in Pathfinder, you can't exactly predict the actual level of a challenge because every party is different. Seugathis are extremely strong for CR 6 creatures for nearly all parties, but you can't chalk it up being under-CRed: if you have a party protected against mind control then they do not pose that much of a threat. (So many arguments in these forums are about "this is overpowered/underpowered" which wouldn't be an argument to begin with if we stopped pretending that everything can be strictly quantified to a specific power level.)
In 5e AND in Pathfinder, it's the GM's job ultimately to step back and gauge the power level of a creature and not slavishly assume the CR tells the whole story. What I like about 5e is that it doesn't place lots of restrictions on monster design pretending that adhering to those rules "fixes" having to step back and think how this actually plays on the table, with your specific players.
Steve Geddes wrote:
By necessity, D&D 5E had to differentiate from Pathfinder. It was never going to win back the adherents to the edition they had abandoned.
From a microeconomics perspective, it makes sense. Different people like different things. The idea of winning an argument over which is "better" is too trifling for me to get stressed over.
As someone who prefers Pathfinder, I am looking forward to Pathfinder Unchained because I want to preserve all the stuff I like about Pathfinder but pick and choose rules modules that preempt the Christmas Tree Effect, make running it a little easier, etc.
This piques my interest in the Monster Codex. I will definitely check it out and consider making it a reference for my kids.
One quibble though... Must be chaotic? What if I have an angry cat who, like the honey badger, just don't care or give a s***? I would've written that as "can't be lawful". :) Still, can be houseruled easily.
Necroing this thread to report that on my first day for the new school year we had 32 kids! And there are about 12 additional kids signed up for the Wednesday class as well!
I've set up a binder in which I've put full-color pictures of the (now 31) classes in plastic sleeves, with short descriptions. For a while, I'd have new visitors look through the binder and pick a class and start from there. Now, I'm using the Beginner Box intro to give people a "birds-eye" view of the game and the different kinds of characters that exist. Also, I am requiring everyone who makes a new character to do it with pencil and paper because it forces them to learn how everything connects and to make a plan for their character. I assign "journeymen" to earn class XP for helping the "apprentices" with their characters. And then they journey on a first adventure together!
We've also phased in the Kingdom Rules from Ultimate Campaign to create a kingdom (Gildhaven) in which all the adventures take place. Some of the older kids now make up the "High Council" and pass edicts and spend the kingdom's budget on expansion. They send other adventurers out on expeditions, and go on adventures themselves of course. They have imposed taxes that have caused some resentment, and some of the lower-level students are conspiring to overturn the High Council. The kids have loved the kingdom idea! Some of them have worked on their own projects: one group is clearing out a cave and want to convert it into a dance club -- I'll be using the Ultimate Campaign rules for buildings to manage their profit making! One day we had a "bar-off" in which everyone created their fantasy bars and I was a pompous reviewer who sampled their varied entertainments. One bar had a fighting ring where people fought dinosaurs and other creatures, and a cleric at a nearby table healed them afterwards.
The class website has changed URLs and is now here. For a while, I'd been running Pathfinder Adventure Paths with the kids on the weekends for a fee, so there are a lot of writeups from the kids about their adventures in Wrath of the Righteous, Kingmaker and Razor Coast. But unfortunately I have now had to phase that out as I focus more on lawyering. But now I'm helping the kids organize their own weekend self-run groups and participate in local PFS games.
Much awesomeness all around...
This thread is gigantic, and I apologize if my points have been said already.
I think that Wizards would have been foolish to try to "steal" Pathfinder's player base. They were better off making a game that was distinct from 3.x/Pathfinder. Conversely, Paizo should be mindful to maintaining its own niche.
That said, 5th Edition D&D does address some complaints coming from people who are dedicated to playing and sticking with Pathfinder RPG, such as the learning curve, dependence on magic items, and complexity of higher-level play.
I think this might be a reason why Paizo postponed the release of the Strategy Guide to come out this fall -- to see the market's response to 5E. The Strategy Guide seems like a way to address the argument "5E is easier to jump into than Pathfinder RPG!" Also, the timing of Pathfinder Unchained gives Paizo an opportunity to see how all the ideas included in 5E pan out with people.
In the grand arc of time, D&D 5E is an ideas playtest for Pathfinder Unchained and, yes, an eventual 2nd edition.
I really don't get all this howling about the Fighter being shortchanged. If it truly is underpowered compared to a HOST of other classes, is the solution to make every new class as "underpowered" as the fighter?
I think not.
If that's true, then the needed fix is to strengthen the fighter, not to gimp several other classes. I'd rather that new classes cohere to the "New Normal" than have it lower itself to the fighter's perceived lack of power, especially since many of the people complaining about it aren't using the Fighter anyway because they DO perceive its relative weakness.
Back to the earlier discussion on the role of perceptions in viewing 5E versus past editions, let's not forget the huge role played by customer goodwill. There were a number of questionable decisions by WotC that accompanied the release of 4E. The release of the basic rules of 5E for free has garnered a lot of goodwill, which is not a small thing for WotC in my opinion.
Some Rule Options I personally would like to see:
- Ability score bonuses to TWO or even THREE ability scores every four levels, to lessen the gap between MAD and SAD classes.
By the way, should we have a thread to talk about things we'd like to see in Pathfinder Unchained? I know the design team already has ideas of what to do, but I'd love to participate in and follow such a thread.
I'm really excited about this release!
There's been a vocal set on the boards saying that "Pathfinder RPG keeps all the problems of D&D 3.5" -- an exaggeration, yes, but still one that speaks to the fact that Pathfinder has kept features of 3rd Edition that have been seen as sources as problems for years. I myself would like to see if there are ways to simplify Pathfinder in higher-level play, or to make magic items more unique and special by not factoring them in the mathematical assumptions of the game.
At the time of the initial Pathfinder RPG release, backwards-compatibility was a necessity. Paizo needed to capture all the people who were still playing D&D 3rd Edition. Now that Paizo has established itself and is now the market leader, the design team has the freedom to introduce some options that revise the core game.
There's nothing inherently wrong with making changes to a game system -- it's how a company handles it. (First, these are not outright changes -- they're options. But of course the design team will look at the response to such changes for when the time for a new edition should come.) The question is the timing and manner of change. Either a company makes a revision for its own sake to make all the current books obsolete and make more money, or it is a response to longstanding issues that are common complaints in the community. And as someone who has frequented these boards for 2 years, I see the same issues coming up over and over again.
And this release seems to be coming at the right time for me. This is a chance to widely-acknowledged problems within the Pathfinder RPG system, while not making obsolete the investment players have already made in other books.
What Skeld is referring to isn't the Paizo PRD, but the community-supported SRD here.
A very awesome resource!
You are in luck! The Hero Lab community has been developing an Ultimate Psionics package for Hero Lab...
I got a copy of Dreamscarred Press' Ultimate Psionics and thought it would be fun to open up the psionic classes to my middle-school kids group just for this AP. They've been all over it, and most of them have already created their Level 1 characters!
I'm just wondering if anyone else has thought of doing this, since it would seem to meld with the sci-fi elements of this AP nicely.
I would need to modify the campaign and their backstories so that there's a reason why they have psionic powers in a world where they're not common.
So yeah... anyone else trying this and anyone else have thoughts or suggestions?
It's not clear to me what itch this is scratching. If I want monsters, I have the Bestiaries. If I want to customize monsters, I can add class levels and use the feats available to PCs. If I want ecologies, I can go to the Pathfinder "Revisited" line. If I want the option of having monsters as PCs, I can use the Advanced Race Guide.
What am I not "getting" here? Maybe if some specific examples are elaborated, I could see the usefulness of this.
Wow, this is amazing! I have my own growing group of middle-school kids I'm teaching the Pathfinder RPG to (here's our website), and it's awesome to see the hobby flourish and inspiring kids in Uganda! Kudos to you, and I'd love to hear more about this in the future!
The title says it all.
I often run encounters where I have three, four, or more of the same type of creature. But I lose track of who's who, which makes it hard to remember who has how many hit points, who has temporary status effects, etc.
The problem worsens when they move around each other on the battlefield -- my improvised system of writing HP totals on my sheet the same way they are positioned on the mat becomes useless.
So it would be great to have pawn bases that are numbered, or of different colors, so I don't lose track! :)
Sounds like superhero stats aren't your only concern. Some of the players in that original group were not compatible with each other, if there was murderous PvP, a GM siding with the in-game murderer, and 6 people walking out.
Primary problem is getting a group of people who are compatible with each other.
Second issue is getting agreement over the "philosophy" or "feel" of your campaign. If you're the GM however, you can only compromise so far -- you're doing the bulk of the work, after all, and it's no fun planning a campaign that you're not really into. If the majority are absolutely for a style of play that you won't have fun doing, then you're not a compatible GM with this particular group.
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.
To the OP, I like to keep a three-holed binder where I have a printout of the PDF, so I can highlight, underline, and put notes in the margins to my heart's content. I also have post-its to mark important pages (for example, the map of their current location, the wandering monster table, etc.). I also print pages from my PDFs of the bestiaries (or if I don't have the PDFs, from the online sources noted above), and have those in the back of my binder for easy access. I like to detach them from the binder when I need them, especially when I am using more than one statblock at a time.
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.
First, I want to extend my thanks to the Paizo staff for publishing Mythic Adventures and I'm VERY excited to try out these options in my campaign.
I also want this thread to be a place where folks can figure out what rules might NOT work in their games and how GMs should deal with them: whether that be selective exclusion or adjusting their campaigns and encounters.
I understand that "balance" can mean different things and that, in the end, the goal is to have fun, which is different for every GM and every group.
Okay, so enough with the disclaimers!
After looking over the entire book, I went back to Chapter 1 and started reading through the Path Abilities, and found a couple under Archmage that seemed to be too powerful:
Mythic Hexes (Su): Your hexes are more effective against non-mythic targets. When you use a hex that requires a saving throw against a non-mythic target, that target is automatically affected for 1 round (which doesn't count toward the hex's duration) and can't attempt a saving throw to resist the hex...
I immediately wondered: What could stop a melee fighter from running up adjacent to a CR 20 non-mythic dragon, the witch casts her slumber hex, and the fighter coup de graces the dragon? Sure, mooks could get in attacks of opportunity against the fighter -- but not against the witch, and the witch wouldn't even need to use any of her mythic power!
I understand that mythic abilities should be Capital P Powerful, but I don't want a path ability (a 1st-tier one at that) that negates the drama of even the most important boss battles. The only way I see this could be countered is to make every important opponent mythic...
The next Path Ability I'm concerned about:
Rapid Preparation: You can prepare a spell in an open spell slot in only 1 minute instead of the normal 15 minutes. You can prepare spells in all of your available spell slots in only 15 minutes instead of the normal 1 hour. As a swift action, you can expend one use of mythic power to instantly prepare one spell in an open spell slot.
That last sentence seems to negate the strength of spontaneous casters. Why be a sorcerer, when a wizard can have many more spells in his spellbook, all of which are "unlocked" via a swift action?
Perhaps I am I overly concerned about this... after all, mythic power is a precious resource that could otherwise be used to cast mythic versions of spells and do many other awesome things. How did these Path Abilities work out during the playtest?
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.
In the Anniversary Edition, Xanesha has charm monster at will with a save DC of 21. This ability isn't mentioned in the Tactics section. I wonder if anyone has thought of spamming charm monster to take several of the party members out of the fight? She would cast it defensively (her concentration bonus here is +24).
Is there something I'm forgetting about the rules? I hesitate to use it because I don't know how a party could effectively counter it.
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.