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sunshadow21's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 3,584 posts (8,511 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist. 30 aliases.


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Paladin of Baha-who? wrote:
Well, there's tradition, and then there's persecution. I can see a good deity saying that family and children and fertility and reproduction are the most important thing, so gay people should marry the opposite sex and have kids even if their hearts aren't in it, because of the importance of keeping society going with lots of children and maintaining the family line. But I can't see a good deity allowing gay people to be imprisoned, or tortured, or burned at the stake, because of who they love. It's just not possible. I also can't see a good deity allowing this of nearly anyone, for that matter.

The Catholic Church had its Crusades and was still considered good by the standards of the times. Ditto for Islam and Judaism at several points of their respective history. Not to mention pretty much every country/nation/empire that has ever existed. Is that level of persecution "Good" with a capital G? Probably not. But if the society as a whole considers it a good thing, or at least a necessary thing, it's not likely a god like Moradin would have great reason to intervene. Going by the standards you list, no deity, country, or group of any size could ever be considered to have a good alignment. Which could be a fair enough statement, but one just as far off of the traditional D&D standard as keeping things as historical as possible.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
So...socially unacceptable? Sure. Something you need to keep quiet about? Probably a solid plan. Going to get you executed even if you're a personal friend of the King and he wants you alive? That's a bit of a stretch.

That's actually a very good summation of how I tend to treat such issues. It's not likely to get you killed unless you really cause trouble about it, and even then, the causing trouble part will get you killed far more often than the rest of it.

Jaelithe wrote:
I've never been much for the ordinary or the average. Frankly, I find most D&D/Pathfinder games wholly uninteresting, so ... to each their own.

I understand the feeling. I'll play in Golarion and with all the assumptions people make about what is typical, but my own world is most definitely not in that mold. Religion, and most of the resulting issues, simply doesn't come up much because the time frame I am currently working on has most of the gods dead and/or too weak to care too much about the world directly. In my world, a player wanting to push a particular issue not commonly shared with a larger community would simply be treated as weird (a title they would already have simply from being an adventurer) and be treated accordingly (which usually means apathy unless it's a personal issue for that specific NPC). If they tried the above example of climbing the minaret in my world, they would be either be killed instantly or no one would notice, and it wouldn't matter when in the campaign they did it. Quiet and dedicated action over time is far more likely to produce results than any single act or proclamation, and this is true of anything the player may want to change in the world. If that proclamation came after 15 levels of quiet advocacy, it might have an impact, but the proclamation itself would mean nothing outside of a greater context.

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Tormsskull wrote:
But, when you want to say that the religion of the area is anti-gay, that religion (or more specifically, the deity) is of a good alignment, and the deity doesn't punish his/her clerics for allowing the anti-gay activities, then you've lost me.

A lawful good god that focuses on tradition and society rather the individual, someone like Moradin, could absolutely be played that way. Wouldn't have to be the only way, but I could definitely see a lot more resistance to any of movements that have shaken up society in the last several decades from that church without at all challenging their claim to being good. Just because they don't focus on specific concerns on the individual level doesn't make them not good.

One big, big, big problem I have with equating not supporting those causes with not being good is that good can be interpreted in different ways. Our current society is definitely in chaotic good category, focusing on individual freedom and liberty in the immediate here and now rather than a focus on long term success of the family or society as a whole, so that colors our perceptions of what qualifies as good heavily, but it doesn't remove the validity of of the other interpretations out there.

Jaelithe wrote:
sunshadow21 wrote:
Jaelithe wrote:
sunshadow21 wrote:
The pantheons of old offer more room for storytelling, more wiggle room, and far less headaches on pretty much most subjects that might come up as potential sources of conflict.
And another variant is using both the pantheons of old and the White Christ driving them slowly out. Best of both worlds, as it were.
But not the traditional fantasy that most people associate with D&D. Personally I would go with Zoroasterism for that role rather than the Abrahamic religions. Still does the storyline well, but is lesser known, so more room to develop it before triggering metagaming or player arguments. And it's fun to tell a true historical story that often gets overlooked rather than going with the obvious choices.

When one considers just how much those three faiths absorbed from Zoroastrianism, you're already using it.

And there's fantasy out there that employs Christianity and Islam. Katherine Kurtz springs immediately to mind.

I've run a quasi-historical campaign in which nascent Islam runs into Byzantine and Sassanid Empires that haven't been fighting each other for thirty years, and it's kicked back into the desert to become a backwater religion of but a few Arab tribes.

But you're right. The kind of flamboyant magic and Christmas tree regalia that typifies Pathfinder doesn't as easily lend itself to fantasy of that sort.

Since I would already using most of it anyway, I prefer to go directly to the source, since the source is not as well known, and leaves more room for me to play without the players metagaming their way through the campaign. And I am by no means knocking the idea. It can be a very interesting campaign in the right group, and I personally would enjoy it. But at least for the groups I've run in, it wouldn't last very long before at least one player went completely off course because they just wanted to blow off some steam rather than tell what is for the average D&D campaign a rather narrow story.

thejeff wrote:
One thread of this discussion has been about quasi-historical campaigns. Thus real-world religions.

To me, a full discussion on real world religions or history would have to include the impact of readily available magic that D&D has, so quasi-historical is the most I've ever encountered and consider myself likely to encounter in this system. In other systems, I could see some of your larger concerns being potentially more relevant, but this system forces both real history and real religion to bend considerably to fit with the worlds that have been developed within it. One will at most see shadows of both as the presence of the other fantasy races, lack of technology, and the presence of magic monkey wrench a great deal of the reasons and assumptions behind both, especially in matters of warfare and social attitudes.

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Jaelithe wrote:
sunshadow21 wrote:
The pantheons of old offer more room for storytelling, more wiggle room, and far less headaches on pretty much most subjects that might come up as potential sources of conflict.
And another variant is using both the pantheons of old and the White Christ driving them slowly out. Best of both worlds, as it were.

But not the traditional fantasy that most people associate with D&D. Personally I would go with Zoroasterism for that role rather than the Abrahamic religions. Still does the storyline well, but is lesser known, so more room to develop it before triggering metagaming or player arguments. And it's fun to tell a true historical story that often gets overlooked rather than going with the obvious choices.

thejeff wrote:
Though I'd have trouble seeing the Christian God concealing his omniscience and omnipotence. Or the Jewish or Islamic variant, for that matter.

I've also never seen that type of god show up in a traditional fantasy setting. Some specialized fantasy setting or a setting that mixes fantasy and historical, sure, and I've seen some DMs work some variant of it into a standard world like Golarion, but even that is rare. The pantheons of old offer more room for storytelling, more wiggle room, and far less headaches on pretty much most subjects that might come up as potential sources of conflict.

thejeff wrote:
]I certainly would deny it, given sufficient provocation and warning. Then we'd decide how to handle it - Atonement and return to the god's good graces, a change to serving a different god or something else entirely.

Given the central focus of the cleric class on spells, flat out denial on a routine basis is a dangerous option unless the player is onboard with that possibility from day 1 of playing the character. There's a fine line between enforcing a god's will and making the player feel like he is being overly punished. It's still useful as a final resort, but all the other options are, in my experience, better to use first unless you really know the player and the group well.

Jaelithe wrote:
Digitalelf wrote:
MMCJawa wrote:
gods do withdraw power from those who don't roughly follow the dictates of their faith.
I can just imagine the player's reaction if a GM EVER said to the player that his cleric PC can't cast spells any more, or was denied any specific spell that the character prayed for... Would go over like the proverbial passing of gas in church...

So you're saying that a GM has no recourse to rebuke a player through loss of spells or powers even if said player's character is ignoring his alignment, thumbing his nose at his god's dictates and using his spells in a way of which the god disapproves?

In a word ... ridiculous.

(You added your last paragraph above while I was replying. Oh, well.)

My personal response to a situation that went beyond occasionally denying individual spells would be to simply tell the player that the deity providing them power has changed based on their character's actions, and let the player deal with any and all fallout from that change. It enforces a certain amount of playing true to the chosen god without depriving someone access to a basic class feature.

On the OP, it's never come up in my games, and probably never will. The people I tend to game with game to relax and blow off steam, so even if I was running whatever adventure that trans orc was in, it still likely wouldn't come up. I wouldn't be likely to introduce the orc as anything other than an orc npc, and nobody I currently play with, and very, very few of those I have ever played with would care enough about that particular topic to inquire specifically about that topic on that npc. At best it would come up in a random comment if they kept running into that particular npc.

The idea that certain gods would condone certain behavior or not is already blunted in my personal world considerably by treating my gods more like Eberron than Fearun or Golarion in terms of their direct interaction with the world. Even in Golarion, it's not going to be an issue unless a player or GM really wants to push that topic a lot. For most groups, it isn't even not having thought of it or actively denying it; for most players or DMs, modeling our reality precisely simply isn't that big of a concern, and a lot of those kinds of subjects get glossed over in the name of the game being entertainment first and everything else second.

Morzadian wrote:

The subtypes work in any campaign.

And the subtypes are put in place so the Eidolon will fit into a fantasy worlds mythology not just for reasons pertaining to game balance.

Except where they really don't, which could potentially be just as many worlds as the ones that they do. Especially with the focus on outsider subtypes, my personal world is not a good fit with the new setup, as outsiders, regardless of alignment, are heavily discouraged by the remaining gods, while the old one worked perfectly given the long history of war and conflict in the world that only just recently ended. I play in another game under another DM where the same basic issues would come up if we were playing PF instead of 3.5; the old system would actually fit reasonably well while the new one would create massive headaches for player wanting to use it roleplaying wise. In Golarion through PFS play, the new one probably makes more sense, but Golarion in home games has plenty of room for the old interpretation as well.

My personal inclination is to allow either, but the choice must be made at 1st level; that way, a player could use whichever one fit their concept better, and the choice also impacts the roleplaying aspect of how the rest of the world reacts to them. Even then, I would probably allow all subtypes to be of any of the base forms and possibly ease up on the alignment restrictions. Even with expanding subtype options, the new way is not inherently any better at explaining the eidolons than the old way; they both have strengths and they both have weaknesses. Hopefully, we ever see another version of summoner again, it will find a middle ground that allows both interpretations equally well rather than absolutely forcing one over the other.

Create Mr. Pitt wrote:

The new action economy system cannot work within the RAW. Too much of the game, classes, and rules are based on the swift/standard action economy. There needs to be a ton of house ruling to import this into PF as it stands unless you want to decimate a ton of class options.

Of course, then everyone can just argue about the appropriate house rules to determine if the true purpose of a new action economy system is a smoother more interesting tactical game or just to nerf casting classes.

The point is importing this system into PF RAW is impossible due to the number of ambiguities and questions which arise and the harm it does to a number of classes which depend on swift actions to make the class run adequately.

The big issue there is that the new action system was written as an optional experimental system, not a full system rewrite that was expected to work with all the pre-existing material. I'm sure if we see it printed officially again (which we very well might given the apparent positive reception it's been getting in this thread) that most of those issues would be ironed out. After all, it's mostly just a matter of taking the time to make the adjustments; for an experimental system, it wasn't really worth the time to go through every class and make necessary adjustments, but if we do see it again, it will have proven itself to be worth that effort.

There would still be classes that would lose and classes that would win, but most of the ambiguities present in this iteration would likely have been dealt with. The real question is whether people would like the official adjustments, and as the discussion that revolved around the magus shows, they will never likely get an unanamious agreement no matter what they do in that regard.

Create Mr. Pitt wrote:

Just a crazy thought, but would be possible to use this modularly based on class. Either certain classes are assigned either the new paradigm or the old; or they have the choice.

I don't think this causes too much chaos so long as one is locked in and it allow the player to choose his/her approach based on their build and interest.

I would probably do something like this. Pre-ACG classes would work reasonably well for the most part with the new system as there as been ample time for most people to shake them out and figure out how to adjust them without too much difficulty. The one exception I could think of would be the magus, and I would still probably run that under the new system as it's the only one that would likely require a massive amount of on the spot rulings, so it would be a good test case while still keeping the work load manageable. The ACG classes I would run with the old for two reasons; 1)they are still new enough that most people aren't yet fully comfortable enough with them to start making major changes to them, and 2)they very much seem to incorporate a different way of trying to resolve many of the same basic issues, especially with their reliance on swift actions, so I would want to let both possible solutions play out to see which one is the more effective in the long run and/or how to most effectively combine the two approaches into a single hybrid. While I don't personally like the heavy reliace on swift actions, I can understand why a lot of people reacted rather harshly to the idea of them just disappearing entirely in the blink of an eye. By letting some classes use the new and some use the old, it might give a better idea of if they are truly necessary, and if so, how and when they should be used to get maximum effectiveness and minimal hassle.

This sounds like an intriguing system. It sounds like it sacrifices extra actions like swift actions and some of the iterative attacks for combat speed and fluidity. My personal response if I were in a group that used this would be to adjust class abilities and feats that rely on swift attacks to the new system, but then I never really liked the explosion of swift actions to begin with. They always kind of felt like a bandaid trying to cover a gaping wound; they helped, but they didn't really solve the underlying problems of the base system. It will be interesting to see if this system gets any more support or formal development or if it remains an experimental system.

Steve Geddes wrote:
What I mean is the associations with the name of a product which differentiate it from a generic version, in the eyes of the public*. One of the reasons I think D&D has an undeniably strong brand is that it is regarded as the only example.

Name recognition by itself doesn't mean much in this case. What matters is WotC's ability to translate it to making money for them and not somebody else, and that is where they have generally fallen well short. Even with the successes in the other markets, they probably haven't seen that much of the profits. It's almost like there is two D&D brands. One is the formal brand controlled by WotC (and TSR before that), and one is the overarching fantasy generic brand that covers not only most tabletop games, but a fair number of different novel writers as well. The latter is extremely strong; the former has never done nearly as well. That's the factor that most of the comparisons to Marvel doesn't take into account. For most comics, there is virtually no gap between the popular usage of the brand and the actual formal brand. For D&D, that gap is huge.

WotC has virtually no control over and makes virtually no money off of the more generic version of the brand, and it's strong enough that they can't squash it either. That makes it harder for them to sell licenses to the formal brand. There's little incentive to pay for a license from WotC when one get most of the elements from other sources and put together something that is visibly indistinguishable from D&D, but legally and financially is very, very different. For the cost of what they would have paid for the license, many companies can mount an effective PR campaign to overcome the lack of name recognition, breaking even in the short run and ending up with an IP they have full control over in the long run. Add in a history of being a difficult business to partner with, and WotC has even less clout to sell formal licenses.

In the tabletop market, they could get away with writing licenses that don't give everything away if they took the time to build good relationships; the indy publishers can easily create sellable content at a low cost, so they can get away with more limited returns. With movies or video games, it's a different story; a lot more money can be made, but they also take a lot more money to create in the first place, which the licensee is going to expect to make back and then some in equally large proportions, so WotC isn't actually going to make that much more than if they spent the money directly on their own product.

Steve Geddes wrote:
People with no idea of what an RPG is have often heard of D&D - that's a remarkable thing and points to a hugely successful brand. Even moreso if (as you repeatedly claim) they haven't had any success in the last few years.

Heard of, but often can't even remotely define what it is; even most people who know it well can't agree on a common definition. It's all pretty much generic fantasy. Even if you take out the different rule sets, you get people picturing everything from Conan and Middle Earth, very low magic settings, to Forgotten Realms and similar high magic worlds, as well as everything in between, with many including steampunk and/or sci-fi elements in their understanding of the brand. That makes it hard to market anything under it, because people won't have enough of an idea of what it is to really know whether or not they should be interested enough to look at it again. The emergence of Game of Thrones and other successful novels turned movies or tv shows muddy the water even more. There is plenty to define what D&D was in the 80s, and even the 90s, but very little to define precisely what it is today, so name recognition is not as much of a help as you think it is.

As for your counterexample, Colgate may reformulate aspects of their toothbrushes, but the basic function and product is still the same. It still has a handle and bristles; people still use it to apply toothpaste to their teeth. Making it battery powered or changing the length of some of the bristles doesn't change the basic concept behind it. There is virtually no debate over what is or is not a toothbrush. Even amongst most rpgs, these kinds of debates are rare; you say Shadowrun or Vampire, and most people know almost exactly what you are talking about. Same for novels, movies, and games in general. The only time you really see these debates and see the base question of what is the brand really supposed to be is D&D and anything derived from it. It's not a difficulty unique to WotC, as Paizo has basically skirted around it by clearly defining their brand around their world, and the rules are there as a supplement, but WotC seems to be one of the few that can't solve it. New editions at this point mean nothing precisely because the brand already has so vague of a definition that nobody notices yet another layer of confusion.

Steve Geddes wrote:

What you havent established but just keep repeating as fact is that putting out a new edition of the RPG is symptomatic of a failure of the brand overall.

It's more that the same arguments of how the rpg doesn't matter and they are trying to branch out tend to get highlighted at the launch of new editions. The new editions themselves aren't really the issue; they just tend to highlight how much progress really hasn't been made in other areas since the last edition.

Steve Geddes wrote:
Drizzt, for one. As I said, it makes no sense to judge their branding a failure by first excluding all of the widely known, commercially successful products. However, you're the one making the claim. How about advancing some evidence beyond opinion and speculation about goals that you have no knowledge of?

Being inconsistent and being a failure are two different things. One or two amazing products surrounded by a sea of mediocrity very definitely makes the brand inconsistent. As for being a failure, at some level, it clearly is, or we wouldn't be having more or less the same conversation right after the release of 5E that people had after the release of 4E. At the same time it's equally clearly not a complete failure; it does still have Drizzt and 5E is very solid for what it was designed to do. What we ultimately get is a very muddy picture of mixed success. It will be very interesting to see what happens to the rpg if no successful movie or video game emerges from their current efforts. Any chance they might have had in truly competing in the TTRPG market will be even smaller and less appealing, making it more likely that the brand just basically gets shelved.

Steve Geddes wrote:

Again you're focussing on the (economically irrelevant) TTRPG market.

How has their release of computer games changed in the last couple of years that makes you think they've adopted an "upstart" demeanour? Their approach to comics? To novels? What would make a fan of Salvatore's books suddenly think "Gee, these guys are clearly desperate!"?

It may be less relevant than other markets, but the TTRPG is the one they currently have. The video game market is shaky, and the movie market is still a distant dream. Largely abandoning it before they have something to replace it with seems really, really stupid to me. A small, but consistent, income is better than no income at all. Clearly they don't care or think that their other plans will come through sooner rather than later and cover the gap. I guess we'll know in a year if the ultimate payoff was worth it.

Steve Geddes wrote:
I'm disputing your claim that D&D is not a strong, "consistent" brand outside of the TTRPG.

Than name any truly strong D&D product out there today that isn't Drizzt or the PHB. The two MMOs are decent, but have little or no impact on the greater MMO market. The rest of the novel line is anemic. The boardgames are good, but are competing in a crowded enough market that they haven't really made that much of a splash. Neverwinter Nights was the last true hit the D&D brand had and that's a good decade old. It's been present outside the TTRPG more or less consistently, something no other tabletop game can claim, that much is true, but the only consistency it's shown is being just enough to keep all the products going. This isn't a small feat or one to be put down, but it's not the same as the kind of consistent success that WotC clearly keeps trying to find.

We may not know their exact goals, but they are clearly well beyond what they have managed to accomplish in practice, otherwise they wouldn't be consistently and very visibly chasing the same elusive targets in the movie and video game markets for over two decades.

Steve Geddes wrote:
Speaking about the strength of WotC's business doesnt have to be seen through the prism of "who is better?"

The comparison does help highlight the difficulties that WotC faces vs the challenges that it's competitors face, though, in all markets. A direct comparison is not possible, but looking at the size of the gaps of where the different companies are vs where they want to be is a valid approach, and WotC is much, much farther from their goals than Paizo is from their goals. This isn't automatically a disaster because WotC is making gambles that, if they pay off, will close the gap very quickly, but that doesn't reduce the fact that they are fairly large gambles, complete with fairly large potential loss in the case of failure.

In the end, WotC is behaving more like the upstart trying to establish themselves in one big, bold stroke while Paizo is acting like the mature company that has the history to allow them make more, smaller gains. Considering the actual history of the two companies, WotC's actions don't make much sense if the brand was actually doing as well as fans often believe. It's far from a failure, but it's also far from the success that it's often touted to be. In contrast, Paizo has accomplished in the short time since releasing Pathfinder almost as much in terms of market saturation, and not just the tabletop market, as WotC has in over two decades of ownership. While this doesn't directly hamper WotC is any way, it does highlight the weaknesses in WotC's approach that they will have to overcome.

137ben wrote:
But the 5e PHB really doesn't..

Aside from the fact that it's one of the few products actually out there right now. Other than that, they have Drizzt and two decent, but far from spectacular, MMOs that no one ever really talks about. Yes, there are other novels and a few boardgames, but nothing else that would serve as a base for the brand. If this was the era of Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, or even the cartoon movie, I would agree with you; those could and did carry a lot more weight than the tabletop game. Nothing out today can come even close to pulling that off. Only Drizzt comes even close and he belongs as much or more to Salvatore as he does to WotC; if Salvatore decided to retire tomorrow, WotC would be hard pressed to stop him and would be at the exact same level as Paizo in regards to novels. Right now, it's a lot bigger risk because they are basically ignoring one of the few markets they have a solid advantage in while chasing markets they currently have little or no foothold in, let alone a competitive edge that would help them secure themselves more firmly. I can understand chasing other markets, but not ignoring the markets they already have, even if those markets are comparatively smaller.

At the moment, culturally, D&D remains a strong brand name, but business wise, it relies more on nostalgia than actual product, and that's a precarious place to be. Nostalgia is strong, as is a strong cultural presence and the current demand for fantasy, but these are all very unpredictable sources of growth, and WotC has nothing to fall back on. It's not a gamble certain to fail, but it's equally not certain to succeed, and with 4E's shortcomings in the very recent past, another perceived failure so soon will hurt them even more.

Paizo, for all that it lacks the name recognition, is in a far better place business wise. All of their products actively support each other, and they already have almost as much actual current product as WotC in most of the non-tabletop markets that everyone claims that WotC has such a strong advantage. They also have better working relationships with both the rest of the tabletop industry, and probably most everyone else they work with aside from the local game stores, and even there, they still have a solid enough relationship. They also have, in actual product, a far more diverse array of products, making them more resistant to less than stellar sales of a particular product.

MMCJawa wrote:
And I would still say comparisons with Marvel are valid. Marvel made a lot of dubious decisions in the past, and had severe financial issues. I think Marvel has done a good job of turning around their brand, and I think WoTC learned from their mistakes in the past regarding the 4E launch. The fact that I am encountering vastly lower levels of venom from the fan community about the transition compared to 4E lends credence I think to that idea

WotC could very easily turn it around, but they could just as easily regress yet again. The question was asked whether Paizo or WotC had chosen the better strategy, and the answer is definitely Paizo; it may not lead to as big of a payoff immediately, but it's a far more stable and predictable strategy business wise. That doesn't mean that WotC is automatically going to fail; it just means that they have a much tougher road to success. And you are correct that they have shown signs that they have learned at least a few lessons from the recent past. Whether it's enough and whether they have enough resources to do anything with what they have learned remain very big questions right now, though, so their chosen strategy remains very risky and with 5E being basically a place holder, WotC will have to be extremely proactive and very willing to spend money on all of the other projects in ways we haven't seen them do so at any point in the past. So far we haven't seen any signs of that, most notably in the distinct lack of any kind of serious digital presence, and if we don't by summer, they will have missed a crucial opportunity.

Steve Geddes wrote:

I guess if you exclude the successful products, they haven't had much success. However, I suspect WotC are using a different metric than you. No doubt Drizzt counts, in their eyes.

It's hard to see why they'd take the approach they seem to be adopting if they shared your view that D&D has failed as a "sustained, consistent" brand over the years.

Except that WotC clearly believes that it has failed as a sustained brand. There's a reason we already see 5E (and why 5E is designed the way it is) and that the novels outside of Drizzt are functionally not there as far as the bottom line is concerned. Even on the movie front, they have started a legal battle to get the license away from someone whose track record with the license is not what WotC and Hasbro were expecting. It's not because of any sustained success, but quite the opposite. Successful brands don't have to essentially hit the reboot button like WotC has had to consistently do throughout their ownership of the brand. To be fair, TSR had the same difficulties; they just chose a different way to try to solve them, with about the same amount of non-success. D&D has always been more successful on a cultural level than a business level.

It's not ignoring the successful products, it's also looking at the less than successful stuff at the same time, and more importantly, the ratio between the two groups. Successful brands have more successes than failures; D&D historically doesn't. The successes it has tend to make very big splashes, and there has been enough interest in the brand for someone, usually not the direct owner of the brand, to make a product that keeps the name alive, which is an admirable feat to be certain, but that's about it. WotC is still basically known to the business world as the maker of Magic, with very few people bothering to notice the small impact that D&D has in actual dollars. Active support for the brand as a whole has been sparse in terms of actual product historically, even with the core tabletop game, as many fans consider many, if not most, of the splat books for both 3rd and 4th edition to be worthless.

MMCJawa wrote:
in time to cash in favorably.

That is honestly the key and the part that WotC has never been able to pull off, at least for D&D. Whether it's exploiting their own success or someone else's, their entire ownership of the brand, including the core game, is filled with examples of a short burst of success followed by long periods of coasting on those successes. This doesn't diminish the successes, but it does limit the ability for the company to do much with those successes.

Guardians worked because it had the backing of a currently very strong franchise and the company that owns it had probably already committed to a sequel. Maybe WotC this time around has a war chest of money just waiting to fully support such projects for D&D, but so far we haven't seen them put any more effort into the brand than they have in the past. The fight to get the movie license back is not new, nor are the claims that all they need is one good movie. The announced video game, if it turns out to be any good, will help, but that's still probably not going to be seen until next year, which leaves a large gap of time that needs to be filled with something substantial, and if WotC has that something, they need to show it now, not later.

Steve Geddes wrote:

You only need a handful of big successes to be worthwhile. No matter what gamers think of Drizzt, his novels have made the mainstream bestseller lists what? A dozen times? More? How can that be judged "mediocre" success, even if other novels dont sell well - it's not like publishing a new author is particularly expensive.

Same with the computer game or movie "failures" - their artistic merit isnt relevant to commercial success.

Even as a commercial success, D&D as a brand is not all that large outside of the gaming community; it peaked a long time ago in terms of the wider market. Most of the commercial successes are almost a decade old, or older. Not much there to help them now.

As a brand, Drizzt and Baldur's Gate and a few other successes aside, there has been no sustained and consistent development of the brand under WotC, despite several decades of trying different methods of accomplishing the exact same goal that people have stated is WotC's intent this time around as well. From what I've seen of how WotC is approaching 5E, I'm not convinced that even a successful movie would really help the brand all that much in the long run right now. It's basically the same problem they have following the success of the core books for 5E. There's nothing ready to launch in that crucial period immediately after their initial success to feed it and keep it going.

They aren't going to be able to rely on outside help to give them a largely free boost this time around; they squandered most of that good will and community support a while ago, and it's not going to be cheap to get it back. One way or another, they are going to have to spend a fair amount of resources somewhere to somebody to get the level of sustained success that they keep striving for. Given that the amount of resources they have been willing to spend on what is still the keystone product of the brand, regardless of how WotC wants to change that going forward, I don't really see their overall pattern of a massive isolated success slowly fading away to lack of support changing.

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Galnörag wrote:
The games are hit and miss, the old SSR ones were great, and it was a real heyday for D&D games come again with Balder's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, and of course Torment, but there have been an equal sprinkling of turds, the activation pool of crashidence

The novels are more or less in the same boat. You have a handful of big successes in a field of mostly mediocre efforts. That's been the major problem that D&D has always had with licensing, regardless of who owned it. It seems like it has all of this potential, but consistently tapping into that is easier said than done, as has been demonstrated time and time again. One of the biggest hurdles has been that WotC at least (I don't really know much about this aspect when it comes to TSR) has never consistently funded the brand in a manner that would allow the brand managers to build off any successes they do get. That part does not seem to be changing with the release of 5E, so it's hard for be overly excited about their apparent plans; it's too much of the same things they've consistently done in the past with overall mediocre results.

thejeff wrote:
sunshadow21 wrote:
Danbala wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
I think WotC dont really care about "winning ICv2" because that represents gaining the lion's share of a trivial market. As such, I dont see that failing to provide for electronic...
Based on their actions, I think their concerns are (1) keeping costs to a minimum (the layoffs and the small staff); (2) making sure that their department is in the black -- even if its a small number (commitment to printing only the books that sell the most copies); and (3) demonstrating that the endeavor can produce valuable license arrangements.
I question their ability to do number 3 given number 1 and number 2. WotC is basically asking everyone else to take all the risks for their brand while they reap the rewards. For this to work, WotC is going to have to write a lot of licenses far closer to the original OGL than anything they had with 4E if they are going to get any takers.

I don't think he's talking 3pp gaming supplement license agreements, but video games and movies and things that actually bring in real money.

An OGL license, pretty much by definition, isn't going to produce valuable license arrangements.

Whatever the product ends up being, the licenses are going to have to be almost that open in order to get very many people willing to nibble and take the offer. With as little as WotC is interested in investing in the brand and their recent history of not being a very good business partner, the other party is going to end up shouldering most of the cost, and will almost certainly expect an equally large percentage of any reward, especially for something like a video game or movie.

The only way to successfully do number 3 is to ignore 1 & 2 in hopes for a big payday down the road. If WotC really wants to go down this road of outside licensing, they are basically going to have to write someone a free check in hopes that any success from that first product will somehow translate into people being willing to pay more for future licenses. There is no way for WotC to really grow the brand without spending or giving away a fair bit of money; the brand just isn't that strong outside the core game for other companies to accept the kind of licenses and working relationships that WotC has been in the habit of favoring in the last few years.

Danbala wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
I think WotC dont really care about "winning ICv2" because that represents gaining the lion's share of a trivial market. As such, I dont see that failing to provide for electronic...
Based on their actions, I think their concerns are (1) keeping costs to a minimum (the layoffs and the small staff); (2) making sure that their department is in the black -- even if its a small number (commitment to printing only the books that sell the most copies); and (3) demonstrating that the endeavor can produce valuable license arrangements.

I question their ability to do number 3 given number 1 and number 2. WotC is basically asking everyone else to take all the risks for their brand while they reap the rewards. For this to work, WotC is going to have to write a lot of licenses far closer to the original OGL than anything they had with 4E if they are going to get any takers.

The issue I see is the virtual lack of any kind of digital presence on WotC's part. Whether it be PDFs, e-books, or something else, they are going to need a lot more than the basic PDF going forward or they are going to lose a lot of their potential audience. Even DDI, for all of its problems, was better than their current status on that front.

Gorbacz wrote:
D&D is a big brand. Over in US and Canada, at least, D&D is synonymous with an entire hobby. But it's a big brand with a tiny target market, so what WotC is doing that's trying to take the big brand to new markets. That's very sensible, and likely also an indicator that the pnp RPG hobby is shrinking. Over 25 years of playing CCGs, board games, wargames and RPGs I've seen the first three hobbies explode in popularity, while the RPGs have their glory days long gone.

The problem that WotC has that Paizo doesn't is that WotC has to figure out how to reconcile the future with the past, not to mention juggle the needs of their other brands. The lack of e-books is a key example of this. In order to make significant progress, they have to find a way to reconcile their current distribution model with brick and mortar stores with the increasing need for having something digital at the same time. I don't mind the basic idea of what they are doing; I just don't see them having the capability to really do much better than they have in the past, which while has seen some successes has seen as many flops that limit the effectiveness of the successes.

Their core goal remains the same it has been the entire time they have owned the brand, which is to somehow tie all the different IPs and products out there right now together into something that would be recognizable as a single, easily identified brand to someone whose never heard of them before. The fact that they are still having to push the same basic goal two editions after acquiring the brand is not helpful to them. 5E's successful launch certainly helped, but the collapse of the deal for an online program hurt them, as will a limited amount of direct support. They aren't going backwards anymore, but going forward is still going to be a major challenge for them. They still have a lot of challenges that they created for themselves.

Steve Geddes wrote:
sunshadow21 wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
But is WotC really interested in D&D books in gaming stores? I doubt so, if they were, they would be putting out books at rate they did in 3e/4e times. I believe 5e is The Placeholder Edition, out there merely to keep the "product zero" alive so that WotC can license the hell out of it and have relatively easy income without all the hassle.
I'm inclined to agree with you, and that plan has problems. That was the plan with 4E as well, and look what came of it.

It really wasnt. In fact, the plan with 4E was pretty much the opposite:

They churned out a ton of books for 4E and simultaneously made it much harder for other companies to work as a licensee. They also tried to provide all the online stuff themselves, rather than outsourcing it. The boardgames and other products were generally produced by Wizards of the Coast themselves. The computer games werent licensed. Plus they continued to produce the miniatures in-house, in contrast to the 5E minis. They focussed on PDF releases rather than printed books.

The 5E strategy has almost nothing in common with the 4E strategy (which seems to have been based on the now thoroughly debunked idea that the public would just buy whatever had D&D on the cover).

Outside license or inside work, the effect is the same. They were trying to make the tabletop game one small part of the larger brand and failed. Relying on outside licenses instead of doing it in house won't really change the reasons the idea largely fell flat before. Their ability to support a larger D&D brand without alienating the stores that are key to supporting Magic is always going to be limited, and convincing others to support the brand when direct support is as limited as it has been so far for 5E is going to be a challenge.

I guess that while I don't think it's a bad idea, I'm not convinced they have the ability to pull it off. They have had two editions and multiple decades to get something going, and they haven't been able to sustain any kind of success in establishing the larger brand. This new edition, while a good edition, isn't going to help any, as it is very group dependent for house rules, and the lack of any digital resources is going to limit it's usefulness in the bigger plan even further. Any successful license could potentially overshadow the underlying brand, limiting it's usefulness; they already have that problem with Drizzt, where many readers of the novels don't really associate him with any brand other than Drizzt and Salvatore.

I'm not going to say it's impossible, but they will need to do a lot more than put out a solid, but largely placeholder, edition in hopes that investors and outside companies will rush to support a brand that they themselves are putting so little effort into. They don't need another flood of splat books, but they need something more than the very meager output we are seeing from them post core books.

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The difficulty with the summoner versus druid or wizard argument is that the summoner peaks almost immediately and never really has a down level, where the other original classes have very noticeable ups and downs. The summoner never reaches the same heights as either the druid or the wizard, but also never suffers similar downturns. Over the course of a campaign, the summoner will be at or perhaps even a bit under the overall power of a druid or wizard, but at the very early levels where most people get first impressions, it can definitely seem far more powerful when in reality it just reaches it's potential sooner than most classes before leveling off.

The key to managing the summoner is not to get caught up in what they can do at 1st or 2nd level, but what they are doing at 5-8th level, where most of the original classes really come into their own. These are common levels to see by mid campaign, and generally the summoner's early advantage will barely be seen at these levels. Even at the early levels, a few basic house rules, like limiting the number of active summons, and a variety of enemy tactics and terrain go a long way to reducing the problems they can cause at the table. They do require a bit of preparation and understanding to run effectively, both for the player and the DM, but it's not that much more than preparing for a druid or a wizard; it's just a bit different, which is where most people get caught off guard.

Gorbacz wrote:

But is WotC really interested in D&D books in gaming stores? I doubt so, if they were, they would be putting out books at rate they did in 3e/4e times. I believe 5e is The Placeholder Edition, out there merely to keep the "product zero" alive so that WotC can license the hell out of it and have relatively easy income without all the hassle.

Of course, at this point most retailers are overjoyed, because finally they have The Most Popular P'n'p RPG back on their shelves and the publisher isn't trying to work around them. But what will happen in a while, if D&D release schedule is pretty much "2 super adventures per year, zero splatbooks"?

I'm inclined to agree with you, and that plan has problems. That was the plan with 4E as well, and look what came of it. While they can't do much worse than they did with 4E, where they had no success, I have to question how far they are really going to get with the whole reliance on outside licensing, especially when they are showing very little interest in actively supporting their own product for the brand. Also, what happens when those licenses start encroaching on the retailers (which is bound to happen eventually if any outside licenses prove to be more successful than the base game)?

In the end, I just don't see the brand going very far in the hands of WotC/Hasbro. There's so many internal conflicts to overcome that any kind of success is likely to trigger an equally large conflict, meaning that, at best, they maintain their current position while the rest of the industry slowly passes them by. There are very few scenarios available to WotC that don't end up cannabalizing either the core tabletop rpg or Magic, and that is going to cause them major problems going forward. Outside licensing reduces some of them to some degree, but not all of them and none of them completely.

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Gorbacz wrote:
Yeah, WotC has, mostly thanks to M:tG, a relationship with brick'n'mortar stores that's pretty much pure love and fluffybuns - which is why they don't ever want to do anything that would remotely irk LGSes. Paizo went the opposite direction and decided to g%@ d#@n the torpedoes with direct sales, subs and PDFs for everything, resulting in a far less cordial relationship with stores. Time will tell who bet on the right horse.

At this point, I would have to say Paizo.

For all that Paizo may not have the close relationship with game stores that WotC does, they still have a decent working relationship with most of them. PFS still brings a lot of people into the actual stores, and their subscriptions are more broken down so that people will often buy books from lines they don't subscribe to from stores. In the end, Paizo may have tensions with brick and mortar game stores, but they do have a working relationship with them despite those tensions. As long as they keep communication channnels open and PFS remains strong, they will likely continue to have that working relationship.

In contrast, WotC has virtually zero internet presence, and that will definitely hurt them going forward. The needs of catering to the Magic crowd limits their ability to expand into what for D&D is a crucial area, as physical books are now just one part of publishing a tabletop RPG. The relationship that WotC has fostered and requires for Magic is going to be a major problem when it comes to supporting the D&D brand, which has already hurt WotC, and will only do so more and more in the future. They are in a tough spot where in order to keep both brands strong, they are going to have to accept that some things are going to have to change across the entire company, not just in the individual brands, making necessary changes much, much harder.

The biggest issue with the summoner, regardless of the archetype being used, is that the summon spells have been difficult to build around without creating issues at the table since 3.0 was first released. I would be less concerned about a specific creature, as those concerns will come and go throughout the various levels, and focus more on how it affects the speed of combat. Only allowing two sets of summons, one of which could be the eidolon, would be a good way to deal with this that doesn't specifically target the summoner directly, but rather deals with the challenges of relying on the summon spells. Also, instead of rolling each attack of each summoned creature individually, you might go with one set of rolls for the entire group of summoned creatures. It speeds up combat, and also makes it so that the downsides of having low + to hit, which is going to be fairly common for most summoned creatures, come up more often, as the misses will be less likely to be drowned out by the sheer number of attacks being attempted. The key is to apply the house rules to all casters who use the summon spells, or anything similar.

When it comes to specific creatures, terrain, tactics, and numbers are your friends. Use them all to the best advantage, and force the player to not rely on just one creature for an extended period of time. Let the player enjoy shredding through goblins right now, because soon enough, he'll face different foes that will require him to adjust his tactics to remain competitive.

The key to all of this is to not focus on the class or the current level when making what will be a long term decision, but on the underlying spells that are available in some form or another to every caster in the game. Neither the base summoner nor the master summoner are the only ones that brings these issues to the table, even they do tend to highlight them more than most other classes. Don't be afraid to explain that while the trigger for any changes is the experience with the master summoner archetype, the problem is more with the way that the summon spells work and interact with the rest of the game in general. By framing the problem in a broader context, it will hopefully be easier to get that player to see the larger problem and thus be more amenable to new house rules and a certain amount of self regulation.

thejeff wrote:
But his characterization of women and of relations between the genders is really painful sometimes.

For me at least, the characterizations of women weren't that much of an issue because most of them in the ones I read were also reasonably interesting and fleshed out characters at the same time that he was casting them in nontraditional roles; that was, and to a certain degree, still is, a bit of rarity. The only part that slightly irked me about this was that at least in the early books, the men did not get the same amount of attention, and often came off as a bit flat in comparison. If he had given all of his characters the same amount of development, I probably wouldn't even have noticed that aspect at all.

The part that really bugged me was that at least in the early books, he really played up the antagonism between the two genders to a point where it often got in the way of the rest of the story. That tension did need to be there, but that particular aspect would have been far better left as a background tension rather than the open battle that it often became. It was the way this particular part was handled that really kept me from getting into the books and caring about the rest of the story. If it had been handled with a more gentle and subtle touch, it could have been one of the centerpieces of the series instead of a near constant disruption.

I'm going to withdraw from consideration. I had some very good news today that resolves a long time real life goal, but it will limit free time for the near future.

I'll finish up Beru later today; had some real life concerns come up and take up my time and energy.

Zhangar wrote:
And I was furiously angry after it was done, because I realized that Jordan still had it in him to write stuff like that, and he chose to write meandering garbage instead.

That actually sums up my thoughts pretty well. The whole concept behind the story was solid and the world was really amazing, but when it came to the actual writing of the story itself, it just meandered way too much and left too many story hooks unresolved for far too long. I can see why a lot of people were willing to stick with it, but I gave up after book 1. The writing style just didn't pull me in and make me interested in finding out how the story would eventually end.

Lord Snow wrote:
You know all of these things from reading the series - the constant bickering between men and women is really annoying in it - but just from hearing the concept of channeling according to the born sex? It seems a bit far fetched to denounce a story on something as simple as that...

The concept isn't bad in and of itself, but the rambling aspect of the series as a whole really shows itself in a very negative way with this, and I really didn't like it as a primary focus. I didn't mind the idea at first, but there was just something about the way it was presented that made it wear very thin for me very quickly. Balance and the whole ying/yang thing is fine, and I didn't mind the part about male summoners being tainted to a point, but the whole rambling aspect of the series really dragged this aspect of the story out farther than it really needed to, and personally, I felt it would have been much better as something going on in the background that colored everything else without always having to be brought up as a primary focus.

Below is the basic character. Still needs to finish shopping and some finishing touches on background and personality, but should be complete enough to get the basic idea across.

Beru Clearbeard crunch:

Male gnome alchemist (mindchemist) 1/bard 2
Init +2; Senses low-light vision; Perception +9
AC 16, touch 13, flat-footed 14 (+3 armor, +2 Dex, +1 size)
hp 27 (3d8+3)
Fort +3, Ref +7, Will +4;
+2 bonus vs. [language-dependant], glyph, symbol or writing-related spells
+4 vs. bardic performance, language-dependent, and sonic
Speed 20 ft.
Melee dagger +2 (1d3/19-20) or
mwk scorpion whip +3 (1d3)

Ranged bomb +5 (1d6+2 Fire) or
darkwood flask thrower +5 (1d6/×3)

Special Attacks
bardic performance 8 rounds/day (countersong, distraction, fascinate [DC 13], inspire courage +1), bomb 3/day (1d6+2 fire, DC 12)

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 3rd; concentration +5)
1/day—arcane mark , comprehend languages , message, read magic

Bard Spells Known (CL 2nd; concentration +4)
1st (3/day)— chord of shards UM (DC 13), cure light wounds , grease
0 (at will)— detect magic , haunted fey aspect UC, light, message, prestidigitation

Alchemist (Mindchemist) Extracts Prepared (CL 1st; concentration +3)
1st—cure light wounds , reduce person (DC 13)
Str 11, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 15, Wis 12, Cha 15

Base Atk +1; CMB +0; CMD 12

Feats Brew Potion, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (flask thrower), Splash Weapon Mastery, Throw Anything

Traits brastlewark businessman, noble born - lebeda, quartermaster

Acrobatics +2 (-2 to jump),
Appraise +8, Bluff +3,
Craft (alchemy) +10 (+11 to create alchemical items),
Diplomacy +8,
Knowledge (local) +12,
Linguistics +8,
Perception +9,
Perform (comedy) +8,
Perform (oratory) +8,
Spellcraft +8

Auran, Common, Draconic, Dwarven, Elven, Gnome, Goblin, Halfling, Shoanti, Sylvan, Terran, Varisian

SQ alchemy (alchemy crafting +1), bardic knowledge +1, cognatogen, magical linguist, versatile performance (oratory)

Gear mwk studded leather, dagger, darkwood flask thrower, mwk scorpion whip, sling bullets (10), handy haversack , alchemy crafting kit, travelling formula book, 279 gp, 9 sp
Special Abilities
Alchemy +1 (Su) +1 to Craft (Alchemy) to create alchemical items, can Id potions by touch.

Bardic Knowledge +1 (Ex) Add +1 to all knowledge skill checks.

Bardic Performance (standard action, 8 rounds/day) Your performances can create magical effects.

Bomb 1d6+2 (3/day, DC 12) (Su) Thrown Splash Weapon deals 1d6+2 fire damage.

Cognatogen (DC 12) (Su) At 1st level, a mindchemist learns how to create a cognatogen, as per the cognatogen discovery.

Low-Light Vision See twice as far as a human in low light, distinguishing color and detail.

Magical Linguist +1 effective level for [language-dependent], glyph, symbol, or writing-related spells. +2 save vs. these spells.

Throw Anything Proficient with improvised ranged weapons. +1 to hit with thrown splash weapons.

Versatile Performance (Oratory) +8 (Ex) You may substitute the final value of your Perform: Oratory skill for Diplomacy or Sense Motive checks

Beru was born into humble background, being a younger son of the village alchemist in a small village on the shores of Lake Reykal. After a brief stint of working in his father's shop, he was hired on by House Lebeda, where he quickly proved his worth as a liason between the house and the villagers in the area. and rose through the ranks quickly. When the decision was made to send people out to secure the Stolen Lands, House Lebeda put his name forward as one of their choices for who to send out.

Are you willing to allow Rapid Reload to apply to a flask thrower? Im working on a gnome alchemist/bard (mostly bard) combo using the quartermaster custom trait, and using a flask thrower to get his bombs and other thrown/splash weapons farther is part of the build.

Dotting. I have an idea that I will work up today.

hogarth wrote:

At the very least, I find there's a feedback between having a map and making interesting moves.

In a game with a map, I'm more likely to say "I take THIS ROUTE to go to THIS PLACE and attack THIS ENEMY". In a game without a map, I'm much more likely to say "I attack whichever enemy is close to me and injured" (which I could probably keep repeating mindlessly until the fight is over while surfing the internet on my smartphone, if I had a smartphone).

Which is one reason why I do think having a visual map is important for all but the simplest of scenes, even if the rules don't explicitly require one. The only part I tend to challenge is the need for a specific grid all the time.

Ascalaphus wrote:

@sunshadow: I think there's a feedback between the actual characters people play and the rules. If the rules don't support AoO melee builds, you're not going to see them. And then because you don't see those builds you don't miss the grid.

Does a given scene need a grid? That depends on the characters. If someone built a character around polearms and Combat Patrol, every significant combat needs a grid.

If the player built a greatsword warrior who just power-attacks as hard as he can, he doesn't need the grid all that much. In fact, against bigger enemies, going gridless might work to his advantage because the monsters get less AoOs.

I disagree. Every combat map/sketch in PF needs scale to make accurate measurements off of. Scale is not the same as a literal grid. Using a grid is just one way of establishing scale. Using a grid also tends to take more time to draw out. If the DM wants to sketch a quick encounter that will only last two, maybe three, rounds, the gains in time and story tension are going to be worth the lack of absolute precision all of the time to most people after a while as long as they can still make accurate enough estimates of where everything is. It will mean that one trick ponies that rely on 100% precision all of the time won't be seen, but those wouldn't last very long in any campaign I would be running or playing in anyway. AoO melee builds or AoE magic users are still perfectly playable as long as there is some kind of scale that can be used to make highly accurate estimates, players leave room in the build to allow for some inevitable corner cases (which would occur even if grids are being used all the time), and communication occurs between the players and the DM to address specific concerns. Also, 5' sqaures aren't always the scale I'm looking for as a DM; sometimes a scene requires a different scale to really have maximum impact. It helps me greatly when my players are capable of thinking tactically without always worrying about 100% precision of the scale and measurements being used.

A little flexibility and solid communication on both sides of the screen goes a long ways in letting players use all the tactics the rules provide while still keeping combat from bogging down a game because everyone is busy micromanaging every little detail of every single battle. Even most builds that rely on measurements can get by with an accuracy of 90% or better for most routine combats. It's only the really big battles where everyone is pulling out all the stops because significant campaign storylines are in play that 100% accuracy becomes important, and those can be prepared with a clear grid ahead of time without detracting from the flow of the game. In the end, I've found that a grid is nice, and occasionally necessary for big or complex battles, but the lack of a grid for simpler and/or smaller battles does not hurt the game much, as it produces gains in time and story tension that outmatch the usually slight loss in accuracy of measurements.

Ascalaphus wrote:

If we're playing gridless, I want advance warning because I won't be playing a character whose abilities depend on the grid, like:

  • Any kind of battlefield control caster, since you'll constantly be fighting about the size and shape of area control effects with regard to the scene/
  • Any kind of area attack character, like a fireball-wizard or an alchemist. The fuzziness about whether multiple enemies can be hit, or whether PCs can be avoided, will just suck the fun out of it.
  • Melee warrior types that try to do something "clever" like using reach attacks to control the area around them, herd enemies, try tricky teamwork to do pincer moves on the enemy and so forth.
  • Any build that relies on having a better movement rate than enemies, to outmaneuver them.
  • Any build that relies on sneaking around to gain a tactically advantageous position. Because distance to threats plays a major role in that, and with my issues with understanding descriptions, it just won't work.

The list is probably longer than that. Simply said, I'll feel like the only things I can play that will just work are things like:

  • Simple melee characters that just walk up to an enemy and hit it hard.
  • Tanky characters.
  • Archers specced to ignore all forms of cover so that it really doesn't matter where me or the enemy is in relation to any other terrain feature.
  • Single-target spell/hex casting that doesn't involve attack rolls.

That I would have to disagree on. There are a lot of scenes you don't need a grid for, and the ones that do need it are usually set scenes that can be prepared ahead of time. Grids are nice and helpful, but knowing exactly where one five foot square ends and the next begins is not an absolute requirement even for PF. As long as the sketch is reasonably consistent in the scale used, you can still make rough estimates that work 95% of the time. The grid just helps by making such calculations easier; it's not required.

I personally find that a map of some kind is necessary to play PF. I also feel, based on the few times I've played the earlier editions, that even in early D&D having some kind of visual representation is extremely helpful, even if not 100% required by the rules. I have bent that position occasionally when I have DM'ed pbp games where the scenes are both straight forward and short (as trying to do maps in a pbp is often a time consuming process for even the most basic of maps), but for the most part, having a visual aid of where characters and notable objects are in relation to each other brings more to the experience than it takes away.

I think a large part of the difficulty that has developed is that many have come to expect fully drawn maps on mats that have the squares preprinted to allow for precise measurement regardless of the scope of the encounter. This isn't always necessary, and can quickly bog the game down if it's seen as a requirement for every single combat. The scenes that require more detail can usually be anticipated and prepared for ahead of time; maps being created in the middle of a session simply need to provide enough of the basic information required to keep the scene moving forward without getting bogged down. The key to me is getting a basic layout where everyone can see it; the details and specifics can be done verbally in most cases without needing to visually represent every little aspect of the battlefield.

I suspect that a large part of why WotC is concerned about PDFs is that brick and mortar stores tend not to like them, and WotC relies far more on those stores than most publishers. Still, Paizo is showing that the two distribution methods can be balanced, even if the brick and mortar stores aren't ecstatic about it; WotC could do the same, but with Magic being tied so much to local tournaments and local support, they may not be as willing to upset their main bread and butter for their dominant product line.

Enevhar Aldarion wrote:
Even though they have the free Basic Rules available on their website, I think they will eventually release PDFs of the core books, but they want to sell the physical books too. After all, the DMG only came out back in December, so give them a few months to sell them. Personally, I am giving them til summer before I get more upset about legal PDFs not being available. That gives them at least six months to sell the books and convert them to PDFs or other e-book formats for sale.

Selling PDFs wouldn't cut that much into the sales of the physical books. Different people buy them for different reasons.

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