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I am very opposed to shortening Second Darkness by 10 pages and adding Set Piece Adventures


Second Darkness

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The Exchange

F. Wesley Schneider wrote:


Props to Nick and everything for the cool idea, though, I honestly wish we could have found a more substantial home for it, but we’ve got plans…

Am I hearing the sound of a new Runelords AP here??? =)

that would be great, specially if designed to be a high level campaign, that way we could bring back the old PCs and have lots of fun with them again, because I can already hear the sound of my players whining about theyre beloved character sheets going to the NPC pile.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

When I first read this, I was like wait "no", but then I began to think it was maybe like the ghoul scarecrows in AP2. That's close to what it will be right?

Dark Archive

DudeMonkey wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
... not everything every author writes is good, in other words.
'cept Logue, right?

Everybody knows he always turns in stuff that's double the asked for word count.

Its the editing that makes him look good :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

brent norton wrote:
When I first read this, I was like wait "no", but then I began to think it was maybe like the ghoul scarecrows in AP2. That's close to what it will be right?

The Farmlands encounter is a great example of a set piece, although it's a bit short. If we were developing this encounter for a set piece, I'd have the writer add in a 3-encounter warren complex under the farmhouse. But overall, yeah; this is exactly what a set piece will do.

Dark Archive

Personally, I like the idea of the set pieces. Based on the examples James, Wes, Vic and crew have given of what they would be, they will tie into the actual AP very easily. More to the point, if it makes it easier for them to do a better job (which is freaking amazing given the job they do already) then I am stoked about it. One final thought is that all of us should be behind doing things with Pathfinder that widen its usefullness to folks that don't necessarily use AP's as written. As the flagship line of the company, its health as a product is paramount to insuring that Paizo keeps making awesome gaming materials for us for years to come. If adding set pieces brings in more readers and increases the subscriber and fan base then I am 200% behind it.

I don't 100% like everything they have done with Golarion, but I absolutely love the vast majority. So I feel confident they aren't going to take the game into a place that their fans don't want it to be. After all, this is the company that had the cajonies to say they would publish an alternative to 4e that would be developed in a year long open playtest back when 4e wasn't out and had tons of momentum.

Now we only have a few more months to wait until the Second Darkness and Beta print version are in our grubby hands. I can't wait.

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

The_PenDRaGoN wrote:
Am I hearing the sound of a new Runelords AP here??? =

"Runelords Two, High-Level Boogaloo?" It does have a nice ring to it. While we don't have any plans at the moments of doing an adventure path that starts where a previous one ends--fascinating idea, though--the runelords are pretty cool. We're still learning and expanding our world and are getting our first opportunities to finally venture out of Varisa, so while I wouldn't expect to return to those lands for the next few venture paths, James and I both tend to get nostalgic pretty quickly...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
The_PenDRaGoN wrote:
Am I hearing the sound of a new Runelords AP here??? =
"Runelords Two, High-Level Boogaloo?" It does have a nice ring to it. While we don't have any plans at the moments of doing an adventure path that starts where a previous one ends--fascinating idea, though--the runelords are pretty cool. We're still learning and expanding our world and are getting our first opportunities to finally venture out of Varisa, so while I wouldn't expect to return to those lands for the next few venture paths, James and I both tend to get nostalgic pretty quickly...

I certainly felt, at the end of running RotRL, that there were places to go and things to do. The PCs would have gone to drowned Bakrakhan next, looking for Alaznist--given her fairly large role in our version of the AP, that made perfect sense. But I couldn't write it, and alas, if you wrote it I doubt I could run it. Too high level!

Mary


Mary Yamato wrote:


I certainly felt, at the end of running RotRL, that there were places to go and things to do. The PCs would have gone to drowned Bakrakhan next, looking for Alaznist--given her fairly large role in our version of the AP, that made perfect sense. But I couldn't write it, and alas, if you wrote it I doubt I could run it. Too high level!

The obvious solution is a community project sequel to RotR! By the time all of the Runelords are rounded up the party levels should be pretty dang high.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Mary Yamato wrote:
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
The_PenDRaGoN wrote:
Am I hearing the sound of a new Runelords AP here??? =
"Runelords Two, High-Level Boogaloo?" It does have a nice ring to it. While we don't have any plans at the moments of doing an adventure path that starts where a previous one ends--fascinating idea, though--the runelords are pretty cool. We're still learning and expanding our world and are getting our first opportunities to finally venture out of Varisa, so while I wouldn't expect to return to those lands for the next few venture paths, James and I both tend to get nostalgic pretty quickly...

I certainly felt, at the end of running RotRL, that there were places to go and things to do. The PCs would have gone to drowned Bakrakhan next, looking for Alaznist--given her fairly large role in our version of the AP, that made perfect sense. But I couldn't write it, and alas, if you wrote it I doubt I could run it. Too high level!

Mary

Mary,

I think you could write this. I would very much like to see you do it, and I bet many in the community would.

Best.


James Jacobs wrote:
...doing so is actually really exhausting and was going to drive me (the guy who was doing them) into an early grave.

As long as the quality remains high I can live with the guilt.


Would it be possible to introduce set pieces, which are more the RP type, with Rise of the Runelord being rather combat and dungeon crawling heavy (this is less for CotCT) this would be very welcome. I would like to see something like the ball in Prince of Redhand more often (eg. I would have loved to see the casino boat in Hookmountain Massacre fleshed out). This would give the opportunity to present RP heavy settings as optional parts of the adventure so people who do not like such things can leave them out.


I have to agree, I don't want to see these adventures shortened any more. However, if that is already a done deal, then a short synopsis at the beginning of the mod with information for DM's to flesh them out would be very helpful.

These mods are already too lacking in key information and background to be made any shorter.


Nameless wrote:
...I've always believed that it's better to have a shorter higher-quality adventure than a longer adventure with some quality problems. And one way to ensure a high-quality product is to make sure that the editor is not always feeling stressed out from having to edit 50 page adventures every month.

I have the perfect solution. Keep the adventures 50 pages, and make Pathfinder bi-weekly. :P


I think the problem Doppleganger is adressing is not only shortening the main adventure of 10 pages is also the ads that have passed from 0-pages to 4 pages...

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Singing Vampire wrote:

I think the problem Doppleganger is adressing is not only shortening the main adventure of 10 pages is also the ads that have passed from 0-pages to 4 pages...

Not much I can do about that. Pathfinder has our highest regular circulation, and as such it's one of the best tools we have to spread the word about Paizo. The four pages of Ads in the back are there to stay.

Of course, the pages they "stole" in this case basically came from the Pathfinder Journal (which was usually running 8 pages and is now running 6) and the support articles, not the adventure itself. The amount of adventure, split between the main one and the set piece, remains pretty much the same.


Boo!

(But good choice in ganking the Journal. 8 pages (even 6) was way too long for an AP product.)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I don't think we need to justify set pieces by pointing to parts of prior AP adventures that could have been carved out as set pieces. I have no doubt that the sections folks have identified could have served that purpose, but I think the set piece purpose has more potential than that.

Both I and my players love a fluid, powerful AP. But neither I nor they can keep them hard wired into the overarching story at all times. We need a break, a change of pace, a contained adventure that lets us frolic and detour away from the driving narrative without falling out of that narrative's world altogether.

Back in the days of DUNGEON's AP's, the magazine provided us with ample opportunities, in non-AP aventures, to venture elsewhere, blow off some steam, or just level up a step. For those non-AP adventures, DUNGEON drew from a wider group of authors than the admittedly excellent coterie presently ramping up the AP’s, ensuring through this diversity some wonderfully eclectic detours down which to frolic. Pathfinder, for all its strengths, has suffered for lacking this diversity and offering nothing but the unbroken, principal storyline.

I hope and believe that set pieces will fill this need and patch this hole. I hope we'll get plucky, short adventures outside the AP storyline that nonetheless fold seamlessly into the AP campaign. We’ll get a wider group of authors shaking up the firmament a tad with new and nifty ideas. We’ll get a break and boost all in one.


James Jacobs wrote:
Singing Vampire wrote:

I think the problem Doppleganger is adressing is not only shortening the main adventure of 10 pages is also the ads that have passed from 0-pages to 4 pages...

Not much I can do about that. Pathfinder has our highest regular circulation, and as such it's one of the best tools we have to spread the word about Paizo. The four pages of Ads in the back are there to stay.

Of course, the pages they "stole" in this case basically came from the Pathfinder Journal (which was usually running 8 pages and is now running 6) and the support articles, not the adventure itself. The amount of adventure, split between the main one and the set piece, remains pretty much the same.

(edited, real grouch identified)

I find it frustrating to see more adverts and less bestiary.

Scarab Sages

DarkWhite wrote:
Nevynxxx wrote:
I think it will give DMs more options, both running the AP, and to pull little bits to use for themselves in other games.
With three XP/level progression paths in Pathfinder RPG, pulling some encounters out of the main adventure and offering them up as "optional" might assist groups who prefer the fast progression, while including them might assist those who prefer the more leisurely level progression. It provides options for different game styles, as provided for in the rules.

This is what I was thinking...and it also makes it feel less railroaded if there are optionals built into the entire Adventure Path. It also makes it more repeatable by the same group of players.


Charles Evans 25 wrote:

(edited, real grouch identified)

I find it frustrating to see more adverts and less bestiary.

Who wouldn't? I never saw the original format but it's hard to imagine any media that is improved by adding adverts :) I sympathize with the Paizo folks though, and the number of ads per issue is fairly small.


Dennis da Ogre wrote:
Charles Evans 25 wrote:

(edited, real grouch identified)

I find it frustrating to see more adverts and less bestiary.
Who wouldn't? I never saw the original format but it's hard to imagine any media that is improved by adding adverts :) I sympathize with the Paizo folks though, and the number of ads per issue is fairly small.

I'm just glad the adverts are Paizo products. That I can handle.

If I were to open a Pathfinder and see an advert for something else.. that would be annoying. It would be like a 4E ad in the back. Nothing wrong with it... but yeah.. you get the idea.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Dennis da Ogre wrote:
Charles Evans 25 wrote:

(edited, real grouch identified)

I find it frustrating to see more adverts and less bestiary.
Who wouldn't? I never saw the original format but it's hard to imagine any media that is improved by adding adverts :) I sympathize with the Paizo folks though, and the number of ads per issue is fairly small.

I'm a little frustrated too, but at the same time I'm relieved since that saves us 2 pages of work which lets us focus on the rest of each volume that much more. And I'd rather have 4 pages of ads than none at all because we had to fold up shop because we didn't do everything in our power to promote ourselves! :)


James Jacobs wrote:
Dennis da Ogre wrote:
Charles Evans 25 wrote:

(edited, real grouch identified)

I find it frustrating to see more adverts and less bestiary.
Who wouldn't? I never saw the original format but it's hard to imagine any media that is improved by adding adverts :) I sympathize with the Paizo folks though, and the number of ads per issue is fairly small.
I'm a little frustrated too, but at the same time I'm relieved since that saves us 2 pages of work which lets us focus on the rest of each volume that much more. And I'd rather have 4 pages of ads than none at all because we had to fold up shop because we didn't do everything in our power to promote ourselves! :)

Yeah, I'll deal with a couple pages of adverts if it helps the Paizo folks keep the lights on.


I'm torn about the Set Piece issue. I don't feel like "St Casperian's Salvation" was the best way to introduce the feature...it just didn't seem like a particularly exciting location for adventure to me, and the ties to the AP seemed to be nothing more than "if your group needs more XP, use the set piece". That said I think the idea does have some merit and am interested to see what the next few hold.


Davelozzi wrote:
I'm torn about the Set Piece issue. I don't feel like "St Casperian's Salvation" was the best way to introduce the feature...it just didn't seem like a particularly exciting location for adventure to me, and the ties to the AP seemed to be nothing more than "if your group needs more XP, use the set piece". That said I think the idea does have some merit and am interested to see what the next few hold.

To be honest I wasn't very thrilled about it at first glance either... it's sort of grown on me though. It's going to be tough to role play because there is a mixture of innocent people and criminals. A lot different than your typical dungeon crawl.


I was expecting the Set Piece Adventure to be a separate way for the PC's to achieve the goal of the adventure even if they go off on their own initiative. In other words, while it is separate from the main plot, it is still tied to the end goal.

The purpose of Shadows in the Sky is for the PCs to discover that there is a drow plot. The Set Piece adventure should have involved giving them some sort of clue that there is one going on.

That way, even if they are uninterested in joining Saul Vancaskerkin and what happens in the Gold Goblin, the DM still has a prepared series of encounters to get them on the right path.

Spoiler:
Especially as the PCs merely stumble onto the drow plot only because Saul betrays them (a betrayal with little motivation and only happens because there isn't a more reasonable way for the PCs to discover his connection), I think it would be important for there to be some type of actual clue to allow PCs to figure something is up anyway. Otherwise, it seems too much like DM's fiat.

So St Caspians is a big failure as Set Piece in my opinion. It is rather uninteresting in it's own right. And it does nothing to further the AP or assist PCs to get back on track. What I would like to see as a Set Piece is a "dungeon" that can be explored and somehow ties into the rest of the AP. It should be an optional encounter a DM can insert if the PCs decide to explore on their own.

Dark Archive

Hey! Saul has plenty of motivation for taking out the PCs.

Spoiler:

1. Chronic Back-Stabbing Disorder. He has a long medical history of it, and never sought help. Undiagnosed CBD is extremely dangerous, and even when treated, its a crippling disease that destroys lives; just ask Revolver Ocelot or Saffron.

2. He made the mistake of putting a ragtag bunch of misfit goons into dangerous situations, and they gained levels. By the time he sends them to their deaths, they're level 3, and to level 3s, a level 4 rogue is barely a boss encounter.

3. Depora has told saul that "soon, our plans will come to fruition, and your revenge will be complete" ::hand wringing:: At this point, the last thing saul needs is a bunch of independent-minded, hyper-competent "buisness partners" that become stronger at an exponential rate just by killing things. the best thing to do is cut his losses and hunker down until whatever depora's planning goes down.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
The Black Fox wrote:

I was expecting the Set Piece Adventure to be a separate way for the PC's to achieve the goal of the adventure even if they go off on their own initiative. In other words, while it is separate from the main plot, it is still tied to the end goal.

The purpose of Shadows in the Sky is for the PCs to discover that there is a drow plot. The Set Piece adventure should have involved giving them some sort of clue that there is one going on.

that was never promised, and in fact the examples given of past parts of adventures that would be set peices do not support this assumption (both the caverns of wrath and all the worlds meat only make it easier to understand things later on, and don't really contribute to the main story at large

Spoiler:
the PCs see a Runewell and learn of the AKronas, both things that they would do later in the path anyway.(I haven't read the later adventures fro RotRL, so I can't comment on the graul homestead)

Cpt_kirstov wrote:
The Black Fox wrote:

I was expecting the Set Piece Adventure to be a separate way for the PC's to achieve the goal of the adventure even if they go off on their own initiative. In other words, while it is separate from the main plot, it is still tied to the end goal.

The purpose of Shadows in the Sky is for the PCs to discover that there is a drow plot. The Set Piece adventure should have involved giving them some sort of clue that there is one going on.

that was never promised, and in fact the examples given of past parts of adventures that would be set peices do not support this assumption (both the caverns of wrath and all the worlds meat only make it easier to understand things later on, and don't really contribute to the main story at large ** spoiler omitted **

Indeed, one of the purposes of the set piece was to provide a-mini-adventure which could pulled out and plugged into another campaign.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I wasn't sure but after having got it and finally got around to reading it. I liked the set piece, though maybe a bit more advice on how to use it with the main adventure would be handy.


Dennis da Ogre wrote:


Indeed, one of the purposes of the set piece was to provide a-mini-adventure which could pulled out and plugged into another campaign.

This is one of my major problems with set pieces. I buy adventure paths for the adventure path. I see educing the AP page count to make a generic adventure that other campaigns can use as basically short-changing me. If I want an adventure I can use anywhere or anywhen, I will buy one of Paizo's many excellent stand-alone adventures. I don't want an unrelated adventure in my adventure path. It doesn't belong there and it displaces things that DO belong there.

Sovereign Court

doppelganger wrote:
Dennis da Ogre wrote:


Indeed, one of the purposes of the set piece was to provide a-mini-adventure which could pulled out and plugged into another campaign.
This is one of my major problems with set pieces. I buy adventure paths for the adventure path. I see educing the AP page count to make a generic adventure that other campaigns can use as basically short-changing me. If I want an adventure I can use anywhere or anywhen, I will buy one of Paizo's many excellent stand-alone adventures. I don't want an unrelated adventure in my adventure path. It doesn't belong there and it displaces things that DO belong there.

It is specifically made to fit in with the adventure path adventure. Just plug it in. It does belong there. If you cannot mke it fit with the adventure, I don't know why you are a DM.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

With only one set-piece adventure out there for folk to check out so far, it's still WAY too early in the experiment to judge it a success or a failure. Certainly we've learned a lot about how to handle these adventures (we've edited four so far, even though only one's been released as of yet), and I suspect that just as we learned a lot in the first few Pathfinders and indeed the first few Dungeon adventure paths themselves, there'll be a period of adjustment. One of the things I'm going to try to do is to make it a bit easier to plug and play the set piece into the adventure. Looking back at Runelords, for example, most of those adventures had sections that could have easilly been set pieces: the Graul homestead, the Vekker cabin, the asylum in Skinsaw Murders, etc. Stuff that, if removed from the body of the adventure, wouldn't cramp the adventure's style.

There's also two other VERY COMPELLING reasons to keep doing set-piece adventures.

1) It gives us a chance to find new authors. We don't want to risk a project as huge as an adventure path installment on an untested author, since we have to know that our authors can deliver the words on time, and that those words are usable. But that blocks out pretty much all of the untapped potential of new authors, and in time, that'll stagnate the writing. With set piece adventures, we'll be able to open part of Pathfinder back up to the public. We want to get the actual process worked out first, though; it's a 3 stage process. Stage one are the six set-piece adventures for Second Darkness; all six of these were assigned to authors we knew about before hand. In this stage, we're working out the kinks and getting the article's format nailed down. Stage two is to do a limited open call; for the Legacy of Fire set-pieces, we contacted the Werecabbages, told them what we're looking for, and are accepting proposals from them. This stage is to work out how we handle a slush pile and unsolicited manuscripts and open calls. Once THAT'S done, we end up at Stage Three, which starts with not only the 5th Adventure Path, but the transition over to the Pathfinder RPG. At this point, we're opening those open calls up to the public, and we'll be accepting proposals from anyone who wants to write for Pathfinder, much in the same way Dungeon magazine worked during its print run.

2) It lets us do Pathinfder without burning out editors. One of the things that quickly became apparent with Runlelords and then confirmed with Crimson Throne was that, on a monthly schedule, a 40,000 to 50,000 word adventure is just too long. It fits fine in the book, but the physical process of developing and editing and laying out a manuscript that hefty takes more than a 40 hour week. Getting a single 50 page adventure developed and editied and laid out was forcing us to work 60 to 80 hour weeks. Not even hiring more editors would really help there, since development isn't something that's really easy to split up. If Pathfinder weren't on a monthly schedule, longer adventures wouldn't be as much of an issue, but since it is... well... shorter adventures are pretty much the only viable solution. At 30,000 words (about 40 or so pages in final print), an adventure's just about the right size to fit into Pathfinder's pretty tightly-packed editorial schedule.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8

I'm a bit behind on my Pathfinders but I am really looking forward to the set piece adventure.

Dark Archive

I must say that the Set Piece St. Casperian's Salvation worked well in my game. I have a total of six player's participating in the AP but of the 6, an average of 4 attend any given session. So far the Gold Goblin has worked as an excellent hub to occupy characters when there players can not attend. I have not been awarding experience to characters for sessions they do not appear in, therefore I have characters of differing levels. The Set Piece was an excellent fix for my Players who've had there characters fall behind the pack.


doppelganger wrote:
Dennis da Ogre wrote:


Indeed, one of the purposes of the set piece was to provide a-mini-adventure which could pulled out and plugged into another campaign.
This is one of my major problems with set pieces. I buy adventure paths for the adventure path. I see educing the AP page count to make a generic adventure that other campaigns can use as basically short-changing me. If I want an adventure I can use anywhere or anywhen, I will buy one of Paizo's many excellent stand-alone adventures. I don't want an unrelated adventure in my adventure path. It doesn't belong there and it displaces things that DO belong there.

I can see why you would feel that way. Seems to me this one is unrelated but fairly easy to integrate. As James said it's early to pass judgment one way or the other.


James Jacobs wrote:
1) It gives us a chance to find new authors.

I'll sacrifice 10 pages of AP for this alone. With Dungeon gone over to 4e (no offense 4e fans) upcoming authors need a venue. One of these times I might be that aspiring author... well I can dream anyhow ;)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

Of the the three set pieces I've seen so far, I've not been very impressed. St. Caspeiran's Salvation seemed hopelessly generic. The Splithog Pauper is too awesome a name to waste on Beltias Kraun, who doesn't actually seem to do anything. I got no sense of what separates him from any other crime boss, aside from his choice of headquarters. Likewise, the pirate fellow lacked a ertain punch. Maybe that's just because I expected him to be the one gathering up the aliens, or something like that. The ghost in the elven city was much better integrated into the PCs adventures, but there seemed to be a certain lack of direction to that Set Piece.


I have seen four set pieces now. I do not care for any of them so far. The new one is very lackluster. It was written by the same author as the adventure path, but does not have the same 'feel' at all. If the same author cannot tie together an adventure path and a set piece, what hope do two authors have? Is there still time to move back to the older, bigger adventures with the next AP?


I would like to add to Doppelganger's astute remarks that the adventures in Second Darkness really feel shorter than those in CotCT, which is a bad thing.

Halfway through SD, and it's clear to me that CotCT blows SD out of the water as far as interesting and unpredictable plot elements, strength of theme, and interesting characters. I attribute all of these to the comparative brevity of the adventures, since I know the writers are extremely talented, and the premise of each adventure is an exciting one. The set pieces simply don't make up for the resultant loss of quality. Also, if (as is mentioned above) one of the points was to give more authors a shot at writing for Paizo, why are we seeing the same author for both now? If the same guy is going to put together the set piece, why not just lengthen the adventure. I know James Jacobs cited editor burnout as another motivating factor for set pieces, but it seems like the same amount of editing at the end of the day ... Maybe I just don't know enough about it to have a reasonable opinion ...

I imagine it is too late to change back for Legacy of Fire, but I hope that the decision will be made to return to the original format for subsequent APs. The adventures are better for it.

O


Here are my collected thoughts on the set pieces so far:
They are in a ll fairness decent mini adventures but they do have the feeling of unneccessary and sometimes (such as the Pirates in #14) are a bit snooze worthy. However in their defense I have found huge inspiration from them all so far even if they are kind of on the boring side. The Pauper and his crew work really well in a homebrew campaign and can become a huge adventure all of their own, and the cleric on the pirate ship is kind of interesting. These do serve as some good springborard spots for my own stuff, but at the same time I have to admit the adventures do feel shorter even after inserting the set pieces (so far). I have to say I think they are kind of a cool idea, but I'm not sure if I personally like having them every issue...
Just my 2c...

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

doppelganger wrote:
I have seen four set pieces now. I do not care for any of them so far. The new one is very lackluster. It was written by the same author as the adventure path, but does not have the same 'feel' at all. If the same author cannot tie together an adventure path and a set piece, what hope do two authors have? Is there still time to move back to the older, bigger adventures with the next AP?

Thanks man, tip of the ol' hat to ya.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 , Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Arcesilaus wrote:

I would like to add to Doppelganger's astute remarks that the adventures in Second Darkness really feel shorter than those in CotCT, which is a bad thing.

Halfway through SD, and it's clear to me that CotCT blows SD out of the water as far as interesting and unpredictable plot elements, strength of theme, and interesting characters. I attribute all of these to the comparative brevity of the adventures, since I know the writers are extremely talented, and the premise of each adventure is an exciting one. The set pieces simply don't make up for the resultant loss of quality. Also, if (as is mentioned above) one of the points was to give more authors a shot at writing for Paizo, why are we seeing the same author for both now? If the same guy is going to put together the set piece, why not just lengthen the adventure. I know James Jacobs cited editor burnout as another motivating factor for set pieces, but it seems like the same amount of editing at the end of the day ... Maybe I just don't know enough about it to have a reasonable opinion ...

I imagine it is too late to change back for Legacy of Fire, but I hope that the decision will be made to return to the original format for subsequent APs. The adventures are better for it.

Although I do appreciate the idea of giving more authors an opportunity to break into Pathfinder, I agree with the above statements. Of the four Set Pieces, the one in Armageddon Echo is the only one I really like. Second Darkness is full of goodness, but it also feels sort of rushed--the multiple assaults on the Gold Goblin, a few of the drow skirmishes in Armageddon Echo, and the infiltration of a drow house in Eternal Night all feel sketchier than previous APs have. I understand the appeal of sandbox adventures, but these elements strike me as having a little less sand than I'd prefer, so to speak.

It strikes me as interesting that some of the more tangential plot elements in Rise of the Runelords are listed as being Set Piece worthy, specifically the Graul homestead and the Vekker cabin. Both of these are relatively self-contained, yes, but they feel deeper than the Set Pieces. They have backstories that tie well to the main plot, and real characters in them--Mammy Graul and her depraved brood, the cruel wendigo, the tragic dwarven ghosts. This might be why I enjoyed the Set Piece in Armageddon Echo; there's a sense of place and of backstory. I wanted to know more about the insane ghost bard and the relationship between the grey render and the will-o-wisp. And even then, these characters were just sketches compared to the depths afforded to us in Hook Mountain or Spires of Xin-Shalast. The rest of the Set Pieces feel more strongly geared towards the hack and slash, even the one set in a mission. I feel like a lot more could have been done with the interplay between the PCs, the duped priests, the lost souls and the criminal element, but it got glossed over. Again, it has sandbox potential, but not enough sand.

So yes, I too put in a word for removing the Set Piece and switching back to longer adventures. Hopefully Legacy of Fire is early enough in development that this reversal will effect it.


F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Thanks man, tip of the ol' hat to ya.

Now, now - his criticisms were indeed helpful and constructive. You might want to either dial back the sensitivity level, or if you feel you need to post to your customers, you might consider something a bit more helpful.

I'm on the fence right now regarding the "set pieces". For me, there is no question that their inclusion certainly is in no way an improvement on the AP - at best they are just 'different', and maybe a bit worse. Not sure yet.

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

Arnwyn wrote:


Now, now - his criticisms were indeed helpful and constructive. You might want to either dial back the sensitivity level, or if you feel you need to post to your customers, you might consider something a bit more helpful.

I'm on the fence right now regarding the "set pieces". For me, there is no question that their inclusion certainly is in no way an improvement on the AP - at best they are just 'different', and maybe a bit worse. Not sure yet.

Ha! Snarky, maybe (which you might expect reading any other post I've ever made). Sensitive, though? Not in this bis. It often does tend to change the tenor of a discussion when its obvious that you're talking to a person and not just empty space, though.

As for helpful, as the editor in charge of Set Pieces I'm reading every post on here and every other related thread and taking a lot from it. Hopefully you guys will approve of some of the changes you'll be seeing when Legacy of Fire comes down the line, but what I'd like to hear more about is what folks would change. What they find useful and what sections not so much.

As for you Arnwyn: Aaaawww baby, why we gotta fight, you know I still love ya.

Scarab Sages

Like I said above, what I would *love* to see is a note within the actual main adventure that says something like "This month's Set Piece would fit well right here". Also though, having elements within the Set Pieces that can subtlety tie back into the main adventure would be great. I remember someone mentioning that the vampire spawn in "7 Days to the Grave" could be a Set Piece, but they still had a very real connection to the adventure (with the corpses) and an NPC in there (Ramoska).

I too have felt that the Second Darkness campaign has felt a little...less jazzy than CotCT, and the Set Pieces may be partially to blame. While I appreciate having them to give those who just want a short adventure or something to toss into their own campaign something to do, those of us who buy the AP for the AP *want* everything to fit in the grand scale.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

One thing I'd like to point out. The set-pieces don't "rob" content from the adventure. After doing 12 Pathfinders in a row with 40,000+ word adventures, and realizing that meant I basically had to work weekends just to stay caught up, Pathfinder isn't going to go back to adventures of that size.

The problem is that a single adventure needs to be developed and edited by one person; there's more to the process than checking typos and stat block math. You have to understand the flow of the adventure; you have to be able to catch errors in continuity and plotting, you have to make sure that the whole adventure works as a story. That means that one person, at least, has to do a full development and editing pass on the adventure.

As it turns out, it takes weeks to do that for the standard 40,000 word adventure. It can take weeks for a 30,000 word adventure (which is the current average size of a Pathfinder adventure) too, but that generally comes down on the two-week side rather than the three or four week side. And since Pathifnder's a monthly product, once you start getting into a three or four (or even five or more) week cycle... things quickly become difficult or even impossible to do.

So. Since we've determined that a 30,000 word (maybe up to 35,000 at times) adventure's about the most that we can do on a monthly cycle, that's pretty much the way it's going to be. As a result, if we decide to drop set-piece adventures, those 5,000 words won't automatically shift back to the adventure. I'd be more interested in shifting the words to the other support articles or even using those words to do a 3rd support article.

But, assuming we can find the right balance and mix, I think that presenting the set pieces as adventure supplements remains the best solution, since it's the closest to having longer adventures. That means that all of us (from editor down to writer... ESPECIALLY the writer, in fact) need to learn how to do short adventures in a way that makes them fun and interesting and relevant to the current Adventure Path.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Karui Kage wrote:
Like I said above, what I would *love* to see is a note within the actual main adventure that says something like "This month's Set Piece would fit well right here".

That's something we did in Pathfinder #16. We do so again in 17 and 18.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Modules Subscriber

I really dig the set pieces. I will use them in the main adventure, but I also like to have a short side trek library for adapting to other uses. I used the set piece from SD 1 in my RotRL game, as the skinsaw cult lair. I just didn't want a second sawmill. Some of my favourite Dungeon adventures were modular.

Scarab Sages

James Jacobs wrote:
Karui Kage wrote:
Like I said above, what I would *love* to see is a note within the actual main adventure that says something like "This month's Set Piece would fit well right here".
That's something we did in Pathfinder #16. We do so again in 17 and 18.

Really? I was reading through my PDF copy of PF 16 but didn't see a note in the main AP section. What page is it on? That'd be awesome if it was already included.

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