Paizo Top Nav Branding
  • Hello, Guest! |
  • Sign In |
  • My Account |
  • Shopping Cart |
  • Help/FAQ
About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
Pathfinder Society

Pathfinder Beginner Box

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Pathfinder Comics

Pathfinder Legends

APs: Really enjoy them but ...


Pathfinder Adventure Path General Discussion

1 to 50 of 112 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

There's something that's been bugging me awhile about the APs. And, I think I figured out what it is. I'd really like to know what you all think.

The linear nature of APs gives a feeling of sameness to the books. The veneer certainly changes ... gothic horror, jungle/pulp adventure, Asian folklore. And Paizo does do a very good job of grounding these APs in specific cultural atmospheres that wonderfully evoke their inspirations. For example, I'm a big Halloween geek, and I just went nuts over Carrion Crown.

However, it feels like every single map has a BBG at the end that has to be defeated in order to progress to the next step in the story. With 6 volumes in an AP, it seems to me like we could be getting a lot more variety in structure. For example, Serpent's Skull's first volume was a lot of fun with its sandbox nature. Imagine if vol2 had given the GM more sandbox (ways of escaping Smuggler's Shiv, adventures in Eleder and its surroundings) instead of a specific series of encounters on a pre-determined path.

One blog I really enjoy, http://thealexandrian.net/, had some suggestions on how to incorporate more flexible adventure design for gaming, and it'd be pretty cool to see some of his ideas worked into future APs.


Kingmaker is quite the sandbox. Sure, there is still a final villain per book, but there is plenty of stuff to do that has nothing to do with him.

The "Big villain at the end of a dungeon" thing is used so often because it totally works. Putting him right at the start would often mean that the rest might as well not be there, so turns out to be the end again.

It's a basic storytelling technique. You build up to a grand finale. Even when there is an aftermath, that is usually only a small portion of the whole thing, tying up loose ends and giving you a hint of what happens after the story is over (since people eventually got bored by "and they lived happily ever after").

Stories that break that rule will often have a very negative reception. Look at how many people rant about what feels like 7000 pages of additional endings (not alternative ones) in The Lord of the Ring.

"Ring falls, that unshaven guy becomes king and gets that hottie they briefly mentioned, the hobbits return home, find some bigjobs who have taken over their shire and depose easily after having saved the world, the fat hobbit denies his feelings for his master and takes a wife, and Frodo, no longer feeling at home (probably because of the lack of cuddling with his manservant) eventually joins a bunch of elves, his uncle, and the wizard on a ship to heaven, and yes, you can take a ship to heaven when you're an elf. He is left into heaven because he's such a cool little guy. The End.

There, that is half a page, took me less than ten minutes to write, and it gets the job done. I know that Johnny-boy liked to pad the volume of his work even more than the guys who make Zelda and Final Fantasy games, but even then, 10 pages would have done it, too. You don't need a whole book for that stuff."

But still, there is the occasional AP instalment (or complete AP) that shakes things up.

It's just that in order to have extraordinary things, ordinary ones need to have meaning. I do think the APs do well enough to make the ordinary interesting.

And if the old "Big showdown at the end of the story" thing is so disturbing, you must be really annoyed at most books, films and computer games that have some sort of action or tension in it.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
KaeYoss wrote:
And if the old "Big showdown at the end of the story" thing is so disturbing, you must be really annoyed at most books, films and computer games that have some sort of action or tension in it.

Thanks, I understand the concept of story-telling climax very well. The point I'm trying to make is that the APs would be more interesting if the flow of the game wasn't as scripted. This is a game ... there should be a multitude of outcomes, not just one. Player choice ought to matter. As an example, in Serpent Skull vol 2, the party gets to choose which faction they'll work for. And, this impacts the following encounters in that volume ... hardly at all.

And, despite the fact that the settings are quite variable, there's a real sameness to the APs. From what I see, they all share a common theme of an ancient evil (Runelord, Serpent God, undead ruler, etc) being resurrected. If the settings can vary so much, can't the plots?


And how do you suggest to fit EVERY player's possible choice within the confines of a 50-60 pages of an AP? Those multitueds of outcomes can't really fit there. If you don't want scripted games, well, don't use APs.

James Jacobs once said that of course APs are going to be railroady at some points, that's why it's called an Adventure Path and not Adventure Lots of Different Paths.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Toadkiller Dog wrote:

And how do you suggest to fit EVERY player's possible choice within the confines of a 50-60 pages of an AP? Those multitueds of outcomes can't really fit there. If you don't want scripted games, well, don't use APs.

James Jacobs once said that of course APs are going to be railroady at some points, that's why it's called an Adventure Path and not Adventure Lots of Different Paths.

It feels like I've struck a bit of a nerve with this topic. I never said an AP should accommodate every potential choice. But, how about the most likely choices?

How about an AP that utilizes some of the philosophy behind this:

The Alexandrian - Don't Prep ?? Interestingly, the author of the blog maintains that a robustly designed adventure should take less prep work than something heavily scripted.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

Kingmaker is an excellent example of the Sanbox approach you speak of.

Other APs though tend to be more "reactive" bad-guys are doing stuff and PCs need to stop them. There's plenty of info on how to run the game if players head off the beaten path (harhar).

I turned the first two books of Curse of the Crimson Throne into sandboxes before going on permanent hiatus.

The other thing about Adventure Paths is that Sandboxes without smaller storylines to follow tend to be poorly received. Serpent's Skull got some major heat because the sandbox elements in books 3-6 were very grindy and samey. People like having their characters progress through a story but want to feel like they can do it anyway they like.

I know when I play in APs I tend to be laser focused on the goal, whether that goal is save the city, kill the bbeg, or find the treasure.

As to changing the structure of individual adventures, you're the GM. you can take those encounters and move them around, play with the order and throw out the mini-bosses if you like.

Just don't underestimate the feeling of progress a player feels when they've taken down a mini-boss and they know they have "finished" a book. A far more tangible progression than just leveling provides.

Hope that helps :-)


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
ziltmilt wrote:

There's something that's been bugging me awhile about the APs. And, I think I figured out what it is. I'd really like to know what you all think.

The linear nature of APs gives a feeling of sameness to the books. The veneer certainly changes ... gothic horror, jungle/pulp adventure, Asian folklore. And Paizo does do a very good job of grounding these APs in specific cultural atmospheres that wonderfully evoke their inspirations. For example, I'm a big Halloween geek, and I just went nuts over Carrion Crown.

However, it feels like every single map has a BBG at the end that has to be defeated in order to progress to the next step in the story. With 6 volumes in an AP, it seems to me like we could be getting a lot more variety in structure. For example, Serpent's Skull's first volume was a lot of fun with its sandbox nature. Imagine if vol2 had given the GM more sandbox (ways of escaping Smuggler's Shiv, adventures in Eleder and its surroundings) instead of a specific series of encounters on a pre-determined path.

One blog I really enjoy, http://thealexandrian.net/, had some suggestions on how to incorporate more flexible adventure design for gaming, and it'd be pretty cool to see some of his ideas worked into future APs.

I think Paizo make an effort to experiment with the 'railroad vs sandbox' mix. Having said that, I have always thought that Kingmaker and Serpent's Skull were both on the sandbox end of things, so if you found them too railroady I suspect the others will be even worse. It may just be that your preference is for extreme sandbox and that a publishing company is always going to aim for the middle ground. In my view the campaigns are too sandboxy as it is - I'm pretty much the opposite of you in regard to how much freedom/structure I'm looking for from a published adventure. It seems to me that, in a niche market, those of us with extreme preferences need to accept that a mainstream company is pretty much always going to aim a little short of our preferred range in order to keep a wider audience.

One barrier to what you're suggesting is that they try to make each instalment work as a stand alone adventure, in addition to being part of an ongoing campaign. I daresay this is one of their 'set in stone' ideas, or at least one they'd only change with a really good reason. Given each instalment needs a satisfying conclusion - it's probably going to lead to the whole campaign feeling like a bunch of mini-endings.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Steve Geddes wrote:
One barrier to what you're suggesting is that they try to make each instalment work as a stand alone adventure ...

Yes, that's something I've noticed as well. That particular constraint does limit how much you can change the format. I had a thought about Carrion Crown, how much better it would be if the PCs had a real chance to chase the bad guys down throughout the entire 6 issues, instead of the enemy's movements simply being a dangling carrot.

Just as an aside, I'm not advocating a totally 100% sandbox format. Instead, if you look at the link I referenced, what I'd like to see is a setting with information relevant to the party's goal, and then the players' actions create their path. If that makes any sense ... the Alexandrian site describes this much better than I can.

I definitely like a good story, but an RPG adventure should encourage a dynamic, robust story, ones that the players can weave. Yeah, I can tear out stuff I don't like and re-arrange ... but that's a lot of work for something I'm already paying $20 a month.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
ziltmilt wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
One barrier to what you're suggesting is that they try to make each instalment work as a stand alone adventure ...

Yes, that's something I've noticed as well. That particular constraint does limit how much you can change the format. I had a thought about Carrion Crown, how much better it would be if the PCs had a real chance to chase the bad guys down throughout the entire 6 issues, instead of the enemy's movements simply being a dangling carrot.

Just as an aside, I'm not advocating a totally 100% sandbox format. Instead, if you look at the link I referenced, what I'd like to see is a setting with information relevant to the party's goal, and then the players' actions create their path. If that makes any sense ... the Alexandrian site describes this much better than I can.

I definitely like a good story, but an RPG adventure should encourage a dynamic, robust story, ones that the players can weave. Yeah, I can tear out stuff I don't like and re-arrange ... but that's a lot of work for something I'm already paying $20 a month.

I don't know how widely you've read Paizo's products, but you may perhaps get more satisfaction from the Pathfinder Campaign Setting subscription line rather than from the APs. They provide much more of a 'place to explore with a bunch of factions/NPCs/situations and other dynamics'. Of course, you'd need to do much more encounter construction and other adventure-building work - but I'd really recommend looking into City of Strangers or Lost Cities of Golarion (just to give two examples).

As I intimated, my group likes the railroady 'series of encounter' style adventures, so the APs and modules suit me well from that perspective. Nonetheless, the campaign setting products are generally my favorites - for reading and inspiration rather than for any practical use during a game.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

The Campaign Setting line might indeed be what you're looking for. Pathfinder Adventure Path is about adventures... that's an entirely different thing than a campaign setting, which it sounds to me is what you're really after.


ziltmilt wrote:
Toadkiller Dog wrote:

And how do you suggest to fit EVERY player's possible choice within the confines of a 50-60 pages of an AP? Those multitueds of outcomes can't really fit there. If you don't want scripted games, well, don't use APs.

James Jacobs once said that of course APs are going to be railroady at some points, that's why it's called an Adventure Path and not Adventure Lots of Different Paths.

It feels like I've struck a bit of a nerve with this topic. I never said an AP should accommodate every potential choice. But, how about the most likely choices?

How about an AP that utilizes some of the philosophy behind this:

The Alexandrian - Don't Prep ?? Interestingly, the author of the blog maintains that a robustly designed adventure should take less prep work than something heavily scripted.

How do you account for the most likely choices, and how many do you account for without changing the page count. Most people I know look forward to the big fight. I see what you are saying, but predicting a group's behavior is best done by the GM. If my group did not like the boss buy idea then I could replace it with another challenge, but Paizo has no way to account for what my group might do.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
ziltmilt wrote:

There's something that's been bugging me awhile about the APs. And, I think I figured out what it is. I'd really like to know what you all think.

The linear nature of APs gives a feeling of sameness to the books. The veneer certainly changes ... gothic horror, jungle/pulp adventure, Asian folklore. And Paizo does do a very good job of grounding these APs in specific cultural atmospheres that wonderfully evoke their inspirations. For example, I'm a big Halloween geek, and I just went nuts over Carrion Crown.

However, it feels like every single map has a BBG at the end that has to be defeated in order to progress to the next step in the story. With 6 volumes in an AP, it seems to me like we could be getting a lot more variety in structure. For example, Serpent's Skull's first volume was a lot of fun with its sandbox nature. Imagine if vol2 had given the GM more sandbox (ways of escaping Smuggler's Shiv, adventures in Eleder and its surroundings) instead of a specific series of encounters on a pre-determined path.

Excluding my current group, many games I've seen ran, ran characters in, or heard recaps of featured a majority of players that had to be led around by the nose.

[exception to the rule]
GMing is a thankless job, but I keep it interesting by letting the players go and do whatever they want (and can succeed in doing). Most of the time they're content to sit back and roleplay for the duration of the session, but when encounters grow hostile they respond. This means most sessions are 65% in-game chatter, 25% combat, and 10% NSFW. My players always end up surprising me and the idea of planning out a linear plot for them is a disaster waiting to happen. The only time this works is when I disclose up front that I'm running a published adventure, they agree to 'stick to the script' with occasional diversions, and expect an 'Epilogue session' where I detail what happened to the characters afterwards.
[/exception to the rule]

I plan on running Carrion Crown starting Halloween, but I've got to make some changes to make it acceptable for my group.

Serpent Skull has been my least favorite AP by far (not counting 3.5 APs) in that it depends on players being normally motivated. If I ran SS, my players would stay in Eleder and enjoy what misadventures the city had to offer.

The third time I ran Council of Thieves, my group stuck to the plan. The city was left in shambles, undead stalked the streets once the sun set, and an idle contingent of devils remained, but they (the players) did stick to the plan.

I'm saving Kingmaker for when I'm utterly sick of designing worlds/campaign locations.

Jade Regent will require either new NPCs or modified NPCs, but the layout will work just fine. The trick will be getting the players interested in joining the caravan to begin with.

I've got high hopes of running Skull & Shackles as each book releases (sandbox + pirates), but that remains to be seen.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
wraithstrike wrote:


How do you account for the most likely choices, and how many do you account for without changing the page count. Most people I know look forward to the big fight. I see what you are saying, but predicting a group's behavior is best done by the GM.

So, did *anyone* check out the link I provided ? What that designer was saying, if I may paraphrase, is that you, the GM, don't try to predict what the party will do. Rather, you have a relevant setting and antagonists' actions that happen at specific times. If done well, page count isn't an issue. Read that link I gave earlier, and you'll see what he's talking about. My description of what he's saying doesn't do his blog justice.

Setting material is great, but, to answer James' comment, yes I do like adventures very much. The APs are very good, despite my rather vague critique. I just wish there was a bit more variety in their overarching plot, as well as more robustness in the flow of events. I'm not necessarily advocating something as open-ended as a sandbox. Rather, I think, and this again may be a little too vague, that players should have more real meaningful options in the pursuit of their objectives.

Necromancer, I feel your pain! It amazes me how passive so many players can be.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Here's a crude attempt at an example of what I'm talking about. This hit me after I posted my last reply.

Player choice ought to matter, right ? Well, taking Serpent's Skull v1 as an example, the players have all kinds of choices, but when it comes to their antagonist, where they go doesn't matter in the end. Yarzoth will always be the BBG in the hidden subterranean temple.

What if, the GM instead had a timeline of events for Yarzoth? That way, the players actually had a chance of intercepting Yarzoth before she gets into the demon-vampire temple. Of course, this would alter the adventure as written quite a bit, and you've got a multitude of outcomes. The party could interpret her notes and try to discover the reason behind her treachery. They could interrogate her instead ... she could slip away and be followed & tracked to the temple. Instead of reading Yarzoth's notes, the party could instead decipher the clues inside the temple about Tazion's location.

There's all kinds of things that could happen, but all you need to know is Yarzoth's stats and motivations. Whatever happens, player choice should have an effect on their surroundings.


Ziltmilt, I personally really like being a GM who can come up with situations to challenge my players, but I can't come up with situations all the time. That's the purpose of the Adventure Paths: A situation is presented, along with the likeliest outcome. The authors can't foresee what miniscule bit of information your players will grasp on to (mine started trying to excavate the town of Sandpoint to see where all the tunnels led!), but they provide the motivations and the plans of the bad guys in a relatively coherent form.

As for the APs seeming too similar, that's kinda a function of Pathfinder. The goal for 90% of the games is to get stuff and become more powerful. I'm playing with other game systems, because I don't like all the mechanics of 3.5/Pathfinder, and I want to tell other stories.

Sometimes, the rules get in the way, at which point a good GM needs to ignore what is published, because the authors have to obey the rules, but you don't.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

Erm the Adventure Paths already do that?

I'll give you some examples:

Curse of the Crimson Throne: Edge of Anarchy Spoilers

Spoiler:

The PCs need a document from a man named Davargo Barvasi. A very bad man indeed. The PCs can go in a number of ways:

- Kick ass, chew bubble gum and take names. This is a tough option Barvasi has lots of thugs on his side and the PCs are still low level. Still with a little forward planning and clever use of tactics the PCs can prevail and take the document.

- They can buy the document, the guard gives them a stipend which they can use to negotiate with Devargo. Unfortunately Devargo is as cruel as he is puckish, and won't part with the document without witnessing them play a game of Knivesies.

- They can sneak in, swimming beneath Devargo's personal barge, and climb up into the hold of his ship.

- They can ignore this quest entirely. Just give a random sealed envelope to the quest giver and walk away pretending like they completed the quest.

Want something more recent?

Kingmaker #1 Spoilers Below

Spoiler:

The PCs are tasked with killing the Stag Lord. There is no timer on this quest so they can explore as much or as little as they like. When they finally decide to do the quest:

They can assault the fortress head on.

They can set a fire around the fortress.

They can lure zombies inside the fortress.

They can recruit a small army of kobolds to dig tunnels beneath the fort.

They can sneak in and free an owlbear to wreak havoc.

They can choose not to kill the Stag Lord at all, and try to redeem him.

Think of an adventure path as the "Adventure Path of Least Resistance", the most likely events to occur in the most likely order they'll occur in.

If the PCs decide NOT to follow the path of least resistance, you have all the information you need to accommodate for your player's choices. Paizo's NPCs are all very fleshed out, and their locations tend to be detailed enough to extrapolate anything you need.

Basically at any point during the game it' perfectly reasonable to say to the players. "Hey guys, that's an awesome decision you made. Can you give me 5 minutes to whip something up? Perhaps you might take this opportunity for a snack break, or to do some shopping for your character :)"

Part of the fun of Adventure Paths, is the reading experience. There is a certain narrative flow to most adventures, but they are easily adapted to the style of play discussed in the article you linked :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:

Erm the Adventure Paths already do that?

I couldn't disagree more. As written, the APs are very static. Look at the example I wrote out about Yarzoth. Wouldn't it be nice if player choice played some role in how that adventure ended? As written, it doesn't matter if the party tracks Yarzoth or not ... Yarzoth is always the BBG in the last section of the last dungeon.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

So change it?

Adding a "time-line" to Yarzoth's actions shouldn't take more than 5 minutes for you, but would probably remove a different encounter from the adventure as the writers throw in a side-bar.

Reactive bad-guys require the GM to work on personally. Like I said read the above examples provided. There's a good mix of both static and reactive plots in APs. It's just a matter of whether you want a clear narrative arc or a more reactive environment.


Interesting. I agree that there's a sameness to most of the adventure paths, but I actually like the linear progression.

I'm hoping that Paizo tries more variations in plot instead of the big two (which are actually closely related):

  • Stop the big evil guy from being unleashed on the setting (Shackled City, Age of Worms, Rise of the Runelords, Curse of the Crimson Throne)
  • Stop the big disaster from being unleashed on the setting (Shackled City [again], Savage Tide, Second Darkness, maybe Legacy of Fire?)

I'm cautiously looking forward to the "treasure hunt"-style adventure path that has been proposed (although it may just end up as "stop the big disaster" again).


hogarth wrote:

Interesting. I agree that there's a sameness to most of the adventure paths, but I actually like the linear progression.

I'm hoping that Paizo tries more variations in plot instead of the big two (which are actually closely related):

  • Stop the big evil guy from being unleashed on the setting (Shackled City, Age of Worms, Rise of the Runelords, Curse of the Crimson Throne)
  • Stop the big disaster from being unleashed on the setting (Shackled City [again], Savage Tide, Second Darkness, maybe Legacy of Fire?)

I'm cautiously looking forward to the "treasure hunt"-style adventure path that has been proposed (although it may just end up as "stop the big disaster" again).

The sameness that I note after running 3 APs back to back and starting a 4th is the "damsel in distress" kick off.

ST kickoff: Help Lavinia deal with a family tragedy.
RL kickoff: Help Ameiko deal with a family tragedy.
CT kickoff: Help Zalara deal with a family tragedy.
CC kickoff: Help Kendra deal with a family tragedy.
JR kickoff: Haven't read it but it sounds a lot like a "damsel in distress" kickoff again with Ameiko. Help Ameiko deal with a family tragedy in her home country.

Come on guys! Vary it up a little huh? Am I the only GM seeing this?Maybe I'm just picking bad APs to run in a row but it seems like there is always an in some way (dark, punk, sophisticated, youthful) attractive woman that needs help. I really have to change the start of CC. I can't do it again.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

Hmm. In ever noticed that before.


ziltmilt wrote:


The point I'm trying to make is that the APs would be more interesting if the flow of the game wasn't as scripted. This is a game ... there should be a multitude of outcomes, not just one.

Well, there usually are more than one possibly outcomes. The APs usually contain "what if the heroes fail" articles, or have variable goals where the outcome depends on how well they did.

ziltmilt wrote:


Player choice ought to matter. As an example, in Serpent Skull vol 2, the party gets to choose which faction they'll work for. And, this impacts the following encounters in that volume ... hardly at all.

That is more because the faction you work for doesn't matter all that much in the big picture. You still have to reach point X (preferably first), find out secret Y, defeat enemy Z, save world G and so on.

The thing is that adventure paths need a good story. And that means that some railways are unavoidable. The option of not preparing a story like the article says isn't really an option.

There are some parts of adventures with a time line, but it won't work every time. So you get to stop someone before he reaches an important part? That might mean that the whole adventure (if not the whole part) is different, and you'd need to detail what would change. It might require an extra BBEG, which means more space. And on the other hand, it could mean that if the characters are too slow, they'd miss the guy altogether. Not cool for an adventure that has a relatively relaxed pace. "Listen, playing the last 3 weeks was real fun, but this is day 21. Some guy you didn't even know about because you took things slow now reached an important goal and you're all screwed. It's not really your fault, you never knew you were on the clock."

And the more the players can shape the outcome of the earlier of adventures (beyond what they can do, i.e. stop the guy who is stealing all the McGuffins that keep the city safe and it won't be overrun by rabid tidal waves, the way the adventure is supposed to run), the more different story lines you'll have. And the number of different outcomes will multiply with each significant change that is up to the players.

By book 4 or so of an AP, you might not even be able to have a coherent story, since it's all convoluted - and the authors have all gone crazy, thinking they're the guy from Butterfly effect and every little thing they do destroys whole universes or something ;-))

ziltmilt wrote:


And, despite the fact that the settings are quite variable, there's a real sameness to the APs. From what I see, they all share a common theme of an ancient evil (Runelord, Serpent God, undead ruler, etc) being resurrected. If the settings can vary so much, can't the plots?

"ancient evil returning" is a relatively vague description. There's lots of variation in that.

But not all APs are about the resurrection or even return of an ancient evil. And if they are, those ancient evils are often but a tool for a quite new enemy.

And we all must agree that ancient evils simply kick arse. Especially in a magical world, where the rule often is "ancient = better".


Steve Geddes wrote:
Hmm. In ever noticed that before.

My players have, and believe me, the "woman issue" jokes they make about the AP writers are already hard to diffuse. If I ran the start of CC as written I think they would fall of their chairs guffawing. I just can't start a "horror" AP with belly laughing and nerd jokes. Although it would be funny to hear their reaction.


While it's true that most APs are railroady, I'm convinced it's not a problem as long as it doesn't feel railroady for the players. If they act on their own volition (even if it's exactly where the AP wants them to go), they won't be under the impression that it's railroady. Of course, that demands a bit of preparation, adaptation and improvisation from the GM.

The first question I think of when I prepare an AP/module/etc. is "do the players really want to follow the scenario without external motivation?" Whenever the answer is no, I try to think about ways to involve their characters without it feeling like an obligation. It doesn't work all the time, but when preparation fails, improvisation is there to help me.

When the PCs explore the world, I try to immerse them as much as possible into it, which creates many paths they can follow. For me, an AP is a start. It's an adventure with many memorable places, events, characters, game mechanics that form the backbone of the story I want to tell my players, but is by no means sufficient to play with (for me). I want my players to be able to diverge from the path, take another that may (or may not) lead them to the same ending. The goal is precisely to make them feel it's not the same as "that other AP where you also prevented the rebirth of another famous ancient evil". And it works, for my players at least.

Of course, you can play an AP as written, which has the huge advantage of being ready-to-run. But if you're like me and that you want a little bit more, it requires some work. The blog you mention is a great ressource whenever you think about gaming in general, the GMG (and all the chronicles/campaign setting books) is also very useful to expand that experience.

Edit: By the way, have you considered "Council of Thieves"? With some modifications, it can be an awesome AP. It has a lot of potential to add new paths/substories/etc.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber
ziltmilt wrote:

Player choice ought to matter, right ? Well, taking Serpent's Skull v1 as an example, the players have all kinds of choices, but when it comes to their antagonist, where they go doesn't matter in the end. Yarzoth will always be the BBG in the hidden subterranean temple.

What if, the GM instead had a timeline of events for Yarzoth? That way, the players actually had a chance of intercepting Yarzoth before she gets into the demon-vampire temple. Of course, this would alter the adventure as written quite a bit, and you've got a multitude of outcomes. The party could interpret her notes and try to discover the reason behind her treachery. They could interrogate her instead ... she could slip away and be followed & tracked to the temple. Instead of reading Yarzoth's notes, the party could instead decipher the clues inside the temple about Tazion's location.

There's all kinds of things that could happen, but all you need to know is Yarzoth's stats and motivations. Whatever happens, player choice should have an effect on their surroundings.

Players often do have a choice on what happens to their surroundings, but that's the job of the GM to adjudicate and make come to life. I agree in principle with what you're saying, but I think the APs are designed to give you the story only, and it's up to you to decide how you want to present it.

For instance, if you wished to create your timeline of events as a story device, that's completely your call. Because the AP gives you the entirety of the story of what goes on and what the PCs need to do to stop it, you can present it in any form you most desire, whether it be as the AP presents it to you, or as a homespun variation of your own. Too many variables is impossible to plan for in a published product. Honestly, you can only go so far with that before the word count becomes too great and the variable start to get too confusing for many.

On top of that, to create such a randomized bastard of an adventure like this, you'd have to create a hundred different stat blocks for the various different creatures involved in the plot. What if your adventures did catch up to Yarzoth before ever she got to the south? How do you think a group of four 2nd-level adventurers would fair against her? Not to mention that, at that early stage, she's got an NPC with her that's invariably higher level than all of them as well. You'd have to plan for that, else the campaign would end as quickly as it began anyway. And stat blocks take up a ton of room! That's more pages.

One of the best campaigns (or so my group will tell you) was an old 2E game I DM'd in the Forgotten Realms. I had an overarching story line for that game, but I chose to run it such a way that I created events that, with a little tweaking, I could place anywhere they were. Thus, I threw out adventure possibilities and let them decide for themselves where they went and what they did. When they were on these adventures, I simply had certain things take place (unrelated to the adventure they were on) as side plots essentially, and eventually, after enough of them had been run, the players themselves started to piece things together on their own. Then the researching and discovery became more their own, and they thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

I'm a story line DM/GM. I'll admit it. I'm not nearly as good with the whole sandbox mentality, and looking back at this campaign I'm sure they'd easily see how I may have steered them to this or that, but it felt much more like they were achieving these things on their own because of how I presented them. As a GM, I think that's our job, and the APs give us all the tools from which to do this.

And I hope all of this makes sense! =D


ziltmilt wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:


How do you account for the most likely choices, and how many do you account for without changing the page count. Most people I know look forward to the big fight. I see what you are saying, but predicting a group's behavior is best done by the GM.

So, did *anyone* check out the link I provided ? What that designer was saying, if I may paraphrase, is that you, the GM, don't try to predict what the party will do. Rather, you have a relevant setting and antagonists' actions that happen at specific times. If done well, page count isn't an issue. Read that link I gave earlier, and you'll see what he's talking about. My description of what he's saying doesn't do his blog justice.

Setting material is great, but, to answer James' comment, yes I do like adventures very much. The APs are very good, despite my rather vague critique. I just wish there was a bit more variety in their overarching plot, as well as more robustness in the flow of events. I'm not necessarily advocating something as open-ended as a sandbox. Rather, I think, and this again may be a little too vague, that players should have more real meaningful options in the pursuit of their objectives.

Necromancer, I feel your pain! It amazes me how passive so many players can be.

I did not see a link to be honest.

Osirion

ziltmilt wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:

Erm the Adventure Paths already do that?

I couldn't disagree more. As written, the APs are very static. Look at the example I wrote out about Yarzoth. Wouldn't it be nice if player choice played some role in how that adventure ended? As written, it doesn't matter if the party tracks Yarzoth or not ... Yarzoth is always the BBG in the last section of the last dungeon.

I hear what you are saying, but even in my homebrew games, I somewhat script parts of the game and have them link together. Unless you DM fiat bad guys getting away at certain story points, you could have later whole adventures you create turned on their head by a lucky player. I dont see this as being much different than the APs.

This is one of the biggest benefit to the ways the APs are written, the NPS and backstory are fairly complete in their writeup, so you have the tools to make major storyline adjustments without destroying the game. Plus the forums here are a great place to come and post things like "ROtRL:Shalelu killed in the Book 1, what do I do now for later books?" Or in your example, Yarzoth gets killed by crafty players a book too soon, now you have to revamp everything. How is that different than if you had a homebrew the player's clever scheme wrecked?

Unfortunately some of this relies on the GM having the time and energy to do a re-write. If you don't have these resources available, you will probably have to DM fiat it to keep things on track.


ziltmilt wrote:

Here's a crude attempt at an example of what I'm talking about. This hit me after I posted my last reply.

Player choice ought to matter, right ? Well, taking Serpent's Skull v1 as an example, the players have all kinds of choices, but when it comes to their antagonist, where they go doesn't matter in the end. Yarzoth will always be the BBG in the hidden subterranean temple.

What if, the GM instead had a timeline of events for Yarzoth? That way, the players actually had a chance of intercepting Yarzoth before she gets into the demon-vampire temple. Of course, this would alter the adventure as written quite a bit, and you've got a multitude of outcomes. The party could interpret her notes and try to discover the reason behind her treachery. They could interrogate her instead ... she could slip away and be followed & tracked to the temple. Instead of reading Yarzoth's notes, the party could instead decipher the clues inside the temple about Tazion's location.

There's all kinds of things that could happen, but all you need to know is Yarzoth's stats and motivations. Whatever happens, player choice should have an effect on their surroundings.

How do you expect for this to be accounted for in an actual publishing?

The book is already at this limit if the players stay on the rails. How is a written book supposed to cover X, Y, and Z? I need a more detailed example.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
ziltmilt wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:


How do you account for the most likely choices, and how many do you account for without changing the page count. Most people I know look forward to the big fight. I see what you are saying, but predicting a group's behavior is best done by the GM.
So, did *anyone* check out the link I provided ? What that designer was saying, if I may paraphrase, is that you, the GM, don't try to predict what the party will do. Rather, you have a relevant setting and antagonists' actions that happen at specific times. If done well, page count isn't an issue. Read that link I gave earlier, and you'll see what he's talking about. My description of what he's saying doesn't do his blog justice.

Yes, a GM that can run that sort of adventure makes for a really good game. But a published adventure can't be that open. Certainly there have been AP volumes that have experimented with more flexibility. But it is way easier for a GM to improvise with a world and NPCs he's very familiar with than it is to write enough information to allow that sort of style.

Have you run Kingmaker? That's the best example of how a toolkit/sandbox style adventure path would be run. But with all APs, it is up to the GM to tailor the adventures to the character's actions. The books try to show the most likely path, but the GM shouldn't feel slaved to it.


cibet44 wrote:

The sameness that I note after running 3 APs back to back and starting a 4th is the "damsel in distress" kick off.

ST kickoff: Help Lavinia deal with a family tragedy.
RL kickoff: Help Ameiko deal with a family tragedy.
CT kickoff: Help Zalara deal with a family tragedy.
CC kickoff: Help Kendra deal with a family tragedy.
JR kickoff: Haven't read it but it sounds a lot like a "damsel in distress" kickoff again with Ameiko. Help Ameiko deal with a family tragedy in her home country.

Come on guys! Vary it up a little huh? Am I the only GM seeing this?

Hm...I hadn't noticed anything particularly repetitive. In the Savage Tide game I'm playing, Lavinia plays a large part (obviously). But in Rise of the Runelords, Ameiko hasn't said or done very much; we've mostly used "fight goblins" as our story hook so far. In Curse of the Crimson Throne, Zellara had a notable piece of the first adventure, but we never really saw her again (the game fell apart early).


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
hogarth wrote:
cibet44 wrote:

The sameness that I note after running 3 APs back to back and starting a 4th is the "damsel in distress" kick off.

ST kickoff: Help Lavinia deal with a family tragedy.
RL kickoff: Help Ameiko deal with a family tragedy.
CT kickoff: Help Zalara deal with a family tragedy.
CC kickoff: Help Kendra deal with a family tragedy.
JR kickoff: Haven't read it but it sounds a lot like a "damsel in distress" kickoff again with Ameiko. Help Ameiko deal with a family tragedy in her home country.

Come on guys! Vary it up a little huh? Am I the only GM seeing this?

Hm...I hadn't noticed anything particularly repetitive. In the Savage Tide game I'm playing, Lavinia plays a large part (obviously). But in Rise of the Runelords, Ameiko hasn't said or done very much; we've mostly used "fight goblins" as our story hook so far. In Curse of the Crimson Throne, Zellara had a notable piece of the first adventure, but we never really saw her again (the game fell apart early).

Plus, you seem to be picking the APs that do have that trope. Second Darkness, Legacy of Fire, Council of Thieves, Kingmaker, and Serpent's Skull have no such "damsel in distress" or family tragedy in the first book that I'm aware of.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
wraithstrike wrote:


How do you expect for this to be accounted for in an actual publishing?
The book is already at this limit if the players stay on the rails. How is a written book supposed to cover X, Y, and Z? I need a more detailed example.

Did you check out the link I provided? Here it is again ... you'll hve to copy/paste the url, i'm too lazy to embed the link again.

http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/4147/roleplaying-games/dont-prep-plots

The point the author makes is that dynamically staged adventures take LESS space, not more. I don't think anyone here is thinking through what I'm advocating.

I'm not saying APs should be a sandbox. And, yes, I'm familiar w/ Kingmaker. Yes, an adventure with a storyline is a good thing, but the story should be dynamic, not predetermined. My main beef w/ the APs is that their pretty linear: you go through dungeon A, then dungeon B, etc. Not always, mind you, but often enough that it leaves me scratching my head. Why not give the PCs the oppty to hit Dungeon C, then A or B then C, or maybe they just wanna check out B. Absolutely have a BBG, but does the BBG always have to be in the last room of the last map? Maybe the PCs have a chance to catch the villain before he's situated just so?

Let me take a different tack. RPGs, as a storytelling medium, are relatively new, compared to other related mediums, like Homeric epics, plays, novels, etc. So, safe to say, RPGs are pretty young. Is it really so outrageous to maintain that published adventures have not reached their apex with these APs? That there is still some room for improvement?

I realize I'm talking to folks who're high on the Paizo kool-aid (and yes, I put myself in that number) ... but come on, this is a medium that affords an infinite amount of variations in story hooks and structure. This ain't rocket science ... read the link I provided and see if what the author argues could pertain to Serpent's Skull or the Crimson Throne or just about any PF/3.5 adventure.

I am enjoying the discussion, but can we at least please put the term 'sandbox' away.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
redcelt32 wrote:


Unfortunately some of this relies on the GM having the time and energy to do a re-write. If you don't have these resources available, you will probably have to DM fiat it to keep things on track.

Exactly ... 'keep things on track'. How about, letting the chips fall where they may, instead? Wouldn't that be an interesting change of pace?

I do agree w/ you about the NPC write-ups: their goals, motivations, etc. But, darn it, why is the BBG always rooted in place? Can't the APs be a little dynamic in this regard? Woudln't it have been cool for the PCs to have a chance to encounter Yarzoth with the cannibals or even in the wilds of Smuggler's Shiv?

Yes, I realize I can do that kind of thing on my own. But, one of the goals of an AP subscription is to do as little work on my own as possible, isn't it?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
wraithstrike wrote:


I did not see a link to be honest.

http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/4147/roleplaying-games/dont-prep-plots

it's not embedded .. you'll have to copy/paste. check it out .. it's a good read.


Joana wrote:
Plus, you seem to be picking the APs that do have that trope.

Actually, I suspect he was mostly playing the APs in chronological order and there were three in a row that started like that.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:

So change it?

Adding a "time-line" to Yarzoth's actions shouldn't take more than 5 minutes for you, but would probably remove a different encounter from the adventure as the writers throw in a side-bar.

Yes, I wish I'd thought of such a thing before running that volume. And, yes, I realize I can change whatever I'd like in a published adventure.

But, wouldn't it be cool if APs really took things to the next level and were less linear and more dynamic? That's what I'm trying to get across (and failing terribly, apparently).

Paizo Employee Creative Director

ziltmilt wrote:
But, wouldn't it be cool if APs really took things to the next level and were less linear and more dynamic? That's what I'm trying to get across (and failing terribly, apparently).

Making an adventure less linear and more dynamic results in a shorter adventure. And often when we DO try more dynamic adventures, the results are not all that popular—Several adventures in "Serpent's Skull" were dynamic in this way, but many of the later ones seem to be relatively unpopular as a result of lacking a more traditional linear structure. As a result, the next few APs have stronger storylines and more linear construction.


ziltmilt wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:


How do you expect for this to be accounted for in an actual publishing?
The book is already at this limit if the players stay on the rails. How is a written book supposed to cover X, Y, and Z? I need a more detailed example.

Did you check out the link I provided? Here it is again ... you'll hve to copy/paste the url, i'm too lazy to embed the link again.

http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/4147/roleplaying-games/dont-prep-plots

The point the author makes is that dynamically staged adventures take LESS space, not more. I don't think anyone here is thinking through what I'm advocating.

I'm not saying APs should be a sandbox. And, yes, I'm familiar w/ Kingmaker. Yes, an adventure with a storyline is a good thing, but the story should be dynamic, not predetermined. My main beef w/ the APs is that their pretty linear: you go through dungeon A, then dungeon B, etc. Not always, mind you, but often enough that it leaves me scratching my head. Why not give the PCs the oppty to hit Dungeon C, then A or B then C, or maybe they just wanna check out B. Absolutely have a BBG, but does the BBG always have to be in the last room of the last map? Maybe the PCs have a chance to catch the villain before he's situated just so?

Let me take a different tack. RPGs, as a storytelling medium, are relatively new, compared to other related mediums, like Homeric epics, plays, novels, etc. So, safe to say, RPGs are pretty young. Is it really so outrageous to maintain that published adventures have not reached their apex with these APs? That there is still some room for improvement?

I realize I'm talking to folks who're high on the Paizo kool-aid (and yes, I put myself in that number) ... but come on, this is a medium that affords an infinite amount of variations in story hooks and structure. This ain't rocket science ... read the link I provided and see if what the author argues could pertain to Serpent's Skull or the Crimson Throne or just about any PF/3.5 adventure.

...

I agree with the 3 clue rule. The rest of the article fails in a published adventure, and only works in home games. As to the things the author did mentioned they are normally a nonfactor.

(1) The PCs pursue the villains. (What if they don’t?)
Before I even run an adventure I present a plot up front. If the players don't want to do a pirate game as an example or they don't want to be typical heroic types then that kills this before the game even starts which is a good thing.

(2) The PCs have to choose to follow them by ship. (What if they decide to ride down the coast? Or teleport?)
That is a case that would baffle an AP or a homebrew game. Normally an AP will have a suggestion for such things, and put in a reason why this is a bad idea. If the players do it anyway it is time for the GM to get creative.

(3) The PCs have to spot the derelict. (What if they roll poorly on their Perception check?)
No good adventure rest on a single skill check. They normally provide more than one way to skin the cat. Even if they don't make X happen the adventure still goes on, it will just be more difficult.

(4) The PCs have to board the derelict. (What if they just sail past it?)
This goes back to number 2. Give them a reason to want to get onboard. I would just let them sail past it because it normally means out of the box thinking is in play. I have yet to run an AP where players follow things exactly. This is not really a big issue.

(5) The PCs have to rescue the survivor. (What if they fail? Or choose to flee before realizing the survivor is there?)
The falls under the same category as the single skill check. If I have to have NPC _____ to complete an AP something is wrong.

(6) The PCs have to question the survivor. (What if they decide not to pressure an injured man?)
I don't know what being injured has to do with answering questions. Once again see number 2.

(7) The PCs have to go to the central sanctuary of the temple.
Why would they leave before finding what they are looking for. The author is reaching now.

(8) The assassination attempt on the PCs has to play out in a very specific way.
Refer to number 2. Certain may be expected to happen, but not in a certain way.

This article still does not tell how to handle this in an AP since the number of options a player has is a lot more than any AP can cover.


ziltmilt wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:

So change it?

Adding a "time-line" to Yarzoth's actions shouldn't take more than 5 minutes for you, but would probably remove a different encounter from the adventure as the writers throw in a side-bar.

Yes, I wish I'd thought of such a thing before running that volume. And, yes, I realize I can change whatever I'd like in a published adventure.

But, wouldn't it be cool if APs really took things to the next level and were less linear and more dynamic? That's what I'm trying to get across (and failing terribly, apparently).

I will also add that I have yet to play or run an AP that has a single point of failure that was mentioned in the post(link you provided), other than dying.

The article does not apply to how to make AP's do what you want without increasing page count which is what I asked you.


hogarth wrote:
Joana wrote:
Plus, you seem to be picking the APs that do have that trope.
Actually, I suspect he was mostly playing the APs in chronological order and there were three in a row that started like that.

Correct. The APs listed are the ones we actually played and I GMd. We will be starting CC next so that's why I have read the beginning already. I try not to critique an AP unless I have actually played it, not just read it.

The other APs that don't have this "troupe" I have not read or played. I'm only commenting on my actual experience. Take it or leave that's what my group has experienced to date.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
ziltmilt wrote:
My main beef w/ the APs is that their pretty linear: you go through dungeon A, then dungeon B, etc. Not always, mind you, but often enough that it leaves me scratching my head. Why not give the PCs the oppty to hit Dungeon C, then A or B then C, or maybe they just wanna check out B. Absolutely have a BBG, but does the BBG always have to be in the last room of the last map? Maybe the PCs have a chance to catch the villain before he's situated just so?

I really don't get how this would be implemented. Generally, dungeon A has foes with a lower CR than dungeon B, which in turn has foes with a lower CR than dungeon C. If the PCs go to dungeon C first, there's going to be a TPK. Therefore, the DM will do everything he can to make sure the PCs have to get the XPs from the previous dungeons so they can be the correct level when they hit dungeon C.

There's a reason PCs generally face goblins, say, first, then orcs, then ogres or trolls, and work their way up to dragons. Or would you just transplant the inhabitants of dungeon A to dungeon C if that's where the PCs went first? In that case, it's just a change of nomenclature.

The preliminary books of an AP aren't just filler, preventing the PCs from getting to their primary task of meeting the BBEG; they exist so that the PCs can level up to a point where they have a chance of defeating the BBEG. As to why he's always at the end, well, it feels anticlimactic to have the big knock-down drag-out in the anteroom and spend another six hours afterward wandering the halls eliminating lieutentants and mooks.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think you are looking at the problem all wrong. The article linked has great advice on how to run an adventure. I think Paizo does a great job of prepping things for you. All of the advice in the article is stuff you should be keeping in mind when you are running adventure paths.

Paizo never has read-aloud text that describes scripted actions of NPCs. They don't even assume that NPCs are in the rooms they give descriptions for.

Paizo sprinkles plenty of clues in APs, but if your players miss something important, it is the GMs job to add alternative ways of learning things.

Paizo does a great job of describing villain motivations and what they should be up to. If you want your players to catch them unprepared or doing something different, go ahead. Paizo presents a likely path but it is the GMs job to alter what the NPCs do based on the character's activities.

All of the advice in the article is stuff you could be using to GM Paizo's modules right now. So what is missing?

So I guess I have to ask, can you point to a published adventure that is formatted the way you want?

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

Joana wrote:
ziltmilt wrote:
My main beef w/ the APs is that their pretty linear: you go through dungeon A, then dungeon B, etc. Not always, mind you, but often enough that it leaves me scratching my head. Why not give the PCs the oppty to hit Dungeon C, then A or B then C, or maybe they just wanna check out B. Absolutely have a BBG, but does the BBG always have to be in the last room of the last map? Maybe the PCs have a chance to catch the villain before he's situated just so?
I really don't get how this would be implemented. Generally, dungeon A has foes with a lower CR than dungeon B, which in turn has foes with a lower CR than dungeon C. If the PCs go to dungeon C first, there's going to be a TPK. Therefore, the DM will do everything he can to make sure the PCs have to get the XPs from the previous dungeons so they can be the correct level when they hit dungeon C.

This.

The steep power-curve that APs use prevents any non-linear adventures. PCs typically gain 2-3 levels per book. That's really fast, in my opinion. And given that a 1st level character has nowhere near the power of a 4th level character, well, you are forced to run the dungeons/events/whathaveyou in-order.

I'd love to have non-linear or true sandbox adventures myself. But it's impossible to do that if you're going to have PCs gaining power at regular and quick intervals.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Maps, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Joana wrote:


I really don't get how this would be implemented. Generally, dungeon A has foes with a lower CR than dungeon B, which in turn has foes with a lower CR than dungeon C. If the PCs go to dungeon C first, there's going to be a TPK. Therefore, the DM will do everything he can to make sure the PCs have to get the XPs from the previous dungeons so they can be the correct level when they hit dungeon C.

There's a reason PCs generally face goblins, say, first, then orcs, then ogres or trolls, and work their way up to dragons. Or would you just transplant the inhabitants of dungeon A to dungeon C if that's where the PCs went first? In that case, it's just a change of nomenclature.

The preliminary books of an AP aren't just filler, preventing the PCs from getting to their primary task of meeting the BBEG; they exist so that the PCs can level up to a point where they have a chance of defeating the BBEG. As to why he's always at the end, well, it feels anticlimactic to have the big knock-down drag-out in the anteroom and spend another six hours afterward wandering the halls eliminating lieutentants and mooks.

I often "transplant" encounters around if the heroes make the mistake of moving to the wrong lair...


James Jacobs wrote:
ziltmilt wrote:
But, wouldn't it be cool if APs really took things to the next level and were less linear and more dynamic? That's what I'm trying to get across (and failing terribly, apparently).
Making an adventure less linear and more dynamic results in a shorter adventure. And often when we DO try more dynamic adventures, the results are not all that popular—Several adventures in "Serpent's Skull" were dynamic in this way, but many of the later ones seem to be relatively unpopular as a result of lacking a more traditional linear structure. As a result, the next few APs have stronger storylines and more linear construction.

Will Skulls & Shackles also have this linear construction and stronger storyline?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Toadkiller Dog wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
ziltmilt wrote:
But, wouldn't it be cool if APs really took things to the next level and were less linear and more dynamic? That's what I'm trying to get across (and failing terribly, apparently).
Making an adventure less linear and more dynamic results in a shorter adventure. And often when we DO try more dynamic adventures, the results are not all that popular—Several adventures in "Serpent's Skull" were dynamic in this way, but many of the later ones seem to be relatively unpopular as a result of lacking a more traditional linear structure. As a result, the next few APs have stronger storylines and more linear construction.
Will Skulls & Shackles also have this linear construction and stronger storyline?

Not as strong as Carrion Crown or Jade Regent, no. It'll have a stronger storyline and a more linear construction that Serpent's Skull and Kingmaker though. It's one that we'll be aiming for a happy medium between them all.

The Shattered Star AP will have a very linear construction and strong storyline though, akin to Rise of the Runelords.


Too bad. Somehow I always get to play in sandboxy campaigns (currently playing KM, my next is Skulls and Shackles), even though I prefer the linear ones.

Anyways, this is the first time I hear about this Shattered Star, is there any more info on it, aside from the name? At least its main feature (Horror for Carrion Crown, Pirates for Skulls and Shackles, etc)?

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

Toadkiller Dog wrote:
Anyways, this is the first time I hear about this Shattered Star, is there any more info on it, aside from the name? At least its main feature (Horror for Carrion Crown, Pirates for Skulls and Shackles, etc)?

"Collect the artifact pieces." All public info has found its way here


gigglestick wrote:


I often "transplant" encounters around if the heroes make the mistake of moving to the wrong lair...

Most players don't expect to meet something they can't beat though, so that is a bad idea from a publishing point of view.


wraithstrike wrote:
Most players don't expect to meet something they can't beat though, so that is a bad idea from a publishing point of view.

This is true... it boggles my mind, especially since I see it happen even in players that are new to table-top games but have played video game RPGs in which choosing the wrong area to go to results in facing tougher enemies than you should.

...I guess there is just something about having a person in charge of what happens (the DM not being pre-programmed AI with no possibility to change) that causes an assumption of "whatever I choose was the right choice," instead of an assumption of "I can choose poorly and face the consequences."

I once had a player that I recruited by saying "It's kinda like those Final Fantasy games I see you play on the NES, but each player only controls 1 character in the party except for the DM who controls all of the monsters and the over-all storyline." In both of those games you can wind up in areas where the monsters will all kill your party faster than you can blink as simply as by choosing to go left instead of any other direction - so I thought the player would realize when I was describing a huge and terrifying green dragon seen in the distance stalking through the forest as if hunting (which I was meaning to be using as a narrative "this forest is extremely dangerous," not an actual planned encounter for the low-level party) that he wasn't mean to deal with it just yet... but instead he charged after it, died, and immediately got upset because I had put a monster in sight of his character that he couldn't kill.

1 to 50 of 112 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>
Paizo / Messageboards / Paizo Publishing / Pathfinder® / Pathfinder Adventure Path / General Discussion / APs: Really enjoy them but ... All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.

©2002–2014 Paizo Inc.®. Need help? Email customer.service@paizo.com or call 425-250-0800 during our business hours: Monday–Friday, 10 AM–5 PM Pacific Time. View our privacy policy. Paizo Inc., Paizo, the Paizo golem logo, Pathfinder, the Pathfinder logo, Pathfinder Society, GameMastery, and Planet Stories are registered trademarks of Paizo Inc., and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Pathfinder Player Companion, Pathfinder Modules, Pathfinder Tales, Pathfinder Battles, Pathfinder Online, PaizoCon, RPG Superstar, The Golem's Got It, Titanic Games, the Titanic logo, and the Planet Stories planet logo are trademarks of Paizo Inc. Dungeons & Dragons, Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron are registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and have been used by Paizo Inc. under license. Most product names are trademarks owned or used under license by the companies that publish those products; use of such names without mention of trademark status should not be construed as a challenge to such status.