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Lesser Trials: Value and Swing?


Player Feedback


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Okay, I read all the playtesting guidelines and promised myself that I would abide by them. However, a couple of hours in and after only one read through, I feel compelled to comment on the Lesser Trials.

First, I get the idea. They are little achievements, like in video games, that add up to an eventual bonus. In theory, that is great. However, in practice, I don't see much of a point. The Greater Trials seem like the important bit, while the Lesser Trails are "did you purposefully finish a combat in a specific manner?" Worse, it seems that you can get more than enough Greater Trials completed, but additional ones will not count towards your Lesser Trials. So basically, Hercules would not advance his Mythic Tier from his twelve trials, but from curbstomping some lesser enemies in between.

Second, the specific Lesser Trials seems weighted towards luck or purposefully prolonging combat. For example, unless I am missing a Mythic way to increase threat range, Critical Chain has a 1.5% chance of occurring over any three given attacks (assuming automatic crits). School Display, on the other hand, requires an 8 round combat and likely Mythic Points (as spontaneous casters likely won't know enough spells, and prepared casters will not have enough slots to accomplish it otherwise, even in a nova).

I could go on with specific examples, as there are many within each Mythic Path, however I'd like to hear other opinions before I type that all out. What is the specific purpose of Lesser Trials? Should they be a given for those that attempt them, things that require extreme effort, or the result of luck? What is the expected advancement rate of Mythic characters, and do the Lesser Trials make that more or less difficult to attain?


Higher levels.

If you're going for Critical Chain, use a keen 18-20 weapon. 30% chance on each attack. Your math is also wrong on the normal crit.. it would be 1/8000 (1/20^3). 30% would be 216/8000 (6.20^3)... so literally 216x better chance.

Spellcasters who want to advance Mythic tiers can use Quickened spells to help them out.

Don't focus on what your character will have trouble with to advance your mythic tier... Focus on what they are capable of and you'll be fine. They aren't SUPPOSED to be something you can easily pull off. Otherwise everybody would be mythic.


dunebugg wrote:
If you're going for Critical Chain, use a keen 18-20 weapon. 30% chance on each attack. Your math is also wrong on the normal crit.. it would be 1/8000 (1/20^3). 30% would be 216/8000 (6.20^3)... so literally 216x better chance.

For some reason I used a 25% chance instead of a 30% chance. Let us call it a brain fart. Anyway, the chance becomes 2.7%, which while nearly double what I said, is still very much in the region of "complete luck," which was the point I was making with it. A 216x times chance would be greater than one critical/hit, so I don't know what you are on about with that.

dunebugg wrote:
Spellcasters who want to advance Mythic tiers can use Quickened spells to help them out.

The impression I from the rules was that it was Spell Level, not Effective Spell Level. Either way, it does not matter terribly much. A caster would still need to burn nearly their entire top two spell levels worth of spells to attain the achievement, while there are many far easier options. And frankly, at the power level Mythic represents, I'd be rather shocked if a combat lasted even four rounds, let alone eight.

dunebugg wrote:
Don't focus on what your character will have trouble with to advance your mythic tier... Focus on what they are capable of and you'll be fine. They aren't SUPPOSED to be something you can easily pull off. Otherwise everybody would be mythic.

That is all well and good, but the next AP is supposed to be based on the players have mythic tiers. Which will, presumably, include a necessary number of Greater Trials to advance Mythic Level to the appropriate point. If some characters have a trivial time acquiring the necessary Lesser Trials while others need to have the party specifically lengthen otherwise won combats to achieve them, there is an issue. If the gateway is supposed to be Greater Trials, I don't see the point of Lesser Trials at all. Just let it be a GM Fiat, Magic Teaparty thing rather than trying to tie it to swingy, random roll-based achievements.


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I really have to agree. Since you have to declare what trials you are attempting to accomplish, the whole thing seems less epic and more metagamey.

I can just see the bard now yelling, "Wait, don't kill them yet! I still need to perform one more round to get my Performance Victory!"

Or Guardians yelling at people to run away or fight defensively because the battle is almost over and no one has taken damage yet, because that's what he needs for Behind Me!

There is also some of these Trials are ridiculously easy to accomplish.

Perfect Craft? A single DC 16 Spellcraft check to make a CL 1 item, and you got it (12.5 gold for CL 1 scrolls anyone?)

I can also see legions of high level mystic characters taking walks in the woods to make knowledge checks about bunnies, squirrels, birds and other low level creatures until they roll high on their knowledge check to show off their Skill Supremacy.

The Trickster will also accompany those characters on their nature walks. Kill a single bunny in one shot to show off your Assassinate skills.

Paizo Employee Lead Designer

Hi there all,

The lesser trials are supposed to be the sort of thing that you select based on the character build that you have a chance to accomplish. They are meant to be hard, some being within your complete control through choices, others based on luck.

That said, I will be very interested to see some playtest feedback on this system, as it is one of the systems that was hardest for us to evaluate during the design phase.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

Paizo Employee Lead Designer

I moved this to the Player Feedback Forum

Jason


Jason Bulmahn wrote:
That said, I will be very interested to see some playtest feedback on this system, as it is one of the systems that was hardest for us to evaluate during the design phase.

I would ask, much like the other thread, how is this supposed to be playtested? A large portion of the Lesser Tiers are luck or GM fiat based. For example, of the universals, 3 are entirely GM based (Improbable Victory, Mythic Challenge, and Push On) The other two are utterly trivial (a moderate level caster can make a low level item for Perfect Craft, and Skill Supremacy can be accomplished by rolling 21 on a 1' jump check (which I can't find a reason you can't try until you succeed)).

These problems seem to extend throughout the Lesser Trials. There are things entirely based on fiat, others on luck, and others that are utterly trivial. I honestly don't know how to playtest "the GM let me fight a CR +5 creature without Mythic Rank" or "a fight lasted 4-8 rounds and I had one of each spell school prepared in my top two levels."


Jason Bulmahn wrote:

Hi there all,

The lesser trials are supposed to be the sort of thing that you select based on the character build that you have a chance to accomplish. They are meant to be hard, some being within your complete control through choices, others based on luck.

That said, I will be very interested to see some playtest feedback on this system, as it is one of the systems that was hardest for us to evaluate during the design phase.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

If they are meant to be hard, then why are there some really easy ones

"succeed at a DC 20 or higher Knowledge skill check when you rolled a natural 5 or low."

A level 8 wizard is going to do that with nothing but skill points.

> Create an intelligent magic item.

The rules on creating intelligent items are pretty vague, but it appears to be a gold sink if you have the right feat.

>Defeat six or more creatures with a single spell (add one to the number of creatures that must be defeated each time you accomplish this trial). This can count multiple times toward a tier.

A single fireball will do this if the campaign allows for it.

Then you have ones that simply hurt your party(Cast 3 or more spells from scrolls, staves or wands that are of a higher level than you can normally cast).

Paizo Employee Lead Designer

Hey there all,

As for how these should be playtested, we dont expect much on the Greater Trial front, as these are intentionally vague and left up to GM control. As for Lesser, I am looking for information on how easy or hard it was for you to complete the number needed to gain your tier. I don't expect these to be a gatekeeper for your next tier, rather I expect them to be a way to get the player to think in terms of how to be more mythic.

As for how easy some are, my above comment plays into that. As a player, if you find that the only thing you want to do with these is find the easiest way to accomplish them, that is not very mythic by its nature. Creating a throw-away intelligent item is not very mythic. As feedback, I am interested in seeing how players use these rules. Do they go for the easy path, picking the trials that are simple to accomplish, or do they use them as an opportunity to accomplish something that truly adds to the legend of their hero.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing


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Jason Bulmahn wrote:
As for how easy some are, my above comment plays into that. As a player, if you find that the only thing you want to do with these is find the easiest way to accomplish them, that is not very mythic by its nature. Creating a throw-away intelligent item is not very mythic. As feedback, I am interested in seeing how players use these rules. Do they go for the easy path, picking the trials that are simple to accomplish, or do they use them as an opportunity to accomplish something that truly adds to the legend of their hero.

In practice, how is this not a poll of how many players try to abuse the system, and how many choose randomly based on descriptions? Lesser Trials seem to be game based while Greater Trials are GM based, but in practice a great number of Lesser Trials are ALSO based on what the GM throws at you.

I do not want to be a jerk, but I simply have trouble understanding how running players through this system actually affects anything I said. Are abilities I said were based on GM fiat not based on GM fiat if I choose to let them occur? If players get lucky and accomplish the luck based trials, are they not luck based? If they pick the easy challenges that can be accomplished with a small investment of gold, a bag of rats, or taking 20, do they not count because my players had enough system mastery to figure this out?

I do plan to run my players through this system, and I really do want to take to heart the "good playtesting" guidelines that have been published. However, there are many things that are based on what the GM throws at the players, which is not something that can be playtested in any way beyond "what is the most popular way to play on these forums?" If I have the same criticisms next week, when my players have gone through the material, will they have more weight?

Paizo Employee Lead Designer

Well, I don't believe it is the GMs duty to make your lesser trials impossible to accomplish. This is no different than if you have a ranger with a favored enemy of undead. If the GM never throws any undead at you, he is not playing to the core of his group.

Besides, if he wants to make them hard, he can do that with the greater trials. That is why the system is built the way it is.

As for the easy ones, the GMs section gives guidelines on how to adjudicate these trials and having the PCs kill a bag of rats does not qualify for completing a lesser trial.

I get where you are coming from on this, but these are not here to be these mighty gateways, the greater trials really fill that role. Instead, they are designed as a method to get the PCs to think about acting in a mythic way. Some may not be fulfilling that role and I am certainly interesting in hearing about how the system works in play.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing


Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Well, I don't believe it is the GMs duty to make your lesser trials impossible to accomplish. This is no different than if you have a ranger with a favored enemy of undead. If the GM never throws any undead at you, he is not playing to the core of his group.

I would actually say it is a rather major difference. A Ranger can gain a level fighting anything. A Mythic Character must, to accomplish their preselected mythic goals, fight certain opponents. Whether or not those opponents appear is entirely up to the GM. Unless, of course, the player chooses the trivially easy Lesser Trials, in which case they can pretty much skip this whole thing.

Jason Bulmahn wrote:
As for the easy ones, the GMs section gives guidelines on how to adjudicate these trials and having the PCs kill a bag of rats does not qualify for completing a lesser trial.

Are there specific lines that represent this view? I am having trouble finding them. Looking at the GM rules I see things related to how MT (Mythic Tier) and CR interact, but I can't find anything that says that you can't accomplish a mythic task against a hamster in a cage. It might not feel "mythic," but it certainly counts by the rules.

I know you want to see how players interact with this, but frankly, this is how my players will deal with it. "No CR requirement? Bag full of rats." "I can make a couple of cheap magic items? Might not be "mythic," but there is absolutely nothing saying this isn't how it works." If the point of Lesser Trials is to require the PCs to perform mythic-style acts, the current set do not accomplish that. You will need to add specific GP/CR/DC requirements for this to occur. If you are relying on the GM to demand they perform "mythic" actions beyond the stated rules, I don't see a point for the Lesser/Greater Trial distinction, and likewise a point for the Lesser Trials to exist at all.

Will it really be more useful feedback if I say "my players abused the heck out of this" rather than just informing that is what is going to happen beforehand? I'll wait until next week to comment if I have to, but but a bare reading shows a massive gap between what I expect from those with basic system mastery and those without.


I certainly get where this is coming from, but I appreciate the GM fiat clause for Lesser Trials.

It's not going to be easy to playtest accomplishing some of the listed trials (particularly the Champion - he must be a lucky dude), but in the groups I play in - I think we'll know a mythic Lesser Accomplishment when we see one, even if it's not on the list.

A Lesser Accomplishment will be something usually done in a single combat and relies on some improbable choices (players choosing to act mythically) and improbable outcomes (lucky rolls).

Greater Accomplishments will have some kind of story-related hook and dramatic consequences. Finishing a major story arc may be a Greater
Accomplishment.

Paizo Employee Lead Designer

Mort the Cleverly Named wrote:


Are there specific lines that represent this view? I am having trouble finding them. Looking at the GM rules I see things related to how MT (Mythic Tier) and CR interact, but I can't find anything that says that you can't accomplish a mythic task against a hamster in a cage. It might not feel "mythic," but it certainly counts by the rules.

Page 35, 2nd paragraph of the Greater Trials section. Not labeled the best Ill grant. Its another thing that will get polished up for the final.

Jason


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Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Page 35, 2nd paragraph of the Greater Trials section. Not labeled the best Ill grant. Its another thing that will get polished up for the final.

Ah, thanks. I see it now. A smidge of polish will easily remove the "bag of rats" problem, in that it will help the inattentive GM (ahem, me) notice that you have already dealt with it. However, I think it just moves the issues into "GM Fiat" territory. If you get easier, "resource depleting" styles challenges you can ether easily accomplish Lesser Trials (perhaps by artificially elongating combat) or simply can't accomplish them at all. If you tend to have fewer more difficult challenges many Trials will be more difficult (if not impossible, such as maneuvers against Dragons or Elementals). Because of this "GM Fiat" aspect, I still have trouble accepting the necessity of Lesser Trials. Perhaps it would be better if they just regenerated Mythic Points, rather than being required for advancement, it would place Tier advancement firmly in the GM's hands rather than a roll/GM hybrid? Unless, of course, such a hybrid is the design goal.

As a separate recommendation, for the polish, it might also be useful to mention certain GP/CR requirements for some of the Trials. If only to give guidelines to GMs who aren't sure if a borderline underpowered intelligent item or somesuch should warrant a Lesser Trail point.


Edit: Big Ninja...

Actually, Mort, I did find a CR requirement. It's on Page 35 in the GM section. I think the reason I missed it before (and probably other people) is because it talks about those CR guidelines for Lesser Trials under a subheading labeled Greater Trials.

It says that you can normally only accomplish a Lesser Trial when up against a creature with an adjusted CR equal to your adjusted level. Or possibly a group with a CR each 1 or 2 lower. However, that doesn't change how easy some of the skill challenges are.

____________________________________

However, I think one of the biggest problems is that there are only 13 presented examples of Lesser Trials available to each path. However, a character progressing all the way to Tier 10 needs to accomplish 55 Lesser Trials. Repeating trials over and over again becomes decisively less and less mythic to me. Yes James, creating a throw away Intelligent Item isn't very Mythic, but unless the DM creates 50 more Lesser Trials available for each path, you are going to be repeating trials. I begin to get less interested in how awesome it is to create an Intelligent Item when it's the sixth one I've had to make.

____________________________________

And Veiled Nail, yes a lot of us will know what something "Mythic" looks like when we see it, but the problem is that you have to declare what your Trial is before you achieve it. You preform some amazing stunt against all the odds to save the day? Congrats. Here's a Mystic Power Point. Now go cast three random spells off scrolls because that's what you said you would do to show off to the world!


Dang. I missed that as I was reading this very dense document.

Good catch, Merkatz.

Osirion

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yeah, I absolutely detest the lesser trials as written. The ones that aren't dirt simple or GM fiat require either absurd luck or terribly disruptive amounts of metagaming.

The luck based ones are basically completely pointless when you have to declare your trials ahead of time. No one is going to go for "get 3 consecutive critical hits" when there are sane options available; the choice might as well not even exist. If trials didn't have to be declared ahead of time, these would be OK (if still generally requiring stupid amounts of luck) simply because you wouldn't be forced to choose between metagaming and a roll of the d10000.

The metagame ones are absolutely rage-inducing, though, and unfortunately they're the vast majority of the available trials. These require you to play in extremely stilted and unnatural ways with the express goal of fulfilling your trial quota at the expense of gameplay. School Display, for example, absolutely requires that the combat extend for 8 rounds and that the caster expends likely the entirety of their top two tiers of spells. This puts an enormous strain on the game because it essentially enforces the 5 minute work day. You're encouraging wizards to unload all of their strongest spells in the least efficient way possible (because they have to extend the combat to 8 rounds, which is bleeping HARD when you're tossing around max level spells), which is going to leave them basically neutered for the entire rest of the day.

School Display is hardly the only offender, either. Every single path has at least one that's as bad or worse.

And then there's the "Really? That's all I have to do?" choices. Boon Giver: cast bless on a party of at least 5 people including mounts and other cohorts, have everyone attack once, collect Trial. Wild Warrior: be a Druid while fighting any mythic monster, collect Trial. Simple Success: seriously, it doesn't even have to be a mythic encounter. Unexpected Strikes: get wizard to cast greater invisibility on you, collect Trial. Savant: put points into Knowledge skills, collect Trial. Blockade: find 5' hallway, collect Trial. Etc.

I don't see why Lesser Trials have to exist at all. Just give the GM the entirety of the keys to Mythic play. Let them decide when you advance a tier. They can already do that because of the Greater Trials; just remove the ugly busywork of Lesser Trials entirely.

Alternaly, redesign all of the Lesser Trials. Almost none of them feel right to me. There's a few that are close (Indestructible would be OK if you didn't have to pick it in advance and it didn't discourage taking fortification armor, for example), but I really don't think any of them hit the balance between being epic storytelling moments and epic gaming moments, and that's what they should be aiming for if they're to stay. You shouldn't have to sacrifice story for gameplay or vice versa just to advance your character.


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I agree that the Lesser Trials need some work. They currently come across as counter-intuitive to how Mythic Rules are supposed to work. Not only are they meta-gamey but they're also a pain for bookkeeping. I'm also not a huge fan of how they have to be declared in advance but so many of them end up being ridiculously "chancy".

Jason Bulmahn wrote:


Hey there all,
As for how easy some are, my above comment plays into that. As a player, if you find that the only thing you want to do with these is find the easiest way to accomplish them, that is not very mythic by its nature. Creating a throw-away intelligent item is not very mythic. As feedback, I am interested in seeing how players use these rules. Do they go for the easy path, picking the trials that are simple to accomplish, or do they use them as an opportunity to accomplish something that truly adds to the legend of their hero.

I guarantee you that players will be taking the easy route, not only because they don't want to deal with the luck of the dice but also because it's one of the very few limited ways to refresh the Mythic Points pool. Players will end up declaring all the medium-difficulty Trials to count toward their actual quota and then, in the run of each adventuring day, will more than likely try to hit up all the easy-difficulty Trials to refresh their Mythic Points pools as the day goes on.

Jason Bulmahn wrote:


Well, I don't believe it is the GMs duty to make your lesser trials impossible to accomplish. This is no different than if you have a ranger with a favored enemy of undead. If the GM never throws any undead at you, he is not playing to the core of his group.

Here's the big difference and issue I see with it - Adventure Paths. Let's take next years Wrath of the Righteous for example. With the exception of the occasional Random Encounter (and not every GM uses random encounters), almost every encounter, creature, and combat is scripted out in advance and already planned. If the players keep selecting Improbable Victory but the AP doesn't have any encounters that would qualify for that Trial then, to accommodate the selection, I'm forced to shoehorn in such an encounter at some point. And if the players then fail to defeat the encounter, I have to shoehorn it in again and again, until either they succeed or just stop choosing the Trial altogether. I think that's what Mort is referring to when he talks about "GM-fiat" Trials.

The other issue I see coming up between Trials and APs is the issue of proper progression. When James Jacobs (and Daigle) are plotting out all the encounters for a regular AP they can say "the party needs to hit Level 10 by this point" and then make sure there are enough encounters leading up to that "point" so most parties will get the needed XP to hit the benchmark. That's going to be nearly impossible to pull off for Wrath of the Righteous as it currently stands. If the benchmark is "the party needs to be Level 10/Tier 5 by this point" the Lesser Trials are going to hamper progression. The writing teams of the APs can control XP progression and Greater Trial progression but have no control over players being able to achieve enough Lesser Trials to get them to the Tier they need to be at for each benchmark.

I have a few other issues (and suggestions) surrounding Lesser Trials which I posted on this thread over here:

See Link here.


William Senn wrote:
Alternaly, redesign all of the Lesser Trials. Almost none of them feel right to me. There's a few that are close (Indestructible would be OK if you didn't have to pick it in advance and it didn't discourage taking fortification armor, for example), but I really don't think any of them hit the balance between being epic storytelling moments and epic gaming moments, and that's what they should be aiming for if they're to stay. You shouldn't have to sacrifice story for gameplay or vice versa just to advance your character.

Really? Indestructible is another random one, what's OK about that? Guardian does have a few cool trials though. Behind Me, Blockade and Survive the Tide all bring to mind interesting combat scenarios.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Not a fan of "choose lesser trials to achieve", since it does smack of metagaming. I'd rather see a selection of impressive feats that anyone could accomplish at any time - at which point the bookkeeping only needs to be "Bob, that's a lesser trial for Marist the Arcanist Supreme". Yes, tailor them to specific paths, but I don't like the ones that say "in a single round/encounter" for the most part.

I'll try to come up with some suggestions later today.


Put me solidly in the camp of lesser trials are wack as printed. I can already see at least two of my players taking every easy lesser trial as it comes along if not for progression then to replenish their mythic powers. There's way too much story-interrupting-to-get-my-lesser-trial-done metagamey stuff happening here. I appreciate that the designers wanted to provide examples, and I think some of the examples give a good launching pad for GMs and tables to come up with their own ideas, but some of them are way too luck based, way too easy, or way too ridiculous. I'll echo what some people have been saying here, and in other threads: turn the lesser trials into smaller versions of the greater trials, give some vague guidelines, and then say it's table consensus/GM fiat. Otherwise you're turning what should be a "mythic" story element, and turning it into a badge achievement on Skyrim.

I'll also go on record as saying if the lesser trials remain as written, or in any semblance a close proximity to what is written, not only will I not buy the book, I won't allow it at any of my tables.


That's a bit extreme. Lesser trials or the lack thereof should not be the selling point of this book, especially when it's something so easily house ruled. In fact, you wrote the perfect house rule in your post just now.

Lesser trials are going to be a small portion of a book that seems otherwise fantastic. If you're going to let them stop you from using it, I have to wonder if you were actually interested in the idea of 'mythic' in the first place.

...Though based on the response so far I don't imagine there's any chance they'll stay as is anyway.


Lord Embok wrote:

That's a bit extreme. Lesser trials or the lack thereof should not be the selling point of this book, especially when it's something so easily house ruled. In fact, you wrote the perfect house rule in your post just now.

Lesser trials are going to be a small portion of a book that seems otherwise fantastic. If you're going to let them stop you from using it, I have to wonder if you were actually interested in the idea of 'mythic' in the first place.

...Though based on the response so far I don't imagine there's any chance they'll stay as is anyway.

Good points. I'll accept that criticism. My interest in the mythic rules was more curiosity based, as I've never been a GM that goes in for "epic level" campaigning anyway. I do think the mythic rules have some absolute gold in them, and I like a lot of the flavor of the various mythic paths, but those lesser trials seem like they'd be adding more headaches than their worth. You're right that a quick houserule to the lesser trials could be a great fix, but if I'm houseruling a giant section of what is at the core of the mechanics I think I'd just be better off leaving it off the table (both literally and figuratively).

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

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Overall, the playtest rules are solid, but lesser trials are one of three or four areas I find particularly problematic.

I started my playtest over a month ago in order to compare mythic and non-mythic play within the same story arc. To keep the playtest tightly focused, my PCs were given a series of straightforward objectives, each of which has a tight deadline.

The following is not hyperbole: if I were to incorporate lesser trials in my playtest, an entire month's worth of adventure design and actual play would be completely wasted. I would have to rewrite my entire campaign, changing the pacing of the story to accommodate the dozens of completely extraneous encounters needed to make lesser trials work.

With experience points (and greater trials), I can grant the entire party the same reward after each series of encounters. Advancement is guaranteed for anyone who actively participates in the story. With a hodgepodge of unrelated lesser trials, I have to bend over backwards to create dozens of encounters, each tailor-made to specific characters' lesser trials and potentially superfluous to the overall plot.

And the whole time, players will be obsessing over metagame objectives instead of participating in the story. Grinding doesn't encourage players to roleplay and "think mythic" in WoW; grinding won't encourage players to roleplay and "think mythic" in Pathfinder.

As a result of the above issues, I will not be incorporating lesser trials into my playtest. I would much rather see the word count currently devoted to lesser trials instead used to provide crunch-free roleplaying suggestions for players with characters of various mythic paths.

If lesser trials must be kept in the rules, I suggest you include a slow, medium, and fast track for mythic advancement, allowing GMs to require more, fewer, or no lesser trials, as desired. (Personally, I can't imagine a GM actually wanting more metagame hurdles to story advancement, but I'll allow that playstyles may exist in which lesser trials aren't as disruptive as they are at my own table.)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

Hey folks, I'm seeing a lot of people saying: "I will be ignoring the lesser trials in my Playtest because there's problems."

The point of a Playtest is to Test. That means if you ignore an aspect of the rules, you aren't play testing you're just playing. I am not a fan of Lesser Trials either, but they will be a part of my Playtest so I can report what didn't work and more importantly what did. Please remember to TEST.


While I agree that these should be playtested and while I'm going to try, I just don't know if it's going to be feasible. Lesser Trials are in a unique position for playtesting in that the very problem this system may have is a problem that doesn't make it conducive for inclusion in many playtests. Due to bookkeeping issues or the tightly-woven structures of some campaigns, the Lesser Trials are going to be tough to fit into a two-month slot for many of us. Lord knows, I'll try. I really want to, but I just don't know if I'll be able to make it happen.

Lesser Trials work much better for sandbox-style playtests. The irony is that the time constraint on the playtest period coupled with the fact that Greater Trials are more conducive to linear play means that, for some, Lesser Trials end up being counter-productive to the rest of the playtest. Hopefully, there will be enough groups with appropriate playstyles to playtest these properly. I'm going to give them a shot on the weekend with my group but I don't know if they'll stay in beyond the first session.


In any case, the effect of the lesser trials can be narrowed to a range from "seriously harmful" to "not very harmful". Does that mean we should leave it in if 95% of the feedback goes to "not very harmful"? I am having a tough time seeing any advantage to lesser trials for mythic tier advancement. As a way to recharge mythic power -- yes, there is a possible up side to that. But if all we are doing is gauging how harmful something is -- why bother?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

Here's why you should bother.

You are participating in a Playtest, if you don't playtest then you're just armchair judging (something a design team is more than capable of). Seeing how Lesser Trials work in play might springboard to a better idea for the designers. If people don't test it though, then you won't see what's of value.

The Lesser Trials are to give Players some agency in their own growth. The Greater Trials are external factors the GM places there. The test isn't to see how smooth the story goes (although that feedback is valuable too), it's to see whether the players feel like they have agency in their own growth.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber
Monte Cook wrote:

2. Feedback, not opinions.

This is a tricky one for people to understand. If you give me a piece of coconut cream pie to see what I think, and my reply is, “I don’t like coconut,” I’ve given you an opinion, not feedback. It’s honest, but it doesn’t help you with your pie at all. In playtesting rules, know yourself. If someone asks you to test a game that uses a single die, and you love dice pools, and you know that your feedback is going to be “you should use a dice pool mechanic,” you haven’t really playtested anything. If someone’s asking you for opinions, that’s fine, but if they’ve already reached the point where they’re showing you their written up system, they’re probably past the stage where talking about the core die mechanic is of any use to them. Like the piemaker has already decided that he’s making coconut cream, the designer’s already decided what kind of game he wants to make. What he wants from you is feedback as to whether the game as currently written meets the stated goals.

When people are saying: "I don't want to use the Lesser Trials, as they don't suit the game I'm running." what they are really saying is "I don't like coconut."

If you can't test what's being presented then your methodology should change to incorporate what needs testing. In this case: Lesser Trials.


I agree these need to be playtested, I'm just saying it won't be easy.

As for player agency toward growth, I don't think that's going to be a major issue. Players haven't had agency within the growth mechanics for the last 5 years, since Pathfinder released, and I haven't seen many complaints. The XP award system as it currently stands is purely based on the encounters the GM may or may not include. Sure, there's story-XP but that's based in the realm of GM-Fiat as well. Including or not including a mechanic to grant illusory agency (and it is illusory) to player growth won't change anything.

Personally, the importance of Lesser Trials stems from the fact that they are one of the only ways to recover Mythic points. There definitely needs to be a sub-system or mechanic for that purpose. In the end, Lesser Trials may or may not work to fill that role.

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DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
I'm seeing a lot of people saying: "I will be ignoring the lesser trials in my Playtest because there's problems."

I can't speak for other posters in this thread, but I'm not "ignoring the lesser trials in my playtest."

As part of prep work for an actual playtest session, I attempted to find room for lesser trials in an adventure I'll be running this Saturday. The mechanic just didn't fit my playstyle. The campaign I'm running is too mission-focused, and the rate of character advancement too fast. I could insert a bunch of extraneous encounters to allow for lesser trials, but that would only serve to distract from the series of back-to-back greater trials at the heart of the story.

Could a meandering sandbox campaign of some sort be designed that could incorporate dozens of player-driven lesser trials without any PCs falling behind? Presumably. Am I running anything remotely resembling that campaign? Not in the least. In my fast-paced, mission-focused campaign, the events between greater trials are intentionally glossed over to emphasize the PCs' most renowned accomplishments. Pausing between greater trials to grind out game mechanical achievements that PCs missed along the way would only detract from the theme of the campaign, and would require me to design and prep dozens of extraneous encounters I don't currently have the time to design or prepare.

That's actual playtest data, not an hypothetical statement.


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If and when I can sell my players on properly testing mythic, I'll certainly include these if I can, but there's a big difference between "I don't like this" and "My players will most certainly abuse or refuse this".

I know my players. I don't yet know what happens if you run Pathfinder with lesser trials, but DO I know what happens when the accountant who likes to build powerful characters is asked to choose between having ranks in a class skill and fighting in a less than optimal manner.

I want to run this as written, but some of my players will go out of their way to choose the least mythic options, they will pester me if they don't feel I'm presenting enough opportunities to beat any trials that must be fed to them and they will feel cheated if I tell them "no, that was too easy" unless I can show them a rule which expressly disallows it.

It's not that I don't like coconut, I do. I love what this whole set-up is trying to accomplish, but let's switch to a slightly different metaphor for a minute.
If you say "Hey, check out this sweet square peg I made!" and I say "That's a bad peg because I want to fill a round hole!" I'm being dumb and unhelpful.
If you say "Hey, check out this sweet round peg I made!" and I say "Uh, dude, hate to break it to you, but that peg is clearly square. It has corners. I don't know if I'll even be allowed to try hammering it into a round hole." That's a small amount of constructive feedback.


Before I reiterate and offer corroboration, I want to say that civil and well articulated threads like this are what keeps me coming back to these forums. Good on all of you for remaining civil, and articulating your points with eloquence and grace.

Now for the harsh reality...

I have to strongly echo everything from below my last post on down to here. Epic, The Block Knight, and Mortuum all make excellent points. I also understand and fully support Dudemeister's assertion that every aspect of a playtest should be playtested in order for the correct amount and type of feedback to be given. That said, I fully agree with Mortuum, and it seems we have similar players, because I know that some of my players would do exactly as he says, taking the least mythic options, and whining if I didn't provide the right types of encounters to make sure they can accomplish those lesser trials. I fully understand and support the need to playtest, but I also have an intricate working knowledge of my players and know that these rules, as currently written, don't fit our playstyle, nor our very narrative driven campaign. Could we have an interlude and playtest things, perhaps with completely different characters? Sure, but there again, I know my players, they've complained loudly when they felt that some overland travel, and a couple random encounters took them away from the major story arc. Taking a hiatus from their current characters and campaign isn't something they'll be too keen on.

My next point has to do with the actual mechanical workings of gaining mythic tiers. Think about an average party of 4-5 players. If each player in that group wants to gain mythic levels, the ascension alone could take several sessions, if you, as a GM, are trying to keep individual characters with unique story lines. Then, once everyone is ascended and they are looking to progress, the GM has to keep track of all the variable ways that each Mythic Path is likely to progress? That's ridiculous. Having to cater encounters to 4 to 5 different mythic paths each with their own selection of lesser trials, creates nothing but a metagame grinding. It dissolves the story, and creates a situation where characters are looking at each encounter as a possible (I stress possible, because some of the lesser trials are as likely to happen as a strike of lightning) means to mythic advancement, rather than part of a cohesive story arc. In the case of some of the lesser trials, it also creates a situation where a player might roleplay their character's choices 100% differently than in a "normal" combat situation, like firing spells off of higher level scrolls and staves. The bookkeeping part of this is a GM's worst nightmare.

The next thing I'd like to point out, is that in the adventure provided in the playtest material, the designers have handwaved the PCs' ascension and the gaining of their first three mythic tiers.

Mythic Playtest pg. 51 wrote:
When a PC pulls an arrow from the stag, the arrow vanishes in a golden mist that causes the character to become mythic, gaining three mythic tiers!
They then handwave away their mythic power, all except some residual power that allows them to add to a die roll, and even that has some strong narrative qualities attached to it, i.e. the approval of a deity.
Mythic Playtest pg. 52 wrote:
With his disappearance, the mythic power possessed by each PC fades away (although each retains three uses of mythic power per day, which can be used only to add to a die roll, and only so long as the use is one Erastil approves).

It seems pretty clear to me that the developers understand mythic power to be a very narrative driven "mechanic." Especially when you look at some of James' posts wherein he says things like this. If the designers themselves are wary of the metagamey things that can happen, and the fact that it could take away from the powerful narrative element that mythic power possesses, then it seems perfectly fair to, before even playtesting, say, things like, "this won't work for my tables."


I meant "Jason's posts" not "James' posts" above.


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To be honest, when I do use the final rules in my game, I'll ignore anything that resembles the current lesser trial system, it's far too metagamey for my taste. The greater trials? Awesome. Having a story-based system for advancement makes perfect sense to me.

Note that this is not an equivalent statement to "the lesser trials should be left out," as I don't think that's true any more than I think XP rules should be omitted because I don't use them (I give out flat XP per game rather than XP based on killing things and taking their stuff).

After all, other games do run that way, and for those games the lesser trials do make sense, just like wealth by level makes sense for some games and not others.

With the trials, what I like is the whole Weapons of Legacy feel that the greater trials give, where you do awesome things and advance. Heck, I'm not even sure there needs to be so many of them per tier! If the GM is advancing the plot based on trials, then the GM can clearly say "okay, you did it! You're now mythic tier two!"

The only thing I'd add in my game is a way for a character (or party, I can definitely see a need for party-wide trials) to be able to figure out what their next trial or trials might be, rather than having to do random heroic stuff until by happenstance they give back the Everlasting Gobstopper and Wonka says "you did it! you won!"

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