The Future of Pathfinder Society Organized Play Part XI: Pick Your Pace

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Well, loyal Pathfinders, I have returned from a weeklong adventure in which I conducted an ancient ritual at the prophesied time to eternally bond me with an intelligent magic item of incredibly high Charisma that now occupies my left ring slot. And whether the Rapture came or not, I'm in heaven (though there's little time to take in the sights as we scramble to get the finishing touches on all the great new Pathfinder Society material debuting at PaizoCon in little more than a week).

But enough about me and my new cohort (or am I the cohort?). Let's talk about one of the biggest changes coming to Pathfinder Society Organized Play next year: variable advancement tracks!

Illustration by Maichol Quinto

Currently, all Pathfinder Society PCs level at the same rate: 3 XP to level up, which breaks down to three scenarios per level, or at the most 37 scenarios between character creation and retirement after a completed 12th-level adventure arc. For someone playing only a handful of scenarios a year at large conventions, this means they can play the same PC for years and years and still feel like they're actually getting something out of those few sessions they play at Gen Con or PaizoCon annually. But for players who participate in the campaign on even a bi-weekly basis, they will have leveled a character from inception to near retirement in just over a single year.

We’ve listened to the feedback, and feel there's a simple solution already present in our rules system. The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game includes several different advancement tracks to allow GMs to run their campaigns at the pace that works best for them and their players. While most of our products to date assume the medium advancement track, some groups prefer using the fast or slow progressions to move more quickly to higher-level play or to savor each step along the way to 20th level. Pathfinder Society Organized Play will be implementing a similar optional advancement track beginning in Season 3.

Players who enjoy the three-scenario-per-level pace don’t need to do anything. For you, nothing will change. But for those who want a slower progression, you can opt instead to move at half-speed, earning only 1/2 XP, 1/2 the total maximum gold, and a maximum of 1 Prestige Point per scenario. Because the net gain per level will be the same whether you use the slow track over six adventures or the normal track over three, PCs will be able to choose which progression they'll use for their next level each time they gain a level.

In addition to allowing individuals to operate at their own pace, this plan should allow small home groups or even growing store and convention groups to cooperate to ensure that higher-level PCs slow down enough for new players or replacement characters to catch up, condensing the level spread to make things easier for event coordinators. I'm sure there are other benefits to these new options that we haven't even thought of in-house yet. What most excites you about this new development?

Be sure not to miss next week's Monday blog for a look at the fifth of the existing factions: the decadent empire of Taldor. Anyone who's already played The Dalsine Affair likely already has an idea of at least one change that will be coming to this faction—a change that players of the four new scenarios at PaizoCon are likely to notice right away.

Mark Moreland
Developer

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Tags: Ezren Iconics Maichol Quinto Pathfinder Society Wallpapers Wizards
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Shadow Lodge 5/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Well isn't that an awesome little change?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Interesting...

So a slow-track progression will net you more item access.

If a (season 0-2) scenario has two Prestige Points possible, and you only get one, and you've chosen the slow track, do you get 1 or zero?

If you're playing a season 3 scenario and are on the slow track (much like Slanky), isn't 1 PP almost a guarantee (since it's tied to the mission?). Essentially you don't have to do your faction missions because there's little benefit.

Just because someone will ask... If the gold value for the scenario is odd, do you round up or down if you're on the slow track?

GM's will now be required to ask what progression they're on when signing chronicles (for gp, PA award, etc).


So if you play at the slower pace, you're pretty much guaranteed to get maximum PA over the course of your career, correct?

At any rate, I think some people will be happier.

EDIT: Partially ninja'ed by Kyle editing his post.

Liberty's Edge

The one downside of slow advancement that I can think of is running out of scenarios.

5/5

Let me be the first to note an extra benefit Mark--now all those people who want to play a 'loyal Pathfinder' with no faction can do it without falling behind in prestige at all. By playing the slow track and only playing Season 3 or later scenarios, the character receives the max of 1 prestige just for finishing the main mission. This sounds like great news for all those people!


Congrats, Mark!

3/5

If I read this correctly, I think it's awesome!

Blog wrote:
Because the net gain per level will be the same whether you use the slow track over six adventures or the normal track over three, PCs will be able to choose which progression they'll use for their next level each time they gain a level.

I can create a character and earn 1 XP per scenario until I hit say 3rd level. Then, having hit what some may consider a sweet spot in character builds, I'll advance at 1/2 XP per level until I hit the PFS scenario hole at 6th. Wanting to get through this level ASAP, I revert back to 1 XP per scenario. Hit 7th and cruse through the rest of my career at 1/2 XP per scenario.

Sounds great!

-Swiftbrook
Just My Thoughts

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

I presume the decision whether to accept fast or slow progression rewards comes before play? (Or will we be able to look back after a scenario is completed and say, "Wow! We didn't too too well on that. Let's decide it counts for only half as much.")

Slow-track progression also nets your character more boons.

It can be disastrous at low levels, to take half rewards and then have someone die, because the half-treasure may not be enough to pay for a raise dead.

It may strike some people as unfair, if Kyle is getting twice as much money as Bob, and they both need to chip in their entire rewards to pay for Neil's raise dead. Bob, at least, gets to make up that loss on the second half of the experience point.

We'll probably have more players willing to play down for lower rewards, since they'll be able to take a slow progression on those scenarios and take less of a hit.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Pygon wrote:
The one downside of slow advancement that I can think of is running out of scenarios.

I was thinking this also. Won't this put more pressure on increasing the number of low level scenarios since it will take 6 scenarios to advance. Presumably, the crowd that has level capped will have consumed many of the original scenarios already.

5/5

Kyle Baird wrote:
Just because someone will ask... If the gold value for the scenario is odd, do you round up or down if you're on the slow track?

Ah you fancy adventurer types, so disconnected from the world of the commonfolk as to think it's all gold and platinum. Of course, in this situation you get 5 silver pieces.

5/5

Evil Lincoln wrote:
Congrats, Mark!

Indeed, congratulations! (Though just think, you could have done it at PaizoCon! ;)

My favorite part of this is for characters who take a while to really "hit the sweet spot". You can 'race' up to that point, then slow it down to enjoy it, then speed up once you're satisfied. Very nice.

Thanks Mark!


Chris Mortika wrote:
I presume the decision whether to accept fast or slow progression rewards comes before play? (Or will we be able to look back after a scenario is completed and say, "Wow! We didn't too too well on that. Let's decide it counts for only half as much.")

From the blog:

Quote:


PCs will be able to choose which progression they'll use for their next level each time they gain a level.

Each player makes their own choice and the choice cannot be changed til the character levels up. For example, you choose normal progression at first level for a character, you cannot change to slow progression til that character reaches level two. Then if you choose slow progression for that character, that cannot be changed til the character hits level three. So no, the decision is not made by the scenario and you could have a mix of the two progressions between all the characters involved.

Grand Lodge

Mark Moreland wrote:
But enough about me and my new cohort (or am I the cohort?).....

You are the animal companion. ;-)

Congrats welcome to wedded bliss :-0

The Exchange

Evil Lincoln wrote:
Congrats, Mark!

Yes, congrats on the marriage!

1/5

1. Congrats to Mark.
2. I appreciate the desire to cater to player preferences, but variable advancement seems likely to be more trouble than it is worth.

The Exchange

Congratulations, Mark!

I love the new option for progression and that you can change it from level to level. I certainly snuffled quite a bit when I played my "level to 12" game with my first pathfinder character at the Siege. I would have gladly slowed the progression down on her last couple of levels to keep a character I'd become so attached to--so I think this is a great idea. The option to let players choose whether they want this slow progession or not on an individual basis is even better!

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

Kyle Baird wrote:


So a slow-track progression will net you more item access.

Correct. But since players still have to pay for all items, having access to more unique items will simply give them more options rather than upset the wealth/level curve.

Kyle Baird wrote:
If a (season 0-2) scenario has two Prestige Points possible, and you only get one, and you've chosen the slow track, do you get 1 or zero?

Handling season 0–2 scenarios with regard to Prestige will be covered in the updated campaign documentation.

Kyle Baird wrote:

If you're playing a season 3 scenario and are on the slow track (much like Slanky), isn't 1 PP almost a guarantee (since it's tied to the mission?). Essentially you don't have to do your faction missions because there's little benefit.

As above, this will be covered in the campaign documentation, but you will only get the Prestige for your faction mission and may only get that if you complete the victory conditions for the scenario as a whole.

Kyle Baird wrote:
Just because someone will ask... If the gold value for the scenario is odd, do you round up or down if you're on the slow track?

Down.

Kyle Baird wrote:
GM's will now be required to ask what progression they're on when signing chronicles (for gp, PA award, etc).

We plan to redesign the layout of the Chronicle sheets slightly to accomodate this additional option.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Let me be the first to note an extra benefit Mark--now all those people who want to play a 'loyal Pathfinder' with no faction can do it without falling behind in prestige at all. By playing the slow track and only playing Season 3 or later scenarios, the character receives the max of 1 prestige just for finishing the main mission. This sounds like great news for all those people!

What if I told you we had an even better option for players who want to be a mainline Pathfinder next season?

Sovereign Court

Mark Moreland wrote:


What if I told you we had an even better option for players who want to be a mainline Pathfinder next season?

Then I would say, "Tell me more,tell me more, tell me more, please".

5/5

Mark Moreland wrote:
Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Let me be the first to note an extra benefit Mark--now all those people who want to play a 'loyal Pathfinder' with no faction can do it without falling behind in prestige at all. By playing the slow track and only playing Season 3 or later scenarios, the character receives the max of 1 prestige just for finishing the main mission. This sounds like great news for all those people!
What if I told you we had an even better option for players who want to be a mainline Pathfinder next season?

Honestly I wouldn't be surprised. Particularly since your clarification above indicates that this option is not, in fact, a good option for a mainline Pathfinder (since you actually don't get the one prestige for doing the main mission only--it actually looks like for any possible percentage of completing your faction missions other than 100%, you will always actually have less prestige with the slow progression).

Math for my own Amusement / to check myself:

Assuming 100% success on main Pathfinder Society mission--

If you have a 0% success rate on faction 'hard' missions (maybe you're an Andoran Barbarian and just can't Diplomacy those people into freeing slaves), on normal XP you will get 3 PP per level. On slow, the same player playing the same character will get 0. This is the worst case for slow vis-a-vis normal.

With a 1/6 success rate, the normal XP character gets on average 3.5 PP per level. The slow rate character gets 1.

With a 1/3 success rate, the normal XP character gets 4 PP per level. The slow rate character gets 2.

With a 1/2 success rate, the normal XP character gets 4.5 PP per level. The slow character gets 3.

With a 2/3 success rate, the normal XP character gets 5 PP per level. The slow character gets 4.

With a 5/6 success rate, the normal XP character gets 5.5 PP per level. The slow character gets 5.

With a 100% success rate, the normal XP and slow character both get 6 PP per level.

But yeah, I've always thought that the faction to be 'allied' with Osirion in Seasons 0-2 would be a main Pathfinder faction of some sort. The near-confirmation--that's awesome! Some people I know will be very happy. Me, I'm also rooting for a NG faction that a follower of Shelyn would want to join. I'm afraid there may be only one new Good faction that might be something LG like Mendev to complement Andoran's change to CG. Only time will tell!

Also, congrats on your wedding!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Chris Mortika wrote:

It may strike some people as unfair, if Kyle is getting twice as much money as Bob, and they both need to chip in their entire rewards to pay for Neil's raise dead. Bob, at least, gets to make up that loss on the second half of the experience point.

Pretty sure that's a moot point. Those guys are more likely to just give the gold to Miles as a bounty ;)

Grand Lodge

Mark Moreland wrote:

What if I told you we had an even better option for players who want to be a mainline Pathfinder next season?

Then Id say I think Im correct on my thought that one of the five new factions is going to be a 'dedicated pathfinder' type faction, where the Decimvirate has agents to keep an eye on the agents of the other factions.

Congrats on the wedding as well.


Very clever solution. Great job.

Liberty's Edge

Best. Update. Ever.

And congratulations on your own update as well, sir. :)


K Neil Shackleton wrote:
Chris Mortika wrote:

It may strike some people as unfair, if Kyle is getting twice as much money as Bob, and they both need to chip in their entire rewards to pay for Neil's raise dead. Bob, at least, gets to make up that loss on the second half of the experience point.

Pretty sure that's a moot point. Those guys are more likely to just give the gold to Miles as a bounty ;)

You don't give me enough credit Neil. I would spend my gold on onyx gems and animate your sorry excuse for a corpse. :-)


Rogue Eidolon wrote:
I'm also rooting for a NG faction that a follower of Shelyn would want to join.

You mean, like Taldor, the people who count Shelyn as part of their pantheon?

-Matt

Grand Lodge

Todd Lower wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:


What if I told you we had an even better option for players who want to be a mainline Pathfinder next season?

Then I would say, "Tell me more,tell me more, tell me more, please".

To which you are likely to get a "Be sure to check the blog for an upcoming post" =)

Also revealed on the Know Direction Podcast was that none of the new 5 factions will be country based like the current 5!

Sovereign Court

Mark Garringer wrote:
Todd Lower wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:


What if I told you we had an even better option for players who want to be a mainline Pathfinder next season?

Then I would say, "Tell me more,tell me more, tell me more, please".
To which you are likely to get a "Be sure to check the blog for an upcoming post" =)

Yeah, true . . . but they can't say yes if you don't ask. :-)

Liberty's Edge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Alaska—Anchorage aka Dragnmoon

Mark Garringer wrote:


Also revealed on the Know Direction Podcast was that none of the new 5 factions will be country based like the current 5!

Now this surpises me, a little, though there are some powerfule "Factions".

Scarab Sages

Very interesting idea!

Congrats on embarking on one of the greatest adventures, Mark!!

5/5

Mattastrophic wrote:
Rogue Eidolon wrote:
I'm also rooting for a NG faction that a follower of Shelyn would want to join.

You mean, like Taldor, the people who count Shelyn as part of their pantheon?

-Matt

As far as being from that nation and having Shelyn as a patron deity, perhaps, but not as far as wanting to be a member of the faction. After all, Shelyn is one of the most prominent non-Asmodeus churches in Cheliax (since everyone there enjoys the quality artwork), but that doesn't make Cheliax a good faction for Shelyn's followers and clergy (though it did make my group's Shelyn-heavy CoT party have good verisimilitude).

Taldor&Shelyn thoughts--spoilered to not distract from the main thread:
Having GMed a fair bit now (nowhere near most on these boards, of course) and thus read the missions for every faction in the scenarios I've GMed, Taldor is nearly the worst (Cheliax obviously being the worst). Somehow my cleric of Shelyn has managed not to have a moral issue with any of her Qadira missions yet (I just got lucky--I've seen one I wouldn't do in a scenario I ran rather than played), but there have actually been more faction missions that my cleric wouldn't do for Taldor than even for Cheliax (not counting the fact that doing any Cheliax mission would aid Cheliax). Taldor asks its followers to poison people who are innocent of anything other than getting in the faction's way, to gather tomes on poison that the baron assures he will use at his next dinner party, to hire assassins to put hits out on people--and that's only two modules' worth. Granted, I only know the Taldor faction missions for the 9 modules I ran, since I don't have a Taldor character in the ones I've played, and I haven't purchased the modules to peruse after playing--though I'm pretty sure I remember from one of the games I played a Taldor-faction allied PC murdering a noncombatant we found by throwing him overboard for no apparent reason, so I imagine that was a mission as well.

Scarab Sages 2/5

That's pretty awesome!

Grand Lodge 4/5

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Not a fan, but this will likely not affect me much as a player or coordinator as I know of noone locally who will choose the slow advancement option. What I do see of this is more yammering for mods in a certain level range from people who got locked into them by their advancement track choice.

*shrug*

Congrats on the wedding Mark.

Dark Archive

Congratulations Mark...though I think you misspoke. Familiar, you are definitely her familiar... :)


I wouldn't recommend taking the slow XP path for the level 12 arc. ;-)

(0 XP and full gold vs. 0 XP and 1/2 gold)


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Sounds like a cool change, and congrats Mark.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

This is a great change. Now I can relax and enjoy the adventuring without thinking about my next level-up, at least for a couple of mods per level... :-)

Sovereign Court

This is great. Is there any way to start it immediately :) I'm about to hit 11th level this weekend and it would be nice to enjoy it for 6 mods instead of 3.

Liberty's Edge 4/5 Venture-Agent, Indiana—Hammond

Mazel tov, Mark! May you and your beloved know many decades of happiness.

I am excited about the change, as I would like to keep Ellestron Makkarios, my first Pathfinder Society character around for a bit longer so that he can perhaps wrap up his career as I play with several of my friends. (Maybe I can have the character, who has several ranks in Profession: Painter finish his masterpiece. Okay, no xps, just a role playing thing for the local group.)

I think that it is important to have an option for a dedicated Pathfinder. Some people eschew politics and ideology completely. So, I am looking forward to learning about the new factions. (A question I have is whether the factions have always been there and be revealed or will the new factions suddenly arise? Or perhaps a combination of both options?)


Witch-Hunter wrote:
This is great. Is there any way to start it immediately :) I'm about to hit 11th level this weekend and it would be nice to enjoy it for 6 mods instead of 3.

The option does not become available til the start of Season Three, so the only way to do what you want is to not play that character til the new season starts August 4th with the release of the first Season Three scenario.

Liberty's Edge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Alaska—Anchorage aka Dragnmoon

You talk about the PRPG Xp Fast Track in your blog, will there be a Fast Track for the PFS as well?


Dragnmoon wrote:
You talk about the PRPG Xp Fast Track in your blog, will there be a Fast Track for the PFS as well?

The fast track (13 encounters/level) is roughly what is used in PFS now, isn't it?

Liberty's Edge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Alaska—Anchorage aka Dragnmoon

hogarth wrote:
Dragnmoon wrote:
You talk about the PRPG Xp Fast Track in your blog, will there be a Fast Track for the PFS as well?
The fast track (13 encounters/level) is roughly what is used in PFS now, isn't it?

there are 3 XP tracks for the PRPG a Fast, Medium, Slow. The normal is medium.

I am associating the every 3 with the normal as medium, the new one talked about in the blog being the slow, I was asking if there will be one matching the 3rd option, the fast track.


Congrats Mark, May the power of the Magic Ring you now wear be continuously recharged!

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

Just two advancement tracks—fast and slow. Fast is the default we've been using for years. Leveling up with less than 3 scenarios (or a longer Module) is not something we have any plans of doing in the future.

Dark Archive

Mark Moreland wrote:
While most of our products to date assume the medium advancement track, some groups prefer using the fast or slow progressions to move more quickly to higher-level play or to savor each step along the way to 20th level.

Am I the only one who caught this? Are we removing the level cap to allow for advancement to 20th level too? Wouldn't that be a great way to reward all of those who have already retired one or more characters.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

Some lines are meant to be read between...others, not so much. We are not raising the level cap. Some groups playing Pathfinder RPG go to 20th level, but no one in Pathfinder Society Organized Play will ever reach 13th level.

Dark Archive

Mark Moreland wrote:
Some lines are meant to be read between...others, not so much. We are not raising the level cap. Some groups playing Pathfinder RPG go to 20th level, but no one in Pathfinder Society Organized Play will ever reach 13th level.

Fair enough. Thought I had located yet another piece of great news. All things considered: very much looking forward to extending the careers of my higher level characters.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Mark,

How does this work regarding modules? Let's say I'm on the "slow track" for Level 2, I have 5 XP under my belt, and I successfully complete a module and earn full rewards, including 4 XP. Is there any way to change gears to "fast track" (normal) experience at 3rd level? If so, how would gold and PA be calculated?


Mark Moreland wrote:
no one in Pathfinder Society Organized Play will ever reach 13th level.

I'd like to see you try and stop me!

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