Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Preview: Upcoming Developments

Thursday, June 27, 2013

As the August 15 release date, and the July 5–7 demos at PaizoCon approach, I've been given the opportunity to pull back the curtains and talk about the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game a bit. As a developer for the game, I've spent much time and effort translating the Rise of the Runelords storyline and elements of the Pathfinder rules and campaign setting into a new medium. One of our biggest challenges was keeping the flavor of the world and of the RPG intact while keeping the card game fun, exciting, and respectful of the established traditions of Pathfinder.

Though much of my focus involved adapting the Rise of the Runelords storyline, the PACG Base Set also offers three introductory scenarios that take place around the town of Sandpoint before the actual Adventure Path kicks off. One of these, Black Fang's Dungeon, was inspired by the introductory adventure in the Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box, and in this blog, I'll use that scenario to illustrate how we developed elements of the PACG to evoke the flavor of the Pathfinder RPG and the Pathfinder campaign setting while meeting the needs of a new kind of Pathfinder game.

We'll start with the Black Fang's Dungeon scenario card itself.


Scenario: Black Fang's Dungeon

The dragon Black Fang lairs in a cave connected to a network of ancient ruins inhabited by undead. The card back—that's the image on the right—lists a variety of locations that characters will explore during the scenario, and offers some flavor text to set the scene.

On the front of the card—the image on the left—you can see that Black Fang is the villain for this scenario, while the "Henchmen" list indicates that the players will also encounter a number of Ancient Skeletons. The "During this Scenario" text effectively changes each skeleton that a character encounters into a small cadre of undead that attacks everyone at the location. The bottom of the card describes the reward that the players will receive after completing the scenario.

Let's take a look at Black Fang's undead allies.


Henchman: Ancient Skeleton

Fights against animated skeletons have been a staple of adventure roleplaying since its very earliest days. We designed the pieces of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game to fit together in a multitude of ways, for the benefit of the scenarios and adventures we design, and also for any you might put together yourself. The Ancient Skeleton henchman is a great basic opponent for a low-level scenario.

Let's look at the Ancient Skeleton's powers. As befits a creature of animated bone and steel, the Ancient Skeleton is completely unaffected by poison or by magic that targets the mind. And as in the RPG, it's not impossible to take out an Ancient Skeleton with a longbow or longsword, but a savvy adventurer will reach for the mace or sling first. This is represented by increasing the difficulty to defeat the Skeleton—listed in the circle at the upper right—from 8 (which isn't too difficult for even starting characters) up to 11 (which is considerably harder on the unprepared) if you're using a Slashing or Piercing weapon.

In the upper left corner, you'll see the Ancient Skeleton has both the Undead and Skeleton traits. Traits give us ways to have cards interact without being overburdened with special cases. For example, Kyra, the iconic Cleric of Sarenrae, gains a bonus to checks against cards with the Undead trait, and the item card Holy Water will help you deal with any undead you may encounter.

The characters will explore several locations in their hunt for Black Fang, but one in particular is likely to cause trouble: the Desecrated Vault.


Location: Desecrated Vault

In the Desecrated Vault, even after the undead are overcome, they might just rise from the dead again. The PACG rules make it simple to handle things like monsters rising, resurrecting, or magically escaping: they are undefeated, which means they're shuffled back into the location deck; if you continue to explore there, you may face them again.

Each location card in the PACG represents a different part of the Pathfinder world. Some locations are very specific, such as the Sandpoint Cathedral, while others, like the Desecrated Vault, serve multiple duties. The vault is a great way to add some undead flavor to a scenario. While exploring Black Fang's Dungeon, adventurers are very likely to run into at least one undead monster here—perhaps more than one, and perhaps more than once.

Now, let's take a look at the scenario's big bad, Black Fang himself.


Villain: Black Fang

In developing the PACG, we looked at various ways to represent the complex, detailed conflicts found in Pathfinder campaigns. Many encounters are handled with a single check, but some are more complicated. Villains such as Black Fang have a very real chance to injure the characters, even before combat.

Dragons have always been tricky challenges, both to design and to defeat, and even a young dragon like Black Fang doesn't disappoint. With a Check to Defeat 50% higher than the Ancient Skeleton, you can tell right away that this fight won't be easy. Black Fang is a young dragon, but he's still a dragon.

Black Fang makes his presence felt before you even begin the fight, spewing acid at every character at his location. While particularly hardy characters such as Valeros or Harsk might withstand the acid with ease, those who are less hale—or just unlucky—might be in serious trouble. Damage in the PACG removes cards from your hand, so those who succumb to Black Fang's acid breath might find themselves ill-prepared for the fight to come.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you like the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. We're all very excited to see you playing it!

Chad Brown
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Developer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Pathfinder Adventure Path Rise of the Runelords
Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

A quick couple of meta-comments:

The illustrations for the "Black Fang's Dungeon" scenario card seem to be interchanged; the illustration on the right matches the description of the card described as being on the left, and vice-versa.

Clicking on the illustrations brings up a larger image of the card, as expected. But unlike most of the illustrations on the Paizo site these images come up in the same window/tab, rather than in a separate one.


5 people marked this as a favorite.

Damn, I'm one sexy beast! ;)

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

JohnF wrote:

A quick couple of meta-comments:

The illustrations for the "Black Fang's Dungeon" scenario card seem to be interchanged; the illustration on the right matches the description of the card described as being on the left, and vice-versa.

Clicking on the illustrations brings up a larger image of the card, as expected. But unlike most of the illustrations on the Paizo site these images come up in the same window/tab, rather than in a separate one.

Thanks, JohnF—I've fixed these.


I'm well keen to give this a go. 2 months you say?

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

August 15!

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Intrigued, yet the layout art looks nothing like I imagined it. :) Figured it would feel more 'fantasy'-ey.

Silver Crusade

I wonder how long a game takes.
I feel this may be a gateway for some to the Beginner Box and then Pathfinder full RPG.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Chocolate Thief wrote:

I wonder how long a game takes.

I feel this may be a gateway for some to the Beginner Box and then Pathfinder full RPG.

From my experience with the preview cards, most scenarios take between 1.5-3 hours to complete, totally dependent on the draws you get at the locations. If you find the villain quickly (and are able to temporarily close some locations to keep him from running there), you'll be able to end the game quicker because you'll know which locations he is NOT at, and work quickly to close those. If the villain is on the bottom of the last deck you decide to explore, you're going to have a tougher time because a lot of your "health" will already be in the discard pile, and the timer (the deck of blessing cards) will be almost gone.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Maglok wrote:
Intrigued, yet the layout art looks nothing like I imagined it. :) Figured it would feel more 'fantasy'-ey.

I'm actually very happy with the relatively simple layout of the cards. As someone who is NOT a Magic player, anytime I see Magic cards I think "man, those look so complicated". These have a simple format, will have color-coded borders so you can sort them easily, and I think the art of the Pathfinder universe speaks for itself enough that the card layout doesn't need to be all fancy-looking anyway. (I'm a huge fan of Munchkin, which also has a very simple layout).


Black Fang wrote:
Damn, I'm one sexy beast! ;)

SLUUUUDER!

Grand Lodge

cartmanbeck wrote:
Chocolate Thief wrote:

I wonder how long a game takes.

I feel this may be a gateway for some to the Beginner Box and then Pathfinder full RPG.
From my experience with the preview cards, most scenarios take between 1.5-3 hours to complete, totally dependent on the draws you get at the locations.

My playtest experience tended towards 1.5 hours on the long side most of the time, but most of my games were with the stuff that will come in the Core set, so higher level stuff might take longer.

Aside from that, I agree with cartmanback that the time it takes will heavily depend on how the players draw as well as how many players there are, and also how experienced the players are with the game.

The game (playtest version anyway) had a decent learning curve, but once you got the hang of it, the gameplay is very solid. My biggest complaint about it was (and likely still would be) the amount of time it takes to set it up, though I will likely pick up a set at Gencon, regardless.

If you like deckbuilding games (Dominion, etc) and cooperative card games (LotR LCG by FFG), you should give this a try.

Sovereign Court

I'm can't wait to run Attack on Sandpoint for everyone attending GenCon. Once you understand the basics this game is a lot of fun. Now I just want to get the cards in my hands so I can get a feel for setting up at the table. There's only so much you can visualize with just the rules!

Its definitely a fun game that feels like Pathfinder and Golarion.

--I wanna Vrock!

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

2 people marked this as a favorite.
godsDMit wrote:
cartmanbeck wrote:
From my experience with the preview cards, most scenarios take between 1.5-3 hours to complete, totally dependent on the draws you get at the locations.

My playtest experience tended towards 1.5 hours on the long side most of the time, but most of my games were with the stuff that will come in the Core set, so higher level stuff might take longer.

Aside from that, I agree with cartmanback that the time it takes will heavily depend on how the players draw as well as how many players there are, and also how experienced the players are with the game.

1.5 to 3 hours is *way* longer than most groups take. We found that a group of 3 or 4 experienced players might complete a scenario in 30-45 minutes—shorter if they get lucky, longer if a bunch of things don't go their way. A group of 6 people learning the game, though, might take 1.5 hours—more if *nobody* is familiar with the game and they're trying to learn as they go.

godsDMit wrote:
My biggest complaint about it was (and likely still would be) the amount of time it takes to set it up, though I will likely pick up a set at Gencon, regardless.

We think you'll find that setup goes much more quickly with real cards and the specially designed tray than it did with stacks of playtest cards.

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Designer

Vic Wertz wrote:
We think you'll find that setup goes much more quickly with real cards and the specially designed tray than it did with stacks of playtest cards.

Yeah, Chad and I demoed the game for the first time with color cards yesterday, and OH MY FREAKING GOD is it faster than setting up with black and whites. I swear, when you have 1,163 cards that all look the same, it can be a bit of a challenge. But now it's not.

Mike

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Developer

Chocolate Thief wrote:

I wonder how long a game takes.

I feel this may be a gateway for some to the Beginner Box and then Pathfinder full RPG.

Scenarios vary, but the vast majority take 60-90 minutes to complete (for good or ill). I generally suggest people give themselves an extra 30-45 minutes of learning during their first scenario or two.

ETA: forgot to scroll to the bottom before replying. :-)

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Developer

godsDMit wrote:
The game (playtest version anyway) had a decent learning curve, but once you got the hang of it, the gameplay is very solid. My biggest complaint about it was (and likely still would be) the amount of time it takes to set it up, though I will likely pick up a set at Gencon, regardless.

Adding to what Mike and Vic said above, we think that the final, published game will be much faster and easier to set up. The playtesters (thanks again, to all you valiant playtesters!) were working from a giant pile of rough-edged, undifferentiated card-stock with black ink on one side. Getting cards in adventure decks, using the custom tray, having cards that one can actually shuffle, and being able to sort cards by color are all big improvements - plus there are some adjustments to the game itself to help in this area.


Will it be at my FLGS on august 15th or just at GENCON?

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Hopefully it'll hit retail that same week.

Dark Archive

I played the Demos at Paizocon and have to say I liked it, just added the Card game subscription.


I have it pre-ordered, so if it ships around the time of GenCon I won't complain. Right now it's slated for the first week of September.


Aye me too I did the amazon thing because I am a prime member and its a good way to avoid the big shipping cost >:) but they say sept 5 .....lets hope they were just being cautious. After that I am definitely going subscription!!!


Faetheor wrote:
Aye me too I did the amazon thing because I am a prime member and its a good way to avoid the big shipping cost >:) but they say sept 5 .....lets hope they were just being cautious. After that I am definitely going subscription!!!

I wanted to pick up my copy at GenCon, but I can't go this year, hence I went the Amazon route too. It will show up when it shows up. I originally pre-ordered it on faith knowing that Paizo has had a great track record of making great products, but this was something new and different. But after watching a play through today with the creators, I'm really excited to play.


Faetheor wrote:
Aye me too I did the amazon thing because I am a prime member and its a good way to avoid the big shipping cost >:) but they say sept 5 .....lets hope they were just being cautious. After that I am definitely going subscription!!!

I also am a amazon prime member, but if you compare the cost of the subscription through Paizo it comes to about the same price. No shipping fee vs 20% off, what had me cancel my amazon order was with the subscription you get the promo cards.


The only disappointment I have so far is the card artwork. I dislike that none of the creatures have backgrounds to them. The paper background breaks the fourth wall for me and gives them a generic and boring look. You might as well have had a black and white card that said "skeleton" in the box.


I think it would be difficult to find a background that is appropriate for every instance when you might encounter the creature. I don't mind the idea that they left it generic so that I can use my imagination to provide the image of the environment.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Adventure Card Game / General Discussion / Paizo Blog: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Preview: Upcoming Developments All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.