Happy Monday, folks. Season 5 of Pathfinder Society Organized Play is well underway, and Mike and I have received considerable feedback both in person and through email about what works well (lots apparently) and what could stand improvement. In just a moment I will provide a few updates, clarifications, and reminders about the nuances, rules, and expectations of this new season. For the moment, though, I would like to share a bit of our progress on the online play frontier.
Whether it's by play-by-post or real-time, virtual tabletop, our online games are going strong. Paizo recently added an online play subforum to the Pathfinder Society page, and Mike recognized the many requests for online leadership by appointing a Venture-Captain of Online Play, Joseph Caubo—who has in turn appointed several venture-lieutenants.
Several of my first Pathfinder Society scenarios were played online, but it's been nearly three years since that last game. I know I'm not the most knowledgeable about the nuances of online play and the needs of the VTT-using community. As a result, Joe has been an invaluable contact and liaison for understanding what the community needs, communicating how a new development might adversely impact the online play experience, and providing—both by his own hand and with the help of several others—helpful graphics that I use when making proposals to other departments to make scenarios easier to use.
There are plenty such developments in the works, and I would like to highlight two: map tags and paperwork. I remember playing The Eternal Obelisk, a now retired Season 0 scenario, and the GM had to instruct us to ignore the big red square with a capital T on the extracted map. No matter one's ability to avoid metagaming, that's a hard piece of player knowledge to ignore. Our GM could not remove the trap marker because the map tags were directly incorporated into the map and not included as a separate layer. Savvy GMs can sometimes paint over these markers or extract them in backdoor ways, but I'd rather we make that process easier by layering things in the main product. Starting with Pathfinder Society Scenario #5–04: The Stolen Heir, all scenario maps should benefit from this treatment.
Inventory Tracking Sheets
Mike and I also hear many requests for form-fillable documents, particularly Chronicle sheets and the Inventory Tracking Sheet (ITS) included in the back of the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play. The ITS has been included in a form-fillable format and has received three important clarifications:
- Players may produce their own versions of the ITS to meet their own design preferences and character inventory needs. Any alternate ITS must contain the same types of information found on the official ITS (e.g. item, cost, Chronicle acquired, Chronicle sold, charges, etc.)
- Although a player must record purchases on the ITS, a player need not also record an itemized list of purchases on the Chronicle sheet. A simple note of "Adventuring gear purchased—see ITS" or "bucket of wands—see ITS" will suffice.
- A player is not required to record individual purchases totaling 25 gp or less on his or her ITS. This is largely to avoid having to fill an entire sheet with small, mundane purchases like chalk or torches. We politely recommend that those purchasing lots of an inexpensive item (e.g. 10 flasks of acid for 100 gp) still record that on the ITS.
Season 5 Reminders
Remember that the new scenario reporting sheet included in the back of Season 5 scenarios has four checkboxes labeled A through D. In the Conclusion section of a scenario, there will often be one or more checkbox conditions that help me to track players' decisions throughout the season and use that information to help the campaign, society, and factions to evolve over time. Not every scenario will have these cues, but most will. For example, the scenario might prompt the GM to check A if the PCs used the scroll of awaken on the giant frog, B if the PCs used the scroll of awaken on the blueberry bush, C if the PCs successfully befriended the resulting creature, and/or D if members of the Cheliax faction sealed a dark bargain with the awakened blueberry bush to create a pie of ineffable evil. As a developer I could then decide which creature to include in a future scenario and whether said creature would start out as friendly or indifferent. Furthermore, the fate of Cheliax might develop an appreciation for single-use, edible, evil artifacts.
Finally, please point participants to the faction head letters. These are clearly linked in a recent blog as well as in stickied posts in the Faction Talk subform. I've read many appeals for more clarity regarding which scenarios deal directly with which faction, and I have a few respectable ideas regarding how to publicize that scenario information without spoiling the somewhat serendipitous sense of discovery for others.
Lots more in the works,