Nearly a year has passed since we introduced the check boxes to scenarios' reporting sheets in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. Perhaps you haven"t had the opportunity to GM a Season 5 scenario, so let me recap the idea. Almost every scenario in Season 5 has had four check boxes labeled "A" through "D," and the end of scenario provides instructions of which ones to check off depending on what happened during the adventure. Did the PCs ally with Team 1? Check box A. Did they ally with Team 2? Check box B. If they instead destroyed Team 1 or 2, check box C or D respectively.
The results of those check boxes are included when the organizer reports the scenario online, and we/ve been using that data to watch trends and shape the storyline in increasingly visible ways. For example, the Qadira faction has recruited several trade partners over the past year, but some of their rivalries with one another have required the PCs to choose one to favor over the other. When I looked at the numbers reported from an earlier scenario, I saw the two of the parties were neck-and-neck, so they returned for a rematch in a later scenario. Another example involved choosing where to construct a basecamp, and after collecting data for a few months, I saw that there was a clear favorite. That choice decided the course of a recent scenario. Even seemingly innocuous matters like an NPC surviving a scenario allow you to shape future adventures when we determine what villains are still out there and harboring a grudge.
Data like these also contribute to the ongoing evolution of the Pathfinder Society's eight active factions. Back in April 2013 we revealed that faction goals might change over time. In fact, based on the storyline, character decisions, and player feedback, even a faction's alignment and leadership could change. Over the course of the Year of the Demon, the original five factions have all distanced themselves from their respective nations—some pushed away by troubles at home and others pulled toward greener pastures. No doubt many of you have witnessed these events throughout the season, and blog posts later this month will reveal these factions' new faces and interests.
Of course, any talk about changes to factions stirs up questions. Is my faction changing? Are you eliminating any factions? What if I don't like what is happening to my faction? Can I change factions for free? How long do I have to change factions? In brief, we're aiming to make any transitions as reasonable, painless, and fair as possible. We'll provide more details as we get closer to the new season.
Finally, I'll be appearing on the Know Direction podcast on the Wednesday, June 18th. I'll post more details here and on the Pathfinder Society messageboard as the interview gets closer.
John Compton and Mike Brock
Developer and Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator