Think Different: A Look at Some Changes to the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Apologies in advance, as this blog entry is going to get a bit arcane. No, I don't mean it's not rechargeable by a Divine spellcaster—I mean this article is meant for Pathfinder Adventure Card Game rules enthusiasts. I'm going to define the differences between the PACG rules a year ago and the ones we have now, possibly in excruciating detail. You've been warned.

When we set out to design the new Skull & Shackles sets and the Class Decks, we had heard many players pointing out ways our game could improve. We were faced with a fork in the road. Choosing Path One meant leaving everything alone and forging ahead with what we had created as is. That was the path of least resistance, requiring very little explanation, but keeping in place some things that were confusing about our game. Choosing Path Two required us to change those things and explain them in a blog like this one. I think you folks are good enough pathfinders that you know which one we picked.

So, yeah, some things are going to look a little different from now on. These are not the kinds of things we're going to issue errata for; everything works pretty much the same as it did in Rise of the Runelords. But the new cards will look just a bit different. Here are some of the highlights.

To start out, let's look at two versions of the weapon Longbow: the first one is from Rise of the Runelords, and the second is from the Ranger Class Deck.

There are some minor differences here. The first is the replacement of the phrase "roll your Dexterity or Ranged die" with "use your Dexterity or Ranged skill." In Skull & Shackles, "skill" always refers to your base die (say, a d8) plus any skill feats or bonuses you might have. If Harsk is using the Longbow with Ranged: Dexterity d8+2, and he has two +1 skill feats in Dexterity, his Ranged skill is d8+4. The concept of the "unmodified" die is also gone: when we say "die" now, we always mean just the die. So if Harsk is using the Longbow, and he has Strength: d6 and one +1 skill feat in Strength, adding the Strength die to his Ranged skill means he adds the d6 and ignores the feat, just as before. The wording is more specific, but the math hasn't changed at all.

A subtler change on the card is replacing the word "a" with "any" in the last power. This makes it a bit more clear that it applies to checks other than your own.

Okay, now for a couple of spells. Here's the Runelords version of Force Missile and the new one from the Wizard Class Deck.

There are two big changes here. Most visibly, the recharge box is gone. Players seemed to get confused by the recharge box, including figuring out when to apply that power, so we built the recharge power into the powers box. With luck, people won't be baffled by that any more.

Reading the text, you'll note that the power no longer tells you to apply the Force trait. That's because this rule is clearly stated in the rulebook:

Some cards may allow you to replace the required skill for a check with a different one. As part of this action, you may play only 1 card or use only 1 power that defines the skill you are going to use. When you play a card that does this, add that card's traits to the check.

So Force Missile still adds the Force trait to your combat check (along with the Magic, Arcane, Attack, and Basic traits)—it just doesn't spell it out in a way that suggests it's somehow different from those other traits.

Now let's compare two scary ladies: the Hook Mountain Hag from "The Hook Mountain Massacre" and the Sea Hag from the Skull & Shackles Base Set.

In Runelords, things that happened "before the encounter" really happened during the encounter, after you had a chance to evade the card. In Skull & Shackles, there’s a new step called "acting," which includes everything that happens after you choose not to evade a card up until the encounter is resolved. Things can happen before you act, while you act, and after you act. Here’s the rulebook text on the "before you act" step.

Apply Any Effects That Happen Before You Act. If any powers on the card you're encountering happen before you act, they take effect at this time. You may also use powers or cards that state they can be used before you act.

Another change here is replacing the phrase "spells with the Attack trait" with "spells that have the Attack trait." The meaning of "with" was not clear enough: did it mean you couldn't play a spell that itself had the Attack trait, or did it mean you couldn't play a spell in conjunction with any card that gave the Attack trait to the check? The new wording makes it clear that the intent is the former.

A side note on henchman cards: The rule about henchmen automatically allowing you to close a location after you defeat one is gone from the rulebook. If a henchman allows you to close the location when it's defeated, it says so in its power; if not, it doesn't. (I expect you won't like the ones that don't. They're called Curses, and we'll leave them for another day.)

Here are two boons: the ally Jakardros Sovark from "The Hook Mountain Massacre" and the item Ring of the Beasts from "The Wormwood Mutiny".

In Runelords, you'd occasionally see a card that helped a combat check "against" a monster. That term "against" was never defined, but it benefited from some definition, because it could also apply to checks of other sorts. Now, the new phrase "check against a card" applies to any check the card mandates. The rule is:

If a card refers to a check against another card, that refers to any check required by that card, whether it's a check to defeat, a check to acquire, a check to recharge, or any other check.

Here's the Collapsed Ceiling, a card I kinda wish we didn't put in Runelords, because it needed rules support that the game did not provide. That's been solved, so you'll see a lot of cards like Goose in the Rigging from "The Wormwood Mutiny".

It was frustrating not to be able to answer all the questions associated with Collapsed Ceiling. For example, it wasn't clear what happened when you had two faceup cards on the deck or when something suggested you shuffle one of them into the deck. The Skull & Shackles rules now tell you how to handle cards like this.

Faceup Cards: Sometimes a card is left faceup on the top of the location deck (for example, most barriers with the Task trait work this way). The card is still in the deck, but it can only be shuffled into the deck when the condition that caused it to be left faceup on the deck has been resolved. If such a card tells you that you must encounter it on your first exploration on a turn, then after that exploration, ignore it for the purpose of additional explorations that turn; however, it still counts as the top card of the deck for any other purpose. If multiple cards are left faceup on the same deck, you may place them in any order and encounter them in that order.

Finally, let's look at one of the most bizarre cards in Runelords: the Runeforged Weapons loot card from "Sins of the Saviors".

You see that word SPECIAL? You see it twice on the card? Protip: That's a sign that a game designer hasn't made up his mind what he's doing. This card quite honestly had no idea what it was. That's because we designed it before we had the rules tech to make it work. But now we do. If Skull & Shackles had existed before Runelords, Runeforged Weapons would certainly have been a support card. Support cards are a new type of card that's neither bane nor boon. We talked about them in our last Skull & Shackles preview; basically, their job is to sit on the table and affect the game. This is what Runeforged Weapons might look like if it was issued today.

We've also made a number of less obvious changes to the rulebook—reorganizing things and rewriting things—that make it clearer and easier to use than the Rise of the Runelords rulebook. We recommend that you use it as your main rules reference even if you're still playing Rise of the Runelords—just ignore all that stuff about ships.

Download the Skull & Shackles Rulebook PDF here!(6.2 MB zip/PDF)

Mike Selinker
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Designer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Adventure Card Guild Class Decks Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Skull & Shackles
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Scarab Sages

So, wait....loot is a card type now? That is confusing...

It used to be that Loot cards would be any of the various types, including special. So now we have a Support card that is of type Loot. How does that work?

So, no more Loot cards?


please tell me I'm not going crazy - that RotR longbow has the new text in the box ... right? both longbows are the same

Shadow Lodge

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

OK, I'm not all the way through yet, but I wanted to point out that the version of the RotR Longbow card that you put up does *not* have the verbage "roll your Dexterity or Ranged die" on it. It also has a 2014 Copyright date on the picture of the card, so I'm thinking you attached a newer version than you intended to.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Casey Weston wrote:

So, wait....loot is a card type now? That is confusing...

It used to be that Loot cards would be any of the various types, including special. So now we have a Support card that is of type Loot. How does that work?

So, no more Loot cards?

Loot was always a card type. Like Villain cards which had two types, Loot had two types.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Loot has always been a type, and will continue to be a type. There are *plenty* of loot cards in S&S.

The point is that Runeforged Weapons *said* it was loot, but it doesn't really act like loot—it doesn't go into anybody's deck (and doesn't count against anybody's deck size). Everybody understood that, but it wasn't because of anything we actually told you, it was because everybody sort of intuitively got the concept.

Support cards are a new thing for S&S (and will also big a very big deal for Wrath). And now that we have them, we have realized that Runeforged Weapons was really the first support card.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

The_Napier wrote:
please tell me I'm not going crazy - that RotR longbow has the new text in the box ... right? both longbows are the same

Arg. It got overwritten with the S&S text. Will fix.


Loot was always still a separate card type, it just took the place of whatever type of card it mimicked in your deck (i.e. item, weapon, etc).


Curses!

Oooh... a rulebook. Shiny...


Makes sense. Hindsight is 20/20.

I honestly didn't have much trouble with the recharge box. I just understood that sometimes there was very difficult to make a few of the checks, so I'd compensate with regular recovery cards.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Vic Wertz wrote:
The_Napier wrote:
please tell me I'm not going crazy - that RotR longbow has the new text in the box ... right? both longbows are the same
Arg. It got overwritten with the S&S text. Will fix.

The card image has been... er... uncorrected.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Vic Wertz wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
The_Napier wrote:
please tell me I'm not going crazy - that RotR longbow has the new text in the box ... right? both longbows are the same
Arg. It got overwritten with the S&S text. Will fix.
The card image has been... er... uncorrected.

I think it got updated in the blog, but not on the link. If you click the image it still says skill.


is it correct that the box layout in the rulebook has two slots for 'CHARACTERS, ROLES, AND TOKENS' and none for ships?

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Uh-oh—that's an old box diagram.
Will fix.


can you tell proofreading is part of my job? ;)

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Hawkmoon269 wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
The_Napier wrote:
please tell me I'm not going crazy - that RotR longbow has the new text in the box ... right? both longbows are the same
Arg. It got overwritten with the S&S text. Will fix.
The card image has been... er... uncorrected.
I think it got updated in the blog, but not on the link. If you click the image it still says skill.

I think your browser is caching the old version.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Vic Wertz wrote:
Hawkmoon269 wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
The_Napier wrote:
please tell me I'm not going crazy - that RotR longbow has the new text in the box ... right? both longbows are the same
Arg. It got overwritten with the S&S text. Will fix.
The card image has been... er... uncorrected.
I think it got updated in the blog, but not on the link. If you click the image it still says skill.
I think your browser is caching the old version.

Yup. Curse my browser for that.


Man's Promise, wrecked side wrote:
When commanding this ship: Other characters may not move with this ship
the rulebook, p18 wrote:
If you move while commanding a wrecked ship, other characters cannot choose to move with you

Doesn't the latter make the former tautologous? Or am I missing something?


So regarding the "before you act" wording: If Merisiel was to face the Sea Hag and evade it, would she still have to roll the Divine/Arcane 8 check to see if she could play spells with attack trait?

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

The_Napier wrote:
Man's Promise, wrecked side wrote:
When commanding this ship: Other characters may not move with this ship
the rulebook, p18 wrote:
If you move while commanding a wrecked ship, other characters cannot choose to move with you
Doesn't the latter make the former tautologous? Or am I missing something?

It's not strictly necessary, but if it didn't say that, it wouldn't say anything.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Ilpalazo wrote:

So regarding the "before you act" wording: If Merisiel was to face the Sea Hag and evade it, would she still have to roll the Divine/Arcane 8 check to see if she could play spells with attack trait?

Nope. Here is the complete new sequence:

S&S Rulebook p32 wrote:

Encountering a Card

Apply any effects that happen when you encounter a card.
Apply any evasion effects.
Apply any effects that happen before you act.
Attempt the check.
Attempt the next check, if needed.
Apply any effects that happen after you act.
Resolve the encounter.

So evasion happens prior to "before you act" and ends the encounter.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Vic Wertz wrote:

Uh-oh—that's an old box diagram.

Will fix.

We've fixed it. Re-download the rulebook and trash the old one.


Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Wow. Poor Sam. His roll in the example of play on page 26 is probably one of the worst rolls ever...


I adore the 'summon and build a location' mechanic. that's going to be great fun


Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I'm guessing that Force Missile has a discard power, and knowing that Seltyiel probably has the Arcane skill as he uses it in the play example. Why must he succed recharge of the spell or banish it? Granted, it may probably be explained when we get to see the characters skills and powers and such. I'm thinking it has something to do with his power to use both the spell and the weapon...

Scarab Sages

I am totally going to play Oloch, though it will be different playing without any allies at all. I go from the Druid who revolved around allies to Oloch who has none.

The Alchemist will be an interesting option for the item-based character. Should be interesting to see the differences between him and the Rogue.

Scarab Sages

I also see that the Bard now has 2 weapons instead of 1 and the Druid begins with 1 weapon and 1 armor instead of none. Good upgrades I think.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I was so sure I was going to play Jirelle and Lirianne and one more for my first group. Now both Alahazra and Seltyiel seems quite interesting. And Oloch. And Damiel has bombs...

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Kalvit wrote:
In the section of the rulebook talking about ships, they are listed under Support Cards. I think this is the part of the box space meant for each new base set's specific support cards.

Yep. In Wrath of the Righteous, that's where the [redacted] and [redacted] will go.


The_Napier wrote:
I adore the 'summon and build a location' mechanic. that's going to be great fun

You guys are sneaky... you distract use with guns, sharks, ships and then throw this curveball at us without even hinting about it. Well played sirs.

Dark Archive

Read through the new rulebook and looking forward to playing the game soon.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Card Game, Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Casey Weston wrote:
I also see that the Bard now has 2 weapons instead of 1 and the Druid begins with 1 weapon and 1 armor instead of none. Good upgrades I think.

They did say we wouldn't be seeing the same characters we saw in RotR! :-)

Dark Archive

now we need the pdfs for the characters


Is anyone else slightly disappointed that the first two cards we see spoiled for the class decks are a Force Missile and a Longbow? (I know this article isn't primarily a class-decks spoiler, but it would have been nice to see something a bit different/exciting slipped in there)


MightyJim wrote:
Is anyone else slightly disappointed that the first two cards we see spoiled for the class decks are a Force Missile and a Longbow? (I know this article isn't primarily a class-decks spoiler, but it would have been nice to see something a bit different/exciting slipped in there)

I thought we might be getting a class deck preview, so I'm not disappointed so much as differently pleased. I love this kind of rules tech article, and comparing editions of the same card was the clearest way to highlight the changes. And we did then get some previews and a new rulebook.

Talking of the previews, Ring of the Beasts made me realise that Goose in the Rigging does not have the Animal trait. I guess an entangled goose just isn't beastly enough.

I'd expected the Henchman "close the location" rule to move the other way - right from the start I thought it was redundant to write it on every card when it was already in the rules, and it would remove any confusion about summoned henchmen. I noticed on GreyElephant's preview video that the wording on the Henchman cards has been tweaked instead: "you may immediately attempt to close the location this henchman came from".


I actually dislike the change to spells it forces me to scan text to find the recharge value. I generally have them memorized rather quickly so not that big of deal.

I however think you turned something that was clearly separated to part of wall of text (after all I don't check the recharge till after I'm done using the card which means I'm reading the card twice now, once when I use it and once when I recharge).

I would have went the other way with a Recharge : Divine 12 or something like that.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Card Game, Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

And this is the way it will be ... some people like changes, some don't.

I can understand why they got rid of the recharge section. It was real estate on the card that now does not need to be segregated (also don't need the physical separator). Which also means that if they have more text than would normally fit, they can reduce the font without significantly reducing readability (because of the added real estate).


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
MightyJim wrote:
Is anyone else slightly disappointed that the first two cards we see spoiled for the class decks are a Force Missile and a Longbow? (I know this article isn't primarily a class-decks spoiler, but it would have been nice to see something a bit different/exciting slipped in there)

Well, the purpose of Longbow and Force Missile was to show you how a card from RotR will look different from now on. So using a card from RotR works better than a new card you haven't seen. But don't worry, I'm hoping we'll be getting something soon about the class decks.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

If you summon and build a location it says you build the location as normal. Does that include adding a hechman to the location deck?

If so what do you do if you already have all the henchmen for that senario in play?


agraham2410 wrote:

If you summon and build a location it says you build the location as normal. Does that include adding a hechman to the location deck?

If so what do you do if you already have all the henchmen for that senario in play?

Most likely if we need them then they will include enough henchmen for us and don't make any scenairo unplayable. I'm just guessing of course ;)

BTW, I'm REALLY happy to see an article about the changes, and any spoiler included is a nice bonus.

Ring of the Beast sounds really usefull, considering that it was mentioned that we will get sharks in every adventure, plus it seems we have a higher number of animal allies than before.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Under Card Sets it says. "If you own any class decks you "may" add them to the box". This got me thinking.

I assume this is not for organised play where I beleve the cards kept seperate at the end of the evening?

Is that only if you are using a class deck character that you can add cards from the class deck?

Is that just the cards you fancy or do you have to all all the relevent cards from the class deck?

Having ordered all seven class decks that a lot of potental cards to have stick in the box so I was guessing there was a limit somewhere.


Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
agraham2410 wrote:

Under Card Sets it says. "If you own any class decks you "may" add them to the box". This got me thinking.

I assume this is not for organised play where I beleve the cards kept seperate at the end of the evening?

Is that only if you are using a class deck character that you can add cards from the class deck?

Is that just the cards you fancy or do you have to all all the relevent cards from the class deck?

Having ordered all seven class decks that a lot of potental cards to have stick in the box so I was guessing there was a limit somewhere.

When adding it out of OP, I think it's a do what you want scenario. But it's probably not optimal to add everything without having at least the class in play.

In OP I think you're right at it being kept seperate until the end of the scenario. I think everything concerning OP will be much clearer when the OP Player Guide is out.


Jorsalheim wrote:
agraham2410 wrote:

Under Card Sets it says. "If you own any class decks you "may" add them to the box". This got me thinking.

I assume this is not for organised play where I beleve the cards kept seperate at the end of the evening?

Is that only if you are using a class deck character that you can add cards from the class deck?

Is that just the cards you fancy or do you have to all all the relevent cards from the class deck?

Having ordered all seven class decks that a lot of potental cards to have stick in the box so I was guessing there was a limit somewhere.

When adding it out of OP, I think it's a do what you want scenario. But it's probably not optimal to add everything without having at least the class in play.

In OP I think you're right at it being kept seperate until the end of the scenario. I think everything concerning OP will be much clearer when the OP Player Guide is out.

If you're just running through an AP, and all you have are strength-based fighters and divine casters, mixing in all the cards for the wizard, the rogue and the ranger probably isn't going to help you much, but I doubt there's anything to actually stop you...


for those who like spoilers :

Both sides of the oracle's character card is spoiled in the S&S rulebook. I guess she is the first divine caster in PACG who is reliant on spells to win fights... and the first character ever who can't have even 1 weapon in her deck.

Her powers seems to be fun ! :)

- The Magic Weapon spell will be used for almost evry party havong both caster and noncaster characters early in the game

- Also, the new Surgeon ally seems like a very good replacement for the old staple Staff of Minor Healing... and you can even explore with her.

Good stuff overall !

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Want so bad. Two weeks from right now this will be in my hands...


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I'm interested in seeing the updates to blessing cards. Very very exciting. Its hard to believe that I'm more excited for S&S than I was for RotR!


Will the link to download the S&S rules be placed on the PACG homepage, where the link for the RotRL rules is?


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Check out spell Magic Weapon on page 24 of the rulebook. Now there is a way to get the Magic trait to some combat checks. Pretty cool. And it is in some suggested deck lists so it must be basic as well.

Looks like a lot of different effects for lots of the cards and not just a simple nameplate change. So excited for the actual arrival.


Hawkmoon269 wrote:
Ilpalazo wrote:

So regarding the "before you act" wording: If Merisiel was to face the Sea Hag and evade it, would she still have to roll the Divine/Arcane 8 check to see if she could play spells with attack trait?

Nope. Here is the complete new sequence:

S&S Rulebook p32 wrote:

Encountering a Card

Apply any effects that happen when you encounter a card.
Apply any evasion effects.
Apply any effects that happen before you act.
Attempt the check.
Attempt the next check, if needed.
Apply any effects that happen after you act.
Resolve the encounter.
So evasion happens prior to "before you act" and ends the encounter.

Thanks Hawkmoon, asked that before I reviewed the rules and it all makes sense. Basically the same as before, but now with much clearer wording. The "when you encounter" happening prior to "before you encounter" effects was always a head scratcher! CANT WAIT FOR S&S

Scarab Sages

Hawkmoon269 wrote:
Check out spell Magic Weapon on page 24 of the rulebook. Now there is a way to get the Magic trait to some combat checks. Pretty cool. And it is in some suggested deck lists so it must be basic as well.

I was under the impression Rise of the Runelords had several ways to give combat checks the Magic trait, apart from Magic weapons.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Casey Weston wrote:
Hawkmoon269 wrote:
Check out spell Magic Weapon on page 24 of the rulebook. Now there is a way to get the Magic trait to some combat checks. Pretty cool. And it is in some suggested deck lists so it must be basic as well.
I was under the impression Rise of the Runelords had several ways to give combat checks the Magic trait, apart from Magic weapons.

Sure. But I believe it was very rare to add the Magic trait to a check using a non-magical weapon; which is what I believe Hawkmoon is referring to. Off the top of my head, Kyra could do it against undead, and I think there may have been a late-deck ally that did that. The Magic Weapon spell is basic, though.

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