Year of the Serpent

Monday, June 1, 2015

Season 6 of the Pathfinder Society Organized Play campaign is coming to a close, and the Society has finally pieced together the Numerian relic that gave this season its name: the Year of the Sky Key. During the second of this year's interactive Specials, The Sky Key Solution, we're going to fire up the device and see what happens!

Then again, the Sky Key helped us look back across the ages once before, and I want to look ahead to the future—namely Season 7. As I announced at the PaizoCon 2015 Preview Banquet and the Pathfinder Society Q&A panel about a week ago, Season 7 is going to be the Year of the Serpent! Too long has the Aspis Consortium been the source of ridicule and easily defeated low-level rogues, and I began to ask what would happen if the Aspis Consortium made a serious, concerted effort to tear down the Pathfinder Society. Where are those elite operatives we've always heard about, and what can they accomplish when bankrolled by one of the wealthiest operations in the Inner Sea? If you had a chance to play Pathfinder Society Special #6-97: Siege of Serpents and Pathfinder Society Special #6-98: Serpents Rise, you've had a good look at the Consortium's first major operation. However, there's a whole lot more in the works for this season with plenty of opportunities to foil Aspis plans (and occasionally even be foiled by Aspis plans). I'll let our new, serpentine overlords introduce the season's logo: a serpent consuming the Pathfinder Society's Glyph of the Open Road.

Of course, every great season becomes even better when we pick up a few loose threads in addition to spinning new stories, and I have already begun outlining some stories that pick up where we left off in far-flung locations from the Mwangi Expanse to Mendev—plus at least one more in the earthquake-shattered Precipice Quarter in Absalom.

And for those of you who were guessing whether the Year of the Serpent would involve the Aspis Consortium or the serpentfolk, why can't it be both?

John Compton
Developer

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Tags: Pathfinder Society Year of the Serpent
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5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

The mystic theurge grandfathering was a mite harder: anywhere from 13 to 16 xp.

DMing also doesn't count, you need to PLAY it.

Sovereign Court

BigNorseWolf wrote:

The mystic theurge grandfathering was a mite harder: anywhere from 13 to 16 xp.

DMing also doesn't count, you need to PLAY it.

Ah, right forgot about that one.

Grand Lodge 5/5

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Again, the 4xp wasn't the issue, it was the play xp that hurt GMs. I don't dispute the leaderships' choice to not announce the change, the GM getting put out in the cold by the play requirement however I feel was a little unfair for those of us who GM much more than play.

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Quintin Verassi wrote:
Again, the 4xp wasn't the issue, it was the play xp that hurt GMs. I don't dispute the leaderships' choice to not announce the change, the GM getting put out in the cold by the play requirement however I feel was a little unfair for those of us who GM much more than play.

Exactly.

It was that they shortened the notice *and* increased the required xp *and* added a play requirement.

My request to leadership for the future would be to only do two out of those three.

Scarab Sages 5/5 Venture-Captain, Texas—Austin aka SetonAlandel

GM Lamplighter wrote:

John's blog post said, "now, technically people could just go out and run a bunch of aasmimars through Master of the Fallen Fortress to stock up, but I hope we don't see that kind of behaviour," (paraphrased, with Canadian spelling added on purpose).

Since I think John has a pretty good sense of the campaign and I respect his opinion, I took that as a directive. So did almost everyone who doesn't push the line as far as they can.
...

Here's that blog post, in case anyone wants to review it: http://paizo.com/paizo/blog/v5748dyo5lgau?New-Options

Liberty's Edge 5/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Starfinder Superscriber

The nature of the Summoner change was different from the nature of the Aasimar change, even if we forget the fact that the campaign leadership has soured on grandfathering after there was such visible thumb-your-nose abuse of it during the Aasimar changeover.

The aasimar/tiefling changeover was a change of the allowed races. Aasimars and tieflings are still out there, they're just no longer default allowed races for PFS. It was a change in the options available.

The summoner change was different. That was a deprecation of a broken set of rules. The APG summoner is broken; this is why, in comparison to the other class changes in Unchained, it was as much a nerf as a clarification or a "different look". The PFS leadership knew this. Once another official version was available, they wanted to get rid of the APG summoner, and move over to the Unchained summoner as what is allowed.

Part of me thinks they should have just required a rebuild of all summoners. However, the rules may be different enough that it would be a huge mess for them-- there would be a lot of questions about what specific parts of rebuilds are allowed. (They're getting that with Unchained anyway.) They decided that they would allow grandfathering not because it was a grade period for the change, but as an olive branch to players who have characters that aren't entitled to a full-level-1 rebuild, that would be painful to rebuild, and whose concepts might have to change radically.

The difference is important. With the Tiefling/Aasimar change, it was a retiring of an option for new starting characters, but it wasn't a change in the base rules. With the summoner change, it was a deprecation of broken rules, with some exceptions for those for whom that deprecation would require a full character rebuild.

The 4xp played for the summoner was not "have you committed enough to deserve a grandfathering for a retiring option", which was more the case with the Aasimar/Tiefling (where it was only 1xp). It was "have you gone far enough in that we would have to make special rules for your rebuild as we change the rules to get rid of brokenness". If you haven't played the 4th xp yet, then you're entitled to a rebuild anyway, so just use it, and play with the legal (and non-broken) summoner going forward.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Kenneth Fisher wrote:
GM Lamplighter wrote:

John's blog post said, "now, technically people could just go out and run a bunch of aasmimars through Master of the Fallen Fortress to stock up, but I hope we don't see that kind of behaviour," (paraphrased, with Canadian spelling added on purpose).

Since I think John has a pretty good sense of the campaign and I respect his opinion, I took that as a directive. So did almost everyone who doesn't push the line as far as they can.
...

Here's that blog post, in case anyone wants to review it: LINK

Fixed it for you.

Scarab Sages 5/5 Venture-Captain, Texas—Austin aka SetonAlandel

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Fyre FTW!

Shadow Lodge 1/5 ⦵⦵

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

The problem still remains that it slaps the people who primarily GM in the face. It seems to state, 'you don't do enough to keep your Character concept, but those you run for, who might never GM, have.' It potentially leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the GMs. Alienating the VOLUNTEER pool is detrimental for the survival of PFS.

As a few others have pointed out, it isn't the change, or the short notice, or the increased XP requirement that is being seen as excessively punitive to the backbone of PFS. We can get behind and support the change and the short notice and the increased XP threshold.

The issue is the play requirement... there are areas where the diehard GM 'needing' to play that 4th(or higher) XP would keep any play from happening.

Now, the GM can demand someone else run so they can 'secure' the PC, or lose the PC and keep the game playing.

If the GM is 'selfish' it can demands someone else run, it engenders bad blood, not good.

If the GM is 'selfless' and runs anyway, it can foster resentment, again, not good.

-

As to the Tiefling/Aasimar change, some GMs were asked/begged to run 'marathon' sessions by their players.

Part of the issue was the fact that they were listed as 'Always Available' thus leading some players to not push playing character concepts that they were still working on or tinkering with.

Sczarni 5/5 ⦵⦵

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Speaking as one of those GMs who was affected (6th level Dhampir GM blob), let's not drag old business into this new thread. It happened, we were impacted, let's move on.

Silver Crusade 5/5

Nefreet wrote:
Speaking as one of those GMs who was affected (6th level Dhampir GM blob), let's not drag old business into this new thread. It happened, we were impacted, let's move on.

Agreed. How 'bout that Season 7? I hear those Aspis are back with a vengeance!

Grand Lodge 5/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Sorry Nefreet, I don't really want to derail this thread. I will just say I posted here on that to try and influence similar discisions in the futer in what I believe to be a more posite manner, not to run down or try to appeal a decision already made.

I would like to see some of the current races cycle out, in favor of cycling in different ones. If they did that every 2-3 years it could be cool.

I am excited to see where we go with season 7.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Nefreet wrote:
Speaking as one of those GMs who was affected (6th level Dhampir GM blob), let's not drag old business into this new thread. It happened, we were impacted, let's move on.

I'd rather try to keep it from happening again.

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I rather like the idea of the current race set remaining in play for this year - I still have a few ideas I wanna make - and then rotating out next year, to freshen things up again. I think two years is a decent window size for these things.

It also leaves open the possibility of using the odd races with Occult Adventures classes, which could be nice.

Shadow Lodge

I'm biased as I really don't care for any of them, but I'd like to see new option asap. I think it could be somewhat thematic to keep Nagaji, but from what I recall off the top of my head, the official reasons for getting rid of the Aasimar and Tiefling where:

1.) to stop the star wars "cantina" affect
2.) with the story going away from the Worldwound, they where no longer as thematic
3.) past season scenarios had "unlocked" new races that might have had members join the Society.

Obviously, none of these follow any logic, Aasimar/Tieflings are mostly human-like, but instead lets have one race with feathers, one with fur, one with scales, and one with hide that are not human-like at all (minus shapechanging in one case). Aasimar are pretty common in Varisia, particularly Magnimar, while Tieflings are pretty common in Cheliax, two places that the PFS goes to often, and they didn't become legal options when the focus turned to the Worldwound.

Orcs and Kobolds could really fit the thematic unlocking. As could Grippli, honestly. Or Ratfolk. Heck, for Rat vs Snake alone might be worth it. Gillmen have also been popular requests.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

DM Beckett wrote:

I'm biased as I really don't care for any of them, but I'd like to see new option asap. I think it could be somewhat thematic to keep Nagaji, but from what I recall off the top of my head, the official reasons for getting rid of the Aasimar and Tiefling where:

The missing piece of your equation there is the power level. Even with fur feathers and scales (and.. thing) to pick from all four races combined don't hit the prevalence of aasimar and tiefling because they're not as overwhelmingly good for nearly every character concept. Without the sirens call of MORE POWER! and the pick your combo platter of stat bonuses, Fewer people take those options, they don't get picked as often, and the normal fantasy races and humans don't become the weird one on mos eisley.

Shadow Lodge

I was mostly speaking to the in setting reasoning.

Also, as to the power-level, that's really debatable. The two are front-loaded in power certainly, but they also drop off about 3rd level to being slightly weaker. Add in the fact that, (without a certain ability that as written doesn't actually even work), they can not benefit from things like Enlarge Person and some other really beneficial spells, that power level isn't as good as people often think it is. The energy resistances are nice, but also quickly become less than great. At the end of the day, human is still "best".

Now, that being said, the best solution would have been to simply not allow the variants.

It's a little unfair to assume that the influx had anything to do with power level, though for a few other factors. One they where the first "new race" options to ever become open to everyone (no Boon required) after maybe five years of play. Using those alternate types also required owning other books, something not everyone had. Finally, unlike the other options, even Tengu which became legal at the same time, the Aasimar and Tiefling both are established pretty universally in the setting, while every other new race is pretty restricted from where they come from.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
The missing piece of your equation there is the power level. Even with fur feathers and scales (and.. thing) to pick from all four races combined don't hit the prevalence of aasimar and tiefling because they're not as overwhelmingly good for nearly every character concept. Without the sirens call of MORE POWER! and the pick your combo platter of stat bonuses, Fewer people take those options, they don't get picked as often, and the normal fantasy races and humans don't become the weird one on mos eisley.

Agreed. For certain classes they had much better favored class options. A lot of the time when building a character I ended up with either Aasimar or Tiefling as the top race mechanistically.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

DM Beckett wrote:
I was mostly speaking to the in setting reasoning.

They're connected.

If the one token weirdo teammate option is so good that EVERYONE takes it then you're overturning in practice the humancentric lore that exists in theory.

If 5 token weirdo teammate options together are barely a blip then it doesn't.

Quote:
Also, as to the power-level, that's really debatable.

Not very-particularly with the SLA thing that was in place. And it doesn't really matter. The community by and large believed it and acted on it.

Quote:
It's a little unfair to assume that the influx had anything to do with power level

Its unfair for any particular individual. Not for the tidal wave in aggregate.

Quote:
Finally, unlike the other options, even Tengu which became legal at the same time, the Aasimar and Tiefling both are established pretty universally in the setting, while every other new race is pretty restricted from where they come from.

Absoloms been connected to tien for about a thousand years. Theres been plenty of time for tengus to spread their wings and soar out: in fact there's even a big tengu community mentioned in the shackles.

Silver Crusade 5/5

UndeadMitch wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
Speaking as one of those GMs who was affected (6th level Dhampir GM blob), let's not drag old business into this new thread. It happened, we were impacted, let's move on.
Agreed. How 'bout that Season 7? I hear those Aspis are back with a vengeance!

How crazy! I heard the same thing! Man, that is some classic Aspis right there! I wonder where all we'll go to fight them?

Blog wrote:
And for those of you who were guessing whether the Year of the Serpent would involve the Aspis Consortium or the serpentfolk, why can't it be both?

Oh man, serpentfolk Aspis Agents?

5/5

UndeadMitch wrote:
UndeadMitch wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
Speaking as one of those GMs who was affected (6th level Dhampir GM blob), let's not drag old business into this new thread. It happened, we were impacted, let's move on.
Agreed. How 'bout that Season 7? I hear those Aspis are back with a vengeance!

How crazy! I heard the same thing! Man, that is some classic Aspis right there! I wonder where all we'll go to fight them?

Blog wrote:
And for those of you who were guessing whether the Year of the Serpent would involve the Aspis Consortium or the serpentfolk, why can't it be both?
Oh man, serpentfolk Aspis Agents?

Let's all go to Garund!

An adventure to the first world would be fun.

Lantern Lodge 5/5

I hope this is all a bait and switch.

Year of the Serpent? Halfway through the season, Jormugandr attacks,and the Society and Consortium join forces...


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I wonder if Aspis will all receive free rebuilds to unchained rogues?

Silver Crusade 5/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Mike Lindner wrote:
UndeadMitch wrote:
UndeadMitch wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
Speaking as one of those GMs who was affected (6th level Dhampir GM blob), let's not drag old business into this new thread. It happened, we were impacted, let's move on.
Agreed. How 'bout that Season 7? I hear those Aspis are back with a vengeance!

How crazy! I heard the same thing! Man, that is some classic Aspis right there! I wonder where all we'll go to fight them?

Blog wrote:
And for those of you who were guessing whether the Year of the Serpent would involve the Aspis Consortium or the serpentfolk, why can't it be both?
Oh man, serpentfolk Aspis Agents?

Let's all go to Garund!

An adventure to the first world would be fun.

I wouldn't mind solving some first world problems...

Paizo Employee 5/5 Designer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
UndeadMitch wrote:
Mike Lindner wrote:
UndeadMitch wrote:
UndeadMitch wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
Speaking as one of those GMs who was affected (6th level Dhampir GM blob), let's not drag old business into this new thread. It happened, we were impacted, let's move on.
Agreed. How 'bout that Season 7? I hear those Aspis are back with a vengeance!

How crazy! I heard the same thing! Man, that is some classic Aspis right there! I wonder where all we'll go to fight them?

Blog wrote:
And for those of you who were guessing whether the Year of the Serpent would involve the Aspis Consortium or the serpentfolk, why can't it be both?
Oh man, serpentfolk Aspis Agents?

Let's all go to Garund!

An adventure to the first world would be fun.

I wouldn't mind solving some first world problems...

Just missed it at Paizocon!

Silver Crusade 5/5

NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

Another reason why I need to find a way to make it to Paizocon some day.

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Something just popped into my mind.

A classic problem with NPC antagonists in adventures is how gear-based their power is. If you give NPCs close to the party level enough gear to be a real challenge, afterwards, the party will jump ahead of WBL.

In PFS, due to its treasure model, this problem doesn't have to occur. The Society takes in all NPC gear and then pays off the PCs in the usual amounts - even though this time the actual value of loot was much higher than in some other adventure!

It's quite meta, but if it gives us NPC antagonists that make for exciting opponents, I'm fine with that.

Sczarni 5/5 ⦵⦵

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
DM Beckett wrote:
At the end of the day, human is still "best".

I don't think anybody was debating that, but rather "at the end of the day, Aasimars/Tieflings are better than the rest".

When it was polled, Aasimar/Tiefling characters tied for the second most commonly played race, with Humans still way ahead of all others.

And that was only just after being openly available for one year. It wasn't to avoid the "Star Wars cantina effect" (we still have myriad races available), it was to avoid the "Clone Wars effect".

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