The Best 4 Days of PACG

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Paizo and Lone Shark teams just got back from an exhausting exhilarating Gen Con, and much Pathfinder Adventure Card Game was played!

We ran our third ACG Open! Our valiant leader, Mike Selinker, wove a grand tale called "The Vampire Devolutions," focusing on the Pathfinder Tales Character Deck characters Radovan and Varian, and their would-be nemesis, the vampire Prince Kasiya. Thank you to all our teams who made it to the Open! I know our final two teams had fun, since I got a chance to chat with them, and we'll put up some pictures of our finalists in a future blog post. (In previous years, the Opens had complicated designs that made them very difficult to release to the public. This time, the Open is much easier to set up and publish. I'm hoping to do a couple minor tweaks, then see if we can get it played at a lot more venues after the Tales deck comes out next month. Keep an eye out: we don't want to let the vampires win.)

Gen Con also featured our second Adventure Card Guild Interactive Special, 9-00: Assault on Absalom, kicking off the storyline for Season of Factions' Favor. This year's special inextricably wove the Adventure Card Guild and Roleplaying Guild together, with each guild tackling many of the same encounters in their own fashion, with each contributing jointly to the success of the endeavor. I wasn't able to see the Special last year, so I snuck onto a table to see how things went. This was a complex event, and there were some hiccups that we hope to improve on. That said, when there was an announcement of an achievement and we all got to pull extra cards from the box, or another table sent Reinforcements to our table, it felt awesome. It's very different playing PACG as a collaboration between many (many, many) tables! I encourage you to check it if it comes to a convention or game day by you: it's got some great stories and scenarios.

We've taken cooperation to the next level—or at least to the next table.

Season of Factions' Favor also premiered at Gen Con, with our fine Pathfinders chasing after one of the villains from Assault on Absalom. Your travels take you to Katapesh's harbor city of Okeno, where you join up with members of the Liberty's Edge faction to infiltrate a group of slavers. Each adventure in this season highlights a different faction within the Pathfinder Society, so we've introduced a new type of support card that gets shuffled into the blessings deck. Adventure 4-1 is rolling out to Venture Officers and participating retailers now, and will be available for sale in mid-September.

Wait, you mean good things can happen when we discard a blessing!?

After that, we're doing something completely different to support our upcoming Hell's Vengeance Character Deck 1 and Deck 2. The characters in Hell's Vengeance are not the nicest kids on the block. They do somewhat mean things to their comrades, like play with their discard piles, or discard cards from the top of their deck, or maybe they just enjoy standing around drinking in the sweet screams of their pain. You know: usual evil stuff. So we're going to release some special promo scenarios that help explain why the Pathfinder Society might want to work with these characters. On one hand, they're generally evil folks, but on the other hand, you're going after some specific evil folks, and they're really looking to get their vengeance on. Maybe you can stick together for a few adventures, for the greater good. At least till they (predictably) betray you.

Finally, on Sunday, John Compton, Mike Selinker, and I stumbled gamely into the PACG panel to make some announcements and talk to our fans. Unfortunately, Vic Wertz—the guardian and keeper who keeps this line sane, wasn't there to help out. Fortunately for you, he also wasn't there to keep us in line observing secrecy protocols. So what did we let slip?

  • The Pathfinder Tales Character Deck is chock-full of all-new allies, and they have some amazing synergies when you get characters from the same Tales together.
  • The Hell's Vengeance Character Deck 1 and Deck 2 characters love Corrupted boons like those in Wrath, and benefit from a few unfriendly mechanics that synergize well together.
  • The Hunter Class Deck covers the wide spectrum from tree hugging to rampaging through nature and includes some hard-to-pronounce savage weaponry, plus dinosaurs to ride. Dinosaurs! To! Ride!
  • The Occult Adventures Character Deck 1 and Deck 2 use some of our most crazy inventive mechanics yet, including new awesome uses for Fortitude and Perception and wild mechanics for Erasmus and Mavaro.
  • Ultimate Combat, Ultimate Magic, Ultimate Intrigue, and Ultimate Equipment follow those, and are filled to the brim with boons to complement other class decks. The iconic characters in these decks are the samurai Hayato, the arcanist Enora, the vigilante Aric the Red Raven, and the ninja Reiko.

The terbutje. Don't even try to pronounce it. Certainly, don't make Mike try.

That release schedule takes us just about to Gen Con 2018. Now, Mike was very clear that these next two products are going to take us a while, and they may or may not be ready for that show, and may not even appear in 2018 at all. There's still a lot undecided about them. But this is what we're playing with now.

  • We are looking at a new core set that serves as a starter set for every adventure path going forward, providing a baseline of banes, boons, and locations that every set (and every PFSACG season) needs. We'll be looking to optimize your experience with this set, but in no way, shape, or form will it invalidate any existing product.
  • The first Adventure Path we're working on for that new core set is Curse of the Crimson Throne. The Crimson Throne RPG Adventure Path is dear to me, as I've run it three times, including a game I ran for PACG designers Chad Brown and Tanis O'Connor, and I've been itching to work on a PACG version of it for ages. It's full of Harrowing deeds and dire investigations all set in your (morally grey) home base of Korvosa, and we'll talk a lot more about it... down the road.

They may claim to be the good guys, but Fantasy Rules of Fashion beg to differ.

It was great getting a chance to meet and play with some of you at Gen Con, and I'd like to again thank our volunteers and Venture Officers for all the work they do to make PACG events happen. Thanks for reading, and if you're in Seattle next week, look for our team members at PAX!

Keith Richmond
Adventure Card Game Designer

P.S. Season of Factions' Favor doesn't lend itself to an immediately obvious shortening the way Plundered Tombs turned into PluTo, so I've seen all kinds of options. In the comments below, please tell us your favorite. I've heard so far: SoFF, SoFa, SoFac, FaFa, and Susan.

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Just to add a different wrinkle to the discussion, I notice a lot of the story demand comes from the card game being based on existing Adventure Paths. PACG's a mature product at this point. How much value is gained from using the existing product names? Is a large core of customers devoted to nostalgia (this thread says otherwise)? Would the story demands from customers be less if it was something new? Suddenly an amount of text similar to the Adventure Guild scenarios becomes a benefit to PACG instead of a sore point because it's "not enough."

I understand the appeal of using the existing products. There's an established story line to work with and there are existing art assets to leverage. If product re-use is the biggest driver, there's nothing saying the card game couldn't be based on in-development story lines(where there's already a product outline) and the Adventure Path provides the full details later. Perhaps the card game might even serve as a prequel (Rogue One vs. Episode IV) or an alternate take on events in the Adventure Path (let's take a break from Cmdr Shepard to see what's going on in the Andromeda galaxy).

Just a thought, people bring up MORE STORY in the PACG debate and there are business reasons for not writing a 40-60 page short story for each release, so maybe there's a way to do LESS STORY; but keep customers happy.


An actual example of what I'm talking about came out in 1989 - Forgotten Realms novel Azure Bonds and it's follow-up module and CRPG:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azure_Bonds

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Card Game, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I think the prime reason that AP have been the base so far is that an AP has a large amount of art already produced, meaning that it's cheaper (/actually possible) to produce the card game set at a reasonable price


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Using extant PFRGP APs also saves design resources (time, manpower, intellectual design) because the game designers don't have to create an AP; there's plenty of artwork for just about anything/everything for which a card might be developed.

Creating an AP for PACG from scratch would require considerably more resources. That's not to say that it can't be done, but the dedicated hobbyists are already lamenting the time in between APs - imagine that time extended even further.

Paizo Employee Contributor

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I'd like to weigh in on the "less story" side. I think the story amount on the cards is plenty. The Organized Play one-page sheets are too much text for most people I play with (a regular player once sighed when I was mid-page, "Did we come here to play a game, or get read to?"),and we almost never read the "after the scenario" bit at the end. I was actually pretty dismayed by Mike's teaser upthread that longer one-page stories might become the norm, because we'd see that as a step in the wrong direction.

Even in convention play, it's pretty uncommon for anyone to read the large opening text, and virtually never does anyone read the "after the scenario" bit afterwards.

For the variant APs I produce, I shoot for a half-page middle-ground in the storytelling, but my attitude about writing is different than my attitude about how much I want to read (or have read to me) before playing a game.

I've never used any of Autoduelist's expanded story background documents (although I'm very impressed with the amount of effort that goes into those), and I think just about everyone in my regular groups would knife me for suggesting that we make that level of story text a regular pre-game read.

All of the above is my experience only, of course--but I wanted to note that not all players are in the "More Story" crowd.


Our Guild play group always reads the story bits, FWIW.

I own and had already read all of the RPG APs featured so far, but if I hadn't I'd appreciate more story than what's on the cards.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

When I originally started thinking of this, I personally envisioned something about half the length of the gold scenarios. I like the guild story, but it can sometimes feel a bit long.

Even if you don't personally want more story, you'll still have the option to simply skip it.

Lone Shark Games

Great feedback!


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Ron Lundeen wrote:

I'd like to weigh in on the "less story" side. I think the story amount on the cards is plenty. The Organized Play one-page sheets are too much text for most people I play with (a regular player once sighed when I was mid-page, "Did we come here to play a game, or get read to?"),and we almost never read the "after the scenario" bit at the end. I was actually pretty dismayed by Mike's teaser upthread that longer one-page stories might become the norm, because we'd see that as a step in the wrong direction.

Even in convention play, it's pretty uncommon for anyone to read the large opening text, and virtually never does anyone read the "after the scenario" bit afterwards.

For the variant APs I produce, I shoot for a half-page middle-ground in the storytelling, but my attitude about writing is different than my attitude about how much I want to read (or have read to me) before playing a game.

I've never used any of Autoduelist's expanded story background documents (although I'm very impressed with the amount of effort that goes into those), and I think just about everyone in my regular groups would knife me for suggesting that we make that level of story text a regular pre-game read.

All of the above is my experience only, of course--but I wanted to note that not all players are in the "More Story" crowd.

I play PACG with two groups, and the "story" experience with both groups is similar to what Ron Lundeen described. I am the only one who enjoys reading through them. I just end up giving them a tldr version.


I already brought up the artwork issue, but let me rephrase it. There's going to be additional artwork made for the card game regardless of what happens in the RPG Adventure Path. It happened for Rise of the Runelords which already had an expanded hardcover edition:

http://paizo.com/paizo/blog/v5748dyo5ler0?Return-to-the-Runelords

So does it really matter if the card game artwork is made first and then reused in the Adventure Path vs the current model of leveraging the Adventure Path artwork for the card game?

I think the bigger issue is the licensing fees or payments to Lone Shark to make the game. A brand new story would require a bigger payment to Loneshark (it's more work) or a reduced licensing fee (the Pathfinder name has less value to Loneshark), which might not make good business sense for the card game.

As far as story goes, I've had the exact opposite experience with PACG. It won't hit the table at all without some kind of story, because then the complaint goes along the line of "Why not play Dominion or Magic:The Gathering/Epic" etc.

There seems to be two camps of customers - those who want more story and those that don't, and the reasonable business compromise (time, money) is a small amount of story that could be skipped/ignored by customers who don't want it.

Some of the demand for more story is a side-effect for customer expectations. By naming it after a released product, if the story is lacking people feel like they missed out on something. Anybody remember the old Ralph Bakshi Lord of the Rings film from 1978? I remember the complaints that the story wasn't complete because the film ended with the Battle of Helm's Deep and Ring wasn't destroyed at the end. It's not an unreasonable demand from film goers because it was called "Lord of the Rings" and not "Fellowship of the Ring and the Two Towers."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lord_of_the_Rings_(1978_film)

One way to change expectations - assuming that it's a problem worth addressing - would be to do something new and get rid of the baggage of expectations for story length and detail.

Scarab Sages

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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Put me firmly in the TL;DR camp for the story parts. Just bring on the boons - quickly, and in large quantities.


NyteJKL wrote:
I play PACG with two groups, and the "story" experience with both groups is similar to what Ron Lundeen described. I am the only one who enjoys reading through them. I just end up giving them a tldr version.

Unfortunately, it's the same for me. While I enjoy reading up on all the material, it's hard to just read it to my groups. Since english is our second language, it's kind of awkward to just read the text, and spontaneous translation while reading is kind of awkward and difficult as well.

I really like reading through autoduelists guides, but it's too much preptime for me to properly translate them beforehand. Besides, my players forget most of the details anyway inbetween our weekly sessions, so it's really just not worth the effort.

Personally, I think the seasons have striked a good balanced between giving enough exposition to give context and giving a satisfying summary for the development after each scenario. However, what I am still missing is a proper epilogue to both seasons and APs; a single development sentence at the end of the last scenario feels really anticlimactic after running a campaign for 6 months (and in case of the APs, there is nothing at all).


Thanks Doppelschwert! I was very impressed when members of the community translated the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Guides into German and Japanese and posted them online for others to read. There's also been some work done for Skull & Shackles.

I've been playing through the Season of the Runelords and I think the amount of text is reasonable. I understand why reading extra text doesn't work for PACG in large settings like gaming conventions - there's a lot of noise, limited time, and a player base that's constantly changing. It also happens to be the setting that most game designers and publishers interact with their customers face-to-face, so those experiences are going to salient during product development.

Shadow Lodge

I started playing PFSACG with a guy that was coming from MtG. He didn't care about the story and we played a couple of seasons without reading the story. I started reading it when we finished up Season of shackles after a two year break and he told me he actually liked the story and missed it when we didn't read it.

The story makes the game make sense. It gives the reasons why we're at these locations looking for the villain or whatever. I'm a fan. :)


When we played first Runelords box set, we actually were missing more in-depth knowledge what we were doing and why. We tried to recreate the story without knowing original RPG scenarios. I remember that after defeating Skinsaw Man we thought he skinned poor Aldern and used that skin as disguise :-P . But in our defense we are not native English speakers and reading big blocks of text and translating it on the fly for players who do not know English well is quite tiresome. I think it's good how it is now. Short text on the back of the card is enough for the ones who just want to play, and printable guide for the ones who want to know the story. Eventually let Paizo themselves make such official guide and put it as free downloadable resource like character sheets.

But I got another proposition for game creators: Is it possible to make Card Guild scenarios with all the needed cards as one box? We don't have any guild plays in Poland, and I play with the same group of people so there is no need for such gaming convention style of play for us. I know we can buy scenarios and print proxies, or order cards from 3rd party, but I'm a bit lazy :-P and I want a nice box on the shelf.

And the last thing, in fact question: There will be some new iconics in Ultimate [noun] Decks. But how many? Only one per deck? Are there will be new versions of not-officially-iconics but somewhat-iconic PACG characters like Amhotep or Zarlova?

Lone Shark Games

SimonB wrote:
And the last thing, in fact question: There will be some new iconics in Ultimate [noun] Decks. But how many? Only one per deck? Are there will be new versions of not-officially-iconics but somewhat-iconic PACG characters like Amhotep or Zarlova?

Well, to quote the blog poster:

I wrote:
Ultimate Combat, Ultimate Magic, Ultimate Intrigue, and Ultimate Equipment follow those, and are filled to the brim with boons to complement other class decks. The iconic characters in these decks are the samurai Hayato, the arcanist Enora, the vigilante Aric the Red Raven, and the ninja Reiko.

Each of those are the actual really real iconics for their listed classes.


I know ninja and samurai are real iconics :-P . I was asking if there will be only one such character per Ultimate Deck. I just wish to see another versions of non-iconic PACG characters.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
SimonB wrote:
But I got another proposition for game creators: Is it possible to make Card Guild scenarios with all the needed cards as one box? We don't have any guild plays in Poland, and I play with the same group of people so there is no need for such gaming convention style of play for us. I know we can buy scenarios and print proxies, or order cards from 3rd party, but I'm a bit lazy :-P and I want a nice box on the shelf.

Several people, myself included, have asked for this, but Vic has stated there's no economic incentive for creating such decks. Sorry.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
SimonB wrote:
I know ninja and samurai are real iconics :-P . I was asking if there will be only one such character per Ultimate Deck. I just wish to see another versions of non-iconic PACG characters.

All the "Ultimate" decks will contain just one single character. That was mentioned in a previous blog post.

Earlier Paizo blog wrote:
Starting in March 2018, we will release four special character decks: the Ultimate Combat Add-On Deck, the Ultimate Magic Add-On Deck, the Ultimate Intrigue Add-On Deck, and the Ultimate Equipment Add-On Deck. We want to pack these things as full of great cards as we can manage, so each will come with just one character specifically tied to the cards therein.

Grand Lodge

Color me in the group that is okay with either more or less story as long as the materials are released at least two weeks prior to Gen Con so GMs and organizers have time to prepare for the events :-)


Hawkmoon269 wrote:


All the "Ultimate" decks will contain just one single character. That was mentioned in a previous blog post.

I somewhat missed that. I got confused by images of Tarlin in Zarlova in the post and thought there will be new versions of them. Too bad.

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