First Look at the Pathfinder Playtest

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Welcome to the next evolution of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game!

Just shy of 10 years ago, on March 18th, 2008, we asked you to take a bold step with us and download the Alpha Playtest PDF for Pathfinder First Edition. Over the past decade, we've learned a lot about the game and the people who play it. We've talked with you on forums, we've gamed with you at conventions, and we've watched you play online and in person at countless venues. We went from updating mechanics to inventing new ones, adding a breadth of options to the game and making the system truly our own. We've made mistakes, and we've had huge triumphs. Now it is time to take all of that knowledge and make the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game even better.

By now, you've probably read all about the upcoming launch of the Playtest version of the game set to release on August 2nd, 2018 (but just in case you haven't, click here). In the weeks and months leading up to that release, we are going give you an in-depth look at this game, previewing all 12 of the classes and examining many of the most fundamental changes to the game. Of course, that is a long time to wait to get a complete picture, so I wanted to take this opportunity to give you insight into the game, how it works, and why we made the changes that we made. We will be covering these in much more detail later, but we thought it might be useful to give a general overview right now.

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

New, but the Same

Our first goal was to make Pathfinder Second Edition feel just like the game you know and love. That means that as a player, you need to be able to make the choices that allow you to build the character you want to play. Similarly, as a Game Master, you need to have the tools and the support to tell the story you want to tell. The rules that make up the game have to fundamentally still fill the same role they did before, even if some of the mechanics behind them are different.

Building a Character

It's worth taking a moment to talk about how characters are built, because we spent a lot of time making this process smoother and more intuitive. You start by selecting your ancestry (which used to be called race), figuring out where you came from and what sorts of basic statistics you have. Next you decide on your background, representing how you were raised and what you did before taking up the life of an adventurer. Finally, you select your class, the profession you have dedicated yourself to as an intrepid explorer. Each one of these choices is very important, modifying your starting ability scores, giving you starting proficiencies and class skills, and opening up entire feat chains tailored to your character.

After making the big choices that define your character, you have a variety of smaller choices to make, including assigning skill proficiencies, picking an ancestry feat, buying gear, and deciding on the options presented by your class. Finally, after deciding on all of your choices, the only thing left to do is figure out all of your bonuses, which are now determined by one unified system of proficiency, based on your character's level.

As you go on grand adventures with your character, you will gain experience and eventually level up. Pathfinder characters have exciting and important choices to make every time they gain a level, from selecting new class feats to adding new spells to their repertoires.

Playing the Game

We've made a number of changes to the way the game is played, to clean up the overall flow of play and to add some interesting choices in every part of the story. First up, we have broken play up into three distinct components. Encounter mode is what happens when you are in a fight, measuring time in seconds, each one of which can mean life or death. Exploration mode is measured in minutes and hours, representing travel and investigation, finding traps, decoding ancient runes, or even mingling at the queen's coronation ball. Of all the modes of play, exploration is the most flexible, allowing for easy storytelling and a quick moving narrative. Finally, the downtime mode happens when your characters are back in town, or relative safety, allowing them to retrain abilities, practice a trade, lead an organization, craft items, or recuperate from wounds. Downtime is measured in days, generally allowing time to flow by in an instant.

Most of the game happens in exploration or encounter mode, with the two types of play flowing easily from one to the other. In fact, exploration mode can have a big impact on how combat begins, determining what you roll for your initiative. In a group of four exploring a dungeon, two characters might have their weapons ready, keeping an eye out for danger. Another might be skulking ahead, keeping to the shadows, while the fourth is looking for magic. If combat begins, the first two begin with their weapons drawn, ready for a fight, and they roll Perception for their initiative. The skulking character rolls Stealth for initiative, giving them a chance to hide before the fight even begins. The final adventurer rolls Perception for initiative, but also gains some insight as to whether or not there is magic in the room.

After initiative is sorted out and it's your turn to act, you get to take three actions on your turn, in any combination. Gone are different types of actions, which can slow down play and add confusion at the table. Instead, most things, like moving, attacking, or drawing a weapon, take just one action, meaning that you can attack more than once in a single turn! Each attack after the first takes a penalty, but you still have a chance to score a hit. In Pathfinder Second Edition, most spells take two actions to cast, but there are some that take only one. Magic missile, for example, can be cast using from one to three actions, giving you an additional missile for each action you spend on casting it!

Between turns, each character also has one reaction they can take to interrupt other actions. The fighter, for example, has the ability to take an attack of opportunity if a foe tries to move past or its defenses are down. Many classes and monsters have different things they can do with their reactions, making each combat a little bit less predictable and a lot more exciting. Cast a fire spell near a red dragon, for example, and you might just find it takes control of your magic, roasting you and your friends instead of the intended target!

Monsters and Treasure

The changes to the game are happening on both sides of the GM screen. Monsters, traps, and magic items have all gotten significant revisions.

First off, monsters are a lot easier to design. We've moved away from strict monster construction formulas based off type and Hit Dice. Instead, we start by deciding on the creature's rough level and role in the game, then select statistics that make it a balanced and appropriate part of the game. Two 7th-level creatures might have different statistics, allowing them to play differently at the table, despite both being appropriate challenges for characters of that level.

This also makes it easier for us to present monsters, giving us more space to include special abilities and actions that really make a monster unique. Take the fearsome tyrannosaurus, for example; if this terrifying dinosaur gets you in its jaws, it can take an action to fling you up to 20 feet through the air, dealing tremendous damage to you in the process!

Hazards are now a more important part of the game, from rangers creating snares to traps that you have to actively fight against if you want to survive. Poisons, curses, and diseases are a far more serious problem to deal with, having varied effects that can cause serious penalties, or even death.

Of all of the systems that Game Masters interact with, magic items are one of the most important, so we spent extra time ensuring that they are interesting and fun. First and foremost, we have taken significant steps to allow characters to carry the items they want, instead of the items that they feel they must have to succeed. Good armor and a powerful weapon are still critical to the game, but you no longer have to carry a host of other smaller trinkets to boost up your saving throws or ability scores. Instead, you find and make the magic items that grant you cool new things to do during play, giving you the edge against all of the monsters intent on making you into their next meal.

We can't wait until you find your first +1 longsword to see what it can do!

What's Next?

There are a lot of things we are excited to show off, so many in fact that we have to pace ourselves. First off, if you want to hear the game in action right now, we've recorded a special podcast with the folks from the Glass Cannon Network, converting the original Pathfinder First Edition Module, Crypt of the Everflame, to the new edition. Head on over to their site and listen to the first part of this adventure now!

Stop by tomorrow for the first blog taking an in-depth look at Pathfinder Second Edition, starting off with the new system for taking actions, then visit us again on Friday for an exploration of the Glass Cannon game, exploring some of its spoilers in detail!

We Need You!

All of us at Paizo want to take a moment to thank you, the fans, players, and game masters that have made this exciting journey a possibility. It's been a wild ride for the past decade, and speaking personally, I could not be more excited for where we are heading. But, as I am sure you've heard a number of times already, we cannot make this game without you, without your feedback and passion for the game. Thank you for coming with us on this adventure, thank you for contributing to our community, and thank you for playing Pathfinder.

Jason Bulmahn
Director of Game Design

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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Ampersandrew wrote:

1549 posts about the first announcement and 600 odd since I last looked at it, what could they still be talking about?

600 odd posts later it turns out the answer is absolutely nothing. I feel stupider for having read the last two pages about how no-one understands the game and we're all playing it wrong.

Roll on August.

I must not read threads with 1500 odd entries.
I must not read threads with 1500 odd entries.
I must not read threads with 1500 odd entries.
I must not read threads with 1500 odd entries.
I must not read threads with 1500 odd entries.
I must not read threads with 1500 odd entries.
I must not read threads with 1500 odd entries.
...

Don't read this either.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
TheAlicornSage wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
TheAlicornSage wrote:
don't think the mechanics are similar. That doesn't change the goal though.

I don’t think there’s much point continuing. I realised you were speaking about goal, not mechanics.

At this stage you are misunderstanding pretty much every post I’ve made and replied with longer and longer replies which repeat the part of your theory I’m not challenging. I’m afraid I can’t think of any other way to say it.

You asked why I thought something was similar between editions, so I described what was similar and how it related to both. That relation being why I think there is a similarity. I'm not sure why that doesn't answer your question.

Because that wasn't my question. I was interested in your view on the pedigree of two wildly different games (I think you're wrong about that and don't have a good reason for continuing to make that claim).

It doesn't matter though, I can't explain myself any better than I have already and that was obviously pretty poorly.


thejeff wrote:
I like the blatant dismissal of other systems as "all are less capable as tools than D20".

I'm not calling them bad systems, but they don't do the things I described as well as d20, and indeed, do not seem like those functions were part of the design goals.

Quote:
...Other systems - even the few listed, cover a huge range in terms of style and crunchiness and whatever else you want to consider.

Crunchiness is not the point. More crunch does not mean that the crunch does what I want it to.

Likewise, style can be altered in a massive number of ways without straying from a small zone of concept. Look at all the boardgames, chess, checkers, chinese checkers, backgammon, they all have the same scope and space of design as games about moving pieces around a board, yet their styles vary wildly.

To use the vehicle metaphore again, Savage Worlds, Champions, and Rifts are cars, designed to be driven around on roads. D20 is a plane designed to fly, despite the popularity of driving it around.

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(Is 5E D20 in this scheme? I dunno.)

Couldn't say, I haven't had much chance to play it, but the little I've seen makes it too swingy and doesn't really bring much of the character's capability to the dice results. I'd love to see just how it handles skill checks to compare.

Quote:


I know I have certainly had roleplaying beyond the mechanical and yet not completely freeform in many non-d20 systems (which I think is what you're talking about? Maybe. It's really hard to tell what you mean.)

When you use the mechanics, why did you them? Was it because the mechanic was the most mechanically efficient choice, or because it best fit what you the character would do from the in-world perspective?

A lot of players look only at the mechanics, make the best mechanical choice, then claim the character would naturally do that since it was the best choice, but the problem with that is that the player is only looking at the mechanics.

Then when they are not in an encounter, they just freeform it, without using the mechanics in an informative or communicative fashion.

It isn't just whether you can roleplay. Freeform players do that all the time. It is the ability to use the rules as tools without the rules being thought of as rules.

Oh, try this. The rules are like blue lines on grid paper. Those lines do not dictate what you can draw, but they can help keep your proportions right and better judge where to draw certain things to make the picture like right.

But players generally use the grid paper to draw only on the lines, making everything look blocky and seriously limiting the scope. Those who don't like the blocky look then disregard the gridpaper entirely seeing it as useless and stick to pure freeform instead under the claim that they don't the restrictiveness of mechanics.

Others like the gridpaper because the lines tell them exactly where to draw and don't mind drawing only blocky things.

A fair number will use gridpaper and blank paper side by side, drawing blocky shapes on the gridpaper for certain things, then use the blank paper for other things. This is the most common type of player claiming to play my style.

Few however, use the grid as a mere reference grid, drawing non-blocky images on the gridpaper. Few can use the grid without being limited to the grid.

It is like the moment you put the grid on the paper, somehow the players lose the ability to anything but the grid. They don't look at the pillars and see them as things to be toppled because there aren't mechanics for toppling pillars, they only see the cover behind the pillars because that is all the mechanics include about the pillars.

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And in 4E for that matter, though it pushed in a direction I wasn't fond of.

4E has very little support for rp. Leaving such rp to be freeform. To continue the gridpaper, 4e was designed to use gridpaper with the expectation that you would only draw on the lines, and then expects you to use a blank paper for nearly everything else.

Quote:
Though systems certainly have influence on the experience, GM and group style usually matter far more.

And a major part of style is how you apply the rules.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks for giving more detail. =]

I haven't played any 4E and don't own the main books, but I do own a few modules from it, so that's what I'll be looking through to compare with your points.

TheAlicornSage wrote:

Okay, so the reason the new edition worries me,

D20 was always about being descriptive and giving tools that you could pluck and manipulate at need to serve any situation, and even had the expectation of the rules being bent in favor of narrative.

4e is a good example of the opposite. 4e has no tools for description of the world. The numbers in 4e do mot relate to anything at all, I.E. the difficulty of a trap depends on your level, not the skill of the trapmaker.

4e is however, a good combat minis game. It became a good combat minis game because it didn't even try to be useful in way other than act as a combat minis game.

With the caveat that I don't have the rules in front of me, or experience at the table, I don't see evidence of this in my 4E modules. For example, my copy of Halls of Undermountain has information on the world above, backstory and NPC's, as well as possible story hooks and advice on how to improvise more of these elements. Pages 14-15 (devoted to GM advice) mention at least 6 different times some variation of "you can and should add, remove or modify anything you want in here, to fit your group's needs/preferences and flesh out the details." Traps early in the book tend to be low-level, while traps later in the book are higher level, just like in a Pathfinder module. Room details and statistics seem to be presented similarly to the Emerald Spire PF1 module. There are suggestions on how certain factions of NPC/monsters might react to non-combat solutions or taking someone captive instead of killing them, as well as history and motives for quite a few of them, which an enterprising GM could easily expand upon. One module may be better or worse than another, but from my surface-level reading of it, I can't see anything about this that would prevent me from GM'ing the way I do PF1. The stat-blocks are formatted differently than what I'm used to but apart from that, it could easily have been released this year from Paizo instead of 6 years ago from Wizards.

It may or may not be true that the players and GMs who gravitated towards 4E were more preoccupied with tactical board-game-style combat than others, but that seems from my view to be their personal preference and not a hard limitation of the system.

Quote:

My concern is that as pf2 heads away from d20 that'll go towards 4e, and lose more and more usefullness in these ways,

-it'll lose connection between numbers and the world milieu,
-it'll be more like legos and less like clay in terms of the scale at which flexibility is found.
-it'll try so hard to always have answer that it becomes harder to cobble together an answer when the system does fail to provide.
-it'll string things together so tightly, that it becomes a nightmare to make adjustments. I.E.,will the classes be so dependant on the class feat trees that it becomes impractical to alter a class to fit an individual's concept (not the greatest example given archetypes, but I figured simple and hopefully clear).

Basically, my concern is that it will become so much a game, that it's utility as a mere tool gets hindered.

Other systems, such as Savage Wirlds, Fate, Champions, Rifts, they all are less capable as tools than d20.

This bolded part, I believe, is the crux of this discussion. It seems most of us here view these RPGs not as singular tools that must be taken or left exactly as they are, but toolboxes or bags full of a variety of tools that can be picked and utilized as needed and as preferred. Many people even mix and match these tools from different systems entirely, collecting all of their favorites into one box or bag and discarding the parts they don't like. When I heard about the Advantage/Disadvantage system used in 5E, I thought that sounded cool and decided to let each of my Carrion Crown players have one non-combat skill of their choice be used with permanent Advantage. I know PF1 already has some abilities that grant the roll-twice-take-the-higher benefit, but the idea of allowing it on a regular basis hadn't occurred to me. They can still roll terribly, but it makes the clue-gathering phases of the campaign go a little more smoothly and doesn't hurt game balance. We also usually ignore the weight of any object that weighs less than 5lbs, with the tacit understanding that nobody tries to get too carried away with collecting junk.

At one point in a different campaign, one of my players had the idea to make their wolf companion try to cover for their poor stealth roll by pretending to chase a cat outside the building. I rolled a d100 and sure enough, there was actually a cat for them to chase. There's no rule in PF1 for that, but nobody needs permission to make the game more fun for the people playing.

The rules may say to use the Climb skill to scale a cliff, but someone can just as easily use a Survival, Knowledge: Geography or Nature check to find an easier path; a Craft or Engineering check to make a ladder; or a ranged attack roll to attach a grappling hook and rope. The rules present open paths with signs, not narrow hallways that must be traversed.

Quote:

D20 is not only the most capable as a mere tool, but it also is highly popular. I can find people to play it, and even when they don't play my way, we can still play together, and when I gm (in person at least) I can give an exoerience beyond the mechanical.

If PF moves away from that, then I can no longer play my way with others who don't play my way. I'll be forced into playing their way or playing by myself.

Edit: I play with d20 for it's utility as a tool and the ability to play others who aren't like me. Removing the utility from the system removes all the reason I even use a system at all.

"Most" is a strong word, much like "best" but I don't think a semantic argument is helpful. I understand the desire to keep the player-base from fragmenting, but I'm hopeful that what you're worried about won't happen. Looking forward to the official Playtest to start so we can see for ourselves. =]


Malk_Content wrote:
TheAlicornSage wrote:

My concern is that as pf2 heads away from d20 that'll go towards 4e, and lose more and more usefullness in these ways,
-it'll lose connection between numbers and the world milieu,
-it'll be more like legos and less like clay in terms of the scale at which flexibility is found.
-it'll try so hard to always have answer that it becomes harder to cobble together an answer when the system does fail to provide.
-it'll string things together so tightly, that it becomes a nightmare to make adjustments. I.E.,will the classes be so dependant on...

There we go some actual meat to your concerns. None of which seem to be particularily enlightened or requiring several pages of metaphors to get to.

It seems they are keeping the connection between numbers and the world. Devs have stated that numbers that represent a tree represent that tree whether you are lvl 1 or lvl 20. That isn't any different from PF1 as far as I can tell, and with the more bounded levels of modifiers you can actually expect these numbers to stay more reasonable.

Not entirely sure what they mean by that, but I suspect what they mean is that the numbers will now be simple pass/fail.

One of the great things about D20 was that it wasn't bounded. But because the lack of being bounded, it required a good understanding of what the numbers actually meant, but the d20 books didn't spell it out for you as explicitly as they could have, thus you had people seeing lvl 20 as the limit and assuming therefore that all the best heroes from stories were level 20 because that was the highest level mentioned, but that was false, and so they would discover problems, such as Conan being able to mechanically perform feats of supernatural ability far beyond what he could in stories.

Even James considers Einstein a high level character, but he isn't, he is a level 5.

The problem here was that Conan was never a level 20.

What the statement from Paizo sounds like to me, is that they plan on making it so level 20 is Conan's level.

Problem with this is that it then eliminates the rest of the scale.

Middle Earth for example had Aragorn as a level 5 character and yet one of the best humans, then Gandalf was higher but not even level 10. Sauron was between 11-15, and the Valar (the entities that went into Arda at the beginning of time and shaped middle earth) were the ones that were nearly level 20.

But you can only do that in a system that can span that vast range of power levels, like d20.

Players though, see level 20 as a limit of sorts and therefore assume that the best heroes are at level 20 because that is the limit, and therefore expect that heroes are only heroic at high levels, when actually, level was a hero and got your name in the history books, and level 5 made you a household name like Einstein.

I suspect they are doing away with that.

Quote:


...

I also don't see class feats as particularily problematic in any regard. If anything a reliance on options over set in stone features makes it simpler for you to make adjustments.

Well, for example, in d20 there is the example of altering the paladin class to better suit a player's concept. In the example, the player did not want the mount. Well, if pf 2 expects the paladin to have a mount, the gm must change everything that relies in whole or in part on the paladin having a mount. If the mount feature is self contained, then it is easy, but if there parts throughout the whole paladin tree built on the expectation of the mount, then it becomes a major job to remove the mount from the paladin.

Then you have to consider the reverse. If the player wanted a favored enemy instead of the mount, it might fit the character, but how easily can it be added. If the feature is self contained, then it should be easy, but the idea of favored enemies is spread out amongst many choices in the ranger tree, then it would be very difficult or even pointless to try to give it to the altered paladin.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

What I mean is that the DC to climb that Oak tree/wall of ice/ the thin slivers of hardlight that permeate the plane of air are in no way based on the level of the person attempting to achieve it. They are what they are. I perfectly understood what the numbers in PF1 meant and bounding the scale doesn't harm that, all it does is make it easier for other people to understand.

Nope lvl 20 is Hercules at the end of his arc. Not Conan. They give out Beowulf as an example of a level 13-15 character.

We've also seen, multiple times, that they are moving away from simple pass/fail which was the case in PF1 and even worse in PF1 you had many situations of auto pass and auto fail. In PF2 they are baking the idea of degrees of success/failure into every roll. Now not all rolls will lean on these, but there is mechanical precedence for anytime you want it to.

If you character doesn't want the mount you take out the mount feature, and then they just don't take any feats about mounts. Nice and simple. If you want a character to have favoured enemy options you can paste it in and any feats that build of it. Nice and simple. For character who want to avoid certain styles enabled by certain feats, they just don't take those feats. With more stuff moved to feats instead of baked in class features it is more likely that you can avoid those things without having to touch the chassis at all.


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Cuuniyevo wrote:


For example, my copy of Halls of Undermountain has information on the world above, backstory and NPC's, as well as possible story hooks and advice on how to improvise more of these elements.

How much of it was conveyed via numbers, stats, and mechanics?

The tools used to convey info is an entirely different issue from the info conveyed.

I.E. telling the a character is a great leader is far more vague then telling you that they have a charisma of 16 and a leadership score of 19. The latter is less vague.

Quote:


Pages 14-15 (devoted to GM advice) mention at least 6 different times some variation of "you can and should add, remove or modify anything you want in here, to fit your group's needs/preferences and flesh out the details."

There was a vast amount of similar advice in d20 too. Rarely was it ever used. Heck I pointed it out to several gms and still almost never saw them use any of that advice.

Quote:


It may or may not be true that the players and GMs who gravitated towards 4E were more preoccupied with tactical board-game-style combat than others, but that seems from my view to be their personal preference and not a hard limitation of the system.

How about using traditionally non-combat abilities in combat? What about vague or unspecific abilities, like Silent Image.

Silent Image is a staple of any of my casters, as it can be concealment, both deceptive and protective. I've used it to keep enemies from knowing what spaces we were in, used to make enemies think a tower was on fire instead of under attack, used it to herd fey, block exits, terrify, and even to show maps and objects to communicate to others (I even used it once to show a tailor the design of a dress I wanted).

4e doesn't allow something to be used in such a variety of ways like that. You use it exactly as the rules say, or you are throwing a wrench in a well oiled machine.

And the entire design feels like a game of WoW, the MMO. Every class carefully constructed for balance and it is expected to face encounters of appropriate level.

DCs are dependent on level and they even have tables telling you what DCs to use for levels, not the world.

Quote:


There are suggestions on how certain factions of NPC/monsters might react to non-combat solutions or taking someone captive instead of killing them, as well as history and motives for quite a few of them, which an enterprising GM could easily expand upon.

A good GM can play any module in any system. That doesn't really affect my argument at all.

I might point out though, that you should read The Alexandrian articles on the first 4e adventure and why and how he had to change many things in order to play it.

http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/1861/roleplaying-games/keep-on-the-shad owfell-the-complete-collection

Actually, just read all his stuff. Every letter of it would be worth being printed on sheets of gold.

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This bolded part, I believe, is the crux of this discussion.

Indeed it is.

Quote:


It seems most of us here view these RPGs not as singular tools that must be taken or left exactly as they are, but toolboxes or bags full of a variety of tools that can be picked and utilized as needed and as preferred.

But this isn't actually what happens. And even for those who do something like this, they take chunks and use them exactly and consider this stuff that must be decided upon beforehand or if an unexpected problem arises only. Things like deciding how initiative works, but never making on the fly decisions customized to particular situations.

Basically, people avoid gm rulings in favor of solid rules. It isn't seen as good enough to make a one time call, it must always be a rule that always applies with full force.

Quote:


I rolled a d100 and sure enough, there was actually a cat for them to chase. There's no rule in PF1 for that, but nobody needs permission to make the game more fun for the people playing.

Maybe I have bad luck, but I can count on one hand the number of GMs I've played under that would go even just that far. (and that still isn't the perspective of my style, though it is rather important to it)

Quote:


The rules may say to use the Climb skill to scale a cliff, but someone can just as easily use a Survival, Knowledge: Geography or Nature check to find an easier path;

This at once is a step in my direction and yet also points out that you aren't there.

This is a list of mechanics. Why is this a list of mechanics, and not options seen by the character?

Why is it not a list like this: look for a footpath, use a spell, have the barbarian carry you, use a grappling hook and a pully to hoist yourself up, make a hot-air/lighter-than-air balloon, etc?

Do you see the difference between the lists? Not the specific options, but that your list is a list looking at the mechanics for an answer vs a list looking at the world for an answer.

Certainly, every option in my list could easily have mechanics chosen to suit them, but my list isn't a list of mechanics, it is a list of narrative milieu based options. My list could be be for any system. Some might be good for as there would be mechanics easily adapted or used directly (survival skill check for finding the footpath), while other options and systems might require something to be cobbled together (hoisting with the pulley).

My list is system agnostic, but relies on a an understanding about the narrative milieu, i.e. obviously magic exists as that is on the list.


Malk_Content wrote:
What I mean is that the DC to climb that Oak tree/wall of ice/ the thin slivers of hardlight that permeate the plane of air are in no way based on the level of the person attempting to achieve it. They are what they are. I perfectly understood what the numbers in PF1 meant and bounding the scale doesn't harm that, all it does is make it easier for other people to understand.

If that is the case, then awesome.

Quote:
simple pass/fail which was the case in PF1

D20 and PF1 are not and have never been simple pass/fail. There might have been some things that are so simple they are expected to be not worth rolling for except in cases where penalties apply, with take 10 as a simple guideline for when in doubt, but that isn't pass/fail.

Heck, in my system, a core tenant is that every single action, every step taken could be represented as a check, but that most of that stuff would not actually be rolled unless the result is uncertain and would add to the game in a good way. I see that as a minor extension of what d20 already does.

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Nope lvl 20 is Hercules at the end of his arc. Not Conan. They give out Beowulf as an example of a level 13-15 character. [/qoute]

What the heck kind of story has Beowolf as anywhere near level 13? I've seen a few stories of him, and not one of them has him that high.

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If you character doesn't want the mount you take out the mount feature, and then they just don't take any feats about mounts. Nice and simple. If you want a character to have favoured enemy options you can paste it in and any feats that build of it. Nice and simple. For character who want to avoid certain styles enabled by certain feats, they just don't take those feats. With more stuff moved to feats instead of baked in class features it is more likely that you can avoid those things without having to touch the chassis at all.

In d20, certainly.

But the new system has class feats. This implies that each class has trees of feats like 4e, that are specific to the class. These feats might be singular in topic, but they could also be very tied together, i.e. maybe a feat in one spot increases your attack and then increases it more while mounted on your special mount, and maybe that feat has a requirement of the feat that increases speed while mounted (and having no use without the mount).


TheAlicornSage wrote:

One of the great things about D20 was that it wasn't bounded. But because the lack of being bounded, it required a good understanding of what the numbers actually meant, but the d20 books didn't spell it out for you as explicitly as they could have, thus you had people seeing lvl 20 as the limit and assuming therefore that all the best heroes from stories were level 20 because that was the highest level mentioned, but that was false, and so they would discover problems, such as Conan being able to mechanically perform feats of supernatural ability far beyond what he could in stories.

Even James considers Einstein a high level character, but he isn't, he is a level 5.

The problem here was that Conan was never a level 20.

What the statement from Paizo sounds like to me, is that they plan on making it so level 20 is Conan's level.

Problem with this is that it then eliminates the rest of the scale.

Middle Earth for example had Aragorn as a level 5 character and yet one of the best humans, then Gandalf was higher but not even level 10. Sauron was between 11-15, and the Valar (the entities that went into Arda at the beginning of time and shaped middle earth) were the ones that were nearly level 20.

But you can only do that in a system that can span that vast range of power levels, like d20.

Players though, see level 20 as a limit of sorts and therefore assume that the best heroes are at level 20 because that is the limit, and therefore expect that heroes are only heroic at high levels, when actually, level was a hero and got your name in the history books, and level 5 made you a household name like Einstein.

Trying to map fictional characters into the game directly is generally an error - they're not game characters and don't have levels and stats. They may in some ways be limited to a 5th level character, and in others match the abilities of a 10th level character.

That said, the Valar clearly map into a d20 as gods (despite not actually being gods in Tolkien's Christian view), not any level of d20 character.

This tendency you talk of - making fictional characters very high level - goes back to AD&D, before d20, when there was no level 20 limit. It appears to be the intent of the original design, though I don't have my old Dragon magazines anymore and can't verify Gygax had a hand in any of them. The original Deities and Demigods book had the various Knights of the Round Table up in the high teens - Lancelot at 20th level.
I suppose that could be an example of no one by Gary understanding how the system really worked, but it was published on his watch.


Is this view really any different from the'rulings not rules' approach?


dragonhunterq wrote:
Is this view really any different from the'rulings not rules' approach?

No idea. Depends on what you mean by "rulings, not rules."

If you are referring to Alexandrian (one of his articles had something about rulings vs rules uf I recall correctly), then yes but not by a lot.


Ah, okay. 'cos I, and a lot of my colleagues have been burned by that. In the hands of a competent and (more importantly) compatible GM it's great. But if your GM is just a little off their mark, or your ideas are not fully sympatico then you have issues. It's not that revolutionary, just difficult to implement well. So has fallen into disuse.


I certainly agree, the gm makes or breaks the game, but I'd consider that true regardless of what style you play, though I can see how breaking the game might be easier for some ways of playing than others.

Heck, as far as I'm concerned, being a great gm requires enough skill, knowledge, and talent to be worthy of a college degree.

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TheAlicornSage wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
simple pass/fail which was the case in PF1

D20 and PF1 are not and have never been simple pass/fail. There might have been some things that are so simple they are expected to be not worth rolling for except in cases where penalties apply, with take 10 as a simple guideline for when in doubt, but that isn't pass/fail.

Heck, in my system, a core tenant is that every single action, every step taken could be represented as a check, but that most of that stuff would not actually be rolled unless the result is uncertain and would add to the game in a good way. I see that as a minor extension of what d20 already does.

You seem to have misunderstood the distinction between pass/fail and degrees of success as the default system.

It's true that PF1 has the occassional "fail by 5 or more" or sometimes "succeed by 5 or more", but the baseline system is that you either pass the check or you fail the check. Even when you don't roll the dice, such as when taking 10, you either pass or your fail.


Ampersandrew wrote:

1549 posts about the first announcement and 600 odd since I last looked at it, what could they still be talking about?

600 odd posts later it turns out the answer is absolutely nothing. I feel stupider for having read the last two pages about how no-one understands the game and we're all playing it wrong.
...

This^^^^^^

Came here to actually discuss the change in game mechanics only to sift through pages of how to roll stats and what role playing is. LAME.


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MerlinCross wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Elfteiroh wrote:
Yep, I'm similar here. In fact, the ones the more likely to do things outside of the rules were usually the noob ones. I remember in RotR, during that attack of the gobs at the start, the Dwarven Barbarian player, at total noob (it was her first ever TTRPG experience), asked me, the DM, if she could take the table a pair of gobs were standing on and flip it during her round. I was overjoyed by that, as the other 3 players where old-school players and their first reflex was to say "nope, just attack...". That ended up throwing the gobs and one did a fumble and died, his head safely impaled on a tent piton nearby. She did many more during the adventures, and she was the only one to do so.

New school GM: "Sure, do you have the Table Flipping feat? No? Okay, roll at -3 and they get an attack of opportunity."

Old School GM: "Yeah, you can do that. That got added to the house rules back in '92 or so when Bruno the Barbarian tried to flip the king's table. Hmm, let's see if I can find those notes."

Rule of Cool DM: ....That actually sounds awesome. Pretty sure there's rules for it but give me an attack or maybe CMB roll and we'll see what happens.

@thejeff: Haha! Yeah! I've had some like these. :P

@MerlinCross: That's more like me. :3 But in my case, I just went with a strength roll to lift the table, and one of the gobs used her AoO to laugh at and insult the barbarian while the other tried (and failed) to throw a pie at her. Followed by a reflex safe for the gobs to not fall prone.
Considering that was following 2 rounds of everyone missing everyone (or just doing stupid stuff in the goblins' case), that felt like the most effective round of the combat.


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TheAlicornSage wrote:


How much of it was conveyed via numbers, stats, and mechanics?

The tools used to convey info is an entirely different issue from the info conveyed.

I.E. telling the a character is a great leader is far more vague then telling you that they have a charisma of 16 and a leadership score of 19. The latter is less vague.

The module, much like Emerald Spire, doesn't detail all of the NPCs to that degree for space reasons. Some have page number references to other books, while some are left as blank canvases. In Emerald Spire, the Fort Inevitable hub has several key NPCs with class and level listed but no stats whatsoever, while Halls of Undermountain usually doesn't give their level. For example, there's a weakened captive elf wizard in one area that the book recommends using elf scout stats for from Monster Vault page 112. It doesn't explicitly mention what stats to use if they get healed and regain their magic, but again, that's for space reasons.

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How about using traditionally non-combat abilities in combat? What about vague or unspecific abilities, like Silent Image.

...

4e doesn't allow something to be used in such a variety of ways like that. You use it exactly as the rules say, or you are throwing a wrench in a well oiled machine.

I don't understand how the rules prevent players and GMs from rolling with that. Does 4E simply not have spells like that anymore? Are players somehow prevented from fashioning makeshift camouflage or distractions? I'm having a hard time imagining a group playing through this module and the GM telling their players, "no, you can't do that, you're only allowed to do what this page says you can." Maybe people who like miniature board games did play it that way, but I don't see anything to stop roleplayers from playing their style instead.

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It seems most of us here view these RPGs not as singular tools that must be taken or left exactly as they are, but toolboxes or bags full of a variety of tools that can be picked and utilized as needed and as preferred.

But this isn't actually what happens. And even for those who do something like this, they take chunks and use them exactly and consider this stuff that must be decided upon beforehand or if an unexpected problem arises only. Things like deciding how initiative works, but never making on the fly decisions customized to particular situations.

Basically, people avoid gm rulings in favor of solid rules. It isn't seen as good enough to make a one time call, it must always be a rule that always applies with full force.

This part of your concern seems like something that already applies to PF1, and almost every other RPG, so yes, it will probably still bother you in PF2. You seem to be critical of the way some people play, but honestly, that's not actually a problem. It's just a diversity of opinion and preference.

On the subject of initiative though, PF2 is explicitly moving toward making customized on-the-fly decisions instead of a basic +Init bonus that everyone has based on Dex + Feats.

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This at once is a step in my direction and yet also points out that you aren't there.

This is a list of mechanics. Why is this a list of mechanics, and not options seen by the character?

Why is it not a list like this: look for a footpath, use a spell, have the barbarian carry you, use a grappling hook and a pully to hoist yourself up, make a hot-air/lighter-than-air balloon, etc?

Do you see the difference between the lists? Not the specific options, but that your list is a list looking at the mechanics for an answer vs a list looking at the world for an answer.

Yes, I see the difference and could easily have phrased it in that way, but as the GM, I see my job as being to interpret and facilitate what my players want, for the fun of the whole group (hopefully while also having fun myself). One of my players might think of something their character wants to do and phrase it in-character, but another might look at their character sheet and wonder what the optimal path forward is. I have to cater to both players, because both are valid and compatible play-styles.

This same sort of thing comes up in Numenera, which I also play. Characters have far fewer skills and skill ranks, but each one means more. Each "rank" is equivalent to a +3 to your check with that skill, so players are incentivised to use what they're good at. They can still attempt most things untrained, but +3 or +6 is a pretty big deal in that system. A diplomatic character will usually try to talk their way into a building rather than sneak or parachute or teleport, for instance and that's not a failure of imagination on the players' part.

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Certainly, every option in my list could easily have mechanics chosen to suit them, but my list isn't a list of mechanics, it is a list of narrative milieu based options. My list could be be for any system. Some might be good for as there would be mechanics easily adapted or used directly (survival skill check for finding the footpath), while other options and systems might require something to be cobbled together (hoisting with the pulley).

My list is system agnostic, but relies on a an understanding about the narrative milieu, i.e. obviously magic exists as that is on the list.

Agreed, and I assume your list would also work in 4E or 5E, and will also work in the PF2 Playtest.


KingOfAnything wrote:
TheAlicornSage wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
simple pass/fail which was the case in PF1

D20 and PF1 are not and have never been simple pass/fail. There might have been some things that are so simple they are expected to be not worth rolling for except in cases where penalties apply, with take 10 as a simple guideline for when in doubt, but that isn't pass/fail.

Heck, in my system, a core tenant is that every single action, every step taken could be represented as a check, but that most of that stuff would not actually be rolled unless the result is uncertain and would add to the game in a good way. I see that as a minor extension of what d20 already does.

You seem to have misunderstood the distinction between pass/fail and degrees of success as the default system.

It's true that PF1 has the occassional "fail by 5 or more" or sometimes "succeed by 5 or more", but the baseline system is that you either pass the check or you fail the check. Even when you don't roll the dice, such as when taking 10, you either pass or your fail.

I'm not talking about "fail/pass by a certain number for extra effect." I'm talking about the fact that you can make a skill check and see just how good a character performed in context of the world milieu without even comparing to a DC.

How far you jumped doesn't require a DC. You just make a check (subtract 5 if 3.0) and viola, that is how many feet you jumped. Whether you jumped far enough is a separate issue entirely in which you look at how far you jumped and compare that to how far you needed to jump.

Pass/fail systems are strictly meta. They have no context what-so-ever outside the difference between result and DC.

D20 is not pass/fail because the results have meaning and context ourside and separate from whether the check passed or failed.

The DC to pick a lock tells you just how skillfully that lock was made, and a master locksmith will have the same difficulty on her locks regardless of the level of the players trying to pick it.


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TheAlicornSage wrote:
KingOfAnything wrote:
TheAlicornSage wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
simple pass/fail which was the case in PF1

D20 and PF1 are not and have never been simple pass/fail. There might have been some things that are so simple they are expected to be not worth rolling for except in cases where penalties apply, with take 10 as a simple guideline for when in doubt, but that isn't pass/fail.

Heck, in my system, a core tenant is that every single action, every step taken could be represented as a check, but that most of that stuff would not actually be rolled unless the result is uncertain and would add to the game in a good way. I see that as a minor extension of what d20 already does.

You seem to have misunderstood the distinction between pass/fail and degrees of success as the default system.

It's true that PF1 has the occassional "fail by 5 or more" or sometimes "succeed by 5 or more", but the baseline system is that you either pass the check or you fail the check. Even when you don't roll the dice, such as when taking 10, you either pass or your fail.

I'm not talking about "fail/pass by a certain number for extra effect." I'm talking about the fact that you can make a skill check and see just how good a character performed in context of the world milieu without even comparing to a DC.

How far you jumped doesn't require a DC. You just make a check (subtract 5 if 3.0) and viola, that is how many feet you jumped. Whether you jumped far enough is a separate issue entirely in which you look at how far you jumped and compare that to how far you needed to jump.

Pass/fail systems are strictly meta. They have no context what-so-ever outside the difference between result and DC.

D20 is not pass/fail because the results have meaning and context ourside and separate from whether the check passed or failed.

The DC to pick a lock tells you just how skillfully that lock was made, and a master locksmith will have the same difficulty on her locks regardless of the level of...

That's an interesting definition of "pass/fail". One essentially unrelated to how damn near everyone else uses the term. And you wonder why people misunderstand you. You're not actually speaking the same language.


What could "pass/fail" mean other than a result range being limited to Pass and Fail?

Even college uses the term for classes/tests where you don't get a letter grade, instead getting only Pass or Fail (though college classes naturally still include the non-grade results like Incomplete and Withdrawn).


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The core mechanic in D&D is:

“Here’s a target number - roll that or higher you pass. Roll less than that, you fail.”

Exceptions to that are...exceptions.

That’s what most people mean when they say D&D is a pass/fail system.

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That specific use of Acrobatics is pretty much the only roll in PF1 that isn't compared to another number to determine Pass or Fail. Even then, most of the time characters are jumping over an obstacle and have a number in mind.

That masterwork lock? It has a Craft DC to create. It has a disable DC. Beating either DC by 1 or 20 doesn't make much of a difference to the lock.


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Steve Geddes wrote:
That’s what most people mean when they say D&D is a pass/fail system.

I think part of the problem is people trying to argue that a letter grade system is also a pass/fail system.

In some instances, a higher roll gets you more information than a lower one, although if you roll too low, you learn nothing. Many Knowledge checks fall into this spectrum. If you get an "A" you learn more than if you get a "D". But you can still also fail by getting an "F".

From the other side of the skill check, a lock is not just a single number. The skill of the lock maker means that a given roll may or may not "pass".

So the basis in the past may have been pass/fail but it certainly hasn't ever been that simple in Pathfinder


Cuuniyevo wrote:
The module, much like Emerald Spire, doesn't detail all of the NPCs...

NPCs are not the only things that can be described. Besides, what I meant by description was to describe milieu.

For example, something like "Unless otherwise noted, all locks on the doors in the keep were created by the Mastersmith Gorzo, and as a master of creating locks, the locks all have a DC of 34 plus 1d6."

In this fashion, you have additional info about the keep and it's creators, as well as using the mechanics to both demonstrate the master's skill as the thing which sets the difficulty and as a description of the lock's high quality nature (instead of simply being a bland and arbitrary chance of success), yet also includes variance as each lock is individually made.

This use also is recognizing the DC as a result of the mastersmith's skill and not the level of the PCs (especially if it were included in a non-linear, multi-level module).

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I don't understand how the rules prevent players and GMs from rolling with that.

There is a difference between "prevention," "discouragement," and "lack of support."

The 4e rules by their very nature emphasize thinking like a game of chess. It is very difficult to play theatre of mind (and doing so still basically requires seeing the grid in your mind).

The rules don't explicitly say "you can't change me," but theg way theg are all tied together and work makes it harder to do anything really different without impacting many other areas, and trying to do anything that falls outside the rigid format established feels wrong regardless of how much it makes sense in the milieu.

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Does 4E simply not have spells like that anymore?

Not really. Most of the ones that do remain have a completely different format for use called rituals.

In 3.5, I built a sorcerer that used Minor and Major Creation in combat. The gm allowed me special feats to cast them at combat speeds. A very simple and easy solution to implement.

4e rituals would not be that simple to include because they were designed from the ground up with different rules, format, and expectations in mind. It'd take more work from the gm to make it work.

And the more work a gm has to do to make something work, the less likely they are to do it.

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I'm having a hard time imagining a group playing through this module and the GM telling their players, "no, you can't do that, you're only allowed to do what this page says you can."

There are lots of gms that do say that. Heck, I could even dig a couple examples right from the boards here with characters I've played. (recently tried a deception in a pfs module, and it literally got ignored until I said "hey" after which it finally explicitly addressed in which I was told "no, it's not in the module." So yes, it does indeed happen.)

However, when it happens, it is not an issue with the module, nor even the system. It is an issue with the gm.

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This part of your concern seems like something that already applies to PF1,

It isn't actually a pure system issue. A system can require something by building other things that depend on it, but even when it doesn't have such dependancies, it can still make it easier or more difficult.

But it is also important to note, that a system lacking such depencies, still leaves it open to the gm to handle it in a variety of ways.

Initiative for example. because of how d20 handles initiative, it is easy to have the players go clockwise around the table instead of by numbers, or as I do for pbp, in which all players post for a turn and I simply weave the actions as simultaneous but in the rare cases where it is actually important to know what happened first, then I'll actually do an initiative roll-off behind the screen to determine the result.

Some systems literally cam't do that, while those that can may still be run by gms who rule with iron dice and are strict about it anyway.

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One of my players might think of something their character wants to do and phrase it in-character, but another might look at their character sheet and wonder what the optimal path forward is.

The thing here is that most players of the latter sort are the latter sort precisely because they see only the mechanics. They literally don't think of or look at anything outside the mechanics, and if a disussion gets this far with them and they catch enough to realize a style might make decisions on world milieu but not mechanics, then they completely fail to see why one would have mechanics at all. They make their choices based on mechanics because they see that as the point and purpose of the mechanics.

4e designers obviously had that mindset, which is why there was so little dealing with out of combat scenerios, because they saw no purpose to mechanics if a choice was made non-mechanically. That is also why 4e is harder to adjust and adapt, because the designers expected that all or nealy all combat decisions would be based almost entirely on mechanics.

If you are not basing choices on mechanics, then you can use whatever system you want, though the system design can make it easier and smoother to use that way, or harder.

D20 is a good example of system that is smoother. It is easier to judge what DCs should be because the DC scale is objective and universal. 40 for any check is as difficult and groundbreaking as Einstein establishing the thoery of reletivity.

There are plenty of cases where it's appropriate to go beyond that, so it isn't a limit or anything, but with that as a benchmark, anytime you need to pull a DC out of thin air, that scale makes it easy to not only determine a DC but to determine one appropriate to the narrative milieu. Using that scale allows the DC to inform the players about the world. If a lock has a DC of 12, that is literally a signal to players that that lock was poorly made and likely crafted by an apprentice.

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and I assume your list would also work in 4E or 5E, and will also work in the PF2 Playtest.

Aye, but the distinction here is in how it affects your way of thinking about the game and the events there-in, particularly when it comes to decision-making, in the same way constantly saying "I can't" in the real world is likely to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

How you think about, talk about, and refer to the rules and narrative milieu willl determine how you think about and make decisions regarding the game.

A relevant Alexandrian article,
http://www.thealexandrian.net/creations/misc/magic-items.html

As he points out, mechanics do not make magic items interesting and magical seeming.


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CrystalSeas wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
That’s what most people mean when they say D&D is a pass/fail system.

I think part of the problem is people trying to argue that a letter grade system is also a pass/fail system.

In some instances, a higher roll gets you more information than a lower one, although if you roll too low, you learn nothing. Many Knowledge checks fall into this spectrum. If you get an "A" you learn more than if you get a "D". But you can still also fail by getting an "F".

From the other side of the skill check, a lock is not just a single number. The skill of the lock maker means that a given roll may or may not "pass".

So the basis in the past may have been pass/fail but it certainly hasn't ever been that simple in Pathfinder

I think we’re just quibbling on what constitutes an exception. I think at its heart, it’s a binary system. Most rolls are just true/false.

It’s not terribly important though. I presume we agree that a pass/fail RPG isn’t defined by most via reference to a narrative milieu?


Steve Geddes wrote:

The core mechanic in D&D is:

“Here’s a target number - roll that or higher you pass. Roll less than that, you fail.”

Exceptions to that are...exceptions.

That’s what most people mean when they say D&D is a pass/fail system.

Except d20 doesn't stop there. It determines DC in a fashion that relates to the narrative milieu, meaning the results and DCs are actually informative about the world milieu. They are literally descriptive of the world.

A counter-example is Savage Worlds. You always have 4 as the DC. That DC therefore says nothing about the world, nothing at all. It has no meaning beyond whether the check passes or not. The same is not true of d20.

A relevant Alexandrian article that may explain better (since we aren't having luck with each other),

http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/587/roleplaying-games/dd-calibrating-yo ur-expectations-2


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TheAlicornSage wrote:


Except d20 doesn't stop there. It determines DC in a fashion that relates to the narrative milieu, meaning the results and DCs are actually informative about the world milieu. They are literally descriptive of the world.

And yet, apart from skills relating to movement, the results compared to those DCs still yeild a binary Pass/Fail mechanically. Descriptively I'm sure many people (myself included) use the relation of roll/result and DC to guage the narrative of that pass/failure but mechanically the result is the same. If you roll a 5 on you Disable Device and fail I might describe a lapse in concentration causing the tumblers to slips, while a 10 that is a fail I might tell you almost had the last pin but at the end of the day you failed.

PF2E has no indication that any of this will be different, except that there is now a rules precedent that anything can 4 degrees of success, not 2 (barring movement skills again.) If anything be giving a set of sub targets it better develops what the relations between the numbers mean, helping descriptive players/GMs balance that better with the mechanics at play.


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TheAlicornSage wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:

The core mechanic in D&D is:

“Here’s a target number - roll that or higher you pass. Roll less than that, you fail.”

Exceptions to that are...exceptions.

That’s what most people mean when they say D&D is a pass/fail system.

Except d20 doesn't stop there. It determines DC in a fashion that relates to the narrative milieu, meaning the results and DCs are actually informative about the world milieu. They are literally descriptive of the world.

A counter-example is Savage Worlds. You always have 4 as the DC. That DC therefore says nothing about the world, nothing at all. It has no meaning beyond whether the check passes or not. The same is not true of d20.

A relevant Alexandrian article that may explain better (since we aren't having luck with each other),

http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/587/roleplaying-games/dd-calibrating-yo ur-expectations-2

Your explanations are fine (although speaking personally, I much, much, much prefer long explanations to imperfect metaphors - metaphors help people already on the same page discuss subtleties, in my view. They're not a good method of introducing totally new concepts/approaches) - I generally know what you mean. I just have to read carefully and cross out "pass/fail system" when you use it and replace it with "system where the mechanics are intimately connected to the narrative milieu, such that altering one would have predictable consequences in the other".

I'm not discussing whether D&D really fits the description you've given it. What I'm commenting on is your frequent use of words that already have widely understood meanings in completely different ways.

The reason people refer to a system as "Pass/Fail" is because those are (generally) the only two options within the system. It's not a very good term for "game-in-which-the-mechanics-relates-to-the-narrative-milieu".

You'd face far fewer barriers to explicating 'the kind of game Gygax wanted people to play' if you'd either invent new jargon or use currently existing jargon the way they are usually used (and the latter would be far more preferable in a playtest).

Taking a word already in usage and blithely using it to refer to something else is just not helpful (no matter how right you are).


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To expand further and perhaps explain why I'm continuing to reply, since perhaps it seems like I'm just having a go(?)

I think you've probably got something useful to add to the development of PF2. However, you seem to be mixing up a desire to impart an opinion about mechanics with a desire to rehabilitate the jargon of RPGs.

I don't think both of those at once is helpful - it just leads to pages and pages of you sounding like you're saying people are doing it wrong, followed by lots of posts from you about how you aren't. Then there's pages and pages about 'this is a pass/fail system, that isn't' followed by explication that you don't mean a system where Pass and Fail are the only options.

In my opinion, the value of your perspective is obscured by quirky phrasing - your jargon may be superior, but a playtest about a new game is not the time to be introducing new ways of describing games in general. It's just going to lead to confusion and misunderstandings.

I'm a guy who reads lots about games (and doesn't have many opinions about what's right and wrong, so I'm open to lots of perspectives). It's really hard work to understand what you're talking about - that just means it's easy to shrug and scroll past.


There has been a misunderstanding.

I claimed d20 was not a pass/fail system.

KingOfAnything is the one who claimed d20, and pathfinder specifically, was a pass/fail system. I attempted to refute his claim.


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It's really hard work to understand what you're talking about

A defining trait of autism unfortunately.

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perhaps it seems like I'm just having a go(?)

I don't mind. Always good to have a great person on the other side of the discussion.

Actually, there were an unusual number of great folks this time around.


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TheAlicornSage wrote:

There has been a misunderstanding.

I claimed d20 was not a pass/fail system.

KingOfAnything is the one who claimed d20, and pathfinder specifically, was a pass/fail system. I attempted to refute his claim.

Yeah, I get that (I seem to have omitted a crucial “not” in my post above). I’m not making any comment on your position here, I’m indicating (what I think is) the source of the continued talking past one another.

My point is that you’re not using “pass/fail system” the way most people do. Further, you’re kind of assuming other people are using your terminology without spelling out in advance your idiosyncratic usage (hence the frequent misunderstandings).

KingOfAnything referred to D&D as a pass/fail system because those are generally the results you get if you apply the core mechanic (that being the defining feature of a pass/fail system). You then disputed that on the basis that the results of a D&D check have meaning within the narrative milieu (which you take to be contraindicated by the label “pass/fail system”).


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TheAlicornSage wrote:
Quote:
It's really hard work to understand what you're talking about
A defining trait of autism unfortunately.

I do reasonably well dealing with people on the spectrum. I have a maths degree, so the way I approach everything is definition-theorem-proof. I’ve had some success following that approach in understanding people from disparate perspectives.

  • First, spell out what you’re going to talk about (and how you’re going to frame it).
  • Second, state your opinion clearly (using common language and terms outlined above).
  • Third, provide argument supporting why your opinion is a reasonable one.

Viewing it in that way, it seems to me that you’ve leaped into stage three with the occasional foray into stage two. My advice is to start at stage one - ideally by adopting the terms, language and phrasing common to the people you’re debating with, but barring that by setting out clear definitions of the way you use words.


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I saw the critique above that this is a derail which on the face of it, is hard to deny. However, where I think it’s relevant is that a playtest is going to be fast moving and we need to be efficient.

As far as practicable, we should all strive to use the same words consistently. In my view Paizo get to define those words, but there are certain concepts within the RPG world (like “balanced”, “verisimilitude”, “gamist”, “narrative”, “caster-martial disparity”, etcetera...) that all have pretty well embedded meanings even though they could mean a whole variety of things.

My advice is to stick to those preunderstood terms, rather than try and find new words or change old understandings.


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In terms of the actual theses you’ve been advancing, my opinion is that it’s rather a moot point.

I think Paizo are aiming for “the same but better”. As such, dissecting where PF1 sits within the various venn diagrams people use to break up gaming systems is unlikely to be fruitful. I’d be willing to bet PF2 ends up in the same spot (roughly).


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*presents Steve Geddes with the outstanding patience award*

*Vanishes*


I am doubtful but hopeful that you are right.

In the meantime, I found an Alexandrian article that probably explains much better than I the difference in style I try to describe.
http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/15126/roleplaying-games/game-structures

Let me know what you think, I'd suggest via pm, but then again, paizo's pm system sucks horribly (sorry, it just really isn't nice at all).

Edit: ninja'd


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TheAlicornSage wrote:
I am doubtful but hopeful that you are right.

Heh. About what?

My helpful advice to myself would be let people reply before bombarding them with a series of unrelated posts... (I’m going to ignore that advice though. That guy’s an idiot!)


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I think Paizo are aiming for “the same but better”.

This. I just hope their idea of better avoids leaning towards 4e or 5e.

I'd love to see more of Starfinder as they seem to consider that a step towards better and so might give an inkling (I like inklings, they are fun monsters) as to where they are headed.

Of course, I can't afford Starfinder, but I've heard some things already that don't sound promising, and the pregens don't fill me with confidence either, though there are good points in there too.

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TheAlicornSage wrote:

I am doubtful but hopeful that you are right.

In the meantime, I found an Alexandrian article that probably explains much better than I the difference in style I try to describe.
http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/15126/roleplaying-games/game-structures

Let me know what you think, I'd suggest via pm, but then again, paizo's pm system sucks horribly (sorry, it just really isn't nice at all).

Edit: ninja'd

I almost didn't make it to the conclusion of that series. I'm glad I did, because I like the analysis of player-known v player-unknown structures.

I think that the Encounter/Exploration/Downtime play mode distinctions will go a long way toward calibrating expectations between GMs and players. In PF1, it can seem that narrative roleplay is just what happens in between combat encounters. I think that Exploration as an explicit mode of play will help to promote that kind of freeform, narrative play by defining a gameplay structure that encourages that kind of thinking.

I know that as a player I can get into an Encounter mindset, eager to get to the next fight, and short circuit narrative moments. A clear transition after a fight will help me reset to a more engaging roleplay mindset.


While I'm glad you enjoyed it, that wasn't really my point in directing folks to it.

In the first article he says,

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Traditional board and card games don’t run into this problem because their game structure is rigidly defined and limited by the rules

Here he points out that board games are "rigidly defined" and "limited by the rules." He points these out as differences from rpgs.

But most players I come across play rpgs like they are "rigidly defined" and "limited by the rules" or totally freeform, never in between, though some will swap back and forth. My point was that such a mindset is thinking like a board game and not an rpg.

An rpg need not be "rigidly defined" and are not "limited by the rules." And that does not equal freeform.

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Sorry, I lost the major thrust of your posts at some point. Mind restating your opinion, briefly?

He goes on to explain how RPGs developed from wargaming and why combat is such a well defined structure in the DnD line whereas non combat started freeform and slowly accrued structure as we built out the system. There were no clues for how to handle exploring, so some people played freeform and others created rules.

If you give people big flashing signs for where the rules are rigidly defined and where more flexibility is in play, players might respond appropriately.


I am curious if the Magic Dagger from the playtest on The Glass Cannon Podcast is an indicator of what Magic Weapons will now be like? Do all magic weapons get an additional base die type per +1 on the weapon?

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Gobbo wrote:

I am curious if the Magic Dagger from the playtest on The Glass Cannon Podcast is an indicator of what Magic Weapons will now be like? Do all magic weapons get an additional base die type per +1 on the weapon?

It would seem so.

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I want to praise everyone here for participating in the play styles tangent with considered and mediated points. However, I wanted to remind you all that while this conversation is a success in terms of sharing gamer experiences, not to let it consume the entire topic of the thread, and allow people to rejoin conversation immediately related to the blog post.


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TheAlicornSage wrote:

Wow. Modern players are just plain weird.

Rolling stats added flavor and rp challenge. The game wasn't about mechanics, and so things like random stats were just find as they added interesting wrinkles to characters.

Modern players don't like it because modern players don't rp. Not like the way rp was when the designers of d20 and earlier dnd played anyway. The difference isn't in what rules are used, but the place the rules have in the overall game.

Modern players place the rules front and center. Modern players view the rules as being the game instead of being a mere tool to make the game more fun.

The focus on rules and how that focus changes they way rules are used is the biggest factor in why random has such a bad rap. If the rules are the entirely of the game, then the rules also become the meterstick by which things are judged.

The old school players were not less advanced, nor less refined. They were quite literally playing an entirely different game, and I'm not talking about system either. A game with my old group using 3.5 would literally be a completely different game from modern players playing 3.5.

You have answered the question I've been pondering for a while now - why do I see all the min-maxing I do on these boards.

I was introduced to D&D in 1977. For me, it's all about immersion in the campaign setting, then character concept, then backstory. Then comes "where does this character fit in the rules set?"

IMO, if attributes are based on random dice rolls, I have no problem as player or gm with fudging the rolls to make the character fit the concept and backstory.


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Vidmaster7 wrote:
I'm gonna be honest with you here. That was the definition of TL/DR. No offense intended.

You might be right. It was too long, so I didn't read it. :-)


KingOfAnything wrote:

...where the rules are rigidly defined...

This assumes that "rigidly defined" is purely a trait of the rules, but truthfully player perspective is a larger factor in that regard than rules design.

In order to play with rules without being bound by them, you must first mentally see the rules as flexible and open examples and defaults, not binding, specific, nor complete.

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GM DarkLightHitomi wrote:
KingOfAnything wrote:

...where the rules are rigidly defined...

This assumes that "rigidly defined" is purely a trait of the rules, but truthfully player perspective is a larger factor in that regard than rules design.

In order to play with rules without being bound by them, you must first mentally see the rules as flexible and open examples and defaults, not binding, specific, nor complete.

Unfortunately, the developers don't control our thoughts and perspectives. They do have the ability to influence our perceptions through skillful layout and presentation of the rules.


Indeed, and that is a key way in which to understand the design goals of the designers.

However, external factors play a much larger part in shaping perspective than anything the rules designers could ever do (aside from being your first gm).

For example, in the Alexandrian's article on encounter design. Did you notice how he pointed out that the rules tell you to have a wide variety of encounter levels, but "common knowledge" resulted in the idea that encounters must be approximately the PC's level?

A perfect example of the rules going one way, and players going another.

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