Common Ground

Friday, July 13, 2018

When it comes to using game rules to simulate a fantasy setting, one thing that's always been in the background in Pathfinder has been the idea that certain monsters, types of armor, and so on are more common in some areas than in others. For instance, Pathfinder First Edition's rules for the Knowledge skill rely on the fact that some monsters are more commonly known, though it doesn't really define which are which. Meanwhile, there are circumstances such as the spell Echean's excellent enclosure from Rival Guide where knowledge of a spell is closely guarded by its creator (in this case, an evil 20th-level wizard).

To make it easier for players and GMs to engage in worldbuilding, whether playing in Golarion or your own setting, we've created a formalized framework for the Pathfinder Playtest—using the categories common, uncommon, rare, and unique—that you can use to help determine the tone of a setting, region, or adventure. These are relative terms; while we list suggested rarities for various rules elements, they naturally vary from place to place even within the same campaign setting. For instance, in the playtest, a longsword is listed as common, and a katana is listed as uncommon, but in a game focused around Japanese fantasy (or, in Golarion, Minkai or Minkai-influenced nations in Tian Xia), a katana would be common and a longsword might be uncommon.

Common

Something is common if it's ubiquitous in its category, like any of the core races and core classes, longswords, fireball, bracers of armor, and the like. All characters can select common options without restriction.

Uncommon

Something is uncommon if it's a little rarer, but still possible to find or use if you are deeply interested in it. These options are a bit weirder, more complicated, or known to fewer people, so they haven't spread across the world as much. Many uncommon options explicitly become available to a character as they proceed along a path that teaches them about that option. For instance, all domain powers in the playtest are uncommon spells, but clerics are granted access to domain powers through their deities. Characters from a given region, ethnicity, religion, or other group in your world might gain access to uncommon options associated with it. To go back to our previous example, even in a game set in the Inner Sea region of Golarion, if your character hailed from Minkai in her background, you and the GM might decide that you should gain access to Eastern weapons instead of, or in addition to, Western ones.

Story events in your game are another way a character could gain access to uncommon options. For instance, Stephen previously mentioned in the blog on alchemical items that you would have to get the formula for drow sleep poison from the drow; it's an uncommon option. But in your campaign, if your alchemist was captured by the drow and forced to brew poisons for them, the GM might add drow sleep poison and other uncommon options to the formulas available to your alchemist! Uncommon options make amazing rewards to find in adventures, and they can be found at a much higher rate than rare options, since they are more common in the world.

Rare

Something is rare if it's extremely difficult to obtain without doing something special in-world to find it. This means that rare options involve interplay between the player and the GM, or are granted by the GM directly. There's no way to get access to these through choices in your character build alone. Rare options are spells known only to the ancient runelords, techniques passed down by the grandmaster of an ancient monastery in the Wall of Heaven mountains, golem-crafting secrets of the Jistka Imperium, and the like.

Unique

Something is unique if there's only one. Most artifacts are unique, as are certain monsters, like the Sandpoint Devil or Grendel. No artifacts appear in the Playtest Rulebook, so in the playtest only a few Doomsday Dawn monsters and hazards are unique.

Uses of Rarity

So how is this system useful to you?

Worldbuilding and Emulating Genres

First of all, your group can really alter the flavor and feel of the game by changing around the commonness of certain elements, allowing for a wide variety of genre play and settings through a relatively simple system. This is a big tool in your toolkit for worldbuilding. What would a world be like where the wizard was uncommon, or where all healing magic was rare? You can create a new subgenre or setting simply by shifting around the assumptions of what elements are common, uncommon, and rare. The rarities in the Playtest Rulebook are meant to show a good baseline for a typical Pathfinder campaign and make for a solid default if you're not straying to far from classic fantasy, but I can't wait until people start posting their modified schemes for all sorts of different concepts, from prehistoric to horror, and from low-magic (all magic is uncommon or rare) to super high fantasy mash-up (everything is common!).

Mechanical Diversity without Cognitive Overload

While some groups go for a kitchen sink approach to available options, many groups want to allow options from other books but are tend to stick to the core content because of the sheer mental load of learning, using, and preparing for all of those options, especially on the GM. With rarity, you have a framework for adding more material without just opening the fire hose: you start with common content (for a new group, probably the things labeled as common in the book) and you expand into mastering uncommon and rare content only as it appears in your game. If a particular rare spell hasn't shown up in the game, you don't have to worry about how it might interact with your character's build or your NPC's plot in the same way you might otherwise. A player can bring some desired uncommon or rare options to the GM, who can get a feel for the rules involved and decide when and how to introduce those options to the campaign. If the PC is interested in spells and items from ancient Osirion, perhaps the PCs find a new quest that takes them there, or is contacted by an Osirionologist NPC who's willing to trade her Osirian secrets for the PCs' help with a different adventure.

We love games with plenty of options, but we also want to consider fans who've told us that though they love new options, they started becoming overwhelmed by just how many options there are in Pathfinder First Edition. With the rarity system, you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

Awesome Rewards

One thing that can be tough in Pathfinder First Edition is giving a reward to a PC whose player has already looked up all the options and bought or crafted all the items they really want, learned all the spells they really want, and so on, even if some of those items and spells really seemed like they wouldn't be available on the open market. Rarity allows a GM to give rewards that aren't easily available without needing to homebrew a brand new item or ability every time, and allows players who gain rarer options to feel special and important.

When you emerge from a Thassilonian tomb with a rare spell few have seen in millennia, wizards' guilds might start salivating over that knowledge. Will you keep it to yourself? Will you sell it to select wizards for a pretty penny? Will you spread the knowledge to all who desire it, possibly making the spell uncommon or even common in your setting? Or will you keep it to yourself to show off for the spellcasters you meet who have never heard of it? Only you can decide, giving you the power to make a permanent mark on the setting.

So how are you most excited to use the new rarity system?

Mark Seifter
Designer

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Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Well, the GM can be held responsible for his actions and decisions, for his rulings and houserules. But he cannot be held responsible for decisions he had no part in, such as the RAW


Deadmanwalking wrote:
This isn't my experience at all.

I think this boils down our difference in perspective. Maybe it's my playing almost exclusively online and you playing another way? Whatever the case, I don't think any amount of back and forth is going to get us on the same page.

For me it just seems to be something like bulk that adds a layer of extra complexity to fix something I never saw as an issue/problem. IMO, it's a fine optional rule for those that want/need that kind of rule. You feel different and that's fine.

Vidmaster7 wrote:
"sigh" Always got to be in the middle of the battle. smh >.>

I'm opinionated and like what I like and hate what I hate. There are things I've liked [the majority of bards and rangers for instance] and things I don't [resonance, bulk, alignment still a thing, ect].

For most things I really don't have to try them to know my feelings on them. Take burn for instance. I hated it when I heard about it. I hated it when I read how it worked. I hated it when I tried it out. For me, it's rare to make a 180: I'll try out these things I dislike but I don't expect that to change my mind.


The best thing about this IMO, is that it shows that the developers are paying more attention to the needs of the DM. in 1e, far too much content seems to be aimed at players only, while DM's get left in the dust.
I also like how this combines well with the new downtime system for those who want to chase down those uncommon and rare items.


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KingOfAnything wrote:
Ckorik wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:


Ckorik wrote:
I reject that assertion as without proof at all.

You reject the idea that people would rather receive gifts than have things taken away from them? That's...a pretty strong assertion, there.

Not what I said at all.

I will state it more plainly this time, I reject that it is easier to remove restrictions than to add them.

There are a good number of psychologists and economists who would disagree with you. The idea of loss aversion is pretty well established in their fields and it applies directly to this idea of rarity.

I wasn't talking about players at all. I'm saying from a GM perspective the idea that 'removing restrictions is easier' is false. I believe from a GM's point of view - if they are going to put work into either type of decision (ignoring rules, or adding them) that the work that goes into deciding if it's good for their table is just as hard either way. So yes, I do believe that either way, the work involved in making that choice is roughly the same. The only easy choice for a GM is to use the rules as written - because generally they are the ones that will have the best balance - that's why we buy rules - for the professional design.

I think from a players point of view - it's much more complicated than being laid out here - and from a loss aversion standpoint - I believe more players put up with almost anything from a GM because it's harder to find a GM than players. I wouldn't claim to be able to make it a sweeping statement of fact though - all I have is anecdotal evidence, and that's as good as anyone's opinion.

Quote:


Beware a biased pool of evidence. In PF1, there is very little a GM can grant (limited to allowing archetypes to stack and waiving flavor prerequisites, mostly) compared to the large set of rules that can be restricted to tweak how the game plays.

How many GMs on the forums are likely to allow flavorful archetypes to stack?

I'm unsure how to put this, but your viewpoint on PF1 seems very narrow. I don't have alignment restrictions. I allow vital strike to work with spring attack. I let player made wands act as caster level (when made) with no increase in price. I reduced the magic item creation time to half.

That's just a small amount of things I've opened up - archetypes would be fine but no one in my gaming group has ever wanted to take more than one - /shrug.

The point of this - is that there are many things in PF1 you can open up - so ... ? I disagree with you, at least in terms of 'limited options to allow' - but I do agree with the 'biased pool' comment - thus why I said and I suspect (without hard evidence). I do find it ironic, because I wrapped my opinions with qualifiers all over the place - considering my original nitpick was over the use of absolute language.


Cantriped wrote:
KingOfAnything wrote:
How many GMs on the forums are likely to allow flavorful archetypes to stack?
I did once (I mentioned already elsewhere). To be fair, the player really wanted it, argued for the least beneficial combination, and I still spent three-hours crunching numbers before I allowed it. I also informed him he was weakening himself in the trade and that I didn't really recommend it.

This is a great example of what I mean - allowing things isn't easier because the player is happy - and many GM's learn the hard way - half way through a campaign that unforeseen interactions made a long ago decision a bad one, it only takes being burnt like that once before you decide it's not worth it when the player wants 'crazy idea #234,938,398.'

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Ckorik wrote:

I'm unsure how to put this, but your viewpoint on PF1 seems very narrow. I don't have alignment restrictions. I allow vital strike to work with spring attack. I let player made wands act as caster level (when made) with no increase in price. I reduced the magic item creation time to half.

That's just a small amount of things I've opened up - archetypes would be fine but no one in my gaming group has ever wanted to take more than one - /shrug.

And how many restrictions do you impose on your players?


edduardco wrote:
Tender Tendrils wrote:

The system is useful because I can say to my players "you can obtain any common item for the price listed in the book without any trouble while you are in downtime". Instead of "here is the exhaustive list I wrote of what you can and can't get which I spent 6 hours agonising over because I am ridiculous and can't help myself".

The former saves me a lot of work and smooths out the game (and means players expectations are already set by the book so it doesn't make them salty when I say they can't find an orcish double ended axe). The latter creates space for me to overthink and over-world build which is a constant temptation for me.

Wow, you have big assumption there, you seems to be assuming that Paizo is going to tag as uncommon or rarer everything that you would have written on your list.

Also, if you have a problem with X spell/item/etc you will still need to check what rarity Paizo assigned it to it, and if you make a change, you will still need to write a list of those changes to let your players know.

I'm not making any assumptions, aside from that they will do what they said in the blog (giving items rarity values). Their choices of what is common or uncommon doesn't have to match what I would choose - I am happy as long as there is a reasonably logical system that saves me from trying to implement one. Also, writing a list of exceptions is a lot easier than writing my own list for every single item.

I don't understand why people seem to be against the idea that this new system will be useful for the people who are saying it will be useful for them. Generally if someone says something is going to be useful for them I take their word for it instead of picking apart what they say.


KingOfAnything wrote:
Ckorik wrote:

I'm unsure how to put this, but your viewpoint on PF1 seems very narrow. I don't have alignment restrictions. I allow vital strike to work with spring attack. I let player made wands act as caster level (when made) with no increase in price. I reduced the magic item creation time to half.

That's just a small amount of things I've opened up - archetypes would be fine but no one in my gaming group has ever wanted to take more than one - /shrug.

And how many restrictions do you impose on your players?

I don't allow player on player conflict - no opposed rolls between party members - ever. The players are expected to play against the game world, not each other.

Anything else depends on the campaign, and the goals I have for the story - I don't allow joke character concepts (I have a player... don't ask).


Ckorik wrote:
KingOfAnything wrote:
Ckorik wrote:

I'm unsure how to put this, but your viewpoint on PF1 seems very narrow. I don't have alignment restrictions. I allow vital strike to work with spring attack. I let player made wands act as caster level (when made) with no increase in price. I reduced the magic item creation time to half.

That's just a small amount of things I've opened up - archetypes would be fine but no one in my gaming group has ever wanted to take more than one - /shrug.

And how many restrictions do you impose on your players?

I don't allow player on player conflict - no opposed rolls between party members - ever. The players are expected to play against the game world, not each other.

Anything else depends on the campaign, and the goals I have for the story - I don't allow joke character concepts (I have a player... don't ask).

Not allowing player conflict seems far more narrow than any other restriction I can think of (I find allowing characters within a party to have differing goals and opinions and to play those out, even if it means occasionally deceiving each other or sneaking around behind each other's backs, adds a lot of richness to party dynamics and is a vital part of roleplay)


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Roswynn wrote:
Shinigami02 wrote:
A lot of GMs in this thread wrote:
-Stuff about customizing classes-

Man you guys's players must be lucky. In my group it's a fight to even get away with a paizo-published optional rule that's not basically if not literally entirely self-contained. Unchained Classes, Skill Unlocks, and Stamina on Fighters sure but stuff like verbal/psychic duels or Words of Power? Heck no... well maybe one particular GM for WoP sometimes. There's definitely no way I could get away with homebrewing stuff onto a class.

Heck, I look at people making custom magic items and custom spell research and until now thought they had the most permissive GMs in the world. I never realized just how strict my group is ^.^; As a homebrewer who loves messing with custom magic items, custom races, even the occasional archetype (considered class a few times but dear Gods are classes a pain in the arse) it really makes me long for the games of others.

Can't you try and find a more permissive group? Or try and convince at least some of these gms to seriously listen to your preferences? It's not just their game, it's yours.

Way late response sorry, rough couple days ^.^;

Anyways. The issue with this is yeah it's not just their game... it's also not just mine. We're a large online group of something like 40 people, and I'm... not quite the sole Homebrewer (heck, one of our members is officially Paizo-published as of... either last month or this month. He's the GM that lets me get away with thing sometimes) but I am definitely part of a small minority. Given most of the group is fine with doing things by the book and I am an extremely shy individual that took a couple years to get comfortable enough with this group to game, I find it easier to grin and bear it, and occasionally sweet-talk the few cooperative (or in some cases simply new and inexperienced) GMs into letting me toy with something weird. ^.^;


Mark Seifter wrote:
Charlie Brooks wrote:
If the monsters in the Bestiary get common/uncommon/rare applied to them, I'm going to go back to using the 2-20 encounter tables I used to run with in AD&D and make my setting more sandbox-y.
Supposedly, monsters had this in PF1 for Knowledge checks, we just never told you what they were beyond like goblins being very common in the example.

I defaulted to a system of "Knowledge checks for monsters are +5 for each number of bestiary" to simulate rarity of certain things. Similarly, I tacked a flat +5 or more to spellcraft out magic items depending on which sourcebook they came from. Served as proxy for exactly this system. Glad to see it implemented.


Childeric, The Shatterer wrote:

The best thing about this IMO, is that it shows that the developers are paying more attention to the needs of the DM. in 1e, far too much content seems to be aimed at players only, while DM's get left in the dust.

I also like how this combines well with the new downtime system for those who want to chase down those uncommon and rare items.

Doing a couple skill roles, some RPing, and exchanging currency/favors/etc for an item; I mean I kinda do this in PF1 without this. Heck I try to do this when NOT in game if possible, just do it through emails or chat rooms(Hello Discord).

But I wonder how many DMs are going to be willing to run a solo dungeon crawl because the "Insert Class here" wants an item and it's in a Dungeon/Guardhouse/Museum/Mansion/Fence's House/etc.

Also wonder how many parties are going to be willing to go along on a side quest for a personal upgrade? I wonder what happens when 3 people want Rare item upgrades at the same time?


Tender Tendrils wrote:
Ckorik wrote:
KingOfAnything wrote:
Ckorik wrote:

I'm unsure how to put this, but your viewpoint on PF1 seems very narrow. I don't have alignment restrictions. I allow vital strike to work with spring attack. I let player made wands act as caster level (when made) with no increase in price. I reduced the magic item creation time to half.

That's just a small amount of things I've opened up - archetypes would be fine but no one in my gaming group has ever wanted to take more than one - /shrug.

And how many restrictions do you impose on your players?

I don't allow player on player conflict - no opposed rolls between party members - ever. The players are expected to play against the game world, not each other.

Anything else depends on the campaign, and the goals I have for the story - I don't allow joke character concepts (I have a player... don't ask).

Not allowing player conflict seems far more narrow than any other restriction I can think of (I find allowing characters within a party to have differing goals and opinions and to play those out, even if it means occasionally deceiving each other or sneaking around behind each other's backs, adds a lot of richness to party dynamics and is a vital part of roleplay)

For every group you can probably point to where it helps the story, I can probably point to a group where it derails it. Players not wanting to share what they know, getting mad about it, getting mad about being found out when they can't possibly be found out due to plot, etc etc.

I'm okay with different characters coming together for a job for their own reasons but working against the party can easily slide into problems.

Dark Archive

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edduardco wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Of course, libertarian gamists will cry foul, because it will limit their dumpster diving frenzy.

Speaking as a libertarian, we're all about consensus in terms of rules. As long as the group agrees most libertarians are fine with some restrictions.

Unless they're a#$%*&@s, of course. Every group has some of those.

What if is the GM? I've noticed in this thread there is a mentality of "there is no such a thing as a bad GM, only bad players".

I wouldn't say that is the general viewpoint. But there are really only two solutions to a bad GM, each applying to one of the two general classifications of bad GM. The ignorant/inexperienced GM is solved by giving them the tools to do better, whether through rules that make things easier for them, mentoring, or simply experience in the role. The willful category of GM has only one solution. Leave the table. Either they will have a change of heart when they lose players, or you have at least SEPed them.


Quote:
... you have at least SEPed them.

What does SEP mean?


World of Dim Light wrote:
edduardco wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Of course, libertarian gamists will cry foul, because it will limit their dumpster diving frenzy.

Speaking as a libertarian, we're all about consensus in terms of rules. As long as the group agrees most libertarians are fine with some restrictions.

Unless they're a#$%*&@s, of course. Every group has some of those.

What if is the GM? I've noticed in this thread there is a mentality of "there is no such a thing as a bad GM, only bad players".
I wouldn't say that is the general viewpoint. But there are really only two solutions to a bad GM, each applying to one of the two general classifications of bad GM. The ignorant/inexperienced GM is solved by giving them the tools to do better, whether through rules that make things easier for them, mentoring, or simply experience in the role. The willful category of GM has only one solution. Leave the table. Either they will have a change of heart when they lose players, or you have at least SEPed them.

If everyone you know is a bad GM then you could always play Gloomhaven.

Dark Archive

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GM DarkLightHitomi wrote:
Quote:
... you have at least SEPed them.
What does SEP mean?

Somebody Else's Problem.


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MerlinCross wrote:
Childeric, The Shatterer wrote:

The best thing about this IMO, is that it shows that the developers are paying more attention to the needs of the DM. in 1e, far too much content seems to be aimed at players only, while DM's get left in the dust.

I also like how this combines well with the new downtime system for those who want to chase down those uncommon and rare items.

Doing a couple skill roles, some RPing, and exchanging currency/favors/etc for an item; I mean I kinda do this in PF1 without this. Heck I try to do this when NOT in game if possible, just do it through emails or chat rooms(Hello Discord).

But I wonder how many DMs are going to be willing to run a solo dungeon crawl because the "Insert Class here" wants an item and it's in a Dungeon/Guardhouse/Museum/Mansion/Fence's House/etc.

Also wonder how many parties are going to be willing to go along on a side quest for a personal upgrade? I wonder what happens when 3 people want Rare item upgrades at the same time?

FASA’s Earthdawn had sidequesting built into their magic item rule system, where items were upgradable through research at locations specifc to each item and side-questing - and it was a *major* hassle to go through the side quests for all the players in a large group, with the group flitting all over Barsaive (Earthdawn’s setting) for upgrades. No side-quests were done solo, because no-one wanted to be side-lined during them, and ”you don’t split the party”.


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This one, I definitely like a lot. Let's hope baseline assumption are serviciable without dialing too much.
I really do hope that baseline rarity assumpion are dictated more by world building needs that fluff reason. Locking Dominate Persons behind rare because it's a plot device, I can approve. Locking armor proficiency behind a Rare tag because "grey warden fluff in golarion" it's really bad, and would imply having to retag every fluff-based restriction in every single of your homebrews settings.


Dekalinder wrote:
world building needs that fluff reason.

What is the difference?

Dark Archive

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Dekalinder wrote:

This one, I definitely like a lot. Let's hope baseline assumption are serviciable without dialing too much.

I really do hope that baseline rarity assumpion are dictated more by world building needs that fluff reason. Locking Dominate Persons behind rare because it's a plot device, I can approve. Locking armor proficiency behind a Rare tag because "grey warden fluff in golarion" it's really bad, and would imply having to retag every fluff-based restriction in every single of your homebrews settings.

The Grey Maiden armor IS world building,though. It just happens to be world building for Paizo's official campaign world.


GM DarkLightHitomi wrote:
Dekalinder wrote:
world building needs that fluff reason.
What is the difference?

To me, world building are mechanics that impact how a theoretical world is build when made up from scratc. The most famous example of such a case is the Tippyverse. The Tippyverse would not be possible if Teleportation Circle was deemed an incredibly rare spell only one knows and does not want to share.

Fluff is a themathical flavor for some specific mechanics, that in general does not impact the use of the mechanics per se. Sleeping poison being a fan favorite of the Drows is a fluff decision, that in general does not impact the world since has no impact on where the city are placed or the general need of a poisoner expert at a noble table.

The presence of an ubiquitous way to Dominate people impact the world as a whole, since countermeasures need to be in place at every major seat of power. Someone having a thougher armor is not going to shape the destiny of the masses.
Execpt for the players that get cut of from such character building option.


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Dekalinder wrote:
GM DarkLightHitomi wrote:
Dekalinder wrote:
world building needs that fluff reason.
What is the difference?

To me, world building are mechanics that impact how a theoretical world is build when made up from scratc. The most famous example of such a case is the Tippyverse. The Tippyverse would not be possible if Teleportation Circle was deemed an incredibly rare spell only one knows and does not want to share.

Fluff is a themathical flavor for some specific mechanics, that in general does not impact the use of the mechanics per se. Sleeping poison being a fan favorite of the Drows is a fluff decision, that in general does not impact the world since has no impact on where the city are placed or the general need of a poisoner expert at a noble table.

The presence of an ubiquitous way to Dominate people impact the world as a whole, since countermeasures need to be in place at every major seat of power. Someone having a thougher armor is not going to shape the destiny of the masses.
Execpt for the players that get cut of from such character building option.

I have bad news for you, Paizo doesn't believe there is a distinction between fluff and mechanics, so you can expect to see rarity applied for fluff reasons, like sleep Poison for example, is most probably going to be tagged as uncommon.


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edduardco wrote:


I have bad news for you, Paizo doesn't believe there is a distinction between fluff and mechanics, so you can expect to see rarity applied for fluff reasons, like sleep Poison for example, is most probably going to be tagged as uncommon.

You might want to expand Paizo to nearly every other developer who made a non-general universe RPG system. Uncommon sleep poison (or whatever) isn't any different than not being able to casually find lasers or mil-spec gear in Shadowrun, plasma tech in 40k RP, or firearms in Legend of the Five Rings.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Tarik Blackhands wrote:
edduardco wrote:


I have bad news for you, Paizo doesn't believe there is a distinction between fluff and mechanics, so you can expect to see rarity applied for fluff reasons, like sleep Poison for example, is most probably going to be tagged as uncommon.

You might want to expand Paizo to nearly every other developer who made a non-general universe RPG system. Uncommon sleep poison (or whatever) isn't any different than not being able to casually find lasers or mil-spec gear in Shadowrun, plasma tech in 40k RP, or firearms in Legend of the Five Rings.

Or hell even universal ones too, because every mechanic that exists impacts what can be done in the world.

E.G how you decide to handle skills in a Universal RPG, even though the skills can be anything for any setting, still impacts the tone of how capable people are/can be, how quickly they advance, how much fate impacts trained people etc.


Malk_Content wrote:
Tarik Blackhands wrote:
edduardco wrote:


I have bad news for you, Paizo doesn't believe there is a distinction between fluff and mechanics, so you can expect to see rarity applied for fluff reasons, like sleep Poison for example, is most probably going to be tagged as uncommon.

You might want to expand Paizo to nearly every other developer who made a non-general universe RPG system. Uncommon sleep poison (or whatever) isn't any different than not being able to casually find lasers or mil-spec gear in Shadowrun, plasma tech in 40k RP, or firearms in Legend of the Five Rings.

Or hell even universal ones too, because every mechanic that exists impacts what can be done in the world.

E.G how you decide to handle skills in a Universal RPG, even though the skills can be anything for any setting, still impacts the tone of how capable people are/can be, how quickly they advance, how much fate impacts trained people etc.

Yeah but that's not exactly the devs making the call for you. In GURPS (or whatever) no one's saying that firearms are rare except me the GM. Meanwhile if I boot up a game of Dark Heresy, it's presumed that plasma guns are quite rare unless I go monkeying around with the fluff.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Kinda, what isn't included (even if temporarily) has just as much impact. If a universal system doesn't have rules for, say, magic being a result of the group consciousness of everyone participating in a closed or partially exclusive ecosystem then that is a setting restriction. Admittedly it probably isn't a deliberate one, but it is meant as an example of how every choice impacts setting and thus even games that strive to be universal still make assumptions about how the world(s) work.


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MerlinCross wrote:

But I wonder how many DMs are going to be willing to run a solo dungeon crawl because the "Insert Class here" wants an item and it's in a Dungeon/Guardhouse/Museum/Mansion/Fence's House/etc.

Also wonder how many parties are going to be willing to go along on a side quest for a personal upgrade? I wonder what happens when 3 people want Rare item upgrades at the same time?

Well that depends greatly. Did the players talk with their GM well in advance about the rare stuff they were considering for their character build and get it okayed? If yes, then the required story arcs for receiving said rare stuff would probably already be interwoven into the campaign well in advance.

For Example:
In one of my games a player wanted to be a dinosaur-shaping druid and asked if it dinosaurs actually existed in the setting since they didn't want to spring the character build on me in case dinosaurs weren't around (good player). Dinosaurs had long been extinct in my world, but I managed to work a solution where the character went on a side journey during a session the player couldn't make it, and was brought to a certain set of ruins by a cleric who shared the same deity as them. Said deity was one of the few old enough to know history prior to the events which killed off the dinosaurs and was willing to share it - so the player got a private word doc with some hidden world info and a knowledge check DC for determining if they had learned enough about a particular dinosaur in order to wildshape into it. The beginning of the plans for this character sub-plot started during character creation and ended with the player getting his rare build plus a bit of extra glee from knowing things that most people (including the other players) didn't. (& actually came with an explicit, "don't talk to non-worshippers about this," since other forces would prefer that the forgotten history of the world stay forgotten)

If not, then the players should be slapped on the nose for assuming that all rare stuff will be provided on demand for any character in any campaign. The explicit point of rare stuff is to have a GM gate on options which are very limited in the setting. Not every campaign is going to have a chance to visit unique location X, interact with special group Y, learn secret Z, and so on. I'd argue that this is a good thing, since it helps keep the world consistent and keeps rare stuff as being actually rare & special. Not to mention that certain character concepts using rare stuff can be inappropriate for certain campaigns.

For Example:
I played in a campaign where all dragons were evil and anything related to dragons could be considered rare. In addition, there was a great fear of people consorting with dragons to bring about calamities, so any items related to dragons could be considered highly suspicious to own. Trying to surprise my GM in this campaign by prestiging into Dragon Disciple, playing my Dragon Herald Kobold Bard (who was great fun in another campaign), or demanding to buy a dragon-related item would have been highly inappropriate for that campaign, even if it would be fine in a different campaign.

Looking back, a dragonblooded sorcerer who didn't know the origin of their power could have been a really cool character concept to play in that setting, but would have required explicit GM interaction to approve/work with the setting. Trying to surprise the GM with the concept just because I thought it could be interesting would have also been inappropriate.


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Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Yeah but that's not exactly the devs making the call for you. In GURPS (or whatever) no one's saying that firearms are rare except me the GM. Meanwhile if I boot up a game of Dark Heresy, it's presumed that plasma guns are quite rare unless I go monkeying around with the fluff.

GURPS has rules for how difficult it is to find something. There are "unusual background" costs for unusual abilities, "tech level" for describing what sort of things are available to buy with cost modifiers for cutting-edge things that are hard to find, "legality class" for legal structures restricting access to equipment, etc. Most settings define which of these apply to what kinds of abilities/gear.

There are "defaults" but because it's GURPS, the most default of defaults attempt to simulate normal present-day Earth reality and every setting changes them to some degree.

So, yeah, having a setting's fluff reflected in mechanical choices is fine for many systems and should be fine here. They're specifically available for tuning to match the setting, but having defaults is fine. It's okay that guns are likely to be easier to come by in Alkenstar or whatever than elsewhere in Golarion. It turns out that they're easier to get in Texas than in London.


RicoTheBold wrote:
Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Yeah but that's not exactly the devs making the call for you. In GURPS (or whatever) no one's saying that firearms are rare except me the GM. Meanwhile if I boot up a game of Dark Heresy, it's presumed that plasma guns are quite rare unless I go monkeying around with the fluff.

GURPS has rules for how difficult it is to find something. There are "unusual background" costs for unusual abilities, "tech level" for describing what sort of things are available to buy with cost modifiers for cutting-edge things that are hard to find, "legality class" for legal structures restricting access to equipment, etc. Most settings define which of these apply to what kinds of abilities/gear.

There are "defaults" but because it's GURPS, the most default of defaults attempt to simulate normal present-day Earth reality and every setting changes them to some degree.

Noted. I'm honestly not super familiar with GURPS (or universal systems in general). Always cut my teeth on more focused games.


D20 is a universal system.

There are basically three types of rules,
A) core rules, the foundational rules that make everything work, many of which the players never become conscious of.

B) player options, the available choices, such as equipment, classes, feats, etc.

C) setting rules, the limirations that apply due to setting. Often are simply implicit in the design of player options, but can be explicit such as with the commonality rules.

Keep in mind, how commonality works mechanically (a core rule) is a separate thing from what commonality is attributed to each thing (a setting rule). Much the same way as having classes is a separate thing from what classes are available.


I suspect pf2 will not be d20, anymore than 4e.


A 'd20 system' is simply a marketing gimmick for 'a system that uses d20s to resolve success/failure'. The idea being that using a consistant resolution makes it easier to use modular subsystems (usually for genre emulation) in play.

Other systems use percentile dice (like Rolemaster). Some even get called d% or d100 systems. Usually their selling point is more granularity (36% accuracy, 8% critical, 4% fumble)

Quite a few systems use sets of d6s; which produce results on a bell curve that is helpful for narrative consistancy so long as you account for their more bounded result ranges. For example, you've got a 50% chance to roll 11 or more on 3d6, but only a ~½% chance of rolling an 18 (which can be an automatic critical success considering how rarely it happens).


Brock Landers wrote:
Cantriped wrote:
A 'd20 system' is simply a marketing gimmick for 'a system that uses d20s to resolve success/failure'.
Nothing to do with marketing, a gimmick, maybe, but d20 vs. a DC is pretty much it, hence, 4th Ed and PF2 are d20 systems, where do you draw the line at what is a d20 system and what is not?

Is your system's core mechanic throwing a 20 sided die in order to determine success or failure? If you answered yes to this question then you have a d20 system. There's nothing universal about it as a core mechanic just like every other core mechanic whether it be d100 or various forms of dice buckets (usually d10 or d6).


Not using a d20 to determine general success/failure?

Even Rolemaster can be run as a d20 system (it has the optional rules for it anyway.


On the contrary, choice of dice resolution is not equal to a system.

D20 as a system, the core of 3.x, d20 modern, etc, is far more than simply rolling a d20, and indeed is still D20 even when using the 3d6 variation and is recognizable as such.

My d20 varient replaces the d20 with three dice based on stats and yet is still close enough to d20 to fall under the ogl and can even be taught as a set of rule changes from standard d20.


From the group D2 Something comes the song "What about Playing an Android?"

Song:

You say that we get nothing Uncommon.
Only Common feats to start from.
And Rares? Don't even start.

You say Blood Money's on the unique list.
Tarrasque is on the unique list.
Still I just want just one rare.

Then I said, "What about playing an android?"
She said, "I think that's a little too rare,
How about Goblins, I think we both kind of like them."
And I said, "They're core now. Maybe I could play a bugbear?"

Rogue tengu? Or a wild druid grippli?
A crossbow sniper ganzi?
I guess you'll say no.
So what now? It's lame to play just Commons.
And I hate there's no Uncommons.
When so much is left unplayed...

Then I said, "What about playing an android?"
She said, "I think that's a little too rare,
How about Goblins, I think we both kind of like them."
And I said, "They're core now. Maybe I could play a bugbear?"

You say that we get nothing Uncommon.
Only Common feats to start from.
And Rares? Don't even start.

You say Blood Money's on the unique list.
Tarrasque is on the unique list.
Still I just want just one rare.

Then I said, "What about playing an android?"
She said, "I think that's a little too rare,
How about Goblins, I think we both kind of like them."
And I said, "They're core now. Maybe I could play a bugbear?"

Ooh, then I said, "What about playing an android?"
She said, "I think that's a little too rare,
How about Goblins, I think we both kind of like them."
And I said, "They're core now. Maybe I could play a bugbear?"

Then I said, "What about playing an android?"
She said, "I think that's a little too rare,
How about Goblins, I think we both kind of like them."
And I said, "They're core now. Maybe I could play a bugbear?"


But is there not a d20 trademark symbol thingy for those sorts of games? I see it on a bunch of books I own.


The mechanic of using a d20 is rather iconic. Doesn't make it the be-all and end-all of the system, it just lent itself well to the marketing needs.


GM DarkLightHitomi wrote:
The mechanic of using a d20 is rather iconic. Doesn't make it the be-all and end-all of the system, it just lent itself well to the marketing needs.

Well, the ability score system, that debuted in 4th Ed Gammaworld, and rolling a d20 vs. a DC seems universal enough amongst all the systems for them so be considered part of the same basic/core game engine/system.


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On the other hand, Pendragon would be an example of a game where most tasks are resolved by rolling a d20 but that could not by any stretch of the imagination be considered a d20 system game.


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Late to this conversation, but here's my two coppers:

For myself (as a player) and many of my players, what's the point of "Rare" if it doesn't equal "More Powerful"?

Not to be a powergaming min/maxer (which, sadly, I am), but let's be real. Magic missile with white bolts (Common) vs. Thessalonian Rune Missile [magic missile with purple bolts] (Rare)... who cares? Now, if it were Thessalonian Wrath Missile [magic missile with purplish red bolts that screams hideously as it streaks toward its target, causing a Will save or be Shaken], that might be worth pursuing. More powerful than the Common variant, and worth the hassle (or glory) of the Rare tag.

Jixtilian Stone Golems that perform like Common Stone Golems, meh. Oh, did I mention that Jixtilian Stone Golems are crafted from stormstone, from the cross-planar mines of the Elemental Chaos [I know, I crossed games], so they have an Aura of "10 lightning damage if you start your turn within 10 feet"? Okay, that might be worth questing for the lost "Jixtilian Stone Golems for Dummies" book.

Unless you're playing a Samurai in King Arthur's Court, if the katana = "longsword + Uncommon tag", no one will ask for a katana. Or keep it, when found in the treasure horde of the Lost Silk Convoy of Marc O'polo.

So, then, what use are the tags? If, on the other hand, power is locked behind the tags (i.e. "Katana" = "longsword with +1 to hit"), then I see some use to me as a GM, and some use to the players for understanding limits on what they are asking.

"Firearms are Rare because you have to use jeweler's rouge, available only in infrequent shipments from the Traveling City of Zelazamber... and they work like shortbows." Who cares? "Did I mention, shortbows that strike Touch AC (i.e. totally armor piercing)?" Awesome, where is the Traveling City showing up next?

So... this set of rules, according to the stated intent, is unnecessary.

Sovereign Court

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rmcoen wrote:


For myself (as a player) and many of my players, what's the point of "Rare" if it doesn't equal "More Powerful"?

Rare means that it's an effect that is less common. Having more options that are closed to other people can make a character "more powerful" without the effect being more powerful than another spell effect from the same level.

rmcoen wrote:


Not to be a powergaming min/maxer (which, sadly, I am), but let's be real. Magic missile with white bolts (Common) vs. Thessalonian Rune Missile [magic missile with purple bolts] (Rare)... who cares?

That's a really really bad example... a rarer spell shouldn't be the same effect of another spell with cosmetic changes. It should be a spell that feels different, but isn't more powerful.

rmcoen wrote:


Now, if it were Thessalonian Wrath Missile [magic missile with purplish red bolts that screams hideously as it streaks toward its target, causing a Will save or be Shaken], that might be worth pursuing. More powerful than the Common variant, and worth the hassle (or glory) of the Rare tag.

See, you almost get what a rarer spell should be here. Except that you want the rarer spell to just be BETTER than the common one, which it should not be. It should be different. If the tradeoff is to make a will save or be shaken at the price of less damage, it might work. But spell rarity is better when it's completely different spells.

rmcoen wrote:


Jixtilian Stone Golems that perform like Common Stone Golems, meh.

Once again, the "rare" spell or the "katana (rare)" should mean that it's something uncommon and different, not the same with a different flavor text.

Let's take for example that Common Stone golems are vulnerable to acid, but the Jixtilian Stone Golems are vulnerable to fire. There will be some cases when the Jixtilian will be better than the Common one and vice versa.

A group of adventurer trying to fight a Jixtilian Stone golem and not understanding why it doesn't react the way a Stone golem should IS something interesting.

rmcoen wrote:


Unless you're playing a Samurai in King Arthur's Court, if the katana = "longsword + Uncommon tag", no one will ask for a katana.

The katana will not be a longsword + uncommon tag. It will be a weapon sharing the same damage dice than a longsword, but will have different capacities.

For example, you could have two weapons with the same damage dice. One weapon is common and enables you to make Trip attack, the other one is uncommon and enables you to make Grab attacks. Is one better than the other? Not necessarily. Is having access to a new weapon that enables you to make new kind of attack cool? Hell Yeah! (this is by the way a suboptimal example, but you understand what I mean).

rmcoen wrote:


So, then, what use are the tags? If, on the other hand, power is locked behind the tags (i.e. "Katana" = "longsword with +1 to hit").

The Devs have said that power SHOULDN'T be locked behind rarity. Rarity is interesting because you're one of the 10 fighters in the realm who has access to a type of weapon that is rare, enabling you to do things that other fighters can't. That doesn't mean that you are better than the other fighters of the realm, it just mean you can do things that other can't!

rmcoen wrote:


So... this set of rules, according to the stated intent, is unnecessary.

The stated intent is to make available to the DM new kind of reward, you can decide as a DM to scrap all of the rarities and make everything available to the players, or you can make your player feel specials because their character have access to things that only them have access to.

Making your players feeling specials IS the stated intent of the rule, and it is really cool.


rmcoen wrote:
"Firearms are Rare because you have to use jeweler's rouge, available only in infrequent shipments from the Traveling City of Zelazamber... and they work like shortbows."

You got a chuckle out of me for the Amber reference.

I am considering using the mechanics for repeating crossbows as a proxy for double-action pinlock firearms; but make them Uncommon (unless you were raised in the Mana Wastes or something flavorful like that). They'll likely have similar enough traits to genre emulation purposes.

A good example of an Uncommon spell would be a fire-spell with the area mechanics of Lightning Bolt instead of Fireball or vice versa with an uncommon electrical-spell.
Rare spells will likely be unusual for their Tradition, such as an Occult sonic-spell with the area mechanics and damage of Fireball (except dealt sonic damage of course).


Cantriped wrote:
rmcoen wrote:
"Firearms are Rare because you have to use jeweler's rouge, available only in infrequent shipments from the Traveling City of Zelazamber... and they work like shortbows."

You got a chuckle out of me for the Amber reference.

I am considering using the mechanics for repeating crossbows as a proxy for double-action pinlock firearms; but make them Uncommon (unless you were raised in the Mana Wastes or something flavorful like that). They'll likely have similar enough traits to genre emulation purposes.

A good example of an Uncommon spell would be a fire-spell with the area mechanics of Lightning Bolt instead of Fireball or vice versa with an uncommon electrical-spell.
Rare spells will likely be unusual for their Tradition, such as an Occult sonic-spell with the area mechanics and damage of Fireball (except dealt sonic damage of course).

Okay, now this I think got the point across better for me. If fireball isn't on the Occult list, but there is a Rare Runelords occult spell that is very similar, I see value.

That's actually the opposite of Darkorin's reply/basis - "coolness" from being unique, or having different options. I get that point-of-view, too, but that to me is "game balance". "pound of feathers vs. pound of bricks" argument - at the end of the day, it's still a pound, even if you use them differently. so why should the pound of feathers be Uncommon (or Rare)?

Anyway, thank you both for the considered replies!

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