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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Tags: Pathfinder Playtest
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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

This could be my favourite thing coming out of second edition. It helps address the “every single thing in every new book is suddenly available to everyone with no justification whatsoever” issue that puts a real weight on many GMs.


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Voss wrote:
But it doesn't explain why there would suddenly be spare katanas hanging around in vampire crypts (or whatever) in the middle of Ustalav, or in Aztlanti ruins, or... (etc, etc)

You wouldn't need there to be. At most you'll need four katanas during the course of your career (unless there is magic to obviate the eventual desire for a legendary katana). Weapons from the dungeon are valuable because the Potency and other Runes they hold can be transfered to your Katana, and the remaining salvage sold to fund your fondness for exotic weaponry.


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Voss wrote:
graystone wrote:
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
I like this, but I want to know what sorcerers have to do to add an uncommon spell to their spells known. Hear about it? See someone cast it? Please don't say "be taught it."

Of course he has to find it in that ancient ruin and study the scroll/book because, you know, it's an innate ability. ;)

Myself I'm not sure how I feel about it. I think it might end up being a bit arbitrary, especially if you aren't following the 'built in fluff'. Even gaming out of the box a little seems like it'd cause the categories to shift wildly.

I agree- and to some extent so does the article.

I really don't want to deal with the plethora of special snowflake backgrounds (for example, a deluge of former underdark slave alchemists) to justify players wanting XYZ uncommon thing to be common for them.

I don't like the ongoing implications either. For example, you've got a character from Golarion's Not!Japan. Katanas are common for them, so they start with one. OK, no problem. Is the DM now obligated to have a back alley not!Japanese cornershops in conveniently located towns, and drop magic katanas for the rest of the game? Because thats literally what I get from this bit:

Quote:
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.
But it doesn't explain why there would suddenly be spare katanas hanging around in vampire crypts (or whatever) in the middle of Ustalav, or in Aztlanti ruins, or... (etc, etc)

In cases like this, it seems like the right answer would be either "invest in crafting" (since as far as we know you no longer have to be a mage or pay extra feat tax to craft magic items) or "pay commission". I'm pretty sure an Expert, Master, or Legendary Blacksmith could examine your blade and figure out how to duplicate it if you're willing to pay them the gold for it. Yeah it'll take a few days, much like if you were crafting it yourself, but downtime seems like something that's supposed to be a common occurance in PF2e anyways and it's about as likely that the longswordsman or sorcerer might need to commission something themselves. Especially an Arcane Sorcerer with their Evolution feat, gotta see if it's possible to get a fancy new scroll or 10 after all.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Cantriped wrote:
Voss wrote:
But it doesn't explain why there would suddenly be spare katanas hanging around in vampire crypts (or whatever) in the middle of Ustalav, or in Aztlanti ruins, or... (etc, etc)
You wouldn't need there to be. At most you'll need four katanas during the course of your career (unless there is magic to obviate the eventual desire for a legendary katana). Weapons from the dungeon are valuable because the Potency and other Runes they hold can be transfered to your Katana, and the remaining salvage sold to fund your fondness for exotic weaponry.

You can actually reforge your weapon at a higher quality too.


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Talking about monsters rarity, I would personally really appreciate if the Monster Entries in the books included the Rarity, used Knowledges for identifying them, and their DCs. How is that not a thing?


I could see sacred geometry returning as a rare feat of a wizard group who are mathematically based.

Likewise I could see leadership returning as a rare feat for generals and rulers of kingdoms.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

This is very welcome for identifying monsters regulating access to items in locations as wall as access to new books stuff

Are Exotic weapons even needed now ?

Concerning the Sorcerer thing, well how did people justify in-setting getting access to new (higher-level) spells when you leveled up ?

I think it is the exact same issue as far as in-setting justification is concerned


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What about Research? There will be a Downtime option to Research Spells and Formulas similar to Crafting items? And if yes, would a PC able to Research Rare Spells and Formulas?


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Mark Seifter wrote:
You can actually reforge your weapon at a higher quality too.

Yay, we can even keep our 'grandfather's axe' forever...


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The Raven Black wrote:

This is very welcome for identifying monsters regulating access to items in locations as wall as access to new books stuff

Are Exotic weapons even needed now ?

Concerning the Sorcerer thing, well how did people justify in-setting getting access to new (higher-level) spells when you leveled up ?

I think it is the exact same issue as far as in-setting justification is concerned

I think exotic weapons are just plain complex weapon types not really rarity although rarity probably does play a factor if you are wanting to use exotic weapons from tian.

Exotic weapons would be things like the chain with dagger end stuff you see in some martial arts weapons things that are just mechanically complex to use. Fire arms probably will fall into this category as well because it requires some specialized operational understanding to function.


Cantriped wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
You can actually reforge your weapon at a higher quality too.
Yay, we can even keep our 'grandfather's axe' forever...

I know this makes a friend of mine happy.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
edduardco wrote:
What about Research? There will be a Downtime option to Research Spells and Formulas similar to Crafting items? And if yes, would a PC able to Research Rare Spells and Formulas?

Could be based on proficiency in the appropriate Skill : Expert for Uncommon, Master for Rare and Legendary for Unique

And the same for crafting


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Mark Seifter wrote:


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.

Thank you for this. That drove me crazy in PF1.


Even in PF1e it was technically possible to upgrade a weapon to Masterwork and then enchant it... if you had a helpful Wizard/Sorc with the Masterwork Transformation spell (or at least a scroll) and crafting feats, and a few days/weeks/years of downtime. Most games don't have all that IME though.

Sovereign Court

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Cantriped wrote:
Voss wrote:
But it doesn't explain why there would suddenly be spare katanas hanging around in vampire crypts (or whatever) in the middle of Ustalav, or in Aztlanti ruins, or... (etc, etc)
You wouldn't need there to be. At most you'll need four katanas during the course of your career (unless there is magic to obviate the eventual desire for a legendary katana). Weapons from the dungeon are valuable because the Potency and other Runes they hold can be transfered to your Katana, and the remaining salvage sold to fund your fondness for exotic weaponry.
You can actually reforge your weapon at a higher quality too.

That is indeed great news! Family treasure should be a thing and It was always sad that the optimal choice was to just throw a family legacy away after a few level.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
kaid wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

This is very welcome for identifying monsters regulating access to items in locations as wall as access to new books stuff

Are Exotic weapons even needed now ?

Concerning the Sorcerer thing, well how did people justify in-setting getting access to new (higher-level) spells when you leveled up ?

I think it is the exact same issue as far as in-setting justification is concerned

I think exotic weapons are just plain complex weapon types not really rarity although rarity probably does play a factor if you are wanting to use exotic weapons from tian.

Exotic weapons would be things like the chain with dagger end stuff you see in some martial arts weapons things that are just mechanically complex to use. Fire arms probably will fall into this category as well because it requires some specialized operational understanding to function.

That would fit nicely with my proposal to rename Exotic to Complex and have a nice progression from Simple weapons to Martial weapons to Complex weapons :-D

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Shinigami02 wrote:
Even in PF1e it was technically possible to upgrade a weapon to Masterwork and then enchant it... if you had a helpful Wizard/Sorc with the Masterwork Transformation spell (or at least a scroll) and crafting feats, and a few days/weeks/years of downtime. Most games don't have all that IME though.

Also the spell was not Core


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MerlinCross wrote:

Attaching the words is a double edged sword. How rare is a +2 sword going to be? Will my Spear Cleric be damned to uselessness because anything better than a short spear is Rare now?

Remember that items also have a level, which effectively creates a two-dimensional rarity system. A +2 spear might be something like a level 9 item, which might mean it's only available in small cities or larger communities (if it's not clear, I'm speculating wildly here). But it's still a common item, so it shouldn't be that hard to get a hold of for the right person. But a +2 katana would be uncommon, so it's not enough to get to a small city - you must also find someone there who trades with Tian Xia or otherwise has the right connections.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Mark Seifter wrote:


You can actually reforge your weapon at a higher quality too.

THIS makes me extremely happy as well! :D

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

AFAIK the only impact of item level in PF2 is on crafting it, not on availability


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Tholomyes wrote:

This seems like a reasonable thing, and I think I like it for magic and monsters way more than I do for things like feats (are feats going to have rarity, outside of certain spell point things as implied by the domain powers having rarity?).

I do hope things don't just default to uncommon or rare as a bloat-fixing mechanic, as supplements are released, since that will kind of defeat the whole purpose in my mind. Because at that point, it stops being a good framework of 'should this be allowed by default' and becomes a question of the GM 'is this Rare because it should be rare, or because it showed up in a splatbook'

But otherwise, as long as it's used reasonably, I could see it as a good thing. I can certainly see the potential (Imagine AP players' guides that say [xyz] are now made common, while [rst] are made uncommon, so playing in an Osirion or Qadira or Tian-Min adventure gives different base options than something set in the usual suspect western fantasy nations), but it's certainly something that I'm wary of not for the playtest but for what comes after.

Right now nearly no feats have higher than common rarity; it should be for techniques that are legitimately known to particular cultures, religions, and so on like you suggest. I think that the only one in the Playtest CRB is the Gray Maiden Dedication feat, which is only labeled as such because it is effectively rare no matter how we list it because of the RP requirement of joining the Gray Maidens.

Based on your description of Rare, I could see some style feats (assuming you do those again) being Rare. Go find the ancient master to learn the path of the dragon and such.


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This is one of those ideas that are unexciting at first glance, and, on second thought, seem so obviously necessary that the question becomes, why didn't we think of that ages ago? Which is another way of saying it's genius in its simplicity.

This will leave Paizo free to publish tons of books with feats, spells etc based on races, regions, factions, adventures and so on without inundating us with lists that eventually grow to the thousands. In D&D and then PF1, every time a book was published, divine casters instantly gained power, with arcane casters not far behind (it just takes buying a scroll in the next town). This new mechanic puts an end to that. At the same time, it opens up new areas for discovery, rewards, and plot points. There's also extra design space for new things that may be unbalancing if they were common, but are fine if they're confined to limited circles. Well done.


Shinigami02 wrote:
Even in PF1e it was technically possible to upgrade a weapon to Masterwork and then enchant it... if you had a helpful Wizard/Sorc with the Masterwork Transformation spell (or at least a scroll) and crafting feats, and a few days/weeks/years of downtime. Most games don't have all that IME though.

Crafting rules need a rework, my own group just hand waves stuff depending on how much time we have. It sounds odd yes but in 1 week my friend upgraded his sword twice I think and during the same time I made a full fledged Junk Golem. Mind you I did have a lot of salvage to work with


The Raven Black wrote:
edduardco wrote:
What about Research? There will be a Downtime option to Research Spells and Formulas similar to Crafting items? And if yes, would a PC able to Research Rare Spells and Formulas?

Could be based on proficiency in the appropriate Skill : Expert for Uncommon, Master for Rare and Legendary for Unique

And the same for crafting

Could be, that makes sense.

It will be good to have a confirmation if it is an option.


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edduardco wrote:
What about Research? There will be a Downtime option to Research Spells and Formulas similar to Crafting items? And if yes, would a PC able to Research Rare Spells and Formulas?

With the way rare is defined, I'd probably guess "no." Rare stuff seems to require explicit interaction with the GM, rather than being something you can do on your own as part of a general rule.

And to be fair, I personally kinda like that. After all, it lessens how special a rare spell is if any wizard can spend a week in the library and just happen to perfectly recreate the secret spell of an ancient runelord which has been lost for ages...

Paizo Employee Designer

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PressBtoJump wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Tholomyes wrote:

This seems like a reasonable thing, and I think I like it for magic and monsters way more than I do for things like feats (are feats going to have rarity, outside of certain spell point things as implied by the domain powers having rarity?).

I do hope things don't just default to uncommon or rare as a bloat-fixing mechanic, as supplements are released, since that will kind of defeat the whole purpose in my mind. Because at that point, it stops being a good framework of 'should this be allowed by default' and becomes a question of the GM 'is this Rare because it should be rare, or because it showed up in a splatbook'

But otherwise, as long as it's used reasonably, I could see it as a good thing. I can certainly see the potential (Imagine AP players' guides that say [xyz] are now made common, while [rst] are made uncommon, so playing in an Osirion or Qadira or Tian-Min adventure gives different base options than something set in the usual suspect western fantasy nations), but it's certainly something that I'm wary of not for the playtest but for what comes after.

Right now nearly no feats have higher than common rarity; it should be for techniques that are legitimately known to particular cultures, religions, and so on like you suggest. I think that the only one in the Playtest CRB is the Gray Maiden Dedication feat, which is only labeled as such because it is effectively rare no matter how we list it because of the RP requirement of joining the Gray Maidens.
Based on your description of Rare, I could see some style feats (assuming you do those again) being Rare. Go find the ancient master to learn the path of the dragon and such.

Monks out in the middle of nowhere were one of the first things I thought of as well. Certainly the titular "Iron Fist" of the Marvel superhero is rare if not unique.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Charon Onozuka wrote:
edduardco wrote:
What about Research? There will be a Downtime option to Research Spells and Formulas similar to Crafting items? And if yes, would a PC able to Research Rare Spells and Formulas?

With the way rare is defined, I'd probably guess "no." Rare stuff seems to require explicit interaction with the GM, rather than being something you can do on your own as part of a general rule.

And to be fair, I personally kinda like that. After all, it lessens how special a rare spell is if any wizard can spend a week in the library and just happen to perfectly recreate the secret spell of an ancient runelord which has been lost for ages...

This is fairly accurate. Now, if you found a few rare scribbled notes that weren't the whole lost spell but enough to begin the process of research? That's a whole different animal!


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This feels like a codification, possibly over-codification, of what is common sense / GM fiat. OK...I guess.


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Well, I love it!

Creating New worlds is a breeze.

Steampunk: Common Technology, Common Magic
Low Magic: Uncommon Magic
Post apocalyptic: Arcane Magic rare

Special Settings:

Legendary cities may have rare items as uncommon? and/or uncommon as common?

Rare organizations:
The Squirrel Riders Have a common animal companion - Giant Squirrel
The Spearstaff Warriors have a common weapon (the spearstaff)

etc., etc.

All set just by declaring it so.

Silver Crusade

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I love this so much!

I recently finished running Hell's Rebels. In that game, I tried to give Kintargo a limited pool of magic items (like the rules say to). I did this first to make the city feel more oppressive, second to make what magic items they did have feel more special. My players hated it, and I sort of can't blame them. There were two dozen or so different magic items available, so they just crafted what they could and did without the rest. This persisted until they had complained about it enough that I used the end of A Song of Silver as an excuse to retire that entirely. I have this sense that no number of magic items I could list will be enough to get them enough that they find interesting, but giving them everything is part of the reason they're currently on track to take Mephistopholes as a level 20 party.

If settlement stat blocks work something like "All Common Items, NdN Uncommon Items, NdN Rare Items, 1 Unique Item," I can make some of the items very special without denying them a plethora to choose from.

This will also reduce the tendency to pour over 100 player companions to craft the perfect character. There's something wrong when the only serious reason your players can't take a CR 30 creature is its regeneration which they wouldn't normally have a way to overcome.


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gwynfrid wrote:
This is one of those ideas that are unexciting at first glance, and, on second thought, seem so obviously necessary that the question becomes, why didn't we think of that ages ago? Which is another way of saying it's genius in its simplicity.

Personally I feel a decent number of us did something of varying degrees like this before, which is what puzzles me to see it actually formlized. Did this really need to be written down? I guess it did but eh, just weird to see.

A lot of the systems coming down the pipes are things I can't easily ignore or have to work hard to fix for my games. This? Meh. I don't see it having an impact on games I run.

Staffan Johansson wrote:


Remember that items also have a level, which effectively creates a two-dimensional rarity system. A +2 spear might be something like a level 9 item, which might mean it's only available in small cities or larger communities (if it's not clear, I'm speculating wildly here). But it's still a common item, so it shouldn't be that hard to get a hold of for the right person. But a +2 katana would be uncommon, so it's not enough to get to a small city - you must also find someone there who trades with Tian Xia or otherwise has the right connections.

Yes because I want to abandon the party and adventure to go all the way to a trading city just to upgrade one thing and go all the way back to the group.... who has already solved the problem and gotten their far easier to use gear. I mean Sword +2 is Common why doesn't everyone just use Swords?

Though as a side note, I keep seeing Katanas mentioned everywhere. Why? Were they that wide spread in use that people want to make sure they can keep using them? As for your example, err..., that's what I do now? Either find a merchant or find a blacksmith who is willing to rent you a forge and make it yourself.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Cantriped wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
You can actually reforge your weapon at a higher quality too.
Yay, we can even keep our 'grandfather's axe' forever...

This was something I was really hoping to see, and I'm glad there's an option for it. ^_^


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Cantriped wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
You can actually reforge your weapon at a higher quality too.
Yay, we can even keep our 'grandfather's axe' forever...

The Axe of Theseus, used to cut down all the timber at the shipyard...


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Charon Onozuka wrote:
edduardco wrote:
What about Research? There will be a Downtime option to Research Spells and Formulas similar to Crafting items? And if yes, would a PC able to Research Rare Spells and Formulas?

With the way rare is defined, I'd probably guess "no." Rare stuff seems to require explicit interaction with the GM, rather than being something you can do on your own as part of a general rule.

And to be fair, I personally kinda like that. After all, it lessens how special a rare spell is if any wizard can spend a week in the library and just happen to perfectly recreate the secret spell of an ancient runelord which has been lost for ages...

This is roughly accurate. Now, if you found a few rare scribbled notes that weren't the whole lost spell but enough to begin the process of research? That's a whole different animal!

This is exactly what I feared from this, I don't like systems that rely on GM fiat.


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PressBtoJump wrote:


Based on your description of Rare, I could see some style feats (assuming you do those again) being Rare. Go find the ancient master to learn the path of the dragon and such.

The special Kineticist powers in Occult Origins would be Unique examples - go to this specific volcano or whirlpool if you want this ability.


This is... a mostly good addition. It makes sense, but this is why GMs generally had their own "player packets" that briefed the players on what was and wasn't allowed in the game, so it's similar to reinventing the wheel. It does make it much easier to lower the learning curve of a given DM's setting for players, but this issue is generally resolved before the game is even started, so it's not too much of an addition to the overall game, and is kind of a waste of a blog post, considering the upcoming release in August.

A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one.


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This is a complex issue.

I agree certain things like Blood Money were intended to be rare and not generally int he hands of players.

But I'm worried that other options like Gloves of Dueling or other magical item equivalents (which may not exist in PF2.0, but I'm using this sort of thing as an example) may be called uncommon or rare by GMs to limit players ability to gain access to things that shouldn't be hard to get (IMO).

So it will still come down to whether or not your GM wants to allow something. Which is how it always worked anyways.

I'm not sure if these proposed rules will make things better or worse. I guess only time will tell.

Silver Crusade

MerlinCross wrote:
Also I would hope that players talk to you about anything they buy and don't just put it on their sheet because they just expect to have it.

At the risk of explaining my last post a little too well... checking everything they put on their sheets is a lot of work, so something that can designate more things as needing permission, while still allowing me to let them just take fireball and magic missile, is really good for me.

I'll probably let them take one uncommon/rare/unique option or so at character creation based on their character's backstory. I sort of want the PCs to feel special, and giving them things most people don't have access to is a way to do that.


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ThePuppyTurtle wrote:
This will also reduce the tendency to pour over 100 player companions to craft the perfect character. There's something wrong when the only serious reason your players can't take a CR 30 creature is its regeneration which they wouldn't normally have a way to overcome.

Err, how does this stop people from pouring over all the books to make a perfect character? Other than GM fiat now having an explicit in book ruling now?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
John Ryan 783 wrote:

For spontaneous casters it's even easier then wizards to reward rare or unique spells.

"You fought a mighty dragon, have a dragon spell."

"The explosion in the laboratory caused your already unstable bloodline to mutate slightly allowing more spell options."

"You have ingested the blood of a jackal after slaying a high priest of Lamashtu, earning her ire, but another cosmic being has bestowed a boon and hid a rare spell in your potential."

We're Blue Mages now yea Baby!

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Low tech / post Starfall : only simple weapons are Common, Wizards are Rare, Half-Orcs, Half-Elves, Elves are Rare, Dwarves and Gnomes are Uncommon


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ThePuppyTurtle wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:
Also I would hope that players talk to you about anything they buy and don't just put it on their sheet because they just expect to have it.

At the risk of explaining my last post a little too well... checking everything they put on their sheets is a lot of work, so something that can designate more things as needing permission, while still allowing me to let them just take fireball and magic missile, is really good for me.

I'll probably let them take one uncommon/rare/unique option or so at character creation based on their character's backstory. I sort of want the PCs to feel special, and giving them things most people don't have access to is a way to do that.

Checking everything is a pain yes but I prefer to see what my players are building/learning/getting as opposed to just guessing at what they are doing. Doing so lets me point out other options that might help them or the team out better rather than having them mess up and be useless or break the difficulty for the other people. This also lets me think of more unique or custom items than just tossing them a "better" weapon.

I mean if my cleric said they wanted to pick up a spell, now or Common in PF2, that was a mind effecting spell; well I would suggest against it after they came to me. Most undead(AP is undead heavy) are immune to that so that's a dead pick. But if I just nodded and said "Sure you can it's common" that makes it fine and dandy... till the zombies come in and that's now known as a dead spell.


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I'm happy for this as a worldbuilding tool. As a GM I only have 120 words per minute to share my setting info, having this in the Golarion setting material takes that off my plate. It also lets me make broad classifications without having to consider every individual spell/ability.

Is this something intended to limit the availability to powerful spells and feats? If so there are similarities to the PF1 case where exotic weapons were the extra good weapons or the rare weapons, now we fixed the weapons and have created a category for spells that similarly both include the extra good ones and the just plain rare ones.

Silver Crusade

MerlinCross wrote:
ThePuppyTurtle wrote:
This will also reduce the tendency to pour over 100 player companions to craft the perfect character. There's something wrong when the only serious reason your players can't take a CR 30 creature is its regeneration which they wouldn't normally have a way to overcome.
Err, how does this stop people from pouring over all the books to make a perfect character? Other than GM fiat now having an explicit in book ruling now?

My assumption is that a high percentage of Campaign Setting and Player Companion options would be non-common.


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I feel like this whole approach is one step down a very long, very complex road and not something that needed to be added to the rules. Rarity is obviously highly situational and often obvious. Saying something is "common" in general is meaningless if you then need a different list of rarities for every region. The equipment common in Geb is doubtless quite different than what's common in Osirion or Tian Xia or the Realm of the Mammoth Lords. Likewise monsters might be common in one area and non-existent in others. And well known or not in either case.

Overall, I feel like this will either be ignored by most groups, or it will become a bludgeon for GMs and a griping point for players. Eventually, it all comes back to the GM for decision anyway.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

This also adds greater validity to the idea that just because a game option exists doesn't mean it's automatically available, which can be difficult for more socially anxious GMs to enforce.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Charon Onozuka wrote:
edduardco wrote:
What about Research? There will be a Downtime option to Research Spells and Formulas similar to Crafting items? And if yes, would a PC able to Research Rare Spells and Formulas?

With the way rare is defined, I'd probably guess "no." Rare stuff seems to require explicit interaction with the GM, rather than being something you can do on your own as part of a general rule.

And to be fair, I personally kinda like that. After all, it lessens how special a rare spell is if any wizard can spend a week in the library and just happen to perfectly recreate the secret spell of an ancient runelord which has been lost for ages...

This is fairly accurate. Now, if you found a few rare scribbled notes that weren't the whole lost spell but enough to begin the process of research? That's a whole different animal!

Why should it be inherently more difficult to recreate a rare or unique spell? Finding a scroll or a copy in a spell book? Yes. Finding descriptions of it or notes about it in the texts of the church of Nethys? Sure. But recreating a rare spell should be no more difficult than creating a new spell.

I see the following situations:

Second hand experience
The character hears about the spell in stories, reads about it in an old text, etc.
This should be no different than if the player decides to research a spell that does the same thing as the original spell without hearing the legends first. It might not exactly replicate that spell, but it should be limited in its fidelity only by the accuracy of the records.

First hand experience
The character observes the casting and/or effect of the spell.
The character should be able to analyze the somatic, verbal, and/or material components used and gain insight to the spell. If the character can see or experience the effect of the spell it should be easier to replicate it. Seeing the spell cast multiple times should make it easier to replicate, while seeing it cast in the heat of combat, or other stressful situations, should make it harder. It should be possible, with enough observation, to exactly replicate the spell.


I feel this blog post should have come out yesterday for Throwback Thursday. Aside from that I like the overall concept that not everything is equally available everywhere. Having some kind of optional system to reflect that could be handy.


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Sorry, but questing/researching for your uncommons/rares just makes me think of playing FASA's Earthdawn system.

In that system, you had to find a teacher to level up, and magic items where multi-tier where you had to research and/or quest to level up your items - all of these required travel to different places.

And with everybody wanting to go off on their item level-up quests again and again, it made a mess out of the main plot, not to mention the frequent disagreements on whose item or personal level-up destination to go to next.

So, if the wizard wants to quest for his rare spells, the fighter wants to quest for his rare weapon, and the monk for his rare feats - how do you coordinate all these? And not lose sight of the main plot? (Especially of they are region-marked to different world regions...)

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

Mark Seifter wrote:
Cantriped wrote:
Voss wrote:
But it doesn't explain why there would suddenly be spare katanas hanging around in vampire crypts (or whatever) in the middle of Ustalav, or in Aztlanti ruins, or... (etc, etc)
You wouldn't need there to be. At most you'll need four katanas during the course of your career (unless there is magic to obviate the eventual desire for a legendary katana). Weapons from the dungeon are valuable because the Potency and other Runes they hold can be transfered to your Katana, and the remaining salvage sold to fund your fondness for exotic weaponry.
You can actually reforge your weapon at a higher quality too.

Yuck, not a fan. I can understand melting down your weapon and using the sentinmental metal from your dad's sword in a new one, but that's essentially making a new sword and having a bit of cool background flavor. I hope you can't "reforge" an expert sword into a legendary one at some reduced cost.

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