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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ThePuppyTurtle wrote:
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.

My hope is that this isn't the case. I mentioned upthread that I was concerned about this, and it would force me to have to question whether something was rare because it should be or because it's in a source book. For certain things, like Dervish Dance or Eagle Knight PrArchetype, I could see uncommon or rare respectively, but I hope that they stick with their logic of core, i.e. Uncommon is only when it's tied to an ancestry, region or deity (or other similar subset), and rare is when it's either keyed to an exclusive group or lost to time. So, when it makes sense, based on that, uncommon or rare. If it's just a new feat that's not really exclusive, just not core, common.

Silver Crusade

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JoelF847 wrote:
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.

The inability to do so has a serious negative side effect: If you can choose to either upgrade now or wait until you can afford a better upgrade, you're much better off just toughing it out if you can and saving up for something you'll buy in a few levels. And of course by the time you get there, you'll be just a few levels away from the next thing. The result of this is that you want to buy gear as seldom as possible if that gear will be something you could get to a better version of by waiting.


Mats Öhrman wrote:

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...)

For uncommon stuff, depending on what it is, I'd probably just use downtime. Depending on where the campaign is, I could see a reasonably large town or city having some sort of ability to supply those to some degree. If there is a quest involved for payment it would be something that winds up tying into the main quest, possibly even replacing another plot hook.

For Rare stuff, I'd have to see when the book comes out what counts as "rare." I suspect it probably wouldn't be something that I wouldn't want letting in if it wasn't already tied to the plot (or could be wrangled in some way or another).


I really like these rules. I think this is an excellent way to make a game that can handle a lot of additions down the road without completely overloading the GM. Hopefully, people who worry about “bloat” will be at least a little mollified when expansions come out.


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This looks like a reasonable enough system. I'm already mentally mapping out the assignments for various ancestries/classes/etc in my own (much-neglected) setting, so it's definitely a great tool for GMs.

On the other hand, as with everything that starts repeatedly mentioning "talk to your GM," I immediately start worrying about PFS. I know this was brought up upthread but it is definitely something I wanted to highlight because it's something I run into frequently!

One big thing I'd hope for is a character option for "regional origin" - independent of ancestry - that helps determine rarity and languages. In PF1, a lot of this is tied up in racial traits, which causes issues when you're creating a character from a non-Avistani region that isn't a member of a race or ethnicity unique to/dominant in that region. To draw on the example from the article, in first editon, Tien humans and half-elves, as well as tengu, can start with proficiency in the katana, but a tiefling (even if they were born to Tien parents) cannot. Or, for a more mundane example, ethnic languages are only available as bonus starting languages to humans and half-humans, meaning that a halfling born into slavery in Qadira must invest a point in Linguistics to speak Kelish. This is easily fixed in a home game, of course, but in PFS it can prove frustrating. With fixed lists of what is common, uncommon, etc in each region, it seems like PFS2 could easily remedy the problem with such an option.


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I am very very happy with this. I've always felt it was too much of a judgment call when a GM is trying to determine the base DC for knowledge checks on everything: monsters, potions, enchanted items. I find myself going through every page of the document and hand writing in DC's for knowledge and spellcraft checks. This makes a huge difference to me if I know it's base 5, 10, or 15 based on tagged rarity and add the level of the thing. So much more useful and faster to determine on the fly.

Liberty's Edge

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The Raven Black wrote:
Are Exotic weapons even needed now ?

They're defining 'Exotic' weapons as those that are statistically superior to martial ones. Since some people want 'better' weapons, that seems a valid niche.

I'm not entirely sure about calling them 'Exotic' at that point, though. 'Superior' feels wrong, however, and I'm legitimately unsure what other term to use.


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A lot of people, and probably the majority of more experienced players, like to plan their builds out in advance. It certainly makes for a more effective character to do so. This system is going to make that hugely frustrating and complicated for such players if a ton of stuff is now suddenly locked behind GM Fiat by being listed as uncommon.

I would recommend stripping it down to just Common / Available (folding Uncommon into Common), and Rare / Permission Required (folding Unique into Rare). While there is value in special gear, techniques etc limited to certain factions, unique to an individual boss or patron, associated to a dead civilization, and so on, I don't see the point of a distinction between Rare and Unique in this case - both require interaction with stuff in the game world in play to gain access to. Meanwhile, distinguishing between Common and Uncommon creates not only an unnecessary character planning barrier, but also an unnecessary workload and word count bloat in having to specify all the different regions where things are common vs uncommon.

Now, how do you balance divine and primal casters who just prepare from their entire list, and so get more powerful as the game goes on? By killing the undead sacred cow which says that is even a thing. Make them learn spells like everyone else. Divine non-spontaneous casters SHOULD have a "Bible" or "prayer-book" for their religion, they can use it as a spellbook just like a wizard does. Primal non-spontaneous casters can accumulate spells in other ways as appropriate to the character or tradition - be it as tattoos, sympathetic magic representations kept in a "medicine bag," accumulated pacts with various nature spirits representing their spells, or whatever. In either case, by having them get "spells known" as per a Wizard, you kill the balance problems inherent in this old bad form of spellcasting.

If you were to keep the system outlined in the blog instead of stripping down to just Available and Permission Required, I would recommend that spontaneous casters be able to choose from both Common and Uncommon spells. It's innate manifestation, right? It makes sense for Rare stuff to still require an "unlock" from game events, like a Final Fantasy blue mage, but I don't see the point or internal logic in a sorcerer player being told "You can't have that spell, you're not Egyptian / Osirian."

As multiple people have mentioned, I would keep monsters separate and classify them for the purposes of Knowledge checks not by rarity per se, nor by level, but by how well known they are.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
Are Exotic weapons even needed now ?

They're defining 'Exotic' weapons as those that are statistically superior to martial ones. Since some people want 'better' weapons, that seems a valid niche.

I'm not entirely sure about calling them 'Exotic' at that point, though. 'Superior' feels wrong, however, and I'm legitimately unsure what other term to use.

Well the Exotic Dancing skill feat makes you better at Lore (Dance), so they're at least being consistent.

Silver Crusade

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Deadmanwalking wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
Are Exotic weapons even needed now ?

They're defining 'Exotic' weapons as those that are statistically superior to martial ones. Since some people want 'better' weapons, that seems a valid niche.

I'm not entirely sure about calling them 'Exotic' at that point, though. 'Superior' feels wrong, however, and I'm legitimately unsure what other term to use.

Specialized?


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Xenocrat wrote:
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...

I was thinking of the paradox of the Ship of Theseus, also known as the paradox of George Washington's ax. Is that related to the Axe of Theseus?

This was the axe my great-grandfather used to slay the giant Ramblor. My grandfather replaced the original steel head with adamantine before the battle against the stone golems, and my father replaced the handle after it burned in the fight with the Fire Demon, and I added the magic runes.


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Fuzzypaws wrote:


I would recommend stripping it down to just Common / Available (folding Uncommon into Common), and Rare / Permission Required (folding Unique into Rare). While there is value in special gear, techniques etc limited to certain factions, unique to an individual boss or patron, associated to a dead civilization, and so on, I don't see the point of a distinction between Rare and Unique in this case - both require interaction with stuff in the game world in play to gain access to.

Rare items can be provided to the entire party when you find one of their sources and provides the GM some flexibility in provision once the hurdles have been overcome. Unique items can't, you have a hard choice, which can enhance role play.

Rare training can be provided by more than one person/location (e.g. traveling Eagle Knight commanders or one of a few bases) which allows some flexibility in accomplishing the difficult task of acquiring it and can be more easily woven into an existing campaign. Unique training (the Kineticist power I mentioned before) requires travel to a unique location, with inflexible/custome requirements to access it, which calls for a special side campaign, which can enhance role play options.


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MerlinCross wrote:
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.

You're saying this as an experienced GM. There's also a decent number of beginner GMs that don't have the time or expertise to do this organically. Even for me as a fairly seasoned GM, I find this mechanic very convenient as a shortcut for party creation, then leveling. Instead of listing a whole bunch of books that are accepted / banned in my game, I can just say, for example: You get unlimited access to Common options, and up to 2 Uncommon ones provided your backstory justifies them in some way; more will become available during the course of the campaign. This saves me quite a bit of work (and debate time, too, with certain types of players).

Most importantly, it's forward-looking: It covers not only the present books, but the ones that will be published during the course of the game.


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Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

As the resident DM, YES! 100% YES! I appreciate that this is being baked in right from the beginning. I would imagine every DM already does something like this, and I see this as
being a HUGE help in facilitating the preferred style of campaign.

Paizo Employee Designer

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gwynfrid wrote:


Most importantly, it's forward-looking: It covers not only the present books, but the ones that will be published during the course of the game.

This is true; I've said this recently in another thread (I think one where there was a "bloat" discussion), about how there was "something unrevealed yet" to help us have our cake with tons of cool options but eat it too with a way to manage the complexity load on an individual group and GM as we continue to release cool options. This is it!


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gwynfrid wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:
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.

You're saying this as an experienced GM. There's also a decent number of beginner GMs that don't have the time or expertise to do this organically. Even for me as a fairly seasoned GM, I find this mechanic very convenient as a shortcut for party creation, then leveling. Instead of listing a whole bunch of books that are accepted / banned in my game, I can just say, for example: You get unlimited access to Common options, and up to 2 Uncommon ones provided your backstory justifies them in some way; more will become available during the course of the campaign. This saves me quite a bit of work (and debate time, too, with certain types of players).

Most importantly, it's forward-looking: It covers not only the present books, but the ones that will be published during the course of the game.

I don't get this. In my games something is either available or it isn't. I will limit things according to theme far more often than how powerful they are (assuming that in general the more rare the item the more powerful it is).


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ThePuppyTurtle wrote:
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.

This doesn't stop those that would pour over all the options to build a perfect character though.

To me this is just more wording of "DM gets final say on stuff" which is how it should actually be. So that problem player that really wants to play something off the wall and possibly busted, you now have something else in the book to point at and say "No".

Won't stop them from complaining though.

As for myself, well it might effect what odd builds I can do but I will withhold judgement on that till after I see what's is limited.


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Fuzzypaws wrote:

A lot of people, and probably the majority of more experienced players, like to plan their builds out in advance. It certainly makes for a more effective character to do so. This system is going to make that hugely frustrating and complicated for such players if a ton of stuff is now suddenly locked behind GM Fiat by being listed as uncommon.

I would recommend stripping it down to just Common / Available (folding Uncommon into Common), and Rare / Permission Required (folding Unique into Rare). While there is value in special gear, techniques etc limited to certain factions, unique to an individual boss or patron, associated to a dead civilization, and so on, I don't see the point of a distinction between Rare and Unique in this case - both require interaction with stuff in the game world in play to gain access to. Meanwhile, distinguishing between Common and Uncommon creates not only an unnecessary character planning barrier, but also an unnecessary workload and word count bloat in having to specify all the different regions where things are common vs uncommon.

Would it not make character planning easier to know in advance that your GM is considering some part of your planned build to be uncommon and requiring extra work to obtain rather than finding that out after you were about to take the feature, buy the item, etc.?

In my experience, the most annoying thing about planning a build is to suddenly receive an unexpected complication part-way in because you didn't have the same assumption about availability in the setting as the GM did. For example, I've seen a player say their build was ruined if the desert blacksmith wasn't offering adamantine full plate armor as a common for sale item. Needless to say, there was very different expectations on the availability of special materials for items, not to mention what type of armor was commonly produced in the middle of the blazing desert.


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Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Wultram wrote:
Seems decent enough. Though there could have been a lot more meat to this blog post, how hard would have it been to give a good amount of examples. That being said my major concern is the return of. "Oh yeah this npc totally gets to do this thing, and no you can't learn it." Now just masked as rarity.

You act as if they is inherently a negative thing. It isn’t. There are some(maybe many thibgs) that an NPC knows that a PC will never be able to know. I could see a great many things taking a lifetime to learn, or many years and access to great libraries, etc.

I guess I just don’t even get this comment.


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Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Kaemy wrote:
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 have been wishing for this, forever!


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Xenocrat wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:


I would recommend stripping it down to just Common / Available (folding Uncommon into Common), and Rare / Permission Required (folding Unique into Rare). While there is value in special gear, techniques etc limited to certain factions, unique to an individual boss or patron, associated to a dead civilization, and so on, I don't see the point of a distinction between Rare and Unique in this case - both require interaction with stuff in the game world in play to gain access to.

Rare items can be provided to the entire party when you find one of their sources and provides the GM some flexibility in provision once the hurdles have been overcome. Unique items can't, you have a hard choice, which can enhance role play.

Rare training can be provided by more than one person/location (e.g. traveling Eagle Knight commanders or one of a few bases) which allows some flexibility in accomplishing the difficult task of acquiring it and can be more easily woven into an existing campaign. Unique training (the Kineticist power I mentioned before) requires travel to a unique location, with inflexible/custome requirements to access it, which calls for a special side campaign, which can enhance role play options.

At the moment you have a "unique" technique or item or spell, it can be taught to others / duplicated and is no longer unique. Pretty much the only exception is artifacts and the like beyond the power and skill of the party to replicate. So there is functionally no difference between rare and unique.

Also, requiring a multi quest side campaign to get a thing is something that should only be reserved for the very most powerful options, and only when you're willing to offer every other player equal spotlight so you're not playing favorites. If it's barely more powerful than a common option but is arbitrarily rare, that just becomes a huge mess to deal with.


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So is it possible for a spell to be unique? What would this mean exactly? I can think of a few possible meanings.

- the spell can only ever be cast once.
- the spell can only be known by one person in the universe at a time.
- there is only one copy of the spell, but if it's found and copied it ceases to be unique.


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Patrick McGrath wrote:
This feels like a codification, possibly over-codification, of what is common sense / GM fiat. OK...I guess.

In a certain sense I think you are correct. But I look at the extensibility of this codification. In the years ahead we will see many books with many options, this codifications assists me as the GM, to more easily adjusdicate available options. In some cases I will scan all of the options, in other cases maybe just a certain category. Either way, it is, potentially, a huge time saver for me as the resident DM.

Paizo Employee Designer

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PossibleCabbage wrote:

So is it possible for a spell to be unique? What would this mean exactly? I can think of a few possible meanings.

- the spell can only ever be cast once.
- the spell can only be known by one person in the universe at a time.
- there is only one copy of the spell, but if it's found and copied it ceases to be unique.

We certainly do not have a spell that is unique right now. While it's not something you would actually really need, I could see a unique spell like this (the main point is the requirement):

Aroden's Victory
Requirement: You must be Aroden to cast this spell
Effect: You win.


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Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
edduardco wrote:
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.

Then you are playijg the wrong game. DnD has ALWAYS depended on GM fiat. ALWAYS. With that said, different GMs may handle that resposibility differently.


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Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

Personally as a DM I would prefer to be the one to choose if something is common, rare, etc.

Liberty's Edge

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Dragon78 wrote:
Personally as a DM I would prefer to be the one to choose if something is common, rare, etc.

And you can! Doing so is much easier now, actually, since there's a built in system for saying how rare things are.

There's a default level of rarity, of course, but that's easily changed if you dislike it.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Dragon78 wrote:
Personally as a DM I would prefer to be the one to choose if something is common, rare, etc.

Yes, that's exactly what we want you to do if you like. We're getting the terminology out there so it's clear what we mean by each category, plus giving you some defaults to save you time, but ultimately, each group can decide.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
So is it possible for a spell to be unique? What would this mean exactly? I can think of a few possible meanings.

Based on the blog, a Unique spell might be one that (at the start of the campaign) only exists in one source in the entire multiverse.

For example, perhaps there is a single copy of the spell Conjure Castle in the lost spellbook of a legendary mage-king. Per the blog, what you do with it can affect it's rarity in the world forever-after (Except in PFS2).


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I know my brother's gaming group would like this.

To use pf2 parlance in pf1:

Core is common, Magus is common, Gunslinger is rare, anything else is uncommon.

It's easy to understand. And if the GM allows one of the uncommon options, then finds he likes it, it can be changed to common. If he doesn't like it, he can change it to rare. Simple, really.


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Elorebaen wrote:
Patrick McGrath wrote:
This feels like a codification, possibly over-codification, of what is common sense / GM fiat. OK...I guess.
In a certain sense I think you are correct. But I look at the extensibility of this codification. In the years ahead we will see many books with many options, this codifications assists me as the GM, to more easily adjusdicate available options. In some cases I will scan all of the options, in other cases maybe just a certain category. Either way, it is, potentially, a huge time saver for me as the resident DM.

Not really much of a time saver, unless you are just going to say "no uncommon or rare items from the latest release" without actually reading what they are.


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Speaking of... I wonder if firearms will be in the playtest (or core rules) considering they were the bleeding edge of technology a decade ago in golarion.

Will they be included but Uncommon?
Will they be Common, considering how easy it shoukd be for Alchemists to produce black powder?
Will they be ommited, and if so... why!?


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Dragon78 wrote:
Personally as a DM I would prefer to be the one to choose if something is common, rare, etc.

Nothing stopping you from doing that with this particular feature. It is always up to the DM no matter what is in a book.

I just see this as a huge timesaver. I can also imagine that there may be times where, given my campaign, a different designation is required, but that is as it should be and always has been. I can imagibe, as blog hinted at, that there will be all sorts of creative designations with this system to fit different campaign atyles.


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Cantriped wrote:

Speaking of... I wonder if firearms will be in the playtest (or core rules) considering they were the bleeding edge of technology a decade ago in golarion.

Will they be included but Uncommon?
Will they be Common, considering how easy it shoukd be for Alchemists to produce black powder?
Will they be ommited, and if so... why!?

They've already said that they want to wait on firearms until they can be done as a separate more focused playtest.


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Feels like an arbitrary barrier to players actually using the stuff in the books they pay for.

Great for the guys who don't like their players building the characters they want to play, I guess?

And no, it's not 'just the same as dm fiat that's always been in the system'.


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I'm not sure if I like this. Sure, it has merits, but I don't think it outweighs the potential negativity.

On one hand, this gives GMs a heads up on what players can expect, and the players a heads up on what the GM may or may not allow within the rules, since I'm sure some GMs are sick of the "Can I buy X item in town?" question coming up every 5 seconds on downtime. (They'll probably ask it anyway because reasons, but that's besides the point.)

On the other hand, this seems a little arbitrary and not particularly any more defining than, for example, items in an MMO sorted based by colorgrade, which can kill immersion for some players, and also eliminates self-identification of items. "Oh, it's a green item? Sell. Purple item? We're keeping it."

What an item does or does not do should determine whether it is common, uncommon, rare, or unique for a given table. Not having this properly defined for ourselves gives these items some mysticism and "cool" factor that isn't completely outlined for us, filling our imaginations with wonder as to the potential of this legendary item.

In addition, as others pointed out, these items will change rarity based on region and setting. To use a mentioned example, a Katana might be uncommon (or even rare) in the Inner Sea, but in other regions it might be common. If that is the case, the value of this item (which I can presumably tie with its rarity, based on essential economic laws) varies on where I have it at, which can be silly and ripe for abuse.

On top of that, what if I homebrew a setting? I can almost assure you that I won't have an identical set of rarity values for my equipment (for example, +1 Full Plate may be rare for 1st level PCs, but it becomes common by 8th level, and a new rarity term, obsolete, by 12th level). I also might not have every little thing mapped out; I may not know if my players want XYZ items available, meaning I have to either fully flesh out things that I feel I shouldn't have, taking up more time than I care to spend, or I have to make something up on the spot (which I usually end up doing if the players veer off-grid, and I may have to retcon that stuff later if I have/had other plans for it).

I just think a system like this is too fiddly and better left to tables to decide, instead of shoehorning it onto players and GMs and expecting them to always play Golarion, or to always have a "rarity" thing mapped out for them. (Yes, Golarion plays more of a role here, but it shouldn't be the only way to play, which PF1 did a better job of doing.)


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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."

Ah, yes, the Skyrim method.


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I feel the Blog was excessively narrow in focus on "gating Player options" despite initially introducing the concept from it's P1E heritage of "rarity determining Knowledge DCs". It doesn't even say anything about whether that aspect still functions similarly in P2E. Or expand on how it impacts recognizing Class Abilities, or "Spellcraft" ID etc.

I think there is also disconnect between the usages of "in-world rarity" and "PC access". Elves have extremely marginal presense in Golarion outside of Kyonin, yet the Blog suggests all "Core races" are Common. I mean, key elements of their history is shrouded in mystery, but they are same category (which if Knowledge/Lore angle continues along P1E lines, means it has same DCs as Human history). I mean, Humans as a whole may not be precisely relevant category, but even cultural groups like "Chelaxo-Taldane" or "Osiro-Garundi" are much more ubiquitous than Elves in Golarion.

I wonder if this system would mean Clerics (and Paladins, now being extra Deity-aligned) would be Uncommon within Tian Xia? (in favor of Oracles)

Mark Seifter wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
How does Spell Rarity affect Spontaneous Casters? Would a Sorcerer be unable to normally learn an Uncommon spell? Under what circumstances would a Sorcerer or other Spontaneous Caster be able to learn an Uncommon spell (or for that matter a Rare spell)?

You can add anything you have available to your repertoire, which puts you in the same boat as everyone else. If you gain access to a rare lower-level spell that you've already fully chosen spells of that level, you can use retraining from Downtime to quickly and easily access it or just do it when you level up.

...We wouldn't want to specify exactly what you do when retraining your sorcerer spells specifically to allow you to decide how it works. Like if we said it's always a blood transfusion, some people might be too grossed out and others would love it.

Hmm... Making this dependent on the Sorceror encountering a 'rare' spell before they manifest it as Spell Known itself restricts the "fluff" explanation I would normally have defaulted to... Which doesn't depend on intellectual knowledge or even awareness of the spells at all, a Sorceror can have Spellcraft/Arcana untrained yet still gain random obscure spells, there isn't logical link to their conscious awareness, or assumption that they consciously "choose" which Spells Known they gain. Obviously if that is something changing in P2E, the relevant text can give at least generic indication of importance of conscious awareness/choice to this process.

If knowledge of uncommon/rare/etc spells is necessary prior to Sorceror "learning" them, then it seems logical that knowledge of Common spells would also be necessary... Requiring an Arcana (or relevant skill) check in order to "learn" ALL spells including Commons? (just as easier DC) If it depends on awareness/knowledge somehow, I don't see how to rationalize it with somebody who has 0 skill in Arcana/Spellcraft. (I suppose Commons could be allowed "Untrained" but if your modifier there is crap, it still seems implausible you would know and could freely "learn" ALL 2nd level Common spells) A Sorceror with crap modifier in Untrained Arcana is supposed to know the same about Arcane spells as a Fighter with same crap modifier AFAIK.

In other words, if you don't directly encounter it, you need to "research" with Skill check any Spells you learn, even if Common DCs are very easy (which goes for Wizards too, although it's less plausible they would have Arcana untrained/ with crap modifier... it's POSSIBLE to have lower INT Wizard with Arcana untrained, right?) EDIT: This could interact with Spell Levels, such that it's possibly more likely to learn Rare spells below your max spell level?


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Fuzzypaws wrote:

A lot of people, and probably the majority of more experienced players, like to plan their builds out in advance. It certainly makes for a more effective character to do so. This system is going to make that hugely frustrating and complicated for such players if a ton of stuff is now suddenly locked behind GM Fiat by being listed as uncommon.

First, DnD has always been, at its core, GM fiat. Everything is GM fiat.

That aside, everyone will have access to all of the same material, so there would be nothing holding back the planning of a character. If something seems to holding back a character, just ask your GM and they will be able to guide you on what is allowed in their campaign.

I think it will be much easier, if a GM says, “use common as the baseline, and these few uncommon things that make sense for the campaign.” Bingo, yoi are
Good to go. Anything else and you discuss with the GM.


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gwynfrid wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:
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.

You're saying this as an experienced GM. There's also a decent number of beginner GMs that don't have the time or expertise to do this organically. Even for me as a fairly seasoned GM, I find this mechanic very convenient as a shortcut for party creation, then leveling. Instead of listing a whole bunch of books that are accepted / banned in my game, I can just say, for example: You get unlimited access to Common options, and up to 2 Uncommon ones provided your backstory justifies them in some way; more will become available during the course of the campaign. This saves me quite a bit of work (and debate time, too, with certain types of players).

Most importantly, it's forward-looking: It covers not only the present books, but the ones that will be published during the course of the game.

Bingo. gwynfrid said it perfectly.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
So is it possible for a spell to be unique? What would this mean exactly?

If a PC or NPC uses Spell Research to invent unique spell, that would be unique, until the rest of the world learns it and makes it non-unique.

The intro to concept IMPLIES that rarity impacts Knowledge DCs like P1E, so even people who see such a spell being cast
could have harder time Spellcraft ID'ing it in order to have solid basis to try and learn it themself?
(although they could try to independently invent their own unique spell with effects similar to those they observe?)


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
Are Exotic weapons even needed now ?

They're defining 'Exotic' weapons as those that are statistically superior to martial ones. Since some people want 'better' weapons, that seems a valid niche.

I'm not entirely sure about calling them 'Exotic' at that point, though. 'Superior' feels wrong, however, and I'm legitimately unsure what other term to use.

Simple, martial, elite?


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:


...I also might not have every little thing mapped out; I may not know if my players want XYZ items available, meaning I have to either fully flesh out things that I feel I shouldn't have, taking up more time than I care to spend, or I have to make something up on the spot (which I usually end up doing if the players veer off-grid, and I may have to retcon that stuff later if I have/had other plans for it)...

No, you don't. You just designate it as uncommon, which in this case is "something I haven't got round to dealing with yet". Once you get round to dealing with it, you can designate it "common" (or "rare", or whatever).

You can justify it by saying that a local retired hero has begun giving tuition, spreading it (so it is now common)

or

local retired hero moves away (or dies), so it is now rare.


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SilverliteSword wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
Are Exotic weapons even needed now ?

They're defining 'Exotic' weapons as those that are statistically superior to martial ones. Since some people want 'better' weapons, that seems a valid niche.

I'm not entirely sure about calling them 'Exotic' at that point, though. 'Superior' feels wrong, however, and I'm legitimately unsure what other term to use.

Simple, martial, elite?

I feel like "exotic" still works for weapons which, while not from far away places, are nonethless rarely taught or used. One of the definitions of "exotic" after all is "of a kind not used for ordinary purposes or not ordinarily encountered", after all (this is the sense in which some formations of plays in American Football are appropriately termed "exotic.")

So a weapon which is particularly complex, difficult, or dangerous to use might not be conventionally used since no one wants (or is able) to teach how to use one effectively. So a Nine-Section Whip is exotic less because it's an "eastern" weapon and more because it has seven points of articulation.


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Whatever. It is a good way to manage "things". But it is a DM tool and not a mechanic. I think making it official is just kinda weird.

It won't make any difference to me. I'll keep doing it more or less as described here only based on my own judgement. Just as I have for years now.

I predict that players who demand their DM give them things will find this makes is worse, not better. Currently there is no guidance so the DM can say whatever they want when a player demands something (and I'm assuming problem / demanding players because non-problem players don't need this "solution"). Now if it is uncommon the player will demand that the books affirms that it just takes enough searching around and if it is rare the problem player will say the DM owes them a quest to go get it.

Obviously the DM can just rule zero the item ranking. But the problem player will feel that much more slighted when the DM actively changes the written description from "rare" to "non-existent" than they will when something with no official guidance is simply not available.

The "reforge your weapon" thing makes me shudder a lot however. Yet another blow against focus on story.


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gwynfrid wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:
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.

You're saying this as an experienced GM. There's also a decent number of beginner GMs that don't have the time or expertise to do this organically. Even for me as a fairly seasoned GM, I find this mechanic very convenient as a shortcut for party creation, then leveling. Instead of listing a whole bunch of books that are accepted / banned in my game, I can just say, for example: You get unlimited access to Common options, and up to 2 Uncommon ones provided your backstory justifies them in some way; more will become available during the course of the campaign. This saves me quite a bit of work (and debate time, too, with certain types of players).

Most importantly, it's forward-looking: It covers not only the present books, but the ones that will be published during the course of the game.

I'm experienced yes but I wouldn't call myself an expert or smart when it comes to things. I goof on any number of things but this seems like something that didn't need to be codified. At worst, it's a way of saying "I might let you get this if you're good" from the DM being actually written into the rules.

Take that party creation a step further. I rule, as a group, 1 Uncommon race or Class. Who gets its? Who dislikes the fact they didn't get it? And you will STILL have those certain players arguing with you, because we have them now. I don't see putting an extra hurdle stop them. I can see this stopping some characters or ideas dead in their tracks or making them a harder sell now(Hey can I have this? "I don't know it's Rare and Rare tier has busted stuff so no")

And about moving forward; If I know half the stuff in a book is going to be Uncommon or Rare, I'll not pick it up. That stuff is borderline restricted from the word go now.

For every beginner DM, I can see Bad players or DMs either not caring about this or using it to impede builds they just don't like. This however is something we can only see after it happens so we can probably just drop that line of thought though.


BryonD wrote:
Whatever. It is a good way to manage "things". But it is a DM tool and not a mechanic.

No, the Blog just doesn't talk about mechanics. It refers to P1E's Knowledge skill mechanic and doesn't indicate divergence from that, or elaboration of it, but merely assuming exact same function as P1E Knowledge would mean it is a mechanic.


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I like this in theory, but I can"t help but feel the concept would be more fitting in a campaign guide or accessory, rather than adding another layer of complexity to the baseline "core" rules.

Liberty's Edge

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BryonD wrote:
Whatever. It is a good way to manage "things". But it is a DM tool and not a mechanic. I think making it official is just kinda weird.

It's a mechanic because it interacts with mechanics. For example, we know that Druids are still prepared casters, but instead of being able to prepare any Druid spell (including all the obscure ones that make no sense) they are now only able to prepare Common ones by default (they could presumably gain access to others in various ways like anyone else).

That's a mechanic. And a very relevant one.

Cthulhudrew wrote:
I like this in theory, but I can"t help but feel the concept would be more fitting in a campaign guide or accessory, rather than adding another layer of complexity to the baseline "core" rules.

I strongly disagree. By making it core, they can actually include default rarities on all relevant things. The extra convenience factor that has for people who care about this is impossible to overstate.


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BryonD wrote:

Whatever. It is a good way to manage "things". But it is a DM tool and not a mechanic. I think making it official is just kinda weird.

It won't make any difference to me. I'll keep doing it more or less as described here only based on my own judgement. Just as I have for years now.

I predict that players who demand their DM give them things will find this makes is worse, not better. Currently there is no guidance so the DM can say whatever they want when a player demands something (and I'm assuming problem / demanding players because non-problem players don't need this "solution"). Now if it is uncommon the player will demand that the books affirms that it just takes enough searching around and if it is rare the problem player will say the DM owes them a quest to go get it.

Obviously the DM can just rule zero the item ranking. But the problem player will feel that much more slighted when the DM actively changes the written description from "rare" to "non-existent" than they will when something with no official guidance is simply not available.

The "reforge your weapon" thing makes me shudder a lot however. Yet another blow against focus on story.

Agreed on most except the last bit. I've found far less story opportunities for non-unique items (which themselves are a separate catagory and not really at play here), than characters who either for legacy reasons or character reasons have a reason to focus on a specific weapon. Maybe they want to reforge their grandfather's battleaxe, or want to reforge their glaive, as they are an ardent follower of Shelyn and there are no glaives in their region. Far more to be gained by allowing reforging than sticking people with whatever they find in a dungeon or whatever is available at market.

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