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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Sovereign Court

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I think the great eight spell of Discworld is the perfect example of unique spells.

Spells so powerful they have a mind of their own!

And copying unique spell just shouldn't work or make them move from their old place to where you copied them.

Dark Archive

Deadmanwalking wrote:
brad2411 wrote:
What should be the price difference for a common spell and a rare spell. is the Rare spell 10x the price of the common spell of the same level?

I'm pretty sure Rare stuff is mostly not for sale. They are the secret trick of this particular guy or small group rather than the sort of thing that gets sold on the open market.

That's sort of the point.

I get that. Rarity usually also imparts a certain value to it. When I asked the question I was assuming there would not be any real mechanical difference in power from normal spells which was confirmed up thread by Mark. When Mark was talking about rarity in the blog he did attach possible value to the rarity when talking about a spell. That is why I asked what the price difference is. I kinda wanted more of a ball park of what we might look at between the different value of common to rare.

Also this opens up another thought if I am a wizard and decide to make up a spell say Flaming missile (a magic missile that deals fire dmg). Does that make this rare/unqiue because I made it up and it is the only one in the world?


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Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
brad2411 wrote:
Also this opens up another thought if I am a wizard and decide to make up a spell say Flaming missile (a magic missile that deals fire dmg). Does that make this rare/unqiue because I made it up and it is the only one in the world?

Only as long as the goblin wizards don't steal your idea and start manufacturing them and selling them wholesale.


It feels like most spells PCs of moderate level could create could be recreated by a magical scholar who carefully watched the cast it.

If there is going to be such a thing as a unique spell, it should be something that required an exceptional wizard (or w/e) to invent in the first place.

But like if it's a 3rd level spell, people are going to copy your design unless you never cast it.


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I think part of the reason some of us may be inclined to view rarity as power comes from the example in the blog.

For more than a decade, the Katana has been a straight up upgrade over the Longsword, being on par with the Bastard Sword. This probably isn't the case anymore, elsewise it might have been a bad example, and Mark meant to refer to Bastard Swords instead of Longswords.


CrystalSeas wrote:


Only as long as the goblin wizards don't steal your idea and start manufacturing them and selling them wholesale.

Damn goblins. You may not know, but I'm the wizard who invented firearms. I wanted to keep those for myself, but some meddling goblins arrived, and now my world doesn't use armor anymore...

Dark Archive

I am just hoping, and believe it is the case from what I have seen but may not be, that rarity of weapons, armor, implements does not affect their proficiency. For example, a fighter gains all martial weapon feats, for example. Now, if a Katana is a an uncommon, martial weapon then hopefully that means they can use one should the obtain one somehow... perhaps through an adventure that happens to take them to Minkai, or they just happen to do some work for an NPC patron from the region that offers one as a reward.


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I believe rarity and proficiency type are completely decoupled. So in Cheliax a kama, being an eastern weapon, is uncommon, but it is nonetheless a farming implement so should be a simple weapon. In Minkai, sickles would likewise be uncommon, but would be simple weapons as they are, again, farming implements.


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Elorebaen wrote:
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.

Because it doesn't make any damn sense? And that GM fiat is bad and anything encouraging it is bad game design?

Just and example NPC wizard level 5 had a rare version of lightning bolt spell they came up with, let's say it works like the from times of old that bounced of things. Now we have a PC wizard level 20, he decides to research such a spell, nope can't do it. No matter that you are working of the same magic and that you are vastly more knowledgable and skilled on the subject. Or let's say it is a martial feat some sort of sword technique. Assuming the npc and pc are both of the same race, they follow the same laws of biomechanics and as such they are able to execute the same excat movement required for the technique. Verisimilitude is important. All that said important part of that statement was using it as an excuse, basicly hiding GM behavior that should not be tolerated.

Dark Archive

PossibleCabbage wrote:
I believe rarity and proficiency type are completely decoupled. So in Cheliax a kama, being an eastern weapon, is uncommon, but it is nonetheless a farming implement so should be a simple weapon. In Minkai, sickles would likewise be uncommon, but would be simple weapons as they are, again, farming implements.

This is my expectation and hope. I am in particular interested to see how this will be handled in PFS settings myself. As I like playing characters like a traveling warrior from Minkai who might actually use a Katana or Naginata instead of Longsword or some other form of polearm.


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Igwilly wrote:
CrystalSeas wrote:
Only as long as the goblin wizards don't steal your idea and start manufacturing them and selling them wholesale.
Damn goblins. You may not know, but I'm the wizard who invented firearms. I wanted to keep those for myself, but some meddling goblins arrived, and now my world doesn't use armor anymore...

And that's the real reason PF2 isn't getting firearms in core.

They need to do serious quality testing before unleashing those goblin products on the world.

Dark Archive

CrystalSeas wrote:
brad2411 wrote:
Also this opens up another thought if I am a wizard and decide to make up a spell say Flaming missile (a magic missile that deals fire dmg). Does that make this rare/unqiue because I made it up and it is the only one in the world?
Only as long as the goblin wizards don't steal your idea and start manufacturing them and selling them wholesale.

And so we have found my true purpose, to make the 10th level spell Henderthane's "GOBLIN GENECIDE!!!!"


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I feel like the best reason to wait on guns is just to make sure we have everything else in the system set and working first. Otherwise the danger would be "change how everything else works, so guns have the correct properties" and not "tweak how guns work to make sure they have the right properties."

I mean, people right now want to tear out whole big systems root and branch so wands work one way and not another.


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Firearms and Cannons are part of the technological assumption of golarion, and PF2 is couched in golarion as its default setting... So it is entirely reasonable to make sure from the begining that firearms work as intended. Personally I don't see much reason for them to be treated all that differently from crossbows (aside from being uncommon in most of the Inner Sea). Perhaps even slower to reload in exchange for more damage per shot; either could/should target TAC within a given range, but neither has to for them to be fun options.

Nevertheless I can wait. I do believe it was mentioned that we would be asked later on in the playtest period to test materials aside from the adventure releasing alongside the playtest rulebook. One of those playtest articles may include a test of the Firearms rules (perhaps even using a Gunslinger Archetype to grant something like Grit and Deeds).


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Wultram wrote:


Because it doesn't make any damn sense?

Really? For me, saying "This spell is only available to this NPC" is pretty much like saying "No, you cannot play as a gelatinous cube".

I mean, there's no reason that all abilities must be available for PCs.
Of course, spells have quite an esoteric flavor on them, so this wouldn't happen with science.


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If it is not possible to research rare spells, does that mean that research and development is no longer allowed?

How those rare and unique spells came to be? Were they spontaneously generated somewhere? Or does it mean R&D is something that only NPCs can do because reasons?


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This fixes one of my major problems with Pathfinder 1, which was codex creep and rule exhaustion.

As someone that GMs far more than I play, I think this change is absolutely fantastic.

Also, anything that resembles teleport is going to be rare.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
edduardco wrote:

If it is not possible to research rare spells, does that mean that research and development is no longer allowed?

How those rare and unique spells came to be? Were they spontaneously generated somewhere? Or does it mean R&D is something that only NPCs can do because reasons?

Why would the player want to research the spell? How would the character even conceive of the spell? Powergamers using spell research to get around rules is still powergaming and still disruptive. Besides, who is to say there isn't some extra element needed for the spell that doesn't exist anymore, or some philosophical concept that the character needs to conceive of before they can get the spell to work?

Hell, I could very well see the research attracting attention... so the person starts being hunted by the Hounds of Tindalous or the like. They looked into the Abyss, it noticed them, and is now seeking to destroy them. But then, if I say "no" and a player tries to abuse the system to get around my saying "no" then I have the right as a GM to utilize game elements to make them pay a price for their actions. Just as if a player has their thief looting homes that they have to pay the price for their lawbreaking.


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Igwilly wrote:
Wultram wrote:


Because it doesn't make any damn sense?

Really? For me, saying "This spell is only available to this NPC" is pretty much like saying "No, you cannot play as a gelatinous cube".

I mean, there's no reason that all abilities must be available for PCs.
Of course, spells have quite an esoteric flavor on them, so this wouldn't happen with science.

I think the tone didn't carry too well in my first post. I am opposed to the "no this is impossible" type of can't. Yes an npc may have an ability that nobody else knows, but it should not be impossible to learn it for anyone that is their equal.(what equal means depends on what we are talking about, a human fighter may be just as skilled as a catfolk one but if the technique uses claws, well then equal includes actually having claws.) And even if whatever thing is unique, well it came from somewhere so it is at least in theory possible to use the same excat method as the npc used.


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Wultram wrote:
Elorebaen wrote:
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.

Because it doesn't make any damn sense? And that GM fiat is bad and anything encouraging it is bad game design?

Just and example NPC wizard level 5 had a rare version of lightning bolt spell they came up with, let's say it works like the from times of old that bounced of things. Now we have a PC wizard level 20, he decides to research such a spell, nope can't do it. No matter that you are working of the same magic and that you are vastly more knowledgable and skilled on the subject. Or let's say it is a martial feat some sort of sword technique. Assuming the npc and pc are both of the same race, they follow the same laws of biomechanics and as such they are able to execute the same excat movement required for the technique. Verisimilitude is important. All that said important part of that statement was using it as an excuse, basicly hiding GM behavior that should not be tolerated.

To me, GM fiat is not only a good thing, it is what makes or breaks a game. A good gm is one who uses GM fiat well, and a bad gm is one who doesn't.

Without GM fiat, there is nothing of substance to the game beyond combat minis.

That said, a large part of doing GM fiat well is using it to maintain narrative milieu, consistency, and verisimilitude. That means, if a spell exists, anyone capable of learning spells should be able to learn it, unless there is some sensible mitigating factor within the narrative milieu and not the rules (for example, someone who can not use evocation spells, can't practice an evocation spell and thus wouldn't be able to learn an evocation spell).


Depending on how the Pathfinder community processes this rarity system, it could be a great help in getting players to accepts non-Golarion setting differences or it could create entitlement for everything labelled common (which might actually be an improvement over the "assume everything paizo is always ok in every setting, region, time period, campaign" mentality).

Pathfinder isn't and has never been popular enough in my community that I can just shuffle out bad players ad infinitum.


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MerlinCross wrote:


At the end of the day though, this doesn't effect my table so all I can do is just shrug and wait for Monday. Though maybe just slap on a "This Setting may be changed due to DM" label near the front of books.

It’s already in the PF1 Core Book (cf. “The Most Important Rule”), and it will likely be in the PF2 core book as well.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
GM DarkLightHitomi wrote:
Wultram wrote:
Elorebaen wrote:
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.

Because it doesn't make any damn sense? And that GM fiat is bad and anything encouraging it is bad game design?

Just and example NPC wizard level 5 had a rare version of lightning bolt spell they came up with, let's say it works like the from times of old that bounced of things. Now we have a PC wizard level 20, he decides to research such a spell, nope can't do it. No matter that you are working of the same magic and that you are vastly more knowledgable and skilled on the subject. Or let's say it is a martial feat some sort of sword technique. Assuming the npc and pc are both of the same race, they follow the same laws of biomechanics and as such they are able to execute the same excat movement required for the technique. Verisimilitude is important. All that said important part of that statement was using it as an excuse, basicly hiding GM behavior that should not be tolerated.

To me, GM fiat is not only a good thing, it is what makes or breaks a game. A good gm is one who uses GM fiat well, and a bad gm is one who doesn't.

Without GM fiat, there is nothing of substance to the game beyond combat minis.

That said, a large part of doing GM fiat well is using it to maintain narrative milieu, consistency, and verisimilitude. That means, if a spell exists, anyone capable of learning spells should be able to...

I think a spell not being commonly known is more than reason enough.

For instance, take the spell Blood Money. There are two sources for it - Karzoug's spellbook, and an artifact the players may or may not stumble across (and even then it's hit-or-miss whether they learn it from the artifact). If my players wanted to know it, I see perfectly justified in saying "no" because it is a Rare spell. They may insist they should be able to learn it because it's on the PRDs and the like. Having Paizo put out rules on how common an item or spell is provides a legal justification for the GM to say "no" - because the rules themselves say no.

So we went from GM Fiat to an actual rule. The GM can always choose to ignore the rule... but by providing an official rule for this, the GM can go "it's in the rules" and not have to worry about players whining about the GM being arbitrary and unfair.

And it also already exists in Pathfinder 1! Look at the rules for firearms. Revolvers are not something you can just buy off the street. Metal jacket bullets only exist in specific settings. There are specific rules on this. And there is even an exception provided - the AP "Reign of Winter" in Book 5 includes a foray in World War I Earth where the players can come across advanced firearms.

Now, there are rules on automatic firearms existing thanks to Reign of Winter. The GM does not need to allow these weapons in the game despite the fact they exist. Similarly, the GM can choose not to allow specific spells... and by providing a game mechanic (common/uncommon/rare spells/items) you reduce arguments and complaints.

The game is supposed to be fun after all - both for the players, and for the GM.


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Igwilly wrote:
Wultram wrote:


Because it doesn't make any damn sense?

Really? For me, saying "This spell is only available to this NPC" is pretty much like saying "No, you cannot play as a gelatinous cube".

I mean, there's no reason that all abilities must be available for PCs.
Of course, spells have quite an esoteric flavor on them, so this wouldn't happen with science.

As a real-world example, consider Roman Concrete. It was developed ~150 BCE. The concept of concrete’s manufacture was lost for almost 1000 years; the concept of durable concrete took another 300 to 400 years to rediscover; we didn’t figure out what made ROMAN concrete so strong until 2017 - basically 2100 years after the Romans were mass-producing the stuff. The only way we were able to understand its secret? By studying the existing material with modern technology.

I can easily see a secret spell, or golem construction technique, impossible to rediscover or recreate without the original formulae, especially if it were based on an ingredient common to the ancients, but no longer available (for example, the supposedly-extinct Silphium plant, which was used as a medicine or contraceptive, but only grew in a very small area in ancient Libya).


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edduardco wrote:

If it is not possible to research rare spells, does that mean that research and development is no longer allowed?

How those rare and unique spells came to be? Were they spontaneously generated somewhere? Or does it mean R&D is something that only NPCs can do because reasons?

So if a player has an idea for a spell they want to create and they have the chops to pull this off, we can work together to come up with the rules for the spell (per rules for this when they exist).

If a spell already exists in a book somewhere, and it's marked as "rare" I would require the character to have some idea that the spell actually exists and what it does before they can research it. Spells which have been sealed in some Runelord's vault for several thousand years are spells that a character has no reason to be aware of before cracking said vault.

If a player read about a rare spell in a book and wants it for their character, they can let me know and I will try to work it in somewhere. It's not fundamentally different from when the fighter says "I'm looking for magic fauchards".


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When I made my latest campaign, in an Eastern setting, this would assuredly have been useful. It was hard for the players to give up the stable of shields and falchions, full plates and breastplate. Rarity would have been a very nice tool indeed, seeing as some foreigners did indeed start trading with the islands during the game. Could have made their armors and guns uncommon, the weapons they were unwilling to trade Rare. Love it!


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This is definitely a great way to set the expectations for a group without just arbitrarily deciding on every little case. It's like core only but gives you the tools to add on more easily, and helps curb the risk of -everything- being expected as available.

That said, as an occult fan, when psychic magic and related classes make their 2.0 debut, I have a strong feeling they won't be 'common', and that'll lower the number of campaigns they'll be welcome in, RAW. Interesting to think about.


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Rholand wrote:
When I made my latest campaign, in an Eastern setting, this would assuredly have been useful. It was hard for the players to give up the stable of shields and falchions, full plates and breastplate. Rarity would have been a very nice tool indeed, seeing as some foreigners did indeed start trading with the islands during the game. Could have made their armors and guns uncommon, the weapons they were unwilling to trade Rare. Love it!

I think this is a fantastic tool to instantly set flavour for a campaign. A while back I ran a 3.5 campaign set in an area that was meant to be reminiscent of eastern European nations / the Russian Steppe.

One thing I told the players was that scimitars were common and longswords where rare. In the magic item generation table I swapped the two sword entries when rolling for weapon type. The players happily picked up on this and several carried scimitars as a melee weapon (although if it was their secondary one in some cases).

It was the most effective quick hack I ever found to instantly set a style for a game that was a bit different to the normal pseudo western setting.


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edduardco wrote:

If it is not possible to research rare spells, does that mean that research and development is no longer allowed?

How those rare and unique spells came to be? Were they spontaneously generated somewhere? Or does it mean R&D is something that only NPCs can do because reasons?

Not necessarily. GMs can easily set conditions for various levels of research.

Common spells/recipes might only need a travel notebook and a few days time to work out.
Uncommon spells/recipes require a well-stocked library/laboratory to research.
Rare spells/recipes might require researching at an Academy's Grand Library and experimentation with rare materials.
Unique spells/recipes might require observing once in a life time events or traveling to unique locals.


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Quote:
So we went from GM Fiat to an actual rule. The GM can always choose to ignore the rule... but by providing an official rule for this, the GM can go "it's in the rules" and not have to worry about players whining about the GM being arbitrary and unfair.

And why do we need the rule?

If a player is complaining to me about the rules, then I simply tell them that they are not looking for what I provide and they can either sit back and watch everyone else till they figure out what it is I am providing, and take part in that, or they can buzz off and find some other GM.


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So I don't know why a player would have he expectation that they can take literally anything out of like a hundred books even if it makes no sense whatsoever without first asking the GM something like "hey, is this okay?" Like we all understand that a player in PF1 can't just unilaterally declare "hey, so my character is mythic" even though Mythic Adventures is literally in the rules.

Or, like if you're in a game where you can't preclear stuff with the GM, why are you trying to push things so far anyway?

Having a framework like this built into the rules is fantastic. So this way if I let players have access to rare stuff, it at least feels more special "I found it on an SRD, so I took it."


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GM DarkLightHitomi wrote:
Quote:
So we went from GM Fiat to an actual rule. The GM can always choose to ignore the rule... but by providing an official rule for this, the GM can go "it's in the rules" and not have to worry about players whining about the GM being arbitrary and unfair.

And why do we need the rule?

If a player is complaining to me about the rules, then I simply tell them that they are not looking for what I provide and they can either sit back and watch everyone else till they figure out what it is I am providing, and take part in that, or they can buzz off and find some other GM.

I think the main use of this rule is that it shifts the conversation from "hi DM, can I take this?" to "hi DM, which items are common? Can I have some uncommon items?"

That might not sound like much, but if this rule is laid out somewhere clear where players can easily read (whether or not it will be I can't yet say) I suspect that it makes a big difference in expectations.
I can think of a couple of my players at least that would respond pretty happily to "hey guys, we're using different common items" and be interested in what that means for the world, while they'd be OK with me just saying "sorry guys, that isn't in my setting" but it's very hard to imagine that actually getting anyone excited.
As a DM it's my job to actually have players on board and interested, else what's the point.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
GM DarkLightHitomi wrote:
Quote:
So we went from GM Fiat to an actual rule. The GM can always choose to ignore the rule... but by providing an official rule for this, the GM can go "it's in the rules" and not have to worry about players whining about the GM being arbitrary and unfair.

And why do we need the rule?

If a player is complaining to me about the rules, then I simply tell them that they are not looking for what I provide and they can either sit back and watch everyone else till they figure out what it is I am providing, and take part in that, or they can buzz off and find some other GM.

I envy you that you can just tell a player to go take a flying leap. I've two groups - one Skype-based, one tabletop. The latter has only two players. The former slowly grew to be four players but for some time was just three. And my players in the Skype group don't always get along (and at one point I had a player quit because she had a problem with another player's connection issues).

In the past I've tried to implement things like common/uncommon weapons. It wasn't easy and I gave up after a little bit. That Paizo is including this out of the box is a good thing in my eyes. And if you don't like it, you can easily ignore it. I suspect some rules (such as Bulk) will be just ignored by many GMs.


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I want to note that the ultimate PF1 book, Planar Adventures, has something like this system for planar tuning forks- implying that the material components for plane shift are easier to get for some planes (Avernus is pretty easy to reach) than others (Jandelay is not.)

I figure this is a good system - every wizard should not have a tuning fork for my character's extremely private demiplane in their materials pouch, after all.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
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."

Why not (if it is not related o their bloodline)? It is the same for wizards.

Remeber, you can change spells every level. It is acceptable that you would get an uncommon/rare/unique spell the same as wizards: developing it, finding it in a scroll/wizard book, having someone teach it.

Darkorin wrote:

How will spell rarity affect spontaneous spellcasters?

It works well for the wizard to be able to learn a new uncommon/rare spell by finding it, but for spontaneous spellcasters, it's a little bit more complicated/messy... will it require retraining from them?

In that case spontaneous spellcasters seems to be in a disadvantage since it will require them some downtime before being able to use that spell. While prepared casters can just add it to their repertoire and use it almost immediately.

Will sorcerers bloodlines give them access to uncommon/rare spells? After all it is powers from uncommon creatures.

I would really like to see the rules for uncommon/rare/unique spell and spontaneous spellcasters, what is the explanation behind it, etc.

Edit: Apart from that, I totally approve, and I hope the default rule will be that everything post-core rulebook is at least considered uncommon by default!

Any reason why you consider "retraining or getting a new level and switching a spell" something that "require downtime", while "reading the spell, spending the time to comprehend it, spending the time to copy it" as "not requiring downtime"?

The second requires (probably) less downtime, but it requires more resources. You have space in the spellbook you are bringing with you? Do you have the ink? Do you have a secure location where you can spend the time to scribe the spell?

Dark Archive

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MerlinCross wrote:
I don't know if this is more or less work than just reading "This is what allowed" by the DM.

You'd be surprised how many "Its in player companion book so of course it should be available even though flavor wise its in really specific country" or "well its allowed in pfs so clearly it can't be THAT rare" type of arguments and debates :P

This ruling is godsend to me to be honest, I'd be slightly hyped right now if I was super easily excitable <_<


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Darkorin wrote:

How will spell rarity affect spontaneous spellcasters?

It works well for the wizard to be able to learn a new uncommon/rare spell by finding it, but for spontaneous spellcasters, it's a little bit more complicated/messy... will it require retraining from them?

In that case spontaneous spellcasters seems to be in a disadvantage since it will require them some downtime before being able to use that spell. While prepared casters can just add it to their repertoire and use it almost immediately.

Will sorcerers bloodlines give them access to uncommon/rare spells? After all it is powers from uncommon creatures.

I would really like to see the rules for uncommon/rare/unique spell and spontaneous spellcasters, what is the explanation behind it, etc.

Edit: Apart from that, I totally approve, and I hope the default rule will be that everything post-core rulebook is at least considered uncommon by default!

That is a fair point, also how does this work for Clerics who don't have a spellbook, but instead pray for their spells? Do they need to know of the spell to get an uncommon or rare one? Or is it that their god doesn't hand it out except in unusual circumstances? Or maybe they'll need to undergo a pilgrimage or quest of some sort to prove their worth for such rare power? This could make for some interesting role-playing, but would have to be used sparingly. Uncommon might just be something that can be hand-waved in downtime with minimal resources "Ok for the next week I'm pondering the deeper mysteries of my faith through fasting and meditation to get this new spell." (or getting plastered and praying to the porcelain god for Caden Cailian worshipers). Alternately it could involve having a certain level of trust within the church. But for rare spells having to do some ordeal of faith as an adventure would be more appropriate.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
edduardco wrote:

If it is not possible to research rare spells, does that mean that research and development is no longer allowed?

How those rare and unique spells came to be? Were they spontaneously generated somewhere? Or does it mean R&D is something that only NPCs can do because reasons?

So if a player has an idea for a spell they want to create and they have the chops to pull this off, we can work together to come up with the rules for the spell (per rules for this when they exist).

If a spell already exists in a book somewhere, and it's marked as "rare" I would require the character to have some idea that the spell actually exists and what it does before they can research it. Spells which have been sealed in some Runelord's vault for several thousand years are spells that a character has no reason to be aware of before cracking said vault.

If a player read about a rare spell in a book and wants it for their character, they can let me know and I will try to work it in somewhere. It's not fundamentally different from when the fighter says "I'm looking for magic fauchards".

So if a player has an idea for a spell they can research it, but if it is already printed they need to justify why they can research it?

If I have an idea then that can be treated as my character inspiration, but if I read it somewhere it can't? what about a spell I read about in another game? or an effect I see in a film? does my character have to justify that too?


From what I've read this could also give a framework for creating spell alternatives - I mean we all know (and often love) fireball - which is probably one of the most common spells of it's level
with this framework one could easily add a dofferent elemental variation with a higher rarity (which would also explain why it's not in the rulebook ;) )


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
dragonhunterq wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
edduardco wrote:

If it is not possible to research rare spells, does that mean that research and development is no longer allowed?

How those rare and unique spells came to be? Were they spontaneously generated somewhere? Or does it mean R&D is something that only NPCs can do because reasons?

So if a player has an idea for a spell they want to create and they have the chops to pull this off, we can work together to come up with the rules for the spell (per rules for this when they exist).

If a spell already exists in a book somewhere, and it's marked as "rare" I would require the character to have some idea that the spell actually exists and what it does before they can research it. Spells which have been sealed in some Runelord's vault for several thousand years are spells that a character has no reason to be aware of before cracking said vault.

If a player read about a rare spell in a book and wants it for their character, they can let me know and I will try to work it in somewhere. It's not fundamentally different from when the fighter says "I'm looking for magic fauchards".

So if a player has an idea for a spell they can research it, but if it is already printed they need to justify why they can research it?

If I have an idea then that can be treated as my character inspiration, but if I read it somewhere it can't? what about a spell I read about in another game? or an effect I see in a film? does my character have to justify that too?

Yes. And for that matter, I may very well do this even if it's a unique spell if I feel it would unbalance the game in some way.

Unless you have a history of your character coming up with various interesting spells and then have your character constantly doing spell research, then if I find you created Blood Money for a spell you want to research, I'm going to suspect you got it from Paizo.

After all, what would you do if your GM just said "I don't approve of this spell and am not going to allow you to research it" - say "okay" or argue the point?


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dragonhunterq wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
edduardco wrote:

If it is not possible to research rare spells, does that mean that research and development is no longer allowed?

How those rare and unique spells came to be? Were they spontaneously generated somewhere? Or does it mean R&D is something that only NPCs can do because reasons?

So if a player has an idea for a spell they want to create and they have the chops to pull this off, we can work together to come up with the rules for the spell (per rules for this when they exist).

If a spell already exists in a book somewhere, and it's marked as "rare" I would require the character to have some idea that the spell actually exists and what it does before they can research it. Spells which have been sealed in some Runelord's vault for several thousand years are spells that a character has no reason to be aware of before cracking said vault.

If a player read about a rare spell in a book and wants it for their character, they can let me know and I will try to work it in somewhere. It's not fundamentally different from when the fighter says "I'm looking for magic fauchards".

So if a player has an idea for a spell they can research it, but if it is already printed they need to justify why they can research it?

If I have an idea then that can be treated as my character inspiration, but if I read it somewhere it can't? what about a spell I read about in another game? or an effect I see in a film? does my character have to justify that too?

I for one could tell the difference if my player thought of an idea because he saw it in a book or thought of it himself. If he thought of it himself I would probably just let him research it. if the spell was already around and uncommon I would probably just make the DC's a little higher. the hypothetical's you guys are coming up with are a bit far fetched.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
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.

A sorcerer has an innate ability to cast spells and an innate knowledge of his bloodline spells, but he hasn't an innate ability to invent spells from nothing.

To make a comparison, Earth people being transported in a fantasy world with magic is a common trope in Japanese web novels. Often they are able to create new electricity based spells with ease simply because they have prior knowledge of uses of electricity, while the native generally knows only lighting or the small sparks that you can get with an amber dot and wool.
It is extremely difficult to imagine a taser-like spell if you don't know that the right electrical shock can paralyze.

A sorcerer will be able to learn common spells because he has heard about them in tales, seen them cast and learned about them when learning the different skills. I think that his bloodline is enough to allow him to learn uncommon spells related to it too, plus uncommon spells related to his background.

Other uncommon spells, or rare and unique spells? He would need to find/develope them first, like a wizard.


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Diego Rossi 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.

A sorcerer has an innate ability to cast spells and an innate knowledge of his bloodline spells, but he hasn't an innate ability to invent spells from nothing.

To make a comparison, Earth people being transported in a fantasy world with magic is a common trope in Japanese web novels. Often they are able to create new electricity based spells with ease simply because they have prior knowledge of uses of electricity, while the native generally knows only lighting or the small sparks that you can get with an amber dot and wool.
It is extremely difficult to imagine a taser-like spell if you don't know that the right electrical shock can paralyze.

A sorcerer will be able to learn common spells because he has heard about them in tales, seen them cast and learned about them when learning the different skills. I think that his bloodline is enough to allow him to learn uncommon spells related to it too, plus uncommon spells related to his background.

Other uncommon spells, or rare and unique spells? He would need to find/develope them first, like a wizard.

I think repeated, staged, superhero origin type events could be an entertaining way of a sorcerer "researching" spells.

Less a coherent form of research and more following vague intuitions and impulses, culminating in him locking himself in chambers that he pays a less than scrupulous wizard to flood with dangerous magical fields and look the other way.


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dragonhunterq wrote:
If I have an idea then that can be treated as my character inspiration, but if I read it somewhere it can't? what about a spell I read about in another game? or an effect I see in a film? does my character have to justify that too?

Who's saying anything about character concepts? They're quite obviously not putting tags on those.

A spell you read about in another game? It has no tags at the moment, it doesn't exist. You'll have to talk about it with the GM, adapt it, and research it, same as always.

It really is mind-boggling how a lot of people are getting so hung-up with the basic concept that a katana can't be found at every single Wiscrani swordsmith's, or that Blood Money is just not a thing outside of Karzoug's personal spellbook, or that to take the Gray Maiden prestige archetype you must have been, big shocker, a friggin' Gray Maiden.


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Elleth wrote:

I think repeated, staged, superhero origin type events could be an entertaining way of a sorcerer "researching" spells.

Less a coherent form of research and more following vague intuitions and impulses, culminating in him locking himself in chambers that he pays a less than scrupulous wizard to flood with dangerous magical...

I think that's brilliant and completely in character for sorcerers. They *are* essentially superheroes whose powers derive from their ancestors or from the favor of a magical being.


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GM DarkLightHitomi wrote:
Quote:
So we went from GM Fiat to an actual rule. The GM can always choose to ignore the rule... but by providing an official rule for this, the GM can go "it's in the rules" and not have to worry about players whining about the GM being arbitrary and unfair.

And why do we need the rule?

If a player is complaining to me about the rules, then I simply tell them that they are not looking for what I provide and they can either sit back and watch everyone else till they figure out what it is I am providing, and take part in that, or they can buzz off and find some other GM.

What you are providing? Like the rest of the group is just passive spectators cheering at your performance?

Have you ever heard the often quoted bit of truth that rpgs are collaborative storytelling with rules?

I swear, I can't even.


dragonhunterq wrote:

I am conflicted.

I feel I should like this more than I do.
I know some people disapprove of the practice, but there are also many who like to know where they are going mechanically and for them this will make planning characters more challenging.

You can plan your character, and if you get a cool non-common spell/feat/whatever along the way, you can re-plan. Isn't that twice the fun?


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Wultram wrote:


I think the tone didn't carry too well in my first post. I am opposed to the "no this is impossible" type of can't. Yes an npc may have an ability that nobody else knows, but it should not be impossible to learn it for anyone that is their equal.(what equal means depends on what we are talking about, a human fighter may be just as skilled as a catfolk one but if the technique uses claws, well then equal includes actually having claws.) And even if whatever thing is unique, well it came from somewhere so it is at least in theory possible to use the same excat method as the npc used.

"You wish to learn how I slew those three opponents with just a fruit knife young apprentice? First you must ritually purify yourself for twenty days and nights. Then you must climb naked to the top of the highest mountain in Minkai and prostrate yourself in prayer to my lord the Archdaemon Exlorchus. Only then, if he considers you worthy will he accept the offering of your soul and grant you the secret of how to tear the breath from your opponent's lungs and render him motionless.

I assume you have already sacrificed everyone you love to learn the first three battle secrets granted by my lord the Archdaemon Exlorchus."


Elleth wrote:
GM DarkLightHitomi wrote:
Quote:
So we went from GM Fiat to an actual rule. The GM can always choose to ignore the rule... but by providing an official rule for this, the GM can go "it's in the rules" and not have to worry about players whining about the GM being arbitrary and unfair.

And why do we need the rule?

If a player is complaining to me about the rules, then I simply tell them that they are not looking for what I provide and they can either sit back and watch everyone else till they figure out what it is I am providing, and take part in that, or they can buzz off and find some other GM.

I think the main use of this rule is that it shifts the conversation from "hi DM, can I take this?" to "hi DM, which items are common? Can I have some uncommon items?"

That might not sound like much, but if this rule is laid out somewhere clear where players can easily read (whether or not it will be I can't yet say) I suspect that it makes a big difference in expectations.
I can think of a couple of my players at least that would respond pretty happily to "hey guys, we're using different common items" and be interested in what that means for the world, while they'd be OK with me just saying "sorry guys, that isn't in my setting" but it's very hard to imagine that actually getting anyone excited.
As a DM it's my job to actually have players on board and interested, else what's the point.

Um, no.

It doesn't work like that.

Take a thorough readthrough of the 3rd ed dungeon master guide.

It actually tells the gm to change class abilities to better fit a player's character concept. Then there is rule 0, explicitly mentioned. And numerous other things detailed in various places that get completely ignored in favor of what "everybody knows."

The book actually tells you that players should face mostly low level encounters, with a few equal level encounters, with rare high level encounters that really tax the group.

To quote this article,
http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/2050/roleplaying-games/revisiting-encou nter-design

Quote:


By the time The Forge of Fury was released as part of the original Adventure Path in late 2000, the meme had already taken hold. The Forge of Fury — an adventure for 3rd to 5th level characters — included, as one of its encounters, a CR 10 roper. You’ll note that this encounter follows the guidelines printed in the DMG precisely. It didn’t matter. The fanboys howled from one side of the Internet to the other about this horrible and unbalanced encounter. And why were they howling? Because encounters should always have an EL equal to the average level of the PCs.

WotC never made that “mistake” again.


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GM DarkLightHitomi wrote:
Elleth wrote:

I think the main use of this rule is that it shifts the conversation from "hi DM, can I take this?" to "hi DM, which items are common? Can I have some uncommon items?"

That might not sound like much, but if this rule is laid out somewhere clear where players can easily read (whether or not it will be I can't yet say) I suspect that it makes a big difference in expectations.
I can think of a couple of my players at least that would respond pretty happily to "hey guys, we're using different common items" and be interested in what that means for the world, while they'd be OK with me just saying "sorry guys, that isn't in my setting" but it's very hard to imagine that actually getting anyone excited.
As a DM it's my job to actually have players on board and interested, else what's the point.

Um, no.

It doesn't work like that.

Take a thorough readthrough of the 3rd ed dungeon master guide.

Actually, yes, it works exactly like that. As GMs our job is to have players on board and interested, indeed. As much as we can. The more the whole group (GM included) has fun, the better you're all playing and GMing.

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