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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Juda de Kerioth wrote:
mmm this sounds like paizo want to erradicate gms in pf2.

I don't understand this line of thinking. For me as a GM the rarity of certain options in the rulebook is supposed to be a baseline for "how common these things are in the default setting" which I can then adjust for the game I'm running or the setting I'm building. It's not really different from how if I wanted to run a bronze age game, "plate mail" would not be available for the CRB price, but having a price for the in the CRB doesn't really get in my way any.

Like the only downside I see is players being super indignant that they can't have all the best options immediately because some of them are less common. But I don't want to run games for people who act like that anyway.


edduardco wrote:
You are missing the point, it doesn't need to be custom spells, is about allowing research of spells alredy in the playtest, exactly the same as crafting for magic items already works.

And evidently you missed mine, since 90% of post you quoted was talking about existing spells. I'll try to say it more clearly. You don't just pull the spells out of no where when you learn them, or really come up with anything new. You just copy something someone else discovered. Which means you need a thing to copy, or it needs to be either well known or a simple enough secret to figure out independently. Rare spells are neither of these things.


the fact is that putting rules into the games that we were using before, means that you dont have more house rules to run with.

i like the idea, but i feel that gms needs to work on their own houserules for sure.

There are a lot of Rulelawyers outside, and they will make their players know this rule... and this isn´t a good point at all.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Juda de Kerioth wrote:

the fact is that putting rules into the games that we were using before, means that you dont have more house rules to run with.

i like the idea, but i feel that gms needs to work on their own houserules for sure.

There are a lot of Rulelawyers outside, and they will make their players know this rule... and this isn´t a good point at all.

This is more about establishing a common ground language for rarity, an alphabet of building blocks that GMs can then use to write the opus of their homebrew world and then quickly and easily explain it to new players, with built in mechanics so they can understand what each term means in your world as long as they have learned to play PF2 in general.


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Captain Morgan wrote:
edduardco wrote:
You are missing the point, it doesn't need to be custom spells, is about allowing research of spells alredy in the playtest, exactly the same as crafting for magic items already works.
And evidently you missed mine, since 90% of post you quoted was talking about existing spells. I'll try to say it more clearly. You don't just pull the spells out of no where when you learn them, or really come up with anything new. You just copy something someone else discovered. Which means you need a thing to copy, or it needs to be either well known or a simple enough secret to figure out independently. Rare spells are neither of these things.

That is just your headcanon speaking. Crafting, feats, skills, all other abilities don't follow that logic, they don't need to be copied. Also, it doesn't explain how spells came to be.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
This is more about establishing a common ground language for rarity, an alphabet of building blocks that GMs can then use to write the opus of their homebrew world and then quickly and easily explain it to new players, with built in mechanics so they can understand what each term means in your world as long as they have learned to play PF2 in general.

This is exactly how I felt about the system upon readimg the blog!

I am excited to see the system with a frame of reference in the form of the Playtest Rulebook and Module (which I am chomping at the bit to read).

I see it as a system that I can use to adapt Pathfinder 2nd Edition to one of those obscure, out-of-date, gems of a setting. Or use to fine-tune the campaign to a smaller region (like near-Varasia in the case of Rise of the Runelords, or Curse of the Crimson Throne). It gives me a built in means of regulating the availability of certain content without sounding quite as arbitrary, and a framework to judge just how hard it should be to acquire that content (something D&D has never adequetly done).


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Juda de Kerioth wrote:

the fact is that putting rules into the games that we were using before, means that you dont have more house rules to run with.

i like the idea, but i feel that gms needs to work on their own houserules for sure.

There are a lot of Rulelawyers outside, and they will make their players know this rule... and this isn´t a good point at all.

This is more about establishing a common ground language for rarity, an alphabet of building blocks that GMs can then use to write the opus of their homebrew world and then quickly and easily explain it to new players, with built in mechanics so they can understand what each term means in your world as long as they have learned to play PF2 in general.

One GM's Rare is a reward. Another GM's rare is a carrot on a stick. Another GM's Rare is banned. And yet another GM's is "I can't be bothered to actually look at this".

I'm sorry I just can't see this being as helpful as you think it will be. During the playtest sure, when we're not really supposed to change the rules and what not. But after a year or two when the home games start or even when they just don't care/put the work in, I can easily see different tables viewing rarity as anything from "This helps build the setting" to "This is some level of Banned".

And this is a bit of a stretch of a metaphor Mark but since you did bring it up; Alphabet is fine and all, but how does that help when every table has their own slang?


edduardco wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
edduardco wrote:
You are missing the point, it doesn't need to be custom spells, is about allowing research of spells alredy in the playtest, exactly the same as crafting for magic items already works.
And evidently you missed mine, since 90% of post you quoted was talking about existing spells. I'll try to say it more clearly. You don't just pull the spells out of no where when you learn them, or really come up with anything new. You just copy something someone else discovered. Which means you need a thing to copy, or it needs to be either well known or a simple enough secret to figure out independently. Rare spells are neither of these things.
That is just your headcanon speaking. Crafting, feats, skills, all other abilities don't follow that logic, they don't need to be copied. Also, it doesn't explain how spells came to be.

I didn't say crafting, feats, or skills follow that logic. But spells do. I don't see why it is less sensible to say that some spells need to be learned from specific sources than a wizard learning new spells when they have had no time in game to do research.

New spells are presumably quite hard to create and don't tend to be something which PCs can do. But in cases where it happens, you could just as easily say the spell already "existed" And you discovered how to make it work.

Basically, if you apply the level of scrutiny to spell rarity as you are doing now to any other part of the spell learning process, it all falls apart anyway.


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Roswynn wrote:
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.

Except they are putting tags on character concepts by slapping a big fat bunch of NO's everywhere.

It really does seem that this exists just to stamp into dust any interesting/different character builds.
So after first reading this, I really hate this idea, especially for PFS.
'Hey, i've just come up with a really cool conecept and build! Oh, wait, uses 2 uncommon feats, well, in the bin with that idea I guess' Is something a player should not be saying, and I fear we're going to be saying that A LOT.
And before anyone comments on the 2 Uncommon thing, unless that number is so high as to be worthless then we still hit this problem.

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.

And then as I thought about it more I realised my problem was the uncommon rarity, and I wholeheartedly agree with Fuzzypaws.

Making a few really powerful/bust/rp-specific things rare is fine, and indeed quite cool, but I really hate the idea of uncommon, Just leave everything else at common and be done with it.

Throne wrote:

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'.

And this is my other concern. I've bought several books from Paizo without really knowing the contents, just that they are heavily Alchemy or Kineticist related. Now I won't. I'll wait for them to come out, see how much is Uncommon (otherwise known as off limits outside of homebrew) and then decide.


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Why are we assuming things about a limit on access to uncommon stuff in games without seeing literally any rules for this?

Like one of the benefits of stuff being marked "uncommon" is that this signposts "Here are the things you should justify in your backstory" as opposed to the things there's no reason to.


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Geosharp wrote:
And this is my other concern. I've bought several books from Paizo without really knowing the contents, just that they are heavily Alchemy or Kineticist related. Now I won't. I'll wait for them to come out, see how much is Uncommon (otherwise known as off limits outside of homebrew) and then decide.

This is a worry I do have now even if it's a mental tick(Because those are so hard to get over it seems).

It's not "Hey this thing is cool, I'll use it/see if I can" it's "This is cool I'll use... oh Uncommon. No wait rare. Well guess I'm not using that.".

Do I believe I should have access to everything? No not really. But if I see something that's marked Uncommon or Rare, I'm less likely to think I can actually get that. Depending on what it actually is, I just won't bother to bring it up because of the tag now.


Since many people quoted me without getting the context.(Yes I am super late to respond.) I am only really concerned about the abusive use of rarity. Abusive is a bit strong word but my english is failing me here.

With that done. Another concern that came to me, is that I am not sure I trust the writers to not publish something OP(in comparison to standard) and just slap a rarity tag on it as a justification. I don't think it will happen early or even often, but blood money that has been used as an example is pretty much poster boy for this.

Now this is opinion based but as far as I am concerned. "Yeah this is nowhere near balanced but cause only this one npc knows it, it is ok." Is bad writing, worse GMing and outright awfull game design.

Another that many have touched upon is multiple separate discovery. As far as I know magic follows it's own laws same as physics in our world. And as such any spell that someone has researched/designed/discovered, can be done again by someone else, provided they have equal means to the other person. Just from a world building aspect, this should be addressed somehow in the mechanics of the game. How to do it without making the finding a uncommon/rare/unique spell worthless will be the tricky part. I personally do not know a good answer to that off the top of my head. But say something like for each step beyond common, you have to be able to cast a spell level above it. (so if you want to research unique 3rd level spell you need to be able to cast 6th level spells.) Now that is not a serious suggestion just something as an example.

Liberty's Edge

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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.

Why? Do people usually plan out their characters in explicit detail like this without consulting their GM? Because I plan out my characters in detail, but not generally without talking to my GM about anything remotely questionable.

For example, I'm currently planning out a character for an upcoming PF1 game who really needs 3 Traits to operate the way I want, so I'm going to ask the GM about taking a Drawback for an extra Trait. I'll also be making sure that playing a Skinwalker is okay (it's an Eberron game, so I'm betting using Skinwalker to make an Eberron Shifter is fine, but I'm still asking).

Is stuff like that not standard operating procedure? Because if not it really should be. Having a consistent understanding with your GM of how the mechanical choices you're making are gonna actually work is essential to a good gaming experience, and the way to get such an understanding is to talk about it.

All this does is clarify what stuff the game feels you should have such a talk with the GM about (and allow the GM to easily add to that category by designating things Uncommon). And, frankly, almost anything that encourages such a conversation strikes me as a positive step.

PFS is a different matter, of course, but that can be handled a few different ways with the most likely, IMO, a baseline cap on Uncommon options, plus certain Chronicle Sheets giving you specific additional ones, and a Boon for bonus ones as well. That's restrictive, sure, but no more so than the fact that they ban a lot of character options entirely. And they can likely loosen up many other restrictions due to how PF2 works (Crafting, for example, seems pretty likely to be allowed in PFS2 given that it's explicitly balanced with non-Crafting income earning).


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

Why are we assuming things about a limit on access to uncommon stuff in games without seeing literally any rules for this?

Like one of the benefits of stuff being marked "uncommon" is that this signposts "Here are the things you should justify in your backstory" as opposed to the things there's no reason to.

Because it's uncommon? That's kinda what the word means. Or at least implies, the usual take away of the word.

Now it doesn't seem to be a HARD limit written into it by Paizo themselves. I don't see anything on the blog that says "PCs can only have X Uncommon items".

But when you qualify something with a tag, especially with rarity, you can easily just say that. I mean, why actually GM when you can just limit very easily now. This is a bad move on the GM's part(To me) but it's not that far of a reach to be unheard of. Especially now as if you look around you can probably find ban lists of varying items/spells/classes. Just slap it as Uncommon or Rare and never give it to the players and feel good that you didn't 'ban' it.

So yeah, something's uncommon. That tells me I can't buy it at the local walmart(Though why did we have the walmart anyway, oh yeah players didn't like limits but will like this cause reasons?), but this also means I probably can get only a handful rather than a barrel. Or at least that's how my mind reads it as. Depending on what said Uncommon item/spell/thing is, that's fine possibly good as they have to be smart with them.

I might not like this and have concerns but most if it will have to wait until after we see the Rarity lists. I'll also admit my worries are based around player/GM behavior but Paizo really can't change that much now can they.

Unless they're a cabal of Psychics in hiding looking to unleash some other wordly god if they can get enough people playing the game at once.


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I feel that GMs have always had the right to limit access to certain things, and while tagging items by rarity makes this easier to do, its certainly better than just doing it arbitrarily.

I don't think "one GM might limit access to rarer stuff" as more of a problem than "one GM might ban several classes" (I didn't allow Gunslingers or Summoners).


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A fairy died when Paizo shifted from "Grey Maiden prestige Feats have membership requirement" to "Grey Maiden prestige Feats are Rare with membership requirement".


Well, you just don't pick options from everywhere you can read and put into the game without talking to the GM. You just don't tell the players to create their characters without saying what goes and what doesn't.
I mean, communication and all of that.


Quandary wrote:
A fairy died when Paizo shifted from "Grey Maiden prestige Feats have membership requirement" to "Grey Maiden prestige Feats are Rare with membership requirement".

Of course they require membership! They are rare!

Liberty's Edge

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Quandary wrote:
A fairy died when Paizo shifted from "Grey Maiden prestige Feats have membership requirement" to "Grey Maiden prestige Feats are Rare with membership requirement".

These two statements are synonymous. The Rare just codifies the previously existent restriction.


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I feel like I keep coming back to a repeated refrain from the earlier legendary skills argument-

It is easier for the GM to change an existing rule than to create one out of whole cloth.

So it's less that having default rarities gets in the way of one's rules, and more that having default rarities make it clear what exactly you need to alter for your house rules.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

I feel that GMs have always had the right to limit access to certain things, and while tagging items by rarity makes this easier to do, its certainly better than just doing it arbitrarily.

I don't think "one GM might limit access to rarer stuff" as more of a problem than "one GM might ban several classes" (I didn't allow Gunslingers or Summoners).

The problem is in my example, they are all Rare and they are all correct in how they do it withing rules and GMing.

But to expect Uncommon and Rare to be the same across all tables thanks to this new system is a silly assumption.

I also think that "One GM might ban several classes" is actually better than "One GM might lead on that you can get this Rare thing you want and never give it too you.".

At least then I know I can never get it and plan for it rather than casing after a carrot that never actually existed in the first place. Save now GM as the core shield of "It's Rare" rather than just being called out for being a jerk.

I can see this system being useful but I can also see the ways it can allow for poor behavior. Or just not fix the issue of Bob asking for Fey Foundling even though I put it as Rare stop asking me Bob, no I don't want to hear how your character got kidnapped and learned it that way, you'll never bring it up yourself in game Bob!

I still say though, this will be a issue from table to table. Even if that issue is just "This works for us, no problem". This isn't something mathed out that we can argue. This is more "How do you run your game and what do these words mean to you".

I put Alchemist Fire as Rare for a city to sell/have. I bet I could get several posters here to each come up with varying ways of how easy to hard it can be to get it. And then still have all those be correct in the reading of the rules but wrong because I did it This way while having my way be correct as well.

Sigh, I don't know. I can't say how this will play out but I don't think this is going to be a wide reaching change and improvement on the game. Could also have no effect on the game what so ever. This is more world building for home games and as for PFS...., well I don't care about PFS so they can figure out how to deal with it themselves.


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As a framework this sounds like a great idea. As a hard-coded set of rules... not so much. And make no mistake, some GMs are going to treat this as a strict rule set. Only now instead of needing to justify it or take responsibility themselves, "Paizo said so". It's also going to exacerbate the "socks for Christmas" problem, where players find a cool thing and then notice the requirements or limitations. Now that will include rarity.


This system is an elegant way to manage burgeoning content before it has a chance to burgeon if it's used consistently. Pathfinder 1e could have used something like this at times. Rarity will certainly have its benefits.

If core races and classes are designated as common, there's a lot to be gained if races and classes with major RP or mechanical impositions are rare but available at character creation IF the GM allows. Races and classes are less practical as in-play rewards.

Drow, while awesome, should probably be rare and require GM consent to play. The GM should have control over whether or not another Drizzit joins the party, especially if the campaign is surface elf-centric or feature drow as the Big Bad.

I see a lot of discussion about potential abuse and misuse of the rarity system. If the rarity system makes it into print, I think it's essential the core books talk openly and frankly about how rarity can be misapplied. One way to combat bad behavior is to pull the mask off.


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

The general answer to you questions is - Ask your DM.

The more specific answer I would provide is, does it make sense for your character to know about it? If so, great, let's work out how the research will look and how that will contribute to the game.

Liberty's Edge

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I love this idea.

Or rather, I love the idea as a concept.
It makes the most sense for Oragnized Play, as it keeps certain options locked or harder to get unless you have a particular place of origin. Keeps the options more restrained while making your background or ancestory more impactful.

But I imagine keeping it updated will be tricky. The lists for each ethnicity will need to be updated with every release. And making a homebrew list will likely be daunting.


I love this - especially given that it means knowledge checks will be easier to calculate (currently PF1 and Starfinder have rules for setting the DC for identifying monsters based on the rarity of the monster but no monster has a listed rarity to use in those calculations).


Jester David wrote:
And making a homebrew list will likely be daunting.

I feel like if I don't have a pre-existing reason to make something less common (e.g. "guns aren't a thing here" or "death is permanent except in extremely rare cases") it's easy enough to make most things at least as common, but for things that hail from a specific setting detail in Golarion you will need to ask "Do we have something like that?" For example, Hellknight Plate is much rarer in universes that don't have Hellknights.


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Elleth wrote:

Sure. I've changed class abilities before. In my 5e game I even gave a slight modification to the sorcerer that, without changing its power level massively upped flexibility in how bloodlines worked, with a thematic caveat. My players loved it enough that I'm actually considering porting the lore over when I switch to PF2.

You'd be only the second GM to ever do so that I've ever "met."

But that is rather beside the point.

Quote:


I'm fully aware the DM has full control. I've used it before. But it doesn't change the fact that using it sometimes feels bad, like I'm quashing player options. I know at least one of my players would get annoyed if I were to selectively enforce PC options.

I it quashing player options to play in Star Trek instead of Star Wars? If your only concept of what should or should not be allowed is based only on a rulebook, then really missing the point of the game.

Quote:


Even if this system plays out the same, it's a difference in framing, like how "Hi there, we've got strawberry doughnuts" is different from "Hey, we're all out of chocolate doughnuts but we've got some strawberry ones left". Framing makes things feel different.
I'd think that most players are aware of rule 0, but it doesn't change the fact that quite simply it's usually not what they signed up for. If someone signed up for a 5e game, I can imagine they'd be upset if I ruled out half the book, unless those bans were the explicit theme of it (e.g. a brutal no-magic dungeoncrawl one-shot).

Framing is something the GM does, not the rules.

The rules give a +1 longsword. The GM is what makes it Orchrist, a famous blade forged in Gondolin in ages past.

Saying "you get only this half the book" is the GM framing what they are doing in a poor way. The GM should be framing the story and what is available because the narrative, and really the players should be getting a fair idea on their own of what is available based on your narrative.

The entire concept of seeing the book as a default, is serious handicap if you are not playing in the default setting, and it is something that should be discouraged among your players from the get-go.

Quote:


Rarity based gating with an explicit rule that item rarity is recommended as something that should be shifted between campaigns and even locations within a campaign to match flavour means you can show the players the rarity list and it'll feel more like you're giving something than banning something, especially if some uncommon things become shifted to common.

It just makes the system more complicated, and require more work from the GM to go through and adjust, since you have to then adjust entire lists with new rarities instead of just describing things in play as they come up.

Changed something from common? Then just don't decribe it as available when the party goes shopping. If a player asks for it, tell them they know it is rare and they will need to do some legwork to find one, if one is even available.

One of those case that falls under the famous writer's advice "show, don't tell."


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Elleth wrote:
Quote:

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

I feel like this is tangentially related at best, perhaps to illustrate some larger point about blind following of the rules that everyone assumes but are overwritten by advice or DM fiat.

Yes, it is just an example to demonstrate that something being in the rules does not mean that it will matter at all to the community.

I feel this whole explicit commonality thing is extra complexity with little benefit and will either be a shackle on the GMs too afraid to change it, a boatload of extra work for GMs trying to use, but will be entirely ignored by the majority of the community, and might even be one of those thing that will be rarely known despite being in everybody's book.


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I've just realized that this is the GM version of the Goblin, it will encourage arbitrary GMs to be even worse.


Roswynn wrote:
The Raven Black 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.

Complex weapons : difficult to use and a nice progression from Simple to Martial to Complex

Well, if we had to change weapon categories...

Martial is a little silly. All weapons are technically martial - it means "combat-related". Spears and maces are *definitely* martial weapons.

So, perhaps, simple - advanced - complex.

I never liked simple, martial, exotic.

There are three factors to weapons really, how easy are they to use, learn, and how common is that knowledge.

In that sense, Exotic is a category that makes sense for items that are rarely taught/studied.

But sometimes, you get something like bows. Easy to use and figure out, but takes a lot more practice to get good at. Just about anyone could pick up a bow and get an arrow in the rough direction of a target. But hitting indirect fire at precise distance and direction over a wall preventing line of sight, very difficult to aquire that level of proficiency.

But wait, why are bows martial, and crossbows simple? A crossbow might be easier to aim, for direct fire anyway, but you can't just pick one up and expect to start tossing bolts down range. You need to learn how to operate the catch, and if there is some sort of mechanism for cocking the string, you'd have to figure that out as well.

Sometimes it is difficult to even start, such as meteor hammers, which are really difficult to get working right at even a basic level.

So putting weapons into a linear set of categories makes no sense to me.


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GM DarkLightHitomi wrote:


Changed something from common? Then just don't decribe it as available when the party goes shopping. If a player asks for it, tell them they know it is rare and they will need to do some legwork to find one, if one is even available.

One of those case that falls under the famous writer's advice "show, don't tell."

That 'trick' hasn't worked for more than twenty years. It relies upon the players being willfully ignorant of the rules.

It is like trying to argue players shouldn't know how much their equipment costs in play (because Appraise), despite needing that information to complete character generation.

I would be pissed if was playing a character that uses [blank], and my GM didn't bother to tell me [blank] was Rare in his world.

If you don't set the stage for your audiance, they will do it themselves. If you don't provide them with an alternative set of assumptions, they will use their own... which more often than not will be whichever set of assumptions their favorite setting uses.
For example, both Golarion and Eberron have developed the Printing Press, making such machines Common, however in AD&D era-Faerun they might be Uncommon (or even Rare). The latter is an element you might note in the primer for a campaign set in Faerun instead of Golarion.

Any number of settings already do this, for example in the Iron Kingdoms almost all necromancy (except basic healing) spells are Rare outside a particular region, and spells like Plane Shift are Unique (or outright Nonexistant) due to having a different planar cosmology. Pathfinder 2 is simply giving the GM and Writer a system of notation to convey that information more quickly.


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edduardco wrote:
I've just realized that this is the GM version of the Goblin, it will encourage arbitrary GMs to be even worse.

I mean, it's going to take one hell of a bad GM to bar players from taking common stuff. I'm pretty sure the game is eminently playable with 100% common options.

It's just that explicitly specifying that how certain things are rare or unique is how we keep a high level party of an alchemist, druid, and wizard from mass-producing sun orchid elixir short of extreme handwavery- now they just don't have access to the formula, even if they can get the flowers.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
It's just that explicitly specifying that how certain things are rare or unique is how we keep a high level party of an alchemist, druid, and wizard from mass-producing sun orchid elixir short of extreme handwavery- now they just don't have access to the formula, even if they can get the flowers.

It will also, hopefully prevent players from simply assuming they can ignore the contradictory special effects or story requirements of a given set of abilities (which may never have been intended to be combined). Just because I am okay with reflavouring elements doesn't mean it cannot cause huge problems for novice GMs.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I love this so much. It will help curtail some of the "it's in the book, that means I can have it" attitude.
It lets the GM plan special things for his players. Leaving a book of rare spells in a treasure hoard would be a treat.
These 4 things as actual game terms is one of my favorite things so far.


I wonder if guns will maintain their exotic status or simply be uncommon or rare.

Also, I think hand crossbows should probably not be exotic anymore.


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On rereading the blog, one thing stands out - the dilemma of a party emerging from some ruins with a spell which no one has seen in thousands of years. Just the question of "what do you do with it, to disseminate or hide the knowledge, to use it for the greatest good, or get the highest price from it is a great roleplaying opportunity and something that was literally impossible to do in PF1.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
On rereading the blog, one thing stands out - the dilemma of a party emerging from some ruins with a spell which no one has seen in thousands of years. Just the question of "what do you do with it, to disseminate or hide the knowledge, to use it for the greatest good, or get the highest price from it is a great roleplaying opportunity and something that was literally impossible to do in PF1.

How's it impossible? I see nothing in the rule book that prevents it.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I use Hero Labs.

It makes the game a lot easier in some ways - bookkeeping becomes far easier and I can look things up fairly quickly and also print out character sheets for players.

But it also makes certain things more difficult. The sheer number of spells available can make it increasingly difficult for players to make choices when leveling up. Believe it or not, but choice is not always a handy thing for many players, especially more casual players who haven't memorized the books.

I suspect Hero Labs will have an option to click on a "Common Spells only" function so when someone levels up, then the spells that are Common are the ones that show up. This reduces choice which speeds leveling. (Mind you, I got around this with my Sorcerer player seeing she had a Cold theme (her character was from Irrisen) so I'd suggest spells that had Cold descriptors or that I thought would be of use for the campaign... and let her decide. She'd have a half dozen choices.

Meanwhile my Cleric player basically just memorized a few spells multiple times and ignored 90% of what was out there. She didn't want Choice. She wanted to just kill things and have fun. The game was a means of destressing for her and leveling up became stressful.

Only one player ever bothered learning spells and the like, and he was a bit of a powergamer to be honest. He's also the one making the most noises of distaste on PF2. He naturally hates the Common/Uncommon item or spell system.

Having Common/Uncommon/Rare encoded into the rules themselves means that Third Party systems will incorporate it as well. This makes my job easier and makes it easier for my players. So for those of you who are protesting it... let me ask you. Why is this a problem?

------------

One thing to consider also. Anyone could try to learn Blood Money by creating their own spell. But how long will that take? Why should creating a whole new spell without any outside notes take only a week or two? Even a low-level new spell should take at least a month and probably multiple months to create. This is not something a player could do while adventuring. So they have a choice: Do they try to create a new spell? Or do they go out adventuring?

And if they do stay and create their spell and convince their comrades to spend time back home doing stuff... well, the world doesn't wait on heroes. If some wizard were trying to create a new spell during Rise of the Runelords, I'd have their home base end up attacked by Karzoug's forces or the like. Remind them that they have an adventure waiting for them... and that the clock is ticking.


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MerlinCross wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
On rereading the blog, one thing stands out - the dilemma of a party emerging from some ruins with a spell which no one has seen in thousands of years. Just the question of "what do you do with it, to disseminate or hide the knowledge, to use it for the greatest good, or get the highest price from it is a great roleplaying opportunity and something that was literally impossible to do in PF1.
How's it impossible? I see nothing in the rule book that prevents it.

Because there's literally nothing which prevents a sorcerer from straight up "having Blood Money pop into your head" when they leveled up in PF1, short of GM fiat (which some people seem super-allergic to, I guess), but now there is?


Blood money now there is a spell I hope doesn't make it into PF2.


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Vidmaster7 wrote:
Blood money now there is a spell I hope doesn't make it into PF2.

Our group destroyed Karzoug's spellbook in hopes that nobody in the world would learn the spell (nobody in the party could cast it.)


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Tangent101 wrote:

I use Hero Labs.

It makes the game a lot easier in some ways - bookkeeping becomes far easier and I can look things up fairly quickly and also print out character sheets for players.

But it also makes certain things more difficult. The sheer number of spells available can make it increasingly difficult for players to make choices when leveling up. Believe it or not, but choice is not always a handy thing for many players, especially more casual players who haven't memorized the books.

I suspect Hero Labs will have an option to click on a "Common Spells only" function so when someone levels up, then the spells that are Common are the ones that show up. This reduces choice which speeds leveling. (Mind you, I got around this with my Sorcerer player seeing she had a Cold theme (her character was from Irrisen) so I'd suggest spells that had Cold descriptors or that I thought would be of use for the campaign... and let her decide. She'd have a half dozen choices.

Meanwhile my Cleric player basically just memorized a few spells multiple times and ignored 90% of what was out there. She didn't want Choice. She wanted to just kill things and have fun. The game was a means of destressing for her and leveling up became stressful.

Only one player ever bothered learning spells and the like, and he was a bit of a powergamer to be honest. He's also the one making the most noises of distaste on PF2. He naturally hates the Common/Uncommon item or spell system.

Having Common/Uncommon/Rare encoded into the rules themselves means that Third Party systems will incorporate it as well. This makes my job easier and makes it easier for my players. So for those of you who are protesting it... let me ask you. Why is this a problem?

Would you like a list? Okay.

1) GM bans Rares. Gm never actually says he bans them but never gives them out. Player(s) hope to get something from said list but will never actually get it they just don't know it. Fair? I can probably think of other examples but they kinda boil down to; Good GM uses it THIS way, Bad GM uses it THAT way. Issue is, if I'm reading it right, they are both correct by RAW now.

2) Player Ignores Rarity. You will still have players that just ignore the tag anyway when making characters and leveling them. That's just how it is. They either ignore out of ignorance(Which can be fixed) or blind zeal(which is harder to break). This system doesn't fix that issue though it does give the GM something else to point at and say "No because of X". Which the problem player won't care about anyway, they already ignored the "X Race/Group" rule.

3) More Choices, oh wait. For a game that's supposed to be big on customizing and not talking them away, and how more options is good for the game; we're suddenly cheering that those options are now far easier to ... simply not have? Oh wait, wait, rephrase; Made harder than checking a box yes, though the difficulty of actually getting is left up to the GM. .., k.

4) Unintended effects. I'm actually interested in seeing what the community/PFS think will do with this. I suppose one way to kill any neo big six is to just slap them as Rare, or worse Unique. I'm also interested in seeing what the GM/Player opinion will be. How much does this change building characters over time? Does the GM risk letting the party have something Uncommon to Rare that an enemy had? How much of a side quest are the players willing to go through for something that was common/somewhat expected? How far is the GM willing to let what should be a side quest go on for? All of the worries in this slot are chalked up to "Have to wait and see".

5) Bitterness. Okay yes this one is personal. I have said that one of the ways I curb CLW spam is limiting the ability to find them. I basically just moved them to Uncommon. This seems to be however a bad move on my part from some of the responses I saw over some of the topics. So everyone's cheering for something I did and got flak for. K.

Tangent101 wrote:
One thing to consider also. Anyone could try to learn Blood Money by creating their own spell. But how long will that take? Why should creating a whole new spell without any outside notes take only a week or two? Even a low-level new spell should take at least a month and probably multiple months to create. This is not something a player could do while adventuring. So they have a choice: Do they try to create a new spell? Or do they go out adventuring?

*Cough*

Quote:

Independent Research

A wizard can also research a spell independently, duplicating an existing spell or creating an entirely new one. The cost to research a new spell, and the time required, are left up to GM discretion, but it should probably take at least 1 week and cost at least 1,000 gp per level of the spell to be researched. This should also require a number of Spellcraft and Knowledge (arcana) checks.

But that's not fun, let's hand wave it away. Like so many crafting rules it seems. Unless you really want to cripple magic users by not only having them take weeks to months to learn a spell but also limit what they can learn to what they find.

I see Sorcerer being played far more often if that's the case. Or Divine.

Tangent101 wrote:
And if they do stay and create their spell and convince their comrades to spend time back home doing stuff... well, the world doesn't wait on heroes. If some wizard were trying to create a new spell during Rise of the Runelords, I'd have their home base end up attacked by Karzoug's forces or the like. Remind them that they have an adventure waiting for them... and that the clock is ticking.

I'm just going to assume you would do this to any Crafter that needed weeks to get their stuff done and didn't just want to single out the mages. In either case, yeah the world won't wait for you. There's going to be times when you can't take a week off, when things are measured in hours not days. I think it's poor showing to never give the party a chance to do downtime.

Don't worry though, they made sure to define just what Downtime Mode is for PF2 so GMs know just what to do when it comes time.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
On rereading the blog, one thing stands out - the dilemma of a party emerging from some ruins with a spell which no one has seen in thousands of years. Just the question of "what do you do with it, to disseminate or hide the knowledge, to use it for the greatest good, or get the highest price from it is a great roleplaying opportunity and something that was literally impossible to do in PF1.
How's it impossible? I see nothing in the rule book that prevents it.
Because there's literally nothing which prevents a sorcerer from straight up "having Blood Money pop into your head" when they leveled up in PF1, short of GM fiat (which some people seem super-allergic to, I guess), but now there is?

GM Fiat(Which is so allergic now they have to nail it into the core rule books to actually do now), player not thinking of doing so, player shockingly not have read through the AP to see it's a spell, players never seeing it on Guides(I asssume it's not listed haven't checked), never actually using the spell(haven't played through the AP, how often is it used?)...

But if you mean for PF2, it's called oddly enough GM Fiat. They just renamed it to Rarity for some reason.

Though if I had to be honest, that might be more on the online sources of not putting a disclaimer on such spells. I mean for Iomedae's sake they tend put the Campaign traits in a separate section they should at least put Campaign/Plot spells into a side list or something.


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But "Hey, that spell is rare, you can only get common spells from level up" is going to go over a lot easier than having to explain the context of that spell without spoiling RotRL in case you haven't played it but might want to.

I think there's fundamentally a difference between "GM says you can't have the thing you want" and "you can't get rare stuff by default, but the GM can include whatever rare things as rewards as they want." I'm still going to want to give players the stuff they want, it's just that more of that stuff is going to live at the bottom of the dungeon than in the market after you've sold off all the stuff from the dungeon.

"Shopping and skills checks" are kind of the least interesting ways to acquire stuff, after all.


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Creating hard challenges and getting better stuff because of it is a positive. It improves the game. Its kind of lazy to expect to get whatever you want just because you want it. Its far more satisfying to earn it. I think the concept of having to put more effort into getting extra special and rare loot will only improve the game.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

But "Hey, that spell is rare, you can only get common spells from level up" is going to go over a lot easier than having to explain the context of that spell without spoiling RotRL in case you haven't played it but might want to.

I think there's fundamentally a difference between "GM says you can't have the thing you want" and "you can't get rare stuff by default, but the GM can include whatever rare things as rewards as they want." I'm still going to want to give players the stuff they want, it's just that more of that stuff is going to live at the bottom of the dungeon than in the market after you've sold off all the stuff from the dungeon.

"Shopping and skills checks" are kind of the least interesting ways to acquire stuff, after all.

I would think "Pick spells from Core, come to me if you want splats" would go over the same way but it seems that is FAR to much work for people.

And yes there is. The first is "I can't have" and the second is "I might have". And that "Might" varies from GM to GM. I brought this up before; the rules as is might make it easier but I'm willing to bet I can get a couple GMs that come up with just how easy to hard something Uncommon is. I'd rather take the flat No than see which way the GM lands.

I will agree with about the shopping bit. That it will be harder to get. But as someone that didn't run the shops like vending machines to begin with or at the very least let them act as paths to plot points, I found the "Walmart" approach to be silly. So yeah this might make it easier for GMs to kill that but um... guys? You really think that players will just be totally cool with this change? Players that seem to complain about other ways of limiting their shopping/spell runs? This system suddenly makes it good thing in their eyes?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

@MerlinCross: How is the GM stating "I do not allow that spell" differ from the GM not including that spell as it's a Rare or Uncommon spell? Seriously, if a GM doesn't want a spell then they will state it. Players can complain all they want about how unfair it is... but that doesn't change matters.

For instance: I ran an AD&D campaign where Resurrection was extremely rare. There was an in-game reason for that due to the God of Healing being murdered and the Goddess of Death (who isn't evil, mind you) gaining his Portfolio (thus being the Goddess of Death and Healing). The players came across a Scroll of Raise Dead. It wouldn't work unless a God empowered it, so they went on a quest to try and convince the new Goddess of Healing (daughter of above Goddess of Death - long story) to empower the spell. It would have worked but they killed a unicorn that some elves were riding while attacking the party. She got pissed and refused to empower the spell, so they ended up going another route to eventually get their companion back.

Under the Pathfinder 2 rules I can state "Resurrection is a Rare spell" and that explains things. Now there are plenty of players who would insist that in an AD&D setting they have every right to use the spell Raise Dead or Resurrection because it's in the books. It doesn't matter that my setting had a dead God of Healing, a God-War as a result of this, and thematically an explanation for limited access to healing and no real access to Raise Dead. The players could end up disrupting my campaign because they feel it is unfair that their character or their buddy's character was dead and that they'd have to go on a long quest to get their friend back.

Having a rule that states X (spell or item rarity) helps the GM keep things in order. The GM can choose to waive a rule if they so desire but the rule is still there and they can state "this is a one-time event because of X" (say a background aspect) and allow it for that one time but still have the option to say no because it's in the rules.

2. The GM can then state "You can't use that because it's not available." When the player complains the GM can say "it states X in the rules." End of argument. If the player comes up with an effective argument as to why they should be granted an exemption, then good. If it's just whining and powermongering? Too bad. Rules exist to create a framework from which we game.

3. Not all Choices are for Players. For instance, the Red Mantis Prestige Class was not intended for players, but for NPCs. In the Red Mantis write-up it STATED as such. Just because something is in the books doesn't mean players get to use it.

4. We'll see.

5. That's not an effective argument.

As for the time for spell research? I didn't remember it. I have no idea where it was. So it doesn't matter. I will say this: if a spell is Uncommon it should take longer to research. If a spell is Rare then it should take even more time.

If it is Unique then it should be something which takes months or years to create - you are talking about what is essentially breaking research. It is akin to Elon Musk building a rocket that can land and then be reused. You are not just recreating someone else's work, you are designing something brand new using concepts that haven't been shown before and that may end up eventually in hundreds of spellbooks. It is a Masterpiece in spell creation.

That's not something that you just whip out in a week.


Vidmaster7 wrote:
Creating hard challenges and getting better stuff because of it is a positive. It improves the game. Its kind of lazy to expect to get whatever you want just because you want it. Its far more satisfying to earn it. I think the concept of having to put more effort into getting extra special and rare loot will only improve the game.

Maybe if GMs and Players treated some sections of the book as less of a vending machine we could actually GIVE cool stuff.

But we have Rarity for that now. And up to 10 or more years of programming that idea from people.

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