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

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Pathfinder Playtest
651 to 664 of 664 << first < prev | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | next > last >>
Sovereign Court

rmcoen wrote:


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

Because you might be playing a game where everyone is a Viking, and now you're encountering for the first time a Knight in full plate. It means that for you it IS uncommon.

Let us take an example that might not work in Pathfinder 2E but could be interesting.

If divine magic is the only source of healing in your continent, but there's someone strange and new that has a source of arcane healing. People will probably think it means that this character is a Priest of some divine entity, or is from a divine source. Thus people would act and perceive that person as a divine being/channeler, when that character is in fact from another country where arcane healing spell are quite frequent.

That character starts to abuse this perception in order to have people start worshiping him. (Hello Razmiran Kingdom!)

Arcane or Divine healing is still just "healing". But the source (or the feathers vs bricks) can affect the world/story in a lot of different ways.


Antimagic Field is a great example of a spell that should be rare, since which Wizard who knows it would be willing to teach it to other Wizards who might use it against them, anyway?

Most of the time knowledge of that spell is going to pass from Wizard to Wizard by Wizard B reading Wizard A's spellbook after Wizard A is dead.


Apparently the spell color coding (mostly red and black) that confused people trying to guess it indicates rarity. That will be convenient when looking at a list of spells and trying to decide what sounds cool and worth investigating to build a character. Orange (rare) or blue (unique)? Don't bother.


Xenocrat wrote:
Apparently the spell color coding (mostly red and black) that confused people trying to guess it indicates rarity. That will be convenient when looking at a list of spells and trying to decide what sounds cool and worth investigating to build a character. Orange (rare) or blue (unique)? Don't bother.

Sounds like something of no use to someone like me that's colorblind. I HOPE color coating isn't the only way to figure out rarity on the list.


graystone wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Apparently the spell color coding (mostly red and black) that confused people trying to guess it indicates rarity. That will be convenient when looking at a list of spells and trying to decide what sounds cool and worth investigating to build a character. Orange (rare) or blue (unique)? Don't bother.
Sounds like something of no use to someone like me that's colorblind. I HOPE color coating isn't the only way to figure out rarity on the list.

To say nothing about the guides that color coat their own things, with Purple being "Get this" and blue being a strong pick.

Gonna have to come up with a new system guys.

Also, we Diablo now if so


MerlinCross wrote:
graystone wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Apparently the spell color coding (mostly red and black) that confused people trying to guess it indicates rarity. That will be convenient when looking at a list of spells and trying to decide what sounds cool and worth investigating to build a character. Orange (rare) or blue (unique)? Don't bother.
Sounds like something of no use to someone like me that's colorblind. I HOPE color coating isn't the only way to figure out rarity on the list.

To say nothing about the guides that color coat their own things, with Purple being "Get this" and blue being a strong pick.

Gonna have to come up with a new system guys.

Also, we Diablo now if so

I'm hoping for something simple like a [R] for rare, but with emoji for action types, it'll most likely be a color + an arcane symbol instead... :P

Liberty's Edge

Xenocrat wrote:
Apparently the spell color coding (mostly red and black) that confused people trying to guess it indicates rarity. That will be convenient when looking at a list of spells and trying to decide what sounds cool and worth investigating to build a character. Orange (rare) or blue (unique)? Don't bother.

Source? Last I heard we were pretty sure that they indicated whether a spell could be Heightened or not (something also in the spell description), and that theory was entirely consistent with the data, which there'd need to be a heck of a coincidence to be true if it isn't correct.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Apparently the spell color coding (mostly red and black) that confused people trying to guess it indicates rarity. That will be convenient when looking at a list of spells and trying to decide what sounds cool and worth investigating to build a character. Orange (rare) or blue (unique)? Don't bother.
Source? Last I heard we were pretty sure that they indicated whether a spell could be Heightened or not (something also in the spell description), and that theory was entirely consistent with the data, which there'd need to be a heck of a coincidence to be true if it isn't correct.

Here. Perhaps he misunderstood, but there seems to be too much detail for that.


It really seems like "rarity" is the sort of thing it's appropriate to use glyphs for, since there are only four of them.

Liberty's Edge

Xenocrat wrote:
Here. Perhaps he misunderstood, but there seems to be too much detail for that.

Huh. Interesting.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Here. Perhaps he misunderstood, but there seems to be too much detail for that.
Huh. Interesting.

He has a lot of intersting posts. I keep refreshing his comment history - the latest all the 10th level spells: Wish (plus Occult/Divine/Primal versions, basically lets you pick a 9th level spell effect on list, or 7th off list), Gate, Time Stop, Avatar (Divine battle form), Nature Incarnate (kaiju or green man battle form), Primal Herd (party turns into mammoths), Fabricate Truth (make multiple targets believe a made up fact).

My guess is that each list gets three:

Arcane: Wish, Gate, Time Stop
Divine: Miracle, Gate(?), Avatar
Primal: Primal Phenomenon, Nature Incarnate, Primal Herd
Occult: Alter Reality, Fabricate Truth, Time Stop(?) or Gate(?)

Not sure about Gate/Time Stop allocation, both make sense on Occult, but it's weird for Arcane and Divine to share Gate, especially if Occult doesn't. Maybe Time Stop is Arcane only.

Sovereign Court

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

I think Time Stop is associated with the Mental essence, so it makes sense on the occult list.


KingOfAnything wrote:
I think Time Stop is associated with the Mental essence, so it makes sense on the occult list.

I agree, I just have a hard time seeing anything but Gate as the third Divine spell, and it's hard to believe Arcane and Divine (not sharing any essences) would both have it if Occult does not. Maybe my error is believing every list has three and only three 10th level spells in the playtest.

651 to 664 of 664 << first < prev | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Archive / Pathfinder / Playtests & Prerelease Discussions / Pathfinder Playtest / Paizo Blog: Common Ground All Messageboards