Running the Game

Friday, July 20, 2018

As the Pathfinder Playtest begins, Game Masters will need to quickly get up to speed with the new rules. The Game Mastering chapter of the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook is here to help you out! It covers the responsibilities of a GM, gives advice on running sessions, and teaches you how to adjudicate the rules of the game. Because this is a playtest, there aren't details about creating your own campaign or adventures, but rest assured, this information will appear in the Pathfinder Second Edition rulebook!

Running Modes of Play

A large section of the Game Mastering chapter runs through the special concerns of running the three modes of play: encounters, exploration, and downtime. The specific rules governing those modes appear in the Playing the Game chapter, so this chapter instead talks about how to set the pace of the game as you GM. Exploration and downtime get the most focus here, since most the rules for running encounters are addressed in Playing the Game. The section on exploration goes over exploration tactics characters might adopt, and gives advice on what to do when players want to choose tactics that aren't included in the default options. It also addresses how to begin and end encounters, including some advice on how to use the new initiative rules of the playtest. The section on downtime shows you how to play out a single downtime day at the table, and how to cover long periods of downtime quickly and keep them interesting. It also talks about buying and selling items and retraining abilities.

Difficulty Classes

Setting DCs is one of your major tasks as GM, and the rulebook covers how to create two different types of DCs: those that are appropriate for a certain level and those that are static challenges in the world. This first category is great when you need the DC of an obstacle created by an enemy of a certain level but don't have all their statistics, when you set the DC to Craft an item of a particular level, and so on. Levels and categories of difficulty are given in a table so you can pick a DC quickly. The level is based on your opposition's level, and the category depends on the particular situation. Here's a portion of that table.

LevelTrivialLowHighSevereExtreme
0 910121417
11012141518
21113151619

Static challenges are everything from climbing a tree to identifying a minor noble. These tasks don't really get more difficult if the PCs are higher level, but can still be expressed in terms of level and difficulty category. The guidelines explain how to select a level and category of difficulty. For instance, climbing a rope that's hanging in mid-air is a level 1 task, so it's normally a high DC (14), but it might have a low DC (12) if you can brace yourself against a wall while climbing through a narrow area, and maybe even a trivial DC (10) if you can brace against two walls. Because static DCs don't increase as the PCs advance in levels, eventually low-level static tasks will become nearly automatic for them. We give guidelines here for GMs crafting their own adventures, but it's ultimately up to them what level and DC tasks are. (In published adventures, this information is still provided.)

As you can see, the rules for DCs intentionally put far more choice in your hands as the GM. Rather than having a long list of DCs and modifiers pre-defined, we wanted to let the GM assess the particulars of any given situation and then use some simple tools to set the DC, rather than needing to calculate a DC based on rules that aren't always exactly suitable to the challenge facing the players.

This section also speaks to some particular categories of skill DCs for crafting, gathering Information, performing for an audience, practicing a trade with Lore, recalling knowledge with skills like Arcana or Lore, or training an animal.

Rewards

This section contains some rules not directly related to Doomsday Dawn, but that we want people to take a look at and use if they create their own campaigns during the playtest. One thing that shows up is rules on awarding Experience Points. This includes XP awards for accomplishments, so that you'll have guidance for when the group pulls off important tasks that aren't encounters or hazards. As noted previously, it normally takes 1,000 XP to level up, but there are also options for varying the players' advancement speed by having a new level every 800 XP or 1,200 XP. If you're playtesting your own campaign, you might want to have characters level up every 800 XP so you get a chance to playtest more levels of the game!

Environment and Hazards

The last section of the Game Mastering chapter briefly summarizes environments and the rules for hazards (such as traps, environmental dangers, and haunts). These are covered in more detail in the Pathfinder Playtest Bestiary. They'll be in the final version of Pathfinder Second Edition's core rulebook, but the Playtest Rulebook didn't have quite enough space for the whole thing!

Are you looking forward to GMing playtest games? What changes are you hoping to see? Are you going to run Doomsday Dawn, or try some of your own adventures too? Sound off in the comments!

Logan Bonner
Designer

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Tags: Pathfinder Playtest
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Sovereign Court

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Much appreciated, thank you. ^_^

(I might quibble over "many", but at least a representative sample exists, and it would be unreasonable to ask for a complete list.)


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Insight wrote:
GentleGiant wrote:
And the constant "oh, this looks similar to 4e, so clearly it must function in the same way and everyone will have the same good/bad experiences with it that I had with 4e!" is getting beyond tiresome.

I suppose I started this way back in the initial blogs when I effectively said, "Wow, this looks a lot like 4e. I'll probably like PF2 a lot!" And other people said, "What do you mean!? It looks nothing like 4e. I can't even see the slightest resemblance to that horrible system."

They haven't convinced me that I'm not seeing what I'm seeing. And only they could say whether they were trying to convince me (or other 4e fans) that I won't enjoy PF2 for the same reasons I enjoy 4e, or whether they were trying to convince themselves that there would be no way that they'd enjoy a system that was even on the same planet as 4e. And, of course, they could genuinely not see any similarities between the two (perhaps through unfamiliarity with 4e?), but that last doesn't have anything to do with what I AM seeing.

I'm not a 4e fan but I think it has some very elegant game systems and broke out of the mold a bit with monster design so I think arguments that say that any resemblance to 4e is bad are a bit silly.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Tender Tendrils wrote:

I'm not a 4e fan but I think it has some very elegant game systems and broke out of the mold a bit with monster design so I think arguments that say that any resemblance to 4e is bad are a bit silly.

And I'd be the first to say that PF2 seems to have culled all of the worst (or at least most controversial) parts of 4e, while leaving the cohesive whole that made it a great system in my opinion.

And based upon my extensive experience with both PF1 and 4e (I've played hundreds of hours of both and read the forums for both for many more hours), I'd be comfortable saying that a completely impartial but uninformed observer might come to the conclusion that PF2 was more of an evolution of the 4e system than the PF1 system (and PF2 really does look closer to 4e than it does to PF1, to me). But, for better or worse, some people would be disgusted by this very thought, which kind of makes me sad.

But in the long run, as long as PF2 is ultimately successful, and is able to replace the phaseout of 4e for me and other 4e fans, I guess it doesn't really matter how anyone else feels about it.


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Did anyone ever think to realize that the devs took portions of each PF1, 5e, 4e, and 3.5 and kind of just took the best from all of them but tweaked them and made them their own. From where I’m sitting, I see elements of all of these systems and I’m fine with it because as it stands, it sounds like an amazing system so far.

I listens to the glass cannon networks playtest podcast and it seemed like everything was much more of challenge which as a player I love, because those higher levels of PF1 really did feel like a face roll. And as a GM and watching the GM of my very first PF game, it becomes increasingly frustrating when everything you throw at competent players who can build exceptional PCs is destroyed in 1 round. Now I know the podcast was only level 1 & 2 and that PF1 had the disparity of levels 1-5 being pretty hard (on quite a few occasions I had my group ask if we could skip to level 3 to start) but I feel like everything will be much more of a challenge as we level up. Looking at the red cap from the attack the stat block blog it looked very deadly.

Also it sounded like it was more rewarding for the players too as the last man in the party managed to make his resonance roll and defeat that boss and still manage to bring everyone back up from dying.


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Alric Rahl wrote:
Did anyone ever think to realize that the devs took portions of each PF1, 5e, 4e, and 3.5 and kind of just took the best from all of them but tweaked them and made them their own. From where I’m sitting, I see elements of all of these systems and I’m fine with it because as it stands, it sounds like an amazing system so far.

The problem is they're taking some window dressing of 4e for no real benefit except to appeal to those fans of 4e (at the cost of making it less appealing to the detractors of 4e) like the term "primal magic". Furthermore I vehemently disagree that the +level to everything method of balancing the game is "the best part of 4e" and the 5e devs agreed that it was a mistake by cutting it down drastically.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
John Lynch 106 wrote:
Furthermore I vehemently disagree that the +level to everything method of balancing the game is "the best part of 4e" and the 5e devs agreed that it was a mistake by cutting it down drastically.

So you think Mearls and Crawford and Co definitely removed +level from 5e because they explicitly believe it was a mistake? Because they've never said as such. Just because they included bounded accuracy in 5e due to its virtues they've espoused doesn't mean they don't think that +level doesn't also have its pros or 5e's bounded accuracy its cons. It just means it was a good fit with what they wanted to do with 5e.


Right, they took the +level to everything, then added scaling DCs so it doesn’t seem like such a huge jump in beating the DCs at every level. As Mark said by 2nd level of well built PC you could actually have a +9 to a check making even a level 3 extreme DC (which is not listed but I assume a 21) possible to pass. And that’s only after adding in bonuses from an expert level item and other things. It seems to me that at each level if you added only 1 mediocre bonus boost on top of the +level you would actually be keeping ahead of it by 5-10%.

They made it possible for lower level characters to beat higher level challenges how is that a bad thing. Now it won’t feel like you have to be overleveled to attempt hard stuff


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Also, I’d add that there are some things that a large part of the industry has decided *is* a mistake, but even so, not everyone has ageeed with them. For example, most RPG companys, including Paizo, have generally decided that it is a bad idea to require that NPCs be built with the same rules as PCs. This is a concept that many designers and publishers regret has become an expectation on some level for a small part of the player base. Even so, even for Paizo, they have apparently decided to abandon a model that assumes the same rules will be used for each.


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Tender Tendrils wrote:
I'm not a 4e fan but I think it has some very elegant game systems and broke out of the mold a bit with monster design so I think arguments that say that any resemblance to 4e is bad are a bit silly.

I think 4e is the "The sum of its parts is greater than the whole" system. So, honestly, the fact that PF2e is taking some of the beneficial aspects of 4e, while still hewing to the core of Pathfinder, is actively something I'm looking forward to. Granted, not everything falls into this camp (for instance, I could do without the greater limitations on non-class skills that they picked up from 4e, and I'd like to see ancestries be more important at level 1, since both PF2e and 4e have them largely as "stats and a single ability")


Tholomyes wrote:
Tender Tendrils wrote:
I'm not a 4e fan but I think it has some very elegant game systems and broke out of the mold a bit with monster design so I think arguments that say that any resemblance to 4e is bad are a bit silly.
I think 4e is the "The sum of its parts is greater than the whole" system. So, honestly, the fact that PF2e is taking some of the beneficial aspects of 4e, while still hewing to the core of Pathfinder, is actively something I'm looking forward to. Granted, not everything falls into this camp (for instance, I could do without the greater limitations on non-class skills that they picked up from 4e, and I'd like to see ancestries be more important at level 1, since both PF2e and 4e have them largely as "stats and a single ability")

You don’t know that for sure yet, but that’s what ancestry feats are for. And they explicitly stayed away from saying what feats a 1st level character does get.


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Insight wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:
Furthermore I vehemently disagree that the +level to everything method of balancing the game is "the best part of 4e" and the 5e devs agreed that it was a mistake by cutting it down drastically.
So you think Mearls and Crawford and Co definitely removed +level from 5e because they explicitly believe it was a mistake? Because they've never said as such. Just because they included bounded accuracy in 5e due to its virtues they've espoused doesn't mean they don't think that +level doesn't also have its pros or 5e's bounded accuracy its cons. It just means it was a good fit with what they wanted to do with 5e.

I do believe it was removed because they felt +level was a mistake. Which devs I'm not going to hazard a guess at (unfortunately so much of the 5e playtest has been removed from the internet). But including it caused some very specific issues such as fey crocodiles being necessary. It also laid bare the treadmill that D&D has been built on since day 1 and all this is a symptom of the fact the balance methods used in 4e were so obvious (everyone being exactly the same, everything getting scaled automatically, everyone ultimately having awfully similar abilities which were ever so slightly different to justify them existing in unison).

One of the things I do know for a fact that the 5e devs feel about 4e, is that 4e was too well balanced. The perfection of it's balance (not that it was perfect, looking at you tempus fighter or whatever the option was called in Martial Power) and they deliberately chose not to have 5e be so tightly balanced as a result.

This chart with the fiddly changes to DC to me is another example of trying to make the game too well balanced.


You know what though, too well balanced plus lack of difference, does make for a boring game. Thankfully we have a more versatile abundance of options so that no 2 PCs are exactly the same.


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Alric Rahl wrote:
Thankfully we have a more versatile abundance of options so that no 2 PCs are exactly the same.

I think you'll find plenty of 4e fans disagree with this and will go to town on declaring how different each character was and how unique each class was. How unique the PF2e classes and characters are has yet to be determined.


John Lynch 106 wrote:
Alric Rahl wrote:
Did anyone ever think to realize that the devs took portions of each PF1, 5e, 4e, and 3.5 and kind of just took the best from all of them but tweaked them and made them their own. From where I’m sitting, I see elements of all of these systems and I’m fine with it because as it stands, it sounds like an amazing system so far.
The problem is they're taking some window dressing of 4e for no real benefit except to appeal to those fans of 4e (at the cost of making it less appealing to the detractors of 4e) like the term "primal magic". Furthermore I vehemently disagree that the +level to everything method of balancing the game is "the best part of 4e" and the 5e devs agreed that it was a mistake by cutting it down drastically.

5e is, too some, a terrible game because the significance of your level is severely reduced. I do not want pathfinder to go down that route.


j b 200 wrote:

I think that many people are getting hung up on the table when really all it is doing is making explicit what has already been there behind the scenes.

What I mean by this is that in P1 if I am designing a skill challenge for my level 5 PCs I need to put the DC at a level that will be challenging (so it's not so easy to be auto-succeed, thus boring) but not impossible (so hard even my specialist has to roll above a 15, and my other PCs have no chance). Now the main problem with P1, that has been mentioned explicitly multiple times in both blogs and posts by developers, is that there is a massive gap between the specialist and the untrained. My level 5 sorcerer has a bluff of +13 (5 ranks + 3 class skill + 5 cha), where as my Fighter has -2 ( 0 ranks -2 cha). How do I design this encounter to be challenging to the Sorcerer but passable by the Fighter? At DC 15, Sorcerer succeeds on anything but a 1 (95%), but Fighter has to roll a 17 or higher to succeed (15%).

There are several ways the developers have tried to fix this issue. First, everyone gets +lvl to all skill checks, this immediately shift the fighter up from -2 to +3. Now the Fighter succeeds in a 12 or better (45% success).
Secondly, stats are now more spread out, so you won't start with 20 in your main stat, but you are also unlikely to have a stat below 10. Now the Sorcerer comes down from +13 to +12 (Cha now +4). Now the Sorcerer needs a 3 or higher (90%), where as the fighter is now at least at a 0 Cha mod, putting him at a +5.
Third, with the new proficiency system the Sorcerer losses his class skill bonus, but could be an expert in bluff by lvl 5, making him net out to +10. The fighter, being untrained takes an additional -2, dropping again to a +3.

Extrapolating from the table a level 5 challenge has a trivial DC of 14 and easy of 16. So the Fighter needs an 11 or higher to succeed at trivial (50%) and a 13 for easy (40%), the Sorcerer needs a 4 (85%) and 6 (75%) respectively. Now this even is doable for the...

This is a perfect example of what I'm not looking forward to in PF2.

I like people being good at different things and it makes no sense to me why a fighter would get better at keeping his feeling hidden, because he gets better at hitting monsters with his sword.

I want my fighters to be able to fight like no other person in the game be it with shield or combat maneuvers whatever he prefers, but have no idea what he is fighting until the wizard yells "Get on the hydras back!"

Trying to get as close to a 50/50 on all checks, feels like trying to make everyone a jack of all trades master of none, and if that's the kind of game you wanna play, you don't need a rule set you need a coin.

When everyone is special no one is :(


Elleth wrote:
Somehow, you've managed to displaced Byakhee Byakhee that has been in my head since someone linked A Shoggoth on the Roof. But you've managed to replace it with "The wheels on the bus go round and round".

Speaking of HP, was there not a Pathfinder Cthulhu book coming out, by Sandy Peterson, or is it PDF only?


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Vic Ferrari wrote:
Elleth wrote:
Somehow, you've managed to displaced Byakhee Byakhee that has been in my head since someone linked A Shoggoth on the Roof. But you've managed to replace it with "The wheels on the bus go round and round".
Speaking of HP, was there not a Pathfinder Cthulhu book coming out, by Sandy Peterson, or is it PDF only?

This one?

That’s been out a while, not sure if there’s something more recent.


Alric Rahl wrote:
Did anyone ever think to realize that the devs took portions of each PF1, 5e, 4e, and 3.5 and kind of just took the best from all of them but tweaked them and made them their own. From where I’m sitting, I see elements of all of these systems and I’m fine with it because as it stands, it sounds like an amazing system so far.

Yeah, as they did with 5th Ed; which to me, seems like 3rd Ed Lite, with elements from AD&D and 4th Ed. It makes sense to consider all previous editions when designing a new one.

For PF2, I am liking some parts so far, but others not at all, I am just waiting to get an overall feel, which direction they are taking this d20 iteration.


Steve Geddes wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
Elleth wrote:
Somehow, you've managed to displaced Byakhee Byakhee that has been in my head since someone linked A Shoggoth on the Roof. But you've managed to replace it with "The wheels on the bus go round and round".
Speaking of HP, was there not a Pathfinder Cthulhu book coming out, by Sandy Peterson, or is it PDF only?

This one?

That’s been out a while, not sure if there’s something more recent.

Right on, thanks, I have been asking about this at my FLGS, for like a year, and they look at me, vacantly, then mumble something about having no idea about such a product. When did this come out?


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Vic Ferrari wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
Elleth wrote:
Somehow, you've managed to displaced Byakhee Byakhee that has been in my head since someone linked A Shoggoth on the Roof. But you've managed to replace it with "The wheels on the bus go round and round".
Speaking of HP, was there not a Pathfinder Cthulhu book coming out, by Sandy Peterson, or is it PDF only?

This one?

That’s been out a while, not sure if there’s something more recent.

Right on, thanks, I have been asking about this at my FLGS, for like a year, and they look at me, vacantly, then mumble something about having no idea about such a product. When did this come out?

I’m not sure. The site says I “bought it” in August 2017, but I suspect that was a preorder that I subsequently cancelled (pretty sure I don’t actually have a copy).

I seem to remember Sandy Peterson has a web store (?) There may be information there.

EDIT: from the Paizo product page it looks like there we’re supply problems and it only made it into retail in July. It is showing as in stock here.


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I have missed a couple of pages of posts here, but I am confused as to why people think that the flexible DC chart was designed around creating DCs around the party’s level and not the level of the situation’s creator/intended difficulty? Is the issue the column names? When I read this post, It read to me: here is a flexible chart so you can figure out what the most difficult DC effect a certain person can make and a couple of less difficult options, and you, as GM, can decide the level they invested into it.

I guess one tricky situation for some folks is “what level is a lava field?” But set DCs for every conceivable challenge a party might face are making that decision for a GM, and I am ok with those kind of situations having more built in flexibility


Vidmaster7 wrote:
K-kun the Insane wrote:
Don't forget needle in a needle stack!
Their we go that is the new trivial.

Well, it depends. Is any needle good enough? Or do you need a specific needle?

I haven't commented much about the blog post itself but I don't find there's much to comment about it. I welcome any and all tools that make the GM's job easier (particularly since the playtest is going to be my first experience as a GM and I'm not exactly confident about my GMing abilities)


2Zak wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
K-kun the Insane wrote:
Don't forget needle in a needle stack!
Their we go that is the new trivial.
Well, it depends. Is any needle good enough? Or do you need a specific needle?

We've been thru this. I'll let you keep reading.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Vidmaster7 wrote:
2Zak wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
K-kun the Insane wrote:
Don't forget needle in a needle stack!
Their we go that is the new trivial.
Well, it depends. Is any needle good enough? Or do you need a specific needle?
We've been thru this. I'll let you keep reading.

This is what I get for mostly reading blog post's comments through the dev's comments RSS feed.


John Lynch 106 wrote:
Insight wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:
Furthermore I vehemently disagree that the +level to everything method of balancing the game is "the best part of 4e" and the 5e devs agreed that it was a mistake by cutting it down drastically.
So you think Mearls and Crawford and Co definitely removed +level from 5e because they explicitly believe it was a mistake? Because they've never said as such. Just because they included bounded accuracy in 5e due to its virtues they've espoused doesn't mean they don't think that +level doesn't also have its pros or 5e's bounded accuracy its cons. It just means it was a good fit with what they wanted to do with 5e.

I do believe it was removed because they felt +level was a mistake. Which devs I'm not going to hazard a guess at (unfortunately so much of the 5e playtest has been removed from the internet). But including it caused some very specific issues such as fey crocodiles being necessary. It also laid bare the treadmill that D&D has been built on since day 1 and all this is a symptom of the fact the balance methods used in 4e were so obvious (everyone being exactly the same, everything getting scaled automatically, everyone ultimately having awfully similar abilities which were ever so slightly different to justify them existing in unison).

One of the things I do know for a fact that the 5e devs feel about 4e, is that 4e was too well balanced. The perfection of it's balance (not that it was perfect, looking at you tempus fighter or whatever the option was called in Martial Power) and they deliberately chose not to have 5e be so tightly balanced as a result.

This chart with the fiddly changes to DC to me is another example of trying to make the game too well balanced.

I wouldn't cite the system that is so horribly imbalanced that they decided to rewrite an entire chunk of core as evidence of anything.

EDIT:
Not that 4th edition didn't have that problem either but that was a far more harder problem to solve than make a core class functionable.


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Mouseless wrote:

Trying to get as close to a 50/50 on all checks, feels like trying to make everyone a jack of all trades master of none, and if that's the kind of game you wanna play, you don't need a rule set you need a coin.

When everyone is special no one is :(

Heh, I've already used this quote as a major concern of mine regarding the design approach for 2E.

There seems to be a lot of pushing to make sure that nobody ever feels like their character can't contribute. "My geeky scrawny wizard is L14, he should be able to climb like awesome cuz he has seem guys doing it for so long now". And, yep, he has a +12 for no reason other than, well no reason, he just does.

And after six months of playing this, does the wizard start feeling awesome? Nope, he doesn't even notice. The reason he doesn't notice is the rogue character whose thunder he is stolen has stolen all of the wizard thunder by being able to back door around problem the wizard used to solve. And both of them notice the fact that being cool in what they want to do has been diminished way more than they notice they can do those others things where the other guy used to shine.

Everyone gets to be special.
And there is not great achievement in anything because the character were already built with being capable of doing anything backed right in.
Everybody loves it on Day 1 (4E made Mearls a NYT bestselling author) and then, before you know it, people are underwhelmed and they drift off.

People play to be awesome for a bit.
And you won't truly be awesome unless you have parts that are weak and unless you other party members have places that are weak and you shine like a beacon.

I'm not saying Paizo has going running a million miles in some crazy overreach. But I am saying they strongly appear to have taken a good five steps in this direction, and every one step will do more harm than good.
When everyone is awesome, nobody is awesome. In a game where the players want to be awesome, this is really important to keep in mind. In PF1E characters can and do suck at certain things. And that is a critical part of the foundation. That foundation should be sacred.
That foundation lets each player be awesome multiple times a night. That is way better than being about as cool as every one else persistently.


MadScientistWorking wrote:
I wouldn't cite the system that is so horribly imbalanced that they decided to rewrite an entire chunk of core as evidence of anything.

Not to derail, but can you link me to something about this? I enjoyed 5E for a bit over a year, but it did run thin, so I came back over the PF. Where is this "rewrite an entire chunk of core" found? Thanks


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BryonD wrote:
Mouseless wrote:

Trying to get as close to a 50/50 on all checks, feels like trying to make everyone a jack of all trades master of none, and if that's the kind of game you wanna play, you don't need a rule set you need a coin.

When everyone is special no one is :(

Heh, I've already used this quote as a major concern of mine regarding the design approach for 2E.

There seems to be a lot of pushing to make sure that nobody ever feels like their character can't contribute. "My geeky scrawny wizard is L14, he should be able to climb like awesome cuz he has seem guys doing it for so long now". And, yep, he has a +12 for no reason other than, well no reason, he just does.

And after six months of playing this, does the wizard start feeling awesome? Nope, he doesn't even notice. The reason he doesn't notice is the rogue character whose thunder he is stolen has stolen all of the wizard thunder by being able to back door around problem the wizard used to solve. And both of them notice the fact that being cool in what they want to do has been diminished way more than they notice they can do those others things where the other guy used to shine.

Everyone gets to be special.
And there is not great achievement in anything because the character were already built with being capable of doing anything backed right in.
Everybody loves it on Day 1 (4E made Mearls a NYT bestselling author) and then, before you know it, people are underwhelmed and they drift off.

People play to be awesome for a bit.
And you won't truly be awesome unless you have parts that are weak and unless you other party members have places that are weak and you shine like a beacon.

I'm not saying Paizo has going running a million miles in some crazy overreach. But I am saying they strongly appear to have taken a good five steps in this direction, and every one step will do more harm than good.
When everyone is awesome, nobody is awesome. In a game where the players want to be awesome, this is really important to...

This whole thing strikes me as either missing the point entirely or just not getting the system at play in general. The point of everyone being vaguely competent enough to do basic adventuring tasks is so you don't run into "Well we could try to sneak into the castle, but Wally Wizard and Freddy Fullplate are utterly inept and will either ruin it out the gate or be forced to sit around while Randy Rogue scoots around. Frontal assault it is again," or situations along those lines. Randy, by virtue of putting ranks in Stealth, gets his moments of cool when he gets to sneak by the disintegration beam trap that has blind sight or something just like (hopefully) Wally and Freddy have their own stuff that can't be readily replicated by the other bozos in the party. Your coolness is meant to shine through by being even more awesome at certain things rather than pretending that because your wizard is BAB+0 and Str 8 that makes your spells feel more awesome (or social skill rank 0 and cha 8 fighters or what have you).

Plus most character weaknesses as I've seen are about as unimpressive as they get. Either it's compensated for from the start (tank cha, get stat replacement for cha skills), never really mattered to begin with (Oh no, no climb ranks! What am I to do? cries the wizard as he floats around with Overland Flight), or are just shrugged and ignored because someone else is dealing with that (Cha 07 and no social ranks guys, you go ahead and handle talking down the mad tyrant +40 to social bard, I'll get some more snacks).


BryonD wrote:
MadScientistWorking wrote:
I wouldn't cite the system that is so horribly imbalanced that they decided to rewrite an entire chunk of core as evidence of anything.
Not to derail, but can you link me to something about this? I enjoyed 5E for a bit over a year, but it did run thin, so I came back over the PF. Where is this "rewrite an entire chunk of core" found? Thanks

Yeah, I was heavily involved in the playtest and I heard no such news, I know the Proficiency Bonus came later in the playtest, but nothing drastic.

Starfinder, I heard had to have an entire concept ripped out of the game at the last minute.


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Tarik Blackhands wrote:
The point of everyone being vaguely competent enough to do basic adventuring tasks is so you don't run into "Well we could try to sneak into the castle, but Wally Wizard and Freddy Fullplate are utterly inept and will either ruin it out the gate or be forced to sit around while Randy Rogue scoots around.

I love how you casually jump from being "vaguely competent" to completely capable of sneaking past the security of a guarded castle.

In the 3X games I've been playing for going on to 20 years now, there have certainly been times when frontal assault was decided to be the best plan. But there have also been times when the group came up with solutions, often including elements of magic, by which characters who were not at all built with stealth in mind, were included in "sneaky" missions. But rather than just hand waving that *everybody knows how to sneak past a bunch of trained guards*, the really sneaky guys and spallcasters had to expend resources and carry the weight of these "stealth deadbeats" because they knew that having the whole team together on the other side would be worth it. And then, instead of it simply being an easy matter of this group of competents to waltz in, a risky situation followed and much drama and excitement was had as they put their plan into action.

A lot of fun would have been lost if they were all good at sneaking despite zero narrative basis for that in the characters.


BryonD wrote:
MadScientistWorking wrote:
I wouldn't cite the system that is so horribly imbalanced that they decided to rewrite an entire chunk of core as evidence of anything.
Not to derail, but can you link me to something about this? I enjoyed 5E for a bit over a year, but it did run thin, so I came back over the PF. Where is this "rewrite an entire chunk of core" found? Thanks

They rewrote the Ranger because it really doesn't work as a class at all.

Quote:

And after six months of playing this, does the wizard start feeling awesome? Nope, he doesn't even notice. The reason he doesn't notice is the rogue character whose thunder he is stolen has stolen all of the wizard thunder by being able to back door around problem the wizard used to solve. And both of them notice the fact that being cool in what they want to do has been diminished way more than they notice they can do those others things where the other guy used to shine.

Since when have skills ever been the defining thing of a character? I know there are skill monkey classes but even then that isn't necessarily the thing that defines my character.

Quote:
In the 3X games I've been playing for going on to 20 years now, there have certainly been times when frontal assault was decided to be the best plan. But there have also been times when the group came up with solutions, often including elements of magic, by which characters who were not at all built with stealth in mind, were included in "sneaky" missions. But rather than just hand waving that *everybody knows how to sneak past a bunch of trained guards*, the really sneaky guys and spallcasters had to expend resources and carry the weight of these "stealth deadbeats" because they knew that having the whole team together on the other side would be worth it. And them, instead of it simply being an easy matter of this group of competents to waltz in, a risky situation followed and much drama and excitement was had as they put their plan into action.

Its literally a third level spell. One that you can make copies of till the cows come home.


MadScientistWorking wrote:


They rewrote the Ranger because it really doesn't work as a class at all.

oh, the ranger thing. Thanks for the clarification.

Quote:
Since when have skills ever been the defining thing of a character? I know there are skill monkey classes but even then that isn't necessarily the thing that defines my character.

I didn't say skills were the defining thing.

But they are important. I'd think it is clear that I'm ultimately on your side of this defining point question.
I guess you should ask the guy who think every character should be "vaguely competent", which then means able to sneak past the security of a guarded castle.


MadScientistWorking wrote:
BryonD wrote:
MadScientistWorking wrote:
I wouldn't cite the system that is so horribly imbalanced that they decided to rewrite an entire chunk of core as evidence of anything.
Not to derail, but can you link me to something about this? I enjoyed 5E for a bit over a year, but it did run thin, so I came back over the PF. Where is this "rewrite an entire chunk of core" found? Thanks
They rewrote the Ranger because it really doesn't work as a class at all.

I wouldn't call the Ranger a major chunk of core, and all they did was release a few Ranger variants in their Unearthed Arcana series.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

To be fair, 3rd edition went through a complete revision just 2 years after release, and the substantial changes to the ranger in that case were just a small sliver of the overall changes to the core.


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BryonD wrote:
Tarik Blackhands wrote:
The point of everyone being vaguely competent enough to do basic adventuring tasks is so you don't run into "Well we could try to sneak into the castle, but Wally Wizard and Freddy Fullplate are utterly inept and will either ruin it out the gate or be forced to sit around while Randy Rogue scoots around.

I love how you casually jump from being "vaguely competent" to completely capable of sneaking past the security of a guarded castle.

In the 3X games I've been playing for going on to 20 years now, there have certainly been times when frontal assault was decided to be the best plan. But there have also been times when the group came up with solutions, often including elements of magic, by which characters who were not at all built with stealth in mind, were included in "sneaky" missions. But rather than just hand waving that *everybody knows how to sneak past a bunch of trained guards*, the really sneaky guys and spallcasters had to expend resources and carry the weight of these "stealth deadbeats" because they knew that having the whole team together on the other side would be worth it. And them, instead of it simply being an easy matter of this group of competents to waltz in, a risky situation followed and much drama and excitement was had as they put their plan into action.

A lot of fun would have been lost if they were all good at sneaking despite zero narrative basis for that in the characters.

A regular castle full of regular Joes on the job? Yeah, that's vaguely competent for a mid tier (or god forbid high) bunch of adventurers. Pop on over to Orcus's castle or Baba Yaga's Summer Home and things may be a bit harder and require some more consideration but hey, what do you do, I dunno spend those resources you talked about maybe. That's the general point. My world renowned hero or demigod should be able to sneak past some trained guards pretty easily even if he might run into issues with Orcus's best or whatever's considered a proper challenge and even against those, at there's a chance it'll work out without just shrugging and taking the local invisibility option and effectively handwaving the whole thing anyway.

Paizo wants to make a game of high fantasy and part of that comes from being Big Darn Heroes where glaring at the stable boy to move out of the way is trivial for anyone, but glaring at the demon and giving it a heart attack is for the specialist.


Insight wrote:
To be fair, 3rd edition went through a complete revision just 2 years after release, and the substantial changes to the ranger in that case were just a small sliver of the overall changes to the core.

I'd dispute the word "complete" in there. Monte Cook did a whole blog on how trivial and pointless (my words, been a long time) it was.

It brought in some changes that a lot of people were already doing and, frankly, cashed in on just how huge everything was selling. Sold the core books again .


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
BryonD wrote:
Insight wrote:
To be fair, 3rd edition went through a complete revision just 2 years after release, and the substantial changes to the ranger in that case were just a small sliver of the overall changes to the core.

I'd dispute the word "complete" in there. Monte Cook did a whole blog on how trivial and pointless (my words, been a long time) it was.

It brought in some changes that a lot of people were already doing and, frankly, cashed in on just how huge everything was selling. Sold the core books again .

Sure, but I was responding to the statement "I wouldn't cite the system that is so horribly imbalanced that they decided to rewrite an entire chunk of core as evidence of anything."

Surely you would agree that any "rewrite" of 5e, if indeed any exists at all (and I dispute that it does in the context of the statement), is not anywhere close to the 3.0 to 3.5 update.

And if the point stands, then it would follow that if any changes to 5e over the last several years make it unsuitable to cite as a good system, then certainly 3.X would be similarly unsuitable due to the sheer number of updates and changes that have happened to the game since 2000. (But, to clarify, I do not agree with this stance).


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Tarik Blackhands wrote:
A regular castle full of regular Joes on the job? Yeah, that's vaguely competent for a mid tier (or god forbid high) bunch of adventurers. Pop on over to Orcus's castle or Baba Yaga's Summer Home and things may be a bit harder and require some more consideration but hey, what do you do, I dunno spend those resources you talked about maybe.

Ok, so when those people who complain about the fighter can't sneak when they get to Orcus' castle, you are on my side they are wrong? The fighter should *NOT* be able to sneak in, despite how many awesome adventures he has had in the past. And you are saying that your complaint in the prior post is null and void when facing Orcus' castle.

Do I have that right?

Quote:
My world renowned hero or demigod should be able to sneak past some trained guards pretty easily even if he might run into issues with Orcus's best

Why? If your world renowned hero isn't in any way "renowned" for being sneaky?

But that said, what is your world renowned hero doing sneaking past regular joe's anyway? Isn't that, by definition, a non-challenge scenario? Why would your 4th level generic non-sneaky fighter be any better at sneaking past regular guards any more than your hero would be at sneaking past Orcus' guards?

Quote:
Paizo wants to make a game of high fantasy and part of that comes from being Big Darn Heroes where glaring at the stable boy to move out of the way is trivial for anyone, but glaring at the demon and giving it a heart attack is for the specialist.

Well, again, if you have to frame your scenario as way out of balance non-encounters. By your own choice you have demoted your castle guards first to "regular joes" and now down to "stable boy". What is the point?

You have already conceded (twice) that for real challenges, they *should not* be able to casually sneak by.

So I'll offer this middle ground:
In all games the DM should be able to hand wave sneak, intimidating or any or such thing when faced with trivial and wholly inconsequential foes. And when faced with level appropriate challenges, the characters must overcome with their capabilities while fully accounting for their personal weaknesses.

Deal?


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
BryonD wrote:


You have already conceded (twice) that for real challenges, they *should not* be able to casually sneak by.

Should they not even be able to try? Assuming the answer is no for your hypothetical system, what do you suggest I should do if I do want both the described fighter and rogue to be able to at least attempt to sneak by Orcus' guards and have at least a chance of success (one that is somehwere less than 95% for the rogue while also somewhat greater than 5% for the fighter). Or is your contention that such scenarios should be discouraged because it leads to less fun for the players in the long run?


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Mouseless wrote:
Trying to get as close to a 50/50 on all checks, feels like trying to make everyone a jack of all trades master of none, and if that's the kind of game you wanna play, you don't need a rule set you need a coin. When everyone is special no one is :(

Just to continue what I find to be an interesting philosophical design discussion, do you think there is absolutely no room to have a system where, say, the absolutely specialized expert has a 90% chance for same level challenges in their specialization, while the completely unsuited adventurer on the opposite side of this spectrum still has about a 10% chance of success on the same challenge (assuming this is one of those mundane tasks that anyone can try, such as hiding or jumping)?


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Yes Bryon people consider things a problem or not based on scale.


Insight wrote:
To be fair, 3rd edition went through a complete revision just 2 years after release, and the substantial changes to the ranger in that case were just a small sliver of the overall changes to the core.

Actually the major revision to 3E that fixed a lot of it's problems was 4E. There is really no way to salvage 3E as game system because even by the creators own admission they purposefully added bad elements into the game as a design point and made it ridiculously obtuse that they did that. Even the stuff retained from 3E the developers admitted had issues in 4th in that you had limited resources (feats) which competed for cool stuff and stuff that was kind of needed.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Good point ;).


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Really, the answer to the egregious problems all of these systems have is to just not play D&D. :).


Insight wrote:
Good point ;).

What that is what Monte Cook admitted? It's debatable whether or not it actually was intentional but 3E is a very confusing system with a bunch of useless options in it.

Edit:
Also, the reason why I play PF is that it's kind of a gonzo system and setting which is reflected in the mechanics.


Unicore wrote:
I have missed a couple of pages of posts here, but I am confused as to why people think that the flexible DC chart was designed around creating DCs around the party’s level and not the level of the situation’s creator/intended difficulty? Is the issue the column names? When I read this post, It read to me: here is a flexible chart so you can figure out what the most difficult DC effect a certain person can make and a couple of less difficult options, and you, as GM, can decide the level they invested into it.

I think genuinely a lot of the concern is that some GMs will misread the chart and think "Okay here are the DCs for 6th level characters" not "here are the DCs which would provide an appropriate challenge in a context befitting 6th level characters." I get that this is a subtle kind of distinction, but we all kind of understand that the king of the storm giants has always had better locks than the local goblin chief already. We do this so a party of 16th level characters will actually have enough challenge to create drama when they invade the storm king palace. I guess the danger is if the victorious heroes decide to stop by the local goblin chief's place and cause trouble on the way home from robbing the storm king, someone misinterpreting the chart will insist that the goblins suddenly have much better locks.

But I'm genuinely unclear on how one prevents misinterpretation of the text, short of making the text clearer.


Considering that the DIfficulty Class part of this blog states “the DC is based on your oppositions level” thus the lvl 16 storm giants and the lvl 3 goblins locks will be different. No where in the chart says that it’s based on the character level but it does say a challenge appropriate for their level. So climbing a rope at any level is a level 1 challenge thus the DC to climb the rope will be 10, however while climbing that rope at orcus’ castle the DC to sneakily climb that rope so as not to be spotted will be a level 20 challenge or whatever. This is not a hard concept to understand.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Unicore wrote:
I have missed a couple of pages of posts here, but I am confused as to why people think that the flexible DC chart was designed around creating DCs around the party’s level and not the level of the situation’s creator/intended difficulty? Is the issue the column names? When I read this post, It read to me: here is a flexible chart so you can figure out what the most difficult DC effect a certain person can make and a couple of less difficult options, and you, as GM, can decide the level they invested into it.

I think genuinely a lot of the concern is that some GMs will misread the chart and think "Okay here are the DCs for 6th level characters" not "here are the DCs which would provide an appropriate challenge in a context befitting 6th level characters." I get that this is a subtle kind of distinction, but we all kind of understand that the king of the storm giants has always had better locks than the local goblin chief already. We do this so a party of 16th level characters will actually have enough challenge to create drama when they invade the storm king palace. I guess the danger is if the victorious heroes decide to stop by the local goblin chief's place and cause trouble on the way home from robbing the storm king, someone misinterpreting the chart will insist that the goblins suddenly have much better locks.

But I'm genuinely unclear on how one prevents misinterpretation of the text, short of making the text clearer.

The text will be clear, it clear in the blog here, and considering paizo has had many problems in the past with unclear text I’m fairly certain it will be clear to GMs who reference the chart.


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

I have missed a couple of pages of posts here, but I am confused as to why people think that the flexible DC chart was designed around creating DCs around the party’s level and not the level of the situation’s creator/intended difficulty? Is the issue the column names? When I read this post, It read to me: here is a flexible chart so you can figure out what the most difficult DC effect a certain person can make and a couple of less difficult options, and you, as GM, can decide the level they invested into it.

I guess one tricky situation for some folks is “what level is a lava field?” But set DCs for every conceivable challenge a party might face are making that decision for a GM, and I am ok with those kind of situations having more built in flexibility

That is how I read it.

Grand Lodge

Mats Öhrman wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
It's actually going to have very likely increased, however, since an expert-quality musical instrument or the like will enter the equation.

That makes me wonder what the corresponding options for a dance- or oratory-based bard are.... :)

(And thinking of 4E bards, who really (at least initially) needed four arms to handle both implements and weapons... :) :) )

I could totally see the Bard doing "jazz hands" to enrage the entire table. Maybe save that for the Bloodrager?

SM

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