Future of Pathfinder Society Update

Thursday, September 20, 2018

When we announced the Pathfinder Playtest in February, some of the first questions revolved around what Pathfinder Society would look like in the new edition. One of the questions the organized play team asked was what gave the Society its heart - made it the robust organized play system it is - and what could be improved. We've spent the last six months analyzing the past ten years of Society play, from how we organize scenarios to what role the Society has in the greater Pathfinder universe. We also asked our community feedback, posting several threads soliciting commentary on some of the key pieces of the Society. While we still have months of playtesting to go and aren't ready to make final decisions about what to include in our new Society, we did want to revisit the forum threads where we posed questions to the community, discuss the emerging trends, and refocus the discussion towards the most likely options.

Eight threads are too much for any one person to monitor, especially when they span pages and pages of commentary. To make the task easier, each of the organized play team members focused on two threads. Over the next few months, we will dedicate at least one blog every month on our discussion. This week, we are going to focus on the Tier discussion and how it impacts level gain, which was one of Linda's foci, and the revised Roleplaying Guild Guide, which is an area I've monitoring.

At the end of this blog is a link to a SurveyMonkey form with a few questions regarding the discussion topics of tiers, experience points, and the Roleplaying Guild guide. Please read through the blog, then take the survey. Just to note, we are only talking Pathfinder Society version 2 in this survey. Depending on how things work out, what we decide for version 2 may make its way into Starfinder Society, but that is a topic for another day.

From Linda-Zayas Palmer, Organized Play Developer:

Tiers

One of the primary topics of this thread is the appropriate size for tiers in scenarios. The community discussion centered around three primary models for the size of typical tiers.

  • Tiers that are three levels wide with no sub tiers (Level 1, 3, 5, etc. scenarios that are playable by characters within one level of the adventure's stated level - level 5 adventures are playable by level 4-6 characters.)
  • Tiers that are four levels wide with two sub tiers, as in Starfinder Society (Tier 1-4, 3-6, 5-8, etc.)
  • Tiers that are five levels wide with two sub tiers, as in the current version of Pathfinder Society (Tier 1-5, 3-7, 5-9, etc.).

There were also some interesting points in the thread about the possibilities for non-standard tier sizes to accommodate particularly low or high-level play. We are likely to continue to offer adventures with narrow tier bands for low-level characters (Such as Tier 1 or 1-2 scenarios). When it comes to possibilities for higher level play, that is a bridge we'll be looking to cross in the future, when there are PCs available to play adventures of those levels, and when we've all had a chance to become familiar with how high-level play works in Pathfinder Second Edition.

The tier discussion also included a fair amount of discussion about APL (Average Party Level) and how to use it to determine which adjustments to apply to the adventure based upon the strength of the party. This conversation included ideas for how best to calculate APL, and how best to make adjustments that serve both large groups of lower level PCs and small groups of higher-level PCs. Because the specifics of how we handle adjustments will have to depend upon the size of the tiers, we aren't ready to offer complete proposals on this topic yet. However, as you may have noticed if you GMed one of the Pathfinder Society Playtest scenarios, we are strongly considering writing scenarios for a baseline of four players, with step adjustments provided for 5 and 6 (possibly even 7) players, versus the Pathfinder Society model of writing for tables of six players with a four-player adjustment.

We are considering several models for XP gain, based on the suggestions we have received. Regardless of the model, longer adventures like Adventure Paths would give more XP than a standard scenario, and quests would give less. Which brings up a discussion on the role of quests. The current default model for quests is to release 1-2 "packs" of quests per year, which each contain 4 or 5 adventures that together tell a cohesive story. We've received a lot of feedback, both on the forums and in person, that this model creates scheduling challenges. What we currently investigating is a model based around self-contained quests that release on a regular schedule, such as 1 quest per month. This would allow for more flexibility in scheduling, as the storyline won't be cohesive across individual quests, as well as maintain a constant flow of short events to be run at conventions, game stores, and other venues throughout the year.

With the above quest revisions in mind, which of the models below do you prefer?

The level gain portion of the thread also included some suggestions to create an XP system in which characters leveled up more quickly at low levels and more slowly at high levels. While these are interesting ideas and they may work best for some folks, the prevailing preference toward simplicity in the way we handle XP makes us unlikely to follow up on them. Instead, we would recommend that players looking to level up more slowly at higher levels use a voluntary system like slow track.

Speaking of slow track, we'd like to hear your thoughts on that as well. In Pathfinder Society, there is a leveling option called slow track, where players can choose to receive less XP, gold, and Fame for playing adventures', causing them to level more slowly.

The Roleplaying Guild Guide

The discussion on tiers, levels, and experience took a goodly amount of space, so I'm going to keep the guide conversation brief. Many of the comments about the current guide involved its size, organization, and accessibility. To that end, we are looking at stripping the guide back to its bare bones and put it together from the ground up. I've included survey questions about what should be in the guide and how it should be organized.

Part of this discussion revolves around delivery options. The big question at this point revolves around the feasibility of supporting a living document that resides online with print options. This would allow for faster updates and more integration between the guide, campaign clarifications, additional resources, and FAQ. Conversely, it means the guide is always in flux and could cause issues if internet access is not robust.

With the above thread discussions in mind, please take a moment to visit Org Play Survey #1—Tiers, XP, and Guides and log your opinions on the above talking points via a short survey. Conversely, you can add freeform comments below or in the applicable threads (Tiers & Level Gain, Roleplaying Guild Guide). Regardless of how you share your opinions, please do so, as we want to hear your thoughts on the directions of the future Pathfinder Society!

PAX Unplugged

We have a room for Pathfinder & Starfinder Societies and a booth hosting demonstration of the Pathfinder Playtest going on at PAX Unplugged 2018! Information on volunteer packages and a registration form will be available here on Friday, September 21st, 2018 at noon PST.

If you didn't read the blogs yesterday, flip back for previews of scenarios releasing in September for the Pathfinder and Starfinder Societies, including the last of the Pathfinder Playtest scenarios! If you are caught up, tune in next week for a status update on the Pathfinder Playtest society style or check out some of the other Paizo-centric blogs!

Until next time—Explore, Report, Cooperate!

Tonya Woldridge

Organized Play Manager

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Conventions Organized Play Pathfinder Society Starfinder Society
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Shadow Lodge ***** Venture-Agent, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Azothath

I'd agree that for FIRST level characters, stop and starting with an adventure in between is okay as the character's are freely rebuildable. Once the character hits second level though things have to be capped off.

*

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Let's NOT repeat that headache from PFS1, please.

1-2 okay It could happen that people play enough repeatable stuff to level up a couple of times over a weekend convention filling in empty time space but after that cap it off.

Or in other words, let's not chase away folks who may have been focused and leveled up quickly because they're dedicated and they've 'outleveled' the 'starter content'.

A more robust starting series of scenarios/quests should be able to address both power concerns as well as levels. If memory serves, the only reason the 1-5 Quest repeatables weren't available at higher levels was because of the restriction of L1. If there is greater risk for higher level characters, then I personally don't see the harm in letting folks repeat at higher levels (in the starting example of this post, L2 in a 1-2).

**

Absolutely love slow track. But I think generally speaking that with consumables, it ends up costing your characters a lot more cash.

It would be great if there were a champions mode that was like slow track but jiggered gold/rewards a bit.

I like the 1 xp per ar system, but I would like to suggest that experience required be varied by character class.

Wizard, arcanist 5 xp per level.
Paladins, druids 4 xp per level
Most other classes.. 3 xp per level. This would help balance the game, additionally.

The Exchange ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Perfect Tommy wrote:
I like the 1 xp per ar system, but I would like to suggest that experience required be varied by character class.

While it's definitely an "old school" option that would differentiate characters, it's would also be really hard to implement. In addition to the bookkeeping requirements it would be problematic in the beginning of the campaign when the "slow" classes wouldn't be able to participate in the first releases of higher level adventures simply because they hadn't gotten enough XP. Because there wasn't enough available.

Quote:

Wizard, arcanist 5 xp per level.

Paladins, druids 4 xp per level
Most other classes.. 3 xp per level. This would help balance the game, additionally.

I don't know if that would actually "balance." And I'm going to leave it at "I don't know." Any other response would turn this into a martial vs. caster thread. Among many other reasons not to start that fight, we don't even have final rules to make any kind of comparisons.

*

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

In addition, the math goes all kinds of out the window if folks multiclass.

Sovereign Court **** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

Perfect Tommy wrote:

Absolutely love slow track. But I think generally speaking that with consumables, it ends up costing your characters a lot more cash.

It would be great if there were a champions mode that was like slow track but jiggered gold/rewards a bit.

I like the 1 xp per ar system, but I would like to suggest that experience required be varied by character class.

Wizard, arcanist 5 xp per level.
Paladins, druids 4 xp per level
Most other classes.. 3 xp per level. This would help balance the game, additionally.

I think that will run against a lot of different problems:

* Joe and Bob started playing Society tggether, but Joe's Fighter is leveling up faster than Bob's Wizard. Now they can't play together anymore because they're not close enough in level.

* So what if leveling wizards up goes slower than fighters. If a level 5 wizard is really more powerful than a level 5 fighter, then it's still not balanced for them to play in the same scenario. So what does slower advancement really solve?

* What if wizards aren't actually stronger than fighters? Maybe the newest book makes fighters a lot more powerful but wizard stayed the same. Should fighters now need more XP than rogues to level up? What about people who already had fighters? Do they go down a level? What if they didn't use anything from the new book?

* What is you multiclass? What if you have only a few levels in a fast-leveling class? What if you have only a few levels in a slow-leveling class?

Dark Archive ***** ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Germany—Rhein Main South aka schattenstern

The bigger problem is WBL:

I know a LOT of players who would gladly play additonal scenarios per level to gain more gold.

Shadow Lodge ***** Venture-Agent, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Azothath

there are plenty of bad ideas and once codified as processes/rules they are hard to change.
PF2 is supposed to be simpler and more streamlined than PF1.
Organized Play is a PR effort and has to balance ease of play and fun with RAW.

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh aka Terminalmancer

Lau Bannenberg wrote:
Perfect Tommy wrote:

Absolutely love slow track. But I think generally speaking that with consumables, it ends up costing your characters a lot more cash.

It would be great if there were a champions mode that was like slow track but jiggered gold/rewards a bit.

I like the 1 xp per ar system, but I would like to suggest that experience required be varied by character class.

Wizard, arcanist 5 xp per level.
Paladins, druids 4 xp per level
Most other classes.. 3 xp per level. This would help balance the game, additionally.

I think that will run against a lot of different problems:

* Joe and Bob started playing Society tggether, but Joe's Fighter is leveling up faster than Bob's Wizard. Now they can't play together anymore because they're not close enough in level.

* So what if leveling wizards up goes slower than fighters. If a level 5 wizard is really more powerful than a level 5 fighter, then it's still not balanced for them to play in the same scenario. So what does slower advancement really solve?

* What if wizards aren't actually stronger than fighters? Maybe the newest book makes fighters a lot more powerful but wizard stayed the same. Should fighters now need more XP than rogues to level up? What about people who already had fighters? Do they go down a level? What if they didn't use anything from the new book?

* What is you multiclass? What if you have only a few levels in a fast-leveling class? What if you have only a few levels in a slow-leveling class?

I seem to remember another second edition of something or other that did something similar... hmmm... I wonder what it could have been...

Seriously, though--this has been tried before and maybe there's an interesting take on it somewhere that works? I don't know that I've seen it, though. You have traditionally ended up with balance issues similar to what Lau points out, and it assumes that the designers (and the organized play administrators) understand with near-perfect certainty the actual balance between characters. Furthermore with Paizo's reluctance to rerelease old PDFs of scenarios with new info, you're looking at some added difficulty if the balance ever changes. Like how, if you try to fix WBL by scaling it by class, things are going to get weird once that balance changes.

"Wizards are way better than druids now, but they were absolutely terrible in season 2 so make sure you go play a whole bunch of season 2!"

**

Lau Bannenberg wrote:
Perfect Tommy wrote:

Absolutely love slow track. But I think generally speaking that with consumables, it ends up costing your characters a lot more cash.

It would be great if there were a champions mode that was like slow track but jiggered gold/rewards a bit.

I like the 1 xp per ar system, but I would like to suggest that experience required be varied by character class.

Wizard, arcanist 5 xp per level.
Paladins, druids 4 xp per level
Most other classes.. 3 xp per level. This would help balance the game, additionally.

I think that will run against a lot of different problems:

* Joe and Bob started playing Society tggether, but Joe's Fighter is leveling up faster than Bob's Wizard. Now they can't play together anymore because they're not close enough in level.

* So what if leveling wizards up goes slower than fighters. If a level 5 wizard is really more powerful than a level 5 fighter, then it's still not balanced for them to play in the same scenario. So what does slower advancement really solve?

* What if wizards aren't actually stronger than fighters? Maybe the newest book makes fighters a lot more powerful but wizard stayed the same. Should fighters now need more XP than rogues to level up? What about people who already had fighters? Do they go down a level? What if they didn't use anything from the new book?

* What is you multiclass? What if you have only a few levels in a fast-leveling class? What if you have only a few levels in a slow-leveling class?

This really doesn't seem that hard.

If I multiclass a fighter - with 3xp I progress to the next level. If my next level is mage - five xp later I'm ready for another level.

Honestly, I'd love to vary it by level, first level mages being vastly less out of balance than 5th level mages, but ..

As for the rest of it.. if wizards aren't more powerful how does that change the equation. Some classes are more powerful some aren't. Either way, this would let you be more granular.

As for billy and bob not being able to play together - that would require a conscioius effort on their part, wouldn't it....

Scarab Sages ****

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I’m pretty sure Paizo is hoping they’ve evened out the classes so there’s not a power disparity anymore. It’s unlikely to be the reality, but skewing level gains by class seems like admitting to not being able to balance the classes.

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