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
Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Huzzah!

**** Venture-Captain, South America aka Draco Bahamut

It´s hard to judge the impact of playing outside of your level in P2E. 1st level characters playing with level 5 characters have a entire different experience or importance overcoming challenges.

***

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

There wasn't an option to add feedback directly on the survey (which I think you fine folks at Paizo should consider doing in future surveys in general, since it keeps things all together), but I think regardless of how the guide is available (PDF, website, download solutions like dropbox), it would be a good idea to instead of having one monolithic document, the guide be broken up into (say) three guides total: one for players, one for GMs/coordinators, and a 3rd with lore/campaign specific rulings/faction info. That way, you could pull up and carry just the ruleset you need for what you're doing, and it will allow for faster updating, because (and this is my guess, not anything concrete) as it stands now there is likely an entire approval process in place to update the entire document at once, where as if there were smaller documents, it might make that process faster (with the logic being that you would only have to look at what changes you might want to make to the GM document and then make them, without having to worry about updating additional resources for new books at the same time).

I think that ideally it would be really good to have something like a wiki that was searchable, or perhaps something like the current system resource doc.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

8 people marked this as a favorite.

I would prefer the Guide follow the standard formatting for most HC releases. There is a single "full" version for those of us that just want one file to have to track and a "chapter" version for those who want to keep everything separate. Best of both worlds and Paizo maintains consistency of products.

Liberty's Edge *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I just wanted to say that I *really* liked the options presented in the survey :D

* RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I would have voted for "Real XP" progression if you gained extra XP for playing at a higher tier. Otherwise, it's awful because it means the number of scenarios required to level up varies.

Level 2 takes 4 scenarios (1200 XP)
Level 3 takes 3 scenarios (2100 XP)
Level 4 takes 3 scenarios (3000 XP)
Level 5 takes 4 scenarios (4200 XP)
Level 6 takes 3 scenarios (5100 XP)
Level 7 takes 3 scenarios (6000 XP)

And the cycle repeats. This is particularly bad because 1st level is the least fun, and your characters are more likely to die because 1st level attack rolls and skill checks are a total crapshoot in 2nd Edition.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Agent, Australia—NSW—Newcastle aka Tim Schneider 908

I voted for Real XP cause it was the closest to what I'd like.

"Real XP" with 350 for a scenario would work better I think. First it's closer to the 1/3 goal (333.33) without making the math too hard. Second it puts the weird rounding error rarer (1/7 not 2/7) & makes the "rare" scenario a bonus not a penalty.

By which I mean I look at 300 and go "That sucks, every 3 levels it takes me an extra scenario". I read 350 and go "Wow, every 7th level takes 1 less scenario!".

Hell, I'd feel better about 250XP and one every 4 levels than 300, because I wouldn't feel ripped off twice every 7 levels.

I like the freedom this offers when sanctioning modules/adventure paths to give an appropriate level of XP.

The Exchange * ⦵⦵⦵⦵

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

"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. "

If this means that this document wouldn't need to involve any other teams at Paizo, I am all for it. I think there needs to be a way for the organized play team to not have to rely on other teams with many other competing priorities before documents go live.

I can't see any value in things like the AR, which is effectively simply a document of the organized play team's stance on published items or the Society Guide which is exclusive to organized play, having any people besides those who approve the items being involved at all.

When the AR or guide is done it should just be able to be posted somewhere, it shouldn't take weeks or months for it get through a queue of other web postings.

If, in the alternative, this simply means putting the society guide on the paizo website like the AR and FAQ etc already are, I'm not really sure that there's any real value there.

**

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Levels matter more in PF2. It's an even larger difference between a level 1 and a level 5 than before.

Also it's hard to give an option on tiering of scenarios without trying it.

I like XP the way it is now, it's simple.


Shaudius wrote:

"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. "

If this means that this document wouldn't need to involve any other teams at Paizo, I am all for it. I think there needs to be a way for the organized play team to not have to rely on other teams with many other competing priorities before documents go live.

I can't see any value in things like the AR, which is effectively simply a document of the organized play team's stance on published items or the Society Guide which is exclusive to organized play, having any people besides those who approve the items being involved at all.

When the AR or guide is done it should just be able to be posted somewhere, it shouldn't take weeks or months for it get through a queue of other web postings.

If, in the alternative, this simply means putting the society guide on the paizo website like the AR and FAQ etc already are, I'm not really sure that there's any real value there.

I would also prefer the 250xp option...lvling can be fast in PFS even on the slow track where story arc's need several characters to complete

Dark Archive *** Venture-Agent, Finland—Turku aka Tomppa

8 people marked this as a favorite.

I like the simplicity of 1 xp per scenario, because it's super easy for new players. "You play a game, you get an xp, 3 xp's = level up." Special cases (slow track, AP's, modules, etc) aren't that relevant to new players and when they become relevant, you'll just expand from the 1xp per adventure. "This one gives you 3 xp's if you play it, so you'll get a level anyway". "If you want slow track, you'll get just 0.5 xp".
It's also easier to record and less prone to errors than counting some 35k xp. There's literally 2 needless zeroes in "300 xp"

I'm fine with level 1-2 adventures, but please, please don't make any more level 1 adventures. There's no reason to shut level 2 characters out of those lvl 1 adventures - difference between 1 and 2 isn't that big, and forcing older players to make a new character every time someone runs a tier 1 adventure is annoying (because it's usually a priority to get yourself out of level 1 as soon as possible, very few people seem to have "ready" level 1 characters at standby.

As to the tiers, I like the current system of 5 levels, 2 subtiers, because it gives you lot of options. Level 1 character can play in 1-2, or 1-5 adventure, and while it isn't recommended, that new player isn't prevented from playing in the 1-5 just because the older players want to use their level 4-5 characters. Once you reach level 3, you can play in 1-5, and 3-7 adventures. Get to level 5 and you have whole lots of options - 1-5, 3-7, 5-9. Level 7 and you're again in 3 different tiers - 3-7, 5-9, 7-11.

adventures for levels 1, 3, 5, 7 (+/- 1 level) would be too restrictive and create chokepoints. Say you miss some games, and your lodge outlevels you. You get stuck at level 3, while they are 4-5. They would need to make new characters at level 1, play them until level 3, and then play with you to get you to 4-5. Or, the rest of the lodge would need to play pregens for 3 games with your level 3 character just to get you to their level - not terribly fun.

(I don't propose 1-7 adventures though - that tiering is difficult because people can come in expecting to play their level 1-2 characters, only to find out that the majority are level 6-7 and they can't play together).

As to the guide - I'd recommend making a shorter introduction to organized play and Player basics - very short and to the point, just to give an idea of what PFS is about, and directing players to read the full explantions later in the guide, then character creation, factions, buying equipment / after the adventure, and the fluff of the world - and then more comprehensive explanation of how the organized play works etc.


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My main suggestion - as a longtime admirer of the PFS, but never a player - is to make the guide a lot more “noob friendly”. I had so many questions that were not answered by the guide. Even things like XP and leveling up totally eluded me. I’ve recently gotten hooked up with some good friendly folks in the Georgia lodge, and they’ve answered a lot of my questions and helped me to understand the process, but I think the guide should have handled that. Even explaining seemingly obvious things like the fact that scenarios can be played out of order, and that you can play season 5 scenarios today, even though we’re technically in season 10, would be really helpful. Consult with a noob or recent convert to make sure that the guide serves as a suitable introduction to the whole enterprise.

EDIT: Further to what I said above, I was just looking back over the “player basics” in the current guide, and it really has nothing to do with basics at all. If anything, the kind of info that chapter discusses falls into the realm of “contentious advanced topics”. In a “basics” section, I would expect to find very clear explanations of how character creation and advancement differ from the base game. The whole “replaying scenarios” thing needs to be a little clearer too. If my first character goes through 5-08 as a confirmation, can none of my other characters get confirmed like that? Write it from the perspective of explaining how having multiple characters could work.


Starfinder Superscriber

As mostly a Starfinder player, the SFS tiers are fantastic. Having 1-2, 2-4, 4-6, 6-8 seems a little weird (the real tiers under the 1,3,5 level adventures), and harder to get a table together than the subtier based 1-4, 3-6, 5-8 of SFS.

Also would echo what people are saying about 1 XP is simple. 35 XP is just extra digits for basically no benefit.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm sort of liveblogging the survey as I go, but the questions are good and I appreciate Paizo's willingness to ask them. I have some thoughts from a GM and event organizer's perspective.

I'd like to see an assumed table format that allows my GMs to run more successfully, and for my trainee GMs to feel more confident. So I love the idea of examining 3-player tables with more viability, and 7-player tables with more scrutiny. No one likes running 7-player tables, even if they're perfectly capable of it. On top of that, it can sometimes cause logistic issues when gaming at stores and trying to cram eight people around a table. Yet because of the current assumptions with table minimums, no one really wants to split off into tables of 4 and 3 either. It makes having a group of seven players an odd grey area for organizers that can be frustrating when trying to please your players, GMs, and the store all at once.

And as I said, I'm in favor of OP structure that encourages GMs to GM, even if they're out of practice or new. I think having one array of statblocks could help with that, and I'm wondering if that might allow more room for different content in the scenario. But I'd also wonder about the balancing of those such encounters for minimum and maximum table sizes. Currently the sub-tiers encourage a very even playing field because most people are within one level of each other. If you have three level-4 players or seven level-6 players in a tier 5 scenario, I'm legitimately curious how that might play out compared to the current model.

As for XP, I REALLY enjoy the current model for its simplicity, but if quests are going to get uncoupled from a pack and released more frequently, I'd prefer a system with no fractions. However, I'd like to mention that the biggest issues we ran into with quest packs were time constraints, and the latest Starfinder quest pack knocked that problem out of the park. It was fun, engaging, and fell solidly into our allotted time to play. Maybe having the coherent packs include fewer parts and be more time conscious for the overall pack is a simpler solution. I would examine combining the models for quests so there are some more disjointed quest packs meant for convention demoing, and quest packs like the current model for store play. Both offer valuable game options for various situations.

As for the guide: the most basic, player-focused, and NEW player-focused content should go in the front. The intended audience should essentially flow from front to back as New Players >>> Veteran Organizers. New players should have priority when it comes to flow of information since they're the most likely to get intimidated by the required reading. And I HAVE had new players skim the guide and make mistakes because they didn't want to be bothered to do "homework" for their hobby. A quick-start guide with page references for more complete information would be ideal.

Wayfinders

As someone who was the only level 5 in an SFS 5-8 (everyone else was at least 7) I generally felt useless and fragile. It was even worse when similar situations existed in PFS. I would definitely like to see the level ranges tightened up, and would like to test the odd level +/-1 to see how that feels.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The PAX Unplugged information doesn't seem to be live yet.

Silver Crusade **** Venture-Lieutenant, Virginia—Alexandria aka Karhaz

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I like the current format, i would worry about making anything more Mathy. One of my hardest parts to grasp is going to silver in 2E. for tracking sake just one currency makes it efficient and easy.
i like a STD amount of XP.
I do hope that there will be more Evergreen Scenarios, the later seasons adding those at 3-7 has been great and a good challenge.

Sczarni **** RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

2 people marked this as a favorite.

One thing I'd like to see with the new tiers is more flexibility when it comes to playing up or down. I've seen some wonky edge cases before, such as a table of 1, 1, 3, 4, 4 being forced to play up, and it being *really* hard on the new players.

I would really like to see more table discretion in terms of what subtier is played. Some groups really want a tough challenge; others just want to have a casual good time. Both ways of playing are valid.

***** Venture-Captain, Ohio—Northern aka GinoA

I like the survey approach.

One comment. When I chose "don't include this in the guide", I *mostly* meant "include a line or two saying this thing exists and a way to find the details online, but don't waste pages on it."

Distinguishing between, this-should-be-referred-to and this-doesn't-belong-in-the-guide would be nice for future surveys.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Is there any more detail on the Room/Parking assistance available to 5+ block GMs? I had to click through the survey to see what blocks were offered, but didn't want to click past committing my number of slots, since I am still at the travel planning stage of attending PAX.

Liberty's Edge ***** Venture-Captain, Missouri—Cape Girardeau aka Arnim Thayer

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I have a lot of thoughts about these subjects, compiled after nearly ten years of GMing PFS.

First, I feel there is merit to the idea of Slow Track being worth more than just 1 XP. In the least, there should be some benefit or reward for playing the Slow Track progression. Right now, playing Slow Track seems detrimental for character growth; all the risk, very little of the reward. My players have expressed the opinion that they would love to play Slow Track... but they feel there is very little to encourage that. In the long run, this discourages growth and mentoring; players can only play a scenario once, so (at high-level) they play with other experienced players for full experience and (hopefully reward, rather than risk losing a reward with new players just hitting that tier. We should be encouraging players to try the Slow Track, especially with the onset of the new system, rather than have them speed through and create a vacuum, waiting for more scenarios. We saw this with Season 1... Hopefully, we’ve learned o do better with this launch.

Secondly, I’d hate to see a drastic change to how XP works presently. Players know that if they play through a full day (three slots) of scenarios at a convention, they level up. That encourages people to stay and play, rather than drop out after one game. I would also like to see Quests go back to an hour, even at the cost of the scaling reward. When Quests were first released they served two purposes; 1) they were great as introductory adventures for new players, and 2) they gave aspiring writers a place to submit to. A return to the one-hour format would encourage both of those.

Lastly, I hesitat about changing the way scenarios are written when it comes to table expectations. For the first three Seasons, writers would develop scenarios for 4-player tables... which rarely happened. The shift to a 6-player expectation met the actuality of Organized Play in the wild. Changing this would require researching whether PFS has shifted back tto a 4-player expectation.

**

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Quest Idea

How about merging the quest approach (9-16, 8-16, etc.) with elements of the 3-7 evergreens (8-07 and 9-09)?

There could be a package of generic quests - The Sewer, The Old House, The Ruins, etc. These would specify the maps and a range of possible monsters and hazards, similar to 8-07 and 9-09. A GM could then assemble them into an arc consisting of 1 to 4 quests using his/her knowledge of the world of Golarion and the Pathfinder Society.

The individual quests would set the mechanical parameters of the arc, limiting the ability of GMs to make either brutal "kill them all" TPK adventures or easy walk over "speed runs." However, GMs would have a great deal of autonomy and opportunities for creativity when it comes to crafting the background, flavor, and RP elements of the scenario.

Here's a very quick and dirty example:
Happy Birthday - Drandle Dreng asks the PCs to deliver a birthday present to his noble and sainted older brother
1) The Street - random (?) thugs attempt to steal the present from the PCs
2) The Old House - Dreng's brother is missing from his house where the PCs encounter some undead and a secret door leading to the sewers
3) The Sewers - the PCs follow a trail through the sewers encountering one or more sewer critters (giant rats, gelatinous cubes, whatever) and eventually reach an exit
4) The Ruins - the PCs find Dreng's brother just as a necromancer is attempting to sacrifice him

Such a four quest arc would give 1 XP, 2 Prestige, and 500 gold to Tier 1-2 charactes similar to how quests and low-level evergreens currently work. A shorter two quest arc would provide half the rewards.

Thoughts, abuse, etc?


pjrogers wrote:

Quest Idea

How about merging the quest approach (9-16, 8-16, etc.) with elements of the 3-7 evergreens (8-07 and 9-09)?

There could be a package of generic quests - The Sewer, The Old House, The Ruins, etc. These would specify the maps and a range of possible monsters and hazards, similar to 8-07 and 9-09. A GM could then assemble them into an arc consisting of 1 to 4 quests using his/her knowledge of the world of Golarion and the Pathfinder Society.

The individual quests would set the mechanical parameters of the arc, limiting the ability of GMs to make either brutal "kill them all" TPK adventures or easy walk over "speed runs." However, GMs would have a great deal of autonomy and opportunities for creativity when it comes to crafting the background, flavor, and RP elements of the scenario.

Here's a very quick and dirty example:
Happy Birthday - Drandle Dreng asks the PCs to deliver a birthday present to his noble and sainted older brother
1) The Street - random (?) thugs attempt to steal the present from the PCs
2) The Old House - Dreng's brother is missing from his house where the PCs encounter some undead and a secret door leading to the sewers
3) The Sewers - the PCs follow a trail through the sewers encountering one or more sewer critters (giant rats, gelatinous cubes, whatever) and eventually reach an exit
4) The Ruins - the PCs find Dreng's brother just as a necromancer is attempting to sacrifice him

Such a four quest arc would give 1 XP, 2 Prestige, and 500 gold to Tier 1-2 charactes similar to how quests and low-level evergreens currently work. A shorter two quest arc would provide half the rewards.

Thoughts, abuse, etc?

I adore this idea. It also gives the GMs a chance to stretch their legs, potentially, while still holding all the mechanics so they can't go too far off script!

Sovereign Court *

I would humbly vote for SLOWER EXP progression as standard. I would like to see either a FLAT 4 mods per level (simple and easy) or perhaps a slightly tiered scale.

1st - 6th = 4 adventures per level
7th - 12 = 5 adventures per level

Having the split system of 3 adventures (WAY TO FAST IMO) and then if wanted you can manually choose to go slow leads to some really messed up groups in my experience. You have someone who insists on fast progression and another who goes slow and yet another who switches between. What this leads to is really messed up groups in our area where you work out 2 or 3 possible (and usual) group configurations but every other level 1 or 2 people out pace the rest then the whole entire group dynamic changes. Your main tank is a level or two ahead of everybody yet your rogue is a level behind everybody. So someone brings a alternate toon who is simply a filler or place holder and not specifically setup for the group. This leads to many games without a specific gap filled and less than optimal group abilities. OK this week we got the tank heavy group but 2 months from now we have the no heals group and in 2 months we will no longer have a rogue for a few games. Sorry but i really dislike the 3 standard mods = level and go slow if ya like model.

Flat 4 is super easy and gives people more time to enjoy the character and level and the split tier i suggest makes the mid-levels (where people like to play) more interesting, enjoyable (IMO) and really feels like you earned a new level!

Both models are simple and easy book keeping and give people a better chance to enjoy their characters. Also keeps the gap between characters closer together for better group\level cohesion for groups that perhaps have a varying number\type of players (8-10 people that float in and out). Someone can easily miss a game or two and not fall from 1/2 or 1 level behind to 2 levels behind because everybody else went fast progression.

****

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Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
In the blog post, Tonya wrote:
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.

While I'm all for faster updates, I don't care for the idea of a "living document." The less I have to check online for updates, errata, FAQ additions, and other clarifications, the better. I hate those "gotcha" moments at the table when you're made aware (whether as a player or as the GM) that something you thought worked one way now works another per a recent post that someone became aware of before you. I'd be more willing to accept a living document if it were only updated at regular intervals so it didn't need to be checked constantly. And I'd also be very happy with the guide, AR, campaign clarifications, etc. being a smart phone app that updated itself automatically. But that's probably even more work than what's currently in place.

Dark Archive ***

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I would totally love to slow level progression down. I've seen entirely too many level 3 and 4 characters whose players seem completely oblivious to the most fundamental aspects of the game (initiative, action economy, skill DCs).

One idea would be to allow replay of scenarios at reduced (slow play) rewards. One thing that 'always' frustrated me was when you accidentally played a scenario that would have been "perfect" for a different character... too late!

Shadow Lodge ***** ⦵⦵

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I do not want to spend more time at low levels because of a player problem that is unlikely to be fixed with 3 extra games

Scarab Sages ***** Venture-Captain, Netherlands aka Woran

Inhad to think long and hard on my answers!

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

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Harkaelian wrote:
... leads to some really messed up groups in my experience. You have someone who insists on fast progression and another who goes slow and yet another who switches between. What this leads to is really messed up groups in our area where you work out 2 or 3 possible (and usual) group configurations but every other level 1 or 2 people out pace the rest then the whole entire group dynamic changes. Your main tank is a level or two ahead of everybody yet your rogue is a level behind everybody. ...

In my experience, this happens anyway as soon as some of the people in your group also play at other venues, and others don't. And being able to play at multiple venues is one of the main goals of having worldwide organized play.

As a result, you sometimes get oddball parties, and PFS characters need to be a bit more generalist and self-sufficient than the stable party of a home campaign. But that's a challenge to embrace, not to avoid.

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

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Michael VonHasseln wrote:

I have a lot of thoughts about these subjects, compiled after nearly ten years of GMing PFS.

First, I feel there is merit to the idea of Slow Track being worth more than just 1 XP. In the least, there should be some benefit or reward for playing the Slow Track progression. Right now, playing Slow Track seems detrimental for character growth; all the risk, very little of the reward. My players have expressed the opinion that they would love to play Slow Track... but they feel there is very little to encourage that.

The main reason I see people use Slow Track is because they enjoy a character, or a particular level range; and want to stretch it out as long as they can. Slow track doesn't need to be promoted, it's not a goal in itself for me.

Michael VonHasseln wrote:
In the long run, this discourages growth and mentoring; players can only play a scenario once, so (at high-level) they play with other experienced players for full experience and (hopefully reward, rather than risk losing a reward with new players just hitting that tier. We should be encouraging players to try the Slow Track, especially with the onset of the new system, rather than have them speed through and create a vacuum, waiting for more scenarios. We saw this with Season 1... Hopefully, we’ve learned o do better with this launch.

In my experience, overuse of slow track actually creates that problem: people who want to make a new character but they've already slow-tracked the mid-levels so much that there's no more scenarios they can play.

Michael VonHasseln wrote:
Secondly, I’d hate to see a drastic change to how XP works presently. Players know that if they play through a full day (three slots) of scenarios at a convention, they level up. That encourages people to stay and play, rather than drop out after one game.

Three sessions per day really isn't a universal standard of convention planning. PaizoCon UK (for example) did only two per day (with drunken revels at night for people who want more) and it was excellent. Three per day makes for a very tight schedule. If scenarios run long then the next slot gets in trouble, and there's not a lot of time to walk around and meet up with friends from afar.

I wouldn't want to built my XP system around it, that's too circumstantial for me.

Michael VonHasseln wrote:
I would also like to see Quests go back to an hour, even at the cost of the scaling reward. When Quests were first released they served two purposes; 1) they were great as introductory adventures for new players, and 2) they gave aspiring writers a place to submit to. A return to the one-hour format would encourage both of those.

I agree that the current quest format doesn't encourage "lunch-sized" play. The quest packs tell a cohesive story, and if you play something else with the character before finishing the whole thing, you get a reduced chronicle. So spanning the thing over a longer period is disincentivized.

Michael VonHasseln wrote:
Lastly, I hesitat about changing the way scenarios are written when it comes to table expectations. For the first three Seasons, writers would develop scenarios for 4-player tables... which rarely happened. The shift to a 6-player expectation met the actuality of Organized Play in the wild. Changing this would require researching whether PFS has shifted back tto a 4-player expectation.

I generally enjoy smaller tables more; it's easier to give everyone some time to shine, action economy is exactly at the sweet spot, and communication across the table is better than with 6P tables.

I do think we should keep 6P scaling as a tool, but I think a 4P default situation could be healthier.

****

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Is there a volunteer matrix for Pax Unplugged or is it using the same one from GenCon or some other event?

Also, on exp. Lets keep it simple. People already have enough to keep track of.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

Soluzar wrote:
Is there a volunteer matrix for Pax Unplugged or is it using the same one from GenCon or some other event?

Not exactly. If you follow the link to the volunteer form, it has information that includes the rewards package based on volunteer level. The variety of rewards are not as varied at Gen Con so it’s not a matrix, it’s just a narrative within the greater document.

****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I only asked because I didn't see one on the form.

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

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Michael VonHasseln wrote:
First, I feel there is merit to the idea of Slow Track being worth more than just 1 XP. In the least, there should be some benefit or reward for playing the Slow Track progression. Right now, playing Slow Track seems detrimental for character growth; all the risk, very little of the reward. My players have expressed the opinion that they would love to play Slow Track... but they feel there is very little to encourage that.

Slow Track was introduced for the express purpose of giving players a chance to play their favorite characters in more scenarios, not as a method of gaining increased rewards. If you make Slow Track mechanically "better" than normal, you have made it the "New Normal" and players would not be encouraged to play "Classic Normal."

Also, I'm not sure what you mean by "Slow Track being worth more than just 1 XP." Is 1 XP a typo, by any chance?

Quote:
In the long run, this discourages growth and mentoring; players can only play a scenario once, so (at high-level) they play with other experienced players for full experience and (hopefully reward, rather than risk losing a reward with new players just hitting that tier.

As is so often the case, this must vary a lot by locale. I've never seen players refuse to play with newer players. (Occasionally returning players they have a personal dislike for, but that's a different reason.) Usually you just play with whoever sits down at the table.

Quote:
We should be encouraging players to try the Slow Track, especially with the onset of the new system, rather than have them speed through and create a vacuum, waiting for more scenarios. We saw this with Season 1... Hopefully, we’ve learned o do better with this launch.

I'm not getting this. If you Slow Track, you consume content at the same rate, you just end up at a lower level, waiting for more scenarios. Are you advocating for increased replay? Or more scenarios per month?

Quote:
Secondly, I’d hate to see a drastic change to how XP works presently. Players know that if they play through a full day (three slots) of scenarios at a convention, they level up. That encourages people to stay and play, rather than drop out after one game.

Unless you slow-track.

Quote:
I would also like to see Quests go back to an hour, even at the cost of the scaling reward. When Quests were first released they served two purposes; 1) they were great as introductory adventures for new players, and 2) they gave aspiring writers a place to submit to. A return to the one-hour format would encourage both of those.

Agreed. While the "linked quest" format is fun (play 9-16, it's excellent!) in practice they are being scheduled as full slot games in all but the biggest conventions. Unlinked quests (perhaps with a scaling reward) would be more accessible.

Quote:
Lastly, I hesitat about changing the way scenarios are written when it comes to table expectations. For the first three Seasons, writers would develop scenarios for 4-player tables... which rarely happened. The shift to a 6-player expectation met the actuality of Organized Play in the wild. Changing this would require researching whether PFS has shifted back tto a 4-player expectation.

Challenge Time, Campaign Leadership! Can you share with us the percentage of tables that are reported in the three categories of a)up to 4, b)5, and c)6 or 7 players.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Lieutenant, Canada—Manitoba—Brandon aka kevin_video

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KEEP SLOW TRACK. It absolutely has its merits. Mostly for those who can't come to every game, and you've got a small lodge.

**

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Derek Blakely wrote:
KEEP SLOW TRACK. It absolutely has its merits. Mostly for those who can't come to every game, and you've got a small lodge.

Agreed, it's a useful tool/option and provides players with greater choice when it comes to developing their characters and their characters' stories.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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Michael VonHasseln wrote:
I would also like to see Quests go back to an hour, even at the cost of the scaling reward. When Quests were first released they served two purposes; 1) they were great as introductory adventures for new players, and 2) they gave aspiring writers a place to submit to. A return to the one-hour format would encourage both of those.
Lau Bannenberg wrote:
I agree that the current quest format doesn't encourage "lunch-sized" play. The quest packs tell a cohesive story, and if you play something else with the character before finishing the whole thing, you get a reduced chronicle. So spanning the thing over a longer period is disincentivized.
Kevin Willis wrote:
Agreed. While the "linked quest" format is fun (play 9-16, it's excellent!) in practice they are being scheduled as full slot games in all but the biggest conventions. Unlinked quests (perhaps with a scaling reward) would be more accessible.

I disagree. There is no reason an event cannot simply offer just the first part of a linked quest series or break it up and offer it as one-hour events over the course of the convention just as easily as a one-shot quest. Generally speaking one-hour walk-up events only work as conventions that have a massive attendance like Gen Con, Origins, etc. There are a lot of attendees who do not schedule games in every slot and leave time to wander around, view vendors, art, play demos, etc. In that atmosphere, one-shot quests work great, but at local/regional cans, attendees generally fill all their slots with games. They can easily see the vendor space, art displays, etc during the breaks between slots. Most do not take a slot off such that they'll play a one-hour event knowing that they won't have anything to do for the other 3-4 hours. We just don't see the traffic of players wandering the event such that we can devote a GM resource to sitting at an empty table in hopes that there will be a few people wandering around with nothing else to do, and if you do have that and are lucky enough to sit a few tables, offering just the first quest from the current series would still function as a demo for potential new players.

By having the linked quest series it offers the flexibility to offer them either as a full-slot game or as a one-shot quick adventure, or both. If an independent one-shot quest was released there is almost no chance it will be offered at conventions because it would not fill a need we have that cannot be filled with the quests as they currently exist. I'm sure there would be isolated cases of it running, but generally speaking it would not be worth the investment in developer time to release it. YMMV.

EDIT--after re-reading comments, perhaps I misunderstood the comment. I wonder what you meant by "I would also like to see Quests go back to an hour." The only independent one-hour quests I can recall are Ambush in Absalom and Urge to Evolve. I would guess that most players aren't even aware of them and of those that are, few have actually played them. If that's not what you meant, can you clarify examples of what you want quests to go back to? Otherwise, all quests that have been released going back to Goblin Attack! have been linked quests.

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

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We have had no trouble in Phoenix offering the full set of quest packs in one hour chunks. (GMs are scheduled in 2 hour iterations to allow time to run over.) Some players stick around to collect them all, others take off after one. We don't hand out chronicles until the player asks by turning in their quest tracking card. (Example.)


Bob Jonquet wrote:
By having the linked quest series it offers the flexibility to offer them either as a full-slot game or as a one-shot quick adventure, or both. If an independent one-shot quest was released there is almost no chance it will be offered at conventions because it would not fill a need we have that cannot be filled with the quests as they currently exist. I'm sure there would be isolated cases of it running, but generally speaking it would not be worth the investment in developer time to release it. YMMV.

Independent one-shot quests offer greater flexibility for use as either a full-slot game or one-shot adventure. It is much easier to collect quests to run as a convention slot than it is to break up a quest pack.

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

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For what it is worth, the SkalCon panel brought quests up and mentioned that they are hoping to move to a 2 scenario/1 quest per month model in the future. Assigning single one hour quests allows the development team to give more authors a chance to write without having to assign a full scenarios worth of writing, and the increased number of smaller word counts will provide an inlet for less prominent freelancers to be tested.

Scarab Sages ****

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GM OfAnything wrote:
Bob Jonquet wrote:
By having the linked quest series it offers the flexibility to offer them either as a full-slot game or as a one-shot quick adventure, or both. If an independent one-shot quest was released there is almost no chance it will be offered at conventions because it would not fill a need we have that cannot be filled with the quests as they currently exist. I'm sure there would be isolated cases of it running, but generally speaking it would not be worth the investment in developer time to release it. YMMV.
Independent one-shot quests offer greater flexibility for use as either a full-slot game or one-shot adventure. It is much easier to collect quests to run as a convention slot than it is to break up a quest pack.

I've posted this elsewhere, and from the blog it sounds like the campaign staff has picked up on the idea from others' posts about it. The issue is not that there is a linked story for the quests. The issue is that you have to complete all of the quest series before you play anything else. This made running a "quest night" very awkward when I attempted it. We ran 3 parts of a quest each night, to fit the 3 hour window we had at the store. What happened was week 1, 6 players played parts 1-3 of Silverhex. Week 2 3 of the original players showed up and 3 new ones. They played parts 4-6 of Silverhex. Now the 3 who played parts 4-6 wanted to go back and play parts 1-3. In an ideal situation, there would be another GM who could do that for them. In reality, I was the only GM for that weeknight game. So we went back and played parts 1-3 the next session for the 3 players, plus 1 of the original players started a new character... which now only had parts 1-3. Ultimately he just took the lesser reward, but you see where I'm going with this. We were getting stuck in an endless cycle of only playing Silverhex so that everyone could get all of the credit on their character, because we couldn't move on to the next quest series without someone missing out.

That's fine for a convention, where it's just a fill in slot or a demo for completely new players. For a regular gameday, it doesn't work. And regular game days with slots shorter than 4 hours were part of what Quests were originally designed to address. Ultimately what we ended up with here, instead of shorter content was longer content. A 6 part Quest series at best, unless it's done in "speed mode," is going to take 5 hours to a typical scenarios 4. At worst, we've seen Quest series run 8 hours, because people were into the roleplaying. They are very difficult to schedule outside of conventions.

What's proposed in the blog is what I'd like to see. 1 hour quests that can be run in series, but don't have to be run in series. So if you can only fit in an hour, you play 1 quest and get an appropriate amount of XP and gold. But you can still come back later and play the other quests from that series (if it is a series), even if you play a scenario in between. Basically, there's no reason if you're still in tier for a quest that you shouldn't be able to play that quest (unless you've already done so on that character already).

I am very happy to see that the campaign is considering moving in that direction, and that they are looking to regularly publish quests. That is a big step forward in my mind for locations and nights that can't accommodate 4-5 hours slots.

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

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Bob Jonquet wrote:
Generally speaking one-hour walk-up events only work as conventions that have a massive attendance like Gen Con, Origins, etc. There are a lot of attendees who do not schedule games in every slot and leave time to wander around, view vendors, art, play demos, etc. In that atmosphere, one-shot quests work great, but at local/regional cans, attendees generally fill all their slots with games.

I'll agree with that if we make one edit:

Quote:
Generally speaking one-hour walk-up events only work at gaming conventions that have a massive attendance like Gen Con, Origins, etc.

We do a pretty brisk trade at conventions that are NOT gaming-centered. Comic, anime, video game, and general pop culture. There are often people with a 1 or 2 hour break between panels or events looking for something to do. The "linked-quest" offerings give us that option, but many people comment they feel like they miss out by not completing it. (Some do manage to do the missing bits piece by piece, but a significant number never manage to line up their schedule with the offerings.)

Bob Jonquet wrote:
I wonder what you meant by "I would also like to see Quests go back to an hour."

Can't speak for Michael, but I wasn't intending to say "back to." Just that some 1-hour unlinked quests would be good for these situations where we can pull someone in without making them feel like they missed something.

Lots of reward options:
are possible. My personal thoughts are that simpler is better. "Turn in 4 quest completion chronicles for a generic reward chronicle" or something similar.

Grand Lodge ***** ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

I am Quest Girl! That should be my superhero name!

Kevin is right about how quests work at non gaming conventions, which are the majority of the conventions that I run at... In my opinion these conventions are better recruiting grounds than gaming conventions because they are often filled with locals who do not have a regular gaming group. They come to our conventions play for an hour, then rush off to get more. I like linked storylines because they brought people back to complete the full thing, but I am willing to try short solo quests and see how they go... If we allow people to finish a quest series after they have played something else, even better!

I am curious how the independent quests will work, storywise. I’d love it if there was some common element to make them feel part of the same story — the same quest giver, perhaps — in order to make it possible for a savvy storytelling GM to link them up and give the feeling of a narrative.

Hmm

Shadow Lodge ***** ⦵⦵

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PneumaPilot2 wrote:
chapter discusses falls into the realm of “contentious advanced topics”. In a “basics” section, I would expect to find very clear explanations of how character creation and advancement differ from the base game. .

is this more along the lines of what you're looking for?


Hilary Moon Murphy wrote:

I am curious how the independent quests will work, storywise. I’d love it if there was some common element to make them feel part of the same story — the same quest giver, perhaps — in order to make it possible for a savvy storytelling GM to link them up and give the feeling of a narrative.

Hmm

I'd really like to see quests that set up or further the season or faction meta-plots. The meta-plot already allows for scenarios that are independent adventures connected by a larger story.

One place for quests in the meta-plot would be as adventures that cover the grunt work that the Society does to collect the information or family heirlooms that shows up as introduction text to scenarios, but isn't enough for a full scenario itself.

Grand Lodge

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My only question is what will happen to 1st edition PFS? I could not care less about PF2 society play at this point, since I currently do not plan to switch systems.

Shadow Lodge ***** ⦵⦵

Slyme wrote:
My only question is what will happen to 1st edition PFS? I could not care less about PF2 society play at this point, since I currently do not plan to switch systems.

They said they are going to go with SOME kind of replay but haven't said/worked out what yet

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

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@Bob Jonquet: I'm totally fine with quest packs that can be broken up or done altogether as is convenient to where they're being run. But I think for that to be satisfying, we need a couple of things:

1) The story shouldn't be too interwoven. If you drop in at chapter 3 of 5, you should be able to find your feet even though you didn't do 1-2. This is done fairly well right now with the introductory handouts, but it needs to stay on the editor's radar.

2) There should be no mechanical loss for not playing the quests in optimal order. Right now, if you play chapters 1-2, then have to rush off somewhere, play a different scenario with your #1 character, and try to come back to finish the quest... you can't. You get a half-credit chronicle and can't finish the story.

Problem 2 is something we can improve upon. Especially with new players, we don't want to force them to immediately start splitting chronicles between a #1 and #2 character or suchlike. It's a bad first experience.

And we have precedent for a more flexible approach to sequels; it's been a long time since the first multiparter scenarios in season 2 that tried to insist you play them strictly in order and back to back. That was not a good idea then and it still isn't now.

How hard would it be to implement a different system? Not that hard. If you just drop the requirement that a quest is finished uninterrupted, then you can allow someone to play a quest piece by piece while also doing other scenarios (as long as the character stays in tier). When all (or enough) chapters are done, the chronicle is dated and signed.

This is also suitable for the use case of quests for people who have shorter time blocks. For example, Joe and Tom both study at the same high school, and there's a two-hour gap between classes on Tuesday every week. They play a quest or two every time. However, Tom also has a game day in the weekend he goes to. He can do both on the same character, which is important to him because he just started and made only one character that he wants to focus on.

And it doesn't take anything away from how you can quests at a convention right now.

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

Shorter Quests are great, but, you need to have enough of them to gain one level from the onset. Each might focus on a specific game mechanic to help new players & GMs learn the nuances of that mechanic. HtH combat, Rng combat, spells, potions/items, traps, opposed skill check, puzzles, chases...

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Captain, Germany—Aschaffenburg-Würzburg

Lau Bannenberg wrote:

@Bob Jonquet: I'm totally fine with quest packs that can be broken up or done altogether as is convenient to where they're being run. But I think for that to be satisfying, we need a couple of things:

1) The story shouldn't be too interwoven. If you drop in at chapter 3 of 5, you should be able to find your feet even though you didn't do 1-2. This is done fairly well right now with the introductory handouts, but it needs to stay on the editor's radar.

2) There should be no mechanical loss for not playing the quests in optimal order. Right now, if you play chapters 1-2, then have to rush off somewhere, play a different scenario with your #1 character, and try to come back to finish the quest... you can't. You get a half-credit chronicle and can't finish the story.

Problem 2 is something we can improve upon. Especially with new players, we don't want to force them to immediately start splitting chronicles between a #1 and #2 character or suchlike. It's a bad first experience.

And we have precedent for a more flexible approach to sequels; it's been a long time since the first multiparter scenarios in season 2 that tried to insist you play them strictly in order and back to back. That was not a good idea then and it still isn't now.

How hard would it be to implement a different system? Not that hard. If you just drop the requirement that a quest is finished uninterrupted, then you can allow someone to play a quest piece by piece while also doing other scenarios (as long as the character stays in tier). When all (or enough) chapters are done, the chronicle is dated and signed.

This is also suitable for the use case of quests for people who have shorter time blocks. For example, Joe and Tom both study at the same high school, and there's a two-hour gap between classes on Tuesday every week. They play a quest or two every time. However, Tom also has a game day in the weekend he goes to. He can do both on the same character, which is important to him because he just started and made...

I agree with Lau and personally, I would request something like a 1-2 hour complete quest experience for those conventions with awkward time slots and as something to occupy players than manage to finish a short scenario in 2 hours.

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