Pathfinder Society 2: Boons and Sheets

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Since the beginning of the year, many of our organized play meetings have revolved around the second edition of Pathfinder in one way or another—especially since we launched a series of sticky threads asking for your feedback. As a team we've each been monitoring a few of these threads and incorporating their ideas, critiques, and concerns into our discussions. We began revisiting those topics in blogs last month with Linda's and Tonya's examination of tiers, level gain, and the structure of the Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Guide. This week we're exploring two related topics: boons and Chronicle sheets.

Boons in Second Edition

Boons were one of the first elements I brought up in the very first Pathfinder Society playtest blog because they're so important to so many people. At the time, I brought up the boon format used in Starfinder Society, which provides a character six fixed slots: Ally, Faction, Personal, Promotional, Social, and Starship. Just after the mission briefing, a player can activate one boon of each type, representing the favors she's calling in, the special equipment she's requesting, the faction she's actively representing, or the non-combatant friend that she's bringing along. In addition, there are some slotless boons that represent obligations, reminders, and other extras that we don't want taking up a space or feeling optional (e.g. "Oh, you're out of luck, Mr. Villain, for I didn't slot my 'Mr. Villain will get his revenge' boon today!").

From a design perspective, we've been really happy with Starfinder Society's model. It helps us make informed decisions about scenario power level knowing that each PC only has a handful of upgrades not normally assumed in the RPG, rather than having several dozen upgrades. This is even more important in Starfinder than it is in Pathfinder RPG's first edition because the former has fewer bonus types and thus tighter math, so it behooves us not to throw off the math too much by inundating players with modifier-altering boons. The same is true for Pathfinder's second edition, and we have the same concerns about providing so many campaign bonuses that the gameplay or character design feels drastically different from a "classic" game.

That's nice in theory, at least. At this point, we've had more than a year to see the Starfinder Society boon system in action, and I've been following the boons discussion thread since it began. There are really mixed feelings about boon slots. Some people really like them, in some cases even citing the balance-related reasons above. Some folks feel that the boon slots are too restrictive, preventing someone from using a boon on the fly that they may have kept in their back pocket. For others, the boon slots are confusing or cumbersome, and I've read some very cross commentary that slotting boons just after the mission briefing breaks immersion or grinds play to a halt. For others still, the concept of slotless boons seems very jarring, as though including slotless boons undermines the concept of boon slots as a whole.

In compiling the messageboard feedback and discussing this with the rest of the team, we see three primary ways forward: typed boon slots, universal boon slots, and limited boons. For each of these, there's still a good chance that we'd tag each boon with a type (e.g. Ally or Social) because it provides more design space for us later (e.g. an assassin kills one of your Ally boons—how morbid).

  • In the Typed Boon Slots model, Pathfinder Society's boon system would look a lot like that of Starfinder Society. We would swap out one or more of the boon types (e.g. Starship) for something more befitting the setting and system. For example, we might have a Relic slot that's for especially strange or special gear (like an intelligent weapon), a Downtime slot that provides special uses of the downtime mechanic in second edition, or a Legacy slot that references some reward from a different campaign (like something carried over from first edition or earned in the Adventure Card Guild).
  • In the Universal Boon Slots model, a PC would still have a limited number of slots; however, there would be no Ally boon slot, Social boon slot, or the like. Instead, every slot would be equal. Do you want to slot a pile of Ally boons? Sure. Want to have several Downtime benefits at once? Go for it. Want to represent several factions at a time, gaining all of their benefits? Okay, that would theoretically be possible, even though we haven't worked out quite what it would mean to champion multiple factions simultaneously. Whatever mix of boons you'd want to use, you could do so with universal boon slots. My suspicion is that this would also be a little easier to manage with boon slotting during an adventure, for it would be easier to have a default array of boons that a player tweaks as necessary based on the adventure.
  • If we don't go with boon slots, we really have to consider a Limited Boons model to rein in the potential for mechanical bloat—the gradual increase in character power as more options or rewards become available. Limited boons could translate as awarding roughly the same number of boons as in first edition yet with each boon doing less, yet that's not a terribly fun approach; I can already hear some folks quipping that some First Edition boons are too weak as is. Instead, a Limited Boons model would be one in which boons are overall rarer so that their likelihood of stacking in a disruptive way is reduced. On the other hand, this wouldn't involve boon slots at all. The main complication is what happens to "convention boons," the incentives distributed at conventions, special events, and game days participating in the Regional Support Program. If boons are more rare overall, does that risk making convention rewards overly potent? No doubt we could find a solution, but it's one more hurdle.

What does this mean for slotless boons? Well, there would likely still be some form of Chronicle sheet tracking for events that we want to reference later, but depending on the Chronicle sheet format (see Mike's section below), there might be a means to record some of that in a non-boon format. That way, when you earn the "Grandmaster Torch's cat always hisses at you" outcome, you might not need a boon to remember it; it might instead appear in the adventure summary.

As an aside, one of the fun considerations to come out of our boon slot discussions was the idea of Events, which are ongoing situations that last for one or more scenarios. During the event (or at its end), some special effect would take place. For example, an investment might mature and give you extra gold at the end of an event, or you might earn the assistance of someone important for only a limited time. A Voluntary Event would be one that you could activate between scenarios, but it would likely occupy a boon slot during that time. A Forced Event would be one that happens whether you intended it or not, such as being the subject of negative propaganda that haunts your character for three scenarios—all the while taking up a boon slot. I'm mostly bringing these up as a possibility, and if it's something we want to explore more, we'll likely do so in an upcoming blog.

All told, there are lots of possibilities, and they intersect in many places with our exploration of Chronicle sheets. Michael Sayre takes it from here.

Chronicle Sheets

In addition to the threads we've opened to gather feedback from the community, we've worked internally to find solutions that can make Pathfinder Society more accessible, affordable, and interesting. I'll be discussing some of the proposals we have for what Chronicle sheets will look at in the new campaign and what goals the various styles are trying to address. Before I can do that to any meaningful degree though, you'll want to check out four different references: Chronicle sheet 1, Chronicle sheet 2, Chronicle sheet 3, Chronicle sheet 4, and a sample log sheet. I'll be referencing these below as well as in our Chronicle sheet survey.

One of the major goals we'd like to accomplish is maximizing the real estate on each Chronicle sheet, and we're looking to tackle that in a few different ways. First, most Chronicle sheets would present a single significant boon related to the adventure, as well as only small selection of magic items that would not commonly be available to players. Wealth would be evenly distributed across scenarios, rather than having the current situation that can occur where some adventures which give somewhat more wealth are preferable to play over other adventures that give somewhat less. Ultimately, if something appears on a Chronicle sheet, we want it to be significant and as broadly applicable as possible for the largest number of characters, though this doesn't mean we won't include particularly cool items that appeal more to (for example) fighters than wizards or vice versa when the adventure calls for it.

We quickly discovered that the community had all kinds of feedback on how Chronicle sheets are currently handled and what pieces of the Chronicle sheets people felt were pulling their weight and which were lagging behind. We also heard from a lot of event coordinators concerned with the growing costs of printing Chronicle sheets at events. In addition we're considering various proposals to allow players to experience stories in the manner most appealing to them, normalizing the value of Chronicle sheets in wealth, number and value of boons, and other areas across scenarios.

Chronicle sheet proposal 1 is the closest approximation to our current Chronicle sheet that we believe would be viable going into the new system. This full sheet style should be easily stored in a standard binder or character folio and has space for us to include a brief synopsis of the adventure in which you earned the Chronicle sheet, a small space for tracking purchases, and room for adventure-specific notes.

Chronicle sheet proposal 2 uses a 2-by-2, four-to-a-page style that should reduce costs for GMs and event coordinators who would normally be printing off 6 separate sheets of paper. Since this style only has room for a boon and item, it would need to be used in conjunction with the Scenario Logsheet (see the link above) or a similar tracking sheet.

Chronicle sheet proposal 3 features a 3-column, landscape oriented Chronicle sheet that gives us more room for boons and unique items while still reducing the print-load on GMs and event coordinators. This version would also require the Scenario Logsheet or a similar tracking sheet.

Chronicle sheet proposal 4 is a cardstock style sheet where each Chronicle sheet would be a single boon card. In this example we would generally not include magic items on Chronicles, unless the item was of Uncommon or greater rarity; instead Common rarity items would be broadly available based on your character's level. Beyond just the printing cost, though, this has the advantage of providing a smaller surface area that could let a player keep any slotted or active boons very accessible at the table.

Let us know what you think of the new proposals, and which options you'd most like to use going forward! We're including a link to both the Boons survey and the Chronicle sheet survey here, each of which include optional free response sections.

Pathfinder Society Boon Survey

Pathfinder Society Chronicle Sheet Survey

John Compton and Michael Sayre
Organized Play Lead Developer and Developer

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Tags: Organized Play Pathfinder Playtest Pathfinder Society
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* RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

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I'm happy you're trying to streamline tracking and chronicle sheets, but the log sheet has so much wasted space that you can only put three entries on it!

I'd prefer a ledger like this.

I track every character in a similar way using just a sheet of notebook paper. It's so much easier to record purchases and audit characters this way than shuffling through dozens of chronicle sheets.

*****

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I like the smaller boons that let you physically keep the active ones on the table. (4)

That log sheet looks a lot like the Adventurer's League sheet. It's alright but it just seems inefficient.

I'm like Cyrad and think something like the ledge format from LFR would be a lot more efficient and keep it down to 1 page for most characters.

*** Contributor aka Alexander Augunas

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Just finished my survey!

For Options 2, 3, and 4, have you considered that none of these options will fit neatly between more than one ring in a 3-ring binder? Many people use 3-ring binders to store Chronicles with their characters (myself included), and these tiny chronicle sheets would be a real pain to carry places because they couldn't be stored in what is arguably the most common paper-storage device.

Sczarni **** RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

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Alex Augunas wrote:

Just finished my survey!

For Options 2, 3, and 4, have you considered that none of these options will fit neatly between more than one ring in a 3-ring binder? Many people use 3-ring binders to store Chronicles with their characters (myself included), and these tiny chronicle sheets would be a real pain to carry places because they couldn't be stored in what is arguably the most common paper-storage device.

If this were the format, I would probably have to buy a set of clear sheet protectors to store the sheets in a binder. But I could see it getting problematic if they are all loose in the pocket -- it would be very easy for them to fall out and get all mixed up.

***

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As a minimalist I like option 2 best but would prefer a much more simple ledger sheet similar to the one Cyrad posted in the first reply. Those who want to be more elaborate are welcome to do so but if can carry my PFS paperwork in something akin to an index card pouch I’d be thrilled.

*** Contributor aka Alexander Augunas

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Tamago wrote:
Alex Augunas wrote:

Just finished my survey!

For Options 2, 3, and 4, have you considered that none of these options will fit neatly between more than one ring in a 3-ring binder? Many people use 3-ring binders to store Chronicles with their characters (myself included), and these tiny chronicle sheets would be a real pain to carry places because they couldn't be stored in what is arguably the most common paper-storage device.

If this were the format, I would probably have to buy a set of clear sheet protectors to store the sheets in a binder. But I could see it getting problematic if they are all loose in the pocket -- it would be very easy for them to fall out and get all mixed up.

You're talking about these, right? I bought a bunch of them for my Pawn Box organization system. I agree that they'd work for Option 2 if you carefully trim the sheets down, but they're not cheap. Having to buy sleeves in order to make a binder work for PFS stuff is a drag.

The Exchange ****

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Everything outside of Option 1 would be annoying to keep track as a player (I could see many of these getting lost). If printing is an issue, you can get sheets printed cheaply in black and white at any office supply store.

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

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Putting this in the survey too of course, but wanted to comment on one part in particular here.

I absolutely agree with Alex and associates. Any non-standard size is going to be more difficult to store. It’s really easy to find a binder, expanding file, or just a pocketed folder to store 8.5x11 sheets in. Option 2 is probably the worst size. I’d likely put a binder clip on them and throw them in a box or expanding file. Similar for Option 3, though perhaps without the clip in a file. Either way, the overall bulk is going to be more than the expanding files I use now. Option 4 could be put in sleeves or in boxes sized for them. Now, bear in mind that I make custom boon cards for Starfinder and my own boxes to store them in. I enjoy that kind of thing. But many people do not.

Whatever is chosen, also please keep in mind our overseas friends who use A4 paper for printing. They lose about 1/3 of an inch of width. Which doesn’t sound like much until a column of characters gets cut off.

**

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Alex Augunas wrote:
Tamago wrote:
Alex Augunas wrote:

Just finished my survey!

For Options 2, 3, and 4, have you considered that none of these options will fit neatly between more than one ring in a 3-ring binder? Many people use 3-ring binders to store Chronicles with their characters (myself included), and these tiny chronicle sheets would be a real pain to carry places because they couldn't be stored in what is arguably the most common paper-storage device.

If this were the format, I would probably have to buy a set of clear sheet protectors to store the sheets in a binder. But I could see it getting problematic if they are all loose in the pocket -- it would be very easy for them to fall out and get all mixed up.
You're talking about these, right? I bought a bunch of them for my Pawn Box organization system. I agree that they'd work for Option 2 if you carefully trim the sheets down, but they're not cheap. Having to buy sleeves in order to make a binder work for PFS stuff is a drag.

If the "point" was to make printing costs cheaper for the GM/event, they just shifted the cost to the players to buy those card holders (and probably by a multiple of the cost of one printed black and white chronicle).

...my local venue just charges a table tax to cover printing.

* RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

Alex Augunas wrote:

Just finished my survey!

For Options 2, 3, and 4, have you considered that none of these options will fit neatly between more than one ring in a 3-ring binder? Many people use 3-ring binders to store Chronicles with their characters (myself included), and these tiny chronicle sheets would be a real pain to carry places because they couldn't be stored in what is arguably the most common paper-storage device.

I use those amazingly cheap prong folders from Walmart myself! It feels pretty cool to have a folder for every character that opens up like a book full of their chronicle sheets.

I'd prefer a simpler sheet like #2 but as a full sized page like the 1st Edition chronicle sheets. All while using a ledger-style log sheet instead of tracking total XP, prestige/fame, wealth, and purchases directly on the chronicle sheet and the Inventory Tracking Sheet.

That doesn't solve the cost of printing, but I can't think of a way to reduce that cost without it being a significant hassle for players and GMs having to cut and organize little strips of paper. Unless you start a policy where GMs (instead of event coordinators) have to provide chronicle sheets for games they run.

Sovereign Court ***** Venture-Captain, California—Los Angeles aka Neume

caubocalypse wrote:
Everything outside of Option 1 would be annoying to keep track as a player (I could see many of these getting lost). If printing is an issue, you can get sheets printed cheaply in black and white at any office supply store.

I run 3 T1 conventions a year. We have 75 to 100 tables a convention. We have to print 6 player chronicles and a GM chronicle for each table. That's 700 sheets of paper. Using the corporate rate discount at Kinko's (which is by far the cheapest you'll find in the Los Angeles area) on the cheapest paper it is still $0.06 a copy. Or $42 out of my pocket every con and that doesn't Account for things like pregens, boons, and faction journal cards.

Just because you don't pay it or don't see it, doesn't mean it is not a real problem.

**** Venture-Agent, Maryland—Hagerstown aka Z...D...

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Option 1, I know it can be more costly for those of you running. But adding smaller sheets and an additional tracking sheets will just make maintaining it even more troublesome.

Has there been any word about the ITS making it to PFS 2.

*

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I would prefer to not have any restrictions on Boons.

There have been some scenarios where the Boon that had been sitting quietly on a character ended up being the difference between mission success and mission failure.

It would feel really horrible to have a 'limited pile of Boons' (in the most liberal method mentioned above) and the 'One thing that could have saved the party? Oh, that didn't get slotted because there was no hint it'd be needed.'

Also, don't want to see *yet another power creep* where there is a community of 'haves' (those who can attend conventions/FLGS) and those who cannot regularly.

#1 looked the sharpest and best of the lot.

The other ones brought on a brief episode of Post-Traumatic Sheet Disorder from other campaigns I've been involved with -- The 'Boon' sheet was downright painful and reminded me of having to try to fit all my notes from a given module in a 3"x3" space, including exp, loot, pay, etc.

There will be tweaking there, I imagine?

Will provide more feedback via survey after I have a chance to sleep on this.

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

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Regarding the boons, could we please adress the other elephant in the room?

Can we please get rid of boons that are completely unobtainable for 95% of the playerbase. With this I sepcifically mean the GenCon exclusive boons as these are boons that will almost never make it to the players outside of America.

For slotted boons:

While I somewhat like Starfinders approach it got diluted extremely fast as over 50% of all boons are slotless or "This might be relevant sometimes -> and the relevance was sometimes so low that we would have been better of slotting another boon but as we did not know the consequences we were not able to make an informed decission.

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

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Doing the surveys is a bit weird if you are an organizer and attend 6+ conventions each year and still have to check "1 scenario per month" because you don't get to play every week. Is that question supposed to be on average? And should that include GMing?

The Exchange ***** Venture-Agent, North Carolina—Charlotte aka eddv

Option 1 is tried and true - would not be at all upset if you went this route as it allows the chronicles to serve as the log sheet for transactions which is nice.

Options 2 and 3 are unwieldy and don't fit into any existing storage infrastructure. Hard Pass.

Option 4 has advantages for both players and GMs - it is paper-efficient, storage efficient, though it does force organizers and GMs to print on card stock which is not a very Online-friendly solution

That said, I am almost smiling at the idea of having individual 'deck boxes' for my characters or storing each character in like a baseball card protector sheet depending on size. If you go this route you should definitely see about producing such things officially - a Dark Archive deckbox for my Dark Archive hell knight would rule. Especially if it can be done at a reasonable price.

Alexander hit the main issue on the head for option 4.

This approach only retains value if the boons are, well, boony enough to care about which is difficult to do when youre handing one out on every single sheet without winding up with PF1s system again (which I did enjoy but then why bother slotting?)

They are instead mostly just an unwieldy substitute for "did you play X scenario and not fail it?" and there simply has to be a better way to manage that.

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

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Boons: I like the typed and untyped approach, having some experience with SFS both can work, I think they provide different challenges to designers. In the typed concept, your boon only competes with boons in the same field, while with an untyped approach, players will always take the 5 boons that they believe to give them the best performance... not sure if balancing boons is harder or easier in that system.

Chronicle sheets:

Not unlike Jon-Enee Merriex, I do most of the printing in my region, that includes plenty of chronicle sheets (many of which go unused and get recycled one way or another) that boils down to printing more chronicle sheets than anyone else in Germany despite.
In theory, I should be absolutely for ways to reduce my printing cost, but I see significant problems:

- These days I print and laminate both scenario handouts provided by the scenario, custom handouts I created myself, custom maps from scenarios and the occasional map pack parts I want to keep with the scenario (to reduce assembly time at the gaming table).
Unlaminated paper works up to a point, but is easily ruined, investing a bit more time to laminate things makes them much easier to store and keep in good condition.
I do the same for the gift certificates Paizo graciously sends us to provides to us as convention support and I also do the same for new organized play numbers.

IMO there is a world of difference between a slip of paper with a number and a confirmation code and having that same information (without warhorn data on the back)printed on proper cardstock and laminated.
I have seen players put these into away and more importantly being able to produce them again.

The point I am trying to make is that most players locally just store their characters in a binder, or something similar, usually with plastic sheet protectors. While I even use a stapler to staple my chronicle sheets in chronological order, but even without that sheets rarely get lost since those sheet protectors are rather snug.

That effect gets lost if you go for 1/4rd, 1/3rd or 1/2 sheet size and while some players eventually might just get smaller ways to store it, I expect a lot of lost chronicle sheets which would create much more hassle than printing a bit more.

Besides that actually having to cut the pages ahead of time (so not every table needs scissors) and transporting those cut pages is not super welcome.

---

If anything I was hoping for a solution that allowed players to download the filled chronicle sheet for a scenario once it has been reported from their downloads or a link in their sessions (so the chronicle sheet you get at the table is just a reminder/temporary).

Such a functionality would also potentially help online tables, though I am not sure if/how boons that can be used up can/should be added (potentially adding it to your ITS sheet could work).

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

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I think the current full-page relatively open plan format has a crucial advantage: flexibility. If a scenario has a complicated boon or boons, you reserve most of the page for that. Otherwise, you have more room for extensive loot. The smaller page sizes literally box you in to limited descriptions.

I'm really not looking forward to a multiplying amount of odd-sized snippets of paper. Any organized storage system like binders with special pages is going to be bulky and heavy. If you don't use it, those small certs are just going to end up crumpled and creased. And they'll easily get lost on the table.

A logsheet could be useful, but it should be just a single row per scenario, with a box for "gold gained", "gold spent", "final gold", "pp gained", "pp spent", "final PP". By aligning them you can easily check the progression of your resources. By fitting 20 rows to a page you can cover an entire career with one double-sided printing.

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

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First reaction: I absolutely hate everything but the full-page sheet. They'll be little snippets that get stuffed in a folder big enough to fit an A4 character sheet, so they'll get pressed together, creased folded crumpled messed up. Because that's exactly what happens to small handouts I keep for sentimental reasons.

I've seen the plastic protector sheets; I think that's a terrible solution. No way is any boon scaled to fit on US letter paper going to automatically scale to a size that fits on 1/3 or 1/4 A4 and then fit neatly into such a protector sheet. It'll be too wide, or too tall, or something else bad.

And those sheets are expensive. The example shown is >6$ for 20 sheets; if we generously assume that a typical scenario results in only 1.5 such sheets, that means I'm spending > $3 per characters that reach seeker level.

They also weigh about 280g per 20. Let's say that the binders weigh the same as the accordion folders I use now. I weighed my stack of paperwork for 20 characters, at 4Kg. If I had to have plastic sleeves on top of that, it would add another 2.8KG to it.

---

I understand that as a convention organizer you want to cut down on expenses; but this would be offloading it on everyone else, at a bigger expense in both money, weight and bulk. (Don't underestimate what it does to your convention hall if everyone needs a backpack that fits a bigger binder.)

**

Jon-Enee Merriex wrote:
caubocalypse wrote:
Everything outside of Option 1 would be annoying to keep track as a player (I could see many of these getting lost). If printing is an issue, you can get sheets printed cheaply in black and white at any office supply store.

I run 3 T1 conventions a year. We have 75 to 100 tables a convention. We have to print 6 player chronicles and a GM chronicle for each table. That's 700 sheets of paper. Using the corporate rate discount at Kinko's (which is by far the cheapest you'll find in the Los Angeles area) on the cheapest paper it is still $0.06 a copy. Or $42 out of my pocket every con and that doesn't Account for things like pregens, boons, and faction journal cards.

Just because you don't pay it or don't see it, doesn't mean it is not a real problem.

I'm asking an honest question here....is there a reason you can't ask players to donate €1 per person to help offset administrative costs? I don't mean per person per table, I mean, just per person.

Or even work something out with Paizo to get, say, a special boon to auction off, where proceeds go to the organizer to help offset out of pocket costs to the admins at cons?

Dark Archive ***

As someone who has a colleague that has embraced the print everything on a half sheet to save paper it is a major pain to keep track of. I went the sheet protector route, and so I can relatively quickly shift through the pile of chronicles for a character. None of the other options can match that.

**

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I agree with Lau that cutting down your (the OP design team) realestate will limit your creativity for interesting boons.

If you were going to go with the cardstock format, I would ask for actual playing card size.

And let's not kid: organizers who are trying to save costs are going to print them on paper, not cardstock.

I agree that the smaller size sheets are either going to increase cost, weight, and bulk on the player side or be an organizational mess and drive up the requests for re-issued Chronicles.

It would be great if PFS invested in a system to complete and assign downloadable PDFs. The GM logs in, completes the PDFs, and the player can log in and print their assigned PDFs. Obviously, that was not a presented option, but that would be a real way to reduce organizer costs.

Dark Archive ***

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Lau Bannenberg wrote:
First reaction: I absolutely hate everything but the full-page sheet. They'll be little snippets that get stuffed in a folder big enough to fit an A4 character sheet, so they'll get pressed together, creased folded crumpled messed up. Because that's exactly what happens to small handouts I keep for sentimental reasons.

I couldn't agree more.

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

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Cost-savings is an interesting proposition, because only one of these proposals (the business card proposal) actually saves money, and the amount of money saved is pretty miniscule unless you're at the scale of a Gencon or something. I don't think we should be making cost decisions for a massive organized play campaign based on the tiny sample size that is very large conventions.

Arithmetic:
Saving money is an interesting proposition. Printing a page of black and white on 8.5" x 11" paper costs 8 cents per side at FedEx Office here in the United States. Printing out 7 chronicles plus a reporting sheet of some persuasion, assuming each is a full page, adds up to 64 cents per table for the GM and $0 for everyone else--total cost 64 cents.

Going to four-to-a-page brings the page count to 24 cents per six-player table for the GM--two sheets of chronicles plus a reporting sheet. For the players, however, they now need one-third of a side for the amazingly inefficient log. They also need some sort of mechanism for carrying their chronicle sheets around--probably one of these. That particular 20-pack is currently $6.63. If we assume 1 chronicle per pocket we're looking at a bit over 8 cents per pocket. Doubling up (front and back would make sense) gets us to 4 cents per pocket. We'll round down the cost of the log sheet down to 2.5 cents per player per adventure. Including the GM, this brings the total cost to about 69.5 cents. It's actually more expensive to the community!

For three to a page, you're looking at 32 cents of printing cost to the GM for a six-player table, because the GM needs seven chronicles (one for herself!). Three sheets plus a reporting sheet. The players still have the same log sheet cost, a bit over 2.5 cents which we're rounding down to 2.5. The sheet protector situation is significantly worse--the best I've found is probably stamp collecting sheets, but the're more expensive at $12.50 for ten sheets and each sheet would hold two chronicles. If we double-side things, that brings the cost to $0.317 cents per chronicle per player for storage. Let's round up to $0.32 per chronicle. That makes the total cost in the neighborhood of $2.73. Holy inflation, Batman!

For the business card approach, it looks like you bring print costs for the GM down to 8 cents as the reporting sheet and the chronicles all fit on one page. Everyone still needs 2.5 cents of log space. There are relatively cheap business card protectors out there (these were $9.05 for 10 at the time of my post) so (again, double-sided) you're looking at about 2.5 cents per adventure for storage. That brings the total cost per table to 43 cents--actual savings! Although at most points, these will be significantly under-utilized.

In sum you're probably looking at:

Storage cost is per person, per adventure, and applies to the GM as well when calculating the total cost.

Current Situation
GM Cost: $0.64 / Storage Cost: $0 / Total Cost per 6-Player Table: $0.64
Four to a Sheet
GM Cost: $0.64 / Storage Cost: $0.065 / Total Cost per 6-Player Table: $0.69
Three to a Sheet
GM Cost: $0.32 / Storage Cost: $0.345 / Total Cost per 6-Player Table: $2.73
Business Cards
GM Cost: $0.08 / Storage Cost: $0.050 / Total Cost per 6-Player Table: $0.43

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

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Personally, I think anything but a full-page chronicle sheet is a terrible idea doomed for failure. Storage is terrible, real estate for interesting stuff is terrible, and we'll have lost chronicles all over the place.

I'm also not a fan of the redesigned single-page chronicle. There's no place to track prestige/fame/whatever the heck system you folks decide on for factions, so... you're just always going to get the same amount? Or track it elsewhere?

Re-adding the items bought/sold box to the chronicle eats up a ton of space but it's too few lines to truly be useful. Anyone prone to buying a lot (currently, prepared spellcasters with spellbooks, alchemists, etc.) would need their own ITS-equivalent sheet anyway. So you're not eliminating the ITS with that.

Adding lines in the notes box is probably not a great idea--the people who need them rarely use them.

I do like the idea of having a scenario summary, although it's taking up a lot more real estate than I anticipated it would based on the proposal in the forum thread.

Grand Lodge ***

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My group and I don't even use boons- too much to remember and keep handy, especially when one character has so many to choose from. They aren't worth the effort. Why bother to remember or even write down a boon that gives me +2 to Diplomacy checks with a certain faction in a certain town?

The boons that matter are ones that directly relate to numbers and/or new or additional abilities. For instance, the first boon I ever received in PFS was a permanent +2 Perception bonus. I remember that boon very well.

Boons giving titles is a unique idea. While purely cosmetic, it's something fun to have on your character and shows accomplishment. Plus, devs don't have to work in power ranges when designing scenarios.

How about just giving options for low-magic items as boons? For instance, instead of getting a +2 diplo when speaking with merchants, the merchants give you a magical item instead.

Moving on, Chronicle Sheets are a funny thing. Over the 8 years I've played PFS, I'd say only 2-3 GMs have ever filled out the sections pertaining to purchases, starting gold, and notes. It's just never done. Much like a walkway at a 90 degree angle, people will inevitably take the shorter route and walk diagonal, creating their own walkway that inevitably ends up paved anyway. I realize the sheets are important to fill out for keeping people honest, but that's not the reality. So the old PFS 1 chronicle sheet should go the way of that diagonal patch of grass- just pave it over!

Silver Crusade ***** ⦵⦵⦵ RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 aka GreySector

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Jon-Enee Merriex wrote:
caubocalypse wrote:
Everything outside of Option 1 would be annoying to keep track as a player (I could see many of these getting lost). If printing is an issue, you can get sheets printed cheaply in black and white at any office supply store.

I run 3 T1 conventions a year. We have 75 to 100 tables a convention. We have to print 6 player chronicles and a GM chronicle for each table. That's 700 sheets of paper. Using the corporate rate discount at Kinko's (which is by far the cheapest you'll find in the Los Angeles area) on the cheapest paper it is still $0.06 a copy. Or $42 out of my pocket every con and that doesn't Account for things like pregens, boons, and faction journal cards.

Just because you don't pay it or don't see it, doesn't mean it is not a real problem.

Is there a convention fee? IMO you should recoup your printing costs there.

* RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

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How feasible would it be to change policy so GMs are responsible for printing off chronicle sheets and sign up sheets? That would significantly reduce the cost on the event coordinator. The extra burden on GMs is minimal because they need to print handouts and sometimes a scenario hard copy anyway.

I already have the PDF open to print the hand outs. Matters little to me to print a few copies of the last page.

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

Alex Wreschnig wrote:


Re-adding the items bought/sold box to the chronicle eats up a ton of space but it's too few lines to truly be useful. Anyone prone to buying a lot (currently, prepared spellcasters with spellbooks, alchemists, etc.) would need their own ITS-equivalent sheet anyway. So you're not eliminating the ITS with that.

I have to agree, I have characters who have close to a dozen of pages of ITS (I tend to use it for almost all purchases even below 25 GM, and tend to buy a lot of scrolls) doing double-entry bookkeeping like this is really not all that useful - cheaters are going to cheat regardless.

Personally, a line of "purchases" with a gold value is sufficient, since the ITS should also have various lines that add up to this value (and are noted to belong to that chronicle sheet) anyway.

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

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Cyrad wrote:

How feasible would it be to change policy so GMs are responsible for printing off chronicle sheets and sign up sheets? That would significantly reduce the cost on the event coordinator. The extra burden on GMs is minimal because they need to print handouts and sometimes a scenario hard copy anyway.

I already have the PDF open to print the hand outs. Matters little to me to print a few copies of the last page.

I print the chronicle sheets for all the events in our region and provide them to convention GMs, though I have a couple of reasons:

- Some GMs simply do not have ready access to a decent printer, and I really prefer printing them and having them ready instead of getting a message hours before the event with "My printer is not working, can you please print them for me?"

- It's a bit of a thank you to my GMs, I usually print the chronicle sheets and package them with my kits for the scenario and a reporting sheet (actually the last bit is kinda important, since I enter the scenario and GM name, to make sure that I can decipher at least some items on the sheet).

- Sometimes GMs suddenly can't attend an event, I can usually find a reserve GM and might be able to give them maps etc. but having the chronicle sheets on site is just so much easier than sending them after the fact via Email.

-----

Of course, you make a fair point, it is much easier if everyone carries the financial burden of printing their own chronicle sheets, instead of the very busy organizer. Ideally, I think asking players to help cover the cost is a nice idea, and we used to do it, but it felt a bit too much like begging - so now I provide food at our events and finance them through that.

* RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

Sebastian Hirsch wrote:
Alex Wreschnig wrote:


Re-adding the items bought/sold box to the chronicle eats up a ton of space but it's too few lines to truly be useful. Anyone prone to buying a lot (currently, prepared spellcasters with spellbooks, alchemists, etc.) would need their own ITS-equivalent sheet anyway. So you're not eliminating the ITS with that.

I have to agree, I have characters who have close to a dozen of pages of ITS (I tend to use it for almost all purchases even below 25 GM, and tend to buy a lot of scrolls) doing double-entry bookkeeping like this is really not all that useful - cheaters are going to cheat regardless.

Personally, a line of "purchases" with a gold value is sufficient, since the ITS should also have various lines that add up to this value (and are noted to belong to that chronicle sheet) anyway.

I agree, which is why I prefer all purchases/gains tracked on a ledger instead of on chronicle sheets and an Inventory Tracking Sheet. It's easier to track, it wastes less time at the table, and it's simpler to audit since you're looking at only one or two sheets instead of dozens of them.

A ledger does make it easier for cheaters to do illegal rebuilds by making a new ledger. However, it makes it significantly harder to do illegal purchases since the ledger shows what fame and total wealth you have every time you buy something.

Shadow Lodge ***** Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka thistledown

I agree that anything except a full page is no good.

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

Alexander Lenz wrote:
Can we please get rid of boons that are completely unobtainable for 95% of the playerbase. With this I sepcifically mean the GenCon exclusive boons as these are boons that will almost never make it to the players outside of America.

What boons are you referring to? Other than the GM and charity boons, there aren’t any Gen Con exclusive boons. All the rest are used during the season for support fulfillment.

The GM boon isn’t exactly exclusive either. Generally the race unlocks are released later through the season like the other boons above.
I guess that leaves the complete rebuild boon. Without throughly reviewing past releases, I’m not sure if that one has been used outside of Gen Con (or perhaps Origins, PaizoCon*).
The charity boons almost have to be exclusive else they will lose significant value.

Grand Lodge ****

I still think using a digital means of data storage and transmission would be the better deal. When a table is reported on Paizo, the Chronicle Sheets get issued via e-mail to the players. That's what I want to see. Those that want to print them out can do so. Those that want to store the digital copy can do that as well and bring them with a device to access them.

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

A completely digital reporting system would probably be far superior to the existing system, but that assumes two things that so far have been untenable.

First, organizers/GMs have to be 100% responsible and compliant when it comes to reporting. As a long-serving VO, I can assure you as a community we are no where near that level of accuracy. After the fact corrections have becoming increasingly hard to manage given recent events such as the change in privacy levels. As VOs our view of a player's history was modified making error reporting harder to repair.

Second, Paizo's IT team would need to rework the entire PFS reporting system both in how it functions and how it displays. While they work very hard to maintain the system, we have seen major disruptions in the system multiple times over the past year or so which would significantly impair our ability to maintain current, accurate records.

* RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

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Xathos of Varisia wrote:
I still think using a digital means of data storage and transmission would be the better deal. When a table is reported on Paizo, the Chronicle Sheets get issued via e-mail to the players. That's what I want to see. Those that want to print them out can do so. Those that want to store the digital copy can do that as well and bring them with a device to access them.

In an ideal world, I would totally support this. However, this isn't feasible for a number of reasons.

The biggest reason is that such a scheme is completely unacceptable at a convention. Event coordinators and GMs usually don't have the time or means to log onto Paizo and report the scenario immediately. It also might take time for the backend systems to generate PDFs and then email them to the players and GM. Players and GMs need their chronicle sheets before the next slot and additional time for purchases or leveling up. Typically, the time between slots is less than an hour. The backend systems could easily get congested during major conventions like Gen Con. Finally, not all GMs have smartphones or mobile wireless plans.

Heck, I'm a software engineer who built his career on web-based tech and even I don't have a smartphone.

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

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Add my name to the list who dislike partial chronicle sheets. Making sheets that do not easily fit in a storage device be it three-ring binder, pocket folder, plastic protector, etc increases the chances of the sheets being lost or misplaced. We already have a problem with this and should not make it worse with "scraps" of paper.

Using smaller sheets will also limit the text that can be added or the font would have to be reduced. Neither of those are good solutions to the program. We already see a lot of areas using custom reporting sheets because the spaces on the downloadable version are too small and hard to read for some.

IMO, the first step is to decide (make a list) of what you want to accomplish by changing the system and then making sure the changes that are made support those goals. I think there is a very large number of people that dislike the ITS report and want to get rid of it even if only to reduce yet another piece of paper to track. The only real advantage the ITS report has over the original chronicle is the tracking of expendables. Unfortunately, it does not work in practice. I cannot tell you the last time I saw anyone tracking wand charges, arrows, bullets, etc. The few who are doing it are using HeroLab or some other digital system to track their uses.

So if one of the goals is to reduce the printing load, eliminate the ITS form and put purchase tracking back on the chronicle sheet. This is my preference and another reason why I support chronicle sheet option #1.

Item lists on chronicles are largely useless unless the item is special (like an intelligent item), unique (created specifically for the scenario), or cheaper access (like a reduce price or a partially charged item). Please stop wasting ink and our reading time by putting "minor" magic items on the chronicle (cloak of resistance, potions, etc). Make it meaningful, or just leave it off.

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

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I want to reduce printing costs as much as possible, but I don’t see less than letter size being feasible and the need for the extra page cancels the saving out.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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Bob Jonquet wrote:


Item lists on chronicles are largely useless unless the item is special (like an intelligent item), unique (created specifically for the scenario), or cheaper access (like a reduce price or a partially charged item). Please stop wasting ink and our reading time by putting "minor" magic items on the chronicle (cloak of resistance, potions, etc). Make it meaningful, or just leave it off.

That is basically the go-forward plan.

Sovereign Court **** ⦵⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Georgia—Atlanta aka The Masked Ferret

This is true, unless there is an equivalent mechanic to Starfinder 'Infamy', or if there are item levels and you can buy higher level items from the chronicle sheet (as Starfinder does)

The Exchange ***** Venture-Agent, North Carolina—Charlotte aka eddv

Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
I want to reduce printing costs as much as possible, but I don’t see less than letter size being feasible and the need for the extra page cancels the saving out.

I want to go to bat for option 4.

If you can increase the size to playing card size the infrastructure DOES exist. Most of us play in stores that sell tons of magic the gathering supplies. Binders with playing card size slots in them exist and are conveniently available for most of us. Deckboxes/care protectors exist and can be a fun way to store characters (especially with dividers able to separate them). Even non card stock paper can do okay under these circumstances.

In this instance, we would just need a "ledger" sheet that allowed us to track XP/GOLD/PRESTIGE/FAME/PURCHASES/SALES. This ledger would become the only sheet you truly NEED to play your character and it puts all of your information in one place. I already have custom spreadsheets for this stuff in SFS and only don't in PFS because the initial labor is a bit daunting. It is, simply put, an easier way to keep track of everything.

Math:
(33 boons/9 slots per page=4+1-2 ledger sheets)

Each character could get reduced to 5 or 6 sheets TOTAL from 35 or so. That's a huge win for storage and as a bonus saves organizers money.

**** RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4 aka Matt Duval

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I wonder if it would be possible to do mini handouts like Example 2 or 3 that the GM distributes at the event and have each be coded so that the player can access a full page digital chronicle on the site. The essential info is on the handout, and the players have access to full page printouts and expanded text on the rewards online afterward. Since the essentials are on the mini version, immediate turnaround on reporting isn't required.


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Like most people I dislike non full-page chronicle sheets.

Regarding Boons, I prefer a few powerful boons I can just slot without thinking about most of the time. In Starfinder the best example is the hireling boon.

I think having like 3 boon slots without "typing" them is fine. I'll pick 2 boons and use them every session, and keep a 3rd open if I need to slot another . boon in the middle of the game.

Regarding convention boons: I don't GM often, and I don't go to the really big cons like Paizo con or Gen Con, so I am never going to get my hands on those supposed amazing exclusive boons.

You know what? I don't care. It doesn't take anything away from me if other people are having fun with something they've received, and I hope they enjoy it. I think you should continue injecting limited edition exclusive, powerful boons like these. I love hearing stories about some long time GM showing up at a table with a crazy character, and I hope I'd never be jealous of something like that.

Dark Archive *

With this new system I was really hoping that Boons and Sheets would be distributed online like reporting

Scarab Sages **** Venture-Captain, Texas—Austin aka SetonAlandel

I'm strongly in favor of the current Chronicle Sheet system - I only ever have one size of sheet to worry about, and the GM only ever has to initial/verify one sheet of paper. Chronicles are easily stored in a folder, and don't have to be cut/folded/manipulated after they're printed.

I've seen some very clever setups Starfinders have made for themselves as far as making their own boon cards - not that Society can't make it easier for people to do so, but the less bits of paper that can accidently fly out of a folder the better.

**

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eddv wrote:
If you can increase the size to playing card size the infrastructure DOES exist. Most of us play in stores that sell tons of magic the gathering supplies. Binders with playing card size slots in them exist and are conveniently available for most of us. Deckboxes/care protectors exist and can be a fun way to store characters (especially with dividers able to separate them). Even non card stock paper can do okay under these circumstances.

For those of us highly organized and detail oriented people who come to the boards to discuss the minutia of lore and rules, yes, that's the solution for us as players. For the other players in my area, I am confident that 75% (more likely 90%) of them will lose anything less than a full sheet. If you can find a solution to that (other players constantly losing their chronicles) for me as a GM, I'd reconsider my dislike of the smaller ones (except business card-sized, nothing will make business card-sized palatable for me).

Matt Duval wrote:
. . . have each be coded so that the player can access a full page digital chronicle on the site.

I like that idea as a solution to the realestate problem with the smaller chronicles. You could even do away with them entirely, adding A/B/C check boxes to a log sheet. However, what happens to the players with limited or no Internet access? Or pulling up the details on the fly in a deadzone in a large convention hall?

Scarab Sages *****

I dunno. The most popular nerd activity of them all somehow has a larger audience than we have managing dozens upon dozens of cards with no real issues. To say nothing of the also more popular than we are Warhammer organizational requirements.

I'm not certain role-playing nerds are inherently that much more scatterbrained.

Grand Lodge Venture-Lieutenant, Colorado—Northern Colorado aka treidenb

I'd like to see chronicles sheets much more streamlined (option 2 or 3) and for the boons and unlocked items earned on a chronicle sheet to apply to all characters you play. This allows a player to have all of that information readily available, rather than searching through all of their records for a boon they thought they have, only for it to be for another character.

Within the game, I see it as Character 1 discovering information and/or locating a relic. That is all returned to the Pathfinder Society after the scenario. When the player plays future scenarios with different characters, the Pathfinder Society provides you with all of the information and/or access to items the player's characters had earlier earned. (i.e. the partially used arcane wand your fighter picked up can be purchased by your wizard.)

Use the Scenario Logsheet for each character and the chronicles for the player.

**

GM Eddv wrote:

I dunno. The most popular nerd activity of them all somehow has a larger audience than we have managing dozens upon dozens of cards with no real issues. To say nothing of the also more popular than we are Warhammer organizational requirements.

I'm not certain role-playing nerds are inherently that much more scatterbrained.

My local players don't play MtG or Warhammer. They come with minis in a bag with their dice and character sheets loose.

...also, I've seen plenty of disorganized MtG players.

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

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I said this in the survey, but... I am in favor of option 2, sized up to full size sheets. Make it simple, but don't give us stuff we'll lose!

Hugs,
Hmm

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