The inexorable approach of Pathfinder Society's second edition campaign means the team's relentlessly discussing, finalizing, and formalizing ever more campaign details, much as we shared in April with earned benefits. This month we're not only presenting four more preview topics, but there's also another blog happening later today to introduce the first of two new factions. Let's get to it!
With all of the changes we're making to the organized play campaign, one of the most visually apparent differences is the redesign of our Chronicle sheets. We've shared a few samples of potential new Chronicle sheets in previous blogs, collecting lots of feedback from you in the process. Studying your comments alongside the other updates and changes we've made in the organized play program; we've come up with a close-to-final version of the Chronicle sheet for you to check out and give us any final thoughts or feedback on before it gets locked in. With the new Achievement Points system and other updates, we've adjusted the Chronicle sheet to feature more room for tracking expenditures, adventure summaries, and other useful tools. And if we're tracking those on a Chronicle sheet again, that means the Inventory Tracking Sheet can be a thing of the past.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so at this point, I'll wrap up talking and direct you to the sample of the new Chronicle sheet linked below. Please check it out and let us know what you think!
Rarity and Item Access
As you likely saw in the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, Pathfinder's second edition includes both item levels and rarities. These two topics share the same themes—namely getting cool gear in your PC's hands—so we're looking at them together.
An item's level is a reliable indication of its power, its price, and whether a character of a given level should typically have one handy, plus it makes creating higher-level characters pretty handy (e.g., begin with this many 3rd-level items, this many 4th, etc.). If you've played Starfinder, you already have a good sense of what item levels look like and how they function. The main difference is that Pathfinder focuses less on buying ever-better versions of your preferred weapon and instead on applies power-boosting augmentations to it.
When we launched Starfinder Society, we saw item levels as a natural way to indicate when a PC could access and purchase a particular item. In that campaign, PCs can buy items from the Starfinder Core Rulebook up to their level + 1, items from other sources up to their level + 0, and anything from a Chronicle sheet up to their level + 2. In those reasonably rare circumstances in which someone earns and keeps Infamy, each point of Infamy reduces the PC's effective level by 1 for the purpose of buying gear (arms merchants tend not to trust PC criminals with the latest plasma cannon). This model's worked out pretty smoothly, especially in that it means any higher-level equipment on a Chronicle sheet is relevant (a common complaint in Pathfinder Society's use of Fame for equipment access). By giving broader access to the Core Rulebook's equipment, we both indicated that gear was more common and thus easier to access, and we were aiming to keep that book's contents as relevant as possible even as other books began appearing on shelves.
We're implementing something very similar in the new Pathfinder Society campaign, with Chronicle sheets granting earlier level-access to gear and Infamy making it tougher to find top-tier equipment. We're still tinkering with the numbers a little, particularly for the Pathfinder Core Rulebook's contents compared to that of other books. After all, we have a different tool for understanding how common different gear is: rarity.
Rarity addresses two elements in the game: ubiquity and complexity. For ubiquity, whether an option's common or uncommon (or rare or unique) indicates how likely a PC is to find it at a store, in a treasure hoard, or in an NPC's hands. Anything common is something that a PC's typically able to find without much difficulty, wealth permitting. Uncommon options might be fairly pervasive in a specific area or for a particular organization, but they're limited enough that not everyone can get a hold of them. Rare options are very limited and are unlikely to appear except as coveted treasure. As for complexity, the rarity system also communicates the relative complexity or ramifications of using an option, such as how detect evil can vastly simplify an investigation, teleport can handwave the challenges of an overland journey, or antimagic field causes everyone to recalculate how their equipment and bonuses work suddenly.
In Pathfinder Society, expect to see nearly universal access to common character options (ancestries, feats, archetypes, items, spells, and the like). In fact, our hope for the Additional Resources page is to be pretty minimalist, with the understanding that nearly any common option you find in a book would be good to go in organized play. On the far end of the spectrum, don't expect to see rare or unique options except on Chronicle sheets. And in the middle, we have uncommon options. These are fertile ground for including on Chronicle sheets, especially when an item's an excellent fit for a particular adventure.
But there are many more uncommon options than we can reasonably and tastefully fit on a Chronicle sheet, so does that just leave a bunch of fantastic uncommon options "stranded"? Not quite. One of the significant ways you'll be able to use your Achievement Points is gaining access to uncommon options—including uncommon ancestries, in effect functioning as the old "race boons." Does that mean all of the uncommon options printed in every book becomes accessible? No, there will still be some uncommon options we hold back for gameplay and complexity reasons, but we're aiming to allow access to a solid percentage of the uncommon published material.
Speaking of Achievement Points (AcP), we heard your feedback about possible other names and abbreviations, and we've been workshopping some other possibilities to test out with our volunteers. More on this soon!
Replay for Seasons 0–10
Ah, but essential as rarity may be, it's hardly captured the public discourse like replay—specifically, how replay opportunities are going to work in the current PFS campaign once August hits and we stop producing new scenarios for the first edition of the game. We've collected a lot of feedback, data, and opinions from many of you on this topic, and we've taken all of that, as well as considering what's best for the health and stability of both campaigns, and come up with a framework that we think will allow both PFS campaigns to be as strong as is feasible.
First, all of the replay options that are currently available will continue to be so. This includes GM star recharges existing convention boons that offer replay options and the current stable of replayable (evergreen) adventures. We all agreed that it was important not to take anything away from the first edition Pathfinder Society campaign; we want to build on what everyone's familiar with, not replace the working systems players and GMs already know.
Secondly, we'll be taking a snapshot of all of the recorded organized play sessions on Paizo.com in mid-July. It will be imperative to make sure all of your game sessions are recorded by this point in time, as this snapshot will be set against an activity scale that will determine the number of "free" replays that are applied to your account. Essentially, the more regularly that you have played and GM'd, the more Pathfinder first edition replays you will be granted. This will allow those who are nearing the end of their playable material to have a similar gameplay "lifespan" to players who have just recently joined the organized play campaign.
Finally, you may recall from our April blog that we will be introducing a type of digital currency called "Achievement Points" for Pathfinder's second edition organized play campaign. For the purposes of discussing replay, the main thing to note is that you will earn Achievement Points every time you play a PFS second edition game, in roughly the same amounts that you gain XP. There will be a variety of things you can redeem these Achievement Points for, such as the uncommon items mentioned above, including first edition replays. The more you play or GM for the new edition, the more potential replay opportunities you'll accrue for the first edition campaign.
If you've played Starfinder Society, you may already be familiar with scenario tags. Tags are markers that appear both on a scenario's product page and on its title page that gives key information about the scenario's contents. We'll be using the following tags in Pathfinder Society.
Repeatable: Scenarios with this tag can be replayed an unlimited number of times (but only once per character). GMs receive another Chronicle sheet each time they run a scenario with this tag (but can apply credit only once to a given character).
Faction: Scenarios with this tag list one or more associated factions. As an example, we'll use a couple of made-up factions. "Faction (Door Bashers)" would indicate a scenario that is of some importance to the Door Bashers faction—no doubt due to the large number of very important doors that need kicking. Similarly, a scenario with the "Faction (Door Bashers, Monster Punchers)" tag would indicate a scenario that would be of interest to characters championing the Door Bashers or Monster Punchers faction. This tag generally corresponds to scenarios with additional Reputation awards for the associated factions.
Exclusive: Scenarios with this tag are meant to be run in a specific environment or by a particular cadre of Pathfinder GMs. Common recipients of these sorts of scenarios include distinguished volunteers who've run many sessions of Pathfinder Society, GMs running the exclusive at a large convention, or a Paizo staff member. Scenarios with this tag include specific rules on who is eligible to run it, where it may be run, as well as any other considerations for eligibility of receiving credit.
We're leaving open the possibility of adding additional tags in the future. For example, if we were to release a scenario-length pack of quest (as opposed to individual quests), we would likely use a quest tag to mark that adventure. We might also introduce additional tags to signify substantial rules elements, much as Starfinder Society added the vehicle tag to scenarios that use the vehicle rules.
Join us back here this afternoon for breaking news you don't want to miss – the first faction announcement for Pathfinder Society (2nd edition).
Next week we preview the May scenarios, just before heading to PaizoCon. While there, we will host Question & Answer panels on both the Pathfinder and Starfinder Society, as well as join the Lone Shark developers for a discussion of all things Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, including the Pathfinder Adventure Card Society. For those unable to join us, we will summarize our announcements in a blog the following Wednesday.
Organized Play Lead Developer