Fall of Plaguestone and Sanctioning

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Greetings everyone! I have some good news, some neutral news, and a general conversation that I’m pretty sure is also neutral (or at least not actively evil), so I’m going to open up with the good news- Fall of Plaguestone is sanctioned! Assuming the technology gods have not conspired against me once more, you should find those sanctioning docs on the Fall of Plaguestone product page. But wait! I know you’re eager to start clicking so you can collect your Chronicle sheet, but there’s a bit more to this conversation.

Cover art from the 'Fall of Plaguestone' adventure: Ezren and Amiri, the Pathfinder iconic wizard and barbarian, face off against a pack of snarling wolves.

You’re going to notice that this Chronicle sheet is a bit different. It doesn’t specify a Tier, and the rewards are a bit different than we’ve structured them in the past. There’s also only a single Chronicle sheet, which is a hair different than you may have seen in past modules. So, here’s the explanation for all of that. We want you to have more stuff that you can play and use in PFS, and we want to get it to you quickly. We also want you to get sanctioned materials faster than has happened in the past.

Flashback to when I joined the organized play team two years ago. At that time, additional resources sanctioning was 15 months out and we had 10-year-old adventure paths that had never been sanctioned. Priorities always focused on scenarios first, convention items second, and sanctioning third. A lot of my early work in the department involved shrinking those numbers and getting materials in player’s hands faster. That was going pretty well right up until around June of this year, when the mad dash towards Gen Con began. The triple hit of increased scenario production, launch of a new edition, and John Compton moving to the Starfinder team took its toll on our workflow. Linda stepped up as organized play lead developer, which meant that she has less bandwidth to help me out with scenario development and so sanctioning slowed down. But it’s important to note, it never stopped. The team spent chunks of our weekly meeting since mid-August looking at ways to get materials sanctioned for use faster and let GMs and players take the shiny modules and Adventure Path (AP) volumes they’ve been buying and use the treasures presented therein with their organized play characters. We also fielded some concerns from other departments about the way we had been sanctioning modules and adventure paths, and those concerns happened to sync up with some of our own scheduling and production issues.

Traditionally, the sanctioning process for an AP or module required a developer to read the entire adventure path or module, figure out a way to cut the material down to about 12 hours per module or volume without making the story indecipherable, and then create the guidelines for that new play window and the various Chronicle sheets that go along with it. This is a pretty time-consuming process and must wait until all publication of all volumes in the Adventure Path. It’s part of why you’re getting Fall of Plaguestone before the final two PF1 adventure paths (which we’re absolutely still working on sanctioning for those of you still enjoying the PF1 organized play campaign). Fall of Plaguestone represents a new adventure sanctioning model that we hope is going to be something you’ll enjoy, and which will allow us to sanction much faster than we have in the past. The Chronicle sheet gives you access to all of the approved treasures and other goodies presented in the module, one level’s worth of experience for a character of your choice, and gold appropriate to a character of that level.

“One level?” you ask. Yep. This Chronicle is set up so that you can play Fall of Plaguestone as it was intended to be played, with a non-PFS character of the appropriate level, level up with that character when the module expects you to, and then when the adventure is complete, take that Chronicle sheet and apply it to any of your Pathfinder (second edition) organized play characters, giving them a level up, a hefty bag of loot, and access to all kinds of uncommon goodies. If this works, we’re going to do the same thing for Age of Ashes, and it’ll mean we can do it a lot faster. We need your feedback on our system to know if this will be the model going forward, so please post commentary below for our team to review.

We realize that this might not be the ideal solution for everyone. Some of you want that streamlined adventure with bits cut out to make it fit in a two or three-block convention schedule. Our current understanding of our player demographics is that those of you looking for thus trimmed versions are both a very small percentage of the player base, but also some of our most dedicated players. Ideally, we’d like everyone to get the full adventure experience as the author intended, but we also don’t want those of you who enjoy those convention marathon playthroughs to feel like you got the short end of the stick. Our potential solution involves adding a section to the organized play guide discussing convention play and providing tips to GMs and organizers on how to run these adventures in a way that fits into your slots and would still allow you to receive and issue Chronicle sheets for completing the playthrough. If that feels like a solution you think will work for you and the way you play, please let me know in the comments below! This program exists for you, our community, and we want to find the version of this that works best for everyone. We cannot do this without comments, so please add your viewpoints on our sanctioning ideas to the thread below.

Next week, join us for scenario previews for both Pathfinder and Starfinder. Thank you all, and until next time, Explore, Report, and Cooperate!

Michael Sayre
Pathfinder Society Developer

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Tags: Organized Play Pathfinder Society
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Scarab Sages 4/5 5/55/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
roysier wrote:
Nefreet wrote:

Now you have me confused.

Plaguestone is done. Leadership stated they're leaving it as is.

I'm talking about future Modules/APs.

Really, OK, time for me to move on and not look back.

*waves pleasantly to roysier*

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 Venture-Captain aka TwilightKnight

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Xathos of Varisia wrote:
Again, nothing stops you from running it in PFS mode with the current sanctioning. The fact that a L1 character won't survive it may be problematic, but at the same time L3s and L4s can survive. Just play it at those levels

I have to stop you there. It seems perfectly clear that this would not apply. PFS-mode would require you to run the three parts as separate events potentially with three different sets of players and perhaps even GM. Because there is only one chronicle sheet to issue and you would not be able to report the three sessions as separate events because the module is only sanctioned as a single entity, you cannot in fact run it in PFS-mode.

Xathos of Varisia wrote:
To start with, the only way to make it work is to level up each character between chapters.

Be careful making definitive statements like this. I've heard of a number of groups who have played it all at level one and completed it. Generally speaking, I agree that leveling is the "right" way to tackle this module given the increasing difficulty, but that is not the same thing as "unplayable" otherwise.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 Venture-Captain aka TwilightKnight

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Ferious Thune wrote:
split a scenario (which, again, is not technically legal to do)

It absolutely is. If we are going with rulings by Mike Brock as an example of current methodology, it was explicitly stated at some point (I'm sure someone has the link saved) that you could break up a scenario over multiple slots to account for things like game store with restricted hours, etc. We can all agree that is neither optimal nor is it easy to ensure all players return for the conclusion (which was a factor when deciding how to award partial chronicle sheets), but it is certainly legal.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 Venture-Captain aka TwilightKnight

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Ferious Thune wrote:
I would not call those weeks the module is meeting a public game, and we wouldn't advertise for new players to show up those weeks.

I think at the end of the day we both want the same thing and are of a similar mind, but just differ on what to call that ongoing event after the first night. You call it private, I call it a continuing public game. It doesn't really matter what we call it as long as we are good stewards of the events and welcoming to all players as much as possible.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 Venture-Captain aka TwilightKnight

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Ferious Thune wrote:
What no one has explained is how that is effectively different from someone publicly advertising for players for a home game (edit: of FoP) that is going to meet in the shop. Both publicly advertised. Both are meeting in a public space and displaying pathfinder accessories. Both are using whatever rules the GM wants to use and characters that are not directly part of PFS. Both can hand out chronicle sheets at the end. What is the difference between them?

The difference isn't with the setup. Its that (1) it is held in a public location, and (2) it is open for anyone to sign up. As long as those two things occur, it is a public game for the duration. It only becomes a problem if, as you have indicated, it is the only option for players. Then the issue isn't with the ongoing game, its with the availability of options for those who did not respond to the public call for players.

Now, I will admit that there is some gray area here which, like table variation, is a bit distasteful to some people, but given the international nature of the campaign we have to be prepared for some flexibility. If a GM wanted to run say an entire AP, not just a few parts but wanted to run the entire thing that could take 1, 2, 3 or more years to run, yes, I would "judge" that to be a private game even if s/he advertised it to our community. OTOH, if we advertised Dragon's Demand to our community with the expectation (I'm loath to use the word "requirement") that they commit to the entire module, I would deem that a public game. Again, I would not allow it to be the only game running on a regularly occurring OP night since we could not accommodate the rest of the community.

My guess is that you do not agree with this application and that is perfectly fine. It works for my community. If it does not work for yours, then you should do as you've indicated. Under those circumstances, we both win because our community gets what it wants. Course, the lack of a PFS-mode option in PFS(2) is certainly having an effect on your community and again I agree we should consider adding it back in.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 Venture-Captain aka TwilightKnight

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Nefreet wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
(not sure how realistic the "first campaign mode chronicle, then event mode chronicle later on" is from paizo's workload perspective)

This is the comment of yours I was referring to.

Nobody I've seen has been advocating for two different types of Chronicles depending on the mode you played.

(although I do admit that it's certainly possible I missed a post somewhere)

IMO, it would as simple as to have one chronicle sheet but print the material on it like we did on multi-part quests series. You could have three lines indicating the rewards earned for each part with a box to check indicating that is the part/s that were played and then maybe a fourth line if you need to give out a something to reward that have completed the entire module (optional). This would maintain the single chronicle concept while still allowing PFS-mode style play. Since they already have to review the entire module to identify item specific access lists, the only difference is splitting that list up by part.

Example
○ part 1: 4XP, 4 Fame, 10 treasure bundles [item access associated with part 1]
○ part 2: 4XP, 4 Fame, 10 treasure bundles [same as above]
○ part 3: 4XP, 4 Fame, 10 treasure bundles [same as above]
○ complete all three parts gain access to [stuff] special item. Maybe a race or uncommon item/s

EDIT

Plaguestone:

Looking over Plaguestone, part one is easily big enough to qualify as a scenario. It has a lot of investigation and well more encounters than we even have in a special event. Part 2 and 3 are smaller (19 pages, vs 11 and 13) with fewer encounters but still enough to qualify as scenario play. Just saying that if this is the typical format for a 2E module, we could easily follow the chronicle suggestion above and accommodate PFS-mode without any additional work for the developers.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

That adds work to the Paizo staff, though, and requires editing, vetting, time, etc.

Offering a blank Chronicle where the GM fills in the Adventure name and XP/GP/Fame doesn't.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

I think this took me 2 minutes to create.

Just make this available as a downloadable sheet, list the tiers of Gold somewhere in the GM section of the Guide, and you instantly have content sanctioned for play when it's released.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Then, X number of months later, a Chronicle with Items, Boons, Etc. can be finalized and released to replace it.

Given the alternatives, does anyone not like this idea?

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 Venture-Captain aka TwilightKnight

Nefreet wrote:
That adds work to the Paizo staff, though, and requires editing, vetting, time, etc.

My point was no more effort than was used to produce the chronicle that was released with the sanctioning document. Many people are suggesting multiple chronicles. I was suggesting we don't need more than one sheet to support both campaign and PFS-mode of play.

Nefreet wrote:
does anyone not like this idea?

Raises hand. I don't like it. YMMV

5/5

Nefreet wrote:

I think this took me 2 minutes to create.

Just make this available as a downloadable sheet, list the tiers of Gold somewhere in the GM section of the Guide, and you instantly have content sanctioned for play when it's released.

I do, in fact I argued for the idea of a generic chronicle months ago when we had the last "how much replay should be allowed" discussion.

Personally I would also ignore the update part as likely being too much work. You can play it as soon as it comes out and get a generic chronicle or you can wait however long it takes to get a unique one, on the understanding that it may never happen. I suppose you could also allow a single replay once the new versions came out as well to avoid people all waiting for the special shinies on the "real" chronicle.

Liberty's Edge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Maryland— Baltimore aka Qstor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Is there an ETA for sanctioning of Rise of the Runelords?

1/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Bob Jonquet wrote:

IMO, it would as simple as to have one chronicle sheet but print the material on it like we did on multi-part quests series. You could have three lines indicating the rewards earned for each part with a box to check indicating that is the part/s that were played and then maybe a fourth line if you need to give out a something to reward that have completed the entire module (optional). This would maintain the single chronicle concept while still allowing PFS-mode style play. Since they already have to review the entire module to identify item specific access lists, the only difference is splitting that list up by part.

Example
○ part 1: 4XP, 4 Fame, 10 treasure bundles [item access associated with part 1]
○ part 2: 4XP, 4 Fame, 10 treasure bundles [same as above]
○ part 3: 4XP, 4 Fame, 10 treasure bundles [same as above]
○ complete all three parts gain access to [stuff] special item. Maybe a race or uncommon item/s

My issue with one chronicle for all three parts is that you can't really play part 1, then go off and do something else, and come back to part 2. Unless you are suggesting someone would have multiple copies of this Chronicle sheet in their stack; maybe its their Chronicle #1, and then they play a couple scenarios, get to second level, play it again, and now it's also Chronicle #4 for them.

Even if it's one Chronicle as you describe, each part would need to be able to be reported separately for PFS mode.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Bob Jonquet wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
does anyone not like this idea?
Raises hand. I don't like it. YMMV

That wasn't my question, so I'll restate it in an effort to avoid misquotes:

Given the alternatives, does anyone not like this idea?

Dark Archive 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Online—VTT

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Nefreet wrote:
Bob Jonquet wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
does anyone not like this idea?
Raises hand. I don't like it. YMMV

That wasn't my question, so I'll restate it in an effort to avoid misquotes:

Given the alternatives, does anyone not like this idea?

raises hand

I'm not at all a fan of GMs filling out entirely blank chronicles, as First World Bard mentioned, which one of three is it? Did the GM forget to add a note saying? GMs already ignore filling out significant portions of chronicle sheets a lot of the time, adding even more places for them to fill out stuff and potentially miss seems like a poor choice. If I flip through my chronicles on different characters which parts did I play on which? What was the order if I played them all on one?

Let alone that, having the chronicle blank and only giving xp, fame, treasure bundles seems incredibly underwhelming, a blank white chronicle is a sad, sad thing. The notes, the hopefully unusual treasure items, these are the things that tie back into the story and when you look at them make you go "Oh yeaaah... I remember that item!", that's an awesome trigger for the memories and story you experienced.

I'd prefer we stick with it how it is now if that was the only other option, if it was possible to do within a reasonable time frame and without overly stressing the team I'd prefer three 4xp chronicles with the usual info, story summary and items on them (for the same total rewards), but I recognise that individualising three separate chronicles (and possibly a fourth 'extra' one) is likely as lot more work.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I’m in agreement with Richard. Blank filler chronicles seem worse than what we have now.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Richard Lowe wrote:
GMs already ignore filling out significant portions of chronicle sheets a lot of the time, adding even more places for them to fill out stuff and potentially miss seems like a poor choice.

The only thing different is filling out the Adventure's name.

That shouldn't be too difficult, but if that's a sincere concern, Paizo could probably release a blank Chronicle with the name pre-printed.

Not arguing against your other points. That's why I asked the question.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
Blank filler chronicles seem worse than what we have now.

Fair.

On a spectrum, how long would sanctioning need to be delayed for a blank Chronicle to be more palatable?

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I don’t think there is a timeframe that fits for me.

2/5 5/5

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

My preferred solution (don't remember who first proposed it, but I know its similar to ones multiple people have mentioned and I think is a variant of Nefreet's current one):

1) An item/boon-less chronicle for each _part_ of a larger module/AP chapter -- awards gold, fame, exp.
2) A capstone item/keepsake/boon chronicle that is active once you have all the sub-parts --- no gold/fame/exp.

I think to goal from the various proposals is to make (1) as simple and boilerplate as possible. I'd still want it to come with the adventure name/part # pre-filled rather than asking the GM to fill that in, so there is (simple) layout work for each of them. Sadly I think OPF would still need to do some level of review of each module/AP chapter to decide how many 'scenarios' of credit each part should be. (Ie for Fall of Plaguestone I could make the case that each part should be either 4 or 8 exp (1-2 sessions of play), they should not be 12exp each). So it would still have some lag between when an adventure is published and when its sanctioned, but hopefully its a short-ish process (maybe even as simple as count the # number of encounters/skill challenges and use a look-up table. Adventures that give lots of bonus story awards to accelerate level, would discount that under this model as it tends to need fewer sessions). This would mean that a 'society' mode for a module, might require some non-module play between sessions to stay on-level with the module.

The capstone (2) boon/chronicle doesn't 'replace' or supercede the item-less ones, but its in addition. I'd personally be comfortable with it being a free download that doesn't require GM-sign off (just the player being able to show they have appropriate signed chronicles for all the subparts). You're able to apply utilize the capstone once its released, without tracking down the original GM if time has passed. the capstone is still the one that requires more complete research by the OPF to pick boons, keepsakes, items that make sense from the adventure are are appropriate for the OPF.

I'd _prefer_ the mini adventure recap exist on the (1) style chronicles, but would accept it living on (2) for the sake of lowering the work for the 'empty' chronicle.

Dark Archive 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Online—VTT

Nefreet wrote:
Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
Blank filler chronicles seem worse than what we have now.

Fair.

On a spectrum, how long would sanctioning need to be delayed for a blank Chronicle to be more palatable?

I'm with Steven on this, but even beyond the practical problems and issues I'm not sure I can entirely put it into words in a way that makes sense but a blank chronicle sheet just seems to devalue the experience somehow. I know that when I see chronicles from early seasons that at best have some generic items on them and just a huge expanse of white it makes me feel like maybe the scenario didn't really matter... I'm not sure entirely why really, but having gotten used to ones with story related boons (not even useful ones) and the new 'summary' on PF2 ones I would be loathe to go back to the mostly or a new entirely blank format at all, I don't think any time frame would make me okay with it.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 Venture-Captain aka TwilightKnight

Nefreet wrote:
Given the alternatives, does anyone not like this idea?

Raises hand. I don't like it. YMMV

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

To add to the discussion, can you elaborate why not?

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Oh! Pretty! I have two little Saturns.

And my profile has three... I guess they're not done updating the site, yet.

Scarab Sages 4/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.

If you’re only planning on playing it in campaign mode, then you’re getting the 4th chronicle sheet with all of the items and other details at exactly the same time that you would get the single chronicle under the current system.

Liberty's Edge 5/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Indiana—Martinsville aka thaX

First World Bard wrote:
Bob Jonquet wrote:

IMO, it would as simple as to have one chronicle sheet but print the material on it like we did on multi-part quests series. You could have three lines indicating the rewards earned for each part with a box to check indicating that is the part/s that were played and then maybe a fourth line if you need to give out a something to reward that have completed the entire module (optional). This would maintain the single chronicle concept while still allowing PFS-mode style play. Since they already have to review the entire module to identify item specific access lists, the only difference is splitting that list up by part.

Example
○ part 1: 4XP, 4 Fame, 10 treasure bundles [item access associated with part 1]
○ part 2: 4XP, 4 Fame, 10 treasure bundles [same as above]
○ part 3: 4XP, 4 Fame, 10 treasure bundles [same as above]
○ complete all three parts gain access to [stuff] special item. Maybe a race or uncommon item/s

My issue with one chronicle for all three parts is that you can't really play part 1, then go off and do something else, and come back to part 2. Unless you are suggesting someone would have multiple copies of this Chronicle sheet in their stack; maybe its their Chronicle #1, and then they play a couple scenarios, get to second level, play it again, and now it's also Chronicle #4 for them.

Even if it's one Chronicle as you describe, each part would need to be able to be reported separately for PFS mode.

I would think that one would be able to just that, as the single chronicle can be moved in the succession of chronicles as the other parts are played through, with chronicle numbers and rewards denoted with each section of the single chronicle.

Now, as far as the "story" goes, certainly the character will want to play the whole thing through to the end, but realities of Society play may have other ideas.

This would also allow the character to get EXP to gain a level or two for the later parts of the module.

Liberty's Edge 3/5 5/5 Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

Mike McKeown wrote:
Is there an ETA for sanctioning of Rise of the Runelords?

I have not heard of any time frame for this.

5/5 Venture-Agent, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka Pirate Rob

A chronicle that fill multiple spots in your stack is a bookkeeping nightmare etc. Let's not do that please.

Liberty's Edge 4/5 Venture-Agent, Indiana—Hammond

Is there any news about sanctioning Age of Ashes for PFS 2. We have a group of players who really enjoy the series.


Still waiting to hear if AoA has been sanctioned.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
January's Blog wrote:
We queued the Age of Ashes adventure path for the next available sanctioning timeslot.


"The Chronicle sheet gives you access to all of the approved treasures and other goodies presented in the module, one level’s worth of experience for a character of your choice, and gold appropriate to a character of that level."

For "that level", is that the level of the character, or the level of the module?

5/5 Venture-Agent, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka Pirate Rob

Character

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