Organized Play Preview: 2022 Interactive Events

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Today we’re going to pull back the curtain on our two upcoming multi-table interactive events for the 2022 Paizo Organized Play season. If you’re not familiar, Pathfinder and Starfinder Organized Play release yearly multi-table events that can be played with as few as three tables and well over 150+ tables at the world’s largest events. These are intended to be epic adventures where players can work alongside others to accomplish monumental feats and battle great evils. In the past, these events have often been tied to key story points for Organized Play. Last year, we explored the unique events of a Pathfinder and Starfinder crossover. This year, we’re keeping away from the ongoing metaplots of our Organized Play years and making our multi-table interactive events a bit more standalone, so they can be enjoyed by anyone at any time.

Some of you may notice that the level ranges have dipped down a bit from what we’ve previously offered. There are a few reasons for this. We wanted to make sure these events offered a select level range to make it easier for event organizers to run and to ensure that these can be offered easily as walk-up events for new players at events around the world. Secondly, we’re trying to bridge some of the cognitive load that is required to run these events. As of right now there are effectively four scenarios worth of content in one of these interactives. Adding on additional level ranges makes them exceptionally tricky to slot for events and for GMs to prepare for properly. But worry not, we’ll have more high-level content coming in the future (in addition to the always growing repertoire of sanctioned content). Finally,because the workload on interactives is immense, it takes a lot of time and effort for Paizo’s extremely talented staff of developers, editors, and artists to complete. We want to make sure that these events can still continue without adding undue stress or delays on other projects for our staff, so this change is an important step in achieving that goal.

Pathfinder Society Second Edition: Year of Shattered Sanctuaries - Expedition Into Pallid Peril By Rigby Bendele Starfinder Society Year of the Data Scourge - A Time of Crisis by Dennis Muldoon


Starfinder Society #4–99: A Time of Crisis debuts at PaizoCon 2022 and is Organized Play’s first foray into the upcoming Drift Crisis event. In this adventure, a large group of Starfinders heads out on a routine archaeological mission, only to find themselves caught in the first event of the Drift Crisis. To survive the challenges to come, groups of characters from local communities or around the world need to come together and work as a team. In this exciting event, we’ll be giving characters the opportunity to answer, “Where were you during the Drift Crash?”—an event that kicks off the Drift Crisis and can be followed-up in all aspects of the Starfinder setting. Written by veteran author Dennis Muldoon, this interactive is intended for 1st to 6th level characters and is split into level range 1–4 and 3–6 to better help event organizers.

Pathfinder Society #3–98: Expedition into Pallid Peril is set to release in early August with a GenCon 2022 debut. In this multi-table event, the PCs head into the mountain region of Droskar’s Crag in search of the entrance to a fabled lost dwarven city. Prior expeditions involved lone groups of Pathfinders, such as Pathfinder Society #2–19: Enter the Pallid Peak and more recently Pathfinder Society #3–10: Delve the Pallid Depths. This expedition is the largest yet, with several Pathfinder groups set to explore the mountain ruins in hopes of finding the entrance to the lost dwarven city of Raseri Kanton, which is believed to be lost somewhere within the so-called Pallid Peak. The amazingly talented Rigby Bendele has put together a masterpiece adventure for multiple players. This event is intended for 1st to 6th level characters and is split into level range 1–4 and 3–6 to better help event organizers.

That’s all for today’s blog! Look forward to more information on these interactives as we get closer to the big conventions of the year.

Thurston Hillman
Senior Digital Adventures Developer

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Tags: Organized Play Pathfinder Society Starfinder Society
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Paizo Employee 5/55/5 * Organized Play Coordinator

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Hooray for specials! Product pages for both are now live:

Starfinder Society Special #4-99: A Time of Crisis

Pathfinder Society Special #3-98: Expedition Into Pallid Peril

Grand Lodge 5/5 Contributor

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Huge contrats to Rigby and Dennis! Quite the accomplishment.

Second Seekers (Roheas) 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Appalachia

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These specials are gonna be so good.

Shadow Lodge 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **** Venture-Captain, Indiana—Southern

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Congratulations Dennis and Rigby!!

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/55/5 **** Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

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I am very excited for those two scenarios and the fact that they are written by Rigby and Dennis, is a huge reason for that^^

Dark Archive 5/5 5/55/5 * Venture-Captain, Germany—Rhein Main South

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Well I am quite dissapointed that the specials get less and less levels.

I always found it fun to do them with old and trusted - high level - characters and now we get them only for low level characters.

Paizo Employee 5/5 Digital Developer

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Having finished dev on one and waiting for the second to come in, but having seen the milestones, I would venture that these might be some of the tightest interactives we've done to date. I'm really aware that these projects are major draws for conventions, especially in terms of "ouuu shiny" for new players, while also not being something overwhelming for them at the table.

Specifically for Starfinder, I think these will provide excellent moments of "where were you when the Drift Crisis started" that can be used to springboard all manner of characters into the ongoing event!

Second Seekers (Jadnura) 5/55/55/55/5

Congratulations Dennis and Rigby! I can't wait to play these!

5/5 5/55/55/5

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Also not happy with the level reduction.

*

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Aw, my little Pallid baby is all grown up...

Super excited to see where that story goes, Rigby!

Dark Archive 2/5 5/5

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber

Both of these sound like a lot of fun.

Liberty's Edge 5/5 **

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I understand the push to make organized play new player friendly, I definitely want to see it grow. But I feel that organized play, especially the starfinder side, is drifting too far away from the base. I like one shots and bounties in theory but not at the expense of 8 scenarios a year, plus a truncated special. There are already to few oppurtunites to play our favorite characters, I hope they don't keep reducing.

Scarab Sages 1/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Virginia—Richmond

Yay Rigby!

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

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Count me as another one disappointed with the lack of higher level tiers. We may/not be ready for 9-10 yet, but we certainly have a growing pool of characters for 7-8. I do not understand the logic that having fewer levels means "easier" organizing. The key to organizing is options, and having more tiers equates to more options. Specials are by their very nature, special. That means most players want to play them with an established character that they are invested in, not the next in a long line of new 1-2s because they are unable to play their higher levels. I hope you plan to offer A LOT of 5-6 tables at Gen Con.

Also, the numbering seems illogical. If the Pathfinder scenario is meant to be the end of season 3, why not either just call it 3-24 or 3-99. If it is meant to be a starting point for season 4, then why deviate from the accepted nomenclature that would call it 4-00? Based on the information available, just seems odd.

2/5 5/5 ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Massachusetts—Boston

Last year's special already used 3-99, so 3-98 makes sense to me, its not part of year 4 content.

Horizon Hunters *

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I'm excited for a special that doesn't directly tie into the metaplot, but still touches upon past scenarios. I'm also happy to have one the character that played those scenarios be the most irl convention friendly and not risk of leveling out.

1/5 **

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Thank you for the overlapping levels. They should really help with forming tables.

Dennis and Rigby, congratulations and thank you.

While I understand the disappointment for players, not being able to bring some of their favourite characters to these games, I thank the team for making the tough decisions needed. I hope those players enjoy the characters they do bring and experience the excitement and magic of the game.

I am happy knowing that steps are being taken to ensure better workloads for the wonderful people who make this all possible. I look forward to a future that includes a larger, well-supported team at Paizo that will allow the return of higher-level play to such specials.

Dark Archive 4/5

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I believe the best way to interpret the blog post is the last line of the paragraph where they highlight the development work that goes into specials (which has been mentioned many times over the years). I submit that supporting Paizo workers is more than liking posts on social media and involves understanding that making changes towards more sustainability means shifts like this where the internal and external cost benefit is reexamined much like there have been other schedule adjustments and price increases.

Paizo Employee 5/55/5 * Organized Play Coordinator

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TwilightKnight wrote:


Also, the numbering seems illogical. If the Pathfinder scenario is meant to be the end of season 3, why not either just call it 3-24 or 3-99. If it is meant to be a starting point for season 4, then why deviate from the accepted nomenclature that would call it 4-00? Based on the information available, just seems odd.

Because it's neither of these, it's a standalone interactive special. You don't need to have played any scenarios before this one*, and it won't lead to a future metaplot**. 3-99 was already taken, jumping all the way to 4-99 seemed silly, and making it 3-20 or something would make people think it's a normal scenario, so this one's 3-98 to indicate that it's a special. I know it's weird, sorry!

*though we certainly recommend playing one or both of the previous Pallid Peril scenarios, they're not required, and I believe we'll be offering tables of both at both PaizoCon and Gen Con
**as far as you know, anyway

Wayfinders 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 ** Contributor

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I haven't played either of the Pallid Peril scenarios. I will have to go looking for them!

Meanwhile, I am so proud of both Dennis and Rigby. These specials look like they will be a blast!

Hmm

2/5

Does Time of Crisis have any replayabilty?

Paizo Employee 5/5 Digital Developer

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Just wanted to pop back in and address some of the level range concern a bit more.

As others have pointed out, the final point in this blog is a big one. The sheer amount of effort required in putting together an interactive is herculean, even if it's "just" a levels 1-6 event. It's something that takes an incredible amount of time to understand, develop, and then get laid out and prepared in advance for a big event.

Similarly, I've heard a lot of people bring up old interactives and how Paizo did things in the past and how things have steadily declined. As an example, Pathfinder 1st Edition's interactive Siege of the Diamond City, which did go from levels 1-20, was a 53 page PDF. That was before we included statblocks in the back of the product, which would have easily ballooned that document closer to 150 pages. The amount of development and editing that would require with our updated practices and way of presenting scenarios is just not sustainable.

Also, our games are different now from what they were back in the 1st edition days. As we learned with the first Starfinder interactive, Starfinder requires a lot more in terms of bespoke statblocks that need 3-4 different sets of eyes to review. Pathfinder 2nd edition has similarities in this respect, and with system's numbers being a lot tighter, it's important to focus on maintaining more balance and generally equitable table experience——trust me, I've read scenario reviews, I know ;)

ALL THAT BEING SAID...

I'm a firm believer that we really do need capstone high-level content for events and your local lodges. This has to be more than just some high-level scenarios every once in awhile. I've been very vocal on the team about how I think interactives as they currently exist fill too many roles, and we should be looking at what exactly we (as Paizo) and our volunteers need them to accomplish and if there are other better ways of achieving those goals. This is a longer discussion that the Organized Play team is just starting to have as we get our latest iteration of the team situated into their roles, and is something I personally feel very passionate about. I've seen how these interactives have evolved and mutated over the many years I've been with the program and know their importance.

So, know that I hear you on all these concerns. I know that a lot of you want those epic encounters and a way to bring your tried and true characters out to "the big event" and not just one-off high-level sessions run like any other game. I'm making a serious effort of finding ways we can accomplish this without causing undue stress on some of the hardest working people at the company, and in a way that's actually going to be useful for your veteran players.

Grand Lodge 2/5 Pathfinder Society Developer

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Thursty is wise. Listen to Thursty.

I'm super excited for both of these adventures! Everyone on the team (and at the rest of Paizo) is working as hard as they can to produce as many high-quality adventures as possible in the time that we have. Given limited time and resources, we need to make decisions about what to make, which also means deciding what not to make. We know we won't please everyone. And that's okay. We appreciate your feedback, as it helps us make these decisions.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

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You should stretch before you reach like that.

Horizon Hunters 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Agent, Indiana—Indianapolis

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Ullar, I was just going to point out that the level structure was different in 1e. As I recall, Season 0 and maybe 1 had scenarios that were Tier 1-7. A lot has changed, and I’m glad you pointed out some of the differences between 1e and 2e.

And frankly, if some of these people think developing/writing is so easy, how about they try it?

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

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I have never been one to suggest that writing/developing is easy (I am published and have worked with and observed a number contributors). Quite the contrary in fact. However, it IS true that the mid-high/high level content volume for PFS2 is lacking compared to what we have come to expect. The comments by staff seems to indicate that will continue to be true.

It is no secret that there is an ongoing emphasis on low-level content with the expectation that it will bring in new players. To be honest, this is a societal trend. Most companies that have a model that includes ongoing customer commitment cater to new subscribers and tend to diminish the ongoing value of existing customers, sometimes to the point of ignoring them completely. The idea is that it is a bigger hassle to change to the next available option than it is just sticking with what you know. There is a ton of psychological data supporting the concept. No, I am not suggesting that Paizo is ignoring higher-level content, but they certainly demonstrate a greater interest in acquiring new players, than maintaining existing ones.

If it is easier to produce content that covers a narrower level range, then I would encourage the production of two separate specials; one targeted for levels 1-6 as announced above, and the other targeted at something like levels 5-10, assuming you don't think there are enough characters approaching higher levels with the ultimate goal to cover levels 7-12. Yes, I realize it means adding another scenario to the schedule, but we are already seeing a couple/few months only getting one (instead of two) scenarios, so maybe drop one more and fill that slot with the second special.

The point is, don't underestimate the value of your most committed players possessing high level characters. They are often the ones most likely to be bringing in new players, GMing most of the games, and organizing events. Reward them by providing more gameplay options for their favorite characters. After-all playing our favorite characters in exciting adventures is what hooked most of us on RPGs in the first place. YMMV

Scarab Sages 1/5 5/5 ** Contributor

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TwilightKnight wrote:

I have never been one to suggest that writing/developing is easy (I am published and have worked with and observed a number contributors). Quite the contrary in fact. However, it IS true that the mid-high/high level content volume for PFS2 is lacking compared to what we have come to expect. The comments by staff seems to indicate that will continue to be true.

It is no secret that there is an ongoing emphasis on low-level content with the expectation that it will bring in new players. To be honest, this is a societal trend. Most companies that have a model that includes ongoing customer commitment cater to new subscribers and tend to diminish the ongoing value of existing customers, sometimes to the point of ignoring them completely. The idea is that it is a bigger hassle to change to the next available option than it is just sticking with what you know. There is a ton of psychological data supporting the concept. No, I am not suggesting that Paizo is ignoring higher-level content, but they certainly demonstrate a greater interest in acquiring new players, than maintaining existing ones.

If it is easier to produce content that covers a narrower level range, then I would encourage the production of two separate specials; one targeted for levels 1-6 as announced above, and the other targeted at something like levels 5-10, assuming you don't think there are enough characters approaching higher levels with the ultimate goal to cover levels 7-12. Yes, I realize it means adding another scenario to the schedule, but we are already seeing a couple/few months only getting one (instead of two) scenarios, so maybe drop one more and fill that slot with the second special.

The point is, don't underestimate the value of your most committed players possessing high level characters. They are often the ones most likely to be bringing in new players, GMing most of the games, and organizing events. Reward them by providing more gameplay options for their favorite characters. After-all playing our favorite characters in...

interactive specials serve a different purpose than you seem to realize, friend. beyond being exponentially more of a workload than a typical scenario, they also exist in a convention-based medium of allowing many, many players to collaborate. to write an interactive special that actively prevents new players from participating is gatekeeping, plain and simple. additionally, the convention structure of specials such as these requires several players to be in one place. one that has a minimum level of 5 that would not only meet the table requirement, but have enough tables to even be worth scheduling is a laughable concept. you have more characters than your high- or mid-level ones, I hope. You can even make a fresh level 1 if you feel so inclined! New players, however, do not have that luxury. it would be a special actively geared towards exclusivity in the end; while that might appeal to you, Bob, i doubt the OP team would want to devote resources towards the (very very in-depth, much more than a standard scenario) process of making a seperate special that's only for the good old boys.

kate baker wrote a 9-12 that's on the way, if you crave content that not everyone can walk up and play. but everyone can walk up and play a multitable that is low-level, whether they're loyal players or eager to learn. now, do i think the program merits high-level play? absolutely! making a seperate, additional, exclusive multitable is definitely not the way to go about it though.

E:
as a side-note: if you throw Siege of Gallowspire as a counter-example, then all you've proven is a lack of understanding of context. Siege is a sendoff to 10+ seasons of PF1 content. It's quite literally the culmination of over a decade of campaigning. Is it more exclusive, sure, but it's a fair assumptions that after that length of time with folks playing 1e PFS, there are enough players to fill some tables of the Last Hurrah.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **** Venture-Captain, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East

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Coming in 2023, Thursty's brand-new high-level pregen special, #4-98 Truepacabras of Druma!

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

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UllarWarlord wrote:
...to write an interactive special that actively prevents new players from participating is gatekeeping, plain and simple

Balderdash

Given my history and experience, I know quite well what is required to both produce and organize a special and I disagree with your assessment. I know there are those who would agree with you and that's fine. Y'all are entitled to your opinion. OTOH, I know there are plenty of people who agree with me and likewise, we are entitled to ours as well.

3/5

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I have to wonder if Paizo didn't miss the mark with the level choices for the PFS special. From my perspective, it doesn't seems much different to develop say a 3-8 range instead of a 1-6. New players can use a level 3 pregen and get a much better feel for character abilities and the game than using a level one. Veteran players can play a slightly higher level PC. Also, I've heard, at least in 1e, that level 7-9 is a sweet spot for PCs.

Second Seekers (Jadnura) 1/5 5/55/5

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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

So, just spitballin' here, but if we start with the assumptions that:
- Specials need to be accessible for newbies and walk-ups, and
- the (posters on The Fora who likely disproportionately represent the most passionate grognard section of the) established player base wants higher tier "Seeker" or "Seeker-adjacent" content, then
has there been any thought to having Specials that serve those two groups, and cut out the middle tiers? What if a Special had non-contiguous tiers, and like, SFS 5-99 was for Tiers 1-4 and 9-12? Pregens still exist at two levels for low-tier, and the old-timey Grampy PCs can go do heroic crap in high subtiers :D
I remember, in the lead-up to SFS 2-00, Thursty made a few comments about how low tiers really needed to be carrying their weight, in order to clear objectives and provide buffs & bonuses to the poor bastards in High Tier, who were facing off against [Redacted 2-00 Stuff]. I remember that being really engaging, and as a GM, I used that for my table. "You look on with mixed pride and dread as the cream of the Starfinder crop, with their mighty techs and magics, soar above you to join battle against [REDACTED], and you feel a moment of quiet inspiration as you soldier through. You need to [Do The Things] to give them all the help they can get!" That was cool - and a Special that took that feeling, and ran with it as a central conceit, might be interesting?
...or I don't know what I'm talking about, both equally likely XD

3/5 ** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston Metro

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TwilightKnight wrote:

I have never been one to suggest that writing/developing is easy (I am published and have worked with and observed a number contributors). Quite the contrary in fact. However, it IS true that the mid-high/high level content volume for PFS2 is lacking compared to what we have come to expect. The comments by staff seems to indicate that will continue to be true.

You are a comparing a game which had no balance and could theoretically have a single character solo an entire scenario to a game where the balance is more fine tuned. Class composition, ability choices, and tactics are things that can all drastically swing the difficulty of an scenario. Then you add in the fact that while the game is more linear in terms of progression that level range starts getting kind of absurd (In a good way) with abilities it makes designing scenarios difficult.

**

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This looks cool - currently in a PbP with "Part II" of the arc that'll lead up to #3-98.

Also, cool to hear that there are internal talks beginning about shifting the focus of specials to support a degree of higher level play. Or at least, that seemed to be a takeaway upthread.

Question: Is there a way to use AcP system to allow people who have already played, say, #2-19 and #3-10, to replay them with a different character, in anticipation of #3-98?

Cheers.


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Well by the time this comes out, I won't have anything in the level range. Cool bro.

4/5 5/5 **** Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Tri-Cities

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I also have my concerns about the decreased level range and the lack of high-level play. I think twilightknight's thoughts and insights are legitimate and valuable, especially considering his longstanding history of organizing such events.

If limiting the level range of the special is required due to work load, the level 3-8 option would have been optimal. I think even a level 5-10 special would be fine and disagree this would be "gatekeeping" as there are level 5 pregen characters. New players often don't even have characters made, so playing a pregen doesn't matter. Yes, playing a higher level one is more difficult, but i don't think inapproachable, especially for 2e.

Considering it was stated that these specials are the equivalent workload of 4 scenarios, this likely means that even dropping 1 regular scenario for another (higher-level) scenario would not be feasible. However, perhaps dropping a scenario (or two...ouch) and replacing it with a 3-part high level linked set of scenarios would be a great reward for you long-term players and do deserve to be treated well too (IE: All for Immortality series in PF1e)

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Phoenix

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Zero the Nothing wrote:
Well by the time this comes out, I won't have anything in the level range. Cool bro.

Well, good thing they didn’t leave 1st level characters out of it then.

5/5 5/55/55/5

If the issue is the amount of polish that goes into such a large document perhaps a document with less polish would be the least bad answer? People may joke about having to make a swim check instead of a strength check to get through a door (in a dessert* of all places) but I don't think that's nearly as big of a deal as not being able to bring more established characters into the big special events.

Characters take time to mechanically or narratively build up to where players want them, and 6-8 is kind of just starting to get there in starfinder.

*self referencing example is self referencing.

Second Seekers (Jadnura) 5/55/55/55/5

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My experience has been primarily with Starfinder, but to date I have run over a dozen specials and played about the same number. While specials being played in a big room at a convention are great, I don't get terribly excited about playing in them anymore. Usually there is a lot to get through in a short amount of time with tons of moving parts, and usually at conventions I am playing with people I have just met, or at least are not part of my regular group that leveled up with the character I am playing. So for me I do it for the fun of meeting new people and the camaraderie that comes with everyone in the room working towards the game objective.

My highest level characters (4 at level 13+, again mostly playing Starfinder) have been rarely played in the past year, and sometimes two. I am not one to save characters for specific events and such - I just play and level. So for me, having a lower tier cap on the specials works great for the characters I am actually playing.

For playing high levels, I play adventure paths with my local folks. Currently on my ninth in the past 4 years, I really enjoy playing with the same character, and people, all leveling up and growing together. This is something I don't get with Organized Play, even with my local lodge, as its always different characters, if not different players.

TLDR: I personally don't treat specials as capstones, so don't really care what levels they are for. They are collaborative convention events, and having lots of people play is more fun for me.

As far as Paizo short changing players - I am sorry but they put out so much content on a regular basis, plus there is tons of 3rd party content available via Pathfinder/Starfinder Infinite. Yeah organized play is fun, but there is a whole lot more out there as well, and that is where most of the players are too.

4/5 **** Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area South & West

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BigNorseWolf wrote:
If the issue is the amount of polish that goes into such a large document perhaps a document with less polish would be the least bad answer?

I'd rather have fewer scenarios than "least bad" scenarios.

Telling authors to produce a doc with "less polish" probably isn't going to be productive or rewarding for anyone involved.

Horizon Hunters 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Agent, Indiana—Indianapolis

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Saying “ Creating content for people who love Organized Play could and should not stop Paizo from creating low-tier content” where the implication is that people with high level characters are the ones who love the game is flipping arrogant.

I have played PFS since 2011. I was a VC for several years. In all that time, I had ONE character over 8th or 9th level. I prefer low and mid tier characters. Those are more fun for me.

So don’t come here and suggest that To demonstrate your love for PFS you have to play/like high level play. It’s just not true. And if you persist in making that argument, you’ll find almost no traction here. Some but I doubt you’ll find a lot.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Phoenix

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And even I, with my seven Seeker characters, will not support such an argument.

Scarab Sages 1/5 5/5 ** Contributor

TwilightKnight wrote:
UllarWarlord wrote:
...to write an interactive special that actively prevents new players from participating is gatekeeping, plain and simple
Balderdash

why?

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

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TwilightKnight wrote:


Balderdash
Given my history and experience, I know quite well what is required to both produce and organize a special and I disagree with your assessment. I know there are those who would agree with you and that's fine. Y'all are entitled to your opinion. OTOH, I know there are plenty of people who agree with me and likewise, we are entitled to ours as well.

Utter claptrap.

I believe your opinion is completely incorrect, but you're entitled to it. Perhaps I should say why or give factual examples of how I'm correct or you are wrong but I won't, you'll just have to trust my experience and history on this.

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