Alabaster Scarf's page

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Mark Seifter was kind enough to answer this in a grab-bag Q&A.

The target takes 1d6 bludgeoning damage plus the Barbarian's strength modifier each round. This assumes a medium barbarian.

A small barbarian does 1d4 plus their strength modifier per round.

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Lanathar wrote:

Champions look distinct and are much more versatile.

Distinct? Yes. Versatile? Much less so.

Far more options, and therefore, utilities, are walled off due to the bonds you choose, and many options that were standard in 1E are either gotten at much later levels, have to be chosen over other options, or both, and in many cases are significantly less powerful. I think Paizo may have been attempting to make the Champion fill a 'support melee' niche, but thus far, I'm very unimpressed.

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Thanks for the streams, Mark! This is definitely something to bring up with an acquaintance and his strategy of 'winning' Patfinder using pocket dimensions and simulacri.

I and others were wondering if you and any of the other staff have come up with a solution to how Greater Tyrant Totem works; at the moment, there's no way to know how much damage per round Swallow Whole inflicts.

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Another thing was brought to my attention by a player. Namely the way class feats work. Or don't? He said that it was frustrating spending so much time making a character that could do less. It seems like many things that came standard with a class in Pathfinder are now things you have to choose at the expense of others in 2E.

I recall remaking my very first Pathfinder character in 2E. It's hardly even the same character, anymore. How are people going to move campaigns or characters over to this new edition?

MaxAstro wrote:

Ow. OW.

You have good - great feedback, lots of interesting points, but OW. Your keyboard has an "enter" button. Please apply it less sparingly. I wanted to read that because I found your perspective interesting, but it was a struggle. :)

I typed it out in Libre Office. I guess the transfer didn't work as intended.

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I would like to thank everyone at Paizo for this exciting playtest, and for allowing all of us to take part in shaping the next chapter of a game that has changed my life for the better. Without this game, I wouldn’t have the friends I have today. I would also like to offer a sincere apology. Due to all of us having such busy schedules, we weren’t able to meet very often, and as such we only finished the first two chapters of Doomsday Dawn. Know that it wasn’t due to apathy that we were only able to get this far; I myself was GM while holding down two jobs. I’m sorry for this being late. I’ve been told I’m a sucker for the ‘sunk cost’ fallacy, but we’ve spent too much time (and in my case, money) not to have our voices heard. If the Paizo staff are not able or willing to read this due to the official deadline being passed, I understand.

But pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease do read this, even if it’s just a short skim-through.

Before I begin, I’d like to tell you a little about myself. I’ve been reading the D&D 3.5 Player’s Handbook since launch, but as much as I dreamed about it, I never got a chance to play an actual pen & paper RPG until being invited to join a group in 2012. The Pathfinder RPG is the first tabletop RPG I’ve ever played and I’ve loved it so far. I’ve dabbled a bit in Rifts, 3.5, 5th Edition, and read through some others, but Pathfinder is my favorite. Getting to be a part of the next edition is like a dream come true.
I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from The University of Texas at Dallas’ ATEC program, focusing on visual art, game design, and story design. I say this in the hopes that it provides some context for my feedback and so that you all know where I’m coming from. Hopefully it gives some credibility, however limited, to the points I have to give.
I will be dividing this review into three parts: thoughts on the rules, thoughts on the adventure path, and some final notes on the playtest as a whole. Note that these are all my opinions, with those of my group mixed within.


For the most part, character creation has been very rewarding. Not only is the new method more conducive to a balanced party, but it also allows the players to become more invested in backstory decisions, which plays well into the roleplaying experience. I especially like the modular nature of this stage. It makes new characters feel more personal. On the other hand, the variability and the surprises that die rolling gives have their own charms, and I’m glad to see that it has returned, too. I would like to point out that the decision to give the bonus of Charisma to Goblins seems nonsensical. Aside from perhaps Paizo’s own IP, they aren’t known for being very charismatic, and given their violent lifestyle and penchant for eating things most would find inedible, it would make far more sense for them to be given bonuses to Dexterity and Constitution. Gnomes, in turn, should be given Dexterity and Charisma.
The classes are perhaps the most obvious way in which 2E shows its similarity with Starfinder. I’m a bit concerned that the implementation of class feats may encourage players more towards optimization rather than characterization, or that players may create characters based what they think an adventure path may require of them more than on what they might find interesting. Also, while I do enjoy most of the classes, I can’t help but think that some, such as the Bard and Paladin, seem to be trying to reinvent the wheel.
The Bard’s original method of using Performance was more straightforward. While making some things like Inspire Courage into cantrips does make their usage likely at lower levels, I think things may have been made more complicated than they need to. Having them be spells instead of class specific powers listed in the class entry is unhelpful. That being said, there’s a greater variety of things that this class can do now, especially with its compositions. I think far more people are going to be willing to give this class a try.
The Paladin. Oh, boy. The Paladin was my favorite class in Pathfinder. I played an Empyreal Knight all the way from level 1 to 20 over the course of two and a half years, and in that time I learned a lot about myself, not just the class. Now, I’m a firm believer in the idea that a Paladin should be Lawful Good, but considering where the trends and complaints have been going over the past decade, enabling them to be of different alignments is something I can certainly concede to, and even endorse, with regards to game design. What I’m less thrilled about is tying them down to deities. This decision, as well as the anathema mechanic, isn’t very system agnostic. It also causes the Paladin to encroach upon the Cleric’s territory a bit. In 1E, the Paladin was said to serve a deity and receive blessings, thereby giving it an implicit source of power. However, distancing itself from that would, in my opinion, allow the Cleric and Oracle more distinct backgrounds and leave the Paladin able to define itself more independently, thereby giving the Divine caster group more diversity. With regards to how this fits in with the alignment debate, have the player-chosen alignment, not the deity, be the defining feature of the class. Clerics are champions of deities. Paladins are champions of ideals. Mechanically, this class is far too reactive. For something that is usually obsessed with fighting injustice, it seems to stand around a lot. As it is, most Paladins will be shoehorned into a defensive role, with the Retributive Strike encouraging them to stay pinned to an ally at all times and be less mobile. Waiting for an ally to get hit seems less emotionally rewarding than charging forward to enact justice upon an enemy. Smite Evil, one of my favorite aspects of the class, is gone, replaced with Blade of Justice, which not only is less powerful, is tied to a specific weapon, a restriction that seems superfluous. The Paladin should never be a passive character. It’s far too charismatic for that. This leads into my next point: having the class bonus be to Strength. What about players who want to make ranged characters? This decision heavily discourages anything other than creating a melee build for a Paladin. I would suggest either enabling players to choose Strength or Dexterity, or perhaps make Charisma the class ability bonus. No one at my table was interested in playing this, and as such, I would suggest a complete rewrite.
The Barbarian, on the other hand, was a thrill. Others have spoken at length about this, but the Barbarian was one of the most fun aspects of this playtest. I didn’t play one, but as a GM, just seeing it in action made me anxiously awaiting the player’s next turn the entire night. It’s simple. It’s strong. It’s savage. I can’t speak for higher level play, but at low level dungeon crawls, this is everything the Barbarian needs to be.
As for combat rules, I can honestly say that the three action system is a change for the better. Along with the visual aid of the icons, this greatly streamlines play (as much as it can in a playtest where everyone stops to ask questions all the time.) Cover rules, often the bane of our existence, are now easy to remember, and restructuring of Attacks of Opportunity got everyone to move again, which made tactical play more dynamic and engaging. It also ensured that, because people knew that they could safely move if they got in an unsuitable place, we weren’t bogged down by excessive planning.
Items and gear are more hard to pin down. Due to the lack of downtime in the parts we finished, and even the parts we didn’t, I’m not sure how much can be said, at this point, about how well the money system is incorporated into this game. The prevalence of items bought with a few silver is more realistic than the previous edition, I will say that. However, the changing of spell names, Heal specifically, made the acquisition and usage of potions a bit confusing, and having to relearn such a staple of play was not fun, especially considering how little it has changed.
Magic still great, with some spells like Fireball being even cooler than before. Others, like Cure Light Wounds are gone, and for some reason its replacement contains the rules for Channel Energy, further complicating things. Critical rules make everything more fun and engaging, however, and Primal magic being its own kind of magic is a nice change for thematic reasons. The decision to reign in casters is a long overdue and welcome change, and one that I was really looking forward to in this edition. I think it was handled well here; not making it less fun for casters, but still allowing everyone else to catch up. The resonance system gives me pause, however. On one hand, it makes magic feel more special. On the other hand, it adds a level of resource management that seems counterintuitive given that this edition seems to be trying to simplify things.


It’s difficult to say how this new edition saves or adds time to planning and adventure. Due to us all treating the system as a fresh start and not taking any rule for granted, the added time of learning was something to overcome. Because of this, some of my players didn’t exactly enjoy character creation, but all were excited to actually start things off. Of course, somone made a Goblin, and had we continued, every party would have had one, with the way we planned things out.
Our group is an aggressive bunch, and combat is the aspect of play we get the most out of. Thus the first chapter of Doomsday Dawn was quite the slap in the face. Not in an offensive manner, granted, but it was jarringly difficult for a first foray. Several of my players actually noted that it was more difficult than the first level of the Emerald Spire. I think in an effort to offer enough scenarios to get meaningful feedback, Paizo introduced more enemies than was necessary. The Cleric’s spelles were exhausted a third of the way through, and the party actually had to pull back and rest for the rest of the dungeon. The Wizard had a hard time of things, which was expected, though his ranged spells did make things a bit easier. Most enemies were mopped up by the Barbarian, however, and at times I wondered if perhaps the Barbarian was too overpowered, as it wasn’t leaving enough room for the other’s to contribute, in spite of everyone giving their best effort. In fact, at some points it seemed as if the Barbarian player was the only player having fun. As a GM, this was distressing. Roleplaying with the Goblin survivor, did, however, get everyone engaged, and it was nice to see some battle banter going on with players in the beginning. Critical effects of magic made things a lot more interesting. By the end of the chapter, everyone was exhausted both in and out of character, but they were very satisfied by the loot they’d gathered.
Part two was less rewarding for my players. Not only did they resent having to make new characters that they’d never see again, anyway, they also missed out on a lot. Part of this has to do with the travel system and time constraint. Upon learning that an elite group was also after the Countdown Clock, my players disregarded virtually every encounter they came across. This turned out to not even be necessary, as the forced march they’d gone through with the camels meant that even doing the approach to the tomb on foot meant that there was no chance for the enemies to catch up with them. The party couldn’t know this, however, so on they went missing out on combat and loot, even though they were eager for both of those things. As an added observation, it seems that there isn’t a clear way to show wether or not the travel rules or the time limit need changing, or if both do. Personally, I think the travel rules are fine, if somewhat conservative on its estimates of how far someone can travel. Eventually, they did fight and slay the Chimera, which everyone had a great time with and also provided a great challenge for the players. It also provided a humorous roleplaying moment with the Gnoll leader. Our Bard, who up to this point hadn’t had a chance to use his coveted Deception, lied to them about the party having killed the Chimera. Everyone at the table turned and looked at the Bard’s player. Everyone except me, who went into the other room and screamed into a pillow over him having said the exact opposite of what he should have said. It was a moment of overwhelming stupidity. It was also a moment of overwhelming laughter. Once the party got indoors, however, things changed. Having once again decided not to have a party with Darkvision, more assets had to be used getting light, and once the party was in the room with the Water Elemental, it looked like the end. The battle with the Earth Elemental was astoundingly short, lasting only one round, but the Water Elemental fight lasted over six, and nearly killed the party. The high damage of its special ability, coupled with its automatic knockback which often sent players into the water, made for a fight that was frankly harder than it really needed to be. What’s more, it further encouraged my players to stop exploring; they headed straight for the puzzle room and refused to look for more keys, instead making rolls to solve the lock. This made several of them frustrated and eager to get on with things. The last battle with the Mummies was a nice sendoff, as it gave everyone an opportunity to get stuck in. I couldn’t help but wish that the Janni had a way of speaking with the players, however. None of them spoke its languages, and it would have been nice for the players to learn more about what was going on.


I have mixed feelings about this edition of Pathfinder thus far. For every change I’ve seen that I like, there’s been a change I don’t. Some rules changes elicit neither like nor dislike, but simply seem unnecessary. The changes to Skills come to mind. For those switching from 1E, this change won’t be a short or easy one, and for newcomers, it will probably be only slightly less complicated than before. With the way spellcasters have been changed, balance is coming back, which I am very grateful for, but some classes seem to have had their roles change or become more difficult, especially the Cleric. In addition, monsters seem to either be massively underpowered, or massively overpowered, with the range in which they provide a balanced challenge to the party being only a level or so.
A year ago, my friends and I switched to 5E Dungeons & Dragons. I was the last to agree. I was dragged kicking and screaming from my beloved Pathfinder into a system which I saw, and still do see, as having fewer options and less variety. I saw this playtest as a way to win everyone back, but coming away from these two chapters, no one seems to want to. That’s what hurts the most. Even though I was enjoying myself the whole time, by the end, it was clear that the players weren’t having fun. To quote Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé, “If it’s not fun, why bother?” Now, we all agreed that this was mostly because the purpose of the playtest was to put the rules through the wringer; its purpose is not to entertain. As such, we were very forgiving of this, but it still made playtesting difficult and stressful for some people. This was compounded by the fact that many design decisions Doomsday Dawn seemed to be made to playtest Adventure Paths rather than playtest the actual rules. Given the already ambitious nature of this playtest, this seems like a misplacement of priorities.
I would say that I’m not totally on board with where Paizo is going with this edition, but then I’m not really sure what direction that is. Paizo has stated that they’re testing anything and everything, so this will be very different from what the final product is like. For what it’s worth, what I want out of Patfhinder is this: an end to caster supremacy, an end to feat taxes, a bit of streamlining and ease-of-use, and plenty of means by which GMs and players alike can create new worlds, countries, scenarios, and stories together. This goes back to the ‘setting agnostic’ comment I made earlier. Paizo has every right to be proud of Golarion, but making sure there’s plenty of room for people to have their own worlds is important, too.
I have high hopes for this edition of the Pathfinder RPG. Everyone at Paizo has shown how passionate they are about making this a fun and engaging game for everyone, and I hope what little our group has done helps them make it the best RPG ever. I’m very nervous about how it turns out, but that’s because I love Pathfinder. I wish everyone at Paizo and all my fellow gamers the best of luck. I’m so excited for what this new year has in store. God Bless.

Jason Bulmahn wrote:

Hey there folks,

I just pulled a couple of unhelpful posts and the sniping that followed. The playtest is over. If you are not looking forward to the final game, that is fine, but there is no need to be rude about it.

As for us, we are going heads-down here for a bit as we work on the final version of the game. We will be quiet, but not entirely gone here in the short term, and you can expect to see a lot more about the game in the coming months.

Just thought I would clear that up.

Will there still be time to give more feedback? My group only just finished part 2 and I'm actually writing out a document to try and give you all my GM notes, and my thoughts on the paladin.

The FAQ isn't coming is it... :c

CrystalSeas wrote:
Alabaster Scarf wrote:
use almost exclusively feminine pronouns.

If you go back and look carefully, you'll see that they alternate masculine and feminine pronouns. The pronouns are balanced so that neither gender is predominant.

Of course, if you're used to primarily masculine pronouns being used, when things are balanced, it may seem a bit strange to you. But that's only because you're used to seeing mostly male pronouns.

It may have just been the parts I've read so far. I've mostly been looking through character creation and tactical, so maybe those are the bits. I'm used to seeing 'they/them' because I mostly read formal stuff. It is nice to crack open a fresh new rulebook. Starfinder even has that new RPG smell!

CrystalSeas wrote:
Jaçinto wrote:
It is grammatically correct.

Not according to the Starfinder AP.

If you want to make up something different for your home games, of course you can do whatever you like. But if you're playing SFS, it's officially "they, their, themselves"

To that end, why didn't Paizo use gender-neutral pronouns throughout the Core Rulebook? It seems odd to focus so much on inclusivity and make the decision to use almost exclusively feminine pronouns.

Sean Montgomery 43 wrote:
Damn, too late to order this now? It says unavailable, :(

I know, right? I wasn't able to order until Friday's paycheck because of a fraudulent charge on my account. I was really looking forward to this purchase :c.

So, in the interim of my GM coming up with more things for his own campaign, we're going through the Emerald Spire starting at level one. The good thing about this is that you guys at Paizo know exactly what I'm going up against, so the numbers game is more concrete. The bad thing is, this class probably wasn't built purely for combat, but hey. Them's the breaks, right? I mean, when you're given the chance to be Batman, you take it. Some caveats, however. We are playing with the consolidated skill list from Unchained, rolling max HP for first level, creating a custom race from the ARG with a 13 point build, and including two background traits each. For reference, here is my character sheet in spreadsheet form. You may notice my Social Talent for level one is unchosen. My DM wants to get back to me for reasons I'll explain as I go on. dl=0

As you can see, I'm basically playing Batman, with an emphasis on the whole 'making people think you're more than just a man' with tricks sort of thing. But instead of a bat, I'm using the wolf as a symbol, thus the name 'Lobo.'

Starting off, it was difficult to decide on how my character would interact with the group, which consists of myself, a fighter, a wizard, and a cleric. Or it did. Eventually I decided that I would be cloaked, my costume unseen until we got to the spire. In Fort Inevitable, I had to join the party, as they wouldn't trust someone who hadn't pitched in to purchase the adventuring license. Meeting them along the road to the spire wouldn't work.

Once we got to the spire, all of our party had darkvision save for one person, and most battles consisted of me throwing a shuriken for the hidden strike bonus, and the fighter and myself flanking while the wizard and cleric provided support. Against the goblins, I had to roll around 14 to 16 to hit on average, and It usually took two hits to drop one. At the split in a corner, there was a trap that I didn't look for that caused a cave in, and I beat the cleric and the wizard in combined strength to get the fighter out. Before this, I rolled intimidate and managed to scare two goblins into a room with goblin archers. That was fun. Anyway, the cave in split us up, and I and the fighter entered the archer room through a sort of flap.

Now this is where things changed up due to us ending the session halfway through the map. First off, until now, I'd been using the first playtest rules, as the second hadn't come out yet. I told my GM when I got to his place on Thursday that I had to change the class a tiny bit because of the Round 2 rules, however this hardly has any effect at level one, aside from Social Grace not being built in. In addition, up to this point, the GM had been playing the wizard, as there were only us four, but I invited a new player who rolled up a barbarian. Who was a bearperson. A barBEARian, if you will. He replaced the fighter behind me, and so the two casters were cut off from us. We of course had to go in first and they pussyfooted around for a while before helping us out. Probably one out of every four or five attacks hit me, and it generally took out four or five hp, so I had to get healed quite a bit. However, thanks to the barbarian, who I'm happy to say got a critical on his first ever attack roll (he'd never played Pathfinder before) and killed the goblin in one hit, something he did on a regular basis. This came in handy with the fight against the goblin machine man. I was reduced to 0 hp at one point against the mechanic during that fight, as I'd tried to grapple him and he succeeded in landing an attack of opportunity on me. I was going to interrogat him, you see. A few more shuriken ambushes and flank fights later, and we came upon the final boss of the room, the bugbear. The barbarian got in the final blow, and we all rolled high on our damage rolls. He took about four hits, including a maxed out magic missile. The goblin mechanic is still out there somewhere, though. He got away. Finally, we swept the place for more enemies, and headed back to town after getting rid of two zombie goblins, barely reaching level two under the Fast xp rules. All in all, fun times.

As for my social identity, I plan on being a minstrel who gets to be well-liked around town. I plan on revealing my identity to the party at about level three, perhaps. We'll have to see how that plays out.

Now as for the Social Talent. I was aiming for Renown so I could interact with Fort Inevitable more often, and possibly have a Safe House later on. Problem is, Renown states that it can only be in a community of about 200 people, and the book says Fort Inevitable has a bit over 900 people. This is odd, considering it's a small town. That seems like the perfect spot for a vigilante to start out, unless you mean to say that he or she gets known in a neighborhood, and that the whole town doesn't have to fit within the numbers requirement. Also, if you start in a village of 200, how would such a small place not recognize you in vigilante form, especially if you're from there? And as another friend pointed out, at level 20, you should be known around the world, but apparently there's a cap to renown at 25,000, which isn't even a metropolis. Just a thought, guys. The other option I was looking at was Social Grace, but as it uses the social identity, I didn't see how it would help us in the campaign. He's having me wait a week to decide if perhaps a section of Fort Inevitable that has around 200 could count as its own community.

This is a great class and one I've been looking forward to. I've been looking everywhere for a class that would essentially let me play Batman, and I think this is it. If it has one flaw, it's that many of its aspects are ill-suited for a battle and dungeon-crawl centric campaign such as Emerald Spire. But hey, I'm still looking forward to being a legend. Thanks for letting me contribute to the playtest, guys.

Thanks. I've seen a lot of discussion on it, and I've read some of Sean K Reynolds' little rants on it. But most of what he and others were talking about was 3.5, so I wasn't sure.

I know that the spell Bless Weapon and Keen don't stack with regard to critical hits, but does Bless Weapon stack with Improved Critical? Based on the wording of the Improved Critical feat I'm inclined to say no, but some people have implied that it does. And for that matter, do Improved Critical and Keen stack? I know they don't in 3.5.