Bradford Ferguson's page

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I'm surprised this isn't in the FAQ or the wiki or stickied... What are the major changes for Pathfinder?

Class Features that encourage sticking with one class.
Skills (combined)
Sneak Attack (anything?)
Grapple (simplified?)

If you love 3.5 wizards or clerics for their versatility, you're not going to be happy with 4E. 4E essentially gives the same number of options to all the classes, so wizards have just as many choices compared to fighters. More options for fighters, less options for casters.

4E may also piss off powergamers, because there aren't really loopholes in 4E yet. Powergamers love loopholes or powerful abilities that are priced too low.

The biggest failure for me about DDI is that there are so many powers that players will be staring at their PHBs or creating their own power cards just to be able to run their own characters. The Character Generator needs to be live ASAP.

To be honest, there isn't much in this interview about Pathfinder (though Wolfgang's Fortress of the Stone Giants is quite good, IMO). I figure that folks that are interested in Pathfinder may also be interested in either Kobold Quarterly or Open Design. If Paizo wants to add a blurb to their blog, that'd be great.

----- interviewed Wolfgang Baur about Open Design, 4th Edition D&D, Kobold Quarterly, GenCon 2008, and War of the Burning Sky.


When asked If RPG publishers must choose between either 4E or d20, which way do you envision Open Design going? Wolfgang replied:

"I'm not sure that publishers must choose, but I guess we won't know until we see the license. I've been playing Keep on the Shadowfell the last couple weeks, trying to figure out the likely direction. While I've been underwhelmed by the Shadowfell adventure design, the mechanics underneath it are really solid and seem to have a lot of potential for sword-and-sorcery gaming.

As a result, Open Design will offer both 4E projects like Wrath of the River King and 3E projects like Tales of Zobeck. Wrath of the River King is an attempt to break away from the introductory-adventure cliches of Shadowfell and present something for a more experienced crowd of gamers: some shades of grey, a more realistic setting, a storyline with consequences and choices outside of combat (though there's plenty of that as well)."

Wow, awesome writeup. I know how long these things can take to put together, so thanks a lot! Good questions too.

(Notice from my reply [two posts up] that I do not say that Pathfinder has small fonts. I say "IF you have small text..." Speaking in generalities... out of my arse as usual)

The font size IS NICE for the Curse of the Crimson Throne books. The background/watermark is still distracting for me and puts a strain on my eyes. This is just my perception.

If you look at stuff that Malhavoc Press does, they have small text size and plain white backgrounds. The text for CotCT is much larger with watermarked backgrounds, so they probably balance out. ;)

Jason, this is a golden opportunity for you to rise above it all and see feedback in a different light. Feedback isn't positive or negative. Feedback is simply information. You have the choice on how to feel about it. You can choose to see it as neutral. You can choose to see it as valuable. You can take it into consideration, you can not.

I'm not perfect and do not always practice this myself. The way to go about things to get the most results is BEING FOR whatever it is that you WANT. So if you want playtest feedback, then focus on that. ANY energy spent on BEING AGAINST what you DO NOT WANT will draw attention to what it is that you do not want.

Instead of railing against preconceived notions... You could instead facilitate the playtest process (why not pregen characters? and a short playtest scenario?) and simply inspire playtesting. REALLY be inspirational about playtesting instead of merely requesting it. You could go about it any way you want. People see your work, but not really your passion. Where's the crazy passion energy?

It's not up to the fans whether or not positive energy is brought to PRPG, it's up to you and Paizo. You can't control what the fans are going to do.

FOR THE SAKE OF D&D IN GENERAL: The tendency is to abuse polymorph. I've never seen a player use polymorph and not want to abuse it. Therefore, I think Jason is on the right track. I also agree that monstrous humanoids should be added to types.

FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR GAME: If you have players that are absolutely bent on polymorph, AND the other players at the table enjoy this... you COULD let go of the vision that you haqve for your campaign and do more of a monster hunter campaign for your players. (1) They don't know about the forms they most desire, this must be researched and even then they may not find the instance of the creature they are looking for [make it scale up] (2) The TRUE bad guys are the Polymorph Police [the gods don't want you doing this so I'm going to drain this knowledge from your brain forever, or I'm going to taint the magic and you gotta fix it).

If one player loves to break polymorph and the others do not then you either need to put your foot down and ban/limit the spell or get rid of the player (or let that player be the DM).

If underwater is a big deal for your campaign, then by all means, adjust your campaign. Underwater is NOT a feature for most campaigns... AT ALL. I think underwater campaigns can be great and I've reviewed "The Deep" and I think Bastion's underwater adventure book, but most folks don't mess with underwater at all.

If you want to be PRPG and underwater, perhaps a ring or cloak or apparatus or necklace (that melds into the chest) or whatever.

I like the removal of XP cost, upping the gp cost to make it (or requiring the transferrence of power from another permanent magic item), and the removal of the creation feats.

Rude is subjective, different people can look at the same comment by someone and say, "that's rude." "that's honest." So, it's not inherently true that comments are rude. I read the sorcerer comments (maybe a different thread) and more took it for whining. I'm sure folks have thought some of my posts are "whiny." Its important to realize that it is their choice to view them as whiny.

It's really up to Jason Buhlman and the hard-working folks at Paizo as to whether or not they are offended. They are in control of their emotions, so it is up to them whether some irate grognards is going to affect their day or even their quality of life at work.

Paizo is trying to please hard-core long-time gamers. I'm sure they realize they can't please everyone and that everyone has opinions. Its not like Paizo or Jason is new to the game of publishing.

I DO ALSO think that people WHO ARE PLEASED with Alpha 2 need to speak loudly. We don't want the "Negative Nancy's" to get the most say in the PRPG Playtest :) Instead of railing against whiners and aggressive posters... inspire the content folks to speak up!

I do think the font size puts a strain on the eye. It's not just the size, but the combo of the font size and any non-solid non-white background.

I would be in favor of making the backgrounds less splashy and the text more readable, but then it would appear more boring.

Looking at Pathfinder #5, the page background or watermark isn't out of hand by any means, but it is non-solid.

If you have small text, I favor straight white backgrounds. But then it is harder to blend things artistically.

Thanks James :)

For an old-timer, you're all right by me. :)

So you made a choice.

Keeping "fiend" as a catchall seems like an "old-timer" choice.

Any newer player wouldn't even think of rakshasas as "fiends". Rakshasas belong in the "evil badass" catchall.

If you are instituting a new category, why not give it a distinctive name? A name that looks completely different on paper and sounds completely different. What daemons do is different, the role is different, the name is no different.

I realize that Seven Days to the Grave is already printed so the instinct is to stand behind something that is in print... and that you are much more knowledgeable about your core customer :)


I just thought it was odd. New, new, new... old similar name. Why not, new role, new category, AND let's exclusively call NE Outsiders (bent on whatever) fiends?

I guess then in-game language would be too restricted? If farmer bob saw a devil and called it a demon out of ignorance (instead of just saying that it was fiendish). I guess the fiendish and half-fiend templates screw things up too if you went with NE as "fiend". OK, I give up ;) Or wait, should the demonic badger be different than the dev'lish badger?

Definitely a nitpick: Why not simply "fiend"? demons, devils, and fiends?

You're right, the general forum for Pathfinder isn't as busy...

Yeah I didn't do the link right. Just go to if you're interested.

Ok, what product would you most like for non-subscribers to know about?

*tap tap tap* Is this thing on?

Hey folks, I just opened with a review of the new DDM Starter Set. is a resource for independent reviews, interviews, and opinion pertaining to 4th Edition D&D, Pathfinder, 3.5 OGL, and d20 RPGs. I love what Paizo is doing with Pathfinder and will definitely cover Pathfinder with the website. So... What do you want me to cover/review first?

(1) Classic Monsters Revisited
(2) Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path (may need to break this up into separate reviews).
(3) The start of the Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path
(4) Guide to Korvosa
(5) RotRL Item Cards
(6) Harrow Deck
(7) Other Gamemastery Item Decks

Thanks in advance for the feedback.


Here's a simple way to think about power attack... If you have 16 Str & 1-handed, a power attack of 1 makes it 5% less chance to hit, but increases damage by 13.3% (from 7.5 to 8.5). So instead of being superstitious about luck, you would almost always want to power attack 1. If you can only hit on a 19 or 20, then power attack 1 would actually hurt.

Bastard sword proficiency increases damage by d2 which isn't very helpful after say... 4th level.

flip, commoners are not monsters! ;)

According to PRPG Smackdown! Rules.

Characters must be at least 6 feet tall and weigh 250# to be able to wield chairs with deadly precision. Hmmm, rogue & sneak attack?

Dragons are badasses.

It ain't Dungeons & Monsters. It's Dungeons & Dragons. ;)

Realism or gamism? I choose gamism.

I understand your concern and how you could be concerned that Paizo scrapped some new rules rather quickly. I think they scrapped them because they caused too great of differences with 3.5 compatibility and they simply realized those things would not work. Since 3.5 compatibility is one of Paizo's goals, it will be a little veto or override for some ideas.

I agree that people are being armchair designers (myself included). I think that Paizo and Jason will learn to sift through the comments and ideas to come up with a good system. If they don't we still have the fun choice of 3.5 and 4E! So we really can't lose, AND we will still have the Pathfinder Adventure Paths (with Curse of the Crimson Throne being awesome).

While it is exciting and interesting to follow this, don't get too emotionally invested :)

Cool. I don't think a 16 is too high to disarm a wand though. Let's say you have a mid level wizard with a wand of fireball nuking the party, do you want it to be easy for the party to wrest the wand from the sorcerer?

I also think the thief was punished for having a low strength, which thieves should be punished for doing, especially if they use STR as a dump stat. I think you played it just fine. If it was the fighter doing the same thing, he probably would have had to roll only a 12.

CRAP teh internets just ate my windbag response... GRRR. I will condense it down.

Here's your SIMPLE solution.

(1) Ban fabricate. Ban magic item conjuration of wish. Make iron wall temporary, etc, etc.

(2) Gold cannot be used to create magic items. Gemstones have the essense of permanent magic in them. Gemstones or permanent magic items would be included in loot lists (see #4 for caveat).

(3) Permanent magic can be transmuted into different forms. However, the character wanting the item must be of sufficient level if they are taking lesser items and transmuting them into a more powerful item. Gemstones are consumed when using them in this process. You also need an artificer of sufficent level to do the transmutation (for a 10% fee?).

(4) If an encounter is not of sufficient challenge, then permanent magic items and gemstones are not on those loot lists. Also, a note about ecology, if they destroy a horde of orcs, it takes several generations for the orc tribes to grow back to a respectable size, by then the heroes are dead of old age.

(5) Use the 3.5 DMG to create loot lists based on assumed permanent magic at each level (or by 20th level and doling it out incrementally), then loot lists would have a ratio of (a) gemstones and permanent magic items TO (b) mundane items and coins.

I think it is accepted that characters need more power at low levels and high levels and are fine at mid-levels. If the aim is for compatibility with your huge stack of 3.5 books, then it easier to power up low and high levels of a few weaker classes.

Ask yourself this question seriously, "If it IS all about having FUN WITH FRIENDS at the gaming table, then why must the game be HARDER FOR PLAYERS?"

It's a good point, but think of it a different way folks... "An ancient wyrm dragon should be able to do a lot of things in combat." All the fly skill allows is for manueverability so the creature doesn't have to waste as much movement on turning and it allows hover. Ancient dragons are badasses, the PCs shouldn't get tons of free attacks on them because they are large lumbering flyers!

yeah you can't have a masterwork or magical chair. What is the true harm in making them as good as a weapon (with the "use" of a feat)?

If a PC wanted to be chair master, that might break the mood of a game, though. I'm sure that the PC would be laughed at in civilization, until the PC kills the whole town with the chair.

PRPG Smackdown!

Shisumo, I don't have the rules in front of me... The way I read it the first time was that if the smite attack hit, then there was no resistance roll. This would be very helpful against undead that require too high of a traditional turning roll for clerics to affect (like boss undead), AND gives clerics a handy feat to take.

Rob Bastard wrote:
So, unless my primary weapon is light, I'm going to take an extra -2 on my attack roll to use it in my off hand!

The way I read it is that you wouldn't be taking negatives for having a non-light primary weapon, so the feat is an additive for damage and if you are more specialized/trained in the primary weapon it would help out too.

Frank, your own site says that ECL and LA don't work, so why would CR be an appropriate measure for you to use in any discussion?

I did some crazy streamlining stuff with 3.5 and my players didn't like it because (1) I didn't present it to them on paper [they just had character sheets and me as a reference] and (2) I nerfed the flexibility of the arcane classes (the 4e idea of making each spell list different, therefore I restricted choices at each level for each spellcasting class), otherwise it worked. (each wizard and sorcerer level had 12 spells to choose from and they didn't overlap much). I can share these spell lists if it would aid your thought process (though I'm sure you wouldn't go this direction)

Some other feat/ability ideas are:

grappling. the only things that can invoke grappling rules are things with tentacles or stuff that swallows its prey.

feat trees where the player must land a power attack at -3 or -5 in order to get an add-on affect (stripping AC, tripping, disarming), and it is successful (no opposed roll) as long as the attack hits. One roll. Or Combat expertise and a hit to land a trip (and melee damage) or blindness (dirt in the eyes). these would be once per encounter.

I like the idea of CMB because it is one roll. If you take the idea of CMB further then the spellcaster PC should roll when they cast spells to defeat a static saving throw (10+save). One roll and power to the players. PCs would roll to save against spells cast on them though (sounds a little complicated, but still is one roll and power in the player's hands). (Spell DC) If monsters Ref bonus is +5 then you must roll above 15 (additive still being spell level & ability mod).

I like what you did with entangle, web should be about the same. I don't think entangle should be a 1st level spell (even for druids), but then that would hurt compatibility. Haste should be one target (to mirror bestow curse of 3rd level clerics), Mass Haste at 6th level. Fly too powerful at 3rd level, but that affects some adventure writing (and angers long-time wizard lovers). Pett wrote Skinsaw Murders thinking that fly would be handy in the last battle (6th level PCs).

I think the overall sense of streamlining these rules is a bit half-arsed. Maybe the goal isn't to streamline the system, just streamline the rules that folks thought were unmanageable...?

If Mobility now makes there be no AoO for moving through threatened squares, that is a streamlining feat (eliminates tumble checks) and one that players will be motivated to take.

Why not add a feat that allows casters to cast on the defensive automatically (as long as not grappled)? Spellcasters should be able to cast spells... If rogues can sneak attack much more stuff, then spell casters should be able to cast spells more easily. Damage calculations and concentration checks? Heck no.

Look to add feats that streamline the game.

As far as brainstorming, look to the general categories:
Movement, attacks, defenses, magic, maledictions (blindness, etc), buffing, etc.

If combat feats are a class feature, why not make them like class abilities (or PrC abilities)? Also if you are looking to add options to characters so they aren't always doing their full attack...? Feats that: buff an ability score 1/day (duration: encounter), blind an opponent 1/day, damage opponent's AC by 4 for the duration of the encounter. If it hurts an opponent, you would make it contigent on hitting the opponent (maybe with a power attack hit, or with a combat expertise hit). AND to go with streamlining, no saving throws.

David Foster wrote:

Weapon Swap? What the heck?!?!?!?!??! Either it is cheese on a stick or exceptionally poorly worded.

Example: I fight with a bastard sword in one hand and a dagger in the other and, mid-attack, I switch hands so I am essentially attacking with two bastard swords at no penalty!

Think about the prerequisites, what level the character would be getting it AND a character would probably be using a d6 weapon in their offhand. It's similar to the bonus of weapon specialization, whereas weapon specialization provides +2 damage, this would provide at most d4 more damage (if your player wasted a feat [yeah that's right] on bastard sword). At higher level, that is maybe 4d4 more damage, how much does that really matter?

Example: how about you playtest a high level adventure based on these rules? Otherwise I think you've lost perspective.

Seems like you are assuming that the crowd of Paizo fans is in control of this process when in reality it is Paizo that is in control of the process. I DO agree that somehow they need to figure out if a vast majority LIKES something (but just isn't vocal enough of their extreme like) before getting rid of it.

One of Paizo's overriding goals is for 3.5 compatibility. I think they realize that the turning on and off of combat feats and the big difference in learned skills... these things would cause issues with compatibility, so they are changing them. It's good to see that Paizo is agile in this process.

The change to make the core classes have the power of a character with prestige classes and have more consistent power through the life of the character (more power earlier and more power later which is needed by the system). So for compatibility, I think people would be urged to be single class Pathfinder, or use characters with a reasonable PrC build for non-Pathfinder characters.

The use of whips is too damn annoying in play, especially if it was every session. Also, the whip is a ranged weapon and does not threaten...

OK, I'm gonna poo poo everyone and say... THIS IS HOW YOU KEEP PLAYERS FROM MULTICLASSING. Give 'em a big reward at 20th level.

If you prohibit multi-classing, then I like the idea of making it more gradual.

Ummm, looks fine to me. Wow, some folks are overly picky about art. Looks like an ogre with puffy eyebrows. Maybe it is a Shaonti half-orc. Either way, I wouldn't want to get mauled by a pack of goblins!

Thanks folks. I love all the ideas, so I have some decisions to make :)

The party is neutral, and some of the characters are oblivious. The elven wizard does know about it, but has done nothing so far. Convenient, but maybe the elven wizard is corruptable. Besides I'm not going to bully my players into turning each other in... I'll let them do that on their own accord.

Hmmm, perhaps they will order the hit on her hoping that either the property goes up for auction (if Ameiko has no heir) or that they could get a better price from the heir (if Ameiko bothered to create a will). I like it. AND it's the inn where the PCs always stay!

So one of my players is playing as a halfling rogue and he wants to "go evil" and become an assassin. During the Skinsaw Murders part 1, he killed an innocent Scarni lumber mill worker in order to "draw out the serial killer." and the player was trying to use that as a prerequisite of the assassin PrC.

Not so fast my friend! Ain't no assassin's guild in Sandpoint, but there will be a small one in Magnimar. If his character wants to join the guild, he's going to have to kill a character that the PCs like. The main characters they've dealt with are Sheriff Hemlock, Shalelu (the ranger), and Ameiko Kaijitsu (innkeeper).


Ameiko is (?) the current heir of the Glassworks. Before being shut down, was a profitable business in Sandpoint. She also used to be an adventurer. Maybe her past caught up with her?

Shalelu (realizing she appears in a later RotRL, I'll have to check her importance) has been a thorn in the side of local goblin tribes and bandits and highwaymen. Her presense has made the roads safer, maybe a bandit leader wants to get rid of her so his crew can profit.

Hemlock is a turncoat, having abandoned his Shoanti heritage. He is also the head of law & order in Sandpoint (though the PCs have now reached a higher status, of sorts).


My PCs came close. The haunt to throw themselves out a particular window over a cliff was universal and thus affected the whole party. 2 of the characters noticed the haunt and left the room. 2 characters failed the first save and 1 of them was impaled by an certain object (and not killed), and 1 of them had to make a reflex save or start falling (but made the save).

So... close call!

Here's what I did for Shalelu in Part 1... We didn't have the char sheet for the halfling rogue TWF. So I said, "OK, +4 Dex, studded leather, TWF feat, most rogue skills maxed." I basically had my stats for the party rogue.

Shalelu, I didn't have her help out with Thistletop; just had her escort the PCs there. Hmmm, should I have a fight on the way and fudge her stats? Nah!

I decided to Keep It Simple.

Agreed. After they finished the Glass Works, they got 2nd level (and actually had them level at the table). Right after the first part of Thistletop, they advanced (or right before they crossed the bridge). So if you want to advance in town: 2nd after Glassworks, 3rd after Wrath...

Signs that you're rules system stinks or you've released too many extra books with crunch (stats/rules)... YOU RELEASE A BOOK TO EXPLAIN THE RULES!

I used to do a bunch of d20 reviews... Anyways, the quality is very nice, the art works thought there are several different art styles. The adventure is well-written and the dungeons do not seem to be overly long/repetitious. The magic items are cool, and it seems like they are targeting having a certain number of "unique" ones per book. The items don't necessarily have a unique power, but it's a combo of powers. Monsters are cool, fights are cool. Good "feel" to the adventures. The print quality is very high for the size of the adventure.

I agree that some of the pictures are a little too dark AND I love the print quality! I'll be happy when all the Player's Guides arrive and I can hand them to my players and say, "You got homework." :)

I think a mix of flavors is always good as long as everything works together as a whole.

The key is whether or not the players have fun, so it sounds like a win. I guess what could have been done a little different is if the one player is new and is the diplomat then check his alignment and ask him about the morality if he attacks during parley or whatnot, BUT that could crimp on the "fun factor"

the way the creature is written worked fine when I ran it last Saturday. I was not aware creatures could do a full attack while grappling. Something for me to look into.

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