Last Friday I ran a party through level 1 of Thornkeep completely comprised of ACG classes. We used Pathfinder Society rules so we could both get credit as well as have a good baseline to compare against.
Our party consisted of a hunter, shaman, swashbuckler, slayer and warpriest. All players were pretty seasoned with Pathfinder.
Here's a quick breakdown of my perceptions:
hunter - Felt like a ranger. The player chose a wolf animal companion and a melee build. Primarily he used his wolf for flanks and used magic sparingly. He did start using magic more as we went shilelagh and some heals. Having a 0 BAB is a little tough for someone playing as a frontliner. At the same time he had a dex build and was the party scout. I'm not 100% sure what role the hunter was envisioned to play, but the name makes me think of an offensive one.
shaman - Felt like a cleric. I don't really get what's particularly witch -like about this class. Calling their oracle mysteries "hexes" just seems confusing. The shaman took the life mystery and focused on channels and healing. She had a longspear to try and help out in combat, but with a 0 BAB and 10STR wasn't very effective. This class uses WIS/CHA and CON (for life link) so feels a little spread out. They don't get a "hex" until level 2 so really it was a weak cleric with only 1+CHA channels a day.
swashbuckler - Felt like a swashbucker... :) My friend has been trying to make a swashbucker from day one so this was a welcome addition. At level 1 the swashbuckler could make some pretty impressive acrobatic checks using panache and was all over the field. I'd imagine once they get mobility this will be a pretty crazy class for a support fighter. I'm not sure if their damage will scale effectively to be the primary fighter, but they're wherever they need to be at a given time. Climbing up ropes and jumping all around the battlefield.
slayer - Felt like a rogue? Hard to say on this one. They get a mark that gives them some bonuses to attack. I kept getting a 4th edition feel on this character. The player built her as a ranged fighter. Her dice went cold towards the end of the night so I didn't get a lot of insight on what the class could do. I didn't realize she had a 1 BAB because of the rogue vibe the character gave off. Just an assumption on my part.
warpriest - Felt like a warpriest (battle cleric). The player used a great sword and ran around bashing stuff. He used the flexible buff system a few times and while it didn't seem earth shattering I liked it. I'm a fan of the inquisitor and this just seems to be a variation on that. He didn't take any sort of healing ability so focused on some self buffs and smashing things.
My general conclusion is at level 1 most of the hybrids seem to represent one of their 2 parts more strongly. That could be my perception or the way players approach them. With the above list we didn't have anyone who was particularly perceptive or able to do anything about traps. We also didn't have anyone with any knowledge or magical skills. Nobody was particularly awesome at anything except for acrobatics/climb on the part of the swashbuckler. On the other hand, had the feeling of being a pretty well-balanced party. Several people could heal, most people had some ability in combat and the party as a whole was pretty mobile.
I'm super excited to announce that Indiana VC, Tracy Windeknecht, just hit her 4th star. Some two years ago Tracy came along with me to a homebrew Pathfinder game and spent most of the session reading Harry Potter. However, after the game she asked me to help her make her first character, Olga the drunken barbarian. Some 6 months later she took over the reins for Mark Garringer when he stepped down. Now, she's the 3rd person to hit 4-stars in Indiana and is well on her way to hit 5! Congrats to my very special lady!
On a sad note, she failed to kill my totally awesome inquisitor, Keurig, who managed to hit 12th level.
For big dollar items we usually shop our FLGS, so my wife just picked up the Rise of the Runelords case last week as an early Xmas gift to ourselves. However, the store had apparently sold the Rune Giant separately, which is cool or whatever, but it seems that the only way to get it at this point is when you buy an entire case. Is there a way for Paizo to confirm with my local store that we did indeed by an entire case and then let us order the giant? I'm dying for that thing and otherwise we'll only be missing 2 more minis (Lucrecia and the Stone Karzoug statue). I did check with another local game store (also friendly), but other than meeting the guy who bought their giant had no luck.
In all the games I've been in I've seen one hellknight, one winter witch and a synthesist (oh and a martial artist!). For various reasons archetypes and PrCs don't seem overly popular in PFS. The main reason is probably because they give up flexibility for a very situational ability. An archer gives up close-range combat to essentially gain a poor version of trip/disarm.
Generic archetypes aside there are some that seem pretty steeped in the lore and help ground the game in Golarion. I'm thinking of the Swordlord and the Cyphermage just to name two. Unfortunately, the former uses the dueling mechanic which isn't used in PFS and the latter is very reliant on scroll scribing. What are some untapped options out there I can use for a character that might be interesting for the party yet aren't hamstrung in PFS? I still might make by Aldori Swordlord, but he's feat starved and not very useful in a ranged combat.
Specifically I'm looking for how the chase mechanics could/should work. I'm fairly sure I'm running these right or close to right, but talking to other GMs/players it's clear that people are doing whatever they want for the big chase. When I played in this last year as a special event the GM wasn't familiar with the Gamemastery rules for a chase. I'm hoping to clarify everything just a bit since I'll probably run this scenario again.
The basic mechanics -- I prepped my players that the chase used special mechanics and things wouldn't necessarily make sense compared to a normal encounter. Players move through "cards", then perform a skill check (may also be a saving throw or BAB check) to exit the card. All distance is hand-waved at around 30' per card with slower players getting a -2 penalty for every 10' below 30' and +2 for every 10' over 30' speed they possess.
Spells like fly don't automatically "win" a chase, the player still needs to make a climb DC, but would get a +10 bonus. So with a DC15 climb they're generally going to make it, but you sorta rationalize this that it's a chase and they're bobbing and weaving. In a non-Society game I'd probably have them roll a Fly skill instead. Spells like teleport would let them bypass the skill check altogether, but being a chase it's not like they could just teleport to the end unless that was a known location. Also presumably if a challenge is CMB 12 'Force a Door' each player has to force the door. Rationalize as need..maybe the door shuts or just represents that they're not all running the same route and are dealing with different doors.
Where the rules get a little more clunky is the full-round action option. The players are generally already making a move and an action to leave a square so this should probably be called 'tossing the dice' or 'getting the lead out'. This lets the players move ahead "3 cards" by completing both skill checks on the card they're leaving.
(For completion's sake I should mention that failing one roll be <5 results in only moving one card. By failing by more they don't move. By failing both rolls the player loses their next turn.)
So this can be interpreted a ton of ways and basically I did a trial run before running the scenario and we tried a couple variations until it seemed right to us. As written I'd take it to mean you do the 2 challenges in your current card, do the 2 challenges in the next card then you'd land in the 3rd card. The interpretation we went to was you pass the 2 of the initial card you're leaving and land 2 cards later. I had a player afterwards insist you'd land 3 cards later, but that doesn't sound correct.
So here's an example from Midnight Mauler:
Merisiel and Valeros start on the Collapsed Structure with 'Force the Door (CMB DC 12) and Clamber Over (Climb DC 15). Merisiel decided to climb since she's not super strong. Valeros on the other hand is fairly strong and fairly agile so he goes for both. Let's say they both make it.
Merisiel is in the next card 'Overgrown Greenbelt'. By my interpretation Valeros is at the 'Crumbling Bridge' or basically in the same square as the Mauler starts out. There's also some ambiguity if he's just entering the card or if he's at the far end of it.
The next question would be let's say that Valeros manages to pull ahead of the Mauler after a couple rounds. Could he ready an action to tackle the guy as he moves through the card? That'd make sense if the Mauler only moved one card, but if he moved multiple cards he seems to leap ahead. This is also where the abstraction of the card mechanic clashes with the normal rules.