Gregg Helmberger's page

Goblin Squad Member. RPG Superstar 6 Season Star Voter. Organized Play Member. 486 posts. 3 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 Organized Play character.


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Years ago I got into an argument on these forums about whether or not goblins were inherently evil. I said they were, and I was being called a racist and worse before James Jacobs posted to say, "Yes goblins are inherently evil. It says so right in the Bestiatry." He went on to explain that goblins are creatures created by evil supernatural entities with the specific purpose of being evil; that it's not racist because fantasy games need enemies and the idea of inherently evil NONHUMAN races is a core foundational principle of RPGs; and that what was printed in bestiaries were, in fact, RULES like any others. If the description of a creature says it's evil, it's evil.

Funny how unconditional and emphatic statements like that get forgotten when there's money to be made.

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I was originally extremely positive, and as the centuries passed I kept getting more and more positive, but then a coding error led me to get super-negative and now I just threaten to nuke everyone.

Wait, that's Gandhi, sorry. I don't know what my excuse is.

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Wow, there are a lot of responses to this thread, which is...not that surprising, honestly. Admittedly it's a trivial issue on the surface, especially in comparison to all the other substantive reasons why people might be leery of PF2. There are a lot of issues that bulk larger in the whole conception of the game, certainly. But this does have the potential to become a a synecdoche for what a lot of people don't like about PF2, so on that level it's an instructive debate.

One of the things people seem to be objecting to is that the devs are removing the "Pathfinderyness" of the game and moving it dramatically and obviously toward 5e (to name a single competitor), but in a larger sense that's a debate about changing toward other things already on the market instead of standing its ground.

Paizo's goblins were always just about the last humanoid race you could imagine being core because they were completely insane, bloodthirsty, sociopathic pyromaniacs. Now they're just Kender (like Kender weren't annoying enough the first time around). It's taking a point of distinction away and deliberately regressing toward the mean.

It's not like it's surprising though, as this process has been going on since the first publication of Golarion. They already took out the two aspects of Golarion that were the most interesting to me personally. 1) Erastil being a LG chauvinist pig -- that's an awesome idea, a LG god whose views are so retrograde that he actually makes you angry, but he's still a lawful good deity, and 2) the Cult of the Dawnflower and Taldor, which is another great idea -- an aggressive cult of a good deity who does horrific things in the name of spreading the faith. There's a vast amount of story potential around that; in fact, I'd say that was the most interesting point about Golarion. There are many more examples I could cite, but to be honest I stopped paying much attention to Golarion a few years ago. It's useful to remember that Golarion really is a generic fantasy world of the kind we've been seeing since Forgotten Realms at least. At the beginning there were a lot of interesting bits attached to it that differentiated it from the ordinary (paladins of Asmodeus, anyone?), but since publication Paizo has been busily retconning those points out of existence.

Many years ago I read an observation that is really salient to this conversation. My own personal knowledge of this specific topic is limited, far more so than the writer I'm citing (sadly I can't recall his name -- pretty sure it was a man...does that narrow it down?) but it scanned right as confirming things I'd already observed. In essence, a study of the history of RPG publishing shows that the first edition of any game system or game world has a lot of weird, funny angles that mark it out as something unique, something that's very much an idiosyncratic vision. The second edition removes most of those aspects in favor of more generic and common mechanics or flavor. Each succeeding edition goes further down that road. New editions are a relentless march toward the mediocre mean until everything's just an indistinguishable mass with every other game out there. This isn't universal, of course; some games and settings stubbornly maintain their uniqueness. But it's the case with a lot of things, and I think we're receiving a lot of indications that PF2 will be walking that same road. "People like goblins, therefore goblins are core and have an iconic and everything" is highly emblematic of that march to the mean, and I think people are sensing it and rebelling against it.

It is, of course, possible to say that GMs can make any modifications they desire in their individual games, but that ignores the dominant role Golarion plays in the game (development and play alike). Many, many aspects of Pathfinder are explicitly tied to that world, Society on down to APs, and it sounds like Golarion is getting baked in even further going forward. That does limit the game's flexibility and ease of use, especially when the GM has to be eternally vigilant about whether a new feat, trait, spell, class, or whatever is going to blatantly clash with their established world by virtue of being inextricably tied to the default setting. IOW, the more work you need to do to turn the default game into a game you want to play, the less reason there is to pick that game in the first place.

My $0.02. I'll fade back into the woodwork now.

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A couple of thoughts before I fade back into the woodwork:

1. D&D and derivatives do not emulate any fantasy stories ever written EXCEPT those that are directly based on D&D. D&D is wholly its own genre, based on a kludge of ideas cobbled together in harlequin motley from a wide variety of different sources, none of which were in sync with the others. You cannot emulate Conan, Aragorn, Kvothe, Fafhrd, Rhialto, Elric, Roland Deschain, Ali Baba, Jon Snow, Morgan le Fay, Duny, or the Deryni with D&D because, guess what, they and the worlds they inhabit don't work anything like D&D characters or worlds. You can't take expectations from one genre and cram them onto another and expect them to fit.

2. Comparing games to fiction is wildly misleading and wholly irrelevant. In fiction, the author and the director *dictate* what will happen, whereas in games it's dictated by dice or chits or Jenga towers or whatever you crazy kids are using these days for conflict resolution. In the whole history of everything, no character in fiction has ever been injured that an author or director didn't want to be injured, no magic item worked or failed to work in any way that the author or director didn't dictate, and no quest failed or succeeded but that the author or director dictated that it would be so. There is *no* randomness to fiction. So for the love of Jebus please stop demanding that your games should emulate your fiction, because doing so just makes it clear you don't understand how either fiction or games actually work.

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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Gregg Helmberger wrote:

You can't expect people to receive out-of-context snippets of information about something they're excited about/dreading without knowing they're going to immediately engage in rampant speculation about what it means. That's just not how human brains work.

"Here is an isolated piece of information for the thing you're eagerly awaiting three months from now. Make no speculations! Draw no conclusions! Form no opinions! IGNORE ME!" is never, ever gonna fly.

I think though that we should all know well enough:

- the information we are getting is incomplete and lacking context
- extrapolating based on incomplete information is fraught with peril
- this thread is going to still be here (probably) in August

So while it may be some deeper reptile brain impulse to scream "Gamist! Overcomplicated!" or whatever, we can still aspire to be better than that. It is a long time until August, after all.

Aspire to be better than that. Huh. Well, I've yet to encounter a web board that could double as a self-improvement group, but I must concede that it's possible, in theory. As a wise man once said, "In theory, Communism works. IN THEORY."

It must also be conceded that it was always much, much more likely that their strategy would produce exactly the results we now see. Humans are and shall remain human.

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DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Maybe people gotta relax and be patient instead of jumping to conclusions and stating Uninformed opinions with inflammatory language as game design axioms delivered by the gods.

You can't expect people to receive out-of-context snippets of information about something they're excited about/dreading without knowing they're going to immediately engage in rampant speculation about what it means. That's just not how human brains work.

"Here is an isolated piece of information for the thing you're eagerly awaiting three months from now. Make no speculations! Draw no conclusions! Form no opinions! IGNORE ME!" is never, ever gonna fly.

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QuidEst wrote:
Gregg Helmberger wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

Having slept on it, I've come to the conclusion that being mad for five months is a bad idea.

No matter how much people rail about resonance in here, it's going in the playtest, and if actual instances of play don't run into these hypothetical problems anywhere in the playtest then it's probably fine. If those problems show up in the playtest that's when feedback is useful.

That's why the slow drip has been less than helpful. They release an out-of-context snippet and then they're all "settle down, you don't have the big picture" when the community pounces on it like raw meat. It would have been much, much better to hold off on the announcement until a few days prior to the release of the playtest. As it is, people's opinions are becoming firmly entrenched over scraps of information, and firmly-entrenched opinions don't change easily.

Yeah, but they couldn’t do that. It wouldn’t work. They need this much time to do public getting-ready things, like ordering a print run, getting preorders, and informing retailers.

I mean, imagine the boards if this were instead leaked as “Paizo asking gaming stores how many copies of Pathfinder 2 they want.”

Then say, "Hey guys! Big announcement -- we're doing a second edition! We'll tell you more when we're close to the date!" Then a week before the release start dropping the things they're dropping now, one or even two a day. You still lose the "How dare you betray me by doing another edition!!1!eleven!" folks but you were gonna lose them anyway. As it is, people are really getting worked up over fog and smoke.

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PossibleCabbage wrote:

Having slept on it, I've come to the conclusion that being mad for five months is a bad idea.

No matter how much people rail about resonance in here, it's going in the playtest, and if actual instances of play don't run into these hypothetical problems anywhere in the playtest then it's probably fine. If those problems show up in the playtest that's when feedback is useful.

That's why the slow drip has been less than helpful. They release an out-of-context snippet and then they're all "settle down, you don't have the big picture" when the community pounces on it like raw meat. It would have been much, much better to hold off on the announcement until a few days prior to the release of the playtest. As it is, people's opinions are becoming firmly entrenched over scraps of information, and firmly-entrenched opinions don't change easily.

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Planpanther wrote:
Isabelle Lee wrote:

For the record, since someone mentioned "antisocial characters who are good with magic items" earlier: it seems like the easiest design in the world to create a feat to handle this type of character.

Studied Artifice (General Feat)
Lacking the force of will to drive magic items, you've studied their underlying principles and figured out how to make them work.
Benefit: You use your Intelligence modifier in place of your Charisma modifier when determining your available resonance.

That could be an answer. Though I hope its not. I want all classes MAD without SAD work arounds.

How does Resonance help make CHA-based characters MAD? If anything it reinforces their SAD.

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Arssanguinus wrote:
Some things are going to be more useful. Making a limited pool resource governing magic item use is going to restrict rather than enhance the use of anything remotely marginal. It’s practically an inevitability.

Unless the Resonance level is set so high that it literally would only come into play when preventing CLW wand spam, in which case as why have the system at all?

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khadgar567 wrote:

Its your table its your rules as far as i know there is no problem for me and few folks i talked. Hell do we have rules for custom magic items or not if you scared that much from rolling few extra dice and int checks. I am realy sorry for your DM as i can sympathize the headache he or she feels every time you play.

Gee, condescending much? What the heck.

Anyway, after giving this system another night's sleep I'm not 100% opposed. Based on what we know now it's a g-d train wreck, of course, but if the problems are fixed I can see the utility of it.

The main problems I still see are 1) single-use items need to be exempt, 2) something has to be done to make it more likely, not less likely, that people will use cool miscellaneous items (though I think addressing #1 will go a long way toward that), and 3) CHA has suddenly surged from the stat most people dump to another stat EVERYONE has to pump (along with CON and WIS), which is actually worse. Of those, #3 is the only one I see that I don't know how to solve.

blahpers wrote:
Skeld wrote:

I'd much rather see something like diminishing returns from similar wands.

For instance: your first hit from a CLW wand (any CLW wand) heals you for the normal amount. The second is normal -2, then -4, and so on. Use whatever numbers/rate-of-decay balances best. You could even use other cure wands, potions, scrolls, etc., but the increasing penalty would apply to any/all CLW wands.

That was close to my first thought as well, but then we get into just keeping around wands of almost-the-same-thing to get around "similar", or else "similar" ends up nebulously defined, or else developers have to walk on glass whenever they release a new spell for fear of accidentally breaking the wand economy.

I think there will be a lot of working around the Resonance economy though, and it won't just affect spells. We don't yet know how odious that burden will be -- whether it adds a little to the GM's plate or is manifested as a whole new heaping platter. It's going to add *something new* to the GM's consideration when writing or running a game, that's for sure.

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Igwilly wrote:
The whole talk of "I don't want to need any healers!" is what led 4e to such high amounts of non-magical healing, including 100% overnight healing. That's a dangerous path to go.

Fair point. I'm not arguing against healers, though -- I am arguing against every table being obligated to have a healbot. There's a lot of territory between those two points, and I think what most of us are arguing about here is where the sweet spot is.

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John Lynch 106 wrote:
master_marshmallow wrote:
Erik Mona says they break immersion, therefor we all must accept that they break immersion.

who (besides you just now) has ever expressed this sentiment that if Erik Mona says something no-one can question it?

Nice troll and entirely unhelpful post that lessens the discussion.

In the Know Direction podcast, Mona went on at some length about how much he hates -- and I mean hates -- CLW wands. Given the opacity of the devs thus far on the justification for this new system, we're semi-facetiously operating under the assumption that his pet peeve is the only reason for it. Not that we (or at least I) believe that, we're just having a bit of fun.

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thflame wrote:
Hythlodeus wrote:
I don't think it is about 'None of the players wants to play the dedicated healer' but more of, 'We're 13 levels in and the player who played the healer suddenly has to leave the group because of reasons, so, is anyone not invested enough in his character at this point and wants to change? No? Well..."

GM takes over the PC.

GM's too lazy to do that? Then he is going to have to modify future encounters to deal with the lack of a healer.

Too lazy for that? Find a new GM.

This isn't hard.

The GM has enough to do without trying to also do a player's job. It's got nothing to with "lazy" and everything to do with "I'm doing my job over here."

And if I'm running PFS, I can't modify jack OR run a PC. And if I'm running an AP, well, the reason I bought the AP is so the work of balance has been done for me (corner cases aside). If I have to reconceptualize every single encounter because the game demands a healbot and we don't have one then I might as well homebrew the whole darned thing.

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Zonto wrote:

Resonance seems like a weird system to me. I guess I can see where it's coming from, but Pathfinder characters want to kill monsters and take their stuff. Now they just can't use as much of it?

This right here. 3.x went pretty far in the direction of bombarding PCs with magic of all sorts when compared with previous editions, and now that's what players (current players at least) are expecting from the game.

It very well may be that PF2 is an attempt to rebalance the game back toward 1e, where you rarely got magical items and those you did get were determined by luck/the DM and not by how much money the PCs had. If so, well...bravo. That's bold and I would personally like it if it meant dragging the magic mart out into the alley and...disposing of it.

But I suspect (based on nothing more than a hunch) that most PF players don't want to go down that road. From what I've seen (and again, this is IME), most players like the magic mart, they like being festooned with magic items of every description, and they pretty much aren't keen on that changing too much. I am fully prepared to be proven wrong, however.

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And obviously people are right when they say that Resonance makes a healbot more necessary than ever. Unless, that is, we're going to see a 4E-style system of self-healing, or that system as adapted by 5e. Which, you know, they're totally not copying 5e so it can't be that.

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ChibiNyan wrote:

PFS is a thing, where house rules are not allowed. It's pretty important to the devs that this game mode works as desired by them right out of the box. It's also where the CLW Wand issue was seen the most.

To be clear, I was referring to a game rule, not a house rule. If Mona simply can't abide the existence of CLW wands he can make a rule that there are no CLW wands, or any healing wands for that matter. Yes it's illogical and an exception to the way magic is supposed to work for the sake of one man's pet peeve, but Resonance is a much bigger and more intrusive one.

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Matthias W wrote:
I'm not bothered from a simulation perspective, because magic is made up. (You can declare that zone of truth works however you like - it's how societies in the game world respond to its availability that I'm going to question.) Maybe magic just likes people who are likeable; that's certainly how sorcery and UMD work. [snip]

I understand what you're saying, but magic should still have some basic rules it MUST follow if it's to be an actual system rather than a handwave and a "Do whatever you want." You need to say "Magic works like this, and it always works like this" if it's not to become simple fiat. It has to have comprehensible and consistent internal logic, even if its absurd in real world terms.

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KingOfAnything wrote:
That's a really limited view of what charisma represents.

Even if Charisma means other things (which it may or may not -- I've never seen a logical explanation for how it does something other than that that wouldn't logically be better covered by Wisdom), it *still* has the effect of making likable people able to use magic items more often. From an in-game viewpoint, what's the relationship?

Let's define it as "force of personality" instead of likability. It still doesn't explain why a magic item works more often for person with more magnetism than it does for someone else. If a magic item works more often on A than B, why don't spells? Or supernatural abilities? Isn't magic magic? Is the magic that powers items some fundamentally different type of force than the magic that powers spells or supernatural abilities? If so, that opens up a whole other kettle of fish. If not, the spellcasting for everyone, not just bards and sorcerers (of the new core classes) should be contingent upon it, as should supernatural abilities. And items themselves should be variable based on the Charisma of the maker -- after all, Charisma should determine how much magic the maker can infuse into an item.

None of these questions had to be asked before Resonance.

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edduardco wrote:

This is more than just CLW wands, this is also replacing the body slots, and hopefully charged items.

I will also support the idea of exempting single use magic items of Resonance cost

I understand the idea of wanting to get away from the Big 6, but doesn't simply banning stat/save/to hit boosts from items and giving inherent character bonuses already do that? The system in unchained was workable, and if tweaks were needed then tweaks could be made. How in the world is it better, or "more Pathfindery" to make everything you do tally against some score determined by how likable you are?

In thinking about it, it's partially the fact that this system is based on Charisma that's bothering me. There is no logical, in-game explanation for why people who are more fun at parties should be able to use magical items more often. It's strictly a metagame construct to boost the usefulness of a stat that the designers have decided is underutilized.

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ericthecleric wrote:

In the Know Direction interview, Erik Mona revealed that he doesn't like those wands.

I saw that, and it occurred to me that the best solution to that problem, if a solution was deemed necessary for one guy's pet peeve, was to ban wands of CLW. There, problem solved. You don't need to build a whole new system to justify why using them is now suboptimal.

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I genuinely don't get what problem this whole system is trying to solve. Is it *just* that some people on the design team don't like wands of CLW? Because there are many, many, many better and simpler solutions for that.

Is it that the design team wants to drastically limit the number of magic items that players can use? If so, why? Isn't the magic mart a core assumption of making effective characters in 3.x? Even if you don't need the Big 6 (and I applaud that idea, but that problem was fixed with Unchained) then this is still building an intrusive superstructure that never existed before to solve a relatively simple problem.

Besides, hasn't D&D always had as a significant goal the accumulation and use of magic items? Why limit that like this?

And if the idea is to make Charisma vital...well...why? If you're trying to streamline the system and you discover that a given stat is nigh-useless, then surely the logical reaction is to eliminate the stat, not create a bunch of new things that rely on the stat. Even barring that, why is it a bad thing that some stats are more useful than others? Is it such a bad thing that Charisma only gets pumped if you want to be charismatic?

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Threeshades wrote:
RumpinRufus wrote:
Cheeto Sam, Esquire wrote:
Nothing is more unheroic than sitting around for a minute or more after combat poking everyone with a clw wand.
Leaving the townsfolk trapped in a cultist-controlled cathedral while you go back to the inn for a night's sleep is significantly less heroic than sitting around for a minute or more after combat poking everyone with a clw wand.
I doubt that is the default solution people will opt for now. After all the wand-spam is a tool to help in fulfilling the quest. Going back to town for a nights rest is basically abandoning the quest. I doubt people will have that little interest in completing their task/continuing the story.

Seriously? "I'm slightly scuffed, I'm not moving another foot until I get healing" is a common sentiment at every Pathfinder table I've played at, from home games to PFS, as is "Rushing in when we're depleted will just get us all killed. We need to wait until tomorrow so we can get our spells/abilities back." The system doesn't encourage the kind of boldness you're talking about, and it never will as long as the last fight is the always the hardest and most taxing fight.

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Albatoonoe wrote:
Gregg Helmberger wrote:
A caution I would throw up about the advancement system is that it would require a much more finely-tuned and accurate system of calculating CR than the current system, which IME provides only a very, very rough (and frequently very misleading) approximation of the actual difficulty of any given encounter. If you're pulling XP out of individual monsters and other encounter elements and putting it all on CR, the means of calculating CR better be *precise.*
I'm not sure it needs to be SO precise. With the simplification of exp, you can easily adjust bonuses if the fight turned out way too easy or hard. If a fight is more difficult than you anticipate, based on cr, you can simply adjust the experience gain accordingly.

Adjusting XP gain doesn't help if the PCs are dead, which is an all-too-frequent result of "going by CR." For example, if you want to have some malicious fun, pit a mosquito swarm against the average first-level party. It's only CR+2, but count the corpses it will leave in its wake! Whee!

Of course an *experienced* GM can adjust encounter difficulty on the fly, but the main point of PF2 (all protestations from Paizo aside) is to attract new customers. If the wacky, imprecise, and unpredictable CR system is used as the basis for encounters, then there will be a lot of player frustration and a lot of newcomers dipping their toes into PF2 and nothing more.

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A caution I would throw up about the advancement system is that it would require a much more finely-tuned and accurate system of calculating CR than the current system, which IME provides only a very, very rough (and frequently very misleading) approximation of the actual difficulty of any given encounter. If you're pulling XP out of individual monsters and other encounter elements and putting it all on CR, the means of calculating CR better be *precise.*

Daniel 005 wrote:
Any idea what this means for the Pawn line. I don't mind a new book, but I want my 1,000s of pawns to still match up. I am hoping you are just planing on releasing revised versions of the bestiaries.

I wouldn't worry about that. D&D/PF has been reusing the same monsters since the Little Brown Book days. There will still be orcs, kobolds, trolls, giants, unicorns, etc. The art will change of course, but the monsters will remain the same.

Listening to the podcast gives several examples of skill checks, and I'm strongly disliking what I'm seeing. The problems I have with them just from this example are:

1. Which skills one has appears to be subject mostly to background, ancestry, and class, limiting player choice -- I want to be able to grab skills at many points during the course of play.
2. Skill rankings appear to be very much in the 5e style, i.e. based solely on proficiency, level and characteristic, independent of player choice. This is a deeply, deeply unfortunate choice. It was a deal-breaker for me in 5e and it's a deal-breaker here.
3. The above two factors combined mean a far more rigid and far less interesting skill system.

I'm not entirely sure what the point of these changes are and how the devs perceive this to A) eliminate a problem in 1E, or B) constitute a substantive improvement over 1E. I'm hoping a dev could stop by and give some rationale for this, as right now it looks like A) change for the sake of change, and B) an active step toward a less customizable and less interesting skill system.

Thanks for your consideration.

Milo v3 wrote:

Instead of having to deal with mechanics I don't like that get included because of Golarion, it's faster for me to just use a system which isn't tied to a setting.

This exactly. There are plenty of good systems out there that are perfectly setting-agnostic. Using one of those means I don't have to adapt myself to Golarion assumptions or risk some unforeseen mechanical difficulty by stripping something out that some other thing depends on.

If it's a race or a class that's tied into Golarion and I don't like it, I can snip it it out. If I don't like the flavor text around something I can change it. As noted, this is something most of us have been doing for years.

What I worry about is that certain *mechanics* might be tied into Golarion in some manner we can't currently foresee. When you start excising or altering mechanics that have been designed to fit together in a certain way and in a specific setting, you change things downstream, pretty much always, and it's usually very difficult, or even impossible, to understand those knock-on effects before you tinker.

I have no idea if this will be the case or not. If the fluff of the game is tied to Golarion but the mechanics are agnostic, all well and good. If the mechanics are tied to Golarion, then it's not good at all.

I agree. Inclusion of setting in rules works my last nerve. I've never seen a published setting that I liked nearly as well as my own.

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Damn, you don't look at a forum for like three years and the whole layout changes...

Speaking of which, change! As someone who's been saying for five years that it was time for a new edition that moved things away from 3.5 assumptions, I'm glad. I'm glad for Paizo more than for me, because I don't like the sound of most of the changes being bruited, but hey you can't have everything.

An awful lot of the things described here do sound *a lot* like 5e, despite the protestations of staff that, no, really, they're totes different! In fact, when I read through the blog post I actually checked the date because I thought it was an April Fool's joke. I get why they're doing it: in terms of sales 5e is eating Pathfinder's lunch right now, new players are virtually all going to 5e, and 5 has damned near 100% of the flashy online visibilty.

Unfortunately, I'm not a fan of 5e, so those changes don't get my motor running like, at all. And that's the risk of a new edition -- you always lose a few people along the way.

But the fact that I may not like the direction things look to be moving is irrelevant: Paizo had to change Pathfinder. It had to put out a new edition or D&D would swallow it like a shark swallows a minnow. The market is moving decisively away from Pathfinder and the only way to turn a portion of it back is through reinvention. Businesses do it all the time -- also like a shark, a company has to move forward or it dies.

And I hate to break it to all the oldtimers like me who are complaining that Paizo is being terribly cruel in invalidating the massive bookshelf you've built up over the past 18 years of this game's life, but the truth is *we don't matter.* A single newcomer matters more than any five of us, because the newcomer will buy all the books and tell his or her friends about this awesome game and then the friends will buy the books -- us grogs just can't match that economic impact. Every book we already own is a book Paizo can't sell to us again, it's as simple as that. And moan about "cash grabs" and "betrayals" all you want, but the collective goodwill of everyone who owns all their products is worth less to Paizo's bottom line than a few thousand people who are willing to buy it all again.

The tempest that is this forum reminds me of the customer survey cards that the big wargame companies Avalon Hill and SPI used to put into all their games. People who bought the games filled them out and sent them back saying what they wanted in games. Thing is, only the diehard grogs ever filled them in, so Avalon Hill and SPI were only hearing from the people who wanted bigger boards, more pieces, more rules, more complexity. Naturally they listened the feedback and kept churning out harder and harder games, which kept the grogs happy and drove off everyone else. And guess what? Avalon Hill is now a brand owned by Hasbro and SPI is, well, nothing as far as I know. I'm not saying there's a direct correlation between AH/SPI and the groaning shelves of rules and splats accrued over the past 18 years...but it was aliens.

A smart company listens to its diehard customers, sure, but never at the expense of attracting new ones. So shine on, Paizo. I hope the new edition is a rousing success. I'll take a look for sure, even if I don't push beyond the core book. Here's hoping you can steal Hasbro's thunder a second time.

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UnArcaneElection wrote:

I think by the time Earth becomes like Athas, Paizo will have come out with a couple of new editions of Pathfinder.

There's going to be two new editions of Pathfinder by 2020? :-)

Standing pat isn't an option. Well, it *is* an option, obviously -- I use a rhetorical device when I claim it's not. You get the point. Standing pat means you keep going as is, issuing more and more new doodads and gewgaws on an already too-fussy system, watching CRB sales decline, watching players drift away. It means stagnation and decay.

People say they just want the basics cleaned up. What does that mean? A new CRB? A new APG? UM and UC? Campaign setting material? Bestiaries, to bring them in line with the new rules? Once you've done that, what's the difference between that and a new edition as far as the money you've spent? And it's not like they aren't putting out updated setting books (Cheliax and Andoran for sure, and I don't even pay attention to that line anymore so there may be more for all I know), so subscribers and completists have already bought the same material twice. It's not like there's no precedent.

Insisting on backwards compatibility is insisting nothing of significance change. That's why we're still dealing with the martial/caster disparity (and for the record I like Vancian magic in D&D, there's just got to be a better way to implement it than we've got). For Pathfinder, backwards compatibility between a first and potential second edition means backwards compatibility to D&D 3.5, because Pathfinder was designed to be compatible with 3.5. In other words, demanding backward compatibility is demanding all new products be fully compatible with 10+ year old products produced by competitors. That's not reasonable, and it's not a way to keep a favorite game growing and vital -- Paizo makes no money off those old products. They make money off selling things now, today, things that they produce.

And Starfinder? Yeah, I have no intention of ever even looking at a Starfinder book because it holds as much appeal for me as an RPG about baking. If I'm playing a D&D-offshoot, I want it to be a D&D-offshoot, not some sci fi Frankenstein's monster. And I refuse to even consider the possibility that fewer customers would be lost by expecting them to buy Starfinder in order to cobble together a fantasy campaign than by a second edition of Pathfinder.

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knightnday wrote:

Just because 5E or 4E or another game system entirely exists or was updated or some people have moved to it because they believe it fixes some problems doesn't mean that Paizo needs to suddenly ditch everything to somehow keep up with the Joneses.

But when your revenue starts contracting because you're moving fewer units (and ask any FLGS if that's what's happening to Pathfinder) then you DO have to make a change. No market stays static, and companies either adapt or die.

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Milo v3 wrote:

I mean, even though I know I might not buy another Paizo book because of how they are currently handling things, it doesn't mean that they should stop making the current edition. I am but one jerk on the internet, just because I dislike what they are currently doing doesn't mean they should listen to me and do a severe change.

Pathfinder's numbers are down and 5E is the new 800-pound gorilla. I know a lot of people who've switched from Pathfinder to 5E, partially because it's the new thing (and the new thing always has attraction) and partially because it does actually provide a different experience at the table.

So it's not just one clown on the internet (or two clowns, since I want it too). It's a lot of people who are silently dropping away and moving their money to other products without bothering to come to this forum and tell the world about it. And as long as Pathfinder continues without a shakeup significant enough to pull attention back to it, that trend will continue and maybe even accelerate.

It's not a case of "don't rock the boat because it's winning the regatta," not anymore. There's a new big kid on the playground and you can't beat him doing the same things you were doing before he showed up.

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A while ago I reached the point where I'd bought enough Paizo rulebooks. In fact, I know exactly when it happened: when the Occult Adventures playtest hit and I looked at those classes. It seemed like every single one of them had some new subsystem I had to learn just to know how to play it, and I discovered that I had no interest in doing that anymore. And Ultimate Intrigue was just a joke to me when I looked at the Vigilante -- why would I ever bother to learn that class?

This is not to say that the OA classes or the Vigilante classes are bad classes -- heck, maybe they're the greatest classes ever committed to paper. I wouldn't know because I JUST DON'T CARE ANYMORE. I have reached saturation point and I am not willing to absorb anything new in this system.

Pathfnder is a chassis that has had enough things bolted onto it that it's gotten simultaneously boring and irritating. In other words, we've passed the point where expansion tips over into bloat. Bloat bloat bloat. Bloaty McBloatface. And the solution to bloat isn't more bloat.

This is well illustrated by my reaction to the Patghfinder Unchained facelifts: the fighter was boring, but adding a whole bunch of fiddly bits to it just made it boring and fiddly; the rogue was dependent on suicidal sneak attacks, and adding a bunch of fiddly bits to it just made it suicidal and fiddly; the summoner was a one-man army, but putting his troops into uniforms just meant it was a regular one-man army instead of a guerilla force. The problem was the core design of these classes, not that their purse clashed with their heels.

Meanwhile, casters are still lame at low levels and broken at high levels, martials still face the problem of declining returns, and whole thing was innovative 16 years ago but isn't getting any younger. A lot of great ideas have been introduced into RPGs in the last 16 years, but Pathfinder necessarily ignores them all. Pathfinder came about as part of the same reaction that produced the OSR retro-clones, but ironically Pathfinder itself is now retro.

But you know what would flip that on its head? A new edition that tips over the Etch-a-Sketch and goes in a new direction -- a Paizo direction, not a holdover from the WotC direction. Let Paizo show what it can do when it unshackles itself from ancient assumptions and questions everything. Let's see if it can solve the questions that have bedeviled D&D since its inception. This doesn't have to cut completely from whole cloth the way 4E did -- 5E proved you can still come up with a new game that feels like D&D. I bet Paizo could do just as well if it tried.

It would at least make me interested enough to buy a few new books.

If you could punch anyone in Golarion in the face and get away with it, who would you punch?

Hey, a few questions.

1. How successful was the Shattered Star AP, commercially and (in your opinion) from a game standpoint?

2. What are the current chances of seeing a Darklands-focused AP? Personally I'd love it, but it would obviously he aimed at a segment of your market.

3. Would being set wholly in the Darklands be enough to qualify an AP as "experimental" in the experimental/traditional track?

4. What one or two AP books would you most like to "have back," i.e. take another crack at, for whatever reason? For me the campaign-breaker so far has been the third book of Serpent Skull (literally, it killed my group's SS campaign) so hopefully that would be one!

5. How successful was the Reign of Winter AP, commercially and (in your opinion) from a game standpoint?

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With Emerald Spire (and Shattered Star, I suppose) in the rearview, what's the corporate outlook on the commercial viability of the megadungeon, either as an AP or a stand-alone" superproduct a la Goodman Games' Castle Whiterock or Necromancer's Rappan Athuk?

Specifically, what are the odds of a true "megadungeon" AP? It seems to me that dungeons are XP-intensive settings, so keeping the level progression right with the book structure could prove a challenge.

Also, would you consider something like Kickstarter to enable you to hire the freelancers for a huge megadungeon like the two above-mentioned products?

Unfortunately those sheets are designed terribly -- they spread out necessary information over four pages in a weird and illogical manner. The player in question used it for an inquisitor for one session, then gave up in frustration and found a different sheet!

Does anyone know of a good character sheet specifically designed for the Warpriest? One of my players is going to be rolling one up and she'd like a sheet that condenses all the relevant information onto a couple of pages or three. Any help would be appreciated.

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We're almost at the end of Book 4, but the standout moment of the campaign so far came all the way back in the second session:

The party had routed the goblins in their attack on the town, and in investigating the corpses of the attackers, they noticed that some of the goblin gear seemed to have been salvaged from the town's own garbage. Two characters, an irresponsible rogue and a dissolute and slightly mad ranger, got very drunk, failed to drink the hagfish water, and decided that the fact that the goblins were scavenging trash was a Highly Significant Clue. Therefore they wandered over to Junker's Edge and tried to climb down to inspect the dump.

The rogue made his roll with aplomb, despite the penalty for drunkenness, and made it to the ground.

The ranger, however, rolled a natural 1 for a total of about 5; he also made it to the ground, but only by means of losing his grasp on the cliff face, pinwheeling down the rocks, and landing in the surf at something like -6 hp. The rogue hauled him out of the surf but was faced with a rising tide that threatened to drown them both. I had the ranger's player make a d20 roll as a Luck Roll (thank you, Call of Cthulhu!) and he rolled a 1. Just as he was staring up the cliff, trying to figure out how to haul an unconscious 220-lb man up them, the Gorvi boys begin tossing the detritus of the previous day's celebration over the cliff...

The ranger's player is long gone from the campaign, but we who remain often look back in amusement. :-D

Slithery D wrote:
Previous discussion thread on this subject here.

Excellent, that's just the sort of thing I was looking for. Thanks!

The text of Improved Familiar states, "You may choose a familiar with an alignment up to one step away on each alignment axis (lawful through chaotic, good through evil)." On its face, this seems to mean that a True Neutral wizard/witch/whatever could have a familiar of any alignment, since even the extreme alignments (Lawful Good, Chaotic Evil, etc.) are no more than one step away from True Neutral on each axis (i.e. one ethics step from neutral to lawful, one morals step from neutral to good). Or am I reading this wrong?

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I'm going to be running this in an online format (Google Hangouts/rolld20) and, crucially, in short sessions (2-1/2 hours) every two weeks, so I want something quick and clean even for long battles. I'd love to run it in GURPS because that has exactly the gritty combat feel I'd enjoy implementing, but it's way too crunchy for what I can do in this format.

I picked up Legend (for one American dollar, no less) and it looks like it will serve. Pretty much anything BRP-based runs smoothly, and I think it will do what I need it to do. Plus there's so much support for it out there, given that I can yank anything RuneQuest into it.

So thanks everyone who participated in this thread. I really appreciate all the advice.

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Matt Thomason wrote:
Gregg Helmberger wrote:

Oddly, one of the systems I'm strongly considering is BRP, and classic Runequest was the progenitor of that. I haven't seen the latest Runequest rules -- are the BRP-derived, or something else?

From what I understand, RQ6 is by the same authors as Mongoose's RuneQuest II, which in turn was the successor to Mongoose's RuneQuest which was heavily BRP-derived and licensed from and built atop the previous RuneQuest edition.

Another option would be to pick up RQII's successor at Mongoose, Legend (currently only $1 from DTRPG) - which was basically a rebadged RQII with the Glorantha stuff stripped off as they lost the license.

I just picked up Legend (because $1) so I will give it a look. It's backwards-compatible with all Runequest II products too, so it would have a lot of support. I'll take a peek at it and see what it's like.

Charlie D. wrote:
Torchbearer. Crazy awesome dungeon crawling. Check out the GM's screen

OK, that DM screen is awesome. :-D I don't think I'd ever use it, though, because this will be a Google Hangouts/Rolld20 game. Too bad, because I think my players would get a giggle out of it.

Charlie D. wrote:
D&D 5E. You can see basic character creation for free next month and a full set of basic rules for free in the middle of August. If you buy a PDF of a D&D Next adventure you can get the playtest rules with it right now.

I was thinking about that. I wasn't too impressed during the playtest, but I was looking at it for what it was trying to be: a Pathfinder slayer. It comes up short in that regard, but it there's potential for this application.

Charlie D. wrote:

Runequest 6. One book, all the rules. Has dwarves, elves, halflings. And for RQ 6 is "RuneQuest: Classic Fantasy

Rod Leary's excellent guide to traditional dungeon crawling, evoking the halcyon days of fantasy roleplaying's origins, comes to RuneQuest. Rod is adapting his Classic Fantasy rules (first published as an acclaimed BRP monograph) exclusively for RuneQuest 6th edition. This isn't a supplement - it's a complete game specifically tailored to recreating that original dungeoneering experience. Rod's hard at work on the manuscript, and we are anticipating a late 2014/early 2015 release."

Oddly, one of the systems I'm strongly considering is BRP, and classic Runequest was the progenitor of that. I haven't seen the latest Runequest rules -- are the BRP-derived, or something else?

Charlie D. wrote:
Fantasy Hero Complete.

I was a Hero player for many years before Pathfinder drew me back to D&D. I enjoyed it a lot, but it doesn't have a learning curve, it's got a learning cliff. Once you learn how the whole system works, it's dead easy to play and run, but until you do the whole thing seems random and confusing. Plus I kind of had a falling-out with the guys who ran the company...

Charlie D. wrote:
Dungeon World.

I looked at this one but it's too story-gamer for what I'm looking at. I don't mind story games, but I don't want to dungeon with one.

Charlie D. wrote:
HARP Fantasy.

I confess I know nothing whatsoever about this.

Charlie D. wrote:
Dungeon Crawl Classics. Not a retro-clone in my opinion and has great adventure support. Can't wait for my boxed set at the end of the year.

This one falls into retro-clone for me, though the adventure support is fantastic (if a tad uneven).

13th Age certainly sounds interesting. Is the system inextricably tied to the setting?

I'm thinking of putting together a megadungeon-type setting, but I'm not sure what system to use. I love Pathfinder, but combats can take a long time and creating replacement characters (and face it, in a proper megadungeon you're going to need replacement characters) can be problematic at middle levels and up, given the amount of time it takes to craft one and the amount of time it takes to learn to play what you've just crafted. Therefore, I'm looking for something else.

What I want:
* A system with some degree of customizability in characters to allow for, if not system mastery in the 3.x sense, at least some player creativity and choice in character design
* A character creation system that can generate mid-level and up characters efficiently
* A combat system that's got some options beyond "I attack" but is faster than Pathfinder
* A reasonable buy-in cost, since I don't want to spend $300 on books imported from Estonia or someplace (no offense intended to Estonians, I could just as well have chosen Latvia for this example :-D )
* A more-or-less typical fantasy setting; while I'm sure Numenera is great, it's not what I'm looking for

What I do not want:
* A retro-clone; I played the old D&D when it was new and I am under no illusion that it was better than newer incarnations
* Savage Worlds; IME the system isn't robust enough to support a lengthy campaign

What I don't care about one way or the other:
* A d20 system; fine if I have it, fine if I don't
* A point-buy system; ditto

So, does the system I'm describing even exist? Any ideas?

Cthulhudrew wrote:

How about: To Slay A God?

The AP would consist of the PCs gradually building up to finally destroying Rovagug once and for all. They'd do it piecemeal- destroying enclaves of cultists, artifacts and relics sacred to Rovagug; eventually destroying his remaining spawn. Then, when he's at his weakest, they'd go into the Pit of Gormuz itself and finally eliminate Rovagug in an epic confrontation.

(Among other things that could be done with this AP, we might finally get more info on Casmaron.)

Seeing as how a coalition of all the gods couldn't pull that off, I think that's far beyond the scope of what PCs can be expected to accomplish.

However, setting the same sights lower, what about, say, Achaekek? He's a legitimate deity, yes, but a minor one, and removing him could set the stage for the matriculation of a far more interesting and dynamic figure into the role of patron of assassins and thieves: Nocticula.

Because, frankly, Achaekek is boring and his assassins turning into giant insects is more silly than intimidating.

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