I'm all for a 3 chapter AP. I'd wager only a small fraction of APs are ever completed by the people who buy them. But practical utility at the table matters less in RPG publishing than the collectors and readers segments of the market. Presumably, catering to those who enjoy reading an epic level 1-20 story makes better business sense than creating material for the typical gaming group that can manage maybe 15 or 25 sessions before a campaign fizzles out.
As for just cutting an existing AP in half, the whole point of APs is that they're a coherent story that build to a long-anticipated conclusion. They aren't just a bunch or adventures jammed together (or at least they shouldn't be). So revising a full AP to conclude the campaign at level 9 would take significant changes to the whole and to all sorts of details in each chapter.
Only a fraction of campaigns make it to level 10, let alone level 20. With even an incredibly popular AP like RotRL, the great majority of discussion on the forums is about the first two chapters. Which is why the insistence on the level 1-20 campaign as the default has always puzzled me. Why is the default something only a fraction of groups will ever play to completion?
APs are Paizo's bread and butter, and from what I understand half the people who buy them don't actively play an RPG. So I suppose for that share of the market, whether the campaign will be played to completion is irrelevant.
My sense is adventure paths were crucial to the early and continued success of Pathfinder. From the outset of the company, Paizo's core expertise is adventure and campaign design. A lot of people play Pathfinder in order to play those APs.
It would have been nice if PF2 led with a gang-busters hit AP like Rise of the Runelords, or Crimson Throne. That doesn't seem to be the case - reviews and actual play activity of Age of Ashes are lukewarm. Paizo need one of the next two APs to be a popular hit - the kind of campaign that generates buzz beyond core Pathfinder supporters.
Jürgen Hubert wrote:
I don't see anywhere that shows what's actually included in the Black Friday sale. But since all of the PDFs (mainly 1E AP books) in my cart show at full price, I'm assuming there's no PDF sale.
Thanks for all the feedback.
I've never used CR, EL, encounter-building guidelines, or any of that stuff - just eyeballed encounters and let them play out. I'm not a RAW guy, and my players are cool with that, so we'll have to see if any this stuff presents problem. I'm not sure where the +6 levels thing came from, as I was just commenting on how our groups have typically handled retreating when a combat goes south.
The Perception thing does have me concerned, though. Scouting and stealth have been such a core element of our play for 30+ years that facing every combat as a kick-in-the-door toe-to-toe combat will be major paradigm shift. The notion that higher monster level always means harder to sneak up on seems weird to me. Intuitively, a stealthy PC should be able to sneak up on most monsters, unless there's reason for that particular monster type to be unusually perceptive or vigilant. The reason my players often pick Rogueish PCs is for the sneaking.
Web, grease, obscuring mist, slow, hold portal. Spiking doors. Often just retreating into a 10' wide passage is enough to enable the PCs to focus fire, and for the slower or weaker PCs to book it while one or two PCs cover the retreat for a couple rounds then follow with invisibility, a potion of speed, etc. Our party size is typically 4-6 PCs and allies, which helps. Foes often won't pursue if they run the risk of death themselves. In older editions rope trick was a godsend for escape and evasion.
I'm new around here, but is old-school play really that foreign to Pathfinder? Am I going to find PF2 doesn't support that style of play?
They might take a couple devastating hits in the first round or two, and fail to hit themselves even though they roll high. Or a PC gets knocked down to 4 HP, or below 0. If you don't operate under the assumption that all fights are calibrated to be balanced, then you're going to be re-appraising the situation as matter of habit.
Then it's: "Marines, it's time to leave!" A tactical retreat can be difficult to pull off. But if you know retreat is always on the table (it happens once every session or two in our games), then you prepare for it. You have SOPs to pull back and provide cover. You have always items and spells in reserve that aid retreat. It becomes a tactical game problem like any other.
And that's not even getting into avoiding encounters in the first place through scouting and stealth. Our groups always, always, always scout ahead. Which also enables you to turn the table on powerful enemies by luring them into a trap and fighting on prepared ground of your choosing.
A superficially hostile DM vs player attitude can be a lot of fun. Ever listen to the Glass Cannon Podcast? Troy isn't the only DM who spices up the play at his table with a villainous, goading attitude. YMMV of course.
I do a lot of playing in sandbox environments. Players know up-front that some of the stuff they can run into is way out of their league. And no, I'm not obliged to telegraph the specific cases where it is out of their league.
Basically, my campaigns do not operate on the assumption of a carefully calibrated sequences of encounters that the PCs can expect to be fair and balanced fights. Scouting, evasion, and retreat are crucial skills, and will be required often.
That approach to the game isn't for everybody, but it works for us.
Does that apply to dungons in PF1 adventure paths as well? Is the 15 or so combat encounters in the Thistletop dungeon in RotRL, for example, a TPK waiting to happen? Do I need to substantially reduce the number of encounters in dungeons when I convert RotRL to PF2?
I think you're reading a tone into the remark that wasn't intended. I take "players need to learn" in the same tone as:
You got to know when to hold 'em
It's not badwrongfun for a DM to include encounters that the PCs should not expect to win in a toe-to-toe throw down. That they're meant to trick, ambush, avoid, evade, or talk their way out of.
I'm considering a mashup of RotRL and Shattered Star for my first PF2 campaign. I expect it will mostly be a case of swapping out monsters in the adventures for their PF2 equivalent.
I haven't purchased the Shattered Star adventures yet, but from what I gather there are a lot of unusual monsters that aren't found in the PF2 Bestiary. Much more than in RotRL (which I do own).
Can anyone give me a sense of what proportion of monsters in Doomsday Door, for instance, are found in the PF2 Bestiary? I'm okay with swapping out one-third of the encounters for different monsters. But if it's more like two-thirds, it's probably not worth the effort.
Is this adventure workable as a standalone (maybe along with House of the Beast)?
I'm planning to introduce my players to Pathfinder with a wide-ranging campaign built on the premise of explorers in the Pathfinder Society. Not an AP. Not a complex, involved story. Just exploration and Pathfinder missions across Golarion.
The idea is to use some Pathfinder Society adventures, some AP chapters , and some homebrew content.
Just wondering if there's sufficient content in this chapter that would be useful for that kind of campaign.
Looking at the list of authors for the APs over time, they had a stable of several experienced adventure developers (Jacobs, Baur, Sutter, Schneider, Vaughan) for much of the early and mid period. The more recent APs feature a lot of new - and presumably less experienced - developers.
It could be a matter of new developers taking a few adventures to get their sea legs under them. Or the new stable of writers have different notions of what makes for a compelling adventure.
This is the best rule book for a complex RPG that ever I've seen.
From the clarity of the writing, to the consistent use of terms and processes, to fonts and headings, to the page design and layout - it all works together to present a large amount of complex material in an accessible and engaging manner. As an instructional design professional, I understand how hard this is to achieve. Kudos to the team (and it takes a team) for pulling this off.
In the preview of Age of Ashes on Youtube, James mentioned that he starts each AP with a 32 page summary that is distributed to the writers of the various chapters.
Is there any chance those summaries could be made available post-release? They'd make for a handy aid for GMs running the AP, and would also be useful as a template or example for GMs creating their own campaigns.
Not every morality is American, Christian, puritanical, and prohibitionist.
And I'd add "early 21st century" to that list. Even going back to the mid-20th century, a lot of courageous, admired men who did stuff like win WW2 would be regarded as alcoholics today. Winston Churchill for one. And probably a non-negligible number of guys who won the Victoria Cross, Medal of Honor, etc. In many social milieus of that era, daily inebriation was common. And yet, people behaved in ways we would regard as lawful and good.
I've been thinking about the weird correlation between high-lethality settings and high-level content.
You would think that in a game style where PCs die a lot, reaching high level - or even mid level (6-8) - would be rare. If half of PCs die before level 4, and then attrition in the mid-levels is about 10 per cent per level, only a very small fraction of PCs would reach 10th or higher. A 12th level character has beaten extraordinary odds, and left a half-dozen or so fallen PCs per player behind him.
Given this fairly straightforward statistical reality, wouldn't most of the content in a highly-lethal campaign be geared towards low to mid-level play, as those are the levels the group would spend the greater part of its time at?
With respect to RA, if the 10th level and beyond of the dungeon represents the narrow peak of a pyramid of playing time, where's the broad base of content to support the time and advancement necessary to reach the peak? I know RA is based on a real campaign by Bill Webb. Does he have binders of content for the low to mid-level play that supported RA?
In my D&D group, going on for 30+ years now, we also have high body counts. Making it to 5th level is an achievement. There's a greater than 50/50 chance of a TPK at some point in levels 1-6, and a non-negligible chance of one at each level thereafter. So the great bulk of content I've used - published material and home-brewed - has been for levels 1-6. Even when we were kids playing D&D three times a week, it took us three years to get a party high enough level to tackle the G-series.
So I guess I'm trying to square the circle of lethal gameplay and a disproportionate amount of high-level content.
Erik Freund wrote:
Thanks Erik. That's exactly what I was looking for.
I have the original RA1, and I'm thinking of picking up the big PF book. I intend to use it in conjunction with Slumbering Tsar, so at this point I'm mostly interested in the low-level (1-6) content of the new RA.
* What new dungeon content is there for levels 1-6? I understand the Mouth and Gullet are new, as well as the Cloister. Are they solid dungeons? Are they distinct in layout and feel from the main dungeon? Worth running themselves, even if not as a precursor to the whole enchilada?
* How is the expanded wilderness content for low-level PCs? I have the old free PDF of the wilderness area, and it has a lot of interesting and dynamic encounters sketched out, but few maps or details. How much is this fleshed out in the new book?
* How is Zelkor's Ferry as a home base? Is it a beleaguered village that good-aligned PCs will want to protect, or more of a hive of lawless villainy? Are there resources enough to use it as a home base, or will the PCs still have to based out of a bigger city?
Ultimately, I'm trying to decide if the level 1-6 content of RA will be a better springboard for Slumbering Tsar than the Tomb of Abysthor - a dungeon I really like, but I'm not sure if there's enough variety there to keep my players happy for six levels of play.
The trouble I have with Golarian and Pathfinder Adventure Paths isn't so much the tech level, as the modern sensibilities. When things like teenage runaways, single moms studying to go to college, asylums, modern attitudes towards colonialisms, etc. get mixed up in my fantasy games, I lose pretty much all sense of immersion. I'm not transported to another time. It's basically early 21st-century North America with fancy clothes and lots of spells.
I understand that Paizo is only following wider trends in pop and geek culture. As fantasy has become more popular, it has become more palatable to modern sensibilities by straining out any rough, primitive, or strange attitudes. But that's not my fantasy. When I'm playing (or reading) in a pre-modern setting, I expect pre-modern attitudes. For an innkeeper to behave like a modern person is as jarring to me as him riding up on a motorcycle.
This wasn't always the case in D&D. Read City State of the Invincible Overlord (Judges Guild 1976) and you're in a brutal, alien, weird setting. The effects of a world where monsters roam the hills and the demi-gods live in groves are evident - dread, squalor, superstition, arrogance, hostility.
I get that Pathfinder supports a kitchen-sink setting. And I get why. But I've had a real tough time finding a product that isn't rife with anachronistic, modern attitudes. I thought Serpent's Skull might fit the bill, but it's a 17th century pirates/conquistador story. I like my Sword and Sorcery more ancient Mediterranian meets Clark Ashton Smith. But there doesn't seem to be much market today for that sort of sensibility - in RPGs or fantasy fiction.