King Zuuga

HoloGnome's page

***** Pathfinder Society GM. 190 posts (307 including aliases). 2 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 31 Organized Play characters.


Grand Lodge

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Unfortunately, the session problems have not been fixed. The code is still failing to sort sessions properly on the summary tab and double-listing games on the sessions tab. Were the problems entered into a bug database and assigned to an engineer? They should have been relatively easy to fix.

As far as development process, it sounds like things are moving in the right direction over the current situation where bugs in core functionality remain unfixed for months (still). The more responsive and agile Paizo can be in its development process, the better it will be for all concerned when any problems arise.

In terms of reliably anticipating bugs, from experience, that can be difficult. The best way to have a solid product and reproducible development process is to: code defensively, have engineers unit test their changes before handing off to QA, have a good product/change spec (including human factors input), prototypes where needed, an accurate test plan (based on the product/change spec, UX, etc.), a well-maintained bug database, assiduous QA and a back-end infrastructure that supports regression testing, including DB clones for each context (as needed). And finally, have a good beta test program (possible with a well-designed back-end server architecture) and ensure that you have tracked and regressed all reported bugs (and rolled in anything from beta).

Good luck with the next set of changes!

Grand Lodge

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I agree with Ferious Thune. The change to remove the session links from the PC tab of the private OP pages is a significant inconvenience to all users. Also, the UI and functional implementation of the OP GM/Player session search tabs is somewhat cumbersome, as others have pointed out.

If the issue is really one of privacy, then why not make the player tab of the "My Organized Play" section private (or do in-page ACL filtering to show the session links to the page owners only)? You have the login cookie info for the ACL, right?

Please don't inconvenience thousands of users for a handful of VCs or other individual regulatory issues that are easily managed with implmentation of basic user privileges...or even a new private PC tab (if one is really needed).

Ultimately, couldn't this issue be resolved through a simple, back-end DB query (with ACL filtering, as needed)? Or, if you had to make a new, private tab in the "My Organized Play" section to protect user data without compromising functionality as a short-term measure, don't you already have all the tab code with the session functionality built in?

From the user perspective, it's hard for me to understand why the best product quality and user satisfaction choice was to cripple thousands of existing users without making sure there was other equivalent functionality in place. Too many people depend on your online services and need them to support their gaming.

I hope that you can fix this problem very soon so that we have restored access to our combined GM/Player session data. GMs cannot properly manage their OP characters without this access. I was trying to do a build and update characters and am stuck without having to laboriously go through all my individual player and GM sessions and manually assemble everything.

Grand Lodge 5/5

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John Compton explained the ambiguous wording of module bonus chronicles back in 2015 - see this post:

Stop the Plunder and Peril Bloodshed!

:-)

To summarize:
Method 1: Full/normal module rewards + boons and items, as applicable. Let's you hyper-level a single PC. w00t!

Method 2: 2PP only + boons and items, as applicable -- helps improve the prestige awarded by the module track without forcing you to level, as others have stated (but does not deprive you of boons/items)

Grand Lodge 5/5

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This morning, I made a battle map and schematic from scratch for the final encounter to accompany (or replace) the paizo map. So, they should be OK to post. I hope you guys find them useful. If you think there should be any changes/additions, let me know.

Here is the link:
See the final post in this thread

Grand Lodge 5/5

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The Result:
My run was 4 hrs. and was a fun time. The party chose to max out bluff and disguise with some very amusing bluffs. Extra time at the start ended up being offset, of course, by rapid encounter resolution with unbeatable bluff/disguise mechanics.

Advice: The introduction and multiple knowledge checks and Q/A make for a longer intro, regardless of party tactics. So, try to be as efficient as possible in the delivery and don't let the starting RP take too long, or you can easily hit 5 hrs.

For my run, I created modified maps with elevations printed at each step and also made a modified side view without the elevator and relocated throne glyph. I had no problems with the mechanics of the final encounter. The party leader opened with a bluff as a would-be invisible stalker, while Grasping gruffly commanded them to present themselves for its scrutiny (based on certain irregularities). Then, as the party began to comply, the out-of-tier rogue stealthed in and surprised with the horn (since 1 person in the party has played ToW) and blasted. Boss failed save, but got in some good hits, battle over in 3 rounds, slyphs surrendered, 1d4 electric damage was inconsequential, party disabled sigil, Silver Crusade redeemed the minions. Yada, yada, yada victory.

Having run it at 5-6 with an APL 5.3 party with 2 8th levels (and all flying), the final CR was not an issue for my game, and it was a short battle. YMMV for a pure 5-6 group with a mix of non-flyers, especially if people get air-blated against the wall and fail their wind saves.

Modified images linked below if anyone wants them:
Modified Maps for 200' Hall of Hurricane

Grand Lodge 5/5

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My advice to GMs for this one would be to include some minimal information or a warning about a tyrannical beast in the opening encounter from the ratfolk if the PCs succeed in negotiating with the ratfolk guards. It's still not a guarantee that the PCs will defeat the dragon, but it is, at least, a necessary clue to choose combat over diplomacy vs. auto-failing the manufactured secondary success condition. The scenario offers no other clues to the supposed hundreds of years of tyranny over the ratfolk and need to kill the dragon. That info really sounds like something the ratfolk would offer to their new friends as a warning (or request for aid).

Grand Lodge 5/5

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Seelah/7 died yesterday in the game I was running, and, while searching around, I came across this thread. The debate here is good, but, to me, it looks like some of it may be moot, at least with respect to upper-level pregens. But, that is not to say that the concerns aren't valid ones. Some of the issues, however, may be clarity-related, rather than Paizo's intent to kill underlying PCs or make players suffer. (At least that wouldn't be my first interpretation, since it would be self-limiting in terms of campaign support.) So, some additional commentary may help for others who end up here as I did.

7th-level pregens are surprisingly self-sufficient when they die in upper-level scenarios. The Season 8 Guide (p.6) is relatively clear on using resources associated with the adventure during the session. For example, if the player can sell the pregen's gear, then, intuitively, the player can (and should) use any of the rewards the pregen earned in the scenario (including gold), whether or not the rewards have been, or can be, "applied" to the underlying PC.

As long as the session is active (which lasts as long as everyone is still at the table), then things play out in that time-shifted context. When the scenario/session "ends," time shifts back to the underlying PC and the credit goes to held mode. It just means that there will be reduced gold in the future when the chronicle can be applied (at 18XP). It would be nice if the Guide were perfectly explicit on this point (which it isn't, exactly), but it's probably more clear than many of the other rules we have to adjudicate as GMs where perfect clarity is, aptly, "high fantasy." ^_^

For example: Tier 7-11 gold is usually at least 4K+ and Seelah/7 gear has a 1/2 sale value of 10K+. So, with a mandatory 2K personal cost for a pregen/7 (as per the S8 Guide p. 6) subtracted from the chronicle and 6K from the sale of gear, Seelah leaps back to life and gets rid of her negative levels (8010gp total, assuming the party carries their dead back to Absalom -- no body recovery needed). Other 7th-level pregens have similar resources available. The death is costly, but not unmanageable. And, as others point out, it would be grossly unfair to kill underlying PCs who can't possibly have the resources available, especially given that the availability of pregens is to foster participation rather than hinder it.

Arguably, at 1st level, pregen death isn't catastrophic, and at 4th level, recovery is harder, but benefits from player contributions and is manageable. In concrete terms, 4th level rewards are usually 1300-1800gp and Seelah/4 gear (as in this particular example) has a sale value of about 2700gp. So, that leaves an outstanding balance of ~4K (or less) that either has to come from ally altruism or the underlying PC. The stated minimum player gold recovery cost of 1000gp when using a 4th-level pregen doesn't really matter, since the recovery has a higher cost than the sale value of the pregen gear. It could be 0gp or 3000gp -- the player is still going to have to account for over 5K based on the gear/4.

To that end, the S8 Guide goes on to say (p.18) that "players are encouraged to share their physical resources in order to resolve any and all conditions." (including death) So, at 7th, 2000gp/x (where x is the number of players at the table) is also a legal and viable strategy. You should mention this option to the table, because 500gp or less a piece is an altruistic expense that allows the player who used the pregen (whether new to PFS or otherwise) to earn a little more gold for the adventure with a mortal mishap. As a GM, you just need to note the PFS IDs of the players who opted to contribute on the pregen chronicle.

As above, the metrics are more onerous at 4th level, but upper-level pregen death is usually very recoverable, whether or not the underlying character to which the chronicle will be assigned has the requisite gold or prestige available to foot the bill. So, at the high level, enjoy the pregens, try out new classes, play at tables, support local PFS, and have a good time! You will live to fight another day, even if you lose a bit on the chronicle in the (hopefully unlikely) event that you die during the scenario.

If you'd like to learn how Seelah died, you can read the tale of her death below. By Iomedae's blade...what a battle! ...especially in 4-player when the heavy hitter PC is carrying 6 negative levels from a prior encounter's enervations!

Seelah, the Victorious!
Yesterday, brave Seelah of the 7th Tier of Iomedae was strangled to death by a deadly plant. True to the Code of the Paladin, she strode forward and made a bold entreaty for peace and virtue. However, when peace seemed unlikely and she saw other enslaved Pathfinders being forced to dig their own graves, she sought to smite the evil plant creature for its perfidy, even while fighting back a strange fog that threatened to cloud her mind.

Unfortunately, Seelah failed to act quickly enough, and the thorny, constricting tendrils of woe wrapped around her, drawing her near and snaking into the gaps in her contorted armor. The tendrils bathed in gouts of Seelah's righteous blood as they laid bare her divine flesh. Iomedae was saddened that day as the villainous vegetation mocked her fallen daughter. Using the tendrils as malevolent marionette's strings, the wicked plant animated Seelah in a meat-puppet pantomime of pseudo-valor as her allies looked on in horror.

But, all was not lost! Severely beaten, bloody and magically exhausted, the Pathfinders rallied and, with great difficulty, turned the tide of the battle, freeing the thralls, and winning the day in honor of Seelah's tragic sacrifice.

Grand Lodge

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Since you are in the midst of reporting/layout changes, there are a few problems with PFS reporting that I would like to add:

1. If you enter a GM PC for a reported session and save the session, then go back and change the GM name because of a mistake, etc. It never properly resets the name for the assigned PC, where the wrong name is propagated in the GM session list and the specific play session list for the -x PC.

For example, from PaizoCon 2017, my GM credit for Bluebeard Alefist (-3) character shows up as "Jim Davis 747" because of a saved, then corrected, entry error on Solstice Scar. In addition, another game I ran (House of Harmonious Wisdom) was assigned to a player at the table instead of me, so a credit for "Sortox the Mad" (my -23) shows up as "Colby Chedderington" (which is an awesome name, but not the one belonging to the PC assigned for my GM session).

Solution: Make sure the code resets the GM name and PC assignment fields when they change in the reporting session, and you probably also want to run a batch query against the database to clear out all the wrong names that have been saved over time.

By the way, the same thing happens when changing the name of a PC. The name changes have never propagated properly.

2. On the "Player" tab for Pathfinder Society info, when viewing the list of reported sessions for a specific player PC, the "-x" number doesn't show on all the entries. At first, I thought it was a field width issue, but in looking at the page source, the -x numbers are not there. So, when you do a query from the database to show the PC's play history, the -x number is either missing from the source field or getting deleted for some entries along the way prior to final display.

If I want to grab all my player sessions for a particular PC, I have to always edit the PFS IDs, since some number of them don't include the suffix.

3. On the reporting side, when saving sessions that have player counts of less than six, the blank entries are now being stuck in the middle of the list after saving by the newly-changed reporting code (recent change). So, if I enter Player 1, Player 2, Player 3, Player 4, then save it, when I look at the session afterwards, I see Player 1, Player 2, Blank, Blank, Player 3, Player 4, etc. Saving PFS sessions should preserve the list order and put the blank entries at the end. And again, you may want to run a batch query with a date after the recent changes to globally eliminate the blank space.

Thanks. It would be great if you could fix these issues.

Grand Lodge

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Darksol wrote:
Nobody's saying they understand the myriad of ways that the game is broken. In fact, people say the exact opposite, that they don't understand, or even that they don't care. (I'm actually one of the people that says it's the latter.) It's the #1 reason why the Caster/Martial disparity exists, and also possibly why PFS doesn't really exist past 12th level, because A. They don't know it exists (or don't care that it exists), and B. If they tried to fix it, the game probably still wouldn't be published.

I think there is probably a different big-picture interpretation relating to the full spectrum of what it takes to create and manage complex products, the ongoing Pathfinder campaign and global infrastructure (PFS or otherwise), its evolution, and the very enthusiastic and dedicated userbase. I would also question the attitude that anyone may hold that the extremely hard-working crew at Paizo shows up for work every day not caring or understanding what they do. I find that kind of rhetoric surprising.

All it takes is one trip to a major CON to see the extent to which Paizo goes to honor its users, contributors, 3rd parties, staff, etc., and provide a great gaming experience. So, try not to let individual frustration color broader perception vs. understanding that wherever there are new products and passionate users, various customer satisfaction issues will arise.

One quick trip across the forums shows that there are lots of things that people passionately like/dislike, gray areas, pending changes, debates that span pages, etc. and that's what the FAQ button and general feedback are for, as in this thread. Response time issues vs. user need for immediacy are primarily an indication of available resources, necessary prioritization and network carrying capacity, rather than lack of caring. There are only so many hours in the day and Paizo seems to run at max carrying capacity.

Hopefully, over time, Paizo will eventually apply the necessary focus to address problems/issues/user concerns and add more resources where needed to manage increased demand(s), while also continuing to create great content. Continuing Quality improvement and customer service response time are issues in every business model, where the best companies do what they can to ensure positive, incremental change. I'm glad there is an FAQ process. It doesn't always address the passionate user's need for immediate resolution, but hopefully leads to necessary change over time.

Grand Lodge 5/5

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Does Practiced Diplomat also allow a result greater than 10 on Knowledge (nobility) even if not trained in it?

It seems like it does, according to the wording of "you receive a result," etc. (specific vs. general). It is certainly a nice benefit to be able to pick up another knowledge skill from your faction, especially since it increases as you complete faction goals.

Grand Lodge

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Has there been any discussion to designate Part 1 of Dragon's Demand (Tier 1-3) replayable, similar to Gallows of Madness?

Grand Lodge 5/5

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There's no such thing as "too well established." Every campaign, organized or otherwise, suffers the effects of aging, attrition and collapse, or abandonment for something new, especially those that are "too well-established." So, the smart approach is to provide incentives, evangelize the campaign, foster increased education and participation through multiple channels and not put any barriers in the way of fun or even campaign consistency with respect to cool incentive programs.

Grand Lodge 5/5

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Further to the discussion of Emerald Spire and Thornkeep, I am hearing hard-to-believe rumors about GMs being denied RSP credit for ES/TK levels because they are "not 16 pages." :-/ That should never happen.

I hope that in these isolated cases, common sense will prevail over punitive literalism (and also that Paizo will comment) and that those supervising the program at local game stores will give +1 GM credit for modules shorter than 16 pages, as Alanya and others note. That's what I'm doing.

Grand Lodge 5/5

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>@Thomas Hutchins:

There are many uses for PP, including: consumables (wands, scrolls, potions, one-shot items), weapons, boons (take your pick - Expedition Manager, Fangwood Keep, other special chronicle items, etc.), vanities, Spire purchases, and raise dead/neg level buffers or other necessary condition removal - so many uses. My characters rarely have spare prestige to spend on significantly overpriced retraining taxes or otherwise. But, that's just me. Your use may differ.

It sounds like you understand that skill retraining is a huge problem. Archetypes are also a problem, spells are a problem, some class switching is a problem, as we have been discussing. I wouldn't call the system one that 'mostly works' with so many things about it that don't really work.

I'm not seeing the exploits that would arise as a consequence of my suggestions. I specifically comment in multiple places about how to limit abuse. Eliminate hit points, eliminate new languages, possibly use lifetime retraining caps, etc.

Also, philosophically, who cares if a character is static or undergoes change? I don't feel the need to make that judgment. It's up to the player and the hundreds of hours (and dollars) they end up spending on the game, at the table, in the game store, at CONs, paying for books, fees & gear, and immersed and engaged in Paizo content. What's the down-side? (There isn't one.) Great Golarion's Ghost - I don't even want to know what I've spent so far on Pathfinder Kool-Aid, but I probably could have bought the Grinning Pixie by now. As a fan, it really irks me that I have to spend 10PP to move 2 skill ranks.

Players can decide that they don't like things about their characters at any point in the campaign - maybe they don't like being a swashbuckler after 5 levels, but also don't want to totally start over and lose their huge time (and monetary) investment on that character. Maybe it's part of their character narrative. Maybe they don't like having multiple characters. Maybe they just want to move a few skill ranks, because taking Craft (underpants) seemed like a good idea at the time and they now realize that Profession (sailor) is a better choice for PFS. Everyone is different. It doesn't really matter what the individual reasoning is - what matters is that there is a fair and equitable system in place with minimal abuse (no system is 100% abuse-free) that doesn't cost an arm and a leg or try to exert too much external control or judge the reasons (or necessity for) why players want to change their characters.

But, that's not the case now. To me, the system seems skewed, where it uses prestige as a heavy tax to try and stop abuse or account for nebulous time (which makes no sense). There are better ways to manage the slew rate of retrains, where they happen, how to find the resources, etc. Players make the game and their characters are the primary point of attachment.

I will say, as before, that I love the level 1 retraining. I also like the one-time CORE-to-NORMAL conversion. All great stuff and good for the player base. Also, players at the store really like the new in-store purchase rewards, as do I. Awesome.

>@Ferious Thune:
The Guide says that the prestige cost is there because of undefined time between adventures. That explanation doesn't ring true for me. I agree with you on the data collection over the past few years and related analysis. In the circles I orbit, I'm not aware of any retraining abuse and have signed off on a couple...not many. In some cases, I have not retrained a PC where I have screwed up because of the prestige cost. In another case, I lost a bunch of prestige because I had to retrain because the PC was screwed up after I realized a feat error. I really didn't like it.

My hope in raising this topic is that Paizo will review the system and make any changes for PFS they feel are necessary. I think there are too many cases where it doesn't work and that prestige doesn't belong in the equation, or needs to be rendered in a different context (small, non-scaling finder's fee, for example, if at all).

Anyway - thanks to those who have contributed to this discussion. I think there are a number of interesting points and perspectives and that we have covered a lot of the bases with a pancake-like consistency.

Grand Lodge 5/5

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Thanks for all the comments. I think the discussion is helpful. I definitely agree on skills and archetypes and you can also throw spells into that pile @ 2days/spell level x PP.

Kevin - No worries - no problems here. I tried to put forward a rough idea of how I thought it could work above. Is there something that should be more clear? I think I addressed mechanics of time, location, discovery, cost, possible skill checks vs. gold vs. PP, general philosophy, etc.

What I see is a misapplied prestige mechanic that is trying to control retraining abuse, rather than addressing the potential for abuse directly while trying to keep the UC content pure (if that's the primary concern). Not modifying printed content is probably #1 on the Paizo list.

I personally don't care about the abuse and would hope that most players are retraining out of a genuine need or interest with respect for the system and a reasonable degree of common sense. Abuse is also gated by GM supervision, as above. I would rather see a lifetime retraining cap (or maybe by retraining category) rather than a PP cost. There could be a cap like: 2 class levels, 1 archetype, 5 skill ranks, etc. (or even just total # of retrains -- easier to remember). I don't think the campaign needs to address retraining at the frequency level, but there are definitely tweakers out there who are never satisfied. You know who you are. ^_^ Also, there are obvious cases that need to be fixed (that are not corner cases), as mentioned above.

As a GM/Store Coordinator, I am often evangelizing PFS, trying to recruit new players, and I like to see mechanisms that don't stand in the way of fun and engagement. I love level 1 retraining for that reason. It's very easy to get new players started with pregens.

Keeping players coming back to the table, especially new players, is more important to me than trying to micromanage retraining abuse with a prestige tax. PCs translate to massive amounts of time immersed in Paizo content. At 15hrs/level (assume that amount includes build/research time), by level 7, we have put in over 100hrs. on a PC, which represents a lot of time and maybe even attachment, depending on the player. Some players are very attached to their characters, as we all know, whereas others make the most of the -newPC system that PFS allows, which is also great (I'm at -21, I think...).

Given the time they put in, players have a right to make the most of their PCs, so who cares if they retrain here or there? The bigger picture goal should be to help that player be as happy as possible with their character in the larger context of the campaign so that they feel like the game system provides the necessary flexibility and they are not stuck living with mistakes they wish they hadn't made.

Pathfinder has tremendous diversity, where content and player understanding are always in motion. So, retraining is a great thing. When players feel like the system is too restrictive, they just go to another gaming system. I've had that discussion numerous times with PFS vs. System X, mostly with people who don't want the burden of character tracking in an organized campaign. This dynamic is just one more thing to consider and balance vs. what retraining means in the context of organized play. Help the players be happy. Limits are OK, but the prestige retraining tax, as we have been discussing, is a bit much.

Also, parenthetically, I see the Monastery Vanity as a trap for PFS. It only reduces the number of days by 1 (or 1PP), but costs 5PP, meaning that you have to retrain 5x just to break even on the expense, assuming you have the spare 25PP in the first place to blow on retraining. It's probably not worth it, but is certainly flavorful!

Grand Lodge 5/5

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Thanks for the comments regarding my question. I appreciate this discussion. I read through all of them and have some additional thoughts.

1. I'm not overly concerned about certain abuse cases. Several of you mention hit point abuse and that is certainly possible, but also easy enough to restrict in PFS. However, potential abuse on hit point retraining, among other things, shouldn't color all other reasonable retraining where players are acting in good faith - changing a feat, moving skill points, changing an archetype, etc. Everyone has a different learning curve and anyone can make a mistake or need to adjust a PC along the way.

2. I'm also not worried about feat abuse. Reasonable restrictions should apply where you cannot retrain to something that you could not have reasonably qualified for in the first place. The same applies to languages. If you want to retrain a language, fine. If you want to learn new languages, maybe that should be in the restricted pile, since there is already a clear mechanic for learning new languages based on Linguistics skill ranks...or retrain a skill rank into linguistics. Very easy. Languages would be another case where trying to use prestige to restrict unbounded downtime to prevent abuse is not the right course of action.

From these two points, please take my comments to mean that I favor retraining/replacing something which the PC already has and/or must qualify for in order to receive. And, as I have commented in other threads, if you retrain away from a class (or class level) or feat, etc., then you must, logically, sacrifice anything that was granted to you by that class as a class ability or other feats if you no longer meet the prerequisites (there are other discussions and FAQs on this point). For example, you can't take a level of Wizard to get a spellbook, then try to retrain away from it and keep the spellbook (granted as a class feature). Or, you can't retrain away from Power Attack and keep Improved Sunder.

I tend not to agree that factions need to scour the world for experts to retrain my skill points, a basic feat, a class level, and most (if not all) other things. Prestige is not the right metaphor to attempt to manage downtime. If PCs are in Absalom or other major cities, maybe they should be able to find whatever they want in terms of training. If a +1 seven-branched sword is always available, then maybe the training is also (or is at least findable with a skill check or even hireling helper). Above, I mention that downtime location could hypothetically be tied to where you complete an adventure (or have an estate or downtime boon). If there's really a need for a time constraint, then instead of using prestige, bar the PC from play during retraining (5 days, 10 days - whatever), but, again - that is not really fostering player engagement. There is a boon precedent for this type of mechanic and also time-limited boons from various scenarios.

Alternately, if we are talking about retraining to exotic weapon proficiencies, maybe the PC has to be in a region where the exotic weapon has devotees. For example, maybe PCs head east to learn eastern exotic weapons (or finish an adventure there), or head to Varisia's Mierani Forest to learn the elven curve blade. OR...pay an equivalent finder’s fee in gold or PP, as above. There are always available items in PFS and training should mostly follow that model for, perhaps, anything except exotic weapons (another alternate strategy).

I also agree that it's challenging to plan for character progression or players might not realize that things won't work as they had planned as they learn more about the Pathfinder and see other PCs in action (or there might be new content, as others mention above). For example, I was glad to be able to rebuild my -1 rogue when unchained came out, because he needed better planning. I was just starting out. I also screwed up my -2 druid feats and had to fix and retrain. I wasn't initiailly aware of the issue of not being considered to have a class ability until you attain the level at which it is granted. Oops. Currently, I'd like to get an INT headband for another one of my PCs and want to retrain some overlapping skill ranks (since the headband covers them), but it is ridiculously overpriced. There no abuse...just a need to do some basic improvements and repairs.

So, to address the points above and the interesting feedback from all of you, I guess I would like to see PFS retraining that:

1. Eliminates the abuse-case-driven design (hp, languages, etc.) and clearly states and enforces prerequisite mechanics to also prevent any feat and class abuse. Hopefully, that would satisfy most of the legitimate concerns for PFS expressed by others above regarding abuse. Also, given that retraining requires a GM, it is up to GMs to limit the abuse (hmmm...unless GMs are the culprits, but hopefully not - best intentions, etc.).
2. Eliminates the prestige tax, or uses it as a gp equivalent as it is used elsewhere in the campaign...or even vs. skill checks or a finder's fee. Maybe a boon like Expedition Manager is peripherally relevant for discussion, where players can start expeditions with prestige at various gp levels.
3. Includes a downtime mechanic that uses location where PCs complete adventures and maybe includes related skill checks (or equivalent fees) to find training, as needed.
4. Includes a time management mechanic that actually manages time (if one is really needed), as a function of real-world time or maybe total # of retrains per career or level, etc.

Thanks for reading and for the feedback! I do not believe the current system works and that improvements are possible to keep players engaged with their characters instead of wishing they could change things if not for the high cost of the repair.

Grand Lodge 5/5

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I recently ran level 10 again. It provides some interesting chances for RP crossover with the Hellknights and Fort Inevitable. Below is my initial take on the intro and knowledge checks. The players seemed to enjoy it. This one is slightly longer, but didn't take too long. Some of it is marked as optional if you're pressed for time vs. wanting a little more flavor. But, at 10 levels, I thought the players deserved a gruff progress report from their dwarven boss.

Level 10: The Magma Vault

Intro:
Once again, Venture Captain Holgarin Smine stands with you outside the Emerald Spire, staring up at the greenish ruin with a concerned look on his face as he starts out in a loud, familiar staccato.

optional wrote:

“You know,” he says sharply, pointing his stubby, dwarven finger up at the ruin, “this place must have been an impressive sight to see when it wasn’t all blown to bits. But, I suppose I could say the same about some Pathfinders I’ve known over the years,” he adds darkly, while gazing intently at each of you as though chiseling tombstones with his eyes.

“It’s no mean feat that you seem to be getting to the bottom of things, as it were. How far down to the bottom remains to be seen. And speaking of impressive accomplishments…you’re still alive!” He laughs grimly, but you sense an undercurrent of pride and the approval of the Society behind his words.

“It’s always a good day when you can stay off the Wall of Names! And, speaking of the Grand Lodge, Valsin sends his regards and encouragement. It seems you’re making an impression back in Absalom…but don’t get a big head.”

Smine inhales deeply, and you can tell that he’s finished with idle chit-chat and Pathfinder platitudes. In fact, you’re sure he’s about to say something extremely important as you wait on pins and needles for critical details about your upcoming mission. However, you’re surprised when, instead of the details you eagerly await, he launches into another curious story.

“So there I was, strolling around Fort Inevitable with my ears wide open for any gossip that might be of interest to the Society,” he says, as you happen to notice that his ears are anything but small. “You never know what those Hellknights are up to, and we need to keep tabs on them...and by tabs…I mean spying,” he clarifies with low, husky emphasis. “Then, as I approached the market, a gutter urchin comes running up to me and hands me a fancy summons – a dinner invitation! Now THAT piqued my interest…especially the part about the free food! And who do you think it was from?”

He looks at you expectantly…

(Give the players a couple of chances to guess various people they might know/recall from Fort Inevitable)

“(If they guess Drovust: CORRECT!)(otherwise) None other than Lady Commander Audara Drovust!

“Well, I never expected to get a gilded invitation from the Ice Queen, herself, for anything except my own beheading. She’s had nothing but criticism, complications, licensing fees and other harassment for the Pathfinders since we arrived, and I’ve avoided her whenever possible! And, I can’t say I feel at ease around Chelaxians wearing skull armor, but the invitation was obviously political and too good to pass up! I thought the dinner would be ripe for more spying on those tight-fisted Hellknights! After all, I have to do something to keep Valsin amused while you screw around in the Spire.”

“I’ll spare you the pleasantries of an otherwise boring dinner with old Skull Face – (and don’t tell her I called her that). She seemed quite delighted to have me at dinner, and by delighted, I mean she straightened out her permanent scowl momentarily while chewing a green bean. But, there wasn’t much in the way of juicy spying, just a bunch of boring administrative discussions about how we might put an end to the tension and ‘collaborate more closely,’ blah, blah, blah."

“And then, the dessert showed up…and that’s when she came out with it. There are Hellknights lost in the Spire – led by someone named Signifier Chaid DiViri. I knew it! How pathetically predictable!”

Holgarin Smine launches into a tirade.

“You might as well know that I told her to stay out of that place when I first got here and that she should leave the adventuring to the experts. Let’s just say it wasn’t my best foot forward in terms of Hellknight diplomacy. And, as you may have seen, she apparently didn’t forget it. She said that the Hellknights were going to be the first to uncover the secrets of the Spire whether I liked it or not and that she would make it her personal mission to ensure that any Pathfinders got the welcome they deserved. Well, the other night, that threat flipped faster than a goblin on a griddle!” quipped Smine, who was not overtimid in sharing his incongruous diplomatic success at dinner.

“So I said to her as warmly as possible -- which was not hard after one glass too many – ‘Lady Commander – let me send a team to look for the missing Hellknights…and let us usher in an era of new-found cooperation.’ Of course she agreed. What choice did she have? The blind fools! So now, we’re going to cooperate with the Hellknights…and by cooperate, I mean spy on them, of course…with their permission!” he chuckles through a devilish grin.

“Anyway - while you’re down there looking for that crazy wizard, Tiawask, you can add Hellknights to the babysitting list. And, if you find them, I want you to rescue them or haul out their rotten remains, and take every opportunity to get in some good spying. I’m supposed to go back to see Drovust for a reward upon your successful return. But...now that I think of it, maybe it would be better if you failed,” he jokes conspiratorially.

“Oh…and one more thing, it’s boiling hot down there and the advance scouting team tells me the place is full of lava. I suppose that means the Hellknights should feel right at home!”

“Now get to work!” Smine barks abruptly, inscrutable as ever, while tromping away through the chunks of broken green glass that litter the ground all around you.

Knowledge Checks:

Knowledge (dungeoneering, geography)
DC 15: The River Kingdoms are not generally known for any kind of geological instability or volcanic eruptions.
DC 20: It seems odd to encounter lava in the Emerald Spire that should only be found at much greater depths or in conjunction with local volcanic activity.
DC 25: Along with the presence of lava and severe, searing heat, come steam and noxious gases that have been known to overwhelm adventurers.
DC 30: Lava moves quickly and can often form irregular terrain, including everything from tiny passages to enormous caverns. It may also rush through narrow tubes or tunnels. It can melt metallic objects on contact and set people and possessions on fire. Lava may continue to burn for several rounds after contact.
DC 35: Lava can form large lakes or pools and may also be in proximity to equally hazardous areas of boiling water.

Knowledge (local, nobility) or Diplomacy (gather information) (…or if the PCs are more inquisitive and (on their own) decide that they absolutely have to meet with Lady Commander Audara Drovust, she will impart information in question/answer form depending on a matching Diplomacy DC, spending DC-5 minutes of her time with the PCs. She hated asking Smine for help and remains aloof with an air of hostility towards Smine’s annoying underlings. Finally, it is only by being caught off guard by particularly silver-tongued PCs that she will inadvertently hint at the Hellknight strategy for dominance in the region, after which point, she realizes her blunder and asks the Pathfinders to leave.)

DC 10: Chaid DiViri leads a small team of Hellknights that have been exploring the Emerald Spire, but they have not reported back and appear to be missing.
DC 15: The Hellknights have been on numerous missions to the Spire and have been resupplying their expedition team, as needed.
DC 20: Chaid DiViri holds the rank of Signifier (a spellcaster designation), comes from Citadel Enferac and belongs to the Order of the Gate, the most mystically adept Hellknight order
DC 25: Chaid is the granddaughter of Lictor Severs “Boneclaw” DiViri, leader of the Order of the Nail at Lictor’s Keep in Citadel Vraid in Korvosa.
DC 30: DiViri is an expert in dealings with extraplanar entities and has, so far, been matching the progress of the Pathfinder Society level for level.
DC 35: DiViri’s final report speaks of a region of melted stone, blistering heat and planar instability.
DC 40: Chaid DiViri is allied with a Kyton outsider who is acting as an advisor and familiar.
DC 45: The Hellknights hope to find hidden knowledge, potent lawful forces and, possibly, relics that might cement their dominance in the River Kingdoms.

If the party learns of the planar instability (DC35 above) or arrives at their own speculation that an extraplanar link might be behind the infiltration of lava, you can offer the following, additional check:

Knowledge (planes, arcana)
DC 20: You suspect that the magical nature of the Emerald Spire has resulted in some kind of focal planar instability on Level 10.
DC 25: It is possible that an intersection with the Elemental Plane of Fire could be responsible for the extreme environmental conditions the scouts have reported and may, eventually, put the entire region at risk.
DC 30: Whenever extra-planar rifts or intersections manifest, creatures native to the intersecting planes may find their way (or be drawn) through the intersection.
DC 35: Creatures of the elemental planes are very dangerous, often hostile towards non-elementals and are also fiercely territorial.
DC 40: More than one intersection with the elemental planes may be possible. Such matters are hard to predict in areas of planar instability.

Grand Lodge 5/5

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This thread is great stuff - thanks to all of you for making the effort! I am currently running quests in short sessions for younger Pathfinders, and it's nice to be able to offer them the chance to create their own 1st level PCs (with their pregen credit from Honor's Echo) as they now embark on Phantom Phenomena...just in time for Halloween!

Grand Lodge

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Thanks! Got it...and now the fun begins for the first run tomorrow! *puts on robot cowboy hat*

Grand Lodge

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Itchy wrote:
Kalraan wrote:
Can anyone suggest a card sleeve for these cards?
Did you ever get sleeves for your Deluxe Harrow Deck? If so, what did you get and how did they fit? I'm just curious for input before I buy some.

I recently got the new Deluxe Harrow Deck. After doing very minimal research on sleeves, I chose the Fantasy Flight Tarot Sleeves. They are good quality archival sleeves, very clear and also appear to be relatively durable vs. others (decent gauge material).

The sleeves are 70mm x 120mm and fit the deluxe harrow cards perfectly (as expected).

Once the cards come out of the box, they probably won't be going back in. And, with all the cards sleeved, the deck thickness increases to just about 1.5" thick, or 35-40mm. So, try to plan for storage accordingly.

It would be great if Paizo made an appropriately-styled harrow deck box that could accommodate a sleeved harot deck + extra cards and rules (70mm x 120mm x 45mm, perhaps).

I got my sleeves at a local game store. They come in packs of 50 (unfortunately), so you will need to get 2 packs. At the game store, the Fantasy Flight sleeves were $4.99 each (50 pk). There were cheaper sleeves and also one brand that was slightly bigger at 72mm. However, I am very happy with the FF sleeves and my choice.

In terms of containers, I got an inexpensive, ~5"x7" drawstring pouch. The sleeved stack of cards fits comfortably, but, for the long term, I would rather have a box for added card protection (and may make one or look for a wooden jewelry box).

Grand Lodge 5/5

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With the interesting contributions above, here is my take on Level 8.

Level 8: The Circle of Vssk-Thar:

As you arrive at the Emerald Spire to meet with Venture Captain Holgarin Smine, he curses as he kicks away a large, flat chunk of melted, green glass covering a den of writhing vermin. He grabs some of them in each hand and thrusts them in your direction.

"Snakes!" he exclaims with a wild look in his eyes. "This place is crawling with them! If only they were all as harmless as these little fellows," he says, throwing his hissing captives into the nearby grass. He watches them slither away, and then, after an awkward silence, turns to address you once more.

"Pathfinders - we've lost another team since your last foray into the Spire. I gave them strict orders to stick to the cleared levels and catalogue the lairs of Klarkosh and the serpentfolk you encountered, but they foolishly forged ahead into uncharted territory." Smine's anger is palpable. "They didn't have the experience or the firepower!"

"I guess they wanted the glory of finding Tiawask, that missing wizard from Thornkeep - trying to make a name for themselves, no doubt. But, only one made it back alive thanks to the spire transport token in his possession. At least that was something he did right," scowls Smine.

"They found a kind of glory alright - just not the kind they were looking for unless it involves disobedience, despair and death. Perhaps you can salvage the mess they left behind while I try to explain it all to Absalom. This place is awash in the blood of the Society!"

"The pathfinder who returned was half-dead and raving about more snakes and serpentfolk. I'm afraid he won't ever be the same. We've sent him back down the Sellen to help him find his sanity again. And, if and when he ever does, the first thing he's going to see is my reprimand in his file!"

"Pathfinders - the Spire is a dangerous place and will sink its fangs into you if you're not careful. Go find that wizard Tiawask and don't disappoint me. I'm counting on you! I'll hold my report to Valsin until you return...assuming you do," he adds ominously.

"Any questions?"

Knowledge (nature):

DC 20: Serpentfolk are bipedal snake-people that have long been thought to be extinct.
DC 25: Most Serpentfolk are known to be brutish, near feral creatures, but some say that there are intelligent, magically-inclined varieties, as well.
DC 30: Serpentfolk were mostly crushed out of existence by the Azlanti and are believed to be native to the Darklands.

The Exchange

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I was also interested in this question for a mesmerist build and surprised by some of what I found. Below is an expanded list of things in the "language-dependent" category for PFS, including material from above + that from newer sources:

Related Racial Traits:
Magical Linguist (Gnome) -- as in the original post

Related Traits:
Charming (Social), Commanding (Race/Human)

Related Spells, including those from RavingDork and Sunset above (33 total):
Brilliant Inspiration; Castigate (and Mass Castigate); Command (and Greater Command); Confess; Denounce; Enthrall; Forbid Action (and Greater Forbid Action); Geas/Quest (and Lesser Geas); Grave Words; Hidden Speech; Litany of Eloquence; Litany of Entanglement; Litany of Escape; Litany of Madness; Litany of Righteousness; Litany of Sloth; Litany of Thunder; Litany of Vengeance; Litany of Weakness; Message; Mindlocked Messenger; Peacemaker's Parley; Speak with Dead; Speak with Haunt; Suggestion (and Mass Suggestion, Triggered Suggestion); Unconscious Agenda; Vengeful Outrage;

Also...

Other spells that involve language-dependent effects, but no descriptor:
Mindlink, Muffle Sound, Subjective Reality, Truespeak, Zone of Silence

Skills:
Perform (of course)

Deities:
Winlas (Save Bonus)

Weapons:
Axe of the Imperative, Harp of Contagion

Finally, there are a number of classes/class abilities, domains (Legistlation & Tyranny) and prestige classes that make mention of language-dependent, particularly bard and bard archetypes, barbarian (can they actually talk? ^_^ ), cleric, skald, inquisitor, and sorcerer that are worth exploring...even high-level Lunar Oracle. Very interesting. Hope the extra info helps others who find this thread.

The Exchange 5/5

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I communicated with Tom Phillips to resolve my question - below is the answer.

Author's Reply:

What is the proximity trigger area?

The proximity range is intended as the entire room. (So, if the trap has not been disabled and someone enters, it will trigger.)

Given that the proximity is the entire room, I confirmed the following:
1. Trapfinding is required, since the trap is magical in nature.
2. Disable is primarily via the knobs at the altar (meaning that the PC has to be at the altar).
3. The disable attempt will likely be at +10, per the scenario's stated modifier, since someone must be hit in order to reach the altar (which is 25' from the door).
4. The only class that could disable it via the knobs from the doorway/at a distance is Arcane Trickster using Ranged Legerdemain (Disable Device at 30').
5. A regular Rogue would have to be at the altar to disable it (since no Ranged Legerdemain).
6. Disable via Dispel Magic would be possible, temporarily suppressing it.
7. Destroying the altar could either disable the trap (TP would allow this), or prevent it from being disabled (my suggestion). He said it is a GM call. (NOTE: I did not ask for the hardness/hp of the altar and they are not specified. So, also a GM call.)
8. A simple method to disable it would be to send in a summoned monster, where the subsequent +10 bonus to disable would still apply, even though the monster is not a PC.

I hope this info helpful.

The Exchange 5/5

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Hey All - I have been searching for similar answers and noted the extended and animated discussion here and also in various other threads. I am GMing for a great player who would like to have a spellbook as a non-wizard and has used the retraining method described previously in this thread by nosig.

Specifically, he took a level in Wizard, got a spellbook, inscribed it with around 75 spells of levels 1-3, then retrained out of Wizard, supposedly leaving him with a spellbook filled with spells, which he plans to use with the Versatile Spontaneity Feat and also Mnemonic Vestment.

I ruled as follows with regrets:
1. Retraining out of the level of Wizard will also cause loss of the spellbook, since it is granted as a class feature (whether or not you can purchase blank spellbooks separately). The purchase option is there mostly for Wizards who have their spellbooks stolen, destroyed or who lose them and have to buy a new one, rather than for rule-bending techincal discussions. Further, the fact that items like Mnemonic Vestment include the word "spellbook" does not constitute granting spellbooks to a particular spontaneous class, in my reading.

2. Obviously, if he keeps the Wizard level, then OK. No issue.

3. Alternately, I suggested he do the same thing, except using scrolls. The cost to get the retrained spellbook in gold and prestige (@750/2PP) was 8015gp. The cost to get the equivalent spells in scrolls is 9700gp, less the prestige equivalent and gp cost since he doesn't have to retrain, or a net total of 5950gp (much cheaper and more flexible, since scrolls can be from any class) and covered by existing rules for his sorcerer character. In addition, he or someone can use the scrolls, as needed in a pinch.

4. I said he could do it with a view towards hoping for a positive ruling from Paizo, but that he should expect table variation. The scroll method is a safer and a sure win, with the only losses being spellsharing and maybe subtle prerequisites where the character has to own a spellbook to do certain things - not sure on the latter.

5. I said that in a strict interpretation of the rules, if he were to move forward and had to sell it later because of an eventual clarification against retrained spellbook acquisition, he might be subject to a 50% resale penalty.

6. I suggested that it really needs a formal ruling, since it is a significant deviation/manipulation of existing RAW/RAI rules.

So...like my immediate experience, it looks like this thread has covered all of the territory multiplle times over and it seems to be a hot and contemporary topic, perhaps also because of CORE and the fact that spellbooks are not included on Chronicle Sheets as treasure items.

Paizo - any chance of a ruling or FAQ? I am aware of the FAQ that already exists about losing the class and losing items related to the class (http://paizo.com/paizo/faq/v5748nruor1gn#v5748eaic9r9e). Perhaps it could be extended to include a brief statement about special items, like spellbooks to help resolve the long-standing debate. Thanks.

ps. I don't have any ambiguity in my ruling, but would appreciate any new insights. I try to be fair, but cannot allow it in my PFS games until there is a formal rules change or clarifying FAQ. If it were homebrew, however, I would probably allow it. Thanks for reading.

The Exchange 5/5

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Races available to use with the Adopted trait

In 2013, Voyd211 wrote:
Anyway, what can the Adopted social trait apply to in Pathfinder society? The seven core and three bonus races, or anything in the ARG?
In 2013, James Jacobs wrote:
"The Adopted trait only lets you take a race trait from a race you are not a member of. Where you get that race trait doesn't matter, as long as it's approved for play in PFS."

The Aasimar race is approved for play in PFS, albeit in a limited context as the OP said. So Adopted + Enlightened Warrior = WIN Monkbarian.

The Exchange

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The Familiar Satchel (Adventure Gear) item provides Total Cover and is, therefore, sufficient protection from Burst (Negative Channel, etc.) and Emanation (Aura of Doom, etc.) spells that are blocked by Total Cover. Note that Emanation is the same as Burst in this regard.

Magic/Spell Types

Magic SRD wrote:

A burst spell affects whatever it catches in its area, including creatures that you can't see. It can't affect creatures with TOTAL COVER from its point of origin (in other words, its effects don't extend around corners). The default shape for a burst effect is a sphere, but some burst spells are specifically described as cone-shaped. A burst's area defines how far from the point of origin the spell's effect extends.

An emanation spell FUNCTIONS LIKE A BURST SPELL, except that the effect continues to radiate from the point of origin for the duration of the spell. Most emanations are cones or spheres."

The Satchel does not provide protection from Spread effect spells (Fireball, etc.). However, as above, for Reflex Saves, Improved Evasion provides half damage on failed save or no damage on success, but first, the Master would have to roll a natural 1 as a saving throw, since the Satchel is an attended item.

Fireball & Failed Saves (SKR Reference)

If the Satchel ends up being randomly selected as the ONE affected item, then there would be a save for the Satchel and then for the familiar, applying Improved Evasion for Reflex saves. However, in the hierarchy of items in the Core Rulebook on p.216, the Familiar Satchel falls into the "Anything Else" cateogry and is last in priority after checking everything else first, then there would be a random inventory roll among the items in that category.

So, it seems relatively unlikely that a familiar can ever easily be damaged (or even targeted) by AoE spells...IF it is in its Satchel. If not in its Satchel or doesn't have one, then it's subject per other circumstances and interpretations.

Familiar Satchel

If any of this information is incorrect, please provide a correction - thx!