Well, I certainly can't wait. I will buy every single product they release, day one. I love what they did with the stress test which was Doomsday Dawn, as it is probably the most rigorous public test ever conducted for a role-playing game. That means that the final product will be the most finely developed game released in the genre since the 1970s. If you listen to Jason's interview on Know Direction, he seems very confident, and I don't think he' just putting on. The game has great direction, and all of the future goodness we have to look forward to will all be based on this system. In my mind, you have to be crazy to not get on board. At the same time, though, I'll still be playing PF1 for years to come, because I want to play all of the amazing APs that I haven't finished yet.
My main suggestion - as a longtime admirer of the PFS, but never a player - is to make the guide a lot more “noob friendly”. I had so many questions that were not answered by the guide. Even things like XP and leveling up totally eluded me. I’ve recently gotten hooked up with some good friendly folks in the Georgia lodge, and they’ve answered a lot of my questions and helped me to understand the process, but I think the guide should have handled that. Even explaining seemingly obvious things like the fact that scenarios can be played out of order, and that you can play season 5 scenarios today, even though we’re technically in season 10, would be really helpful. Consult with a noob or recent convert to make sure that the guide serves as a suitable introduction to the whole enterprise.
EDIT: Further to what I said above, I was just looking back over the “player basics” in the current guide, and it really has nothing to do with basics at all. If anything, the kind of info that chapter discusses falls into the realm of “contentious advanced topics”. In a “basics” section, I would expect to find very clear explanations of how character creation and advancement differ from the base game. The whole “replaying scenarios” thing needs to be a little clearer too. If my first character goes through 5-08 as a confirmation, can none of my other characters get confirmed like that? Write it from the perspective of explaining how having multiple characters could work.
A new edition is a good time to rethink some of these old standbys, and I agree. If a spellcaster can detect magic essentially at will, then he/she should be able to try to unwind magic at will. Pull both Detect Magic and Dispel Magic out of the spell lists and make them class features (maybe it's a first level class feature for wizards to get Dispell, but it comes at level 4 for Sorcerers). The only cost of dispelling should be something like giving up a prepared spell at the same level of the effect being dispelled. Of course, you have to detect and identify the effect first.
I think that your proposed changes are really smart, tie into the real-world uses of those weapons, and improve the fun of the game for ranged characters. The changes also open up some cool possible feat mechanics.
The only thing I think needs to be addressed is range. Your damage bonus from Dex needs to shrink with range (except on critical hits). Maybe your Dex damage bonus could go down by 2 with every range increment, the same as the to-hit roll.
And I fully agree with the composite bows getting the Dex damage boost and longbows getting the Str boost. If you’ve actually fired both kinds of bows in real life, you’ll understand immediately.
I have also been EXTREMELY underwhelmed with the feats. My group and I have made characters three times now, and since the farther you go through Doomsday Dawn, the higher level characters you have to make, we have gotten pretty good at doing this quickly. And what I’ve found is that skill feats are pretty much completely useless. We save the selection of skill feats for the end of character creation, and it’s such a chore. Do I want Student of the Canon, which I will never use, or should I pick the one that lets me climb without being flatfooted (also useless). Feat selection used to be a cool part of leveling up, but these feats are less exciting than campaign traits in PF1. Why can we not have some mechanically useful feats that feel cool?
In our game, the party bard cast Sleep on the Manticore and sent it gliding off down the hillside while they hustled up to the next (gnoll) fight. I had the manticore come back when they had dropped a couple of those and harry them inside the mountain.
Once inside, our group was very low on HP and had no party healer. When we faced the water and earth elementals, it looked like it was going to be all she wrote, but the players decided to turn tail and run again. Ultimately, they just went right to the puzzle and figured it out within 24 hours (three of the characters had the possibility of rolling as high as a 26 on the check, so attrition statistics kicked in).
Once inside, the mummies just about finished us off in the first round. Our AC 25 fighter was down, and everyone else was in single digits. But then the luck of the group miraculously changed, and the fight was over two rounds later. There was much celebrating, but there is still an angry manticore somewhere outside...
I also played with three of my daughters - ages 13, 11, and 9.
Our party consisted of a Dwarf Barbarian (my character - I always try to play a 'dumb' character that can help in combat, but that makes no decisions for the party), Elven Rogue, Goblin Druid, and Human Paladin.
Since our Goblin friend (my 13yo daughter's character) had intel on most of the Ossuary, the party decided to completely ignore the room with the centipedes ("No reason to go in there! Methinks there are bugs too big to eat!"), and no one had any interest in touching the head/egg in the fountain, so we skipped that encounter as well. The fungus was completely uninteresting to everyone, and so they left it alone.
The party expertly handled all other encounters - even the skeleton one (Disrupt Undead is a REALLY powerful cantrip, we discovered!), until we got to the Drakus fight. His higher AC meant that he lasted a few rounds. And since my dumb Dwarf Barbarian charged over to fight him, it meant that he got three attacks per round on the Dwarf. The rat, of course, went down in one hit from our Rogue, but Drakus brought poor Froggy (the Barbarian) to 0.
The Death and Dying rules were rather frustrating. The amount of work it takes to figure out what the Fort Save DC is for stabilizing is kind of ridiculous. I'm very unhappy with the weird DC chart. Surely there has to be another way.
Anyway, I finally figured out the DC (or at least I think I did: 17?), and Froggy failed it repeatedly until I just spent his hero point and recovered that way.
All in all, the kids and I had a blast playing Part 1. And the Flip-Map was awesome!
On page 24 it says that the format of building battlefields on the fly is an experimental part of the playtest process, and that feedback is requested.
Personally, I see a massive opportunity here to let people get more use out of published Flip-Maps. I, for one, have a lot of them, but they don't get much use when playing through an Adventure Path (of course they are used much more heavily in PFS scenarios where specific Flip-Maps are indicated). What I would like to see is for these "build your own encounter locations" to make some suggestions as to which Flip-Maps would work really well, without making certain ones required. That way, if a GM has access to Bigger Forest, but not Desert, they could be encouraged to use the 'B-Side' of that map for an encounter like the hyena fight in Part 2 of Doomsday Dawn.
Certainly, GM's could make these decisions on their own, but I'm often looking for a reason to buy another Flip-Map anyway. If the adventure called out a couple that I didn't have, I'd almost certainly order one of those just to enhance the experience.
I also think that using this new "build-your-own-encounter-location" idea could be inspiration for a lot of new map packs. The Flip-Maps that I tend to buy first are the ones that are the least 'specific'. I know that if I buy Haunted House, I might use it once, but if I buy the Desert one, I'm going to use it dozens of times. We need more maps like that: super useful in a wide variety of situations, and easily customizable when building our own encounter locations using this new experimental method.
I don't think I agree, DerNils. The travel times on page 316 of the rulebook state that "the distances in the table assume traveling at a determined pace, but one that's not exhausting or dangerous." If a small gnome with a speed of 20 can travel 16 miles in a day without being exhausted, a party on camels can definitely get to that mountain in 3 or 4 days with no trouble whatsoever.
Exalted has the best world/backstory, and is definitely the most fun for the role-playing aspect. When you actually do get to combat, though, you better have a LOT of d10s.
The best thing about Exalted is that you get to make the EXACT character that you want to make, right from the start. He or she is not some baby level 1 version of the character you want to play. That’s what makes the game so perfect for role-playing. The game isn’t about grinding XP and gear, since you started the game able to overthrow a whole city by yourself, and you already have that world-breaking weapon that you would be drooling over for 20 levels or more in Pathfinder/D&D.
If you’ve never checked out Exalted before, it is amazing. Second Edition is more or less complete, with lots and lots of books available. Third edition is more elegant, and looks very promising, but so far there is only the core book. Onyx Path is speeding up the process now, but it will still be a couple of years before there are enough third editio books to really get a game rolling.