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One thing that gets me is, he's a cloistered cleric, and he's using a bow.

I mean, cloistered cleric is all about casting in my opinion. Having a decent bow can help in niche situations, but he should want to cast, cast and cast more.

If he were a warpriest I could totally see him going around gishing archer/cleric, sure, but cloistered? Get closer to your allies and use that bless spell.

Btw my impression isn't that "warpriests are traps"... don't have a player with one though, so I may be wrong (although I hope not, it would suck if they were so terrible). They're still full casters, they shouldn't compete with fighters in strike accuracy.

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Yay Mwangi book!

JJ, I have a question - what's the scale for the Lost Omens World Guide poster maps? Or those in the book itself? Really, I'd just like to know the actual distances involved. You can totally point me to somewhere else if you're not the right guy to ask.

Sorry to bother you, there's just so many sources, all saying different stuff, I need the most official answer I can get. Thank you! T__T

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Btw thank you JJ and Paizo for Vudra, from the bottom of my heart! Even just an article at the end of an adventure is awesome to me, honestly.

Hey... do you think it would be possible to get similar treatments of other regions in Golarion further on? So that we start getting some details before you all are ready to come out with full books, y'know...

Southern Garund comes to mind. Also many places in Arcadia, Casmaron and if you guys feel like, Sarusan... wouldn't it be cool?...

(Not that you gotta write them all down in the next few months of course! XD ).

Oh and thank you so much for your answers re: summon spells, JJ! ^___^

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James Jacobs wrote:
It's because that character is genderfluid and it's no big deal.

Thanks J, thought so but wanted to make sure with the author himself ;)

So changing subject: when you use a spell like summon animal you effectively create a short-lived animal to help you out and then it disappears, same thing with celestials, fiends, even dragons?

It's certainly much more practical for a spell with a brief casting time and it's good that the ritual for Planar Ally is more involved and actually calls an already existing being. I guess my question is, the creature you summon with the spell is still a living creature, not completely artificial, with feelings and sentience and whatnot, right? So if you send them to die it's on you, I would say? What is the canon and what's your pov on the moral implications?

(Btw hadn't got the memo re: the Mwangi Expanse AP announcement, positively thrilled here!!)

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Hi JJ! =D

Something that came to me while reading Sandpoint - Light of the Lost Coast (everyone stop reading if your GM is having you adventure there!):

Is there any particular reason Shayliss Vinder's vigilante identity is gendered male? I'm wondering whether perhaps Shayliss is struggling with her gender identity, or perhaps she's genderfluid and it's no big deal, or she just feels more comfy as a man-coded vigilante.

If you could answer me this it would be really helpful in portraying her, I think!

Btw, loving the latest Q&A about your original campaign, Jack Vance, communicating info for boss fights... Playing that campaign with your sister must have been a blast! And a lot of locations you originally came up with made it in the official setting - that must be pretty nice!

Please don't work yourself too hard with all the products Paizo's working on atm (most of all Kingmaker!).

Thank you and big hugs! ^____^


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Hey James,

I know you're not exactly the Rules Guy but bear with me - in Lost Omens World Guide there's a background called Varisian Wanderer which is very neat and very Varisian... but gives you Circus Lore? I didn't know Varisians had circuses! Is it true? Actual big tops or do they more like sing, dance, juggle, perform acrobatics and so on? I'm gonna copypaste it:

LOWG wrote:

You have spent your youth wandering the lands of Varisia and beyond among the brightly painted wagons of a Varisian caravan. You have heard endless tales of your people’s history and lore, and have learned many songs and stories from the disparate people you have met.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Dexterity or Charisma, and one is a free ability boost.
You're trained in the Performance skill, and the Circus Lore skill. You gain the Fascinating Performance skill feat.

Also about Varisians, you once said:

JJ wrote:
Romani traditions are in there for sure, but also some Spanish as well. But also purely fantasy stuff that riffs off of more modern traditions like the Goth subculture or old time maritime traditions transposed from ship-based travel to overland travel.

Can you tell us more about the Spanish traditions and the fantasy/Goth/maritime stuff you mentioned?

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I saw something similar for 1e Seoni and Valeros by Rafael Malavassi, but alas, nothing else!

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Yeah, I was commenting about the fact that we lost Alahazra, I do know Seelah is Black (and that is awesome). Sorry if I wasn't clear, English isn't my 1st language.

BTW I love Korakai, who has East Asian elements... But he *is* a birb, after all. He's a great addition, I'm just sorry we had to demote Alahazra to... "just a build".

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I'm not very enthusiastic about the fact that an adventure in which Garundi and Mwangi characters would have worked very well excludes all humans. I totally understand why that is and I think experimenting is a great use of adventures, but it sounds so much like a wasted possibility... I hope we'll have more adventures in Garund in the future!

Bashing some Aspis Consortium f@%@ers in the head is also great news, no matter if it's serpentfolk, alghollthu or anything else behind them (although I'd prefer it were just them and their immoral, bigoted greed).

I love that we'll have orcs to play with - I hope we finally have a less monolithically CE ancestry here, and that we manage to ditch the "racial stereotype from less enlightened times" angle. Goblins were very well done in Lost Omens Character Guide (for instance it explained the mostly evil ones in Varisia are young individuals who hate the trespassing long-shanks and that their clashes with them killed off the older ones who could have given them more of a culture and softened their rougher tendencies). I hope the way orcs are portrayed, not just Garundi ones but Avistani as well, becomes less essentialist and more nuanced.

I'm not in love with kobolds right now. I like the breath weapon very much, less so all the special abilities like Cringe and Grovel who make them appear like comic reliefs so much. I think if you need to make a species ridiculous in order to have it resonate with players then there's something wrong somewhere. I hope those are not all the options we'll have with kobolds (yes, they're cute; no, they don't need to be stupid and cowardly).

The investigator's new combat ability sounds interesting and better than the playtest one, although I personally would have liked a little more DPS. Maybe with a feat? Who knows. But it's good.

Yay for cackling being an option and not a witch-defining feature!

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Have you checked this gorgeous 3D rendition of Quinn?

That said, I think it doesn't matter that the actor's his spitting image - what's more important is that he can accurately portray him, "BE" Quinn - and give his personal spin to the character (also, he shouldn't be too young - Quinn has grey hair and beard and a noticeably wrinkled face).

Anyways I'm glad we still have one of our Black Iconics!

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Okay, I've been reading and thinking and re-examining and so on. I wanna say what I would personally like for our Varisian friends to be in the coming APs and other products (most of all more sourcebooks about various parts of the Lost Omens setting!).

When I started to read about Varisians I hoped they were Romani. At first, many years ago, I felt they were a lot of fun, but thankfully my appreciation of the problems of marginalized people has developed a bit in the meantime. Now I still like Varisians, and at the same time I don't.

First off I learned they're not meant to be stand-ins for Roma. I like JJ's ideas about what they should have been, but I think representation is more important today, for a product like Pathfinder, for Paizo, for us players. I know in the US the plight of Roma people isn't something that draws angry crowds to the streets with big signs and chants, but here in Europe *we really need representation of Roma in our stories*. There's still an awful lot of prejudice against this ethnicity, and ignorance, and hate. I would like for Paizo to partly go on with the way they've described Varisians until now, even though they aren't the people JJ came up with back in the day. I feel it's too late to make them non-Romani, and I definitely would appreciate more (respectful, well-researched) stand-ins for *real people who need representation* instead of a completely made-up ethnicity.

Right now Varisians are in a sort of weird place. On one side they could really be Roma. On the other a lot of Roma stereotypes have been somehow attached to them, mostly erroneously b/c they never were meant to be Roma. It's rather confusing - it's very hard to play them as anything but Roma, but at the same time we try hard to de-Esmeralda-them however we can, and it's both confusing and labor-intensive. The Sczarni are another sore point. JJ wanted them to be an inclusive band of shades-of-grey rebels and scoundrels, not monolithically evil or good - but at this point they've become The Varisian Mob (further adding injury to the portrayal of RL Roma, some of whom commit criminal acts, but not in larger percentages than white people or other ethnicities - poverty does tend to breed criminality sometimes, but Roma aren't more criminally-inclined than anyone else).

At the same time Varisians have many interesting features, from their past in the Thassilonian empire, to the nation they managed to build for themselves (Ustalav), to their very interesting relationship with Chelaxian colonists and Shoanti cousins... I feel like they could be very easily related to Roma and still maintain a lot of distinctive character. Some of the material written about them, most of all in APs, most of all recently, is fascinating and interesting.

Why not embracing what Varisians have become instead of once and for all decoupling them from Roma people? They've become Roma in all but name in many respects, and they've been so for a very long time. But we do need to make them more indicative of the real ethnicity instead of characters based on Notre Dame de Paris (ugh).

1. Let's distance them from the Harrow a little - yes, poor Roma will read your future for money if they're allowed into a city, but it's cold reading at most. They don't have special powers in that sense. The Harrow should be a divination method spread to all of southern Avistan, right? Maybe even further. So let's make Harrowers an international phenomenon from all ethnicities. Hell, certainly *some* Varisians are Harrowers... and so are Taldans from a host of nations.

2. Let's decouple them from the Sczarni as originally intended. Let's show Taldan Sczarni, elven Sczarni, exiled Shoanti Sczarni. If you want, let's have also morally decent Sczarni. The name sounds like something that originated among Varisians anyways - let's not demonize them.

3. Let's show that they don't roam b/c of their inherent wanderlust - they do because in Varisia many people won't have them in their towns and cities. Let's show they do settle down when possible, in both shitty ghettos and clustered, colorful, wealthy mansions, and anything in between.

4. Let's show they have suffered. And they still do. The way Chelaxians treat them is spot on. They try to live comfortable settled lives but too many bigots just won't have them, or will make it a living hell. Vardos are all well and good and necessary, and there's a joy in setting for the next horizon, and pride in travelling with a kumpanya, but the need to always roam is not a lifegoal.

5. Let's emphasize their love and respect for their elders, their dominant positions within Varisian societies, their role as oral storytellers and thus keepers of the past, their judgment of honor as something highly desirable and their power to kick you out if you won't uphold it.

6. Let's make their spirituality complex and multitheistic, with some shamanic elements - they won't go into gadje churches or listen to gadje priests, but they do worship the core pantheon, and perhaps Desna is a sort of Great Mother they acknowledge. Desnan clerics are definitely a boon while needing to travel!

7. Let's show the richness of their fables, myths and legends, hundreds of them (not that we have to set them all to paper, but let's define some of their mainstays - the birth of the first violin using the hair of a dead person as strings, for instance).

8. Let's have them perform a myriad little rituals for baxt (fortune) and make them hospitable and ready to give gifts to guests (more baxt and honor are always welcome, and you *need* those connections!).

9. Give them flamenco - or whatever equivalent we have - after all it's them who came up with it! Show their music in all its wonderful variety, with plaintive paeans and fast jazz, violins and concertinas, spoon-beating, choruses, hand-clapping and so on.

10. Show they dress "like colorful butterflies"... because they don't really have a choice (when you're poor and on the run every piece of clothing is okay). At the same time there are huge wedding dresses, coin-strings forehead ornaments, and more.

I'll stop now. I'm not even as knowledgeable as I'd like to be about the topic atm. I do believe it's too late to make Varisians anything else than what they are - but *we can* make their portrayal of a beautiful real life culture much more respectful and free from harmful stereotypes. Esmeralda Varisians tell us Romani were a fairtytale people who no longer really exist, not a real, living, breathing ethnicity who still struggles with oppression *right now*.

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I know right?

PS Am I entitled to say that if I'm only bisex? But homoromantic I swear! ;)

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Kudos, James. Kudos, Paizo!

EDIT - I mailed this to my whole group!!

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Okay, I love Korakai and the fact that he comes from Tian Xia. I'm also glad that the oracle as depicted here is such a good match for a shaman, it would be good to not depend on druids exclusively (although if one day the shaman comes back as a full class - or at least an archetype - I certainly won't be the one to raise my voice against it).

I definitely hope Alahazra will not be completely phased out - we need more representation than ever, in every aspect of the game. Good representation, not monolithically evil orcs or scantily clad, sexually objectified exotic flowers. And a Black woman ceding her place to an anthro bird, as much as I love Kora and I love the Tibetan and Korean hints in his backstory, is not exactly what I was hoping for.

Still, love the story, love the character... hope for improvements.

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I didn't know anything about Juneteenth but I hope this year will mark more and more progress for Blacks and other minorities fighting against an international system that has become a fascist kakistocracy with no regards for anyone who isn't a white cis male. Black Lives Matter.

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Thanks to all of you, bookmarked everything and looking for Tony Gatlif's filmography and Bury Me Standing! Cheers y'all! =)

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As UnArcaneElection points out, it sounds more like in D&D it's more like 75% nature, 25% nurture, thus an essentialist pov.

That said I must say I like David's concept - a species might be constantly angry, for magical or biological reasons, and orcs could certainly qualify, thus being usually classified as CE. It certainly is supported by the way half-orcs are usually depicted - people with anger problems in a nutshell. I also agree that dwarves tend towards community and are less egoistic/individualistic than your "average" human, so they can be represented as usually LG, while it's very true that the impermanence of all things experienced in elven long natural lifespans can lead to a chaotic/frequently changing disposition towards various subjects (I personally really love the way elves are depicted in PF, almost never marrying because it would be a mind-boggling bore for instance).

The way you describe goblins, David, would be perfect for PF1, but while reading Lost Omens Character Guide I've noticed an effort to depict them as a less sociopathic ancestry. The Scarps, the goblins populating Western Varisia, are described as being continuously treated like vermin by the local people, with their elders constantly killed before they can manage to give the rest traditions and common sense, and thus they're a result of the cycle of violence (which imho is a strong theme in Burnt Offerings and RotR in general, and something I really like about this AP and constantly draws me in).

Ragarding the cycle of violence I would like to point out my understanding of orcs - they've always been predator-like, aggressive and so on, but it was the clashes in the Darklands against the ancient dwarves that gave them a taste for actual warfare. The fact the dwarves, even classified as Good as they are, tried to wipe them out again and again during their Quest for Sky, only to find out they were pushing them exactly where they were going, and after it, because at that point the hate between the two species was just too ingrained and festering, made them the war-obsessed, always-angry, omnicidal culture we meet in Avistan - plenty different from Garundi orcs. I appreciate that orcs as enemies are a sad result of circumstances and conservativism on the part of the dwarves, honestly (if my reading is at least partially correct).

Changing subject, it's absolutely true that Shalelu doesn't necessarily know about other populations of goblins and thus might not know there are indeed decent goblins around, for sure. I'm really not fighting against Liane's portrayal of Shalelu (or of the Scarps) in this story, which I found rather awesome.

Again, I'm thinking about David's pointers and I must say they're very smart and appealing. We don't want different ancestries/species to be the same as humans with pointed ears, so we need to have them be really different. Perhaps D&D didn't go far enough in that direction and that's why I (and many others) get this idea of racial essentialism from its "races" (even calling them races at this point in time seems really absurd). On the contrary PF has always tried to make them unique and different from humans in a myriad ways, and as of late they've also become more culturally varied, which is all in all the important concept I'm trying to push here - it's okay that biologically a species tends to have certain characteristics (heritage, feats - and I'm very glad that now no 2 specimens of the same ancestry are really the same even though they follow certain themes), but that shouldn't be a substitute for different cultures/ethnicities.

As I said, I wanna extend the reasoning to the various "monster races" as well - ogres, trolls, orcs etc. I hope I find some interesting material, but in the meantime I would like to encourage Paizo (which has already done a good job with orcs, for instance, and arguably with trolls and others) to try and clarify the non-essentialist nature of some of their various species. Alignment is something the new edition has brought over of course, but I'm glad we'll be able to tinker with it with the GMG on hand, and more nuanced, less outright villainous species would furtherly work against the essentialist ideal (with some exceptions - fiends are fiends, and I don't think a settlement of "good urdefhans" would necessarily be a great idea!... although... interesting thought experiment). If they could also, in general, be depicted as belonging to actually different cultures, same way the core ancestries have been, that would do a lot of good to the gaming subculture... for so many reasons.

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I think that in the story Shalelu could have thought about how dangerous and hostile the Scarps are and compared that to many other goblins from all around the Inner Sea, to show she's mostly a sworn enemy of *these* particular tribes, but I'm still not very good at writing and I wouldn't dream of giving pointers on how to do it to Liane, of all people. The story was thoroughly enjoyable anyways and worked well. Conflict about the nature of goblins can wait until the farmers are safe, that's for sure.

Gambit, it's good that the evil of many monsters is purely cultural, but when a whole species of monsters is so predominantly evil the difference tends to get lost. I think the approach used for the core ancestries - giving each of them many different cultures and ethnicities - tends to work better in avoiding racial essentialism. Sure, elves still are mostly chaotic good and dwarves lawful good, but apart from that, they're not Klingons vs Romulans. They're much less essentialist, because it's clear it's not their "race" that molds them into who they are, but their varied traditions, their history, and the circumstances they live in.

"Humans with funny X" is certainly a danger to avoid. If one wants different species in their world the species need to be, well, different. That said, avoiding racial essentialism is very important in my opinion, because it encourages reluctance to consider alternative perspectives and ends up in a generalized close-mindedness. It's not by chance that people at Stormfront recently held up D&D, and particularly the race/alignment system, as a perfect demonstration of how the world works.

GeraintElberion, I like symbolism. I'm less inclined to use species to symbolize general traits or ideas, although as long as those traits/ideas are represented through a multiplicity of different cultures and we don't necessarily attach Good/Evil labels to the results then I'll consider myself sufficiently vindicated. I think the Wights in ASoIaF might be a symbol for climate change, and I can easily get behind the Oliphaunt of Jandelay as a symbol for unthinking destruction. I do think we need to be careful though to avoid creating fictional species which already sound like racist clichés and attach greater significance to them. We should instead make them more sophisticated in their cultural differences, as was done for dwarves (Holtaksen, Pahmet, Paraheen, Kulenett, Taralu...), for elves (as is tradition), and even for goblins.

We shoudln't conflate race, culture, and ability, because that makes race objectively real instead of a social construct. I don't see that as a desirable end.

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Alignment variants in the GMG sounds like possibly my cup of tea, or at least good for a lot of what ails me, and I'm really looking forward to it. I hope the druid in my AoA campaign will still be able to use Searing Light with some efficacy though or she will object heavily to this kind of loss - but that's a different problem, it's really good that we can tinker with alignment generally speaking.

I've thought about it and I think if I emphatize that different species have many different cultures, similarly to the core ancestries (great job on the various ethnicities anyways guys, making dwarves and halflings etc more varied was a masterstroke), I could be able to present more monolithic ancestries in a more progressive light. Not perfect, but should help, most of all with no alignments or a similar solution.

I'll try dusting off my old Paizo pdfs about giants, dragons, classic monsters etc and see if I find more chances for different cultural approaches to bolster. Different cultures within the same species would be a huge improvement in future books anyways imvho, and I'd support that unconditionally.

Oh, btw, I still haven't been able to express my appreciation of Liane's story about Shalelu above this comments - I really enjoyed it and I hope she'll keep churning out these little masterpieces for her PF fans for the foreseeable future (to paraphrase Rysky, Liane + Shalelu = Win!).

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I agree that having Rise for 2nd edition would be awesome.

I would like it even better if it were... uhm, "reworked" for modern sensibilities (the party discovers the goblin are wayward uneducated children treated like pests by the humans, Nualia's treatment is emphatised as contemptible and the people of Sandpoint as guilty, the lamias are less monolithically evil and the ogres are less Midwest/Appalachian horror story...).

I love all APs and really wanna run RotR but boy does it need a refresh.

Feros, saying that the norm for goblins, ogres, hobgoblins, lamias, and so on is to be evil is an essentialist point of view. The problem here is that we're taking species of people (because they're people, obviously) and saying they tend towards being evil or good or anyways making bold swiping statements about the character of not just whole cultures, but actual families of interrelated individuals, reflecting a very retrograde view of the world. This kind of reasoning has promoted uncountable horrors in history and since PF has almost always tried to be "woke" it doesn't reflect well on it. That the new bestiary perpetuates such clichés is a real pity and a waste of an opportunity to really make PF its own original brand of fantasy.

Of course magic can explain how goblins were born from barghest blood and hobgoblins genetically engineered to be elf-hating armies and chromatic dragons were metallics corrupted by a destructive deity... but the result is the same, even with a good reason. Fiends and celestials can be normally one alignment, otherwise they wouldn't be fiends and celestials, they would be something else... one species could be almost always evil as an interesting thought experiment. So many of them? Why adopt such conservative fantasy stereotypes when you can break free of them and tell a story much more grounded in reality, resonating louder with people?

Again, I love PF as many of you know, and I run it every week. In my conversion I'm trying to prep RotR so that some parts of it appear in a less bigoted, racist light, but it's a tall task, and when the new bestiary doesn't help at all... it all gets so much harder =/

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I didn't know about red pandas! Didn't even know they existed. Thank you for the pointer guys!

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Aaron Shanks wrote:
Your comments made me recall that in his interview on Know Direction last night, regarding the foes in the Extinction Curse Adventure Path, Ron Lundeen said he has made an effort to characterize them as demon-worshiping baddies who deserve a "punch in the face." They are not bad because of who they are, they are bad because of what they do. I think we are on the same page with you? That said, in a fictional narrative, not every character will see things that way.

I've noticed the same in the Age of Ashes campaign I'm running for my group - the baddies are part of an evil, contemptible organization, but they're very varied in ancestry/species. I like this and I agree in this department we're on the same page.

The Bestiary, though... it promulgates this old idea that whole categories of creatures can be objectively Evil. Like lamias and ogres and even goblins, confusingly enough. For various reasons, and with various nuances and cultural habits... and I understand most of us gamers want Bestiaries with species lore and info on how to play them. I'm just trying to wrap my head around the concept without running into the essentialism problem... and I'm not seeing how to think about it other than "yes, it's a problematic aspect, let's acknowledge that and move on", which isn't all that satisfying...

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Charles Scholz wrote:
Lyoto Machida wrote:
I miss that variant of goblins that were shown in ROTR and "Wrath of the Fleshwarped Queen," "The Emerald Spire" and many featured prominently in many other adventures. I hope they will make a return sooner than later!

The PC Goblins are the exceptions, not the normal.

I figure PC Goblins as outcasts.

Actually if you read Lost Omens Characters Guide the Scarps of Varisia are peculiar in that they've always been treated as vermin by humans, have fought and lost a lot of battles, and the consequence is that they're all very young and that their less evil elders, who kept the wisdom and traditions of their culture, all died in those skirmishes. The humans (and Shalelu, here) don't give them time to grow old and take back their old ways, so they're a culture of teenage delinquents at best.

That said, I confess I think the Scarps are fun. At the same time, I'm having troubles with Pathfinder's characterization of different species (thankfully the word race has been mostly thrown out of the window). It is mostly essentialist: how do ogres behave? How do lamias behave? How do goblins behave? Culture is tied to species/ancestry/"race". Sure, there are variations, but even dwarves and elves fall prey to this mischaracterization. I can almost get behind that because the common ancestries have lots of ethnicities with different cultures, but hobgoblins, for instance, are all a species of efficiency-minded magic-hating ruthless soldiers. I know they were created to be that, but with time they could have become different. More varied, as humans are. As most ancestries could be.

Fantasy has this bad habit of treating different species as monolithic. All lamias are evil. Almost all Avistani orcs are evil. Almost all elves are chaotic good. Humans are the only ones who seem to be molded by their life experiences, as they should, everyone else is seen through an essentialist lens that goes back to Tolkien at the least.

Isn't it time we fought evil factions instead of evil races?

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Hahah! Thanks Mark for answering in the other thread and sorry for bringing game questions to the Off Topic forums - you're the best! (Your fellow designers are awesome too of course... and the editors... and the fluff writers, and the artists, okay I'll stop).

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Mark Seifter wrote:
Our awesome and insightful community members beat me to the right answer. As they said, this is how we let you tell a story of your PC's progress vis-a-vis the monsters of the world, with a scary solo boss one day becoming a mook you can fight and beat in large numbers, where the math carefully scales to account for the action economy. This is as opposed to the more typical approach of having certain enemies within their level work differently because they are intended to be a boss, with similar numbers to other monsters of that level but extra actions every turn, ability to negate bad effects, etc. We thought it would increase your flexibility and the sort of narrative and simulationist coherence of the game world to try to do it this way, and it wasn't easy, but I think we succeeded. You have to use different tactics than mook-sweep-up blitzkrieg (which denies the action advantage of groups of mooks) against single enemies, though, leveraging buffs, debuffs, and so on. But the posters in this thread have that covered too! :)

Holy shit it's Mark! (Cue fangirl squeal) Hey Mark! I didn't think you were gonna answer anymore and then you surprise me with this... on this thread! XD

Anyways yeah, the posters have been super helpful and now I perfectly understand how the game is supposed to work, and my players are getting there too easily enough, even though since they were used to the other method you mention they took a little longer. This design is certifiably awesome and the more I study the rules of this edition the more I'm lovin' it (which, take note, is great praise for a gamist system from a simulationist player! ;P ).

I'll proceed to read your answer to my group. Holy shit you're so awesome!

And yeah, thank you everyone, you've all been great in explaining how it works to this noob here =)

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Thank you guys, I'm reading to my players what you're telling me over Whatsapp and it makes a lot of sense actually.

We've been able to successfully and epically conclude Cult of Cinders (AoA 2) and we're all starting to understand that solo bosses are different than groups of bad guys and they require different tactics.

Your answers have been invaluable in showing us how it works and why it isn't unfair that a +2 level creature is so much more accurate and resilient.

We're also starting to like the way it works and I think it's all a matter of getting used to how it is, as in 99% of life, after all.

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Hi Mark!

First of all kudos again for being promoted to design manager, you totally deserve it - you're nice, and enthusiastic, and you care about feedback, and you love your job, and I've always said you're a great person! ^___^

Enough with the ass-kissing though. My group and I have a couple design questions - I don't know if you answer these considering it's the off-topic forum, but hey, I'm giving it a try.

One thing my druid always whines about is that there are no magic items to enhance her spell attack against AC, while the fighter and rogue have magic weapons. It's also hard for her to find spells that attack Will, and Reflex and Fortitude are usually a bit difficult to hit.

Second questions, if I may and if you know anything - Age of Ashes, was it still being written while the 2e rules hadn't been completely finalized yet? Could it potentially be a little imbalanced or did the writers perfectly know what they were doing? Sometimes we meet a fight that really makes us panick, and the party has to retreat and rethink their tactics - working as intended?

If you can answer, we'll be very grateful! If you can't, thank you anyways to you and all the other designers (and Paizo in general) for an awesome game we can't wait to play every week!



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Wow guys, thank you, these are all very illuminating answers. Let's see.

Levi - so it's not a problem only we are having, the encounters are actually much more punishing than supposedly "tough fights" in 5e... oh and yeah, they haven't been able to craft their gear for awhile due to being in a jungle a lot of the time, with only Akrivel as a settlement for their downtime... I need to impress upon them the importance of the right gear in this case.

Samurai - I didn't know the rules were still in a state of flux while the AP was written... as you say it could also be that they were trying out difficulties without knowing for sure how that would play out... I was thinking I could "cheat" a little in favor of the party from time to time, so yeah, your suggestions make plenty of sense - I probably will! ^___^

Shisumo - okay, solo monsters are to be treated with the utmost caution, gotta tell my group... I am reading your calculations for the attack bonus and actually it seems to me they line up with our characters' stats - I do think though that the rogue wasn't able to flat-foot Izzolith and other monsters right from the start and that penalized him quite a bit in all those cases. I'm going over the rogue's feats lately and I'm working with the player, who's the greenest of us all, to see if we can make him more efficient and deadly. One thing we don't get is why casters can't have that item bonus to their spell attack, but for spells that impose a save the matter is more balanced, and if they judge the best save to attack with their spell they have an advantage, even.

Ruzza - so a boss' attack is so high to help it with the action economy! We hadn't thought of that at all... and debuffs, yeah, of course they always try to make the enemy flat-footed so our rogue can sneak attack, but we *are* actually not giving the right weight to debuffs in my opinion. I should really impress upon my guys that they are very, very useful against tough customers and to take some and use them when needed, or at least to try the right combat maneuvers to obtain similar effects.

Thank you guys, this was really eye-opening - I'm telling my players what you explained. I think I'll try to ask Mark his take anyways because they were very interested in his answer, but that's more to make them happy than anything. I think I understand how things work now.

Thank you again ❤

(And I'm not going anywhere - if you want to correct my takes, or add something, or someone else has their own insights, please do tell! This is all really interesting and useful stuff!).

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Hi guys, hope you're having great holidays full of epic quests in the Age of Lost Omens (or elsewhere).

TL;DR: some encounters are almost easy, some are very tough, and 1 boss is harder than a group of equal-budget, lower level creatures - feature or bug?

I'm running Age of Ashes and I'm not sure I get something in the encounter structure, so I'd like a hand to make heads or tails of this particular problem.

If you're playing AoA and you haven't finished part 2 yet, please stop reading, I don't want to spoil you. If you're *running* it, please *keep reading*. If you're running something else, same as above - I need as many points of view as possible to understand how this is working.

So, first off I come from D&D 5e, I ran Tyranny of Dragons and I found that most combats, even against bosses, were a bit on the easy side for my group, perhaps a peculiarity of the class composition, perhaps too generous with magic items, not important right now.

Now, with AoA and PF2, we're having a peculiar dynamic. Yesterday my 8th level group was exploring the Fortress of Sorrow in the Mwangi Jungle (Cult of Cinder), they handily killed the 2 dragonspawn with the same stats as Racharak (2 creatures at the same level as the party) and proceeded onwards.

Then they met Izzolith. The elite Nessian Warhound. They didn't really try to negotiate effectively, it sped past an opportunity attack from the fighter and an Opportune Backstab from the rogue and proceeded to vomit fire on our casters, hurting them quite badly. The druid tried to quench it with an Hydraulic Torrent but only did half damage, then proceeded to take cover behind the melees. Things started turning for the better and in the end, with some bad bites and burns to show for it, the party managed to kill the hellhound, but we noticed some quirks.

An elite Nessian Warhound is a 10th level (level+2) creature. It has AC30, which means an 8th level rogue is hard-pressed to hit it, and a fighter isn't all that better. Its saves allow it to easily take half damage from many spells and in general succeed against the party's magic and effects. It has 170 hp! Its attack is a +23, which means it can only miss the wizard on a 1 and even against the fighter it needs something like a 6 or 7 (correct me if I'm wrong, typical 8th level free hand fighter with +1 plate). Same math applies to the rogue.

We thought it was quite overpowered. They killed it alright, but, just to compare, the party later met a group of cultists, same difficulty (8 Moderate) and same xp budget (80), and it was almost a joke dispatching them.

Izzolith wasn't. At all. It was hard to hit, it hit often and hard... my druid was wondering also why casters don't have items adding bonuses to their spell attack and DCs, since melees do. Their spells aren't endless, and with such a being they're easily wasted, or at least only partially effective (earlier on, against the vrock at the strip mine, she had cast Searing Light 4 times without hitting once).

One thing I wanna know is if you're meeting similar dynamics in other campaigns and adventures, i.e., is it normal that some encounters are so tough? No one went unconscious... barely. In the end they were awesome and killed the beast, but we were all panicking. Is this kind of very difficult encounter an intended event to send adrenaline through your veins and make you sweat a bit once in a while? If so, why is it an 80xp budget encounter same as 3 crappy cultists that went down dealing more or less 20 hp against the whole party? That is weird... or is it?

As I jokingly put it to my friends, I wanna ask you if this nice dose of sadism is part and parcel of the rules or it it's something peculiar to, say, AoA. It's not the first tough monster we meet in the campaign - others were actually even tougher (but they were mostly intended as the only encounter in 1 day so the party was supposed to wail on them with everything... although the vrock was really really tough *and* part of a larger location full of nice people).

In general though, for the same xp budget, 1 creature is a holy scourge, while 2 or more become much easier to put down. Isn't it weird? Maybe the math here is wrong and needs to be erratad, by any chance? Maybe it's a situational, quirky result of bad rolls, green players and little chance of crafting magic items? Has it happened to you? I've heard Fall of Plaguestone isn't exactly a walk in the park either.

So is this working as intended, feature not bug... or perhaps this adventure isn't perfectly balanced? Should I ask a dev? Perhaps Mark Seifter still answers questions? What's your impression?

And thank you everyone for reading this far, btw ;)

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Grab some 1-action spells and if you don't have to move after your big 2-actions casting you can use one of those. 2 spells/round. They're not super-powerful but for instance shield protects you from an awful lot of damage and auto-heightens, the druid in my group, who has it via Arcane Tattoos, always makes sure to cast it after she unleashes all her primal goodness.

And yes, with 1 action left after most spells you can really do a lot of stuff, like recall knowledge, taking cover, identify magic, demoralize, feint, even strike, really depends on your build.

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Hi JJ!

I have a question about Lost Omens, and you do know when that happens eventually you're the one I think about asking! ;)

But first - kudos to Paizo and Owlcat for the Wrath of the Righteous game! I'm sure this will be a resounding success for all of you guys (and for us fanbase, by proxy).

Now, question time: on the Reddit community we're discussing the new champions coming out in Advanced Players Guide, and of course the True Neutral champion came up (even though only Evil champions were advertised, but that's how anticipating Paizo products works of course!).

Some of us think that such a champion would want to stop planar beings and extremists of all alignments from disrupting the world and getting out of control (which I agree with)... because too much Good is just as bad as too much Evil.

Now... I've never been able to understand this logic. As I understand it, you can't have too much good. It's never enough. It's not like Order (or Law) and Chaos, which were depicted as equally detrimental to people in Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion series like Elric, Hawkmoon and so on (I haven't read much more, but I think I get the gist).

Good and evil... do you think PF's Neutral champion will want to oppose "too much good"? I can see them opposing good planar beings, because even good celestials can make mistakes, get careless, overwhelm mortals, disrupt the Great Beyond, but Good-as-a-concept?

Why would anyone ever want to limit Good?

What do you think, is there a point to opposing the victory of Good? Would a Neutral champion acting against both Good and Evil (and Law and Chaos) make sense, at least in Lost Omens, and if so, how?

(Of course I'm not asking for previews - if you can answer it's all fine and dandy, but if you must tell me I'll have to wait, hey, that's cool too).

Thank you JJ,

(I'm compiling an archive with your answers regarding various parts of the setting that directly interest me and my group btw, and you rock!),



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Just wanted to add my HURRAY to the choir, just so you know how many people really really REALLY love the idea of lore-only books, and this in particular (and Kate Burmak is AWESOME O____O ).

Yes to everything 1,000 times.

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The Penecontemporaneous One wrote:
I just wanted to pop in for a second to say thank you to the OP and most of the people commenting on this thread - it has been both educational and entertaining for someone still teaching himself the PF2E rules (since other people are asking him to teach them the PF2E rules...oy).

I learned a lot too, but you're welcome. Also, pretty impressive avatar name!

I'm unsurprisingly noticing that the best way to learn the game is to play it, though of course being prepared pays dividends. The way I prep is, more or less:

  • Choose adventure (or AP, but leave those for later)
  • Stick virtual post-it notes on the pdf for every monster not described then and there on the page you need it, same for magic items and traps
  • Open Archive of Nethys, Pathfinder 2 easy Tree and Spellfinder
  • Print the action cards and put them together
  • Buy a GM screen
  • Export images from the pdf to show your players when they meet a creature, person or item or see something interesting, if necessary look for something appropriate on Pinterest
  • Study all you can of the core rulebook as much as you can, it's still the best you can do
  • Also check the enemies and think about possible tactics

    ... And if you've prepped enough they'll think you know what the heck you're doing!

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    Okay, maybe I was reacting a bit too strong, sorry guys, it was just a bad experience I wasn't ready for and it shook me and my confidence.

    I think I could explain to my players that normally the Ref save is about dodging/evading, but in the case of the magical friggin' pillar it's his toughness (same way plate armor has a bulwark trait), which is enhanced by its magic. And there's also a little plot armor, which is balanced to offer a fair challenge.

    As for Tree Shape, yes, it works differently, the game isn't perfectly coherent in every single detail. I think we can leave it like that anyways.

    I mean, no game is perfect... sometimes you find one that you vow to never leave because it responds so perfectly to your needs you can't conceive of anything better, and well, lucky you.

    P2 is not my kind of game... it's not "realistic" enough. But it's got a lot of cool stuff I already listed, even if it sometimes doesn't make a lot of sense to me. So, even though it isn't perfect, it's a lot of fun and it's malleable enough that I can make a mistake or two and nothing breaks. I cannot houserule Ref saves (as thenobledrake shows with their example, for instance), but I can live with them.

    And this setting, which I love, employs these rules, which I'm used to and fond of, so why looking for another system? Most of all when your players don't really want another system - they want this one.

    We're all having fun. Who cares if this game isn't exactly what I would design? I don't even know if I can design a game, everytime I try I never finish. And every other game has always some cool stuff, but again, there's always at least a couple flaws... if not more. Which one in the flood of RPGs on the market should I decide to switch to? Well, why not keep this?

    I was just very frustrated by my players' reaction and I thought they were right. Which in a sense, they are, but there's a method to the madness.

    Now on to explaining it to them...

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    Yes, Anguish, the simplest option would be "no exception" of course, and yes, I was pointing out the incoherence of the tree shape contrasting with the rest of the rules. But if for a little verisimilitude we're forced to learn that, for instance, a stationary target never rolls Ref saves, or never succeeds at them, or always fumbles them (any one is fine), I don't think the trickiness of these concepts will hinder our enjoyment of the game.

    In my opinion tree shape is the good one in the bunch, and all other unmoving targets should've worked like that.


    Siegfriedliner, that's the impression we got - ninja pillar. I understand it's for simplicity and balance, but your solution for instance would not have raised the hell the Ref save summoned up when it appeared. At all. I mean, it's quite logical to ask for a Fort save in that case. It's a good possibility, it makes sense.

    But no. Ninja pillar. Or, in this occasion actually the Ref save doesn't mean evading/dodging as in all other circumstances but plot armor, ability of the target to deflect an AoE, lucky/unlucky positioning of the target... sheesh.

    Yes, SuperBidi, we're houseruling this. My idea is that stationary targets always fumble Ref saves and that is it, and everyone has accepted it, it seems. Let's hope it doesn't cause problems later on...

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    Lucas Yew wrote:
    thenobledrake wrote:
    Every last one of them includes either explicit rules like that a spell must specifically say it targets objects in order to have any effect upon objects - with area damage spells typically not specifying they target objects - or things like spell damage being halved before hardness is applied, or covers the concept implicitly by not providing the rules information necessary to calculate things like how deep of a crater an area damage spell leaves in the earth, or how likely it is to blast through the floor/ceiling of the dungeon, because the spells are written assuming all that matters about them is the dealing of damage to the thing you are actually intending to damage.

    Something semi-related, that I heard of 4E horror stories of GMs refusing to let fire keyword cantrips light a simple bonfire as it specified only targeting creatures, not objects.

    Maybe it's because of this that the 5E rules' Fire Bolt explicitly states objects as another possible target, and curb the considered-as-OP Eldritch Blast's force damage by stating it only works on creatures...

    See, I'm the opposite kind of GM. Give me the basics and I can improv from there. Fire spell? Of course it lights things on fire. It's a goddamn *fire spell*.

    And there are many lighter games that do exactly that. Fate, Cortex, Eclipse Phase, Apocalypse World & Co., BESM, OVA, AGE, Mutants & Masterminds, Gumshoe...

    I love Golarion and I love Paizo, and I'll probably keep running AoA using P2 in the future, but I'm starting to adapt material to other games and see how it looks... hopefully in order to make the switch later on. It's just too much work for too little coherence and verisimilitude.

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    Anguish wrote:

    Functions as designed.

    The best way to illustrate this is the aforementioned unconscious body. When some sort of area-effect trauma is happening, such as a fireball or a hail-storm, we have to ask... is that unconscious body face-up or face-down? Because if it's face-down, the most vulnerable parts of it are protected by the ground. A Reflex save abstracts the concept of facing and variable vulnerability.

    In the case of a pillar, the variability is less obvious, but still exist. Is the material it's made out of uniform? Not likely. Is its shape uniform? Not likely. Is the impact of the effect acting upon it uniform? Not likely.

    A Reflex save doesn't necessarily require movement. Rather, it's a rule that's designed to incorporate that, but in the general envelope of shape, flow, and spatial factors.

    At least that's how I see it.

    It's a rather reasonable point of view.

    I think it didn't need rules - an attack hits a stationary target, who cares if it's face up, face down, not uniform in material and shape, let's simplify. More simple than "auto-fumble"? No save, ta-da. The end. The system isn't founded on realism for everything and in everything like GURPS (thankfully), it's a lot of cool crunch and cool spells and monsters and classes without really caring about every last detail. If it were predicated upon a basis of strong adherence to reality, weapons and armor would work differently, no one would normally be stronger than an ogre, HPs would be much lower and wouldn't go up with level, wounds would give you penalties... that kind of stuff.

    But please let's detail how an AoE could affect a stationary target thoroughly! Sure. With a Ref save...

    Most of all, Anguish, as I said, I've been told the Tree Shape spell is *different*: you become a sessile tree. So, what would you expect from all this? Maybe a lower Ref save, but you still would roll it against an AoE or anything requiring it, right?

    No. You're a tree so if you succeed or crit on your Ref save, tough luck, it's a failure. If you fumble it stays a fumble.

    So apparently trees can't make Ref saves (or maybe tree PCs can't?), while everything else can (or maybe *hazards* can).

    It's all very arbitrary imo. There's no rhyme or reason. Hey, I'm glad you guys like the game, actually, if I don't think about all these absurdities, I like it too (otherwise I wouldn't have started this campaign as I said). But I'm liking it less and less, because running it and playing it you actually have to use the rules and you discover the incoherent bits, the repetitive ones, those that don't convey verisimilitude, the sometimes unbalanced parts... it's a shame. It's a good game, but it could've been so much more.

    Hey, maybe next time, right? Third time's the charm.

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    thenobledrake, everything is abstract apparently. I ignore how you can find a story in this metaphysical mess you see the game as.

    Bandw2, those are the typical explanations a gm tries to give after a rule has resulted in something practically impossible, or very difficult to believe. I mean sure, the things you describe happen. But that's a level of detail I don't think many people are interested in. Really, who cares if I'm in the perfect spot not to take damage from a fireball, where is it, even? It's a 20ft radius globe of flame for cryin' out loud. Either I manage to dodge away, erect or hide behind a barrier, or boom.

    Megistone - thank you. I think I'll do you one better - since a -4 still allows a critical success to happen, and I was talking with my players, who were partly laughing, partly stunned, and partly angry, targets that can't move will always fumble Ref saves, b/c not moving is exactly the worst thing you can do when trying to evade a danger.

    I mean, why does Tree Shape make any successful Ref save you roll a failure? Because you're a fuggin' tree, and trees don't move. Why hasn't this line of reasoning being carried on to the rest of the game? God knows. Okay, I was even almost considering allowing saves in certain circumstances because of toughness and magic, but trees can't save, so why the eff other motionless targets can? It's totally absurd. It's incoherent.

    Oh and yeah, if I need to keep using this system maybe I'll fix the ref save as you, sherlock1701, suggested, or something similar. Then maybe hit points, then maybe armor and weapons... I swear there are many things to like in this game, but a lot of it is trash.

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    sherlock1701 wrote:

    If you're open to a little houseruling, the Dark Heresy system has an interesting take on AoEs. Basically, you make an Agility test (reflex equivalent). If you succeed, you move to the edge of the effect as a free action, up to your single action movement range. If you don't have enough movement to make it to the nearest edge of the effect, then you take full damage regardless of your roll.

    Of course, the baseline move speed in Dark Heresy is 3 squares as an action, while it's 5 for PF2. Maybe go with half speed as the distance for PF2.

    This might get you where you want to be. Just make sure your players are clear on it.

    This is interesting. We could apply this rule, of course if we all agree.

    For AoEs Eclipse Phase rules that if you're within 1m of the edge of the affected area or appropriate cover, and you make the roll, you take no damage, otherwise, even if you succeed, you take 1/2 damage. Of course if you fail to dodge you take full damage.

    I dunno, maybe we should change the rules we don't like. It's written right there on the 1st page of chapter 1, Rule 0, but though a nice sentiment and all, I don't really know how much you can fiddle with the engine and still be able to drive the car without smashing against a tree. Okay, sure, secondary rules that come up once in a while, I can improv or make them work differently sometimes, but combat stuff, which is the crux of the system, you don't really wanna start messing it up only to notice later that what you did exponentially powered up a common spell or made a class suck next to another... stuff like that.

    House rules are what my players suggested, sure. One for this kind of situation in particular. And that's my instinct. But would it break something?

    And I was reading on conditions today... apparently if you're unconscious you have -4 to your Ref save, but you can still make it, hell, even crit it (I can't for the life of me imagine this, sorry, it makes me laugh). As for paralyzed and similar stuff where you can't move, but are awake, at most you're flat-footed. I can understand that some objects might have deflecting surfaces and shapes, that a building can miraculously survive obvious disaster, that everything has plot armor, but this verges on the comedic imvho.

    ... If no one here suggests it's a bad idea I think I'll default at going along with it and take Rule 0 at its word. And good luck to me.

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    @ thenobledrake:

    It's not that I'm insisting on a rules interpretation that I don't like... it's simply that the game suggests a narrative to me, and it doesn't make sense. I can't help if when I see "Ref save" I imagine dodging, it's baked into the meaning of the save. Okay, so objects of course can't dodge... so why a Ref save? To limit page count, okay... I think it was a wrong choice - better to try and use the same number of pages to say objects, say, always auto-fumble Ref saves. Maybe it's just me, I mean, one of my players suggested that instead of having objects roll Ref saves we could have them roll Fort saves.

    Everyone is different - I'm not trying to punish myself by applying a certain interpretation, it's just that while for others this can appear a non-problem, most of my group and I can't wrap our heads around this reasoning. We can follow the rules, sure, but they don't make a lot of sense to us.

    As for preconceptions and the way they're abstracted by the rules... okay, they may be preconceptions. Or it may be that most people think about things a certain way, and rules that simulate that way seem more sound. Sure, it's preconceptions, as I said reality is famously unrealistic (meaning that it doesn't follow our preconceptions, while fiction tends to), but if I see a system using armor Hardness instead of a bonus to defense I can't help but feel it's more my speed, and that's the same for many other gamers, it's just a fact of life.

    Also consider that one of our preconceptions is that if you're wounded your actions are hindered, while d20 games don't normally apply any penalty to someone who has lost a big chunk of HPs. You can say these 2 phenomena aren't even related, but boy, when they're called attack, damage, and work in a certain way, there's also bleeding damage, and bludgeoning damage, the works... I mean, there are more intuitive rulesets, that make sense more readily.

    As for creatures dodging with Ref saves, it is indeed a pet peeve of mine - you dodge a fireball but you're still there on the grid, and while lightning is indeed best protected against making a ball and covering your ears, so okay, it is weird for me that normally Ref saves don't involve movement... until they do (see gelatinous cubes). It's anti-intuitive for me, and slightly incoherent.

    I swear I don't do this out of malice or trying to be unfair to anyone, it's just the way my brain is wired.

    I actually had branches from around the pillar break and fall causing damage to creatures btw, because the fireballs and powder keg explosion had a certain radius and dealt damage to everything around, so that seemed like the most logical thing. Since fireballs don't give ongoing fire damage (another weirdness imho) the flames they ignite are small and unconsequential, but the explosions broke things. So, I've never played Shadowrun, but I'd probably apply the rule for collateral damage. I think, at least. Just makes sense to me.

    @lemeres: those are interesting interpretation, but the pillars are actually pretty basic affairs and not described otherwise, and if you look at many magic items they can even be quite unpractical, but hey, they're magical, so they work even better than more practical items I guess. At this point I can more easily think that the Ref save is +8 for an inanimate target (more than many people who can actually dodge) because of protective magic and the "bulwark" concept from plate armor.

    (So, yeah, nobledrake, it can make sense if I want to think of it this way... took me hours to get to this conclusion though, and it's not intuitive for me).

    @Ravingdork - if something has a Ref save is it there just for the prettiness of it? But okay, check the hazards section (the pillar was an hazard). And after that there are hazard examples... like a hidden pit with Ref+1, a poisoned lock with Ref+4, a bottomless pit with Ref+12 (must be more agile than the normal pit - sorry guys it's just the way I interpret things by default, I get it, it means... something different that I can't grasp). Yellow mold with Ref+13?? Holy cannoli Batman.

    And I noticed that you can't rule autofumbles for unmoving targets because then anything that stops your movement grows massively more powerful - like a 3rd level Paralyze spell... so a paralyzed person still has a normal Ref save? Or it's at -4? I swear this makes less and less sense the more I go through it.

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    thenobledrake wrote:

    It's not unfair to want the game you are playing to make sense - it's unfair to not consider that part of your job as the GM.

    The rules will never be perfect, no game ever will. No matter what rule system you turn to there will be moments where the rules will result in similar situations to this pillar (or unconscious creature) making a reflex save - but that's why the GM provides the narrative.

    The GM can choose to provide a narrative that makes sense of the rules, or can choose to shackle them self to a narrative that makes the rule not make sense despite that it makes the game functional.

    Wait, the game doesn't make sense to us so it's unfair of me to not cause myself a migraine finding a plausible way to interpret a Ref save from an object?

    You know us GMs already always need to narrate wounds just a certain way, because they never really amount to anything until the last one, or a crit if you use the deck. You know weapons and armors don't work the way the game has them work and we need to just relax and go with the flow. I also have to pretend like Ref saves from objects make sense, otherwise I'm being... unfair to the game?

    Look, it's a great game. I didn't mean to offend it. I hope I didn't hurt its feelings. But let's not joke around, there are many systems out there that are much more realistic with a fraction of the page count. We play this because it has a nice amount of crunch, a lot of cool customization still anchored to classes, level ups, a boatload of cool spells... etc, rule of cool basically.

    But don't think I have no alternative system ready that could describe reality much, much better than any D&D, Pathfinder or any other d20 game you'll ever check (although Mutants & Masterminds is pretty damn great). And yes, in a fraction of the page count.

    I repeat that because it's not a terribly easy game to learn and run, and still it can't for the life of it get some damn things right. It's irritating. My players love it (except for that part I mentioned), I like it, but if I could I'd switch to something else in a heartbeat and some change. Because this game, as pretty as it is, sometimes just doesn't make sense, I'm sorry. And I say this with all the love for Paizo and Lost Omens and even many cool things in the rules, but it just... could make my job easier.

    Please don't say I'm being unfair to the game because I can't wrap my head around objects dodging fireballs.

    Deadmanwalking wrote:

    Sure, I'd mention the real-world weirdness of explosions. I've certainly mentioned similar things before.

    Also, Reflex Saves on anything stationary are generally really low, for example unconscious PCs are at a hefty -4, while the pillar you mention has a +8 as a 6th level enemy (which is listed as 'Terrible' on the monster creation chart...this is literally the lowest possible Save a 6th level enemy will ever have), so they won't be succeeded at very often, but when they do actually succeed there are really two ways to look at it that still let the rules make sense:

    #1. The realism argument above. Sometimes things just survive explosions. It's rare, but happens, and Reflex Saves involve how lucky the person or thing is in this regard as well as active dodging. Luck alone only takes you so far, which is why stationary things have bad Reflex Saves, but they still receive some chance.

    #2: The narrative argument, which is more or less the same thing but tied into the nature of fiction rather than reality. All things in PF2 have plot armor to some degree (you can tell by how individual axe blows seldom kill on-level foes), some of the mechanics clearly reflect that. A major character or important thing that goes through an explosion in fiction will sometimes just survive due to the contrivances of circumstance and plot. The Reflex Save represents that plot armor and the degree to which it protects them in this specific incident.

    Both of those seem entirely valid and not too difficult to explain, at least to me. Adding a mention that if the Pillars don't get Reflex Saves neither do unconscious PCs on top of one of those may also cause the PCs to reconsider any objections they may have and requests for House Rules. When something is both noted as more realistic than it seemed at first glance and it's pointed out it'll help keep them from dying, most players are willing to go with it, IME.

    Okay, so, plan - mention how things don't always crumble to little pieces as soon as you try to smash them, - mention how the save is very very low and only for simulating that tiny chance the object has of resisting Ref-based attacks, and - mention the plot armor everything, PCs included, have in the game... which imo is already more than abundantly represented by HPs, seriously, but... okay I guess. Oh and tell them they can save too if they're unconscious and hit with a fireball, at a -4, right?, but they can.


    ... I wonder what they'll say. They'll probably think it's waaay weird. But maybe they'll accept the nature of the game.

    If they don't though I'll need to... probably houserule with them that unmoving targets always fumble Ref saves.

    ... or maybe they'll listen to me and we'll try a different system but whatever.

    thenobledrake wrote:

    I'd do as I've done for you and point out that game rules are designed to make the game playable above all else, so a pillar is making a reflex save not because it's agile enough to dart out of the way of an attack but because that's the die roll called for to determine the amount of damage some things do and the already massive rule-book would be unreadably dense and even more sizeable if side-bars or additional rules were included to do translations like "inanimate objects and immobile objects and creatures don't evade so they don't make reflex saves, but they do have a modifier that is identical in scale and scope to a reflex save modifier and is used any time an effect calls for a reflex save but is most definitely not actually a reflex save because that would be silly."

    And I'd also point out that while they are likely hoping for their reflex save-based damage sources to get to do the best possible damage against this pillar and that's why they are balking at the rules allowing it a saving throw - the more likely alternative would be that non-creatures would become more resistant if not immune to the sources of damage in question because that's how other similar games handle this situation (and is also how throwing an area damage spell doesn't immediately result in the GM being assumed to determine how badly damaged the structures and environment nearby are).

    Well, the already massive rulebook would be slimmer if the game were more intuitive and less gimmicky. Not that "it sucks", I really really wanted to play this, otherwise I wouldn't have started AoA, and boy it's cool to level up and choose your class feat and your skill increase and so on... but as I think I was saying, world's full of simpler and more "realistic" games.

    As for making these objects more resistant... Hardness 16 iirc, against a 6th level party, with, again iirc, about 48 hps. Okay, it's a magical thing, but dammit, I'd expect a keg of black powder to do more... (remember St Paul's Rossana, remember St Paul's...).

    It took a lot. We decided that since it was broken and the enemies had died they had all the time to finish destroying it completely without starting to insult it in frustration.

    Curious - you say other similar games handle this sitch by making objects more resistant or even immune to... which sources of damage? What games are you thinking about?

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    Draco18s wrote:

    I'll see your complaint and raise you Saint Paul's.

    If you look back at that night (and several events in the months prior) you would come away with the sense that there's no way Saint Paul's should still be standing.

    It took direct hits from high explosive bombs on 10 October 1940 and 17 April 1941. On 12 September 1940 a time-delayed bomb that had struck the cathedral was successfully defused and removed. Had it detonated, it would have totally destroyed the cathedral; it left a 100-foot (30 m) crater when later remotely detonated in a secure location. The night of 29 December 1940 was one where incendiary charges were dropped out by the tens of thousands all over London, destroying virtually every building (this is why modern London looks nothing like the chimney sweep rooftops of Mary Popins). The entire city literally burned to the ground. The only reason casualties were as low as they were was because people took shelter in the underground (or other, similar locations) every night.

    That includes an incendiary that landed on top of the inaccessible dome capping Saint Paul's (there is not one roof, there's like 14, and some can't be reached from the others except by going all the way to the ground).

    By contrast there was a vigilant team of fire-watchers at work from the start in St Paul’s Cathedral. They were on hand to deal with the 28 incendiary bombs that fell on the building. But it was only luck that prevented the one incendiary bomb that just penetrated the dome from setting the whole building alight. The dome of St Paul’s is mainly a wooden structure covered with lead, so is highly combustible. Fortunately the bomb, having lodged in the roof, then fell outwards rather than inwards, and was swiftly dealt with.

    That is 1) very cool and 2) illuminating. I think when we play a TTRPG we don't aim at replicating every little or big weirdness that could happen but try instead to form believable fiction, which is normally much more predictable (Reality is Unrealistic and all that) - but okay, cool, a building can unexpectedly survive serious explosions somehow relatively undamaged.

    With a Reflex save, though?

    See my post above please. Ref save is defined as evading and dodging. I would say in the case of St Paul's the attacks all rolled crappy damage, or hey, maybe the Cathedral rolled Fort saves and critted like a champ, many times...

    My players were casting fireballs at a stationary object, which requires the object to make Ref saves, and I couldn't explain to them what the hell was happening. Because I honestly had no idea, pinky swear. Somehow the target was... not dodging obviously, but... I dunno honestly. It's friggin' strange.

    If you guys tell me that a Ref save includes the target's toughness, like in the case of the plate armor's "bulwark" +3, hey, let's talk about that, but otherwise...

    I don't know. I was having a near mutiny this morning. Players claiming for a house rule, if not immediately, at least from next time.

    What would you guys do? Tell them about St Paul's?

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    Deadmanwalking wrote:

    Explosions are weird. Sometimes something just survives right in the middle of one just because it does, sheer luck and the way the particular explosion operates leaves something weirdly untouched.

    Here's an example with a person, but he literally just stood there, so a wooden dummy would've had about the same survival chance were it there.

    Reflex Saves are available even to the unconscious and have thus always involved an element of pure luck, which is after all what the die is there to represent.

    ... Mmm. Okay, so explosions are weird, yes, the article shows it and if you think about it it makes sense. It's also true that when something can damage a target, dice are rolled and the resulting total can vary quite a bit, so I'm not sold that we need an extra Ref save for an unmoving target - if it is moving, well, if for instance I cast Lightning Bolt at you, and you duck, cover your head and ears, everything needed when an electrical discharge is headed your way, then a Ref save is perfect... but sometimes it doesn't seem fitting.

    The fact unconscious creatures can make Ref saves... doesn't make sense to me. I hadn't thought of it, but it's really damn weird. I'm not sure I'd allow it. Same if you're paralyzed or similar.

    At the same time the game has clearly been written to work with Ref saves operating no matter the amount of movement the target is capable of, at most being low and not helping much, but hey, you can always roll a 20 and if it's a basic save avoid all damage... which strikes me as profoundly odd in cases like these... but if the game balance goes to hell if I change this, hell, maybe it's better I leave it as is... although it makes no sense to me and my group. I don't know though. I've heard that thanks to its tight math P2 can handle quite a bit of houserules. If we decided, say, that a stationary target auto-fumbles Ref saves, would we run into troubles down the road?

    thenobledrake wrote:

    1) Items have been making saving throws since at least as far back as AD&D, but back then you had to reference an entire separate set of saving throw rules that were different from what player characters and monsters used (because arbitrary complication in the name of 'makes sense' was treated as more important than arbitrary abstraction and simplification in the name of 'plays easier').

    2) Pillars don't "dodge." That's taking a rule that applies for the sake of game-play simplicity and consistency and treating it like it's a simulation of a law of reality - and unfairly too, since clearly player character's can't possibly be "dodging" either given that passing a reflex save has nothing to do with actually getting out of an area of effect despite it being a mechanic to reduce damage.

    Some effects just have their effectiveness attached to a die roll called a Reflex saving throw. That's it, full stop. The narrative is mutable to whatever you need it to be to make sense - not the other way around like you're trying to apply it, and as a result setting a precedent that could easily wreck your Player Characters if they ever get paralyzed or immobilized in an encounter that involves damage sources that use Reflex saves.

    It's okay that an item makes a save in general. I wasn't there when people plaid AD&D (or I was very little) but from what I've seen those saves were concerned with the item resisting an effect thanks to its toughness, not to to its... Reflexes? Which didn't exist as a save iirc. But sure, I don't want extra complications... although I do care about verisimilitude and a little logic, you know. We're not playing Monopoly after all, but a TTRPG... barring the fact I would expect this set of rules to have gotten better from what Gygax himself played, at least from certain points of view... an RPG tells a story. It doesn't need to be complicated to make sense, honestly, at least most of the time, with the GM noticing when something can't possibly apply and intervening along the course of least resistance, like say having stationary targets fumble Ref saves. "Plays easier" - sure, but if there's a simple way to avoid brusquely breaking immersion for everyone... well, as a GM I need to look for it.

    Then you say I'm being unfair by expecting that a Ref save represents dodging...

    Core Rulebook, p.14 wrote:

    There are three types of saving throws: Fortitude (to resist diseases, poisons, and physical effects), Reflex (to evade effects a character could quickly dodge), and Will (to resist effects that target the mind and personality).

    So, by expecting that a rules element works as advertised in the book itself, I am... unfairly... treating a rule like it's a simulation of reality.

    So... this game doesn't simulate reality at all? I did notice it tends more towards gamism than simulationism, sure, but... seems to me you're wrong. If I cast a mental influence spell at you, you roll a Will save. If I cast a fireball at an object... it rolls a Ref save?

    And again, so it appears an unconscious character, for instance, can try a Ref save against a fireball? If I tell this to my players I can foresee the blank expressions of incredulity. Really, there's no rule saying an incapacitated creature can't dodge - sorry, "roll a Ref save"? O_O

    And it appears that then no, I can't houserule that stationary targets auto-fumble Ref saves, from your reply, because the game balance goes to hell.

    Damn I really hope you're wrong.

    Either that or that we keep playing, my players notice how absurd this ruleset is and while we keep playing this great campaign in this beautiful setting, we switch to a different rule system.

    Because from what you're saying nothing makes any sense at all regarding Reflex saves, see definition above, compare and contrast with your answer.

    I honestly don't think I'm being "unfair" in wishing the game we play made sense. Perhaps I am, and my players are too, and thus we should really have a chat about this new development we were totally ignorant of till now - the game is actually not supposed to make sense. Right, thanks.

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    Hi guys

    So I came back from our weekly game of AoA some hours ago, it was awesome, except for some details of a situation that happened at the end.

    So there's an unmoving 10' pillar, right? With hardness, hit points, BT, the works. The players need to destroy it. So they place a black powder keg as near it as possible, go back as far as possible, and toss fireballs.

    Okay, so... fireball requires a basic Ref save. Which, even if it's a 12m explosion, okay, whatever, abstraction, maybe you stop drop and roll or whatever, maybe you leap away but it was too many rules. Not the topic.

    The topic is that a friggin' pillar made Ref save after Ref save against these explosions happening all around it.

    Okay, it's a magic pillar. It has magical powers. Fine.

    None of its powers says it can dodge stuff, though. And even if, say, a caster aims their fireball wrong, what can happen? Instead of the thing being wrapped in flames on all sides for 6m, maybe it will be 8m of fire to the left, 4 to the right. It still doesn't ameliorate its situation - it. Can't. Move.

    I understand PF is a gamist-influenced system, sure. But a little verisimilitude wouldn't hurt. My players were starting to mutiny after a while, and I was like, "Why the f--- did the devs come up with Ref saves for friggin' items??! WHAT DO I DO?".

    So we decided something was wrong. And lo, from the pinnacle of my GM wisdom, I pronounced "Thou who art a stationary target uncapable of dodging, wilt forevermore be denied a Reflex save, automatically fumbling the roll and thus taking double damage, and so shall it ever be".

    And thus the game ends and an hour later I go to bed and can't get almost no sleep and think about it and think it's a fair house rule.

    ... And then it hits me.

    You know plate armor? The one with the "bulwark" trait? The trait that if you have less than +3 from Dex to your Ref save allows you to ignore that and just add +3 from the sheer toughness of the layers of steel you're encased in?

    ... Holy sh**. Is it possible that Ref saves include toughness? At least for unmoving items if nothing else?

    But that's surely a stretch, isn't it? A fireball engulfs a stone and wood pillar, but since it's tough (already reflected in its Hardness and HPs) it can make a Ref save.

    It. Doesn't. Move.

    But the Ref save is always low for these stationary thingies, perhaps it's because it's *only* their toughness to the rescue, even if they cannot move at all.

    Maybe... its magic does help?

    ... holy sheep.

    So... First off I'd really love if a dev descended from on high to impart their wisdom and explain the actual reason why non-moving objects have Ref saves - they shouldn't, or it's toughness, or it's something else, or us humans can comprehend the infallibility, whatevs.

    Secondly, you guys, you players and GMs and goblin mascots - what do you think? Is it normal that pillars dodge? Is the save a reflection of only their (already abudantly detailed in other mechanics) toughness? Is it the blessed intervention of Brigh or Torag or Yuelral who will crafted items to somehow give the middle finger to whomever tries to smash them to bits? Do you know the truth, and will you share it with the world?

    There, /rant and /questions.

    I'd really like to fathom why the game works like this. If you have any hint, please for the love of the afore-mentioned deities, drop a line, and thank you.

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    I think there are 2 types of investigator that require 2 different approaches - the genius (Sherlock Holmes) who is based off Int, and the hard-boiled detective (from any noir, really, Blade Runner included) who works off Wis.

    So why not having the player choose their key stat, like rogues do? Either Int or Wis.

    Wis is a better choice as is, though - you use it for Perception, half the skills, Will save, and Study Suspect (arguably the investigator's main combat trick).

    So, if Int is chosen to be the key stat, I suggest making Perception use its bonus. If Wis is chosen... well, it could give a different enhancement. I'll leave that to the devs.

    This way we can have both Int- and Wis- based investigators. And they both would benefit from raising the other key stat, btw - but it's no longer a make it or break it scenario.

    I suggest this solution because Charisma is often another rather important stat for an investigator, and Dexterity... well, you gotta be able to hit something, sometimes!

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    I like Cackle (and it can be any kind of laughing anyways, as Nyerkh points out) and the player I have who's most interested in witches thinks it's cool, but I'd still not tie the identity of all witches to it.

    As DMW said, making it a (slightly more powerful) feat would probably work better.

    Or perhaps you could choose between having Cackle and other small thematic enhancements, the way most other classes do.

    I also think it would be cool to have more class feats to choose from in general - as it is it's very flavorful and wicked, but it'd be nice to have some variety thrown in.

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    Thank you guys, GM indeed had no problem (whew).

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    Hi JJ,

    In the LOCG Taldans are described as follows:

    "Taldans typically have bronze, gold, or tawny skin; lightly curled brown hair; aquiline noses; and green, gray, or amber eyes".

    Do Chelaxians still look like their 1st edition counterparts or have they been retconned to this description as well? Also, I've noticed many Taldans don't really look like this in official art - how prominent is this appearance in your opinion? I like it, but it doesn't seem all that typical to me...?

    Thanks as always!

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    Darth Game Master wrote:
    Roswynn wrote:
    keftiu wrote:
    Consider also that “Mwangi” still gets used for four distinct ethnicities. Welcome to the club.
    That has always irked me, and even though their physical differences are described in LOCG (and previous products), their culture isn't really touched upon (and was only barely hinted at before that), so yeah, that sucks too.

    100% agreed. Same deal with the Tian, though at least with them it's somewhat justified because they're not from the Inner Sea so people there would tend to lump them together. The Mwangi on the other hand are common in the Inner Sea region. I guess even the Keleshites are this way since they have 6 ethnic groups too.

    The issue isn't really that diverse but somewhat connected ethnicities are grouped together (even the more specific ethnicities do that) it's more the double standard with those ethnicities and Avistani humans, who get 6 ethnicities which are portrayed as distinct. In my humble opinion they should have either done the same for other ethnic groups (or at least ones native to the ISR) or lumped Avistani groups in a similar way; ie Taldans, Kellids, Nidalese, and something for northwest Avistani (Shoanti, Ulfen, Varisians, Varki, and Jadwiga). Or even just Avistani, Garundi, Keleshite, Mwangi, Tian, Vudrani, etc

    I think they just shouldn't lump ethnicities together, but back in the day it happened with the Mwangi and Tian, so the best they can do now is pointing out how different each Mwangi and Tian group actually is and giving us actual details about them - and possibly stop calling them just "Mwangi" and "Tian" and instead using their actual names (Bekyar, Bonuwat, Tian-Min, Tian-Dtang) and write a paragraph like the Ulfen's or the Nidalese's for each of them.

    The Tians thankfully received a slightly longer treatment in LOCG, but it's still very sparse (even more than white ethnicities, because they had to fit all of them under a single header).

    And as you say, Keleshites have a similar problem - in their setting book we discovered they're actually a grouping of many different ethnicities. That's the right move, as far as I'm concerned (it's impossible for a huge empire to be populated by a single monolithic ethnicity), but again, what we know touches mostly upon the Althameri, and LOCG doesn't talk about them or their sister-tribes for more than a few lines.

    At this point I'm left wishing for an actual product about Golarion's ethnic groups and cultures, with no new ancestries and no faction stuff. It won't happen for quite some time (or ever...), but in the meantime I suppose I can only use the old books to flesh out the new info. And while I know they're all still valid, I then happen upon things like the Taldan-Chelaxian merging and I can't help but wonder.

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