Karzoug the Claimer

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber. ****** Pathfinder Society GM. Starfinder Society GM. 131 posts (530 including aliases). No reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 25 Organized Play characters. 4 aliases.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

--- SUMMARY ---
Quick explanation about timing - this post was written on 8/19, but due to intermittent site issues could not be posted until 8/24. There may be lingering references to the surveys "being completed shortly" - I did 'em during the week, but there's a wall of text to edit so I may have missed a few references.

This report will be filed in addition to the GM survey for Doomsday Dawn I. It summarizes each encounter by room number, and then provides closing thoughts from the GM. I'll be adding additional posts each time we complete a chapter of Doomsday Dawn. Currently, we play in a PFS venue during a five hour time slot, so this session was broken up over two games on 8/12 and 8/19, with roughly 3.5 hours of each session being spent butts-in-seats playing and another ~hour spent reviewing rules after encounters ended to make sure we ran the encounters as close to rules as written as possible in a game with such wide latitude for variation; I expect most future sessions will take roughly the same amount of time.

During the second session, we did have several players not able to rejoin the table due to scheduling conflicts. The table was composed of six players for the first session (A1 - A7), and four for the second (A8-A12).

--- THE PARTY ---
-> Dwarf barbarian (fury totem)
-> Halfling cleric
-> Halfling barbarian (animal totem)
-> Dwarf paladin
-> Elf cleric
-> Elf sorcerer

--- PREGAME ---
Before the game, we discussed character build choices and the character creation rules. The players had built their characters over the preceding week, so the party didn't have quite the same party balance as previous parties of Playtest I've GMed for. Because we were playing in a public venue as part of a weekly Pathfinder Society game day, for reaching the $50 Retail Incentive Program threshold each player was awarded a second Hero Point, in addition to the one they start the session with.

This event took place over two sessions, on 8/12 and 8/19, and hero points reset on 8/19 (with the same result of each PC starting the session with two Hero Points after the table hit $50 of food purchases within 1/2 an hour).

--- A1 ---
This combat was straightforward - the party entered the room from the bottom of the map, and immediately triggers a Perception check[1], where the dwarves and the elves stomped my pitiful Stealth check[2]. With the game up, the party immediately transitioned into Perception vs. Perception initiative[3]. They won, and quickly encircled the offending ooze via two Sudden Charges and an Electric Jolt. The ooze managed to give the paladin a love tap, but otherwise ended up quickly transitioning from alive to a puddle of goo.

A long pause ensued while we reviewed the rules of Exploration Mode with the players.[4] The party, having no rogues (the elf cleric was our high Perception modifier and had Thievery), elected to all Search down the hallway.

--- A2 ---
The party rumbles down the hall, and the goblins definitely know the Paladin is coming (*clank* *clank*). They hide in the shadows, but with the dwarf's Darkvision and the elves' Low Light plus the continued effects of Note 2 they were quickly discovered and didn't get a chance to rush out of the shadows and into the PCs' grills. Instead, we went straight to Per/Stealth opposed Initiative once the paladin (on point) entered the Ossuary proper.

This fight was nasty, brutal, and short; the goblins fired off a bunch of longbow misses at a raised shield, and were one-hit wonders for the two Sudden Charges that took away their distance cushion. The DC5 flat checks did not cause a miss in the darkness, and four goblin warriors quickly met their assorted gods. No non-cantrips were cast during this combat.

With the goblins deceased, the party elected to search the side rooms and secure the passage out before searching (so in chronological order, the events were Combat A2, Combat A3, Search A4, Trap A5, Search A2). When they did search the room, they discovered the loot but did not critically succeed to find the owlbear claw (the elves both rolled poorly).

--- A3 ---
The party dwarf was nominated to stick his head in each of the holes. He entered the first hole, and successfully Perceived the centipedes (triggering initiative). The centipedes used their climb speeds to reach the back line of the party, forcing some actual spell slot use out of the Cleric (one Heal) and the Sorcerer (MAGIC MISSILE!). The lack of Attack of Opportunity was a huge problem, and because the centipedes rolled well on initiative, they were able to separate and swarm the dwarf. Despite this, I couldn't hit the broad side of the barn and the party survived. No PCs were poisoned during the murder of these centipedes; all of the saving throws were successful.

--- A4 ---
The party successfully identified the injuries on the goblins. They're grossed out, and immediately default to, "Vampire," having not critically succeeded.

--- A5 ---
Only the dwarf pokes his head in the room. The trap triggers. He passes the save, and immediately leaves. No search checks take place in this room, and the fungus is not identified.

--- A6 ---
The party fixated on the statue for a good long while, probably preventing us from finishing in a single session. The paladin and the cleric both observe the idol, and the cleric identifies it as being associated with Lamashtu. The sorcerer uses Mage Hand[5] to fetch the thing out of the water, but the paladin (being a paladin) immediately attempts to smash it with his hammer and triggers the encounter.

The quasits attempt Invisibility (and because there are no fighters, they succeed!). However, their offense is less than stellar - they fire off a Fear spell at the two closest threats, the paladin and the halfling barbarian. The halfling fails, the paladin succeeds and whacks a quasit. The dwarf barbarian uses Sudden Charge to base and crit the same quasit, and kills it on the crit damage. The other quasit tries to engage the back line, targeting the cleric, and soaks another Magic Missile. A Heal fixes up the damage and the halfling returns from their Fear 2 just in time to see his two allied hitters put down the quasit.

With the quasits dead, the party checks out both doors. With one door locked, one door not, and no rogue they barrel through the trapped door, setting off the trap without even trying to find it (it was a Barbarian heavy party), and immediately turn towards A7. While the searching is taking place, the dwarf paladin takes a drink from the fountain, but he passes his save and declares that it tastes like, "Fish waste," (he used a different word for "waste" at the table), prompting the rest of the party to steer clear.

--- A7 ---
Darkness was, I think, the best bait for this trap. The dwarf, running fist and with darkvision, immediately perceives the goblins and triggers a Per/Per initiative roll without trying to search for the falling rocks.

During the first round of combat, one goblin stood by the falling rock trigger while the other two (plus the commando) were bait to pull the party into the falling rocks. On the first round, all three melee characters decided to gather up in the rocks to engage the bulk of the party, so the goblins obliged and rocks fell. Nobody died this time, but it was a significant chunk of damage the party would've probably preferred to avoid. After the rock fall, the Goblin Pyro moved forward and greased, using the four contiguous squares configuration to lay out two party members and make some unhospitable terrain for the party.

With two party members (paladin and halfling) prone, the goblins started doing real damage. The commando stuck two crits into the dwarf barbarian, who was living because of Rage temporaries. The party, meanwhile, had caught a bad case of my earlier dice rolls and were flailing with wet noodles at relatively paltry goblin AC. The back line of casters took out a goblin via cantrips, but the two melees and the commando were winning in the trenches when the halfling went unconscious and we had to pause to teach the dying rules.[6]

With the halfling down, the goblins hit a snag - they needed to move through their own grease. One of the remaining warriors tried, failed, fell prone, and was promptly smashed to bits by a dwarf barbarian crit. The elf cleric used his domain power to move the commando into the same square, which caused the commando to also fall prone and to be killed by a dwarf paladin crit. The remaining warrior fired a bow at the cleric, but ate a cantrip in return and the pyro was finally swarmed by the remaining party members. At the end of this fight, everyone in the party was badly damaged and all three melee types were in single digit hit points. We were also out of real world time for this week's session, so they retreated to the surface and rested, dragging their halfling companion out of the Ossuary.

Post-fight, the party spent a good ten minutes trying to climb the cliff face (in real world time). The string of failures was initially funny, but by about minute five we really, really missed the 3.x Take-10 rules, which would have solved this problem.[7] The party also lacked any PCs trained in Thievery. Fortunately, they had a dwarven lockpick (that's a hammer). The stone proved no match for an angry dwarf, and was eventually smashed down. The party proceeded to A12.

--- A8 ---
Skeletons versus a cleric? This was the last room the party entered, and thanks to the cleric spending much of the Drakus fight unconscious there were still three heals left. One shortbow critical hit badly injured the halfling barbarian, but the skeletons were quickly dispatched. Only moment of danger was the opening salvo of the back four skellies.

--- A9 ---
The party discovered this trap via Detect Magic from the spellcasters - the sorcerer successfully dispelled the identified trap via the DC 14 spell roll, and the event did not fire.

I will add here that the dispelling of magic traps, and the mechanism to do so, worked well mechanically even though it was weird that you didn't need, you know, Dispel Magic. While it was a bit jarring, being able to dispel magic traps went over well generally.

--- A10 ---
I expected this to be a nasty encounter based on previous reviews, but the Drakus fight was quite underwhelming. Drakus won initiative on a nat-20 Stealth, closed to melee, and whiffed twice on a 2 and a 1 against the barbarian (AC 14 on the 2 versus the barbarian's non-raging AC 15). The sorcerer whiffed back with a Ray of Enfeeblement, then popped her Dragon Claws with her remaining action. The halfling barbarian swung back and missed twice. Then the dwarf dropped a Magic Weapon Greataxe crit. 33 damage later, Drakus is in a bad way.

Round two, Drakus turned his attention to the dwarf barbarian. A critical, grab, and life drain later the dwarf barbarian is down. The cleric heals the barbarian to bring her back to Unconscious. Lots of whiffs from the party this round against Drakus as they catch the disease of sub-5 dice rolls. Action economy is swiftly turning into a problem for Drakus despite fighting them at a choke point where they can only move by provoking. Smartly, the party stood their ground after supposing (correctly) that he could AoO.

Round three, the barbarian passes her Stability check (DC 18 with a -2 for drained - gets it on the roll) and wakes up. She provokes by standing, and goes back to unconsciousness. Drakus steps and puts two swings into the cleric, knocking him out as well. However, the halfling and the sorcerer flail with melee attacks to no avail.

Round four, lots of bad dice, lots of fanning each other. Everyone missing a lot makes for fights taking too long and not being very fun, and has been a recurring theme through The Lost Star. The halfling seems committed to trying to land an Intimidate/Grab combo on Drakus with only a +1 on Intimidate. Good marks for roleplaying, but it wastes precious Strike/Step actions that could've been used to set up a flank and force him off his choke point. Drakus did tag a longsword hit, though I'm blanking on who (I think I got the sorcerer for some damage). Everyone else did the slap-fight maneuver.

Round five, my dice luck from earlier returns and Drakus whiffs twice on a raging halfling (snake eyes on the dice - he hits on a 3), before tagging a consolation claw that he can't follow up with the drain because he's out of actions. The sorcerer finally lands a claw, leaving him with 39 damage before the halfling lands a d10 bite hit and ends the battle; 2/6 dying, no dead but the faceless stalker. Due to the choke point, there were only Step, Strike, and a couple of ranged spells that go off in this fight. A lot of wet noodle slapping between the monster (afflicted by horrific dice luck on my part) and the party (who were also afflicted with a couple rounds of awful dice, but only needed ~12 to hit the AC thanks to Bless).

The critical hit on the dwarf barbarian's opening salvo really defined this fight. It was the bulk of the damage, and it put Drakus in a situation where he didn't have enough time before the action advantage eventually whittled him down. Also, keeping the martials staggered throughout the marching order (and acting under the assumption that as a "boss" monster he could AoO) really helped the party avoid taking unnecessary bonus damage. The Drakus fight was hard, but I'm baffled at how so many parties are TPKing here; I could probably have dropped one more had the dice been all 11s (or the DPR Olympics 5/15 alternating sequence) but the party's action advantage would have, I feel, inevitably won the day.

--- A11 ---
The party searched the altar. Not much excitement here. They found the dagger and the book, and took both. They checked out the bowl, and enjoyed the preview of future chapter(s). After shameless looting, they moved back through the hallway to leave with their spoils. We had discussed, OOC, that they should take the un-cleared path on the way back even though that makes no sense in character because they have the Star and the Notes, in the name of actually playtesting the entire complex.

--- A12 ---
The party entered after bashing down the secret door (and thus alerting Drakus in A10).[7] They tossed the equipment, and were stymied by the locked chest. The chest did stick the barbarian for a single iteration of the poison (rendering her Drained 1 walking into A10) before moving on to trigger the next encounter.

After the A10 combat resolved, the party was able to open and loot the stuff. Despite some hints during the conclusion from Keleri, the party decided to hang on to the loot. No 3rd level items for them in Part IV.

--- NOTES ---
[1] - Secret rolls are annoying. Very few of them add anything to the campaign or the quality of the play experience. They do add additional time and cognitive burden on the GM, which is not ideal. A very, very few of them actually need to be secret; players are better at not metagaming than most GMs give them credit for, and the best way to stop them from metagaming is to 1) trust them and 2) call them out if they aren't honest. Throughout the adventure, I think only one of the knowledge checks (and none of the other checks) was truly worth rolling secretly. I would suggest that many places in the rules that call for a Secret Check should just call for a check, and let the GM make the determination about secrecy.

[2] - Throughout the first session, I rolled horrifically badly. I strung together nine consecutive d20 rolls with a die result under five at one point in room A7. The modifiers and the ACs of the non-Paladin party members indicated that I should've been hitting far more frequently than my dice were willing to cooperate with. This may have tainted some encounters' results in the playtest. That said, the Paladin was very good at putting himself in the danger zone and keeping the squishies protected with terrain, so some of my flailing was probably as it should have been, just a little more farcical because I was "critically" failing.

[3] - At this point, I felt we were in Per/Per rather than Per/Stealth; the party had made the hiding ooze, so the ooze needed to realize it was seen, rather than needed to hide (because, ugh, see Note 2).

[4] - Exploration mode is a colossal pain in dungeon crawl situations, for limited return. The areas of the map are so small that the party takes only a few minutes to move from encounter to encounter, and with the exception of the trap the party wanted to move in a tactical manner because they perceived the complex to be full of threatening things, and were in no particular hurry to search it while active threats remained. I asked for the purpose of the playtest that we attempt to use Exploration mode when moving between rooms on the map, with a defined marching order and using the lead figure to indicate party position unless we were in initiative, but this failed us at A6 and A7, where the party

[5] - We looked at Mage Hand, and I could find neither a bulk limit nor an exclusion for magic items, so this seems to Just Work. Not sure if that's intended or not, but it's worth considering that when items appear in scenarios/modules/Adventure Paths should define their Bulk for the purpose of this spell.

[6] - The dying rules are frustrating and quite rough. If someone goes down, they're probably staying down. The DC on the goblins isn't terribly high, but needing two successes to wake up means you're probably down for the remainder of a combat and that usually begins cascade failure among the rest of the party (unless the hit that dropped you was just a lucky crit during what should've been cleanup mode).

[7] - The Thievery DCs for opening locks were silly high relative to what the PCs could possibly achieve. A rogue will have, at best, +6 to Thievery (needing a 14 or better on the doors in this complex). If you're actively trying to force the party to smash the doors (a clever villain setting up a mundane alarm for a group of known PCs?) this is fine, but for standard dungeon doors it's annoying at low levels. Finding a way to get those DCs down closer to the high teens (somewhere in the DC 17-18 range?) would make it more challenging without being farcical lessons in failure.

Basically every task in the adventure was an exercise in failure; the combats were spent making slap-fight motions at each other, initially while laughing but later as a way to express frustration without being too overt in the public store venue where we run weekly PFS and want to look like we're fun relative to the Wednesday Adventurer's League games that are now drawing significantly more attendance than PFS. However, the failure rate on pretty much every task was really high. The Climb in A7, especially, was really frustrating.

I think we missed the old Take 10 rules for this very thing. Failing while you're in danger is one thing, but the constant out of combat failure for what should've been mundane tasks was really, really unpleasant as a play experience. The game loses a lot of fun when the PCs are stuck failing at every rudimentary navigation task because the dice decide the players can suck it, and none of the DCs were low enough that the Assurance feat was worth taking (15-20). Even if Assurance just allowed you to take 10 (plus modifier) navigating the dungeon, a task that shouldn't take up more than a few minutes of time, wouldn't become more time consuming than flailing (and failing) at the enemies.

I also noticed that the Paladin specifically really never fired off his "flagship ability", Retributive Strike. This ability fired not a single time throughout the adventure. The paladin did a good job of making himself a target, but even with two melee allies (and with two allies who spent most of A7 prone and adjacent to him in a Grease) he never managed to meet the condition for Retributive Strike. Some of that was that the goblin commando had a reach weapon (but Large enemies are common at higher levels) and part of it was the little goblins struggling to figure out which end of the dogslicer goes in a good guy (read: I couldn't roll a d20 and get a double digit), I reiterate my feeling that this ability is uninspiring and really should be moved from the defining feature of the class to a class feat (probably at 6th level, in place of AoO). It's good for a paladin built around it, but it's really hard to make work for someone with a 5' reach even in a combat that should lend itself to it.

Finally, Exploration Mode. Exploration Mode just does not work well in dungeon settings. In the Ossuary complex, most of the distances encompassed 1-2 move actions; essentially a round or two. Using Exploration Mode tactics between encounters to search rooms also created more cognitive overhead than was required to say, "We want to canvass the room for clues." While it may make more sense when doing In Pale Mountain's Shadow, at least for crawling through the dungeon the Exploration Mode rules don't really add anything to the game that was missing - they just add a bunch of unnecessary paragraphs that, once we're no longer in playtest, our group will completely ignore (assuming we continue playing Pathfinder 2nd Edition). In short, throughout The Lost Star Exploration Mode seemed like a solution in search of a problem, and the search was making new problems besides.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I know I'm a lot late to the party of reaction threads to the Pathfinder Playtest (PFP from here on in), but after running six tables of the PFS playtest adventure Rose Street Revenge and half of the first chapter of Doomsday Dawn I think I have some feedback to share on the playtest that are more than just visceral gut, "EHRMAGERD THIS IS DIFFERENT I FEAR CHANGE MAKE IT THE SAME!" type responses. Borrowing an idea from Deadmanwalking's thread I'm going to create this thread in General, and link out to the individual threads so that they're findable in accordance with this post's instructions.

I've tried my best to post in accordance with Vic's requests, but I fear some of these will come off as, "The sky is falling you did something horrible." That's not my intent, with one notable exception where I genuinely think one design choice was... well, bad. I think underneath some unpolished portions of the rules is a really cool mechanical system that needs some refining, some polishing, and a few changes to core components to make it a strong offering in the larger RPG market, and I because I like Paizo I want to see that accomplished I'm sharing feedback from my game sessions in the hope our playtesting moves it toward that (in addition to filling out the surveys).

Playing the Game

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

After GMing several tables (six of PFS, one of Doomsday Dawn pt. 1) of Pathfinder Playtest over the course of the last ~10 days, I'm summarizing some free-form responses to things that were good/bad in addition to filling out the event surveys. This is a combination of player reactions as I observed them and my own opinions.

So, to start with the good things. Encounter Mode is very, very good. The action economy system is fun, it's easy to teach on the fly, and players really don't need to read the chapter to figure it out, just the list of actions and their class feats. The three actions per turn/one reaction/everything is an action system is a very good choice. I even like the spellcasting component = action balance, and our spellcasters in all six runs of Rose Street Revenge (five at Gen Con, one locally) were smooth while we were in initiative.

I also want to give special props to the initiative system. I initially was leery of it, and it does feel like Perception is too powerful in the new edition (I mentioned it in the Skills comments). However, in practice it's very easy to figure out after one or two tries, and the players who weren't being willfully intransigent were quick to run with the system since it rewards doing things in the dungeon your PC would do anyway, like tracking or sneaking. It's a little, well, weird that the cleric is now the fastest character in the initiative order in many combats, but that's just cognitive dissonance from the legacy concept of, "Cleric initiative," sticking in the group's brain.

Traps were also pretty good. Traps acting like PF haunts took a while to get used to, but the ability to have them disabled by appropriate skills (Occultism for haunts, Survival or Nature for deadfalls and natural obstacles, Thievery for mechanical traps) is a good change. While there will be a learning curve to this system, I consider the traps to be a marked improvement over the 3.x chassis that PF1 ran on, and I think players will gravitate to that as well.

With all those good things covered, though... Exploration Mode is not pleasant. Across all our tables, I had to tell every player that they were trying to perform multiple "tactics", even though these were things that the characters should've been doing. The party's rogue, either the Merisiel pregen or the homemade ones, always tried to scout ahead and clear the hallway of traps. "Sorry, Merisiel," replied the GM dejectedly, "That's two tactics and you can only perform one or the other down this hallway." This despite the fact that the right way to clear a building is to move to cover, check, move to cover, check, move to cover again. Want your weapon drawn? Nope, clearly can't use your eyes with that sword in your hand.

Exploration Mode's Tactics made the game feel like a series of toggle buttons a la Neverwinter Nights, Pillars of Eternity, or other top-down isometric RPGs. I list those games (and not a not-to-be-named whipping post genre) because I loved all of them - they were great video games. However, part of what differentiates tabletop RPGs from those kinds of games is that you have the freedom to define your actions based on realism and implement good, tactical thinking without requiring sacrifices to the limitations of a game engine. Those kinds of toggles are (somewhat) necessary in video games, to manage and balance the party's ability to overcome encounters. Those things aren't necessary in a tabletop RPG, and indeed the ability to move, think, and act in a way similar to real life is part of the appeal of tabletop play when competing for a consumer's limited free time. Exploration Mode adds a level of cognitive dissonance and player/GM friction without providing a material gain in return.

I think I understand some of the problem that Exploration Mode and it's codification of your actions during a dungeon crawl is trying to solve for. I've run a lot of Organized Play (both PFS and Adventurer's Guild), and I'm all to familiar with the player who responds to initiative by announcing, "I was sneaking with my weapons out already while spamming Detect Magic while buffing with Heroism!" or to the springing of a trap with, "But I would've been searching for traps with my weapons out while sneaking down the hallway while reading this spellbook!" The answer to these players isn't to codify how you walk down a dungeon hallway. It's for the GM to turn to that player and say, "No, you can't."

More than anything else that showed up in the playtest, this prompted multiple players to verbalize negative reactions to the actual gameplay. I heard lots of negativity about the classes and character creation in four days of Gen Con, and more over the week of building characters for Doomsday Dawn and our Friday night PFS night. This, though, was the only spot where gameplay was hammered on by the players, and it was hammered harder than just about anything in character generation. Please, please please, revisit this concept. I genuinely believe that you could achieve the same result by adding a paragraph about how to use the skill while exploring to each of a few skills (Stealth, Survival, Thievery) and Perception.

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

After GMing several tables (six of PFS, one of Doomsday Dawn pt. 1) of Pathfinder Playtest over the course of the last ~10 days, I'm summarizing some free-form responses to things that were good/bad in addition to filling out the event surveys. This is a combination of player reactions as I observed them and my own opinions.

So, um, go read this thread and the response about Signature Skills. Pretty much nailed all my thoughts about them.

If the Signature Skills thing is here to stay (perhaps because of Rituals?) at least have the ones from your class, one from your Background, and one from your Ancestry (maybe as an Ancestry feat?), with some kind of vehicle to get additional ones, like a level-locked Skill feat. There should be a way to expand your list of signature skills beyond just your class; classes in the current document are essentially a straight jacket on how you will play, more reminiscent of the worst parts of 4e or a wide assortment of MMOs* than 3.x editions of D&D. While this isn't a problem for those games, the variety and that class wasn't a straight jacket was part of the reason people stuck with the 3.x framework for two decades despite knowing all the warts.

Takes three deep breaths

Other than the Signature Skills system, which didn't come up during low-level play, the skill reorganization seems like a good one. I like seeing combat maneuvers be Athletics now, I'm a proponent of needing fewer skills, and while the Lore skill's naming is confusing (it's Profession? Lore != profession as terms in common usage), I like that a PC who isn't fluent in Occultism could take Vampire Lore or Demon Lore and be a layperson expert on one specific topic. I will say that Perception feels like it should still be a skill, not its own thing. It fails the duck test to me - it looks like a skill, it acts like a skill, it's used in skill situations. It's a skill, just masquerading as a stat. I would really, strongly encourage that it be moved back into the Skills chapter and be treated like a skill. That's even another reason to hang on to Signature Skills - don't give it to anyone as a Signature Skill, and the class features that progress proficiency remain the only way to progress it past Expert (also, that lets you free up a General Feat).

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

After GMing several tables (six of PFS, one of Doomsday Dawn pt. 1) of Pathfinder Playtest over the course of the last ~10 days, I'm summarizing some free-form responses to things that were good/bad in addition to filling out the event surveys. This is a combination of player reactions as I observed them and my own opinions.

This was a topic that received mixed to negative feedback for the tables I've GMed for that made characters (only 3/6, and only two of those have been post-Gen Con where I've been involved in the creation process prior to game time). While not as visceral as the classes, several players felt the feats presented, particularly the general feats, were underwhelming in potency and that there were clear, "Best," choices to make.

I think I'm warming up to the idea that we should only get a few General feats, kinda like the pace that PF2 has, but those feats should do a lot more each and should grow as your character does. As an example, both the Fighter and the Ranger get the feats Double Slice, Two-Weapon Parry, and Two-Weapon Riposte. Remove those feats from the class, and make that one "Combat" general feat. When you take the feat, you get the effects of Two-Weapon Parry and the Double Slice action. If you have Expert proficiency in both weapons you're wielding, you can also Riposte as per the effects of Two-Weapon Riposte. Then make class feats improve on general feats, like the fighter's feats to grant extra reactions, or give abilities like the Open and Press maneuvers or enhancements to the ranger's Hunt Target.

Right now, though, the sheer volume of choices has diluted the effects of each individual choice to the point that they're not interesting, and the need to plot out your choices to make sure they add up to a coherent final product means you're still stuck with the same barrier to entry/high degree of difficulty in character generation that made PF1 unfriendly to new players as the system aged and more options from splatbooks became available. I admire Paizo trying to reinvent the character generation process, but going back to what I said about classes - some folks have already nailed that process, and it's not a bad thing to crib an idea that works and build on it as long as you have something else original to differentiate yourself from the product you borrowed from (and you do - see my thoughts on Playing the Game).

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

After GMing several tables (six of PFS, one of Doomsday Dawn pt. 1) of Pathfinder Playtest over the course of the last ~10 days, I'm summarizing some free-form responses to things that were good/bad in addition to filling out the event surveys. This is a combination of player reactions as I observed them and my own opinions.

The recurring theme I heard from players who actually made their own characters (rather than using PFS pregens) is, "I'm not impressed with any of the feats {insert class name here} gets." The only class I didn't hear that response about was the fighter class; they instead received the response, "Wait, what's this sidebar mean?" in reference to the rules for Open and Press abilities, followed by a series of variations on, "WHAT!?" It seems like in an effort to give the players something to do at every level up, the choices that characters make have been devalued to the point of not being interesting activities. In the case of the one exception, the content has not been received well once the keyword limitations are applied.

I'm all for giving the PCs something at every level, but the class feats seem to have diluted the value of each thing to the point that there's not a lot of interest in making those choices, and that, to me, seems as bad as not giving choices at all (because the players not caring about something is only marginally better than not having it at all). What kinda baffles me about the whole thing is that one of the strengths of Starfinder is the classes. It appeared the Starfinder classes were/are a really good starting point for character creation in PFP/PF2. Everyone, even the soldier (fighter) has lots of interesting things that they receive at every level, even if there wasn't a choice at every level. The soldier ended up being one of the best classes in SF, and I think that framework would've helped balance martials against casters in PF2 as well.

My supposition is that somewhere in the design process, not having dead levels turned into making a choice at every level, and those two things very much aren't the same. Look at the popularity of 5e; you get something at every level, but make remarkably few choices after first level. You still have the reward of building towards a goal at every level up without the choice overload or the dilution of potency for each of those rewards. In addition, the Skill feats and Ancestry feats (those actually had some pretty favorable responses from players I've GMed for, unlike the General and Class feats) mean you're still making some kind of choice with relative frequency, even if those choices aren't about what you'll do when a monster is trying to rip your face off.

I'll also toss out, and this is my personal opinion only, I am not a fan of type-locking certain classes into specific fighting styles, weapon types, or armor types, especially when that class also has other thematic links that may incentivize creating that class with a different weapon style. As currently presented, the PFP Ranger has no support for the iconic ranger of literature, Aragorn; he's not a two-weapon fighter and he doesn't use a crossbow, so he's not supported here? Saying he's a fighter with Survival as a Signature Skill, or that he's using the Ranger Devotion multiclass feat, doesn't feel right to me. PF1 also has a considerable population of archer-paladins of Erastil - those are only barely supported by the Paladin class feats as presented. Meanwhile, all Fighters apparently only use heavy armor (why wouldn't you know how to use the chain shirt, gambeson, and chausses that go under your plate even if you don't have the breastplate on over it?); that seems kinda silly. Whither the Ulfen, with their byrnie and heavy shields?

Overall, this and one portion of non-combat gameplay received the two biggest collections of negative response from the players I've run PFP for. I'm still very much not sure how I'd change it, but I think I'd look at 5e class design and Starfinder class design when I'm thinking about how to fix PF2's classes, because those two rule sets do receive a great deal of positive feedback on their character creation systems among the gamers I interact with.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

On October 30, 2016 Your Mom's Basement will end it's four and a half year run in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. Since November of 2012, the Minnesota Pathfinder Society Lodge has hosted events on Saturday nights at YMB, peaking at seven tables of Pathfinder Society scenarios per session and averaging four tables each week for 2016. We've watched the store go through a remodel and a couple of redesigns to create more gaming space for tabletop RPGs, and it is with a heavy heart that we'll watch it close its doors at the end of the month.

When we first started running events at Your Mom's Basement (I'm going to miss that name so much), games were little more than a table and three players. Shoved into a tiny corner behind a bookshelf, we ran a single table, then two, then - when we could find GMs - three. After I stopped organizing and stepped down as Venture-Captain, Erica Loppanow (panpear) took over organizing duties, to be succeeded by Jason Westphal (jwes55), Jolene Danner, and Tom Otremba (Tindalen). During their stewardship, the community at the store grew from two tables per week to four, the store expanded our gaming area twice, and brought in additional material to cater to our group.

Your Mom's Basement presented a unique gaming model. Operating out of what used to be an Erbert's and Gerbert's location, Dan and Doug built a game shop/restaurant combination that was uniquely able to leverage Pathfinder Society's captive audience. With a combination of good comfort food (the tater tots were a flagship item, and the breakfast burrito was a house favorite), as well as the house-baked cookies and renowned Cookie Sundae (one usually led to a floodgate opening), the store was uniquely positioned to benefit from tabletop gamers even without sales of physical product.

Your Mom's Basement was a unique store with an amazing mission. The sign on the building read, "Food, Gaming, Community," and the community that sprung up around The Basement was amazing. They went out of their way to welcome us, help us, set us up to succeed. They expanded the gaming space twice, enabling us to coexist with Magic: the Gathering even on prerelease nights. The community celebrated birthdays, holidays, and game days alike; I count at least four members of the staff (and I'm probably forgetting someone) as friends after four years of gaming at The Basement. They even ran a, "Pathfinder Appreciation Night," for us where Pathfinder Society filled the store and organized seven tables of Siege of the Diamond City. This store built a special atmosphere of welcome and inclusion, something I've not encountered at any other gaming venue.

Sadly, the amazing community and the food-centric model were not enough. So please join me in remembering this awesome venue. They had one hell of a run, and I'd like this thread to serve as a place to record stories of the experiences we shared there; a place to remember what they built, and hopefully to inspire someone else to build upon what Your Mom's Basement started.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Ladies and gentlemen, ‘tis my pleasure to announce to you all the naming of a second 5-Star GM in the North Star State, Andrew Christian! Andy has been a Venture-Lieutenant since the days of Ryan Bolduan, going above and beyond to run awesome games for players across the Twin Cities metro area and as far north as Anoka where he founded our game day at Village Games. He's a blast to play under, dedicated to running a fair and fun game for everyone at the table, and in his spare time does an exceptional job as a store coordinator and convention organizer.

As Andy's fame spreads far and wide, or at least from Indianapolis to Seattle, I encourage you all to share awesome stories about his awesomeness. Congratulations, Andy; I look forward to the games to come!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Con of the North

February 14-16, 2014
Friday Noon to 2 AM - Saturday 8 AM to 2 AM - Sunday 8 AM to 10 PM
Crowne Plaza Minneapolis West

2014 will mark the third year of Pathfinder Society Organized Play at Con of the North in 2014; we hope to seat 70 tables of Pathfinder Society with ten tables across seven slots of gaming in three days. To accomplish this, we’re going to need an awesome slate of players, GMs, and desk volunteers to help us make this the best gaming experience possible for all the members of our community.

What is Con of the North, and what is its mission statement?

Con of the North is a volunteer run non-profit organization designed solely for the purpose of fostering community among gamers, promoting the hobby of gaming, and providing the gaming community with the best possible environment to present their games (see link). Boasting over 100 events including board games, roleplaying games, miniatures, card games, painting tournaments, and LARP events, Con of the North is one of Minnesota’s premiere gaming conventions.

What kind of presence does Pathfinder Society have at Con of the North?

Pathfinder Society will be in its third year of attendance at Con of the North; last year, we mustered over 45 tables across seven slots of gaming and this year we’re hoping to nearly double that total. We will be offering a wide array of play across Pathfinder Society’s entire scenario and module library including the current Season’s special and, if sufficient interest is expressed, level 12+ play. Scenario listings will be added to the convention schedule and this thread as they become available.

Where do I sign up?

Preregistration opened on July 15, 2013 and can be processed at the Con of the North website at that time. Event submissions open on July 27th, and can be posted as early as the following Monday, the 30th.

How can I help make this event a reality?

The easiest way to volunteer is by GMing one or more slots of Pathfinder Society at the convention. We will need at least twelve volunteers in each slot of Pathfinder Society play; GM rewards include a free Judge badge that gains you entry into the convention and seating if all other registered attendees are saeted. Further swag will be identified closer to the convention. Volunteers will be slotted on a first-come, first-serve basis.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Hey everyone,

I have the privilege to announce the promotion of Jon Dehning to the post of Venture Lieutenant of Minneapolis! Jon has been a pillar of the community for as long as I've been a part of it; he's a one-man printing machine and an organizer for us. More importantly, though, Jon is a role model for all of the Minnesota GMs, striving for excellence and asking his players for honest criticism of his performances. He may not be a five star (yet?), but our community couldn't ask for a better role model as a GM, organizer, and community leader. Welcome aboard, Jon!