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The playtest serves at least two goals:

1. Stresstest the rules.
2. Create online community cohesion and enthusiasm around the game.

The 2008/09 playtest created a lot of dissatisfaction in some corners that (a) didn't realize that 2. was a value or (b) realized 2. was a thing but had zero social value to them ("pure marketing ploy").

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ziltmilt wrote:

The linear nature of APs gives a feeling of sameness to the books. The veneer certainly changes ... gothic horror, jungle/pulp adventure, Asian folklore. And Paizo does do a very good job of grounding these APs in specific cultural atmospheres that wonderfully evoke their inspirations. For example, I'm a big Halloween geek, and I just went nuts over Carrion Crown.

However, it feels like every single map has a BBG at the end that has to be defeated in order to progress to the next step in the story. With 6 volumes in an AP, it seems to me like we could be getting a lot more variety in structure.

Interesting OP. I started a rather similar discussion on these boards more than two years ago. Certainly interesting to compare the two discussions, now that Kingmaker has come to pass. You will note that even there Paizo couldn't resist the BBEG ending, even if the structure leading up to that was a refreshing departure in many ways.

I think Paizo has since experimented a little with the Adventure Paths veering occasionally into sandbox style (as witness the opening of Serpent Skull), and certainly Carrion Crown is an interesting experiment in its own right to adjust the overarching structure towards making it a bit more episodic like Rise of the Runelords was. So the experiments continue, and it's a very interesting ride.

On the whole, though, my impression is that Paizo is at the same time trying to play it safe and not alienate too much or too many of its customers who have come to appreciate adventure paths for what they are. It's after all a subscription model, and so you want customers to have some reliability going in as regards their product expectations. I say that because every time Paizo tries to deviate from the main model ever so slightly, we get threads saying how people didn't really like that.

In that light, looking at a posting by James Jacobs in this discussion upthread, it seems to me that Paizo has hit on a rather good solution to pacify some of those wishing for more structural deviation in the adventure paths - introduce a different product line to cater to such wishes, such as the Campaign Setting line.

All said, I'm curious to see how this works out. So here's to another interesting thread in 2 years time!

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Thanks for the quick answers, Vic! Will now definitely check this out when it rolls into town. :)

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Sebastian wrote:
Frogboy wrote:

If the captain knows that [for a fact] that the queen doesn't have a half brother then he gets a +100 on his sense motive skill check modifier. I'll fill out the other values for you. These are off the top of my head.

If the captain Knows, via some semi-divine ability to perceive absolute truths such that he has read the queen's mind, determined that she was not hidden the story of her long lost half brother from him, he has a list of every single person her father boinked and the knowledge of genetics to identify all such children of said father as not really being his, and exactly how many children the Queen's mother bore, then yes, he should absolutely get a +100 on his sense motive skill check. He's a god (or more powerful still - the DM!).

But, if the captain has been told the queen doesn't have a half brother, and knew her family while she was growing up and didn't witness any half-blooded children, then sure, give the guy a +20 bonus on the Sense Motive check. Also, buy yourself a trophy for being the biggest ball-busting DM on the block.

Now, if we're talking about a fact that's extremely difficult to hide and easy to verify (e.g., trying to convince a vampire that it's not really sunny outside, despite the nearby open window), that's a different story. But whether the Queen does or does not have a half brother is not even in the same zip code of obvious lies.

There's a great book by Jason Stanley called "Knowledge and Practical Interests". His key claim is that knowledge ascriptions are evaluated relative to how much is at stake in terms of practical interests. Suppose you roughly know that it's 3pm. You meet two people, the first one wants to blow some time and thinks he MIGHT want to see a movie; recalling loosely that one starts at 3.15 he asks whether you know the time, and if so, whether you can tell him. You answer him that he's in time for the movie and yes, that you know that it's just around 3pm.

The second person you meet is running down the street, he's trying to catch a train at the station which leaves at 5 past 3. He asks you whether you know the time (because, if it's past 3 he might as well give up running), and you answer "I think it's around 3, but I honestly don't know".

And the same applies to the guard example above. The junior guard says that it might not be wise to ask the queen whether she has actually a brother - the sort of indecent question that's not quite within the guard's pregorative to ask, given matters of etiquette. HOWEVER. The queen's very own security is at stake. It's perfectly ok for both guards to conclude that since they don't KNOW if the man before them IS the queen's brother, it makes MUCH more sense to compromise etiquette and discretion. A disgruntled queen is preferable to one whose security you have compromised.

In other words, the +100 skill bonus on the guard's opposed Sense Motive check is perfectly called for.

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Interesting. I own the original 6 volumes as well as the map folio for this - speaking of, I'd heavily recommend that this hardcover be shipped with the fold out maps of Varisia and Sandpoint. I found these to be two invaluable campaign resources, and these could be printed on opposed sides.

Couple of questions...

1. How much of the added content is material you have already published elsewhere? E.g. the write up of Xin-Shalast in Lost Cities of Golarion, the Sandpoint NPC gallery in Jade Regent #1, the web freebie on Thassilonian magic, and so on? I'm asking because I'm wondering whether - above and beyond this being a golden opportunity for people who missed getting the path the first time round - there's enough added value for older customers who own these materials already.

2. What's the estimated overall page count? Roughly in the vicinity of Shackled City hardcover?


Edit. Two afterthoughts. First, print copies of the Runelords Player's Guide are still available cheaply at many places online. Second, might be worth pointing out that possession of Bestiary 2 is a prerequisite to using the Runelords hardcover (or at least, that's what I assume, otherwise you couldn't have cut down on the bestiary entries).

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Erik Freund wrote:
Windjammer, I would like to posit three counterexamples

...and I agree with all of them. :) I even said that Rise of the Runelords only veered off after its #3. Legacy of Fire is a bit odd, since I think its #3 (scroll of K.) is - again! - the weakest in the entire line, only to be followed by Nelson's #4, which I agree was a serious high.*

Though you're absolutely right to temper my concern, the gist of it remains in place I think. I can count on one hand the middle to late adventures that do match the early instalments. ;)

*It took me a while to find this out, as I back then cancelled my subscription when I heard that Greg Vaughan had been assigned to make the City of Brass a dungeon crawl behind prison bars, delegating the actual city to a back drop the PCs only see from afar if at all. The thread just linked to queried whether Paizo does not 'get' higher level play to the extent that it (undeniably) gets lower level play. Maybe instalments #4-#6 need to deviate more strongly from the old Living Greyhawk mold, in that players expect something different out of their D&D experience above a certain level, not just the same old shtick with higher CR numbers filed off. I think Kingmaker got round the problem successfully, and I'm certainly curious how Jade Regent will handle this.

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2 people marked this as a favorite.

Excellent posts by Ice and Summon Monster.

And here, gentlemen, do we hit upon a mystery that's plagued adventure paths for several years now:

Summon Monster VI wrote:

Here are my favorite books (in no particular order) and why:

Haunting of Harrowstone - We're not done playing it yet, but so far it's been great. I really like all of the investigating and mystery.
Shadow in the Sky - Working for Saul Vancaskerkin and getting screwed over by him and stuff was fun. I liked that there were casino games at the beginning for us to play too while the PCs met each other. Leaving Riddleport and never coming back after this book was disappointing though.
The Sixfold Trial - The play was awesome. I absolutely loved getting to act it out.
Souls for Smuggler's Shiv - We had a lot of fun exploring the island. We felt very Indiana Jones.
Edge of Anarchy - My favorite part was crashing the execution. It felt very dramatic and we put a lot if planning into it. I also liked that somebody we met in the first book turned out to be the BBEG instead of us meeting them for the first time in the last book. Most of the rest of the AP was very cool too, though I know my DM changed some things to make the weaker parts of the AP more fun.

Price Question: what do these - uniformly excellent - modules have in common?

They are all the OPENING modules of adventure paths. (Ok, Sixfold Trial is #2, but it's still early on.)

And this brings up something I've observed over the years (as has this gentlemen whose reviews have been spot on over the years).

I don't know why, but most adventure paths seem to fall apart when module #3 or #4 kicks in. Loss of focus has been mentioned before. But that's only one thing. They come across as lacklustre when compared with the high promise - and excellent execution - of the kick off modules. (What's especially bizarre, and that's my key point, is that the uniformly awesome campaign outlines in the closing pages of each of the #1s is never lived up to. Why is that?)

This is what happened to Council of Thieves. It brought low Serpent Skull. And reading the reviews of Carrion Crown #3 on these boards, it seems the thing falls apart again, though that adventure path had arguably the strongest start ever.

In fact, going back in time, this is how lots of people felt about Rise of the Runelords, which went into pedestrian after #3. Or Second Darkness, when with the arise of #3 - surprise, surprise! - the adventure path took to elfland and abandoned all that was cool about it.

I've come to realize that the best, money wise but also in terms of time investment, is to purchase the first two modules of an adventure path, and then write the rest of the thing myself. I'd like the thing to live up to the expectations of it, in a manner that the in house authors for one reason or another consistently fail to live up to. And I don't have the slightest idea why. Maybe they need more story line direction from above. Maybe there needs to be a different sort of quality control. Maybe they need more time. I have no idea.

Even if you disagree with the conclusions drawn here, I think the discrepancy in early to mid and (certainly) late modules in nearly each adventure path is a datum that needs to be explained badly and fixed soon. Let's dispell the bane of the #3s!

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Joseph Wilson wrote:
This is possibly my favorite Paizo blog entry that I've read over the past couple years.

I completely agree with this, and would welcome the appearance of the M module(s) at one point, however remote right now.

May I add that I'd appreciate if Erik Mona returned to a simpler, more reduced manner of writing up encounters? While I thought Howl of the Carrion King to be one of the best adventure path modules ever (and still do), there were a couple of encounters in there that came across to me as quite a bit over scripted. When I had a chance to glance through Revenge of the Red Raven (or whatever the mega PS module was called), I saw more of that... I think it was more or less 20 pages Erik spent on one encounter.

I understand the desire to impart system mastery to other DMs (and in the last case, it was a high level module where most customers lack Erik's system mastery), but on the other hand, the amount of space spent in doing so seemed disproportionate, and pushed out opportunities of other sorts. (Contrast e.g. Greg Vaughan's scripting the opening encounter of Second Darkness #1. Very economical, still very instructive.)

Sorry to insert a critical voice in response to this great blog post, but I thought why not say it now. And it's all coming from a huge fan. :)

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1) Rules changes. Pathfinder didn't fix the things I thought it should, but 'fixed' a lot other things besides. That's not an insurmountable problem, but before I houserule PF I houserule 3.5, where the overlap with my own proclivities is much larger.

2) Support. Some of the best d20 3PP material - e.g. Wilderlands of High Fantasy - and, I daresay, some of Paizo's own best adventure paths, were published for 3.5. Like others, I think conversion is mechanically not impossible, but a lot of encounters play very, very differently (famous example: derro caster in Crimson Throne #1 with Defensive Combat feat can outwit any martial character trying combat maneuvers). The only thing I consider of equal quality since Paizo went PF is Kingmaker; everything else they've produced since doesn't really reach the old peaks, such as Age of Worms, to suffice to incline a wholesale system change. Not to mention that I do own 40 WotC hardbacks, and think them superior in rules design to what the Paizo team has produced.

3) The area in Paizo's work I currently appreciate most - Golarion - is system neutral. So I continue to support and buy from them, though only by a fraction of what I used to up to 2008.

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Thanks everyone for their input here. Really learned something from it. I've been one of the voices clamoring for years that Paizo go more sandboxy. Which they did with Kingmaker. I hadn't realized they'd hang onto part of that for Serpent Skull, which now inclines me to check it out (which I hadn't).* However, what I'm really grateful for in this thread is to see 'the other side' of Paizo's customers, DMs who'd rather not DM something too sandboxy. I totally get how hard James' job must be to cater to the whole customer base, resolving no less than conflicting demands. Impressive, really.

*May I point out in passing that Serpent Skull issue #3 seems to have had some issues with the authors? Kevin Kulp was supposed to write it by himself, that didn't happen, and other authors had to step in rather late on, iirc, causing the thing to be a bit more disjointed, I guess, than it otherwise would have been. Which is a long winded way of saying: I don't think you should judge the merits of an adventure path based on the issues of a single volume, especially if these 'issues' are completely peripheral to the adventure path's overall design and execution.

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I've been awaiting something like the Kingmaker adventure path from Paizo for quite some time, but for reasons totally unrelated to the product they finally released I missed out on it. (Not least because I had so much else on my schedule, both non- and gaming wise, but also because I had so much else Paizo product I bought over the years to catch up on. I try not to buy too much stuff in advance, since nothing beats the joy of reading a book you've JUST bought.)

Now, I realize eventually I'll most likely get the whole bunch, but if you had to recommend a single instalment of the current adventure path, which one would it be?

I'd kindly ask you to (also) give a recommendation that is solely based on the actual adventure and not the accompanying sections, even if these add (considerably) to the campaign itself. I hear there's exploration and city building rules in some, but right now I just want to dip into a very good module, and save the plunge into the rules-bits and fiction add-ons for much later.

Just for comparison, I picked up a tendency among Council of Thieves customers that Richard Pett's module was pretty outstanding (if also highly unusual and, in that regard, risky for some groups).

As always, rationalized preferences are much more helpful to outsiders, though I'll as gladly hear which modules worked really well with your group just because.

Thanks for your input!

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Scott Betts wrote:
By the way, if anyone is interested in what the book will actually contain (and is capable of looking past a cover of non-traditional art illustrated by one of the 100 most influential people in the world, according to Time), you can find excerpts of its contents here, including an art gallery (you need to be a subscriber to see the full images, but the thumbnails alone give you a good idea of the variety of art contained within). All non-gallery excerpts are free to read.

Thanks for the advice. I took it, and looked at the sample art included in the excerpts (I'm not a DDI subscriber). Here's a picture of a PC party buried in one of the PDF excerpts (linked from my own page):

Click at own risk

I'm fine with the cover, but interior artwork like that actually turns me off 4E. 4E has been very strong in the artwork department, I think, so I'm inclined to think it's a one off glitch. I appreciate PA's work, but like Giant in the Playground, I wouldn't want to have such images crop up in D&D books, books I do read to make me enthusiastic about the game, the implied game world, and so on. The pic I linked to strikes me as

1. a collection of wimps, not heroes
2. not a party of D&D characters AT ALL
3. comic relief

Fine with 3., but the excerpt wants the pic to illustrate how "awesome" that sample party is.

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F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
At the end of the day, it made better sense to describe the archdevils and put in a bunch of new rules and devils and ideas to inspire infernal adventures than walls of questionably useful statblocks.

In the meantime, I'd like to alert readers to the fully statted-up archdevils in (the freely available) Dragon Magazine 360.

Like the demon lords, it shouldn't be too hard to see who's who in the D&D->Golarion overhaul (way less, actually, since few names of the archdevils are copyrighted - are any?).

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Joey Virtue wrote:
If you hate the Adventure Paths driving the characters why do you even run APs they just dont sound like your cup of tea

Hi Joey,

Before Paizo switched to their own ruleset I bought every adventure path they ever produced, going back to Shackled City in 2003, and up to Legacy of Fire in 2009. I proudly own a nearly complete shelf of all the adventure paths (missing a bit from Second Darkness, but about to fill up the remaining volumes - which is why I'm looking onto the SD boards 8 months after I last touched them).

I love Paizo's Adventure Paths. They are chock full of great campaign material. I just prefer to look at the material as bits and pieces which leave me open to use them how I see fit. A DM need not run the modules exactly as they are written and still benefit greatly from the product he bought. At least that's my experience. I'd also refer you to Erik Mona discussing his own experience with the "Age of Worms" adventure path. He basically approached it with a very open mind set and let the players chase up extra missions around the starting location long after the official modules planned the PCs to abandon that location. But see, if Erik and his co-authors hadn't written up the starting location (and the first modules set right there) as brilliantly as he did, maybe he and his players may have never been that hugely inspired to keep playing their campaign there in the first place. See? It's quality material very much regardless of whether you adopt the meta-structure in the modules or not.

Hope you understand. Also, enjoy Second Darkness!

PS. And thanks to Neil Mansell for those NPC write-ups. Really awesome, very well done!

PPS. Yes, let's sticky the thread if possible. Like the DM reference threads it really contains helpful stuff to help run the campaign.

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Arnwyn wrote:

Best: Legacy of Fire (though Kingmaker might surpass that)

Worst: Second Darkness *shudder*

My order:
1) Legacy of Fire
2) Curse of the Crimson Throne
3) Rise of the Runelords
4) Council of Thieves
5) Second Darkness

Would also be my list, though I admit I opted out of Council of Thieves altogether (i.e. never got into it in the first place) when I read the feedback on module #1. I might get the Pett module everyone raves about, but I think that's about it.

And I, too, hope that Kingmaker makes it to the top!

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Dabbler wrote:
Actually, I thought they were suggesting setting up a thread on THIS forum to address those points and have counter-arguments available.

Yes, that was what I was suggesting. For starters, as a reader of that thread I'd find it terrifically helpful if someone told me which points on the first couple of pages contained criticisms which were (perhaps) valid of the Beta ruleset but have been obsoleted by rules changes in the final version of PFRPG.

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magnuskn wrote:
While laudable from a technical standpoint, that's *such* an obvious invitation for a flame-fest that it probably should *not* be done.

Well, in the absence of anyone taking up the Den's points one by one I have no reason to believe that the posters alleging them of factual errors to have a case.

Note that I don't say I take the Den's pontifications on Pathfinder for pure fact either. I don't. But hey, there's this really helpful thread over there where people put in time and effort to articulate why they think what they do. I can click on that thread and read it and make up my own mind. That's exactly what I expect from anyone mounting a position.

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Dabbler wrote:
The important word there is baseless. If they are perpetuating untruths or outright lying, or indeed just expressing opinions as if they are irrefutable facts, then they are essentially inviting disagreement. If someone is expressing a counter-opinion as their opinion, presenting factual evidence or anecdotal evidence that they concede is such, then they aren't trolling. Trolling may be relative to an extent, but disagreeing with an opinion in a civilised way is never that.

In light of this, and Dissinger's reference "the lies sewn into that thread about PF", I'd appreciate people to create a thread where they dissect the Den's thread in light of perceived factual errors therein. Even the short bit above where Dissinger alleges another person misunderstanding the OGL merits discussion.

If nothing else, it would be handy to have a twin reference for people like the OP. The OP asked "what do detractors think about Pathfinder?", and I still think that the Den's thread is the authoritative source on that. A good twin question, which we'd need a handy reference for, would be "Are the detractors' opinions of Pathfinder accurate? A case by case study.".

Finally, the responses to me just linking the thread have been, to put it mildly, rather emotionally charged. Remote diagnosing an internet poster you don't agree with with "asperger" is actually a notch above the insults I have seen in the threads linked to. If you don't like vitriol (I don't) don't indulge in it yourself.

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Caedwyr wrote:
I have to agree with TOZ. While there are definitely some people with strongly held opinions and a propensity of dogpiling, there's also some great stuff and insights available there as well.

+1. The breakdown on combat maneuver DCs in that thread still strikes me as very accurate, and if I were DMing Pathfinder at the moment (which I'm not) I'd give players a choice to base CMD on either STR or DEX, but certainly not both - and obviously apply the same to monster stats.

And that's not an isolated instance. Trollman wrote up an alternate sorcerer class for the Pathfinder RPG which I personally find both more flavourful and mechanically more versatile than the one in the book. I'm also looking to his work when getting my mind round on how to fix bards while staying very loyal to 3.5 (see the PDF I created here). I'm sorry, but that Pathfinder bard class is just too much book keeping for me - tracking perform tricks by rounds? why? - and the payoff for that book keeping is too little.

Beyond mechanics, Trollman is capable of writing profound, inspiring material on the background world of D&D. This post, in a nutshell, put all the D&D races into perspective for me in one glance. Which is odd, considering how many years I've been accustomed to them. E.g., I've always loved Eberron but hated warforged - thanks to that post I do so no longer. Warforged are golems, in the Prague'ian sense!

That said, the ratio of insight to vitriol is extremely low on the Den, I understand if people think it's not worth digging through, but the OP asked a simple question and that thread at the Den answers it: this is what Pathfinder's detractors got to say about it as a system.

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Hark wrote:
What do its detractors say they don't like about it?

This. It's not a pleasant read, and you'd have to dig through a lot of trough, but you asked for it.

My recommendation: if you run one of Paizo's "adventure's paths" or "Pathfinder modules" specifically written for PFRGP, go Pathfinder. If you want to use older Paizo material, or pretty much anything written specifically for 3.5, run it under the ruleset IT was written for - 3.5.

Seriously, the less time spent on converting stuff and printing out this stat block and that feat revision, and updating/retro-fitting that NPC's spell list... not worth your time. Did you enjoy the 3.0-->3.5 overhaul and the confusion that reigned at the gametable? Want to have that again? My take: steer clear of it. Make the choice of ruleset entirely depend on what you want to use it with.

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Awesome! And a double-instalment!

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Mairkurion {tm} wrote:
Windjammer wrote:
Mairkurion {tm} wrote:
Was the thread deleted?
No, it's still there.
Isn't that a much older thread? I see a date of 7 Oct 2008 for that thread's closing.

Sorry, it was a joke. Basically, the last time someone cross-posted that 4E "isn't D&D" for Clark Peterson, Enworld had a brilliant discussion going for 20 pages. But when you factor in Pathfinder, it needs to get closed on page 2. Aha.

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Mairkurion {tm} wrote:
Was the thread deleted?

No, it's still there.

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Modera wrote:
vagrant-poet wrote:
I've converted most of the NPCs in the first two adventures to PFRPG, if anyone wants them.

I would so wanting those...

{modera} {at symbol} hotmail {dot} com

Thanks in advance

You'll want to bookmark this site:

E.g., the monsters in Erik Mona's module got converted to PFRPG here.

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Clark Peterson wrote:

And I am going to run the Legacy of Fire Adventure Path (updated to Pathfinder) from Paizo and with a first adventure by my pal Erik Mona.


Well, that's impeccable taste right there, picking a Mona module. Not that Paizo has produced many. If you got any leverage on your "pal", I'd ask you to get him boozed up in a lonely bar and then have him sign a contract to do at least one module a year. Would you be kind enough to do that? For an old fan?

PS. A a pure aside, why did you update to Pathfinder from 3.5? Just wondering, because you obviously thought it's worth the effort to do the conversion work for Legacy of Fire, when you could have run the modules off the pages.

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yoda8myhead wrote:
Windjammer wrote:
Whoa, deep breath. That's a map of Brevoy, the nation which sends PCs to explore the Stolen Lands. It appears on page 11 above a description of the noble houses (from which PCs may choose to descend) to provide context when those descriptions reference locations within Brevoy.

Thanks for clarifying this. I had trouble believing it myself. So we only see a fraction of the region fully mapped to begin with - sc. the northern parts of the River Kingdoms which of course DO appear on the map. Not the same thing as showing the entire region...

Thank you (both of you).

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[Edit - remainder of post is premissed on a misunderstanding of mine which the two posters below me rectified. Feel free to to ignore it.]

It's beautiful, looks well produced, and please don't jump on me for saying this but...


Is this a joke or what? The whole POINT of a hex-crawling campaign is that the players start out with a white sheet. Check out the player maps for Necromancer Games' Wilderlands box to see what I mean. Read Monte Cook's article in Dragon #319. Did anyone on the design team EVER play a hex-crawling game? Peeped into the Mentzer Expert set and its instructions?

AAAARGH. Well, good to know that I'll have to disallow my players from using the PG to not ruin their experience. It's not ruining the campaign, not by a wide stretch, especially if you run it as 'yet another non-hex crawling campaign EXCEPT with a cute hex page art'. Oh, perhaps that's because what it is.

Sorry to be negative and upset, but seeing the map in the PG really ruined the whole underlying idea for me as per the Monte Cook article referenced above - taken from the former glorious days of Paizo publishing, no less.

Monte Cook in Dragon 319 wrote:

Designing Wilderness Adventures: Adventuring off the map

The PCs head into dangerous territory, occupied not by commoners and gentlefolk, but by monsters and creatures the like of which no one has ever seen. They don't know the way, and their main goals are simply discovery and survival.
Before you can send your PCS off into the true wilderness, you've got to figure out what 'wilderness' is. What's meant here isn't just a lot of trees between towns, or a dangerous mountain pass. 'Wilderness' is a forest where no one knows what's on the other side. Mountains where - if there is indeed a navigable pass - no one knows where it is. The PCs don't have maps; they don't have any knowledge at all of what lies even one step ahead.

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Doug Daulton wrote:
you can now watch the entire presentation here

Thanks for uploading this!

I must congratulate Erik Mona on the choice of wallpaper - now that's a nice reference to the background art in the Pathfinder rulebook. Subliminal advertising and all.


One of the (to me) most important observations in the talk occurs around 10 minutes into the talk - when Erik talks about the cultural differences among the D&D gamerbase between the U.S. and the UK. (Something he also raised in one of the magazine editorials in the mid 2000s.) The fact that 3.x is broad enough to cater to such cultural differences is, I think, a decisive factor to explain its enduring appeal to a rather varied audience. 4th edition, by contrast, seems to have had a harder time finding its European audience, precisely because it is much more streamlined with respect to which type of gamer and which type of gamer culture it intends to support. (I say that as a European gamer playing both 3.x and 4E, btw.)

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This is brilliant news. My list of 'buy modules from these authors unseen' is pretty slim nowadays, but PirateCat is on it for sure.

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Back in December we had a little thread on Enworld in which one of the authors shared a bit insight. Not much, but some of it gives you a rough idea (beyond the product info) of what's in store for you. E.g. this here:

I really can't reveal much about this. But since WotC themselves used the phrase "evocative of the classic," I don't think I'm giving anything away when I say this is not a "conversion," but rather something that builds off the original.

You can read the thread here.

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I'd like to start a thread where we can share our experiences when it comes to building backgrounds plot or background histories into a module.

By "module" I mean any adventure you've at your disposal which is created from start to finish before it hits the table (could be published or self-authored).

1. The idea here is that before the characters even begin to engage with the module, the area or characters they will encounter have a story to tell - something that happened before the PCs arrive, or something that is currently going on. And

2. The idea is also that the PCs have to unearth the intricacies of that "story" to solve whatever problems they encounter there.

So given that I want the surfacing of the "story" to be integral to the players' experience when they play the module, how should I best design the unearthing of the story? How best bring the PCs into contact with the story without this undermining any creative input and effort on their side, and without it feeling contrived?

See, by way of negatives, I'd like to exclude that we have for instance an NPC walking up to the PCs and telling them "oh, this happened, and then that" in a monologue-type fashion. I'd also like to exclude the manner of relating information regarding the "story" to the PCs be them obtaining documents (books, parchments) which contain the entire story.

But once I've excluded these classic devices of bringing PCs into contact with a background story, I can't think of anything. Really!

Whence this thread. It's in the Pathfinder forum because one of the recurrent problems I encounter when DMing running Pathfinder modules is that they contain great background stories but either don't really bring the PCs into contact with it or do so by going for the aforementioned "classic devices". Since the classic devices get old after some time, I'm hoping some of the experienced DMs around here can help me. Let me know what, if anything, YOU do to tackle this problem.


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Sebastian said it already - it's worth repeating: 4e's success isn't tied to the books but to DDI subscriptions.

Apart from that, some anecdotal "evidence" from Germany:

- 4E books are cheaply available, prices on 3.5 books are prohibitive. Which isn't a benchmark for the respective system's "popularity" (though I wish it were :D) ) but about the respective ratios of demand and supply. Frankly, with 3.5 supply being so little the high prices don't mean much.

- Pathfinder: selling in translation. German publisher seems happy with the sales numbers, but D&D-related forum polls indicate that the overwhelming majority clings to 3.5 erstwhile. Also, a percentage of potential customers is on the hold out for (transl.) PF's second print run, as the errata for the first one are enormous.

On the whole I'm getting the vibe (in Germany) that there are far fewer people playing D&D (4E, 3.5, PF) nowadays than up to, say, five years ago. Forum activity, at least, has died down considerably, and the whole trend of exchanging campaign material has died down - as if fewer campaigns get played these days.

However, with 4E and 3.5 dead in Germany - from a publisher's POV (meaning: availability in translation) - Pathfinder is clearly on the rise. It's the only actively supported version of modern (post-2E) D&D around.

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ggroy wrote:

I suspect it will also be dependent on how good the sales are for PHB3.

If PHB3 sales turn out to be a disaster (by the "standards" of WotC's bean counters), there may not be a PHB4.

I also think that PHB 3 is our best point of orientation to second guess WotC' plans for PHB 4 (though I'm not as pessemistic about PHB 3 as your comment might be taken to imply).

The thing is, PHB 3 is essentially a setting tie-in. Frankly, there was no alternative to this. The actual core classes and races were completed in PHB 2, and even then eminent reviewers like Wolfgang Baur complained that it was filled with "nichê" and "fringy" classes and races. He was right. There are only so many classes which can actually feel like "core" to the 4E gamer populace (never mind WotC' insistence to stick the "core rules" epiphet on pretty much anything they publish these days).

Which is why PHB 3 already feels like a non-core product. And it really is. Ever noticed how the "Dark Sun Player's Guide" for the one and only setting scheduled by WotC this year was never announced for release? How some of the races, and most certainly the psionic power source, etc. - you know, stuff that would have had to appear in a 4E Dark Sun Player's Guide now appears in PHB 3?

It's that simple. PHB 4 will be a tie-in product to whichever setting they release then, just as PHB 3 is the "Dark Sun Player's Guide" with a more catchy title. WotC really has NO alternative to even remotely sell the number of copies of PHB 3 (and beyond) they wish to sell. So God knows, maybe PHB 4 contains draconians and Solemnian knights and magi of the three orders, though I predict an effort to make these appear generic and then have sidebar fillers which tell you "so the Gloryluminous Knight class could be a Knight of Solemnia if you play a Dragonlance 4E campaign, or a Purple Dragon of Cormyr if you play in the Realms".

Paizo is in exactly the same boat. They can do an "Advanced Player's Guide" in 2010 with new classes (really, it's just Paizo's way of saying "we're doing a PHB 2 too!"), but by the second and third instalment in 2011/2012 they are looking at a market with diminishing returns and will have to re-brand the product.

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Jason Nelson wrote:
Why, End of Eternity, of course.

In all earnest: I agree.

Originally I had announced to never buy it, due to reasons not having to do with your module, but with what Paizo was doing with the adventure path as a whole... again.

And then, much later, I picked it up when had it a discount price. And it became my favourite Paizo offering in 2009. Very, very well done.*

And just this morning, a copy of Dungeon 137 arrived at my house. And there we have it - Jason Nelson writing a level 15 module for Impiltur. What a brilliant coincidence, with me going to run my next 4E campaign in the Realms (first time 4E FR for me) around that area, and being intruiged by the write up of Impiltur in the new campaign guide. Looks like a brilliant mesh (I'd go so far and say WotC gave your module a veeery deep look before they wrote up 4E Impiltur). So there, Jason, thanks in retrospect for giving me not just one but two modules that will hit my table in 2010!

* By the way, If it's true that a lot of the stuff you wrote for it was cut, and you don't plan to re-use that material for future instalments (like Nic Logue did, when he reworked the things cut from Hook Mountain into Edge of Anarchy), THEN please drop me an email --- newc1236 at gmail dot com --- if you can find it in your heart to share that material. I would appreciate this very much, especially given how you describe the material that got cut in the thread I linked to above.

PS. Favourite non-Paizo product: D&D 4E - Monster Manual 2

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My assessment of the intern's recent takeover of what used to be an entertaining and informative blog:

There's dignity when bringing in flesh blood to a roleplaying site that sits better with folks not that deep into the hobby, folks take well to a more relaxed and less serious attitude to roleplaying. Like Penny Arcade podcasts do for 4E.

And then there's Tyler Clarke.

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I've had this for a week. To briefly say what I like best and worst so far about this.

Best. The structure of the module. It's actually a CAMPAIGN! Not because it spans multiple levels, or contains more encounter material than WotC' other offerings, but because it puts the PCs in a place and then gives them 8 options to pursue. The options, and the goal they serve - fortify the place against a siege - totally reminded me of the middle part of Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark. In that middle part, you had to prepare a (friendly) drow city against invasion from rival drow (allied with devils). You did "prepare" this by weakening the allies and resources of your enemies, and by strenghtening your own resources and forging new alliances. That was by far my most favourite experience in the Neverwinter Nights series. It made your choices matter in a manner that few computer games have imitated - i.e. which alliances you forge, and which ones you turn down (there are choices to be made) will have an impact on the final siege.

Revenge of the Giants takes that sort of experience and brings it to live at your game table. It's a multi-path adventure, even with NWN type plot lines (forge alliances, find items to help you against the siege, errode enemy alliances etc.), and the diversity of the options to pursue, plus the openeness in which to approach them (how to resolve them, in which order to resolve them, etc etc) is something I haven't seen done for D&D in a while. It certainly feels fresh compared to WotC' other offerings such as the ultra railroady H1-E2 modules. (Exempting H2 and P2, which weren't that railroady).

Worst. So you get multiple sub-parts of the campaign the PCs have to resolve. Each of these feature a set of prepared encounters and locations, and a list of further encounters (i.e. just the monsters listed, not their stat blocks). So the building blocks are all there. But they're linked in an abysmal way. Once the PCs enter the starting encounter of one of the subplots, the module railroads them from one encounter to the next. It's nearly as bad as Paizo's Second Darkness, with the NPCs picking up the PCs at the beginning and end of EVERY encounter. This has to go. Thankfully, this only takes up little space in the module as a whole.

As others said, making this work at your table will take lots of effort. There's next to no information of what the places visited look like - we get no images nor descriptive text of key locales - and you basically have to work from scratch to make these places come alive at all. If you like generic places with lots of room for customization, you might consider this a plus. On the whole, I think the campaign structure is absolutely brilliant to imitate, and is a good offering for relatively new DMs on how to build a campaign that stretches several individual adventures.

I wouldn't recommend this to non-4E DMs at all, however. 80% of the book comes with 4E stat blocks. You (a 3.5 DM) want to be inspired by this type of campaign? I'd say, play Hordes of the Underdark instead, if you haven't already done so.

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Arnwyn wrote:
(But Second Darkness is more like the Star Trek V of the APs. That's right, I said it.) :D

If this forum allowed for signatures in postings, this would be mine, complete with brackets and the "there - I said it :D".

Followed by "Second Darkness fans bash new Adventure Path", space permitting.

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James Jacobs wrote:
And this is also why we always pack lots of adventure support material into each volume, so that even if you don't like the AP you can hopefully find usable and entertaining reading in the other half of the book.

Funny you should say that. Personally the decisive factor for me in (what to me comes across as) the "alternation model" is that one half of the adventure paths focuses the supporting material on the actual campaign - e.g. Crimson Throne was super-focused and super-tight as an adventure path design - whereas the other half delivers all sorts of goodies to the detriment of the actual adventure.* But that's just my subjective impression, and in the end every long-time customer of Paizo has to find out his own criteria for purchase.

*Observe the excerpt I quoted from the OP. Telling. As I said, reminds of Second Darkness.

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Pendagast wrote:
Stop wasting space and give us adventure.

People upthread recommended you to wait for Kingmaker. +1 from me.

Part of the feedback I'm seeing here for Richard Pett's module, and the previous instalment by Sean K Reynolds, remind me of the type of feedback that began to be quite frequent when A Second Darkness was being released. There was even a thread, "Disappointed with Second Darkness".

I think there's a pattern to these things. James Jacobs once said that Paizo tries to release two adventure paths (APs) a year so that at least one of the two will appeal to most groups. That means that, to some degree, the two APs have to appeal at different level and due to different things.

Looking back at Paizo's offerings for Pathfinder, I'm inclined to believe that an alternation model is in swing. I'm not going to spell out what the respective appeals of the alternating APs are, but personally I found it rewarding to give every second AP a break and then buy the next one after that. Personally,

Runelords - went off a tangent
Crimson Throne - was up my alley
Second Darkness - the less said the better
Legacy of Fire - again, up my alley
Council of Thieves - didn't even try
Kingmaker - the way it's marketed I wager it will best fit my style of play of all APs published yet

And then there are folks who didn't much like Crimson Throne and avoided Legacy of Fire for (e.g.) flavour reasons, while reporting they had a blast with playing Second Darkness. So the alternation model is working for those people too.

Honestly, if you find Council of Thieves not for your liking, I suggest you skip it. If you're short on adventure material, peruse the threads on previous APs and check very carefully what people praise APs for and where they find fault. Once you've found a poster who seems to be saying stuff that reminds you of yourself, stick to that and look to what he recommends (people all the time say what they like, or, if they don't like something, what they liked BETTER). As for previous APs, I think there are RICHES to be had. As for having trouble buying print copies of previous APs (such as Runelords) I recommend buying the PDFs, printing them out black/white (not expensive) and buying the Map Folios. Did you know, for instance, that only 1 and 2 maps are missing from Runelords #5 and #3 respectively in the Map Folio? Maps are the only things I need in colour when running a module. The rest is just eye candy, which I can happily do without. (Says W. who bought a bucket load of Paizo stuff in print over the years. Har!) So yeah, the Map Folios are a pretty good option for filling blanks in one's collection.

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Vic Wertz wrote:
Windjammer wrote:
You didn't put it on the Beta because you didn't think it was adequately backwards compatible to merit the logo.
This is absolutely untrue.

Point taken. Obviously only you yourself are privy to your thoughts at the time. Hence my apologies for not sneaking in "So I'm led to conclude that..." when formulating the sentence you quote here.

And thanks for chasing up the URL. I would've never found it myself.

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When Pathfinder Beta came out I noticed that it was the first Paizo product in the Pathfinder product line (including everything, adventure paths, Gamemastery modules, and the Chronicles instalments) which lacked that nice orange box on text on the rear - a logo which read "3.5 compatible".

I thought, back then, hey, this is significant. It's the FIRST time this logo has come off, surely there must be a reason. Being a rather simple minded guy, I thought the reason Paizo pulled off the logo was because they saw the logo transport the wrong message. The right message, on this supposition, would have been:

"NOT compatible with 3.5"

Since that logo, I surmised, would have sent the wrong signals to the targeted audience, Paizo rather went for no logo in that vein at all.

Can I tell you how much flak I caught for voicing this supposition?

I can't, because the discussion is deleted.* It was basically boo-booed down as a conspiracy, with Paizo's designers plotting the betrayal of the loyal 3.5 community in smoke filled rooms. Hyperbole and all.

And then Paizo officials responded, in particular Vic Wertz and Sean K Reynolds. And they had this to say:

"The point of that logo on our other products is to tell you what rule system to use with the product. In this case, the Pathfinder RPG *is* the rule system, so it's not needed."

(Source retrieved from other forum. It's a quote, I can personally attest that it's accurate, if sadly incomplete - Vic's statement was much longer!)

When I received my hardcover copy of the final rulebook 10 days ago, I saw the logo back on.

I'm sorry to say, but I feel totally cheated on this. Plainly the logo doesn't mean for Paizo what Vic claimed it said. Because if it did, you wouldn't put it there on the final rulebook. But you did.

Which means that the logo always carried the literal meaning ("compatible with the 3.5 rules set") for you as well, instead of that "intended for the use with the 3.5 rules set", and that you were extremely evasive a year ago.

You didn't put it on the Beta because you didn't think it was adequately backwards compatible to merit the logo. And I concur. I still think the new bard is even further removed from 3.5, and much more stuff pretty removed from 3.5, but so be it. I still think the logo shouldn't be there, given the need for a convertion document and for a convertion chapter in the upcoming GM Guide. But that's your choice.

I'm just here to document a - thankfully isolated - instance of personal disappointment with Paizo's PR. You guys never had to pull the tons of bulls##t that WotC has, the amount of being evasive or just downright misleading towards questions brought up by their customers. In this instance, I feel you went down that way, and it certainly tinges how I perceive your company from now on.

*Here's the old URL: PG/general/missing35OGLCompatibleLogoConspiracy

Usually putting in a "archives" fixes the URL, but not this time. [Edit: nor does fiddling with ] Apparently it's deleted for good. Wayback Machine turned up empty handed too. Too bad. I love historical accuracy, and prefer it over personal recall. Apologies for any distortion as a result of this in the above post.

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Adelwulf wrote:

The notations about ghouls are not just a rehash, but a succinct description loaded with possibilities!

"Though most surface ghouls live primitively, rumors
speak of ghoul cities deep underground led by priests
who worship ancient cruel gods or strange demon lords
of hunger. These “civilized” ghouls are no less horrific
in their eating habits, and in fact the concept of a welllaid
ghoul banquet table is perhaps even more horrifying
than the concept of taking a meal fresh from the coffin."

That made me chuckle in evil GM style! Whoever wrote that blurb is someone I would want to play in the same campaign with! haha

Thanks for the preview. This kind of thing is what makes me really love Paizo.

What you quoted isa "re-hash", except of material outside the 3.5. MM. It's a very nice reference to Wolfgang Baur's "Kingdom of Ghouls", an adventure module which appeared in Dungeon Magazine 72 (iirc). More recently, Baur revisited his own classic, and wrote "Empire of the Ghouls". It basically flashes out the bit you quoted. If you are really keen on this, I suggest you try hunting down copies of those!

See, what I like about Paizo's RPG products is that, much like their non-RPG product (sc. modules and campaign setting material), you never quite know who wrote it. I wouldn't be surprised if Baur himself drafted this description of the ghoul.

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nexusphere wrote:
Perhaps the best method of seeing what they've done is purchasing the book and reading it.

Perhaps the best way of finding out how exactly Pathfinder met the alleged aim of "increasing the playaybility" of high level play in 3.5, short of buying the game and running a high level campaign for ten sessions, is to start a thread like this one and ask someone who's just done exactly that to share his experience in a preferably informative and detailed manner.

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James Jacobs wrote:

folks reacted VERY poorly to how many XP were handed out. Most felt that "handing out XP for free, for just seeing something" ... But it did teach me a valuable lesson; whenever you include story awards, make sure that there's SOMETHING that the PCs had to do to earn them, even if it's just interacting with something or doing some roleplay stuff.


As for story awards... I certainly HOPE people like them

I hope so too. And I think you got another asset in this besides hope: with the Pathfinder RPG you actively reshape some expectations and assessments surrounding story awards. In the Beta rulebook I noticed that the wording as to when and, in particular, how liberal to reward story awards is much more encouraging than the corresponding passage in the 3.5 DMG. The 3.5 DMG nearly comes out saying that dishing out story awards regularly is just bad for the game; that players have to accomplish "impressive" roleplaying stunts to merit them at all, and even then should get no more than their character's level times 50 xp (pathetic!).

That could have been a contributory factor to the skepticism that story awards met in the past, and contributed to story awards looking like "free awards" given for "no input". My own post, now that I look back at it, implicitly conflated roleplaying awards with "free awards"!

PS. And thanks for these generous behind-the-scenes comments on Spires!

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James Jacobs wrote:
The point of a story award is to let the players know that they're getting XP awards for advancing the story, and that those awards are competitive with those they get for slaying monsters. For an Adventure Path, where advancing the story is often more important than just killing the most monsters, we sometimes inflate story awards so that the players realize how important it is.

That's a very insightful post, thanks for it, James. I was wondering if you'd see the following as a valid way to provide a supplementory (not supplanting) reason for story awards.

The first time I personally noticed story awards flying left and right was in Howl of the Carrion King. My impression was that you and Erik (who wrote it of course) had realized that there was basically no other way to write a module covering 5 levels of play. HotCK is the longest Pathfinder module to date (unless I'm mistaken) and it's super-meaty. Still, given the encounters the PCs face at the end of the module, encounters the module doesn't even permit them to face before they're level 5 (clever in-game constraint administered by a NPC, so good thinking on your/Erik's part), the module basically requires the PCs to have leveled up four times. That's a lot of leveling up to accomplish in 50 pages. And there are only two ways to get round the problem.

A) Build in random/gratuitous extra encounters which will all but guarantee that PCs hit level 5 when the module expects them to.

This solution (partly built on utilizing the random encounter tables in the modules) isn't very appealing. It's the equivalent of grinding in MMOs, and not that easy to communicate to your players if you're DMing. If I take Howl of the CK literally, my NPC really (as the module suggests) tells the PCs to go grinding before they hit the final area. Players who realize they are told to go grinding won't be pleased.

B) The module features fully worked out extra encounters, only loosely related to the story.

Again, something that players and DMs may complain about, and did complain about at the time of Runelords (I think). In Runelords #6 PCs end up fighting the same giants over and over and over for no reason except to be level-appropriate for the end boss. That's not grinding, because it takes place within the main adventure plot/location, but stil. Set Pieces were much better, since they were an exciting breath of fresh air. Sure, these encounters were just as gratuitious as the previous ones (meaning, not required to complete to finish the module), but they were way more exciting than random encounters or "more of the same variety" Runelord type encounters.

Interim summary: two solutions, A) and B), are not satisfactory. Enter C):

C) Dish out story awards. Your players do not need to fight encounters that are poorly or inadequately rationalized by the module's context. They are given these XP for free.

Personally I think C) is superior to A) and B), and it shows (to me, at any rate) that the design of Pathfinder modules is constantly being improved upon.

On the other hand, story awards must be carefully balanced against the remainder of the module. People didn't complain about it in LoF 1 because that was a super-meaty module. People complain about it now, since CoT is (apparently, I don't own it) like butter spread thin across too much bread.

What aggravates the problem, as well, is that Burnt Offerings and Edge of Anarchy easily moved the players in the plot as much as ToC 1 does, and they suffice to communicate this without dishing out story awards. And (just to repeat myself) the reason for that seems to be that all these Level 1-3 modules are much meatier than CoT 1.

So I've been thinking. Why constanly try to come up with ever new ways of rectifying the source of the problem? Why not instead remove the source of the problem? If a module manuscript hits your editorial table and it looks way too thin, simply adjust the amount of expected leveling up. Currently you adjust it the other way round, giving rise to A)-C).

What do other customers think? Can Paizo start its next adventure path with a module that only covers level 1 to 2, with the second instalment starting at level 3? I'm curious to hear your opinions, and James' first and foremost, naturally.

Personally, I'm curious to see how Pathfinder will handle the issue of expected level growth in future instalments. It's an ongoing design development, and one that's fascinating to follow.

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Celestial Healer wrote:

For those who have this book - is there much value in owning the book itself vs simply using the items via DDI? To me, that's always the risk in the AV series - if a book is primarily a list of magic items, and those magic items are available online to anyone with a subscription, why buy the book?

I've heard some discussion of item sets, story items, and so on. Are those sections of the book worth the purchase price?

You've hit on the main question. I own the book, like it, don't regret the purchase, but the fact that you can have the majority of the book's content via DDI really makes it hard for me to recommend people to buy the book. That said, let's see what's in store.

First of all, I'd say this book is thematically speaking a supplement to the great Player's Handbook 2. If you loved the new class design in PH2, and loved the fluff of the new classes (such as invoker and shaman), you'll find plenty in the book to customize such PH2-based characters.

What's more (that's my second point), in marked contrast to Adventurer's Vault 1, you'll find frequent side bars giving you more insight into the story behind a particular item, which makes it easier not just for the player to see if the item suits his character (if not, you're free to come up with something else) but also on occasion provides a good inspiration if your DM wants to weave the item into his campaign. Let's face it, the allocation of items to treasure parcels is pretty bland if the DM doesn't do something about it; this book is the first in the 4E line which helps him to do so.

Thirdly there are a few item categories which are new and which I think should be utilized in any 4E game. To name but two,
- Immurements (hope I spelled this correctly) let the player alter the battle field. Mechanically, you get to place a tile of several squares (up to 4 times 4 or even 6 times 6). This is my favourite innovation to D&D in quite some time - I would have loved to have this back then in my 3.5 Iron Heroes games. Let's face it: one of the main tasks of a controller, whether in 4E or 3.5 (read Complete Mage) is to alter the battlefield and shift the territorial to his party's benefit; technically it's quite hard to accomplish that effectively beyond making 1 square difficult terrain, slowing individual creatures in certain squares, and so on. Immurements change all that - they are quick and effective. And, best of all, they're free to PCs of all power sources. You could have a frontline fighter charging a white dragon and throwing out an immurement on the way to make the terrain volcano-like - voia´la, you've just beaten the white dragon's home ground advantage.

- Group Item sets utilize the fact that item sets grow in power if distinct members of the same PC party wear them. This, I felt, was a great improvement on the execution of teamwork benefit feats in 3.5. I loved the idea of teamwork feats, but not their execution; group item sets fix that, I felt. What's more, again there are some item sets with a really interesting story behind them. One of them requires the party to contain three distinct elven subraces (eladrin, wood elf, drow) cooperating to shared goal; whether you know the (free) DDI article on the elven subrace family in 4E or not, I liked this idea to weave a campaign idea straight into party composition. And so on.

So there is plenty of stuff in here, most of it story-based, which you won't find in DDI, since DDI gives you the bare items without the story behind them. In my view, this takes a lot away from the items. (Again, this wasn't the case with AV1, so don't draw any wrong conclusions if you are only familiar with AV1.)

But here's the ultimate catch. Will you like the content? Will you find it inspiring? FOr instance, it's totally possible that the items I liked, for instance the elven subrace group item set, is one which you find bland. So here's the best comparison I could find. Recall when Weapons of Legacy came out? Basically a huge book full of items with a rich history? That book had a good design principle, but few people felt they could recommend it outright, because the stories behind some (if not most) items in the book felt bland and ill-assorted.

That's the risk you run with this book too. Beyond the fact that it supplements the classes and races of PH2 really well, it's a lot of mish-mash of things that were left out of earlier supplements, perhaps left out for a reason.

In the end then, I can't categorically recommend the book. I like it, but your mileage may vary. What's more, if you (as a player or DM) prefer to cook up your own stories when weaving magic items into your character's background story or into your campaign, then there's really no point in buying Adventurer's Vault 2. If you got cash burning in your pocket for 4E, I'd much rather recommend you to buy Divine Power - regardless of whether you're playing a divine power source character or not, that book is a much more solid expansion to the 4E game.

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As a matter of fact, it's Jason Bulmahn's leather bound Hardcover of the pre-print, replete with nasty drawings and comments by Monte Cook and delightful behind-the-screen remarks by the whole editorial team commenting on "obnoxious playtesters" and such like.

Now, if Paizo was remotely as thoughtful about pre-release material as WotC was in late 2007, they'd scan the entire thing and sell a slim paperback printed on magazine paper for $29.90 each under the title "Paizo presents: Fans & Designers, or, Married with Children. Get your preview of the preview of the beta of the test verion of the final thing RIGHT HERE!"

As it is, there's pictorial evidence that Jason broke the scanner just before that plan saw implementation. To avoid embarassing questions, Jason quickly calculated the money the original would have to fetch to keep boss Mona happy with the numbers.

Don't believe me? Multiply $29.90 (plus $ 0,30 postage) by a reasonable estimate of expected purchases (that's the magical 33), and you hit the mysterious 999.99 price tag. Scary, ey?

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Thanks for your replies, Mr Baur!

Wolfgang Baur wrote:

Well, having Zeb Cook and Jeff Grubb writing for Six Arabian Nights certainly didn't *hurt*. :)

I wish Open Design had Paizo's art budget, though...

Well, Legacy of Fire is really in a league of its own, even measuring it against other Paizo products. Nonetheless, sometimes I almost wish that art budget went instead to paying great module writers of old to contribute an adventure or two - just as you did with SAN!

Wolfgang Baur wrote:
The inspiration for SAN is perhaps closer to the original 1001 Nights

That's what I'm after. I'm familiar with your article on "What Makes a Night Arabian?" (favourite passage: "It’s really a b1tch to inculcate a sense of honor in gamers. Some people really take to it, and they play samurai in OA without a hitch. Others act like the Mongol hordes no matter what era or setting they are in."). That article, I suppose, pretty much encodes your own take on what makes Arabian Adventures unique in a D&D surrounding. I'm interested how you, as a reader, would personally compare and contrast the expectations and goals that went into Legacy of Fire. Meaning this on the level of themes and motifs, not just the huge issue of focus (SAN being 5 plots in 94 pages, LoF being one plot developing over 6 times that page count).

Just to pick a random (if key) element in your essay myself, let's consider romance. From what I can tell, romance breathes life into LoF as far as the cast is concerned, from the first NPCs we'll ever meet right up to the overarching story which sets things in motion in the first place. But where's the romance for the players? As far as I can tell, it was decided to put it off the map. Which I found an interesting decision, and certainly a deliberate one, given that Paizo has tried some light humorous takes on PC-NPC romance before in, for instance, Burnt Offerings.

I'm just curious, and as I said, I'm interested in your opinion as a reader.

Thanks again for responding in the first place. It's a luxury few forums generate.

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Wolfgang Baur wrote:
Yeah, I agree that a map would have been extra awesome, but describing the whole City of Brass in just 6 pages was already a pretty tall order.

I've said it before and will say it again: the complete "City of Brass" write-up Bruce Cordell and Gwen Kestrel did for 3.5 Planar Handbook got reprinted in the 4E Manual of the Planes. You don't need to buy either book because that section is all available for free on the WotC website. And yes, this includes an awesome map which will fire your DM imagination!

Wolfgang Baur wrote:
And this way, of course, the map does not contradict the Necromancer version of COB. Thanks to Greg for convincing me that "not incompatible with Necro" was the way to go.

Let's talk about your own work as well! Are there Easter Eggs for long time fans of Secrets of the Lamp? Major overhauls? Follow-ups?

And how do you compare Paizo's work on the current AP with your own Open Design project "Six Arabian Nights"? Are there differences in inspiration, expectations, executions? I'm quite curious and hope you find the time to answer these questions at one point.

Yours, W.

Dark Archive

Brother Willi wrote:
Thanks to everyone for their thoughts. I've passed them on to the group and we're going to continue with the Scales of War for at least a while longer.

Here's a final thought. I haven't played Scales of War, didn't even look at the instalments closely after the first one (for reasons others have specified) but: even if your DM decides against continuing with Scales, tell him to have a good look at one particular instalment in the series - "Hales of the Bitter Glass" by Kevin Kulp. People on ENworld have repeatedly hailed it as the most roleplay-intense module that's been released for 4E so far, and if your group is into that then I think you'd miss out by not giving it at shot.

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