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AceofMoxen wrote:
I am utterly fascinated by the question "What evolutionary purpose does a belief in free will serve?" Nearly all Human cultures evolved to believe in free will, so it would seem superior. I think the ability to blame people for their "choices" must come into it. Someone who commits an anti-social act (murder or whatever) is more likely to do it again, so the ability to blame them soothes us for punishing them (more murder) and soothes us that we wouldn't do the same.

I do not think that is actually necessary, though. Creating strong disincentives for murder or other heinous acts, in order that a rational human will deterministically react to by not committing murder or whatever, does not require free will in any part of the equation.

Also, I would query "nearly all human cultures evolved to believe in free will", or at least to the extent free will works in Golarion and in the versions of D&D preceding Pathfinder, which is ultimately coming from one specific thread of early Christianity. Just out of the bits of history and culture I am reasonably familiar with, I can cite Norse wyrd, Classical Greek moira, geasa in the original Irish mythology, and the more predestination-oriented strands of Christian thought as counterexamples, and all of the more restrictive.


The Raven Black wrote:
That is an interesting point. If free will is an illusion, how come the illusion is so vital to our continued sanity ? Which biological purpose does it serve ?

Preventing us from getting depressed over our lack of control of things?


Claxon wrote:
the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
(Incidental note in the hope of heading off some quagmires this line of thought has led to before; I work in neuroscience research, and arising from that am absolutely sure that morally significant free will in the Golarion sense does not exist in reality; so I am treating it as a game construct from the get-go.)
Even if it is true, that in reality we all lack morally significant free will, I will have to rebel against your assertion as it would lead to a pointless existence of nihilism. Everything would be devoid of meaning.

For what it's worth, that feels to me to be skipping over a number of steps which can reasonably be debated; I do not at all accept that "not having free will in the specific sense it is used in Golarion (and in the thread of Western philosophical thought from which that derives)" necessarily equals "horrible lack of meaning".

(Also, it seems to me that "if it were true that we have no free will I would have to rebel against the assertion" is somewhat paradoxical...)


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keftiu wrote:
the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
keftiu wrote:


Aroden’s death may well have caused all the issues that coincide with it, but the end of prophecy is something that impacts the whole world, rather than just the folks familiar with one god’s cult - hence the setting being Lost Omens, and not Dead Arodenworld.
I thought WotR made it pretty clear that Aroden's death had no direct causal impact on the opening of the Worldwound, but I may be misremembering.
Who was talking about the Worldwound?

I was counting it in the category of "all the issues that coincide with Aroden's death".


keftiu wrote:


Aroden’s death may well have caused all the issues that coincide with it, but the end of prophecy is something that impacts the whole world, rather than just the folks familiar with one god’s cult - hence the setting being Lost Omens, and not Dead Arodenworld.

I thought WotR made it pretty clear that Aroden's death had no direct causal impact on the opening of the Worldwound, but I may be misremembering.


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The Raven Black wrote:
I now wonder what big prophecies they had in other parts of Golarion that did not come true.

The further we get into the timeline, the less hope I hold for seeing the Harbingers of Fate and the Book of 1000 Whispers get a major plotline that would tell us more about what the Age of Glory after Aroden's return was supposed to look like. (We know the founder of the Harbingers tried to bring that Book's prophecies about in order to set things back on course, but I do not recall ever seeing any specifics.)

If I were doing that, having the second volume of the Book of 1000 Whispers detailing events from 4714 on show up, or at least be rumoured to exist, would be where I would start.


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Feh, I take a break for a bit and miss some fascinating discussion in one of the most interesting alignment threads in a long time.

An awful lot of problems go away, and an awful lot of roleplaying opportunities open up, if one lets go of the assumption that what any given character considers good or evil has to map on to Good or Evil the cosmic polarities, and more recently I have been tending to refer to said polarities as Celestial and Fiendish in-game to encourage that distinction; treating those as physical forces, that happen to have dominion over what becomes of the soul after death, that a lot of associated outsiders identify with, but without any other moral weight.

I think I find that easier to engage with and certainly easier to GM with because my personal experience of humanity suggests that almost all people do what they do, whether the outcome be good or evil or Good or Evil, because they regard it as worth doing; intentially malevolent "evil be thou my good" is thankfully rare, though not non-existent.

(Incidental note in the hope of heading off some quagmires this line of thought has led to before; I work in neuroscience research, and arising from that am absolutely sure that morally significant free will in the Golarion sense does not exist in reality; so I am treating it as a game construct from the get-go.)


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keftiu, Cori Marie, KC; thank you for continuing to fight the good fight even when it's this uphill a battle.


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The Raven Black wrote:
Mind you, helping the masses value vague posts on social networks over the word of recognized authorities / experts is something any Lawful society will dislike, including Lawful Evil ones.

Yeah, Lawful Good has a really intense, nuanced, moderation style. It works, but it takes a lot of energy.

I find it all too plausible that Cheliax is racist against tieflings, because considering "mostly like the approved outcome but Not Quite, in ways that can be considered a moral failing or a betrayal" worse than "entirely the Other" is something I have seen in cases of RL bigotry.


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I would certainly be interested to see more Crown of the World content.


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DungeonmasterCal wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
I confess that I do love these forums. I love the community in-jokes, the history we’ve built that can be reread on occasions, the stories written through play by post recorded and revisitable for reminiscing.
I feel the same way.

And likewise, despite being a relatively recent and infrequent poster. It's a valued point of light for me in these dark times.


Civilisation III, over the past twenty years, without a doubt.

Though right now I am also playing a lot of Idle Evolve and enjoying it immensely.


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keftiu wrote:
To clarify: it /doesn’t/ work for me, and I wish it wasn’t part of the setting.

My apologies for the misreading.


Kobold Catgirl wrote:
I've basically come to the conclusion that any tabletop RPG that uses the d20 is basically handicapping itself out of misplaced nostalgia for what was originally probably just a marketing gimmick. If the first boxed set had used a Sorry!-style spinning wheel, we'd be stuck using that instead.

But think how much finer granularity we would have if we had started with d% as standard. It might actually be possible to make critical hit and miss rules that made sense! (Simulate the group of unskilled peasants in every montage you have ever seen being taught by the hero how to defend their village from incoming villains, as an actual training scene, and if any more than a tiny fraction of them come out seriously injured from criticals, you have a problem. Or you are playing W*rh*mm*r.)

I confess to having a possibly unseemly fascination with solid geometry which can be traced to the set of dice that came with the red box D&D basic set.


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I confess to discouraging people who min-max from joining games I run.


Haladir wrote:
I have to confess that every time I've played Pathfinder in the past three years or so, I've thought to myself that I'd be having a much better time if we were using a different ruleset.

I confess to having used GURPS for this purpose.


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Terevalis Unctio of House Mysti wrote:
The Marvel Superheroes system of the 80's and 90's was fun too!

Goodness, that takes me back. The group I was in in secondary school played some of that in the late 80s, it never took off with everyone but I found it a lot of fun.

Most of the settings I've had most fun in have been homebrew. I quite like some aspects of Exalted's Creation, but given how much of Exalted's mechanics seems to be built around actively wanting the PCs to wreak fundamentally world-changing havoc, I'm not at all sure how much of that would survive any significant length into a campaign.

Most interesting-looking setting I have read recently is Mechanical Dream, though it seems a bit short on long-term plot hooks, and I am also very taken with The Strange and have an opening campaign in that setting sketched out. And I am aiming to pick up SPLINTER one of these days, because the basic concept sounds cool to me if the execution delivers.

(There is part of my brain that wants to graft Nobilis characters and concepts onto the Mechanical Dream world, but I have many other projects and life is short.)


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dirtypool wrote:

Fash?

Not sure what that means?

It's probably worth noting that in Scots English "fash" is a verb meaning "to fret about something".


CorvusMask wrote:

We DO have Sun Wukong in pathfinder, i call it bigger dealio "so how come on Odin and Thor are off limits? ;P"

(especially since there are no pathfinder original ulfen gods either <_<)

But yeah I'm bit different category in that I'm bit more "so if the god is basically x, why can't it just be x?"

Because it runs into potential problems when God X has real life followers; I am glad to see PF's use of Egyptian deities works for keftiu but I would not wager on that being the case for other followers of Egyptian deities I know in RL, and I know rather more Asatru than followers of Egyptian deities (if there is a preferred name for that latter faith in the present day, I am unaware of it, and no disrespect is meant by not using it.)


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Berhagen wrote:


Still both ideologies are now associated with genocide….. so not particularly nice for a RPG.

Indeed, but I can quite sympathise with people finding those satisfying villains to thwart and defeat.


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CorvusMask wrote:
Like I heard Legendary Planet 3rd party ap has basically LN space nazis, but I haven't read it or played it so can't really confirm that

I have read it, it was one of the options for a game I was hoping to run a few months ago that fell through. The villains in questions are totalitarians in a roughly steampunk/dieselpunk setting, with a supposed ideology of racial purity which is I think intended to read as dark irony given that the species they belong to are basically steampunk cyborgs. There are bits of back matter and details of their aesthetic that suggest Nazis, but others that suggest Stalin, so I think anyone running the campaign could go either way.


Kobold Catgirl wrote:

I just want to say, Zur-en-Aarh, I appreciate you taking the time to acknowledge your own limited experiences (which I share) and the validity of those who want to avoid the subject.

Thank you. I do feel there are points here worth making, that I care about, and that would be awfully easy to conflate with some obnoxious things I do not endorse or wish to appear to endorse at all, and I am glad I seem to be doing reasonably well at maintaining the distinction.

(I also continue to be extremely glad that Golarion has nothing resembling a fantasy Ireland in it, because that would be right in the middle of my life experience, and fantasy takes on Ireland (except those written by one specific Northern Irish writer, Ian McDonald) are in my experience uniformly terrible, in all sorts of ways.)

Quote:

I do think that large-scale PFS events are a fairly clear point for "maybe not here though",

Agreed entirely.


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Kasoh wrote:


Like the city of Promise, Rahadoum feels like a place that was written to subvert some kind of expectation and Paizo won't commit on saying 'Yeah, this is bad. These are bad guys.'

If the city of Promise had actually subverted the tired and perniciously cynical trope of "experiments in making society better are always corrupt and evil really" I'd have been very much happier with it.

I would like more Qadira. More interesting fantasy informed by understanding of the historical complexities and subtleties of the Islamic world seems nothing but a good thing to me.

And also, definitely more blue dragons.


Cori Marie wrote:
It's not "about to vanish" it's just not going to be focused on. It will be like any number of things that just don't get focused on in Adventures and campaign setting books. Just because we don't have any focus on Kyonin doesn't mean it doesn't exist in the world.

Kyonin as one limited and notably isolationist region, being taken out of focus seems to me a different thing from doing the same to a formerly widespread component across a large number of cultures and locations, in a way that leaves a number of unambiguously heroic organisations dedicated to opposing that particular evil without focus. The latter has much broader impact.


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the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Kobold Catgirl wrote:
I literally always thought Katapesh's thing was "pure free markets, pure capitalism", and never even heard that it had a notable enslavement problem until these debates started.
There does seem to me to be a verisimilitude issue with a "pure capitalism uber alles" society not having a slave trade, in a setting where there are potential customers for slaves among the unquestionably evil (and Evil).

I should probably add, I personally would cheer loudly if Golarion lore were to go in a direction of reclassifying "pure free market capitalism" as Evil, but that does not seem a plausible development to me from here.


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Veradux21 wrote:
the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:


There seems to me to be a difference in scale between "we expect DMs to make tactical-scale changes to an AP according to the needs and preferences of their table" and "we have been detailing a major negative social force in our entire campaign world and that is about to vanish."

If that's the argument, I'd say anyone asserting that needs to believe in themselves more as an effective DM. we all have the potential to improve, but making a change to a setting (even a significant one) when you have some prep time is not impossible.

I am reasonably confident in myself as an effective DM, thank you. One part of how I care about being that is having high (possibly excessively so) standards for consistency and coherency in the fantastic worlds I present, and it is pleasing to be able to deliver that for players who feel likewise.


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keftiu wrote:


My personal fix? Make Katapesh /weirder/.

It’s run by aliens. You can buy anything there. Don’t play it as just “endless bazaars full of drug dens and slavers, all run by nefarious foreign-types,” but lean into it being a place where those from other worlds and other planes rub shoulders with the wealthy and desperate alike. Want to hire a Shobhad mercenary? Want to try ‘food’ from Aucturn that gives nightmarish visions? Share tea with a psychopomp?

Which gives me visions of the Pactmasters' place as "interplanetary master traders" bringing them into conflict with the denizens of Leng we canonically know from Legacy of Fire trade in Katapesh betimes. (Or possibly mercane, but I'm not aware of any setting lore giving mercane any characterisation beyond "plot device for players to buy and sell stuff when they are in desolate wilderness" so there is less to connect to.)


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Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


I've found any 'fun' had in general terms with very FEW outliers as previously noted 'dealing' with slavery of any sort, including 'Company Store' concepts has been weighed heavily against by the 'not-fun' of how such a horrible thing exists, and loosely parallels my workplace environment.

Sure, you can go find a new job! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I entirely sympathise with you finding that not-fun. At the same time, I myself am more than a little drawn to empowerment fantasy about bringing the equivalent of the employer for whom I worked 90+ hour weeks for very unreliable remuneration to some sort of account, and it would not work so well for me were the unpleasantness not convincing in the first place. (There is a scene in the last chapter of Hell's Rebels that would work well for that shape of catharsis for me, frex.)


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Veradux21 wrote:


I'm not saying that they should have gaps all over, nor that the goals of the APs should not be clear and at least somewhat well guided, but that the DM should be able to bridge those gaps to a reasonable degree. This includes adding slavery if an especially edgy DM just must have slavery in their setting.

There seems to me to be a difference in scale between "we expect DMs to make tactical-scale changes to an AP according to the needs and preferences of their table" and "we have been detailing a major negative social force in our entire campaign world and that is about to vanish."


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Kobold Catgirl wrote:
I literally always thought Katapesh's thing was "pure free markets, pure capitalism", and never even heard that it had a notable enslavement problem until these debates started.

There does seem to me to be a verisimilitude issue with a "pure capitalism uber alles" society not having a slave trade, in a setting where there are potential customers for slaves among the unquestionably evil (and Evil).


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Ridge wrote:

Maybe it's just me, but Paizo, please don't take Andoran as an overall force for good away from official setting. It can, and SHOULD have it's warts (Former nobles conspiring to seize control, the Lumber Consortium treating workers like #$#$#, etc). I don't understand the accusations of Andoran being America white washed. They're not the same. Andoran is America flavored at most.

There are some of us who find "America-flavoured" and "overall force for good" a problematic combination in and of itself.


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Kobold Catgirl wrote:
I agree with TA, but I also think Andoran is a kind of tiresome concept for a country. The lore for it itself might be good, I haven't read a lot of it. I'd like to see them move away from the "Americans' view of themselves" shtick (eagles, "freedom", etc). The America expy being cast as anti-slavery is especially rich.

I don't know how large a fraction of the PF consumer base here is non-USAns who find things that look like USAn exceptionalism tiring at best and that they can slew into feeling actively oppressive, but I would certainly prefer it not to be a thing.


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Rysky wrote:
Also every single adventure has had new monsters in them, every one has a bestiary in the back, going all the way back to the 3.5 adventures even.

I do think that many of the new monsters in PF2, particularly those introduced in the backs of AP installments, are getting relatively little flavour text compared to PF1 monsters, and that can make it harder for them to feel integrated into the ecology and locality in the same way. When I look at something like, for example, the giant owlbear lair in the second chapter of Kingmaker, it is straightforward to see how the various creatures there co-exist, in terms of some being clearly opportunistic scavengers, and so on; I find it less so with some broadly similar dungeons in PF2, and that impact on verisimilitude makes it harder for me to present them convincingly to players.


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YourNewShoe wrote:


Isn't there another option, though? Namely, to fuse the two approaches - the looming menace is visible, but distant, and early on one focuses on the knock-on effects of their actions. Then one gradually moves from reacting to securing a safe zone, then becoming more proactive, until at the end it's the menace which is on the back foot, defending itself in its sanctum.

This is helped a lot by plots which feature a threat that grows in power over the course of the AP, and has a plan which requires its full focus: you avoid the "why doesn't the villain just nuke the PCs when they first become an issue?" problem, and can form a parallel arc. The party grows stronger as they protect their home, then move out to make safe areas ravaged by the villain, while the villain delves into sources of power that strengthen them at the cost of these effects.

Alternatively, an organization can be the villain from the get-go, without being a distant thing: they are messing with you right now, and you have to stop them! That you can't wipe them out immediately doesn't mean you can't score wins along the way. Kick them out of your village, secure allies so that when they come back you have friends to beat them, fight off their next attempt, then take the fight to them.

Both of those are entirely workable, but they are subsets of knowing who the principal villain is from the start, and my feeling is that in general Paizo APs do lean more in the direction of knowing who the principal villain is early on than I would favour. (Presuming an AP must have a principal villain at all, which is not something that entirely convinces me.)


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MindFl*yer98 wrote:
the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
cross-ideological-lines friendships,
Should one of the devils in question be named Crowley?

Why stop at one? That way you can play it as David Tennant arguing with Mark Sheppard.


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MindFl*yer98 wrote:


That is a really good hook, i never tought about it this way. i usually just eliminate allignement from my games when possible, but this is giving me ideas.

Most of the arguments alignment tends to cause go away when you make it clear from the beginning "these are impersonal cosmic forces, any resemblance they bear to actual morality is either coincidence or various of their agents trying to make their particular position appealing to mortals". (The existence of the apocalypse locust in the PF1 Bestiary 4, with its brand ability that makes the victim metaphysically count as Chaotic Evil for a while regardless of their behaviour or anything else about them, feels to me to be a strong argument for alignment in Golarion's cosmos working this way anyway.) And most of the rest then go away when you take the handful of specific examples that tend to come up over and over again as edge cases, make decisions as to how they will be resolved in your game specifically, and clearly communicate that to your players.

That still leaves the role-playing benefits of being able to play, say, someone who is so genuinely altruistic that they will sacrifice not only their life, but their entire afterlife, to do something good that happens not to be Good. Or explore what it means to believe something about a moral issue and have your universe's equivalent of physics tell you you are right.


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Rahadoum, because "the vehemently anti-religious nation is to some extent supported by a cabal of outsiders of various alignments who want neutral ground in the material world where they can do realistic political negotiation without having to worry about upset or dispirited believers" is a direction I am very strongly drawn to there. I believe it is canon in the Golarion multiverse, frex, that when demons first erupted out of the abyss Celestials and devils worked together to contain them, and both more or less deniable intelligence-sharing arrangements persisting from that era, or simple cross-ideological-lines friendships, seem like notions with much potential. Wrath of the Righteous presents its anti-demon crusaders with a devil as a potential passing ally at one point, and I would like to see more such. Likewise, I think it is also canon that all outsiders, even demons, will work together when it comes to opposing daemons.


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Kobold Catgirl wrote:


I do think that "opt-in" is a good idea at this point, if only because so many APs have already focused or delved into subjects of slavery and oppression.

I am entirely in agreement about "opt-in", and that we already have plentiful material in place for players who would find it empowering to punch slavers in the face.

A thing I learned from the debate over Folca was that there are kinds of content out there, that I would never previously have considered including in a game of mine on the grounds that I personally find them vile, that it could be a powerful thing for people who had direct RL experience of that particular kind of vileness to have in a game where they could triumph over it in some meaningful way, and that therefore opened my eyes to the existence of potential positives to having that content exist.

I do feel that, as a considerate GM, being mindful of my players' preferences and enaging with them in a session 0 or other such prep, and ensuring that everyone is on board and comfortable with the general theme and tone, includes being open to suggestions of what evils they might find empowering to confront and overcome, as well as not forcing content on people who do not want it; the balance between escapism and empowerment, as you were talking about in the thread this split off from, feels to me to vary so widely between people and groups that talking that through feels an essential part of the process.

I also feel that, as someone born in Ireland and now living in Canada, who has spent maybe a total of one year of my life in the US out of nearly fifty, race in the US is a huge, complex thing which is fundamentally not my story to tell. I'm well aware that around the moral basics there will always be specific details that are powerfully emotive to many people, that are no more clearly intuitive to me than "Would you be perceived as Catholic or Protestant in Belfast?" is to most of my USAn friends and acquaintances; that latter is a model for powerfully emotive ethnic conflict that I am actually familiar with enough to be confident I can handle it respectfully. So if I were confronted with a situation where someone's preferences in empowerment fantasy involved punching equivalents of US slavers in the face, I'm going to look for content provided by someone more familiar with that reality than I am, as a matter of respect and mindfulness.


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MindFl*yer98 wrote:


I may be in the minority here, but i do not see a problem with neutral societies condoning slavery. Mostly because it is shown, times and times again in many lore and monster manual books that "Neutral" can mean "does a lot of terrible s**t but is not mean about it". One of the aforementioned terrible s**ts is looking at evil and doing nothing. With all due respect to Desmond Tutu, in the world of Golarion he is wrong. Cosmologically wrong. Neutrality in the face of oppression does not make you evil, it makes you neutral. There are many beings made of pure Law,Neutrality or Chaos that spend their entire immortal existence watching oppression and doing nothing, and not a molecule of Evil enters their bodies.

This is the problem with calling your cosmic polarities Good and Evil rather than, say, Celestial and Fiendish; rather many people get the impression they have to map onto good and evil as understood by characters, or as accepted by players, and it is problematic if they don't. Personally I find it makes for a more interesting character development possibilities in games where good and Good, or evil and Evil, do not necessarily match exactly; I want to see genuinely good characters grapple with Infernal Healing (to pick a hopefully non-sensitive because purely fictional example) being both a good act from a humanist perspective and an Evil one by cosmic fiat.


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thejeff wrote:


If you want to fight slavery, you're either
1) dealing with underground railroad type approaches, which might be fun but would never make a dent in the problem,
2) playing politics, probably over decades
3) Overthrowing major governments.

Quite a number of APs deal with the potential or actual overthrowing of major governments.


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TriOmegaZero wrote:

How much is the world of today like the world of ten years ago?

Why would you expect Golarion not to do the same in the same amount of time?

Because human civilisations in Golarion historically endure and are recognisable for a lot longer, on average, than human civilisations on Earth? (Which is what happens when you take Plato's timing for the fall of Atlantis as a core element of your setting, I suppose.)

Then again, the question of how much Golarion is still sorting out the consequences of the death of Aroden is complex, so some bits changing drastically and others not at all, and a lot of change that appears sudden but comes from a bunch of more complicated factors, would work for me even if there weren't PCs running around messing with load-bearing elements.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
I genuinely hope that Blood Lords is written with "Screw it, we just want to hurt [whoever is most loathsome in the vicinity]" as a potential outcome.

Yah, but I hope it also solidly supports players wanting to solidly get into characters whose morality fits well with that situation, rather than fretting overly much about how compatible that is with player morality.

Quote:
Our Hell's Vengeance game kind of imploded when the entire party collectively decided we hated our employers more than our ostensible enemies (personal grievances outweigh alignment, particularly when you're evil jerks.)

Not if you're Lawful Evil they don't; that's kind of the defining line with Lawful alignments at my table.


Saedar wrote:


In Book 4, my group is also dealing with "side quest exhaustion" where there's a lot of neat stuff happening but it is all kind of tangential to what is going on in the plot. Really feels like there was half an AP's worth of content where they were like "well. something needs to go here."

I suppose it depends on whether what you and your party want from an AP is more towards "a tight plot to which most things you meet are clearly related" or "a slice through a world in which tons of stuff is happening, some of which is related to your story and most not"; I certainly strongly favour the latter, and have found it to help with verisimilitude for many players. Which is one reason why I like Kingmaker so much and worry at how many people I've seen asking for more focus on the principal plot in the new edition; having the principal villain's machinations be next to invisible from the pit for most of the time, and the sandbox be full of people and entities following their own goals with mostly little or no connection to the plot throughline, is a lot of what makes that AP uniquely good, to my mind. I do see that not every story wants to be like that, and indeed I also love Hell's Rebels with the principal villain showing up onstage in the first scene, but much of what makes Hell's Rebels work for me is having a big city setting with a lot of things to do, most of which contribute to the general goal of building support for the revolution, but relatively few of which, until chapter 4, are directly tied to Barzillai Thrune himself.

A good sidequest can tell your players more about the world. It can give opportunities to develop their characters. To my mind, if players are worrying about what the plot is and where they are relative to it at a meta-level, they're already out of immersion in their characters and their characters' perspective in ways that can lead to problems.


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Tarondor wrote:
Except that they'd open them all and do small forays into each.

This is not the first time I've seen what feel like equivalent comments, and it makes me think that either your players are putting a lot more effort into securing their avenues of retreat than I have seen any player group do, or you are going easier on them wanting to get out and go home than I would as a DM. (For more general values of "you" than just Tarondor.)


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Deriven Firelion wrote:


The players did not even develop an idea of who the Scarlet Triad was until book 5. They were barely present in book 1. Barely present in Book 2. And in Book 3 you randomly came upon them doing something, but they still hadn't launched much of a direct against the PCs they had to worry about. In Book 4 Droskar seemed like the bigger enemy. When in Book 5 they finally started to more fully understand who the Scarlet Triad were, they had to do so by being told by some gnomes that randomly showed up near a gate.

To my mind this can be a feature, rather than a bug. Player groups can get tired of "you are starting this AP fully aware of a looming menace that you're going to have to wait sixteen levels to be able to address".

I quite agree that the "each chapter gives you a plot coupon that lets you open the next gate" element of AoA is not great, but it is easily fixed; make the gates all identical, pick a suitable method for opening each one (which can be identical also), and then have the next chapter occur behind whichever gate they happen to open next. Quantum DMing on a macro-scale.


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keftiu wrote:


3-parters are one of the most exciting things Paizo’s ever done, IMO. There’s no chance my group ever makes it through a six volume behemoth.

It massively increases the difficulty of selling an AP to my plausible player groups if it's not full-length, and that fits with my own "character arcs are more fun if they cover your whole adventuring career" preferences; pretty much the only upside 3-parters have in this context is the remote hope that someday there will be a PF2e equivalent of epic/mythic that actually fits on the end of regular progression so that we could fit one 3-parter and one 9-parter in a year and get more APs with endings on the scale of Wrath of the Righteous and Savage Tide.


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I am in disagreement with rather a lot of these assessments, largely because I strongly favour longer APs over shorter ones, and also because, with a handful of exceptions like Barzillai Thrune, I am generally very much in favour of not knowing who the climactic villain will be (if there must be one at all) until late on in the AP, and I particularly like Kingmaker in this regard and am very much afraid that aspect of it may be screwed up in the re-release.

The elves in Second Darkness coming across as generally jerks, rather than having a complex political situation in which the jerks have the upper hand, seems to me a failure of DMing rather than of the path as written - "Death to the enemies of the Winter Council!" is shouted at the PCs out loud at one point, that could not be more obvious. Finding the end of Tyrant's Grasp an unpleasant and unsatisfying surprise bemuses me because as expected my player group figured that was where it had to be headed before halfway through book 1. And the thought that Serpent's Skull would be better for being shorter is just mind-boggling - what that AP needs is more content, specifically about how all the various power groups and potential sponsors default to interacting with each other in books 3 and 4 absent PC interference because there are way too many of them for the PCs to be a controlling influence on all of that at once; as written there are good reasons for the local power groups in each region of the city to stay where they are, but the PCs' sponsors plus the expeditions of the other four possible sponsors interacting with all of those groups and each other has the potential to be a really complex situation with lots of moving parts.

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