So, has this AP's plot mistep appeared yet?


Council of Thieves

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MIB:

That's pretty much exactly what Council of Thieves is - the players correcting the status quo for an entire city against the desires of the House of Thrune. The player characters (so far or apparently will)

  • Removing the reason that has been behind the "go out at night in dark streets = critter kibble" for the better part of a century.
  • Restore to accessibility one of the three most important Pathfinder Society Lodges in the entire campaign world.
  • Attempt to (or succeed in) replacing the city's government.

Liberty's Edge

One of the things I have done when I run games set in popular settings like FR is I tell the players that this is my version of this world. Just because you read of something happening in a novel does not make it cannon in my games. This way the players won't know everything about the world just by reading novels based on it.

I do hope the Pathfinder novels have a totally orginal character, like a drow ranger that uses 2 scimitars. ;)

Liberty's Edge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
A Man In Black wrote:
Then I'm curious. Why has the leadership of House Thrune been written such that any AP that would involve overthrowing them would necessarily have to be so high level that it is near-impractical?

Because evil nations can't exist if village watchmen can kill their leadership, it's that simple.

Where there's epic bad guys, there's epic good guys to create a cold war of sorts in which neither moves directly against eachother.

Liberty's Edge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
CapeCodRPGer wrote:
One of things I have done when I run games set in popular settings like FR is I tell the players that this is my version of this world. Just because you read of something happening in a novel does not make it cannon in my games. This way the players won't know everything about the world just by reading novels based on it.

And this is a good policy, it's what KNOWLEDGE checks are for. To see if player knowledge is character knowledge.

This is also the policy paizo seems to be doing with their adventure paths. If you don't play in them, they haven't happened in your version of Golarion yet. Which I think is REALLY neat since it means in my world Karzoug could be dead. But in your world, he's still alive and plotting to escape. Or in Johnny's world Karzoug isn't even plotting yet. But in Timmy's world the PCs failed to killed him but managed to foil him, leaving him just a BBEG running around Varisia.

CapeCodRPGer wrote:
I do hope the Pathfinder novels have a totally orginal character, like a drow ranger that uses 2 scimitars. ;)

I hoping for the iconics. :)

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Turin the Mad wrote:

MIB:

That's pretty much exactly what Council of Thieves is - the players correcting the status quo for an entire city against the desires of the House of Thrune. The player characters (so far or apparently will): do stuff

Huh. I really can't comment on COT in particular at this point, but I'll check it out. I was addressing the general case, despite the specific nature of this forum.

SirUrza wrote:

Because evil nations can't exist if village watchmen can kill their leadership, it's that simple.

Where there's epic bad guys, there's epic good guys to create a cold war of sorts in which neither moves directly against eachother.

I don't see why the queen of Cheliax can't have been raised by a bone devil or rakshasa tutor, and generally be surrounded with level 10-12 allies. (In fact, the idea that she grew up with a malevolent, fearsome invisible f(r)iend? THAT is a cool concept. Or maybe that her regent is a fiend, but a free agent fiend of uncertain loyalty, that's also a cool concept.) That's well out of low-level adventurer/NPC range and well into superpowered territory. And it'd be just as dumb if Team Good NPCs was bossing around solars. (WTF do you need adventurers for at that point?)

It doesn't just make stylistic sense to dial down the power level of the NPCs in the setting, it also makes financial sense. If you set all the really cool villains to level 30, you can't ever sell an adventure where the PCs get to go defeat those villains.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber
Erik Mona wrote:

Guys, stop being dicks.

How fiction will impact the continuity of the setting is a valid concern, and one that we strongly share. The plan is to focus on smaller stories that don't "blow up the world." You can have a novel that involves great personal impact to a character, or a town, or what have you without killing gods or nuking a major country.

Or at least we think you can, and will be putting it to the test shortly.

Yay! :)

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber

Wow... reading some of these posts... it appears that Nerd Rage is at its highest during the holidays.

I think Cheliax/Westcrown is being handled masterfully by Paizo, being the DM of a local CoT campaign. If the end results of the campaign means that Westcrown becomes an independent city state, IMO, it is small in the greater scope of Cheliax, and at worse, better than nuking it out of the setting.

If the PCs become the rulers of Westcrown, fine by me, as it makes for a good PC retirement point (i.e. diplomacy begins between PCs and the rest of Cheliax in order to retain the right to exist as a separate entity... think Cloud City in Empire Strikes Back, where they have a deal with the Empire... Cloud City hides some wanted criminals of the Empire, which breaks the tenuous diplomatic immunity of the city state... etc.)

LOTS OF FUN OPPORTUNITIES even if you keep going after the AP, assuming it would go like that of course...

Rejoice!

The Exchange

A Man In Black wrote:

I don't see why the queen of Cheliax can't have been raised by a bone devil or rakshasa tutor, and generally be surrounded with level 10-12 allies. (In fact, the idea that she grew up with a malevolent, fearsome invisible f(r)iend? THAT is a cool concept. Or maybe that her regent is a fiend, but a free agent fiend of uncertain loyalty, that's also a cool concept.) That's well out of low-level adventurer/NPC range and well into superpowered territory. And it'd be just as dumb if Team Good NPCs was bossing around solars. (WTF do you need adventurers for at that point?)

It doesn't just make stylistic sense to dial down the power level of the NPCs in the setting, it also makes financial sense. If you set all the really cool villains to level 30, you can't ever sell an adventure where the PCs get to go defeat those villains.

It might be that too much is being read into an off-the-cuff statement by James concerning something he maybe hadn't really thought that much about. To some extent, it may be that he saw "epic" level as feeling about right for a overthrowing a big evil empire, in the same way as overthrowing, say, Thay would be an epic undertaking. It also conveniently puts Cheliax outside the scale of a typical AP as they have said they are still not ready to do epic adventures (and, indeed, don't have the rules to do it) and in any case don't want there to be wholesale changes to the setting. And, arguably, if you are going to be the most evil person in the world, you had better be tough. On the other hand, if they ever decide they want to change Cheliax, you might suddenly discover that the Empress is lvl 12 after all.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

I like this thread!

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Aubrey the Malformed wrote:
It might be that too much is being read into an off-the-cuff statement by James concerning something he maybe hadn't really thought that much about. To some extent, it may be that he saw "epic" level as feeling about right for a overthrowing a big evil empire, in the same way as overthrowing, say, Thay would be an epic undertaking. It also conveniently puts Cheliax outside the scale of a typical AP as they have said they are still not ready to do epic adventures (and, indeed, don't have the rules to do it) and in any case don't want there to be wholesale changes to the setting. And, arguably, if you are going to be the most evil person in the world, you had better be tough. On the other hand, if they ever decide they want to change Cheliax, you might suddenly discover that the Empress is lvl 12 after all.

James Jacobs said something about epic levels? That might have set someone else off, but what bugs me is the way that Team Evil is casually set to level 20+. The Cheliax empress has a pit fiend tutor/regent. Thus, the You Must Be This Awesome To Overthrow Her bar is set at level 15 or so. That means it's rather difficult to work her into an AP or even a Red Hand of Doom / RTTTOEE-style mega-adventure unless it's the capstone, because adventures that range into the 15+ range (or worse, 20+) are Really Hard To Sell. Plus, I kind of get the feeling that Thrune is implied to be the direct tools of Team Lawful Evil on Golarion (I seriously don't know the canon that well), but Paizo can't do anything with that if the adventure ends after defeating the Thrunes.

There's no room for Paladin In Hell shenanigans, not only because there's no room left to expand after the level where you can kill a pit fiend but also because they've seriously added non-unique NPC devils of CR twenty-effing-nine to APs (usually as unkillable GM surrogates). It is simply impossible to fight badguys who have CR 29 minions. Above CR 25, you might as well just make all the stats "invincible". Incidentally, the Pathfinder Bestiary helpfully tells us that "CR 26 and above [is] the domain of the demon lords themselves".

I seriously don't know where this trend of dialing up archfiends and whatnot up to CR Hojillion came from. Orcus was in the original Monster Manual and you seriously could kill him. Not easily, but defeating Orcus by slaying him permanently was something characters could actually aspire to and accomplish without a ton of GM fiat plot device BS. Hell, killing evil gods is a tradition as old as D&D. 3.5 even introduced Aspects, versions of gods that exist only for you to punch them in the face, and it was a fantastic idea.

Spoiler:
There's even a James-Jacobs-authored WotC adventure that ends with a showdown with an Aspect.

Now, if Paizo wants to retcon that Team Evil Is Much Higher Level Than You Will Ever Be nonsense, set them to more reasonable levels, I'd be all for it. It might get me actually buying APs rather than leafing through them at the FLGS and shrugging. But right now I'm more interested in adventures where the adventurers, not the NPCs, are the ones empowered to affect the setting.


I am thinking the condition concerning Cheliax is meant to be permanent. They don't intend for it to ever be overthrown. The players may get to tangle with a CR 20+ _____ for the sake of making sure they don't get more power, but eradication is not an option.

I don't actually know the power of anyone in charge of Cheliax so I am basing the above paragraph off of hearsay. I don't think a nation should deserve anything more than a pit fiend ruling it. If they can be trusted to lead armies I am sure they can handle a nation. At best or worst depending on how you look at it, the pit fiend would be an advanced one just weak enough to not challenge a duke of hell.

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wraithstrike wrote:
I am thinking the condition concerning Cheliax is meant to be permanent. They don't intend for it to ever be overthrown.

I get that feeling too. And that's dumb. Team Evil exists so that the heroes can heroically beat them up. There's no reason to set up a nation devoted to Asmodeus other than to serve as antagonists.

Star Wars was not a movie about overthrowing the local Imperial outpost on Cloud City. I'm sure that would be appreciated by the people of Cloud City and is a very heroic thing to do, but don't write the Evil Empire as Completely Impervious To Anything The PCs Might Do Except Maybe Liberate An Outlying City. Star Wars Saga doesn't peg Darth Vader at level 37. I know I can just change that as GM, but if you're giving me useless material that I need to rewrite in order to use for my game (or any game that doesn't go above level 20), what exactly am I paying you for?

This is not necessarily a criticism of Council of Thieves, which I understand is only meant to be saving Cloud City from the etc. etc. and isn't advertised to be anything more. It's a criticism of the antagonists of COT and the top-end antagonists of Golarion and Pathfinder in general, who are badly designed in a way that they are useless to 99% of the games out there as a goal to be defeated and also useless to Paizo as the ultimate antagonists of a super-adventure because they're just too dang high level.

In the meantime, I'm voting with my wallet.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

It's not good business sense for Paizo to publish books that will make other books in their catalogue obsolete. Especially when one of those books is the core campaign setting. Once an adventure involves overthrowing House Thrune, or closing the Worldwound, or nuking Absalom from orbit, or having the orcs of Belkzen destroy the nation of Lastwall, anyone using the Campaign Setting is not up to date, and anyone buying the book new has good reason to be upset that they just spent $50 on a book that contains nations that no longer exist. That means sales for obsolete books drop and any stock on the shelves stays there. Since the cost of printing books depends on volume and the result could very well be that the cost of subsequent books would go up, both for Paizo and the end consumer.

I just don't understand why any GM has to run Golarion 100% as written. If you want House Thrune to be beatable and have your home campaign reshape the face of the Inner Sea, then go for it. Post a campaign journal; I'd love to hear of your heroes' exploits. But asking Paizo to make large swaths of their campaign setting (which is only 2.5 years out of the box) obsolete is unproductive.

Also, remember that The Infernal Syndrome pits PCs against a Pit Fiend at much lower than lvl 20. Until we actually see stats for General Gorthoklek, we don't really know what his CR will be. But NPCs in the Campaign Setting are being dialed back in most Chronicles books since the setting's first year. Paizo recognizes that it's not as much fun for heroes if there are tons of high level NPCs running around. And they've been doing something about it.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

A Man In Black wrote:


Then I'm curious. Why has the leadership of House Thrune been written such that any AP that would involve overthrowing them would necessarily have to be so high level that it is near-impractical?

Probably because House Thrune was not invented specifically to be defeated in an Adventure Path? Cheliax is kind of the main "evil" country in the campaign setting, and as such it serves our purposes if it stays around a while. I certainly understand why taking out the leadership of Cheliax would make for an attractive home campaign, but we'd like it to stay around for a while. Queen Abrogail worked so hard to win the civil war following Aroden's death, after all. It would be a shame to take it all away from her so soon.

I realize that my statement about AP results not changing the world would mean that we could do an Adventure Path like this without worrying about the overall impact on the setting, but the truth is that we have a long list of AP ideas in the hopper, and this is not one of them. No real reason for this other than we're more excited by other ideas at the moment.

And, really, knocking off the rulership of one of the most powerful nations in the entire campaign setting--one lousy with powerful devils and thousands (if not tens of thousands) of agents DOES sound like an appropriate epic-level challenge to me. Sure, we don't have epic-level rules at this point, but that's more a function of there being a limited amount of time since we decided to reboot the game than anything else. And just because the APs currently end around 15-18th level does not mean that they will NEVER go higher, or that we will never publish adventures in other formats that allow for more epic-style challenges.

A Man In Black wrote:


This is what's baffling me, and what (I believe) is annoying FatR. If Thrune weren't so high-level, you'd have an obvious story arc where the party thwarts a Thrune plot, then overthrows Thrune, then goes and does Paladin In Hell shenanigans to defeat the Real Power Behind The Thrunes. That could start at any level and end at level 16-ish, with the party infiltrating the fortress of the pit fiend behind the Thrunes and breaking the Thrune's pact with the forces of Hell once and for all.

First of all, when we do this AP I am going to lobby hard to call it "The Power Behind the Thrunes." Thanks for that!

The thing is, there's probably more than one pit fiend involved, and the dominion over Cheliax involved pacts with beings even more powerful than pit fiends that would likely become involved should some lucky PCs take a fatal shot at the queen. Personally, I'd find a campaign where we kill the queen and bump off a single pit fiend a little anti-climactic.

A Man In Black wrote:
Right now, that plot requires that the party is in the 17-20 range already to even have a chance against some of the Thrune leadership that does have stats (e.g. the pit fiends running around), and once you're at that point the story either ends there or goes into epic levels, and neither top-of-level-range nor epic-level published adventures are terribly practical in a moving-books-out-the-door sense.

Welcome to my world.

A Man In Black wrote:
Also, you mention "Oh noes, the world is ending!" plots, or what I like to call "Let's go save the world!" plots. FatR was complaining about the lack of "Let's go out and fix the world!" plots. There seems to be a conscious decision in APs to make the bad guys the ones who are out to change the setting and the PCs the defenders of the status quo, even though there are plenty of status quo situations that heroically-inclined PCs would want to go and change. How many stories about the bad guys trying to change things do we get before there's a story about the good guys...

I think that's an astute observation, and one worthy of much further consideration. I hate to sound like a broken record on criticisms like this, but I really do think that Kingmaker was designed specifically to address concerns like this. The PCs are the pro-active ones in this AP. They come into a new land, conquer it, and remake it in their image. That's definitely making a difference and being pro-active, in my book, and I hope it appeals to you as much as I think it will.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

One other point worth considering is that we're only just getting started with Pathfinder. A campaign where you kill the queen and take over Cheliax is going to be a lot more meaningful once more than a handful of people even know what "Cheliax" means.

I'm sorry that you've fixated on this one enemy among the (literally) hundreds that we've published that you can kill by the end of a normal AP level range.

Plenty of other options even within our own catalogue to "vote with your dollars," as you say.

Vote early, vote often!


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
A Man In Black wrote:


I get that feeling too. And that's dumb. Team Evil exists so that the heroes can heroically beat them up. There's no reason to set up a nation devoted to Asmodeus other than to serve as antagonists.

Or to serve as grudging allies when faced with a powerful and disruptive mutual enemy. I love throwing groups together like that.

A Man In Black wrote:
Star Wars was not a movie about overthrowing the local Imperial outpost on Cloud City. I'm sure that would be appreciated by the people of Cloud City and is a very heroic thing to do, but don't write the Evil Empire as Completely Impervious To Anything The PCs Might Do Except Maybe Liberate An Outlying City. Star Wars Saga doesn't peg Darth Vader at level 37. I know I can just change that as GM, but if you're giving me useless material that I need to rewrite in order to use for my game (or any game that doesn't go above level 20), what exactly am I paying you for?

Most importantly, Star Wars was a story. Not a role playing game. Entirely scripted, not subject to the foibles of different PC groups, DMs, unlucky dice rolls, or the need to make sure that low-level characters can just waltz in and overturn a totalitarian government that has had 70 years to entrench itself.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

I would place Cheliax, in Golarion, in a corresponding position with Iuz, from Greyhawk. (Cheliax is a richer tapestry than Iuz, of course; I don't imagine there were a lot of Lawful Neutral agents of Iuz in Living Greyhawk...)

In AD&D, where 10th Level PCs were the bee's knees, Iuz was obviously indomitable by the player characters alone. It took an alliance of good-aligned kingdoms, a couple of squadrons of very powerful people, and an artifact to sunder Iuz's power. I imagine it would take an equivalent amount of effort to break Hell's grip on Cheliax.


For all the people complaining about a CR20 Pit Fiend, Paizo could have always upped their power like was done in 4th Ed where the Pit Fiend was changed from CR20 to Level 26. Now, I have not looked too closely at 4th Ed rules, so I am assuming that the higher number means it is tougher to beat in 4th than it was in 3rd.

As for all this high level talk, I do not think in any version of D&D I have ever had a character go up to even 15th level. I like to role-play and I like challenges for my characters and for the games I run. I don't like or enjoy having characters that are so powerful that the only option is to go and fight gods and demon or devil lords.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Enevhar Aldarion wrote:
For all the people complaining about a CR20 Pit Fiend, Paizo could have always upped their power like was done in 4th Ed where the Pit Fiend was changed from CR20 to Level 26. Now, I have not looked too closely at 4th Ed rules, so I am assuming that the higher number means it is tougher to beat in 4th than it was in 3rd.

Not quite, Enevhar. The life-cycle of a 4th-Edition character runs from 1st to 30th Level. Pit Fiends have been dialed back. Level 26 in 4th Edition is equivalent to about CR 17 or 18 in 3rd Edition. (We could, in addition, compare Pit Fiend powers in the two editions, as it's a striking comparison, but that's regressing farther from the topic. Suffice it to say, 4th-Edition Pit Fiends would be less likely to be playing a major part in Cheliax except as brute muscle.)

Liberty's Edge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Erik Mona wrote:
One other point worth considering is that we're only just getting started with Pathfinder. A campaign where you kill the queen and take over Cheliax is going to be a lot more meaningful once more than a handful of people even know what "Cheliax" means.

The funny part is people have kind ignored the fact that the APs are more or less optional adventures for the setting. Even if there was an AP were to "destroy" Cheliax in it's current form, it would NOT be supported/acknowledged in other products, leaving many GMs (and players) with a "Now what do we do" feeling. And if it were to become supported, then Paizo would have to go full boar and canonize all the other APs into the "new" timeline in essence obsoleting ALMOST ALL of the base products products for the setting.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Erik Mona wrote:
And, really, knocking off the rulership of one of the most powerful nations in the entire campaign setting--one lousy with powerful devils and thousands (if not tens of thousands) of agents DOES sound like an appropriate epic-level challenge to me. Sure, we don't have epic-level rules at this point, but that's more a function of there being a limited amount of time since we decided to reboot the game than anything else. And just because the APs currently end around 15-18th level does not mean that they will NEVER go higher, or that we will never publish adventures in other formats that allow for more epic-style challenges.

But that doesn't explain why you excluded this idea from ever entering the hopper without significant market and rules changes by making Cheliax lousy with high-level devils. Cheliax's leadership is as artificial as anything in Golarion or any other campaign setting; the elements only exist insofar as someone thought "This would be fun" or "This would make a good AP."

At some point, someone had to say, "Making the leadership of Cheliax really high level is a good idea and would be fun." What's fun about an evil empire so hardcore that no PCs can possibly touch them without new rules to raise the level cap?

Quote:

First of all, when we do this AP I am going to lobby hard to call it "The Power Behind the Thrunes." Thanks for that!

The thing is, there's probably more than one pit fiend involved, and the dominion over Cheliax involved pacts with beings even more powerful than pit fiends that would likely become involved should some lucky PCs take a fatal shot at the queen. Personally, I'd find a campaign where we kill the queen and bump off a single pit fiend a little anti-climactic.

I hope some of the ideas I've been tossing off here inspire some people. Should I ever run a Golarion game, I'm totally replacing the queen's pit fiend with a bone devil because the idea that the queen has a malevolent, murderous invisible friend that offed some of the competition for the throne is awesome.

But the proliferation of pit fiends is the whole problem. That's a lousy climax but an acceptable goal for a single issue (or several) of an AP, one which focused on actually dealing with Cheliax once and for all. If the devilish aristocracy of Cheliax was lousy with rakshasas or bone devils or erinyes or ice devils, then you have an evil empire that is much more hardcore than many things in the setting (thus explaining their existence) but not so impossibly hardcore that you can't have an AP where the PCs are taking on the fiendish nobility. Plus you get the fact that lower-level devils and fiends are much cooler. Rakshasas are shapeshifting free agents with no particular ties to Hell. Bone devils are invisible corrupters. Erinyes are beautiful seducer-fiends and that has a million uses.

Like I said before, the only reason it has to be the climax of a campaign is because once you can take down a pit fiend with allies, you're pretty much done gaining levels.

Quote:
Welcome to my world.

You're on the team that wrote the world (as I understand it, correct me if I'm mistaken). Why'd you write it that way?

-----

Bill Dunn wrote:
Or to serve as grudging allies when faced with a powerful and disruptive mutual enemy.

Why do they need the PCs? They have pit fiends running around. Any problem they have they can hit with a CR 20 scrying, teleporting, invisible hammer.

Now, Paizo doesn't write that into their adventures because that's idiotic and not fun at all. But the problem is that Cheliax is given impossibly perfect assassins but we're still expected to believe that they need the PC's help.

Bill Dunn wrote:
Most importantly, Star Wars was a story. Not a role playing game. Entirely scripted, not subject to the foibles of different PC groups, DMs, unlucky dice rolls, or the need to make sure that low-level characters can just waltz in and overturn a totalitarian government that has had 70 years to entrench itself.

Low-level characters didn't just waltz in and overturn a totalitarian government in Star Wars. They faced increasingly difficult and hardcore challenges on a pretty even curve, and managed to lose lots of them. Each character had a significant power-up over the course of the movies, and progressed from meek non-combatant to well-rounded hard case.

No, you can't make a game exactly like Star Wars for a lot of reasons. But Cheliax is a perfect example of an evil empire that could have charismatic villains and an Evil Plot that must be thwarted following by the PCs leading an effort to overthrow it and then confronting the dark and terrible powers behind the Thrunes. I'd lay down my dollars for that. Unfortunately, Cheliax is written to be essentially impervious to anything PCs of level 16 or less can do.

Plus, it's not just Cheliax. AD&D 1e Orcus and Demogorgon were enemies you could aspire to properly defeating, as in "The world rejoices as the scourge of Orcus is no more." Asmodeus, since his CR 26 underlings are the lowbies in his aristocracy, is not. Why is that better?


Can you imagine what a disastor it would be if Thrune was overthrown? Civil war, mass carnage, power-grabbing noble houses all scrambling to fill the void. Hellknights marching all over the place putting malcontents to death.
I doubt the queen is particularly high level. She is, however, surrounded by quite a few high level things. That pit fiend? Probably the one actually running the show. Even if the PCs offed the queen, the trick would be keeping her dead and prevent her being raised and then you have to worry about stand-ins. And once you manage all of that, there is the mass chaos that arises from the power vacuum.

Liberty's Edge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
A Man In Black wrote:
Quote:

Bill Dunn wrote:

Most importantly, Star Wars was a story. Not a role playing game. Entirely scripted, not subject to the foibles of different PC groups, DMs, unlucky dice rolls, or the need to make sure that low-level characters can just waltz in and overturn a totalitarian government that has had 70 years to entrench itself.
No, you can't make a game exactly like Star Wars for a lot of reasons. But Cheliax is a perfect example of an evil empire that could have charismatic villains and an Evil Plot that must be thwarted following by the PCs leading an effort to overthrow it and then confronting the dark and terrible powers behind the Thrunes. I'd lay down my dollars for that. Unfortunately, Cheliax is written to be essentially impervious to anything PCs of level 16 or less can do.

Yay for the Star Wars reference. Something I'd like to point out about Star Wars is the timeline doesn't end at Return of the Jedi. When they started expanding the franchise post Return of the Jedi they had to make it VERY clear that just because the Emperor and Vader were gone, it didn't mean the Empire was gone. There were other evil influential cronies under them. There were other influential power figures while not evil, believed in the illusion created by the Emperor. There were other figures that just believed in the grandeur of the Empire. The Rebellion doesn't become the prominent force in the galaxy for another 10 years (and even then the Empire is still alive and kicking, they're just at peace.)

So unless Cheliax is going to be like Nazi Germany, Cheliax is NOT going to fall because of a few dead leaders.


wspatterson wrote:

Can you imagine what a disastor it would be if Thrune was overthrown? Civil war, mass carnage, power-grabbing noble houses all scrambling to fill the void. Hellknights marching all over the place putting malcontents to death.

I doubt the queen is particularly high level. She is, however, surrounded by quite a few high level things. That pit fiend? Probably the one actually running the show. Even if the PCs offed the queen, the trick would be keeping her dead and prevent her being raised and then you have to worry about stand-ins. And once you manage all of that, there is the mass chaos that arises from the power vacuum.

That's actually a very good point. If you just want to kill off the House of Thrune, sure, make it more of a mid level adventure. Then watch the country fall apart and hundreds and thousands of people die.

Heck, maybe this time Nidal steps in and takes over Cheliax, and the whole place is even more dark and twisted then before.

So, if you are going to be heroic about it, you probably need to make sure that agents of other powers aren't waiting in the wings, and that good or at least neutral parties are strong enough to fill the power vacuum . . . unless you don't mind Cheliax either being the same with new management or perhaps a larger, more destructive version of Galt.


Maybe I'm weird, and maybe this is me as a GM talking, but from a "Big Evil Villain" standpoint, I actually don't want to get rid of the big evil villain, I want to see him thwarted.

I'd hate to have seen the Thing crush Dr. Doom's head after his first few appearances. There is a reason Lex Luthor became a lot more popular once he became the untouchable guy pulling the strings and not the guy that ended up in jail after every Superman comic he showed up in.


KnightErrantJR wrote:

Maybe I'm weird, and maybe this is me as a GM talking, but from a "Big Evil Villain" standpoint, I actually don't want to get rid of the big evil villain, I want to see him thwarted.

I'd hate to have seen the Thing crush Dr. Doom's head after his first few appearances. There is a reason Lex Luthor became a lot more popular once he became the untouchable guy pulling the strings and not the guy that ended up in jail after every Superman comic he showed up in.

I can see where you're coming from. A recurring villain can be a lot of fun, the only pitfalls being

  • Giving the PCs a satisfactory conclusion to the adventure
  • Not making the villain a "Mary Sue"
  • Making the villain's return/escape believable

It's accepted in the comics, but not done too often in fantasy (where everything is a fight to the finish).

It would be cool and interesting to see it done well.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
A Man In Black wrote:

Why do they need the PCs? They have pit fiends running around. Any problem they have they can hit with a CR 20 scrying, teleporting, invisible hammer.

Now, Paizo doesn't write that into their adventures because that's idiotic and not fun at all. But the problem is that Cheliax is given impossibly perfect assassins but we're still expected to believe that they need the PC's help.

What? It can't be lower levels of the Cheliax regime needing to ally with the PCs? Or the PCs needing to seek help from someone in the Chelish hierarchy? We've already got a little of that in CoT with the 4th installment.

The way you're arguing this topic, it's like the amp always has to be turned to 11. Not every band plays at that volume. Paizo prefers to publish at a more moderate tone, leaving it to the home campaign DMs to work at other levels. CoT is dealing with Cheliax at one level, the campaign setting implies you'll need to turn it up to play at another level. But Paizo doesn't want to write the tunes at that volume level.

But you want to topple evil regimes at lower levels? Find some place other than Cheliax then. There are other unsavory places on Golarion that aren't fiend-backed totalitarian regimes that may fit a lower-leveled topple-the-evil-government campaign.


Well, I will say one thing: I'm betting Paizo doesn't publish a major multi-part adventure involving gods and major countries and unrevealed secrets about the setting, and before the final installment of that adventure series is released, publish a sourcebook that assumes the adventure did take place and the PCs fail . . .

What a wonderful way to motivate long term fans and the players at your table.

Dark Archive

And to me the last couple of post pointing out what the aftermath would be like and how hard that would be to deal with. Is exactly why to me something like that should be a epic under taking.

Personally I don't want to see Cheliax overthrown honestly I think they make way to good of bad guys. But then to be fair i find epic save the world plots to be boring.

But really at this point it is really coming down to personal taste and opinions. In the long run regardless what any of us want, paizo will do what is best for the company. They have to if they want to sell books, so all any of us can do is vote with our bank accounts and then paizo makes what they believe will sell the best to stay in business.

Liberty's Edge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
KnightErrantJR wrote:
Maybe I'm weird, and maybe this is me as a GM talking, but from a "Big Evil Villain" standpoint, I actually don't want to get rid of the big evil villain, I want to see him thwarted.

Indeed. It just leads to one upping. If this is the Big Bad Evil (BBE) of the week, next week's BBE needs to be even Bigger and Badder until you're fighting demi-gods and gods.. and defeating them.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

A Man In Black wrote:

You're on the team that wrote the world (as I understand it, correct me if I'm mistaken). Why'd you write it that way?

Because I thought it would be cool?

Someone already posted an analogy to Greyhawk's nation of Iuz, and I think the Great Kingdom in that setting is also a good comparison. I played in Greyhawk for 20 years and it never once bothered me that I'd need to be really high-level to take out the major badguys of the entire campaign setting.

Iuz is a god. You're probably not going to take him out at 15th level, either.

Like I said, there are plenty of other villains we've published that fit nicely into your preferred level band. I suggest you try one of those.

Barring that, I suggest you make the changes to Cheliax and Abrogail that you suggest and go wild with it.

It's your campaign. Do with it what you will.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Also, Cheliax is likely bound by contracts with Asmodeus and his Team Hell. Many contracts. Many nasty contracts.

I can perfectly imagine a bunch of happy-go-lucky PCs taking a shot at House Thrune, overthrowing them, and then watching in horror as literally all hell breaks loose as Asmo gets a legitimate mandate to invade Cheliax directly.

Facing a kid with Pit Fiend advisor is one thing, handling Baator. ..erm... Hell en masse is a whole different story.


A Man In Black wrote:

Why do they need the PCs? They have pit fiends running around. Any problem they have they can hit with a CR 20 scrying, teleporting, invisible hammer.

Now, Paizo doesn't write that into their adventures because that's idiotic and not fun at all. But the problem is that Cheliax is given impossibly perfect assassins but we're still expected to believe that they need the PC's help.

Pit Fiends don't normally handle such menial task as assassination. To compare it to a modern company a Pit Fiend is like the CEO. They may have to fire someone now and then, but normally such tasks are left to lower level management. CEO's oversee things such as acquiring other companies, and making sure theirs at worst, keeps its current condition.

If a Pit Fiend has to get its hands dirty=If you get called into the CEO's office.

As for the Lords of the Nine* since the CEO may have to answer to somebody, they are more like the board of directors that get to decide who the CEO will be.

*I only brought that up in case the idea of the Pit Fiend/ruling authority was brought up.

Back to my last post where I said they don't intend for Cheliax to be overthrown I will also say it does not matter what the CR of the head(s) of Cheliax is if Paizo never plans to have them removed. All that matters is whether or not they do it one day. If they do plan on it then they will find a way to make it happen. If they don't plan to remove them then they could be a CR 1 and have some in-game reason to not be touchable.

I do see your point, but what does it matter what the CR of the top guy is according to Paizo if you plan to have the country overthrown? If you don't have to follow Paizo's idea to keep the country in place then why do you have to follow Paizo and use their stat blocks?

You don't even have to beat the top guy in combat to get rid of him. Having him/her lose control of the country in some manner may get him/her removed from their position.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber
KnightErrantJR wrote:

Maybe I'm weird, and maybe this is me as a GM talking, but from a "Big Evil Villain" standpoint, I actually don't want to get rid of the big evil villain, I want to see him thwarted.

I'd hate to have seen the Thing crush Dr. Doom's head after his first few appearances. There is a reason Lex Luthor became a lot more popular once he became the untouchable guy pulling the strings and not the guy that ended up in jail after every Superman comic he showed up in.

Exactly! what's with these so called DMs whining that the world is not fair for the heroes? :)

I for one want Cheliax to remain the Lawful Evil Taldoran colony we all love! :)

The Exchange

Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

I like this thread.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

wraithstrike wrote:
Pit Fiends don't normally handle such menial task as assassination. To compare it to a modern company a Pit Fiend is like the CEO. They may have to fire someone now and then, but normally such tasks are left to lower level management. CEO's oversee things such as acquiring other companies, and making sure theirs at worst, keeps its current condition.

CEOs don't get to be CEOs by letting problems they can solve with 30 seconds of effort go unsolved.

But Paizo doesn't intend for Cheliax to be seriously challenged. Why? Because the leadership is too high level. Well, why is the leadership so high level? Because Paizo doesn't intend for Cheliax to be seriously challenged.

ARGH.

wspatterson wrote:

Can you imagine what a disastor it would be if Thrune was overthrown? Civil war, mass carnage, power-grabbing noble houses all scrambling to fill the void. Hellknights marching all over the place putting malcontents to death.

I doubt the queen is particularly high level. She is, however, surrounded by quite a few high level things. That pit fiend? Probably the one actually running the show. Even if the PCs offed the queen, the trick would be keeping her dead and prevent her being raised and then you have to worry about stand-ins. And once you manage all of that, there is the mass chaos that arises from the power vacuum.

And this can't be turned into a cool story?

I hear lots of people saying, "Oh, we can't overthrow Cheliax because..." You're right, you can't, because it's been written to be indestructible. That's no fun.

But Paizo is totally willing to write stories where the players fill a power void; haven't you noticed James Jacobs et al. running around hyping Kingmaker? And you can cover a lot of ground by adding a significant chunk of the campaign where the players go and shut off the tap of evil keeping the Hellknights and other houses wet. Wet with evil. Plus, a bunch of noble houses running around, all currying favor with the "victorious" heroes who just offed the old leadership, trying to sort through them to find the least evil house (or at least the ones least likely to backstab the PCs)? Totally awesome.

When you guys see something and say "No," I see it and say "HELL YES."

Erik Mona wrote:
It's your campaign. Do with it what you will.

The problem is that I can run my campaign with the cool ideas I have for free. Without giving you money. I would like to give you money for cool ideas because coming up with cool ideas and then developing them into a campagin is work and I am lazy. I don't necessarily want you to take my cool ideas and run with them (although I suppose you can if you want, they're 30 seconds worth of brainstorming mostly); I'm asking for you to do cool ideas instead of inexplicably unfun things that aren't cool.

This criticism isn't coming from the angle of an art critic, who wants to elevate the art form or inform people or whatever it is art critics do, or even the internet guy who wants to show he's smarter than you or his willy is bigger or whatever because he won an argument. It's coming from someone who wants to give you money but has decided not to because of repeated decisions that make no sense to me.

The only lesson I can take from the message, "Well, you can adopt it to your game" is that I should find someone willing to sell me things that I don't have to rewrite to use and give them my money. If you note the lack of the little Paizo Adventure Path Subscriber next to my name, that's why. As long as the adventures as written follow the logic of "characters below 20th level can't meaningfully affect the setting other than foiling the bad guys' plot" I'm really not interested.


A Man In Black wrote:
But Paizo doesn't intend for Cheliax to be seriously challenged. Why? Because the leadership is too high level. Well, why is the leadership so high level? Because Paizo doesn't intend for Cheliax to be seriously challenged.

Three words for you: Epic Level Rules

If you can wait for them to come out, then you will probably have all you need to save or trash the world, most likely with some modules or adventure paths along those lines as well. Besides, what good would epic rules be if you could trash the most powerful evil in Golarion by the time you reach 20th level?


A couple things to keep in mind . . .

It seems like a lot of us don't have a problem with Cheliax staying around.

Also, let's assume Cheliax is "mid level easy" to overthrow . . . as a GM, using Golarion as a setting, I now have to do a lot of work to figure out how this affects the setting at this point, because Cheliax is a major lynch pin in the campaign setting.

All of its vassal states are now no longer vassal states, all of its enemies move in to carve out chunks, etc.

The amount of work for removing a major part of the setting that so much of the setting has been hung on means I might as well make up a home brew setting.

If everything in the campaign setting is designed to be uprooted by PCs that are in the mid level range, then it almost seems like you are angling for "disposable" campaign settings, not integrated campaign settings that have a running narrative.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Enevhar Aldarion wrote:
Three words for you: Epic Level Rules

A fourth word for you: Suck

At 17th level, one of the spells can do almost anything. What do you do for an encore? It's very hard to figure out how to write meaningful adventures for characters with ninth-level spells; what do you do for tenth-level spells? If Paizo can write revolutionary rules for characters who can shape reality four times a day and then do even more amazing things on top of that, I'll be first in line to sing their praises, but I don't think it's a realistic expectation.

Plus, level 21+ adventures a lot less financially viable, because you need to have The Book Of Epic Rules to use them, and also be running a high-level campaign (which most people don't). The 5-12 sweet spot isn't just a sweet spot in the rules; it's a sweet spot in selling adventures for a mature game. Most people skip low levels or use them to get comfortable with their characters, then phase them out right about the same time that all the characters get setting-warping superpowers. Why do you think most of the APs are in that level range?

Quote:
Also, let's assume Cheliax is "mid level easy" to overthrow . . . as a GM, using Golarion as a setting, I now have to do a lot of work to figure out how this affects the setting at this point, because Cheliax is a major lynch pin in the campaign setting.

No, you don't, because Paizo is (hypothetically) selling you a product that deals with this aftermath. That's the whole point. The build-up, overthrow, and aftermath are great fodder for an AP, chain of linked APs, or mega-adventure. Maybe you go to hell to root out the real source of the evil in Cheliax. Maybe you play politics. Maybe it's both. Who knows, developing ideas is a lot of work and I'd like to pay someone to do it.

And where did this idea that busting leadership composed of CR 10-12 guys is "easy" come from? More NPC power inflation. :/

Liberty's Edge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
A Man In Black wrote:
No, you don't, because Paizo is (hypothetically) selling you a product that deals with this aftermath. That's the whole point. The build-up, overthrow, and aftermath are great fodder for an AP, chain of linked APs, or mega-adventure. Maybe you go to hell to root out the real source of the evil in Cheliax. Maybe you play politics. Maybe it's both. Who knows, developing ideas is a lot of work and I'd like to pay someone to do it.

And perhaps one day when Paizo decided it's time for Pathfinder CS 2.0 they're even Pathfinder CS 1.0 with the destruction of Cheliax. Until then, IMHO such an AP has too many other consequences on the setting for it to be a one-shot product that isn't supported in the lore afterward.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

A Man In Black wrote:

The problem is that I can run my campaign with the cool ideas I have for free. Without giving you money. I would like to give you money for cool ideas because coming up with cool ideas and then developing them into a campagin is work and I am lazy. I don't necessarily want you to take my cool ideas and run with them (although I suppose you can if you want, they're 30 seconds worth of brainstorming mostly); I'm asking for you to do cool ideas instead of inexplicably unfun things that aren't cool.

This criticism isn't coming from the angle of an art critic, who wants to elevate the art form or inform people or whatever it is art critics do, or even the internet guy who wants to show he's smarter than you or his willy is bigger or whatever because he won an argument. It's coming from someone who wants to give you money but has decided not to because of repeated decisions that make no sense to me.

The only lesson I can take from the message, "Well, you can adopt it to your game" is that I should find someone willing to sell me things that I don't have to rewrite to use and give them my money. If you note the lack of the little Paizo Adventure Path Subscriber next to my name, that's why. As long as the adventures as written follow the logic of "characters below 20th level can't meaningfully affect the setting other than foiling the bad guys' plot" I'm really not interested...

I've spent enough of my holiday trying to reason with you.

You've already said you've been "voting with your dollars." It's clear nothing I'm going to say or do is going to change your mind, so I wish you the best of luck with your money.

Here's hoping it buys you happiness and a great campaign.


A Man In Black wrote:


I'm asking for you to do cool ideas instead of inexplicably unfun things that aren't cool.

Umm, so far the APs have been fun for alot of people. You dont like them, change them the way you see fit. Cheliax (to some of us) is better as a long term evil nation, its seems that was the intent. Theres nothing wrong with thwarting House Thrune and becoming a thorn in their sides either.

A Man In Black wrote:


It's coming from someone who wants to give you money but has decided not to because of repeated decisions that make no sense to me.

Personally, Im glad you arent making the decisions for Paizo. I think its kind of an arrogant statement. Maybe you need your own publishing company?

The APs are fine for alot of folks. Again, Rule 0 - change what you dont like, subscribe to what you think is good for you etc.

A Man In Black wrote:


The only lesson I can take from the message, "Well, you can adopt it to your game" is that I should find someone willing to sell me things that I don't have to rewrite to use and give them my money. If you note the lack of the little Paizo Adventure Path Subscriber next to my name, that's why. As long as the adventures as written follow the logic of "characters below 20th level can't meaningfully affect the setting other than foiling the bad guys' plot" I'm really not interested.

See my last solution to this. Again, You can affect Golarion all you want with whatever characters of whatever levels. It still doesnt mean we all share your opinion on this subject.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Sunderstone wrote:
Again, You can affect Golarion all you want with whatever characters of whatever levels. It still doesnt mean we all share your opinion on this subject.

Mm. It's more that I'm trying to call attention to there's a demand for adventures where the PCs get to change the setting, and a lack of an advancing canon makes that possible. If the response to this is that the only answer an attempt to convince me to buy what's out there, then oh well. Not every company can satisfy every demand, you know?


A Man In Black wrote:
Mm. It's more that I'm trying to call attention to there's a demand for adventures where the PCs get to change the setting, and a lack of an advancing canon makes that possible. If the response to this is that the only answer is convincing me to buy what's out there, then oh well.

Let me give you an example.

FR Grey Box comes out. People love it. Zhentarim are a cool new evil faction. Maybe someone wants a new series of modules right away in which players destroy the cool new evil organization. Alot of us might feel differently and want the Zhentarim around as recurring enemies.

Maybe paizo wants Cheliax to be Cheliax as it is. Maybe they dont want to wreck it just yet by creating an adventure that wrecks it? Maybe alot of us like it the way it is too?

A Man In Black wrote:


Not every company can satisfy every demand, you know?

Wish you would heed your own words here.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Sunderstone wrote:

FR Grey Box comes out. People love it. My home campaign begins. We kill Elminster and take over the Dalelands (maybe even write a trilogy of books about it).

Should we force this change of setting onto everyone? Does everyone have to like our new Dalelands and adopt it into their campaign setting books?

No, that's not anything like I was suggesting. If you care, I'd be happy to elaborate or clarify in some other venue, but I'm not really interested in belaboring it here.


A Man In Black wrote:


No, that's not anything like I was suggesting. If you care, I'd be happy to elaborate or clarify in some other venue, but I'm not really interested in belaboring it here.

I changed the above example more inline of what I think you meant. Sorry for the confusion but it still stands. Your saying theres a demand for modules like this, maybe so. A few of us might disagree.


A Man In Black wrote:
Sunderstone wrote:
Again, You can affect Golarion all you want with whatever characters of whatever levels. It still doesnt mean we all share your opinion on this subject.
Mm. It's more that I'm trying to call attention to there's a demand for adventures where the PCs get to change the setting, and a lack of an advancing canon makes that possible. If the response to this is that the only answer an attempt to convince me to buy what's out there, then oh well. Not every company can satisfy every demand, you know?

Your best chance to have such an effect is addressed in Kingmaker I believe.

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