Ultimate Magic: Monk's Vow of Poverty


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idilippy wrote:

SKR, I am all aboard the role playing before mechanics issue, and agree that not every option can or should be the best one. My problem, however, is that the vow of X monk is a pretty well known character concept that is going to be completely worthless in any of the adventures or adventure paths that Paizo itself is publishing and pushing as their main "bread and butter" line of products.

To me it is wrong to say, "hey, here's this really awesome, flavorful option that will let you play that ascetic monk who travels the world with only the clothes on his back and does good works based on his faith. Oh, wait, you're going to play him in one of the Paizo adventure paths that our line of rulebooks support? Sorry, guess you should've picked a character concept that will survive instead of the one you thought had roleplaying potential."

Also, claiming that a monk with a vow of poverty is like playing a wizard with 8 intelligence or a dex-based fighter with 8 dex is frankly not a good comparison. A monk with a vow of poverty or who just happens to live with nothing but plain clothes and his fists is a fairly common theme and has been supported in the past, while the other two are not(a person who casts spells without knowledge or study is a sorcerer in Pathfinder rules, while a fighter with no coordination who tries to fight in a coordinated way is an oxymoron).

Finally, your belief that because the character is making a sacrifice the player should make a sacrifice is incomprehensible to me. If I make a monk with a vow of poverty I can't have any interesting items, I can't pick up or even hold treasures for other people, and I can't carry consumables, but I get to play the wandering man in a rough-spun coarse tunic, sandals, a walking staff, and a wide-brimmed hat that interests me. I shouldn't as a player also be forced to ditch that concept once we hit mid-levels and the rest of the party get tired of supporting my wandering monk with the vow of poverty who can't contribute to the Adventure Path anymore...

+1

You said it better than I did.


Dark_Mistress wrote:
Actually I agree with Sean, most of the people I play with. Make characters by concept and sometimes know they are suboptimal because of it. A good GM tweaks the adventure to be a challenge and fun for the party regardless of their strength.

I agree with concept before mechanics, I disagree with the fact that such a cool concept as the impoverished monk should be impossible to play unless the DM caters the game to that one player. I love to DM and play the Pathfinder APs and want to do so with the wandering, vowed to poverty staff-fighting monk I've had in my head for some time but as it stands it is impossible, and since the rules were originally developed around the APs this is disappointing to me.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
ProfessorCirno wrote:
Given how much you lose from this, mechanically speaking, why should someone take the Vow of Poverty ability?

Roleplaying?

Not every game option has to be the best option. Not every game rule option has to be a good option. In fact, some game choices are guaranteed to be BAD in terms of rules consequences, and people do them anyway because they want to play interesting characters. You can play a wizard with a 12 Int (I've done it, in the very first 3E playtest campaign, in fact). You can play a fighter who maximizes Con instead of Str. You can put ranks in Profession. You can take Skill Focus (Appraise). You can play a child, or a blind character, or a pacifist.

There are huge numbers of players who make and play characters that they think would be a fun or interesting concept. Players who don't worry about "optimal builds" to maximize AC or damage, because the game is designed for PCs to win and they can play characters that aren't minmaxed and not have them die all the time (I'll point out that the default encounter is CR = APL, which is an easy encounter that only uses 20% of the party's disposable resources... that's stacking the deck in the favor of the PCs).

The game expects you to have X gp worth of gear at every level. Deliberately choosing to play a character that ignores that and has essentially nothing at high levels is a very suboptimal design choice. You're allowed to do that. I think it's admirable for the people who want to play that sort of character. But it is unrealistic to say "because you've given up all these goodies, you gain other goodies that exactly make up for that choice which deliberately makes you a fragile character." And if you did build such a thing into the rules, it's basically saying, "you, the character that's made a sacrifice? It's not really a sacrifice at all, you're just as good as someone who didn't make that sacrifice. In other words, your sacrifice is meaningless because you're not really giving up anything."...

+ infinity...this is why I play Pathfinder and refuse to touch...the other brand's game.

Also want to add...you can do alot with Ki...and I am sure there are even more ki powers.

Silver Crusade

Dark_Mistress wrote:
Actually I agree with Sean, most of the people I play with. Make characters by concept and sometimes know they are suboptimal because of it. A good GM tweaks the adventure to be a challenge and fun for the party regardless of their strength.

I go by concept as well. Not really an optimizer.

Which is why the issues with the monk are so frustrating. The class has it rough enough trying to keep up with everyone else, and to pile on stuff like this on top of it kind of adds insult to injury.

I'm worried this thread is going to turn ugly and no one is going to hear anything through the din before the lock, but I hope Paizo gets the frustration a lot of monk fans have with always being treated like the buttmonkey class in the game. When we're even allowed to play one that is, considering how many people go "EW! ASIAN GERMS! IT'S NOT FANTASY! BAN IT!" :(

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

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Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Why should a vow of poverty make your ability scores, AC, and or saves get better?

Because your character comes from a land based on Indian mythology, in which asceticism is a path to godhood?


Concept and mechanics are twosides of the same coin; both are needed to make a fun character. What galls me is when the concept is good, but unplayable because the mechanics are holding up their end of the bargain.

What's worse is that the monk already has a reputation of being a sucky class. The Vow of Poverty doesn't help dispel that image.


Dark_Mistress wrote:
Actually I agree with Sean, most of the people I play with. Make characters by concept and sometimes know they are suboptimal because of it. A good GM tweaks the adventure to be a challenge and fun for the party regardless of their strength.

I agree with him in theory, but not with this particular idea. I think it works if everyone makes a less than optimal character, but if everyone is average to above average this option makes a GM's job harder.

I can't speak for everyone, but it is easier for me to GM a team of super heroes than it is to GM a party with 3 people who are slightly above the curve and one that is well below it.

Dark Archive

My only point was, I have been in a group where someone happened to play a monk and in RPing took a vow of poverty among other vows. He keep very little. about 20% of the wealth characters normally had. Was he under powered? Sure but he worked, the player had fun and the group had fun. Plus he did this long ago in 3.x edition and got nothing for his self imposed vows.

Just saying a option can be weak and still be a valid option. If people don't like it, they can tweak it in their home games and make it better, or reduce the poverty part to only mean they can only own what they can carry themselves, regardless of actual value.

I get why people don't like it, I just happen to agree with Sean in that it doesn't need to be as good to be a valid option is all.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I disagree with both Cirno and SKR. Well, that's me, the man in the middle.

Sub-optimal choices will exist no matter how you design, because there always will be a Wizard with Power Attack who wants to go EK but changes his mind 2 sessions later.

If the Vows were a "free" tack-on, I wouldn't mind. But they replace Still Mind, and the old rule says that you don't trade an axe for a stick. Of all the Vows, I can see Vow of Truth and MAYBE Vow of Chastity as solid trades. Vow of Poverty, oh no.


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
ProfessorCirno wrote:
Given how much you lose from this, mechanically speaking, why should someone take the Vow of Poverty ability?

Roleplaying?

Not every game option has to be the best option. Not every game rule option has to be a good option. In fact, some game choices are guaranteed to be BAD in terms of rules consequences, and people do them anyway because they want to play interesting characters

You do realize you're literally parroting exactly what Monte Cook has gone on to say was one of his biggest problems with 3.x, that of Ivory Tower game design?

Know what I really love to roleplay? Characters that can do their job successfully.

Here's an idea: instead of making feats that are "bad" in terms of rules consequences and going "MEH SOME PEOPLE TAKE IT ANYWAYS," how about making all options equally viable so players don't fall into cunning traps while trying to make a character?

You state that taking this ability should be a sacrifice. I ask: why? And if it must be so, why isn't it labeled as such? Why isn't there a warning that taking this option will make you drastically weaker then the already weak monk is?

And again, you did not answer my question. You implemented a mechanical ability. You did not implement a fluff suggestion and say "hey, one idea you could have for the monk is to give away many of your belongings and have a vow of poverty, but watch out, that will make you very weak." You put down "Hey, this is something mechanical for players." In light of that, what is the mechanical reason for taking this ability?

Here is my statement to finish it off, then: If you are going to make a mechanical choice for players, attempt to make it viable. If not, and the choice is intentionally "bad," do not place it in as a player trap - put it under optional rules with a warning that it makes you weaker. Nobody wants to have a super cool idea for a mystic monk with nothing but the clothes on his back, only to find that your options given to him make him hilariously worthless.

Edit: Got my developers mixed up


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Sayer_of_Nay wrote:
Concept and mechanics are twosides of the same coin; both are needed to make a fun character. What galls me is when the concept is good, but unplayable because the mechanics are holding up their end of the bargain.

Haven't you heard? You have to be awful in order to be "interesting."

I guess all those EVERY FANTASY EVERYTHING EVER in which the protagonist is in some way good at what they do has really been somehow very uninteresting.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

ProfessorCirno wrote:
Here is my statement to finish it off, then: If you are going to make a mechanical choice for players, attempt to make it viable. If not, and the choice is intentionally "bad," do not place it in as a player trap - put it under optional rules with a warning that it makes you weaker.

You mean like they put it in an explicitly optional book full of optional rules?

And then gave players a fairly easy way out, just in case they change their minds?

I'm really not seeing "trap" here.

Dark Archive

I get a very bad taste when some1 w/ a well designed & played pc dies cause a players brings a pc who can't carry their weight. A dm has to weaken encounters to avoid dangering other pcs. That could make such sacrafice pointless.
Don’t want partners exploring these supposedly interesting characters. Than again, I expect the chance to play the class I want to. Even a weaker class.
Thanks SKR 4 sharing the insight I previously did not understand. Explains y some poor options see printing. Colorful in flavor at least and gets the mind thinking. Even if only 2 explain why it is such a terrible mechanical choice and maybe later 2 design a.more practical version.
I rather choose gear any day. For new or lazy players, both versions make things faster and easier than having to research what is best to buy.
In the end, I guess options, even mechanically weak ones should always be better than no choices at all.


Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:
ProfessorCirno wrote:
Here is my statement to finish it off, then: If you are going to make a mechanical choice for players, attempt to make it viable. If not, and the choice is intentionally "bad," do not place it in as a player trap - put it under optional rules with a warning that it makes you weaker.

You mean like they put it in an explicitly optional book full of optional rules?

And then gave players a fairly easy way out, just in case they change their minds?

I'm really not seeing "trap" here.

Again, this is something Monte Cook - who made 3e - talked about under Ivory Tower game design as being a bad thing. Don't just leave bad or highly situational choices out in the open and wait for new players to fall into a trap.


ProfessorCirno wrote:
Again, this is something Monte Cook - who made 3e - talked about under Ivory Tower game design as being a bad thing. Don't just leave bad or highly situational choices out in the open and wait for new players to fall into a trap.

I'd like a link to those articles of his.


Umbral Reaver wrote:
ProfessorCirno wrote:
Again, this is something Monte Cook - who made 3e - talked about under Ivory Tower game design as being a bad thing. Don't just leave bad or highly situational choices out in the open and wait for new players to fall into a trap.
I'd like a link to those articles of his.

Here


Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:

You mean like they put it in an explicitly optional book full of optional rules?

And then gave players a fairly easy way out, just in case they change their minds?

I'm really not seeing "trap" here.

Every book is optional (including core) in which this statement is unfalsifiable and I can therefore not see the point in pointing out it is optional. Taking skill focus for every one of your feats is a trap for beginning players trying to be skill monkeys, still optional, still a trap.


ProfessorCirno wrote:
Here

Cool, thanks.

Monte is on the ball there. As a M:tG player, too, I do understand that reference (and yes, I find it sad that many of my favourite cards are rubbish in play).

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

Shadow_of_death wrote:


Every book is optional (including core) in which this statement is unfalsifiable and I can therefore not see the point in pointing out it is optional. Taking skill focus for every one of your feats is a trap for beginning players trying to be skill monkeys, still optional, still a trap.

There's a difference between options within the game, and "Optional Rules" You have lots of options to choose from when you earn a feat, but as presented in the Core Rulebook, Feats are non-optional. You earn them, you have to select them.

Vows, on the other hand, are entirely optional. A Monk is not required to select a vow. A GM is not required to allow vows in his game. Vows are an "optional rule".

Cirno said the vows should be in an "Optional Rules" section, and voila, they are!

Besides, like I said, if it doesn't work for you, you can get out of it. No real Trap.

As for Ivory Tower gaming:

Spoiler:

Monte never says it's bad. Simply that it's not entirely good (and yes, there's a difference). He acknowledges at the end that there is something to be said for just handing the players the rules to do with as they please.

I see it this way; Any character option can be bad, in the right situation. Power Attack for the Wizard, so on, so forth. If they put a disclaimer on every single character option like Monte mentions for Toughness, or Cirno seems to want on Vow of Poverty, even a line as short as "This is a good choice if you're playing X, but a bad choice if you're playing Y or Z", then Ultimate Magic would have ended up either as thick (and expensive) as the Core Rulebook, or it'd contain half as much content as it does. Personally, I prefer more content at a reasonable price, but maybe that's just my Ivory Tower bias :D

There's just no room and no reason to do that with a book like Ultimate Magic, because by the time a player gets to this book, they should be expected to know the rules. Ultimate Magic is on the high-end of the system mastery spectrum. The Core Rulebook sits in the middle, with the Beginner's Box coming out in October to occupy the bottom. All of these books serve a purpose by catering to a different sort of player.

EDIT: PS, it's like 5:30 am right now, and I'm half-conscious, so sorry if that came off a little ramble-y.


Mostly just curious:

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
In fact, some game choices are guaranteed to be BAD in terms of rules consequences, and people do them anyway because they want to play interesting characters.

If the player is routinely being outshined by their fellows due to bad rules choices, couldn't that make the character less fun and/or interesting to play?

Quote:
...is a very suboptimal design choice. You're allowed to do that. I think it's admirable for the people who want to play that sort of character. But it is unrealistic to say "because you've given up all these goodies, you gain other goodies that exactly make up for that choice which deliberately makes you a fragile character."

Does it have to be very suboptimal? Why not a little suboptimal? (I was trying to think of a word between "very" and "little" that properly expresses a sort of suboptimal middle ground but I couldn't come up with one. Rather suboptimal? Quite suboptimal?)

Quote:
If you want a game where all builds are equally viable, you should play a different game. Pathfinder lets you make suboptimal choices, or even poor choices, and it doesn't reward you for making those poor choices. Because rewarding poor choices is dumb.

If someone taking Vow of Poverty for roleplaying reasons is noble and admirable, why is rewarding them dumb? Why punish roleplaying?

Quote:
I don't see anyone clamoring that there should be a feat or vow or ritual for Int 8 wizards to get access to different powers to make up for his lack of spells, whether or not you call it the "Vow of Rincewind."

Can this exist?

Quote:
I don't see anyone clamoring that the low-Dex fighter should get something that makes him awesome at dodging out of trouble and accidentally killing his enemies in comedic ways, whether or not you call it the "Vow of Jar-Jar."

Can this not exist? Alternatively, are you planning on anything like the Book of Vile Darkness?

Quote:
But I'm not going to let the rules make your impoverished monk as good as a regular monk. If you want to play a character that's making a sacrifice, make a sacrifice--don't pretend it's a sacrifice and expect a handout for pretending.

If the rest of the party are already regular adventures, why is wanting to be about as effective as they are a handout? Does not wanting to be ineffective only make you a pretend roleplayer? Does pretending to roleplay cancel out the roleplaying or make you a double roleplayer?

I have had fun playing disadvantaged characters and I agree with some of the sentiments here, I just feel like I'm getting mixed messages!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
ProfessorCirno wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
ProfessorCirno wrote:
Given how much you lose from this, mechanically speaking, why should someone take the Vow of Poverty ability?

Roleplaying?

Not every game option has to be the best option. Not every game rule option has to be a good option. In fact, some game choices are guaranteed to be BAD in terms of rules consequences, and people do them anyway because they want to play interesting characters

You do realize you're literally parroting exactly what Monte Cook has gone on to say was one of his biggest problems with 3.x, that of Ivory Tower game design?

Know what I really love to roleplay? Characters that can do their job successfully.

Here's an idea: instead of making feats that are "bad" in terms of rules consequences and going "MEH SOME PEOPLE TAKE IT ANYWAYS," how about making all options equally viable so players don't fall into cunning traps while trying to make a character?

You state that taking this ability should be a sacrifice. I ask: why? And if it must be so, why isn't it labeled as such? Why isn't there a warning that taking this option will make you drastically weaker then the already weak monk is?

And again, you did not answer my question. You implemented a mechanical ability. You did not implement a fluff suggestion and say "hey, one idea you could have for the monk is to give away many of your belongings and have a vow of poverty, but watch out, that will make you very weak." You put down "Hey, this is something mechanical for players." In light of that, what is the mechanical reason for taking this ability?

Here is my statement to finish it off, then: If you are going to make a mechanical choice for players, attempt to make it viable. If not, and the choice is intentionally "bad," do not place it in as a player trap - put it under optional rules with a warning that it makes you weaker. Nobody wants to have a super cool idea for a mystic monk with nothing but the clothes on his back, only to find that your options given to him make him hilariously worthless.

Ack, I agree with Cirno. But, yeah, I don't think that it is good design to create player traps and put them in the important splat books.

Sovereign Court

Without having read the feat-in-question myself (as my broski's copy of UM is shipping as I type, I've been told), my opinion is this;

"Why limit my late game ability when I can just roleplay a 'Vow of Poverty' by turning down unneeded loot and gear until the point I absolutely NEED it to keep up?"

I just don't see a little extra Ki keeping a monk from dying for very long.


I know what "player traps" means but I can't help imagining that it means if you open the splatbook to the wrong page Jason Bulmahn jumps out and slaps you around with another, smaller splatbook.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ettin wrote:
I know what "player traps" means but I can't help imagining that it means if you open the splatbook to the wrong page Jason Bulmahn jumps out and slaps you around with another, smaller splatbook.

And I thought it'd be SKR slapping you in the face for wanting to take a sound game mechanic which also allows good roleplaying. ^^


magnuskn wrote:
And I thought it'd be SKR slapping you in the face for wanting to take a sound game mechanic which also allows good roleplaying. ^^

These are my very first posts! I don't want them to just be jumping on SKR, that would be weird.

Anyway, I went with Jason because he has very nice hair.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I know it might sound a little facetious, and I really do love SKR's fluff work, and I do want to hug him for Golarion's pantheon, and he's a raging Liberal which means he's close to my heart, but please somebody relieve Sean of the rules writing burden. Puhleeeze?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Sean K Reynolds wrote:


Not every game option has to be the best option. Not every game rule option has to be a good option. In fact, some game choices are guaranteed to be BAD in terms of rules consequences, and people do them anyway because they want to play interesting characters. You can play a wizard with a 12 Int (I've done it, in the very first 3E playtest campaign, in fact). You can play a fighter who maximizes Con instead of Str. You can put ranks in Profession. You can take Skill Focus (Appraise). You can play a child, or a blind character, or a pacifist.

Not all suboptimal choices are equally suboptimal. Your 12 Int Wizard isn't going to see the full impact of his choice unless he reaches 5th level in the class. The 8 strength fighter is going to see the impact of his choices immediately.

The thing is that one needs to decide is how suboptimal is a given choice and who are you playing with? If you have friends who support your choice and you're playing in a home group, that pretty much settles it. If you're running in Pathfinder Society and every time you play it's with a group of strangers than you need to be a bit more judicious in how much you cripple yourself.

Another thing that players need to remind themselves is that frequently they don't need the mechanics to roleplay. A monk character can NOT take the Vow of Poverty yet still refrain from obtaining all but the most needed of magical items and live a simplified lifestyle. One could for example go by the old First Edition limits and still be quite playable, yet not have to worry about abiding by a rules mechanic on what they own.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My houseruling of the vow will be that the monk is limited to items worn and simple possessions, and cannot amass wealth, buy property, keep a bank account, give/accept loans, hold any cash. Acquisition of magic gear would be handled by donating his share of loot to the temple/dojo and receiving "tools of trade" of equivalent value.

No multiple weapons, alternate magic items set. One item per every slot.

Fun, somewhat limiting (OK let's pool for a tricked-out villa with jacuzzi...damn, Monk can't help out), flavourful, but not gimping you into oblivion.


Wow, a vow that requires a real sacrifice. I'm with SKR on this. I havea group of 7 players - 3 of them make every character min/maxed/optimized to the hilt, the rest make characters that are sup-optimized/make 'poor' chocies, choosing skills and feats that add MECHANICAL flavor to their character CONCEPT, rather than optimizing there charaters. The only difference I see, is the M/M/O players play suicidal, seeing surrender or running away to fight another day as not being an option...they despise any and all FAILURE/WEAKNESS in regard to there chaarcters; the sub-optimized players see nothing wrong with surrendering OR running away OR failing OR having a character that has weakness. Both groups role-play, just with different approaches.

I hope there are more mechanical additions to the game that add flavor wihtout granting the ridiculous - Book of Exalted Deeds Vow of Poverty with or without Vow of Peace. However, with this being the internet (messages are literal and all-encompassing meant to apply to everyone), here's the qualifier - THIS is me and by no means meant to imply anything for anyone else.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Daniel Gunther 346 wrote:

Wow, a vow that requires a real sacrifice. I'm with SKR on this. I havea group of 7 players - 3 of them make every character min/maxed/optimized to the hilt, the rest make characters that are sup-optimized/make 'poor' chocies, choosing skills and feats that add MECHANICAL flavor to their character CONCEPT, rather than optimizing there charaters. The only difference I see, is the M/M/O players play suicidal, seeing surrender or running away to fight another day as not being an option...they despise any and all FAILURE/WEAKNESS in regard to there chaarcters; the sub-optimized players see nothing wrong with surrendering OR running away OR failing OR having a character that has weakness. Both groups role-play, just with different approaches.

I hope there are more mechanical additions to the game that add flavor wihtout granting the ridiculous - Book of Exalted Deeds Vow of Poverty with or without Vow of Peace. However, with this being the internet (messages are literal and all-encompassing meant to apply to everyone), here's the qualifier - THIS is me and by no means meant to imply anything for anyone else.

Pathfinder VoP doesn't sub-optimize you. Taking Power Attack as a Wizard is sub-optimal. Taking the VoP is a crippling decision that leaves you so far behind the rest of your party that it hurts.


You don't need these sorts of things to play a concept well. I play a sorcerer that is dedicated to never personally harming an intelligent being (even demons and such) and get no special powers for the vow of nonviolence. Nevertheless, the character is functional and capable without having to make massive sacrifices for the concept. All the restrictions there are voluntary.


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
ProfessorCirno wrote:
Given how much you lose from this, mechanically speaking, why should someone take the Vow of Poverty ability?

Roleplaying?

Because you'd like to be able to survive the adventure paths PAIZO writes? I challenge you to use a Vow of Poverty monk in book six of the Kingmaker AP. This holds to a lesser degree for all of your modules.

And it's bad for roleplaying too. Since you're clearly arguing from a homebrew campaign model, let me just say that there's nothing more annoying than getting progressively less powerful the closer you get to the plot's resolution. A worse feeling is when other PCs die after years of RP due to the fact that you can no longer carry your weight.

This is another data point in the Paizo designers don't really care much about high level play.


I'm with SKR. I think some mechanical options should be inferior to others and I think the decision to use them should be made on a roleplaying basis. I also think, however, that this will only work with the right kind of group.

Sadly, with most groups the general opinion given on this thread is correct. A monk with VoP as written is going to be useless next to his companions, which is unfortunate. Still, I'm glad the option exists as it does just in case I get a chance to play with the kind of group that makes it feasible.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
The game expects you to have X gp worth of gear at every level. Deliberately choosing to play a character that ignores that and has essentially nothing at high levels is a very suboptimal design choice. You're allowed to do that. I think it's admirable for the people who want to play that sort of character. But it is unrealistic to say "because you've given up all these goodies, you gain other goodies that exactly make up for that choice which deliberately makes you a fragile character." And if you did build such a thing into the rules, it's basically saying, "you, the character that's made a sacrifice? It's not really a sacrifice at all, you're just as good as someone who didn't make that sacrifice. In other words, your sacrifice is meaningless because you're not really giving up anything."

Thing is, that sacrifice is free. I don't mean "free" in any sort of game design sense, but instead "free" in the sense that I could already do that without paying Paizo money for a new book. I'd just have to come up with some solution to the problem that one of the party members (possibly the one I'm playing!) will be increasingly incapable of handling level-appropriate tasks, a solution that wasn't included in Ultimate Magic anyway.

Many people would like to make a character who has taken a vow of poverty, without the character being a hopelessly weak spear-carrier. You're saying some people might want to play a hopelessly weak spear-carrier, and while I guess that might be true, it's not a solution to the problem. The existence of a Vow of Poverty option implies by its existence that it at least alleviates the problem.

Solving this problem is a selling point. Trap non-options turn me right off of a product.


hmm i wonder if one could still use the +stat tomes since really your not keeping the magic item you use it then it vanishes. and one could probably still get his hands enchanted... although someone else would have to pay for it. and maybe get some permanenet defense spells. hmm maybe theres ways around getting some magical bonuses while keeping your vow so your not entirly useless once others start gettin magic.


Yeah, I have to agree: This vow of poverty blows big baby chunks.

I can basically see some merit in both extreme opinions about this.

If you give up equipment in a game like Pathfinder, you better get something tangible back, because loss of magic items is crippling in this game. Other games are different in that regard, but Pathfinder assumes you are equipped according to the wealth guidelines. Deviate from that too much and you run into serious trouble, especially if it isn't taken under consideration. Deviate from it to the point where you have no equipment beyond a handful of simple items, and you're dead weight.

This gets worse in published adventures, which assume you have normal equipment. Those APs are sometimes hard enough even if you get your equipment. Add to that a class that is dependant on several ability scores and take away all equipment (including boosters to ability scores), and you have a dead character.

And I for one don't subscribe to the notion that the GM should compensate if one player willingly plays a character that is significantly weaker than the rest. Some adaptation, sure. But not all.

On the other hand, I can also see why people say that giving up equipment of your own free will should not give you huge bonuses. If you want to penalise your character for roleplaying reasons, then let it be a penalty. Sacrifice is meaningless if it's not sacrifice.

(And its true that nothing said before the word "but" ever meant anything)

...BUT!...

But if its a pure roleplaying concern, something that isn't supposed to be linked to rules compensations, why is it in a rulebook? With a (really inadequate) compensation no less. If it's really just a roleplaying thing, and not something tied to rules and character optimisation (and I still maintain that the two can and should be linked), why waste words on it? It's a vow of poverty. That means you can't have possessions except maybe a bare minimum. End of story. Took me two sentences to describe, and those don't really belong into a book about rules.

To summarise: Either you can claim it's a legitimate rules issue and treat it accordingly (maybe not the way the Book of Exalted Might did, but in a way that makes it workable if not equal to the standard rules-wise) or you say it's just a roleplaying thing and don't put it in the rules section of a book that is supposed to be very heavy on rules.


I agree with KaeYoss there.

Roleplay and flavour is something players create themselves. It doesn't need to be dictated by ridiculous mechanical options.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Did I miss something?

Has Pazio sent out goon squads armed with guns making people take this vow?

So it does not fit your style of play. Don't use it. Move on with your gaming. I think the Curse Item Net of Snaring in the Corebook is silly and dumb...I'll never use it. And I am happy I have that choice...because that is the best thing about RPG is that we do have that choice. I really just don't get people at times.

As a sidenote...Pathfinder still allows items stackability. So just 1 item could be a very powerful item.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
idilippy wrote:
I agree with concept before mechanics, I disagree with the fact that such a cool concept as the impoverished monk should be impossible to play unless the DM caters the game to that one player. I love to DM and play the Pathfinder APs and want to do so with the wandering, vowed to poverty staff-fighting monk I've had in my head for some time but as it stands it is impossible, and since the rules were originally developed around the APs this is disappointing to me.

And you don't think GMs vater to optimizers either? Interesting.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Dude, if Kaeyoss critiques PF rules, something went horribly wrong.

Only Cartigan posting something positive beats that in the "hell froze over" category.

Sovereign Court

Sigh...

I lament... I truly do...

It's been eleven years and we ought to have progressed beyond system mastery as a viable approach to game design. It's one of the biggest mistakes that was encoded into 3.0. My hope has been that we could move away from it, that real progress could be made to scrub it from the system, but this unfortunately just reinforces it.

4e tried to get rid of it, but their approach was to reduce the amount of sub-systems to an amount that creates a level of sameness, and “gameyness” that isn't palatable for a lot of people, myself included.

What has held promise with 3.0 through Pathfinder is that in the muddy and opaque game design offers enough room for simulationism, gamism and dramatism to emerge in the rules. That's it's charm, it promises so much. System mastery however clogs the system, creating play traps that don't offer any satisfaction save for hard core “realist” simulation players or GMs that are eager to say “No” to their players at every opportunity.

Equating the new VoP to taking an 8 in Intelligence as a Wizard isn't a very good comparison. In the class write up it explains that Intelligence is the main ability to take, and so a player that decides to play contrary to that advice is completely cognizant of how they are crippling their character.

However, with the VoP you don't have any clear understanding of how this will impact the character's performance in the game. Someone might find the idea interesting, and not coming from a system mastery perspective, will end up picking it and either find themselves vastly underperforming, dead, or on the flip side the burden is then tossed to the GM to try and float the player, making their workload harder and likely affecting their performance at the table, which is lose/lose situation for everyone.

In terms of how a player is supposed to confront sacrifice... it all depends on the mode of play. If you're emphasizing a gamist approach to play then VoP is basically setting your game to “Legendary” level in terms of difficulty. That's fine if the system was clearly delineating the as a specific feature in the game, but it isn't.

If you approached it from a dramatist perspective then you'd be looking at VoP as granting you a kind of morale/metaphysical authority to be able to succeed because you have taken this sacrifice. Particularly in this age where Star Wars and its ascetic worldview of the Jedi is fully understood in pop culture, there are plenty of players that would want to play someone that succeeds despite seeming weakness.

One mistake that I think was taken with Pathfinder is that the Hero Points were not cooked into the game as a core assumption. If they had been then a lot of system mastery issues could have been resolved without needing to overhaul all of the minutia within the rules. If HP had been in place at this point then you could have written VoP as written, but then shoot the character's HP through the roof. That would have provided the kind of metaphysical subsystem that would have satisfied the simulationist, the gamist and the dramatist.

Sure, the tools are there now, but when I spend $40 for a book as a GM I want the devs to do the heavy lifting so that I don't have to keep houseruling things, or so that when I play PFS, I don't have to confront decade old mistakes in the system design that just have to be put up with.

This is the kind of stuff that makes me worried about Pathfinder 2E. The mistakes of the past need to be learned from and a more robust system that can properly intersect between simulationism, gamism and dramatism be achieved. The system always needs to be tacking closer to a perfected form.

The last thing...

I loved the VoP in 3.5. It gave me an option to play in a style that is to my preference, that is, I don't have to worry about getting on the magic item treadmill and be coated in items that I have to manage and book keep.

It actually freed me to fully roleplay because I could just act, rather than wondering what I would get out of the action. I could do things that felt more storylike and character motivated because I was decoupled from all the brickabrack of the system.

In terms of a tool kit feature, while not perfect, it did give a viable mechanical approach set my character to.

So it is disheartening that the dev view is that you either have to conform to the assumptions of the game and mire yourself in the christmas tree effect, or you have to play on “Legendary Setting” and just pound your head in the wall.


Wander Weir wrote:

I'm with SKR. I think some mechanical options should be inferior to others and I think the decision to use them should be made on a roleplaying basis. I also think, however, that this will only work with the right kind of group.

Sadly, with most groups the general opinion given on this thread is correct. A monk with VoP as written is going to be useless next to his companions, which is unfortunate. Still, I'm glad the option exists as it does just in case I get a chance to play with the kind of group that makes it feasible.

It's not the kind of group that makes this Vow of Poverty a problem, it's the type of game. Your group can be incredibly accommodating, but unless the DM rewrites the game rules so as to make items not necessary, or only runs adventures in the first 4 or 5 levels of the game, eventually the game will leave your character behind. As others have said, the APs can be tough with full wealth by level characters, and are the Paizo staple. Introducing a character concept that won't make it past book 3 of an AP without the DM shaping the world around that character is problematic since it seems to go against Paizo's vision of using the rules as support for their AP line.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

John Kretzer wrote:

Did I miss something?

Has Pazio sent out goon squads armed with guns making people take this vow?

So it does not fit your style of play. Don't use it. Move on with your gaming. I think the Curse Item Net of Snaring in the Corebook is silly and dumb...I'll never use it. And I am happy I have that choice...because that is the best thing about RPG is that we do have that choice. I really just don't get people at times.

As a sidenote...Pathfinder still allows items stackability. So just 1 item could be a very powerful item.

It tempts players who aren't good at identifying trap options into either wrecking their fun by making incompetent characters or bothering their GM/group with requests to make incompetent characters. So, on top of being a waste of space and indicative of a pernicious and obnoxious mindset in RPGs (characters have to be crippled to be interesting), it also serves to annoy the people who have to veto it.

"Paizo used to make stuff that fits my style of play, but now they stopped, what's up with that?" is a fair complaint.


John Kretzer wrote:
idilippy wrote:
I agree with concept before mechanics, I disagree with the fact that such a cool concept as the impoverished monk should be impossible to play unless the DM caters the game to that one player. I love to DM and play the Pathfinder APs and want to do so with the wandering, vowed to poverty staff-fighting monk I've had in my head for some time but as it stands it is impossible, and since the rules were originally developed around the APs this is disappointing to me.
And you don't think GMs vater to optimizers either? Interesting.

No, I don't, at least not to this extent. You literally have to rewrite later chapters AP to accommodate a player who wants to use this vow or watch that character either do nothing or die. Only the most highly optimized party requires anything approaching that level of modification.

Also, for your other post, no Paizo isn't sending goons out but by putting in this rule they eliminate other mechanical ways of modeling a character with a vow of poverty. I could always play a character who keeps no items and be worthless at mid to high levels, adding this vow to a book of player mechanical options does nothing to help me actually play that character, a character concept I really would like to play, in anything but a game specifically designed from the ground up to take that character into account.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Before we blow things out of proportions, that's one page in a class that never was great to begin with. And funnily enough, the Qinggong Monk archetype that sits right next to it in the book is actually really neat.

I like UM so far. There's some 'meh' with vows and bardic masterpieces, one silly loophole, and that's about it with things that irk me.

However, I really don't want to see more craptastic design like VoP. I want to see solid, balanced design like the core Paladin or APG Alchemist. I want the people who did those on the ball in Ultimate Combat and any further crunch sources.


Gorbacz wrote:

Before we blow things out of proportions, that's one page in a class that never was great to begin with. And funnily enough, the Qinggong Monk archetype that sits right next to it in the book is actually really neat.

I like UM so far. There's some 'meh' with vows and bardic masterpieces, one silly loophole, and that's about it with things that irk me.

However, I really don't want to see more craptastic design like VoP. I want to see solid, balanced design like the core Paladin or APG Alchemist. I want the people who did those on the ball in Ultimate Combat and any further crunch sources.

Yeah, the book as a whole is great for the most part and the Monk Archetype is interesting, only the vows, particularly the vow of poverty, have left any negative impressions on me so far.

Liberty's Edge

I want to point out something about choices. Any time there are 2 choices, one will be worse than the other. Its unavoidable.

Another point about choices, you don't have to do it. No one has to do it. However, those who were going to do it anyway can now get something for it.

Finally, about putting the warning: If you aren't smart enough to realize "hey in a game about all kinds of magical treasure running around naked might be bad" all the warnings in the world won't help you. Those same warnings will, however, increase word count and knock out space for other possible options.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Gorbacz wrote:

Dude, if Kaeyoss critiques PF rules, something went horribly wrong.

Only Cartigan posting something positive beats that in the "hell froze over" category.

Actually, I'm more impressed AMiB showed up. Haven't seen him around in awhile.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:

Dude, if Kaeyoss critiques PF rules, something went horribly wrong.

Only Cartigan posting something positive beats that in the "hell froze over" category.

Actually, I'm more impressed AMiB showed up. Haven't seen him around in awhile.

Meh, not much. He's running his "critique of PF rules" detector which alarms him every time a thread like this one happens. :)

Sovereign Court

I agree that there is plenty of great stuff in UM, what I'm lamenting is that system mastery is alive a well in the design of the game.

Each release should be helping to either scrub or ameliorate system mastery, not deepen it.

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