Please replace Adventure Path fiction with better maps!


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Silver Crusade

The pdf comes with the map package since Jade Regent.

And, in general, I like the fiction. Perhaps it's psychological, but having the fiction reminds me of sitting down reading Dragon magazine in the public library on my way home from school, which had both the articles (some with crunch), AND the fiction.

Grand Lodge

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Itchy wrote:

[

What if Paizo started selling battlemat scale electronic versions of the maps as an "Extra" for the AP's?
-Would that meet your needs?
-Would that be seen as gouging the fans for more money?
-Would you purchase Flip-Mats of the major mapped areas/buildings from an AP?
-Who would not buy them?
-Would you be more/less likely to purchase them if they were bundled by AP?

Just throwing it out there for discussion!

-Aaron

The battlemap thing has come up many times.

Summarizing the responses from staff in the past:
- scaling the current maps to a 1" square produces an image which does not meet Paizo's standards for quality
- to get battlemaps of which meet those standards would require them to commission new maps
- cartography is a high expense item in the APs already, and I believe is based on the size of the map

So as much as we all would love to see them, AP-specific battlemaps are not likely to be available in the near future.
That said, I think the already available maps have become much more user-friendly as the product has evolved.


Tacticslion wrote:
Also as a Golarion-fan, I like the expansion of the world. Since I don't have money to distribute to other fiction stories regularly, it aids in getting me in the world that much more.

And I really think that for me, as someone who doesn't play in Golarion, is why it is of little interest. I'm already in-tune with my world, everything's already clicked, because I either made it all up or I was part of the creative process with my co-creator when she did.

Thus....

Arnwyn wrote:
Based on everything you said, it sounds very well-suited to the Campaign Setting line.

I agree very heartily with this.

Sovereign Court

Orthos wrote:
Tacticslion wrote:
Also as a Golarion-fan, I like the expansion of the world. Since I don't have money to distribute to other fiction stories regularly, it aids in getting me in the world that much more.

And I really think that for me, as someone who doesn't play in Golarion, is why it is of little interest. I'm already in-tune with my world, everything's already clicked, because I either made it all up or I was part of the creative process with my co-creator when she did.

Thus....

Arnwyn wrote:
Based on everything you said, it sounds very well-suited to the Campaign Setting line.
I agree very heartily with this.

This same argument can be made for the gods articles, settlement articles, historical articles and the section of each bestiary which discusses the creature's place in Golarion.

And you can frame a near-identical argument to remove the bestiary and articles like the tiefling piece to the RPG line.

It is, to my mind, an argument for much slimmer adventure-only APs.


Eh, I disagree strongly on the bestiary at least. Anyone can make use of monsters, even without setting constraints. Even the "_______ in Golarion" provides ecology information, behavior, habitat, diet, and other information that can easily be ported to other settings.

I admit though, I wouldn't be too over-all bothered by adventure-only APs, personally. The one thing I'd mourn the loss of would be the bestiary.

And for full disclosure: I don't read any of the fiction either. You can probably blame that on six years of administrating a Neverwinter Nights server and being turned off to the idea of campaign setting-based fiction by the glut of FR novels. Not because they were good or bad, but because I got utterly tired of having to negotiate between people who knew the enormous volume of novels front-to-back and people who knew only the campaign setting information, and the conflicting canon between the two. I realize Golarion doesn't have that issue (yet), but it doesn't change my disinterest in the genre.

Grand Lodge

I have only read the initial Eando Kline storyline and "Hell's Pawns" so far. I enjoyed them very much, and found they gave me a real feel for Golarion. However, if they were only available as a separate download I would be unlikely to purchase them.

Prior to this thread I would have come out firmly in favour of retaining the AP fiction, but I think that several valid points have been made about optimizing the space for an adventure product.

It has been made clear that maps are not a viable option, and anything too tightly tied to the current adventure would be prohibitively difficult to co-ordinate.

Sebastian's idea is good for long-time subscribers who are the only GM in their group. However, it is less useful if you don't have the older adventures. It also muddles thing a bit for groups with multiple GMs. For example, I have avoided the Shattered Star & Serpent's Skull volumes because other GMs I play with are running them. If those volumes contained information about Council of Thieves or Runelords, it would mean that all of us would be more exposed to APs which other GMs are running. I also feel it dilutes the current AP to contain articles about past ones.

Loosely tied gazetteer or ecology articles would be a welcome option.

I also wonder if there would be an audience for a section like the appendices in Jade Regent, but more generic/optional. A larger format NPC write-up for possible allies/foes who could be encountered in some of the locations in the adventure. Or a community statblock and short write-up about a location which is mentioned in the adventure but not integral to the plot - not a full article with a map, but more detail than would appear in a paragraph in a gazetteer. With 6 pages available, there would be space for three two-page spreads about NPCs, communities, items, cool ruins, whatever.

Alternatively, I would find it interesting if the designers were given those 6 pages do discuss rules issues - FAQs, rule intent, weird corner cases, rule changes (ex Stealth) - which may or may not have a tie-in to the current adventure.


Arnwyn wrote:
Paizo has an irrational love of fiction in the APs. It's not going away.

Irrational? The thread is filled with folks who really like it. Their customers, really like the fiction (the way they are doing a product) in the APs (their product the customers buy)

I do not think that word means what you think it means.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Scribbling Rambler wrote:
I have only read the initial Eando Kline storyline and "Hell's Pawns" so far. I enjoyed them very much, and found they gave me a real feel for Golarion. However, if they were only available as a separate download I would be unlikely to purchase them.

Actually, they are!

Grand Lodge

Zaister wrote:
Scribbling Rambler wrote:
I have only read the initial Eando Kline storyline and "Hell's Pawns" so far. I enjoyed them very much, and found they gave me a real feel for Golarion. However, if they were only available as a separate download I would be unlikely to purchase them.
Actually, they are!

Thanks, Zaister. I was aware of those, but it's good to have the link for this discussion :)

Sczarni

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
Itchy wrote:


What if Paizo started selling battlemat scale electronic versions of the maps as an "Extra" for the AP's?
-Would that meet your needs?
-Would that be seen as gouging the fans for more money?
-Would you purchase Flip-Mats of the major mapped areas/buildings from an AP?
-Who would not buy them?
-Would you be more/less likely to purchase them if they were bundled by AP?

Just throwing it out there for discussion!

-Aaron

The issue with this is that the maps are drawn to be the size they are in the AP - James said that making a 1/2 page map into a battlemap would something like quadruple the price to create it (which is already quadruple the price of getting words to fill the same amount of space)

The scale they are in the books is the scale they were drawn.


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Kain Darkwind wrote:
The thread is filled with folks who really like it. Their customers, really like the fiction (the way they are doing a product) in the APs (their product the customers buy)

While I haven't taken a count, the thread is also filled with folks who either have no use for the fiction, or would rather see it supported outside the APs. Some of their customers really like it as is; others don't. It's not helpful to only see one side of things.

I do agree with you that Arnwyn's reference to an "irrational love of fiction" on Paizo's part, and his apparent suggestion that Paizo would never consider replacing the fiction with anything else, were unfair.

If I had to guess (because I'm too lazy to go back and take a count at this point, and in any case the results might change several times an hour) I'd say the opinions expressed so far are fairly evenly split or slightly in favor of keeping the fiction in the APs. And without a clear majority there's no incentive to make a format change, so yeah, the fiction will probably remain where it is for the foreseeable future. But I can hope not.


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James Sutter wrote:


[snip] So please, regardless of which side of the fence you're on, don't be shy about giving us your opinions! [/snip]

Well, since you asked...

I understand how the fiction pages came to be, back when there was no other outlet for Pathfinder fiction and you were looking to replace a magazine of mixed content. However, I have only read a couple pieces of fiction in the APs and I've never been impressed either by the content itself or by its usefulness in running the campaign.

For me the fiction pages would very literally be more useful if they were blank pages to allow for note taking; however, a more constructive use of the pages would be to provide space for an in-depth background article, a good short side-adventure that can be run for parties needing more XP, more monsters or magic items, NPCs that can be slipped into the setting where that book of the AP takes place, or anything else actually game-related that can benefit me running (or occasionally playing) the adventure that's the heart of the book.

I feel that this would help address some of the issues that arise with the APs, and in particular two rather vexing issues that stem from the structure of the APs themselves. First, there's often a lack of "connective tissue" between books, such that they sometimes come across less as a cohesive campaign and more as six separate adventures that are somewhat thematically linked (Carrion Crown, for all its brilliance, was much this way). The pages taken up by the fiction could easily be used to suggest ways in which the current adventure could be linked either to the previous or to the next book, and maybe even have a short adventure (or adventure kernels) that can happen on the way from Point A (where one book leaves off) and Point B (where the next book begins. Just having that would dramatically help several of the APs, and wouldn't require a big, expensive art buy.

Secondly, in later books in particular, a lot of story/background gets omitted (by design or necessity) due to the fact that stat blocks swell enormously at higher levels. This is an unavoidable truth, unfortunately, so maybe the fiction pages could be used as a "safety valve" for that kind of material in the later books of an AP? I don't know how that would increase the workload of a certain already-burdened Creative Director, however.

Of course, those are only two ideas. Maybe you could have a recurring feature where designers trot out nasty traps/devious tricks that GMs can drop into their own adventures? Maybe you can have a rogues gallery feature where fully-statted NPCs of surprising and unusual builds can get some face time?

I guess the take-home for me is that I'm buying a game-usable product, and I want stuff I can use in my game. It doesn't necessarily have to be intended for the AP where it appears, but I want game-usable material of some description. Even brilliant fiction doesn't fit that definition, and the AP fiction I've read hasn't been brilliant. There are now plenty of other outlets for Pathfinder fiction, and I'm sure you've got plenty of excellent ideas for more. Honestly, put out an e-zine of short Pathfinder fiction and I might even subscribe if the price is right -- I just want something else from the APs.

Grand Lodge

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James Sutter wrote:
So what do you think?

The fiction adds very little value to the Adventure Path. It feels more like filler than value, considering the item is brought to put on a smashing adventure.

While with the magazine roots of Paizo and the Adventure Paths, the inclusion of fiction might have made sense at the time the PAs were first published , that time has passed. Based on the fiction I have seen in the Adventure Paths when I pick them up and flip through, the fiction appears to be so tangentially related to the actual adventure as to be minimally useful, if at all.

As I contemplate beginning a subscription with the Reign of Winter AP, I see a real lack of value in the big chunk of the book that is the fiction. As others have pointed out, there are already other forums for Paizo/Golarion fiction.


Kain Darkwind wrote:
Arnwyn wrote:
Paizo has an irrational love of fiction in the APs. It's not going away.

Irrational? The thread is filled with folks who really like it. Their customers, really like the fiction (the way they are doing a product) in the APs (their product the customers buy)

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

You're referring to just this thread? Oh heavens, no wonder you're confused. I know exactly what that word means, thanks. Please see all the other threads in which this subject has been brought up (which is a lot).

Damon Griffin wrote:
I do agree with you that Arnwyn's reference to an "irrational love of fiction" on Paizo's part, and his apparent suggestion that Paizo would never consider replacing the fiction with anything else, were unfair.

Read all the myriad past threads over the years on this subject, and put it all together. My statement was both fair and accurate, AFAIC.

Paizo's responses in this thread have been their most rational yet on this particular subject (made after my comment, you'll note).


GeraintElberion wrote:
Arnwyn wrote:
Based on everything you said, it sounds very well-suited to the Campaign Setting line.
I agree very heartily with this.
This same argument can be made for the gods articles,

Maybe. Is the god prominent in the AP?

Quote:
settlement articles,

No. Those are a perfect fit for an AP.

Quote:
historical articles

Probably not - again, a good fit for the AP if the history is re: anything about the AP.

Quote:
and the section of each bestiary which discusses the creature's place in Golarion.

????

Quote:
And you can frame a near-identical argument to remove the bestiary and articles like the tiefling piece to the RPG line.

Probably not. Didn't tieflings play a prominent role in CoT?

Quote:
It is, to my mind, an argument for much slimmer adventure-only APs.

Interesting.


I said in an earlier post that I like the fiction articles, but didn't really say why...

The Adventure Path line comes out at a far faster pace than I can play them. Heck, I've been running Rise of the Runelords since May 2011, and we're only just starting Fortress of the Stone Giants.

Since my group started playing Runelords, Carrion Crown, Jade Regent, Skull&Shackles, and Shattered Star have all come out... and at the rate we're going, Reign of Winter and Wrath of the Righteous will both be in print, and whatever the next AP will be called will be halfway through its run.

So, I mainly read the APs, with no plans to actually run most of them. I would hazard a guess that half of AP subscribers don't expect to ever actually run all of them. I really like the varried additional supplemental articles, and that includes the fiction. I find the fiction to be extremely useful in fleshing out how Golarion actually works: the various societies, attitudes toward the supernatural, politics, visual effects of game mechanics (e.g. spells and magic items), etc.

I also don't have a huge budget for Pathfinder stuff, and have to pick and choose what non-AP things I buy. Consequently, I don't see myself buying a lot of fiction-- which is another reason I like having it in the AP.

I will echo a few other posters that I would like a tighter alignment of the fiction and the AP. For example, the fiction that was in Shattered Star was all set in Riddleport, while the action of the AP mostly took place in Magnimar. It would be nice to have a fiction story that paralleled the action in the AP.


Arnwyn wrote:

Read all the myriad past threads over the years on this subject, and put it all together. My statement was both fair and accurate, AFAIC.

Paizo's responses in this thread have been their most rational yet on this particular subject (made after my comment, you'll note).

Tell you what. You link them all here and I'll read them all, though I don't know how helpful it'll be to see how people felt about this issue two, or three, or five years ago. Any change that might be made is going to happen based on how Paizo and their fans feel now and going forward.

Sovereign Court

Arnwyn wrote:
Kain Darkwind wrote:
Arnwyn wrote:
Paizo has an irrational love of fiction in the APs. It's not going away.

Irrational? The thread is filled with folks who really like it. Their customers, really like the fiction (the way they are doing a product) in the APs (their product the customers buy)

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

You're referring to just this thread? Oh heavens, no wonder you're confused. I know exactly what that word means, thanks. Please see all the other threads in which this subject has been brought up (which is a lot).

Damon Griffin wrote:
I do agree with you that Arnwyn's reference to an "irrational love of fiction" on Paizo's part, and his apparent suggestion that Paizo would never consider replacing the fiction with anything else, were unfair.

Read all the myriad past threads over the years on this subject, and put it all together. My statement was both fair and accurate, AFAIC.

Paizo's responses in this thread have been their most rational yet on this particular subject (made after my comment, you'll note).

I, like you, have read most of those threads and contributed to many.

They all ended up with a rough 50/50 split between people who are pro/anti the fiction.

They also almost always have the anti-fiction crowd advocating things Paizo can't do (like more adventure) or can't afford (more art or maps).

In that context, why would you describe Paizo's retention of the fiction as 'irrational'?

Or, if I am missing some threads, perhaps you could explain what I am missing?


Damon Griffin wrote:
Tell you what. You link them all here and I'll read them all,

As you can imagine, I probably won't be spending my take-a-breather time at the office doing that, to attempt to convince some random internet dude about something that really isn't all that important. You said my comment was unfair, I said it wasn't. We'll probably have to leave it at that.

Quote:
Any change that might be made is going to happen based on how Paizo and their fans feel now and going forward.

Totally agree. I think it's fantastic that they're actually asking what we'd like to see instead of fiction (and also noting when things are logistically impossible - like 'more adventure - which is very much appreciated).

Quote:

They also almost always have the anti-fiction crowd advocating things Paizo can't do (like more adventure) or can't afford (more art or maps).

In that context, why would you describe Paizo's retention of the fiction as 'irrational'?

Or, if I am missing some threads, perhaps you could explain what I am missing?

In that context, I certainly wouldn't - but that's not the context in which I made my comment. One has to look and take all their comments re: the keeping of fiction over the past many years together, which is the context I made my comment. I don't agree that those who preferred AP related material instead of fiction was most always advocating for things that Paizo couldn't do (though it was a lot of 'more adventure' until Paizo finally explained the logistics behind it) - it was mostly "more AP support material". Paizo, for the longest time, pretty much stuck with 'fiction, period', but that's paraphrasing and I have no intention of putting words in their mouth. It's just all those (many, many) threads put together that spurred my comment. If you got something different out of all those threads, well, that's just the way things go, I suppose. (Though if you're a fiction fan... well, my eyebrow is raised. And that's where we sit, I guess.)

But, like Damon Griffin said above, it matters how they're approaching it now, not in the past. And now with their comments on this thread, the discussion has begun! (And I love hearing how they decide what goes into APs - and their products in general - and what doesn't. Very interesting stuff.)


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Ajaxis wrote:

Perhaps it's psychological, but having the fiction reminds me of sitting down reading Dragon magazine in the public library on my way home from school, which had both the articles (some with crunch), AND the fiction.

Apart from your perfectly valid feelings of nostalgia, I don't think this is a good comparison; for most of its run Dragon had to be all-in-one because there was no other outlet for D&D short fiction. TSR/WotC could do game tie-in novels, but short pieces had no place else to go until WotC began doing more than the very basics with their website.

Paizo/Pathfinder short fiction, though, appears weekly in two of the three blog pages here, and for sale in e-pub format; and there are novels as well. Does the fiction really need to continue to be part of the APs? I get that a lot of people like the fiction, and I'm not asking for it to disappear, just that it be separated from unrelated products.

Liberty's Edge

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I would love to see setpieces (AP 3 & 4) come back to replace the fiction!


My personal opinion is, I'd rather have maps than unrelated (or only tangentially related) fiction in an AP book. If I can't have maps, at least put in something that is useful and relevant for the module it's in (or at least for the AP it's part of).

Now, I know huge maps are a pain, but they don't need to be full scale when printed, they only need to be relatively scaled (so that you can get a full battlemat worth of map in a single page, or less) with a grid on them. They don't need to be 1 square on the map = 1 actual printed inch, that's ridiculous to the point of being a strawman.

Most of the fiction pieces I've read in the AP books have been pretty good... but almost every single one of them left me wondering why it was in an AP module, since it was clearly not necessary (and often not even useful) to run or play the module.

I do not believe the fiction should go away, I only think it should go somewhere it fits, like the campaign setting books (good suggestion, whoever suggested it - sorry I'm on mobile here and can't quote). The AP books should be exclusively things for that AP (with a small exception carved out for "how to fix problem/plot hole X" from prior APs).

Liberty's Edge

I liked how white wolf worked fiction into its various classic WoD books, but I don't know how well that would be received in the d20 market. Either way, a book platform targeted to players is a better place for fiction than one for GMs. The companion line has certainly been having lots of absurdly open space in them lately (yuck to that btw, blood of the night having big art pages with a little sidebar in it is not appealing). Maybe it would be better in there.

For example people of the north could have had maybe three pages worth of fiction sprinkled through it following a kellid rearing his mastodon or something.


Kain Darkwind wrote:
Arnwyn wrote:
Paizo has an irrational love of fiction in the APs. It's not going away.

Irrational? The thread is filled with folks who really like it. Their customers, really like the fiction (the way they are doing a product) in the APs (their product the customers buy)

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

But how many actually read and want to read it. How many customers ? Would it actually make the publication more attractive if it was passed over for some more... game oriented content ?

Personally I enjoyed Dave Gross contribution (hey I even bought his books because of those short stories) but most of the stuff is mostly "read and forget" quality. Yeah, Elaine Cunnigham's stuff was neat, too.

Loosing some pages from a magazine, that used to have one adventure and one sidetrek, and has already lost the sidetrek; I'd somehow appreciate if there was a bit more crunch (there is already a lot of extended story telling in the AP-Protagonists' backgrounds ) and slightly less rambling.

A drug user's point of view in Magnimar ? In "Beyond the Dommsday Door" ? Didn't need it. And I wonder how many people actually enjoy that series of stories

Sczarni

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So here's some things that I think sum up this thread so far.

1. There are lots of folks that don't read the fiction, and lots of folks who do.

I think it would be a good idea for Paizo to come up with a more systematic survey of their customer base before making any major change.

2. There are several ways for PF Fiction fans to get it outside of the APs.

While this doesn't necessarily mean that the APs shouldn't have fiction, it is a major change since the creation of the AP line, and it could affect Paizo's take on the matter.

3. If they did decide to replace the fiction sections, they couldn't use it for maps or a longer adventure.

There are solid financial and workload reasons why that's impractical right now.

4. The advantages of the fiction section are that it is cheap to produce, does not require a great deal of editing and development, and is relatively independent of the AP's overall development schedule.

Some of the things that folks cite as problems with the fiction -- especially the fact that it's not closely tied to the adventure -- are also things that make it practical from Paizo's standpoint.

5. Therefore, if the fiction were to be replaced, it would have to be by material that is:
(A) Not very much more expensive to produce.
(B) Not a major addition to the developers' and editors' schedules.
(C) Independent enough from the AP that it would not require more coordination between different freelancers' submissions.
(D) Popular enough to offset the people who would be disappointed to see the fiction go.

So if you'd like to see the fiction go, let's see some ideas that meet those criteria!

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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After seeing Sutter's request, here's my two cents...

I have never, ever, read any of the fiction. I've only been able to get about a paragraph into one of them before losing interest and wandering off. It's completely, utterly wasted space for me.

What would I like to see in its place? Support articles. Themed archetypes, unique spells that people can learn, maybe feats or magic items...it doesn't matter if it's necessarily mechanical, either. Even if its just information on the region in greater depth, I'd love it.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Arnwyn wrote:

Paizo has an irrational love of fiction in the APs. It's not going away.

But I'm still going to say it anyways: the fiction in the APs is a massive waste of space (especially painful when you keep hearing about "page count" issues that have demonstrably caused problems in past APs).

But yeah, I've resigned myself to the fact that the fiction is here to stay. *sigh*

As this thread shows, it's not just Paizo who likes the fiction in the Adventure Paths. There are plenty of Adventure Path readers who like it as well.

And as mentioned elsewhere, maps DO cost more than words. If we cut the fiction from the Adventure Paths, I suspect that the 6 pages that frees up would most likely just be "absorbed" by the Bestiary, the adventure, and the support articles. Most likely by the support articles.

The adventure installments themselves are already pretty much as long as they can possibly physically grow, due to the realities of how much work a developer can do on a monthly schedule. So yeah, if the fiction left the product, the result would be 1 or 2 more monsters in each installment and 2 to 4 more pages (depending on the number of additional monsters) spread out among the support articles.

We would most likely not replace the fiction with a 3rd article, or simply use it to make the adventures longer. We certainly wouldn't use it to fill up with 6 more pages of maps, because that's not only not in the budget financially, it's not in the budget from a workflow perspective, especially since maps are the hardest part of an adventure to get right.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Orthos wrote:
Haladir wrote:
I say... if it ain't broke, don't fix it!
The problem is, it is broke. As Arnwyn mentions, page count, word count, and cutting of adventure bits to meet space requirements have been issues with several APs in the past. The fiction is space that could otherwise be used for expanding the scope of the adventure - smoothing out current text, adding cut or squeezed portions or allowing the space to expand them as necessary, and less of a need to cut portions to fit.

While we've certainly had to cut adventures to fit the space requirement... that's not only because of a space requirement. It's because of a time requirement.

As I said in the previous post, 40 to 50 pages is more or less the physical limit to the size of an adventure path installment. If they get much longer than that with anything approaching regularity, we'd have to take the AP down from a monthly product to less frequent. And that's one of the few things I know that we'll NEVER change about the AP.


Captain Marsh wrote:

I wonder if other regular purchasers and players agree that this is real estate that could be better used in other ways?

I'm clearly in the camp that would like the fiction removed. If I wanted fiction, I would buy fiction, I would buy a novel. You don't find a chapter of PFRPG villain stats in your novel.

If they had an insertable map included for a difficult location, that would be amazing. There are a lot of things that could be done with an extra 3-5 pages.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Also, as James Sutter indicated earlier... the fiction in Pathfinder Adventure Path is less set in stone now than before. A lot of things are different today than they were when we launched Pathfinder 5+ years ago. A lot of things are different today than they were even 2 years ago, or 1 year.

Namely, we now have a novel line. We have weekly web fiction. We have a comic book. Wayfinder and the Pathfinder Chronicler exist. We no longer have only one place where we can publish fiction. We have several, and they're growing.

That means that... if we DID decide to remove the fiction from Pathfinder, there's still a lot of Pathfinder fiction out there for folks to enjoy. That hasn't always been the case.

So yes, keep the feedback coming. At this point, we've got fiction coming with Reign of Winter and with Wrath of the Righteous—there's about a year delay or so between us making a decision on an AP and the results of that decision seeing print.

And in fact we DID discuss the possibility of removing the fiction from Wrath of the Righteous and instead doing what I outlined above—1 to 2 more monsters and 2 to 4 more pages of support articles. In the end, we decided the timing wasn't right for several reasons. We'll be revisiting that decision in a few months for what's coming after Wrath of the Righteous, and so now more than ever is an important time for folks to let us know what they'd prefer!


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James Jacobs wrote:

And in fact we DID discuss the possibility of removing the fiction from Wrath of the Righteous and instead doing what I outlined above—1 to 2 more monsters and 2 to 4 more pages of support articles.

<snip>... so now more than ever is an important time for folks to let us know what they'd prefer!

This would be a desirable and welcome outcome for me.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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ALSO.

We wouldn't be adding a 3rd support article because it's MUCH easier to simply expand existing articles. Adding a 3rd article means putting one more development job, outline job, author assignment job, and art order job onto Adam. (James Sutter handles the fiction, so if that goes away, that means Adam gets to handle the content of those additional 6 pages).

Simply increasing the number of new monsters or the length of one or both support articles is worlds easier than an entire new article.

If we weren't already pretty much at capacity on our monthly schedule, it'd be more feasible to do a 3rd article. But we ARE monthly, and the Adventure Path's been on schedule for 9 months now... after 60 months of not being on schedule, I'd like to wait a bit more before adding more workload to us and threatening our 9 month streak! :-)


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Chalk me up as another person who doesn't care for the fiction in the Adventure Path publications.

It's not that I have anything against the stories themselves (e.g. I'm not saying the writing is bad), it's just that I have no use for them, at least not in the Adventure Path books.

I buy the Adventure Paths because I want the adventures, and the supporting material. Including fiction feels counterproductive on that particular front; it's like several pages of flavor text that are only for the GM - I can't *use* that beyond trying to extrapolate sources of inspiration and additional world-dressing for my game.

I also don't care for written fiction that appears in episodic format with a one-month delay between parts. It makes me waffle between a mild sense of frustration that I need to wait so long to see what's next, and then by the time the next part has come out I've as often as not let the previous installment become fuzzy in my memory, and need to brush up. It just doesn't work well for me.

Finally, I'm fine with the idea that existing articles could be expanded to fill up the space allocated to the fiction. Heck, with the recent price hike for the Adventure Paths, I'd have been happier if the fiction was cut and the publications had their page-count shrink by a corresponding amount in an effort to keep the price down.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

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If you're expanding the bestiary, I'd much rather see a more built out encounter table with a few more detailed encounters (e.g., a two page spread with details on a few of the encounters, like "the goblins are looking for a dog to kill in a ritual, and can be easily bribed with one.") than more monsters.


^ Either option would work for me on that. =)

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4

James Jacobs wrote:
We would most likely not replace the fiction with a 3rd article, or simply use it to make the adventures longer. We certainly wouldn't use it to fill up with 6 more pages of maps, because that's not only not in the budget financially, it's not in the budget from a workflow perspective, especially since maps are the hardest part of an adventure to get right.

James, a lot of this discussion has involved the idea of multiple pages of maps, which is clearly out of scope for a lot of reasons. But does the math change at all in the case of a single-page feature like "Maps of Mystery?" Is that something anybody would be interested in pursuing?

Senior Editor/Fiction Editor

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While we're laying everything out there, let's set aside our creative interests just for a second and look at another business reality:

The success of Pathfinder is judged by how many copies it sells. That means that, at a strictly mercenary level, it's better to please more people *somewhat* than a smaller group all the way. Since people generally only buy one copy of each volume, you want as wide audience an audience as possible.

My impression is that nobody is currently passing up on purchasing Pathfinder because it has six pages of fiction. I can't honestly imagine that the fiction in the breaking point for someone. Which means that adding more game content into those pages is unlikely to bring us significantly more readers.

At the same time, however, I CAN imagine readers who feel like they don't have a lot of time for Pathfinder, or who are players in a given campaign and therefore feel like they can't read the adventure in a given AP, and for whom reading the fiction might be a big part of what's keeping their subscription from being canceled or suspended. So cutting the fiction might cost us some of those readers.

Even if the Fiction Faction (a term I'm totally going to start using as of this moment) is much smaller than the group who'd rather not have the fiction, anything we'd add to fill those pages would need to bring at least enough new readers to replace the folks we'd lose. And as pointed out before, I'm not sure that a few more pages of the same content filling the other 88 pages is actually going to bring anyone new to the table. So from a business perspective, it's safer to keep the fiction.

Safer, that is, UNLESS someone comes up with an idea (which works within our logistical and financial constraints, etc. etc.) that's so sexy as to be a big selling point we can use to reach new customers.

Which is not to say that we won't do what Jacobs outlined above. Just that, while expanding articles might sound like an obvious answer, there are things working against that, too. Publishing is a delicate balance.

All of which is a long way of saying that Trinite's post is absolutely right. If you'd like to see the fiction go, let us know... but more importantly, help us figure out something to put in its place that would *expand* Pathfinder's audience! Because that's far more likely to tip the scales against the fiction.

(And of course, if you like the fiction, please keep on saying that as well. :)


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Right now I'd ay my preference would be to remove the fiction from the AP book and expand the bestiary (more monsters = good!) and support articles (if for no other reason than it's fairly frequent occurrence that support articles leave me drooling and wanting more because they're so darned good).

Also, although I mentioned it above in an off-the-cuff manner, I think the idea of an e-zine of Pathfinder short fiction (preferably done in a pulp magazine style!) is very appealing, and you would be able to save print costs in an electronic format. It could be a showcase for new writers to show their stuff, for experienced writers to experiment with an idea that can't support a whole novel, and for everyone to poke their noses into corners of Golarion (and beyond!) that wouldn't get explored otherwise. You'd be able to expand the number of creative minds building your world at a relatively low cost and possibly with wide appeal. Forgive me if this product already exists and I'm too big a moron to realize it. :-)


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James Jacobs wrote:

We wouldn't be adding a 3rd support article because it's MUCH easier to simply expand existing articles. Adding a 3rd article means putting one more development job, outline job, author assignment job, and art order job onto Adam. (James Sutter handles the fiction, so if that goes away, that means Adam gets to handle the content of those additional 6 pages).

Simply increasing the number of new monsters or the length of one or both support articles is worlds easier than an entire new article.

It's very helpful to know this. How are the articles and page count currently allocated? Is there a set number of Bestiary pages each month and a set number of pages for...the other article? (And how is that other article defined, given that it's different every month?)

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

James Sutter wrote:


My impression is that nobody is currently passing up on purchasing Pathfinder because it has six pages of fiction. I can't honestly imagine that the fiction in the breaking point for someone. Which means that adding more game content into those pages is unlikely to bring us significantly more readers.

Well, given the unfortunate demise of KQ and the fact that Pathfinder is the de facto successor to Dragon/Dungeon, why not go crazy and fill those 6 pages with material from other publishers? I know it sounds crazy, but your editorial costs would be pretty low (heck, I imagine you could even get the other publishers to pay a fee for the articles), you could attract individuals who play those other games and might be willing to pick up a Pathfinder volume for the sake of that content, you expose your current readers to products from other publishers availale at your web store, and you will have a different constellation of angry fans complaining about the new material irrelevant to their game.

Wait...that last point isn't a good thing. Oh well, just trying to spitball some ideas.

BTW, have you guys given any thought to doing a more comprehensive survey of your market ala what a certain wiz kid (*cough* Ryan Dancy *cough*) did back in the pre-3e days at WotC? Maybe that could help you in figuring out the niche to be filled.

Senior Editor/Fiction Editor

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And while we're soliciting ideas, let's take it the other direction as well:

*If you're someone who doesn't currently find the AP fiction useful, is there something the fiction could do that WOULD make it fun and useful to you? What if the fiction had sidebars presenting relevant world information, or new magic items/feats/spells/etc., the way we sometimes did in the past? What if the art was full-color? What if one of the illustrations was replaced with a map of the location featured in the story? What if there were character stat blocks, the way we did for Eando Kline in Pathfinder #18? I'm just spitballing here--some of the things I'm saying might be totally impractical, but are there other ideas we haven't thought of? (Please note that while it would be fabulous to have the fiction star NPCs from the AP and flesh out their backstories, the level of coordination required between developers would make it functionally impossible.)

*For folks who do like the AP fiction, which of the arcs was your favorite and why? What would you like to see that could make the fiction even cooler/more useful?

Thanks for helping us chart the course, everybody!


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Gregg Helmberger wrote:
Also, although I mentioned it above in an off-the-cuff manner, I think the idea of an e-zine of Pathfinder short fiction (preferably done in a pulp magazine style!) is very appealing, and you would be able to save print costs in an electronic format.

Ha! Pulp style might be the one thing that would get me to pay for Pathfinder fiction. The Attack of the Fifty-Foot Seoni Paizo exclusive comic cover is what finally decided me to start getting the comic. :)

Until that happens, there's Pathfinder Tales and Pulp-O-Mizer.

Senior Editor/Fiction Editor

Gregg Helmberger wrote:


Also, although I mentioned it above in an off-the-cuff manner, I think the idea of an e-zine of Pathfinder short fiction (preferably done in a pulp magazine style!) is very appealing, and you would be able to save print costs in an electronic format. It could be a showcase for new writers to show their stuff, for experienced writers to experiment with an idea that can't support a whole novel, and for everyone to poke their noses into corners of Golarion (and beyond!) that wouldn't get explored otherwise. You'd be able to expand the number of creative minds building your world at a relatively low cost and possibly with wide appeal. Forgive me if this product already exists and I'm too big a moron to realize it. :-)

Your wish is my command, Gregg! Allow me to introduce you to Pathfinder Web Fiction--it comes out every Wednesday, and it's totally free. :)

Enjoy!


Ooh! Ooh! Replace (some of) the fiction with full-color illustration musical plays ala The Six Trials of Larazod in every AP! (No, it's not going to happen. I know that. It doesn't stop a man from dreaming!)


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James Jacobs wrote:

ALSO.

We wouldn't be adding a 3rd support article because it's MUCH easier to simply expand existing articles. Adding a 3rd article means putting one more development job, outline job, author assignment job, and art order job onto Adam. (James Sutter handles the fiction, so if that goes away, that means Adam gets to handle the content of those additional 6 pages).

Simply increasing the number of new monsters or the length of one or both support articles is worlds easier than an entire new article.

If we weren't already pretty much at capacity on our monthly schedule, it'd be more feasible to do a 3rd article. But we ARE monthly, and the Adventure Path's been on schedule for 9 months now... after 60 months of not being on schedule, I'd like to wait a bit more before adding more workload to us and threatening our 9 month streak! :-)

And I, for one, would be more than happy with that. Extending some of the existing articles would be great and some of them could really benefit from that. Larger gazetteers are always welcome, and I would love to see the length of the Continuing the Campaign articles doubled as I find it suffers a bit from being too short.


James Sutter wrote:

And while we're soliciting ideas, let's take it the other direction as well:

*If you're someone who doesn't currently find the AP fiction useful, is there something the fiction could do that WOULD make it fun and useful to you? What if the fiction had sidebars presenting relevant world information, or new magic items/feats/spells/etc., the way we sometimes did in the past? What if the art was full-color? What if one of the illustrations was replaced with a map of the location featured in the story? What if there were character stat blocks, the way we did for Eando Kline in Pathfinder #18?

I honestly think having small nuggets of usable material in the six pages of fiction would be more irritating than anything, just a reminded that these pages could be used to present more stuff like that but instead are being largely consumed by stuff that is completely useless to me. It would be less aggravating to have the fiction as is and just ignore the six pages the way I've been doing since I signed on to this wacky ride. I admit that this may be a function of my personality, which is inclined to adopt pet peeves at very little provocation. :-)

Sczarni

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
James Sutter wrote:

At the same time, however, I CAN imagine readers who feel like they don't have a lot of time for Pathfinder, or who are players in a given campaign and therefore feel like they can't read the adventure in a given AP, and for whom reading the fiction might be a big part of what's keeping their subscription from being canceled or suspended. So cutting the fiction might cost us some of those readers.

I'm one of those - I would consider canceling my charter subscription if the fiction leaves the AP. I have about 25 APs that I have only read the fiction that's almost $350 that would be spent to sit on a shelf, while now I get most reading time-wise from it than I would comics of the same pricepoint.


James Sutter wrote:


Your wish is my command, Gregg! Allow me to introduce you to Pathfinder Web Fiction--it comes out every Wednesday, and it's totally free. :)

Enjoy!

I actually consume more of the fiction that way than I ever do in the AP, because mentally it fills a different space for me when it's not in among the crunch. I was just thinking that a zine might be a way to do it where you could shake some more shekels free from me.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

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Six pages of fan-made Rule 34 Pathfinder art.

Liberty's Edge

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Orthos wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

And in fact we DID discuss the possibility of removing the fiction from Wrath of the Righteous and instead doing what I outlined above—1 to 2 more monsters and 2 to 4 more pages of support articles.

<snip>... so now more than ever is an important time for folks to let us know what they'd prefer!

This would be a desirable and welcome outcome for me.

As others have said, there are now other places to get Pathfinder fiction.

Put me down as well on the side that would much rather see that space devoted to a couple more pages of monsters and support articles.

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