Please replace Adventure Path fiction with better maps!


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Sovereign Court Contributor

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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'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!

Yes, yes. Yes.

I like all of the above. May I suggest the following:
Site information on places in the fiction (the settlement stat bloc, for example)
Encounter info for a character from the story- adventure hooks, "boons" they can offer like in the Gamemastery Guide, etc.
The story should highlight cultural or local information that might spark some interest or help with character/NPC design. This usually happens, actually, but might be part of the outline for the writer.
The story has a frame, such as bar side anecdote, a ballad, or a local legend that means the characters could have read it in-character.
The characters in the story are potential concepts for successful PCs in the AP. They reflect the milieu, interests, or classes that will be found in the party and hence could be pre-adventure reading for ideas.

Collaboration (not just a single developer) between authors is critical to the cohesion of an AP. I'm hoping that Paizo can consider some ways to make that work: i.e., shared manuscripts, video conferencing/virtual team meetings, and so forth. If these sorts of brainstorms/confeerences include the fiction writer you could see some interesting results.

I'm in the pro-fiction camp because I see Golarion and the APs as embracing more than scenarios and game mechanics. Potentially, Golarion's success as a shared world extends into fiction that is read by non-gamers, like FR.


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James Sutter wrote:
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.

Clearly fiction should be replaced with pictures of Paizo staff acting out scenes from the AP.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

raidou wrote:
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?

I'm not interested in doing a "Maps of Mystery," for several reasons.

1) A map that has no relevance to an adventure product is a waste of resoruces and space; that space is better put to use for maps the adventure uses. Note: Dungeon Magazine was MORE than an adventure product, so Maps of Mystery were cool and a fine use of resources there. Adventure Paths are not Dungeon Magazine.

2) ANY map in ANY adventure does the job a Map of Mystery does. If you're not using an adventure path, that's six issues with pages and pages of maps you can use as Maps of Mystery.

3) Our flip mat and map pack folios are where we are aiming our "maps without attached adventures" energy.


Jeff Erwin wrote:
...I'm in the pro-fiction camp because I see Golarion and the APs as embracing more than scenarios and game mechanics. Potentially, Golarion's success as a shared world extends into fiction that is read by non-gamers, like FR.

I seriously doubt anyone is picking up a $22 volume for six pages of fiction, however. Pathfinder Tales novels certainly fill that role, but the fiction in the AP books certainly does not, IMO.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Damon Griffin wrote:
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?)

The page counts are allocated when I do a volume's pagination, essentially. It's not a set number, but there are target numbers I aim for when I paginate a volume. When we brainstorm and select an AP's support articles, we assign them page numbers at that point based on how many pages we think they'll need, and then adjust the bestiary as necessary to make it all work.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Sebastian wrote:

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.

Because the Adventure Path is not an appropriate place for that kind of content, and because I'm not interested in compromising our super-fast production schedule with other companies who might not take those deadlines as seriously, and because we don't have the infrastructure to handle the enormous slush pile that would generate, and because allowing something into the Adventure Path that's not concepted and outlined and controlled in-house is an invitation to disaster, and because all of that stuff is MUCH better served by Wayfinder, and because Pathfinder AP is an adventure campaign product, not a all-purpose magazine, and because of a lot of other reasons.


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Because James is asking for our opinion, here is mine. I love roleplaying in PF, both as a player and as a GM. I devour every article on PF lore and setting. That small shop in a corner of the city that the AP is located in? I want to know all about it and the people working in it so I can breath life into theses NPCs.

I admit that I never read the fiction part of the AP. Why? Those stories are not tied to the campaigns I am playing or running. If it was fiction based on the life of NPCs we interact with in the game, I WOULD read it because as a GM, I would want to know all about their stories. Perhaps even tell tales of their adventures to the PCs talking to me (NPC being the protagonist of the fiction section).

But if for some reason, the characters in the fiction section are not important or semi-important NPCs in the AP, I would recommend publishing more articles linked to the AP instead.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
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'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!

I'm in the non-fiction faction, but one way I've considered using it is as reading material for players. The trouble I've found is that the fiction isn't generally tied to the AP except in location or by the broadest theme.

If the fiction were to instead tell the background story - either outline some events which occurred just prior to the AP or to provide snippets of background knowledge the PCs could plausibly know which may be useful. Perhaps it could focus on the life of a key NPC the PCs will meet. That kind of thing might make it more useful as a player handout.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I'm not so much in the replace fiction with maps boat as I am in the make sure the compressed image maps in the books are still a consistent grid scale. Throughout my Maptool Carrion Crown campaign, I fought and fought with the fact that I could not align my map grid with the image's imbedded grid lines. +2 pixel width on this column, -6 on this row, +1 on this column, +2 on this row.

I know the base image from the cartographer is likely reduced to a PNG format or similar, but if there were any way at all for you guys to be able to clear up the fuzz in the interpolation, it would make my day.


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James Jacobs wrote:
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.

This would be a fine substitution. More words put to a town gazetteer (for example)? Woo!

The Exchange

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'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.)

Random thought - if the coordination needed to really tie the fiction into the current AP is impossible, is it possible to do so if the fiction for the current run of APs relates to the region covered in the last run? In other words, the fiction section of Jade Regent had fiction set in Ustalav? My thinking:

  • Most people don't run the APs right as they come out, so the staggering doesn't harm many people
  • People who would have dropped the AP line because they didn't like the topic of the current adventure might keep it on for the fiction related to the last adventure
  • People still get their fiction
  • It improves the adventure for people who don't really want the fiction but can wait six months for the extra context

Grand Lodge

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I have no real interest in the fiction in the AP or the web fiction come to that. Almost any other article it was used for would be better. I don't read either the fiction in the AP or the web fiction.

Liberty's Edge

While I still stand my preference to bring back setpieces to replace the fiction, I do have an idea to improve it.

In-universe articles. I dont mean first person narratives, more like a Plutarch style account of the rise of House Thrune, travel guide to Absalom, selection of passages from a deity holy book. That I would definitely read.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Please don´t add much more feats or stuff in thsoe 6 pages in question. That would be a horrible idea creating more discussable splat material which many GM´s would eye suspiciously because of possible balancing issues. Do the feats and stuff in the Core line and take your time for it.

Explaining and detailing more stuff from the AP issue with larger articles would be great and very usefull i think. Often PC´s ask for whatever or want to go strolling around somewhere. Give some details or additional info for stuff like that.

That said i love the PF fiction i´ve read so far! I think it´s pretty cool to have a story taking place somewhere you later play to get a feel for that places. But perhaps you could expand that in other products, not the AP´s. The AP is for the AP action in my eyes. There could be player companions detailing places and stuff or in the books where you actually really talk about the places.

Also there could be PDF only subscriptions (especially for people outside of USA, who cannot or don´t want to pay for books + shipping cost, but also don´t want to wait untill the products are translated).


James Sutter wrote:
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.)

I think the APs sort of strike a delicate balance between "Published Adventure" and "Gamer Lifestyle Monthly". Despite not being incredibly keen on the fiction myself, I can see why you would hesitate to risk upsetting this balance. ...

That said...

#1: Why not give the fiction the same level of art assets as you give the rest of the AP? I turn through the pages of Shattered Star I, for example, and I see loads of color pictures and sophisticated layout techniques on every page--right up until I get to the fiction which is illustrated with meager line drawings and laid out in a bland, unappealing way. It's like there's a big flashing sign at the beginning of the fiction that says "NOTHING TO SEE HERE: PLEASE TURN AHEAD TO THE NEXT SECTION".

#2: I think the fiction should be a prologue to the AP installment. For example, CC1 should absolutely have starred Professor Lorrimor. IMO every month Paizo continues not to do this is another missed opportunity. Like others have said, it doesn't have to be a direct tie-in; just something to give DMs a better understanding of a contributing NPC.

#3: I assume Paizo has weighed the advantages of serial vs. episodic, but as a reader I struggle to see the benefit of putting serial fiction in a monthly product. There is a very high chance that, come February, I won't remember much about a six page story I read back in January. And that's to say nothing of the fact that serial installments are going to be a turn off to readers who don't intend to read the entire AP through.

***

I only buy APs here and there; I'm not a subscriber. So perhaps my POV is different than the customer segments you're interested in appealing to. Also, please forgive me if some of my observations are out-of-date due to recent changes.

In any case, that's my best feedback. Hope some of it helps!

EDIT: Somehow I missed James' post upthread. Edited to reflect that.

Dark Archive

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Expanded articles and bestiaries sound excellent.

Could the removal of fiction cause some people to drop their subscription? Probably. But the same could be said about having a part of an adventure part taking place in WW1 Siberia to kill Rasputin.

Dark Archive

James Sutter wrote:

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

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 love those ideas.

Map? Yes yes yes yes yes!

More stats? Not a bad idea.

Both? GREAT idea!

Scarab Sages

Dave Gross wrote:
So often the fiction I most want to read--or write--is something that occurs to me only after I see the AP. For instance, after I read CotCT, the AP story I'd most like to write is The Adventures of Blackjack.
drumlord wrote:
Yes! Have you seen the Batman: Gotham Knight anime? It's a series of shorts about Batman as told by bystanders who saw Batman in action. I would love to see the same thing, as told by people who witnessed or were involved in Blackjack events over the last 100 years.

That would have the advantage of not needing to reveal Blackjack's identity, and thus, could be given to the players, representing folk tales they hear about him, once they start tracking him down.

Sovereign Court

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.

This is me, I mostly GM so I get to read most of the APs but I am a player in CotCT so I have only read the fiction in that.

I have also only read the fiction in all six of Shattered Star because we have been warned about spoilers for CotCT.

The more easter eggs, spoilers and inter-related bits that appear in the APs; the more issues will come out of which I can only read the fiction (and the god articles).

So, since the summer I have only read six pages of each AP I bought... remove them and I'm just shelving books for six months, which is not an attractive proposition.

Sovereign Court

I also really like the idea of prequel ficiton: Jade Regent could have told the story of another noble house's destruction.

SD could have told the story of the main villain's journey into the darklands.

etc.

Sczarni

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

I do think that fleshing out some of the many books, scrolls, plays, poems, and songs mentioned in the APs would be a good thing. Then it could be like skyrim where you actually pick up books in world and can ream them...


Jeff Erwin wrote:
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'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!

Yes, yes. Yes.

I like all of the above. May I suggest the following:
Site information on places in the fiction (the settlement stat bloc, for example)
Encounter info for a character from the story- adventure hooks, "boons" they can offer like in the Gamemastery Guide, etc.
The story should highlight cultural or local information that might spark some interest or help with character/NPC design. This usually happens, actually, but might be part of the outline for the writer.
The story has a frame, such as bar side anecdote, a ballad, or a local legend that means the characters could have read it in-character.
The characters in the story are potential concepts for successful PCs in the AP. They reflect the milieu, interests, or classes that will be found in the party and hence could be pre-adventure reading for ideas.

Collaboration (not just a single developer) between authors is critical to the cohesion of an AP. I'm hoping that Paizo can consider some ways to make that work: i.e., shared manuscripts, video conferencing/virtual team meetings, and so forth. If these sorts of brainstorms/confeerences include the fiction writer you could see some interesting results.

I'm in the pro-fiction camp because I see Golarion and the APs as embracing more than scenarios and game mechanics. Potentially, Golarion's success as a shared world extends into fiction that is read by non-gamers, like FR.

Cpt_kirstov wrote:
I do think that fleshing out some of the many books, scrolls, plays, poems, and songs mentioned in the APs would be a good thing. Then it could be like skyrim where you actually pick up books in world and can ream them...

Despite my joking post earlier, I heartily agree with both of these posts (presupposing, of course, you replace "ream" in Cpt-kirstov's post with "read", because, both despite being and because I am a bibliophile, dependent upon your definition, I don't plan on 'reaming' any books any time soon).

Strange how I've become more (and more strongly) pro-fiction over the course of this thread. :)


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Add me to the 'more support articles are better than fiction' crowd.

My order of preference:
1) more maps
2) longer APs
3) more support articles specific to the AP

Here's another idea to consider: Use space in AP volume 2 to revisit stuff in volume 1/tie things together better. I'm sure there are lots of times when you wish you could update something but you've already gone to press. The next volume is a reasonable place to do that -- I doubt many people run your AP's as fast as they come out.

BTW, I suspended my subscription recently because I wasn't finding time to play and I already had a huge backlog of APs to run...but I'll be back!
Ken

Sczarni

What this first guy said. I know it's not a super additive post, but I strongly feel like this would increase the value of the APs by lots!

Captain Marsh wrote:

I love the Adventure Path series and generally like the slow, evolutionary tweaks that have happened over time since the first ROTRL series.

Yes, a few AP's have sputtered and stuttered, but all have been interesting, worthy efforts that captured the imagination of at least some gamer groups.

One element, though, that seems worthy of a major overhaul -- to my eye -- is the fiction that takes up a chunk of each installment.

I love reading fantasy. I even occasionally enjoy short fantastic fiction.

But there's something about the style and the episodic nature of the Pathfinder Journal that just doesn't work for me.

This is no disrespect to the authors. I often recognize some good, solid writing.

And I get the idea that fiction is a way to flesh out the atmosphere of Golarion.

But I just don't ever find myself engaging the stories or the characters in ways that get me to the end.

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

One MUCH more useful element for my gaming table would be a series of pages devoted to 1" grid maps usable for key battles in each AP installment.

If Paizo printed 3-5 pages of miniature-scaled maps per episode, I'd be over the moon as a DM...and that also seems like an element that would be fairly easy to produce.

-Capt Marsh


I would prefer pre-generated ''magic shops'' (if the AP module has cities where you can buy magic items in it) over fiction. A good example is Drellin's Ferry from Red Hand of Doom: a list of magic items on sale was provided for each merchant of this little town.

Dark Archive

I'd vote getting rid of it. Doesn't do much for me and strangely enough not a huge fantasy lot fan heh. Support articles are great even if unrelated to the ap

The Exchange

James Sutter wrote:

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....

That's a bit of a fallacy, though, because this exact same argument can be made for including a great number of things in the AP. For example:

Let's say you decide to scrap the fiction, and instead use the space for beautiful pictures of nature. Then you'll get not only an AP module, several support articles and a bestiary in each adventure, you'll also get 6 pages of "National Geougraphic" magazine!
My impression is that nobody is will be passing up on purchasing Pathfinder because it has six pages of pretty pictures. I can't honestly imagine that the pictures are 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 looking at the pretty picutres might be a big part of what's keeping their subscription from being canceled or suspended. So cutting the pictures might cost us some of those readers.

As I hope this examples shows, that argument is really sort of an invalid. Maybe Pathfinder fiction is more doable than pictures of wildlife, and maybe there's a greater chance of it being appreciated by the kind of people who are potential buyers of Pathfinder anyways, but the point stands. I'm saying that while the PF fiction might be the reason some people subscribe, there could easily be a diffrent option to use these 6 pages for, which might bring more customers. I can't think of anything, but then again I'm not the proffesional around here, that's you guys at Paizo! :)

Let me even suggest something that might sound wierd - cut those 6 pages from the book entirely. just have 90 pages of content instead of 96. That would allow you to LOWER the price of APs instead of increasing it, while still making a better profit. Iv'e heard some people say that they might stop buying APs because of the price increase, and I can imagine that a high price is more of a breaking point for some people than the inclusion or uninclusion of fiction is. The option should at leastt be examined seriously.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I think everyone is overlooking the real reason to keep the fiction in the AP. Without it, James Sutter, as editor of the fiction line, might have (some) free time. There's a reason Paizo keeps expanding to the limits, or just beyond, of its staff's capacities for work. It's to make sure no one working there has the free time to really give vent to the horrors lurking in their minds. So keep the AP fiction and protect us all.

Liberty's Edge

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The reason it is 96 pages is because book binders do things is base 16

Grand Lodge

I am not sure what removing the Fiction would accomplish though. I enjoy the fiction and think it adds a needed flair and feel for the AP we are running and the area we are running it in. Having a map in it would not do much for the players or for the GM because we have maps already. If you get the PDF version of it you get the interactive maps already too.

So not sure what this would accomplish but make for some more pretty pictures with no value hardly at all where as the fiction IS of value.

Grand Lodge

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Deanoth wrote:
...the fiction IS of value.

I think that's the debatable part. Some people like it, others don't. In the past, Paizo hasn't been very willing to entertain the idea of removing it, but it looks like that has changed since there are multiple official sources of Paizo fiction these days.

I used to love the fiction, but I'm to the point now where I don't even look at it.

-Skeld

Silver Crusade

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Coridan wrote:
The reason it is 96 pages is because book binders do things is base 16

This is a great example how sometimes things we assume to be trivial aren't that simple in reality of publishing.

Shadow Lodge

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Deanoth wrote:
So not sure what this would accomplish but make for some more pretty pictures with no value hardly at all where as the fiction IS of value.

As Skeld said, this is the debatable part.

For me, it's the exact opposite. More art and more "pretty pictures" would mean more resources for monsters, NPCs, etc. (I use MapTool for gaming, so I need pictures to make Tokens for characters, enemies, and monsters), while I don't give the fiction a second glance other than occasionally... well, raiding its art. Going through it for the black-and-white pictures, copying them out of the PDF, and sticking them in Photoshop to be saved so I can then stick them into TokenTool and make a token out of 'em.

I'd just be trading the - as others have stated above - less-than-usual quality art that's put with the fiction for, hopefully, something more like the usual awesome graphics Paizo products possess. So it'd be a net gain for me.

Thus, to me it's the "pretty pictures" that "ARE of value", and the fiction that has "no value hardly at all". To borrow your own words.

Dark Archive

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I say be gone with the fiction!
Use it for:
An event in the style of the old Dungeon series Challenge of the Champions.
A page or three of rumors/news/local history and the DCs to get that info.
Suggestions for good optional/random encounters.
A sidebar for tailoring the adventure to groups of 6 PCs or a 20 point buy array.
One or two local adventures who can be used by a guest player or replacement for a dead PC.
More detail to the NPCs or locations.
Use them flexibly so other portions get that little bit more they need.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Skeld wrote:
Deanoth wrote:
...the fiction IS of value.

I think that's the debatable part. Some people like it, others don't. In the past, Paizo hasn't been very willing to entertain the idea of removing it, but it looks like that has changed since there are multiple official sources of Paizo fiction these days.

I used to love the fiction, but I'm to the point now where I don't even look at it.

-Skeld

It's not at all a debatable part to us here at Paizo. Even if NO ONE liked the fiction (something that this thread proves isn't the case), publishing fiction in Pathfinder would be of value to Paizo because it allows us to do things like leverage Pathfinder's presence in book stores that might hesitate to stock game-only materials, lets us work with authors who we admire but who can't write game material, lets us diversify each volume so that more than just a few people can pitch in to help make it happen, helps establish Paizo as a short-fiction-friendly publishing house, and perhaps MOST IMPORTANT TO ME, gives us a great place to explore and develop our world in a different way than adventures and sourcebooks and support articles do, because the inclusion of a protagonist (a part of everything else we publish that is missing because that's the PC role) allows us to do things in presenting our world that we can't otherwise.

Not debatable at all.

Shadow Lodge

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Maybe perhaps better worded in the context of "in the APs" then. As that's what's being debated here, rather than the existence/removal of Golarion fiction in entirety.


Exactly. Pathfinder fiction is great. But is its place in the AP line still as relevant as it once was? That's what a lot of the people in the "no AP fiction" camp are looking at.

On another note, if the fiction is here to stay than I second (or third or fourth) the suggestion above about prelude fiction. Obviously, there are great difficulties in tying the fiction to the Adventure Path directly as mentioned upthread. I can respect the coordination difficulties that would cause. However, using the previous example of Carrion Crown, using it's six-part fiction to tell the backstory of Professor Lorrimor would have been really intriguing.

Or to use potential future examples:
1) If you ever do another AP about the Whispering Tyrant, why not set the fiction during the time of his first dominion. The story could be from the perspective of the Knights of Ozem after Tar-Baphon had crushed Arazni and the story could tell of their efforts to seal him in Gallowspire.

2) During another Runelords AP the story could take place in ancient Thassilon and detail the political intrigue between the lords in their prime.

3) An Osirion AP could include fiction involving the ancient Pharaohs, particularly any specific ones connected to the AP being written.

4) The upcoming Wrath of the Righteous (though I imagine you already have the fiction lined-up for this) could have a story detailing the efforts of crusaders during the first Mendevian crusade. A story about futility, if you will, which would contrast nicely with the (suspected) theme of hope that will be prevalent in the AP.

In all of these examples you have a fiction setting that has direct relevance to the AP at hand but is divorced enough in time that coordination with the fiction author shouldn't interfere with the development of the AP. It also achieves the secondary goal of why the fiction is there - to tell stories that flesh out Golarion that can't be done elsewhere. Finally, it also achieves another goal which is to maybe satisfy the fans who have been clamoring for Paizo to detail out the setting of ancient or pre-death of Aroden Golarion without requiring all the commitment and effort that would be needed in publishing a second campaign setting as a game product.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Orthos wrote:
Maybe perhaps better worded in the context of "in the APs" then. As that's what's being debated here, rather than the existence/removal of Golarion fiction in entirety.

Yes. I'm only addressing the fiction as it appears in the AP volumes. Not the existence of any Golarion fiction in any of the other lines or on the blog.

The entire point of this thread is to debate how customers view the fiction in the AP.

-Skeld


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

my daughter (age 8ish) loves reading the fiction in the adventure paths, that and the bestiaries (of which the coral capuchin is her favorite creature)

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Skeld wrote:
Deanoth wrote:
...the fiction IS of value.

I think that's the debatable part. Some people like it, others don't. In the past, Paizo hasn't been very willing to entertain the idea of removing it, but it looks like that has changed since there are multiple official sources of Paizo fiction these days.

I used to love the fiction, but I'm to the point now where I don't even look at it.

-Skeld

It's not at all a debatable part to us here at Paizo. Even if NO ONE liked the fiction (something that this thread proves isn't the case), publishing fiction in Pathfinder would be of value to Paizo because it allows us to do things like leverage Pathfinder's presence in book stores that might hesitate to stock game-only materials, lets us work with authors who we admire but who can't write game material, lets us diversify each volume so that more than just a few people can pitch in to help make it happen, helps establish Paizo as a short-fiction-friendly publishing house, and perhaps MOST IMPORTANT TO ME, gives us a great place to explore and develop our world in a different way than adventures and sourcebooks and support articles do, because the inclusion of a protagonist (a part of everything else we publish that is missing because that's the PC role) allows us to do things in presenting our world that we can't otherwise.

Not debatable at all.

Hmmm. It sounds like we can mark you down for not being in favor of replacing the fiction.

If removing the fiction in favor of something else is not debatable, why do we have this thread? This seems to contradict what's already been said in this thread. Or perhaps I've misunderstood.

-Skeld


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Skeld, I believe you are misunderstanding.

Somebody made the note that the value of fiction is debatable. Now, this was possibly just a poor choice of words, because it can imply that fiction can be debated to have no value at all.

It was to this extreme sentiment 'Fiction has no value' That I believe Mr. Jacobs' comment is directed. The bottom line is that the Paizo folks see that there is value in fiction, even in the AP line, and any replacement idea should be of similar value, for similar costs.

I don't believe James is saying that the replacement of fiction in APs is nondebatable, but to say that it has no value is false.

And now that I've joined the thread... I say keep the fiction in APs. I'll be honest, I don't read it much, but in honesty I don't read much of an AP unless I'm prepping to run it. However I can certainly agree with the uses other people have said they've found with it: Something to show players to get them more involved in the setting, something to read in an AP if you're not GMing it and don't want to get spoiled in case you play, and certainly I can only approve of Captain Yesterday letting his child read it. Kids need to do more reading and get more involved in RPGs :P

Sovereign Court

Part of the problem with debating online is that someone will decide that rather than furthering their understanding they need to win.

And then they'll start with tactics like trying to denigrate opposing viewpoints rather than engaging in sincere debate.

Every single post on this thread is subjective.

We should all recognise that.


Well I'll add my 2cp. Get rid of the fiction. I read the first two AP's worth and haven't looked at it since. I'd much prefer support articles.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

I'm one of the fiction fans. I own every AP. I generally skim the plot and read the fiction in those books unless I plan to specifically run them. I would love to have the fiction tied more into the AP, either mechanically or story-wise. I understand that's probably not possible, but I do like prelude/indirect suggestions above for something that may be reasonable.

While we're wishing, I wish that the separated fiction was included as a completed ebook download for subscribers once the AP was complete.

I also wish that GMs were officially allowed to share such fictional material from the APs directly with their players.

I'm not a big fan of including mechanics not directly tied to the APs in those modules. For me, that's more a consideration of convenience than anything else; it's more places to look for mechanical material (see PFS "Additional Resources"). That type of inclusion would be a bit more problematic for some friends of mine, but I'll let them chime in if they choose.

Scarab Sages

Throwing in my vote for a support article instead of AP fiction.

[Edit] I'd rather have a support article instead of maps. I have the flip mats and map packs. I prefer to use them than to draw complicated maps. Even one more support article an AP would be an improvement over the fiction.

If the fiction was directly related to the AP, my opinion of the fiction section would have to be amended. However, if you do connect it more closely, *please* put a spoiler alert if it's not entirely player-safe.

Dark Archive Contributor

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I've tried twice to reply, and twice the page has locked on me, so short & sweet:

As a reader, I enjoy the fiction.

As a GM, I agree it would be much more useful if it were more integral to the story of the AP. I'm with those commenters who suggest it reveal backstory and characters in the adventure. I also know this is a lot harder on the staff.

As an editor, I see great value in the existence of these long, serial novellas as a second-tier proving ground for prospective Pathfinder Tales novelists. I'm sure it's of great use to James Sutter.

Also, I think it's cool to have the monthly product include more setting material for those who, like a few other posters have mentioned, buy the APs but can't play them right away.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Since the Paizo staff have made it clear that they value our various, clearly-divided opinions, I'd like to offer mine is support of the fiction as is. I can't say I've read every single issue, but I've really enjoyed the ones I've read. Keep 'em coming.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:


It's not at all a debatable part to us here at Paizo. Even if NO ONE liked the fiction (something that this thread proves isn't the case), publishing fiction in Pathfinder would be of value to Paizo because it allows us to do things like leverage Pathfinder's presence in book stores that might hesitate to stock game-only materials, lets us work with authors who we admire but who can't write game material, lets us diversify each volume so that more than just a few people can pitch in to help make it happen, helps establish Paizo as a short-fiction-friendly publishing house, and perhaps MOST IMPORTANT TO ME, gives us a great place to explore and develop our world in a different way than adventures and sourcebooks and support articles do, because the inclusion of a protagonist (a part of everything else we publish that is missing because that's the PC role) allows us to do things in presenting our world that we can't otherwise.

Not debatable at all.

Duly noted. Which - IMHO - does not make for the best (contents-wise) product, but for one that can be sold better.

I am uncertain about the cooperation argument, but the sales one flies.

Sad enough.

The Exchange

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Damon Griffin wrote:
Can you give me an example of how reading the fiction contributes to the DM's understanding of or preparation for the story the players will be playing out?

Tacticslion already made a most excellent post about it, so I'll just add another example. Between the events of Pathfinder #2 and 3, the party has quite a bit of travelling to make. I found the Pathfinder Journal in #2 invaluable in fleshing out the voyage (which was totally ignored in the adventure itself) between Magnimar and Turtleback Ferry.

I could probably cite other examples, where AP-fiction material directly found its way into my game; the truth, though, is, that I enjoy fiction mostly for it's own sake. And given that I'm one of those people who seldom get the opportunity to run or play in an adventure path, I mostly use the APs just for the enjoyment of reading. Which the fiction is a big part of.

Now it's true that in the meantime, there are other opportunities to get my reading fix. I obviously read the novels and the comics, but on the other hand, I've never come to read the Web Fiction nor the Pathfinder Chroniclers stuff. While I can't exactly say why that is, those outlets doesn't seem to be a good replacement for the AP fiction (which I read regularly), as far as I am concerned.

Meaning that I'd rather have the fiction stay where it is, especially as I'm not too exited about the idea of expanding the bestiary and other already existing AP features and adding new features (like the Set Pieces which I immensely liked) doesn't seem an option from what James said before.

Sovereign Court

I would be in favor of losing the fiction and trading it for more AP-related content. Adding a few monsters, and expanding back matter articles would be okay, but I really love the idea of having an article consisting of fan-generated modifications/alterations/expansions of previously-published AP's.

I'm running Carrion Crown presently. While it is a really good AP, I have been able to improve it significantly by adopting modifications suggested by the kind folks on the Paizo boards. What would have been even better would have been a follow-up article featuring a few of the mods that the Paizo community have suggested to make the installment of the AP more enjoyable/interesting/cohesive. In order to get the ideas, I had to spend a lot of time reading through the various posts and threads. Having the ideas distilled, and centralized in a single location would be an amazing aid to a GM looking to run an AP, and would also likely increase sales, as has been previously mentioned.

I have other venues for obtaining my fiction, including Paizo novels, free website fiction, etc. I have never really used any of the fiction in an AP, and consider it dead space, thus reducing the overall value of an AP issue, and reducing my likelihood to purchase it.

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