Why Illegal?


Pathfinder Society

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I understand that some things must be made illegal for Pathfinder society organised play. Crafting items would slow down play at limited time events, Leadership can make a character too powerful for that character's level. However, some items declared illegal do neither and to track them down is awkward. For example, there are a WHOLE LOT of traits that are illegal. What level of complexity does Adopted add to the game. It simply allows a character to get a racial trait not offered in her race. Or Catfolk and their racial archtypes are illegal when other races from the same section of the Advanced Races Guide are accepted.

I was able to track down a googe doc that lists all the illegal, Races, Archtypes, etc. anmd find that one of my characters has an illegal trait. Now I need to figure out how to rectify the situation. Not easy when I do not have a list of what IS LEGAL.

So back to my original question. Why make so many things illegal if they are not slowing the game or otherwise causing an inbalance?

Scarab Sages

First of all, here's the list of what's legal: PFS Additional Resources

If it's not on that list, it's not legal. As long as you have the page number and book that your abilities come from, you should be able to look them up on that list.

I can't speak for what the logic is like behind all of the resources that aren't allowed, but a major concern aside from game balance is also keeping the Pathfinder Society campaign consistent with the Golarion campaign setting.

Catfolk are an example of something that are exceptionally rare in Golarion; they exist, but are so rare that realistically, there may not even be any who are members of the Pathfinder Society. It doesn't make sense to allow open access to them for players because there could conceivably be more PC catfolk than there are supposed to be in the entire Inner Sea region. There are other races in the ARG that don't exist at all in Golarion.

Another reason is to provide incentives for people to go to larger events like conventions, where they hand out prizes that let people play as restricted races.

Edit: oops, as somebody else pointed out, Adopted is legal. For some reason I thought it wasn't, right off the top of my head.


Err, Adopted is legal. It's in two legal sources and isn't called out as being illegal in either.

Additional Resources wrote:

Pathfinder Character Traits Web Enhancement

Feat: Additional Traits; Traits: all traits are legal except for the following: Hedge Magician, Natural-Born Leader, and Rich Parents

Additional Resources wrote:

Advanced Player's Guide

The following parts of the Advanced Player's Guide are NOT legal for play:

...

Traits: hedge magician, natural born leader, and rich parents traits, and all of the Campaign Traits.


Things in PFS are illegal either because they've been play-tested and shown to be too powerful (such as leadership or certain campaign traits), because they don't work with the math and fairness of the system (such as magical crafting), or because they haven't been properly play-tested yet (such as many of the alternate races).

There may be other reasons, but I would think those are the most prominent three.


And by "not properly play-tested," I mean for PFS, not for pathfinder in general.


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bookrat, there's also "does not fit the themes or aims of PFSOP or the fictional Pathfinder Society" (several evil-leaning archetypes) and "does not fit Golarion" (several gun-focused archetypes)


Oh yes. Good catch.


minneyar wrote:
There are other races in the ARG that don't exist at all in Golarion.

Which ones?

Scarab Sages

SwnyNerdgasm wrote:
minneyar wrote:
There are other races in the ARG that don't exist at all in Golarion.
Which ones?

Off the top of my head, several of the races used as examples for the race building rules were created simply to be examples; I want to say that the Trox, Gathlain, Kasatha, Wyrwood, and Wyvaran have all never been mentioned in any Golarion-specific material.


I knew that I thought the races in the second and third chapters was what was meant


Please note that they were not "evil leaning" they "did not fit the flavour" otherwise necromancers, negative energy clerics and evil spells would be in trouble.


"Too powerful/marginalizing" also falls under " doesn't fit the flavor of the campaign".

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

tlotig wrote:
Please note that they were not "evil leaning" they "did not fit the flavour" otherwise necromancers, negative energy clerics and evil spells would be in trouble.

Actually, the fact that its abilities were considered blatantly evil was exactly why the Vivisectionist was barred from PFS play, even though nothing about the archetype actually comes out and says "playing this archetype is evil". And why you can't play an evil aligned character in PFS (although the fact that it's hard to come up with reasons for evil characters to be helping the good guys plays into that as well).

PFS characters are suposed to be the good guys. To a certain extent they've opened the doors for using evil to fight evil (spells like Infernal Healing, etc.), but the people doing the fighting for the Society should still be basically good (or at least not basically bad).

Sovereign Court

SwnyNerdgasm wrote:
minneyar wrote:
There are other races in the ARG that don't exist at all in Golarion.
Which ones?

The closest thing I can think of is the "Darkvision on a Half-Elf." It implies half-drow (like the following suggestion block in Half-Elf says), which most definitely do NOT exist on Golarion.


El Baron de los Banditos wrote:
SwnyNerdgasm wrote:
minneyar wrote:
There are other races in the ARG that don't exist at all in Golarion.
Which ones?
The closest thing I can think of is the "Darkvision on a Half-Elf." It implies half-drow (like the following suggestion block in Half-Elf says), which most definitely do NOT exist on Golarion.

are you claiming drow don't exist, or half-drow don't exist?

because drow do exist in golarian, but i don't see why half drow would not exist in that case.

Sovereign Court

asthyril wrote:
El Baron de los Banditos wrote:
SwnyNerdgasm wrote:
minneyar wrote:
There are other races in the ARG that don't exist at all in Golarion.
Which ones?
The closest thing I can think of is the "Darkvision on a Half-Elf." It implies half-drow (like the following suggestion block in Half-Elf says), which most definitely do NOT exist on Golarion.

are you claiming drow don't exist, or half-drow don't exist?

because drow do exist in golarian, but i don't see why half drow would not exist in that case.

Half-Drow. It was a James Jacobs post somewhere; I'll give it a one-two quickie search...

EDIT: Hmm, I stand corrected. I guess they do exist. Eh, I dunno; It seems like it wouldn't be a good creature that would come from any kind of mating with a Drow, though, being how they exist in Golarion. That might be what Brock was thinking not allowing it. That's just my 2c though, on "core races not allowed in Golarion."

Sczarni 5/5 ⦵⦵

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

This thread should be moved to the Pathfinder Society General Discussion forum.

Digital Products Assistant

Removed an off-topic post.

Sczarni 5/5

Most often what keeps something from being legal for PFS play is that it has been play tested and shown to be overly powerful for what its cost or that it does not fit in well with the campaign world.

5/5

SwnyNerdgasm wrote:
minneyar wrote:
There are other races in the ARG that don't exist at all in Golarion.
Which ones?

So far as I am aware there is currently no mention of catfolk existing in Golarion as one example.


Mike Lindner wrote:
So far as I am aware there is currently no mention of catfolk existing in Golarion as one example.

There is at least one in

Spoiler:
Shattered Star, Book 2 (I think it's book 2...)

I think they were also in the Dragon Empires gazetteer?

Silver Crusade

Also, another consideration for banning things has to do with play time... when scenarios are limited to 4 or 5 hour slots, things like Leadership or multiple animal companions really slows the game down.

Scarab Sages

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Mike Lindner wrote:
So far as I am aware there is currently no mention of catfolk existing in Golarion as one example.

In the "Ask James Jacobs" thread, he actually commented that they are native to Southern Garund. (link)

5/5

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CRobledo wrote:
Mike Lindner wrote:
So far as I am aware there is currently no mention of catfolk existing in Golarion as one example.

There is at least one in

** spoiler omitted **

I think they were also in the Dragon Empires gazetteer?

Nice recollection of 3 lines in the book.

Dragon Empires Gazetteer wrote:


VALASHMAI JUNGLE
Here There Be Monsters
Alignment: CN
Capital: None
Notable Settlements: None
Ruler: None
Government: None
Major Races: Catfolk, grippli, lizardfolk,
xills, various degenerate humanoids, monsters
Languages: Abyssal, Catfolk, Draconic, Grippli, Infernal,
pidgin Tien

Lesser races, such as catfolk, grippli,
and lizardfolk, are quite numerous in the jungle—their
tribes vary in size and outlook, although savagery is
generally the rule in such wild environs.


But what's the deal with organized play? Why do they hve to ban things that work just fine in Pathfinder Like leadership and magic item creation? Imo it invalidates the whole concept of pathfinder society since it is not really played by the rules of Pathfinder.

Silver Crusade 3/5

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Because both the things you mentioned are easy to regulate at a home game but impossible to regulate in an organised play campaign.


FallofCamelot wrote:
Because both the things you mentioned are easy to regulate at a home game but impossible to regulate in an organised play campaign.

And, in fact, other OP campaigns have nearly always found those two areas to be problematic, as well, and either severely limited them, or did away with them entirely.

Scarab Sages

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Morain wrote:
Why do they hve to ban things that work just fine in Pathfinder Like leadership and magic item creation?

Both of those things are absurdly overpowered compared to other feat options. Leadership essentially gives you an extra character who is almost as powerful as your primary character, plus a small army of weaker characters. It also has a number of situational modifiers that are largely a matter of opinion and very difficult to regulate in an organized society format.

Magic item creation allows players who have the appropriate feats to acquire equipment much more cheaply than anybody else, which breaks the wealth-by-level curve and causes that character to be much more powerful than characters who can't craft magical items. Furthermore, keeping track of whether the crafter met all of the appropriate requirements and skill checks when crafting is also difficult to do in an organized society format.

Heck, I've seen both of those things either banned or only situationally approved in home games, even.


Also Because both of the rules rely on a massive caveat, subject to GM approval and the very purpose of organized play is that you will not have the same GM every time, and your character must be "portable", which could be be defined as "not reliant on any trait, rule or feature that Gm approval"

The Exchange 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

Basically it falls into one of five categories:
1) It's too powerful:
-In a home game I can just up the difficulty of an encounter but I can't do that in organized play. Synthesists are the best example of this. While they were legal I never saw a Synthoracaladin get remotely challenged by any combat encounter. Bracers of Falcon's Aim are temporarily banned pending a change in cost.
2) It doesn't fit into currently established Golarion/Pathfinder Society lore or goals.
-Drow are evil. Period. Vivisectionists are evil. Catfolk have not really been explored.
3) It's being held back for a special event or scenario.
-Some of the big ticket magic items from Ultimate Equipment are not legal; speculation has been that these will become available on Chronicle Sheets (Mike actually talked about this in an open thread back in August). Race boons are a way of driving interest in conventions and it's nice to have something unique still to give out.
4) The nature of organized play makes it problematic:
-This is where crafting gets into trouble. In a home game my wizard crafts weapons and armor and wondrous items for the big dumb fighter, diplomatic cleric, and skill-monkey rogue, not just me. PFS does not allow you to give items to other players. It's a HUGE bonus for skilled characters.
5) It's too prone to GM adjudication.
-This applies to everything above but has particular significance for Leadership. The leadership feat lets you recruit a cohort. In a home game most GMs limit this to people you meet along the way. In other words you can't go out and recruit a level 2 monk/level 3 Magus because it's highly unlikely you have met one. In PFS you'd really have no choice but to let people build whatever they want. Add to this the power problem others have mentioned and you can see why Leadership is disruptive.

Remember that the goal of the rules of Organized Play is to provide a consistent experience no matter who sits down at a table. That's what most of the rules are aimed at.

Silver Crusade 3/5

Pretty succinct there Belafon.

One thing to bear in mind as regards item crafting is that one of the limitations on this is time. The nature of PFS is that time is abstract in order to facilitate the campaign.

Unlimited crafting time is a bad thing so crafting would require some kind of extra book keeping which, with the best will in the world, couldn't be policed in a campaign this large.


Ssalarn wrote:
tlotig wrote:
Please note that they were not "evil leaning" they "did not fit the flavour" otherwise necromancers, negative energy clerics and evil spells would be in trouble.

Actually, the fact that its abilities were considered blatantly evil was exactly why the Vivisectionist was barred from PFS play, even though nothing about the archetype actually comes out and says "playing this archetype is evil". And why you can't play an evil aligned character in PFS (although the fact that it's hard to come up with reasons for evil characters to be helping the good guys plays into that as well).

PFS characters are suposed to be the good guys. To a certain extent they've opened the doors for using evil to fight evil (spells like Infernal Healing, etc.), but the people doing the fighting for the Society should still be basically good (or at least not basically bad).

Which was wierd, because there's nothing evil about vivisection.

Silver Crusade 3/5

Vivisectionist Alchemists were taken out for power reasons really. They basically made Rogues redundant.

Grand Lodge

Actually, Leadership was not banned for being too powerful. Katie had the right reason (which is missing from Belafon's excellent list): it slows down gameplay too much.
One player having a 2nd PC (cohort) is going to give them a lot more of the spotlight and increase a combat round slightly. If everyone has one, it would get ridiculous.

In a home game, you can accomodate lots of things. In Organized Play, you need to be more aware of time limitations, PC power balance, and the greater potential for Society games to reach newcomers and non-gamers.

Scarab Sages

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Funky Badger wrote:
Which was wierd, because there's nothing evil about vivisection.

There's nothing inherently evil about vivisection, but the vivisectionist archetype has some fairly evil stuff in it. Here's a few quotes:

PRD wrote:

Unlike a chirurgeon, a vivisectionist's goals are not related to healing, but rather to experimentation and knowledge that most people would consider evil.

Torturous Transformation: At 7th level, a vivisectionist adds anthropomorphic animal to his formula book as a 2nd-level extract. When he uses this extract, he injects it into an animal as part of a 2-hour surgical procedure. By using multiple doses of this extract as part of the surgery, he multiplies the duration by the number of extracts used.

At 9th level, a vivisectionist adds awaken and baleful polymorph to his formula book as 3rd-level extracts. When he uses the awaken or baleful polymorph extract, he injects it into the target (not a plant) as part of a 24-hour surgical procedure. He can make anthropomorphic animal permanent on a creature by spending 7,500 gp.

It's not really over the top, but it doesn't fit into the goals of PFS as it is, and they don't want to set a precedent of making corner-case exceptions and modifications to class and archetypes to make them fit into PFS better. So, it got banned.

Here's some interesting trivia: at the Q&A with Mike Brock (bah! for some reason I had the "Q&A with James Jacobs" thread stuck in my head...) at Owlcon, he hypothesized that the vivisectionist was originally intended to be an evil counterpart to the alchemist class, similar to the relationship between the anti-paladin and paladin. It was decided to make it an archetype instead of a full class.

Liberty's Edge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Alaska—Anchorage aka Dragnmoon

Phillip Reed wrote:
Here's some interesting trivia: at the Q&A with James Jacobs at Owlcon,

Wow I totally missed James at Owlcon, I did meet Mike though... ;)


Mike apparently also said one of the reasons was that it stepped on the rogue's toes too much.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Dragnmoon wrote:
Phillip Reed wrote:
Here's some interesting trivia: at the Q&A with James Jacobs at Owlcon,

Wow I totally missed James at Owlcon, I did meet Mike though... ;)

Mike, did you smuggle James in your luggage again?

Scarab Sages

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Hey, I've never seen them in the same room at the same time. For all I know, they could be the same person.

Grand Lodge 5/5

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Phillip Reed wrote:
Hey, I've never seen them in the same room at the same time. For all I know, they could be the same person.

You're right. My money's on veiled master.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator

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Kelly Youngblood wrote:
Dragnmoon wrote:
Phillip Reed wrote:
Here's some interesting trivia: at the Q&A with James Jacobs at Owlcon,

Wow I totally missed James at Owlcon, I did meet Mike though... ;)

Mike, did you smuggle James in your luggage again?

He is my familiar.


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Michael Brock wrote:
Kelly Youngblood wrote:
Dragnmoon wrote:
Phillip Reed wrote:
Here's some interesting trivia: at the Q&A with James Jacobs at Owlcon,

Wow I totally missed James at Owlcon, I did meet Mike though... ;)

Mike, did you smuggle James in your luggage again?
He is my familiar.

Can he use wands?

Grand Lodge

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Cheapy wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
Kelly Youngblood wrote:
Dragnmoon wrote:
Phillip Reed wrote:
Here's some interesting trivia: at the Q&A with James Jacobs at Owlcon,

Wow I totally missed James at Owlcon, I did meet Mike though... ;)

Mike, did you smuggle James in your luggage again?
He is my familiar.
Can he use wands?

From what I recall he can mimic a language, but cannot actually speak one. So no.

;)


Phillip Reed wrote:
Funky Badger wrote:
Which was wierd, because there's nothing evil about vivisection.

There's nothing inherently evil about vivisection, but the vivisectionist archetype has some fairly evil stuff in it. Here's a few quotes:

PRD wrote:

Unlike a chirurgeon, a vivisectionist's goals are not related to healing, but rather to experimentation and knowledge that most people would consider evil.

Torturous Transformation: At 7th level, a vivisectionist adds anthropomorphic animal to his formula book as a 2nd-level extract. When he uses this extract, he injects it into an animal as part of a 2-hour surgical procedure. By using multiple doses of this extract as part of the surgery, he multiplies the duration by the number of extracts used.

At 9th level, a vivisectionist adds awaken and baleful polymorph to his formula book as 3rd-level extracts. When he uses the awaken or baleful polymorph extract, he injects it into the target (not a plant) as part of a 24-hour surgical procedure. He can make anthropomorphic animal permanent on a creature by spending 7,500 gp.

It's not really over the top, but it doesn't fit into the goals of PFS as it is, and they don't want to set a precedent of making corner-case exceptions and modifications to class and archetypes to make them fit into PFS better. So, it got banned.

Here's some interesting trivia: at the Q&A with Mike Brock (bah! for some reason I had the "Q&A with James Jacobs" thread stuck in my head...) at Owlcon, he hypothesized that the vivisectionist was originally intended to be an evil counterpart to the alchemist class, similar to the relationship between the anti-paladin and paladin. It was decided to make it an archetype instead of a full class.

Interesting stuff... not sure that experimentation and the search for knowledge, i.e. the scientific method, really counts as evil though :-)

Science was meant to help mankind, not destroy it!


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"Everyone cover your ears, I'm going to try science!"

-a gnome alchemist, overheard at a local PFS game

-j


El Baron de los Banditos wrote:
asthyril wrote:
El Baron de los Banditos wrote:
SwnyNerdgasm wrote:
minneyar wrote:
There are other races in the ARG that don't exist at all in Golarion.
Which ones?
The closest thing I can think of is the "Darkvision on a Half-Elf." It implies half-drow (like the following suggestion block in Half-Elf says), which most definitely do NOT exist on Golarion.

are you claiming drow don't exist, or half-drow don't exist?

because drow do exist in golarian, but i don't see why half drow would not exist in that case.

Half-Drow. It was a James Jacobs post somewhere; I'll give it a one-two quickie search...

EDIT: Hmm, I stand corrected. I guess they do exist. Eh, I dunno; It seems like it wouldn't be a good creature that would come from any kind of mating with a Drow, though, being how they exist in Golarion. That might be what Brock was thinking not allowing it. That's just my 2c though, on "core races not allowed in Golarion."

The Arctic Elf alternate elven race has darkvision, not because they are Drow or related to them, but because of the long dark nights and ice caves, so couldnt you thereby have a half elf descended from them, that has dark vision?


Arrg, stopped reading someway down this thread. Why are some things illegal?

Because this isn't a home game. In PFS, the fun of the experience is relative to how equal the characters at the table are. A Pathfinder source may create something which is great and fun for home games, and home GM's can deal with balance issues however they want, and so no Paizo playtesting is required. For PFS (I really want my Bracers of Falcons Aim back, but I understand) the goal is to enable random players to show up at a table and to be about equally effective, so anything which favors a particular build will be banned. That's it. Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron if you will. Shotgun blast to the OP archetype/magic item/etc.


If the vivisectionist is banned because it steps on rogue toes, why is the bard, or even the wizard allowed? A bard/wizard is like a rogue that can cast arcane spells

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

CWheezy wrote:
If the vivisectionist is banned because it steps on rogue toes, why is the bard, or even the wizard allowed? A bard/wizard is like a rogue that can cast arcane spells

How is your bard/wizard getting sneak attack?

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