Getting rid of Rasputin?


Reign of Winter

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Let me first address the outrage over my use of the word 'stain' when describing my feelings about this adventure. (I will respond to Brandon's response about RP in a separate post)

A stain is a discoloration that can be clearly distinguished from the surface, material, or medium it is found upon. They are caused by the chemical or physical interaction of two dissimilar materials.

In my opinion (and I think even the supporters of this adventure agree), having an adventure that is set in the real world is a distinct departure from the norm of anything that has been presented in Pathfinder to date. That is what some of the people love about this! It is so different and revolutionary. It stands out... it's different. That, in and of itself, does not make it good or bad, but it does likely make it contentious.

The second part, describing as the interaction of two dissimilar materials is where my specific use of the word comes in and where my feeling of the inclusion of the real world into the game as a bad thing merit the use of the word. It's jarring to me to see the two superimposed, and if you are someone who doesn't like that particular flavor of peanut butter and chocolate being mixed (recognizing that others do indeed love it) then it something that is distasteful.

Finally stain implies that it is something that can not be removed (sure technically many stains can be removed, but I think using the word to refer to something like this implies that it can not). Once an adventure or book references the real world as something in it's cannon (yes, I know this was not the first time this happened in the Pathfinder universe) then anything I run in the universe that excludes this is a house rule. In some cases it is just basically ignoring it. In other cases it is not running it and having spent $120+ on the product (the entire AP).

It also immediately brings me back to the 'good ol' days' when people were attacking Dungeons & Dragons for it being satanic and having references to demons and devils in the real world. I had to listen to pastors at my parents church rail about my hobby. I was forbidden by my mother from playing it or hanging out with anyone who did. Examples of D&D and real world cross overs were used as ammunition in these battles. Saying, “I don't run with the real world in my game though, I house-ruled that out!” wasn't really a defense from people not using logic in the first place. Those examples became liabilities.

But things are different now, right? Well, in Lisa Stephens' story hour at PaizoCon she mentions in passing that D&D will never be carried in Walmart where as Pathfinder can. Any guesses as to why a publicly religious organization would make that decision?

This type of adventure adds, ever-so-slightly, to the chance of that happening to Pathfinder. I am not saying it is likely, but it is there and it can't be taken back later if the public opinion does turn against Pathfinder like it did D&D. So yeah... I do think the can't be removed part matters.

Which brings me to whether or not I should have used the term in the first place. While I am sorry if it hurt someones feelings that I feel that way about the inclusion of the real world in the game. It was not my intent to make people feel bad. This is particularly true for Brandon Hodge who I think did admirably with the task he was given (again, I will address the RP part later), but the task he was given was the thing I had a problem with in the first place. I do feel that my use of the word reflects my feelings though for all the above reasons. It is a strong word for strong feelings.

It has been pointed out that the best way to protest content that you don't like is to not buy it, but I have to take some exception to that. If I didn't buy it (and read it), would it really be valid that I didn't like it? Would anyone have accepted that?

Further, Paizo has repeatedly made it clear that they listen to their customers on the message boards. I like to think that they listened all the myriad of time when I liked what they came up with and I would like to think that they take the dislike into consideration now. At the same time I would expect that they would consider the adventure and the inclusion a success, not be no one disliked it but because more seemed to have liked it. That's not to say my opinion will matter more than anyone elses, nor should it, but to suggest that people who do not like something should not be able voice that just as strongly here to help shape the products they love is to take away an important sounding board for Paizo. They need to hear the good... and the bad. And they need to be able to place it is context.

What this tells me is the BEST way to be heard is to be a customer (no real reason to listen to the people not buying your stuff) and post what you like and don't like on the boards.

On the other hand, I kind of wish I hadn't used the word because the reaction to it seems to have derailed the thread, and required that I post a huge diatribe in the hopes that people will understand and accept that I have this point of view (not agree with it necessarily, but respect that I have it).


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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:
internet unanimity (is that the right word?).

I believe you're talking about "internet anonymity", where someone feels safe to make hyperbolic or offensive statements on the supposition that the person they're talking to will have no idea who they are (an aside, no one's really anonymous, it's just that most people, including me, don't go to the trouble of finding out who they're talking to). "Internet unanimity" refers to the sort of groupthink icyshadow is criticizing.

Captain Marsh wrote:
Does Mammy Graul style horror have a place in Tolkien's genre? Probably not, but it turns out a Hills Have Eyes adventure really worked.
I dunno, The Children of Hurin included a lot of the motifs found in The Hook Mountain Massacre even if it didn't revel in them and focused on other themes. O.o


I haven't bought the module yet (I've only read a bit of it at the bookstore), but let me just say that The Coffin Man was one of the coolest encounters I've ever read, and its actually SUGGESTED to RP it because your PCs could end up really dead really fast.

I can't wait to actually buy it and read it all the way through <3

Shadow Lodge

Sean Mahoney wrote:
In my opinion (and I think even the supporters of this adventure agree), having an adventure that is set in the real world is a distinct departure from the norm of anything that has been presented in Pathfinder to date. That is what some of the people love about this! It is so different and revolutionary. It stands out... it's different. That, in and of itself, does not make it good or bad, but it does likely make it contentious.

Let's be clear about something right off the bat. There is a difference between "the real world" and "a setting that is recognizably contemporary or historical Earth". The real world encompasses everything in our universe, the enormous majority of which we cannot explore. We have yet to explore even the comparatively small portion of the universe that we theoretically could given our senses and instruments. The conceit adopted by Paizo has always been that Golarion exists in the real world. If you were to step through a wormhole connecting Earth and Golarion in 1918, you would wind up on Golarion in 4713 (okay, wormhole physics is not anywhere near that simple, but bear with me). If you were to build an Alcubierre drive on Earth in a couple hundred years, and you knew where to go, you could fly to Golarion, assuming some villain hasn't destroyed it in the meantime. The conceit had given rise to statements like, and I'm paraphrasing 'Cthulu exists in Golarion's world, but not on Golarion', the clear implication being that he exists exactly where Lovecraft says he does: on Earth, in the sunken city of R'lyeh.

Turning this conceit on its head, however, this marks the Earth of Paizo's setting as not our Earth, because as we all know (or at least fervently hope), Golarion is not real. If Golarion is not real, then Paizo's Earth, to exist in the same universe with it, must be as imaginary as Golarion.

One cannot have it both ways. Paizo's Earth cannot be real even as their Golarion is imaginary, or vice versa. Either their games have always been set in the real world, and Rasputin Must Die didn't change that, or they've always been set in a fantasy world and Rasputin Must Die didn't change that either. Choosing between the two comes back to Paizo's conceit. Their position is that their world is the real world. Either you believe that, or you don't.

You will notice that already I'm departing from a central premise of your argument: that publishing Rasputin Must Die was something "different and revolutionary", that it represented a rupture with what had come before. I would argue that in terms of the setting, it represented continuity with what had come before, with Paizo's cosmology and with their references to Earth mythology and literature (you allude to this yourself below). What makes Rasputin Must Die stand out is not that it brings something new to the setting's assumptions. The adventure simply explores the consequences of the setting's assumptions more fully than anything that had come before. For example, a reasonable person might have assumed, before Rasputin Must Die was published, that the Earth that had been established as existing in Golarion's universe is magic-dead. Comrade Hodge smashed that notion with this adventure. Earth is not only not magic-dead, but the magical and mystical events of the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Bible, the Vedas...those events really happened. There's a bit in The Witch Queen's Revenge about how Terrans, again paraphrasing 'turned away from arcane magic to the squabblings of their many gods', and we are meant to infer that we have largely, though not wholly, turned away from divine magic too in the centuries since.

Now, to be fair, one of the assumptions of the setting is that Golarion's history - and in terms of recorded events attested to by written testimony and artifacts, that history is much longer than Earth's - did not go that way. Golarion is home to many powerful practitioners of all kinds of magic. Mythic power is not a thing of the past, something to be called down from another plane like it is on Earth according to Rasputin Must Die, but something that can exist in the here and now. But the setting has never excluded the possibility that a world's history could lead to a very different place.

Quote:
The second part, describing as the interaction of two dissimilar materials is where my specific use of the word comes in and where my feeling of the inclusion of the real world into the game as a bad thing merit the use of the word. It's jarring to me to see the two superimposed, and if you are someone who doesn't like that particular flavor of peanut butter and chocolate being mixed (recognizing that others do indeed love it) then it something that is distasteful.

All that stuff about the conceits of the setting being said, where exactly does the dissimilarity lie? I've already proven that there is no mixing of fantasy and reality going on in Rasputin Must Die; one must either accept that everything Paizo publishes corresponds to reality or that everything Paizo publishes is the product of someone's imagination. Another RPG that asks for the same sort of belief is Call of Cthulu, which is set on Earth and asks the players to believe that their actions really happened in a historical sense (it's no coincidence that Comrade Hodge is notable for running Call of Cthulu adventures in this vein). If none of the setting's assumptions are being violated by Rasputin Must Die, what is different about it?

1918 Earth is more technologically advanced than 4713 Golarion even as its magical development has been arrested and retarded. This, again, violates no setting assumptions. Apostae, in Golarion's own solar system, is proof enough that civilizations both more technologically and more magically advanced than Golarion's exist in the universe, just as the coexistence of human and goblin civilizations on Golarion itself says that Golarion's humans aren't the least sophisticated civilization in either respect. Is it unexpected for characters accustomed to swords and sorcery to run into Maxims and Nagants? Of course. But running into the unexpected and growing accustomed to it is one of the themes running through the AP. We are asked to believe in loving fey-human relationships in The Shackled Hut, for example; there was even a pretty long and contentious thread about it. Even before the PCs go to Earth, they are dumped on another alien world...that many complain doesn't feel alien enough! The argument of such people is that culture shock ought to be jarring. So when you feel jarred by what are familiar things to you and what are at the same time unfamiliar things to your character, you're feeling exactly what you're supposed to be feeling, and you can use that feeling to more truthfully play a character (I get the sense that you're primarily a GM, but still, think of the soldiers seeing warriors and witches attacking them with swords and sorcery, and the feeling will be the same).

Quote:
It also immediately brings me back to the 'good ol' days' when people were attacking Dungeons & Dragons for it being satanic and having references to demons and devils in the real world. I had to listen to pastors at my parents church rail about my hobby. I was forbidden by my mother from playing it or hanging out with anyone who did. Examples of D&D and real world cross overs were used as ammunition in these battles. Saying, “I don't run with the real world in my game though, I house-ruled that out!” wasn't really a defense from people not using logic in the first place. Those examples became liabilities.

Judging by this paragraph I'm at least a generation younger than you, and Jewish to boot, so I never had to deal with the particular kind of stigmatizing your describe. But you're raising some very thorny questions of freedom of expression and the relative weights artists and distributors should assign to vision and commercial appeal. These are big topics and not ones I ought to be shooting my mouth off about, but I will say this: this whole point of yours smacks of conservative thinking and the need to play things safe. Comrade Hodge, Comrade McCreary, and Paizo, in publishing Rasputin Must Die, took a risk. Not in terms of compromising their setting and vision, but in terms of compromising their business. Heck, I'm surprised some Alex Jones type hasn't gone on the radio railing about Paizo's being chock full of communist sympathizers based on a line in the Guns, Spirits and Revolution backmatter article that is very easy to take out of context.


At this point I'm going to throw out a mention of D&D BECMI module IM1 - The Immortal Storm, which - like most modules at the time - contains a couple of maps.

This module in particular has maps of New York City and the Chicago area. Yup, the PCs get to visit a Parallel version of Earth from the latter 20th Century.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I would like to point out that 1) I am 43 years old, 2) I started playing AD&D when I was 10 years old and went to Boy Scout Camp. I know full well about the anti-D&D sentiments out there and had parents who weren't happy I was into it though mostly because I didn't have a social life and had a tendency toward escapism into books and games.

I actively started gaming in my late teens and early 20s. I saw a gaming store I very much enjoyed close because of shoplifting... which was likely encouraged because the church down the street had its membership actively praying that this "vile den" go out of business... and when the owner, who poured his heart into the store and allowed neighborhood children to come in for hours after school was let out (basically keeping an eye on everyone's kids and letting them game there and even borrow game books during games) they praised God.

So please note, Sean, that I went through what you did. I encountered that mindset. And I STILL take offense at you calling this module a "stain." It would be akin to you looking at the Mona Lisa and saying "it's a piece of s@+%" in front of a bunch of art aficionados. Except we're more polite.

Do note, that by stating "this module is a stain" you are also indirectly stating that anyone who enjoys this module is in fact defective in some way. And do note this definition of the word: a cause of reproach; stigma; blemish: a stain on one's reputation.

No. This module is not a cause of reproachment or a stigma on Paizo. The only thing "wrong" with this module is that you don't like it. That is your right and you don't need to play it. You can even sell the module on E-Bay or the like and get rid of it. You don't have the right to call it a "stain" and not expect people to take you to task for this.


I am 44 years old and started playing D&D in 1980. I remember the media backlash well, one only has to watch Tom Hanks in Mazes and Monsters to remember how stupid things got. My parents didn't understand it but I kept getting good grades and wasn't running around in sewers so they didn't hassle me.

That being said, when all the media bible thumping was going on, D&D was actually expanding like crazy, and introducing all sorts of crazy ass ideas..SpellJammer anyone? I think Dragon #100 came out around this time, early 1985, and despite all the religious nutjobs coming down on D&D nobody pointed to the adventure in that edition where D&D characters go to London and break into a Mueseum to get the Mace of St. Cuthbert. I mean, there were random encounters with unarmed London Bobbies, or mohawk sporting punk gangs, and no media story came out suggesting D&D was encouraging players to go rob Mueseums and attack police with swords.


Black Dougal wrote:

I think Dragon #100 came out around this time, early 1985, and despite all the religious nutjobs coming down on D&D nobody pointed to the adventure in that edition where D&D characters go to London and break into a Mueseum to get the Mace of St. Cuthbert. I mean, there were random encounters with unarmed London Bobbies, or mohawk sporting punk gangs, and no media story came out suggesting D&D was encouraging players to go rob Mueseums and attack police with swords.

You just gave me a huge reason to try and work out where I put my Dragon archive CDs all those years ago :) I really have to see that adventure.


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captain yesterday wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:
internet unanimity (is that the right word?).

I believe you're talking about "internet anonymity", where someone feels safe to make hyperbolic or offensive statements on the supposition that the person they're talking to will have no idea who they are (an aside, no one's really anonymous, it's just that most people, including me, don't go to the trouble of finding out who they're talking to). "Internet unanimity" refers to the sort of groupthink icyshadow is criticizing.

Captain Marsh wrote:
Does Mammy Graul style horror have a place in Tolkien's genre? Probably not, but it turns out a Hills Have Eyes adventure really worked.
I dunno, The Children of Hurin included a lot of the motifs found in The Hook Mountain Massacre even if it didn't revel in them and focused on other themes. O.o

what i tried to say before my phone ate my reply was you were right about my butchering of Anonymity, i was sleep deprived and i should not 1) rely on spell check to do my spelling for me no matter how tired i am and 2) probably be posting at 5am after not getting to bed til 12:30 and waking up at 3:30 :) normally i'm a very good speller and i hate spell check either way:) thanks for the help there:)


Tangent101 wrote:
Do note, that by stating "this module is a stain" you are also indirectly stating that anyone who enjoys this module is in fact defective in some way. And do note this definition of the word: a cause of reproach; stigma; blemish: a stain on one's reputation.

My feelings about the module and it's inclusion of real world earth no more reflect on you than the reverse is true. If I don't like it (however strongly) it does NOT infer there is something wrong with you. No more than you liking the module a lot infers there is something wrong with me.

A fan of something should not take others dislike of that thing personally. It just means someone else does not like it.

I can understand how it would be offensive to someone who worked on it, like Brandon, which is why I have tried to explain myself and offered my apologies if I hurt his feeling with my comments.

Contributor

Sean Mahoney wrote:
I can understand how it would be offensive to someone who worked on it, like Brandon, which is why I have tried to explain myself and offered my apologies if I hurt his feeling with my comments.

I appreciate that, Sean. And while I think the negative connotations of a word like "stain" could be a *touch* distasteful and *potentially* offensive to the wrong reader, I mostly felt it was just hyperbolic. It isn't as bad as the OP's "stupid," in any case, and I don't feel particularly offended because I saw what you were getting at ("tarnishing assumptions and legacy") before you were compelled to explain yourself. It was probably a poor choice of words (and you seem to agree, as it seems to have sparked a minor controversy..."tarnish" or "compromised" probably would have gotten by the community with nary a glance), but it's also a valid opinion, and valid opinions I can handle--particularly as it related to a company's decision to go in a particular direction and not my personal character or writing. As I stated above, I prepared myself long ago for a tidal wave of negative sentiment from the adventure due strictly on its content, no matter how good or bad it might have ended up, and I am truly overwhelmed with the positive response it has gotten.

But you're still on the hook about the "no RP" comments. =-)


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Brandon:

I think that the way in which you wrote the adventure has left a stain on the world of Pathfinder... but in the same way that bare wood is lifted and left greater by the application of a wood stain.

Case in Point

I can understand how some people would like to lock away Earth and not have it intersect with their Pathfinder games in any way; but for me the whole premise worked - it hit the highlights, then blew them away.
The NPC on pages 58-59 in particular :)


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Sean Mahoney wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
Do note, that by stating "this module is a stain" you are also indirectly stating that anyone who enjoys this module is in fact defective in some way. And do note this definition of the word: a cause of reproach; stigma; blemish: a stain on one's reputation.

My feelings about the module and it's inclusion of real world earth no more reflect on you than the reverse is true. If I don't like it (however strongly) it does NOT infer there is something wrong with you. No more than you liking the module a lot infers there is something wrong with me.

A fan of something should not take others dislike of that thing personally. It just means someone else does not like it.

I can understand how it would be offensive to someone who worked on it, like Brandon, which is why I have tried to explain myself and offered my apologies if I hurt his feeling with my comments.

thats what i was trying to get at, like brandon i also was trying to highlight more on the OP and his "stupid " remark myself, my apologies if that got lost in the shuffle, obviously as a charter subscriber you like the majority of what paizo has done or you wouldn't have stuck with them this long :)

and this isn't the first time the OP has used crass and somewhat insulting language to lambast adventures, it would seem, to be his thing, and to each their own but it tends to give the wrong impression to new GMs and PCs on the quality materials paizo has continuously put out.

and that is why i objected so strongly


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I fully suspect he knows the connotations that come with his wording and chose them deliberately. Thus my own comments.

But then, there is one good thing that came of this: Brandon used this opportunity to show how to revamp Book 5 of RoW into a Greyhawk Adventure world using another of Baba Yaga's children... and a certain divinity. ;) Well done, Mr. Hodge. Well done indeed.


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

i know, i was just being civil:) and i agree with you there tangent101 :)


Brandon Hodge wrote:

I appreciate that, Sean.

But you're still on the hook about the "no RP" comments. =-)

Brandon,

You have been nothing but a class act through out this entire discussion and you would be one of the people most justified at taking offense. I truly and deeply appreciate that.

I know I am on the hook for the RP comments and you deserve as in-depth a response as the well thought out and thorough accounting that you gave. I am prepared to give that to you and am a bit over half way on typing up my response.

Unfortunately my four year old has been having nothing of his Daddy spending his time writing on the computer instead of playing with him on his day off. I will try to get you that tonight.

Sean


“Brandon Hodge” wrote:
Sean, you are, of course, welcome to whatever opinion of Rasputin Must Die! you wish, and I'll leave it to others to defend whether or not my work is a "stain" on the game

I don't think YOUR work is a stain on the game, other than I think that you took up an assignment of a task that was, by it's nature, something I wish were not a part of the game.

For what it is worth, given the introduction you wrote in the forward and the adventure itself, I would be MORE likely to buy a product with your name on it than I was previously (though you do good stuff, so I would have been likely to anyway). I just don't like the subject that you worked on in this case. It was the assignment and you could have turned it down. You didn't and did the best you could with it (you, like a lot of others, probably were excited by the prospect... which is fine, just not how I feel).

However, that said, let's talk about the RP in this adventure.

First, my intention, and I admit that I did a poor job of conveying this on rereading my posts, was to say that there was not a significant amount of RP in this adventure that moves the story of the AP as whole forward. That should make it easier to replace in pretty much it's entirety if you choose to just grab a couple of points and fit them into another adventure (remember the point of the original post was to ask how to remove this adventure from the AP). If someone wanted to pick another pre-published adventure to use in it's place they would only need to include a few points to make it work just fine. Really I should have just said, 'the adventure is fairly self contained and only a few points would need to be ported into another adventure to fit the same slot.'

I would also like to point out that I think you did an EXTRAORDINARY job of taking what had to be lower level NPCs and making them very good adversaries to higher level characters. You also did a great job of identifying and bringing out those points of combat that would help highlight what modern (WWI at least) combat would be like in a Pathfinder context. The combats, especially as the PCs exit the hut, do a fantastic job of conveying flavor and that is a hard bar to reach.

”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
I'm afraid I can't let you get away with telling potential readers that my adventure contains no roleplaying encounters, or "no RP" or "precious little RP." Particularly when the adventure can't be completed without some serious roleplaying and investigation.

I will start by conceding that there is more RP in the adventure than I made it sound like above, again I was trying to get across that the RP in the adventure was not necessary for moving the plot of the AP as a whole on (and I did a bad job of getting that point across). I also accept that it is not fair of me (since I wasn't looking at it from your point of view) that I give the impression to potential readers or players of your adventure that there would be NO chance of RP. There *IS* absolutely RP potential in this adventure, if a reader gets nothing else out of my response, please walk away with that.

That said, I don't know that I am good with accepting all the examples you give below as RP examples. I think for the vast majority of groups many of these examples will simply not occur because they didn't take the exact right (and unknown) steps to make them happen, or will feel that they are really more of an exposition than RP since they can't really affect the outcome with how they RP.

Let me explain... (since you used spoilers I will do the same, though I would contend if a player who doesn't want spoilers is reading the sub-board dedicated to their adventure path that they aren't really being true to not wanting spoilers)

Spoiler:

”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
1. The Domovoi Gulag: the adventure's *very first encounter* involves a room of imprisoned domovoi who, when interacted with, provide clues to the PCs' whereabouts, answer questions, and give advance warnings to the hut's other inhabitants.

So two things here:

First, I will admit that I kind of wrote this part (the hut encounters) off in my head when I was thinking about your adventure in the response. Not because it was bad (or good), but because I dislike that there is an included crazy dungeon at the beginning of each adventure. It means that the first part of any adventure is dungeon and there is that much less room for the adventure itself. Not fair, perhaps, but that was my prejudice. The result, for me, is that I don't really get the 'feel' of your adventure (or the others in the AP) until after the PCs exit the hut. It was something you had to include in order to keep consistency with the rest of the AP but it is not something I have enjoyed about the AP.

Next:

”Rasputin Must Die!” wrote:
they are completely uninterested in the PCs, failing to engage them in conversation no matter what the PCs may try to gain their attention.

To me that is exposition not role-playing. For me, the PCs must have a chance to both (a) interact with the encounter and (b) affect the outcome of that encounter with their role-playing in order for me to think of it as an RP encounter. This encounter didn't do either. It was a flavorful encounter and I had no problem with it, but I wouldn't consider it a RP opportunity... it was a flavor opportunity (and a creative one).

”Brandon Hodge” wrote:

2. Little Otik: Baba Yaga's "first son" is more than willing to engage PCs in conversation, and hungry though he may be, the text explains how he can be tempted/distracted with food in exchange for information, which he manages to let slip anyway while hungrily licking his chops.

Remember, just because a creature is willing to fight or eventually attack does not disqualify it as a roleplaying encounter.

Had there been a way for the PCs to avoid the combat here through other actions I would agree with you. However, as written there is no other alternative in the encounter to combat. All it would have taken (yes, I know a GM could just make it happen in their game) would be for there to be options for how to avoid combat and therefor have different outcomes to the RP portion of the encounter and I would be on board. (i.e. put (4) sustaining spoons in the previous room to be found and if they are given to him they will keep him satisfied. Then there is a choice and the choice matters for the outcome... even better have a throw in line later with Baba Yaga with her reaction on if they let Little Otik live or not).

Again, I would call this an information dump or exposition rather than an RP encounter.

”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
3. The Crucified Doll: Vasilisa's doll, if rescued from her sad state, is a willing and able companion that is informative, "friendly, loyal, and helpful."

I will agree that this one is an RP encounter... although any group that misses a single perception check and fails to remove the trap will miss out on this encounter.

”Brandon Hodge” wrote:

4. The Coffin Man: The hut's overseer, the thanadaemon known as the Coffin Man, engages in a nearly-completely roleplaying encounter, and he's one of the most powerful villains in the book. He'll even let you off, easy, and out if you can beat him at cards, and you get a whole PAGE of diplomatic interaction with him.

At this point, the PCs haven't even left the hut, and 4 of 7 encounter areas (the loft is empty) provide ample roleplay opportunities.

This is definitely an RP encounter... and a good one.

”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
5. The Burning Corpses: Here, the PCs engage AT LENGTH with the primary antagonist of the adventure--Rasputin himself--in what is ONE of THREE roleplaying encounters they will have with the Mad Monk before the final encounter. How many other adventures allow this sort of escalating interplay and in-depth exchanges between PCs and the main villain?

This is one of the encounters that I was specifically thinking of when I said there wasn't much RP. There is nothing the PCs can do in this part of the encounter that will affect how the adventure plays out. I can't call it a monologue because they can actually talk back and get responses, but that's about it. The encounter is intentionally set up in such a way that the PCs can not yet interact with the villain but get a glimpse into who he is.

I do applaud you for the foreshadowing and allowing the players to get the opportunity to know (and hate) their opponent and the big bad of the adventure, your spot on that it is something that very few advenutures hit, but If the PCs can't change anything with how they interact with the story, it is still exposition.

Maybe if there was something they could say or do in these encounters that gave them bonuses or minuses in later interactions with someone the monastery or the final battle itself or something... but it reads as pretty non-interactive.

I guess I should caveat all my comments with the fact that I have not actually ran or played this adventure (though I don't think I gave the impression that I had), only read through it (though it seems not everyone believes that to be true since I came to different conclusions than them). I fully recognize and accept that it could play out very differently than I am picturing and give the appearance of interactivity, but as written there isn't really any affect the PCs can have.

”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
6. Interrogating Soldiers: Note that the individual statblock for soldiers was technically unnecessary with the inclusion of the troop statblock, but I *insisted* developers keep this in for when PCs have a chance to interact one-on-one with individual soldiers throughout the adventure. And though there will always be survivors and chances to interact with these men at the GM's discretion, I'm still only counting it as one encounter. Note page 28 has a quarter-page statblock detailing these ongoing roleplaying interactions and opportunities with soldiers.

If that was really the reason for leaving in the stat-block that took up ~33% of pg 19's text, it seems like some kind of abbreviated stat-block could have been used. But that isn't really important and is a small point.

I would agree that this counts as a role-playing encounter though. They can either get nothing or a very small bit of information about their opponent if they successfully interrogate one of the soldiers. Having a larger list of information they could obtain but only so much from each soldier interrogated would have made repeat encounters of this kind more valuable and interesting as well (and rewarded players for taking social skills like diplomacy and intimidate, or just reward them for role-playing out the encounter).

”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
7. Monastic Cemetery: Not only is the tombstone fairy present as a source of information, a sideline ally, and intriguing roleplaying opportunity, but Polina is also *vitally important* to clues regarding Viktor, and without *roleplaying* with her, you can't complete the adventure. Your PCs can engage in "one big fight" after another until there's not a single soldier left, but without roleplaying, they'll *still lose*, since they can't even get to Rasputin without engaging in roleplayed encounters.

I am not sure I understand why they wouldn't be able to complete the adventure with out her. It's good that you put in an alternate way to raise Viktor from the dead because not all adventuring parties will have access to the spell, but many will (5th level spell in an 13th lvl adventure). It's also a great way to help parties that are stuck since it gives the GM a dispensary of needed info to the PCs.

She is a fine RP encounter, but seems an optional one at best. It wouldn't surprise me if plenty of parties wiped her out prior to even talking to her (yeah, not really conducive to RP if the PCs act that way, but she IS an evil creature and some people take exception to that in a world in which the very laws of nature show if someone is good or evil in response to spells... but I guess this is our world, right... so now it is shades of grey again? Oh nevermind... I shouldn't go there).

Finally, if an RP encounter HAS to end up one way for the adventure to move on, it wouldn't be a good encounter. I suppose it would be the equivelant of a social TPK? Sorry you made this one NPC mad at you so now the adventure is over, let's roll up new characters? (fortunately I don't see that as the case here).

”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
8. Prison Barracks: The nosferatu-bled soldier Dmitri survives among the ruins to provide PCs with information and vital clues to the Brothers Three, Anastasia, Rasputin, Viktor, and that monastery the PCs can't get to unless they roleplay to figure out what's going on.

Assuming he isn't turned into a trench zombie first, yes it is a good RP encounter. I like it.

”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
9. Rusalka Spring: PCs encounter Rasputin's jilted and bloodthirsty lover who is more than willing to engage them in conversation, spill Rasputin's secrets if properly coerced, and provide information if it can gain her some revenge against Rasputin's new fling (see #16).

This is probably my favorite encounter in the entire adventure. It is dripping with flavor and would unimaginably fun to run. Definitely an RP encounter.

”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
10. Anastasia & Alexie: Among the ruins, PCs eventually find an amnesiac Anastasia, who may very well be the savior of Irrisen, and her overly-protective brother Alexie. You get a page and a half of detailed interactions regarding the two, their actions, the role she ultimately plays, and the mystery of exactly what's up with her little brother and the continuing part he plays in Rasputin's schemes.

This is one of those places where I found the inclusion of the real world grating. Putting that aside, if you are going to do a Rasputin adventure you are pretty much required to put Anastasia in it and so you did. It's a fine encounter. My prejudice makes it hard for me on this one though. Still... it's an RP encounter, it's in.

More points in your favor; you included how these two would affect other encounters in the adventure and their presence is brought up over and over in other encounters. The only downside is that there is no discussion of what happens if the PCs decide to NOT keep Anastasia with them.

If you are going with the Anastasia thing, I would have also included a way for her to end up with amnesia at the end of the adventure and roaming our real-world as one of the many Anastasia wanna-be's that came after the true events of Anastasia's life.

”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
11. Rasputin Again: Encounter TWO of THREE roleplaying encounters with the main protagonist, Rasputin, as he escalates his verbal war and taunts with the PCs and gives a dire warning about their meddling further in his affairs.

Again, I see this as exposition, and damn good exposition... far better than just boxed text. Seriously, I applaud you for coming up with creative ways to get the stories to the PCs. However, again the PCs can't actually influence the encounter (with out the GM changing things up).

”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
12. Seance Chamber: The PCs can fight to free the ghost of the Tsarina, and the presence or absence of Anastasia and/or Alexie make this a rich and evocative roleplaying encounter with a variety of possible outcomes, including the PCs learning the true nature of Anastasia and the possibility that she may be Baba Yaga's heir, and the real identity of sneaky little Alexie.

Fair enough. This is a good and varied RP encounter that has a lot of interaction with other elements of the story and how the PCs interact with it changes what information they gain. Good one.

”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
13. Cellarium: Another possible trigger (along with the tsarina) for the culmination of Alexie's schemes and the ultimate unraveling of his infiltration into the party, when his personality overcomes his instructions and perpetuated ruse when PCs start plundering that which doesn't belong to them.

I think this is a great encounter, but I wouldn't say that a trigger for Alexie would count as another RP encounter. Seems like double dipping with #10 above.

”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
14. Rasputin yet AGAIN: The THIRD of THREE roleplaying encounters with Rasputin, where the Mad Monk verbally engages PCs, acts as a possible third trigger for Alexie's unraveling scheme, and a continuation of his mocking engagement that reveals subtle clues to the ultimate importance of Anastasia to the game afoot.

Yep... again, the same response. I *LOVE* that you found other ways to incorporate the big bad into the game and build the PCs reaction to him. But we differ on definition of RP in these cases.

”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
15. Viktor Miloslav: The PCs simply *cannot* complete the adventure without reaching Rasputin's extra-dimensional lair, and they can't do *that* without rescuing the corpse (and later soul) of Viktor Miloslav, resurrecting him (perhaps after convincing the tombstone fairy to help through more roleplaying), convincing him to share the secrets of the World Anchors, or extracting enough information from him to do it themselves before he commits suicide. The entire *crux* of the adventure hinges on this roleplaying encounter.

The chances of the PCs not being able to activate the World Anchors on their own is pretty high. It is indeed pretty close to the case that they can not complete this adventure with out his help. Setting aside the obvious prejudices I have displayed so far, I do think this is something of a weak point. It seems very easy for the adventure to get derailed with this encounter. Characters who think that their adamantine axe is the answer and go to town (yeah, the adventure addresses this, but sometimes PCs are not easily dissuaded or misinterpret ancient evil witches screaming as signs of success), or a clever wizard assume that because he has such darn high skill checks and INT bonus that he HAS to be able to get this darn thing to work. I personally think having multiple ways that success can be achieved enhances things. Otherwise it feels a little rail-roady in those parts.

All that aside... the encounter with Viktor Miloslave is an RP encounter.

”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
16. Serafina: Rasputin's new lover that has his rusalka girlfriend all in a tissy engages the PCs in a roleplaying capacity, appearing in disguise as Baba Yaga herself while attempting to trick them and lead the party from the monastery to thwart their plans and buy Rasputin more time to drain his mother's power. Given her magic and Bluff skills, PCs are going to have a hard time not being fooled by her ruse, and will have to react accordingly.

This is another one of the better RP encounters in the adventure. I like it and I can see groups falling for the ruse... well done.

”Brandon Hodge” wrote:
Of approximately 44 unique encounter areas in Rasputin Must Die, 16 have significant roleplaying elements. That's OVER A THIRD of the book's unique encounters, and while the chapter contains some deep tactical and obvious combat elements, to dismiss it as "one big fight" is just not factual.

I get 10 of 44, so a little over 1/5? A good portion of that difference is nit-picking on my part and a difference in what we would consider RP encounters. For me it has to include the ability both to interact and for those interactions to make a difference in the outcome of the adventure or encounter.

I also have to repeat my praise for coming up with other ways to do exposition and information dumps. It is impressive and I applaud you for it.

That said, in reviewing each of your examples I do see that my prejudices against the adventure probably set me in such a mood that each of the times I read it I came away with the feeling of one big fight and missed the nuances of some pretty good RP encounters. There is FAR more RP in this adventure than what I made it sound like in my post above and more than I gave it credit for or got the impression of in my read through. (Did I mention the inclusion of the real-world rubbed me the wrong way and made me not give a fair chance? Might have been subtle, but there it is).

I will repeat what I said above for anyone reading the thread but not this whole response. If you walk away with one thing from this post let it be that there is indeed RP in this adventure.

In fact I will go further and say if you like the flavor of the real-world in your game you are very likely to enjoy this adventure.

To make up for my misrepresenting your adventure I would even be willing to go give it a thorough and fair review (including my biases upfront but trying to separate them from the rest), if that would be helpful to you (and if it gets me "off the hook" for my earlier comments).

I still don't like the real-world being included in the game though... ;-)

Sean Mahoney


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Sean, you seem to be running under the assumption that if there is combat, there is no roleplay. My gaming group at the very least disagrees with this.

I will use a rather popular movie that has two instances of combat which are in fact roleplay: The Princess Bride. When the Man in Black fights the Swordsman, there is tremendous roleplay going on even as they fight, parry, feint, and finally one prevails. When the Man in Black fights the Giant, again there is a lot of roleplay going on even as conflict rages. And by your own analogy, the incident between the Man in Black and the Sicilian is NOT roleplay because there was only one possible solution.

Roleplay does not mean there are multiple solutions (and really when you get down to it, fighting has multiple solutions depending on how the party acts and the tactics they use). It means the players are interacting with an encounter and coming to a result. Even if all that happens is the players learn a little bit more toward their ultimate goal, there is still roleplay going on. And you can have a party roleplaying and having a grand old time as they cut their way through a troop of riflemen and a tank. It depends on the players and how they play the game.


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very eloquent sean :) also great point tangent:) its nice to see smart civil discussion


Tangent101 wrote:
Sean, you seem to be running under the assumption that if there is combat, there is no roleplay.

Not at all. In fact I could envision a cool system of sword-play in the game that lets duelists throw witty ripostes back and forth and receive mechanical benefits for them during the fight and I would happily call it Role-playing. (Challenge to 3rd party publishers: create me such a system!)

Rather, the point I was trying to get across is that the PCs actions in the interchange have to have some impact on the campaign or the adventure or the encounter before I would consider it role-playing.

If the characters get more information if the treat someone one way than they do otherwise than I would consider it roleplaying. If the creature gives out the same information (as written, not GM fiat) regardless of the PCs actions and then a fight starts I would not call it role-playing. I then would label it exposition.

My example of mullifying a hungry opponent to stop the fight would just be one way that role-playing could influence the situation, but shouldn't be taken to mean that is the only way the Role-playing can influence a situation.

Again, I realize this is nit-picking over the definition of RP. But I don't think my definition is an unreasonable one... your mileage may vary.

Sean Mahoney

Paizo Employee Developer

captain yesterday wrote:
very eloquent sean :) also great point tangent:) its nice to see smart civil discussion

Agreed!

It's not every day you see a thread start contentious and then get not just better, but informative and reasonable. Good show, everyone! (especially Sean and Brandon)


Give me, Gorbacz or Ciretose a few minutes and we'd get back on that glorious flamefest at full throttle.

Jokes aside, I'm also glad to see that things got talked out without five different people getting flagged and such.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

A lot of that is due to Sean. His response to Brandon was reasoned and articulate and while a part of me was gnashing its teeth and wanting to snarl more, I realized that I'd said my point about roleplaying and did't really need to say anything more. Also it was latish and I was tired and didn't want to get riled up just before bed. ^^;; (Normally I'm up later but I chose an early night that night.)


Tangent, you can't excuse yourself completely from allowing the discussion to become civilized and reasoned. For instance, I responded to one of your posts with, "gotchya." By which I meant, "Oh, okay. I see where you are coming from." but with out the verbal inflections that we use naturally in everyday conversation, that could have easily been taken as "I have you now!" which wasn't the intent at all.

But did you rise to the unintended bait? Nope.

That said, it was hard at points to not just throw up my hands in frustration that I felt I was being misunderstood and I am glad that people allowed me the chance to explain myself.

Sean


Sean do you play in the Golarion setting as written? Because it seems a little silly to complain about World War I tech in a Pathfinder game where there is a whole country full of robots and laser guns. Oh and confirmed space travel to other planets...

Silly indeed.


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I don't think Sean or the OP were complaining about the tech level, instead they didn't like the intrusion of the real (albeit, somewhat fictionalized) planet Earth into their fantasy and vice versa.


Stabbald wrote:

Sean do you play in the Golarion setting as written? Because it seems a little silly to complain about World War I tech in a Pathfinder game where there is a whole country full of robots and laser guns. Oh and confirmed space travel to other planets...

Silly indeed.

Bearded Ben is correct. The tech level didn't bother me at all, it was indeed the inclusion of earth.

To answer your question, I ignore Numeria. It doesn't offend me and I am glad it is in the campaign setting because there are people who like it, but it isn't a flavor I particularly enjoy.

But honestly how much have you seen the presence of Numeria affect most games? There isn't robot shops in other parts of Golarion and a player has never asked me to let him make a gun slinger with a laser pistol. The vast majority of published material for the setting has a pretty standard fantasy feel to it (well, with mashed in horror or whatever).

The upcoming Numeria AP (Iron Gods?) is not something that offends my senses, but it isn't my cup of tea either. It's more along the lines of Shattered Star which was intentionally dungeon heavy and therefor not particularly to my tastes (pretty much everything else is to my taste... seems like I am getting out all the stuff I don't like rather than the majority of stuff that I do like).

Anyway, that is my personal preference. I think there is a fair number of gamers who would agree they don't want sci-fi in their Pathfinder. They aren't silly, they just have different preferences. If you do... more power to you. I am sure there are things that I enjoy in a game that you don't see worth the time of day... it's all good.

Contributor

Lovely conversation, folks. I'm on a brief lecture run in the paranormal world, so apologies for dropping out. Sean, excellent points, all, and thanks for keeping it civil everyone.

The Exchange

I disagre with Sean's take on this. I'll set his misapplication of the term stain aside for now but let's dig into one of the key issues he brought up.

The combination of so called 'real world' elements into a Fantasy world. Well, that's misconstrued because you run into a few big hang ups on "What is Fantasy?"

Pathfinder is based on D&D which is a fantastic take on fudalistic society inspired on Tokein, Germanic, and various period works of the 1960 and 1970s. The source material is timed around the iron/bronze age folklore and mythology. But it could have been at any time and place. I could just as easily based the fantasy world around the concept of Colonial Americas, Fuding Era Japan (oh wait...Jade Regent), or even other examples based in Earth's history. It's historical fiction.

I'll even go so far as to point out that many Fantasy settings are simply reskinnings of real world events with fantastic elements and real names scrubbed off.

As for the inclusion of Historical Fantasy elements...well. If Mr. Twain can do it with a Yankee in King Author's Court, then I think the folks as Paizo can turn the idea on it's head and have characters from their game show up in "not quite, but close enough to our" Earth's past.

Finally, I feel that the fear that it will direct more D&D = Satant/Magic arguments is stretching it a bit. The fandom and hobby will come under such attacks even if they didn't use common historical names in their product. There will always be an era's Fredric Wertham's out there claiming entertainment is seducing the youth.

Bravo for Paizo in being creative and daring to try something alternative with out letting such fearmongering dominate their thinking.

Frankly, since AP's are non-cannonical outside of their own adventure just much like Numeria/Iron Gods you could have avoided this AP. It's not like they didn't advertise that this was coming. I remember long before the first book of Reign of Winter hit the stores they were touting this adventure.

So.

*shrugs*

Pazio,

Thank you for Reign of Winter, I loved it. It was so cool to go to all the places you dropped us in. And frankly it was a refreshing break from the more dungeon heavy game like Shatterd Star.


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

well said, well said, my thoughts exactly!

The Exchange

I could have been pissy about it and said: Dude there are dozen's of novels where someone from modern day shows up in a fantasy world and that's okay. But the instant someone from a fantasy setting walks into modern day people loose their minds...but didn't think that stated it well enough.

All to often I find that roleplayers seem to have this hang up where all there genres must fit into these form fitting genre ghettos, and I don't understand why. Fantasy fiction over the years has been ALL over the place. Especially the material our games are inspired by.

Dying Earth, Thomas Covenant, hell if you squint your eyes Sauron is Hitler. I'm not kidding. Azlan = Jesus. It's pretty damn obvious.

It makes me wonder if the recent gen of gamers never went back and read the classics. Elric, the whole material of Morcock. It's crazy in references to modern stuff, future, past, etc. I'm not sure where it, the genre over specialization, comes from.


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my favorite part of Rasputin Must Die! in fact is the quote from the russian soldier at the beginning of the bestiary.

"After spending 2 years on the front against the Germans, i saw strange and terrible things. I saw waves of Mustard gas blistering soldiers' skin as it swept across the trenches. I saw my best friend get blown apart by a mortar while i stood less then 10 feet away. I saw one of my brothers take a man's head off with his trench shovel after his rifle jammed. Terrible, horrible things. Even with all i had seen, i wasn't ready -I could never be ready- for when a hut with chicken legs appeared out of nowhere and spat up a group of people wearing armor and robes, wielding swords and bows, and calling fire out of the sky like some kind of crazy demons" - Isak Sidorov, Soldier

that to me, is one of the best parts because it shows the perspective from the other side, not to mention the utter chaos the adventure tries to capture.

great work Brandon, and Kudos to Erik Mona for suggesting it!


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Bearded Ben wrote:
I don't think Sean or the OP were complaining about the tech level, instead they didn't like the intrusion of the real (albeit, somewhat fictionalized) planet Earth into their fantasy and vice versa.

Except Rasputin was fantasy forced into my reality... I mean, have you seen the Anastasia cartoon? =P

The Exchange

Necrovox wrote:
Bearded Ben wrote:
I don't think Sean or the OP were complaining about the tech level, instead they didn't like the intrusion of the real (albeit, somewhat fictionalized) planet Earth into their fantasy and vice versa.
Except Rasputin was fantasy forced into my reality... I mean, have you seen the Anastasia cartoon? =P

No, but I got the play by play via Nolstagia Critic.

Paizo Employee Developer

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Necrovox wrote:
Bearded Ben wrote:
I don't think Sean or the OP were complaining about the tech level, instead they didn't like the intrusion of the real (albeit, somewhat fictionalized) planet Earth into their fantasy and vice versa.
Except Rasputin was fantasy forced into my reality... I mean, have you seen the Anastasia cartoon? =P

Truth! That cartoon was my argument magic bullet for anyone who got too freaked out about us using him for this adventure. It's hard to be more disrespectful to Rasputin than that. :)

Paizo Employee Developer

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captain yesterday wrote:
my favorite part of Rasputin Must Die! in fact is the quote from the russian soldier at the beginning of the bestiary.

Thanks!


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Adam Daigle wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:
my favorite part of Rasputin Must Die! in fact is the quote from the russian soldier at the beginning of the bestiary.
Thanks!

No problem, i figured it was either you or Wes, great job on all the extra little touches you guys did for the WHOLE Adventure Path, not just Rasputin Must Die!.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I liked the Anastasia animated movie. And he got some cool songs!


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Tangent101 wrote:
I liked the Anastasia animated movie. And he got some cool songs!

we have it, my daughter has seen it a half dozen times, and yet i personally have never seen it. i used to put it on when i wanted an hour or so of quiet time:)

Shadow Lodge

Tangent101 wrote:
I liked the Anastasia animated movie. And he got some cool songs!

Eh, I never felt Don Bluth was improved by becoming a Cold Warrior.

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