How much do giant gulfs in system mastery affect a game?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Ssalarn wrote:

Tower Shield isn't necessarily a trap option, it's just highly situational. If you happen to need your way into range to whack at a high level archer or gunslinger, total cover can be a life saver. Plus, there's the ol' Tower Shield Specialist.

Prone Shooter before they fixed it, that was a trap option.

Prone Shooter wasn't a trap option, it was useless. Like Elephant Stomp: there is literrally no circumstance where having those feats is better (or even equal) than not having them. A trap option is an option that might look interesting or good for the untrained eye (namely, new players), who pay for it thinking it's an improvement to his character, when it's not.

"Highly situational" is the fancy name the developers give to stuff that is, actually, a trap. It's part of the whole "Ivory tower design", where the game is full of stuff that is a tr... errr... highly situational. Like Monte Cook said of Toughness: they are there, so the good players feel good because they don't take them, and the new players are punished while they learn the basics of the game.


gustavo iglesias wrote:
"Highly situational" is the fancy name the developers give to stuff that is, actually, a trap. It's part of the whole "Ivory tower design", where the game is full of stuff that is a tr... errr... highly situational. Like Monte Cook said of Toughness: they are there, so the good players feel good because they don't take them, and the new players are punished while they learn the basics of the game.

Indeed. It is rather telling that members of the Paizo dev team have even gone on record as saying that some options in the game were deliberately designed to be inferior or even outright worthless choices.


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Chengar Qordath wrote:
gustavo iglesias wrote:
"Highly situational" is the fancy name the developers give to stuff that is, actually, a trap. It's part of the whole "Ivory tower design", where the game is full of stuff that is a tr... errr... highly situational. Like Monte Cook said of Toughness: they are there, so the good players feel good because they don't take them, and the new players are punished while they learn the basics of the game.
Indeed. It is rather telling that members of the Paizo dev team have even gone on record as saying that some options in the game were deliberately designed to be inferior or even outright worthless choices.

This... really dissapoints me. I can understand rewarding system mastery, but punishing beginners? That's just a way to prevent player growth. Especially with such an elaborate and diverse system. I cant imagine how many players they lost because of this kind of design. Sigh... I heard about this for 3.5, but if the pathfinder designers are doing this, it really dissapoints me.

But if this is true, then yes, gulfs in system mastery can seriously affect gameplay, especially if the player less interested in deep analysis of the options isnt willing to take the time to do so.


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I don't know if Paizo is doing that on purpose. I know that 3.0 did (Monte said so), it might be just a leftover from the Ivory tower design.

But it is true that several choices in the game are traps. You pay for it, and they aren't worth it, or tgey make you worst. The talent that allows you to change a die in sneak attack when you roll 1 comes to mind. Several players spend a talent there, because it *sounds* good, although it is statistically non-relevant.

And then you have the stuff like Elephant Stomp feat. Which allows you to make an attack IF you bull rush AND you pass the check by five AND you choose not to push him. So ypu pay a feat to be able to make a standard attack if you pass a check. Just wondering why don't you make a regular attack instead, and save a feat.


Has anybody bothered making a list of "trap" feats/talents? I can think of a few archetypes that are like that (namely: White Haired Witch if used under RAW), and It might be good for beginners to know what options are just awful. Could help for system mastery.


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I find playing with "non experts" to be more fun than playing with heavy mix-maxer optimizers. I don't dumb it down, but I do try to play supporting characters to encourage everyone to get to shine and so I don't steal the show.

1. You actually play with wizards who aren't conjurers! It's madness. You get elven fighters and regular monks instead of six armed synthesists and zen archers.
2. Not everyone has a seven dump stat!
3. They keep magic items they find instead of selling them in some grind to buy what they decided they wanted to begin with.
4. Sometimes, people miss saving throws. It's fun!

The gap (between my game knowledge and their game knowledge)can be frustrating and you do have to reign it in a bit or the other players get frustrated, but overall I prefer it to the uniformity of playing with a bunch of system experts. Playing with newer players is like hanging with the muppets instead of the master thief guys in the Great Muppet Caper. They may have a finely honed machine, but you guys have a bunch of dudes having fun.


williamoak wrote:
Chengar Qordath wrote:
gustavo iglesias wrote:
"Highly situational" is the fancy name the developers give to stuff that is, actually, a trap. It's part of the whole "Ivory tower design", where the game is full of stuff that is a tr... errr... highly situational. Like Monte Cook said of Toughness: they are there, so the good players feel good because they don't take them, and the new players are punished while they learn the basics of the game.
Indeed. It is rather telling that members of the Paizo dev team have even gone on record as saying that some options in the game were deliberately designed to be inferior or even outright worthless choices.

This... really dissapoints me. I can understand rewarding system mastery, but punishing beginners? That's just a way to prevent player growth. Especially with such an elaborate and diverse system. I cant imagine how many players they lost because of this kind of design. Sigh... I heard about this for 3.5, but if the pathfinder designers are doing this, it really dissapoints me.

But if this is true, then yes, gulfs in system mastery can seriously affect gameplay, especially if the player less interested in deep analysis of the options isnt willing to take the time to do so.

I agree. If that's true (and I'd be very interested in seeing the 'proof' - either for Monte Cook or the Paizo designers), then the I'll have to seriously reevaluate my opinion about the game and its designers. I've always assumed that the disparities in character effectiveness resulting from system mastery were not deliberate and were simply the result of the fact that its really hard to balance so many moving parts (so to speak) against each other. If the designers have been deliberately introducing inferior options, well, wow...


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MaxKaladin wrote:

I agree. If that's true (and I'd be very interested in seeing the 'proof' - either for Monte Cook or the Paizo designers), then the I'll have to seriously reevaluate my opinion about the game and its designers. I've always assumed that the disparities in character effectiveness resulting from system mastery were not deliberate and were simply the result of the fact that its really hard to balance so many moving parts (so to speak) against each other. If the designers have been deliberately introducing inferior options, well, wow...

I've yet to see any actual proof for pathfinder, but several people mentionned an interview where monte cook specifically stated that that was a design choice for 3.5. I've yet to find the interview though, so it could be an urban legend. I generally have faith that the pathfinder folks arent trying to do that, but some cases (like the white haired-witch) make me think... maybe.


MaxKaladin wrote:

I agree. If that's true (and I'd be very interested in seeing the 'proof' - either for Monte Cook or the Paizo designers),

Sadly, the original essay from Monte Cook, named "Ivory Tower Game Design", and it's quote about 3e Toughness being a bad choice, has been removed from Monte.com time ago. If you google for "Monte Ivory Tower Game Design" you'll find several other essays and forum debates arguing about the essay itself, and some of them even link to the (no longer active) Monte page, but the original is no longer available. Monte somewhat regreted such article.

The Ivory Tower game design does NOT intentionally build bad choices. It does intentionally build "circumstantionally good choices" (which is an euphemism for bad choices) Which means it's a choice that is crap 99% of the time, and gives you a nifty +1 to hit in the other 1%. (Or in case of Elephant Stomp, it's crap 100% of the time)

It's not something weird or unique to 3.0/3.5/PF (or even RPGs), though. The Magic the Gathering development team has also said that they intentionally introduce awful cards, as part of the learning process. They mentioned, I think, the "lucky charms" (the artifacts that give you 1 life for 1 mana when you cast a spell of a given color). Those "look" good for the untrained, newbie eyes. But they are awfully bad for those who know the game, and have the system mastery to understand about mana curves, tempo, and such. Spending a card slot in your deck, a draw, 1 mana to cast the artifact, and 1 mana to gain 1 life from a given card is just a waste of time and cards, but that's not evident for the newbie, who thinks "gaining life is good, so this is good too". So it's bassically a card that is there, so the good players don't use it (and feel good and smart for it) and the bad players do use it (and lose to the good players).

I'd rather have a game where choices were meaningful, and no trap choices exists. I also don't think RPG and CCG are similar, there's no such thing as competition tournaments in RPG, so "learning curves" and such do not need to be similar.


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Sloanzilla wrote:
2. Not everyone has a seven dump stat!

You know, I made my first seven dump stat ever, recently. It was charisma on a human sorcerer (cross-blooded Celestial [Empyreal] and Abyssal [Brutal]) in our upcoming Wrath of the Righteous campaign (strength of 10, wisdom of 20). He's destined to be a Champion. I don't know if that's considered "optimizing" around here or not. I think he's pretty neat!

(My GM to give me the lame oracle curse, too, which is awesome for thematic reasons! He's a smith and worships Vulcan (aka Hephaestus) and has a hunched back. He was originally an Celestial [Empyreal] sorcerer bloodline before "the ritual" in the Player's Guide tainted him with the Abyssal stuff.)

In regards to Monte Cook's ideas and design, The Alexandrian's Take on Monte Cook's Essay (the essay no longer exists, it seems).

Let me quote the most relevant part (censored for boards):

The Alexandrian wrote:
But the vast majority of people quoting the essay instead snip some variant of “we wanted to reward mastery of the game” out of context and then go ape-sh%% because D&D3 deliberately included “traps” for new players.

It seems that really what Cook was talking about is the idea of situational tools built for specific game possibilities ("situational" not being "in a specific situation in any game" but as "in a specific kind of game").

Toughness being the prime example used, it was meant for low-level wizards to nearly-double their total hit points. Great for a one-shot or convention game. Not so much ongoing ones.

And Monte's entire point (according to the Alexandrian article) was that he wished there was some kind of guide for players to know what they meant the various feats for.

From what I understand, Paizo has continued the policy (at least per a post of Jason Buhlman, if I recall correctly) of attempting to create "neat things" for certain kinds of games or that allow you to do nifty-sounding things that aren't all about the most powerful option, but decent support of thematic elements. It's not intentionally "sub-par", but it's also not necessarily intentionally "above or equal to par" where "par" is considered some of the most powerful options in the game. It's about making something viable and powerful, while still making something fun.

EDIT: my toddler son submitted my post before I was done with it!
EDIT 2: ACK! Twice!
EDIT 3: dang it. I don't think I even got to write anything on that one. Also, I was ninj'd severely by gustavo. Kids.


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Sean K. Reynolds on the Paizo forums basically admitting to there intentionally being trap options because it's "admirable" to play a character that is going to die in an adventure.

I'm not sure what game Sean is talking about though. D&D/PF is freaking hard. 90% of the game from the bestiary through the environment section is dedicated to making the game harder for everyone involved. It is a game about conflicts and rising above those conflicts. I don't see any of the pregens in the APs running around as 12 Int wizards.

This post hurt me pretty bad and I lost a lot of faith in the design team after it. If I'm buying products from Paizo, I'd rather not have page count wasted on stuff that's only going to hurt my players if they try it, or give them ideas that I'm going to have to homebrew an option that works instead of just letting them take what's in the book.

Vow of Poverty for example drastically hurts the viability of a character (worst of all it hurts monks >:O) which not only means that character is probably going to die pretty easily to the dangers of adventures due to being severely under geared, but it also makes them a drag on the party. In Magic the Gathering, if your deck is loaded with sucky cards your system mastery affects no one else. If you're playing a gimp your decisions can cost someone else their character.

I initially trusted the designers to not feed my players options that are going to hurt them. Someone who takes Vow of Poverty is someone who lacks the system mastery to understand why it's a bad idea, and the idea of punishing people for "roleplaying" as an abominable one from a designer standpoint.

It was a dark day.


So, Vow of Poverty stinks, gives you less utility as Rules As Written/Wealth By Level (like no ghost touch or flight...ever)
and is very complicated to adjudicate. If Pete's Monk is flying
on a broomstick or magic carpet Danny's Wizard Crafted for him every single day, does that constitute "ownership" and a break of the vow or is it still "Danny's Flying Carpet?"

To add insult to injury, monks seem to be very thematically appropriate for a Vow of Poverty character...except this would utterly
make them crap. It isn't even a trap option. It is "rip up your character
sheet and hop out of the window" bad.

But hey, it is okay for 1 or 2 feats to entirely negate some of the weakest classes in 3.5. Because "role-playing." Too many people use "role-playing" as an excuse for weak characters with fatal flaws you can drive a Mack Truck through and use it to justify trap choices so bad that you might as well rip your character sheet up as soon as you put it down there.


Ashiel wrote:

Sean K. Reynolds on the Paizo forums basically admitting to there intentionally being trap options because it's "admirable" to play a character that is going to die in an adventure.

I'm not sure what game Sean is talking about though. D&D/PF is freaking hard. 90% of the game from the bestiary through the environment section is dedicated to making the game harder for everyone involved. It is a game about conflicts and rising above those conflicts. I don't see any of the pregens in the APs running around as 12 Int wizards.

This post hurt me pretty bad and I lost a lot of faith in the design team after it. If I'm buying products from Paizo, I'd rather not have page count wasted on stuff that's only going to hurt my players if they try it, or give them ideas that I'm going to have to homebrew an option that works instead of just letting them take what's in the book.

Vow of Poverty for example drastically hurts the viability of a character (worst of all it hurts monks >:O) which not only means that character is probably going to die pretty easily to the dangers of adventures due to being severely under geared, but it also makes them a drag on the party. In Magic the Gathering, if your deck is loaded with sucky cards your system mastery affects no one else. If you're playing a gimp your decisions can cost someone else their character.

I initially trusted the designers to not feed my players options that are going to hurt them. Someone who takes Vow of Poverty is someone who lacks the system mastery to understand why it's a bad idea, and the idea of punishing people for "roleplaying" as an abominable one from a designer standpoint.

It was a dark day.

Seeing this is kind of... weird. And dissapointing. I tend to agree with the idea that it's punishing rather than encouraging roleplay, because any character (with VOP in this case) is simply unable to survive what the game is designed to throw at them. I can see giving your character flaws to give them depth, but this example makes the game unplayable for the character. This is a sad day for me.

As for "situational vs punishing", I think there are several cases where that's pretty clear. All the sea-based archetypes are sub-optimal, unless you spend a bunch of time at sea. Vow of poverty on the other hand...

Another example I noticed was the white-haired witch. She uses her hair as a natural attack (like grabbing tentacles), but gets int to DAMAMGE and not to hit. Under normal circumstances (for a witch build) her bab+str will be too low to hit anything with the attack, even with stuff like weapon finesse. It's not nearly as bad as VOP monk, but it's not very fun.


I think 3.5's history with WotC has a lot to do with it.

Think about if this were a competitive game. People wouldn't bother to argue whether or not there is a power disparity so long as there was variety in the most powerful options. 3.5 and to an extension sometimes Pathfinder have similar learning curve issues to Magic: the Gathering.

Part of design in Magic: the Gathering is to make terrible cards, because you are rewarded as you realize what is a good option or bad option.

In an RPG we like to assume that almost any option is validated in some way because they are choices in making a character not competing. I think this becomes a double edge blade that does target a lot of MtG sensibilities. On one hand it enhances the 'building' experience, where we cherry pick what we like and run numbers and test things, however the mere existence of bad choices is very punishing and complex for new players or players really into a theme and don't want to lag behind. New books give us new options and new means of play, but something balanced and catch-all would make all the options feel kind of the same. But on the other side of it I have like 13 hardcover books on my shelf that cost $40 a piece.


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Ashiel wrote:

Sean K. Reynolds on the Paizo forums basically admitting to there intentionally being trap options because it's "admirable" to play a character that is going to die in an adventure.

I'm not sure what game Sean is talking about though. D&D/PF is freaking hard. 90% of the game from the bestiary through the environment section is dedicated to making the game harder for everyone involved. It is a game about conflicts and rising above those conflicts. I don't see any of the pregens in the APs running around as 12 Int wizards.

This post hurt me pretty bad and I lost a lot of faith in the design team after it. If I'm buying products from Paizo, I'd rather not have page count wasted on stuff that's only going to hurt my players if they try it, or give them ideas that I'm going to have to homebrew an option that works instead of just letting them take what's in the book.

Vow of Poverty for example drastically hurts the viability of a character (worst of all it hurts monks >:O) which not only means that character is probably going to die pretty easily to the dangers of adventures due to being severely under geared, but it also makes them a drag on the party. In Magic the Gathering, if your deck is loaded with sucky cards your system mastery affects no one else. If you're playing a gimp your decisions can cost someone else their character.

I initially trusted the designers to not feed my players options that are going to hurt them. Someone who takes Vow of Poverty is someone who lacks the system mastery to understand why it's a bad idea, and the idea of punishing people for "roleplaying" as an abominable one from a designer standpoint.

It was a dark day.

I have been saying this for years. If you have hundreds of pages and millions of options and only 10-15% of those options are "optimal" or useful in most situations, then one player at a table who chooses to play optimal style creates an arms race of players. The reason everyone else has to go along is to keep from being irrelevant. And the end result is that 85-90 percent of rules content is useless.

The "average" game table does not consist of gamers like many of the employees at Paizo like to present themselves...as players who make great characters for story and not math. Because as game designers they understand (or should) that game mechanics is just a bunch of numbers and math and the GM can wipe them out at any time. Creating the story is the fun part of RPGing. However, most players are concerned with showing off their intelligence or system mastery or showing off to their friends how uber a hulk they build, or just stealing the spotlight.

So every time the rules team puts out some powerful rules option that is usually the "best" choice it pushes all the "not best choices" into the realm of obscurity. This is why balance in rules options are so important. Not just with every feat or spell, but the combinations of spells and feat and magic items. The correct combinations are much more dangerous to game imbalance than a single feat, item, spell usually are.

This mentality has been present since 3.0 came about and it hasn't ended with Paizo. There is already starting to be an outcry from GMs who have the inability to say "No" to players in regards to published options that Paizo puts out, leading them to desire a reset with a new edition. I personally don't plan on buying another rule line supplement by Paizo. And by requiring me to do so with the Mythic Adventures guarantees I won't be buying Mytic Adventures either. And if the APs go the way of "we have to support our rule line," I'm not such a fanboy that I can't do without the APs either. Put a gun to my head and say buy the rule line or you won't be able to play the AP line, and I'll say I don't need the AP line either then.

It's a cyle. And half the customers who bash me for this stance will feel foolish in a couple of years when they finally realize the rule line has gotten too out of control for them too and wonder how they got sucked in so far. It happened with fans of 3.0 and it happened with 3.5. And it is happening with Paizo.


Well, this is food for thought. I'm a big fan of pathfinder because of the sheer diversity of choices. I agree with Riggler that this will eventually get out of control. Still, there does seem to be a few cases of "anti-best" options.

In any case, I want to try GM-ing myself soon. And I will definitly "pick and choose" what I allow, and try to keep abreast of what options are "traps"/so sub-optimal they'll cause your death 9 times out of 10, if only to make sure my players are aware of my options.

I've been working on a sort of personal GM-ing philosophy, and I'm going to personally discourage an abuse of system mastery. IE, if an experienced player is with less experienced, well they're expected to "play down with the group" (and maybe explore new ideas), or if a less-experienced player is with more experienced, well he's expected to seek help from the others.

Then again, expectations of gameplay are also a big thing. If somebody is expecting a classical dungeon dive (à la 1E), then I would expect more effort towards system mastery than if it was a more story-based campaign. Good communication (between players, GM, and each other) could overcome a bunch of these hurdles (if only because people better express their expectations of the game).


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Tacticslion wrote:

Let me quote the most relevant part (censored for boards):

The Alexandrian wrote:
But the vast majority of people quoting the essay instead snip some variant of “we wanted to reward mastery of the game” out of context and then go ape-sh%% because D&D3 deliberately included “traps” for new players.

It seems that really what Cook was talking about is the idea of situational tools built for specific game possibilities ("situational" not being "in a specific situation in any game" but as "in a specific kind of game").

Toughness being the prime example used, it was meant for low-level wizards to nearly-double their total hit points. Great for a one-shot or convention game. Not so much ongoing ones.

And Monte's entire point (according to the Alexandrian article) was that he wished there was some kind of guide for players to know what they meant the various feats for.

I did read the original Essay, and The Alexandrian's one. And I think The Alexandrian is edulcorating it quite a bit. It's not a surprise, as the whole web is built to praise 3.X D&D, but I don't buy it.

Yes, the original Toughness feat was situationally good, for certain niche characters in certain niche one-shot first level games. But it's still a trap. The problem is the untrained eye of a newbie reads "you have more hit points" and he thinks "having hit points is good". And if he is a barbarian, he thinks "I'm a frontliner, I need hit points". So he finish buying the feat several times (a trap that the game encourages, because it's one of the few feats that stack with itself, defeating the lame "it was meant only for first level wizards" excuse that Monte made and The Alexandrian used in defense of the trap options)

That's the problem, "situationally good" is a euphemism for "it's crap 99% of the time". It *could* be a good thing, if you have a situational feat that gives a HUGE adventage in that situation. For example, "death from above" is an example. It gives you +5 instead of +2 when you charge from above while flying. It *might* be good in certain situations. However, most of those "situationally good" feats mean you are carrying a useless feat for 99% of the time, and get a mildly bonus barely noticeable in the other 1%.

Some options *are* crap. They aren't even good in the 1% of the time. Elephant Stomp is a great example. The books are full of them, because 2 reasons: the companies need to sell books full of stuff, and they can't give books full of useful stuff because of fear of power creep.

The problem is, this bring a huge disparity to game tables. The game is built so you have a crap-ton amount of small decissions. A lot of feat, spells, archetypes, and so on. The effect of those is, in general, very small. But when a well-versed player takes 16 options, and all of them give his character a "+1" versus the average player, and a non-savvy player takes 16 options, 10 of which give "+0", 4 more give -1, and the other 2 give "+1 when it's blue moon", the difference is really big.

I'd rather have the players taking less options, but more meaningful ones, from a pool of options that is smaller, but all of them are good, just with different flavors. But that's a different kind of game, and judging by success of 3.P and it's Ivory Tower design, it's not the kind of game that sells well.


Another good example of the whole system mastery thing, SKR saying that having any other ranged weapon be as effective as the longow was as ridiculous as letting water balloons do so.. Granted, a lot of his stated reasoning seems to stem for a desire for some arbitrary form of "realism" rather than an outright desire to punish certain character concepts, but the end result is much the same. The game rewards picking longbows, and punishes anyone who dares to focus on a different weapon, unless part of your character concept is always being inferior to the guy with the longbow.

The crossbow thing is also notable since during the recent Free Action kerfluffle, SKR said the reloading restriction should apply to crossbows too. Then got very annoyed over people saying the dev team hates corssbows.


Chengar Qordath wrote:
gustavo iglesias wrote:
"Highly situational" is the fancy name the developers give to stuff that is, actually, a trap. It's part of the whole "Ivory tower design", where the game is full of stuff that is a tr... errr... highly situational. Like Monte Cook said of Toughness: they are there, so the good players feel good because they don't take them, and the new players are punished while they learn the basics of the game.
Indeed. It is rather telling that members of the Paizo dev team have even gone on record as saying that some options in the game were deliberately designed to be inferior or even outright worthless choices.

cite?


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Ashiel wrote:

Sean K. Reynolds on the Paizo forums basically admitting to there intentionally being trap options because it's "admirable" to play a character that is going to die in an adventure.

I'm not sure what game Sean is talking about though. D&D/PF is freaking hard. 90% of the game from the bestiary through the environment section is dedicated to making the game harder for everyone involved. It is a game about conflicts and rising above those conflicts. I don't see any of the pregens in the APs running around as 12 Int wizards.

This post hurt me pretty bad and I lost a lot of faith in the design team after it. If I'm buying products from Paizo, I'd rather not have page count wasted on stuff that's only going to hurt my players if they try it, or give them ideas that I'm going to have to homebrew an option that works instead of just letting them take what's in the book.

Vow of Poverty for example drastically hurts the viability of a character (worst of all it hurts monks >:O) which not only means that character is probably going to die pretty easily to the dangers of adventures due to being severely under geared, but it also makes them a drag on the party. In Magic the Gathering, if your deck is loaded with sucky cards your system mastery affects no one else. If you're playing a gimp your decisions can cost someone else their character.

I initially trusted the designers to not feed my players options that are going to hurt them. Someone who takes Vow of Poverty is someone who lacks the system mastery to understand why it's a bad idea, and the idea of punishing people for "roleplaying" as an abominable one from a designer standpoint.

It was a dark day.

You know that's precisely the opposite from what Sean is saying.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Ashiel wrote:

Sean K. Reynolds on the Paizo forums basically admitting to there intentionally being trap options because it's "admirable" to play a character that is going to die in an adventure.

I'm not sure what game Sean is talking about though. D&D/PF is freaking hard. 90% of the game from the bestiary through the environment section is dedicated to making the game harder for everyone involved. It is a game about conflicts and rising above those conflicts. I don't see any of the pregens in the APs running around as 12 Int wizards.

This post hurt me pretty bad and I lost a lot of faith in the design team after it. If I'm buying products from Paizo, I'd rather not have page count wasted on stuff that's only going to hurt my players if they try it, or give them ideas that I'm going to have to homebrew an option that works instead of just letting them take what's in the book.

Vow of Poverty for example drastically hurts the viability of a character (worst of all it hurts monks >:O) which not only means that character is probably going to die pretty easily to the dangers of adventures due to being severely under geared, but it also makes them a drag on the party. In Magic the Gathering, if your deck is loaded with sucky cards your system mastery affects no one else. If you're playing a gimp your decisions can cost someone else their character.

I initially trusted the designers to not feed my players options that are going to hurt them. Someone who takes Vow of Poverty is someone who lacks the system mastery to understand why it's a bad idea, and the idea of punishing people for "roleplaying" as an abominable one from a designer standpoint.

It was a dark day.

See, for me, this was a bright day because a developer basically piped up and said that some elements of the game aren't designed for the hack and slash world of skirmish miniatures but because people are looking to build interesting PCs regardless of how the combat power shakes out. And that means they're supporting a wider variety of games, not just the combat minigame.

That said, a bit more guidance within the rules published rather than on a blog post or message board would be welcome. So I endorse Monte Cook's message as well.

Digital Products Assistant

Removed an unhelpful post.


DrDeth wrote:
Chengar Qordath wrote:
gustavo iglesias wrote:
"Highly situational" is the fancy name the developers give to stuff that is, actually, a trap. It's part of the whole "Ivory tower design", where the game is full of stuff that is a tr... errr... highly situational. Like Monte Cook said of Toughness: they are there, so the good players feel good because they don't take them, and the new players are punished while they learn the basics of the game.
Indeed. It is rather telling that members of the Paizo dev team have even gone on record as saying that some options in the game were deliberately designed to be inferior or even outright worthless choices.
cite?

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


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Chengar Qordath wrote:

Another good example of the whole system mastery thing, SKR saying that having any other ranged weapon be as effective as the longow was as ridiculous as letting water balloons do so.. Granted, a lot of his stated reasoning seems to stem for a desire for some arbitrary form of "realism" rather than an outright desire to punish certain character concepts, but the end result is much the same. The game rewards picking longbows, and punishes anyone who dares to focus on a different weapon, unless part of your character concept is always being inferior to the guy with the longbow.

Well, yeah, because a longbow IS better than a sling or a crossbow. Thems the facts. It's not a "trap"- the the simple club is there on the list in case you want to use it and that it is way less optimal than almost any other weapon. Real life would punish him too, in fact at the battle of Crecy that was exactly what happened.

What you suggest is " all weapons do 1d6 and crit on a 20, just call them what you like, there's no difference between a greatsword and a club, it's all the same". I think those were the rules in one early FRP.

People LIKE choices. Sometimes they even want to play the sub-optimal choice. I had great fun as a dwarf Sorcerer. Sue me. It's a GAME, the object of a GAME is to have FUN.


^ I agree 100 percent.

Actually, probably 85% of the people I've ever gamed with have probably been 1/2 optimizers. They don't play a 4 str gnome fighter just because roleplaying, but they may decide "I'm going to make an elf barbarian who disarms a lot!" and then use optimization rules to best pick feats and abilities to make such a character.

You can avoid an arms race, whether you are a casual player, a newbie or a veteran, by simply avoiding an arms race.


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I know it all boils down to having players willing to give up the so-called arms race, I just havent had that luck yet. I just wish they would be more comprehensive for some things, so that new players go in with one expectation (Ex: VOP monk, that sounds cool) dont come out with another (well, I havent contributed meaningfully). For an experienced player, who knows the difference, this can be great. For a newbie, not so much.


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DrDeth wrote:


Well, yeah, because a longbow IS better than a sling or a crossbow. Thems the facts. It's not a "trap"- the the simple club is there on the list in case you want to use it and that it is way less optimal than almost any other weapon. Real life would punish him too, in fact at the battle of Crecy that was exactly what happened.

What you suggest is " all weapons do 1d6 and crit on a 20, just call them what you like, there's no difference between a greatsword and a club, it's all the same". I think those were the rules in one early FRP.

People LIKE choices. Sometimes they even want to play the sub-optimal choice. I had great fun as a dwarf Sorcerer. Sue me. It's a GAME, the object of a GAME is to have FUN.

You just explained what I tend to hate about MMOs - how everything has to be about balance because otherwise legions of players will rise up and openly revolt against the devs (of course, they do that anyway.)

It's also why I stopped playing Warhammer 40k as soon as it started to be less about scenarios and more about equal points matches, I'm just not interested in being competitive or being the player that can carry the rulebook around in their head and work out on-the-fly the option that does the most damage.


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DrDeth wrote:
Chengar Qordath wrote:
Another good example of the whole system mastery thing, SKR saying that having any other ranged weapon be as effective as the longow was as ridiculous as letting water balloons do so.. Granted, a lot of his stated reasoning seems to stem for a desire for some arbitrary form of "realism" rather than an outright desire to punish certain character concepts, but the end result is much the same. The game rewards picking longbows, and punishes anyone who dares to focus on a different weapon, unless part of your character concept is always being inferior to the guy with the longbow.

Well, yeah, because a longbow IS better than a sling or a crossbow. Thems the facts. It's not a "trap"- the the simple club is there on the list in case you want to use it and that it is way less optimal than almost any other weapon. Real life would punish him too, in fact at the battle of Crecy that was exactly what happened.

What you suggest is " all weapons do 1d6 and crit on a 20, just call them what you like, there's no difference between a greatsword and a club, it's all the same". I think those were the rules in one early FRP.

People LIKE choices. Sometimes they even want to play the sub-optimal choice. I had great fun as a dwarf Sorcerer. Sue me. It's a GAME, the object of a GAME is to have FUN.

Crecy? You mean the battle where the crossbowmen were forced to fight against longbows while tired, missing half of their equipment, and with no cover while the longbowmen had the advantage of the high ground/terrain and were in a fortified position? I think there might have been one or two factors in that battle beyond "Longbow is teh uberz!"

I swear, longbow is to some Western Fantasy Nerds as katana is to Japanophiles...

Yeah, the object of the game is to have fun. What makes having the crossbow suck more fun? Options that are utter crap aren't really options at all.

As for the homogenization issue, I've repeatedly said that I'd like to see Crossbows redone with new mechanics to focus on giving them one big shot a round, instead of the current setup which is actually more homogenized since it turns all ranged weapons into weaker versions of the longbow.

Though I do wonder how you got from "SKR says crossbows are designed to suck" to "Dirty power gamer scumbag heretic who never RPs!" Just not quite following the logic chain there...


This post totally reminds me of my group and myself, sept without the attitude.

I have a lot of system mastery, i did so over the course of a month preparing a gestalted druid/monk that i turned into a ape shaman/MoMS+sacred mountain+hungry ghost.

now the people i play with are not bad, but they have varying degrees of itnerest in optimal play. there is one similar to me in that he can make very powerful characters, his current one is very good with a bow (zen archer/archer).

a few players more in the middle

and 1 or 2 players more interested in what sounds cool to them then what works.

in a encounter with a group of enemies and a miniboss i basically soloed the mini boss and 2 of the henchmen...using ONLY the monk side of my character, nothing else. annoyed the DM (who at the time was learning the pathfinder system as well) and having the other players vary from "whatever" to guffawing at me.

even had the player capable of possibly the most damage of the group tell me my character is rediculous...tho he may have been joking.

i even made my character defensive as opposed to offensive, and took suboptimal class choices based around imposed "realism". for instance, a tiger doesnt have the skeleton or muscle to perform stances and hand formation needed for style use...so i went with ape shaman.


Optomization among a group of non-optimizers is still optimizing no matter what story you make up to justify it. And the divisiveness it creates among the game group is the same effect as well, no matter the background or justifications one comes up with for making those decisions.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
voska66 wrote:

This is what happens when you run a game with really high stats. Wil save alway get this way. The thing is Dex and Con are important to all classes. Everyone wants a good AC and Hit points. Wisdom does nothing for you except save and the odd skill (perception and sense motive) unless you are caster who's stat is Wisdom based.

I mean say I'm rogue and my low stat is 12, it's going on Wisdom as all the other stats are more important. That's a +3 will save. Sure there's a trait for +1 and feat for +2 and I could get cloak for +1 for +7. That's 50/50 on D20. A roll of 2 still fails. Now with 20,000 which is 3500 less the recommended WBL but regardless I still wouldn't buy a cloak as rogue, I'd be saving for Cloak of Displacement. A headband of Wisdom for 4000 GP isn't really worth it. I'd want one to boost CHR and INT frist and all 3 is too expensive till really high level. So from a system mastery point of view I'm stuck with low will save, nothing I can do about it because everything I do raise my will save weakens the rogue elsewhere and the rogue can't afford that.

Why make wisdom your dump stat (even if in this instance dump probably mean something like 11) when you can make charisma it? Most negative effects of having "low" charisma can be corrected with skill points, the effect on saving throws of having low wisdom can't.

Having a 13 or 14 in wisdom (highly probable with the stat rolling system used) mean a +1 or +2 to wisdom from the first level onward.

Edit: and this post show my bias. :-)
I hadn't even considered dumping intelligence until DrDeth suggested it.
Being a rogue he ahs already a good number of skill points. A bit less as he is a fighter/rogue, but being a fighter/rogue mean that he will be a bit behind in will ST at some level, a even greater reason to shore them up putting a decent value in wisdom.


SPCDRI wrote:

I don't want to be arrogant and go "system mastery! system mastery!"

but I think I got a good handle on this game.

I was just a druid PC in a 7th level party. The DM gave us a bonus feat and totally ridiculous scores off of 4d6 7 times, best 6 total rolls, re-roll 1s and 2s. We should be CRUSHING dungeons.

A CR 7 or 8 encounter, some sort of beautiful female evil outsider (never quite got which one, Succus, Pairyaka, whatever) dropped something like a DC 17ish Will Save charm and half the freaking party biffed it.

I'm looking over at 3 out of 6 people going...

"What the hell? How did you roll a 5 on your Will save?

3 or 4 rounds later, I'm in dire tiger form with a big cat, having killed the 3 minions and almost single handedly killed the female demon as well, did at least HALF damage to it.

The rogue player was like..."Yeah, this stuff happens sometimes when you have a 3 for your Will save."

WE HAVE A BONUS FEAT, SOMETHING LIKE 45 TO 50 POINT BUY, 20,000 GP TO SPEND AND THE GUY IS LIKE...

"Yeah brother. 3 in the Will Save, things happen."

3 people in this party had Will saves lower than my !@#$ing animal companion.

I don't want to be mean to these guys and I'm trying to help them out, but 3 or 4 of these characters are just bafflingly bad mechanically.

And they know how to stealth, get surprise rounds, attack flat-footed people, ready actions, etc. So their play is fundamentally sound. It is just the sheets are a mess. I don't get it.

I don't even know if I'm compatible with a group like this.

Did not read the whole thread, but read the first page.

First, rolling a 2 is a failed save for almost anyone. That does happen.

But with the ability score method you gave and 7th level, a measely +3 on will save is, in my opinion, usually a set poor choices. I actually don't worship at the alter of the Big Six!, but I do nearly always buy a better cloak of resistance than most players of my level.

One the one hand, it could be, but is not necessarily poor system mastery. It can be personal preference or ‘blinders.’

I have met some players that absolutely refuse to use consumable magic items, even when it is the most economical choice (or sometimes even found for free). Won’t an item other than the ‘end’ item. So if the person knows he will eventually want a +3 Spear of Wondalulz, he won’t buy/use a +1 spear in the interim.

Primary purpose gets nearly all of the cash. I am the club wielder of doom. So any time he goes shopping. The only question is ‘Can I buy something that will make me do more damage with a club?’ Once he has bought the most powerful club and enhancement belt possible. Then he just might consider spending the tiny portion of remaining funds on something else.

One the other hand, maybe it really is a lack of system mastery. In that case the example of a well built/played PC might be all it takes for some improvement. Sometimes the lack is simply lack of a different example. If everyone they have played with only has low single digit saves, they may not have seen it as a weakness that needs fixing. Maybe they don’t know how to improve it without feeling crippled in their primary role. They might be accepting of or even ask for suggestions.

One another hand (I must be an alchemist), some people really like playing characters with a glaring weakness. He might INTENTIONALLY have a low will save. It may be his concept, based off a character from a novel, or fits the backstory he wrote for his PC.

On the final hand (last one I promise), sometimes people are just idiots.

Before deciding if you fit in the group, you need to decide which hand they are holding.

Silver Crusade

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still holding out hope for viable official VOP/gearless monks


Again, havent read the entire thread, only the first page but...

The effects system mastery have will vary greatly depending on the type of game your GM likes to play. Its all very well being super efficient in combat (as an example) but if the GM is setting encounters than, while challenging, are not the main focus of the campaign, then system mastery becomes far less of an issue. It can even become irrelevant in some rare games. The same goes for uber-skills

That is, admittedly, not how a majority of people play the game, and most PF games reward system mastery to some extent...but it doesnt have to play out that way.

There's far more of a problem with class imbalance at high levels imo. One way to compensate might be to get the inexperienced players play the classes than are stronger at higher levels and the system masters play warriors and rogues, etc....That does tend to mean beginners would likely be playing more the complex character classes I suppose, which has its own difficulties...but it might be one solution.


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I do think there is too much emphasis on the math at times. I'll be honest I prefer a leaner system with less math. I do like this system, and my players love it. The campaign support here is so great that I like running PF.

I'd suggest that maybe the big gulf isn't in the math, it's in the way you play. I've known lots of players that always come up with huge bonuses in every option on the sheet, that make terrible decisions and are a drag on the party. I know players that hardly bother with bonuses and build, they create a character they want to play, and then play them so well that they are a huge positive for the party.

Also optimizing to the math doesn't really provide any edge. Figure out a way to get your disable device up to a +15, and suddenly you're going to find people buying locks that are running in the DC 30 range. Take a feat to nullify area affects, and you'll find things that aren't nullified flying your way. Gaming the rules just makes the GM do the same. If you want a system where your "clever" build avoids all dangers and problems then RPG's aren't really what you want to play.

Being a smart player, and handling yourself well works and can never be overtaken by the GM's math.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
williamoak wrote:
Has anybody bothered making a list of "trap" feats/talents? I can think of a few archetypes that are like that (namely: White Haired Witch if used under RAW), and It might be good for beginners to know what options are just awful. Could help for system mastery.

That would surely make for an entertaining guide, if written by the right person. ^^


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

One of the basic underlying assumptions of 3.x and its descendents is that you have one toolbox out of which to build PCs, NPCs, monsters, everything in the campaign world.

Some feats which suck for PCs are perfect for an NPC or monster build. Situational "niche" feats are bad for PCs because they can't afford to specialize; they have to be able to defeat a wide variety of situations. However, for an NPC who is only going to have to fight one encounter in its brief, unsung life, that feat might be just what the DM is looking for to challenge his players.

Teamwork feats, for example, are awful for PCs (except inquisitors). PCs generally spread out to fight rather than advance in adjacent squares. But they're fantastic for the DM to pit the PCs against a well-trained army of mooks who are more powerful as a unit than individually.

Part of people saying it's okay that some feats are better than others, imo, is not them saying more experienced players ought to get better stuff than newbies but saying that some feats are meant for PCs, some for specialized campaigns and one-shots, and some for NPCs and monsters and the far side of the DM screen. That said, it's my impression that the upcoming Advanced Strategy Guide (probably the wrong title) will do something to help new players distinguish between feats that are beneficial to their build and those that will never or rarely be useful.

EDIT: Just "Strategy Guide." There it is.


Ahlmzhad wrote:

I do think there is too much emphasis on the math at times. I'll be honest I prefer a leaner system with less math. I do like this system, and my players love it. The campaign support here is so great that I like running PF.

I'd suggest that maybe the big gulf isn't in the math, it's in the way you play. I've known lots of players that always come up with huge bonuses in every option on the sheet, that make terrible decisions and are a drag on the party. I know players that hardly bother with bonuses and build, they create a character they want to play, and then play them so well that they are a huge positive for the party.

Also optimizing to the math doesn't really provide any edge. Figure out a way to get your disable device up to a +15, and suddenly you're going to find people buying locks that are running in the DC 30 range. Take a feat to nullify area affects, and you'll find things that aren't nullified flying your way. Gaming the rules just makes the GM do the same. If you want a system where your "clever" build avoids all dangers and problems then RPG's aren't really what you want to play.

Being a smart player, and handling yourself well works and can never be overtaken by the GM's math.

Exactly. A GM bias on my part. I'm much more likely to target an optimized PC with a death blow than I am the PC that is a well-built personality.


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Ahlmzhad wrote:

Also optimizing to the math doesn't really provide any edge. Figure out a way to get your disable device up to a +15, and suddenly you're going to find people buying locks that are running in the DC 30 range. Take a feat to nullify area affects, and you'll find things that aren't nullified flying your way. Gaming the rules just makes the GM do the same. If you want a system where your "clever" build avoids all dangers and problems then RPG's aren't really what you want to play.

.

So you make a character's choices less useful? Ouch. No no. The GM and the Player should never ever ever be in an arms race against one another. The GM will always win that game. The idea is the GM should reward the player who has invested alot in a skill, but still provide some things that are a challenge.

I.E That Rogue who super pumped his disable device? Yeah he blows through most locks, but every now and then he bumps into some complicated ones that he might not be able to get.

I am an adamant opponent of linear dungeon design. Sometimes your heroes DONT bump into things that are arbitrarily getting more and more difficult. It makes absolutely no sense to continually fight more and more difficult encounters. Sometimes bandits jump extremely high level adventurers and get completely mopped the floor with. Goblins get eviscerated. These things should and could happen. It makes your players feel kick ass when they obliterate a band of bandits whom they would have had trouble with at level 3.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Steve Geddes wrote:
Atarlost wrote:
Level corresponds to measurable and quite obvious things, at least for spellcasters. If you're fighting the (humanoid) BBEG and his top spell level isn't higher than yours it looks like someone who should be his equal needs to bring a pack of goons to handle him.

You don't notice that kind of thing if you're not very good at system mastery though. He's just hard to hit or not and does lots of damage or doesn't.

To be clear though, I didn't mean level doesn't mean anything in the game. I meant there isn't a real world concept of level - so I don't see any "common sense" reason for level four PCs to fight ogres and level six PCs to fight giants. It doesn't bother me if level six PCs do the ogre adventures and leave the giant problem til when they're level eight.

Well, a problem with this approach is that as you rise in level the difference between classes will increase way faster than normal.

Going from level 6 to 7 the low system mastery fighter will get his +1 to hit, 1d10 hp and spend his feat on a feat with little use.
The low system mastery wizard will get 1d6 hp, a feat with little utility AND one to three 4th level spells slots. Even if he don't chose the best level 4th spells, he will probably get some decent spell.
To keep the two class approximately on the same level of power the fighter need to think beyond buying a "frigging bigger sword" and instead thinking about diversifying his options.


Riggler wrote:
Exactly. A GM bias on my part. I'm much more likely to target an optimized PC with a death blow than I am the PC that is a well-built personality.

I don't exactly know why you must choose between the two.

(I get that it's a bias. I just don't share it.) :)

Riggler wrote:
Optomization among a group of non-optimizers is still optimizing no matter what story you make up to justify it. And the divisiveness it creates among the game group is the same effect as well, no matter the background or justifications one comes up with for making those decisions.

In this case it sounds like the "optimizer" is just not gelling with the rest of the group. Maybe it's their fault, or maybe the group's. I don't know. But the same problem arises when a non-optimizer is in a group that's skilled with optimization. Either way, they're not following with the group's preference.

Optimization isn't bad. Neither is non-optimization. And neither automatically cause problems in any type group.

But if they do (which they easily can for many valid and invalid reasons) then it is the person who does not match the group's general tendencies who has the onus to adapt or leave. ("Adapt" doesn't necessarily mean to start optimizing or stop optimizing - it just means to adapt in such a way as to work with the group.)

In any event, I don't think that VOP was well-designed - either for a group or for individuals. I think that Sean's post comes off... poorly. I respect Sean, and agree with the idea that not everything needs to be equal. I don't agree that VOP was a good idea as-implemented.

Reference the Alexandrian - I never got the opportunity to read the original essay. I'd like to, but it's not there, and no one I know has a copy. Thus, I've just got to go off of what's noted. It's what I've got. :)


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Riggler wrote:
I have been saying this for years. If you have hundreds of pages and millions of options and only 10-15% of those options are "optimal" or useful in most situations, then one player at a table who chooses to play optimal style creates an arms race of players. The reason everyone else has to go along is to keep from being irrelevant. And the end result is that 85-90 percent of rules content is useless

Wouldn't it be a better solution not to publish an 85% of useless content?

Riggler wrote:
Exactly. A GM bias on my part. I'm much more likely to target an optimized PC with a death blow than I am the PC that is a well-built personality.

The problem is that the optimized character can also have a well-built personality. There's nothing that forces you to play a bland roleplaying character just because you took a good feat instead of a bad feat or because you choosed to be a magus instead of a multiclass fighter/wizard with exactly the same background and personality, but worse mechanics

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
williamoak wrote:
Chengar Qordath wrote:
gustavo iglesias wrote:
"Highly situational" is the fancy name the developers give to stuff that is, actually, a trap. It's part of the whole "Ivory tower design", where the game is full of stuff that is a tr... errr... highly situational. Like Monte Cook said of Toughness: they are there, so the good players feel good because they don't take them, and the new players are punished while they learn the basics of the game.
Indeed. It is rather telling that members of the Paizo dev team have even gone on record as saying that some options in the game were deliberately designed to be inferior or even outright worthless choices.

This... really dissapoints me. I can understand rewarding system mastery, but punishing beginners? That's just a way to prevent player growth. Especially with such an elaborate and diverse system. I cant imagine how many players they lost because of this kind of design. Sigh... I heard about this for 3.5, but if the pathfinder designers are doing this, it really dissapoints me.

But if this is true, then yes, gulfs in system mastery can seriously affect gameplay, especially if the player less interested in deep analysis of the options isnt willing to take the time to do so.

What the Paizo staff said is:

- not all the feat are equally powerful;
- some feat (and even some archetype) are meant primarily for NPC use.

Chengar and gustavo have chosen to translate that as "some feat and archetype are traps for inexperienced players", but I would say that it reflect more their way of thinking than that of the Paizo staff.

About Sean post, you have really read it. especially the last part?

"If you want to play a character that's making a sacrifice, make a sacrifice--don't pretend it's a sacrifice and expect a handout for pretending."

Ok, Vow of poverty sucks of a long standing campaign, but no one has pointed out a gun to your head saying "Take it."
On the other hand it is great for some NPC character or some one shot adventure.
Not everything is built to work from level 1 to 20 and be always useful. Like my having learned to use a 386 and Commodor 64 when I started using computers has little utility for me today. It was useful then, now it is memories.


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Tacticslion wrote:
In any event, I don't think that VOP was well-designed - either for a group or for individuals. I think that Sean's post comes off... poorly. I respect Sean, and agree with the idea that not everything needs to be equal. I don't agree that VOP was a good idea as-implemented.

Have to agree on that point. There's a huge difference between not all options being equal (which I'm fine with) and some options being so much better than anything else that there's no reason to take anything unless you completely disregard mechanics.

A good example is Greataxe vs. Greatsword vs. Falchion. Each weapon has some positives and negatives, and while the Falchion might win most DPR competitions, the gap is pretty small and the other two weapons have their own advantages that some people like more.

With ranged weapons, on the other hand, aside from the gun-using gunslinger I can't see any reason to make a ranged character who doesn't use a longbow outside of flavor. The longbow is just better in just about every conceivable category as a ranged weapon, outside the odd corner case. Maybe some people think that's more "realistic," but from a game design perspective it makes me sad to see. I'd like to see every ranged weapon have it's place in the game. Not beating the longbow at it's own game, but at least having their own niche that's unique, interesting, and mechanically viable.

As it is, if I want a ranged character who doesn't use a longbow, I have to either accept being very weak mechanically, or wait until my gaming group plays something other than Pathfinder. In a recent Iron Kingdoms game, I had a blast playing a crossbow-wielding Elven Mage Hunter. He was fun, flavorful, and gave me some of the best RP I've had in years. And, of course, he also kicked ass when it came time to fight. Not game-breakingly awesome, but he more than held his own as a mobile skirmisher.

In Pathfinder, I can't make a character like that. And that's a shame.


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Diego Rossi wrote:
Chengar and gustavo have chosen to translate that as "some feat and archetype are traps for inexperienced players", but I would say that it reflect more their way of thinking than that of the Paizo staff.

I think it's more like, "Chengar and gustavo have a problem in that it can easily be a mistake for inexperienced players". At least that's how I took it.


Diego Rossi wrote:

What the Paizo staff said is:

- not all the feat are equally powerful;
- some feat (and even some archetype) are meant primarily for NPC use.

Chengar and gustavo have chosen to translate that as "some feat and archetype are traps for inexperienced players", but I would say that it reflect more their way of thinking than that of the Paizo staff.

By all means, show me where I said anything like that.

In fact, I specifically noted that the main stated reason for crossbows being a trap option in Pathfinder is "realism" concerns, not punishing new players.

Anyway, flagging and moving on, Most Important Rule and all that...

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Chengar Qordath wrote:


A good example is Greataxe vs. Greatsword vs. Falchion. Each weapon has some positives and negatives, and while the Falchion might win most DPR competitions, the gap is pretty small and the other two weapons have their own advantages that some people like more.

Low level strength based magus. I use a sling because:

- it cost less;
- I can apply my strength bonus to damage without the need of a purposely built weapon and its damage icnrease if my strength temporarily increase;
- if needed I can find new ammunitions almost anywhere;
- I have to drop it to cast and/or go into melee combat and risk to lose it? Not a problem.

Until you get iterative attacks the advantage of a bow isn't so large.
Sure, move and shoot is better than draw ammunition, fire and make a 5' step, but in the few situations where I wouldn't go into melee the sling do his job.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Chengar Qordath wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:

What the Paizo staff said is:

- not all the feat are equally powerful;
- some feat (and even some archetype) are meant primarily for NPC use.

Chengar and gustavo have chosen to translate that as "some feat and archetype are traps for inexperienced players", but I would say that it reflect more their way of thinking than that of the Paizo staff.

By all means, show me where I said anything like that.

In fact, I specifically noted that the main stated reason for crossbows being a trap option in Pathfinder is "realism" concerns, not punishing new players.

Anyway, flagging and moving on, Most Important Rule and all that...

Chengar Qordath wrote:
gustavo iglesias wrote:
"Highly situational" is the fancy name the developers give to stuff that is, actually, a trap. It's part of the whole "Ivory tower design", where the game is full of stuff that is a tr... errr... highly situational. Like Monte Cook said of Toughness: they are there, so the good players feel good because they don't take them, and the new players are punished while they learn the basics of the game.
Indeed. It is rather telling that members of the Paizo dev team have even gone on record as saying that some options in the game were deliberately designed to be inferior or even outright worthless choices.

This and the whole discussion above it.

When you support a post about something being a traps usually it mean that you support the idea that that thing is a trap.


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Diego Rossi wrote:
Chengar and gustavo have chosen to translate that as "some feat and archetype are traps for inexperienced players", but I would say that it reflect more their way of thinking than that of the Paizo staff.

The problem is that some feat and archetypes become traps for inexperienced players, even if the developers create them for other purposes. For example, maybe (and I mean... maybe) Monte Cook designed the original Toughness to be a feat for first level elven wizards in first level one-shots. But as the feat wasn't advertised as such, and even had a clause allowing you to take several times, and as having more HP "sounds" as a good idea in general for new players, several newbie players fell for the trap. The Pathfinder version, for example, is as good as the 3.0 version for that hypothetical 1st level wizard in a 1st level one shot, but if some player take it because "having hp sounds good", he doesn't shoot himself in the foot, because pathfinder Toughness is *actually* a useful feat. Even if it is not a must have, and probably ultra-optimized characters won't take it, it is a *good* feat that do not punish the one who took it. While 3e toughness, was a trap. Something that is recognized even by the guy who designed it in first place.

My point is that I like feats like Pathfider's version of Toughness, not like 3e version of Toughness. And newbie players are less punished if the game has a lot more feats like Pathfinder's toughness, and a lot less feats like 3e Toughness

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Ok, Vow of poverty sucks of a long standing campaign, but no one has pointed out a gun to your head saying "Take it."

On the other hand it is great for some NPC...

But it could be great for PC too, and open the door for an actual archetype with real demand, the ascetic monk. The developers simply thought that those wanting to play that archetype, are masochist that want to play the archetype because they want to sacrifice things, not because the archetype sounds cool. Which is a valid point of view, but might not work for most people wanting to play poor wandering monks

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