Magic Mart and Why.


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Grand Lodge

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Tequila Sunrise wrote:
Jaelithe wrote:

Perhaps he's referring to this one:

"The Most Important Rule

LazarX's comment strongly implies that there's a useful "To adjust your campaign for low-wealth play, do X, Y, and Z to avoid frequent TPKs" guideline somewhere. Rule 0 is all well and good, but referring to it in this context is like pointing someone toward a racing river and telling them "Most people cross the bridge to get across, but there are other ways so it's your call." While this is true, the person won't be thanking you when his canoe breaks up on the hidden rocks just below the river's surface, and he finds himself drowning.

It's not really that hard. One.. you can use a lower CR value of monsters if you're running a lower magic campaign. Two, you should be keeping a running awareness of what your players have in the campaign and should be gauging their abilities against the challenges you have planned. The AP's are pretty much a guideline in running a campaign without the Xmas tree ensemble.

For thier own part, parties need to learn to think like units instead of 4-6 indivduals, each doing their own thing without regard to the others.


LazarX wrote:
Tequila Sunrise wrote:
Jaelithe wrote:

Perhaps he's referring to this one:

"The Most Important Rule

LazarX's comment strongly implies that there's a useful "To adjust your campaign for low-wealth play, do X, Y, and Z to avoid frequent TPKs" guideline somewhere. Rule 0 is all well and good, but referring to it in this context is like pointing someone toward a racing river and telling them "Most people cross the bridge to get across, but there are other ways so it's your call." While this is true, the person won't be thanking you when his canoe breaks up on the hidden rocks just below the river's surface, and he finds himself drowning.
It's not really that hard. One.. you can use a lower CR value of monsters if you're running a lower magic campaign. Two, you should be keeping a running awareness of what your players have in the campaign and should be gauging their abilities against the challenges you have planned. The AP's are pretty much a guideline in running a campaign without the Xmas tree ensemble.

How are the APs "a guideline in running a campaign without the Xmas tree ensembl"? Don't they assume the standard access to magic items? And give out ~WBL?


Adamantine Dragon wrote:
For me personally I finally just decided it wasn't worth the effort. My players have not complained. Frankly, if anything, the result has been the players feel more empowered in pursuing their own character concepts.

I think this was wise of you, and in general, I'd recommend that DMs stick to WBL guidelines and allow players more-or-less free reign to buy and sell what they like.

But when a young DM asks for advice on a workable variant, I'm perfectly happy to provide it. What else did I DM 3.x for eight years for, if not to share what I learned? I also think that you're exaggerating the risks, and that doing so isn't particularly helpful. To be sure, there are some truly crappy house rules out there, thought up by some truly air-headed DMs. (I should know, I've been one of them.) But here's the thing: Those horrible house rules came of some lone DM thinking "Hey I've got an idea...!" without thinking it through.

Having and using the aid of the Paizo hivemind dramatically reduces the risk of bad house rules. So if the community can help a young DM accomplish something different with the game, I think it's a shame to throw that opportunity out the window.

PS: All of this is regardless of 'realism' or verisimilitude or whatever. PF/D&D is inherently unrealistic, so I don't recommend that any DM make choices based on it one way or another.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
thejeff wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Tequila Sunrise wrote:
Jaelithe wrote:

Perhaps he's referring to this one:

"The Most Important Rule

LazarX's comment strongly implies that there's a useful "To adjust your campaign for low-wealth play, do X, Y, and Z to avoid frequent TPKs" guideline somewhere. Rule 0 is all well and good, but referring to it in this context is like pointing someone toward a racing river and telling them "Most people cross the bridge to get across, but there are other ways so it's your call." While this is true, the person won't be thanking you when his canoe breaks up on the hidden rocks just below the river's surface, and he finds himself drowning.
It's not really that hard. One.. you can use a lower CR value of monsters if you're running a lower magic campaign. Two, you should be keeping a running awareness of what your players have in the campaign and should be gauging their abilities against the challenges you have planned. The AP's are pretty much a guideline in running a campaign without the Xmas tree ensemble.
How are the APs "a guideline in running a campaign without the Xmas tree ensembl"? Don't they assume the standard access to magic items? And give out ~WBL?

That's an emphatic NO to the first question, as you're frequently beginning in constrained circumstances, sudden wilderness in Reign of Winter, a destroyed city in Wrath of the Righteous, shanghaied on a pirate boat in Shackles. The second can vary largely on player action. You definitely can't expect to just walk into town and depend on a 75percent roll to get a anything your gold would buy out of the book.


LazarX wrote:
Tequila Sunrise wrote:
Jaelithe wrote:

Perhaps he's referring to this one:

"The Most Important Rule

LazarX's comment strongly implies that there's a useful "To adjust your campaign for low-wealth play, do X, Y, and Z to avoid frequent TPKs" guideline somewhere. Rule 0 is all well and good, but referring to it in this context is like pointing someone toward a racing river and telling them "Most people cross the bridge to get across, but there are other ways so it's your call." While this is true, the person won't be thanking you when his canoe breaks up on the hidden rocks just below the river's surface, and he finds himself drowning.

It's not really that hard. One.. you can use a lower CR value of monsters if you're running a lower magic campaign. Two, you should be keeping a running awareness of what your players have in the campaign and should be gauging their abilities against the challenges you have planned. The AP's are pretty much a guideline in running a campaign without the Xmas tree ensemble.

For thier own part, parties need to learn to think like units instead of 4-6 indivduals, each doing their own thing without regard to the others.

So no, there is in fact no rule or guideline in PF to help DMs run low-wealth games. Gotcha.

One: Simply using lower CR monsters fundamentally changes combat dynamics, so it's not just a matter of less bling = lower CR. If your group wants glass cannon combat all the way from 1 to 20, then it all works out well. Otherwise, you're likely to end up with a lot of dead PCs, and several unhappy players.

Two: I can't speak to APs, but keeping a "running awareness" of what PCs can do, and gauging the challenge of planned encounters isn't easy for everyone. I myself suck at it. Unless I spend hours running pre-game combat simulations, I'm likely to kill at least half the party by misjudging their survival capabilities. Factor in the glass cannon nature of low-wealth combat, and I've got a recipe for TPK!

Three: Yeah, good teamwork helps, what else is new? It helps in monty haul games with CR++ monsters and it helps in standard games. It helps in other games too, and in real life. Low-wealth PF games aren't unique in this respect.


The whole notion of WBL and CR and the like seem to be in an attempt to conventionalize play across the entire player base. Unless your playing semi-competitively with other gaming groups its all really mute. All the talk about players feeling constrained or even cheated by the GM doesnt apply if your game is the only one they are playing or familiar with. Each game is different, each GM lending a different feel to his campaign. There is no such thing as a typical handling of a game or even a normal one.

I think most GMs make it very clear to their players that they are playing in His or Her game now and will be experiencing thier world through their eyes. Such mechanics as builds, WBL, CR and the like are a hindrance more than a help unless you are prescribing to some notion of a communal game.

The rules are there to provide structure for an interactive story, they are a tool, not the objective.


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rgrove

It's probably moot, but it's moot, not mute. (Sorry, pet peeve)

I run my own campaign world but I find the CR system helpful in my own encounter design. Sure I don't treat it as the bible, but it's a good first approximation and allows me to set up encounters more quickly than if I had to work everything out from scratch.

I also create my own monsters from scratch and create what I hope are unique and challenging encounters using custom monsters, so I am well aware of the difficulty of balancing encounters. And I can tell you, it's not easy. A lot of GMs are very bad at it. Telling people "you can run a low magic campaign easy! You just have to adjust everything on the fly" is making some pretty big assumptions about other GM's skills and desires.

In the end we are really debating the following two approaches to the fundamental design issues in the game:

1. Allow players to acquire items pretty much as they wish with minimal GM intervention.
2. Restrict access to items so that players are at the mercy of the GM to acquire things according to how that GM sees their world.

I've played in both types of campaigns, I've GM'd both types of campaigns. In general the work and skill required on option #2 is significantly higher and the potential for player dissatisfaction is higher too.

Doesn't mean it can't be done. It just means that it's more difficult to do. #1 allows you to work entirely within the rules. #2 requires making GM fiat adjustments that are not simple and impact different classes differently.

If the purpose of this post is to provide guidance to other GMs about how they might want to approach their own games, my basic advice would be for fledgling GMs to avoid making the job harder than it has to be until they have at least mastered running the game within the rules.


master_marshmallow wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
The CRB is not Golarion specific. They are rules not guidelines. You as the GM may adjust any rule to fit your version of Golarion, but that is different than saying the authors don't see those prices as rules.
Ehhh, that's questionable given the deities that are in the CRB. They are Golarion specific and aren't included in the open resources.

No, it is not questionable. There are setting books, and there general rules books. They put some deities in the CRB so GM's could use them in their games, but they did not put all of them in there. Forcing GM's to make up their own deities would have been a bad move.


LazarX wrote:
thejeff wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Tequila Sunrise wrote:
Jaelithe wrote:

Perhaps he's referring to this one:

"The Most Important Rule

LazarX's comment strongly implies that there's a useful "To adjust your campaign for low-wealth play, do X, Y, and Z to avoid frequent TPKs" guideline somewhere. Rule 0 is all well and good, but referring to it in this context is like pointing someone toward a racing river and telling them "Most people cross the bridge to get across, but there are other ways so it's your call." While this is true, the person won't be thanking you when his canoe breaks up on the hidden rocks just below the river's surface, and he finds himself drowning.
It's not really that hard. One.. you can use a lower CR value of monsters if you're running a lower magic campaign. Two, you should be keeping a running awareness of what your players have in the campaign and should be gauging their abilities against the challenges you have planned. The AP's are pretty much a guideline in running a campaign without the Xmas tree ensemble.
How are the APs "a guideline in running a campaign without the Xmas tree ensembl"? Don't they assume the standard access to magic items? And give out ~WBL?
That's an emphatic NO to the first question, as you're frequently beginning in constrained circumstances, sudden wilderness in Reign of Winter, a destroyed city in Wrath of the Righteous, shanghaied on a pirate boat in Shackles. The second can vary largely on player action. You definitely can't expect to just walk into town and depend on a 75percent roll to get a anything your gold would buy out of the book.

I don't think they meant the entire AP kept you at WBL, but at higher levels there is not really a restriction in most AP's.


rgrove0172 wrote:

The whole notion of WBL and CR and the like seem to be in an attempt to conventionalize play across the entire player base. Unless your playing semi-competitively with other gaming groups its all really mute. All the talk about players feeling constrained or even cheated by the GM doesnt apply if your game is the only one they are playing or familiar with. Each game is different, each GM lending a different feel to his campaign. There is no such thing as a typical handling of a game or even a normal one.

I think most GMs make it very clear to their players that they are playing in His or Her game now and will be experiencing thier world through their eyes. Such mechanics as builds, WBL, CR and the like are a hindrance more than a help unless you are prescribing to some notion of a communal game.

The rules are there to provide structure for an interactive story, they are a tool, not the objective.

For the most part there is not much difference with what monsters you face at level X in my experience. There is a difference in how the GM runs the combat. As for WBL I dont think I have ever been more than a + or - 2 from it. I did not even use the WBL chart for a while. I would just realize PC's need more loot and find a way to insert it into the game so that level 10 fight can not carrying that +1 sword, as an example.


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Ya, once you hit 9th level in an AP and get 5th level spells, its time for a Plane Shift/Teleport shopping spree if you haven't had a chance to spend wealth before then.


LazarX wrote:
thejeff wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Tequila Sunrise wrote:
Jaelithe wrote:

Perhaps he's referring to this one:

"The Most Important Rule

LazarX's comment strongly implies that there's a useful "To adjust your campaign for low-wealth play, do X, Y, and Z to avoid frequent TPKs" guideline somewhere. Rule 0 is all well and good, but referring to it in this context is like pointing someone toward a racing river and telling them "Most people cross the bridge to get across, but there are other ways so it's your call." While this is true, the person won't be thanking you when his canoe breaks up on the hidden rocks just below the river's surface, and he finds himself drowning.
It's not really that hard. One.. you can use a lower CR value of monsters if you're running a lower magic campaign. Two, you should be keeping a running awareness of what your players have in the campaign and should be gauging their abilities against the challenges you have planned. The AP's are pretty much a guideline in running a campaign without the Xmas tree ensemble.
How are the APs "a guideline in running a campaign without the Xmas tree ensembl"? Don't they assume the standard access to magic items? And give out ~WBL?
That's an emphatic NO to the first question, as you're frequently beginning in constrained circumstances, sudden wilderness in Reign of Winter, a destroyed city in Wrath of the Righteous, shanghaied on a pirate boat in Shackles. The second can vary largely on player action. You definitely can't expect to just walk into town and depend on a 75percent roll to get a anything your gold would buy out of the book.

And an emphatic NO right back at you.

You're occasionally cut off from supply for awhile, but rarely for long and usually at low levels where it matters least. And they often go to great lengths to make sure you can: In WotR, you find a settle beneath the city where you can rest and trade, probably before you hit 2nd level. In S&S, even when you're shanghaied you can buy stuff from the quartermaster. In RoW, it's not long from the portal, before which you can return to the starting town, to Nadya's town. Later in RoW, when you're far from sources of magical supplies, you're deliberately given a way to contact an interdimensional merchant.
Sure, you may be away from stores for part of an issue, even a level or two, but rarely longer. The assumption is clearly that most of the time you'll be able to resupply and equip as desired. They are certainly not short on treasure or magic. I don't see any reason why characters in APs wouldn't be able to have the standard Xmas tree ensemble if they wanted. I haven't done the math for WBL, but from what I've heard it tracks close enough. And frankly I'd be shocked if it was otherwise: If Paizo's flagship product ignored its own guidelines.


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rgrove0172 wrote:
The whole notion of WBL and CR and the like seem to be in an attempt to conventionalize play across the entire player base.

Perhaps it is, but more importantly, WBL and CR are attempts to make the DM's job easier and the game run smoother. On the DM side, the CR system is an attempt to create predictable and fun encounters. (Assuming the DM generally follows the game's other rules and guidelines, including WBL.)

On the player side, WBL gives the PCs -- at least nominally -- the bonuses appropriate to their level. Think of WBL as a second layer of base attack bonus, base save bonus, ability boosts, and the base AC bonuses that classes don't grant. Is this a weird way to give PCs what the game assumes they have? Yes, but it's very much how the game currently works.

rgrove0172 wrote:
Unless your playing semi-competitively with other gaming groups its all really mute. All the talk about players feeling constrained or even cheated by the GM doesnt apply if your game is the only one they are playing or familiar with. Each game is different, each GM lending a different feel to his campaign. There is no such thing as a typical handling of a game or even a normal one.

There are standardized guidelines and rules which help new DMs and players enjoy the game until they learn enough of its ins and outs to deviate from them. As you say, they provide structure for the story while everyone -- especially the DM -- is feeling out the game.

And as I've said before, saying things like "there is no such thing as a typical game" may be true, but you're also giving any new DMs who may be reading this thread the wrong impression. It's like leaving someone at the edge of a rapid river, and telling him "There's a bridge to get to the other side, but there's no typical way to cross so it's your call." Sure, you may be right, but he's not going to thank you when he finds himself caught on hidden stones halfway across and drowning.


Tequila Sunrise wrote:
rgrove0172 wrote:
The whole notion of WBL and CR and the like seem to be in an attempt to conventionalize play across the entire player base.

Perhaps it is, but more importantly, WBL and CR are attempts to make the DM's job easier and the game run smoother. On the DM side, the CR system is an attempt to create predictable and fun encounters. (Assuming the DM generally follows the game's other rules and guidelines, including WBL.)

On the player side, WBL gives the PCs -- at least nominally -- the bonuses appropriate to their level. Think of WBL as a second layer of base attack bonus, base save bonus, ability boosts, and the base AC bonuses that classes don't grant. Is this a weird way to give PCs what the game assumes they have? Yes, but it's very much how the game currently works.

rgrove0172 wrote:
Unless your playing semi-competitively with other gaming groups its all really mute. All the talk about players feeling constrained or even cheated by the GM doesnt apply if your game is the only one they are playing or familiar with. Each game is different, each GM lending a different feel to his campaign. There is no such thing as a typical handling of a game or even a normal one.

There are standardized guidelines and rules which help new DMs and players enjoy the game until they learn enough of its ins and outs to deviate from them. As you say, they provide structure for the story while everyone -- especially the DM -- is feeling out the game.

And as I've said before, saying things like "there is no such thing as a typical game" may be true, but you're also giving any new DMs who may be reading this thread the wrong impression. It's like leaving someone at the edge of a rapid river, and telling him "There's a bridge to get to the other side, but there's no typical way to cross so it's your call." Sure, you may be right, but he's not going to thank you when he finds himself caught on hidden stones halfway across and drowning.

New DM's will probably/should start at low level play with a standard published adventure so wealth by level is actually less of an issue there. The way they will learn about their and their player's preferred style of play is playing, hopefully a positive experience. From there they can experiment and hopefully achieve what they want with the game.

Note that I am assuming they will change the game in response to their own tastes because that's what every group I have ever been in has done (and the reason I don't play PFS).

Now with regards to setting up low wealth encounters it is simple, IF you have a current up to date information on the player characters. So yes, boring stuff like good DM admin comes into it. Set an appropriate level of hit dice and attacks against each other and be VERY WARY of too many save or numerous party members are effectively out of the fight type attacks. I tend to bias the hit dice towards the monsters, the environment towards them too but give the pcs the edge magically or with class abilities. So in my game you will see less things like Yeth Hounds and Vargouilles and more things like humanoids and animal opposition.

Because of the lower CR's the treasure is lessened also and skills like appraise and diplomacy for haggling actually get used!

All of this is work though and that is what it boils down to as a DM for some, they want to do this to make the game better, others are fine the way it is.


thejeff wrote:

Which is all pretty much how it's usually handled. Either handwaved or roleplayed out as something more complicated than walking into a store. The term "magic mart" is generally derogatory. Or adopted as short hand for "You can buy magic items, one way or another." It's rarely used as an actual store with shelves of magic items with prices on them.

As for haggling, as you say that's not what the game is about. It's not an economic simulation. Prices are fixed for simplicities sake.

The other point of a magic mart (in the looser sense) by the way is to give the PCs something to do with their treasure. Finding great hoards is part of the game. Spending it on gear gives you something to do with it rather than saving it up to buy land to retire on, which doesn't fit with every game. Also gives you something to do with any gear you can't use or have replaced.

I agree, save that this involves waiting for items to be crafted before you can have them. "Magic Mart" seems to be where players expect to but "off the shelf" - as one player claiming right to anything in the UE guide put it: "The rules say I have a good chance of finding whatever I want in a large city, and I want X!"


Dabbler wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Which is all pretty much how it's usually handled. Either handwaved or roleplayed out as something more complicated than walking into a store. The term "magic mart" is generally derogatory. Or adopted as short hand for "You can buy magic items, one way or another." It's rarely used as an actual store with shelves of magic items with prices on them.

As for haggling, as you say that's not what the game is about. It's not an economic simulation. Prices are fixed for simplicities sake.

The other point of a magic mart (in the looser sense) by the way is to give the PCs something to do with their treasure. Finding great hoards is part of the game. Spending it on gear gives you something to do with it rather than saving it up to buy land to retire on, which doesn't fit with every game. Also gives you something to do with any gear you can't use or have replaced.

I agree, save that this involves waiting for items to be crafted before you can have them. "Magic Mart" seems to be where players expect to but "off the shelf" - as one player claiming right to anything in the UE guide put it: "The rules say I have a good chance of finding whatever I want in a large city, and I want X!"

It doesn't have to be crafted for you. It could be a matter of looking and asking around the city until you find the one guy who's got X and is willing to sell. Then you play that process out or abstract it as much as you want.

It still doesn't have to be a single store with everything stocked on the shelves.

And remember that the guidelines set the price for commonly available fairly low, even in big cities. At high levels, you'll have trouble buying whatever you want. At low or mid levels, it won't be too hard to find.

The trouble with "waiting for crafting" is that it only works in some game styles. And in others isn't a limit at all. In a sandbox, where the PCs set their own schedule, have a home base and just go out an adventures when they're ready, it won't be a problem.
In a more plot-driven traveling quest kind of game, you may have too much time pressure to wait and might not be back to that city for several levels, if at all.


thejeff wrote:
Dabbler wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Which is all pretty much how it's usually handled. Either handwaved or roleplayed out as something more complicated than walking into a store. The term "magic mart" is generally derogatory. Or adopted as short hand for "You can buy magic items, one way or another." It's rarely used as an actual store with shelves of magic items with prices on them.

As for haggling, as you say that's not what the game is about. It's not an economic simulation. Prices are fixed for simplicities sake.

The other point of a magic mart (in the looser sense) by the way is to give the PCs something to do with their treasure. Finding great hoards is part of the game. Spending it on gear gives you something to do with it rather than saving it up to buy land to retire on, which doesn't fit with every game. Also gives you something to do with any gear you can't use or have replaced.

I agree, save that this involves waiting for items to be crafted before you can have them. "Magic Mart" seems to be where players expect to but "off the shelf" - as one player claiming right to anything in the UE guide put it: "The rules say I have a good chance of finding whatever I want in a large city, and I want X!"

It doesn't have to be crafted for you. It could be a matter of looking and asking around the city until you find the one guy who's got X and is willing to sell. Then you play that process out or abstract it as much as you want.

It still doesn't have to be a single store with everything stocked on the shelves.

And remember that the guidelines set the price for commonly available fairly low, even in big cities. At high levels, you'll have trouble buying whatever you want. At low or mid levels, it won't be too hard to find.

The trouble with "waiting for crafting" is that it only works in some game styles. And in others isn't a limit at all. In a sandbox, where the PCs set their own schedule, have a home base and just go out an adventures when they're ready, it won't be a problem....

This is about player expectation though: 'I know what I want and I want it now!' It's the same with any major purchase, whether in real life or in an RPG we want to take it home with us, however there is a tension here for the DM who has to manage things like this (the other frequently occurring example is training time on a level up).

The game world has to have a degree of consistency as place where suspension of disbelief can collectively take place. The more aspects of rule playing and meta-gaming come into the equation the more that is damaged. The DM should state their position vis-à-vis item purchase and crafting time and stick to it, players ultimately will either accept it or walk if they are THAT unhappy about it. Most will go along with it, and then if/when they DM they can interpret things their way.


strayshift wrote:
(the other frequently occurring example is training time on a level up).

That's still a thing? I know it was a rule back in the early days of first edition, but that hasn't been a part of the rules for longer than a lot of Pahtfinder players have been alive.


Chengar Qordath wrote:
strayshift wrote:
(the other frequently occurring example is training time on a level up).
That's still a thing? I know it was a rule back in the early days of first edition, but that hasn't been a part of the rules for longer than a lot of Pahtfinder players have been alive.

It is not a mandatory rule. It was basically an option in 3.5. I have never experienced it in an actual game.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
wraithstrike wrote:
Chengar Qordath wrote:
strayshift wrote:
(the other frequently occurring example is training time on a level up).
That's still a thing? I know it was a rule back in the early days of first edition, but that hasn't been a part of the rules for longer than a lot of Pahtfinder players have been alive.
It is not a mandatory rule. It was basically an option in 3.5. I have never experienced it in an actual game.

The APs are pretty much level up as you go. There are even expected target levels that PC's should be about as you progress through each book's chapter using the assumed medium xp track. They do assume a 4 person party, 6 person parties would be about a level behind the curve. We finished WOR Book one at level 5 instead of 6, but that's because we were a 6 person party.


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This is actually my biggest problem with APs. It seems like the PCs are expected to go from beginners in their field to the transcendent masters of the universe over a particularly eventful few weeks.

I prefer the PCs advancement from 1-20 to take years or decades in game. Not that it should be necessarily slower for the players around the table, but I like to intersperse a lot of downtime to give the PCs a chance to have a life that isn't constant adventuring.

APs aren't written with this style in mind.


mkenner wrote:

This is actually my biggest problem with APs. It seems like the PCs are expected to go from beginners in their field to the transcendent masters of the universe over a particularly eventful few weeks.

I prefer the PCs advancement from 1-20 to take years or decades in game. Not that it should be necessarily slower for the players around the table, but I like to intersperse a lot of downtime to give the PCs a chance to have a life that isn't constant adventuring.

APs aren't written with this style in mind.

The Kingmaker AP is written to work that way. A campaign that can easily span decades, with tons of downtime between quest lines. That's probably why it's one of the more memorable APs.


mkenner wrote:

This is actually my biggest problem with APs. It seems like the PCs are expected to go from beginners in their field to the transcendent masters of the universe over a particularly eventful few weeks.

I prefer the PCs advancement from 1-20 to take years or decades in game. Not that it should be necessarily slower for the players around the table, but I like to intersperse a lot of downtime to give the PCs a chance to have a life that isn't constant adventuring.

APs aren't written with this style in mind.

Some of the AP's allow you to have a large amount of time between books. Maybe not decades, but you can stretch time out to months and weeks. I do it to give PC's time to craft if anyone has it.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

The only AP I can think of that didn't have significant downtime is Carrion Crown, where you're basically running after cult agents for six books.

All of the others have downtime somewhere.

==Aelryinth


strayshift wrote:

This is about player expectation though: 'I know what I want and I want it now!' It's the same with any major purchase, whether in real life or in an RPG we want to take it home with us, however there is a tension here for the DM who has to manage things like this (the other frequently occurring example is training time on a level up).

The game world has to have a degree of consistency as place where suspension of disbelief can collectively take place. The more aspects of rule playing and meta-gaming come into the equation the more that is damaged. The DM should state their position vis-à-vis item purchase and crafting time and stick to it, players ultimately will either accept it or walk if they are THAT unhappy about it. Most will go along with it, and then if/when they DM they can interpret things their way.

As long as the GM actually works with them to make it happen. Or warns them up front that it won't.

Requiring PCs to wait on crafting times to get items and then throwing time-sensitive plots/threats at them so they can't wait around for items is a crappy bait and switch tactic.

And given the fast pace of some games, an item you can't take with you NOW, is worse than useless: I put some money down on an expensive item. am told it'll be ready in two weeks and go back to adventuring, since the evil overlord won't wait. I'm now underequipped, since a good chunk of my WBL is tied up in an item I don't have yet and by the time two weeks have passed and I get the item, I'm 3 levels higher, I've got a ton more money and am looking at the next upgrade. It's not just "player expectations" or entitlement or whatever. It's use value. And in the fast paced world of adventuring, things depreciate quickly.

Nor do I really see what's so damaging to disbelief about a highly magical world where you can buy magic items. A world with as much magic floating around as the typical D&D/PF world, but none of it is for sale is much weirder.


thejeff wrote:
Nor do I really see what's so damaging to disbelief about a highly magical world where you can buy magic items. A world with as much magic floating around as the typical D&D/PF world, but none of it is for sale is much weirder.

Especially since those adventurers are going to eventually be leaving a trail of no longer useful magic items behind them. They'll become a sort of portable magic mart themselves....


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thejeff wrote:
strayshift wrote:

This is about player expectation though: 'I know what I want and I want it now!' It's the same with any major purchase, whether in real life or in an RPG we want to take it home with us, however there is a tension here for the DM who has to manage things like this (the other frequently occurring example is training time on a level up).

The game world has to have a degree of consistency as place where suspension of disbelief can collectively take place. The more aspects of rule playing and meta-gaming come into the equation the more that is damaged. The DM should state their position vis-à-vis item purchase and crafting time and stick to it, players ultimately will either accept it or walk if they are THAT unhappy about it. Most will go along with it, and then if/when they DM they can interpret things their way.

As long as the GM actually works with them to make it happen. Or warns them up front that it won't.

Requiring PCs to wait on crafting times to get items and then throwing time-sensitive plots/threats at them so they can't wait around for items is a crappy bait and switch tactic.

And given the fast pace of some games, an item you can't take with you NOW, is worse than useless: I put some money down on an expensive item. am told it'll be ready in two weeks and go back to adventuring, since the evil overlord won't wait. I'm now underequipped, since a good chunk of my WBL is tied up in an item I don't have yet and by the time two weeks have passed and I get the item, I'm 3 levels higher, I've got a ton more money and am looking at the next upgrade. It's not just "player expectations" or entitlement or whatever. It's use value. And in the fast paced world of adventuring, things depreciate quickly.

Nor do I really see what's so damaging to disbelief about a highly magical world where you can buy magic items. A world with as much magic floating around as the typical D&D/PF world, but none of it is for sale is much weirder.

I play a more low-magic story-telling game and I plan in breaks, e.g. Winter stops most major military/adventuring activity. It is about timeframe yes, and also the scope of the game you run (I have bad guy NPC's run off to far away lands for example) - but having played Pendragon when there is at least a year between adventures usually, this works for me.

Also I don't play WBL, but that's another matter.


strayshift wrote:
thejeff wrote:
strayshift wrote:

This is about player expectation though: 'I know what I want and I want it now!' It's the same with any major purchase, whether in real life or in an RPG we want to take it home with us, however there is a tension here for the DM who has to manage things like this (the other frequently occurring example is training time on a level up).

The game world has to have a degree of consistency as place where suspension of disbelief can collectively take place. The more aspects of rule playing and meta-gaming come into the equation the more that is damaged. The DM should state their position vis-à-vis item purchase and crafting time and stick to it, players ultimately will either accept it or walk if they are THAT unhappy about it. Most will go along with it, and then if/when they DM they can interpret things their way.

As long as the GM actually works with them to make it happen. Or warns them up front that it won't.

Requiring PCs to wait on crafting times to get items and then throwing time-sensitive plots/threats at them so they can't wait around for items is a crappy bait and switch tactic.

And given the fast pace of some games, an item you can't take with you NOW, is worse than useless: I put some money down on an expensive item. am told it'll be ready in two weeks and go back to adventuring, since the evil overlord won't wait. I'm now underequipped, since a good chunk of my WBL is tied up in an item I don't have yet and by the time two weeks have passed and I get the item, I'm 3 levels higher, I've got a ton more money and am looking at the next upgrade. It's not just "player expectations" or entitlement or whatever. It's use value. And in the fast paced world of adventuring, things depreciate quickly.

I play a more low-magic story-telling game and I plan in breaks, e.g. Winter stops most major military/adventuring activity. It is about timeframe yes, and also the scope of the game you run (I have bad guy NPC's run off to far away lands for example) - but having played Pendragon when there is at least a year between adventures usually, this works for me.

Also I don't play WBL, but that's another matter.

Sure, it certainly works for some styles and it sounds like you make it work, but it's not always just about 'I know what I want and I want it now!' There can be valid reasons for the PCs not being able to wait for things.

I've played whole campaigns that took place before we would have had to break for winter. And we've often followed the bad guy to his far-off lands.
I've played slower paced more episodic games too, but I do like the single major quest arc with time pressure style. I'm glad that the current rules don't block it by requiring down time. We always used to house rule away the training rules back in 1st edition, because "everything stops while you take a few weeks off to train" broke Verisimilitude more than gaining levels without training did. Especially back then when everyone gained levels at different rates and needed training at different times.


Aelryinth wrote:

The only AP I can think of that didn't have significant downtime is Carrion Crown, where you're basically running after cult agents for six books.

All of the others have downtime somewhere.

==Aelryinth

Ah, guess which AP I'm running.

I thought they were all like that.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Yeah, in CC basically you're only 'downtime' is your evenings camping, your travel from one module to the next, and possibly a few days/weeks at the end of 5 before you're hurtling into the finale to 6.

The only set I don't have is Crimson Throne, so I can't speak to that.

Kingmaker and Serpent's Skull have major sandbox potential and can literally take up years of time in the middle levels if you so desire.

Runelords has at least a season or two of delay between some adventures, and no strict time limit to go after the final encounter.

Second Darkness has casual travel, imprisonment 'down times', but less free time then the others, because you kinda ARE on a timer.

The desert one has multiple sandbox elements.

Skull and Shackles you're on a ship traveling from place to place between raiding merchant vessels. Downtime is a fixture.

In Reign of Winter, there's nothing that says you have to immediately exit the Hut at each new location, nor promptly head on off to the next one. They do provide the 'free Arcane Merchant' to buy stuff if you DO plan on just running. Like CC, it can be very linear, especially if you take the geas of the Black Rider seriously.

Jade Regent, the overland journey has massive amounts of down time built in, and you aren't on a schedule. The enemy can't win until you are all dead.

Shattered Star, you can take as much time between raiding for many of the pieces, i.e. between books, as you like.

And for the WoTC 3, Shackled City. Savage Tide and Age of Worms, there's definitely downtime between modules, subject to DM interpretation. Savage Tide's midgame is pure sandbox and can take months.

==Aelryinth


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I don't use Magic Marts. Magic in my games isn't common enough for that. When you use Magic Marts you turn magic into technology and remove mystique and wonder of magic and make it mundane. My limit to this is churches will grant healing potions and wizard schools wil sell low level scrolls. You can have an item made, but it has to be commissoned.

Buying and selling magic items can be done through other NPC adventuring groups if they have something they can't use or don't want. This is usually done through word of mouth as every class but wizards and clerics are illiterate.

I also don't use the WBL, you get what you get in the game.


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It hasn't been an issue for me yet, but when my players get to the point that they have enough cash to buy high level magic or have magic items to sell they're going to run into serious problems of finding buyers or finding anyone who wants to sell.

Bilbo's Mithril shirt might have been worth more than the entire Shire. That doesn't mean he could by the Shire with it. To the average Hobbit it was just a pretty shirt. So if they want to buy a magic item or something they'll probably have to do a whole mini-adventure of sending agents out to find if anyone has one to sell, setting up a meeting with the sellers agents, travelling to an agreed on place to actually make the exchange, and so forth. The sheer scale of the transaction is such that it will be very involved. Less running down to the five and dime and more trying to buy a briefcase nuke from the Russians, with all the financial cloak and dagger that would entail.

After they do it a few times they'll probably be able to hire an agent whose job is to take their shopping list and make inquiries while they're out adventuring but they'll still have to put in some legwork to actually travel around getting the gear.

I really, really, really dislike the way Pathfinder handles magic equipment by default. It sucks all the magic out of Magic and just makes it into a stack of bonuses. I mean, sure, you might have two and a half tons of gold and be in Absolom but you still have to find someone who has what you want, is willing to sell it, and trusts you to buy it.

I dunno, it hasn't come up yet, I'll see what happens when it does.


FrankManic wrote:
...the way Pathfinder handles magic equipment by default ... sucks all the magic out of Magic and just makes it into a stack of bonuses.

This, unquestionably.


Jaelithe wrote:
FrankManic wrote:
...the way Pathfinder handles magic equipment by default ... sucks all the magic out of Magic and just makes it into a stack of bonuses.
This, unquestionably.

I question.

For real, it depends on your game and your DM. Making magic items badass and actually feel special all comes down to presentation, not mechanics.

If you are unimaginative, then it doesn't matter how special or unique your magic items are, all you will see is the description of what it does and be unimpressed.


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Master...

"You find this exquisitely balanced and finely engraved blade with glowing runes on the hilt that seem to pulsate with awesome power (it's a +1 sword just so you can mark your sheet.)"

Three levels later... "You find a new sword that.. uh... has pulsating... no wait, the blade crackles with raw magic power and as you hold it you recognize it has MORE awesomeness than your current sword (it's a +2 shockig sword)"

Two levels later: "You find a hyper-awesome sword of ... uh awesomeness..."
"Just give me the dang stats willya? And where can I dump this old sword?"


Adamantine Dragon wrote:

Master...

"You find this exquisitely balanced and finely engraved blade with glowing runes on the hilt that seem to pulsate with awesome power (it's a +1 sword just so you can mark your sheet.)"

Three levels later... "You find a new sword that.. uh... has pulsating... no wait, the blade crackles with raw magic power and as you hold it you recognize it has MORE awesomeness than your current sword (it's a +2 shockig sword)"

Two levels later: "You find a hyper-awesome sword of ... uh awesomeness..."
"Just give me the dang stats willya? And where can I dump this old sword?"

I'm sorry, but I would totally stoked to find a Hyper-Awesome Sword of Awesomeness.

Then again, I am a fan of How I Met Your Mother.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:


Master...

"You find this exquisitely balanced and finely engraved blade with glowing runes on the hilt that seem to pulsate with awesome power (it's a +1 sword just so you can mark your sheet.)"

Three levels later... "You find a new sword that.. uh... has pulsating... no wait, the blade crackles with raw magic power and as you hold it you recognize it has MORE awesomeness than your current sword (it's a +2 shockig sword)"

Two levels later: "You find a hyper-awesome sword of ... uh awesomeness..."
"Just give me the dang stats willya? And where can I dump this old sword?"

The classic answer would be to give / bequeath it to some deserving friend / ally / dependent / good citizen who does not have a "more awesome sword". You can make friends / allies, seal the deal with a cohort etc. Unless you're some sociopathic loner who does not want to win friends / influence people...


I too would be honoured to wield the Hyper-Awesome Sword of Awesomeness.

Our group has always been fairly style over substance. I've had players refuse to wear powerful magical items because the item in question clashed with their outfit.

Some of the most memorable items from our group's games have been:

The most comfortable sleeping bag in the world.
A +7 rat on a stick of ambiguous benefit.
A cello the size of a violin that still sounds like a cello.
An Adamantium Vorpal guitar string.
A helmet that composed and played theme music in your ears when you enter battle.
A tank with a fully stocked wet-bar in the cabin.


Captain Wacky wrote:

I don't use Magic Marts. Magic in my games isn't common enough for that. When you use Magic Marts you turn magic into technology and remove mystique and wonder of magic and make it mundane. My limit to this is churches will grant healing potions and wizard schools wil sell low level scrolls. You can have an item made, but it has to be commissoned.

Buying and selling magic items can be done through other NPC adventuring groups if they have something they can't use or don't want. This is usually done through word of mouth as every class but wizards and clerics are illiterate.

I also don't use the WBL, you get what you get in the game.

Is that how YOU feel or did your players tell you it feels that way? I never really cared about magic items as anything other than tools to get the job done.

So everyone in your gameworld can read or write? How do they have buildings and other things? Even the guy building, not even the architect has to be able to read.


wraithstrike wrote:
So everyone in your gameworld can [can't?] read or write? How do they have buildings and other things? Even the guy building, not even the architect has to be able to read.

Buildings and writing are not necessarily correlated. I'm no archaeologist but I don't believe there's any evidence of a written language at Dhar Tichitt despite their use of stone buildings. To the best of my knowledge many of the great civilizations in West Africa lacked any written script until islamic traders introduced Arabic.

With only clerics and wizards able to read and write, the written word may be seen as sacred within that setting. Something used only by those willing to deal with dangerous mystical forces.

...Sorry for that unrelated digression. Now if you'll excuse me I have to run off and write a West-african based area of my campaign world with a culture built around the sacred use of written language.


I think there is some lack of understanding of my "hyper-awesome sword of awesomeness" example.

My point is that people seem to think that a GM can overcome the ever-escalating Christmas tree effect with some brilliant expository effort where they can ramp up the players' appreciation of receipt of a magic item through brilliant narration.

If you are playing the game the way the developers expect you to be playing the game, by level 9 or 10 your players will have each received somewhere in the range of 15-20 magic items. If there are four players that's 60-100 "brilliant narrative descriptions". Roughly 1/3 to 1/2 of those will be "brilliant narrative descriptions" of items that are intended to replace EXISTING items that had previously been "brilliantly narratively described" but are now obsolete and pointless.

If you think the 45th time the GM says "Your eyes go wide in appreciation of the hyper-awesomeness of the awesomosity of the awe-inspiring bauble in front of you" your players aren't going to roll their eyes, you are fooling yourself.

This is precisely why people complain that magic items can't be "rare and precious" in the default application of the rules. Because you can't call something "rare and precious" when they rain down like acorns from the oak trees. Especially when it becomes something of a chore for the player to dispose of the obsolete items they were supposed to view as "rare and precious" until they are suddenly old and tired.

The folks here who complain about magic marts are right about that. They just assign the blame to the wrong thing.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

mkenner wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
So everyone in your gameworld can [can't?] read or write? How do they have buildings and other things? Even the guy building, not even the architect has to be able to read.

Buildings and writing are not necessarily correlated. I'm no archaeologist but I don't believe there's any evidence of a written language at Dhar Tichitt despite their use of stone buildings. To the best of my knowledge many of the great civilizations in West Africa lacked any written script until islamic traders introduced Arabic.

With only clerics and wizards able to read and write, the written word may be seen as sacred within that setting. Something used only by those willing to deal with dangerous mystical forces.

...Sorry for that unrelated digression. Now if you'll excuse me I have to run off and write a West-african based area of my campaign world with a culture built around the sacred use of written language.

You can go all the way back to Joseph and Moses to see how valuable learning was in the Bible, and that's 4000 BC or something, in the Pyramids area.

Literacy was the requirement of nobles and professionals. Merchants are actually the biggest drivers of it, because they want to be able to keep track of what they buy and sell...and to lie to the tax collectors, who need to be able to read those records to collect their fair share.

In short, people who could not read and write were barbarians and common laborers.

==Aelryinth


I think the oldest written records that have ever been recovered were merchant records, essentially bills of lading or inventory lists.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

The dead sea scrolls are probably older ;) As well as some of the cuneiform and stone-carved stuff (the Rosetta Stone, etc).

Keep in mind that some of the modern day languages are also incredibly old (Hindu and Chinese, etc)

--Aelryinth


@ AD: you're absolutely right - 60 magic items by level 10; 15 of these have been for the "fighter" type; 4 of these have been repeats of their primary weapon type or at least been that weapon. Just take that as your example:

Brach Battlehammer:
Level 2: after fighting through a horde of goblins, surviving a unique bunch of akatas whose blood mutated into tiny spiders creating a swarwrm, and descending daringly through a ruin and dungeon, Brach Battlehammer found... a +1 hammer. It wasn't just any hammer though; it was one of the hammers crafted for the Ironmourn Legion for use in defense of Brutenheim against the goblin hordes of a bygone age.

Level 4: while enduring the trials of Balefire the fighter Brach Battlehammer was given a new hammer. Since the minions of Balefire are empowered with infernal fire, this new weapon was tailored to his need. The device is made in the dwarven style; a block mallet mounted atop a leather-wrapped haft. The head is cold iron, emblazoned with the symbol of the Battlehammer clan and bathed for 3 days and nights in icy waters in the depths of the Frostbeard Falls. The leather of the haft is winter wolf hide wound in cold-iron chord and studded with Frost Agates; rare blue-white opaque crystals said to be formed from the blood of fallen ice giants. This +1 Frost weapon dealt solid blows of the coldest winter to Brach's enemies.

Level 6: Brach and his companions came upon the lair of a witch who had entombed a dwarven hero in a bower of stone. After struggling against her mightily, the team unearthed the dwarf and gave him a proper burial. In return the spirits of the fallen hero's clan summoned up a hammer from the spirit world and made manifest the weapon from a dream. The device, called the Thunder Caller is a +2 warhammer of stone and bone. Thrice daily the weapon can issue forth a stroke of lighting dealing 4d6 damage to a 30' line from the head of the device while 1/day when slammed to the ground Thunder Caller can deal 3d6 lightning damage to a 10' burst from the wielder and as well issue thundering sound and potentially stun all these foes

Level 8: yet ANOTHER hammer had been made for Brach. Now to deal with the demon lord of the Balefire cult an updated version of his Frost Hammer was crafted. This one was more powerful than the first, being a +2 Frost Burst Hammer which also used an aura of cold to counteract fire granting the wielder Resist Fire 10. It also could be called upon thrice per day to call down an ice storm.

So you've got a GM that has to make FOUR warhammers, each with ever increasing powers, and place them plausibly, make them interesting and memorable, and hope that the player isn't so jaded that they don't just roll their eyes.

I'm not advocating a giant warehouse store called the Magic Mart, but I am saying if you're using default rules having standardized places where the party can just go and buy this stuff rather than having to place it all over the landscape sure would make it easy.


The history of writing is actually a highly controversial area of debate and disagreement.

By the time of the Dead Sea Scrolls, writing had become sophisticated enough to have evolved into specific languages. The Rosetta Stone is essentially a royal decree that was transcribed in three languages, so by the time it was written languages had been in use long enough to have evolved independently into separate systems.

The oldest examples of writing that I know of are generally untranslatable clay or stone tablets with markings on them that have no reference we can use to definitively translate them. Many archaeologists and historians consider them to be 'proto-writing' as opposed to true written languages.

Since we can really only definitively identify something as "true writing" if we have some reference to translate them, that restricts our examples to fragments that contain something written down in a recognizable script.

And those go back around 6,000 years or so, and as I said, most of those tend to be merchant records.

Examples of full-blown writing beyond simple lists tend to be things recovered in temples or royal palaces and are usually religious texts or royal decrees. Those are generally examples of a mature writing system, meaning the language and the writing of it had likely been in use for generations before being put on a temple wall.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:

I think there is some lack of understanding of my "hyper-awesome sword of awesomeness" example.

My point is that people seem to think that a GM can overcome the ever-escalating Christmas tree effect with some brilliant expository effort where they can ramp up the players' appreciation of receipt of a magic item through brilliant narration.

If you are playing the game the way the developers expect you to be playing the game, by level 9 or 10 your players will have each received somewhere in the range of 15-20 magic items. If there are four players that's 60-100 "brilliant narrative descriptions". Roughly 1/3 to 1/2 of those will be "brilliant narrative descriptions" of items that are intended to replace EXISTING items that had previously been "brilliantly narratively described" but are now obsolete and pointless.

If you think the 45th time the GM says "Your eyes go wide in appreciation of the hyper-awesomeness of the awesomosity of the awe-inspiring bauble in front of you" your players aren't going to roll their eyes, you are fooling yourself.

This is precisely why people complain that magic items can't be "rare and precious" in the default application of the rules. Because you can't call something "rare and precious" when they rain down like acorns from the oak trees. Especially when it becomes something of a chore for the player to dispose of the obsolete items they were supposed to view as "rare and precious" until they are suddenly old and tired.

The folks here who complain about magic marts are right about that. They just assign the blame to the wrong thing.

Typically to avoid the entire, "this bad guy had an amulet that's ever so slightly better than mine, guess this one goes in the trash" problem that comes from Christmas treeing, I invoke the upgrading mechanics from Unearthed Arcana 3.5 and the MIC (can't remember which one) that allow you to actually upgrade items for the difference in their base prices.

I understand the problem that you are describing, and my way of playing works for my groups. I acknowledge that it may not work for everyone, but then again not everyone can be pleased.


Master, that's how 4e does it too, and it "works" great, but it still makes the "magic" feel mundane.

The real problem is the need for all that magical bling in the first place. This is greatly exacerbated by the need for the bling to be delivered in tiers of power over the course of the PC's career. It's a fundamental issue of game design, and it's not going away.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:

Master, that's how 4e does it too, and it "works" great, but it still makes the "magic" feel mundane.

The real problem is the need for all that magical bling in the first place. It's a fundamental issue of game design, and it's not going away.

I do believe it is one of the driving issues for E6 campaigns is it not?


Master, one of them, yes. The other, I think, is the ever escalating divide in power between casting and martial classes.

The irony is that the first problem (christmas tree) was almost certainly created as a way to address the second problem (martials don't get any cool toys).

I understand that, and I've stopped fighting it. If a rules system comes out that my group wants to play that does provide that "rare and precious" feel to magic items, I'll probably move to it. For now we'll keep on treating magic items as the commodity they are expected to be in default Pathfinder rules.

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