Question to the 3pp Folks out there.


Advice and Rules Questions


Those of you that publish those 3pp things that I love to snatch up (Godling, Rivenmage, It Came from the Stars, etc) how many of you play other folks 3pp stuff or at least run it in your games?

I'm curious because I've wondered how much of your 3pp stuff that you release you think about in combination with other 3pp stuff out there.


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My campaign is very kitchen-sink. We have no restrictions on 3PP and Perry and I use a lot of 3PP stuff when planning our campaigns or building our characters. Most of my local players do not use much 3PP stuff. Its disappointing but on the flipside they don't buy a lot of Paizo either and tend to stick pretty tightly to the core book.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Dreamscarred Press Psionics is the 3pp that we definitely use the most. Other 3pp are case by case, but usually if it fits your character, as a DM I don't have many issues in accepting it unless it is ridiculously powerful.

Contributor

3PP and I have a complicated affair. I allow tons of different publishers in my home game, but when I'm planning an adventure / encounter / whatever I pretty much stick to 1PP options only unless I have a specific, long-term villain in mind. Its not that I don't like using 3PP stuff, its that I'm incredibly lazy and don't want to spend hours building an enemy with 3PP rules if he's not important to the story I'm writing. Gotta make sure that time is spent effectively and all that.

On the other hand, I have a fairly expansive list of 3PP material that's available to my players and allow them to pitch more to me for my approval, but they generally don't look beyond 1PP because Paizo material on its own can be very threatening as-is.

So yeah, I allow a lot but don't typically see much. I'm planning on picking up Dreamscarred Press's Psionic NPC Codex, so hopefully that'll motivate me to change my ways a little. :D

Liberty's Edge

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Perhaps not unsurprisingly, we tend to see lots of Kobold Press classes and other material in our games :)


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When I run, I allow anything anyone brings me to play after I review it and make sure I understand it-- and then work out with the player how it lives in the world around the characters. Nothing gets to exist in a void. I tend to run Midgard (so all the Kobold Press stuff is in by default), but with an eye on incorporating Coliseum Morpheuon from Rite Publishing as it progresses.

When I play, I ask about a few different things-- what is the frequency of magic in the game, what's the role of slavery in the game world, and whether I can use 3PP material to design a character. Generally, then I can sit down and make a fun character to play without too much heartache.

-Ben.


My table is DSP and pazio fully open, other 3pp is open if I read and dont see issues. I worry more about my players having fun and not telling them badwrongfun to what they want their character to do/be.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm not a 3pp, but I am a freelancer. I encourage use of third party products in games I run, but most folks I've ran for stick to Paizo, aside from one who latched on to the aegis from DSP.


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What makes me laugh most about topics like this is roughly 60% of the freelancers who work for 3PP work for Paizo. When they are working for 3PP material is considered "overpowered" but while the material they place out for Paizo is "right on". Please stop it. It sounds silly. Just say you are a gaming snob and 3PP could never be as good because they are not Paizo. I would rather here that then hear the silly "balancing" issue of 3PP. Balance is gaming is false. Just compare and Elf to a Half Orc and tell me they are "balanced" and "equal". They are not, everyone knows that they are not and it is NOT an issue in gaming. if a 3PP did that, everyone and their mom playing would say how crappy and unbalanced they are. Gaming snobbery is what hurts 3PP, no matter how good the 3PP are.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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LMPjr007 wrote:
What makes me laugh most about topics like this is roughly 60% of the freelancers who work for 3PP work for Paizo. When they are working for 3PP material is considered "overpowered" but while the material they place out for Paizo is "right on". Please stop it. It sounds silly. Just say you are a gaming snob and 3PP could never be as good because they are not Paizo. I would rather here that then hear the silly "balancing" issue of 3PP. Balance is gaming is false. Just compare and Elf to a Half Orc and tell me they are "balanced" and "equal". They are not, everyone knows that they are not and it is NOT an issue in gaming. if a 3PP did that, everyone and their mom playing would say how crappy and unbalanced they are. Gaming snobbery is what hurts 3PP, no matter how good the 3PP are.

While a little more confrontational than I might have put it, this is very true. In another thread recently someone was referring to the Dragonrider from Rogue Genius Games as unbalanced, and I almost laughed out loud, both because it's patently untrue, and because I myself have been guilty of thinking the same thing before I stopped and actually read the whole class through and did, you know, math. Totally aside from the fact that Owen K.C. Stephens is a major part of the Paizo team, he's also an incredibly conservative designer and developer. Just compare the Dragonrider to a druid with a roc or giant wasp companion; they've got almost the same chassis, but the druid has vastly superior spellcasting, isn't completely reliant on his companion to function, etc. I've found in most instances 3PP products will actually under-shoot the power level of their classes by a fair margin specifically because of the stigma against them.

Shadow Lodge

I have some favorites. For monsters and adventures, Frog God Games is my favorite publisher. For Pathfinder mechanics, Dreamscarred Press is my favorite. I think both of these publishers, in those areas, actually outshine Paizo. (Although for FGG, I tend to prefer the Swords & Wizardry versions of their stuff, making them first-party, not third-party.)


The reason I asked was that it seems like sometimes when publishing a new class, feat, etc the 3PP is only looking at the game from a Paizo-Created Content perspective. Like "how will this interact, stack up with, challenge items from the Core Rulebook or such other official Paizo product". It seems we have multiple variations of some very similar classes out there (like some of the Warlock variants) or items that if you combine this feat from 3pp A with this class from 3pp B you get a monstrosity of mechanical powers.

So I was wondering how much the 3PP actually look to what is out there from other publishers. If they use it in their own home games. Are these interactions or competitions intended or simply along the lines of "Dang, didn't know THAT was out there."?


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I tend to read alot of the 3PP material that is out there, but when writing we work and assume from a Core perspective. Essentially there are a number of reasons:

1. Taking into account everything Paizo writes and produces is ALOT of work, adding 3PPs ontop of that is insane, especially for small companies like us.

2. Market reasons - having access to the Core books is a form of "minimum common base" that we can assume people understand and can work with and/from. So if we write material that takes niche products into account, it will have to be our own niche material.

3. Collaborations are fun and interesting. We've been bouncing some ideas with Alexander Augunas about cross-creating something with Pact Magic. We have worked either directly for another publisher (LPJr) or with another publisher (Legendary Games). But that takes both sides to agree. It takes alot of effort to co-ordinate and effort is expensive for small teams.

That said, when we GM, we generally go pretty wild. My personal and natural inclination is YES. That means my Way of the Wicked campaign (3PP by itself) has player-designed races, refluffed classes, rewritten powers and spells, variant classes and archetypes. Heck, I have a Shadow Mastiff Aegis with a Crystalized Faerie as psicrystal. Weird is just the start of it all.

- Andreas Rönnqvist
Dreamscarred Press


Craig Bonham 141 wrote:
So I was wondering how much the 3PP actually look to what is out there from other publishers. If they use it in their own home games. Are these interactions or competitions intended or simply along the lines of "Dang, didn't know THAT was out there."?

This is kinda tricky to answer. On a personal level, and when working with Andreas & others, we're certainly aware of the work of others. We try to avoid stepping on toes or re-creating work that already got made, certainly. But balance-wise we cannot assume that any given game contains any content but Paizo's and our own, mostly because of the sheer, mind-blowing volume of that content. Partnering with another publisher is one thing, since we're sharing a body of work we can both balance around at that point, but...

It's sort of like how on another forum I frequent, RAW is valued not as being something worthy in and of itself, but as a baseline from which alterations and discussions may both proceed. In this metaphor, Paizo content is the RAW, and 3pp are the houserules that alter it. We cannot assume the existence of any rules but our own, because by definition including our content is a deviation from the RAW already.

That said, I'm certain we'd be happy to provide advice & feedback to those worried about specific interactions. Worst thing that happens is no one helps; best thing that happens is members of one or both company can observe the interaction and provide feedback.


Craig Bonham 141 wrote:
So I was wondering how much the 3PP actually look to what is out there from other publishers. If they use it in their own home games. Are these interactions or competitions intended or simply along the lines of "Dang, didn't know THAT was out there."?

It depends. For example the reason I did the Machinesmith is because no one really did an artificer class the way that made sense to me. There we several 3PP artificer classes out there but something else we did was have the fans playtest it in a open playtest. That help show people what we were looking to do. Plus (what I still think is crazy) is we placed the who class online at D20PFSRD.com completely for free. The funny part is that the sales of Machinesmith are AMAZING for a product that you can get for free. When the fans like you, the will actually support you. Dreamscarred Press has more than proven that with psionics.

But I know a way to avoid parallel development is to find an area in Pathfinder and become the authority of it. Legendary Game = Adventure Paths; DSP = Psionics; Rogue Genius Game = Small niche ideas. Better still, find ways you can team up with those who do that niche and you will you each other out. Teaming up is a great way to expand each other customers who might not know of the other 3PP.


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I love 3PP. But I prefer that they enhance a standard rule set like ultimate rulership and battle.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Craig Bonham 141 wrote:

The reason I asked was that it seems like sometimes when publishing a new class, feat, etc the 3PP is only looking at the game from a Paizo-Created Content perspective. Like "how will this interact, stack up with, challenge items from the Core Rulebook or such other official Paizo product". It seems we have multiple variations of some very similar classes out there (like some of the Warlock variants) or items that if you combine this feat from 3pp A with this class from 3pp B you get a monstrosity of mechanical powers.

So I was wondering how much the 3PP actually look to what is out there from other publishers. If they use it in their own home games. Are these interactions or competitions intended or simply along the lines of "Dang, didn't know THAT was out there."?

It varies a bit. As a general rule, truly balanced material doesn't need to worry about interacting with other balanced material; it should come together well. Sometimes stuff slips through though, like Sacred Geometry which has a hole in its math that lets a clever player basically just get free metamagic applied to his spells, Order of the Flame Cavaliers who have both the ability to drop their AC below 0 and the ability to deal effectively infinite damage, or the create demiplane spell that can be used for all kinds of abuse...

Note that those are all Paizo mechanics. The point isn't to get down on Paizo though, it's to show that unintended interactions happen even within one individual company with staff members whose jobs specifically include checking for stuff like that. So any designer, whether they're part of Paizo or not, can only focus on making sure they've balanced to core as well as possible. If they're successful at doing so, then they should be as balanced to other 3pp materials as they are to Paizo's or their own.


I really appreciate the answers and insight from you all. Thank you, it answers some questions I've had for awhile and if anything increases my respect for 3pp.

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

LMPjr007 wrote:
What makes me laugh most about topics like this is roughly 60% of the freelancers who work for 3PP work for Paizo. When they are working for 3PP material is considered "overpowered" but while the material they place out for Paizo is "right on". Please stop it. It sounds silly. Just say you are a gaming snob and 3PP could never be as good because they are not Paizo. I would rather here that then hear the silly "balancing" issue of 3PP. Balance is gaming is false. Just compare and Elf to a Half Orc and tell me they are "balanced" and "equal". They are not, everyone knows that they are not and it is NOT an issue in gaming. if a 3PP did that, everyone and their mom playing would say how crappy and unbalanced they are. Gaming snobbery is what hurts 3PP, no matter how good the 3PP are.

I agree with this up to a certain point. Any company is capable of writing "unbalanced" stuff, but I would suggest that a larger, better resourced company like Paizo has a better chance of creating "balanced" material because they can afford greater development of any given piece of new rules than (say) Raging Swan Press. Shockingly, we don't have a large development department, but Paizo do. Does that mean they are infallible? No. Does it means I use everything Paizo produces at my table? No.

This is a perfect opportunity for me to go on a rant about balance in games, but I must resist...

President, Jon Brazer Enterprises

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Back when I ran games, I tended to use alot of Pathfinder Compatible monsters (even if my players never knew it). Interestingly, the one monster book I never used was the Tome of Horrors Complete. IMO, the best reason to use a Pathfinder Compatible monster book is to keep the players on their toes and throw stuff at them that they never saw before. My players had seen the monsters in the Tome of Horrors many, MANY times.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Creighton Broadhurst wrote:
This is a perfect opportunity for me to go on a rant about balance in games

You should seize it. I'd be interested, for one. :)

Publisher, Forest Guardian Press

Steve Geddes wrote:
Creighton Broadhurst wrote:
This is a perfect opportunity for me to go on a rant about balance in games
You should seize it. I'd be interested, for one. :)

I'm all ears too*, Creighton. Or you could put it on your blog. :)

* No I am not an ear monster.


Creighton Broadhurst wrote:
LMPjr007 wrote:
What makes me laugh most about topics like this is roughly 60% of the freelancers who work for 3PP work for Paizo. When they are working for 3PP material is considered "overpowered" but while the material they place out for Paizo is "right on". Please stop it. It sounds silly. Just say you are a gaming snob and 3PP could never be as good because they are not Paizo. I would rather here that then hear the silly "balancing" issue of 3PP. Balance is gaming is false. Just compare and Elf to a Half Orc and tell me they are "balanced" and "equal". They are not, everyone knows that they are not and it is NOT an issue in gaming. if a 3PP did that, everyone and their mom playing would say how crappy and unbalanced they are. Gaming snobbery is what hurts 3PP, no matter how good the 3PP are.

I agree with this up to a certain point. Any company is capable of writing "unbalanced" stuff, but I would suggest that a larger, better resourced company like Paizo has a better chance of creating "balanced" material because they can afford greater development of any given piece of new rules than (say) Raging Swan Press. Shockingly, we don't have a large development department, but Paizo do. Does that mean they are infallible? No. Does it means I use everything Paizo produces at my table? No.

This is a perfect opportunity for me to go on a rant about balance in games, but I must resist...

One could also argue that the greater overhead Paizo experiences is an incentive to throw balance out the window in order to secure maximum orders on the next book. Happily, Paizo, being a story company rather than a crunch company, has been one of the better d20 companies when it comes to resisting hitting that button.


For me it depends heavily on what sort of setting I'm going for. I find 3PP stuff is a great way to flesh out a setting and add to a campaign but not everything fits.

For example If I am going to run a Greek themed campaign I want the Godling in there. It just fits so well with that sort of story telling.

Flip side If I am running a European Crusade style story, it's not as good a fit.

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

Steve Geddes wrote:
Creighton Broadhurst wrote:
This is a perfect opportunity for me to go on a rant about balance in games
You should seize it. I'd be interested, for one. :)

I shall commence pondering! I'm wondering, though, if balance is all it's cracked up to be.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

You're preaching to the converted here. I prefer imbalanced systems.
It's always interesting to hear opinions from people who actually know what they're talking about though. :)

Contributor

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3pp material is perfectly fine at my table. I use a lot of Kobold Press material now--and things from the companies I'm involved with. LPJ, Rite, Purple Duck, Raging Swan, Legendary Games, Frog God, and many others produce excellent material. I will be adding things from them all to my campaign as I move forward.


Creighton Broadhurst wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Creighton Broadhurst wrote:
This is a perfect opportunity for me to go on a rant about balance in games
You should seize it. I'd be interested, for one. :)
I shall commence pondering! I'm wondering, though, if balance is all it's cracked up to be.

I'm sold on the idea of "codified imbalance". For example, if everything had a codified power level on a scale from 1-10 and people more or less rated their own work at the proper power level, then a GM could simply tell their players not to take anything above a 6. Problem solved! You can literally have your power creep and eat it too, and horribly underpowered classes become a niche in and of itself.

The issue is, of course, the freeform class mixing in most d20 incarnations, so in order to make something like CI work, you need to build an entire game around it from the ground up.

Presently working on it!


LMPjr007 wrote:
What makes me laugh most about topics like this is roughly 60% of the freelancers who work for 3PP work for Paizo. When they are working for 3PP material is considered "overpowered" but while the material they place out for Paizo is "right on". Please stop it. It sounds silly. Just say you are a gaming snob and 3PP could never be as good because they are not Paizo. I would rather here that then hear the silly "balancing" issue of 3PP. Balance is gaming is false. Just compare and Elf to a Half Orc and tell me they are "balanced" and "equal". They are not, everyone knows that they are not and it is NOT an issue in gaming. if a 3PP did that, everyone and their mom playing would say how crappy and unbalanced they are. Gaming snobbery is what hurts 3PP, no matter how good the 3PP are.

One last thing I would add to LMPjr007- wasn't it just a few years ago that Paizo was a 3PP that many GMs wouldn't allow into their games?

And to take it one more step, wasn't it WotC that gave us Leap Attack, Shock Trooper, Divine Metamagic, Nightsticks, Leadership, Swiftblade, Divine Minion, and any number of other things you can find on the old theoretical optimization boards?

Everything should be examined on a case by case basis. Sacred Geometry will never see light in our campaigns. Double barrel firearm shenanigans, Synthesist Summoner, Finding Haleen, Slumber Hex, etc. all have in our campaign an unspoken agreement we won't abuse them.

On the other hand, don't let this scare you away from all the other 3PP. Some of their stuff is pretty awesome. I'm a fan of Adamants Swashbuckler, Kobold/OD's Elven Archer, Wordcastings Pugulist, and Rogue Genius' Armiger and Shadow Assassin, - and yes - LMPjr's Machinesmith just to shamelessly plug a few of my favorites.


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White Templar, but emphasis mine wrote:
And to take it one more step, wasn't it WotC that gave us Leap Attack, Shock Trooper, Divine Metamagic, Nightsticks, Leadership, Swiftblade, Divine Minion, and any number of other things you can find on the old theoretical optimization boards?

Aside from a good bottle of 16-year Lagavulin, the Leadership feat is the greatest gift you can give your GM. It says, "I want to be invested in the campaign world, with ties to the community, people who rely on me, and an easy source of hooks and story seeds. I want to give the world and my character more depth."

I feel sad for the tables that ban Leadership, for all the opportunities missed, the npcs left fallow, the plots left unturned.

-Ben.

Liberty's Edge

Could not agree more!!!

Silver Crusade

for me it's anything I can get onto Herolab without having to do massive amounts of effort I'll let go (as long as it's not OP)

Contributor

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terraleon wrote:
White Templar, but emphasis mine wrote:
And to take it one more step, wasn't it WotC that gave us Leap Attack, Shock Trooper, Divine Metamagic, Nightsticks, Leadership, Swiftblade, Divine Minion, and any number of other things you can find on the old theoretical optimization boards?

Aside from a good bottle of 16-year Lagavulin, the Leadership feat is the greatest gift you can give your GM. It says, "I want to be invested in the campaign world, with ties to the community, people who rely on me, and an easy source of hooks and story seeds. I want to give the world and my character more depth."

I feel sad for the tables that ban Leadership, for all the opportunities missed, the npcs left fallow, the plots left unturned.

-Ben.

My thoughts exactly. That's why I wrote the Leadership Handbook. ;-)


I make use and approve of 3PP at my table. I never had an aversion to third-party back in the Wizards of the Coast D20 era; our game store was chock full of third-party stuff back in high school and I felt it silly at the time to restrict oneself so. Although I was the only one who owned such books in my group, so I never had to worry about a player coming to the table with some unknown class from some book I never heard of which might be overpowered. :P

My current favorite is the Path of War (Dreamscarred Press), as the martial options inside make for a lot of neat tricks for NPCs to have!

I really like Rule Zero: Underlings (Minotaur Games) for allowing me as GM to quickly generate hordes of mooks quickly and easily without having to worry about extraneous details.

Like a lot of Pathfinder GMs I utilize the Tome of Horrors Complete (Frog God Games) for its amazing array of monsters.

For ones I want to use but haven't yet...

After my homebrew game is over I have plans on running a published adventure path or two. Way of the Wicked (Fire Mountain Games) and Zeitgeist (EN Publishing) are two contenders, along with some of the top-tier Paizo ones. Half my groups intrigued by WotW, but one is strongly against it (not fond of the whole "Asmodean fifth columnists planning to subvert the government" angle). Only time will tell if I get around to it.

If I ever become a player with a GM who allows 3PP, I might ask them their opinion on the Ethermancer (Interjection Games) or the White Necromancer from the Class Compendium (Kobold Press).


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Craig Bonham 141 wrote:

Those of you that publish those 3pp things that I love to snatch up (Godling, Rivenmage, It Came from the Stars, etc) how many of you play other folks 3pp stuff or at least run it in your games?

I'm curious because I've wondered how much of your 3pp stuff that you release you think about in combination with other 3pp stuff out there.

I use Kobold and Rite material a lot, almost as much as Paizo and RGG.

Purple Duck is a good third.
Job Brazer Enterprises if I want to run an AP he has supplemental for.
Legendary for Mythic material.
Dreamscarred for Psionics.


Our own things are used at our table of course. Also part of the playtesting experience.

But other 3PP that are in current use for a bushido meets wuxia martial arts game are:

-Specific books by Company-

Abandoned Arts:
Class Acts: Monks

Accessible Games
Scroll of Styles

Drop Dead Studios:
Spiritualist
War Dancer

Rite Publishing:
Heroes of the Jade Oath
Way of the Samurai
Secrets of the Bravo
Ironborn of Questhaven

Tricky Owlbear:
Fantastic Fighting Styles

Glen Taylor Games:
DragonCyclopedia Martial Arts Feats

Little Red Goblin:
Heroes of the East 1-3
Dragon Tiger Ox
Wandering Artist

Rogue Genius:
Talented Monk
Mosaic Mage

Dreamscarred Press:
Path of War

Tripod Machine:
Monk Reborn

Purple Duck Games/4Winds:
Inkantations
Shinobi
Awalim
Godmetals of Prophyra


Amora Game wrote:


Tripod Machine:
Monk Reborn

... or as I like to call it, "The book everyone buys but no one talks about." :)

Thanks for the shout out! And for, you know, mentioning the product in polite company. :)


I will at least look at it if a player wants to use it. Nothing I have ever seen before gets a free pass, even if it is from Paizo, but I mostly allow anything, so I don't say no too often.

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