Experimental APs - why not one going to Level 20?


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I know that every other AP tends to be a non-standard AP (for instance, the upcoming Hell's Vengeance evil PC AP). I was curious if Paizo has thought of doing a Fast-Track AP that packs in more XP-related content and more difficult encounters to try and get the PCs to level 20 by the sixth book of the AP.

I'm not talking about another Mythic AP - the rules sadly need some reworking before Mythic can really be used for an WotR-style AP. Instead, I'm just talking about having PCs advance more rapidly, use the Fast Track advancement, and have the PCs achieve level 20 near the end of Book 6.

There are likely a number of people who'd love to run characters until they reach level 20. And there are methods of increasing the difficulty of encounters - for instance, parts of Kingmaker, WotR, and the first book of Hell's Rebels include multiple encounters that are more difficult than normal because it's expected the PCs will rest up afterward. Having that sort of situation, with the players striking from a secure base and returning to it, would allow for more difficult encounters for the players to face, which results in more XPs earned seeing that resources won't need to be conserved, and thus level up faster.

For that matter, Book 1 of WotR had non-Mythic characters end up reaching level 5 legitimately by the end of the book without Mythic being involved. Add in Rapid Advancement, and you very likely could have the AP go past level 17 easily, and without too much extra work reach level 20.

It may make for an interesting AP.

---------

As an aside, it would also be nice if APs included some notes, if only a paragraph or two, on how to scale it up for five or six players.

Sovereign Court

My pro tip for 5 players is to max out HP of monsters and keep players behind one level starting at about level 5. Id be reluctant to run for 6 but if I did id follow my rules for 5 players and ask they not take pet and summon classes. YMMV.

I dont like high level play because 3E/PF is wonky. I do appreciate that Paizo includes material for keeping the adventure going until level 20 for groups who would like to. I'd certainly not buy an AP going up to 20 but understand completely not all APs are designed for me specifically. Maybe until the day you get what you want you can take advantage of the notes in book 6 of your current AP.


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I buy the APs because I don't want to be bothered to craft my own stuff. I'm not a young GM anymore. ;)

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Wraith of the Righteous does this.


I think they ought to have one that starts with characters of about 10th level and goes to 20th.

Actually I think they really need to get about four or five groups of playtesters together and do a couple of months of testing of high level play in Seattle. I know they can come up with that many in that town.

Have the devs dm it, and the players pulling no punches with combos and tricks.

Because I think high level play in this system is fundamentally broken in a lot of ways.


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That uses mythic characters tho, he was going more for something without mythic :-)


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Anything past level 15 or so is tricky.

Many scenarios designed for level 18-20 PCs tend to treat PCs as lower level PCs with more bumps in hit points and a few extra abilities. The problem is that any players that have reached 20th level from 1st level likely have enough creativity to derail a campaign, even if they don't wish to. Warrior type PCs can wade through lava for a few rounds or fall from any height without losing all their hit points. Spellcasters can change the entire campaign on a whim by traveling to different dimensions, make snowcone clones of the whole party, stop time, and get miracles.

Making a highly detailed campaign for PCs with such off the wall options is possible, yet difficult. It is much simpler to make brief outlines (which most Adventure Paths do), or to restrict player options to such a high degree that you risk making a very unfun game.

I agree that it my be fun to have an AP that goes all the way to 20th level, yet it wouldn't be easy.


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Thus the whole "Experimental AP" aspect. Nor is it impossible. WotR did it. The problem is that level 20 and 10 Mythic Tiers is... far crazier than what they envisioned. (Hell, level 10 and 10 Mythic Tiers would probably be fairly crazy... though I have a sneaking suspicion that such characters would still be taken out by an equal number of level 20 characters.)

The easiest way is to do what WotR did: put the players on a countdown. They don't have time to just hare off and rest up after each encounter, and they know what they will be facing at the end will require their full power... thus forcing them to use lower-level resources lest they end up taken out by a fully-prepared and rested enemy for the final encounter.

And let's face it. Many players want to get to level 20. They want to reach the heights, if only once. And the majority of GMs using Paizo APs don't have the time to make their own adventures. The AP takes half the work out of things. So when the AP wraps up and players are at level 17, the GM goes "Okay, you win. You took out X, and saved the day. What AP would you be interested in playing next?" rather than consider how to continue things with existing characters.

So I'm just curious to see an AP that caters to that crowd. The GMs who have players who want to go all the way... but who rely on Paizo products so they can run a game their players enjoy without eating up all of their own time to craft it. An AP that is designed from the ground up to reach level 20.

Liberty's Edge

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I believe one of the reasons stated as to why they don't do this is due to the limitations of the page count and the six-month release schedule. Essentially, the information required just for the high level stat blocks takes up so much space that they wouldn't have enough room left over for the adventure, considering all of the other stuff that is included in one book (page count limitation). They would have to have a seventh installment in the series, which obviously messes with the 6-installment cycle (release schedule limitation).

But you did say "experimental", so perhaps they could try making the AP without including the stat blocks, and provide the stat blocks as a separate free "GM AP guide" download—if you're willing to alienate the small minority of gamers who don't have access to the Internet and/or a printer.

Silver Crusade

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What people ask for and what they really want (and are willing to pay for) is not always the same.

See "Art of Dragon Magazine" hardcover for a perfect example of how vocal support and numerous requests plus an excellent product equal next to no sales.


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Actually, one possibility would be to create several high-level monsters that do not have 20 different abilities, but just a couple. If the monster relies on hit points and a high armor class for staying alive (and may be immune to most spells), then it might not need a dozen abilities, most of which will never be used.

Crafting simpler tough high-level monsters would lessen the work for the GM, reduce the amount of space of the creature write-ups, and actually now that I think of it, the argument is flawed.

How many encounters in an AP just include the monster name, which Bestiary it is found in, and hit points? Meaning the GM looks up that information anyway? Not every foe needs to have class levels and a unique write-up. If the foe is a generic monster, even if a tough one, then you don't need a huge write-up for it, and thus can have more monsters with less space.


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Our group has finished Age of Worms and Savage Tide. Both of those APs took our group beyond 20th level. We are currently running Rise of the Runelords and the GM is adding material to get us to 20th. The next AP on deck is Jade Regent which I will be the GM and I'm adding material to get the party to 20th level.

Each group is different. Each GM is different. I know a lot of folks don't like playing/running high level Pathfinder but then some people do.

I would personally prefer it if Paizo would release a 1-20 every couple of years so that I wouldn't have to go through the trouble of adding Paizo modules or homebrew stuff to get my party to 20th. We have 1-20 classes... Why not do more 1-20 APs?

Edit: I mentioned adding Paizo modules and homebrew to the campaign and completely forgot about scaling up the entire AP to get the group to 20th. Doesn't help if you add material and still have the same BBEG at the end. It's a lot of leg work for a GM with the APs to get groups to the capstone level.

Grand Lodge

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Another way to save page count? Do Not include all the stories that accompany the APs and Paizo selling their own products on their own pages.

Maybe utilize their pages effectively and they could do it. Not saying I don't enjoy the story part at the end but it is 5 pages that could be use else where.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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There's a lot of reasons why we don't do full 1 to 20 APs that much anymore, but one of them that folks might not realize is a significant factor is that it pretty much takes a developer a fixed amount of time to develop a number of pages. That number is about where the adventures are currently at. If we want to keep things on a monthly schedule (and we do!) then the actual physical size of each adventure can't grow significantly larger, and certainly not large enough to get another 3 levels in. The fact that the back half of an AP volume is developed by someone else entirely from the adventure itself is why we can do a 96 page book each month.

There were 2 reasons why we were able to hit 20th level in the Dungeon Magazine APs:
1) We had a year to do each AP, rather than six months.
2) The XP progression in 3.5 D&D was faster even than our fastest track in Pathfinder.

All of that said, we do keep tinkering with ways to get higher level APs. Shattered Star's focus on dungeons, which are the most efficient page to XP adventures, allowed that AP to reach 18th level without changing adventure size. Wrath of the Righteous hit 20 by throwing Mythic in (to mixed success).

We MAY try other stunts and tricks in the future, but it's also important to keep in mind that the formula we have now for APs is REALLY well-oiled and efficient and is still doing very well for us, so we'e pretty hesitant to make too many big changes to things along the way.

Stay tuned, though; we'll see what we can do.

Dark Archive

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Just a suggestion but maybe if not an Ap then at some point in the future use that floating hardback slot (One that covers things like inner-sea gods/ Inner sea races etc) for a lvl 1-20 superdungeon/adventure?


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They already did that with The Emerald Spire, and that only went to 11th level, also done with Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition, which on the fast track tops out at 17-18th level.

I'm doubtful that is the answer :-)

Dark Archive

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captain yesterday wrote:

They already did that with The Emerald Spire, and that only went to 11th level, also done with Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition, which on the fast track tips put at 17-18th level.

I'm doubtful that is the answer :-)

To be fair (And I admit I could be very wrong about this) I dont think either of those were as big as Inner sea gods?

Edit nevermind Inner sea gods was smaller than the anniversary edition although done as a single mega dungeon might be achievable? (Like what James said they did with shatterd star)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Kevin Mack wrote:
Just a suggestion but maybe if not an Ap then at some point in the future use that floating hardback slot (One that covers things like inner-sea gods/ Inner sea races etc) for a lvl 1-20 superdungeon/adventure?

The Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition is what a book like that would likely look like... and you'll note that book is both one of the LONGEST hardcovers we've published and still isn't long enough to let PCs reach 20th level... and it uses the fast XP track even. A brand new from-scratch hardcover adventure path type product that goes from 1st to 20th would need to be, I would guess, about 50 to 75 pages longer than Runelords, which would make it the 2nd longest hardcover we've ever published and could even result in a book larger than the Core Rulebook. That, combined with the fact that starting from scratch would require every word to be written new (rather than developed from existing text), would make it an incredibly difficult book to pull off while still doing our regular adventure path product line, considering that such a book would "poach" resources from at minimum two adventure paths in production.


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The only feasible way to do it would be to make it a year long AP. Except that isn't economical, because even with the subscriptions, the first book of any AP outsells the last book as a given. So they can't afford to have declining sales on their flagship line for a full year.

(I must admit, I often feel sorry when I see parts 2-6 of an AP on the shelves in a store.)

Dark Archive

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Ah I had assumed that being a none Ap they wouldent need the Ap editors (Much as I assumed the module line dosent use them but I could be wrong on that?)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Kevin Mack wrote:
Ah I had assumed that being a none Ap they wouldent need the Ap editors (Much as I assumed the module line dosent use them but I could be wrong on that?)

We don't have "AP editors." We just have editors who edit ALL of the lines.

We DO have "AP developers" who are in charge of outlining an AP, hiring the writers, developing each adventure, generating the art orders, generating the map orders, and all-around championing the campaign from start to finish, and it's THAT limited resource that throttles such a project the most. At this time, we more or less have two people whose job it is to be an AP developer—myself (in addition to being Creative Director) and Rob McCreary (in addition to being Senior Developer). Wes Schneider could do one too, although his job as Editor in Chief keeps him even busier than my job as Creative Director or Rob's job as Senior Developer, both of which have a lot of crossover with AP Developer and so they synergize; Editor in Chief does not so much.

Anyway, with our recent three new hires into the developer group (Crystal, Amanda, and Linda), we've finally, for the first time, got theoretical bandwidth to get more developers trained up on how to develop an entire Adventure Path. Adam will be developing the upcoming Strange Aeons AP for example. In a few years, hopefully we'll have even more folks AP Development Capable, at which point having one of them take a year off of AP Development to develop a stand-alone giant book won't mean that the AP line stalls out.

In any event, all the skills needed to pull off a 1st to 20th level campaign are exactly the same skills as those to pull off a 1st to 17th level campaign (an AP, in other words).


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The ENWorld AP's (War of the Burning Sky and Zeitgeist) are 20 level AP's. And they are excellent.

Having played games to 20th level, it's really hard to predict what changes you need to make to deal with people that high. For example, a group with wizards and clerics needs to be ready for wishes and miracles. But if you balance around that, what about a party that only has 3/4 casters?

The difference between high system mastery and low system mastery is not huge at low levels, but it grows every level. By level 20, you have lots of feats, items, levels and other moving parts to combine. Somebody who leverages that can make a character many times more effective than somebody who picks without a plan.


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Tangent101 wrote:
For that matter, Book 1 of WotR had non-Mythic characters end up reaching level 5 legitimately by the end of the book without Mythic being involved. Add in Rapid Advancement, and you very likely could have the AP go past level 17 easily, and without too much extra work reach level 20.

If by legitimately you mean getting help from NPCs that don't steal XP, then yes.

But with the way the exponential math of levels go, they did the math once and even squeezing all the extra experience you could put in 6 books, level 18 is where it tops out. Getting an "extra" level during the first book just doesn't stretch as far as you'd think.

PS: What's wrong with WotR? We're halfway through and I'm having a lot of fun. Mythic revitalized my interest in the game and it'll be hard to go back to a non-mythic AP after this.

PPS: I want another Mythic AP and more support for Mythic characters.


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Which is why, of course, this is under the Experimental AP idea section. ;)

Two other experiments would be to either create a Module that is designed as a specific sequel to the AP (say an NPC Dragon of the Big Bad who escapes (or has a Clone spell handy) and seeks to gain vengeance against the PCs, and sell it as a stand-alone product, or do a full year of experimental APs with one running seven issues and the second running five. This would reduce the loss of revenue that in theory happens when you don't have two #1 starts for the APs in a year (as a 12-issue AP would threaten)... but also threatens to upset people who want a six-issue AP.

And yes, I know I could create my own module that has the players go levels 17-20 finishing up on the campaign, but I buy Paizo products so I don't have to spend my time doing this. If I were to do this I might as well build an entire campaign from the ground up. And I'm too old for that sort of thing these days. ;)


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As for the problems with Mythic, you're only halfway through and your GM may be significantly modifying it. I have on multiple occasions given ways to reduce the problems with Mythic including turning critical hits into a system akin to Vital Strike, eliminating Swift-action spellcasting using Mythic (ie, you want a Swift spell, take the metamagic Feat), and turning Mythic Power Attack into something akin to Mythic Deadly Aim. Among other suggestions.


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Tangent101 wrote:
As for the problems with Mythic, you're only halfway through and your GM may be significantly modifying it. I have on multiple occasions given ways to reduce the problems with Mythic including turning critical hits into a system akin to Vital Strike, eliminating Swift-action spellcasting using Mythic (ie, you want a Swift spell, take the metamagic Feat), and turning Mythic Power Attack into something akin to Mythic Deadly Aim. Among other suggestions.

You describe some changes, but I fail to understand what problem you're fixing.

As far as I know, my GM is going mostly by the book. I know he's tailored a few things, but that's more customizing loot to suit our party.


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Mythic Rocket Tag.

Otherwise known as the ability to one-shot Cthulhu from full hit points with a critical hit with the right array of Mythic Feats.


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Tangent101 wrote:

Mythic Rocket Tag.

Otherwise known as the ability to one-shot Cthulhu from full hit points with a critical hit with the right array of Mythic Feats.

Ah, that's just a problem with single boss entities in high level pathfinder in general. But I can see how mythic can magnify that. Or at least, get to that level of play faster.

I'm not really certain it's a problem. If I wanted different high level behavior, I would play a non-d20 based game.

Dark Archive

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I might be the only who wants the APs to have a lower level cap. 13 or 14 works fine for me.

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One of the things that's actually really nice about ending the APs as they do at 17th level is that it doesn't edge us out of the game's comfort zone of material. In an adventure, many encounters are expected to be of a CR equal to 1 or more than the party's average level, and as long as the party is 17th level or less, there's still a fair amount of monsters and other options easily available for use in encounters.

Once you get up higher, and specifically at level 20, though... the resources start to get real thin real fast, and the more adventures you do, the more repetitive those end encounters get thematically, forcing you to increasingly make up entirely new content to simply avoid repeating yourself. And that further eats up wordcounts.

Shadow Lodge

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deinol wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:

Mythic Rocket Tag.

Otherwise known as the ability to one-shot Cthulhu from full hit points with a critical hit with the right array of Mythic Feats.

Ah, that's just a problem with single boss entities in high level pathfinder in general.

That's why when R'lyeh rises, a horde of star-spawn come out alongside Cthulhu.


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Again, James, as I said: Experimental AP. ;) And you can always build more critters appropriate for levels 18-20 in future Bestiaries. You would need some in any event, given that Mythic would let you easily fight things that give level 20 characters trouble.

There is two other aspects: Multiple enemies (even if the same type), and simplified tough foes that don't have a huge amount of Feats or skills but have the hit points and damage capability to give a level 20 character pause.

Having the PCs do strike team tactics and popping out of an area to recharge resources (or give them magic that lets them regain spells and abilities without sleeping) would also allow you to have the characters come level 14+ to no longer fight something a lower CR than the party or even the same CR, and instead constantly fight things that are a threat. Multiple CR +2 to +4 encounters. It builds up the XPs faster (especially with a Fast Advancement) while letting the PCs sweat it out because these fights are harder than what they've encountered in previous APs.

And even if you only did this once... well, it's an experimental XP. WotR was an experiment... and Paizo learned from it. But not everything about WotR was problematic. Building from what worked with WotR, it is still quite doable to have players reach level 20 in a normal non-Mythic AP.

Or for that matter, even a low-Mythic AP where the players only get two or three Mythic Tiers at most (which still boosts their power significantly). That would provide GMs who still want Mythic with an outlet... while avoiding the problems that arose with demigods fighting underpowered Demon Lords.

Dark Archive

While 1-20 AP would be cool, if I wanted to try out high level campaign/adventure/dungeon, I think it would be nice if it was 7/10/12 - 20 level range instead. That way if I would get to play in such adventure I wouldn't feel like "Okay, have to get low level stuff out of the way so I can finally experience what high level stuff feels like" and being worried about whether group gets bored before they reach high levels.

...Dunno if that makes sense, but its one reason I'm excited about being currently player in Slumbering Tsar campaign xD I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to join in group that will last years from low levels to high levels, so starting at level 7 is new and shiny for me :)


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Low level play is useful, especially for people who don't have a huge amount of experience with Pathfinder. It lets players slowly grow to understand their characters and their abilities. I had one new player join at 7th level and she was kind of overwhelmed at first with all her choices. She eventually grew to understand what her character could do (and has proven to be the most effective foil I have in the game - while she takes a while to figure out what she wants to do, she has been responsible for taking out multiple foes through innocuous spells like Strangling Hair, Icy Prison, and other spells you don't realize at first can just end the combat quite quickly. (That and her ability to Intimidate anything. Including Karzoug... at 13th level. Admittedly, she has taken multiple Feats to build her Diplomacy and Intimidation to levels that are weapons of mass destruction...)

Tossing someone into the game with a fully-developed character risks the character's abilities not being utilized effectively. Slowly building a character and learning that character's weaknesses and strengths over a period of time allows for stronger, more rounded characters. In fact, this is the strength of the Medium and Slow advancement run... and if I ever built my own AP, I'd likely go Slow Advancement and run it to level 20 over time. Not that I suspect I'll ever do that, however.

The only advantage of an AP starting at 7th level is to allow a GM to take an existing game and move it into the AP. I actually did this for what I jokingly call my Skyrim Campaign (Reign of Winter) - the characters were levels 3-5 when they started. I just beefed up things to compensate.

Dark Archive

Well, duh, of course its overwhelming if we are talking about new players, creating level 7 character for Slumbering Tsar itself was time consuming <_< I was speaking with perspective of someone who has played on lower levels for a while and is interested in what high level stuff is like.


James Jacobs wrote:

One of the things that's actually really nice about ending the APs as they do at 17th level is that it doesn't edge us out of the game's comfort zone of material. In an adventure, many encounters are expected to be of a CR equal to 1 or more than the party's average level, and as long as the party is 17th level or less, there's still a fair amount of monsters and other options easily available for use in encounters.

Once you get up higher, and specifically at level 20, though... the resources start to get real thin real fast, and the more adventures you do, the more repetitive those end encounters get thematically, forcing you to increasingly make up entirely new content to simply avoid repeating yourself. And that further eats up wordcounts.

James, I understand that there are publishing limitations. So, what about an AP that ends at 20?

That will be huge

Yes, but only if you start at 1. Don't. Start wherever you have to, so that you hit 20 by the end. Instead of 1-15, how about 6-20?

Higher level adventurers have more options, and that means more page count.

Ok, 7-20, then. Start wherever you need to. Believe it or not, some of us are tired of first level adventurers.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Anonymous Visitor 163 576 wrote:


James, I understand that there are publishing limitations. So, what about an AP that ends at 20?

That will be huge

Yes, but only if you start at 1. Don't. Start wherever you have to, so that you hit 20 by the end. Instead of 1-15, how about 6-20?

Higher level adventurers have more options, and that means more page count.

Ok, 7-20, then. Start wherever you need to. Believe it or not, some of us are tired of first level adventurers.

One of the things that makes Adventure Paths work and so successful is that you START your characters in the AP, rather than transport them in from other adventures. Being able to build characters specifically to map to the AP's themes is important, and making assumptions about what might happen at levels 1 through 6 is dangerous.

I do believe that some folks are tired of 1st level adventures, but given customer feedback and looking at sales and play data from our products and the PFS program... well, that data tells a very different story.


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I actually found pathfinder because I couldn't find any other 1st level adventures :-)

Edit: and I'm very happy with how they've evolved over the years

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There are conversions out there for all of the Dungeon magazine 12-chapter level 1-20 APs, and those APs are really good.


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James Jacobs wrote:
Anonymous Visitor 163 576 wrote:


James, I understand that there are publishing limitations. So, what about an AP that ends at 20?

That will be huge

Yes, but only if you start at 1. Don't. Start wherever you have to, so that you hit 20 by the end. Instead of 1-15, how about 6-20?

Higher level adventurers have more options, and that means more page count.

Ok, 7-20, then. Start wherever you need to. Believe it or not, some of us are tired of first level adventurers.

One of the things that makes Adventure Paths work and so successful is that you START your characters in the AP, rather than transport them in from other adventures. Being able to build characters specifically to map to the AP's themes is important, and making assumptions about what might happen at levels 1 through 6 is dangerous.

I do believe that some folks are tired of 1st level adventures, but given customer feedback and looking at sales and play data from our products and the PFS program... well, that data tells a very different story.

When my (unfortunately moving so slow that glaciers from 50 years ago are outspeeding it) "Skyrim" game started, it was before I was even playing Pathfinder. Instead I had crafted a hybrid 2nd/3rd edition system... and switched to Pathfinder for a new player. So I actually had characters with several levels under their belt before starting RoW.

Runelords on the other hand I allowed everyone to start at 2nd level.

Of the two games... the Runelords game is going on strong, and the players are invested in the community of Sandpoint and into the adventure. I have to suspect part of that is because they started at such a low level.

While I can understand jumping into an AP partway into it from another game... you lose something in that process. And just starting at 7th level or so... well, what connection do you really have with the character? You didn't struggle with this person when they were so weak a couple goblins could kill him or her. You didn't watch your triumphs and slowly build things so you know every bit of that character.

Yeah, starting at 7th level would have allowed for Giantslayer to start out with a group of giants attacking the town... or in Hell's Vengeance to start punking paladins first thing. But really, you lose much by doing that. Starting at 1st level and inching your way up? That character means something.

Dark Archive

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Hmm yeah, what about starting at level 3? I guess any level in 2-4 could work though..

I mean, at that level you are still in the low level range, but you have more fun stuff to play with and such. And creating level 3 characters from scratch isn't hard and you don't need to presume they had big great adventures beforehand.


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There's ALSO the option to continue the AP after the end. Many (or all?) have a section on continuing the campaign. We continued Runelords up to around Level 22 or so (with the minute rules in the CRB on how to go beyond level 20 at the time), and there are several of them that it would be relatively easy just to continue on with what's going on.


How about eschewing XP completely and having players level up only at specific milestones? Even skipping a couple of levels a few times, for example you finish book 2 at 10th level (you were 10th level for the last two "floors" of book 2) and then you do a 5 year skip for starting book 3 and now everyone is 13th level.

I understand that eschewing XP completely is a very dangerous move but i also believe that, when crafting adventure paths, the XP are causing a lot of problems, the most notable being the need to grind (usually very easy) encounters in order to gather a lot of XP in order to level up.


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Not everyone plays that way tho, thrice I've tried to get them to ditch experience points, shot down every time, I like experience points personally, as it gives me tangible rewards for all the extra crazy s&$@ my party does that couldn't possibly be covered in the books.


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I'm fairly reasonable tho, so I wouldn't skip it just because of no experience points, just means I gotta go thru the books and add them myself :-)

For me story trumps experience level every time. Doesn't matter to me that Skull and Shackles tops outcast 14th level because it's so f+#+ing awesome:-)


James Jacobs wrote:
I do believe that some folks are tired of 1st level adventures, but given customer feedback and looking at sales and play data from our products and the PFS program... well, that data tells a very different story.

But how many products do you have like this? Your existing AP's are based around starting at level 1, and PFs is based around starting at level 1. So most of your data is about this. Sales of specific modules are different enough from AP's that I wouldn't be sure how predictive they are.

You done loads of AP's that go from 1 to teens. Does your data say that doing one will sell so poorly that it's not worth trying once?

Personally, I'm tired of the way most AP's have to figure out a way to make first level less lethal. And often we skip or fast forward the "Go down to the basement and catch some rats." part of the adventure. That data would not be captured in sales because we're still buying the first modules even if we're not using all of it. A hard-headed businessman would say "they're still buying it, so nothing is broken".

Here's another option - players start a 1, but get an artificial boost. It's less of a twist than some other AP's, and allows people to not worry about backstory.


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

I think you guys are thinking of "experimental" in the wrong way.

They have a good thing going, if they tweak it too much it goes from being "experimental" and "taking a chance" to financially dangerous.

Isn't Iron Gods, Hell's Vengeance and Strange Aeons not experimental enough :-)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

One thing I'll be doing in the future is providing 1st level PCs with double hit points. I'm not quite sure yet whether I'll just grant them the bonus hit points, or if their hit points will not go up at 2nd level yet... likely it'll be the latter. (I also have a policy of letting them roll for hit points and if they roll half or below, they get half-plus-one for their hit die - 4 for a d6 die, 5 for a d8 die, 6 for a d10, and 7 for a d12.)

This provides improved survivability at the very start without skipping 1st level.

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This is another thing about the Experimental system. Paizo can always forgo XPs for one AP and instead include specific level-up points. They could also include information on the XP for the encounter itself for GMs that insist on that detail, without giving XPs for each individual monster. Thus they can "fudge" the XPs upward to increase the rate the PCs level up. ;) (And it is their right. They assign XPs for each foe according to their own accords. And sometimes two critters with the same CR are in fact quite different in how difficult they are to fight and kill. Especially for an unprepared party.)

I honestly believe that Paizo could pull this off, and do it quite well. They would have to alter a couple things that they traditionally do, such as the plethora of lower-difficulty encounters that really just waste time and player resources, and include more harder encounters and encourage players to retreat if need be (or die if they don't). But it should be doable. As an experiment. ;)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Philo Pharynx wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
I do believe that some folks are tired of 1st level adventures, but given customer feedback and looking at sales and play data from our products and the PFS program... well, that data tells a very different story.
You done loads of AP's that go from 1 to teens. Does your data say that doing one will sell so poorly that it's not worth trying once?

Kinda tells us this yes. As you've pointed out, we've done lots of them. They work. VERY well. Not super interested in trying to "fix something that's not broken."

If folks WANT us to do an AP that starts at higher level... please let us know! (Or if you want us to never do that and stick to starting at 1st level, let us know that too.)

Shadow Lodge

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I would definitely not be opposed to not starting at 1, but I do that anyway. I haven't started a campaign at lower than 2nd in years, and that's never changing regardless of whether the APs come designed for that or not. At the moment I just make them still set at 0 starting XP and just have to wait until they would normally hit 3rd to level them up, but starting next campaign I'm ditching XP anyway so it'll just be "start at 2nd and you'll hit 3rd when the book says you're supposed to be 3rd".

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