Experimental APs - why not one going to Level 20?


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What about an AP which continues another AP? Then you would start at level 1 and have more than enough time, energy and pages for the road to level 20 (and probably a bit beyond).

Yes, there are some problems with playing at these high levels. But it would be a good opportunity to address them. Maybe referring 3pp stuff would help...

Dark Archive

I haven't actually yet played enough many games to have gotten bored of level 1 stuff, but I'm bit impatient person though so getting chance of playing at low level and high level campaign at same time(well besides pfs stuff) was exciting opportunity for me :D At the low level campaign we started on level 3 and it has worked great if you ask me.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that if starting at level 2-4 would make 20 level AP easier to do, it would be worthwhile to test it as starting at higher level is interesting change of pace in good way. I think level 1 does have charm to it, but its also nice to start off as sturdier and with more class features.


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I quite like playing at 1st level. The world feels like a very dangerous place and even small threats feel very raw and menacing.

And, honestly, when a few PCs die now and again without the easy raise dead option (because: we're poor), each encounter is thrilling to me.

If you wrote an AP I was interested in running and it started at level 5, for example, I might still run it but I'd be tempted to write my own 1-4 chapter.

And I really don't like 15-20 level play. The mechanics drag it down. The weight of each character's magic items, spells, iterative attacks, etc. Combat becomes unwieldy and only the most outlandish monsters are a threat.

I'm just one customer though. Just thought I'd voice my opinion even if it proves to be a minority one.


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James Jacobs wrote:
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.)

I'm all about starting at 1st. I wouldn't ragequit or anything if an AP started higher, but I strongly prefer things the way they are.

If the top level of an AP were to slip out of the 16-18 range, I'd actually much rather see it get lower than higher. More 1st-level modules would fit the same need, though.

Cheers!
Landon


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Let's consider for a moment: what would be needed to get an AP to reach level 20?

First, let's assume the adventure starts at 1st level. This allows characters designed for the setting... and while some people dislike low level play, it is still innovative and interesting. Not to mention traditional. ;)

Now, Wrath of the Righteous revealed that it is possible for characters to reach level 5 in Medium Advancement in one book. If we went with Rapid Advancement, then it is possible that the end of Book 1 could have players having just reached level 6. And for all the faults that WotR had, Book 1 hit the ball out of the park - it was just Books 3 and on that started to stumble in some circumstances (ie, underpowered enemies for even non-Mythic foes).

Factors that allow for more rapid play also include more (or more powerful at least) magic. Mummy's Wrath had the players get a major artifact at the end of Book 2. Other APs have likewise included artifacts at a lower level... but even just magic items that boost stats being available earlier, or a Bane Blade that won't be useless in the next book will help characters fighting foes that otherwise they may not be handling at that level. This more potent magic allows the players to fight tougher foes and in turn level up more rapidly.

Mind you, I say this as one of those GMs who likes to envision low-magic campaigns. ;) The problem is that my players like high-magic games, and as I'm providing a game for their enjoyment, I cater to their interests. :)

Non-combat options for experience are also handy... and massively reducing or eliminating any encounter that isn't at least +1 CR would help push XPs up further. Doing this (and perhaps having a setting where the players can retreat and recover more easily, such as a base town they remain around for the majority of the campaign) will also push up advancement further.

Doing these things would likely result in characters reaching level 18 in the last half of Book 6... or maybe even level 19 leading into the end game encounter. It doesn't quite get us into Level 20 territory, but there is one last possibility:

The Expansion Module. Create a level 19-20 module that can either be done as a stand-alone game for people into that sort of thing, or as a sequel concerning a plot point that managed to escape the players - perhaps a Clone of the Big Bad, or of the Big Bad's Dragon. Something that a GM who is interested in a last hurrah for his players, something that will get them to the Capstone level, can play after the main adventure and AP has ended.


Perhaps the answer here is to be a little quirkier than usual, and instead of making a new adventure path add a book 7 to a previous adventure path instead? Maybe set a couple of years after the end of a campaign and something crops up causing the heroes to get the band back together, as it were. Especially if you had a bard/skald heavy party.

It would probably take up the resources for one or two modules, but it wouldn't inch out an entire adventure path. As an optional extra it wouldn't bother folks who didn't want to go to level 20. And I can think of one or two lackluster endings to otherwise excellent adventure paths that would not be hurt by having there stories extended a little. Giving Brandon Hodge a chance to make a real ending to the Carrion Crown would be kinda awesome.

Shadow Lodge

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Dustin Ashe wrote:

I quite like playing at 1st level. The world feels like a very dangerous place and even small threats feel very raw and menacing.

And, honestly, when a few PCs die now and again without the easy raise dead option (because: we're poor), each encounter is thrilling to me.

And that's the problem, really. Your exact reason for liking level 1 is my exact reason for disliking it.


I like starting at level 1. I feel I'm earning my levels the right and proper way! (There's no such thing, of course.)

I just like the idea of witnessing the character's progression from the start. When starting at a higher level (usually due to character death in ongoing campaign) I feel like I have missed something important in the character's existence, and it'll take me half a dozen sessions to switch tracks and get into the new character.

That said, starting at a higher level has a couple of thing going for it. It would better explain why those poor villagers are asking the PCs to help; they actually might be a better choice than the level 2 town guard. It would also allow adventure writers to start with opponents that are a credible threat to the peaceful community of the day, instead of giant rats or three goblins armed with sporks.

That said, we haven't fought giant rats at level 1 for years, and the villagers don't know your levels anyway. They just realize there are four conveniently compatible and somewhat impressive-looking folks they can coax and cajole to explore the tomb/sewer/cellar the city guard would not enter for triple pay.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'd buy modules that 'ended' existing Adventure Paths. I'd also buy 7 volume APs. I'm not a fanatic about it though, and each one would be of less utility (the first one would be the first non-mythic AP that could do 1-20. Every one after that is just another choice.)

On a completely different note, I've looked at starting games above 1st level, but not wanted to have to adjust every combat in the next few books.
Including in a later book an optional "how to start from here" page (or two) in line of the "where to go from here" in the last book would be useful to me. For some APs this is easy (Kingmaker comes to mind) and for some it seems very hard.
I'm envisioning something that would still require people to have and have read the previous books: something that summarises what parts of the previous books need to be done.
e.g. if the Strange Aeons AP absolutely requires PCs to have freed Crazy McLovecraft so they have an incentive to hunt him down, mention that bit needs to happen.
I also realise that it's going to be difficult to write for the exact same reason I find it difficult to do myself.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Let's consider the last few APs.

Reign of Winter didn't have people hire you so much as you volunteered to find and recover a noblewoman who'd been captured by bandits, while investigating a pocket of abnormally cold weather during the summer.

WotR has you survive a cataclysmic battle. By the time you get to the surface, you're level 3. When you actually work to help save the town, the worse of the attack has passed for better things, and you're part of a larger effort - one strike team of several, and one that proved itself.

Mummy's Mask has adventuring groups going out and looting a necropolis as part of a large effort using multiple groups, a number of which will be killed because of ineptitude. So your group really is the lucky survivors. ;)

Iron Gods has several groups investigating stuff, and yours is the one that survived.

Giantslayer... I'm not really recalling the low level encounters for this. Your arguments may be valid here. That said, what I do recall has each group working to do its best upon becoming an adult, so seeing the adventurers aren't on the wall defending the town? It makes sense for them to do this stuff.

Hell's Rebels has a group of friends who through luck end up at the right place at the right time to save the right person and thus start to build a rebellion to drive Thrune out of Kintargo. (And yes, this is pretty much it. While there are ways of working around missing that vital encounter, the very reason your characters end up being able to become the rebellion is BECAUSE they were not in any position of power which attracted the eyes of Thrune and thus not a target during the Night of Ashes.)

At least five of the last APs didn't have players asked to kill rats or the like. That said, there is one other reason why people would ask new adventurers to do their dirty work: they're new. If they die? Well, they're not the town guard, so they're not doing something vital. They're just a bunch of teens and young adults who decided to poke at things with swords and spells. At the start, they're not that important and thus that's the reason on rely on them - if they die, there's always more where they came from.

And yes, I understand how horrifying a thought that is. These characters are your babies. They are in some ways your dreams and desire for something more in RL put on paper and played out with friends. But from an in-game view... they aren't important. They're just another group of fools who decided to risk life and limb and who will probably end up dead. That they survive... well, that is where legends are born. ;)

---------

So, tl;dr? Starting at level 1 allows for the crafting of the legend. It is people starting from a humble start and becoming something great over time. And it requires less investment from the player. If you have to start at level 7 to reach level 20... then fewer people will play. Crafting a level 7 character takes longer than a level 1 character. And while you could make the AP a spiritual successor for a level 1-7 module... why? Why do that when the AP could just start at level 1?

I cannot see a AP being a success if it didn't start at level 1. While you can always mix and match APs (like my adding books 4 and 6 to my Runelords game), not that many GMs will use one book of an AP to insert into their own campaign. So an experimental 7-20 AP? Probably won't work.


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Drat! I can't favorite that more then once! What's the point of having so many aliases if they can only vote in presidential elections!

Well said Tangent, I know my group loves building their own legends:-)


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What I would rather have is some high level modules starting around level 17 that could be tacked on to the end of adventure paths. They wouldn't even need to take a group to 20, one levelup per module would be enough as long as we could expect several of them over a period of time. My players would love to revisit/reuse old characters 'just one more time'.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

The problem with that approach is simple: Paizo puts out products that will sell. There are few people interested in a module that is level 19-20. They have put out high level modules... and I've noticed them in the Golem Sale. If they were big sellers, they'd probably not be there.

This is why I'm advocating for an experimental AP that runs levels 1-20. You are invested in the game and the campaign. You also achieve that capstone... and thus have characters who have achieved the Legend in doing so.

A directly-connected module (that could be run as a stand-alone adventure) is a potential solution to this - a product meant to be run directly concurrent with the AP, but which is not needed if the GM just wants to wrap things up. Allowing it to potentially stand alone would improve its selling capacity.

Still, to me if the AP itself manages to go 1-20, that works best. And I suspect it is doable. If anything else, it would make for an interesting experimental AP - along the lines of what WotR did, but without rules that really needed a lot longer to be playtested.

And is this not one of the points of the Experimental APs? To try new things? Personally I think it has greater viability than an AP like Iron Gods (which, let's face it, is sort of a stand-alone AP - the only other region where the Technology Rules might be usable is in the magic-dead region where they're building guns... and even there it would be much lower tech) or the like. And who knows. It might prove to be a big success. :)

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
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.)

I am putting in my vote for Always start at level 1. If you move the level up to 3, then 3 becomes the new 1. You've got to start somewhere. Now let me go play my first edition cavalier so I can hopefully get him to level -1 before heading to the Barrier Peaks.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Add me as a fan to start at level 1.

I'm not looking for AP's that go all the way to 20, on the contrary, I would prefer them to go even less high than they do now, maybe 13 or something. I find high-level play harder to manage and more time-consuming (both in preparation and at the table). So going to 13 would actually work better for me. It would even leave me the option to add an extra homebrew follow-up to the campaign, which I find increasingly tricky at the 16+ levels.


James Jacobs wrote:


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.

Isn't this the opposite of true? You have access to like, everything at level 20. Cr 22-23 encounters have a massive xp budget, and a lot of cr 15-16 monsters are still viable enemies in groups and such.

It seems like to me you have much more to work with in terms of xp budgets at that point


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

I'd pay good money for a "7th book" option/subscription. Or "7th and 8th book" option/subscription. Whatever.

Something coherent, where for instance at the end of RoTR you follow up and hunt for more awakening Runelords. Or in CoT you try to depose the Thrunes.

As long as it thematically matched the AP, it'd be a great value. It wouldn't have to be perfectly integrated in terms of revisiting existing locales and NPCs, so it could be developed by a second team. It'd just need to make more sense than "okay, we're done Runelords, let's uh... Moonscar?"

The point being that if there was an add-on available that extended an AP, I'd buy it, even if the price-per-page was higher than for the base AP. I get it, fewer people would be buying that option, so cost of production would be spread over fewer units sold. I'd be okay with that.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Appendix, or Pathfinder AP-App. Heh.

But seriously, part of the argument against high-level AP ends is a chicken/egg argument. There aren't enough high-level monsters to reduce development costs. There aren't enough high-level adventures to justify monsters.

Seriously? Take my money. Fix the problem. Maybe make an "Adults Bestiary" where it's all 18+ CR creatures. Sell it. Then use it.


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James Jacobs wrote:
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.)

Some of your customers (and I have probably 80% of the hardback line and a couple of the APs plus the Hero Lab files for everything, though I buy the books locally) ARE asking for higher level APs, and have been for a long time. I personally have been asking for this for at least a couple years. I notice there are numerous threads posted on these forums asking for such a thing, only for the very idea to be stomped on by others, or for Paizo folks to say "nah, we don't plan to do this because X".

So, here's my last grasp at this possibility - YES, I want some APs that don't start at level 1-4. YES, I want some APs that go all the way to 20, or even beyond.

I'm sick to death of starting every new story as a pathetic dirt farmer with single digit hit points. I'm sick to death of seeing class capstones and 9th level spells listed in the rulebooks and then never getting to use them. I'm sick to death of being told "that will never happen, so stop asking for it", or "you don't really want those things you're explicitly asking for".

I don't understand the logic of making rules for something and then never giving your customers the chance to use them (in your official APs, to say nothing about PFS). I don't understand the logic of saying there aren't enough monsters to make high level APs, when there are as many bestiaries as PF has - it seems like it would be a relatively simple thing to have developers make 1 high level critter instead of 2 or 3 more variations on things we already have. I don't understand the logic of asking folks to let you know something we have already been saying for years.

I don't understand what still needs to happen for high level APs to be scheduled/produced.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

CWheezy wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:


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.

Isn't this the opposite of true? You have access to like, everything at level 20. Cr 22-23 encounters have a massive xp budget, and a lot of cr 15-16 monsters are still viable enemies in groups and such.

It seems like to me you have much more to work with in terms of xp budgets at that point

That's not the problem. Sure, there's plenty to work with, but the point is that there's less "pre made" stuff we can use. High level stat blocks take up a LOT of room, and high level adventures take up a LOT of wordcount since PCs are so versatile that we can't assume much and need to explain a lot more for everything. That combination means that higher level adventures of an equal page count to a lower level one have less room to present encounters, and thus result in fewer encounters and thus more pages required to get the PCs up levels. Getting the party to 20th level without pulling shenanigans like handing out lots of XP (something customers get actually unusually angry about is when we give out XP for the PCs "doing nothing" and so we really do have to justify every XP award with challenging content) or making the encounters super high above expected APL (something we were able to do with Mythic, but if we did it with a normal game, folks would complain about it being a TPK machine and very few groups would ever GET to those last adventures) would likely require an 8-part Adventure Path at least.

There's a LOT of reasons why we want to stick to 6 part APs, and not enough reasons to mix that up with non-six-parters.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Tvarog wrote:

I'm sick to death of starting every new story as a pathetic dirt farmer with single digit hit points. I'm sick to death of seeing class capstones and 9th level spells listed in the rulebooks and then never getting to use them. I'm sick to death of being told "that will never happen, so stop asking for it", or "you don't really want those things you're explicitly asking for".

I don't understand the logic of making rules for something and then never giving your customers the chance to use them. I don't understand the logic of saying there aren't enough monsters to make high level APs, when there are as many bestiaries as PF has - it seems like it would be a relatively simple thing to have developers make 1 high level critter instead of 2 or 3 more variations on things we already have. I don't understand the logic of asking folks to let you know something we have already been saying for years.

I don't understand what still needs to happen for high level APs to be scheduled/produced.

I've explained numerous times (including my previous post) the many and complex reasons why the APs don't go to 20th level, and I"m not gonna repeat myself here (although I AM trying to get Hell's Rebels to give the PCs a chance to play at 18th level for the end... not sure I can make that happen but I'll try—with this AP having a slightly longer part 2 and part 4 than normal, it might just go a LITTLE further than normal...)...

But I do have a few suggestions for groups who are eager to play with the high level content. They both require your GM's help though...

Accelerated XP: Consider switching to the fast XP track, and granting your PCs more XP than the adventure suggests so that they do level up faster. They'll get more powerful, yes, so you'll need to do some extra work to make sure that the encounters stay challenging. You can fight this from the front end by requiring the PCs play characters with 10 point buy stats, or by running the game for only three players.

Move the Capstones: If you're running an AP, you know what level the PCs will reach. Tell the PCs that level is the "cap" for the campaign, and that when they hit it, their class's capstone ability kicks in. Essentially, move the capstone ability to whatever level they end at so they can use that ability in the final set of encounters. You'll need to come up with a capstone for clerics, of course, if you do this...

Boost that Final Level: Alternately, when the PCs reach enough XP to hit that final level... let them jump all the way up to 20th level. Explain it as them reaching an apotheosis of power or the favor of the gods or whatever—anything that could make you mythic, really, could also jump you to 20th level when you should only be hitting 17th, for example.

Continuing the Campaign: Take advantage of the notes we provide for every AP to continue the game on your own, allowing the PCs to keep leveling up through adventures of your own creation.


James Jacobs wrote:
I've explained numerous times (including my previous post) the many and complex reasons why the APs don't go to 20th level, and I"m not gonna repeat myself here (although I AM trying to get Hell's Rebels to give the PCs a chance to play at 18th level for the end... not sure I can make that happen but I'll try—with this AP having a slightly longer part 2 and part 4 than normal, it might just go a LITTLE further than normal...)...

Fair enough, I wasn't expecting my post to change anything. I just wanted to let you know that some of your customers do want those things.

James Jacobs wrote:

But I do have a few suggestions for groups who are eager to play with the high level content. They both require your GM's help though...

Accelerated XP: Consider switching to the fast XP track, and granting your PCs more XP than the adventure suggests so that they do level up faster. They'll get more powerful, yes, so you'll need to do some extra work to make sure that the encounters stay challenging. You can fight this from the front end by requiring the PCs play characters with 10 point buy stats, or by running the game for only three players....

(For some reason, the last 3 suggestions won't quote?)

Thanks for the ideas (I do really appreciate them), even though I have basically zero chance of seeing them as a player. Looks like I'll have to just run something myself (probably I'll need to write it from scratch) and enjoy it vicariously through the rest of the group.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:

I've explained numerous times (including my previous post) the many and complex reasons why the APs don't go to 20th level, and I"m not gonna repeat myself here (although I AM trying to get Hell's Rebels to give the PCs a chance to play at 18th level for the end... not sure I can make that happen but I'll try—with this AP having a slightly longer part 2 and part 4 than normal, it might just go a LITTLE further than normal...)...

But I do have a few suggestions for groups who are eager to play with the high level content. They both require your GM's help though...

(snip)

And some GMs do this. Heck, I've decided to take Books 4 and possibly 6 of Wrath of the Righteous and run my Runelords group through them (it helps I've given the players some Mythic, though the lower level of Mythic compared to the modules should help keep things challenging). Also, I use Hero Labs and can meddle with things to keep them fresh and interesting (and to compensate for players looking up things online, and have let them know outright their knowledge will avail them not).

Not all GMs have access to programs like Hero Labs. Some are still gaming without electronic resources, finding the old-fashioned system to be more enjoyable. And I have to admit, the more I change things, the more I risk changing the game from what Paizo originally envisioned. This can be for the better... or the worse.

Well, there has been and will be for some time a call for APs that run to level 20. What I am suggesting is just a method that Paizo could try, on a one-time basis, to see if a level 1-20 AP is doable and how it would run. I mean, we've done other experimental APs, including the upcoming evil AP, an AP based on ancient technology, pirates, and Mythic. So why not this? :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Tangent101 wrote:
Well, there has been and will be for some time a call for APs that run to level 20. What I am suggesting is just a method that Paizo could try, on a one-time basis, to see if a level 1-20 AP is doable and how it would run. I mean, we've done other experimental APs, including the upcoming evil AP, an AP based on ancient technology, pirates, and Mythic. So why not this? :)

A 1st to 20th level AP isn't experimental. It's not something we don't know how to do. We DO know how to do it... the problem isn't ignorance but a lack of the tools (time, resources, etc) to make it happen without sacrificing too much else. It's a matter of physics, not a matter of the imagination. A 1st to 20th level AP simply requires about 20% more Everything (writer time, development time, cost, editor time, layout time, shipping time, etc.) to pull off, and at this point, doing that would basically require us to cut products or sacrifice stability in lines (which is what disrupting the 2 six part APs in a year would do).


You already have a good module in Dragon's Demand. How about a sequel AP that goes from 7-20. By using Dragon's Demand as the launching point then you are not in the dark about where the PC's are coming from .


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Solonar wrote:
You already have a good module in Dragon's Demand. How about a sequel AP that goes from 7-20. By using Dragon's Demand as the launching point then you are not in the dark about where the PC's are coming from .

There is no way they will have an AP that requires you to buy a part zero from another book line. It'll annoy AP subscribers and also changes up the workflow too much. Since now you have AP developers developing in the module line.


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Ok, i've run a few 10-16 adventures and James is right, they DO take up more space. I can remember this from living Greyhawk days, and the front of each mod needs a section that details what happens if:

Speak with dead
Divination
Augury
Contact other place
Commune
Etc.

Additionally, certain challenges (crossing the raginriver) are sometimes just negated by phantom steeds, or teleportation, or wind walking. So, it's trickier to figure out what to do.

So, how about a new ask: 1-2 higher level PFS adventurers a year. No set schedule for those, they can come out when they're good, and not before.

What do the rest of you think?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
Well, there has been and will be for some time a call for APs that run to level 20. What I am suggesting is just a method that Paizo could try, on a one-time basis, to see if a level 1-20 AP is doable and how it would run. I mean, we've done other experimental APs, including the upcoming evil AP, an AP based on ancient technology, pirates, and Mythic. So why not this? :)
A 1st to 20th level AP isn't experimental. It's not something we don't know how to do. We DO know how to do it... the problem isn't ignorance but a lack of the tools (time, resources, etc) to make it happen without sacrificing too much else. It's a matter of physics, not a matter of the imagination. A 1st to 20th level AP simply requires about 20% more Everything (writer time, development time, cost, editor time, layout time, shipping time, etc.) to pull off, and at this point, doing that would basically require us to cut products or sacrifice stability in lines (which is what disrupting the 2 six part APs in a year would do).

And the other suggestion I made: Having the AP run to level 18 using Rapid Advancement, and then putting out a high-level module based off of the end of that AP and wrapping up a plot point (or having the PCs have to deal with the Big Bad's use of a Clone because he/she decided to be careful and prepare for that contingency)?

That way you have an AP that still reaches a high level and a product that interested GMs can use to reach that capstone. And can in turn determine if there is further interest in this type of product.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Tangent101 wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Tangent101 wrote:
Well, there has been and will be for some time a call for APs that run to level 20. What I am suggesting is just a method that Paizo could try, on a one-time basis, to see if a level 1-20 AP is doable and how it would run. I mean, we've done other experimental APs, including the upcoming evil AP, an AP based on ancient technology, pirates, and Mythic. So why not this? :)
A 1st to 20th level AP isn't experimental. It's not something we don't know how to do. We DO know how to do it... the problem isn't ignorance but a lack of the tools (time, resources, etc) to make it happen without sacrificing too much else. It's a matter of physics, not a matter of the imagination. A 1st to 20th level AP simply requires about 20% more Everything (writer time, development time, cost, editor time, layout time, shipping time, etc.) to pull off, and at this point, doing that would basically require us to cut products or sacrifice stability in lines (which is what disrupting the 2 six part APs in a year would do).

And the other suggestion I made: Having the AP run to level 18 using Rapid Advancement, and then putting out a high-level module based off of the end of that AP and wrapping up a plot point (or having the PCs have to deal with the Big Bad's use of a Clone because he/she decided to be careful and prepare for that contingency)?

That way you have an AP that still reaches a high level and a product that interested GMs can use to reach that capstone. And can in turn determine if there is further interest in this type of product.

Honestly... if we've got enough of a story to tell that brings PCs from 1st to 20th... stranding the start or end of that story in a stand-alone product in an entirely different line that isn't even connected via a subscription seems like a tragic mistake.

If we ARE going to do it... it needs to be done in the AP line from start to finish.


I wouldn't suggest having the ending be in an additional book. The ending should be in book 6, where it belongs.

That doesn't mean there can't be a side story, however. Maybe the Lich you have to fight/make a deal with from back in book 4 can make trouble, or the big bad's trusted lieutenant that the party never managed to murder shank comes looking for revenge. They only have to be connected to the original story by characters and theme. It would probably work as a standalone product too - you'd just get more out of it if you'd played the adventure path and could use the same characters.

Kinda like how it's more fun to play Shattered Star if you've played certain other adventure paths.

Scarab Sages

The Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition is one of my favorite books and I would love to see an extra large 1-20 Adventure Tome some time in the future. If that means waiting a few years, that's ok, I'll be here when it's ready.


maybe they could do a adventure path that finish the adventures (like they have at the end of the last books). One ap for each adventure that has gone before. That would be high level, and an easy finish for the first 6 aps.


James Jacobs wrote:
I've explained numerous times (including my previous post) the many and complex reasons why the APs don't go to 20th level, and I"m not gonna repeat myself here (although I AM trying to get Hell's Rebels to give the PCs a chance to play at 18th level for the end... not sure I can make that happen but I'll try—with this AP having a slightly longer part 2 and part 4 than normal, it might just go a LITTLE further than normal...)...

Thank you for going a little further to accommodate those of use that like higher level play. I do see you listening to us. I know we're noisy and demanding, but only because we love the game so much.

James Jacobs wrote:


But I do have a few suggestions for groups who are eager to play with the high level content. They both require your GM's help though...

Accelerated XP:
Boost that Final Level:

These could be done as part of an AP.

I understand that you have constraints of a 6 part series with page lengths. That implies you could work backwards from those constraints to figure out what you can do within them. Perhaps an AP that is 12-20 might fit.

Or one that has an excuse for downtime within it where you jump levels between modules. Perhaps the events of the module are connected to prophecy or a cycle of the stars. Instead of doing hooks at the end for continuing, you could have hooks for the time jumps. GM's can fill them with their own work or just level the characters up.


Some random thoughts:

1. Wrath of the Righteous Anniversary Edition: Change the AP over from Mythic to Epic. (Some people have posted on these boards about doing exactly that themselves, just to get away from the problems with Mythic.) This might be easier than trying to fix Mythic. Growth of the AP going from the current release to Anniversary Edition should help with adding the extra levels in. Of course, several other APs (including the remaining ones that haven't been converted to Pathfinder yet) are ahead of WotR in line for getting Anniversary Editions . . .

2. Since we have people who want higher end levels AND people who want lower end levels, you can't satisfy both simultaneously (unless you have the resources to do 2 AP releases in parallel), but you can please them both in alternation. For this, alternating between 5 book and 7 book APs would work -- you still get out 2 APs per year, with the same production cycle and resource expenditure and the same average number of books.

3. Might be a good idea to first put out something sort of like Pathfinder Unchained, but concentrating on overhauling high-level play (with some supporting adjustments to the mid levels). If this is done right, then you get less complaints about things breaking down at high levels, and high-level play stuff will sell better.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

The chances of a WotR AE is lower than that of a 6-book Level 1-20 AP. And this thread shows you the percentage chance of the latter is around nil.

Fixing high level play requires fixing problems like Critical Hits (if you treat Crits like Vital Strike, with only the damage dice multiplied, that does help make it less of rocket tag) and the like. Still, finding some method of modifying high-level play so it is less overpowered would be interesting and probably a book I'd buy.


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

Anniversary Editions aren't happening, certainly not with adventure paths released in the last 2-3 years, and wrath is only broken if you break it with the wrong mythic choices (which is ridiculously easy to do)

But the fact that it gets so many complaints is a great reason not to go higher then they are already :-)

Personally, I love James's idea of moving the capstone abilities and will give it a try with Iron Gods :-)


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I am one of those that is tired of always starting at level 1*, sure for some adventures it's required (like RotRL) and i do enjoy the occasional "from zero to hero" but i am tired of always starting as the squire instead of the knight, as the apprentice wizard instead of a full wizard, as the guardsman instead of the man-at-arms, as the temple initiate instead of the temple priest; the PCs at level 1 are practically nobodies, sure the future has great (even legendary) things in store for them but that doesn't change the fact that they start out as nothing.

*or level 2 but the fact that level 1 PCs are made of paper is another issue

Shadow Lodge

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leo1925 wrote:
*or level 2 but the fact that level 1 PCs are made of paper is another issue

Honestly this is the big one for me above all others. A player can give me a great backstory, lots of plot hooks and potential for roleplay, I can love the character and everything they bring to the table, and have it all utterly obliterated with a tiny swing of bad luck at level 1, and all that good potential washed away.

Replacement characters are almost never as good until the player has had several sessions to get themselves in the new character's mindset and flesh out the backstory, compared to a character designed from the campaign's start. Or at least that's been my experience.

Even without starting at level one, I tend to have someone nearby who can raise the dead (or at the very least reincarnate) to keep cast members in the game. It leaves the party indebted heavily for the first few levels if it's a resource they need to call on, but that's a pretty easy and useful plot hook right there itself.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

So give them double maximum starting hit points at 1st level, and no hit point boost at 2nd. Or let them use Hero Points and only need 1 Hero Point to not die. There are plenty of ways of preventing a low level character from dying, and good GMs who encourage character backgrounds and the like often tend to be less... assertive on letting the dice fall as they may when a player has taken time to build their character than some min/max player who doesn't put thought into the roleplaying aspects of their character.


Orthos wrote:
all utterly obliterated with a tiny swing of bad luck at level 1, and all that good potential washed away.

I always create the back story as I go. A relatively flat 1st-level character becomes a complex, well-rounded one by level 5.

It's a little lik campaign settings. I build one little town to start then build from there.


captain yesterday wrote:
Anniversary Editions aren't happening, certainly not with adventure paths released in the last 2-3 years {. . .}

Well, we have had one Anniversary Edition so far, which proves that it isn't totally impossible. Agreed that it is going to be several years before they get around to Wrath of the Righteous.

Tangent101 wrote:
So give them double maximum starting hit points at 1st level, and no hit point boost at 2nd. {. . .}

As I recall, Hackmaster 2000 gave 1st level characters a considerable block of hit points at 1st level that was determined by class but was not a hit die (and was bigger than what you could get out of just 1 hit die). I could have sworn some other D&D clones also did this, but I can't remember the names of any of them. By way of comparison, in the WarCraft III level-based system (NOT World of WarCraft, and NOT World of WarCraft RPG), hit points and attack damage progress (fairly smoothly) with level so that a level 10 Hero has approximately twice the hit points of a level 1 Hero (not including any stat boosting items) rather than 10 times (or 5 times if 1st hit die is maximized), does approximately twice the damage per attack (not including the boost from stat boost items or special abilities), and attacks faster but much less than twice as fast (same exclusion as for damage per attack). A level 10 Hero still wipes the floor with a level 1 Hero, but the difference is a lot less severe. (Also, despite some obvious balance problems, the caster-martial disparity is at least in general a moot point, because even the martial Heroes are actually also casters, but that's a subject for another thread).

One idea that is in between that and what we have that I have been toying with in the back of my mind is to remove the rule that says that 1 hit die creatures have no racial hit dice -- EVERYBODY gets racial hit dice, which in the case of 1 hit die playable characters corresponds to the traditionally NPC classes, but rather than just being pools of extra hit points (although this is also welcome as noted above), they also confer background character ffeatures, including but not necessarily limited to traits and background feats (along the idea of Pathfinder Unchained introducing Background Skills, but applyied to feats). The current base classes would become effectively like really early-entry prestige classes, but retain things like their Favored Class Bonus. Normally, entry into base classes would be done in the initial character build, so in most campaigns most characters would start at 1st level of a base class as done today, but you could gain significant benefits by taking another level of a traditionally NPC class, and if desired a whole campaign could start at 1st level total (now effectively 0 level), or a higher level campaign could start high enough that monsters with a small number of racial hit dice still greater than 1 could still be entering 1st level of a PC class (or maybe just 1 level away from doing so).


Sometimes I think we need an "asked and answered" legal-type objection around here. :)


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
UnArcaneElection wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:
Anniversary Editions aren't happening, certainly not with adventure paths released in the last 2-3 years {. . .}
Well, we have had one Anniversary Edition so far, which proves that it isn't totally impossible. Agreed that it is going to be several years before they get around to Wrath of the Righteous.

They will only do Special Editions of APs that the Paizo staff loves so much they want to revisit. Rise of the Runelords was a special baby, being both a favorite and originally for 3.5. I don't know of any other AP that gets talked about half as much.


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deinol wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:
Anniversary Editions aren't happening, certainly not with adventure paths released in the last 2-3 years {. . .}
Well, we have had one Anniversary Edition so far, which proves that it isn't totally impossible. Agreed that it is going to be several years before they get around to Wrath of the Righteous.

They will only do Special Editions of APs that the Paizo staff loves so much they want to revisit. Rise of the Runelords was a special baby, being both a favorite and originally for 3.5. I don't know of any other AP that gets talked about half as much.

When it was still available, Kingmaker got considerable discussion. Especially before Ultimate Campaign, but even after that it had a lot of discussion.

CotCT is more famous for the second AP portion which many call the best AP part ever.

Other than that, I'd probably agree with you on which ones are talked about half as much.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

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deinol wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:
Anniversary Editions aren't happening, certainly not with adventure paths released in the last 2-3 years {. . .}
Well, we have had one Anniversary Edition so far, which proves that it isn't totally impossible. Agreed that it is going to be several years before they get around to Wrath of the Righteous.

They will only do Special Editions of APs that the Paizo staff loves so much they want to revisit. Rise of the Runelords was a special baby, being both a favorite and originally for 3.5. I don't know of any other AP that gets talked about half as much.

Also, on the (unwarranted, but retained for humor value) assumptions of one AE every five years, and doing the APs in order, we'd be looking at a Wrath AE somewhere around 2072.

I like high level play myself, but I think before Paizo would make any concerted effort to create mass high level content, we need a guide of how to run and play Pathfinder at high levels. The game at 15-20 can really be a different beast and it's not entirely intuitive what playstyle changes need to be made to accommodate such levels. So while I' too vote for some more high level adventure support, I would rather see a guide to high level play made.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Gorbacz's Short Yet Exhaustive Guide to Playing at lvl 15+:

Don't. It's a chore. Combats take hours. Math requires Excel. Magic gets out of hand. Casual gamers get irritated. Accept the fact that underlying foundations of 3ed don't work with high lvl play and move on.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Gorbacz wrote:

Gorbacz's Short Yet Exhaustive Guide to Playing at lvl 15+:

Don't. It's a chore. Combats take hours. Math requires Excel. Magic gets out of hand. Casual gamers get irritated. Accept the fact that underlying foundations of 3ed don't work with high lvl play and move on.

James's Alternate Yet Still Short Yet Still Exhaustive Guide to Playing at lvl 15+:

Do. As long as you get there organically with player characters who start at 1st level, because that gives you months, if not years, to get used to the specific rules those PCs use and how they work together. Makes playing the game at higher level a WORLD of difference than just jumping in at that level with brand new characters.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

As someone who has had two groups organically reach level 15+ Gorbacz's argument has the right of it. Apart from the fact it can take years of real time to get to those levels, the amount of work to maintain a fun challenge level as a GM, and intensive math involved (seriously goodbye paper character sheets). Add in the crazy amount of buffs and floating bonuses, that martial classes offer nothing but damage and thus lose importance in the narrative while the wizard can summon outsiders to do their bidding or a Druid can end a drought with simple application of a spell, skills become incredibly binary which causes challenges to become single character efforts.

Ugh, I don't see the point of high level play when the game is way more fun at 1-10, afterwards the game basically becomes a Skinner box, where you are incredibly powerful but in reality the foes and challenges you face also are commensurately more powerful as well.
But with so many complicated gears and so many pieces on a character sheet including just scads of magic items that do wonderful things if you remember having them because who has room to write descriptions of everything they pick up. Add in so many spells, special abilities and activated feats and a level 15 character can suffer massive choice paralysis every turn. Unless of course you're a non-magic martial in which case the only real decision is whether you should full attack with power attack or full attack with rapid/multishot.

Sorry James, but organically growing a character doesn't necessarily make the game run at an enjoyable speed, or do anything to mitigate the narrative disparity between Martials and casters.

After Kingmaker I'm adapting my campaigns to e7, with a dash of mythic. It roughly equates to the same amount of work on the GM side, but faster combat, and more interesting narrative at the table where everyone contributes and spellcasters are still vulnerable and resource conscious enough not to just magic away almost every problem the characters face.

Edit: Spelling and clarity.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:

Sorry James, but organically growing a character doesn't necessarily make the game run at an enjoyable speed, or do anything to mitigate the narrative disparity between Martials and casters.

No need to be sorry. Just speaking from my own experience. In which I didn't feel there was a "disparity" between martials and casters. (My last game I ran went from 1st to 17th/tier 2, with barbarians and gunslingers alongside bards and sorcerers and the power curve seemed pretty well spread, with the paladin and the gunslinger regularly doing the most damage, in fact...)

Anyway.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
As someone who has had two groups organically reach level 15+ Gorbacz's argument has the right of it.

The plural of "anecdote" isn't "evidence". I won't wall-of-text you back, but basically I'll take 18th-level over 2nd-level any day of the week for fun.

Personally, I've done the low-level magic-user Hell that is "hmm, should I cast one of my three spells a day now and turn into a walking crossbow turret for the remainder of the day?"

I've done the "I'm a mighty warrior who rolled a 4 three rolls in a row and that's the combat because... statistics".

I've done the "I finally have enough treasure to make my weapon magic, completely ignoring the hundred pages or so of awesome magic gear I COULD have if I wasn't a single-digit level."

I won't turn down a game that starts at 1st, but I prefer games where complex feat-chains actually happen, and where synergy between two or more characters with intricate builds actually represent lengthy relationships between PCs. I don't see "long" turns as a flaw... I'm here to play the game, so if combat takes an hour, that's an hour I'm playing the game. Meh.


Needs more study, but rules along the lines of those recently released in Pathfinder Unchained for de-emphasizing magic items could help with the bookkeeping tasks at high levels. Also, what's wrong with using a spreadsheet?(*)

(*)Technically, it doesn't have to be Excel unless you're stuck with it for work reasons anyway, which is unfortunately the case for an awful lot of people.

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