Experimental APs - why not one going to Level 20?


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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.

This is basically 100% wrong as advice. Some gamers don't enjoy high level play, and that's fine. A lot more don't know how to run and play at high levels, and get frustrated with it. But don't let the fact that you, personally, either don't enjoy high level play - or don't know how to make it work - dissuade others from giving it a try, others who might enjoy it.

The game is entirely playable and fun at levels above 15. I say this having run and played in several successful campaigns at that level, even two that went into the low 20s. It require different expectations and style choices than low levels, but to some of us that's a feature, not a bug.

Personally my least favorite levels are the so-called "Sweet spot." I know that those are the favorite levels of many players - they are not "wrong" because we have disparate preferences.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

This almost suggests Paizo should try a double-experiment of a 7 issue AP followed by a 5 issue AP (or 8 and 4 even, though I suspect that wouldn't work as well).

There is also the fact that most magic items tend toward the higher levels. For instance, 99% of the staffs out there are overpriced. I mean, come on, an 8K staff that can fire five magic missiles and one other spell? And that's in the fluff an apprentice staff. And if you want a magic item that isn't one-shot or pointless, you're looking at something beyond low level adventurers. This is another factor behind enjoying higher-level play.

There is one other thing to consider. If Paizo doesn't do this, third party publishers will. The reason I want Paizo to try this is because I know their quality tends to be good. I don't know about the third-party groups. Pretty much I'm limited to either writing my own campaign or hoping Paizo eventually tries to do this.

Probably after they put out their High Level Unchained Rules. ;)


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
UnArcaneElection wrote:
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.

Weren't those rules ways to replace the basic stat boosting items? Those aren't where the math problems come in. The complexity at high level is not the base attacks and damage from your character, but the 3-7 buffs you may have on at any particularly time. Static, always there buffs are easy to pre-calculate.

I've run a Pathfinder game from 1-20. It was awesome. It's probably the most memorable campaign I've ever been involved in. But there is a lot of math that goes on.

I do agree with James though, if you get there organically you get used to each new ability organically at a slower pace. I just wish there was more high level content published, I already used the majority of it last time.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Tangent101 wrote:
There is one other thing to consider. If Paizo doesn't do this, third party publishers will. The reason I want Paizo to try this is because I know their quality tends to be good. I don't know about the third-party groups. Pretty much I'm limited to either writing my own campaign or hoping Paizo eventually tries to do this.

That's what reviews are for. There are several 3pp I trust. Coliseum Morpheuon is the best high level pathfinder adventure produced from any company.


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

It might be just the thing for a third party to do tho, they don't have an established subscription model and thus can take longer then 6 books if need be, also not to pick nuts but many of Paizo's contributors operate or write for third party publishers, so the writing isn't that much off, their editors and art department might not be at the same level as Paizo certainly but still there's some high quality stuff out there. :-)


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Speaking of 3PP, if you really want an experimental 20th-level AP, I recommend checking out the Legendary Planet adventure path from Legendary Games (currently being released). Go to brand-new places, meet brand-new creatures and kill them talk to them take their stuff... XD It might be exactly what you're looking for.


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Tangent101 wrote:
There is one other thing to consider. If Paizo doesn't do this, third party publishers will. The reason I want Paizo to try this is because I know their quality tends to be good. I don't know about the third-party groups. Pretty much I'm limited to either writing my own campaign or hoping Paizo eventually tries to do this.

Third party publishers already have. Enworld has two APs (three if you count the one they did back in 3.5) and I'm fairly sure they all go to 20.

If their approach were wildly successful, Paizo would take note. For example, my understanding is that the positive buzz about Way of the Wicked helped convince them to try an evil AP with Hell's Vengeance.

For what it's worth, Way of the Wicked also goes to substantially higher level than a Paizo AP.

I haven't heard a lot of love for Zeitgeist, Santiago, or the Way of the Wicked going to higher level, but more for their settings and themes.

Cheers!
Landon

Shadow Lodge

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Legendary Games already does their "AP Plugins" expansion adventures; pushing an AP to 20 or further is probably right up their alley.


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*Points to his previous comment*

This is already happening.

Successfully funded, with the prologue adventure released and the first part likely coming out in a few days for backers (and later for everyone else - people who already paid get things before the general public). XD


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.)

Yes, Please stop with all the level 1 nonsense and give us a 6ish - 20 AP. there, you have officially been notified. lol.

As a side note: what are the odds of ever getting a fully pathfinder conversion of the shackled city hardcover you guys released a few years back? That series (later combined into the hardcover), is still the best AP Paizo has ever done (IMO), & I'd love to see an official conversion.

Shadow Lodge

Well I was more referring to Legendary's older product, their AP Plugins line, rather than their more recent own adventure product.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
james knowles wrote:
As a side note: what are the odds of ever getting a fully pathfinder conversion of the shackled city hardcover you guys released a few years back? That series (later combined into the hardcover), is still the best AP Paizo has ever done (IMO), & I'd love to see an official conversion.

Zero. Wizards of the Coast has the rights to everything that was done in Dragon/Dungeon magazine, even if it was produced by Paizo.

Shadow Lodge

deinol wrote:
james knowles wrote:
As a side note: what are the odds of ever getting a fully pathfinder conversion of the shackled city hardcover you guys released a few years back? That series (later combined into the hardcover), is still the best AP Paizo has ever done (IMO), & I'd love to see an official conversion.
Zero. Wizards of the Coast has the rights to everything that was done in Dragon/Dungeon magazine, even if it was produced by Paizo.

Yep. Same goes for Savage Tide and Age of Worms for the same reason.


Orthos wrote:
deinol wrote:
james knowles wrote:
As a side note: what are the odds of ever getting a fully pathfinder conversion of the shackled city hardcover you guys released a few years back? That series (later combined into the hardcover), is still the best AP Paizo has ever done (IMO), & I'd love to see an official conversion.
Zero. Wizards of the Coast has the rights to everything that was done in Dragon/Dungeon magazine, even if it was produced by Paizo.
Yep. Same goes for Savage Tide and Age of Worms for the same reason.

well that sucks, I was hoping it might have fallen into the OGL territory. Guess I'll have to go back to the incredibly time-consuming task of converting it by hand.

Shadow Lodge

james knowles wrote:
Orthos wrote:
deinol wrote:
james knowles wrote:
As a side note: what are the odds of ever getting a fully pathfinder conversion of the shackled city hardcover you guys released a few years back? That series (later combined into the hardcover), is still the best AP Paizo has ever done (IMO), & I'd love to see an official conversion.
Zero. Wizards of the Coast has the rights to everything that was done in Dragon/Dungeon magazine, even if it was produced by Paizo.
Yep. Same goes for Savage Tide and Age of Worms for the same reason.
well that sucks, I was hoping it might have fallen into the OGL territory. Guess I'll have to go back to the incredibly time-consuming task of converting it by hand.

I can't speak for Shackled City as I haven't looked into it, but I know the people who hang out on the Savage Tide forum here have a great collective of converted stuff available for others to use. I'd check out the Shackled City forum and see if they have the same. Might save you some time.


They do 2 AP's a year, right? What if instead of 2 completely different APs, they did a 2-part series. The 1st 6 issues go from levels 1-12ish, then the next 6 continue from 13-20. They put enough connecting material and recurring npcs/themes for those who played the 1st part, but leave enough of it undefined so that even if you only play the 2nd half, you're not completely lost.
BOOM! a 20 level AP with no extras in all those cost categories James Jacobs was speaking of, and no interfering with the scheduling/support of the APs.

What say you? would you guys buy into this concept if Paizo were to try it? I sure as hell would.

Shadow Lodge

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I wouldn't be opposed to it, but it's extremely unlikely they'll do it.

The main reason, as far as I recall James and others saying, is because even with the six-month AP schedule, you still always have a chunk of people among the subscribers with EVERY SINGLE AP who say "oh it's an AP about XYZ, I'm not interested in that, unsubscribing". It's a different group every time, but it always happens. "Oh I don't like high-tech stuff, unsubscribed." "Oh I don't like (insert monster here), unsubscribed." "Oh I don't like (insert country/region of Golarion here), unsubscribed." "Oh I don't like evil campaigns, unsubscribed." And so forth.

That's why Paizo staggers their more experimental APs like Reign of Winter, Iron Gods, and Hell's Vengeance with the more traditional, standard-tropes ones like Shattered Star and Giantslayer. Because while someone might drop for a more experimental AP, six months is not hugely long and by the time the unwanted AP is coming out, news about the AP after it is on the way, and they're able to potentially bring some of those unsubscribed customers back.

Since the subscriptions are Paizo's main moneymaker, losing subscriptions hurts bad enough on rotating six-month schedules. Losing people for a full year not only reduces their income, but makes it less likely they'll come back after the longer wait.


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james knowles wrote:

They do 2 AP's a year, right? What if instead of 2 completely different APs, they did a 2-part series. The 1st 6 issues go from levels 1-12ish, then the next 6 continue from 13-20. They put enough connecting material and recurring npcs/themes for those who played the 1st part, but leave enough of it undefined so that even if you only play the 2nd half, you're not completely lost.

BOOM! a 20 level AP with no extras in all those cost categories James Jacobs was speaking of, and no interfering with the scheduling/support of the APs.

What say you? would you guys buy into this concept if Paizo were to try it? I sure as hell would.

Sales of part 1 of an AP are always higher than part 6. They can expect that downward trend to continue for a 12 part AP.

Numbers are made up, but I suspect they look something like this:

Expected Sales

Doing a year long AP might be cool, but the number of people who would follow it through to the end isn't likely as many as you think. And that would be suicide to do on their best selling line.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
blope wrote:
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'.

I love this idea. I rarely buy modules, prefer the APs (own every single one of them) but I would so buy modules that bring my players to level 20. Maybe just do the AP that sold very well and make sure the we get a clear indication to which AP it ties in to and I would buy them all.

As for the starting level, I like the starting at level 1. I find that's the best way to start. No 20 pages background and no optimizing the magic gear, just you, your sword and your wits. I have some very imaginative player that surprise me often with ways of solving problems.


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

I will say the one thing my party has taught me over these last however many years is you don't need a long bio with details about the whole family, all that stuff can be figured out later.

But yes obviously I love that they all start at first level, but if it's an interesting adventure path I wouldn't unsubscribe because one did.


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^That depends upon your players. Back in AD&D 1.x days, it seemed to be most common for characters to have little to no backstory, and most never developed a backstory later. So it's actually a relief to see in PbPs that a substantial fraction (if not necessarily a majority of characters have at least an honest attempt at a backstory and personality, and I ihave signed onto this wholeheartedly with the 3 characters that I have created aliases for (unfortuately not in any PbPs yet).

That said, the upcoming Strange Aeons adventure path sounds like it will favor your approach, since part of the deal in there is that you don't remember most of your own history.


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It is fun i give you that and it can be done well either way, i used to do the whole bio and family history and then with my wife and kids they would have "I'm Anne, i'm an android fighter, i might have a dark past but i don't talk about it much" as the campaign has progressed she has come up with and revealed more details, and then i'm using those to tie her character to a part of the AP that's perfect for it:-)

But yeah i totally agree it depends on the group, i would love to have long backstories and families to corrupt, but alas that's not to be.

Dark Archive

Though is there really a need to always start on level one though besides human psychology having obsession with completing things and doing stuff in order?

Well, unless you play it for high danger, simple mechanics with not a lot of abilities to remember and CR 1 monsters being actually dangerous? Those are pretty valid reasons to like level 1 I think


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CorvusMask wrote:
Well, unless you play it for high danger, simple mechanics with not a lot of abilities to remember and CR 1 monsters being actually dangerous? Those are pretty valid reasons to like level 1 I think

Simple mechanics is a big one for me too.

Unless we got some new rules for simpler characters, which I'd buy in a heartbeat, I wouldn't consider starting a campaign above 1st. It makes the learning curve even harsher, which is already a problem with a lot of characters.

It also gives you longer where death isn't trivial. I can appreciate the story not being disrupted by deaths later on, but there's plenty of time for death to take a role at the lower levels.

Cheers!
Landon

The Exchange

CorvusMask wrote:

Though is there really a need to always start on level one though besides human psychology having obsession with completing things and doing stuff in order?

Well, unless you play it for high danger, simple mechanics with not a lot of abilities to remember and CR 1 monsters being actually dangerous? Those are pretty valid reasons to like level 1 I think

Yes, this is also another good reason for Paizo to stick with APs starting at lower levels. Any AP might be an introduction to Pathfinder for some groups - in fact, Paizo actively WANTS every AP to be so because that means new customers - and starting from level one is a nice way to learn the ropes a bit before going into the crazy shenanigans of high level play.

Of course some APs will be friendlier to new players than others - see Wrath of Righteous, which I think Paizo pretty much knew was not a good idea for new groups - but you still want most of them to be as accessible as possible.

Shadow Lodge

Anguish wrote:
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".

And that applies every bit as much to James' experience as to Dudemeister's. And the number of people who have "anecdotes" about high-level 3.x/PF not working seems to vastly ountnumbers those who have anecdotes that say it does. Hell, even the bag with teeth, who's an unrepentant Paizo apologist, is here saying that 15+ level Pathfinder just plain doesn't work.

The only place that anecdotes about it working seem to be coming from is the offices of Paizo.

ryric wrote:
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.

This is basically 100% wrong as advice. Some gamers don't enjoy high level play, and that's fine.

Just because some people enjoy something, that doesn't mean it works well, or is balances. It's quite clear from many posts on these boards that a decent percentage of Pathfinder players don't want there to be anything resembling a challenge...they want to ROFLstomp their way through every adventure. To them, talking their 20th level characters with 10 mythic ranks and smashing through villages of kobold commoners is great fun. Just because they find it to be great fun, that doesn't make it good game / adventure desingn.

Shadow Lodge

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Tangent101 wrote:
There is one other thing to consider. If Paizo doesn't do this, third party publishers will.

There are already publishers that put out "adventure paths" for high levels.

Just from Frog God Games alone:

Rappath Athuk - supports 1-20
Slumbering Tsar - supports 7-20
Splinters of Faith - supports 1-14
Sword of Air - supports 1-20
Northlands Saga - supports 1-20


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Kthulhu wrote:

And that applies every bit as much to James' experience as to Dudemeister's. And the number of people who have "anecdotes" about high-level 3.x/PF not working seems to vastly ountnumbers those who have anecdotes that say it does. Hell, even the bag with teeth, who's an unrepentant Paizo apologist, is here saying that 15+ level Pathfinder just plain doesn't work.

The only place that anecdotes about it working seem to be coming from is the offices of Paizo.

It works fine for me as long as we start from low levels. We actually get more "growing pains" in the middle levels as character complexity explodes. By the time we get to high level, people usually have their stuff figured out.

That aside, "I only hear negative things about this" has never been a valid argument in a public forum. No matter how good or bad it is, the people it works for are always less likely to talk about it.

As an example, I post a lot on these forums, but I don't think I've ever mentioned that high-level play works for us. I'm only doing it now because I have criticism for your post.

Cheers!
Landon

The Exchange

Landon Winkler wrote:
Kthulhu wrote:

And that applies every bit as much to James' experience as to Dudemeister's. And the number of people who have "anecdotes" about high-level 3.x/PF not working seems to vastly ountnumbers those who have anecdotes that say it does. Hell, even the bag with teeth, who's an unrepentant Paizo apologist, is here saying that 15+ level Pathfinder just plain doesn't work.

The only place that anecdotes about it working seem to be coming from is the offices of Paizo.

It works fine for me as long as we start from low levels. We actually get more "growing pains" in the middle levels as character complexity explodes. By the time we get to high level, people usually have their stuff figured out.

That aside, "I only hear negative things about this" has never been a valid argument in a public forum. No matter how good or bad it is, the people it works for are always less likely to talk about it.

As an example, I post a lot on these forums, but I don't think I've ever mentioned that high-level play works for us. I'm only doing it now because I have criticism for your post.

Cheers!
Landon

However, there are far more who complain about high level play than about low level play (let alone the "sweet spot" that seems to trouble your gaming party). If people were equally bothered about level 6 as they are about level 15, one would expect there to be a similar amount of complaints. That is not the case however.

Further, there are things that are easy to point to that explain why high level play would be less fun for many people. It has much more complexity, to a degree that fights that only take a couple of rounds in game still take hours to resolve. Smart players usually seem capable of building 14th level characters that can easily stomp CR 20 opponents with consistency and regularity. fights come down to winning initiative and choosing the specific way you wish to one shot an opponent. The discrepancy between martial characters and spellcasters widens as the former are capable of being really good at combat while the later can tear reality apart and essentially do anything, really, if given some time to prepare.

Those issues are present in lower levels but become rapidly more impactful the higher level you get.

So what we have is a statistical skew towards complaining about high level play, and a very solid understanding of what is wrong with it. Slumped together these two elements provide a pretty solid backbone to the claim that high level Pathfinder is broken and should probably be avoided.


Landon Winkler wrote:

It works fine for me as long as we start from low levels. We actually get more "growing pains" in the middle levels as character complexity explodes. By the time we get to high level, people usually have their stuff figured out.

Bolded mine.

Yeah the bolded part is usually shared by Paizo adventure writers and that shows in books 5 and (especially) books 6 where (again usually) the encounters are SO easy because "there are people who are playing the AP and are also playing their first 3.X game, so we expect them to have pretty much useless characters", in short Paizo's adventure writting shows that (they think that) getting from 1st to 15th+ level doesn't mean that you have your stuff figured out yet.

PS. I am not saying that all players who play their first AP to completion have mastered the game, far from it; but i have seen very very few players that haven't acquired basic system mastery after the first complete AP, again i am not talking about crazy stuff but things like the basics of action and the fact that the game has trap options.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Perhaps my joking about Paizo needing to put out a High Levels Unchained book is closer to the mark than I'd thought.

Okay. I'm not sure if 13th level is "high" level in your eyes. That said, I have noticed combats have slowed down and for two reasons. First, players have a much greater amount of choice on their hands. This can vary of course, seeing that most level 1-2 offensive spells aren't that useful (buffs on the other hand...). Second, there is a greater amount of defenses so players have to figure out what they have on hand to go through the resistances and immunities of monsters.

Combat hasn't actually gotten more lethal, however. It is about the same as it was before - it's just that you have a bigger opportunity to hit multiple enemies compared to levels 1-4. ;) And you still have to pick-and-choose where your attacks will go. (I swear, wizards have advanced degrees in geometry. :D "Now if I aim this right there, I can maximize the number of enemies I hit while not hitting any of my allies except the thief who will dodge and not be hit...")


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I actually prefer high level play to low level play (I will gladly reach L20 in a campaign and just keep going), but I don't have any particular issues with low level play. I just find low level play kind of... limiting I guess.

For example, I love doing planar stuff, and planar stuff and low level don't mix well. Mixing them pretty much requires diluting the planar stuff to a shadow of what it should be.

High level play isn't broken; it's different. High level PCs are superheroes, and that requires some adjustment.

If you don't like that difference, that's fine. But I don't see that as cause for actively trying to discourage other people from trying it out.

Heh. High level combat in Pathfinder is slow, but it's still faster than even mid-tier combat in 4E =P

Aside: Now, one thing that occurs to me that since it takes some time to even reach high level, a lot of groups have very little experience with it. It's probably not uncommon for a group to reach it, stumble on the differences, and decide to hell with it instead of working through them.

A "Guide to High Level Play" could work pretty well as one of the 64 page books. (Not worth a full hardback, though.)

@ leo1925 - there's a enough stories of high level TPKs floating around the board to indicate that high level adventures aren't "easy" per say (Hell, look at the Giantslayer marathon blogs for a high profile example =P). But yes, Paizo's adventures do assume a relatively low power baseline. (I.e., Paizo's adventures are designed to be completed by parties that aren't ruthlessly optimized.)

(Aside: I'm always amused when people complain about having to adjust an adventure that assumes four 15 pt characters to accommodate their five to six 20 pt character parties =P)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

We don't talk about 4E. *dark glower* ;)

(My friend bought the books. I refused to even touch them. And this was even before word got out how meh it was. I'm not even sure I want to touch 5th edition, though I've heard they got more of it right (by mimicking stuff from Pathfinder). But then, I've wasted a lot of money on gamebooks over the decades. I don't have the finances to just jump into new systems at the drop of a hat anymore.)


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I liked 4E, with its cheerful overcomplexity and rather easy monster creation rules (the Unchained monster creation rules, which are fantastic for high level play, mimic 4E a lot, and I mean that in the best possible way); I only quit 4E because of WotC. (I didn't like the game getting dumbed down with Essentials, but I think I could've tolerated Essentials if it weren't for other things WotC did).

But yeah, 4E encounters were deliberately designed to be low damage, status effect heavy, slogs, and it took a couple years for the design to move away from that.

5E's interesting. I'd probably like it better if I ported the classes (which are pretty well designed) over to Pathfinder, rather then going with the basic 5E system (which, in my pretty limited experience, I found extremely frustrating. I don't like bounded accuracy a single damn bit, and it's pretty much the core of the system.)

(In short, 5E deals with high level play by flattening all of the numbers and making high level character only marginally more competent than low level characters =P Edit: I have a number of friends who actually really love that it does that. I sometimes wonder if I'd be more comfortable with 5E's progression if they'd done away with levels.)


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Lord Snow wrote:
So what we have is a statistical skew towards complaining about high level play, and a very solid understanding of what is wrong with it. Slumped together these two elements provide a pretty solid backbone to the claim that high level Pathfinder is broken and should probably be avoided.

I'm not trying to say that nobody has problems with high-level play. I was just providing an anecdote of the type that Kthulhu apparently hadn't seen before.

High-level play has a lot of table variation and I encourage people to tread with caution. But even unanimous message board condemnation doesn't provide the whole picture.

For example, my personal bugaboo is complexity. I could legitimately say that I've never seen a complaint that the game is too simple, but there are plenty of people who love the game at the complexity it is now. And, looking at the Houserules forums, plenty of people would add additional complexity to resolve other things that bother them.

If I were to impose my vision of complexity on the game as a whole, what happens to those people? Suddenly, they're the ones posting and the folks who agree with me are the ones off the forums enjoying the game.

leo1925 wrote:
Yeah the bolded part is usually shared by Paizo adventure writers and that shows in books 5 and (especially) books 6 where (again usually) the encounters are SO easy because "there are people who are playing the AP and are also playing their first 3.X game, so we expect them to have pretty much useless characters", in short Paizo's adventure writting shows that (they think that) getting from 1st to 15th+ level doesn't mean that you have your stuff figured out yet.

I kind of feel for the adventure writers on that one. The variations between groups at high levels is massive and I don't really know where they should set the challenge level.

For my group, it definitely is too easy as written. But that just means I can throw several encounters at them at once, which I'd rather do anyway.

There are definitely folks way above us, though. And I can see their adjustments becoming very cumbersome.

Cheers!
Landon


One possibility for a 1-20 level AP if Paizo doesn't have enough resources would be a partnership with a 3P producer. Pick a reputable 3P producer and have them create a 8 part AP and license it. The 3P benefits by having higher sales plus better name recognition if it's an official Paizo sanctioned and printed product and Paizo benefits since they get a cut of the revenue and don't have to sink creative or editorial resources in producing the AP. Obviously Paizo has to have a final QC, but it's a lot easier than trying to produce the AP from scratch.


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It will never happen.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

A level 4-20 adventure path, preferably dealing with a planar campaign, would be something I would love to see. It certainly seems no less of an outlandish AP hook than "evil campaign" or "magic vs technology" or "lovecraftian horror".

No mythic rules, though, please.


Zhangar wrote:


@ leo1925 - there's a enough stories of high level TPKs floating around the board to indicate that high level adventures aren't "easy" per say (Hell, look at the Giantslayer marathon blogs for a high profile example =P). But yes, Paizo's adventures do assume a relatively low power baseline. (I.e., Paizo's adventures are designed to be completed by parties that aren't ruthlessly optimized.)

(Aside: I'm always amused when people complain about having to adjust an adventure that assumes four 15 pt characters to accommodate their five to six 20 pt character parties =P)

I have DMed the entire of RotRL (half original, half anniversary) and Shattered Star, now book 5 of Iron Gods and have played the entire Kingmaker, Jade Regent and Wrath of the Righteous, and of course a (relative) small amount of modules (including the moonscar). Almost always we were a party of 4 with 15 point buy (the optimization level was different with each group but it was nowhere ruthless, partly because the players restrained themselves or because half of the group didn't know how to optimize).

Now withe the exception of RotRL, all of the others book 6 were very very weak as written, and the same was true for some of the book 5; i am talking pure statblocks here, if we add the tactics as written the encounters almost become a joke.


One thing that would be good in Adventure Paths and Modules, regardless of the intended ending level, would be to add short sidebars for difficulty adjustment, with guides to a few different party compositions: Novice A (players just learning what to do, party size 4), Standard (15 Point Buy with moderate optimization, party size 4), Heroic (20 point buy with good optimization, party size 4), and Insane (and then add a separate optimization (25 point buy with ruthless optimization, party size 4); also add a separate axis (which should actually be fairly simple) for adjusting for different party size. It should be possible to do this with only a small increase in word count in the Adventure Path. Another possibility (more compact but not quite as easy to read) would be to provide numbers separated by slashes in stat blocks and enemy party/horde composition descriptions.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I was coming into my Runelords and Reign of Winter games from a 4d6 rolling system with people who roll well. And that's when I figured out that you can just boost the stats of monsters and the like - +1 to each stat for a 25-point build, +2 to each stat for a 37-point build, +3 to each stat for a 52-point build. It boosts hit points, damage, and the like while making things even for the players.

The problem is that you still have some encounters, traps, and the like designed for a 15-point build. For instance, if you need in-game to make a 20 Diplomacy check with a level 3 character, but your players have stats that are basically 16, 15, 14, 13, 11, 9 before racial mods, then that character could have an 18 for Charisma and a Diplomacy of +10 and thus succeed over half the time. The same character with a 15-point build would only have a +9... and thus a reduced chance. And if they were built on something like 18, 15, 15, 13, 12, 10 then with a 20 Charisma....

So yes. Stats impact things. Even with a novice gaming group. Moreso with a min/max crowd.

As for the lethality of Book 6 of these APs? It depends on the players. Runelords can, with some lucky die rolls (or unlucky for Karzoug) result in his being nerfed by a half dozen level drains. Admittedly, he could also (in theory) Wish the level drains fixed when he dropped to level 17 (and thus be short a Wish spell when the PCs show up), but in-game, you could face a seriously weakened Karzoug. Likewise, a group that fails to finish every aspect of some of the encounters or the like could face an end-game foe who is prepared for them when they are weakened.

And while I want Paizo to do a 1-20 AP because I'm lazy, don't want to write one myself, and trust Paizo and have no real knowledge of the third-party APs (not to mention the couple I looked up didn't look like adventures I was interested in), I also fully realize that my job as a GM is to adjust the adventure so it's not as tough for a novice group, or tougher for a group walking through everything.

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Kthulhu wrote:
Anguish wrote:
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".

And that applies every bit as much to James' experience as to Dudemeister's. And the number of people who have "anecdotes" about high-level 3.x/PF not working seems to vastly ountnumbers those who have anecdotes that say it does. Hell, even the bag with teeth, who's an unrepentant Paizo apologist, is here saying that 15+ level Pathfinder just plain doesn't work.

The only place that anecdotes about it working seem to be coming from is the offices of Paizo.

ryric wrote:
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.

This is basically 100% wrong as advice. Some gamers don't enjoy high level play, and that's fine.
Just because some people enjoy something, that doesn't mean it works well, or is balances. It's quite clear from many posts on these boards that a decent percentage of Pathfinder players don't want there to be anything resembling a challenge...they want to ROFLstomp their way through every adventure. To them, talking their 20th level characters with 10 mythic ranks and smashing through villages of kobold commoners is great fun. Just because they find it to be great fun, that doesn't make it good game / adventure desingn.

Yes, but "don't even try it" is bad advice when it does work for some people. One anecdote is a valid counterargument when the statement is "it's always broken." There are ways to run high level games that make them work. I'm not claiming it's never broken or a chore, but usually when I read s story about things breaking down I can pinpoint pretty well where the game went wrong and know what to do that would have fixed it. Thus the guide idea - it seems many people don't know the strategies that make high level play work. And I'm not a Paizo employee, so this is at least one claim that is not from "the offices of Paizo."


deinol wrote:
Sales of part 1 of an AP are always higher than part 6.

This is pretty much mathematically inevitable, of course. There are plenty of campaigns which end before book 6 because the group splits up, a TPK, the players aren't enjoying it, etc. These campaigns won't need the later books. Meanwhile, even if you like high level play, very few people are going to start from book 5 if the story is intended to be played in order from book 1 to 6.

deinol wrote:
They can expect that downward trend to continue for a 12 part AP.

It might not, if the second half was marketed as a separate AP and you had no need to play the first half first. Although I can see Paizo would be reluctant to take that risk...


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^The risks of marketing a separate high-level AP (when you don't have the resources to release a normal AP in parallel) have been noted earlier in this thread.

I think dipping into the unknown waters slowly is probably the safest approach. Release a 7 part AP and a 5 part AP in the same year, of which the 7 parter is the expermiental AP and goes into the high levels, while the 5 parter is a traditional AP that has a cool subject but not enough matter to fill it out to 6 parts without adding filler. An AP in the class of Wrath of the Righteous but without the Mythic could be the 7 parter, and an AP in the class of Council of Thieves or Jade Regent could be the 5 parter.


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So, one point I've seen brought up a few times is how high-level statblocks take up so much room. How about just referencing most of the high-level baddies from the Bestiaries/Codices instead of building unique ones? For example, Cthulu: Word count from PRD = 719. Using standard reference statblock word count = 12. Yes, it is nice to make custom statblocks, but really, how many people are going to use that 20th level barbarian from the NPC Codex otherwise?


Perhaps a few more high level modules like Moonscar or Blood of Dragonscar will help fill the gaps.

The third party publishers have been picking up the slack with mega adventures like The Slumbering Tsar.

Legendary Games is working on the Legendary Planet AP now which will run all the way to 20th level. As a kickstarter backer, I will have the nice fat hardcover collecting the entire adventure.


@ Ivan - Paizo's does that as often as they can with any module, but there's often a number of unique creatures in every adventure, too. (Oddly enough, NPC Codex/GMG Guide cites are saved for the wandering encounter tables - probably to make those books more "optional")

At low levels a unique creature might claim a quarter of a page; at high levels a unique creature can take an entire page or more.

And cutting the "uniques" out of the adventure altogether would come with the consequence of possibly drastically lowering the actual quality of the adventure.

For example, having Karzoug's statblock just be "NPC codex L20 wizard with advanced template" would be lame.


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

NPC Codex has been creeping into the regular adventures, at least in Iron Gods (I don't have Giantslayer) I imagine Hell's Rebels will see some, but certainly not a large amount, and nothing beats customized monsters and NPCs :-)


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

Now that you mention it Zhangar, I recall all the lower rated reviews of Emerald Spire is because they used a generic bestiary Lich for

:
the BBEG

Tammy would never have a generic stat block.

Edit: to clarify, while reviews are great, it's always best to take a pound or two of salt with them:-D

I'll get Emerald Spire one of these days.


captain yesterday wrote:

Now that you mention it Zhangar, I recall all the lower rated reviews of Emerald Spire is because they used a generic bestiary Lich for ** spoiler omitted **

Tammy would never have a generic stat block.

Edit: to clarify, while reviews are great, it's always best to take a pound or two of salt with them:-D

I'll get Emerald Spire one of these days.

I haven't played through it, but the read through was great!

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