Would using the Unchained Automatic Bonus Progression rule work with No issues in this AP?


Hell's Rebels


The current GM just popped this on us after the first session (SIGH), would using this rule cause any problems with this AP as written?

Party seems divided by this so far and the GM said this is what we are doing!!.... so double checking here.

I'm a bit worried as this is a Devil centric written AP and I could see some potential problems with this from my point of view the further we get into the AP modules and specific situations and gear put into said modules.

Thanks

Tom


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Why the sigh? Automatic Bonus Progression is quite useful and helps simplify things so you don't end up with half the party with magic weapons and the other half without at lower levels.

I don't see why it would be a problem. Actual magic armor and magic weapons can be turned into just mastercraft items (of which there are a number already) while monetary treasure can for the most part be left as-is.

One thing to recall is this: A Bane Magic Weapon remains a Bane Magic Weapon, even without the initial +1. So you can still have devil-specific weapons and the like.


Thanks for the reply Tangent

This

"The automatic bonuses are often more beneficial than that reduction in wealth, but characters have less flexibility, so the advantages and disadvantages balance out."

Would they balance out in all the Modules of this AP with minimal or no GM rewrites?

This is a very specific AP and I do see your point in the Bane still working but hoping to have one of the PF staff pop in and say what they might think of the dynamics of this rule impacting our game in this AP.

Tom :)


I am not sure if James Jacob has even read Pathfinder Unchained yet, and I am sure he would tell you that the APs are designed with the assumption that players will be following the core rulebook. Feedback from posters might be the best you can hope for, and right now not enough of the AP has been released I would guess to make that determination.

I don't think it would be too problematic based on the first volume? Although it might make some fights a bit easier


In general, all Automatic Bonus Progression is going to do is make a few of your numbers a bit lower than what they could otherwise be if you invested 100% of your wealth by level into the big six.

Because that's all the system really changes.

Magic Armor
Magic Weapon
Headband/Belt of Ability Increase
Ring of Protection
Amulet of Natural Armor
Cloak of Resistance

Those are the items which get replaced. If you invested all your wealth into only those, you could have higher bonuses than what ABP will give you. But you wont have anything else.

For me as a GM though, I almost always ran APs consistently at +2 CR to everything (because of player optimization including optimized gear).

So, if you are as a group on a bit of reduced playing field it likely means the GM simply isn't going to increase the CR of enemies as much.

But now you'll also get lots of gear to do neat things with.

Overall, I think this will be absolutely fine.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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MMCJawa wrote:

I am not sure if James Jacob has even read Pathfinder Unchained yet, and I am sure he would tell you that the APs are designed with the assumption that players will be following the core rulebook. Feedback from posters might be the best you can hope for, and right now not enough of the AP has been released I would guess to make that determination.

I don't think it would be too problematic based on the first volume? Although it might make some fights a bit easier

First of all... it's Jacobs with an "s" at the end.

Second of all, no, I haven't yet read Pathfinder Unchained, with the exception of a brief skim over the new rogue. ALL of the rules in that book are optional, and as such they ALL change the expectation of game play, so that if you use some of them, you'll be playing a different game than a published Paizo adventure expects. As a result, your GM needs to be ready to react in real-time to adjust things as necessary, should such adjustments become necessary.

It WOULD be interesting to see feedback from people who actually play an AP using these optional rules.


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I've been running a Mummy's Mask group using Automatic Bonus Progression from the get-go. Because I'm me, I've been doing extensive rewrites of important NPCs and replacing generic +1 weapons, armor, and the like with more interesting equipment. So far my players seem to like it, and most of the effort of trying this system will fall on your GM's shoulders due to the need to include these bonuses on NPCs. I really recommend the system as it frees up the weapon, armor, neck, shoulders, ring, and headband slots for more interesting items.

Having to deal with the big six gets stagnant, and I heartily recommend ABP as a way to make your games fresh again!


I like the idea, but not the implementation.

I've found that ABP reduces the flexibility of people and doesn't provide much advantage in interesting items.

Even when people are spending their money on Big 6 items, they vary in which ones they buy. For example, a paladin may spend less on a cloak of resistance and buy a multiple-stat booster instead. The one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work well for many cases.

You get dinged twice for non-unique weapon and armor abilities with bonus equivalents. You pay money and you reduce your bonus at the same time. Money benefits and unique items are not so limited.

With half WBL, I find your choices are very limited. You are generally choosing miscellaneous items that are made for lower levels than you.

I'd rather do it by giving people a budget for big six bonuses and let them buy them as they choose.


Thanks everyone and Mr Jakobs as well for your feedback.

I usually GM (a LOT) most of the time but I swore to myself when I first heard about this last year I would be a player in this no matter what!!

I shopped around for some GM's (starting last month) and the first one failed before even getting the first session in, and then this from the second one........

Long story short, so much for that resolution needless to say..

I am now GMing (it really bums me out but I do what it takes to keep my players happy, within reason naturally) this the way all the players want it, "the regular way" as this GM was just inflexible and would not sway from this rule, as well as springing this on us AFTER the first session no less, among other not known and unwelcome "surprises".

I would be quite curious as well if anyone runs this AP with this rule though, if so then post your results on your take and your players thoughts on how it went when you have sometime.

I'm all for new and different rules but players have to know all about this before the game begins, and I think this AP will be good enough without this and I know my GM style to keep things interesting and fair in regards for what this rule is trying to do.

Sorry for the long post and thanks again for the feedback!!

Tom

Grand Lodge

First, I want to say that "GM said this is what we are doing" is a not a good approach for the GM. What if all the player's hate it? How is that fun?

Second, I used this briefly in a campaign and the players didn't like it at all. I also did not. It made more work for me to change the allotted treasure and NPC stats. The casters disliked it because they didn't give two craps about armor and weapon enhancements. The fighters didn't like it because it made it more difficult to have multiple enhanced weapons.

Third, the game is balanced around certain wealth by level expectations, and the ABP progress is not cohesive with what the players would spend their wealth on.


Thanks SoG, my thoughts on your first thought exactly.

The main reason I let him go, not just the rule itself but moreso the way he went about it.

Tom


I intend to find out, but won't start for a few months.

I CAN tell you that I used a very similar system in Council of Thieves, and it worked fine.

What you WILL find is that you need +0 magic weapons, to prevent things like shadows from being invulnerable to everything.


You -can- adjust the wealth by level table to account for the inherent automatic bonuses.

Figure out what those bonuses would cost, and then subtract. It's a breeze.

And if you include things for casters, like metamagic rods, into the progression, then it's a snap.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I'm going to institute these rules in my ongoing Reign of Winter game (well, assuming we start playing again - it's been over half a year). That said, I'm also going to keep track of old treasure and if they don't like it, do away with it. Ultimately, what makes the players happiest is what matters.


Thanks for more opinions, seems like this is viable for some parties, at least in other AP's.

Once I get the second module, hopefully this weekend I can check the loot and see what there is that may have caused a potential problem, but for now more than happy to keep my players in with the rules it was designed to run on.

I could see me GMing another module if not an AP and using it, as long as the players know this is what they are signing up for before the game begins, LOL

Tom


It had some unexpected benefits as well. One player felt that it allowed for greater freedom spending gold, because you didn't need to worry about 'keeping up'.

Other players enjoyed not needing to spend game time for shopping, and the wider wackiness of magic items was fun as well, because I could just make up a magic sword that was warm to the touch and did +1 fire damage.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
MMCJawa wrote:

I am not sure if James Jacob has even read Pathfinder Unchained yet, and I am sure he would tell you that the APs are designed with the assumption that players will be following the core rulebook. Feedback from posters might be the best you can hope for, and right now not enough of the AP has been released I would guess to make that determination.

I don't think it would be too problematic based on the first volume? Although it might make some fights a bit easier

First of all... it's Jacobs with an "s" at the end.

Second of all, no, I haven't yet read Pathfinder Unchained, with the exception of a brief skim over the new rogue. ALL of the rules in that book are optional, and as such they ALL change the expectation of game play, so that if you use some of them, you'll be playing a different game than a published Paizo adventure expects. As a result, your GM needs to be ready to react in real-time to adjust things as necessary, should such adjustments become necessary.

It WOULD be interesting to see feedback from people who actually play an AP using these optional rules.

Since I see this as a strong contender to be my next AP I GM, after we finish RotRL AE in about half a year or more, it is not unlikely that you'll get your wish, even if it is a bit late. Of course I am probably going to chance around even the optional rules a bit, I was quite unhappy how the special properties for weapons and armors were handled with the automatic bonus progression.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Some Other Guy wrote:

First, I want to say that "GM said this is what we are doing" is a not a good approach for the GM. What if all the player's hate it? How is that fun?

Second, I used this briefly in a campaign and the players didn't like it at all. I also did not. It made more work for me to change the allotted treasure and NPC stats. The casters disliked it because they didn't give two craps about armor and weapon enhancements. The fighters didn't like it because it made it more difficult to have multiple enhanced weapons.

Third, the game is balanced around certain wealth by level expectations, and the ABP progress is not cohesive with what the players would spend their wealth on.

An overall nerf to player effectiveness and a boost to monster/opponent effectiveness is exactly what I'd want from this certain sub-system.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

The tabletop half of my group is actually going into Hell's Rebels next as well. However, I have chosen not to use the ABP rules to make things simpler. (Seeing it's two players and an NPC...)

That said, I'm in the process of crafting a campaign with the intention to have it run to level 20... and I also intend on having exactly half of the magic items be weapons, armor, and other items which can be replaced by the ABP rules. If the players agree to it, then ABP would be used, and it would be easy to swap things out.


Alright so I'm prepping to run this campaign here on the boards and I fully intend to use the ABP system as I much like it over the usual idea of players spending all of their money on +# gear like my players always do.

I've compiled the first level's worth of loot into a spreadsheet and (Spoilers ahead!)

DON'T READ IF YOU DON'T WANT SPOILERS:
If the players find everything in Part 1 they come up with a share value (that is, total sell value of the loot divided by 4 players) of 2,248 gold (and some change). Well above the WBL for a 2nd level player of 1,000 gp. This is not including the sell price of the Wondrous Figurines of Power, which if included, would skyrocket their share price to over 5,000 gp each.

So that being said the players get a ton more loot so far than what might be expected - I've done this for other adventures (Shattered Star and Iron Gods specifically) and this is normal. Shattered Star was particularly bad in that regard if I remember correctly - but considering artifacts were in play, one would already assume the players were gonna be a bit overgeared anyways.

Now, taking out the +X magic items - more specifically, just the Bracers of Armor, Cloak of Resistance, +1 Leather Armor, and +1 Whip, the players are still at ~1600 gold apiece. As a result, I'll probably need to remove more loot (the boring stuff probably) to make it relatively balanced. I still need to account for all of the loot later on as well - I won't bother with gold made through downtime or teams, as the players will need to add money to their rebellion anyways.

*Edit*: Here is the spreadsheet I'm using to count everything. Feel free to use it for your own needs! Loot Spreadsheet

I'll post more info as I continue working on it.


Update!

More spoilers!:
It looks like there is less loot in comparison to the group's level in Part 2, as the players only end up with roughly 3,300 gp worth of shares each; getting rid of all the various +# gear makes them actually behind at about 2700 each.

Working on part 3 now.

Also I would like to add that this is all based on the sell price of gear, not its full price - the only things that are full price are coins, trade goods, and jewelry(Extra-Fancy holy/unholy symbols are included in the jewelry section).

As a result, this doesn't necessarily accurately tell how much players' gear is worth - as those who keep found magic items (and pay the sell-value of said magic items out of their share of the loot) effectively get those magic items for half price, like crafting them would be.

So no matter how you look at it, WBL is certainly not going to be followed - as a result, I might just remove the +# magic items and be done with it, leaving the rest the same and adding the ABP stuff. Would certainly be the easiest and quickest solution.

Since they'll have effectively more loot than their level allows, perhaps I should give NPCs whom I must apply the ABP to level-equivalent instead of their level -1? Not entirely sure.


Update #2, done with calculating the first book!

Spoilerrssss:
So at the end of Book 1 the players end up with just over 8,000 gp as their share value each - their actual wealth would be higher if they kept found magic items instead of selling them and buying other things.

Taking out all of the +# items and we come up with roughly 5,800 gp per person, or slightly under WBL, again not counting the fact it may still be over due to keeping found magic items instead of selling them.

So overall? Getting rid of the +# items puts the players at roughly WBL as far as the normal system goes - for ABP they'd be at roughly twice WBL.

That being said, I'm going to test the campaign out (via test PCs, to get a feel for the campaign before I run it) with removed +# weapons/armor/etc and make modifications to all NPCs Level 4+ who are affected by ABP to include said bonuses and possibly buy some interesting gear for them, as long as I stick to their WBL.

I'll let everyone knows how that goes when I test it out later in this week!

I do really love the ABP system + the magic item blog addon so I hope to get it working with this campaign.

Silver Crusade

Interested in how this progresses. Are you also retooling the baddies to use ABP?


Yep!

Spoilers:
So far I've retooled Scarplume - since most of her 2400 WBL was in her Amulet of Natural Armor +1, she's basically now running around with only 400 gp worth of gear, but she's gained +1 to all resistances due to ABP. Since her resistances are up, I took out her Lightning Reflexes and replaced it with Dodge - that makes up for her loss of +1 Natural Armor. Her WBL -should- be 1200 gp, but I probably need to remove some loot elsewhere. That being said, she's pretty dangerous already so I'm just going to leave her with only 400 gp atm.

The only other two in Book 1 that need adjusting are Azvernathi Raul and Nox - as I believe it was Mark Seifer who said that NPCs use Character Level -1 for their ABP progression. Although I haven't yet retooled them, it looks like Raul will be losing his +1 Heavy Mace and getting.. +1 to all resistances in place (poor guy). By quick examination, I'm probably going to give him a mwk light mace in place of the +1 Heavy mace, remove combat casting and give him weapon finesse (since in his combat tactics he doesn't cast after he starts dual wielding anyways) and that'll probably be it.

For Nox, she'll be losing her +1 Glaive, +1 Chainmail and Cloak of Resistance +1; but since she gains +1 to all resistances and can attune a suit of armor to +1 and a weapon to +1, she requires absolutely no modifications, which is perfect.

That being said, if I want to make these 3 NPCs have their correct WBL with ABP, I should give them some additional gear and remove some loot elsewhere - Nox should have 1750 gp with WBL, but with my quick modifications, she'll have 1753.1 gp.. huh. Man she was overgeared it seemed! Well, 500 gp of that is from diamond dust which she can't utilize. But Scarplume, for example, is only rolling around with roughly 400 gp worth of gear when she should have 1200 - then again, as a CR 3 caster who can fly, has high AC, and can shoot laser beams from her hands (figuratively speaking), she doesn't need anything else.

In addition, I intend to use the alternate weapon property system from the Paizo Blog found Here. Took a little while to understand it, but now its easy peazy. If my players end up having trouble with it then I'll help 'em to understand it as well.

Silver Crusade

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So, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I really liked the idea of ABP. (Especially since I have some players who reject the notion of the Big 6 and then wonder why their characters die.) And I was thinking, "Welp, for the next AP." But then I realized that my players just hit level 3 and had hardly found any magical gear. So I decided to ask my players if they wanted to try it out. The response I got was mildly-but-distinctively positive, so we're going to try it out and see how it goes.

It didn't take me too long to go over the loot for Part III of In Hell's Bright Shadow. I totaled the gold value of the magic items they'd collect, then subtracted out what they'd lose if you took out the Big 6 items. Then I added in some different magic items until they came up to half the value of the original stash. I did something similar with the mundane equipment, and I halved the value of the art objects and gold they found. This might get more cumbersome as they level, but we only play for 3 hours every other week, so I should have time to distribute.


I ran an AP using ABP and it worked great.

I found that optimization wise the differences are fairly small, but it gave players a lot more room to buy fun items.

Silver Crusade

It's worth updating this thread that my group just hit level 12, and we've been using ABP. It's worked out quite well so far. My players are definitely not hurting for power (their damage output leads me to tears at times), and it actually allows me to step up the humanoid NPCs they fight.

I have to take a little bit of time to redo the loot and the stat blocks, but that doesn't take me more than an hour or so per level. Sometimes I take a few liberties---if an NPC should have +4 to a mental stat by ABP but has a headband of +2 wis/+2 cha, I'll leave that as is. I've decided to just leave Barzillai Thrune's stats as written and take away his gear, because ABP would nerf him, and no one likes a nerfed campaign boss. (Note: My party will murder him in one round anyway.)

My players also love ABP. One of them is adopting it for his next campaign, and the others wish every campaign I were running had it. I think every future campaign will.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Eliandra Giltessan wrote:

It's worth updating this thread that my group just hit level 12, and we've been using ABP. It's worked out quite well so far. My players are definitely not hurting for power (their damage output leads me to tears at times), and it actually allows me to step up the humanoid NPCs they fight.

I have to take a little bit of time to redo the loot and the stat blocks, but that doesn't take me more than an hour or so per level. Sometimes I take a few liberties---if an NPC should have +4 to a mental stat by ABP but has a headband of +2 wis/+2 cha, I'll leave that as is. I've decided to just leave Barzillai Thrune's stats as written and take away his gear, because ABP would nerf him, and no one likes a nerfed campaign boss. (Note: My party will murder him in one round anyway.)

My players also love ABP. One of them is adopting it for his next campaign, and the others wish every campaign I were running had it. I think every future campaign will.

Awesomesauce! ABP was my baby (I was completely new when we were doing Unchained and I petitioned to add it to the book since we had some pages for it), so I'm glad that it's been working out with APs.

Silver Crusade

Mark Seifter wrote:
Eliandra Giltessan wrote:

It's worth updating this thread that my group just hit level 12, and we've been using ABP. It's worked out quite well so far. My players are definitely not hurting for power (their damage output leads me to tears at times), and it actually allows me to step up the humanoid NPCs they fight.

I have to take a little bit of time to redo the loot and the stat blocks, but that doesn't take me more than an hour or so per level. Sometimes I take a few liberties---if an NPC should have +4 to a mental stat by ABP but has a headband of +2 wis/+2 cha, I'll leave that as is. I've decided to just leave Barzillai Thrune's stats as written and take away his gear, because ABP would nerf him, and no one likes a nerfed campaign boss. (Note: My party will murder him in one round anyway.)

My players also love ABP. One of them is adopting it for his next campaign, and the others wish every campaign I were running had it. I think every future campaign will.

Awesomesauce! ABP was my baby (I was completely new when we were doing Unchained and I petitioned to add it to the book since we had some pages for it), so I'm glad that it's been working out with APs.

Thank you for making it! It's great!


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yeah, it definitely is, although I still question the last section of it, where you need to trade enhancement bonuses on weapons and armor for special properties. I'd rather have had more costly special properties instead of having players lose out on those enhancement bonuses.

Anyway, since Hell's Rebels is just swimming in money (the WBL levels are off the charts after module one), it'll be interesting to see on how to adjust the AP when I get around to it. Sadly, my group decided that they preferred Reign of Winter for their next campaign. That's what I get for trying democracy at my table. :p

Paizo Employee Designer

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magnuskn wrote:
Yeah, it definitely is, although I still question the last section of it, where you need to trade enhancement bonuses on weapons and armor for special properties. I'd rather have had more costly special properties instead of having players lose out on those enhancement bonuses.

Me too; it's simple and it works for what it does (with some intriguing effects on encouraging lots of niche low-enhancement weapons like bane), but I still love my original giant math matrix that faithfully duplicates the costs you would need to make them work just like in a normal game (find it here on this blog if interested). I'll definitely use my version when I use ABP, but it has more math involved.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I'd be tempted to use it, but I am also using the Scaling Magic Items and don't know how well the two would interact.

Paizo Employee Designer

Tangent101 wrote:
I'd be tempted to use it, but I am also using the Scaling Magic Items and don't know how well the two would interact.

Should work together just fine; in fact you could theoretically run a low-magic-item game where all expected-WBL-power came in the form of ABP and Scaling Items.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I´m currently running Hells Rebells as well with ABP, but we are just in part 2 of book 1, so it doesn´t really matter yet.
Our group is coming from 20PB with 6 people and WBL was just handed out as we leveled, with nearly all things available to buy.
We also had nearly all classes and stuff available, a bit oriented at PFS. This lead to some problems and complains about arms races, hence we proposed to try out that system.
Several players and me also like the idea of the character getting stronger instead of just getting more and more equipment.

Question to Crustypeanut and others interested:

I don´t really see a reason to change NPC´s. Right now i´m giving out gear and what they found except for the banned items. I´ll see what´s being kept or used and probably hand out 1/2 WBL at key points.
Right now i´m already buffing encounters a bit despite having a 15PB build for players, because one player is a spiritualist and that phantom can tank very hard.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Mark Seifter wrote:
magnuskn wrote:
Yeah, it definitely is, although I still question the last section of it, where you need to trade enhancement bonuses on weapons and armor for special properties. I'd rather have had more costly special properties instead of having players lose out on those enhancement bonuses.
Me too; it's simple and it works for what it does (with some intriguing effects on encouraging lots of niche low-enhancement weapons like bane), but I still love my original giant math matrix that faithfully duplicates the costs you would need to make them work just like in a normal game (find it here on this blog if interested). I'll definitely use my version when I use ABP, but it has more math involved.

You are the best. Thanks! :)


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

For those wondering about viability, I'm currently running a party through with the "no magic" variant of ABP and the only loot I remove or reduce are things that are duplicated by the ABP bonuses (i.e. no cloaks, belts, weapons and armor get stripped down to non-enhancement versions). I'm running the Dance of the Damned (book 3 culmination) in a week and a half.

Party: melee occultist, support cleric, aetherkineticist, and archer inquisitor

Challenges for the players:
Some combats are still tense. I killed the occultist last session (Menador Keep's advanced erinyes) and nearly took out additional party members in the process. Varl Wex nearly killed the kineticist (they had 3 that day, no cleric). I've been pretty concerned that they're under-geared for a lot of what's going on, so I was glad that their rebellion managed to find the opera house loot before they engage in the grand melee at the dance. Even as far back as Hocum's, they were having some challenges with combats, requiring a minor rescue from their rebellion in the form of a partial CLW wand to move from floor 1 to floor 2.

Numerically, they're in kind of a weird spot now. A lot of enemies are starting to have trouble hitting them, but I think that's honestly for the better in a lot of regards. They've had a lot of answers available that other groups wouldn't necessarily have, in particular via the occultist, but I wouldn't say they've had it easy by any stretch.


TRDG wrote:

Thanks for the reply Tangent

This

"The automatic bonuses are often more beneficial than that reduction in wealth, but characters have less flexibility, so the advantages and disadvantages balance out."

Would they balance out in all the Modules of this AP with minimal or no GM rewrites?

This is a very specific AP and I do see your point in the Bane still working but hoping to have one of the PF staff pop in and say what they might think of the dynamics of this rule impacting our game in this AP.

Tom :)

If the GM doesn't rewrite the magic given out in the AP, the players will be stronger, not weaker, for the addition of this option.

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