Thinking of moving to D&D 5E, is there too much meta in Pathfinder?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Quote:
I once had a player wish to do a nonlethal coup de grace.

I'm guessing he didn't understand the meaning of the term coup de grace then?


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Arachnofiend wrote:
Probably the most bizarre thing to me is that in neither Pathfinder nor 5E is there a first-party option to Wildshape without spellcasting. It boggles my mind that nobody thought to write that s~!% down.

This please. Full-BAB non-caster wildshaper.


Milo v3 wrote:
Quote:
I once had a player wish to do a nonlethal coup de grace.
I'm guessing he didn't understand the meaning of the term coup de grace then?

LOL! Might be based on fictional characters punching someone uncouncious for hours/days/weeks.

DominusMegadeus wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
Probably the most bizarre thing to me is that in neither Pathfinder nor 5E is there a first-party option to Wildshape without spellcasting. It boggles my mind that nobody thought to write that s~!% down.
This please. Full-BAB non-caster wildshaper.

+1.


Entire party vs one were-wolf you say? Give the were-wolf a few were-wolf buddies and some normal wolves (remember were-wolves get bonuses hanging out with wolves i think)

do same thing for other encounters, add more minions. Just by the laws of probability and how many a wizard can target, he won't hit every minion

again Always add extra minions, its all about action economy, much less about CR of a single monster vs the whole group


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bookrat, just wanted to say I'm highly impressed with your discussion manner. You are open-minded, level-headed, and willing to examine all sides with a calm demeanor without being condescending, derisive, or overly snarky. It is both refreshing and all too rare to encounter on an internet forum.

GreyWolfLord, I picked up the new Dragon Age Core Rulebook that combined all 3 of the box sets a couple months ago. We haven't delved into a campaign yet, but I am definitely quite intrigued and see potential there. My absolute most favorite thing about the game is the stunt system, its evocative, flavorful, useful, and just flat out awesome. Though just wanted to clarify for others on your point about "backgrounds", in DARPG you pick a background and a class, the background is more akin to picking a race than a 5E style background, and there are like 40 different ones in the core rulebook to choose from. And for the person who asked about a Dragon Age SRD, here is a link to the Quickstart Guide PDF, which includes the basic rules for the game, a short adventure, and some pregen characters.

OP, my advice to you is, try 5E. Pick up the Starter Set for 12 bucks on Amazon, run the the included adventure (which is quite good) and see how the system works for your group. Other options would be the previously mentioned Dragon Age RPG, and also Castles & Crusades, which is like a rules-light hybrid of AD&D and 3E/d20. I am also fond of this.


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We may have segued a bit...

Most of the discussion so far has focused on character mechanics and options of PF vs 5E, however, if changing systems is being considered its worth looking at the other side of the coin: Monster, encounter and module design.

Starting with module design: There are a few modules that have been put out for 5e, and they will eliminate a lot of the work for the gm if s/he uses them.... But they have their limitations, most notably in the writing.

In my experience the writing in the 5e modules is shallow, and stereotyped, and in my opinion doesn't hold a candle to the adventure paths Paizo produce. Princes of the Apocolypse has a premise, but not a plot, for example - and ultimately they play as light hearted dungeon romps, lacking the depth and complexity we've come to expect from Paizo products. If that's the style you're after, they'll work fine... But if you're hoping for a 5e adventure in the style of Runelords, Crimson Throne or Carrion Crown, I'm afraid you'll be disappointed.

Monster design is VERY different in 5e compared to pathfinder, so converting APs involves quite a bit of work (not the least because some of the stock monsters got a massive change in power level compared to 3.5/PF). It also says a lot about how 5e is expected to be played: Especially at low levels, you're expected to have some of the party get knocked down to 0hp on a regular basis - a design choice hailing from 4e... But I'm digressing.

In pathfinder and 5e, a solo creature with CR equal to the average party level is expected to be a medium encounter for a party of 4. But that doesn't mean the CRs work the same, and neither does xp or encounter design.

Low level creatures in 5E have far more hitpoints and are generally much more brutal than their Pathfinder kin (while often being lower CR), though the effective gulf between these two diminishes as Pathfinder monsters scale up quickly to cope with ever more powerful characters. The thing is that CR doesn't behave consistently in 5th Edition, and correspondingly doesn't give dramatically more XP.

Example, Bugbear vs Level 1:
Pathinder Bugbear:
  • CR 2 (APL+1, 7.5% xp to level)
  • AC17 (vs +4 to +5 to attack)
  • 16hp (vs 1d8+4 to 2d6+9 damage)
  • +5 to hit (vs AC16-19)
  • 1d8+3 damage (vs 8-12hp)

5E Bugbear:

  • CR 1 (APL+0, 16.5% xp to level)
  • AC16 (vs +4 to +5 to attack)
  • 27hp (vs 1d8+3 to 2d6+3 damage)
  • +4 to hit (vs AC14-18)
  • 2d8+2 damage, +2d6 on ambush (vs 8-12hp)
  • No, the above is not a typo. Yes, you're expected to face this at 1st level. Sometimes with friends.
  • The above comparison of CRs doesn't

And then there's encounter design, which is an altogether different beast, as is the experience chart. In PF designing an encounter is picking the APL scale (-1 for easy to +3 for deadly) and then piling in monsters to hit that xp budget, adjusting for more or less PCs. And in Pathfinder XP scales appropriately: An APL+0 encounter will generally give 5% of a level (to a party of 4), APL+1 gives 7.5% and APL+2 gives 10%.

In 5e... CR doesn't mean the same thing, as it merely acts as a guide for the appropriate level to face it... Sort of. And the XP you need to level doesn't follow the same pattern, so if you try to handle it by CR, it gets... weird. See below.

APL+0 Encounters to level a party of 4 in 5E:

  • 1st: 6
  • 2nd: 5
  • 3rd: 10
  • 4th: 14
  • 5th: 17
  • 6th: 16
  • 7th: 15
  • 8th: 14
  • 9th: 13
  • 10th: 14
  • 11th: 8
  • 12th: 10
  • 13th to 20th: 8-9

The CR is tied to XP awarded per creature in the sense that each CR has a fixed XP value, it just isn't aligned in the same kind of logical structure as you see in Pathfinder. So how encounters are put together in 5th edition is... well... complicated:


  • Pick the encounter difficulty: Easy (lose a few hp, but victory is guaranteed); Medium (one or two scary moments, but no casualties); Hard (weaker characters might go down, slim chance of character death); or Deadly (could result in character death; needs good tactics to defeat)
  • Determine XP threshold (encounter XP pool) for each character, then add them together to get the total you have to play with. This more or less works in multiples: A Medium encounter is twice the XP of an Easy, a Hard is three times the XP of an easy and a Deadly is four times the XP of an easy... more or less.
  • If applicable, adjust the Multiple Monster table for small or large parties (e.g. for 6 PCs a solo creature is only 50% 'as hard', so you'd need a bigger monster).
  • (you can do the next two steps in either order) Pick a number of creatures you want to use. Divide the XP pool by the Multiple Monster factor (x1.5 for 2 creatures, x2 for 3-6, x2.5 for 7-10 etc) to get the individual creature XP you can use. Noting that this does not change the XP that goes to the party, just the number of things you throw at them.
  • Find a monster you want to use, and adjust the numbers to suit as required. Iterating as need be.

If this sounds like a pain in the neck... It's because it is, and as far as I can tell the published modules ignore the multiple creature multipliers and just tally the XP and leave it at that - much like Pathfinder does.

The CR also doesn't match anything neatly either: At 1st level a deadly encounter is equal to CR 2 (APL+1). At 5th level a deadly encounter is CR8 (APL+3). At 11th level its CR16 (APL+5), then at 20th it's CR23 (APL+3). Furthermore, if you ignore the "be cautious about using higher CR things against the PCs" then in theory a CR20 ancient white dragon is a "hard" encounter for a party of six 10th level PCs, and a "deadly" encounter for a party of six 8th level characters... It doesn't really need much more said there.

And that's not getting into the "Adventuring Day" quota plus number of short rests, which is an integral assumption to the difficulty of monsters and encounter.

TL;DR: Trying to compare 5e to PF based solely on the PC mechanics is comparing apples to oranges - as the challenges the PCs face are actually decidedly different in the two systems.

That and it's actually harder than it seems to convert PF content to 5E, as it's largely a GM judgement call as to whether it looks "about right".


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To follow on the previous post, I actually moved from 5e to Pathfinder (very recently) because the Adventure Paths are so kick-ass compared to mediocre 5e adventures. I'm totally caught up in the quality work that Paizo puts out overall.

Balance doesn't concern me because I was raised on old school D&D where everything was all over the place anyways. I like that Pathfinder still retains some of that crazy power. My players and I have been roleplaying through 20-30 years of all kinds of crazy rules, so we edit what works for us pretty seamlessly. I feel fortunate that I no longer have to deal with different perceptions of enjoyable power levels etc among players.

Pathfinder FTW for me! (But 5e is fun too, especially with a co-operative group of players and a DM who knows how to make a story sing.)


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Nutcase Entertainment wrote:
Milo v3 wrote:
Quote:
I once had a player wish to do a nonlethal coup de grace.
I'm guessing he didn't understand the meaning of the term coup de grace then?
LOL! Might be based on fictional characters punching someone uncouncious for hours/days/weeks.

Cause wanting to emulate genre fiction is such silly idea. Especially in a game as realistic as Pathfinder.

Nutcase Entertainment wrote:
DominusMegadeus wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
Probably the most bizarre thing to me is that in neither Pathfinder nor 5E is there a first-party option to Wildshape without spellcasting. It boggles my mind that nobody thought to write that s~!% down.
This please. Full-BAB non-caster wildshaper.
+1.

+2.

Has there been such a thing in any version of D&D?


thejeff wrote:
Has there been such a thing in any version of D&D?

Wildshape Ranger Variant + Non-Magical Ranger variant maybe?


thejeff wrote:

+2.

Has there been such a thing in any version of D&D?

Well, I have almost finished my shapeshifting base class. It is not just limited to normal wildshape forms, but encompass many other things as well, such as a PC deciding to shapechange into a chair or other inanimate object.

I hope to have the book released sometime around Christmas as a free PDF.


In 3.5 there was the Shifter race, the Warshaper CDP and the Weretouched Master

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

I miss shifters. Skinwalkers just aren't the same...


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One of my favurite NPC was this Lion totem Barbarian Shifter Weretouched Master that was a raging whoppass during the day and every times he saw the moon he went all emo and philosofic about random stuffs


Steve Geddes wrote:
I agree with the fact that crafting is not much more than an afterthought (the economy is even worse, for those looking for anything remotely simulationist), however it's 25gp per day for magic items and 5gp per day for non-magic stuff - not 1gp. (and that's cost rather than value so it's half the listed prices in the book)

That's hardly unique to 5e. 3e is certainly worse even than that.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kalindlara wrote:
I miss shifters. Skinwalkers just aren't the same...

While I liked the feats comparing just the races I actually prefer Skinwalkers over Shifters.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Rysky wrote:
Kalindlara wrote:
I miss shifters. Skinwalkers just aren't the same...
While I liked the feats comparing just the races I actually prefer Skinwalkers over Shifters.

It's weird, really. From a design perspective, I should prefer the skinwalker. It's more flavorfully designed, and nowhere near as feat-intensive. My shifter builds were pretty much just shifter feats... maybe a shifter PrC, if possible.

It's weird. ^_^

Silver Crusade

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Kalindlara wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Kalindlara wrote:
I miss shifters. Skinwalkers just aren't the same...
While I liked the feats comparing just the races I actually prefer Skinwalkers over Shifters.

It's weird, really. From a design perspective, I should prefer the skinwalker. It's more flavorfully designed, and nowhere near as feat-intensive. My shifter builds were pretty much just shifter feats... maybe a shifter PrC, if possible.

It's weird. ^_^

*shrugs*

All I know iz I want more Skinwalker feats nao.


Jabborwacky wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
Jabborwacky wrote:
Kurald Galain wrote:

The main argument for AND against 5E is whether or not you like bounded accuracy.

If you want every PC to have an even chance at every task, use 5E. If you want trained characters to be markedly better than untrained, or high-level characters than low-level, use PF instead.

Splatbook bloat is easily countered by running a core-only campaign, or otherwise limiting the books used. In terms of learning curve for beginning players, I see no substantial difference between the two (sure, PF has more rules, but a beginning player doesn't need to know them).

I would probably say the main difference is that 5e gives the player more freedom in terms of roleplaying the kind of character he wants, whereas Pathfinder has very specific builds someone must play to be useful in a group.

Even though beastmaster rangers are somewhat underpowered in 5th edition, I can still play a halfling rodent wrangler with a dire rat companion and be effective as part of the group. In Pathfinder, it's "play a halfling outrider or go home."

This is absolutely not the case in any respect. I definitely feel that the breadth of options in Pathfinder give me more build variety than in 5e.
I heavily disagree. Just because I can make the halfling rodent wrangler in pathfinder (and I did), doesn't mean he is useful. For the dozens of characters I can make in pathfinder, only a small fraction of those are viable in a game due to the game's mechanics. I can't make a halfling who can dart around, peppering an opponent with ranged attacks without mounted combat due to their low movement speed. Similarly, their damage takes a significant hit for being small. The mechanics start making decisions for the player.

In truth, I'd say that is more dependent on the GM than rules. A GM can make things work or NOT let things work. It's up to them to utilize situations where a player can shine or work out...rather than it being defined by rules in my experience.

In essence, it boils down to quality of the GM rather than breaking or abusing or NOT abusing rules.


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Ravingdork wrote:

I once had a player wish to do a nonlethal coup de grace. When I told him you needed a feat for that, he blew up and stormed out, utterly destroying any hope of anyone having fun for the rest of the game.

That's definitely one of the few problems that Pathfinder has.

NO OFFENSE intended, but that actually sounds more like a GM problem to me.

Say it normally requires a feat, but maybe I'm misunderstanding what you are trying to do...and then assign a pretty high DC to it as a GM.

I think sometimes in PF, we restrict things unnecessarily...when we could allow things if we think a little outside the box.

PF is a GREAT system with a great bit of flexibility if one utilizes it to it's maximum.


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Gambit wrote:

bookrat, just wanted to say I'm highly impressed with your discussion manner. You are open-minded, level-headed, and willing to examine all sides with a calm demeanor without being condescending, derisive, or overly snarky. It is both refreshing and all too rare to encounter on an internet forum.

GreyWolfLord, I picked up the new Dragon Age Core Rulebook that combined all 3 of the box sets a couple months ago. We haven't delved into a campaign yet, but I am definitely quite intrigued and see potential there. My absolute most favorite thing about the game is the stunt system, its evocative, flavorful, useful, and just flat out awesome. Though just wanted to clarify for others on your point about "backgrounds", in DARPG you pick a background and a class, the background is more akin to picking a race than a 5E style background, and there are like 40 different ones in the core rulebook to choose from. And for the person who asked about a Dragon Age SRD, here is a link to the Quickstart Guide PDF, which includes the basic rules for the game, a short adventure, and some pregen characters.

OP, my advice to you is, try 5E. Pick up the Starter Set for 12 bucks on Amazon, run the the included adventure (which is quite good) and see how the system works for your group. Other options would be the previously mentioned Dragon Age RPG, and also Castles & Crusades, which is like a rules-light hybrid of AD&D and 3E/d20. I am also fond of this.

Ah yeah, the Adnd 3e stuff. That's some fun items for those who use it.

Currently prefer DA or PF, but the ADnD 3e thing is a nice thing for people to take a look at.


Raynulf wrote:
In my experience the writing in the 5e modules is shallow, and stereotyped, and in my opinion doesn't hold a candle to the adventure paths Paizo produce.

This is just my opinion and has no bearing on factual matters. I disagree. Kind of. Somewhat.

There are three major campaigns released for 5e so far.

Horde of the Dragon Queen is one I haven't read, but I haven't heard good things about it. From what I understand, it suites your description just fine.

Prince of the Apocolypse is a remake of the Temple of Elemental Evil. What ever shallowness in it likely comes from the original. However, a friend of mine purchased it and he's pretty exited to run it, even though he's never played anything but PF.

Out of the Abyss is a game changer. This is, hands down, the best campaign I have ever read and run. It is so massively full of flavor combining all my favorite elements of D&D: underdark, planescape, the abyss, mixed in the a sprinkling of Lovecraft and a lot of Alice in Wonderland. It's fluid, dynamic, open ended, has massive RP potential (so far my players have role played better than I've ever seen them before), and fairly sandbox-y. It reminds me of my favorite 1e adventures, where the point of the campaign book is to explore an area and experience the cultures, rather than follow a specific plot. This means I could rerun the adventure with my same players many times, and each time they would have a different experience. If you don't like 5e, but you can convert from 5e to PF, I'd recommend converting this campaign. It's that good.

Conversely, I'm not too fond of PF APs. Some of them were ok, but almost all of them felt too railroad-y. About the only one that doesn't, Kingmaker, I didn't like for other reasons (not that it's a bad campaign, I'm just not fond of it). I've played in around 10 different APs, and have been unable to finish any of them due to lack of interest by our gaming group. We just kept getting bored of them. I'm not saying they're not good, but my group kept losing interest.

Probably the biggest problem I have with PF APs is that they're not repeatable. It's the same storyline each time, the same path each time. You're not experiencing a setting, you're experiencing a story, and the story doesn't change. Of course, I think this has been the case since 2e, and even many of my favorite Planescape adventures were like this (never got to run one, all my planescape campaigns were home brewed).

Sovereign Court

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I think there's a lot of potential to the world of Golarion - the APs just aren't the best way for your group to experience that. I've had a lot of success expanding and adjusting the APs to fit the campaign and the PCs.

I'm kind of curious what a non-railroady AP would look like, though. How does Out of the Abyss embody those traits?

Kingmaker is one of my least favorite APs due to how bland and empty it feels. Maybe I need better players...


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Kalindlara wrote:
I think there's a lot of potential to the world of Golarion - the APs just aren't the best way for your group to experience that. I've had a lot of success expanding and adjusting the APs to fit the campaign and the PCs.

I'd agree with that. I own a lot of the Golarion books; they're very well written. And while I haven't seen a campaign setting that beats my all time favorite - planescape - Golarion is my second favorite. I've mentioned before (maybe not this thread) that my only complaint with Out of the Abyss is that it's set in Forgotten Realms. If I had thought of it before the campaign started, I would have moved it to Golariom.

Quote:
I'm kind of curious what a non-railroady AP would look like, though. How does Out of the Abyss embody those traits?

Chapter 1 starts with inprisonment in the underdark. Literally starts with it. It's the first page after the Table of Contents. They spend 1-2 sessions experiencing slavery and escaping (reading level 3 by then). And then, where they go is up to them. There are four potential places they could go based off the information their NPC allies give them after the escape, but they choose which way they go. And they can choose to go somewhere else if they like (but now you're getting on homebrew we territory) - the flexibility of the campaign is set up to slow it.

Of the four major locations in the first half of the book, you - the players - can choose to go to them in any order, or even skip some entirely before you escape the underdark. How you approach them is up to you. There's a major underground lake between three of the major cities. Do you want to find a route to the lake and sail to the cities? Do you wants to take well known and travelled underground caverns/paths to them? Do you want to explore potential unknown canners in hopes of reaching one? And each of the cities has mini-adventures that you may or may not want to participate in.

Likewise, the entire travel section is customizable. As they travel through the underdark, there are lists of random encounters, random terrain features, and several drop in mini-dungeons for them to explore (or you can add your own!) that the GM can place as s/he needs for either the XP or just to experience it.

Once they escape, they can go anywhere. Literally anywhere. There is a specific meeting set up with an NPC, but the GM is free to let the players just go off somewhere else before starting it. This can allow for downtime, can allow for leveling up if they're not high enough level for the second half of the book, or they may go home to tie up loose ends from their backstory. Find out what your players want to do and make it happen!

And that's just the first half of the book.

I haven't read much of the second half yet, but what little I have read, the openness of the underdark (there's a contradiction in terms) is the same way. You go back to stop the evils from spreading to the surface. This time with an Army at your command. Maybe. Depends on how you roleplay and what you accepts. You could go back with no hep at all. Or a small squadron of elite soldiers. Or scouts. Or mounts. Or every damn man, woman, and beast you can wrangle up. Don't forget to feed your soldiers, though! How many people you take with ou changes the pace of the game. More people require more supply lines, which means finding a base of operations from which to work. Fewer people means it's more dangerous, but you can move faster. It's up to you.

Also, you have zero guidance when you go back. So it's also up to you on how you approach it. Do you plan to do head-to-head battle with demon lords? Do you plan on doing research and finding an old sage? Do you plan on trying to get them to fight each other? The book has a few suggestions of its own to assist, and if your first move is to go back and find your old underdark allies that you escaped slavery with, they can be a good source of information for your next move. But really, it's up to you how to solve the problems presented. Hell, you could ignore it all and just let the demons take over, and then homebrew an entire campaign around fightin demons on the surface.

That is a sandbox campaign (constrained into a single campaign).

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
bookrat wrote:
Of the four major locations in the first half of the book, you - the players - can choose to go to them in any order, or even skip some entirely before you escape the underdark. How you approach them is up to you.

It might be a side benefit from 5e's system. I'm told that challenges don't change in power level as quickly, and remain threatening longer.

I'm not sure you could do that in Pathfinder without generating three sets of encounters for every dungeon. (Maybe something similar to what PFS does.)

Still, it sounds like a very interesting adventure. Thank you for the explanation! ^_^

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I could do something like that for some of the APs, especially those that give players the info they need to "skip ahead". (Iron Gods comes to mind.) If the players decide to go right for the villain and skip the crumbs leading them away, I can come up with adventures for them. (It helps that Paizo usually prints Campaign Setting books for the AP's setting around the same time.)

That's not what a lot of people seem to want, though. I'm fine writing new sections and side treks for APs as necessary, but a lot of people want the published adventure because they don't have the time/motivation/creativity/time to create their own campaigns.


Kalindlara wrote:
bookrat wrote:
Of the four major locations in the first half of the book, you - the players - can choose to go to them in any order, or even skip some entirely before you escape the underdark. How you approach them is up to you.

It might be a side benefit from 5e's system. I'm told that challenges don't change in power level as quickly, and remain threatening longer.

I'm not sure you could do that in Pathfinder without generating three sets of encounters for every dungeon. (Maybe something similar to what PFS does.)

Still, it sounds like a very interesting adventure. Thank you for the explanation! ^_^

In the Pathfinder system you could approach it the way some cRPGs do, scaling the opposition automatically to the level of the characters when they approach that part of the adventure. There's possibly a better way.

The alternative that seems most practical with the Paizo AP style would be to devote the first issue to the 'intro' adventure, the last to the culmination, and the four ones in between would contain a variety of encounters/situations where the PCs might or might not get involved, with their resolution of those situations affecting some of the resources available to the characters or their enemies in the final adventure. Not the traditional structure, but possibly workable if the middle four adventures stuck to level 5-10 situations with the end around level 12. With very careful tailoring of design it might be possible to make the additional resources provided by the 'sandbox' section in the central parts account for larger level ranges, but the nature of Pathfinder makes that harder. In RPGs with less dramatic power inflation, it's much less of an issue.


Kalindlara wrote:

I could do something like that for some of the APs, especially those that give players the info they need to "skip ahead". (Iron Gods comes to mind.) If the players decide to go right for the villain and skip the crumbs leading them away, I can come up with adventures for them. (It helps that Paizo usually prints Campaign Setting books for the AP's setting around the same time.)

That's not what a lot of people seem to want, though. I'm fine writing new sections and side treks for APs as necessary, but a lot of people want the published adventure because they don't have the time/motivation/creativity/time to create their own campaigns.

Iron Gods was probably my favorite AP. I loved the flavor, and even book 2 was pretty sandbox-y. Unfortunately my gaming group kind of fell apart in the middle of book 2, I finished the book with new players (except one player). We didn't like the new players and ended the campaign. Then I made amends with my old players and started Skulls & Shackles, with one of the players as the GM. Turned out he shouldn't GM. Also, S&S was really bad. From there, we started 5e.

Our first experience of 5e was a remake of Tomb of Horrors using premade level 10 characters. As a testament to 5e, all of us were able to pick up random level 10 premades and play the game with no hiccups and no confusion (each time a character died, we'd pick up another random leve 10 and keep going). Prior to that our only experience with 5e was making a handful of level 1 characters. Try that with PF, bet you can't do it. :)

Then we started Out of the Abyss. I have quite a few threads on it in the D&D 4th Edition and Beyond forum here on the Paizo Messagebords.

Going back to your point - I agree with you. The main reason I played and ran APs is because I didn't have time to prepare homebrewed campaigns. Also, I really wanted to feel as a part of the Paizo community, and I could do that by experiencing the same adventure that many of my fellow players around the world were experiencing. That's why I loved published campaigns. It connects me with so many other people.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
bookrat wrote:


Going back to your point - I agree with you. The main reason I played and ran APs is because I didn't have time to prepare homebrewed campaigns. Also, I really wanted to feel as a part of the Paizo community, and I could do that by experiencing the same adventure that many of my fellow players around the world...

There are quite a few of us out here who still reminisce about our 1e campaigns in which we played all of the classics like the Slavelord series, the Giant series, White Plume Mountain, Ravenloft, and so on. Having a shared element really helps build the community even if every single replaying of the adventure is unique to the individual group.


RAVENLOFT!!!


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bookrat wrote:
Raynulf wrote:
In my experience the writing in the 5e modules is shallow, and stereotyped, and in my opinion doesn't hold a candle to the adventure paths Paizo produce.

This is just my opinion and has no bearing on factual matters. I disagree. Kind of. Somewhat.

There are three major campaigns released for 5e so far.

Horde of the Dragon Queen is one I haven't read, but I haven't heard good things about it. From what I understand, it suites your description just fine.

The problem with Horde of the Dragon Queen is it was written to a system in flux. So it has a lot of rushed editing issues as they tweaked monster stats at the last minute, and things got left out.

Wolfgang Baur is one of my favorite adventure writers. His pathfinder adventures are top notch. But that comes from the designer having much greater familiarity than writing for a new system that wasn't settled until right before publication.

It's no surprise to me that later adventures written after months of experience with the final system are starting to get better.

That's probably the biggest advantage Paizo had when it came to writing adventures for Pathfinder. And even they had a rough spot in the system transition. But since they had years of 3.5 design experience, it wasn't too difficult to shift the minor assumptions to Pathfinder module design.

As it is, I'm primarily an AP subscriber with the intent to convert anything I run to a system more to my taste. I've been itching to try 13th Age or Fantasy Age. 5e is a fine system for what it does, but it's still extremely conservative in its approach and not at all what I am looking for.


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deinol wrote:
bookrat wrote:
Raynulf wrote:
In my experience the writing in the 5e modules is shallow, and stereotyped, and in my opinion doesn't hold a candle to the adventure paths Paizo produce.

This is just my opinion and has no bearing on factual matters. I disagree. Kind of. Somewhat.

There are three major campaigns released for 5e so far.

Horde of the Dragon Queen is one I haven't read, but I haven't heard good things about it. From what I understand, it suites your description just fine.

The problem with Horde of the Dragon Queen is it was written to a system in flux. So it has a lot of rushed editing issues as they tweaked monster stats at the last minute, and things got left out.

Wolfgang Baur is one of my favorite adventure writers. His pathfinder adventures are top notch. But that comes from the designer having much greater familiarity than writing for a new system that wasn't settled until right before publication.

It's no surprise to me that later adventures written after months of experience with the final system are starting to get better.

One of the downfalls of typing on my phone on a bus, is that sometimes I find I haven't actually written everything I think I did. Could I have used a better word than "Shallow"... possibly. I was on a bus. "Lacking in narrative context, content and characterization" might have been more accurate.

I meant no offense regarding the writers working on the 5E modules—I've also played and loved some of their other work—however in the 5E adventures I've seen (noting that doesn't include Out of the Abyss) I've found a distinctly minimal amount of narrative, or material to use to create it: Towns tend to be meager in description and the few NPCs mentioned are usually little more than a name attached to a description of a "Quest" which is often unrelated to... well, anything else.

They read like someone was writing (or instructed to write) with the expectation that players will be playing tabletop World of Warcraft (which is an entirely separate topic of discussion that I won't get into here).

I'm not claiming that the AP's are perfect, indeed I find most of them have a bit of a lull near the middle that takes a bit of effort to rework/build up to maintain interest and momentum in the campaign. And yes, many are linear and make similar baseline assumptions about the players and what it will take to motivate them to continue the story, but they also pack in enough flavor, characterization and hooks to let a GM easily build upon the story, whereas in Dragon Queen and Princes (which I'm more familiar with), the story and immersion (or catering to PCs who, heaven forbid, aren't callous moneygrubbing mercenaries) is almost entirely the job of the GM to create, and you don't get a lot of tools to do so.

By example: Compare the character hooks from Crimson Throne to PotA. The former are story hooks, the latter are mini objectives to achieve while in the dungeon - "You've been paid to find this item" or "You want to take down person X".

bookrat wrote:

Conversely, I'm not too fond of PF APs. Some of them were ok, but almost all of them felt too railroad-y. About the only one that doesn't, Kingmaker, I didn't like for other reasons (not that it's a bad campaign, I'm just not fond of it). I've played in around 10 different APs, and have been unable to finish any of them due to lack of interest by our gaming group. We just kept getting bored of them. I'm not saying they're not good, but my group kept losing interest.

Probably the biggest problem I have with PF APs is that they're not repeatable. It's the same storyline each time, the same path each time. You're not experiencing a setting, you're experiencing a story, and the story doesn't change. Of course, I think this has been the case since 2e, and even many of my favorite Planescape adventures were like this (never got to run one, all my planescape campaigns were home brewed).

I would point out that APs are every bit as repeatable, as the issues with running any published material a second time is the same: The players know the content.

And while the overarching plot is the same (much like the dungeons are the same in the sandbox modules), it will play somewhat differently each time with different characters, and as the players interact with things differently. The adventure paths have a written progression, but the GM will usually be improvising based on player action (e.g. "What if they spare and try to redeem Sympathetic Antagonist X?"), much as a GM with a sandbox game will be adjusting to suit the player characters.

As for "Why would you run an AP a second time?", the answer is the same reason people read a book a second time, or watch reruns: Because they enjoyed the story and would like to have the experience again.

That said, I think you highlighted the key point: Your preference is very specifically for a sandbox adventure setting, specifically without an existing narrative to get in the way of player choice. Which is a perfectly valid play style, and one that lines up pretty well with what seems to be the intent of the 5E modules. Thus, we have very different experiences with the APs and 5E modules to each other.

Grand Lodge

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Raynulf wrote:

I would point out that APs are every bit as repeatable, as the issues with running any published material a second time is the same: The players know the content.

And while the overarching plot is the same (much like the dungeons are the same in the sandbox modules), it will play somewhat differently each time with different characters, and as the players interact with things differently. The adventure paths have a written progression, but the GM will usually be improvising based on player action (e.g. "What if they spare and try to redeem Sympathetic Antagonist X?"), much as a GM with a sandbox game will be adjusting to suit the player characters.

As for "Why would you run an AP a second time?", the answer is the same reason people read a book a second time, or watch reruns: Because they enjoyed the story and would like to have the experience again.

Absolutely true. I've run Shackled City on three different occasions. Every time has been different. Different characters, different takes on the same path.

I get the same reaction in organized play, running favored scenarios multiple times and getting a new game every time. The hallmarks are the same, but the details make it fresh.


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To TOZ and Raynulf: I think that's a fair assessment, both in your opinion of repeatability and what I look for in repeatability. And I'm sure I would enjoy a repeated module or AP just as much as you seem to, if I ever had the chance. Especially with the perspective you have provided. :)

Grand Lodge

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Disclaimer: Most of my AP reruns have involved different players. And organized play has structure about how to handle replaying players. It certainly isn't always ideal, but with a group that is in agreement on how to handle it, it can work.


It's even better with sandbox-ier adventures! I've run ones that I wrote with different groups of players, and it was almost like running different adventures. Fun!


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Raynulf wrote:
I meant no offense regarding the writers working on the 5E modules—I've also played and loved some of their other work—however in the 5E adventures I've seen (noting that doesn't include Out of the Abyss) I've found a distinctly minimal amount of narrative, or material to use to create it: Towns tend to be meager in description and the few NPCs mentioned are usually little more than a name attached to a description of a "Quest" which is often unrelated to... well, anything else.

Which is also fair criticism. The way 5e is being handled, they don't have an in-house adventure writing team. So they are being farmed out to freelancers and I don't really know if they have a strong editorial style being mandated or what. Without an in-house adventure design team like Paizo (ok, they are using freelancers too, but the development team has a much stronger hand than what is coming out of wizards) they just don't have the institutional knowledge to make really outstanding adventures.

Whatever you think of the core 5e rules, support is far below what I would expect from a major player. I almost certainly would use a Paizo AP with 5e instead of one of the official campaigns.


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The glacial release pace is a deliberate (though disappointing to me) strategy - partly to alleviate bloat and partly so that they can tie in their other, licensed products to the TTRPG releases. (So in general, each time a new module comes out the MMORPG has a new storyline, there's a new computer game, a similarly themed set of Wizkids minis, etcetera).

They seem very determined to step off the edition treadmill (I've heard 5E referred to as "the IP-edition": the presumption being that it's just to keep a presence in the market, it's not intended to be the main driver of revenue for WotC - that is planned to come from licensing the IP).


IP?

Scarab Sages

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bookrat wrote:
IP?

intellectual property


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Sorry about that. Yeah - Intellectual Property.

I suspect that the profit available to a Table Top RPG is nothing to get excited about - no matter how big it gets in the market, it's probably never going to come close to a mediocre movie or computer game. I think the others seem like the way to go if you're chasing a 'big score'. (The computer game being most likely to succeed, in my view).


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Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
1. Kingmaker is notoriuosly easy due to one fight per day problems.

This is a fair point. 80% of the encounters in KM are either random hex exploration or short encounters that a party can handle without having to worry about expending resources. So, even with merely competent players, a lot of KM encounters get blown over pretty easily. (And in the rare cases where everyone rolls badly, it's usually pretty easy for the PCs to retreat and regroup.)

Quote:


3. People on these boards tend to be better optimizers than those who do not frequent the boards in my observation.

This is very true. (And there are other boards out there, of course.)

Quote:
4. Someone will blame bloat, but bloat is a subjective issue. The last major discussion I was in, people could not even agree on what bloat was.

Gotta disagree. How many classes did PF have in 2008? Eleven. How many does it have now? [checks] 11 core, 8 base, 3 alternate, 10 hybrid, 6 occult = 38. If you don't look at the endlessly proliferating list of classes, archetypes, spells, feats and options and see bloat then, shrug, well then I guess you don't. But most of the rest of us do.

Doug M.

You are welcome to disagree, but I had different anti-bloat people give different definitions. I was not just making that up.

When asked why they don't just ban certain things they often cited they felt pressured by the players. That is a "group" problem, not a system issue. They need to be on the same page.

PS: There were more people who did not think there was bloat so I am doubting the "most of the rest of us do" quote is accurate.

edit: Pazio still seems to be doing well so if there was that much bloat from "most of us" people would likely stop buying.


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5e has a "rules are a necessary evil" approach.

PF has an "immersion through the rules" approach.

Both do what they do very well. PF is a more interesting system, but 5e leaves lots of energy left over for focusing on the game rather than the system. PF works well with heavy amounts of crunch releases while 5e is naturally going to be less crunchy and further crunch is more likely to be of lower quality since it contradicts the overarching game design approach.

If you NEED to know in your heart that the system you are playing is the objective best, then prepare for endless internet arguments.


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Ah. Mara's Razor. Nice touch.


Steve Geddes wrote:

The glacial release pace is a deliberate (though disappointing to me) strategy - partly to alleviate bloat and partly so that they can tie in their other, licensed products to the TTRPG releases. (So in general, each time a new module comes out the MMORPG has a new storyline, there's a new computer game, a similarly themed set of Wizkids minis, etcetera).

They seem very determined to step off the edition treadmill (I've heard 5E referred to as "the IP-edition": the presumption being that it's just to keep a presence in the market, it's not intended to be the main driver of revenue for WotC - that is planned to come from licensing the IP).

I think a slower release schedule is kind of also built into running a more rules lite system. The design space is smaller and a Paizo style release schedule, at least for rules elements, I think would quickly run out of novel material


MMCJawa wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:

The glacial release pace is a deliberate (though disappointing to me) strategy - partly to alleviate bloat and partly so that they can tie in their other, licensed products to the TTRPG releases. (So in general, each time a new module comes out the MMORPG has a new storyline, there's a new computer game, a similarly themed set of Wizkids minis, etcetera).

They seem very determined to step off the edition treadmill (I've heard 5E referred to as "the IP-edition": the presumption being that it's just to keep a presence in the market, it's not intended to be the main driver of revenue for WotC - that is planned to come from licensing the IP).

I think a slower release schedule is kind of also built into running a more rules lite system. The design space is smaller and a Paizo style release schedule, at least for rules elements, I think would quickly run out of novel material

Also a major criticism of 4e was that the game becomes difficult to keep up with when there are 2 to 3 50+ dollar releases a month.


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Yes, PF has bloat. OD&D had bloat if you count the boxed sets (expert, basic, etc). AD&D had bloat from settings. 2e had bloat (I'm looking at you character kit books). The OP already mentioned 3e and beyond, so I wont speak to those.

So every system has bloat (or "meta" as the OP puts it). Many systems though, PF included, do a good job of keeping the core fresh so you can pick and choose what gets used.

Think about it: you go to a buffet. Are you EXPECTED to eat everything that's out? Of course not; you pick and choose what you want in your body at this time.

Why should playing your hobby be any different?

You pick and choose: what modules you run, where you want your homebrewed plot to go, and how much magic you'll offer the PCs in treasure. Why then should you feel obliged to offer EVERY option to the players when you yourself have placed strictures on your own limitless power as a GM?

Don't ever feel guilty for disallowing material.

Now as Raynulf pointed out: 5e is a completely different animal. Their design ethic, their content, their mechanics; everything is different. In fact, most systems are dissimilar to PF in many ways. If you need a break from PF, take one. Inevitably though you will find fault with those systems as well.

I love me some Marvel Super Heroes, but it's hard to run a campaign in that system. PCs advance at a glacially slow pace and some of the rules have gray areas as big as the grand canyon. I also loved the moody angst of Werewolf, however get yourself a couple rules lawyer players and that grit goes right out the window as most "rules" are at best loose guidelines.

The point is: no system is perfect and none that I play is completely devoid of bloat.

So, what do you do when you have PCs that can whip off 27 damage 9/day? Why, you hand that right back to them of course.

As Nukulo the Apocaflame roasts his way through a few encounters, a rat gets away through a crack in the wall. That rat is intercepted by a ratfolk druid who nearly wets herself at the thought that this abomination is a mere 100' from her domain. Knowing she can't compete she advises a few of her kin to take the better part of valor and they flee topside.

Outside they run afoul of some goblins. One of the male warrior ratfolk is captured and tortured for info: Nukulo is mentioned before the poor fellow is ended by the zealous ministrations of a bugbear. Of course the goblins want to go and capture the Apocaflame and drink his blood for its fiery powers. The hobgoblins managing the lair however know better. Such magic needs to be eradicated.

Enter Malus Asbestus, the hobgoblin warpriest. He's trained in toughness, can give himself a couple rounds of Energy Resistance: Fire as a Swift action and has phenomenal saves. Malus has been hand-picked to lead a strike against Nukulo.

So the players come up out of the dungeon, Nukulo grinning with pride as the place collapses into smoldering ruins, when suddenly a horn sounds. A wave of expendable goblins comes over the hill; Nukulo's 7th fireball wipes them out so hard their kin forget they ever existed at all. Then from the side another wave comes and the 8th fireball drops. Nukulo is beginning to become annoyed. Coming out of invisibility mere feet from the wizard, Malus Asbestus materializes with his weapon drawn.

Aha! But the Apocaflame is not so easily bested. He darts back and dumps his 9th, triumphant fireball! The smoke clears and Malus merely brushes some soot from his pauldron. "My turn." he grins. Suddenly he lunges forward in a surge of Divine Favor unleashing 25 damage in a single hit.

Nukulo, who has never actually sustained damage in his career is shocked and appalled. How DARE this plebian draw Nukulo's blood! The audacity is...

The wizard realizes slowly that his party is engaged with the third wave of goblins. There is little space to flee. All of his daily spells were spent on massive fire damage which doesn't seem to phase his foe who is standing uncomfortably close. The wizard withdraws thirty feet, back to the edge of the smoldering ruin he just created. Malus sneers.

"You've lobbed your last fireball, frog-kisser! By the unholy edicts of my liege lord you must be eradicated from the FACE OF THE EARTH!" The hobgoblin lurches forward once more, his 2 handed sword hurtling in a dangerous arc toward the wizard's neck.

Is this the end of Nukulo?

Who cares. The bottom line is that if he does a ton of fire damage, build in an encounter that removes that damage. If he switches, the warpriest uses a Swift to layer on a different energy resist.

There are solutions to the problems in this thread. They're not perfect, nor are they infallible, but they exist. They exist because Paizo knew: eventually the PCs are going to vastly outstrip the monsters by the law of averages, even just using the Core. The design ethic then is:

What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Optimize your encounters to suit the optimization of your players. Rise to the challenge they lay before you. Utilize ALL the vast resources you have at your disposal. Then, when next you reboot your campaign, feel completely at ease with offering only SOME of the delicious smorgasbord that is the bloat of PF.

We all need to diet sometimes right?


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MMCJawa wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:

The glacial release pace is a deliberate (though disappointing to me) strategy - partly to alleviate bloat and partly so that they can tie in their other, licensed products to the TTRPG releases. (So in general, each time a new module comes out the MMORPG has a new storyline, there's a new computer game, a similarly themed set of Wizkids minis, etcetera).

They seem very determined to step off the edition treadmill (I've heard 5E referred to as "the IP-edition": the presumption being that it's just to keep a presence in the market, it's not intended to be the main driver of revenue for WotC - that is planned to come from licensing the IP).

I think a slower release schedule is kind of also built into running a more rules lite system. The design space is smaller and a Paizo style release schedule, at least for rules elements, I think would quickly run out of novel material

I agree. I wish they'd put out more things like monster books though and more campaign material - their release schedule is very slow across the entire range.


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Steve Geddes wrote:
MMCJawa wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:

The glacial release pace is a deliberate (though disappointing to me) strategy - partly to alleviate bloat and partly so that they can tie in their other, licensed products to the TTRPG releases. (So in general, each time a new module comes out the MMORPG has a new storyline, there's a new computer game, a similarly themed set of Wizkids minis, etcetera).

They seem very determined to step off the edition treadmill (I've heard 5E referred to as "the IP-edition": the presumption being that it's just to keep a presence in the market, it's not intended to be the main driver of revenue for WotC - that is planned to come from licensing the IP).

I think a slower release schedule is kind of also built into running a more rules lite system. The design space is smaller and a Paizo style release schedule, at least for rules elements, I think would quickly run out of novel material
I agree. I wish they'd put out more things like monster books though and more campaign material - their release schedule is very slow across the entire range.

On one hand, the slow release schedule has me waiting to hear news about the next book (whatever it may be).

On the other hand, there is so little news that I start forgetting to pay attention.

I really wish there was some news about a new monster manual. I'm also not a fan of the pile-up of PDF scraps. I hope that gets compiled into a bound Unearthed Arcana at some point.

It seems to me that a lot of time and care went into developing the 5e rules, and it shows. It's very nice. I'm not entirely convinced that WotC is following those nice rules with the proper community and support. But it's only two years in, and apparently it's selling well, so that's all good.


Steve Geddes wrote:
MMCJawa wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:

The glacial release pace is a deliberate (though disappointing to me) strategy - partly to alleviate bloat and partly so that they can tie in their other, licensed products to the TTRPG releases. (So in general, each time a new module comes out the MMORPG has a new storyline, there's a new computer game, a similarly themed set of Wizkids minis, etcetera).

They seem very determined to step off the edition treadmill (I've heard 5E referred to as "the IP-edition": the presumption being that it's just to keep a presence in the market, it's not intended to be the main driver of revenue for WotC - that is planned to come from licensing the IP).

I think a slower release schedule is kind of also built into running a more rules lite system. The design space is smaller and a Paizo style release schedule, at least for rules elements, I think would quickly run out of novel material
I agree. I wish they'd put out more things like monster books though and more campaign material - their release schedule is very slow across the entire range.

While I do wish they would release more (especially another Monster Manual or three, and maybe some adventures or setting material NOT based in the Forgettable Realms), you have to admit that it is impressive that they are still beating Pathfinder in the ICv2 rankings despite the glacial release schedule.

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