Modular 'Hard mode'- Proposed Change to the PFS Guide For Season 8


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The Exchange

I don't think it takes unlimited resources to make a hard mode scenario. The last one was one sentence long. I think it is perfectly manageable.

It is impossible to have a mixed table at a hard mode scenario. Every single person has veto power to decline playing it.

5/5

I do not want on the fly hard mode in PFS.

Lantern Lodge 5/5

Hard Mode = Invalidated Tactics

Let the GM play intelligently, and the 'easy mode scenarios' at least have their hands unbound.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Southwest

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Lau Bannenberg wrote:
So let's not exaggerate how hard this is to develop.

And lest it be forgotten, hard mode has other unseen costs.

Hard mode tables tend generate more complaints than 'regular' tables.

Each complaint take a significant amount of time for an organizer or member of the Venture Corps to address.

Hard mode has caused players in my community to leave PFS, even though they asked for it, and even though the table unanimously agreed to play. Even that was not enough.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

As frustrated as I get sometimes by basically just rolling dice futilily as a GM, I think the health of the campaign as a whole probably shouldn't have this.

Someone above mentioned that everyone should be able to find thier style in play. I agree to a point; sometimes that style of play is only going to be realized in a home game.

3/5

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Eric Brittain wrote:
Lau Bannenberg wrote:
So let's not exaggerate how hard this is to develop.

Hard mode tables tend generate more complaints than 'regular' tables.

Each complaint take a significant amount of time for an organizer or member of the Venture Corps to address.

Must be a regional thing, then.

I've heard far, far more complaints about Thornkeep 1 & Risen from the Sands (when using the pregens) than I have about all of the Bonekeeps and actual hard mode scenarios combined.

I'm glad that the RVCs are tracking these complaints in a metric that can measured, however. I'm curious how this is documented as I was unaware of this part of the process, even when I was a store coordinator. Is this new?

5/5 Venture-Captain, Georgia—Savannah

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Chris Mortika wrote:
Amanda Plageman wrote:
Not all of the following options will be applicable to each scenario. The GM is encouraged to select 1-3 options according to the specific scenario. ...
This, I think is the rub. During the adventure, the GM can just make things harder? If the GM waits until the situation is already a little dicey, or bundles 3 increases up in one encounter, this is deadly. Other GMs might just throw one of these at a party, maybe one that has no difference, just to give players "hard mode" bragging rights. (Resist Acid doesn't have much effect against a party that doesn't have any acid casters.)

As someone noted previously, an alarming number of people apparently haven't read my original post completely. The entire point of my suggestions are that they only come into play AT ALL if every single player at the table agrees to play 'Hard Mode'at the beginning of the session. If even 1 player says 'no', then Hard Mode doesn't happen. It isn't a thing that the GM can just decide by fiat. It isn't a thing that can be added mid-scenario.

I'm not advocating for more scenario-specific Hard Mode offerings in Season 8. I'd really rather not see that at all, since it bloats page count on individual scenarios which could otherwise be used for more in-scenario content that's applicable to everyone.

What I'm advocating for is a couple of paragraphs being added to the Guide next season, covering the basic "Table must unanimously agree to Hard Mode with the understanding that no benefits result from it beyond 'bragging rights' result from Hard Mode" understanding, and giving a bullet list of options.

I originally posted ideas. Some of them better than others. Any kind of proposal like this needs consideration and adaptation before it even potentially could be adopted. The max hp and dual initiative ideas are also good options. Limiting the GM to only selecting 1 Hard Mode option rather than 2-3 also seems more reasonable upon consideration.

Do we need this? No. Clearly we do not.
Did we need Core? No, we did not.
A lot of people like Core. Some people like it so much they refuse to play non-Core. Some people refuse to play Core at all.

But you know what? Any individual loving or hating Core does not in any way impact any other individual's ability to play Core.

We already have Hard Mode in approximately 3% of the current PFS scenarios. Some people love it, some people want nothing to do with it. But like Core, any individual loving or hating Hard Mode does not in any way impact any other individual's ability to play Hard Mode.

Even if Hard Mode devotees only comprise 10% of the PFS player base, offering modular Hard Mode, however restricted, makes 10% of the player base happy and has absolutely no impact on the other 90%.

Don't like Hard Mode? Don't play it. Problem solved.

This isn't a zero-sum argument where only one side gets to 'win'.
Let's break this down:

*90% of the populace doesn't want to play Hard Mode, even under the currently sanctioned limited opportunities. Therefore, they choose not to play Hard Mode. They get what they want, since if even 1 player at the table says 'no', then Hard Mode doesn't happen.

*10% of the populace does want to play Hard Mode under the currently sanctioned limited opportunities (and regularly posts on the forums asking for more Hard Mode). Unless they go out of their way to assemble a 100% pro-Hard Mode table, they don't get what they want, because at least 1 person at the table will say 'no' to Hard Mode. They only have even a slim chance of playing Hard Mode approximately 3% of the time, and unless they plan an all-Hard Mode table. And even then, once they've played the entire 3% of the catalog, they have no further opportunities to play the way they want, unless Paizo writes more Hard Mode content.

That's where things stand right this minute. The majority gets what it wants 100% of the time, and the minority gets what it wants only if it goes out of its way to pre-plan for it. That's fine.

Here's what happens if we implement any form of modular Hard Mode:

*90% of the populace doesn't want to play Hard Mode. Therefore, they choose not to play Hard Mode. They get what they want, since if even 1 player at the table says 'no', then Hard Mode doesn't happen.

*10% of the populace does want to play Hard Mode. Unless they go out of their way to assemble a 100% pro-Hard Mode table, they don't get what they want, because at least 1 person at the table will say 'no' to Hard Mode. However, with modular Hard Mode, if they pre-plan a Hard Mode table, they can potentially play up to 100% of currently available content with the added challenge they're looking for.

Either way, the 90% of the playerbase gets what it wants: They don't have to play Hard Mode. Cool. Nobody is saying they have to play Hard Mode. But adding modular Hard Mode makes 10% of the playerbase happy and doesn't inconvenience the other 90% in any way.

When I was a child, my mother regularly urged me to wear a sweater in fall. I don't get cold easily, but she does. When I told her that I wasn't cold, her response was "I'm cold, so you put on a sweater".

This entire thread reads the same way: "I don't like Hard Mode, so you can't have it, even though you having it doesn't impact me in any meaningful way."

The 10% can't force the 90% to play Hard Mode. The 90% can force the 10% not to play Hard Mode without a lot of planning. That's as it should be.

But the 90% should not be able to tell the 10% "You can't have what you want, even when you go out of your way to do it in a way that doesn't inconvenience us".

If any form of modular Hard Mode is added to the Guide, NO ONE is required to use it. But if it isn't there, then no one is ALLOWED to use it. It being there at all allows the people who want it to use it without bothering anyone else.

I just don't understand why the 90% is so devoted to keeping the 10% from getting what they want, when what they want doesn't impact the 90% in any way.

Silver Crusade

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An easy way to do hard mode might simply to allow tables of 4 players to play the 6 player version of the scenario, assuming all players at the table want to play that way. This might work because:
1. It only requires a paragraph in the guide.
2. No additional resources need to be devoted to developing it.
3. It's easier to assemble 4 hard mode players than 6.
4. It's easier on the GM as they don't have to make adjustments on the fly for 4 players.
5. It opens up 4 seasons of scenarios for potential hard mode play.

Thoughts?

3/5

There are many kinds of gamers it's not surprising that we don't all like the same type of things all of the time (though to be fair PvP is rarely a concern in PFS).

I'm glad John & the encounter writers can do some hard mode for those who prefer a greater challenge. I hope that they continue to do so. I think it's just as legitimate as a desire for additional "rp or skill-solvable" encounters or those who want more continuity between seasonal plots. I don't think a "generic pool of up-scaling possibilities" would address their desire for hard-mode play any more than a d20 list of acceptable backgrounds for all possible NPCs encountered would assist those who prefer to role-play their way out of combats and into success conditions.


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Amanda Plageman wrote:
As someone noted previously, an alarming number of people apparently haven't read my original post completely. The entire point of my suggestions are that they only come into play AT ALL if every single player at the table agrees to play 'Hard Mode'at the beginning of the session. If even 1 player says 'no', then Hard Mode doesn't happen. It isn't a thing that the GM can just decide by fiat. It isn't a thing that can be added mid-scenario.

That has the effect of putting the one or two hold outs on the social hotseat. This is a major problem when you're talking about the typical PFS convention group of random seating of total strangers.

I really do not believed that we are served by creating a game setting for the one percent.

5/5

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Anyone who thinks that because "it's one line of final text, it must be easy to develop" has clearly never worked on RPG content.

Besides, the proposal isn't for one line of content, it's for a generic system that has to work with every scenario. Please don't underplay how much work a system like this would require or how much damage it can do to the campaign if done improperly. Please don't overplay how many people actually want this, or how many people want it at the expense of something else.

Silver Crusade

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Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:


That has the effect of putting the one or two hold outs on the social hotseat. This is a major problem when you're talking about the typical PFS convention group of random seating of total strangers.

To address this, how about requiring the game to be advertised as hard mode similar to how Core games are? That way the only people showing up are expecting hard mode. If sign ups aren't sufficient by an organizer predetermined date, simply change the advertised game to a normal one. No more social pressure and scheduling flexibility. Win/win.

The Exchange

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GM Lamplighter wrote:

Anyone who thinks that because "it's one line of final text, it must be easy to develop" has clearly never worked on RPG content.

Besides, the proposal isn't for one line of content, it's for a generic system that has to work with every scenario. Please don't underplay how much work a system like this would require or how much damage it can do to the campaign if done improperly. Please don't overplay how many people actually want this, or how many people want it at the expense of something else.

Every time this comes up and this time as well all I have asked for is creating more of the content I enjoy. Again if 2 scenarios a season had just a bit of extra development time spent on a hard mode it be great.

And maybe I am underestimating the effort that final text at the end of scenario was but considering normal Hard Modes have a specific box at the beginning of the adventure describing their nature and this did not as well as only influencing one encounter instead of all of the encounters I can only assume it was a last ditch effort to appease people who kept asking for hard mode in that scenario, and I'm thankful they did even that much because it is an acknowledgement they haven't done in over 2 years.

Brett Carlos wrote:
To address this, how about requiring the game to be advertised as hard mode similar to how Core games are?

It probably isn't required because it is technically a spoiler. The Hard Mode scenarios don't let you know the option exists in their description. That being said I have never played a Hard Mode scenario where the table wasn't aware and agree before meeting that it would be so. I had let people know in advance when I was looking to play hard mode and would decline to play the game if it would not be.

Liberty's Edge 5/5 ⦵⦵

Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Brett Carlos wrote:
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:


That has the effect of putting the one or two hold outs on the social hotseat. This is a major problem when you're talking about the typical PFS convention group of random seating of total strangers.

To address this, how about requiring the game to be advertised as hard mode similar to how Core games are? That way the only people showing up are expecting hard mode. If sign ups aren't sufficient by an organizer predetermined date, simply change the advertised game to a normal one. No more social pressure and scheduling flexibility. Win/win.

Usually, if there is a hard mode being played, the players have all agreed to play it at that level. No GM should randomly spring a hard mode game on unsuspecting players. Well, unless he doesn't want players anymore.

5/5 Venture-Captain, Georgia—Savannah

TimD wrote:
I don't think a "generic pool of up-scaling possibilities" would address their desire for hard-mode play any more than a d20 list of acceptable backgrounds for all possible NPCs encountered would assist those who prefer to role-play their way out of combats and into success conditions.

I agree. A set of generic options for Hard Mode is a sub-optimal solution. But since right now, we have no solution, I think a sub-optimal solution is still a step forward. Plus, this is providing a jumping off point for other (probably better) ideas to address the issue. I'm by no means married to my solution. But I want to see a solution.

I will GM Hard Mode if it's available and the entire table wants it. I don't want to play Hard Mode, and will not play it. But I support those who do want it. Enabling the enjoyment of the 10% in no way diminishes me and my enjoyment.

Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
That has the effect of putting the one or two hold outs on the social hotseat. This is a major problem when you're talking about the typical PFS convention group of random seating of total strangers.

The convention issue is a reasonable point. I would be fine with adding a caveat in the Guide to the effect that 'Modular Hard Mode is only available at conventions if it is included in the session description on the sign-up sheet'. The same way Core is now. When a convention plans to have a Core table, they note it in the table's description. That way, people who don't want Core know to avoid that table. I've yet to see a con where a regular table was scheduled and everybody spontaneously decided to do Core instead. (I've seen a few where the table was designated Core, and everyone unanimously decided to play non-Core instead.) The same thing could easily be done at conventions- a table is advertised as Hard Mode, so players who don't want that know to avoid that table. And small conventions with limited table space probably wouldn't schedule a Hard Mode table in the first place, so no harm done.

As far as putting one or two holdouts on the 'social hotseat', well, outside of a convention, most of an area's players tend to know each other and know each other's play styles. They may not all be close friends, but that's fine.

I don't mean to sound harsh, but if a player doesn't feel that they can resist the casual peer pressure of their friend/acquaintances over something as trivial as a game, maybe that's a bigger problem that they need to address? Being able to say 'no' when needed is a basic life skill. Not to mention that if other players are pressuring someone into doing something they don't want to, the GM can (and perhaps should) stop it cold.

As I've mentioned several times, I don't like Hard Mode and will not play it. If I'm the only person at the table who doesn't want it, AND there's another table at the same time that I qualify for with an open slot, AND I don't mind switching, then I might make the choice to play at the other table, thus allowing the first group to play Hard Mode. But if there isn't another viable table, then I will look those other players in the eye and say "no Hard Mode". And that will be the end of it.

Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
I really do not believed that we are served by creating a game setting for the one percent.

First, Hard Mode fans number a lot more than 1%, though I'm sure the exact percentages vary region by region. Second, by that same logic, Core shouldn't exist either, as it was created for a minority subset as well. But it does. And whether any individual likes Core or not, PFS is made stronger by having the option available. Adding Core pleased a minority subset of players without impacting the majority. Adding modular Hard Mode would be the same.

5/5 Venture-Captain, Georgia—Savannah

Liam wrote:
Usually, if there is a hard mode being played, the players have all agreed to play it at that level. No GM should randomly spring a hard mode game on unsuspecting players. Well, unless he doesn't want players anymore.

And yet again, a crucial point is being overlooked.

The GM CAN'T spring Hard Mode, random or otherwise, on unsuspecting players. It is impossible under the current rules set, as well as under the modular option I'm suggesting. The GM can't decide to do Hard Mode. Only the players can do that, and only if they all agree.

1/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Amanda Plageman wrote:

As far as putting one or two holdouts on the 'social hotseat', well, outside of a convention, most of an area's players tend to know each other and know each other's play styles. They may not all be close friends, but that's fine.

I don't mean to sound harsh, but if a player doesn't feel that they can resist the casual peer pressure of their friend/acquaintances over something as trivial as a game, maybe that's a bigger problem that they need to address? Being able to say 'no' when needed is a basic life skill. Not to mention that if other players are pressuring someone into doing something they don't want to, the GM can (and perhaps should) stop it cold.

It's not that simple.

If things were that simple then there wouldn't be seven+ pages over whether or not someone should be allowed to spend to buy a replacement item for another character who used it on their behalf.

To try and deflect blame on players who may NOT have had a solid formative social environment is to discredit the entire premise.

If the GM has his/her heart set on 'Hard Mode' they could easily go 'Well, I prepped Hard Mode, so that's the easiest for me to run.' Suddenly players who are 'on the bubble' are now stuck with the untenable choice of bailing out on the table (and possibly being transportation-marooned) or having to 'grin and bear it'.

Aside from which, there is NO BENEFIT to Hard Mode.

None.

Let me type that again.

There is NO BENEFIT to Hard Mode

If there were some sort of benefit to it other than a handful of folks wanting to prove how bad-ass they are at crunching numbers and builds, perhaps there might be a greater groundswell for it?

Dark Archive

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I would never play hard mode but wouldn't mind if they put out a Bonekeep style mod once a year. Except I remember at a con a group of players sitting down for Bonekeep would inspect PCs and if you didn't cut the mustard they would shoo you away from their table.

1/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Cebo wrote:
I would never play hard mode but wouldn't mind if they put out a Bonekeep style mod once a year. Except I remember at a con a group of players sitting down for Bonekeep would inspect PCs and if you didn't cut the mustard they would shoo you away from their table.

I got exceptionally lucky that I managed to find a group of 'pros' that had done it before (a couple of them were GMs burning star replays) and my build was serviceable if a bit wacky.

All concerns about 'wackiness' were dispelled when it proved crucial to have that particular combination in a given encounter, and it probably saved us two or three deaths, even.

Sovereign Court

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Amanda Plageman wrote:
I just don't understand why the 90% is so devoted to keeping the 10% from getting what they want, when what they want doesn't impact the 90% in any way.

Many of us would strongly disagree with that.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Southwest

Any change will take time from Paizo folks to implement.

The amount of time that the Paizo folks have is limited and is currently focused on other higher priority (from their broader perspective) activities.

Working on implementing a modifications to allow for an update to hard mode, will require time from the Paizo folks to accomplish.

This time will be taken away from other (likely) high priority items.

Therefor implementing the changes to support an updated hard mode would have costs, would take time, and can not be accomplished without tradeoffs.

If the new hard mode would only serve a limited portion of the population (only get used at 10% of the tables) does it really make sense to focus the limited time of Paizo folks on something that will be lightly used, by a fragment of the community?

I believe that the answer is obvious.

If a player wants a hard mode experience right now they can either:
A) Look for it elsewhere (like in a home game) where it can be tailored to their own specific wants.
B) Play an adventure path in campaign mode (which is almost like playing a home game).
C) Self handicap, to increase their own experience of difficulty.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Amanda Plageman wrote:
The GM CAN'T spring Hard Mode, random or otherwise, on unsuspecting players.

Oh, if only that were true. My wife's experience at PaizoCon would never have happened.

5/5 Venture-Captain, Georgia—Savannah

Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
Amanda Plageman wrote:
The GM CAN'T spring Hard Mode, random or otherwise, on unsuspecting players.
Oh, if only that were true. My wife's experience at PaizoCon would never have happened.

Steven, it sounds like your wife had a GM who was altering the scenario beyond the (extremely) limited allowable tactical options. While I'm not sure I would call that 'cheating', I would absolutely call it 'bad GM-ing'. Which is a totally different issue than what's being discussed. :-)

Bad GMs happen. Bad GMs will continue to happen, whether in standard mode, Core, or Hard Mode.

Perhaps my statement is better worded as "The GM ISN'T ALLOWED TO spring Hard Mode, random or otherwise, on unsuspecting players.


Implementing CORE was a complicated enough issue for convention planning, and all it does is exclude the new toys.

This change hoewever impacts player skill, and more importantly GM skill and preparation as well. It would be a nightmare to administer convention wise and bedlam at a game day.

You want hard mode so badly... play Bonekeep. Play Waking Rune on stupid mode.

Shadow Lodge

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Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
You want hard mode so badly... play Bonekeep. Play Waking Rune on stupid mode.

That's four sessions. Out of hundreds. Wanting more content isn't unreasonable.


Disk Elemental wrote:
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
You want hard mode so badly... play Bonekeep. Play Waking Rune on stupid mode.
That's four sessions. Out of hundreds. Wanting more content isn't unreasonable.

Play any Season 5 or later scenario as CORE.

Shadow Lodge

Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
Play any Season 5 or later scenario as CORE.
Disk Elemental wrote:

With all due respect, I think you're completely misunderstanding why some people want Hard Mode.

Some people (me included) enjoy the challenge of building powerful PCs. Taking the thousands and thousands of pages of printed material, then condensing them down to create the best end result is a challenging, but creatively fulfilling process. In normal scenarios, we can either play the character to its maximum potential (thus destroying any sense of tension) or we can hold back, and have a normal game.

The occasional Hard Mode session (Sealed Gate, Bonekeep, etc.) provides a decent break to the monotony, it's a chance to go whole hog, while still having edge of our seat excitement.

Sovereign Court 5/5 Venture-Captain, Canada—Manitoba aka Kess, Humble Servant of Abadar

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Disk Elemental wrote:

Some people (me included) enjoy the challenge of building powerful PCs. Taking the thousands and thousands of pages of printed material, then condensing them down to create the best end result is a challenging, but creatively fulfilling process. In normal scenarios, we can either play the character to its maximum potential (thus destroying any sense of tension) or we can hold back, and have a normal game..

There is nothing wrong with the bolded above. Many people enjoy making powerful characters (myself excluded, as I personally prefer well-rounded for the most part).

PFS has always been, is, and should always be, written for the beginner to average player. It, (PFS), is an advertising medium for Paizo, specifically Pathfinder. It introduces players to other players like no other game before. From there, home games crop up as players find other players with whom they'd like to game, where the GM has free-reign. Many times, those games are APs.

As far as scenario difficulty goes, GM knowledge and preparedness is the single most important factor. The better prepared a GM is going in (knowing abilities of each and every NPC, knowing feats and their interaction, knowing spells, their effect and situation, etc, etc) the better chance they have to offer a challenging game. Far fewer GMs have system mastery compared to players. The same scenario in the hands of a GM who isn't tactically sound, can be a cake-walk, whereas in the hands of a tactically-sound, system-mastery GM, it could be a TPK.
A GMs ability to improvise (within the rules allowed to them) is key. Using an AoO to disarm or trip with intelligent large creatures as the barbarian charges through their square, rather than simply taking the melee-attack. Having the incorporeal creature go through the wall to gain a tactical positioning advantage. Etc. etc.

After that, look at party composition as a basis for ease-of-scenarios. The CR system, though flawed, is based on a party with a tank/DPS, skill-monkey, a divine caster and an arcane caster, or to put it simply, Valeros, Merisiel, Kyra and Ezren. When you upset that balance, such as a party of 6 martial specialists, you throw off the actual party APL vis-a-vis the CR system. More often than not, tables are comprised of all-martial characters. If I had a nickel for each time someone said "Well, at least character X can use a CLW wand, so we're good."

As for the proposal of hard mode based on player vote, have you ever been the holdout? Have you ever watched a table come to that consensus when there is doubt? Have you ever been one who wanted hard-mode and even once tried to convince the holdout that they should? What type of social pressures do we want to put people under? They came out to enjoy a game, now they are being bullied to either buck-up and play hard mode, or be the party-pooper for 5 other people. Either that holdout walks away, not being able to play a game, and maybe leaving Organized Play, the holdout dies an avoidable death (and some sour-grapes) or you get 5 or 6 grumpy-gusses, who lament their only opportunity to play a scenario for credit.

No, for those reasons, we should not have a blanket hard-mode option.

Shadow Lodge

Dave Baker wrote:
PFS has always been, is, and should always be, written for the beginner to average player.

I was quoting the relevant section of a longer post, where I came to exactly the same conclusion, and said that the proposed changes were wrong for Society play.

My post was meant to dispel the notion that there's already enough content for the audience who is seeking a real challenge, because there isn't. It's also to explain why there's a desire for harder content.

Sovereign Court 5/5 Venture-Captain, Canada—Manitoba aka Kess, Humble Servant of Abadar

Disk Elemental wrote:
Dave Baker wrote:
PFS has always been, is, and should always be, written for the beginner to average player.

I was quoting the relevant section of a longer post, where I came to exactly the same conclusion, and said that the proposed changes were wrong for Society play.

My post was meant to dispel the notion that there's already enough content for the audience who is seeking a real challenge, because there isn't. It's also to explain why there's a desire for harder content.

Understood. Though I'd rather have more general content than 'hard-mode' content. I don't disagree that there isn't enough content for those seeking a challenge. I will suggest that PFS OP is not the place to do it.

The tag line "Sorry, but I built this character for Bonekeep," was a recurring theme while those scenarios were ongoing. It felt as if it were a licence to build a ridiculously optimized character IMHO.

Silver Crusade 5/5

People have never needed a license to build optimized characters. The presence or absence of scenarios like Bonekeep does nothing about that one way or the other. All they do is give the player something to point their fingers at. If it wasn't Bonekeep it would be something else.

Silver Crusade 5/5

Dave Baker wrote:
PFS has always been, is, and should always be, written for the beginner to average player. It, (PFS), is an advertising medium for Paizo, specifically Pathfinder. It introduces players to other players like no other game before. From there, home games crop up as players find other players with whom they'd like to game, where the GM has free-reign. Many times, those games are APs.

Citation needed.


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@Amanda: Obviously there is alot of resistance to the idea... I'm not sure where this thread is going.
As already mentioned though, there is current legal options to affect "Hard Mode" thru APL/party-size "hacks" as well as high-tier loot abandonment, which in fact benefit from Paizo's hands-on tweaks for APL/party-size, i.e. higher quality than generic numeric boosts. (I don't think I included it in original list, but a consensus rule to play at 5 "real" players de facto is hardest non-4 player adjustment, and might be appropriate combined with "hacked" APL and/or wealth donation)
So why don't you try those options out with your Hard Mode players? And share the feedback?
IMHO using ALL of those options would in fact be VERY hard, so the question is what combinations to use: all/some of them.
I don't really imagine any other Hard Mode implementation to be MORE tough than those combined, so those options seem pretty satisfactory.
As is feedback on how using those de facto legal "hacks" plays out amongst Hard Mode (and broader player base I guess).

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
Disk Elemental wrote:
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
You want hard mode so badly... play Bonekeep. Play Waking Rune on stupid mode.
That's four sessions. Out of hundreds. Wanting more content isn't unreasonable.
Play any Season 5 or later scenario as CORE.

I don't think you understand what some of the more optimized folks are looking for, and why, from pfs when people give this suggestion.

People looking for hard mode are not looking to fail more often. They (we?) are looking for something with a little more bite to crunch into so we can bite harder.

That bite does not come from allegedly smarter play, especially for martials. It comes from builds. People want a crazy obstacle course to run their supped out racer on.

With that said... I'm not sure that the game can really support that kind of thing. Higher level game becomes rocket tag, where you roll initiative and almost auto kill something. The more you optimize, the faster that happens.


Well it is a confusing terminology then,
although Core Mode has already been mentioned in thread as something distinct from this.
But saying "Hard Mode", and then not actually wanting to PLAY harder is kind of counter-intuitive.
But I guess that comes from the fact of Paizo enabling a parallel mini-game of "charOp/builds".
IMHO, charOp challenge (as well as "gameplay challenge") CAN in fact come from limitations of "Core",
but as you say, some people like using/optimization the flurry of options provided by Paizo,
(almost as if you're supposed to use them all),
and just want the rest of the game to come up to snuff that so that is doesn't become a ridiculous steam-roll.

So, curious if the already mentioned party-size/APL hacks + high-tier wealth "donation" will work for that crowd.

Dark Archive

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If four guys at your table want to play hard mode and you don't, they can consider you 'being a jerk'. You can get tagged as 'that jerk player'. That's why I am not a fan of this.

5/5

UndeadMitch wrote:
Dave Baker wrote:
PFS has always been, is, and should always be, written for the beginner to average player. It, (PFS), is an advertising medium for Paizo, specifically Pathfinder. It introduces players to other players like no other game before. From there, home games crop up as players find other players with whom they'd like to game, where the GM has free-reign. Many times, those games are APs.
Citation needed.

Do a search, and you will find the statement multiple times. Run a Lodge, and you will see it happen.

Silver Crusade 5/5

GM Lamplighter wrote:
UndeadMitch wrote:
Dave Baker wrote:
PFS has always been, is, and should always be, written for the beginner to average player. It, (PFS), is an advertising medium for Paizo, specifically Pathfinder. It introduces players to other players like no other game before. From there, home games crop up as players find other players with whom they'd like to game, where the GM has free-reign. Many times, those games are APs.
Citation needed.
Do a search, and you will find the statement multiple times. Run a Lodge, and you will see it happen.

I guess I should clarify, PFS is for players of all skill levels, not just beginners and intermediate players. If Leadership was not interested in catering to all of our player base then there would be no seeker arc, let alone a second one. PFS is to not just get new players, but also to keep them playing. PFS scenarios should be written for their level range, not just player base. If someone plays a 1-5, they should feel appropriately challenged. PFS is meant for all of us, not just newbies, and what is being released by Leadership backs me up. In the past year there have been PFS adventures written for characters 1-15.

Part of the appeal of PFS to me has been how inclusive it is to all of their players, and not just one group. But hey! Thanks for the dismissive attitude!

5/5

PFS staff have repeatedly shared things like "people want more 1-5's" and so on. It should be clear that with limited resources, they have to focus on the stuff that more people want.

Sorry if you found my post dismissive - I did try to use more than two words, and didn't just accuse the previous poster of making stuff up.

Silver Crusade 5/5

GM Lamplighter wrote:

PFS staff have repeatedly shared things like "people want more 1-5's" and so on. It should be clear that with limited resources, they have to focus on the stuff that more people want.

Sorry if you found my post dismissive - I did try to use more than two words, and didn't just accuse the previous poster of making stuff up.

First, I didn't accuse him of anything, I just asked him to support his supposition that PFS is only for beginners and intermediate players. But, you are correct, I probably shouldn't have been quite so brief with my response.

After looking at previous discussions regarding additional content, it seems like the demand isn't just for more 1-5's, but additional content at all level ranges (except for 7-11, from what I've seen the consensus is that the amount of 7-11's has been just about right) and the people clamoring for more 1-5's aren't asking for them for new people.

Sovereign Court 5/5 Venture-Captain, Canada—Manitoba aka Kess, Humble Servant of Abadar

UndeadMitch wrote:

First, I didn't accuse him of anything, I just asked him to support his supposition that PFS is only for beginners and intermediate players. But, you are correct, I probably shouldn't have been quite so brief with my response.

After looking at previous discussions regarding additional content, it seems like the demand isn't just for more 1-5's, but additional content at all level ranges (except for 7-11, from what I've seen the consensus is that the amount of 7-11's has been just about right) and the people clamoring for more 1-5's aren't asking for them for new people.

I didn't say PFS is for beginners. It appears as though I was unclear. Scenarios are written with the beginner to average player in mind as far as challenge goes. They are not written for the advanced to expert player. Therfore, optimization of characters will render those challenges moot. As a result, those players will always feel as if scenarios are too easy.

Silver Crusade 5/5

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I don't know if I agree with what you're saying, but I'm going to respect your opinion and simply agree to disagree on that point. I do agree that a blanket hard mode option will not solve any problems.

For everyone in this discussion, when a scenario has a hard mode option, how do you as GM's handle it? Do you just let the players discuss it and come to a consensus? I'm curious to see how other GM's handle this option.

When I GM something with hard mode, I let the players know as they get to the table that this scenario has a hard mode, and once everyone is ready I will hand out slips of paper and have everyone vote secretly. I inform my players that any discussion of hard mode or any pressuring of other players to play in hard mode will automatically result in me running the scenario in normal mode. I discourage my players from discussing it because even that act can cause some players to feel obligated to vote a certain way.


UndeadMitch wrote:


When I GM something with hard mode, I let the players know as they get to the table that this scenario has a hard mode, and once everyone is ready I will hand out slips of paper and have everyone vote secretly. I inform my players that any discussion of hard mode or any pressuring of other players to play in hard mode will automatically result in me running the scenario in normal mode. I discourage my players from discussing it because even that act can cause some players to feel obligated to vote a certain way.

Do you then tell the players the result of the vote to permit those who did not vote for hard mode to leave the table if the vote was not in their favor, or to permit those who did vote for hard mode to leave the table if the vote was not in their favor?

Silver Crusade 5/5

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Per the rules on hard mode the vote has to be unanimous, everyone has to vote for hard mode, it is not just a straight-up majority vote. One "no" means no hard mode. At the end of the session, I let players know whether they played on hard mode or normal mode. The people that voted "no" will already know, but I still make the announcement at the end because those that voted "yes" won't know, and it just makes it kind of exciting. Especially when you play something like Sealed Gate, fight tooth and nail to get to the end, only to discover "that was normal mode?"


Your method does not make it exciting. It is manipulative, and would upset at least some people.

If a player about to sit at a table absolutely does not want to play hard mode, she should have the chance to get up and leave the table if the game is going to be hard mode. Likewise, if a player about to sit at a table absolutely wants to play hard mode, she should have the chance to get up and leave the table if the game is going to be normal mode.

Silver Crusade 5/5

Whatever, dude. I haven't had any complaints from the actual people that actually play at my tables. If there were, I'd probably change how I was doing things.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

I always let the table know the results of the vote before we begin. The secrecy is not worth taking a players one chance to play Hard Mode away. This is usually avoided by players who want to play Hard organizing a group of like-minded fellows before the game.


The secrecy is also not worth killing a player's character on hard mode when she didn't want to play hard mode.

5/5

Pink Dragon wrote:
The secrecy is also not worth killing a player's character on hard mode when she didn't want to play hard mode.

The player always has a choice not to play hard mode.

Silver Crusade 5/5

That's the thing. If they want hard mode so badly that they would rather not play at a table if they don't get their way, thry need to organize their own table not during a regularly scheduled event. Especially when a person dropping at the last minute can and has caused tables not to fire.

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