Pathfinder Society for 3PP / OGL?


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Would you be interested in seeing some type of Pathfinder Society thingamajig for 3PP / OGL? Yes? No? Maybe? Why?


I assume there would be legal issues. But I'm not a lawyer.

Shadow Lodge

I like the idea in theory, and think it would be a good option if possible to be available to those who would be interested in such things.

But I personally would never participate.


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An organized play like the PFS, with stricter rules, a coherent-ish metaplot and unique subsystems? Seems interesting, which setting would it take place on? Or is this a ramification of that kickstarter that had a dozen publishers involved, so, there's a lot of dimension hopping into several planets?

I think it could work if it takes place mostly online, like roll20 and such services. Would be nice to see developers of 3rd party products GMing on occasions and such.

President, Jon Brazer Enterprises

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wasn't this already tried? Like 3-Play or something?

Dark Archive

Well, to my understanding, PFS is all about presenting a level playing field in order for Pathfinder, the RPG, to become more like a competition.

Since this is now about winning and losing, and since it is not necessary to win by playing every scenario, it becomes necessary for every scenario to present the same level of risk and reward, as well as for every scenario to minimise the possibility of being run in ways which vary the degree of risk and reward depending on how they are run (i.e. it should not be possible for a GM to run a PFS scenario in either an "easy" way or a "hard" way).

And that means some sort of centralised authority policing scenarios to make sure that they adhere to those two constraints: GM-independent difficulty and a uniform risk/reward metric.

My feeling, therefore, is that this is not really for 3pps, unless 3pps are submitting scenarios to Paizo for approval in which case they're no different from freelancers.

Which is a shame because I think that PFS probably dominates the Pathfinder scene.

Richard

Dark Archive

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I've been wanting something like this for many years, well before 3-Play was a thought.

I still want something like this.

Edit: I think the best way to handle this would be a separate 3pp with the sole focus on operating the organized play system for this, including the vetting and approval of rules and scenarios. Ideally, this entity wouldn't need to actually sell anything, just provide a single free pdf guide to the OP system updated yearly, or a website updated monthly(ish). The pdf/website would include a comprehensive list of products (including links to said products in various webstores) currently authorized for use in OP.

Just my thoughts.

The Exchange

I do have one such OP campaign. We have just finished our first year and working towards the second (to start @ Gencon)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/FoeLegacies/

I am open to working with other 3pp into expanding.


I'm for it.
However, the major issue I see is competing design space and incomparable/uneven subsystems. For example- Spheres of Magic is great for non-vancian magic systems... but what about the classes that someone else has published that use a vancian magic system? Do we make the blanket statement "we all use spheres of power" or "we don't all use it" or "we use it... but selectively". This will have to be done on a sub-system by sub-system basis (and there are a LOT).

That also brings up, who does the approval? Who decides what is acceptable? How do we combat one's inherent bias to want to approve their own stuff but not that of others? What do we measure things against? (Should a mundane, martial, melee class be measured up vs a DPR max fighter? Barbarian? Or some arbitrary metric?) How do we handle campaign setting specific content? (Not bagging on the idea- I love it. Just voicing some early hurdles we will need to get over)

A while back I bought up a "3rd party seal of approval" thing where we could exalt work from the 3rd party that reached a minimum level of quality and balance but it was shot down pretty hard due to issues similar to those stated in the previous paragraph (and rightfully so).


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Some day, I'll be wealthy enough to restart the RPGA, and I will fairly and even-handedly decide all those things LRGG is concerned about.

:-)


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Little Red Goblin Games wrote:

I'm for it.

However, the major issue I see is competing design space and incomparable/uneven subsystems. For example- Spheres of Magic is great for non-vancian magic systems... but what about the classes that someone else has published that use a vancian magic system? Do we make the blanket statement "we all use spheres of power" or "we don't all use it" or "we use it... but selectively". This will have to be done on a sub-system by sub-system basis (and there are a LOT).

That also brings up, who does the approval? Who decides what is acceptable? How do we combat one's inherent bias to want to approve their own stuff but not that of others? What do we measure things against? (Should a mundane, martial, melee class be measured up vs a DPR max fighter? Barbarian? Or some arbitrary metric?) How do we handle campaign setting specific content? (Not bagging on the idea- I love it. Just voicing some early hurdles we will need to get over)

A while back I bought up a "3rd party seal of approval" thing where we could exalt work from the 3rd party that reached a minimum level of quality and balance but it was shot down pretty hard due to issues similar to those stated in the previous paragraph (and rightfully so).

We could always pool some cash and pay Endzeitgeist to add one step to his process. The man's already got a cosmic fistbump seal of approval. Now, all we need is a tier list from the man and a nod from the Frogs and AAW to give us the adventuring content. Everything we need exists. We just need the connecting step.


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How would you regulate it? How would you prevent fraud? Would you maintain a form based online database for GMs to enter individual player data in? Who would program such a thing? Who would pay for it? A good, custom and robust database system capable of taking input from hundreds (thousands?) of individuals remotely without crashing costs thousands of dollars. Tens of thousands, honestly, depending on the complexity. And who will administer it and serve as judges for when conflicts arise and accusations of cheating come up? Relying entirely on volunteers will create a system that breaks down whenever someone gets sick or has real life problems. Hiring someone to act as admin would cost money. My understanding is both WotC and Paizo have, either currently in the past, had a small full-time staff dedicated to this sort of thing in addition to an army of volunteers. Sure, the 3pp could all get together to create a general fund but would that make it exclusive? Would the smaller publishers who produce good work but only sell a few dozen copies of any book and can barely pay their writers and artists as it is be excluded?


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JGray wrote:
How would you regulate it? How would you prevent fraud? Would you maintain a form based online database for GMs to enter individual player data in? Who would program such a thing? Who would pay for it? A good, custom and robust database system capable of taking input from hundreds (thousands?) of individuals remotely without crashing costs thousands of dollars. Tens of thousands, honestly, depending on the complexity. And who will administer it and serve as judges for when conflicts arise and accusations of cheating come up? Relying entirely on volunteers will create a system that breaks down whenever someone gets sick or has real life problems. Hiring someone to act as admin would cost money. My understanding is both WotC and Paizo have, either currently in the past, had a small full-time staff dedicated to this sort of thing in addition to an army of volunteers. Sure, the 3pp could all get together to create a general fund but would that make it exclusive? Would the smaller publishers who produce good work but only sell a few dozen copies of any book and can barely pay their writers and artists as it is be excluded?

You need to quit thinking big with it, chief. All you really need are some balance standards, a list of people, and some content to get started. We have everything but the standards, as 3pps don't necessarily communicate with each other in that regard. There's really nothing wrong with having a module of the month and letting people hop in with an appropriate level character that month whether or not that character has history within the system. Persistence is EXPENSIVE.


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Just to get everyone on the same page, we would be looking to build a "similar type of system" to what Paradigm Concepts created with their Living Arcanis (2001–2009) system. Their system proved to be quite well thought out and developed to handle many of the issues that are being brought up here. As I can't reveal all the things we have planned I can inform you that we would like to build a "generic campaign setting" and then let 3PP add their specific campaign setting focused/based adventures to this. Thanks for your feedback on this.


LMPjr007 wrote:
Just to get everyone on the same page, we would be looking to build a "similar type of system" to what Paradigm Concepts created with their Living Arcanis (2001–2009) system. Their system proved to be quite well thought out and developed to handle many of the issues that are being brought up here. As I can't reveal all the things we have planned I can inform you that we would like to build a "generic campaign setting" and then let 3PP add their specific campaign setting focused/based adventures to this. Thanks for your feedback on this.

Wait, you're still actively pulling this together? How long has it been? Do you think you can keep up with a startup time like that? If so, how many other publishers is it going to take to keep up? What're the politics going to be like? I think you need to simplify.


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Interjection Games wrote:
Wait, you're still actively pulling this together? How long has it been? Do you think you can keep up with a startup time like that? If so, how many other publishers is it going to take to keep up? What're the politics going to be like? I think you need to simplify.

First and foremost, my focus is creating a generic OGL setting for this Living Campaign to take place. We are building a system where 3PP can use and input their material and adventures, but we are not going to tell them what, when and how to release their content. We are the engine and the body of the vehicle. The 3PP are the custom body of the vehicle. We are setting up rules and regulations for dealing with 3PP plus to use this service we are CHARGING 3PP to use it. This isn't a free service. But once we have more things in play, we will reveal more.


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Dale McCoy Jr wrote:
wasn't this already tried? Like 3-Play or something?

It was greatly discussed, but no one had the time to be the administrating body if I recall.

I have figured a way to do it, actually based on the ideas mentioned above. Similar to what LPJ said.
3 parties submit something to the "Regulatory", it's tested, and them stamped with a sticker meaning 3PP authorized.
You need a regulating body - someone to administer it. That's the biggest hole I have in my plan design. Funding/time.

I think LPJ is on the right track with Crisis of the World Eater AP with a multiparty AP.

Also a good module is the DM Guild style that Wizards has.


LMPjr007 wrote:
Interjection Games wrote:
Wait, you're still actively pulling this together? How long has it been? Do you think you can keep up with a startup time like that? If so, how many other publishers is it going to take to keep up? What're the politics going to be like? I think you need to simplify.
First and foremost, my focus is creating a generic OGL setting for this Living Campaign to take place. We are building a system where 3PP can use and input their material and adventures, but we are not going to tell them what, when and how to release their content. We are the engine and the body of the vehicle. The 3PP are the custom body of the vehicle. We are setting up rules and regulations for dealing with 3PP plus to use this service we are CHARGING 3PP to use it. This isn't a free service. But once we have more things in play, we will reveal more.

Mmm, well, you'll never get my money, so I suppose I have to compete on this front if the idea ever strikes me.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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We've already run something like this on a small local basis, we call it "Third-party Thursdays". We have had participation from Dreamscarred Press, Amora Games, Ascension Games, Legendary Games, Four Dollar Dungeons, Rogue Genius Games, and a few others. Currently, it's primarily a Legendary Games event because I had to step down from running it due to some medical and financial issues.

I think the biggest downside we ran into was that it was hard to regulate interactions between some products and/or teach players the finer points of new subsystems, so most of our initial groups were limited to selecting from a stable of pregenerated characters.

I'd definitely be interested in seeing something with more support and coherency put together on a larger scale. There's a ton of great 3pp material out there, and I know that one of the primary barriers to using it for a lot of people is actually finding a GM that understands and allows the materials.


Ssalarn wrote:

We've already run something like this on a small local basis, we call it "Third-party Thursdays". We have had participation from Dreamscarred Press, Amora Games, Ascension Games, Legendary Games, Four Dollar Dungeons, Rogue Genius Games, and a few others. Currently, it's primarily a Legendary Games event because I had to step down from running it due to some medical and financial issues.

I think the biggest downside we ran into was that it was hard to regulate interactions between some products and/or teach players the finer points of new subsystems, so most of our initial groups were limited to selecting from a stable of pregenerated characters.

I'd definitely be interested in seeing something with more support and coherency put together on a larger scale. There's a ton of great 3pp material out there, and I know that one of the primary barriers to using it for a lot of people is actually finding a GM that understands and allows the materials.

That is indeed the biggest issue, and a fee such as Louis suggests won't magically make GMs proficient with the approved document. More freedom, not less. Less oversight, not more. Like a managed investment fund, the act of management actually makes it a worse idea. I've been talking with the fanbase for a day or so now, and I've got a system that can put organized play on the map with minimal effort. Next time I'm between products, I might just do it.


LMPjr007 wrote:
Just to get everyone on the same page, we would be looking to build a "similar type of system" to what Paradigm Concepts created with their Living Arcanis (2001–2009) system. Their system proved to be quite well thought out and developed to handle many of the issues that are being brought up here. As I can't reveal all the things we have planned I can inform you that we would like to build a "generic campaign setting" and then let 3PP add their specific campaign setting focused/based adventures to this. Thanks for your feedback on this.

You make it sound like Living Arcanis ended..

The campaign kept going under Legends of Arcanis using our own system..

Now we are re-starting Living Arcanis under 5e rules at Origins

we are going to be giving away a 50-60 page pdf called the Arcanis Primer that gives players a good overview of the world, how to use 5e core rules in Arcanis and a ton of new races, a new class, and more.

We also have a campaign guide which covers all the rules for the campaign itself.

When we kick off the 5e campaign at origins it will start with 15 adventures ready to play... which we are giving away for free.

At Origins if you show up you start at 4th level, we have 3 adventures, a BI, and a LARP.

We didn't go anywhere… and everyone is welcome to come on board ::winks::

http://www.paradigmcampaigns.com/DefaultLivA.aspx

that will be active once we go live!!


Interjection Games wrote:
Mmm, well, you'll never get my money, so I suppose I have to compete on this front if the idea ever strikes me.

I'm sorry you feel this way.

Ssalarn wrote:
We've already run something like this on a small local basis, we call it "Third-party Thursdays". We have had participation from Dreamscarred Press, Amora Games, Ascension Games, Legendary Games, Four Dollar Dungeons, Rogue Genius Games, and a few others. Currently, it's primarily a Legendary Games event because I had to step down from running it due to some medical and financial issues.

That is why we want to do a generic setting for this Living OGL campaign. Trying to cover EVERY 3PP with this would be impossible.

Ssalarn wrote:
I think the biggest downside we ran into was that it was hard to regulate interactions between some products and/or teach players the finer points of new subsystems, so most of our initial groups were limited to selecting from a stable of pregenerated characters.

I think the best way to handle that is to preview any and all material that would like to be added. Too often everything is tossed in at once and told people to "have at it" and we DON'T want that. We are initially going to limit what is brought it by other 3PP campaign worlds to only race, feats and spells. From there we will branch out to other gaming rules and items.

Ssalarn wrote:
I'd definitely be interested in seeing something with more support and coherency put together on a larger scale. There's a ton of great 3pp material out there, and I know that one of the primary barriers to using it for a lot of people is actually finding a GM that understands and allows the materials.

But like I said, we want to make it more fun to play, not MORE complex for complexity's sake.

Interjection Games wrote:
That is indeed the biggest issue, and a fee such as Louis suggests won't magically make GMs proficient with the approved document. More freedom, not less. Less oversight, not more. Like a managed investment fund, the act of management actually makes it a worse idea. I've been talking with the fanbase for a day or so now, and I've got a system that can put organized play on the map with minimal effort. Next time I'm between products, I might just do it.

The issue that has come up more and more with Living Campaigns is game balance and adventure playability. To put it bluntly, some 3PP have issues with either, or and sometimes both of those issues. While running NeoExodus Legacies with JP Chapleau, I learned about how complex it can be getting what people want to play AND keeping everyone honest in the gameplay.

The fee we are planning to charge directly relates to the technical side of things: A website where players can log on, record their PCs statistics, upload specific important information from the adventure they just played, locate other players, gaming conventions and gaming stores in the local area. Companies will get an opportunity to learn who is downloading their gaming content, where they are located, what gaming stores and gaming convention are also close by. We want this to be an amazing resource center for 3PPs.

Nunspa wrote:
You make it sound like Living Arcanis ended..

Sorry if I made it sound like it did. I was just talk about the 3.0 and 3.5 OGL days. Thanks!

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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Interjection Games wrote:
Ssalarn wrote:

***

I think the biggest downside we ran into was that it was hard to regulate interactions between some products and/or teach players the finer points of new subsystems, so most of our initial groups were limited to selecting from a stable of pregenerated characters.

I'd definitely be interested in seeing something with more support and coherency put together on a larger scale. There's a ton of great 3pp material out there, and I know that one of the primary barriers to using it for a lot of people is actually finding a GM that understands and allows the materials.

That is indeed the biggest issue, and a fee such as Louis suggests won't magically make GMs proficient with the approved document. More freedom, not less. Less oversight, not more. Like a managed investment fund, the act of management actually makes it a worse idea. I've been talking with the fanbase for a day or so now, and I've got a system that can put organized play on the map with minimal effort. Next time I'm between products, I might just do it.

I'm inclined to agree, and I have other concerns about a "pay to participate" platform. That's very near to a "pay to win" strategy; after all, if a 3pp isn't paying to be part of this program, they're not going to be included in any related "approval" system, right? And if you don't approve the product, the implication, intended or not, is that that product is not worthy of approval. 3pps already suffer from this right now since they're excluded from PFS, perpetuating the idea that all 3pp products are "less good" in some way.

I would worry that a pay to participate "3pp PFS", if successful, would actually in practice become essentially a 3pp union- if you're a member of the union, you get our approval and we advertise your products, if not, your product will be viewed as inherently less valid. It feels very much at odds with the spirit of cooperation and community support that currently is such a big part of the 3pp community.

More than that, I worry that such a system will have the "Blizzard effect", that its own success will stifle creativity. I recall talking to Erik Mona and hearing him explain that one of the primary reasons that Paizo sticks to Vancian mechanics and avoids other subsystems is that they want to keep a strong, common frame of reference so that the material a PFS GM is required to know is limited to a certain familiar framework; to an extent, Paizo's own creativity is confined to a narrow conceptual space due to the marketing needs of their primary engine for growing the hobby. Under a "unionized" pay to participate 3pp play society, how long is it until the society administrators start dictating what kind of products will be featured, and how often? When do we find that months X-Z will only be doing feat and racial supplements because GMs have become too overloaded with subsystem burn?

Ultimately, in any group where participants are paying for membership, you'll require leadership and direction, and the quality and value of much of the 3pp market right now lies in the fact that people like Bradley Crouch, Morgan Boehringer, Mark Radley, and the many other 3pp designers and publishers have the freedom to craft products that interest them on a schedule that works for them. When I was running 3pp Thursdays, the "cost" to participants was typically enough copies of the featured product to comfortably accomodate the tables that would be using it. It's a wise investment, because if your product is good, people want more, and they buy it. The quality of your work stands on its own merit, not its participation in a guild managed by a conglomerate of potential competitors. All it takes is one of instance of "Sorry Joe, your 'Ultimate Minionmancy' isn't on the approved list this month because we already greenlighted Franks 'Advanced Minion Master's Guide'", and the system has failed, both in spirit and in purpose.


If you want to learn more of our plans, come check out Transparency Agenda Daily May 9, 2016 - Work interferes with this video. Enjoy!


Ssalarn wrote:
Interjection Games wrote:
Ssalarn wrote:

***

I think the biggest downside we ran into was that it was hard to regulate interactions between some products and/or teach players the finer points of new subsystems, so most of our initial groups were limited to selecting from a stable of pregenerated characters.

I'd definitely be interested in seeing something with more support and coherency put together on a larger scale. There's a ton of great 3pp material out there, and I know that one of the primary barriers to using it for a lot of people is actually finding a GM that understands and allows the materials.

That is indeed the biggest issue, and a fee such as Louis suggests won't magically make GMs proficient with the approved document. More freedom, not less. Less oversight, not more. Like a managed investment fund, the act of management actually makes it a worse idea. I've been talking with the fanbase for a day or so now, and I've got a system that can put organized play on the map with minimal effort. Next time I'm between products, I might just do it.

I'm inclined to agree, and I have other concerns about a "pay to participate" platform. That's very near to a "pay to win" strategy; after all, if a 3pp isn't paying to be part of this program, they're not going to be included in any related "approval" system, right? And if you don't approve the product, the implication, intended or not, is that that product is not worthy of approval. 3pps already suffer from this right now since they're excluded from PFS, perpetuating the idea that all 3pp products are "less good" in some way.

I would worry that a pay to participate "3pp PFS", if successful, would actually in practice become essentially a 3pp union- if you're a member of the union, you get our approval and we advertise your products, if not, your product will be viewed as inherently less valid. It feels very much at odds with the spirit of cooperation and community support that currently is such a big part of the 3pp...

He gets it, ladies and gentlemen! I posit that any true "umbrella" 3pp organized play that seeks to function in the real world must have as little regulation as possible, if only because regulation is expensive, the industry is vanishingly small, and 3pp exists only because it is the specialty games CHOICE that exists outside of the somewhat-inflexible first-party material market. We have a sliver of a sliver here, and to spend that money on bureaucracy just doesn't quite add up in my mind.

Besides, if you build an engine that subjects itself to the same market pressures as the first-party publisher, you've just gone and made yourself obsolete, and people like myself and Alexander Augunas (definitely that guy; dude knows how to fill in crevices) can walk all over your self-imposed lethargy. Not good. Well, for the guy who does it. For me, it's great. Another competitor becomes easier to ignore.

To Louis

To be frank, Louis, let's see you, or anyone else, keep up with the insane number of publishers out there. I do understand the core of your fee structure. It gets rid of a large number of publishers and makes your job easier in that regard, but it also keeps you fed while you go through the materials. That's shrewd and it makes sense on a certain level; however, it also makes your service significantly less valuable because it's built upon exclusion rather than inclusion, which, in my eyes, kills the value of your plot before it begins.

In a realm such as ours, it is a GM's call what to use and what not to use, not yours, and the most we should do is advertise and/or make suggestions.


Interjection Games wrote:

He gets it, ladies and gentlemen! I posit that any true "umbrella" 3pp organized play that seeks to function in the real world must have as little regulation as possible, if only because regulation is expensive, the industry is vanishingly small, and 3pp exists only because it is the specialty games CHOICE that exists outside of the somewhat-inflexible first-party material market. We have a sliver of a sliver here, and to spend that money on bureaucracy just doesn't quite add up in my mind.

Besides, if you build an engine that subjects itself to the same market pressures as the first-party publisher, you've just gone and made yourself obsolete, and people like myself and Alexander Augunas (definitely that guy; dude knows how to fill in crevices) can walk all over your self-imposed lethargy. Not good. Well, for the guy who does it. For me, it's great. Another competitor becomes easier to ignore.

To Louis

To be frank, Louis, let's see you, or anyone else, keep up with the insane number of publishers out there. I do understand the core of your fee structure. It gets rid of a large number of publishers and makes your job easier in that regard, but it also keeps you fed while you go through the materials. That's shrewd and it makes sense on a certain level; however, it also makes your service significantly less valuable because it's built upon exclusion rather than inclusion, which, in my eyes, kills the value of your plot before it begins.

In a realm such as ours, it is a GM's call what to use and what not to use, not yours, and the most we should do is advertise and/or make suggestions.

I will just say after 16 years of doing this specializing in PDF gaming releases I think I might a fair understanding of the gaming industry. I will just agree to disagree and if this doesn't do well, I will buy you a drink at Gen Con and if it does you can buy me one. Thanks again for your interest.


LMPjr007 wrote:
Would you be interested in seeing some type of Pathfinder Society thingamajig for 3PP / OGL? Yes? No? Maybe? Why?

What exactly are you asking? To run your own network campaign using the Pathfinder ruleset?

IF so, it should be pointed out that there is at least one third party network campaign running already. "Legends of the Shining Jewel" uses both Pathfinder and it's own homebrew ruleset, adhering to the Community Use Guidelines for using Pathfinder's Open Content.

Your sticking point is going to be negotiating the use of the third party content itself, and that's something you'll have to take up with provider of said content. I do not think that trying to include "all third party content" is going to be feasible. I would suggest that you decide what you want to use and approach the publishers of said content.

I would also suggest that the package of what you decide to use have some harmony within it.


Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
What exactly are you asking? To run your own network campaign using the Pathfinder ruleset?

Yes

Quote:
IF so, it should be pointed out that there is at least one third party network campaign running already. "Legends of the Shining Jewel" uses both Pathfinder and it's own homebrew ruleset, adhering to the Community Use Guidelines for using Pathfinder's Open Content.

Yes, I am familiar with them. They are well known here in Central Florida.

Quote:
Your sticking point is going to be negotiating the use of the third party content itself, and that's something you'll have to take up with provider of said content. I do not think that trying to include "all third party content" is going to be feasible. I would suggest that you decide what you want to use and approach the publishers of said content.

We answered this one in a post above.

Quote:
I would also suggest that the package of what you decide to use have some harmony within it.

Thanks for the input.


Ssalarn wrote:
We've already run something like this on a small local basis, we call it "Third-party Thursdays". We have had participation from Dreamscarred Press, Amora Games, Ascension Games, Legendary Games, Four Dollar Dungeons, Rogue Genius Games, and a few others. Currently, it's primarily a Legendary Games event because I had to step down from running it due to some medical and financial issues.

I remember reading your reports of those sessions. Is anyone still writing them up?

An audio of the whole thing would be nice, but the recording quality in a game store would probably be less than optimal.


LMPjr007 wrote:
Interjection Games wrote:

He gets it, ladies and gentlemen! I posit that any true "umbrella" 3pp organized play that seeks to function in the real world must have as little regulation as possible, if only because regulation is expensive, the industry is vanishingly small, and 3pp exists only because it is the specialty games CHOICE that exists outside of the somewhat-inflexible first-party material market. We have a sliver of a sliver here, and to spend that money on bureaucracy just doesn't quite add up in my mind.

Besides, if you build an engine that subjects itself to the same market pressures as the first-party publisher, you've just gone and made yourself obsolete, and people like myself and Alexander Augunas (definitely that guy; dude knows how to fill in crevices) can walk all over your self-imposed lethargy. Not good. Well, for the guy who does it. For me, it's great. Another competitor becomes easier to ignore.

To Louis

To be frank, Louis, let's see you, or anyone else, keep up with the insane number of publishers out there. I do understand the core of your fee structure. It gets rid of a large number of publishers and makes your job easier in that regard, but it also keeps you fed while you go through the materials. That's shrewd and it makes sense on a certain level; however, it also makes your service significantly less valuable because it's built upon exclusion rather than inclusion, which, in my eyes, kills the value of your plot before it begins.

In a realm such as ours, it is a GM's call what to use and what not to use, not yours, and the most we should do is advertise and/or make suggestions.

I will just say after 16 years of doing this specializing in PDF gaming releases I think I might a fair understanding of the gaming industry. I will just agree to disagree and if this doesn't do well, I will buy you a drink at Gen Con and if it does you can buy me one. Thanks again for your interest.

And I'll just say that strategies that put money first tend to damage the company doing it. Paizo took the crown for years thanks to Wizards acting that way.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

The Ragi wrote:
Ssalarn wrote:
We've already run something like this on a small local basis, we call it "Third-party Thursdays". We have had participation from Dreamscarred Press, Amora Games, Ascension Games, Legendary Games, Four Dollar Dungeons, Rogue Genius Games, and a few others. Currently, it's primarily a Legendary Games event because I had to step down from running it due to some medical and financial issues.

I remember reading your reports of those sessions. Is anyone still writing them up?

At the moment no, but it's definitely something I want to get going again soon.

Quote:


An audio of the whole thing would be nice, but the recording quality in a game store would probably be less than optimal.

I tried that the first night and we just couldn't get a good audio set-up in the open gaming area. They're actually renovating and moving the table top gaming area to a different level of the store, so maybe when everything gets on track again we can revisit that.

Also, my apologies to Marc Radle on two fronts: I both mangled his name, and want to make it clear that I was just throwing out the names of designers who often do the type of really unique work that I'm worried would get shunted aside if the suggested program were successful. My opinions should not be misconstrued as representing those of any of the designers I mentioned.

Interjection Games wrote:
And I'll just say that strategies that put money first tend to damage the company doing it. Paizo took the crown for years thanks to Wizards acting that way.

I know that there are horror stories here in the Seattle area about the dark days of the RPGA where the organization seemed more focused on strangling unsanctioned organized play events than on fostering growth in the community, but growing up in Alaska and spending most of my early adult years overseas in the military, this isn't something I'm personally familiar with. I do think many of Bradley's concerns are valid though, and I worry that whatever the intentions of the proposed organization, the possibility for it to become a vine strangling creative growth instead of a channel for fostering it is very real.

I'd much rather see a loosely organized forum where the various 3pps can come together and recommend each other's work, or where adventure writers can suggest alternate classes and characters from other companies they enjoy to use in their adventures, with a ready channel for getting low cost access to said adventures into GMs hands. Anything that transforms a 3pp organized play venue into an exclusive power block of publishers seems like a very bad idea for everyone.


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As someone who, at time of this writing, stands only on the consumer side of 3PP, I do find this general idea appealing. Before I get into anything, I should disclose that I have never participated in organized play of any kind (though PFS scenarios show up in my home groups to cover cancelled games), so this is definitely 'from the outside looking in'.

I'm less interested in this 'competitive/reporting/living campaign' focus, and would like to see something more like Sslarn's Third-Party Thursdays. Living in a college-town community of ~60,000 people, the knee-jerk reaction to non-Paizo content is the biggest obstacle I face in using the wide berth of amazing content at my fingertips, and it is difficult to overcome when I'm seen as one guy who's pushing to play something 'broken' or 'untested'. All of Endzeitgeist's & Malwing's most positive reviews can't scratch the surface of what presenting a ongoing community-growth focused option would do (though no offense to them and other reviewers: keep doing what you do!) Even among those who do use 3PP content, a lot of them say 'we use Path of War and/or Spheres of Power to fix martial/caster disparity', and then write off everything that isn't those two product lines. To break these barriers, here's what, in specifics, I think we'd need to see:

  • Organize scenarios into small bundles (called playsets here, for lack of a better term)
  • Give me ten-ish pregenerated characters per playset that range from close to home (such as Everyman Archetypes: Swashbuckler) to the unfamiliar (like Interjection Game's Truenamer) to the downright out there (like Gonzo 2's Battle Butler). Include rules required to run these characters, as well as a quick-reference guide for the GM.
  • Give me three to six linked-but-separate four-hour scenarios to run 4-6 of these characters through, a la PFS. Ensure the scenarios stand on their own, allowing players to get a great feel for what their characters do. They loved that class/archetype/race/feat chain? How convienent, there's three more scenarios built JUST for that character and his buddies!
  • Mix up the themes; one set, do a martial maneuvers focus. Next one, all 1st-level characters with unrestricted flight. Third one, show off that Pathfinder works for more than just fantasy with Anachronistic Adventures & other modern-y content. This approach can also be used to for alternate rule sets, such as Legendary's Mythic expansions or TPK Games Laying Waste, or to spotlight a campaign setting.

If you can work in a living campaign aspect? Great! Have competitive goals, or factions? Awesome. A standard system for what content works with what playset? Amazing. But I just don't see it getting off the ground unless you can easily and succinctly show existing Pathfinder players why they would bother spending money outside of the packed Paizo release schedule.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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White Unggoy wrote:
But I just don't see it getting off the ground unless you can easily and succinctly show existing Pathfinder players why they would bother spending money outside of the packed Paizo release schedule.

There was a lot of other great stuff in this post, but this is something I wanted to emphasize. Ignoring for a minute everything else I've said about the potential issues involved in trying to establish a 3pp PFS equivalent under the wrong organizational structure, I want to emphasize the above statement from White Unggoy. I think a plan of attack like-

LMPjr007 wrote:
***We are initially going to limit what is brought it by other 3PP campaign worlds to only race, feats and spells. From there we will branch out to other gaming rules and items.***

Completely misses the point, the spirit, and the glory of what 3pp content has to offer. Who cares about stuff I can get from Paizo? I say this as a designer whose first, and probably most iconic product is nothing but feats. But here we are, a couple years down the road, and Paizo's printed their own almost indistinguishable version of 1/4 of those feats themselves in Ultimate Intrigue. Who cares about Genius Guide to Bravery Feats? (Me, obviously- I worked really hard on that and I think there's still plenty of material there you can't get from Paizo, and everyone who likes playing Fighters should buy it immediately, and maybe gift a copy to your GM and closest friends.) I'm a 3pp designer and occasional reviewer myself, and I can't stand 3pp books of spells- there's already so many core spells that I barely know half of them as it is!

The stuff that stands out, the stuff that's memorable, the stuff that makes people want to use 3pp to begin with, is the stuff you can't get from Paizo. If I show up for a 3pp play event and there's no Ultimate Psionics, no Cerulean Seas, no Obsidian Apocalypse, no Mystical: Kingdom of Monsters, no Ultimate Ethermancer, no amazing aerial adventures with Companions of the Firmament, no chakra-binding, essence channeling Viziers, none of Southlands' heiroglyphic magic or the Time Thief and Time Warden's temporal manipulation, if there's nothing but some more of what I already have thousands of (feats and spells), then why didn't I just go to PFS?

Several years ago, when I didn't allow any 3pp materials as a GM myself because I had been convinced that they were all unbalanced and if any of it was any good a "real" publisher would have picked it up, it wasn't a book of feats that won me over, or a bunch of new spells for my sorcerer Anchuri (may whatever's left of him after that explosion know peace), it was Alluria Press' Cerulean Seas. I mean, holy crap! What a freaking book! Art that should make Paizo and WotC stand up and take notice, concise and in-depth (no pun intended) rules for running underwater campaigns that still manage to offer the GM room to tailor the adventure to his party's rules comfort level, classes that acted totally different than anything I'd ever seen before... Wow! That's the book that turned me into an avid fan of 3pp materials, and that opened the doors to the Razor Coast, opened my mind to Dreamscarred Cryptics who can unravel the patterns of existence, helped me visit an old friend from a new perspective when Thunderscape: The World of Aden went from being an old computer game to an amazing Pathfinder campaign setting, it's what inspired me to start taking those stacks and stacks of feats, classes, and adventures I'd been writing since I was 8 and start looking at them as the groundwork for a career in design or publishing instead of a lot of time spent on things most people never saw.

If you're going to introduce people to third party materials in an organized setting, don't trickle in snippets that half the characters may not care about and half the others will nitpick at, blow their minds by taking them somewhere they've never even imagined, or always imagined but never quite brought to life.

Just my thoughts anyways.


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Ssalarn wrote:
*Wall of poetry*

Bravo.


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Ssalarn wrote:
Several years ago, when I didn't allow any 3pp materials as a GM myself because I had been convinced that they were all unbalanced...

Exactly this. For myself, the cracks formed between the Tome of Horror books and what then was Super Genius Games's Loot-4-Less series; much more emphasis that second part though. It drove me nuts that you could have books and books and books chocked full of magical items, but NOTHING that a 3rd-level character could both afford and actually want. Then I stumbled across that line, it hit me like a truck of "DUH!", and I never looked back. :-)

Now, I think the other point to remember for Louis or anyone else who would take a crack at this is to be careful. If this 3PP Organized Play gets off the ground well enough to get noticed, then it becomes the face of the entire 3PP industry, and that is a TREMENDOUS responsibility. No one outside of the established community is going to care when XYZ Publisher says, "I had no part in this. I wasn't included/willfully excluded myself." If you sink the ship, you'll likely take everyone else with you.


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I agree with Ssalarn. A book like that one with 1000 spells has no interest from me. Meanwhile I'm absolutely in love with the Battle Lord class that exemplifies what people mean when they say "I want a martial with strong agency" while also having solid weaknesses instead of being a ball of stats.

One book is more of the same while another is something I wanted executed in a manner that I never even considered.


Man, Louis, I know you've been in the industry long enough to understand why this is a bad idea. What possessed you to even bring this up?

Fellow posters have mentioned the sense of elitism this would foster; what they haven't reminded people of is that the industry is broke. Even the people who aren't broke are broke - ask WotC or Paizo about their budgets sometime - and 3pps are more broke than usual. If something like this impacts sales, and it will, it'll be impacting sales margins that are already unforgiving and small.

And that actually ties into attempting to organize this as well. Who runs it? Who administrates? What happens when Product X conflicts or interacts strangely with Product Y? And when you do decide who handles all of that, a job that would be full-time and stressful, how do you pay them? Exposure? Sales that don't happen? Everyone's still broke. There isn't enough blood or money in the entire RPG publishing industry to make that happen.

There's always been an air of respect and cooperation in the 3pp PF community. To be frank, I find this suggestion a bit insulting if only because there's no way it doesn't end with that respect and cooperation being dissolved, and that's if you could fund it.

I'm all for promoting awareness of 3pp and dispelling the poor reputation it has in the industry, but this is the opposite of a way to do that. Should everyone sit down and discuss ideas on how to do it sometime? Sure. I'm sure many folks, like Ssalarn has, can present ideas that were successful in their communities and which can inspire further outreach efforts. But this seems like it just ends poorly.

Thank you for your time.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Slight derail: As someone that has sat in a room filled with 3PP, I can say that intent isn’t always impactful. It could be just my take away from the heady days of 3/3.5 OGL and the backlash from the Book of Erotic Fantasy.

On to the topic at hand: If the Campaign Confederacy takes off, it’ll because of the hard work of those involved, to include those 3PP that are including their content in this endeavor. It’ll end badly if ran badly. It’ll end badly if everything and the kitchen sink happen to be allowed at the get-go.

I’ve been an avid Organized Play person for a while and coordinate Pathfinder Society. I’ve tried Adventures League and have been trying to get a Cult of Chaos group going in my area. The bulk of my current OP experience comes as a PFS GM and Venture-Officer. (I’m a bit biased on OP.)

After watching the Transparency Agenda videos (both May 9 and May 10), I can sort of get a inkling of what’s being set up. What Louis is proposing here isn’t antagonism, it’s campaign traction.

If everything (3PP Product) was offered, the campaign would lose the value of being a living campaign. The campaign needs a standard to build from, GMs need a baseline from which to learn and run the further out from the “core” you get. I love the ARC and Southlands, DM and GCC, would love to have a pulpy Living Primeval Thule, but each option added needs to have an understanding on how it’s run before dropping it on a table.

An advisory role is needed in a Living Campaign, whether staff or editor, designer or coordinator. If these roles aren’t present, then what you have is a very 3PP intense campaign setting with several varying degrees of adventure.

As said, there’s a lot of 3PP content out there. It’s the same vein that a Pathfinder Society GM can’t be expected to have read the book for you when you bring a character from the latest campaign or player book. There needs to be a line, somewhere, that codifies what’s what in the Campaign Confederacy. Unfortunately, with so much great stuff, that’s one way to add that content, another is a content election, so to speak. Post a list of material that the campaign staff has reviewed, post the links to review that content and then the participants vote.

As a GM, I’m open to every product a player wishes to bring to my home campaign, provided I can read it over or they’ve demonstrated their understanding of the product. I like to a lot of 3PP stuff when I can see its value to the games I’m playing.

This idea that we’re covering here sounds like it’s a campaign to participate in not see as an exclusive club because someone decided not to pay to have their stuff reviewed. If OP is part of marketing, then getting your psionic system, feat subsystem, cool new base class, etc. should be something to consider. It’s not free, but neither is sending a pdf or physical book to a reviewer.

It’ll be interesting to see where this all could go.


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I like the idea of "seasons" where we vote on stuff like setting books and splatbooks to be allowed.

We can have a High Seas season for example and theme it with Cerulean Seas, Vehicle rules from Skyborn, stuff from Razor Coast, stuff from Freeport, and a variety of 3PP crunch books for Ocean and port adventures.

Sci Fi season with Psionics, Technology supplements, ect

It could be a good way to manage content.

Several 3PP that do small adventures could make the play materials and we could use some existing adventures if so allowed. It could make them a lot of money if everyone running actually buys said adventures.

I don't think the idea needs to be immediately derided and discarded, but it will need some serious planning in order to make the idea presentable to 3PPs.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

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RAdeMorris wrote:
Slight derail: As someone that has sat in a room filled with 3PP, I can say that intent isn’t always impactful. It could be just my take away from the heady days of 3/3.5 OGL and the backlash from the Book of Erotic Fantasy.

I don't believe that discussing the difference between intent and actual impact is at all off topic; I think it speaks to the heart of what many people are seeing as the larger issue.

Quote:


On to the topic at hand: If the Campaign Confederacy takes off, it’ll because of the hard work of those involved, to include those 3PP that are including their content in this endeavor. It’ll end badly if ran badly.

Simple truth.

Quote:


It’ll end badly if everything and the kitchen sink happen to be allowed at the get-go.

Hyperbolic supposition. There are ways to create an inclusive, rather than exclusive, play structure that promotes 3pp products and actually represents the 3pp community as a whole.

Louie's planned implementation of allowing only feats, races, and spells, intentionally or not, is biased towards the bulk of his own product line- feats, races, campaign elements, and classic mechanics. He is, essentially, saying that companies like Dreamscarred Press, Drop Dead Studios, Interjection Games, Radiant House, etc. need not apply. To note those limitations in the same post where he claims the product will "[...] be an amazing resource center for 3PPs", raises a lot of red flags for other 3pps.

Quote:


I’ve been an avid Organized Play person for a while and coordinate Pathfinder Society. I’ve tried Adventures League and have been trying to get a Cult of Chaos group going in my area. The bulk of my current OP experience comes as a PFS GM and Venture-Officer. (I’m a bit biased on OP.)

After watching the Transparency Agenda videos (both May 9 and May 10), I can sort of get a inkling of what’s being set up. What Louis is proposing here isn’t antagonism, it’s campaign traction.

If everything (3PP Product) was offered, the campaign would lose the value of being a living campaign. The campaign needs a standard to build from, GMs need a baseline from which to learn and run the further out from the “core” you get.

And that's fine and there is some truth there, but there are multiple ways to establish a stable baseline and GM-friendly controls that aren't "we're only allowing feats, races, and spells". This proposal gave the impression of being for the benefit of all 3pps, and then Louie indicated an implementation plan that would inherently exclude many of the most iconic 3pp companies and products. Are you one of the many people who kept Spheres of Power or Ultimate Psionics on the Paizo "Top 10 products from other publishers" list for months on end? This campaign world, despite how it's presented, isn't for you! Loved Amora Games' Liber Influxus Communis, a 5 star rated product assembled by a creative team of some of the most talented 3pp designers in the community? Sorry, no Battle Lords, Demiurges, Conduits, Synergists, or Mnemonics allowed!

Quote:


An advisory role is needed in a Living Campaign, whether staff or editor, designer or coordinator. If these roles aren’t present, then what you have is a very 3PP...

No one is saying there shouldn't be a system in place to coordinate, facilitate, and mediate an organized play system, but there are people who are saying that Louie's proposal is not the way to do it. "Only products from Endzeitgeist's top 10 list for the last 5 years" would be just as implementable and less biased, more able to accurately and fairly represent the 3pp community.

Or you take a file-sharing service like Dropbox, or even simply establish a list and acquisition procedures, and have participating 3pp companies populate it with products they would like featured. The administrator or several Venture-Captain type equivalents then select a set number of those products base on personal preference, and that becomes the "baseline" for their area. Each month, they select or are randomly assigned another product from the catalogue to implement into their gaming environment.

Or, you make the GMs the administrators. Offer them a premium subscription service to the above mentioned catalogue that delivers on the above schedule or something similar, and then tie monthly renewal of that subscription to a requirement for play logs.

Hell, turn it into a pyramid scheme where subscriptions start at a set price agreed upon by participating companies, and then that price changes on a sliding scale based on the number of subscription referrals created by the GM! At least that way if you're going to tax 3pp participants, you're doing it on actual revenue you're generating for them. Moreover, that way your community liaisons are also established customers incentivized to promote the use of 3pp products.

The point is, there are numerous ways to implement a 3pp organized play setting that actually represent the 3pp community as a whole rather than an arbitrarily selected subsection of it. There are inclusive, rather than exclusive, ways to plan and implement recurring events, ways to create a structure that promotes cooperation rather than creating "Louie Porter Jr. & Associates vs. Everyone Else". As I've mentioned before, I've met a lot of people who have absolutely horrid memories and opinions of the RPGA, and almost all of those objections start with the RPGA going from facilitating organized play to telling GMs what games they're allowed to play. Here in Bremerton, I got people who made faces like they'd just bitten into a rotten apple whenever they said "PFS" or "3pp" participate in weekly 3pp events, and not just participate, but have a huge amount of fun and bring in even more players, and I allowed damn near everything; I just did it on a controlled basis where I, as the GM, took player-focused products that I knew complimented each other, generated some PCs with those options, and let everyone know a week in advance which products would be paired with which adventure each week. Now the number of GMs that I'm personally aware of running regular games and using 3pp materials has quadrupled! And I didn't do it by trickling in feats and spells, right out the gate we had classes from Liber Influxus and Ultimate Psionics. The next week we added Owen KC Stephen's Adventurer's Handbook. A couple months in, I had two stodgy old gamers who "played with Gygax himself and know what this game is supposed to be" describing the antics of their pet monsters as they played a pair of Monster Trainers from Mystical: Kingdom of Monsters!

I apologize if any of this post came off as unnecessarily combative; I'm passionate about the subject matter and have a tendency to speak a bit too frankly on occasion.


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I think a different consideration to take in as a 3PP, doesn't mean you have to play with all 3PP.

If company X is working with company Y & Z to do their own Organized Play (OG), with select material, they are more than welcome to.

If company A B & C decide they want to open up their own OG and allow select content they can.

Just because its Pathfinder compatible doesn't mean it has to be all inclusive.

If a 3PP wants to play in X's sandbox, and X has an avenue for them, I support it.

If a 3PP wants to play in X's sandbox and X doesn't want that material in it because it doesn't work, that's okay to.

X is in charge of X's OG. So any 3PP doesn't have to include ALL 3PP. 3PP just means you are a third party OG. It's a pretty neat idea.

Just a different thought process or devil's advocate.

Sovereign Court

The work required to keep track of player changes is enormous. Perhaps if there was some cloud based mechanism that kept track of player progress, it'd be possible, but for now the only recourse is to create a new banner under which 3pp could come together to write PFS style adventures without any compunction about how to manage it. Anything else would be untenable.


I think a more bottom up implementation would be useful here, where local "captains" would create their own strict or loose method of character monitoring. If someone is traveling then they could have their captain scan and email the sheet to another captain.

Lets face it, the player base will be a lot smaller than PFS, so we should take advantage of that to make it more personal instead of systamized.

Community Manager

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Keep it civil, please.


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And LMPjr007 hasn't even shown what he's actually planning to do. xD

By this tiny crazy sample it seems developers are against it and consumers are interested.


Well, I just read through... all that. I like White Unggoy's idea of implementation.
While I'd love a less restrictive (preferably cutting restrictions entirely) version of PFS that also happened to allow Dreamscarred Press and a few other publishers, this thread has shown me that this may just be a pipe dream.
On the other hand, an elite group of 3PP coming together under one banner could just evolve into it's own system, a pathfinder adjacent, if you will. That wouldn't suck, I imagine...
I think I have largely just babbled. I apologize. Maybe there was a gem in all that.


The Ragi wrote:
And LMPjr007 hasn't even shown what he's actually planning to do. xD

Could you imagine what the response would be if i DID show then what we have done so far?

The Ragi wrote:
By this tiny crazy sample it seems developers are against it and consumers are interested.

And since the consumers are the ones who support we are looking for, I think I might have hit on something, interesting at the least.

Air0r wrote:
Well, I just read through... all that. I like White Unggoy's idea of implementation.

There are some ideas that are good while other are not possible due to other factors that we have not discussed or revealed. Time will tell.

Air0r wrote:
While I'd love a less restrictive (preferably cutting restrictions entirely) version of PFS that also happened to allow Dreamscarred Press and a few other publishers, this thread has shown me that this may just be a pipe dream.

There is a LOT of content that is 100% OGL content and can be used by anyone who follows the OGL. So if a 3PP has made in OGL there is a good chance we "may" use it.

Air0r wrote:
On the other hand, an elite group of 3PP coming together under one banner could just evolve into it's own system, a pathfinder adjacent, if you will. That wouldn't suck, I imagine...

I mean who would not like to see a Legendary Game / Frog God Games / Dreamscarred Press super adventure path for OGL Living Campaign?

Air0r wrote:
I think I have largely just babbled. I apologize. Maybe there was a gem in all that.

I thank you for taking the time out to comment. I do appreciate it.


richard develyn wrote:

Well, to my understanding, PFS is all about presenting a level playing field in order for Pathfinder, the RPG, to become more like a competition.

No it's about providing a venue for play and enabling people to create characters who can be taken from table to table. It's not about competition. In fact we do a lot of cooperation with the folks who run WOTC's Adventure League at the Double Exposure cons.


I think you should look to Pathfinder Society for ideas on how to implement this. Here are some starters.

1. Decide on what third party you're going to use.

2. If a player wants to use a 3pp mechanic/class/whatever, he should have proof of ownership... watermarked PDF page or some other proof of purchase. (such as a list of PDF downloads here at the Paizo store)

3. You'll need to be very top down on this. You need an overall head of the campaign, a group of people underneath, and campaign coordinators to run events at conventions or gamedays.

4. You'll want some way for players to register characters. This is optional as Living City ran along just fine without it for a long time.

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