Why I think the current FAQ / Errata cycle is bad for the health of the game and how to fix it.


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The recent Ultimate equipment errata made me sad. A bunch of (admittedly strong) items were basically erased. It feels like this is a trend in Paizo erratas and FAQs. Now you might say: "just change it in your home game!" But I play using the PFSRD, and it's impossible to find old printings of items. If I did not already know about the Jingasa (for example) before today, I would never be able to un-patch it.

I don't think Paizo devs are bad at their job, so this made me think about why erratas always feel like this. I believe this is because Paizo is limited to only releasing errata when they reprint the book, and that is an expensive proposition. If an item is broken, they only have one chance to fix it, and its no secret that it is better to have an item that no one uses rather than something that is seen as abusive.

Pathfinder is after all not a video game where the devs can afford to patch every weekend.

My solution is this: Why not playtest the changes? Paizo already has a large number of players in PFS that are used to checking the available resources page when building characters. I am thinking that paizo could release a sort of Paizo Patch Notes, say every 6 months, where they would subtly tweak items and class abilities that are not working as intended. Over those 6 months, players and GMs that play with the patched features could write feedback on how the change feels in actual play. Paizo could even encourage feedback with PFS reroll-boons :)

Once a change has been play-tested for a few patch cycles, it could be locked in for errata for the next printing of the book. This way, no one would be surprised and the community would be more involved in how the game we love is growing and changing.

I think that this sort of iterative updating is expected by people today who are used to continuous balance changes from games like League of Legends or Diablo.

Discuss.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

I'm assuming you can't afford the actual books - otherwise, I'd recommend buying first printings. ^_^


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I've suggested play testing the nerfs before too. Sadly, we are but a few voices and, with Occult being an exception, it seems some playtest material is largely ignored. :(

Sovereign Court

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As someone who used to use a lot of house rules in his home game, I'm not sure this is the right way to go about it. A major difference between tabletop games and computer games is that in a computer game, most of the effort of processing a rules tweak falls to the computer. The player just notices their effects in the interface (and maybe reads patch notes to alter his tactics). But in a tabletop game, all the players need to re-learn all the changed rules. This leads to a kind of mental fatigue that causes people to basically check out.

So while I agree that the volume and heftiness of the changes were bad, I think your proposed solution is hard to implement.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

As for playtesting, I can't search on my tablet, but I'm pretty sure it's been suggested before, and been deemed unfeasible due to the potential for confusion and abuse. That's looking at PFS specifically, of course.

The other issue is that collecting playtesting data is a big time sink for the PDT, who would have to turn their attention away from their other work - work which is directly tied to new products, and thereby to profits. It's easier for them to apply their own expertise and then allow individual GMs to house rule to their liking.

Just my read of the situation, of course. ^_^


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Well you could buy an actual book, or PDF. Rulebook PDFs are cheap. If you rely exclusively on the PFSRD (which isn't even Paizo's site!), Paizo don't own you anything. If you don't want to pay, you can't expect to be allowed to make demands.


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Knight Magenta wrote:

The recent Ultimate equipment errata made me sad. A bunch of (admittedly strong) items were basically erased. It feels like this is a trend in Paizo erratas and FAQs. Now you might say: "just change it in your home game!" But I play using the PFSRD, and it's impossible to find old printings of items. If I did not already know about the Jingasa (for example) before today, I would never be able to un-patch it.

I don't think Paizo devs are bad at their job, so this made me think about why erratas always feel like this. I believe this is because Paizo is limited to only releasing errata when they reprint the book, and that is an expensive proposition. If an item is broken, they only have one chance to fix it, and its no secret that it is better to have an item that no one uses rather than something that is seen as abusive.

Pathfinder is after all not a video game where the devs can afford to patch every weekend.

My solution is this: Why not playtest the changes? Paizo already has a large number of players in PFS that are used to checking the available resources page when building characters. I am thinking that paizo could release a sort of Paizo Patch Notes, say every 6 months, where they would subtly tweak items and class abilities that are not working as intended. Over those 6 months, players and GMs that play with the patched features could write feedback on how the change feels in actual play. Paizo could even encourage feedback with PFS reroll-boons :)

Once a change has been play-tested for a few patch cycles, it could be locked in for errata for the next printing of the book. This way, no one would be surprised and the community would be more involved in how the game we love is growing and changing.

I think that this sort of iterative updating is expected by people today who are used to continuous balance changes from games like League of Legends or Diablo.

Discuss.

Playtesting is hands-on for the Paizo staffed and they are always backed up as is.For the most part the staff does well, but I do agree there were a few botches IMO with this current errata.

I also don't want PFS to determine the rules for my homegame. They are not the gold standard and many of the rules there exist to give everyone the same experience.

Silver Crusade

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I really feel the problem comes down to one of perception (the skill perception is even an example!). Things in the game that are viewed as overpowered are usually only just outside the first standard deviation for power, largely because talented and dedicated developers designed them start with. These things don't just appear from a 6-year-old's imagination; they are conceptualized and refined before even the first printing. The issue then, is that there is an overreaction to how outside the norm they are, and the nerf is likewise too extreme.

My suggestion is to make the changes milder. Even if something remains one of the better options after its change, even a minor decrease in usefulness will bring it back in line with other established (and non-nerfed) options, like power attack, wizards, and big-6 items. I really believe the shock and rage over nerfs is mostly due to a large swing in power from one of the best options to near uselessness. The crane wing change specifically comes to mind.


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Zaister wrote:
Well you could buy an actual book, or PDF. Rulebook PDFs are cheap. If you rely exclusively on the PFSRD (which isn't even Paizo's site!), Paizo don't own you anything. If you don't want to pay, you can't expect to be allowed to make demands.

Oh I buy the PDFs. I bought the humble bundle and have all of the core PDFs. Using PDFs to build characters is a miserable experience. The PFSRD is just much nicer.


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

I don't see what the problem is if you have the PDFs or books. I don't even download the errata. For anything. :-)


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Honestly I've always felt they should have a rules breaking and development pre-release.

There are people on this forum who will go through the printed text of every single page of a book, usually within the first 2 weeks, pointing out errors.

There are think tanks on the boards which will find exploits in the rules and abiguities which later need to be FAQ'd.

Save money on editors, save developer time, save heartache, simply have a PDF beta for the editor fans, have a text alpha for the think tanks, and have an exclusive pre-alpha for the loyal posters to aid in the developmental state.

Pay attention to your posters, use the resources you have available to you, and produce a better product. This was my same suggestion about the Warhammer rules, the company decided they made miniatures, not rules, tried to push up miniature sales and turned the game into a cluster------, and fantasy followed suit, now there are 3 valid rule systems for the fantasy game and a lot of people have left. Don't follow the same path, focus on using your resources and focus on your gamers, then you can build a very solid product and avoid confusion, ambiguities, and developmental difficulties. Profits will take care of themselves.


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Zaister wrote:
If you rely exclusively on the PFSRD (which isn't even Paizo's site!)

It kind of is...


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Ascalaphus wrote:

As someone who used to use a lot of house rules in his home game, I'm not sure this is the right way to go about it. A major difference between tabletop games and computer games is that in a computer game, most of the effort of processing a rules tweak falls to the computer. The player just notices their effects in the interface (and maybe reads patch notes to alter his tactics). But in a tabletop game, all the players need to re-learn all the changed rules. This leads to a kind of mental fatigue that causes people to basically check out.

So while I agree that the volume and heftiness of the changes were bad, I think your proposed solution is hard to implement.

With regard to mental fatigue: That's why I said to make changes only every 6 months. Even if you play PFS only once a month, having to update your stats and items once every 2 levels does not seem overly onerous.

Kalindlara wrote:
The other issue is that collecting playtesting data is a big time sink for the PDT, who would have to turn their attention away from their other work - work which is directly tied to new products, and thereby to profits. It's easier for them to apply their own expertise and then allow individual GMs to house rule to their liking.

Time sink it might be, but I feel that what they are doing now is not working well. Leaving fixes to individual GMs does not quite work, as every house-rule requires some mental effort from each group. I'd rather spend that effort bringing in third party classes instead of keeping track of tiny balance tweaks. Also, I don't have the ability to playtest items on anywhere near the scale of Paizo.

Finally, while printing new books provides profits directly, a happy community is also extremely valuable. The more the community is invested in your products, the more they will evangelize to other people and the more likely they are to actually buy the new books.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Randarak wrote:
Zaister wrote:
If you rely exclusively on the PFSRD (which isn't even Paizo's site!)
It kind of is...

That's the PRD. He's talking about d20PFSRD.


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Thorough play testing is expensive.


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Randarak wrote:
Zaister wrote:
If you rely exclusively on the PFSRD (which isn't even Paizo's site!)
It kind of is...

That's the PRD.

This is the PFSRD:

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/

Edit:

Argh. Ninja'd.

Shadow Lodge

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Wopah! :)


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/ranton
So, when will companies stop being villainized for caring about their own profits? Or stop being obligated to listen to people who don't own any of their products? Its getting really annoying watching all these people talk about "the evil C-man" out to *gasp* make money. What a villainous bunch of scoundrels they are! /rantoff

To actually answer the question. I think playtesting every item might be too expensive for what its worth.


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Maybe if they didn't only issue errata when they run out of the books with "errors" and ruin options by not even telling us ahead of time, people wouldn't have lost faith in paizo and stopped buying their products.


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Zaister wrote:
Well you could buy an actual book, or PDF. Rulebook PDFs are cheap. If you rely exclusively on the PFSRD (which isn't even Paizo's site!), Paizo don't own you anything. If you don't want to pay, you can't expect to be allowed to make demands.

I have a rather large number of Pathfinder PDFs. They're actually really miserable to search through. Like it or hate it, the PFSRD is an amazingly good resource based on the way they lay out the information. It's so much quicker and easier to use than digging through the PDFs. Also - having the FAQ rule changes based on product instead of in a single list really makes them VERY difficult to navigate.

That said, I love the artwork and fluff and stuff in the PDFs so they're well worth the purchase price.


What items got changed that you were concerned about?


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Strange, I find it perfectly easy to search through my PDF collection. My PDF viewer keeps a full text index of all the PDFs and I just need to enter what I'm looking for, and I get a list of all the PDFs containing the sear term. Then I click on a book and get a list of all the search term's occurrences. Doesn't get much better.

I find the PFSRD useless for my purposes, though, especially since they (have to) manipulate names and do not always apply all the rules or corrections correctly.


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The Guy With A Face wrote:

/ranton

So, when will companies stop being villainized for caring about their own profits? Or stop being obligated to listen to people who don't own any of their products? Its getting really annoying watching all these people talk about "the evil C-man" out to *gasp* make money. What a villainous bunch they are. /rantoff

"I use the PFSRD" does not mean "I don't have any Paizo products". The PFSRD is a huge time saver because the way it lays out information is VASTLY superior to the way Paizo's PDFs are laid out.


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TriOmegaZero wrote:
Randarak wrote:
Zaister wrote:
If you rely exclusively on the PFSRD (which isn't even Paizo's site!)
It kind of is...
That's the PRD. He's talking about d20PFSRD.

Is there really much of a difference, content-wise?


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I wasn't saying that. I realize the two are not mutually exclusive. My rant, being a rant, was not pointed directly at anything in this thread, but at stuff in general. I completely agree that the pfsrd is easier. Thank for helping me clarify my post.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Randarak wrote:
Is there really much of a difference, content-wise?

There's a difference ownership-wise.


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Zaister wrote:

Strange, I find it perfectly easy to search through my PDF collection. My PDF viewer keeps a full text index of all the PDFs and I just need to enter what I'm looking for, and I get a list of all the PDFs containing the sear term. Then I click on a book and get a list of all the search term's occurrences. Doesn't get much better.

I find the PFSRD useless for my purposes, though, especially since they (have to) manipulate names and do not always apply all the rules or corrections correctly.

If you're looking for a specific keyword, sure that's fine. I like being able to use the google search, though, that is in the PFSRD. That's much easier for me than trying an exact text search for when I forget the exact spelling of things.

Also, I like having the compiled lists. It's nice to have a single spot where you can compile everything and then it has the link to where it is in the books if you want it.

As far as "...do not always apply all the rules or corrections correctly" well, the rules forums show that there's plenty of differing opinions on how to apply them correctly.


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Randarak wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Randarak wrote:
Zaister wrote:
If you rely exclusively on the PFSRD (which isn't even Paizo's site!)
It kind of is...
That's the PRD. He's talking about d20PFSRD.
Is there really much of a difference, content-wise?

Yes. Quite a bit. The Paizo SRD basically just takes the open-content items from their books and copy-pastes them into a website. The PFSRD tries to compile the rules all together in order to make things easier for the reader. Some people really like this (for example, me) because it makes it much easier to browse through and find things because they're all in one place. Some people really hate this because they do change wording and make rules interpretations when compiling rules that some don't agree with.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Card Game, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Randarak wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Randarak wrote:
Zaister wrote:
If you rely exclusively on the PFSRD (which isn't even Paizo's site!)
It kind of is...
That's the PRD. He's talking about d20PFSRD.
Is there really much of a difference, content-wise?

PFSRD contains much more content, eg from the Player Companion line and from 3pp. PRD is just the basic RPG line.


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If I'm looking something up and I don't know what book it's in, it's way faster to look it up online.

When I was building a PFS archer bard, I used the d20PFSRD to look at all the bard archetypes. The one I liked the best wasn't in a book I owned, so I bought it.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

In the not too distant past, I was chatting with a seasoned guy who told me that the only reason he continues to play Pathfinder is because of the people at a particular venue. I'm starting to come around to that position, as well. As a guy who has opened his wallet for a pile of different books, these errata releases are brutal to my desire to continue playing the game (excluding free stuff, scenarios, and APs, I counted 55 in my downloads for just PDFs. I have a bunch of hard/soft covers, as well).

I know that playtesting is hard work. It's time consuming, which translates to expensive, and margins aren't amazing in the publishing world. I've said this many times before in Paizo's defense. That being said, however, the way in which errata have come down the pipe over the last few years (I'm looking at you, ACG and ARG errata!) has been extremely disheartening. Frankly, the changes are ham-handed. I get that you don't have the luxury of incremental adjustments to the system, but many of these changes go from "this is a powerful option" to "why did this get printed except to put on NPCs?" I mean, in all honesty, a number of the Ultimate Equipment errata make the item no longer worth the word count.

I play Pathfinder for two reasons: PFS and the people I've met through PFS. I have 68 tables of credit as a GM and a fairly significant investment in Paizo product, including my first printing CRB. I've developed a tabletop RPG in the past. I've played and owned numerous other systems. I've tried to believe in you the whole way, but I'm getting tired of the way y'all do business.

So much of what's printed anymore feels like filler for a specific NPC that a freelancer had in mind. I think it's time to step back from the rigorous content schedule you have in the hardcover line and have the difficult discussion of whether Pathfinder is actually progressing as a system. In my opinion, it's time to ditch the OGL framework, start a new IP, and manage the transition by continuing to provide adventure content (scenarios, APs, modules, etc.) and possibly softcover content (Player Companions, etc.) until the new IP hits its stride. The worst part of Pathfinder is the part you can't sufficiently errata without breaking more things, after all: the CRB.

With all that said, I think it's time to stop the errata process for Pathfinder, save for items that are mechanically non-functional. Let house rules handle legality of problem items. For PFS, most of the items that have been changed are effectively just bans in the first place. Home GMs can ban those options, as well.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
MeanMutton wrote:
As far as "...do not always apply all the rules or corrections correctly" well, the rules forums show that there's plenty of differing opinions on how to apply them correctly.

No there's not. The errata documents usually say things like "replace xxx by yyy", or "strike this and that sentence", and so on. There is no room for discussion there.


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Serisan wrote:

In the not too distant past, I was chatting with a seasoned guy who told me that the only reason he continues to play Pathfinder is because of the people at a particular venue. I'm starting to come around to that position, as well. As a guy who has opened his wallet for a pile of different books, these errata releases are brutal to my desire to continue playing the game (excluding free stuff, scenarios, and APs, I counted 55 in my downloads for just PDFs. I have a bunch of hard/soft covers, as well).

I know that playtesting is hard work. It's time consuming, which translates to expensive, and margins aren't amazing in the publishing world. I've said this many times before in Paizo's defense. That being said, however, the way in which errata have come down the pipe over the last few years (I'm looking at you, ACG and ARG errata!) has been extremely disheartening. Frankly, the changes are ham-handed. I get that you don't have the luxury of incremental adjustments to the system, but many of these changes go from "this is a powerful option" to "why did this get printed except to put on NPCs?" I mean, in all honesty, a number of the Ultimate Equipment errata make the item no longer worth the word count.

I play Pathfinder for two reasons: PFS and the people I've met through PFS. I have 68 tables of credit as a GM and a fairly significant investment in Paizo product, including my first printing CRB. I've developed a tabletop RPG in the past. I've played and owned numerous other systems. I've tried to believe in you the whole way, but I'm getting tired of the way y'all do business.

So much of what's printed anymore feels like filler for a specific NPC that a freelancer had in mind. I think it's time to step back from the rigorous content schedule you have in the hardcover line and have the difficult discussion of whether Pathfinder is actually progressing as a system. In my opinion, it's time to ditch the OGL framework, start a new IP, and manage the transition by continuing to provide...

I'm of the exact opposite stance. I love the OGL compatibility, and I love the open content. I also love the deal made to allow d20PFSRD to continue to post content, even if it isn't OGL. I've never had too many issues with rules debates or inconsistencies through it, nor has the nomenclature gotten to me either.

I think Pathfinder 2.0 is a bad idea considering all the content that exists for this edition, I can see this one going for a good long while longer.


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The biggest problem with the way Paizo does errata, is that it is tied to the printing cycle - so if an errata is released, and it has unintended negative consequences, it won't be erratta'd again until all the messed up books are purchased. The only way to fix this process is to make the digital version the 'primary' version of the content. This would allow changes and fixes to be made as they are identified and tested, and rechanged when needed, and the next print order simply uses the most recent content version at the time the print order is placed.

But they won't do that because there is a VERY vocal minority that is against anything digital touching their gaming.


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master_marshmallow wrote:

I'm of the exact opposite stance. I love the OGL compatibility, and I love the open content. I also love the deal made to allow d20PFSRD to continue to post content, even if it isn't OGL. I've never had too many issues with rules debates or inconsistencies through it, nor has the nomenclature gotten to me either.

I think Pathfinder 2.0 is a bad idea considering all the content that exists for this edition, I can see this one going for a good long while longer.

The OGL locks Paizo into dated RPG design. I don't have a problem with Pathfinder 2.0 being a separate OGL property itself, but I think that designing 2.0 around 3.5 backwards compatibility is a terrible idea.

That said, I think there's plenty of room to explore the world of Golarion within the framework of EITHER the existing system OR a new system, which is why I think that having adventure content continue in the existing system is a great idea. Additionally, because much of the softcover line is handled by freelancer submissions and its regularity provides steady income to Paizo, I think that's a great thing to continue for the time being, as well.

As for the design and developer teams, however, I think their efforts should be put towards developing the next gen RPG solution instead of additional hardcovers.

Sovereign Court

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Having a 2.0 Pathfinder is interesting to think about from a business perspective.

Pros

1. Get nearly all customers to buy the new core rulebook. (which can be printed in larger quantities and therefore get a better margin than supplements)

2. Most everyone buys at least a couple of supplements for a system they like.

3. Avoid leaking players who might be going to 5e or other newer systems.

4. Gain new players who like your new system more than the old.

Cons

1. People keep playing your old system and never buy into the new one.

2. People dislike the new system and start playing 5e or other systems.

3. Game stores get frustrated as there is no way that they can liquidate all of the stock of your old system without having a major sale. (Can feed into #1 as people stock up on the cheap.)

The #1 con was bolded for emphasis. That's the biggest one. It's basically what happened when 4e was released and is where Pathfinder came from.

(I'm sure that other people can think of more pros & cons, but I think those are the major ones.)

The odd thing about it is, from a business perspective, it's a huge risk since this one core product (Pathfinder) is basically their whole business model. If it busts, their company is over, or at the very least will have to downsize a lot.

So they might only come out with Pathfinder 2.0 as a last ditch effort to save the company if Pathfinder stops selling as well. Which, interestingly enough, is the time when Pathfinder 2.0 has the least chance of doing well because (if Pathfinder isn't doing well) it means that they don't have as much goodwill in the market to see them through the adoption phase of 2.0.


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Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Excellent stuff

Exactly.

Grand Lodge

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If you don't see the errata as a Pathfinder 2.0 or 2.12354, I don't know what to tell you.


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Zaister wrote:

Strange, I find it perfectly easy to search through my PDF collection. My PDF viewer keeps a full text index of all the PDFs and I just need to enter what I'm looking for, and I get a list of all the PDFs containing the sear term. Then I click on a book and get a list of all the search term's occurrences. Doesn't get much better.

I find the PFSRD useless for my purposes, though, especially since they (have to) manipulate names and do not always apply all the rules or corrections correctly.

Well to be honest I use the Archive of Nethys whenever I can. Its better laid out. Though I go to PFSRD for 3rd party stuff, or when the archive has not updated.


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Wow, now we're getting from half a dozen overpowered items that were nerfed to abandoning the OGL and throwing all the established IP out of the window? This is getting sillier by the minute here.


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I'm not sure how much more "different edition with different rules" you can get outside of what they started with Unchained.

I've been using background skills, the random background generator, traits & drawbacks, the revised action economy, and expanded skill uses pretty much since the releases of the material.

It really isn't like playing 3.5 at all anymore, but more like it's own edition that could also be compatible with 3.5 stuff.

The errata problem has nothing to do with a hypothetical second Paizo RPG system, and more to do with the prevalence of organized play having more influence over products than the vocals of the fan base.

PFS is the devil.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Knight Magenta wrote:
Well to be honest I use the Archive of Nethys whenever I can. Its better laid out. Though I go to PFSRD for 3rd party stuff, or when the archive has not updated.

I just use my books/PDFs, and I can find everything I need to look for easily. However, I do not create PCs all the time, as I am mostly a GM, and I do not need comparison tables and whatnot for optimizing.


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Zaister wrote:
Wow, now we're getting from half a dozen overpowered items that were nerfed to abandoning the OGL and throwing all the established IP out of the window? This is getting sillier by the minute here.

Ya... the OGL is light and life. I don't even look at RPG systems that ask me to lay out money before I can look at their rules document. That's probably the fundamental reason I will never play 5e.

Really, all I want is for Paizo to be more open about why things are changing and to detach the patch cycle from the publishing cycle.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Zaister wrote:
Wow, now we're getting from half a dozen overpowered items that were nerfed to abandoning the OGL and throwing all the established IP out of the window?.

None of that is required for a new edition, unless your definition of the word is different than mine.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
master_marshmallow wrote:

The errata problem has nothing to do with a hypothetical second Paizo RPG system, and more to do with the prevalence of organized play having more influence over products than the vocals of the fan base.

PFS is the devil.

Well the items were unbalanced in home play as well.

Personally, I don't care much for PFS gaming, but mostly because there's simple none available around here. I still buy and read the scenarios. But PFS is certainly not the devil, it is a necessity of business, of creating a need for Paizo's product. PFS is an important mechanism of PR.

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