Another Kal rant - forgotten rulesets


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


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So this is the one thing that annoyed me most about 3.5 in the half-campaign or so I played of it. All the disparate mechanics created for one or two splatbooks and then never seen again. It's just awkward, because they end up not supported by other content, feeling redundant, and/or just leaving the GM with a completely different extra ruleset or two per character to keep track of.

I really liked that Pathfinder has less of that clutter. I'm just starting wonder how much it's just less because Paizo hasn't had as much time to print books yet. I very much appreciate the times they have revisited old concepts, like the meditation feats in Blood of the Beast and the recent Samurai archetype and Deific Obedience being expanded on. I'd like to see this keep happening, and I'm trying to hope it will and be optimistic.

But it's still weird having damnation feats, achievement feats, mount traits, family traits, mythic rules, performance combat, and so on, all seemingly doomed to gradual obscurity or obsolescence. Like the way the list of ninja tricks pales in comparison to the list of rogue talents. Ninjas just don't get nearly the same frequency of retroactive attention, to the extent that if a ninja PC was ever added to one of my campaigns, I would want to go through all the rogue talents from books without ninja tricks listed since the release of ninja as an alternate class, and decide if any should be on both lists. Or if I ever wanted to allow occult classes and mythic tiers or variant multiclassing to come into play in the same game. Even just trying to figure out if and/or how to combine older archetypes with Unchained classes.

Seriously, if there is one thing I would love as a GM and player both, it would be the occasional book revisiting these old concepts, adding new material where needed and offering some official-seal-of-approval advice on how to integrate other stuff, and possibly errataing some things if necessary to bring them up to date.

Anyway, discussion of how people work out including all the different things together without having to rewrite the game too much would be nice. I like ideas, as I'd like to hope most people do.


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Words of Power is another one that I hear people talk about.

Although it is worth noting that there have been third party efforts to expand on many of these orphan systems.


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Yeah, Paizo has several forgotten or "one and done" rulesets. Words of Power is one that Scythia mentioned, along with all of the rulesets from Ultimate Combat and one from Ultimate Magic, like armor as DR, called shots, piecemeal armor, and magic duels.

Everything from Pathfinder Unchained also comes to mind.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I have to admit that I don't get the mindset behind your rant. Is it because you like those concept and would have them seen used and supported in later products? Or is it rather their existence that bothers you, because Paizo could have spent their time better supporting their actual product instead of inventing new rules options?

As I see it, rule books are about options. Most of the time that might mean adding on the already existing tome of content (more feats, more spells, more archetypes, and so on). But sometimes it means actually new rule subsytems. And I can see several reasons why those are useful even if they aren't used in future Paizo products.

First, it gives the customer alternatives to existing systems. Instead of using higher point-buys and all possible rule tricks to let you players feel special with their characters, you can use the mythic system to achieve the same. You wanna integrate the player's background in the story, maybe even integrate both rules-wise? Story feats or achievement feats might be the way to go. Tired of standard Vancian magic? Well try words of power, if you're so inclined.

Second, it let's the Publisher experiment with the rules without publishing a new edition of the game. They can publish optional rulesets and see if they get traction with the customers. If they do, they probably find entrance in the next edition as a new standard.

Third it might let the designers improve on old standards without printing a new edition of the system (Pathfinder Unchained comes to mind with its Unchained classes, the ninja would be another example of a Rogue improved).

Forth, it might just be that a special subset of rules fits the designers's vision for a certain product (let's say the kingdom building rules for the Kingmaker AP). Those subsets might not even be intended to be often used in future products, because quite frankly, that would become boring relatively fast. Still, their use can be illustrated within one or several products and if the customer likes it, he can make those rules their own and use them in their own adventures, campaigns or settings.

There is one thing one has to be aware though. As a publisher, Paizo (or formerly TSR/WotC) has to be aware that not every customer buys every product. You can't simply replace the Rogue by the Unchained Rogue because not everyone has the book or even likes the changes made. Achievement feats might not be for everyone so to force it onto the players in every AP might not be the best way to go. And so on. So most of the time, they'll use a certain canon of rules (mainly the Core rules) because that's what they need to assume every group has access to. Everything else is optional, so it's up to the group to include it or not. You don't need Paizo to do that for you and in my opinion, it would seriously stifle the creativity of the designers if they had to refrain from inventing new rules subsystems just for fear that it might not be used in the future.


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WormysQueue wrote:

I have to admit that I don't get the mindset behind your rant. Is it because you like those concept and would have them seen used and supported in later products? Or is it rather their existence that bothers you, because Paizo could have spent their time better supporting their actual product instead of inventing new rules options?

As I see it, rule books are about options. Most of the time that might mean adding on the already existing tome of content (more feats, more spells, more archetypes, and so on). But sometimes it means actually new rule subsytems. And I can see several reasons why those are useful even if they aren't used in future Paizo products.

First, it gives the customer alternatives to existing systems. Instead of using higher point-buys and all possible rule tricks to let you players feel special with their characters, you can use the mythic system to achieve the same. You wanna integrate the player's background in the story, maybe even integrate both rules-wise? Story feats or achievement feats might be the way to go. Tired of standard Vancian magic? Well try words of power, if you're so inclined.

Second, it let's the Publisher experiment with the rules without publishing a new edition of the game. They can publish optional rulesets and see if they get traction with the customers. If they do, they probably find entrance in the next edition as a new standard.

Third it might let the designers improve on old standards without printing a new edition of the system (Pathfinder Unchained comes to mind with its Unchained classes, the ninja would be another example of a Rogue improved).

Forth, it might just be that a special subset of rules fits the designers's vision for a certain product (let's say the kingdom building rules for the Kingmaker AP). Those subsets might not even be intended to be often used in future products, because quite frankly, that would become boring relatively fast. Still, their use can be illustrated within one or several products and if the customer likes it,...

I like that these mechanics exist. I like that they remain optional. What I'd like to see is a still-optional level of building on them, enough that they remain valid and accessible options.

I don't want Unchained Rogue to replace original Rogue, or Ninja to not exist. I want new rogue archetypes to be written as, say, "this ability replaces the rogue talent gained at 6th level, or the rogue's edge gained at 5th level for Unchained Rogue", and new rogue talents that specifically mention also being available as ninja tricks. I want the Mythic system to continue to exist as an optional ruleset, and be able to run games where mythic Kineticists and Vigilantes get access to the same kind of customization and support as mythic Oracles and Bloodragers, as could be accomplished by printing a few mythic abilities tailored toward the more recent classes, or even another mythic path. I want new martial feats to be usable with Combat Stamina, same as old martial feats.

It's not less options vs more options. It's whether those options remain up to date enough to integrate into the game as originally intended.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I'm not sure they haven't been adding options for those less mainstream systems. I know Mythic gets creatures in the Bestiaries as they are released. I'm not sure what else needs published. The Ninja is the closest valid example I can think of.

The Exchange

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Kaladin_Stormblessed wrote:
It's not less options vs more options. It's whether those options remain up to date enough to integrate into the game as originally intended.

Ah, ok. I would have to guess that most of this kind of support might be done via 3PPs (like the Mythic options by Legendary Games, or the additional Unchained options produced by Everyman Gaming). I know that 3PPs aren't for everyone, though I think that there are quite some out there producing awesome stuff, so as a big fan of the OGL, that's where I'm looking for expansions of subsystems established by Paizo.

I guess it might be difficult for Paizo to do it all by themselves, because additional support for existing subsystems means catering to a subset of the Paizo audience and takes time and other ressources away from creating new stuff.

TriOmegaZero wrote:
I'm not sure they haven't been adding options for those less mainstream systems. I know Mythic gets creatures in the Bestiaries as they are released. I'm not sure what else needs published.

Just as an example: The Mythic rules were published before the ACG, PU, OA and UI. Meaning that there might be a need for thematically fitting Mythic Paths for all those classes contained in those books, as well as mythic feats, mythic spells and so on. Because the existing stuff was necessarily written without later options already in mind. As said; I'd go to 3PPs for this kind of stuff but I agree that it would be nice if from time to time a nod would be given to stuff like this in newer Paizo products as well.

It gets more and more impossible to do so, however. If you're looking at Occult Adventures, Paizo couldn't even squeeze some archetypes in for some of the core classes, and I don't think for a moment that this was due to lack of creativity. Adding love for already established subsystems would certainly mean that they had to cut other things. I do not believe that this would help improveing things, but I also have no solution how to do it if not via 3PPs.

Beauty of the OGL is that with PFRPG, 3PPs are explicitely allowed to tackle such stuff.

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