PFS Changes i'd like to see


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Scarab Sages 5/5

Back on topic:

There are some small changes that could be made at the development level, that I thought we were going to get, but I haven't seen yet? (I Haven't done much Season 9, so maybe its started already).

But Scenario Tags. Are those going to happen at some point?

Silver Crusade 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

If we ever find the technology, some way to adapt scenarios where you have a player who is grossly out of tier (like a level 5 character in sub-tier 1-2) would be lovely.

1/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

We had a 'fix' for it in a different campaign to 'preserve the sense of epic space opera'.

Essentially, there'd be a 'general' tier for the table... and then if someone exceeded the tier their tier would be calculated independently, and their effects/damage/whatnot would be at the higher tier of difficulty and then rolled back into the 'general' tier.

So if this were applied (and I'm not in particular suggesting it, just putting it out there) the L1-2 characters would be at the 'same level' damage-wise/etc that a L5 would be from a narrative perspective. The drawback, though, is that if the L5 is a support character or built around a certain concept that isn't 'direct combatant' the numbers can skew pretty quickly.

Scarab Sages 5/5

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That sounds like a lot of extra math for the GM. I would not be a fan of doing that.

1/5

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

That's why I'm not in particular suggesting it.

Because it made the calculations crazy.

However, by presenting the evidence of a situation where such a thing has been tried, we can all grow from that experience and move forward.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

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Thurston Hillman wrote:

So, on the subject of "reasons why community interaction can get hindered." It's pretty intimidating to know that if (as a freelancer/dev) you make one questionable word choice and the entire thread gets derailed because of it?

Anyone can derail a thread like that. Internet conversations have the focus of a ....oooo SQUIRREL!

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

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It could be worthwhile to have some math geeks take a long hard look at the tier calculation formula. It's got serious issues;


  • It's hard to learn, apparently. Many people still think there's a lot of choice about playing up or down. Other people give up on it entirely and just sign up with whatever, plunging the table into weird tiers without an idea of what they're doing.

  • It's not "stable". A six-player table losing a player can suddenly find itself playing in a higher tier, while having fewer resources.

  • High tier with 4-player action economy really isn't all that comparable to lower-tier 6-player action economy to begin with. People playing up may still be in trouble. 5-player tables may brutalize a 4-player adjustment.

I'm not saying I know the answer - but I don't believe it's a hopeless exercise either. Think of it as an engineering problem that can be solved by someone with engineering skills.

5/5

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there will be a pop quiz on using Sturm–Liouville equations for CR calculations in 10 minutes... squirrels? where?    ^⨀ᴥ⨀^

1/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Lau,

I brought this up in a thread in the last year or so, after having to play 'up' with the 'four player adjustment' with only one character that was actually *in* the high tier and everyone else was either in the middle-range or in the lower tier at a table of six. I think it was six?

Can't remember where that thread got to, but it went on for a good long while.

Re-balancing to Starfinder tiers might be an option, but it will require a LOT of work, terrifying amounts, imo.

1/5

Lau Bannenberg wrote:
  • It's hard to learn, apparently. Many people still think there's a lot of choice about playing up or down. Other people give up on it entirely and just sign up with whatever, plunging the table into weird tiers without an idea of what they're doing.
  • Part of this might be due to how many times it's changed.

    Seasons 8 and 9 are "here's how to calculate APL. Do this thing if early seasons, otherwise do this other thing."

    Season 7 was "Just figure APL out. Do this thing if early seasons, otherwise do this other thing."

    Season 6 was the same as 7, but with a bit of extra guidance on how to round .5 (which made it back into guide 8.)

    Season 5 was the same as 7 (but without the guidance that made it into 6)

    Season 4 had some cases where party size added +1 to the APL, as well as the options for playing up or down.

    Season 3 and before had rules like "PCs can't play up unless they really have to", as well as the +1 APL stuff and "eh, just make the calculations work."

    I've heard that at some point in here pregens were excluded from the calculations, but I can't find that in the guide itself anywhere. Maybe someone was told this at a con and it spread, or it was posted on the forums somewhere?

    Paizo Employee 5/5 Developer

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    A nosoi quietly lurks in the shadows, reading all the posts.

    2/5

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    Lau Bannenberg wrote:
    It could be worthwhile to have some math geeks take a long hard look at the tier calculation formula. It's got serious issues;

    In the great scheme of things, I think there are lots of other issues that could benefit from the application of Paizo's scarce human resources before turning to tier calculations.

    Over the last year and a half or so that I've been playing PFS, folks seem to do a good job figuring out the proper tier, and I don't recall seeing any groups brutalized because they ended up in a higher than appropriate tier.

    Some of the changes/refinements that I'd like to see include:

    1) An updated set of riding, mount, and mounted combat rules.

    2) An expansion of the retraining rules to include all of the classes introduced since Ultimate Campaign.

    3) More opportunities for "hard mode," I did one of these about a month ago, and it was a blast

    Liberty's Edge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Indiana—Martinsville aka thaX

    I think the exclusion of Pregens for caculating party tier would be something to add to the PFS Guild Guide. If the Pregen would lower or bump the party tier level, the Pregen should always be the lower choice.

    So, if a scenario had everyone playing a Pregen, they would play the lower leveled ones for that tier set.

    Silver Crusade 1/5

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    There's a couple of changes I'd like to see.

    Firstly, I'd like to see the end of the reprint & nerf policy that has emerged with Adventurer's Guide and Ultimate Wilderness. I know that this must be at least partly a Paizo Development Team decision; I'd like the PFS Campaign to refrain from following PDT's lead here. The policy is disruptive to the organised play campaign because it damages confidence in the product line (old material from softcovers is not safe to use) and it harms character stories (rebuilds lose continuity).

    Secondly, I'd like more resources devoted to FAQ/blog/Campaign Clarifications. The Campaign Clarifications document was a very good idea. We still have some things, most especially the critter rules, in desperate need of clear-up. This is (obviously) a matter of where Paizo puts its limited staff resources.

    I'll also agree with what pjrogers says above in his points 1 and 2.

    Lastly, I'm going to give some kudos. I think we're seeing terrific writing quality in PFS scenarios these days. I greatly enjoy the collective storytelling of this campaign, and I think that the way that factions grow and change is pretty cool. (I wasn't thrilled with the proposed retirement of the Scarab Sages, but the Campaign Leadership response to players' sentiment in this regard has been spot on).

    Silver Crusade 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

    Lau Bannenberg wrote:

    It could be worthwhile to have some math geeks take a long hard look at the tier calculation formula. It's got serious issues;


    • It's hard to learn, apparently. Many people still think there's a lot of choice about playing up or down. Other people give up on it entirely and just sign up with whatever, plunging the table into weird tiers without an idea of what they're doing.

    • It's not "stable". A six-player table losing a player can suddenly find itself playing in a higher tier, while having fewer resources.

    • High tier with 4-player action economy really isn't all that comparable to lower-tier 6-player action economy to begin with. People playing up may still be in trouble. 5-player tables may brutalize a 4-player adjustment.

    I'm not saying I know the answer - but I don't believe it's a hopeless exercise either. Think of it as an engineering problem that can be solved by someone with engineering skills.

    You explained it rather well, the fact that sometimes the addition of another character makes the scenario significantly easier by lowering APL is a personal bugbear of mine.

    Allowing 4 players who are between tiers to play up, might also help quite a bit.

    5/5

    Lau Bannenberg wrote:
    It could be worthwhile to have some math geeks take a long hard look at the tier calculation formula. It's got serious issues;

    I put a lot of thought into this at times (I was against the 6-player standard with 4-player adjustments when they went into effect originally for instance). I don't have any real solutions, but a few things to note that might be helpful in scenario design:

    • Low-tier 4-player adjustment and high-tier no adjustment actually *will be* those things.
    • Low-tier w/out adjustment is probably more likely to be four PCs playing down out-of-sub-tier, and upper-tier w/adjustment is more likely to be five or six players playing up out-of-sub-tier.
    • 5 players hitting an APL 0.4 less than the middle of the tier can be very rough (as long as one PC is in the higher tier). E.g. 4,3,2,2,2 = Sub-tier 4-5 with adjustment - L.2's facing fireballs and such.
    • 5 L.1's have a tougher fight than two L.3's and two L.2's. {this is mostly a problem in Tier 1-5 only}
    • FYI: A completely random table of 5 players is 55% likely to play up with adjustment, otherwise even split between up w/out and down without adjustment. That means five random players play up 77% of the time.

    Silver Crusade 1/5

    To elaborate on the "critter"* problems:

    I'd like the PFS campaign to use the "Extra Item Slot" feat in the way it is set out in Animal Archive. That is, it grants access to a slot that a critter doesn't normally have, and the norm is that a critter has access to all the item slots its body shape permits.

    Alternatively, ban the Extra Item Slot feat and just allow critters to have access to all the item slots its body shape permits.

    Either of these solutions would be clear and simple, and would end the present confusion (for example see the thread 'Cause Horses Need Shoes and Saddles').

    Every gold piece that a PC spends on gear for a companion creature is a gold piece he cannot spend on gear for himself.

    *I use the term "critter" to cover animal companions, eidolons and so on.

    The Exchange 5/5

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    Hillis Mallory III wrote:

    I think the exclusion of Pregens for caculating party tier would be something to add to the PFS Guild Guide. If the Pregen would lower or bump the party tier level, the Pregen should always be the lower choice.

    So, if a scenario had everyone playing a Pregen, they would play the lower leveled ones for that tier set.

    I do disagree with this on principle.

    It would be removing/resticting another player option, another player choice, taking a little more control from the players/judge and putting it into the control of an algorithm. Is it that we do not trust our Players (that would include the Judge at the table) to know what is "best"? What they will have the most fun doing?

    5/5

    I thought the "critter problem" was that it increases a PC's combat power without affecting the APL... most animal companions are more powerful in combat than their owners, and at low levels they increase action economy by a factor of three or more. This swings combat as much or more than the mix of PCs.

    EDIT: to stay on topic, I'd love to see critters count as PCs for APL calculations in PFS.

    1/5

    Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    I've seen what happens when 'pet class' companions are added fully into table calculations for tier-ing in a different campaign.

    Folks will not play, because they've put their money into their companion.

    Alternatively, they have turned their companion into a one-shot meatshield/damage unit that could turn on the party because 'Why waste money on any sort of loyalty training and/or conditioning? It's not worth it when they die.'?

    Given a campaign clarification about companion entities, it probably wouldn't be as bad in PFS, but still, it's indirectly restricting options and not just expanded ones, but core assumption ones (Druid, Paladin, Ranger,Sorcerer, Wizard)

    Perhaps rating a companion entity at a different rate? 50%?

    Silver Crusade 1/5

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    If we rate some class features (critters) as adding to effective APL, where would we stop?

    Is full 9-level spellcasting more or less of a "plus" than a companion critter?

    Is a chained rogue worth a "minus"?

    I don't think this would be a helpful change. It's in the nature of the game that some classes, some builds, are stronger than others, and we can't eradicate that. (Unless we all go and play 4e instead).

    1/5

    Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    Which reminds me of another thing.

    When a particular type of character was played to excess in that particular campaign, the nerfbat came out with a vengeance. So much so that even bearing any of the signs of that type of character was enough to get the entire party into dire circumstances, even if it was a minor sign.

    Much, much worse than how Wayfinders are treated in some scenarios.

    When the governing body is offering enough money for a person to retire for said iconic minor item, folks are definitely going to keep an eye out.

    Let's not go that route.

    Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

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    pjrogers wrote:
    Lau Bannenberg wrote:
    It could be worthwhile to have some math geeks take a long hard look at the tier calculation formula. It's got serious issues;
    In the great scheme of things, I think there are lots of other issues that could benefit from the application of Paizo's scarce human resources before turning to tier calculations.

    I disagree, for two reasons.

    One is that this is really a mathy issue, not even so much a game design issue. It's about coming up with a formula that behaves like it should, rather than having many weird corner cases. I think the resource Paizo has thrown against this problem have been the wrong ones.

    Second is that comprehensible and correct tier determination is really important. If you look through reviews of scenarios, in many cases when someone complains of having a really bad time, it turns out there was something iffy going on with the tier. Like a party that barely squeezes into high tier in a difficult scenario, due to having five players. If they'd added a sixth player (making the party stronger) the party might have gone into low tier and bad experiences/TPKs would have been avoided.

    Sometimes it's because people make mistakes in tier calculation, and sometimes they do it by the book but the end result is really bad.

    The result is bad play experiences which cause grief, angry forum threads and so forth. But also think of all the other game sessions that weren't total disasters but also weren't good, because this issue set them up badly from the start.

    The Exchange 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

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    Lau Bannenberg wrote:

    It could be worthwhile to have some math geeks take a long hard look at the tier calculation formula. It's got serious issues;

    I'm not saying I know the answer - but I don't believe it's a hopeless exercise either. Think of it as an engineering problem that can be solved by someone with engineering skills.

    Hey, I'm an engineer! Technically, I'm a Hell of an Engineer.

    I've taken several passes at the subtier calculations in the past few years. And I have yet to come up with anything that would both: 1) be simpler and 2) make the result more "fair."

    The issue is that you aren't solving for a single variable. You want the end result to be challenging enough to not bore the high-end players but not so hard that people at the low end die on a regular basis.

    There are ways to smooth the curve and make the results fairer overall, but they involve adding additional bits to the subtier calculation, not simplifying it. You have to create additional rules to deal with those corner cases that cause so much consternation. For example, I came up with a way to reduce the risk of low-end deaths:

    Quote:
    A party of five to seven characters whose APL falls between two subtiers must play the higher tier with the four-character adjustments found throughout the scenario, unless the APL (before rounding) is in the lower subtier, and no more than one of the characters has reached the higher subtier level. In such a case the players may choose to play in either subtier.

    There's a saying that nowadays you have to double the number of sensors in a jet engine to increase efficiency by 1%. It's not really true, but it is generally true that if you're trying to make a complex system more efficient you have to increase the complexity of your control system to do so.

    Alternatively, we can simplify the calculations at the expense of efficiency by ignoring the 4-player adjustments for "playing up".

    Determining APL wrote:
    Add up the levels of all character and divide by the number of characters, rounding to the nearest whole number. This is the subtier you play in. When the result is between tiers, 4 players play down and 5+ players play up.

    That's going to result in a lot more deaths in high subtier. Let me change the formula to prevent that.

    Determining APL wrote:
    Add up the levels of all character and divide by the number of characters, rounding to the nearest whole number. This is the subtier you play in. When the result is between tiers, play down.

    Man, that 5-9 scenario just got really easy for the group of 7 with an APL of 7.4.

    Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

    @Kevin: I didn't say coming up with an easier formula would be easy. Making easy things is often hard. But worthwhile.

    To brainstorm a bit further: it's probably true that better fairness requires more complexity. But there are also things that can be done to reduce complexity.

    For example:
    1) Refining the text in the guide. Find
    2) Provide a flowchart. Tier calculation is an algorithm, and it's only described informally. For most people a flowchart would make the steps more easy to identify.
    3) Provide one or more examples of calculating tiers, where you can read step by step how this particular number became the end result.

    ---

    Fairness is tricky. You're right that it probably requires adding complexity. But I think the main thing is identifying the worst flaw, and that is double rounding.

    Let's take a party assembled for a 1-5 adventure. There's levels 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 5 at the table. They have an APL of 2.33 so it gets rounded to 2, and they play down. However, one of the L1 players gets the flu and drops. Now the APL is 2.66 and they round it up to 3, and then play up on the high tier with 4P adjustment. Even though the party just got weaker. This is the double roundup (APL -> whole number -> subtier). And most of the misery happens at 5P tables.

    I'm not entirely sure how to fix it, but at least we know where the problem is. A 4P party must play the lower tier; a 6P party is somehow more likely to have a smooth curve, and at least gets the full benefit of action economy when doing a 4P adjustment.

    However 5P parties seem more vulnerable to skewed APLs (each player
    counts for 1/5th instead of 1/6th). And they get less value from the 4P adjustment since they're only bringing a bit more action economy, not as much as the 6P party would bring.

    So what could be done to prevent double rounding, especially in the 5P case?

    Dark Archive 4/5

    It's not clear that resolving this particular edge case is automatically all that much better. I've seen more then 1 table for example where the high tier 4 player adjustment is not necessarily a harder challenge then low tier no adjustment. In general yes, but how often do these goofy roundings come up? Certainly No matter how you do it. Having 5 players and/ or barely being in high tier is going to be rougher. But so is the day your dice were cold or the GMs were hot. Naturally all of these tend to lead to more memorable (for better or worse) moments.
    What about playing higher levels while caring less effective players? My experience has been issues of poorly balanced tables, or having to carry very sub-optimal or sub-optimally player characters has been far worse.

    Scarab Sages

    Official Rulings on commonly argued (insert needed terminology here.)

    I have been playing PFS since 2011... almost the beginning of the society itself. I have been in games where the GM didn't know the rules and I have walked players through character creation. But there is always that one GM that you come across that is too strict on a rule that has no official stance.

    For long-established players, having one a GM say that they are not allowed to use a feat/spell/item as they have is game breaking for that character.

    One of those grey area arguments is Dervish Dance with the Magus's Spell Combat. Most of the Dexterity built Magus use that feat and use it where they can cast spells while benefiting from the feat. It has been argued that the Spell Combat is a weapon in the off-hand and thus the Magus can't use both at the same time. In the case of a player not accepting this rule, they can bring a VC into the argument to make a decision. But nothing stops the GM from kicking the player after the VC has made their opinions heard.

    If we, as Society members can put a PFS ruling on these (until Paizo does it officially) we could stop GM and Players from misusing a (insert needed terminology here.)

    5/5

    two large factors not considered by CR and APL is group abilities and efficacy of character design. You could rate a group using a laundry list of checks and efficiency by Dmg/r with bumps for DR bypassing etc, Heal/r, or (MaxDmg with metamagic bump or buff/deuff rating)/r.
    Of course that would make things MORE complicated.

    The core of the issue is CRs for APL is not linear and as level rises CRs fall behind the power curve.

    1/5

    Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    ...and it would turn it from Pathfinder to Mathfinder.

    ...it's bad enough as it is already?

    EDIT: I've sat at tables where people had 'unoptimized builds' but were better players than folks who had 'the ultimate power build' but had to take five minutes to figure out what their damage was for their attack after spending two or three minutes to find their to hit modifiers...

    Are we to assess player capabilities too, then, in this equation? Where does the line get drawn?

    5/5

    Generally a robust method should encompass two standard deviations (about 95% of normal distribution) from the normal average.

    You can tell by the reported data how the CR scaling works for scenarios/modules(reported prestige and permanent death rate). A temporary death rate or 'player challenge' rating would give you more insight into the CR scaling. Is it worth it? hmmmm...

    The goal of a public relations effort is to create good will in a enjoyable environment to show customers the value of your product.
    The challenge should be moderate to easy. I'm sure some salesmen would say the challenge should be easy and produce sales. There's some wisdom in that.

    I'm ending my commentary here on this topic as the status quo is reasonable and determining Tier is relatively simple process with about 6 decisions. Maybe some clarity in writing the process is needed?

    5/5

    Determining Tier:
    Scenario Tiers are a range with a possible gap in the center. Low Tier is the lower number range and high Tier is the higher number range. The range in between (numbers left out) is called Out of Tier(OoT). The numbers are the expected average level of the player group, or Average Party Level(APL).

    To Determine what Tier a party will play
    1) Determine APL.
       APL = (sum of character levels)/(number of players). A pregenerated character acts as a player.
    2) Round APL
       If remainder is 0.5 then players may choose higher or lower nearest whole number, otherwise round to nearest whole number. This number with player adjustments will be used to determine the Tier by comparing it to the Tier ranges.
    3) Adjust for Season
       a) If Season 0-3
          If APL is OoT then if 4-5 players play low Tier, else if 6-7 players play high Tier,
          otherwise play in Tier.
       b) If Season 4+
          If APL is OoT then if 4 players play low Tier with no four-character adjustment, else if 5-7 players play high Tier with four-character adjustment,
          otherwise play in Tier.
    4) If APL is OoT and if no player character level is within high Tier players may choose low Tier and if so play low Tier with no four-character adjustment.

    Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

    Dan Armstrong wrote:

    Now that the No Replay rule has been effectively answered...

    What other PFS changes would you like to see?

    Quite frankly, I would like to see a reboot of the campaign using Pathfinder 2.0 rules.

    Currently, the campaign is suffering from 2 problems that are only likely to get worse until this happens:

    1) Rules Glut: There are way too many rules out their right now for any GM to keep track of. While I realize it is supposed to be the job of the player to run their character properly, my experience says they often do not. This makes the GMs job progressively harder with each new splatbook. Experienced GMs get worn out faster, potentially new GMs and players alike become intimidated by all the rules. You can argue they shouldn't be, but the reality is that they are.

    2) Scenario Complication: A phenomena I have witnessed over 3 organized play campaigns is that the scenarios written for the campaign get progressively more complicated as time goes on. While this may be a boon to players, it increases the amount of work for the GM and thus discourages GMing. And I always have a harder time getting GMs than players.

    1/5

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    Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    Bill Baldwin wrote:


    2) Scenario Complication: A phenomena I have witnessed over 3 organized play campaigns is that the scenarios written for the campaign get progressively more complicated as time goes on. While this may be a boon to players, it increases the amount of work for the GM and thus discourages GMing. And I always have a harder time getting GMs than players.

    I noticed this trend, too, and it was subverted at least in one campaign by throwing 'beginner tier' stories at 'hardened veterans'.

    And ironically, the 'hardened veterans' had the hardest time with it, because the scenario was 'that simple'. They were looking 'for the catch' or 'waiting for the other shoe to drop', etc.

    New players (and the GM running) though, had a complete blast because the simple solution *was* the solution.

    Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

    Wei Ji the Learner wrote:
    Bill Baldwin wrote:


    2) Scenario Complication: A phenomena I have witnessed over 3 organized play campaigns is that the scenarios written for the campaign get progressively more complicated as time goes on. While this may be a boon to players, it increases the amount of work for the GM and thus discourages GMing. And I always have a harder time getting GMs than players.

    I noticed this trend, too, and it was subverted at least in one campaign by throwing 'beginner tier' stories at 'hardened veterans'.

    And ironically, the 'hardened veterans' had the hardest time with it, because the scenario was 'that simple'. They were looking 'for the catch' or 'waiting for the other shoe to drop', etc.

    New players (and the GM running) though, had a complete blast because the simple solution *was* the solution.

    I have a friend that writes his own home game stuff. His puzzles and mysteries are almost always pretty simple and straightforward. He gains great amusement from the expert players having great difficulty with them as the players always overthink them.

    5/5 Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

    Ohh, I just came up with something. A small sidebar for a reverse four-player mode. Not necessarily a "hard mode," but if you know that the players will trounce an encounter, options to make it more interesting.
    Obviously, this needs to be done with the players' agreement, not simply giving GMs free rein about how difficult the scenario should be. I just returned from a scenario with pretty underwhelming combats, and most of us were all a bit disappointed. One or two more mooks would've changed the action economy drastically, or upping some save DCs, for example. I've played season 0 and 1 scenarios where people could've played up and be only slightly more challenged (but then again, season 0/1 woes).

    Again, I want to stress this is optional, not something GMs should apply without the players knowing. PFS is intended as an accessible game, but everyone knows people like min-maxing, and thereby removing all of the challenge from the scenario. A way of addressing that would be nice, I think. Either make it work retroactively, so older scenarios without it are immediately affected (the only downside is that it's hard to curate/moderate, as some encounters/scenarios are more difficult than others), or add it as a sidebar to every encounter going forward. Things like adding an extra mook or two, higher spell DCs, or a static increase in damage. Advanced templates are also possible, but more swingy, I feel.

    5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

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    four player adjustment: apply the young template to the dex based creature

    hard mode adjustment: apply the young template to the dex based creature.

    Sovereign Court

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    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

    That reminds me of Council of Thieves. Did you know you can pack more shadows into a single encounter if some of them have the young template?


    Kwinten Koëter wrote:

    Ohh, I just came up with something. A small sidebar for a reverse four-player mode. Not necessarily a "hard mode," but if you know that the players will trounce an encounter, options to make it more interesting.

    ...
    Again, I want to stress this is optional, not something GMs should apply without the players knowing. PFS is intended as an accessible game, but everyone knows people like min-maxing, and thereby removing all of the challenge from the scenario. A way of addressing that would be nice, I think. ...

    I would like to see a survey conducted to determine what trounce an encounter means. In a homegame the GM can tell this by experience with her players. This is generally not an option in OP. We can do this a little bit at some of our tables when the GM has been playing with all the players at a given table for years. This is not a guarantee even at a small lodge like ours.

    However if we as an organized group were to come to a compromise about what that means, we could then create an increased challenge mode. Paizo already has a wonderful advanced mathmagic program to compare hundreds of items and create a ranking. It would be simple for an individual to compare two indicators of [trounce-ability] and over enough comparisons, we'd come to good agreement. More importantly it would give that program another chance to shine. :)

    Speaking of alligators.

    If people like to min-max to remove the challenge they should really enjoy any OP scenario. If you mean people like to min/max thereby all challenges are removed, I would suggest OP is not the best option for them (don't bring a knife gun to a gun knife fight). That is not the point of this thread however, so I will offer this potential 'want.' I imagine 'hard mode' could be inserted to OP by a universal encounter-an encounter that can be added to every scenario Don't ask me how a [1d9]* dragon managed to fit in the hall between the entry hall and the kobold kitchen. One of those 30 guards you dropped in three seconds must have had a talisman of Aspis Ally calling (drake).

    Or even something else like removing a percentage of PC consumables, or giving wands of clw a cool down period, or only limiting pre-gens to Harsk, or all villains have DR and fast-healing, etc.. These wouldn't have to be calculated for each scenario. Creating an umbrella rule that doesn't target any particular player build could go a long way to up the challenge and can be dropped in partway through a scenario.

    FWIW If players are feeling unchallenged they can self-choose not to fully heal between encounters or self-choose to cast buff-spells only after initiative. This doesn't need a rule or hard mode from campaign leadership.

    *:
    1. black
    2. red
    3. confused silver
    4. vortex
    5. fire giant riding a magma
    6. nightmare
    7. sky imperial
    8. void
    9. roll again 1d3 times combining the above.

    3/5 Venture-Agent, Nebraska—Lincoln

    Most of the players in my city are new to Pathfinder or new to RPGs. They're not experienced at optimizing characters, they don't have a copy of every player companion, or even every book in the core line. A number of them fell in to Pathfinder and PFS through the Glass Cannon podcast, where for the most part the characters are a bit better than the PFS pre-gens but not ultimate combat-gods. Sharpening the difficulty level of the scenarios would really hurt play in my area, so I'd much rather there be optional hard-modes than just change all scenarios to be harder.

    One thing a player has mentioned is that there never seems to be a benefit to openly wearing your wayfinder. Now, he does it because he plays a proud paladin of Iomedae who is eager to share the work they've done as a member of the Silver Crusade. But maybe at least once or twice, there could be some mechanical benefits to openly displaying the wayfinder besides just a light spell?

    5/5 Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    There are a few scenarios where displaying your Wayfinder skips a few steps in the identification process, but I've also seen a few scenarios where people react negatively to it. But yeah, if Wayfinders are that important to a Pathfinder's identity, I'd like to see more done with it than just a badge of office.

    2/5

    The difficulty curve is a rough thing to set straight. There have an always will be people who optimize more and less.

    From my point of view 2 things have happened:

    1. Early scenarios were generally pretty easy, with a few (sometimes drastic) outliers. This must've become common knowledge so you basically see bumps in S2, S4 especially in both straight up deadliness, "creative" CR calculations etcet, undead with antipaladin levels...

    2. The amount of options available in classes, feats and items all grows over time, and inevitably, some of them, or some combinations, become stronger over time.

    People remember the hard fights much more than the easy ones, and start to look for ways to mitigate all the nasty effects the game can throw at you.

    This leads to anything from the clear spindle ioun stone, to the "dual cursed oracle gives rerolls to allies," to the Lesser Talisman livesavers, the antitoxin and antiplagues now always recommended to l1 chars by other players, to "remove charms and compulsions" scrolls, etcet. If you shop well, you can negate or mitigate almost any challenge.
    And because people have seen the very deadly scenarios more and more people will prepare (And in my opinion, a new S9 one has probably entered the top 10 of those, though I have only played roughly half). For my new monk, when she hit level 3, I looked at what my Arcanist bought over time and cherry picked a dozen items to save situations, instead of getting 1 ~2k gold upgrade. And that has already paid off 3 times in 4 plays since.

    There could be a hard look at some things that could well be considered out of line (Even though I do my best on my arcanist to be prepared for all the situations I can imagine, currently in EotT, to be prepared for any scenario, I refuse to get Emergency Force Sphere because it makes me pretty much invulnerable against any enemy not able to deal with force walls, of which there are very very few, or for instance to give my improved familiar a wand of ill-omen)

    There could also be an "encounter rewrite" for S0-S3, to make fights 4/6 players and to write away the "standard array warrior" opponents that downgrade otherwise fun scenarios (The time I ran Perils of the Pirate Pact one pirate hit 1 player once, even though the party was pretty unoptimized and took many turns to deal with the encounters, including hitting 1 18HP opponent 7 times including a crit before it went down). This is however a fairly massive undertaking, though it could be outsourced to the community in big parts (By prioritizing which scenarios need work first, offering replacements or additions)

    In the more general term, what PFS misses is a way to alter scenarios if they are found flawed. From wrong stats on monsters, to mechanics that don't work as was intended as written, to wrong info on chronicle sheets. I'm not sure I ever come across anything being "officially" fixed. The best you can get is commentary in the GM thread. A way to implement "Updated for organized play" documents on the shop page could perhaps be a path for this, where both the original document, and the revised document become accessible, perhaps combined with a listing in the Campaign clarification "The following scenarios received updates available on the store and download page: List"

    5/5 Venture-Agent, Netherlands—Utrecht aka Quentin Coldwater

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    One more thing popped into my head while I was prepping a scenario for next week: more useful boons. Or hell, maybe just plain weird boons. Not necessarily more powerful, but things that make you glad you've played a scenario and got an optional objective. Earlier seasons barely had any meaningful boons (Delirium's Tangle is an exception), and up to season 3 there are only a few very insignificant boons (+2 on Diplomacy versus a very specific subset of people). There's a joke that's made every so often that someone gets a +2 versus Ulfen if it's Tuesday, has a funny hat on, standing on one leg, and we're in Rahadoum. And sometimes it really does feel like that. So many minor insignificant boons devalue boons in general. Rather than saying, "yay, I got a meaningful upgrade," it becomes a chore. One more thing to add to your list of conditional modifiers.

    The last few seasons boons have really increased in power, but I don't necessarily want power creep. Just something that you can show off to other people, or makes you glad you've played that scenario. Adventure paths and modules often have better boons, as well as end-tier content (the seeker arcs, Unleashing the Untouchable, and so on), but I'd like to see that pushed more to other scenarios. The scenario I'm prepping right now has a very cool unpractical but unique magic item that's still way overpriced for what it does. If we get such items, I'd like to see them decreased in price so it's affordable, and people can actually build around.

    I really like the boons that open up options for other characters, by the way. So many times you get a chronicle sheet and say, "wow, this would've been perfect for a different character. I wish I'd brought him instead." And I'm not saying there aren't useful boons at all, there certainly are a few cool boons. I just wish they'd spread the love more, so to say. But on the other hand, I understand that the incidental powerful boon is way more fun to receive than a constant stream of mediocre boons, so I understand the way it is right now.

    The Exchange 4/5

    Bill Baldwin wrote:
    Dan Armstrong wrote:


    1) Rules Glut: There are way too many rules out their right now for any GM to keep track of. While I realize it is supposed to be the job of the player to run their character properly, my experience says they often do not. This makes the GMs job progressively harder with each new splatbook. Experienced GMs get worn out faster, potentially new GMs and players alike become intimidated by all the rules. You can argue they shouldn't be, but the reality is that they are

    this all day. getting tired of being the bad guy at every con GM at. really only would take them researching there character better.

    Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

    12 people marked this as a favorite.

    Some things that I think could make rules glut just a bit easier to keep up with:

    1) Establish firmly that it's the CRB making the basic rules. Other books don't get to create new rules by coming up with a feat or item that solves a problem that doesn't exist. Potion Sponge, I'm looking at you.

    Of course other books can still introduce new classes and such but if you're not using anything out of a book, you shouldn't need it to run your game.

    2) Focus the instruments you're using to clarify and errata rules. Make the Pathfinder FAQ one long page, not one page per book. So that you can Ctrl-F through the whole thing instead of guessing where something is hiding. Use some layout to make it clear where each book begins and end, but ensure the thing is searchable as a whole.

    3) Merge the Campaign Clarifications and PFS FAQ into one document. Again for ease of searching. Split things between the Guild Guide (major principles, character creation) and the Clarifications (specific sources and cases, complex niche topics than 80% of the people don't use). This way the Guild Guide stays short and focused, and there's only one other place to look for the remaining campaign rules.

    4) Establish a mailing list for FAQ, Additional Resources and Clarifications updates. Probably opt-in (legal) but all VOs should be on it.

    6) Give blogs with permanent effects (like rules things) a clear title, not a Golarion data. Don't put it together with other topics that also get announced on the same day. If a rules change is buried in the middle of an after action report of conventions on a different continent and 5-star promotions of people I don't know, I might not notice the rules change...

    7) All rulings made in the forum are added to the Clarifications in the next update. Using the forum is nice and flexible if a sudden crisis pops up or when something needs some back and forth to hash out the ramifications, but a year later it can be hard to reconstruct. Five years later new GMs can't be expected to trawl the forum looking for rulings by ex-leaders that still carry authority to round out their knowledge of PFS rules. By reading the Clarifications you should be able to learn everything you need to know.

    Dark Archive 4/5

    I absolutely agree with 2-7 Lau.

    2/5

    SanderJK wrote:
    2. The amount of options available in classes, feats and items all grows over time, and inevitably, some of them, or some combinations, become stronger over time.

    I think this is a huge problem and not always with the earlier scenarios. Enemies are simply not prepared for class/archetype/feat combinations that min-maxers put together. As just one example, when was the last time you saw a enemy with a weapon cord or locked gauntlet?

    Scarab Sages 5/5

    pjrogers wrote:
    SanderJK wrote:
    2. The amount of options available in classes, feats and items all grows over time, and inevitably, some of them, or some combinations, become stronger over time.
    I think this is a huge problem and not always with the earlier scenarios. Enemies are simply not prepared for class/archetype/feat combinations that min-maxers put together. As just one example, when was the last time you saw a enemy with a weapon cord or locked gauntlet?

    Or backup dagger?

    Scarab Sages 5/5

    Tallow wrote:
    pjrogers wrote:
    SanderJK wrote:
    2. The amount of options available in classes, feats and items all grows over time, and inevitably, some of them, or some combinations, become stronger over time.
    I think this is a huge problem and not always with the earlier scenarios. Enemies are simply not prepared for class/archetype/feat combinations that min-maxers put together. As just one example, when was the last time you saw a enemy with a weapon cord or locked gauntlet?
    Or backup dagger?

    Last time I disarmed an enemy? (true strike and a whip, combined with an unseen servant with orders to pick up any weapons dropped near me and put them in my pack.)

    They pulled their second ax and dropped one of my companions. It was a most depressing encounter... I have sense stopped bothering to disarm enemies... and moved on to other tactics.

    Grand Lodge Venture-Lieutenant, Nevada—Cold Springs aka Gorignak227

    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    Lau Bannenberg wrote:

    2) Focus the instruments you're using to clarify and errata rules. Make the Pathfinder FAQ one long page, not one page per book. So that you can Ctrl-F through the whole thing instead of guessing where something is hiding. Use some layout to make it clear where each book begins and end, but ensure the thing is searchable as a whole.

    3) Merge the Campaign Clarifications and PFS FAQ into one document. Again for ease of searching. Split things between the Guild Guide (major principles, character creation) and the Clarifications (specific sources and cases, complex niche topics than 80% of the people don't use). This way the Guild Guide stays short and focused, and there's only one other place to look for the remaining campaign rules.

    7) All rulings made in the forum are added to the Clarifications in the next update. Using the forum is nice and flexible if a sudden crisis pops up or when something needs some back and forth to hash out the ramifications, but a year later it can be hard to reconstruct. Five years later new GMs can't be expected to trawl the...

    Very good suggestions to combine and simplify the various sources and would make it so much easier to find rules changes.

    Pathfinder's online presence and ability to make changes is one of its strengths and would make this even better.

    Lau Bannenberg wrote:

    4) Establish a mailing list for FAQ, Additional Resources and Clarifications updates. Probably opt-in (legal) but all VOs should be on it.

    A mailing list of rules changes alongside the standard new downloads available list would be so handy. And hopefully i won't be surprised when i'm gm-ing and a player brings up some new errata/faq that applies to an encounter i'm running at the moment.

    Scarab Sages 4/5

    Katisha wrote:
    Tallow wrote:
    pjrogers wrote:
    SanderJK wrote:
    2. The amount of options available in classes, feats and items all grows over time, and inevitably, some of them, or some combinations, become stronger over time.
    I think this is a huge problem and not always with the earlier scenarios. Enemies are simply not prepared for class/archetype/feat combinations that min-maxers put together. As just one example, when was the last time you saw a enemy with a weapon cord or locked gauntlet?
    Or backup dagger?

    Last time I disarmed an enemy? (true strike and a whip, combined with an unseen servant with orders to pick up any weapons dropped near me and put them in my pack.)

    They pulled their second ax and dropped one of my companions. It was a most depressing encounter... I have sense stopped bothering to disarm enemies... and moved on to other tactics.

    I mean, I don't think disarming is right for every encounter, but it should be possible to ask the GM if you see any other obvious weapons. If they've got a second battleaxe strapped to their back, it should be pretty obvious.

    The last time I disarmed someone, I took their only gun away from them and tried to shoot them with it (a terrible attack roll meant I missed, but it would have been cool). It also basically nerfed the enemy for the rest of the fight. I did end up beating him over the head with his musket by the end of it.

    It's a tactic for certain situations, but probably not a good idea to build a character around only disarming. The number of natural attacking creatures alone means you're going to need another tactic.

    I don't think it's breaking the game, either. But I think the original point is a good one. There are some older scenarios that just don't hold up against current power levels. At the same time, I like finding fun, new stuff to do, so I don't want to see options taken away.

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