RAP vs. RAG


Prerelease Discussion


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I'm beginning to notice a running theme in the disagreements that crop up here on the forums, and I'd like to take some time to discuss these disagreements. I personally believe that understanding is the first step towards a solution, and perhaps codifying these two "camps" I'm seeing will help. Please bear in mind that I'm oversimplifying, and as such I won't catch all the nuances of everyone's position. In addition, I may accidentally straw man someone's position. When I do, please try to bring me to understand your position rather than simply castigating me (or others). Discussion cannot occur when insults are flying.

The sides:
RAP means "Rules According to Paizo." Alignment: Lawful.
The RAP camp tends to believe that, at least for core, that the rules are pretty much inviolable. Whether that belief stems from an aversion to homebrew, from the belief that core ought to be sacrosanct, or from being used to rules lawyering, people in the RAP camp tend to think of Pathfinder as a game that ought to be played by the book. After all, mechanics define setting: if something can be done mechanically then by extension it is being done somewhere in Golarion by some adventurer.
Telling the RAP camp to ignore options they don't like is like telling them to ignore gravity: even if they could ignore it as a player (some will say you can't for setting reasons), as a GM your players are going to point to the CRB and say "But my character is fine RAW. Why can't I do this?"
This philosophy harmonizes well with PFS, as organized play is 100% standardized.

RAG means “Rules According to Gamemaster.” Alignment: Chaotic.
The RAG camp tends to espouse the view that the table comes first. If your table doesn’t like a rule, throw it out. If your table wants to play in Golarion, but wants to add several deities, then that’s ok. Golarion, as well as all other settings, don’t really exist outside the GM’s mind anyways. The RAG camp tends to believe in GM fiat. Rules lawyering is only effective insomuch as it reminds the GM of rules he may have forgotten, but nothing stops a GM from overruling a troublesome bit on a character’s sheet. The game is just a tool after all, says the RAG camp, and it is meant to be played however you like.
Telling the RAG camp that they can’t do something is like begging for them to homebrew it anyways. However, while the RAG group definitely embraces the homebrew, they know more than anyone that homebrews are tricky, time consuming, and often unbalanced. Therefore, they would appreciate having as much customization as possible baked into the base game so that tweaking Pathfinder is less perilous.
While this philosophy doesn’t work well for organized play, it goes very well with home games with friends.
The Problem:
In many cases, having a defined setting is diametrically opposed to having options. In Golarion, people can either drop from orbit or they can’t. Paladins can be non-LG or they can’t. Goblins can sell fruit at a stand in the middle of Sandpoint or they can’t. Monks can be chaotic or they can’t.
For people who intend to play in Golarion, more options pose a real problem. All of a sudden, things that weren’t possible in Golarion now are, which doesn’t jive well with the setting as established. Some stuff can be explained, sure, but some can’t. For some of those (possible) changes, they could be explained away, but to do so would be to make Golarion a distinctly different place.
However, having more options is a very distinct quality – of – life improvement for anyone who either doesn’t intend to play in Golarion or who wouldn’t mind the retconning. Removing options for the health of the setting may very well be detrimental to the health of the game.
These problems could be alleviated if Pathfinder was setting-agnostic. However, to do that would rob pathfinder of something that is just as valuable as any game balance or mechanics: its unique flavor. To divorce Pathfinder from Golarion would probably be the death of the game, as surely as if its heart were ripped out.
My recommended solution:
Divorce rules from setting, but only a little. I’ll explain using Paladins as an example.
In my suggested entry for Paladins in the CRB, Paizo would present all the stuff for making the iconic, LG Paladins. Then, there would be an additional section titled “Paladins of other alignments.” The section would open up with the following: “In Golarion, Paladins are always as presented above. The following optional rules may be useful to game masters creating their own settings where Paladins may be of different alignments or may follow a different code.”
In this way, I believe both camps are satisfied. The RAP camp can point to the statement concerning Golarion and say that according to RAW, non-LG Paladins aren’t allowed. This also does not require changing the setting to allow for these strange new adventurers. It also keeps PFS to the more stringent standard.
However, anyone ok with home brewing will be ok with saying “well, in my Golarion, you can use these alternate rules.” This alleviates worries about balance and takes a load off of the GM who would be trying to come up with all this stuff himself.
This approach also leaves Paizo room to publish material about Antipaladins, because they do exist in-setting. Assuming that Antipaladins are significantly distinct from paladins, the “unofficial alternate rules” could even be added to allow good Antipaladins (just not in Golarion). Imagine that!
This treatment could be expanded to all such areas within PF2, so that Paizo is basically providing support for alternate rules or other settings.


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It sound like your "RAG" is basically the "rulings not rules" idea of the OSR (and to a lesser extent D&D 5e).

My take on that is that it is a perfectly fine way to run a game if the GM and players prefer it that way, bit it is an absolutely not a way to design a game. The Dev's should absolutely assume what you refer to as "RAP".

_
glass.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

"In many cases, having a defined setting is diametrically opposed to having options. In Golarion, people can either drop from orbit or they can’t. Paladins can be non-LG or they can’t. Goblins can sell fruit at a stand in the middle of Sandpoint or they can’t. Monks can be chaotic or they can’t. "

Only if you view things in the most arbitrary manners possible.

A small subselection of the most powerful entities in the world (Level 15+ Characters) can drop from orbit. Not everyone. Maybe 4-5 folks in the world. Paladins (the Class) can be non-LG while still allowing Paladins (groups of "knights" in service to specific holy orders) to be LG only. Goblins can be moderately accepted enough to be viable PC races, while still having specific parts of the world not like them. You know just how Dwarves are a playable race unless you want to be accepted in an Dueragar town.

This is even forgetting things like, Paladins are not always LG in Golarion ANYWAY RIGHT NOW, I can roll up a perfectly legal non LG Paladin right this minute.

But yeah reducing peoples complex thoughts on what is acceptable and what isn't to two apparently opposed groups is not a healthy way of thinking about it. Most people fall somewhere along the spectrum and even if you could box them into two categories, you'll find folks on in both categories argueing for or against any given issue.

Liberty's Edge

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SilverliteSword wrote:

In many cases, having a defined setting is diametrically opposed to having options. In Golarion, people can either drop from orbit or they can’t. Paladins can be non-LG or they can’t. Goblins can sell fruit at a stand in the middle of Sandpoint or they can’t. Monks can be chaotic or they can’t.

For people who intend to play in Golarion, more options pose a real problem. All of a sudden, things that weren’t possible in Golarion now are, which doesn’t jive well with the setting as established. Some stuff can be explained, sure, but some can’t. For some of those (possible) changes, they could be explained away, but to do so would be to make Golarion a distinctly different place.

Speaking as someone who plays almost exclusively in Golarion, this could be an issue in theory, but basically isn't in any of the examples you cite (except sort of Goblins, which I'll get to).

People in PF1 can casually survive falls from orbit. A 20th level Barbarian can probably do so two or three times. Making them take no damage from it is mechanically relevant and useful, but not a major thematic or world change.

People in PF1 can have basically every single Paladin Class Feature that's visible in-universe and be CG. Or any other alignment, for that matter. They can't get Divine Grace, but that's pretty much the only thing they can't get. Really, the changes between the PF1 Paladin and the PF2 Paladin (losing Smite Evil and Detect Evil) are bigger than the mechanical differences between a PF1 Paladin and some of the other options that can be CG (some Warpriest Archetypes, for example).

Monks in PF1 can be Chaotic, or any other Alignment, quite easily. They're rarer than Lawful Monks, but by no means impossible or even especially difficult.

Goblins are a legitimate setting change, but they're one Paizo wants to make, so they aren't getting the treatment you suggest here, making this a bit of a moot point.

In short, none of your suggestions are necessary to make any of the things in question fit in with Golarion. At all. I would thus find a statement of 'Golarion doesn't work like this' both jarring and deeply inaccurate to the existing published material for most of these statements.

What they could easily say is that certain things are very rare in Golarion (non-Lawful Monks, non-LG Paladins, 15th level or higher characters...they've actually already said that last one), but nonexistent? With everything but Paladins and Goblins that'd actively contradict existing canon (and it will probably contradict existing canon on Goblins by the time the actual book comes out).


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SilverliteSword wrote:
The RAG camp tends to espouse the view that the table comes first. If your table doesn’t like a rule, throw it out.

Hahahahahahahaha. There must be something beyond chaotic, because I don't have a unified table deciding something, I have four individual players with their own views. One is a newbie who doesn't know the rules. After a two-year game, he is still fuzzy on the rules. Another has played D&D since 1979 with grandmaster expertise in the rules. She likes to create characters not envisioned by the Paizo designers. A third is a biophysicist who knows how everything functions in the real world. He is willing to abide by the rules, but has good suggestions about details. The fourth likes more flexibility than the rules allow.

SilverliteSword wrote:
In Golarion, people can either drop from orbit or they can’t. ... Goblins can sell fruit at a stand in the middle of Sandpoint or they can’t. Monks can be chaotic or they can’t.

Been there, done that. Though for the goblins, it was a coffee shop, Goblinbucks, rather than a fruit stand. The goblin alchemist from my Jade Regent campaign invented coffee and took over the Licktoad goblin tribe, so he set up a coffee shop on the caravan route south of Sandpoint as a new source of income for the tribe, especially since the Paladins of Iomeadae had set up an academy in nearby Foxglove Manor.

The Chaotic Good gnome ranger I played in Rise of the Runelords multiclassed to monk, after a quick alignment change to Lawful Good. The GM said I had been playing him as Lawful Good anyway--he was the party liaison to Sheriff Hemlock in Sandpoint--so the change was acceptable.

I managed to get the PCs in my Iron Gods campaign into orbit. None of them dropped to the ground from orbit, though, but for the one wearing powered armor that flew with an antigravity unit, safely descending from orbit would have been plausible.


FWIW, SilverliteSword, I found your analysis fairly trenchant. The only tweak that comes to mind is that I'd say Society play is intrinsically RAP rather than just compatible with that.


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Since one of the basic aesthetic appeals any tabletop RPG is that it can be changed on the fly in literally any way the people in the game (i.e. the only people whose opinion on this matter actually matters), I'm sort of befuddled by the dichotomy.

Like I get that organized play needs to be, well, organized and you can't make ad hoc alterations, but that's part of why I don't want to play it.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

Since one of the basic aesthetic appeals any tabletop RPG is that it can be changed on the fly in literally any way the people in the game (i.e. the only people whose opinion on this matter actually matters), I'm sort of befuddled by the dichotomy.

Like I get that organized play needs to be, well, organized and you can't make ad hoc alterations, but that's part of why I don't want to play it.

You're befuddled by the dichotomy because you're firmly in one camp. If you were firmly in the other camp you might be confused that a GM can just throw out parts of the game, especially parts of core.

At the very least, people in the RAP camp want a stricter, less modular Core Ruleset because they don't believe they can modify the core ruleset. If a GM wants to ban Goblin PCs and legendary skills, he can't just say "core only" and then let his players make their own characters. He has to hold their hand while they make a character so he can remind them of all the tweaks that he's making.

Some of this stems from the power gaming mentality where the player often will break the game by quoting a bevy of rules text at the GM, who is then just supposed to accept these perfectly legal but broken/outrageous combos.

If you tend to play with more GM fiat, the RAW argument doesn't matter to you. However, many players aren't comfortable with that level of GM fiat, especially if one plays with the "players vs. GM" mindset.

As much as you may find the "players vs. GM" paradigm to be toxic or unnecessary, some people play that way, and you can't tell them that's badwrongfun.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
FWIW, SilverliteSword, I found your analysis fairly trenchant. The only tweak that comes to mind is that I'd say Society play is intrinsically RAP rather than just compatible with that.

Idk. PFS can feel pretty far RAP, but the campaign does ban rules that are broken or that don’t fit thematically with the campaign. Class features of core classes are altered, and traits and magic items are created unique to the campaign. If anything, organized play is a model for altering the rules to fit the campaign you are playing. It’s just the org play director acting as the GM for the whole world while table GMs serve as her proxy.


This part of the rules should blow the mind of what you call the RAP group, then:

"The Most Important Rule
The rules in this book are here to help you breathe life into your characters and the world they explore. While they are designed to make your game easy and exciting, you might find that some of them do not suit the style of play that your gaming group enjoys. Remember that these rules are yours. You can change them to fit your needs. Most Game Masters have a number of "house rules" that they use in their games. The Game Master and players should always discuss any rules changes to make sure that everyone understands how the game will be played. Although the Game Master is the final arbiter fo the rules, the Pathfinger RPG is a shared experience, and all of the players should contributre their thoughts when the rules are in doubt"
- Pathfinder Core Rulebook, page 9.

Scarab Sages

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eh, i'll just say I hate GM fiat being heavily designed around - it's why i hate 5E, if everything is subject to GM fiat why do we even have a rulebook?


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I'm firmly in the RAG camp. However for the playtest we've been asked to act as if we're RAP so that Paizo has a better grasp of what variables are at play. Also if you end up having to house rule out half of the ruleset, I'd argue you are quite likely better off finding a game that better caters to your preferences. So there is value in arguing for a ruleset that better caters to your tastes regardless of which camp you belong to.


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Myself, I'd tend to fall in the RAP in home games. That said, I tend to look at the rules with RAG as I almost NEVER see a home game anymore. I ply online and having a game that is quickly and easily recognizable and understandable by everyone involved just makes things easier for everyone involed: the more modular it is the more time you have to take to get everyone on the same page with homerules used and optional systems in play.


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KingOfAnything wrote:
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
FWIW, SilverliteSword, I found your analysis fairly trenchant. The only tweak that comes to mind is that I'd say Society play is intrinsically RAP rather than just compatible with that.
Idk. PFS can feel pretty far RAP, but the campaign does ban rules that are broken or that don’t fit thematically with the campaign. Class features of core classes are altered, and traits and magic items are created unique to the campaign. If anything, organized play is a model for altering the rules to fit the campaign you are playing. It’s just the org play director acting as the GM for the whole world while table GMs serve as her proxy.

This needs repeating. PFS is so very much not RAP. It is extensively 'house ruled'.


dragonhunterq wrote:
KingOfAnything wrote:
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
FWIW, SilverliteSword, I found your analysis fairly trenchant. The only tweak that comes to mind is that I'd say Society play is intrinsically RAP rather than just compatible with that.
Idk. PFS can feel pretty far RAP, but the campaign does ban rules that are broken or that don’t fit thematically with the campaign. Class features of core classes are altered, and traits and magic items are created unique to the campaign. If anything, organized play is a model for altering the rules to fit the campaign you are playing. It’s just the org play director acting as the GM for the whole world while table GMs serve as her proxy.
This needs repeating. PFS is so very much not RAP. It is extensively 'house ruled'.

Okay. I suggest it should be a third category, then, because it's certainly not RA(table)G.


Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
dragonhunterq wrote:
KingOfAnything wrote:
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
FWIW, SilverliteSword, I found your analysis fairly trenchant. The only tweak that comes to mind is that I'd say Society play is intrinsically RAP rather than just compatible with that.
Idk. PFS can feel pretty far RAP, but the campaign does ban rules that are broken or that don’t fit thematically with the campaign. Class features of core classes are altered, and traits and magic items are created unique to the campaign. If anything, organized play is a model for altering the rules to fit the campaign you are playing. It’s just the org play director acting as the GM for the whole world while table GMs serve as her proxy.
This needs repeating. PFS is so very much not RAP. It is extensively 'house ruled'.
Okay. I suggest it should be a third category, then, because it's certainly not RA(table)G.

It's still Paizo's rules, just not the core rulebook exactly. I'd imagine that in PF2 organized play will look even closer to RAP because ideal PF2 won't have the balance issues that even Paizo freely admits PF1 had.


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While this attempt at simplifying the debate into just two camps is interesting, and the offer of a compromise between them is commendable, I don't think that works.

First, some of the premise is dubious. It's hard to put people in just 2 camps, because people are complex. For example, I'm sure you'll find folks who've asked for a chance to play non-LG paladins for years, but recoil at the concept of goblins in Core.

Another way to put this is: RAP vs RAG as a general concept makes sense, but the association with positions on goblin or alignment debates, or with Golarion vs homebrew play is far from certain.For example, folks who prefer to play by the book from a mechanics standpoint can also be homebrew world builders. Such a person wouldn't necessarily appreciate the more traditional version of the game being confined to Golarion only. Another one: One can be a Golarion fan and a stickler for the rules, but still want to see them change to be able to play a CG paladin in PF2.


If we're talking about house-ruling things, I believe that this is beyond the scope of the playtest.

I'm pretty sure that the playtest is supposed to put the rules through their paces and make sure that it plays well.

And even divine grace was available as a feat (divine protection) - until it was erratad due to it being overpowered.


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My two cents: I tend to find it easier to just stick to what this thread would call RAP, simply because I find it easier to establish a baseline standard of what is expected and allowed at what Paizo publishes, minus a few feat restrictions. I tend to see a lot of in-and-out turnover in my gaming groups, for RL reasons and it's not only a pain, but also just difficult for everyone, if whoever the GM is, be it me or someone else, has to introduce what homebrew options are and aren't allowed, and what the guidelines for everything is.

But I'm also, if not practically, at least ideologically in the RAG camp, in that I don't see why alignment restrictions are anything but suggestions. (Goblin griping doesn't come into it as much, as most of the people I play with don't have much interest in monsterous races, but if one came to a table with a Goblin PC, I don't see what the big deal is). While it's not a big deal to waive the alignment stuff if it's just a 1 sentence homebrew, it's frustrating that homebrew is the only recourse for Paladins. Maybe core has only LG paladins, but I'd be frustrated if the APG2e doesn't have at least the other three corners.


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Mekkis wrote:

If we're talking about house-ruling things, I believe that this is beyond the scope of the playtest.

I'm pretty sure that the playtest is supposed to put the rules through their paces and make sure that it plays well.

I guess the question is whether feedback like "we didn't like [foo] for reasons A,B, and C. But we tried [bar] instead and found that solved our concern" is useful.


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The variables involved in "RAG" are too widespread and scattered to warrant legitimate conversation unless its about a very specific item, and even then its a discussion surrounding 1 table.

With PF2 being golarion centric the only thing that really matters is "RAP". Tables have been modifying setting and rules since TTRPG's first came out. Pathfinder isn't going to be the next generic system and people are going to have to continue to modify it to fit what they enjoy.

Grand Lodge

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While I have great respect for NWA and Run-DMc, I truly prefer the works of Scott Joplin.


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Aristophanes wrote:
While I have great respect for NWA and Run-DMc, I truly prefer the works of Scott Joplin.

Yup, I was also really hoping that this was going to be a music thread.

However, if we’re going to talk about how much use Rapping vs Ragtime receives in game, so far for me rap is winning. As a goblin, it’s just a more in character way of doing a bard battle!

I’m Twitchy in the place to be
We gobs makin’ Playtest history
Forget Sandpoint where it all went down
Goblin players comin to your town
We’re something you’ve not seen before

Some folks they want to dis us
But bro you better get with us
We’re more than bellies with a bite
Now we got paladins and we smite!
Baby, have you heard we’re core?

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