Jason Bulmahn: Design Musings: The Economics of Fantasy RPGs


General Discussion

1 to 50 of 72 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>

Jason has posted a video to youtube, here.

I'll put my comments in another post, and let this one be a pure reference.


22 people marked this as a favorite.

Mostly, I find this video to be a good peek into the design and am very glad he posted it. A lot of the information feels common sense, and is nice to have laid out like this.

I have two minor issues with the was he presented sections, where nothing was wrong but I feel things were mis-represented or not fully explored, the I have some suggestions for resonance that I believe accomplish the system issues he has presented.

The two minor issues are related, and I think it's best to start with the one second in the video:

The +50 to acrobatics. This was presented as though it was a problem. I strongly think it is not a problem. Yes, the game and especially pre-written adventures do not present things that challenge such a score, and that is a strength of the system to me. This character has clearly invested heavily into their skill, and unlike being able to over-invest into damage or such, most of an adventure will remain interesting in the face of that skill, the other characters will not feel obsolete, and the character gets to feel awesomely super-competent at the thing they wanted to focus on. That is all good stuff.

The second is related, and right near the start of the video. Jason said that, as you get higher level, the dice matter less and your character becomes more reliable and consistent. This is not true in PF2. A +80 attack against +91 AC is just as dice-based as a +5 attack against 16 AC, they're both 50/50 shots. The reason things did become more consistent at high levels in PF1 was the first point: As people leveled, they got to focus on the things they care about at a rate faster than DCs scaled, and that felt awesome. They really mastered their focus. In PF2, high level characters, against DCs planned for them by the tables, do not feel like they have overcome the dice and become consistent. They feel like level 1 characters in fancier settings.

Those are both periphery to the core of the video, but are things I care about a lot. Let's talk about resonance.

First, the design he went through here is great. I agree with the problem he identified that going from +4 to +5 was rarely worth the amount of utility a +5 item could buy. Resonance, at its highest concept, is a great solution for this. It says 'use good things when you can'.

And then someone decided to put all the item activations and especially consumables into Resonance. Jason didn't really talk about that part and I feel like it's because it doesn't address the design problem Resonance is solving at all, despite it being the stand-out defining part of Resonance to most players. In a bad way. It's the stick.

Resonance as a slot-limiter is great. Wind it back to that. Take all consumables away from Resonance, and most activation costs. Add more investment costs if required, and consider making some items take more than 1 point of invested resonance if they're super awesome. Maybe some best-of-the-best activations can cost Resonance, but make any time you spend Resonance feel good and impactful. Not book-keeping and an extra cost to any neat consumable you find.


16 people marked this as a favorite.

Agreed about bonus focusing being a strength of the system. As someone who consistently rolls single digits on a d20, I vastly prefer being able to stack bonuses to where I can still be successful.


7 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Nah +50s to skills are pretty annoying. I think you should still be able to fail appropriate level checks around 10-20% of the time if you're hyper focused in that skill. Otherwise what's even the point of rolling the dice? Also I find players are actually more involved and pay attention better if you're making rolls that could fail. If you know you will pass even on a 1 the checks start feeling like filler that the GM put in just to appease to the guy who spent some feats to become a perception god.


25 people marked this as a favorite.

That was another of the great things about 1E skills. Nat 1 wasn't a failure, so I frequently didn't have to roll the dice. Beating a DC so hard I didn't have to roll usually felt better than a nat 20.

Of course, you're still making rolls since you can't have that bonus to every skill check at once. You just succeed at what you hyper focus on, and that's awesome.

I love when my level 13 PF1 dungeon has a few DC 8 Acrobatics checks, that the +3 Acrobatics Wizard is massively careful on, while the martials are dancing over it backwards. It made the character's strengths and weaknesses really stand out and be interesting.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I honestly believe that just making Resonance go off your key ability modifier would fix most of the issues. Almost everyone will have at least a +3 or +4 at first level so you get 4 to 5 resonance right off the bat. 4 or 5 potions seems fine. By the time you're 5th level you have at least 9. You probably have 2 invested items so that leaves you with 7. 7 seems the right amount. Considering how much potions are you'd always want the best one. Having 3 or 4 potions leaves 3 or 4 left over for other items, wands, scrolls, trinkets, what have you.

I can understand wanting to give Cha more importance but the tightness of the stats means you probably already have 2 or 3 in mind, you don't want to have another just in order to use magic items.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I liked Pathfinder 1e's ability to build for trivializing a skill conceptually, but in play it more often than not ended up being pretty underwhelming. The only times it felt good was when it gave you a steady increase in a certain capability, like jumping height.

Auto-beating social interaction DCs made it feel like spamming the "continue dialogue" button in an RPG.

One thing I'd like to point out about the video, is that Jason skims over market availability saying that limiting access to high level equipment is arbitrary and artificial. Which is exactly how I describe Resonance.

I personally think that the economy issues weren't a problem for me because I don't typically let my players shop for any item in the books, and there's never an unlimited supply of potions and wands on the shelves.

I mentioned in a reddit thread (and on these forums somewhere) that I would like for them to consider something like a metagame currency that lets you buy access to an expanded list of available goods at the vendor.

If every time you acquire a magic item, say, you get a fate point that you can spend to have the vendor coincidentally come across the item you'd like to buy or trade for, you can limit the market availability in a rather player controlled manner.

Let the in game market default to maybe +1 weapons, minor potions and other mundane gear, and bring out the good stuff only when players have a firm idea of what they want to upgrade and are willing to spend a limited resource to acquire.


Wouldn't a 13th level wizard be flying or teleporting, especially if there was a 20% chance of something bad happening? Even in PF2. And in a PbP game I'm currently running (albeit level 4) the lowest acrobatics in the party is the fighter/bloodrager. ACP's a pain.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
WatersLethe wrote:
One thing I'd like to point out about the video, is that Jason skims over market availability saying that limiting access to high level equipment is arbitrary and artificial. Which is exactly how I describe Resonance.

Resonance is a solution to high-level arcane casters with crafting feats having access to so many magic items.

What resonance does is stops low-level Dwarves from drinking potions and forces every party to bring a Cleric. In fact, it's never a bad idea to have 2 Clerics right now.

It might feel better at low levels if you simply started with more RP. Maybe 1st level consumables shouldn't require RP? It would certainly make trinkets and healing potions feel better as loot. I'm expected to give my players ten 1st level consumables by level 2, but I don't think they'll even be able to use them all.


10 people marked this as a favorite.
Lyee wrote:

That was another of the great things about 1E skills. Nat 1 wasn't a failure, so I frequently didn't have to roll the dice. Beating a DC so hard I didn't have to roll usually felt better than a nat 20.

Of course, you're still making rolls since you can't have that bonus to every skill check at once. You just succeed at what you hyper focus on, and that's awesome.

I love when my level 13 PF1 dungeon has a few DC 8 Acrobatics checks, that the +3 Acrobatics Wizard is massively careful on, while the martials are dancing over it backwards. It made the character's strengths and weaknesses really stand out and be interesting.

I'm with you on that style of play. One thing I do appreciate about having high bonuses trivialize minor challenges is that it helps move the game along more quickly. Not only that saves time to not have to worry about minor challenges that would otherwise bog down play, as a GM, I can plan ahead better. If I know that a PC has a pretty strong lock on a social encounter, I can focus on planning on the expected outcome, instead of having to come up with 2 alternate paths depending on success or failure.

I feel my players also appreciate being able to trivialize challenges that they purposeful optimized for. Makes them feel validated and special in being the expert specialist for a particular situation.


8 people marked this as a favorite.

I've got no problem with high bonuses trivializing minor challenges. The problems come with the wide disparity and how it can prevent you from having challenges at all.

It works fine for things where only one person needs to roll - as long as you've got someone who's maxed that skill. Otherwise you can wind up in the chasm where depending on the party it's either a completely trivial challenge or an unsurmountable one, with nothing in between.

If everyone does have to roll, then you're right back there with some guaranteed successes and some guaranteed failures. At low levels, where even the optimized types aren't that far ahead that's usually "pretty safe" vs "pretty risky", but at high level it's "can't fail" vs "can't succeed".


6 people marked this as a favorite.

I talked about this a bit in this post; The upshot is that when you mention that the PC who has a +80 to hit a 91 AC, the problem exists when that character is in the same group as a character with a +25 to hit, or there is still a problem even in the group where there's a person with a +12 to hit, but a +80 to Diplomacy. (We're exaggerating a good bit here, but the point still stands with numbers greater than +10 apart.) Characters that hyperoptimized to that level in my experience invalidate their own ability to adventure with other characters not hyperoptimized in the same way.

I'm not just talking about the non-combat monkeys feeling unable to contribute in combats, I'm talking about other hyperoptimizations. That person with the +80 diplomacy will not only not fit in with the threats you face, and will likely be KILLED to be in the same room with threats you face, they have just as great a chance to jeapordize your ability to use that +80 to hit, because they can take almost any creature initially hostile to you and turn it into a non-combat encounter that you sit out on (especially if the skill unlocks in Pathfinder unchained are used, where they can do diplomacy in 1 round).

Compare to the person who is +80 to stealth and turns invisible at will, and your goal is to obtain an artifact someone possesses. They can turn your entire session into a one-person operation, before you can fight your way past any opposition that might be there.

In short, it doesn't matter the optimization, going too far outside what other characters can accomplish means that eventually you aren't even playing the same game at the same table, any more.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Robert Bunker wrote:
WatersLethe wrote:
One thing I'd like to point out about the video, is that Jason skims over market availability saying that limiting access to high level equipment is arbitrary and artificial. Which is exactly how I describe Resonance.
Resonance is a solution to high-level arcane casters with crafting feats having access to so many magic items.

Honestly, that problem feels like it's solved already anyway. It was usually only an issue at higher levels than a party would reach, which holds the same in PF2e. Because of the gold change, unless the party has access to significantly more gold than is expected, the number of magic items the party can craft is still significantly more limited than before. And finally, since PF2e has no rules for creating custom magic items (yet), you can't dump 1,000,000 gold into making a single magic item which is a dozen other ones combined that all activate on the same command word trigger. Which is honestly a good thing, because if Resonance stays as it is and those rules ever come out, that's the only thing people will ever make because Resonance will push them into trying to get the most bang for their buck possible.


6 people marked this as a favorite.

I don't know what items add together for skills. I never sought out exotic magic items that improved skill checks, beyond the obvious attribute enhancements such as a Belt of Incredible Dexterity. But +40 from items is ridiculous. Or is it +20 from items and the other +20 comes from feats such as Skill Focus and high Dexterity (enhanced by a belt) and skill ranks and class-skill bonus and a class-feature bonus, etc.? A 15th-level wizard/bard in my Rise of the Runelords campaign managed to gain +30 to Knowledge(history) through such a combination, because he was roleplaying a scholar of ancient Thassilonian history. When the party sought the Lost City of Xin-Shalast for Spires of Xin-Shalast I let him roll his Knowledge(history) and he got 45. Thus, he knew all the theories about the location of Xin-Shalast and that historians had searched the most likely valley and found nothing. Nevertheless, they headed to that valley, which avoided a side quest and jumpstarted the adventure on a more exciting note. If he had managed 50, I would have let him know the exact secret location of Xin-Shalast.

My fellow players and I rountinely combine multiple magic items for AC. First, a +1 enchantment on armor for 1,000 gp. Second, a ring of protection +1 for 2,000 gp. Third, an amulet of natural armor +1 for another 2,000 gp. Fourth, upgrade the armor enchantment to +2 for an additional 3,000 gp. Fifth, a belt of incredible dexterity (+1 to Dex modifier) for 4,000 gp. Then instead of the +1, +2, +3, +4, and +5 costing 1000 gp, 4000 gp, 9000 gp, 16000 gp, and 25000 gp respectively, we had them for 1000 gp, 3000 gp, 5000 gp, 8000 gp, and 12000 gp, half price toward the end. Half price meant two levels early.

I thought that the ability to combine several magic items to improve one thing was a deliberately designed feature of Pathfinder to flatten the quadratic curve for improving AC. The enhancement bonus on the armor, the deflection bonus from the ring, the natural armor bonus from the amulet, and the enhancement bonus on Dexterity all stacked. But Jason Buhlmann's description at time 12:20 calls it bypassing the system.

Jason Bulmahn talks of selling off the highest-quality magic items to buy several smaller magic items that add up to the same effect (or a better effect). At time 13:48 he asks, "Well, isn't there a way that you could make the values exponential as well? That way, you know, it's an exponential cost and an exponential value to the player as well. That way the though of selling it down is ludicrous because you don't get any better bonus so you might as well keep the better thing. And that has been tried, I think some MMOs have certainly done that where they allowed their numbers and bonuses to go through the roof."

Bonuses in Pathfinder combine additively if they stack and by maximum (subadditively) if they don't stack. To get a system where a prices are exponential, such as Pathfinder 2nd Edition's system of magic armor, Type +1 light armor for 60 gp, +2 for 360 gp, +3 for 1400 gp, +4 for 6500 gp, and +5 for 40000 gp, yet where two +1 items at the +1 price combine for a better bonus, that combined bonus would have to be logarithmic at +1.38. Since fractional bonuses don't work with dice rolls, we can't use logarithms. Subadditive combinations, such as logarithmic bonuses, default to not stacking.

Combining these bonus type into item bonuses in Pathfinder Second Edition means that they no longer stack. Doesn't that solve the problem? That leaves the problem that armor and shield bonuses to AC no longer stack, but the Paizo designers elegantly made a shield an active defense instead of a passive defense so that it gave a circumstance bonus instead of an item bonus. The Raise a Shield action does not feel balanced yet, given that Shield Block breaks shields, but an elegant start is a good foundation for a balanced solution.


24 people marked this as a favorite.

I kind of bugs me that they seem to be on every media platform except their own website. If it wasn't for kind forum users, I wouldn't find out about 90% of the things the dev's think it's important for us to know about the playtest... :P

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

The thing I took away from the video was that resonance is trying to solve a problem which is addressed already in PF2 rules. The problem wasn't in the economics, but in the lots of different types of bonuses stacking. PF2 reduces this to 3 - circumstance, conditional and item. With that in place, you don't need resonance to stop someone from getting 18 different +1 or +2 bonuses, since there's only 3 types to get.

Personally, I think there's room for a 4th bonus type to allow a bit more of that, but 3 really cuts down on one of the big economy problems touched on in the video.

That being said, I'm super happy Jason posted the video, having this type of direct insight in the design goals and thoughts is always super fascinating and educational.

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

16 people marked this as a favorite.
graystone wrote:
I kind of bugs me that they seem to be on every media platform except their own website. If it wasn't for kind forum users, I wouldn't find out about 90% of the things the dev's think it's important for us to know about the playtest... :P

We are here as well, but the nature of boards means that content tends to get lost or buried rather quickly, not to mention the fact that this medium is lacking in a few ways on texture and context.

It is great for communicating directly with a fan over a specific problem, the only issue there being you outnumber us about 10,000 to 1.

Right tool for the right job and all...

Besides, this was not entirely aimed at this audience, talking more about some of my personal design philosophy, some of which is not entirely shared by the staff.

Liberty's Edge

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Starfinder Superscriber

Is there a transcript or a written document of the points?

I honestly think that text is the right tool for the job for this sort of thing.... Certainly from the point of view of those of us trying to follow along at home, text we can quickly read, skim, go back and reread, and refer to is way better than the serial (and noisy) presentation of a video.


I feel this is kinda strange. Like yeah, players like general power over situational power. If you give an item that has +100 to swimming while blinded while undead that gets sold for something more useful more often.
I figured the AC having 3 main upgrade paths was the plan to allow many cheap boosts because AC was hard to keep up with enemy attacks.

Also, isn't the point of being good at a skill letting you bypass said challenges? Like if you have a +50 acrobatics you don't have a +50 in everything else. Now it's like getting specialized lets you not auto-fail instead of succeed.

Also with the resonance deal, there are so few items I want that resonance will never BE a limit. If you wanted to see if resonance can successfully limit the magic a character has you should have various things that people would want. Have the ring and the amulet and armor and see if people still go with resonance use over better quality.

Right now Looking at my lv5 and lv7 and higher builds and my resonance is hardly touched since there is just nothing to buy to use.

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
graystone wrote:
I kind of bugs me that they seem to be on every media platform except their own website. If it wasn't for kind forum users, I wouldn't find out about 90% of the things the dev's think it's important for us to know about the playtest... :P

XXI century called, wanted to say that forums are dying and streams, podcasts and YouTube is where hot stuff is at.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
ENHenry wrote:

I talked about this a bit in this post; The upshot is that when you mention that the PC who has a +80 to hit a 91 AC, the problem exists when that character is in the same group as a character with a +25 to hit, or there is still a problem even in the group where there's a person with a +12 to hit, but a +80 to Diplomacy. (We're exaggerating a good bit here, but the point still stands with numbers greater than +10 apart.) Characters that hyperoptimized to that level in my experience invalidate their own ability to adventure with other characters not hyperoptimized in the same way.

I'm not just talking about the non-combat monkeys feeling unable to contribute in combats, I'm talking about other hyperoptimizations. That person with the +80 diplomacy will not only not fit in with the threats you face, and will likely be KILLED to be in the same room with threats you face, they have just as great a chance to jeapordize your ability to use that +80 to hit, because they can take almost any creature initially hostile to you and turn it into a non-combat encounter that you sit out on (especially if the skill unlocks in Pathfinder unchained are used, where they can do diplomacy in 1 round).

Compare to the person who is +80 to stealth and turns invisible at will, and your goal is to obtain an artifact someone possesses. They can turn your entire session into a one-person operation, before you can fight your way past any opposition that might be there.

In short, it doesn't matter the optimization, going too far outside what other characters can accomplish means that eventually you aren't even playing the same game at the same table, any more.

I'd offer an alternative assessment already posted here

The bottom line of that is that creating complicated challenges which the party solves together, recognizing each others strengths and weaknesses is fundamental to the enjoyment. And preventing characters from being significantly better than other characters might feel like a relief the first half dozen sessions or so, but over time the dwarf in clanky plate isn't going to pump his fist over sneak checks and the bard isn't going to be thrilled that the giant missed his arbitrarily high AC. That will be routine and it isn't what they built their character to do, so they won't hardly notice it, much less take heroic joy in it. But the rogue will feel more and more shortchanged when the day-to-day, bread and butter awesomness they are supposed to experience becomes things they are just a bit better than the completely anti-optimized character. Just as the dwarf won't get nearly the same joy of charging in toe to toe with that giant knowing that it is a real threat to others present and the dwarf's build is important. Instead, he will steadily realize the loss of being awesome, because everyone is pretty much awesome (ish). kinda. sorta. Well, at least compared to things that are not on the table because the game mathed them away....


6 people marked this as a favorite.
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
We are here as well

While I know that's technically true, it doesn't feel like it. For every time I see a dev comment on the boards I see several more mentions of them being on other places.

Jason Bulmahn wrote:
but the nature of boards means that content tends to get lost or buried rather quickly, not to mention the fact that this medium is lacking in a few ways on texture and context.

Which is why a pinned thread only devs can post on would be a great place to post everything.

Gorbacz wrote:
graystone wrote:
I kind of bugs me that they seem to be on every media platform except their own website. If it wasn't for kind forum users, I wouldn't find out about 90% of the things the dev's think it's important for us to know about the playtest... :P
XXI century called, wanted to say that forums are dying and streams, podcasts and YouTube is where hot stuff is at.

I'm not suggesting they NOT use other platforms, just that they not forget this one. I know that I'm not the only one that's complained about this and it doesn't seem that asking for bullet points of info given out other places is asking too much IMO. Heck, even a listing of links to them and what is on each link posted in a central location would be a vast improvement. Right now, I'm relying on the kindness of strangers to give me a heads up.

Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Besides, this was not entirely aimed at this audience, talking more about some of my personal design philosophy, some of which is not entirely shared by the staff.

I'm more commenting on the trend than this particular video. Until the OP posted it, I had no idea a video was out to determine if I was the target audience or if it was something I wanted to watch.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
graystone wrote:
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
but the nature of boards means that content tends to get lost or buried rather quickly, not to mention the fact that this medium is lacking in a few ways on texture and context.
Which is why a pinned thread only devs can post on would be a great place to post everything.

You can get really close to that by going to a given dev's account, like Jason's here. Flipping through four of those takes basically no time and gets me caught up without digging through dozens of threads.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Landon Winkler wrote:
graystone wrote:
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
but the nature of boards means that content tends to get lost or buried rather quickly, not to mention the fact that this medium is lacking in a few ways on texture and context.
Which is why a pinned thread only devs can post on would be a great place to post everything.
You can get really close to that by going to a given dev's account, like Jason's here. Flipping through four of those takes basically no time and gets me caught up without digging through dozens of threads.

That works for comment here on the forums. How does that help with comments they make elsewhere? For instance, it does nothing to help find info on a random twitch feed or which video has info on monks.


11 people marked this as a favorite.
Gorbacz wrote:
graystone wrote:
I kind of bugs me that they seem to be on every media platform except their own website. If it wasn't for kind forum users, I wouldn't find out about 90% of the things the dev's think it's important for us to know about the playtest... :P
XXI century called, wanted to say that forums are dying and streams, podcasts and YouTube is where hot stuff is at.

I'm completely on board with rknop here. Text is so much more useful for any kind of analysis.

Video (and to a much lesser extent audio) can be great for some things, but then it's all about presentation. Entertainment, essentially.

Well, I guess I'll just sit and grumble in the corner when we get the Playtest 3E rules as a video stream. :)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
JoelF847 wrote:

The thing I took away from the video was that resonance is trying to solve a problem which is addressed already in PF2 rules. The problem wasn't in the economics, but in the lots of different types of bonuses stacking. PF2 reduces this to 3 - circumstance, conditional and item. With that in place, you don't need resonance to stop someone from getting 18 different +1 or +2 bonuses, since there's only 3 types to get.

Personally, I think there's room for a 4th bonus type to allow a bit more of that, but 3 really cuts down on one of the big economy problems touched on in the video.

That being said, I'm super happy Jason posted the video, having this type of direct insight in the design goals and thoughts is always super fascinating and educational.

Resonance is not needed to stop the stacking. They did that by having only 2 types of bonuses.


On dice numbers, in short, we need higher levels to require smaller and smaller Natural X's on the d20 roll as you progress. Boom, treadmill solved.


12 people marked this as a favorite.
Gorbacz wrote:
graystone wrote:
I kind of bugs me that they seem to be on every media platform except their own website. If it wasn't for kind forum users, I wouldn't find out about 90% of the things the dev's think it's important for us to know about the playtest... :P
XXI century called, wanted to say that forums are dying and streams, podcasts and YouTube is where hot stuff is at.

Except that reading is far quicker and more digestible than video or audio can ever be.


avr wrote:
Wouldn't a 13th level wizard be flying or teleporting, especially if there was a 20% chance of something bad happening? Even in PF2.

Hm. A 13th level wizard has access to level 7 spells, so, okay -- they can heighten Fly to last one hour instead of one minute. It's a single target spell and they get two level 7 slots, so they can either fly for two hours or make themselves and one other person fly for one.

Teleporting is a little better. They can Dimension Door (themselves only) for one mile by heightening to fifth, and they have three of those per day, so they can travel three miles by dimension door assuming they've been to the location to which they're dooring and don't have to worry about pesky comrades.

The actual spell of Teleport is uncommon, so wizards frequently will not know it. The level 7 heightened version does allow them to teleport themselves and up to four people up to 1000 miles, however, again assuming they have previously been to the place they wish to go (you can no longer Scry a location in advance).

So if they're fortunate enough to have managed the difficult roll to acquire Teleport, they can do that under some circumstances.


7 people marked this as a favorite.
sherlock1701 wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
graystone wrote:
I kind of bugs me that they seem to be on every media platform except their own website. If it wasn't for kind forum users, I wouldn't find out about 90% of the things the dev's think it's important for us to know about the playtest... :P
XXI century called, wanted to say that forums are dying and streams, podcasts and YouTube is where hot stuff is at.
Except that reading is far quicker and more digestible than video or audio can ever be.

Text has the great advantage that it can be skimmed, searched, and easily referenced. The sort of thing that you really want when dealing with the rules of a roleplaying game.


10 people marked this as a favorite.

Some random thoughts on the video.

I think his bigger point of players selling "cool items" for pluses is because the "cool items" often wern't. Many such items have crippling action requirements and poor save DCs that don't scale with your other options.

Also, you were disincentivized from selling good high value items by the 1/2 price sell-back rule. Drop a +2 sword on a level 3 party and ask them if they would trade it for 2 +1 swords! 4 +1 swords is more likely, but I think they would just give it to the front-liner in 80% of situations.

I think that "spreading yourself thin" problem is solved by limiting the number of bonuses. Pathfinder limited AC to 4 common, buy-able, bonuses: Armor, Natural Armor, Deflection, Shield. The problem came up with miss-pricing "rare" AC bonuses, such as luck and insight. Maybe you could have some bonus types not stack "horizontally." For example, you can only have 1 luck bonus on your character. Whether your luck bonus is in AC or to hit or in acrobatics is up to you, but you only get one.


6 people marked this as a favorite.
Knight Magenta wrote:


I think his bigger point of players selling "cool items" for pluses is because the "cool items" often wern't. Many such items have crippling action requirements and poor save DCs that don't scale with your other options.

This is a really important point. And the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, in Item Creation and Costing, it is even stated:

CRB wrote:
Many factors must be considered when determining the price of new magic items. The easiest way to come up with a price is to compare the new item to an item that is already priced, using that price as a guide.

Items should be cost-competitive with similarly costed items. It should be a meaningful and legitimate choice between spending 3750gp on Druid's Vestments as opposed to 4000gp on a set of +2 armour.

The issue is that going by the metric of costing of 'items which offer pluses', the cost of many, many items is far too high. The Wayfinder of Zephyrs is an amazing, flavourful item. But it's not worth 15000gp, and noone would consider purchasing it instead of a +4 belt/headband or Staff of Fire.


9 people marked this as a favorite.
sherlock1701 wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
graystone wrote:
I kind of bugs me that they seem to be on every media platform except their own website. If it wasn't for kind forum users, I wouldn't find out about 90% of the things the dev's think it's important for us to know about the playtest... :P
XXI century called, wanted to say that forums are dying and streams, podcasts and YouTube is where hot stuff is at.
Except that reading is far quicker and more digestible than video or audio can ever be.

There is that too but for me there is the additional issue of streaming videos with my internet. There are urban areas, rural one and then where I live. Long streams tend to lock up, buffer forever or reset if I pause, rewind, ect. This is why I mostly ignore online videos. Not everyone has the time, bandwidth or internet quality to watch every video and/or track them down in the various sites but would be able too with the info in a written form located in a centralized location.


11 people marked this as a favorite.
Knight Magenta wrote:
I think his bigger point of players selling "cool items" for pluses is because the "cool items" often wern't. Many such items have crippling action requirements and poor save DCs that don't scale with your other options.

I just finished running The Lost Star for my players and filled out the survey. It asked whether they had found the Owlbear Claw trinket. Yes, they did, and the only thing they could do with it was sell it off because of the trinket rules.

The Owlbear Claw has the requirement that the wielder is an expert in the weapon it is affixed to. The party was 1st-level characters, Druid, Paladin, Rogue, and Wizard.

Fighers are experts in all simple and martial weapons from 1st level. Alchemists, bards, clerics, druids, sorcerers, and wizards never become experts with any weapon without an archetype. That archetype, Fighter Dedication, can give expert proficiency in weapons at 12th level. Monks become expert in unarmed strikes at 3rd level, and the Monastic Weaponry feat could extend this proficiency rank to monk weapons. Paladins and rangers become an expert in one weapon group at 5th level. Barbarians and rogues become a weapon expert at 13th level, though Animal Totem barbarians avoid weapons.

Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, page 345 wrote:
Trinket The consumable magic items called trinkets must be affixed to items before they can be activated. Most trinkets require the user to have a special feat or skill to make use of them. See pages 379–380 for the full rules on trinkets.

Jason Bulmahn said encouraging people to keep found magic items is a goal of Pathfinder 2nd Edition, yet they designed an entire new class of magic items with use restrictions that encourage selling them off.


9 people marked this as a favorite.
Mathmuse wrote:

I just finished running The Lost Star for my players and filled out the survey. It asked whether they had found the Owlbear Claw trinket. Yes, they did, and the only thing they could do with it was sell it off because of the trinket rules.

To make matters worse, to actually want to activate the owlbear claw you need to have the following situation come up:

1. You must have 1 resonance left over that you don't plan on using for heals.
2. You need to score a crit.
3. That crit must not itself win you the fight. That is, the outcome must still be in doubt after you resolve the crit.
4. The crit specialization of your weapon must matter at that moment.
5. You must not already have the critical specialization for your weapon.

That's a pretty narrow range of levels and circumstances... They should have just put a potency crystal there. That is at least a cool trinket because it has a powerful effect, saves action economy, and is useful for every group.


10 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
graystone wrote:
sherlock1701 wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
graystone wrote:
I kind of bugs me that they seem to be on every media platform except their own website. If it wasn't for kind forum users, I wouldn't find out about 90% of the things the dev's think it's important for us to know about the playtest... :P
XXI century called, wanted to say that forums are dying and streams, podcasts and YouTube is where hot stuff is at.
Except that reading is far quicker and more digestible than video or audio can ever be.
There is that too but for me there is the additional issue of streaming videos with my internet. There are urban areas, rural one and then where I live. Long streams tend to lock up, buffer forever or reset if I pause, rewind, ect. This is why I mostly ignore online videos. Not everyone has the time, bandwidth or internet quality to watch every video and/or track them down in the various sites but would be able too with the info in a written form located in a centralized location.

Then too, not everyone can consume their information in an audio format. I spend most of my time waiting around in public buildings where playing a video would be inappropriate (including with a headset). But I can read to my heart's content.

Finally, talking back to a video is kind of pointless, but here I can talk to you folks.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

Thoughts on the video:

First, can anyone else agree with me that if 3.5 had too many different bonus types then at least their bonus types meant something? The most infuriating thing about the playtest is their bonus types, two which are basically synonymous with eachother, and "item" which is a purely game-mechanically term. Bonus types in 3.finder were a good piece of the system because they meant something, and you could understand what it meant and connect the bonus type to what was happening in the game world, or use circumstances in the game world to assign bonuses.
The new bonus types would've fit in better if they just labeled them stacking types 1, 2 and 3.

*cough*

pet peeve aside.

Item slots are older than d&d 3rd edition. The earliest I've encountered them is Diablo, which released 4 years earlier. It even uses the same abstraction to justify only being able to wear one ring on each hand etc.

SECOND pet peeve aside... <.<

I really don't mind Resonance as a replacement to item slots. I mind several other things about resonance though.

I mind the arguments used for implementing it - stacking bonuses is a problem with bonus stacking rules - players selling (or just not buying) higher level items for them not being good enough for the cost is a problem with item design and balance (laughable DC's, overcosted niche items, overcosted very limited use/day items) - CLW wand spam is an issue with encounter balance more so than anything.

They're just not convincing me that items not being heavily restricted not is the real issue here.

Item slots does have a pretty important flaw, but not one they often use as a justification for Resonance (as far as I've seen anyway). And that is the best-of-slot semi-mandatory items (the big six and some others).
If I value my AC, I effectively only have 1 ring slot and no neck slot. If I value saves I have no back slot. If I'm a Magus I have no bracers slot. Anything in the Belt or Headband slot needs to be seriously broken to compete with general statups.

With Resonance, or any implementation where items are limited by number instead of category, this balance gets easier as you can simply just use all the various things you want (though balancing the items get harder as you can't just toss unbalanced combinations into the same category to block them off anymore).

In any case, Resonance oversolves the problem of people spreading out too much, and forcibly so. And it also makes the previously questionably worthwhile low-charges/day items much much worse (because they now compete for a long-term resource with short-term effects) while dragging the often useful bunch-a-charges/day items down with them (RIP gloves of seeing through walls).

I mind that all activated effects cost resonance by default, I mind that all items cost resonance by default, I especially mind that consumables cost resonance at all.

Most of the things I hate with resonance can be fixed though. You can tune items to being worth their gold value considering opportunity cost, you can cut consumables out of it so they're actually ever worth using if you're into that sort of thing (and also so you don't need a 2 resonance healing potion budget), you can make it so only powerful abilities or those of underprised items drain your resonance when activated.

And I'm sure you can fix the flavour so it doesn't make magic items feel like glorified training wheels or placebo effect inducers.

And honestly, if you can fix that, I could theoretically live with not using consumables (which I already don't anyway) and also only using the most powerful activated abilities at high levels and high charisma. If the rest of the system was perfected that is.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Mathmuse wrote:
Knight Magenta wrote:
I think his bigger point of players selling "cool items" for pluses is because the "cool items" often wern't. Many such items have crippling action requirements and poor save DCs that don't scale with your other options.

I just finished running The Lost Star for my players and filled out the survey. It asked whether they had found the Owlbear Claw trinket. Yes, they did, and the only thing they could do with it was sell it off because of the trinket rules.

The Owlbear Claw has the requirement that the wielder is an expert in the weapon it is affixed to. The party was 1st-level characters, Druid, Paladin, Rogue, and Wizard.

Fighers are experts in all simple and martial weapons from 1st level. Alchemists, bards, clerics, druids, sorcerers, and wizards never become experts with any weapon without an archetype. That archetype, Fighter Dedication, can give expert proficiency in weapons at 12th level. Monks become expert in unarmed strikes at 3rd level, and the Monastic Weaponry feat could extend this proficiency rank to monk weapons. Paladins and rangers become an expert in one weapon group at 5th level. Barbarians and rogues become a weapon expert at 13th level, though Animal Totem barbarians avoid weapons.

Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, page 345 wrote:
Trinket The consumable magic items called trinkets must be affixed to items before they can be activated. Most trinkets require the user to have a special feat or skill to make use of them. See pages 379–380 for the full rules on trinkets.
Jason Bulmahn said encouraging people to keep found magic items is a goal of Pathfinder 2nd Edition, yet they designed an entire new class of magic items with use restrictions that encourage selling them off.

Add on the fact that it takes an hour to attach this single-use item, and you can only have one readied at a time. That's a lot of prep needed for rather lackluster items which serve a far better purpose by selling them for half their value.

And at the upper end, the prices of consumables just gets absolutely insane. Spell Sliver: 1,900 GP to dispel a single spell (two with a feat), once. Or True Healing potion, 1,200 GP for 9d8 +30 HP. Might be useful in emergencies, but at that price, you're probably better off selling them and buying multiple lower level items that might prevent you from needing that kind of healing. The Major Healing Potion is 250 GP for 7d8+20 HP. 78% of the healing on average, at 21% of the price. The top end alchemist elixirs are also insane, but at least alchemists can create cost free imbued versions. Exponential price scaling really breaks down when you're using it on consumables.

Silver Crusade

7 people marked this as a favorite.

Part of the problem is that Paizo seems reluctant to issue errata about items. So if the item design or cost is off base, the mistake is often never corrected.

Scarab Sages

3 people marked this as a favorite.
graystone wrote:
I kind of bugs me that they seem to be on every media platform except their own website. If it wasn't for kind forum users, I wouldn't find out about 90% of the things the dev's think it's important for us to know about the playtest... :P

This Game needs to be on all media platforms, we need to get the word out there, more players makes a better playtest environment. Im in a FB group that now has 2,119 Members we are constantly discussing PF2. It's quick and easy and not nearly as hard to ask a rules question and get a quick response. I get alerts anytime someone posts on it. I love it, https://www.facebook.com/groups/2ndEdPFPlaytest/


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I suppose not everyone is as tech savvy as the next.

Liberty's Edge

11 people marked this as a favorite.
Starfinder Superscriber

Re: players keeping found magic items, I strongly suspect that ship has sailed and is not coming back.

It's part of the culture of Pathfinder that players expect to, and want to, be able to design the characters they're going to play, down to the magic items that they have. As such, found magic items are just resources that help them get the things that they've already planned to buy. A price list for all magic items makes this possible; most GMs (I believe) have then just made Ye Olde Magic Shoppe there.

PFS exacerbates this, because it's often impossible to keep found magic items given the rules, and because the difference between keeping a found magic item and buying a magic item is which list you're getting the magic item's price from when you buy it.

Golarion has ubiquitously available magic items. Even if GMs actually pay attention to the city stat blocks for available magic items, many things characters would want can easily be obtained many places. It would require changing the setting a lot to make magic items much harder to just buy. (The two Player Companion books with specific magic vendors operate in this manner... which means that they really are odd for Golarion, where all the things you can get from those specific vendors are much more easily and generically available in anonymous city stat blocks.)

Moving to a more AD&D-1e-like game where characters are expected to keep found magic items would really mean changing Pathfinder to a different game that doesn't have the Pathfinder feel. (Of course, I would argue that 2e does this in a lot of ways, undercutting one of the very few overall design goals I've actually seen articulated.)

Ye Old Magic Shoppe is what Pathfinder is. Embrace it. If you want people to have flavorful items, trying to force characters to keep found items and making it hard to buy items is just going to irritate players who expect something different from this particular game. Instead, fix the prices, so that limited flavorful items aren't hugely overpriced (the Wayfinder of the Zephyr mentioned above being a great example). In PF1e, there are a handful of "required" magic items (the big six), and a handful of other magic items that are worth the price. Nearly everything else is cool, but not worth the opportunity cost of not buying one of the ones that everybody buys. The result is Ultimate Equipment is a book full of "that'd be fun if I ever saw anybody in a game with one, but I won't".

(This also ties directly into the problem of people spamming low-level healing magic items rather than buying ones more suited to their level. A Cure Moderate Wounds potion is only a sensible purchase as an emergency in-combat recovery option. For general healing, Cure Light Wounds potions are so much more efficient per hit point that only somebody who hasn't taken a cursory look at the numbers would ever consider purchasing a Moderate potion... never mind a Serious potion. It's possible this ship has also sailed, as fixing this would require substantial changes to wealth by level, and would make things like dragons sitting on top of impressive-looking hoards impossible. The economics of all kinds of magic items in Pathfiner is completely broken, and things like resonance are just attempts to patch over some of the consequences without recognizing the true underlying problem.)


rknop wrote:

Re: players keeping found magic items, I strongly suspect that ship has sailed and is not coming back.

It's part of the culture of Pathfinder that players expect to, and want to, be able to design the characters they're going to play, down to the magic items that they have. As such, found magic items are just resources that help them get the things that they've already planned to buy. A price list for all magic items makes this possible; most GMs (I believe) have then just made Ye Olde Magic Shoppe there.

PFS exacerbates this, because it's often impossible to keep found magic items given the rules, and because the difference between keeping a found magic item and buying a magic item is which list you're getting the magic item's price from when you buy it.

Golarion has ubiquitously available magic items. Even if GMs actually pay attention to the city stat blocks for available magic items, many things characters would want can easily be obtained many places. It would require changing the setting a lot to make magic items much harder to just buy. (The two Player Companion books with specific magic vendors operate in this manner... which means that they really are odd for Golarion, where all the things you can get from those specific vendors are much more easily and generically available in anonymous city stat blocks.)

Moving to a more AD&D-1e-like game where characters are expected to keep found magic items would really mean changing Pathfinder to a different game that doesn't have the Pathfinder feel. (Of course, I would argue that 2e does this in a lot of ways, undercutting one of the very few overall design goals I've actually seen articulated.)

Ye Old Magic Shoppe is what Pathfinder is. Embrace it. If you want people to have flavorful items, trying to force characters to keep found items and making it hard to buy items is just going to irritate players who expect something different from this particular game. Instead, fix the prices, so that limited flavorful items...

My Golarion is that different. However I have only met 1.5 players in my DND/PF time that actually planned their characters around the items that they wanted to get so maybe my whole experience is odd.


7 people marked this as a favorite.
rknop wrote:
Re: players keeping found magic items, I strongly suspect that ship has sailed and is not coming back.

Yeah, buying and selling magic is here to stay. And it really should be. It made no sense in pre-3rd ed that nobody would buy or sell magic items. If something nice or useful exists, people will buy and sell it. The world has magic, there's a market for it. So it will be for sale. The demand for Everburning Torches alone would probably be huge (a light source I only need to buy once, never blows out and won't burn down my house? Cheap at twice the price.)

rknop wrote:
(This also ties directly into the problem of people spamming low-level healing magic items rather than buying ones more suited to their level. A Cure Moderate Wounds potion is only a sensible purchase as an emergency in-combat recovery option. For general healing, Cure Light Wounds potions are so much more efficient per hit point that only somebody who hasn't taken a cursory look at the numbers would ever consider purchasing a Moderate potion... never mind a Serious potion. It's possible this ship has also sailed, as fixing this would require substantial changes to wealth by level, and would make things like dragons sitting on top of impressive-looking hoards impossible. The economics of all kinds of magic items in Pathfiner is completely broken, and things like resonance are just attempts to patch over some of the consequences without recognizing the true underlying problem.)

I'm not sure potions are really a big concern in this regard anyway. I know I always see them as emergency battlefield healing (or I suppose when you're in a situation with nobody that can use the wand). They're more expensive to heal with than wands are. A first level wand is less than half the price per hit-point healed than a potion (assuming an 18 wisdom, but even wis 10 will be cheaper than a potion). So wands are much better for healing between fights while potions are for combat when time is of the essence. The action cost in combat already incentivizes using the best you've got (within reason, things would have to be dire before I drank a True Healing potion, that's over 10 pounds of gold worth of potion, you can sell it at half price and buy two Major, one greater and two moderate healing potions instead). The prices should be more balanced for the amount of healing done, but I don't think they're as big of an issue as wands are.


I don't agree with the Old magic shoppe thing and have always GMed to prevent its existence. In a way, I prefer the 5E system with nebulous access to specific magic items. It won't hurt Pathfinder to me to see it gone, though we already know it isn't.

It's really just PFS that made it kinda mandatory with Prestige and all, specially when CLW wands are concerned.


11 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Okay, let's make one thing clear: Jason was talking about a +50 bonus to Acrobatics, and how there are no opponents in Pathfinder which need those kind of bonuses.

That is categorically false in the first place. Every Great Wyrm dragon in the first bestiary has a CMD over 50, even the great wyrm white dragon (kinda sounds like a KKK title to me... ^^) with a 51. There are numerous monsters and AP bosses which have CMD's over 60.

So, yeah, bonus stacking to an absurd degree is problematic (and much moreso in Diplomacy than Acrobatics, IMHO), but also somewhat asked for by existing game design. And it comes at the cost of being less optimal at other things, which is how I personally like it.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Luceon wrote:
graystone wrote:
I kind of bugs me that they seem to be on every media platform except their own website. If it wasn't for kind forum users, I wouldn't find out about 90% of the things the dev's think it's important for us to know about the playtest... :P

This Game needs to be on all media platforms, we need to get the word out there, more players makes a better playtest environment. Im in a FB group that now has 2,119 Members we are constantly discussing PF2. It's quick and easy and not nearly as hard to ask a rules question and get a quick response. I get alerts anytime someone posts on it. I love it, https://www.facebook.com/groups/2ndEdPFPlaytest/

graystone wrote:
I'm not suggesting they NOT use other platforms, just that they not forget this one. I know that I'm not the only one that's complained about this and it doesn't seem that asking for bullet points of info given out other places is asking too much IMO. Heck, even a listing of links to them and what is on each link posted in a central location would be a vast improvement. Right now, I'm relying on the kindness of strangers to give me a heads up.

Secondly, I can no longer access facebook as a few weeks ago they updated their security and reset a bunch of passwords, mine included. To set a new password I just need a code they'll send to my cell phone... Now if I only HAD a cell phone... :P

rknop wrote:
The economics of all kinds of magic items in Pathfiner is completely broken, and things like resonance are just attempts to patch over some of the consequences without recognizing the true underlying problem

This has been their MO for quite some time. Like the 'problem' with crane wing. Everyone knew the problem was with early access to the feat with MoMS but instead of fixing the actual issue, they 'fixed', and 'refixed' and 'refixed some more' the poor feat that was just sitting there and minding its own business NOT causing any problem when you used in as intended. So it seems the 'pathfinder way' to come down hard on the consequences of a problem while leaving the core issue alone.


8 people marked this as a favorite.
Vidmaster7 wrote:
I suppose not everyone is as tech savvy as the next.

Or that some people are tech savvy enough to make the informed decision that a company with a privacy record like Facebook is not to be trusted with their name, face and online footprint.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Relying only on the magic items you find is problamatic as long as DC's have the assumption that you always have the best item baked into them.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
graystone wrote:
I kind of bugs me that they seem to be on every media platform except their own website. If it wasn't for kind forum users, I wouldn't find out about 90% of the things the dev's think it's important for us to know about the playtest... :P

We are here as well, but the nature of boards means that content tends to get lost or buried rather quickly, not to mention the fact that this medium is lacking in a few ways on texture and context.

It is great for communicating directly with a fan over a specific problem, the only issue there being you outnumber us about 10,000 to 1.

Right tool for the right job and all...

Besides, this was not entirely aimed at this audience, talking more about some of my personal design philosophy, some of which is not entirely shared by the staff.

Transcripts are a thing. Just saying.

1 to 50 of 72 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Archive / Pathfinder / Playtests & Prerelease Discussions / Pathfinder Playtest / Pathfinder Playtest General Discussion / Jason Bulmahn: Design Musings: The Economics of Fantasy RPGs All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.