Who has been at your Playtest table?


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I've had playtest sessions for four groups. Two in Doomsday Dawn, one in Rose Street Revenge, and my regular homebrew group.

I'm curious who your players have been? What's their background and TTRPG experience? What have they played? What did they individually think of the playtest?

Here are mine so far.

Who - Pop. My Dad.
Previous Experience - A single session of Pathfinder First Edition. Master of the Fallen Fortress. No interest in TTRPG until this year after reading some Forgotten Realms novels.
What did he play - Halfing Monk
What did he think - Generally positive. Not much feedback on mechanics, more focused on story elements. Did like starting wealth, character creation, and action economy more than First Edition. Said they were less confusing.

Who - The Wife. My Spouse.
Previous Experience - Decades of D&D, White Wolf, and Pathfinder.
What did she play - Human Fighter and Dwarf Barbarian
What did she think (v 1 and update 1.3)- She was shocked that playing a Fighter was dynamic and fun. Loved the action economy and critical system. Disappointed by Barbarian as compared to Fighter.

Who - The Brother. D&D diehard who prefers 3.5 and Fifth to Pathfinder.
Previous Experience - Lots of D&D 3.5 and Fifth Edition experience. Some Mouseguard and other random one offs.
What did he play (v1 and update 1.2) - Halfling Bard
What did he think - "Don't see why we'd play this instead of Fifth Edition."

Who - The Rookie.
Previous Experience - Three sessions of Fate Core.
What did he play - Human Fighter
What did he think - Positive. Liked the core rules but found the secondary rules confusing. Said this was more his speed than Fate Core.

Who - The Novice.
Previous Experience - Introduced him to TTRPG with a Pathfinder First Edition campaign three years ago. Also, some Fate Core and Starfinder.
What did he play - Dwarf Barbarian
What did he think (v1 and update 1.2) - Very excited about the system and the changes, very disappointed by how outclassed Barbarian seemed to be by the Fighter in the group.

Who - Long time GM of other systems.
Previous Experience - Lots of homebrew systems as well as D&D,
What did he play - Human Sorcerer
Pathfinder First Edition, D&D 3.5, Battletech, Fate Cote, etc.
What did he think - Positive. Very excited about action economy and more tactical gameplay. Major problem he had was the organization of the rulebook.

Who - Dad and two teenage sons from Church.
Previous Experience - Halfway through Fifth Edition Storm King’s Thunder. One son is DMing.
What did they play - Goblin Alchemist, Human Rogue, Human Fighter
What did they think (update 1.2) - Extremely positive (but was it because of the system or the experience of TTRPG with an established players/non-familial GM?). They did note that they loved the customization options many times.

Who - Fumbler. Novice player with terrible die luck.
Previous Experience - Introduced him to TTRPG with a Pathfinder First Edition campaign three years ago. Some Star Trek Adventures as well.
What did he play - Human Alchemist
What did he think (update 1.3)- Very positive. Liked the changes to Alchemist and the action economy. But he did have abnormally good luck (for him) rolling that session.

Who - New Pathfinder GM.
Previous Experience - Introduced her to TTRPG with a Pathfinder First Edition campaign three years ago. She's now running Rise of the Runelords for a group.
What did she play - Human Fey Sorcerer with Fighter Dedication
What did she think (update 1.3)- Positive. Liked the action economy and skill feats.

Who - The quiet one.
Previous Experience - Several D&D 3.5 games in University and, more recently, Pathfinder First Edition with me.
What did he play - Half Elf Ranger with Rogue Dedication
What did he think (update 1.3)- Not sure. He was very quiet. He usually is but he keeps on coming back so he must be having a good time.

Who - That guy from work.
Previous Experience - D&D Fifth Edition. Maybe some other versions? Not sure.
What did he play - Gnome Sorcerer
What did he think (update 1.2)- Generally positive. Liked action economy and faster combat.

Who - DM from University.
Previous Experience - Decades of D&D 3/3.5, d20 Modern, and White Wolf. Some Pathfinder First Edition as a player. (His true love is White Wolf.)
What did he play - Halfling Sorcerer
What did he think (update 1.2)- Not much feedback. Liked the action economy with casting and expressed surprise at how fast character creation was.

How about you? Who has been at your playtest table?


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1. Wife. Grandmaster of a dozen different roleplaying systems and frequent derailer of modules by playing characters more motivated and sensible than the module expected. She played goblin mindquake-survivor paladin Harvey Wallbanger for The Lost Star and human Mountain-Lore nomad barbarian Haku Na Matata for Pale Mountain.

She thinks the playtest rules need more development. They are not flexible enough for her yet.

2. Housemate. Played in many D&D and my most recent Pathfinder Iron Gods campaign. He is a biophysics Ph.D. and a wilderness hiker and studies medieval crafting, so he knows everything an adventurer would. He played elf scholar wizard Orizion in The Lost Star and half-elf scout ranger Walker in Pale Mountain.

He thinks the rules are not realistic enough.

3. Newbie. This physicist and engineer never played a roleplaying game before I invited him to my Iron Gods campaign. It turns out he does not have a memory for rules, so he ended up a perpetual newbie. He played dwarf scout druid Longspike for The Lost Star and half-orc scholar wizard with fighter archetype for Pale Mountain.

He wants to optimize his character so that he can handle everything in the game. He thinks he has almost figured out how.

4. Church friend. This science fiction and fantasy fan had played AD&D back in college but nothing since. She seems to remember the AD&D tactics well. She played halfling scout rogue Tover in The Lost Star and gnome nomad (gnomad?) alchemist in Pale Mountain.

She wants to play the game without reading every single rule. Nevertheless, she knows the rules better than the newbie.

0. Self. A gamer mathematician, I played AD&D in college, D&D 2nd Edition and 3rd Edition when my daughters were old enough to join in (ages 5 and 6), and Pathfinder since 2012. I have an odd memory for rules and once read and memorized the Magic: the Gathering rulebook. I serve as the GM.

I want to analyze the rules via advanced mathematical models, some of which I posted to this forum. However, good models need real data to verify them. I am conflicted whether to offer my usual houserules or to drop them for the playtest.

By the way, the youngest player is age 55, and all except the newbie are retired.


Mathmuse wrote:
0. Self. A gamer mathematician, I played AD&D in college, D&D 2nd Edition and 3rd Edition when my daughters were old enough to join in (ages 5 and 6), and Pathfinder since 2012. I have an odd memory for rules and once read and memorized the Magic: the Gathering rulebook. I serve as the GM.

Good point! The Game Master is at the table.

Who - Kaihaku
Previous Experience - Started with Second Edition. Lots of homebrew systems, freeform, White Wolf, and d20 System (3/3.5/Modern/Future/Pathfinder/Starfinder) since then. Some GURPS, Fourth Edition, Mouseguard, and so on.
What did Kai do - Game Master
What did Kai think - It's complicated. Every session has been fantastic and I'm generally pleased with the combat rules (increasingly so with each update), but there's a lingering sense that something's not quite right. I agree with the Grandmaster that actions feel too limited. My preferred GM style is to play heavily off the players and they feel very restricted out of combat.


Mathmuse wrote:
1. Wife. Grandmaster of a dozen different roleplaying systems and frequent derailer of modules by playing characters more motivated and sensible than the module expected.

That's cool, derailing and what-not, I guess, but that borders on: I once got into a group, and one of the players smugly announced "They call me the Spanner, because I throw a spanner in the works.". I left.


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The veteran gamer Decades of playing and sometimes STing White Wolf, dabbled in AD&D, years of 3rd and PF(1), occasional forays into the Buffy and Witchcraft games, tiny amount of BESM, and a few random one shot games in systems like Elric or Project A-ko.

Played a Goblin Alchemist, and was excited for it initially. Interest waned quickly over first three sessions. Was excited when I called for a game change after the sixth session. He found the inability to get better at his bomb throwing frustrating, felt like his combat options otherwise were very limited, and was hoping to be a healing and support type with alchemy only to find the class ill suited for such. Did enjoy role-playing up the goblin character, portraying him as an atrocious gormand.

The Impulsive
Eight or so years between D&D 4, PF(1), and D&D 5, some White Wolf, always a player.

Played a halfling rogue (classic, no?). Was consistently the best damage dealer, and rolled less than 14 maybe three times in six sessions. Was fine with the playtest system, although he did think skill feats looked mostly boring. He would frequently end combats with ten or less HP. Played just short (no pun intended) of Kender style, regularly taking everything that wasn't nailed down or under direct observation.

The Reserved One
About six years mixed experience with White Wolf, D&D 3, and PF(1) all during games I ran.

Played an Elf Sorceress (dragon), with a half blaster spell selection. She was frustrated by constantly missing with her cantrips, frustrated by trying to line up her leveled spells that didn't require an attack roll, and was the first character to use the Dying rules (pre first fix). As the story went on, her ancestry became more consequential than her class.

The First of Her Name (me)
Decades of experience STing and rarely playing White Wolf (WoD, Exalted, and Aberrant), combined decades of DMing AD&D, 3, and PF(1), some Star Wars (WEG and the first d20), L5R 1st ed, and short excursions into Deadlands, Shadowrun, CoC, Elric, the Angel rpg, and In Nominae. One shots in too many systems to recall.

Played a DMNPC Human Cleric (of Sarenrae, healing domain of course). I was impressed by the sheer healing potential she had, was completely underwhelmed by her near complete inability to hit enemies. Found the character satisfying from the standpoint of keeping the party alive effectively, quite unsatisfying in other regards. Found most of the Cleric class feats uninteresting, so tried multi class to Fighter. Liked the multi class feat system. I liked the character concept and may reuse it for another game in a different system.

Overall, everyone liked the chargen system, finding it more interesting and personal to the character than point buy or random rolls.


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I recruited my 5e group as well as someone that contacted me via a message board at my FLGS. We're currently in part 2 as we alternate Doomsday Dawn sessions with our 5e sessions.

My 5e DM has played 5e for a year and a bit. He had no other experience with tabletop RPGs prior to the playtest. In the playtest he has played a human paladin of Iomedae and an elven rogue. He is enjoying the playtest so far and this is the first time he has been a player, rather than a DM

His wife also has only played 5e previously and in the playtest she has played a half-even druid of Desna and a goblin paladin of Desna (Talga Moonjumper, née Mudchewer from part 1). Sure paladins cannot be CG but I hand-waved it as there are no mechanical ramifications.

My third player has years of Pathfinder experience and has played an elven cleric of Nethys and an elven wizard in the playtest. He's having fun as well, especially with character creation. He's the kind of person that will spend ten hours or more creating a single character, not for optimization but for flavor.

My last player is the most recent addition to our group and has a tremendous amount of experience with Pathfinder. In the playtest he's played a gnome bard and an elven cleric of Gozreh. He's enjoying his time as well, though being the newest member of the group isn't as vocal as the others. He has also joined the 5e game.

And then there's me, the GM of our playtest game. I've played many RPGs over the years, going back to D&D's early editions in the 1980s.


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Vic Ferrari wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
1. Wife. Grandmaster of a dozen different roleplaying systems and frequent derailer of modules by playing characters more motivated and sensible than the module expected.
That's cool, derailing and what-not, I guess, but that borders on: I once got into a group, and one of the players smugly announced "They call me the Spanner, because I throw a spanner in the works.". I left.

I have mentioned in other threads that my wife frequently derails adventure paths, and they, too, have assumed she is a disruptive influence like the Spanner. I added the qualifier, "more motivated and sensible" to try to explain that she derails campaigns by doing the opposite. She derails games by enhancing them and giving the players a better story.

And I gave her full carte blanche to break the chapters of Doomsday Dawn. Paizo needs to make the system strong enough to handle grandmaster players like her.

Let me give some examples of her previous derailments. The Jade Regent examples contain minor spoilers.

Night of Frozen Shadows:
My wife played a ninja Ebony Blossom in the Jade Regent adventure path, due to its Minkian (pseudo-Japanese) theme. This ninja was of a clan that used to serve the Amatatsu family before that royal familiy disappeared. She suspected that Ameiko Kaijitsu and her half-sister Amaya of Westcrown were secretly descendents of the Amatatsu family. The first module confirmed this. When Amaya was willing to travel to Minkai, Ebony Blossom metaphorically glued herself to Amaya as her bodyguard. Restoring the Amatatsu clan became Ebony Blosson's life purpose on which she staked all her honor.

In Night of Frozen Shadows, the Frozen Shadows ninjas were supposed to kidnap Amaya off scene, so that the party could rescue her. How could they do so when Amya had a bodyguard? I combined two of the other Frozen Shadow plans into a giant distraction and hoped to pull off the kidnapping then. The distraction was not enough, and the party killed the kidnappers before they could spirit Amaya away. Derailed.

Fortunately, the party was willing to defeat the Frozen Shadows without such a personal stake.

Tide of Honor:
In the 5th module of Jade Regent, Tide of Honor, the party is supposed to lead a rebellion against the corrupt oni-controlled government of Minkai. Because leading a rebellion would fill more than one module, the adventure is set up as a montage of important steps in the rebellion. The party does not select those steps, so the module is known for being a railroad.

The party, influenced by my wife, said, "Rebellion? We don't need a rebellion. We have the true heir to the throne here, Amaya Amatatsu." They made a new plan. First, they would become popular folk heroes by rescuing people from roving oni, corrupt officials, evil wizards, etc. Everyone would know their names and respect their honor. Second, they would expose that the emperor was not in hiding; instead, the regent had murdered him and was falsely ruling in his name. Third, they would expose their own secret, that one of the well-known heroes, Amaya, was the true heir. Fourth, once Amaya became empress, they would finish rooting out the oni.

That plan was better than the module's built-in plan. I had no objection, so the module was derailed. I had to significantly rewrite the story to create new adventures for them, but I was able to use half the material in the module. And because the party was in control, the rewritten module was not railroady at all.

The Iron Gods examples probably don't need spoiler shields.

In the 1st module of Iron Gods, Fires of Creation, the party is supposed to discover that villains have hidden alien technology in a warehouse guarded by the local criminal gang, the Ropefists. The module expects the party to fight the Ropefist thugs to break into the warehouse. Instead, my wife's character Boffin went to Boffin's 2nd-cousin twice removed, town councilor Dolga Freddert, and reported their discovery. Dolga sent the town guard to talk to the owner of the warehouse and investigate it. The owner, secretly the leader of the Ropefists, blamed everything on his associate, "I had no idea she was involved in criminal activity," pretended the Ropefists were legitimate guards he had hired, and let the town guard into the warehouse.

That was a minor derailment, but it set the tone for the entire adventure path. The party was legitimate townsfolk working against criminal organizations.

In the 2nd module, Lords of Rust, the party traces the mysterious associate back to Scrapwall, a shantytown in a high-tech junkyard. Scrapwall is inhabited by former bandits, descendents of bandits, people in hiding from their enemies, escaped slaves, and other refugees. Pages 16-17 discuss how Scrapwall will react to how the party presents themeselves:
"Crusaders: If the PCs look like crusaders or other obvious
forces of good or law and present an air of wanting to clean
out Scrapwall, they are told to turn around and leave—that
Scrapwall has nothing for them. ..."
The other options discussed are Adventurers, Scoundrels, Technic League, or Members of a Scrapwall Gang. The party chose another option: People in hiding from the Technic League. That is similar to Scoundrels, but instead of carving out a new Scrapwall gang for themselves as scoundrels would, they tried to find a trade and live as townsfolk. Uniting around the bard in the party (not my wife's character), they held concerts.

The module was set up to make allies or enemies with the gangs of Scrapwall in a series of fights. It did not describe the day-to-day life of a Scrapwall resident. Derailed.

Several modules later, in Palace of Fallen Stars, the 5th module of Iron Gods, they pulled the same trick. They had made up false names in Scrapwall and had continued adventuring under those names, returning home to their real identities for peaceful downtime. Entering the city of Starfall, home of the Technic League, was supposed to be difficult, because by then they would be notorious enemies of the Technic League. Instead, they walked into the city on legitimate business under their real identities, with whom the Technic League had no gripe. At 12th level they pretended to be 1st or 2nd level, which was an unusual challenge.

They left in a hurry in the middle of the 5th module when their cover identities began to unravel. They went to Silver Mount adjacent to Starfall, site of the 6th module, The Divinity Drive. Instead of fighting their way in as the module intended, Boffin talked to the ruler of Silver Mount over the radio and persuaded him to hire them as a repair crew. In other words, they spent almost the entire 6th module working for the final villain, learning his secrets and befriending his minions. Derailment supreme.

As for my wife derailing Doomsday Dawn, that has begun. She put a twist on The Lost Star, but started truly breaking the PF2 system in In Pale Mountain's Shadow: Expert Climber Aiding Trained Climbers.


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Mathmuse wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
1. Wife. Grandmaster of a dozen different roleplaying systems and frequent derailer of modules by playing characters more motivated and sensible than the module expected.
That's cool, derailing and what-not, I guess, but that borders on: I once got into a group, and one of the players smugly announced "They call me the Spanner, because I throw a spanner in the works.". I left.
I have mentioned in other threads that my wife frequently derails adventure paths, and they, too, have assumed she is a disruptive influence like the Spanner. I added the qualifier, "more motivated and sensible" to try to explain that she derails campaigns by doing the opposite. She derails games by enhancing them and giving the players a better story.

Sounds like the ideal player. There's a massive difference between the player who is disruptive just to be disruptive and the player who is disruptive because they are deeply engaged with the narrative.


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The Once and Future Kai wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
1. Wife. Grandmaster of a dozen different roleplaying systems and frequent derailer of modules by playing characters more motivated and sensible than the module expected.
That's cool, derailing and what-not, I guess, but that borders on: I once got into a group, and one of the players smugly announced "They call me the Spanner, because I throw a spanner in the works.". I left.
I have mentioned in other threads that my wife frequently derails adventure paths, and they, too, have assumed she is a disruptive influence like the Spanner. I added the qualifier, "more motivated and sensible" to try to explain that she derails campaigns by doing the opposite. She derails games by enhancing them and giving the players a better story.
Sounds like the ideal player. There's a massive difference between the player who is disruptive just to be disruptive and the player who is disruptive because they are deeply engaged with the narrative.

I'd love some players like this (I like the term "Grandmaster Player").

My players spend ages trying to work out "what the module expects us to do" and if they can't they tend to do nothing. It's incredibly frustrating to try to get them to care about the story and the setting when they're pretty explicitly playing the game as a series of milestones to check off. :(


Steve Geddes wrote:
The Once and Future Kai wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
1. Wife. Grandmaster of a dozen different roleplaying systems and frequent derailer of modules by playing characters more motivated and sensible than the module expected.
That's cool, derailing and what-not, I guess, but that borders on: I once got into a group, and one of the players smugly announced "They call me the Spanner, because I throw a spanner in the works.". I left.
I have mentioned in other threads that my wife frequently derails adventure paths, and they, too, have assumed she is a disruptive influence like the Spanner. I added the qualifier, "more motivated and sensible" to try to explain that she derails campaigns by doing the opposite. She derails games by enhancing them and giving the players a better story.
Sounds like the ideal player. There's a massive difference between the player who is disruptive just to be disruptive and the player who is disruptive because they are deeply engaged with the narrative.

I'd love some players like this (I like the term "Grandmaster Player").

My players spend ages trying to work out "what the module expects us to do" and if they can't they tend to do nothing. It's incredibly frustrating to try to get them to care about the story and the setting when they're pretty explicitly playing the game as a series of milestones to check off. :(

That would seem like a presentation issue.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Nah, we’ve spoken about it at length and that’s just how they like to play. They’re really just interested in tactical decisions. I’m pretty much the only one in our group with interest in the story/setting, mores the pity.


Steve Geddes wrote:
Nah, we’ve spoken about it at length and that’s just how they like to play. They’re really just interested in tactical decisions. I’m pretty much the only one in our group with interest in the story/setting, mores the pity.

Totally, I understand.

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