I do not see the rhyme or reason behind 2e's rarity system.


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It's another tool for GMs to use, that is all. Even if you are gonna make your own lists, this will save you a lot of work by have a default for every item, as well as having an official framework to limit options in the game.

Also, from a setting standpoint, it is really helpful for establishing certain elements of the setting. One example is Blood Money, mentioned up thread. This was supposed to be a spell unique to Karzoug. It was never meant to be a common spell, but rather a unique bit of flavor for the main bad guy and possibly a reward for beating him. We all saw how that played out. Now we have a framework for this.


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Albatoonoe wrote:
It's another tool for GMs to use, that is all. Even if you are gonna make your own lists, this will save you a lot of work by have a default for every item, as well as having an official framework to limit options in the game.

I virtually guarentee that the people designing content for Paizo are going to uses it as an excuse for dubiously designed content with the rationale of "the GM will vet it so it doesn't matter if it is OP or broken". Oh, and it means that non-common stuff is going to be designed with the assumption that if it causes problems then it is the GM's problem because they allowed it, instead of designing content that meshes with the rest of the system from the start. To pick an example, we still don't have a good way of warding large areas from teleportation, but hey teleport is uncommon so it is the GM's problem. We are taking 1 step forward and 2 steps back.

As an aside, while double checking that the above example was correct, I couldn't help but notice that a sorcerer bloodline and a cleric god pick (nethys) both grant access to Teleport, which is the go-to choice for "plot wrecker" spells.

I am sorry, did I say 1 forward, 2 back. I meant 2 steps back, and then one sideways onto a rake. Because what the hell is the point of restricting general access to this stuff if PCs are explicitly allowed to pick it anyway through slightly roundabout means if they really want to.

Quote:
Also, from a setting standpoint, it is really helpful for establishing certain elements of the setting. One example is Blood Money, mentioned up thread. This was supposed to be a spell unique to Karzoug. It was never meant to be a common spell, but rather a unique bit of flavor for the main bad guy and possibly a reward for beating him. We all saw how that played out. Now we have a framework for this.

You know what would be nice. If this wasn't mixed in with the frameworks for setting flavor restrictions and house rule enabling conveniences, among other things. Oh, and if it wasn't half assed (see the aside above). That would also be nice.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
thejeff wrote:

Or the Vlad Taltos books, for slightly less dark take on it.

Morganti blades for permanent death, but also normal killing "just to send a message". Even if you're resurrected, it can be chilling to know that an assassin can get to you. And maybe next time, he'll make it permanent.

Have to admit, the Sorcerous Enfilade in the Malazan series is horrifying, at an 'unleashed WMDs' kind of way. Only happens a couple of times that a High Mage, Ascendant or High Priest takes off all the safeties and goes for it..but every time it's portrayed as terrifying for the hostile army on the wrong end.

Voss wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Or the Vlad Taltos books, for slightly less dark take on it.

Morganti blades for permanent death, but also normal killing "just to send a message". Even if you're resurrected, it can be chilling to know that an assassin can get to you. And maybe next time, he'll make it permanent.

That isn't 'less dark.' Morganti weapons destroy souls, in a setting where reincarnation and thousand year lifespans are known facts. People have been utterly obliterated accidentally and in casual fights in those novels.

A soul trap effect is usually an order of magnitude less horrifying (unless people are doing something nasty to said soul). If it's just in a box to out wait the time limits on spells or a statue of limitations it isn't nearly the same level of horror.

Erm, you haven't read the Malazan series I take it? Vlad Taltos is less dark in tone...and in implications, I'd take a Morganti weapon over Dragnipur any day of the week. Or what the followers of the Crippled God would do...or what happens to T'Lan Imass who are to damaged to move.... Or what happens to anyone who makes Hood (The God of Death) truly hacked off with them.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I like the rarity system.

Like alignment, it's pretty much super easy to ignore if you don't like it, and it allows you to easily have a diversity of options that you can customize to a given specific setting.


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Rob Godfrey wrote:
you forgot an option: 'Stop trying to avoid the implications implicit in a high fantasy system, ofc diplomats teleport, to not do so is akin to a modern setting not using jet aircraft', magic solves problems, especially for the rich and powerful, Kings teleport, oligarchs get resurrected, village priests use Heal to save accident victims, or at least they should, because that is the logical implication of the setting, to not do so is to make NPCs stupid, which makes the setting less believable, and removes some of the wonder of the place.

That is built into the system. If your setting includes these spells as commonplace among the population, then make them common. Nothing prevents you from doing that.

Have a teleportation shuttle service for diplomats, nobility, high ranking trade guild members, and anyone else with the wealth needed. Have those diplomats always accompanied by a spellcaster capable of casting Tongues. That makes sense. And if you have built your adventures to account for this, that would be awesome.

But in this case it is easier to have your preferred play style be the exception rather than the norm. It is easier to remove or relax the restriction system than it is to add it in.


Snowblind wrote:
Albatoonoe wrote:
It's another tool for GMs to use, that is all. Even if you are gonna make your own lists, this will save you a lot of work by have a default for every item, as well as having an official framework to limit options in the game.
I virtually guarentee that the people designing content for Paizo are going to uses it as an excuse for dubiously designed content with the rationale of "the GM will vet it so it doesn't matter if it is OP or broken". Oh, and it means that non-common stuff is going to be designed with the assumption that if it causes problems then it is the GM's problem because they allowed it...

This is actually a good point. Historically, I find that a lot of the options in the little splat books tend to be rather more powerful than main book options. How much worse will that problem get if they can just slap an uncommon label on anything too strong?


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Igor Horvat wrote:

Common teleport?

How many 11th level wizards you think there is?

1) I was referring to common in terms of rarity, since any old wizard could take it when they leveled, grab a scroll, etc. (& why wouldn't they considering the PF1 version's power?)

2) A separate problem, but that's a good question. I've never gotten a clear answer to what the level expectation/population distribution of the system is expected to be and frequently encounter very different assumptions based on GM. I've seen GM's act as if passing level X turns the PCs into gods that normal humans can only admire from afar, GMs that say even level 20 PCs will be reigned in by more powerful NPCs if the decide to just go genocidal, and pretty much everything in between.

However, even if high level characters are rare, once the PCs reach high level they'd primarily be interested in interacting with other high level people. No one is interested in assassinating a random peasant, but an influential ruler of a large area wasn't going to stay in power for very long if they didn't have some form of anti-teleportation defense (which was often extremely difficult for a GM to make without handwaving it). Not to mention that the existence of Ye Old Magic Mart often implies that there are not only high level crafters making items available, but enough high level people for there to be a market to sell those items to.

Igor Horvat wrote:

How do you handle now that there are private jets and yet majority of population goes around with public transportation.

Also now, teleport is not pin point accurate across large distances.

Private jets couldn't suddenly appear in your bedroom without warning or notice, so it's not really an accurate comparison. Which is probably part of the reason that the current iteration of Teleport got hit with such nerfs in the first place.

And even with a non-pinpoint accurate teleport, having access to it drastically changes a setting similar to how air travel changed ours. Trading routes get re-written, society undergoes a massive shift, and land barriers become almost meaningless. This may not be an issue in a modern setting, but a swords & fantasy setting typically isn't assumed to just be the modern world plus magic and sans guns. Assigning things like teleport to a rarity allows the GM to actually control that aspect of the setting when making their world.

For example, I've long been considering making an adventure that deals with the historical struggles of the trans-Saharan trading route, something which required very careful coordination or else the entire caravan died. In PF1, this was an impossible story to make compelling due to Create Water being a cantrip, Endure Elements being a ridiculously powerful 1st level spell that could easily be tossed on a wand, and Teleport making it so that anything really valuable that needed transportation would be cheaper to just skip the desert entirely (part of the reason the centuries-old route isn't very popular in today's world, despite being a cornerstone of empires in the past). The rarity system (among other changes) drastically improves my ability as a GM to help set the conditions of the world so as to make this type of journey possible without creating inconsistencies within the setting or being seen as GM Badwrongfun who just has a massive list of bans for little reason.


Snowblind wrote:

As an aside, while double checking that the above example was correct, I couldn't help but notice that a sorcerer bloodline and a cleric god pick (nethys) both grant access to Teleport, which is the go-to choice for "plot wrecker" spells.

I am sorry, did I say 1 forward, 2 back. I meant 2 steps back, and then one sideways onto a rake. Because what the hell is the point of restricting general access to this stuff if PCs are explicitly allowed to pick it anyway through slightly roundabout means if they really want to.

I didn't bother searching for the sorcerer part, but as of at least 1.4 Nethys doesn't give that spell anymore.


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I mean, the biggest reason to make "teleport" not a common part of doing business is that it's kind of inaccurate at long distances, and most diplomats aren't necessarily people who are going to be okay if they get dropped in the haunted swamp next to the meeting place, rather than the meeting place. I could see it not being preferred for normal affairs of state, just for emergencies.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
breithauptclan wrote:
Rob Godfrey wrote:
you forgot an option: 'Stop trying to avoid the implications implicit in a high fantasy system, ofc diplomats teleport, to not do so is akin to a modern setting not using jet aircraft', magic solves problems, especially for the rich and powerful, Kings teleport, oligarchs get resurrected, village priests use Heal to save accident victims, or at least they should, because that is the logical implication of the setting, to not do so is to make NPCs stupid, which makes the setting less believable, and removes some of the wonder of the place.

That is built into the system. If your setting includes these spells as commonplace among the population, then make them common. Nothing prevents you from doing that.

Have a teleportation shuttle service for diplomats, nobility, high ranking trade guild members, and anyone else with the wealth needed. Have those diplomats always accompanied by a spellcaster capable of casting Tongues. That makes sense. And if you have built your adventures to account for this, that would be awesome.

But in this case it is easier to have your preferred play style be the exception rather than the norm. It is easier to remove or relax the restriction system than it is to add it in.

True, this response came from both how much Starfinder avoiding the implications of it's tech and magic makes me head desk, and a WebDM thought experiment about how much magic should change a medieval setting, a 'hard 'fantasy' if you will (damn that sounds perverse) that instead of being an expy of earth but with magic, tries to follow the implications and results of that magic to a semi logical and coherent finish,


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O. N. wrote:
Snowblind wrote:

As an aside, while double checking that the above example was correct, I couldn't help but notice that a sorcerer bloodline and a cleric god pick (nethys) both grant access to Teleport, which is the go-to choice for "plot wrecker" spells.

I am sorry, did I say 1 forward, 2 back. I meant 2 steps back, and then one sideways onto a rake. Because what the hell is the point of restricting general access to this stuff if PCs are explicitly allowed to pick it anyway through slightly roundabout means if they really want to.

I didn't bother searching for the sorcerer part, but as of at least 1.4 Nethys doesn't give that spell anymore.

The Sorcerer bloodline still has it.

I feel like reminding people that this is in the core rule book (or the playtest version of it, at least). This is Paizo attempting to put their best foot forward. It only goes downhill from here when we get to the splat-books.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So as far as uncommon weapons go, I feel the system right now is failing very hard. The way things are currently set up, a katana is strictly inferior to a longsword. I would literally rather not have any rules for katanas whatsoever than have this. It's mean-spirited and punitive for players who want to be a samurai, and doesn't offer anything interesting to the system (it's literally just a refluffed longsword).

As far as uncommon spells and items go, I'd agree that there is little consistency currently. There are some great options that are common, and a bunch of innocuous stuff that's uncommon. This also ties in heavily to the overnerfed spellcasting issue, since many of the spells that were potentially problematic in PF1 just aren't in PF2 but got tagged as uncommon anyways. Certainly the teleport spell needs buffing, because in its nerfed state it doesn't actually work for tables that do want it.

Snowblind wrote:
I virtually guarentee that the people designing content for Paizo are going to uses it as an excuse for dubiously designed content with the rationale of "the GM will vet it so it doesn't matter if it is OP or broken".

To be fair, the player companion line has always been like that. Do I even need to bring up such gems as Sacred Geometry or the Pact Wizard?


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Snowblind wrote:
Albatoonoe wrote:
It's another tool for GMs to use, that is all. Even if you are gonna make your own lists, this will save you a lot of work by have a default for every item, as well as having an official framework to limit options in the game.
I virtually guarentee that the people designing content for Paizo are going to uses it as an excuse for dubiously designed content with the rationale of "the GM will vet it so it doesn't matter if it is OP or broken".

This would be a huge improvement from the "LOL, nothing matters" approach to balancing traditionally found in the Player Companion line.

Corwin Icewolf wrote:
Snowblind wrote:
Albatoonoe wrote:
It's another tool for GMs to use, that is all. Even if you are gonna make your own lists, this will save you a lot of work by have a default for every item, as well as having an official framework to limit options in the game.
I virtually guarentee that the people designing content for Paizo are going to uses it as an excuse for dubiously designed content with the rationale of "the GM will vet it so it doesn't matter if it is OP or broken". Oh, and it means that non-common stuff is going to be designed with the assumption that if it causes problems then it is the GM's problem because they allowed it...
This is actually a good point. Historically, I find that a lot of the options in the little splat books tend to be rather more powerful than main book options. How much worse will that problem get if they can just slap an uncommon label on anything too strong?

It can't get any worse. That god mode Psychic spell (+level to everything for forever) in Psychic Anthology is rock bottom, but at least if it was made Rare your GM would know to look at it and punch you in the nose for asking.


Snowblind wrote:

The Sorcerer bloodline still has it.

I feel like reminding people that this is in the core rule book (or the playtest version of it, at least). This is Paizo attempting to put their best foot forward. It only goes downhill from here when we get to the splat-books.

The sorcerer bloodline gives you Teleport, because the sorcerer bloodline gives you either the occult or the arcana spell list. It is, if you notice, still marked as uncommon. P. 127: "You choose these from the common spells on the spell list corresponding to your bloodline in this book, or from other spells on that spell list to which you gain access." Meaning you still have to speak to your GM (be it by buying it with your money ingame or finding it as loot) to get it. So...yes? Wizards and Bards also get it. What of it?


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O. N. wrote:
Snowblind wrote:

The Sorcerer bloodline still has it.

I feel like reminding people that this is in the core rule book (or the playtest version of it, at least). This is Paizo attempting to put their best foot forward. It only goes downhill from here when we get to the splat-books.

The sorcerer bloodline gives you Teleport, because the sorcerer bloodline gives you either the occult or the arcana spell list. It is, if you notice, still marked as uncommon. P. 127: "You choose these from the common spells on the spell list corresponding to your bloodline in this book, or from other spells on that spell list to which you gain access." Meaning you still have to speak to your GM (be it by buying it with your money ingame or finding it as loot) to get it. So...yes? Wizards and Bards also get it. What of it?

I believe the sorcerer bloodline in question is the Imperial one, which gives you teleport as its 6th level spell.

If that's intended to be covered by the "uncommon" rule and thus dependent on GM permission, that's weird as hell and needs to be addressed.


thejeff wrote:

I believe the sorcerer bloodline in question is the Imperial one, which gives you teleport as its 6th level spell.

If that's intended to be covered by the "uncommon" rule and thus dependent on GM permission, that's weird as hell and needs to be addressed.

Oh, I see. Huh. Yeah, I doubt that one is meant to be under the Rarity rules. It'll probably be patched like the Nethys one, I assume.


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Dasrak wrote:
To be fair, the player companion line has always been like that. Do I even need to bring up such gems as Sacred Geometry or the Pact Wizard?

I feel like having the rarity system coded into the game mechanics (i.e. there's a tag for "only if the GM says ok") is insurance against the various excesses of splatbooks. Since you can just mark anything that's potentially borderline (or just everything) in a player companion as "uncommon" so GMs have a built-in solution to sacred geometry instead of having to know what it is before you ban it.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Dasrak wrote:
To be fair, the player companion line has always been like that. Do I even need to bring up such gems as Sacred Geometry or the Pact Wizard?
I feel like having the rarity system coded into the game mechanics (i.e. there's a tag for "only if the GM says ok") is insurance against the various excesses of splatbooks. Since you can just mark anything that's potentially borderline (or just everything) in a player companion as "uncommon" so GMs have a built-in solution to sacred geometry instead of having to know what it is before you ban it.

Let me pose a question for you.

What fraction of unbalanced splatbook rules elements do you think the writers knew was unbalanced or potentially problematic at many tables. Because take that, subtract it from 100, and you get what percentage of broken options will be labeled common and thus carry an implicit Paizo certified a-ok seal of approval because supposedly only the uncommon or rare stuff is imbalanced (stop laughing, this is serious).

I sincerely doubt that the splatbook writers were trying to make imbalanced options in PF1E. Stuff like that happens because Paizo has never been particularly amazing at consistent quality control. Rarity won't help with that in the slightest.

Throw in little things like the fact that most of the uncommon/rare stuff will be fine anyway, because rarity is doing over a half a dozen things at once and most individual GMs may only care about one or two of them, and the fact that some of the writers are going to use the rare tag as justification to write deliberately imbalanced options which are pretty much unusable at most tables, and you end up with a situation where the usefulness of rarity as a mechanic is diminished to very little. A lot of broken stuff will slip though the cracks, a lot of it will be implicitly labelled "completely fine to use in your campaign", and a lot of the stuff that is labelled "possible questionable" is totally fine for the overwhelming majority of tables, so you can't really take it as a reliable baseline for allowed options. Like I said, 2 steps forward, one step sideways onto a rake.

Oh yeah, and PF2E's design subtly encourages imbalance from splatbook options, just to throw some gasoline on this raging inferno. This probably isn't the appropriate place for a detailed explanation, but the short of it is...well...you know how the conventional wisdom is that small bonuses matter a whole lot now, so the designers have to be careful with handing out numbers. How much do you trust the people who brought you hilariously imbalanced splatbook crunch to be as careful as this system needs them to be. PF1E was at least partially tolerant of extreme number swings.

By the way, slapping an uncommon symbol on everything from a splatbook isn't happening, because then Paizo's own ruleset is telling GMs to disallow the majority of Paizo products that players purchase unless the GM goes out of their way to read the book options and make case by case rulings on everything. Disincentivizing the purchase of their products like that is crazy.


Snowblind wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Dasrak wrote:
To be fair, the player companion line has always been like that. Do I even need to bring up such gems as Sacred Geometry or the Pact Wizard?
I feel like having the rarity system coded into the game mechanics (i.e. there's a tag for "only if the GM says ok") is insurance against the various excesses of splatbooks. Since you can just mark anything that's potentially borderline (or just everything) in a player companion as "uncommon" so GMs have a built-in solution to sacred geometry instead of having to know what it is before you ban it.

Let me pose a question for you.

What fraction of unbalanced splatbook rules elements do you think the writers knew was unbalanced or potentially problematic at many tables. Because take that, subtract it from 100, and you get what percentage of broken options will be labeled common and thus carry an implicit Paizo certified a-ok seal of approval because supposedly only the uncommon or rare stuff is imbalanced (stop laughing, this is serious).

That's not how I see this working. Instead, I expect to see many things labeled uncommon/rare because they are from fringe cultures/sources, are extremely obscure because of specialized use, or are protected trade secrets of an organization.

Take every single option in the "Anthology" magic books. They should ALL be uncommon or rare as a default because they originate from single source books that in-world have few or no copies. It's up the GM to grant access to that source or decide that in his campaign those secrets have been more widely disseminated and therefore are now common.


Xenocrat wrote:

...

That's not how I see this working. Instead, I expect to see many things labeled uncommon/rare because they are from fringe cultures/sources, are extremely obscure because of specialized use, or are protected trade secrets of an organization.

Some of it will work like that. Some of it will be broad use "plot breaker" abilities. Some of it will be narrow utility effects that undermine very specific kinds of campaigns but are totally fine in most others. Some of it will be slightly more powerful stuff that is meant to get handed out via class abilities, backgrounds etc. Some of it will be broken good stuff. Some of it will be problematic for reasons other than game balance. Some of it will be other things. Rarity is all of these things all at once.
Quote:


Take every single option in the "Anthology" magic books. They should ALL be uncommon or rare as a default because they originate from single source books that in-world have few or no copies. It's up the GM to grant access to that source or decide that in his campaign those secrets have been more widely disseminated and therefore are now common.

I will say this again. Writing books that actively tell the reader not to use them is not something Paizo will be doing, because it is bad business.

Oh yeah, and if you aren't using the Golarion setting then who cares what the source is in the Golarion setting. Labeling everything uncommon or rare like that just makes the label meaningless beyond something that could be accomplished by a three sentence blurb at the front of that particular book. Not to mention how annoying it is if you are referencing it through d20pfsrd or archives of nethys and have to take careful note of what the source is and what the basis for rarity is for that particular source.


Tyrannon wrote:
master_marshmallow wrote:
Everyone needs to remember, the idea that anything in the playtest written for PFS play is categorically false.
While I appreciate your comment, I do not see any proof in your claim. The underlying reason for bringing up PFS is due to future planning and development. While I can see how you can think that the PT is disassociated with PFS, the future of PF2e WILL involve PFS play. To build something into the system for the future change of PFS play is not unforeseeable. It is something called planning and foresight for the future. What I see is a system design that indoctrinates players to accept what will be part of a standard organizational structure. After all, PFS play and rulings will be built upon the foundation of the PT results. You cannot ignore that the two will be interlinked intimately.

See, that's an exact quote from Jason, you won't see the thread anymore though because he shut the thread down.

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

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Hey there folks,

Just to put out an official word on this to clear up some confusion.

Regarding the rarities and the design impetus behind them.

Common means that it is readily found and that if you have the time and desire to have the item, spell, or other mechanical element, you can probably get it.

Uncommon means that the element is a bit harder to track down. Some rules choices might give it to you without needing permission, but otherwise you are going to have to spend some time in the world or at the table trying to acquire the element.

Rare means that the only way to get it is if the GM wants it in the game or you are willing to go on a quest to get it.

That was the thought anyway. I am not convinced that we have a unified presentation or usage, which is something we are working on. The point of this system was to give GMs a better system of levers for determine what does and does not belong in their game, and to make sure that the overall cognitive load is kept to a manageable level (something that 1st ed, with all of its books really does not do very well).

Rarity is not a tool for balancing game power. It is being used in some places to gatelock some aspects of narrative power.

We hope that if we get this tool right, it becomes the best way for GMs to control some aspects of their campaign.


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Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Uncommon means that the element is a bit harder to track down. Some rules choices might give it to you without needing permission, but otherwise you are going to have to spend some time in the world or at the table trying to acquire the element.

I can understand this definition for spells and abilities, but I vehemently disagree with it for items. I stand by the claim that item rarity should be at the setting level and that GMs should also have the ability to make common items uncommon. For example, just like katanas are common in Minkai, longswords are probably uncommon there. And elves shouldn't get access to some secret elven black market in the Five Kings Mountains where they can buy elven curve blades, just because they got a feat.


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Jason Bulmahn wrote:

Hey there folks,

Just to put out an official word on this to clear up some confusion.

Regarding the rarities and the design impetus behind them.

Common means that it is readily found and that if you have the time and desire to have the item, spell, or other mechanical element, you can probably get it.

Uncommon means that the element is a bit harder to track down. Some rules choices might give it to you without needing permission, but otherwise you are going to have to spend some time in the world or at the table trying to acquire the element.

Rare means that the only way to get it is if the GM wants it in the game or you are willing to go on a quest to get it.

That was the thought anyway. I am not convinced that we have a unified presentation or usage, which is something we are working on. The point of this system was to give GMs a better system of levers for determine what does and does not belong in their game, and to make sure that the overall cognitive load is kept to a manageable level (something that 1st ed, with all of its books really does not do very well).

Rarity is not a tool for balancing game power. It is being used in some places to gatelock some aspects of narrative power.

We hope that if we get this tool right, it becomes the best way for GMs to control some aspects of their campaign.

Uncommon - Harder to track down need to spend time to get. And have the GM grace your request.

Rare - Don't bother asking. Don't bother printing. Why show players something they won't get.

How is Rarity NOT a toll for balancing game power? Especially after games like Dialbo and WoW where Rarity tends to meant BETTER. Heck, some table top games also fall into the case of "Rarity means better".

What to ban a spell? Just make it uncommon or Rare. The players won't know you outright banned it, they'll just know they might have a slim chance of getting it.

I'm sorry Jason, I don't like the Rarity system. Why print spells FOR the players if they won't be able to use them? Throw them in the GM book.

As an example; a player comes to me in PF1 with anything from Artifacts and Legends I'm gonna say no. That's more a book for GMs not for players to drool over and think "How do I break the game with this".

Just put the uncommon and rares elsewhere already.

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

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RazarTuk wrote:
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Uncommon means that the element is a bit harder to track down. Some rules choices might give it to you without needing permission, but otherwise you are going to have to spend some time in the world or at the table trying to acquire the element.
I can understand this definition for spells and abilities, but I vehemently disagree with it for items. I stand by the claim that item rarity should be at the setting level and that GMs should also have the ability to make common items uncommon. For example, just like katanas are common in Minkai, longswords are probably uncommon there. And elves shouldn't get access to some secret elven black market in the Five Kings Mountains where they can buy elven curve blades, just because they got a feat.

Yeah, we see that problem and are looking at a few different ways to solve them. As it stands, cultural rarity is a bit harder for us to codify without adding a complication to the system that I am not sure is worth the load.

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

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MerlinCross wrote:

Uncommon - Harder to track down need to spend time to get. And have the GM grace your request.

Rare - Don't bother asking. Don't bother printing. Why show players something they won't get.

How is Rarity NOT a toll for balancing game power? Especially after games like Dialbo and WoW where Rarity tends to meant BETTER. Heck, some table top games also fall into the case of "Rarity means better".

What to ban a spell? Just make it uncommon or Rare. The players won't know you outright banned it, they'll just know they might have a slim chance of getting it.

I'm sorry Jason, I don't like the Rarity system. Why print spells FOR the players if they won't be able to use them? Throw them in the GM book.

As an example; a player comes to me in PF1 with anything from Artifacts and Legends I'm gonna say no. That's more a book for GMs not for players to drool over and think "How do I break the game with this".

Just put the uncommon and rares elsewhere already.

An element of this is setting up a usage that we can more readily take advantage of in the future, tbh. How it gets used in the core is still kinda an open question.

And I think there is a difference between uncommon and rare that is worth noting. Uncommon means that you can't just take it. Something (a feat, a class option, an archetype, the GM) needs to grant you access to it. Rare means that only the GM can give it out or that you will get only through your actions during play... so dont bother looking for some other way to get it.

A good example of a rare thing might be the quest reward from the end of an adventure. Something you get through play, but can get no other way. In fact, that is one of the more interesting ways we are hoping to use the system.

Its all about tools to help manage the game and what you have to know to play.


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monsters getting more deadly, players getting weaker (and there's just so few things the players can DO or BE now...), people starting to fail at previously basic everyday tasks with alarming regularity, previously ubiquitous magics and constructs being suddenly lost to the ages in the span of a years rather than millenia...

we really do look like we're going from morrowind to skyrim.


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Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Uncommon means that the element is a bit harder to track down. Some rules choices might give it to you without needing permission, but otherwise you are going to have to spend some time in the world or at the table trying to acquire the element.

What does it mean when a Class Feat (which is either common, or doesn't have a rarity) grants a power which is marked uncommon?

Like should Quivering Palm (the feat) inherit the rarity of Quivering Palm (the power)?


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Jason Bulmahn wrote:

An element of this is setting up a usage that we can more readily take advantage of in the future, tbh. How it gets used in the core is still kinda an open question.

And I think there is a difference between uncommon and rare that is worth noting. Uncommon means that you can't just take it. Something (a feat, a class option, an archetype, the GM) needs to grant you access to it. Rare means that only the GM can give it out or that you will get only through your actions during play... so dont bother looking for some other way to get it.

A good example of a rare thing might be the quest reward from the end of an adventure. Something you get through play, but can get no other way. In fact, that is one of the more interesting ways we are hoping to use the system.

Its all about tools to help manage the game and what you have to know to play.

This is what I like about it. In the setting the campaign I run takes place in, Uncommon would be stuff that you have to look for or import. Like say, katanas. There is a country where they are common, but the campaign is nowhere near there and there isn't a large scale weapon trading relationship. You *can* get one, but you won't find it in stock at your local adventuring outfitter. You'll have to travel, special order, or get lucky at auction.

Rare represents the weird stuff that the chief researcher in the Mageocracy is working on. You can't level up and go "oh I know that spell now" simply because you heard such a thing exists. He's got the only copy and if you want it, you need to go talk to (or steal from) him.

I was already doing this stuff in 1e, but it was a hassle on the Rare end because the rules didn't offer anything to help with that and in some cases actively worked against it, making it sometimes feel arbitrary to players who expected the rules to grant them access to stuff because that's what the rules say. Proprietary crafted items also suffered from this, in that the rules didn't really support them.

I really appreciate having the rules give me something to work with so I can say "that is rare" and the players immediately understand that they will have to actively seek it out in order to get access to it.

If I don't want it in a given campaign, houseruling "all rare stuff is common" is a lot easier than houseruling in a rarity system.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Uncommon means that the element is a bit harder to track down. Some rules choices might give it to you without needing permission, but otherwise you are going to have to spend some time in the world or at the table trying to acquire the element.

What does it mean when a Class Feat (which is either common, or doesn't have a rarity) grants a power which is marked uncommon?

Like should Quivering Palm (the feat) inherit the rarity of Quivering Palm (the power)?

"Uncommon means that you can't just take it. Something (a feat, a class option, an archetype, the GM) needs to grant you access to it."

I'd assume that means that if you have such a feat, you get the ability. It's not clear to me why powers get such labels, when there is no other way to get them.


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thejeff wrote:
I'd assume that means that if you have such a feat, you get the ability. It's not clear to me why powers get such labels, when there is no other way to get them.

It seems though that class feats could have rarity to represent "you need to find someone to teach this technique to you" and the "five finger exploding heart death punch" seems like a pretty good example of what sort of thing that should have this treatment.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Uncommon means that the element is a bit harder to track down. Some rules choices might give it to you without needing permission, but otherwise you are going to have to spend some time in the world or at the table trying to acquire the element.

What does it mean when a Class Feat (which is either common, or doesn't have a rarity) grants a power which is marked uncommon?

Like should Quivering Palm (the feat) inherit the rarity of Quivering Palm (the power)?

Being a monk and taking the feat is the "some rules choices might give it to you without needing permission." Same for uncommon spells that show up on bonus spell lists.

All spell powers are uncommon, because all of them require a special investment - the feat and/or domain/school choice.

thejeff wrote:
It's not clear to me why powers get such labels, when there is no other way to get them.

If a power were marked common that would mean it's freely available if you want it. But they aren't - you only get them if you're the right class and make the right choices.


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Xenocrat wrote:
[QQUOTE="thejeff"] It's not clear to me why powers get such labels, when there is no other way to get them.
If a power were marked common that would mean it's freely available if you want it. But they aren't - you only get them if you're the right class and make the right choices.

Sure enough, literally every power is marked as uncommon. But that also proves how arbitrary the definition is. By the same argument, you could say that all spells are uncommon, because you need to pick a class with the right spell list for it. Or that every class feat is uncommon, because you need to pick that class.

If getting access to a power is just a normal part of advancement in that class, what's the point in calling them uncommon?


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Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Rarity is not a tool for balancing game power. It is being used in some places to gatelock some aspects of narrative power.

This does not quite make sense to me. Are spells like discern location and teleport not prime examples of spells that transform game power (i.e. spell slots granted by a class's mechanical progression) into narrative power?


At the risk of looking like some sort of idiot, What do we mean by narrative power vs game power exactly? Is fireball game power instead of narrative because it's just for wiping out mooks? If it plus TNT allowed you to blow up a building that needed blowing up to advance the story, would that then make it narrative power?


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Jason Bulmahn wrote:
RazarTuk wrote:
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Uncommon means that the element is a bit harder to track down. Some rules choices might give it to you without needing permission, but otherwise you are going to have to spend some time in the world or at the table trying to acquire the element.
I can understand this definition for spells and abilities, but I vehemently disagree with it for items. I stand by the claim that item rarity should be at the setting level and that GMs should also have the ability to make common items uncommon. For example, just like katanas are common in Minkai, longswords are probably uncommon there. And elves shouldn't get access to some secret elven black market in the Five Kings Mountains where they can buy elven curve blades, just because they got a feat.
Yeah, we see that problem and are looking at a few different ways to solve them. As it stands, cultural rarity is a bit harder for us to codify without adding a complication to the system that I am not sure is worth the load.

It would be more design load, but it could help players and designers internalize the restrictions if they had context. And it would give a path for advancing specific goals to the players. Also, it would make it easier to include or exclude new materials for both DMs and quest designers. It's a big investment now, but it would pay off.

Then again, it could also be held off for a big cultures manual later on. It would cause some backward compatibility issues with early print adventures, but other than that it could wait.

Going with environments over specific cultures would thin out the work and make it more universally compatible.


Charon Onozuka wrote:
graystone wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Like PF1 had a million options, and I think "here's a list of things I am specifically prohibiting, otherwise just ask if you want to take something uncommon" seems more workable than "ask the GM before you take anything at all" or "allow literally anything".
That works as you KNOW why you are putting things on the list: that isn't the same thing here, as someone else did it for reasons that you might or might not be able to divine. I'm all for a DM having such a 'ask me first' or 'banned' list, but the rarity system isn't that, it's the systems 'ask me first' or 'banned' list. I'd rather see the system give the DM the tools for making their own lists instead of making one for them without any explination on what went into making it.

As a GM planning to tinker with things when I get back to my own setting, I actually like that there is a base 'ask me first' in the system. The big issue with having the GM be the one to make the entire list is that players are typically going through the official material when selecting options, and not the GM's notes. This can make it very easy for a player to select an option first, with nothing in the official rules to say not to, and only realize later that they weren't supposed to (sometimes in the middle of a session when they try to use it). And lets be honest, after a couple books have been printed, any GM trying to make their own list will have one that is especially long and hard for players to remember offhand (not to mention consuming a massive amount of time to create).

While it could be argued that it'd be nice to have some sort of traits attached to rarity to call out why something wasn't common (like deity, racial, regional, etc.), overall I view the system as a godsend which will provide a solid base for my own setting customizations & help set player expectations against assuming that every magical item is available in every store they pass, etc.

Another part of this that I like as I have my own setting, I can handwave some choices for players, while having a sensible way of banning the vast majority of the world from accessing them.

Like, it is nice to not have to wonder why every single high-end military wizard doesn't just use teleport. That sort of thing has massive worldbuilding distorting effects, and I like actually being able to easily set what does and doesn't warp the world as a whole.

As for things I actually am planning on tweaking, spellcasting services. Most of them to Common, some staying at Uncommon. Albeit a lot of them aren't actually handled by people.:

(I asked my players what they wanted out of a setting. All of them wanted high fantasy, but one guy really wanted cyberpunk. The previous setting this follows from was already at approx 20th century tech, and this would be after a 25000 year timeskip for in-story mythology reasons. So, I decided to double down on the magic and make it ubiquitous as the alternative would have probably been a bit tech-heavy to keep everybody else happy)

So I'm just slowly working out stuff like disintegration chambers for getting rid of hazardous stuff, machines that use about an 18th of Create Food and some Prestidigitation to pop out meals for rich travellers on the go, tamed squirrels and cats that mull around delivering parcels, an obscenely luxurious hotel where every single room is a personally tailored magnificent mansion. Black-market curse-sellers (not exactly unheard of for a group of people to post you a Power Word Blind if they really hate you), etc.


so... shadowrun-modern? i can kinda dig that. or are we talking magitek?


Arssanguinus wrote:
Gaterie wrote:
breithauptclan wrote:
Alyran wrote:
The point is: if you want to play without rarity, then you just ignore it. If you want to implement rarity for a system without it, that's a gigantic pain.

And it is practically impossible for the Paizo AP authors to implement if it doesn't exist in the core rule set.

That is my understanding for the rarity system at least as far as the spell list goes. There are a bunch of really fun adventure scenarios that get completely wrecked by certain types of spells. Teleport being an easy example. Creating an escort mission to take a senator from one city to another falls apart completely if there is a wizard that can cast Teleport. So we can either restrict the adventure to only be for low level characters that won't have access to the spell, try and come up with various setting shenanigans to try and explain why Teleport won't solve the problem instantly, or remove Teleport from the setting.

So which would you like Paizo to do?

Create actual high-level plot instead of rehashing the same escort mission again and again.

Level 1: escort the diplomat.
Level 3: escort the expert diplomat.
level 7: escort the master diplomat.
Level 15: escort the legendary diplomat.

Maybe there's something more interesting to do at high level than "the same thing as before, but with a different adjective"?

Except pretty much every possible adventure at any level is going to be by nature the same as something you do at lower levels but with some different adjectives and twists.

I defy you to name one that isn’t, that you can’t find any equivalent by swapping out some nouns and descriptors.

You're missing the point. Just doing the exact same stuff over and over again with increasingly bigger numbers isn't doing anything qualitatively different. That's just difficulty levels in MMO quests.

Most of the fun of high level abilities, especially magic, is opening up entirely new ways of doing things, allowing you to do new stuff that wouldn't be possible if you merely had the same old abilities with bigger numbers behind them.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Rarity is one of my favourite new systems from the playtest. I don't understand why some people are so against it. It's really easy to just ignore if you don't want it in your game.


Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:
Arssanguinus wrote:
Gaterie wrote:
breithauptclan wrote:
Alyran wrote:
The point is: if you want to play without rarity, then you just ignore it. If you want to implement rarity for a system without it, that's a gigantic pain.

And it is practically impossible for the Paizo AP authors to implement if it doesn't exist in the core rule set.

That is my understanding for the rarity system at least as far as the spell list goes. There are a bunch of really fun adventure scenarios that get completely wrecked by certain types of spells. Teleport being an easy example. Creating an escort mission to take a senator from one city to another falls apart completely if there is a wizard that can cast Teleport. So we can either restrict the adventure to only be for low level characters that won't have access to the spell, try and come up with various setting shenanigans to try and explain why Teleport won't solve the problem instantly, or remove Teleport from the setting.

So which would you like Paizo to do?

Create actual high-level plot instead of rehashing the same escort mission again and again.

Level 1: escort the diplomat.
Level 3: escort the expert diplomat.
level 7: escort the master diplomat.
Level 15: escort the legendary diplomat.

Maybe there's something more interesting to do at high level than "the same thing as before, but with a different adjective"?

Except pretty much every possible adventure at any level is going to be by nature the same as something you do at lower levels but with some different adjectives and twists.

I defy you to name one that isn’t, that you can’t find any equivalent by swapping out some nouns and descriptors.

You're missing the point. Just doing the exact same stuff over and over again with increasingly bigger numbers isn't doing anything qualitatively different. That's just difficulty levels in MMO quests.

Most of the fun of high level abilities, especially magic, is opening up entirely new ways of doing...

It is still the same things solved in a bit different ways, however you try to slice it.


It's fairly simple to list generic quest structure events that are possible without high-level magic:
Go to a place.
Get hold of some information.
Befriend someone.
Map an area.
Kill someone or something.
Protect someone.
Rescue someone.
Recover an item.
Destroy an artefact.

What are some new things you can only do with Rare high-level magic, as opposed to higher level versions of those same things?

I've asked this before, but I was hoping for a simple answer rather than a series of novels to read. Instead, I'll try using my imagination:

Resurrection detectives: The party go around solving murders, with the help of the victims, who they have miraculously brought back to life.

Teleporting crisis squad: The party respond to disasters in progress throughout the kingdom by teleporting to the aid of everyone who needs it before it's too late.

Shadow government: The party must rule the kingdom with the help of a puppet king who is entirely under their control, dealing with both invading armies, economic crisis, and the like.

Planar diplomats: The party must travel interdimensionally to deal with massive conflicts between the various realms. Why are earth elementals invading the plane of fire? Why is the plane of shadows trying to forge an alliance with the abyss? Who is trying to start a war between law and chaos?

One problem with this type of campaign is that the GM basically has to write it around the party, since a party with no cleric or wizard might not be able to handle it.


Matthew Downie wrote:

It's fairly simple to list generic quest structure events that are possible without high-level magic:

Go to a place.
Get hold of some information.
Befriend someone.
Map an area.
Kill someone or something.
Protect someone.
Rescue someone.
Recover an item.
Destroy an artefact.

What are some new things you can only do with Rare high-level magic, as opposed to higher level versions of those same things?

I've asked this before, but I was hoping for a simple answer rather than a series of novels to read. Instead, I'll try using my imagination:

Resurrection detectives: The party go around solving murders, with the help of the victims, who they have miraculously brought back to life.

Teleporting crisis squad: The party respond to disasters in progress throughout the kingdom by teleporting to the aid of everyone who needs it before it's too late.

Shadow government: The party must rule the kingdom with the help of a puppet king who is entirely under their control, dealing with both invading armies, economic crisis, and the like.

Planar diplomats: The party must travel interdimensionally to deal with massive conflicts between the various realms. Why are earth elementals invading the plane of fire? Why is the plane of shadows trying to forge an alliance with the abyss? Who is trying to start a war between law and chaos?

One problem with this type of campaign is that the GM basically has to write it around the party, since a party with no cleric or wizard might not be able to handle it.

Part of the problem is how reductive you want to make your "generic quest structure events".

Most of those suggestions could be reduced down to essentially similar missions, without the high magic. The Diplomacy is essentially the same whether it's international or interdimensional. The Shadow government could use some other form of control over the king - maybe as simple as a regency for a child-king.

I do like helping resurrected victims solve their own murders though.


Matthew Downie wrote:

It's fairly simple to list generic quest structure events that are possible without high-level magic:

Go to a place.
Get hold of some information.
Befriend someone.
Map an area.
Kill someone or something.
Protect someone.
Rescue someone.
Recover an item.
Destroy an artefact.

What are some new things you can only do with Rare high-level magic, as opposed to higher level versions of those same things?

I've asked this before, but I was hoping for a simple answer rather than a series of novels to read. Instead, I'll try using my imagination:

Resurrection detectives: The party go around solving murders, with the help of the victims, who they have miraculously brought back to life.

Teleporting crisis squad: The party respond to disasters in progress throughout the kingdom by teleporting to the aid of everyone who needs it before it's too late.

Shadow government: The party must rule the kingdom with the help of a puppet king who is entirely under their control, dealing with both invading armies, economic crisis, and the like.

Planar diplomats: The party must travel interdimensionally to deal with massive conflicts between the various realms. Why are earth elementals invading the plane of fire? Why is the plane of shadows trying to forge an alliance with the abyss? Who is trying to start a war between law and chaos?

One problem with this type of campaign is that the GM basically has to write it around the party, since a party with no cleric or wizard might not be able to handle it.

You have the right idea about types of things high-level magic can be used for. There are other things you can do, with a little imagination. I fail to see the problem with a GM writing adventure/campaigns around the PCs, however. Isn't that what they are supposed to do?


Dire Ursus wrote:
Rarity is one of my favourite new systems from the playtest. I don't understand why some people are so against it. It's really easy to just ignore if you don't want it in your game.

On paper, it's fine. For example, rarity as described in Jason's comments. The three big issues, in my opinion:

* Characters shouldn't be granted individual access to uncommon items, because it doesn't make any sense from an in-universe perspective.

* If something's common, it's always common. The example I've been giving is that in Avistan, longswords are common while katanas are uncommon. But in Tian Xia, katanas are common while longswords are... also common.

* Even though Paizo claims it's just about in-universe rarity, there's still a noticeable trend toward it being more game breaking magicks, like teleport, that are harder to find...

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

I like the rarity system, but I agree it needs work. Some of the assignments don't make sense.

Racial weapons should always be common for your race and not require a feat.

There's currently no way for a character from Tian Xia to treat katanas as common. And it can't just be a human heritage thing either. Plenty of non-human races live in Tian Xia.


Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:
I fail to see the problem with a GM writing adventure/campaigns around the PCs, however. Isn't that what they are supposed to do?

There are two other options:

(1) The players build their PCs around the campaign concept. This is fine if we're doing 'Resurrection Cops' or whatever.
(2) Published adventures. This is more of a problem since they aren't supposed to be written on the assumption you have a spellcaster.


Matthew Downie wrote:

It's fairly simple to list generic quest structure events that are possible without high-level magic:

Go to a place.
Get hold of some information.
Befriend someone.
Map an area.
Kill someone or something.
Protect someone.
Rescue someone.
Recover an item.
Destroy an artefact.

What are some new things you can only do with Rare high-level magic, as opposed to higher level versions of those same things?

I've asked this before, but I was hoping for a simple answer rather than a series of novels to read. Instead, I'll try using my imagination:

Resurrection detectives: The party go around solving murders, with the help of the victims, who they have miraculously brought back to life.

Teleporting crisis squad: The party respond to disasters in progress throughout the kingdom by teleporting to the aid of everyone who needs it before it's too late.

Shadow government: The party must rule the kingdom with the help of a puppet king who is entirely under their control, dealing with both invading armies, economic crisis, and the like.

Planar diplomats: The party must travel interdimensionally to deal with massive conflicts between the various realms. Why are earth elementals invading the plane of fire? Why is the plane of shadows trying to forge an alliance with the abyss? Who is trying to start a war between law and chaos?

One problem with this type of campaign is that the GM basically has to write it around the party, since a party with no cleric or wizard might not be able to handle it.

Still pretty much the same thing with different geegaws


RazarTuk wrote:


* If something's common, it's always common. The example I've been giving is that in Avistan, longswords are common while katanas are uncommon. But in Tian Xia, katanas are common while longswords are... also common.

The default rules are the...default. If you set your campaign in Tian Xia, the GM is supposed to be smart enough to swap these rarities. Just like he'd make dragon encounters with imperial dragons instead of chromatic.

Cyrad wrote:


There's currently no way for a character from Tian Xia to treat katanas as common. And it can't just be a human heritage thing either. Plenty of non-human races live in Tian Xia.

There is a way. You tell your GM that your character is from Tian Xia and ask if you can have a katana for that reason. The whole point of uncommon is that you have to do some work or have some reason you in particular have access to it. A character backstory can be that reason.

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