I finally understand the design goals of PF2


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A few months ago, Jason Bulmahn posted the design goals for PF2. In particular, the second one:

Jason Bulmahn wrote:


2. Ensure that the new version of the game allows us to tell the same stories and share in the same worlds as the previous edition, but also makes room for new stories and new worlds wherever possible.

The question that arose here was, "who is 'us'?" Paizo (in selling adventure paths)? A GM, running a homebrew? Five people from diverse backgrounds, sitting at a table?

While I had some theories, I wanted to ask about it, but was unable to properly phrase my question.

Last Tuesday, I read an interesting post from Jason Bulmahn:

Jason Bulmahn wrote:


The goal of this new edition of the game is create a version of Pathfinder that is easier for people to learn, while still giving the depth of character option and customization that we are known for, while also giving GMs better tools to tell the stories they want to tell.

(emphasis added)

It finally snapped and I now understand the design goals as stated.

PF2 wants to allow characters to be customisable, but wants GMs to be able to tell the stories they want to tell.

Say as a GM, I wanted to run an investigation of a murder by poisoning. In Pathfinder, the access to the detect poison cantrip might make this problematic. But lo! PF2 has provided me the tool to say "detect poison is uncommon, you can't learn it" (and even if you could, it's a first level spell).

The decoupling of monsters from being bound by PC rules makes it very easy for a GM to tell their story. A Razmiran calamity can easily be explained as "he's an NPC", while also preventing a high level PC from attempting to replicate his success.

Should a magic barrier exist, a GM can easily prevent it being solved by making it a few levels higher so that the counteract rules prevent the PCs from dispelling it. In Exploration Mode, a GM no longer needs to worry about the druid spending all their time in Wild Shape.

By level-restricting items, the risk of the odd high-level consumable interfering with the story - at least at character creation - has been eliminated.

Players should still have options. It's important from a financial standpoint for the company, and it's an important checkbox to maintain the "feel of Pathfinder". We'll give characters a massive amount of options, as long as it doesn't affect the story the GM wants to tell.

Because after all, it's the GM who's telling the story.


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Richard Crawford wrote:
Because after all, it's the GM who's telling the story.

y i k e s


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This sort of wipes out the narrative transformations that occur due to player power increases. If your characters are always concerned with the same types of threats, their increases in power are going to be a purely numeric thing. There's also the concern that players will be interacting with limiting mechanics in character, similar to what you would see in a "sucked into a video game" type story.

I hope this isn't really their goal.


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DominusMegadeus wrote:
Richard Crawford wrote:
Because after all, it's the GM who's telling the story.
y i k e s

In my games, the players are telling the story. I merely provide the setting and the secondary characters for the story. My players love narrative control and they create marvelous stories.

In my Rise of the Runelords campaign, the wizard was a scholor of ancient Thassalonian lore. He established this in the first session. Later we learned that our enemies tended to set up base in ancient Thassalonian ruins and their goals often derived for what they found there. With the wizard's influence, the party changed the emphasis of Rise of the Runelords from combat to investigation. It was wonderful.

In my Jade Regent campaign, the party was supposed to escort the true heir of the Minkaian throne to Minkai and lead a rebellion against the corrult Jade Regent. When the party reached Minkai and made contact with the rebellion, they cancelled the rebellion. Too much bloodshed when they could instead make Minkaian tradition work for them. The key was setting events in motion without letting the enemy realize what they were doing. It was glorious.

In my Iron Gods campaign, the players decided to play crafters. They gained access to alien technology and exotic metals all of which were rare or beyond rare (I bent the rules in their favor). And then they won by understanding the alien technology better than the aliens themselves. It was amazing.

GM control is a hinderance. I need resources to roll with player-created plot twists.


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I agree with this, to a point. The bits about the GM telling the story are true to a point, but the best story I've ever had in a PF1 campaign has been one of my currently running campaigns, in which the players have very much contributed to the narrative. BUT, this has almost exclusively been a matter of roleplay and decision-making, not overpowered or inconvenient abilities or mechanics that can allow a player to easily steamroll over the GM's plan's or preparations.

To put it another way, GMs put a lot of time and effort into their preparations, generally far more than a player will put into their character. Not that character preparation and planning are insignificant, but GMs simply have far more to work up than any single character, perhaps barring Old Man Henderson.

And having long preparations repeatedly steamrolled by things such as "x puzzle is completely invalidated by y spell", "Your bosses keep getting steamrolled because players are broken and it's almost impossible to make something that survives their broken offense that isn't stupid or overcompensating to where it trashes them", or things like that, it gets really old after a while. And it's not like it's player malice, at least not typically, it just happens. And then if we want these things to have even a chance of working then we have to make even LONGER preparations and loads of trial and error to learn how to make things properly keyed. It took me over 2 years of GMing experience before I could design a solo boss that was a great challenge that didn't come dangerously close to killing the party because I made a mistake, barring some flukes. Some of that is down to action economy being king, but broken math is also a huge factor. PF2 fixes both to at least some degree.

And often these things aren't exactly players being super inventive or creative either. That is something to roll with and use to make a better story, at least usually. Things like "Oh, there was a murder? I'll use Detect Evil to find out who our suspects are," or "Oh, you had a long and perilous journey to this place planned? Lol, Teleport." aren't particularly smart thinking, they're an obvious option that completely invalidates several kinds of scenarios.

So while I don't agree that the story is the GM's story, to be played exactly as the GM envisioned and no other way, I think removing or limiting various things that can screw up stories and giving guidelines that can help people come up with stories is GREAT.

And all this goes SEVERAL times over for inexperienced GMs. Someone like myself who has been doing this for years can work around most of this. But I'm really happy with PF2 allowing me to do so with a lot less work. But thinking back to my first-time-GMing self, I think I would have LOVED some of the tools PF2 provides.

And those tools can be used creatively by experienced GMs, too.

And of course some of these issues can be circumvented by good groups who make a point not to screw with the GM like this, but I think it's still easier having it in the PF2 state.

And the nice thing is, for a group who likes derailment and Hendersons (As per the scale, not the character himself) and such, pretty much everything that prevents these kinds of derailments and such can be switched off easily.

That is to say, PF2 doesn't completely prevent these things, and PF1 did not preclude them NOT happening, but from either side there needed to be work done to flip to the other way and frankly PF2 takes less work in that regard.

Again, I'd like to clarify that I am ALL for players influencing and directing a story but there is a HUGE difference between productive examples of such and having a lot of hard work walked all over. It can make for funny stories down the road about how something really diverted from expectations, but that isn't always so.


Anguish wrote:
Richard Crawford wrote:
Because after all, it's the GM who's telling the story.

You got a "yikes" because it's a widely accepted view that the storytelling in RPGs is cooperative. As in, the DM generates the plot, but not the story itself. The story is told by everyone at the table, as the plot is explored.

As for the rest of your post, I suspect you're partially right, but this isn't news. There are many DMs who dislike that fly becomes something players have access to - in a useful form as early at 5th level. Those DMs dislike that Climb checks are obsoleted by access to magic within the party. Those same DMs dislike that teleport is accessible to players, allowing 9th-level characters to circumvent plots that revolve around highway robbery and "while you were going from point A to point B" events. These DMs want the 1st through 4th level experience, for 20 levels.

Those DMs are not wrong. But they're simply right for their table(s).

I - as a DM and as a player - don't want a game that removes player tools such as these. I want to tell stories that involve characters who gain access to potent abilities, and who out-grow mundane activities such as walking, climbing, and become paragons of ability.

I am not wrong. But I'm simply right for my table.

Further, some DMs dislike magic obsoleting skills in general. Again, that's their right, just as it's my right to enjoy a game that has multiple ways to get a task done. I don't feel the sanctity of a rogue's "place in the game" is threatened by a bard with glibness or a mage with detect traps. I want a game system where if four players come together and don't want to have a rogue at the table, several other classes exist that have access to abilities that take the rogue's place. But again, that's me.

There are a lot of us trying to pull Paizo in different directions. They cannot please all of us. But "giving GMs 'better tools' to tell the stories they...

A question I have here, as it's unclear from your post. What tools does PF2 remove?


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Richard Crawford wrote:
Because after all, it's the GM who's telling the story.

You got a "yikes" because it's a widely accepted view that the storytelling in RPGs is cooperative. As in, the DM generates the plot, but not the story itself. The story is told by everyone at the table, as the plot is explored.

As for the rest of your post, I suspect you're partially right, but this isn't news. There are many DMs who dislike that fly becomes something players have access to - in a useful form as early at 5th level. Those DMs dislike that Climb checks are obsoleted by access to magic within the party. Those same DMs dislike that teleport is accessible to players, allowing 9th-level characters to circumvent plots that revolve around highway robbery and "while you were going from point A to point B" events. These DMs want the 1st through 4th level experience, for 20 levels.

Those DMs are not wrong. But they're simply right for their table(s).

I - as a DM and as a player - don't want a game that removes player tools such as these. I want to tell stories that involve characters who gain access to potent abilities, and who out-grow mundane activities such as walking, climbing, and become paragons of ability.

I am not wrong. But I'm simply right for my table.

Further, some DMs dislike magic obsoleting skills in general. Again, that's their right, just as it's my right to enjoy a game that has multiple ways to get a task done. I don't feel the sanctity of a rogue's "place in the game" is threatened by a bard with glibness or a mage with detect traps. I want a game system where if four players come together and don't want to have a rogue at the table, several other classes exist that have access to abilities that take the rogue's place. But again, that's me.

There are a lot of us trying to pull Paizo in different directions. They cannot please all of us. But "giving GMs 'better tools' to tell the stories they want to tell" is - I'm afraid - PR doublespeak. PF2 removes the tools I want, so that the GMs who want to play a different game can limit their game to just those tools which have always been present - but overshadowed - by the ones being removed. There aren't new tools. There are fewer tools, in a configuration that simply prolongs the low-level experience.

And I truly hope that's the right choice, that makes the most people happy, because in the end, happiness-hours is the best measurement of success in life.


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ErichAD wrote:

This sort of wipes out the narrative transformations that occur due to player power increases. If your characters are always concerned with the same types of threats, their increases in power are going to be a purely numeric thing. There's also the concern that players will be interacting with limiting mechanics in character, similar to what you would see in a "sucked into a video game" type story.

I hope this isn't really their goal.

You'll have to pardon me, but I'm not sure I get what most of this post is trying to reference or assert.

What exactly do you mean by "narrative transformations due to player power increases"? Are you talking like "I can cast Teleport so we go where we want now, and any travel-based plot the GM comes up with is down to whether or not the players feel like doing it" kind of thing, or are you talking about something else entirely?

I mean if it IS that, then that's still present. It's just not automatically available, which really if a GM wanted this out in PF1 they'd put it out anyway. But this way instead allows a GM who wants these things to grant their players the thing instead of a GM who needs them gone or doesn't want them having to take the thing from the players.

"If your characters are always concerned with the same kinds of threats, then their power increases are going to be a purely numeric thing", this is even less clear. What do you mean by always concerned with the same kinds of threats? If you mean like enemies and death being constant threats then yeah, probably not changing. If you mean like "Water and gravity are still hindrances even though we are x level" or such kind of thing, that makes more sense but there's still a lot of standardly-available stuff that gives you control over different kinds of situations. For things not standardly available, see the above point.

And lastly, not sure what you mean by interacting with limiting mechanics in character, the only thing I can think of there is the Rarity system, but that's something that is really easy to incorporate in-universe.


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Making GMing easier is necessary for the long-term survival of the hobby. It's the hardest role at the table to fill (everyone wants to play, only a small subset thereof is willing to GM) and far and away the most work.

It's also the one role at the table where there literally will not be a game unless someone is willing to do it, so erring on the side of "GMing is fun and easy". Having things be easily tunable to a great degree by making the inner workings of the game mechanics less arcane is perhaps the best thing about PF2.

Like we rotate a number of different games, and I insist that everybody has to GM at least some of the time, and Pathfinder is the last game that the less experienced GMs in our group want to run, even though everyone likes playing it.


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Pretty sure I would never, ever play in this guy's game. Every time there's a solution available to the players, he yanks it away by saying it's too high level for them to dispel, use, know, or overcome. Because, after all, he's the one telling the story.


To be fair, he doesn't say anything about EVERY time. But making it to where there are actually sometimes things that players can't take an easy disruption to like that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

I do agree though that the attitude expressed here can be EASILY taken to far and become "I want full control so these pesky players don't mess with my script", at which point why are you even playing with others instead of running the whole party as GMPCs. Or writing a book or programming an RPG.


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There needs to be a good balance between "players can pretty much do whatever they want, and the GM's just there to adjudicate it" and "GM Ultimate Overlord".

Realistically it's quite easy to do Overlord GM no matter the system, and no system can actually stop that. Even so, PF1 doesn't really do much to pull back from the former, and having some form of check on that would be nice.

It's insanely easy to accidentally break open the game, and I'd like to both not have to step on tiptoes to avoid that (as a player) and not have to be constantly worried about it happening (as a GM).


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Barnabas Eckleworth III wrote:
Pretty sure I would never, ever play in this guy's game. Every time there's a solution available to the players, he yanks it away by saying it's too high level for them to dispel, use, know, or overcome. Because, after all, he's the one telling the story.

I don't think that's a charitable reading. I sort of get where he's coming from. Like if I have the week's session planned as "the PCs go to a masquerade ball and the hostess is murdered and the PCs need to figure it out" I'm going to spend a lot of time trying to write a solvable mystery that is nonetheless involved to figure out. In addition to figuring out motives, opportunities, red herrings, and all the things that make a whodunnit fun, I also have to figure out how the murderer circumventing in preparation all of the "detect whodunnit" magics the PCs can bring to bear. Doing this makes diagetic sense, since the murderer is going to take steps to get away with it, but it's nice now to have things like "detect magic cannot see through higher level illusions."


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I sincerely hope not, the setting being that internally inconsistent that players can have abilities ripped away, or NPCs have better spells simply because they are npcs is a terrible idea (for instance I look forward to the Runelords being kerb stomped, high level casters aren't scary anymore, that should apply both ways) pcs and npcs need to be using the same rules, or the story collapses into contradiction and chaos.

Liberty's Edge

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I agree that the game clearly has a goal of making the GM's life easier. I disagree that this is necessarily in a 'prohibitions and restrictions' way, or at least not exclusively.

For example, most NPCs aren't built quite like PCs, but that's more a matter of simplification than it is different actual capabilities.

I like world consistency quite a bit...but nothing in the PF2 rules damages that unless you let it. And a 20th level caster will still wreck a 17th level party pretty well in PF2, the fact that they're na caster matters less, but the 'three levels higher' matters much more in compensation.


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"DM of the ring" should be an obbligatory read for everyone who wishes to become a DM


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Rob Godfrey wrote:
pcs and npcs need to be using the same rules, or the story collapses into contradiction and chaos.

I feel like NPCs and PCs have never used the same rules since there's always that kludge of "create an ad hoc special ability so this thing functions like it needs to" at the end.

I'd rather just write down the numbers for the thing so it works like I want than having to first jump through the hoops of making it like a PC and then creating ad hoc special abilities that PCs can never have. Only thing the latter accomplishes is it creates the illusion that PCs and NPCs use the same rules.


Might not have been charitable. Maybe I took it differently than some people did. It just looked like... I finally understand PF2. I can tell my players no, and here's how! It's my story!
I think a goal of being easier for GM and players is a good one.
For me, things that cut down on prep time are wonderful (books full of NPCs of all classes and levels are a godsend).


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Edge93 wrote:
A question I have here, as it's unclear from your post. What tools does PF2 remove?

I think the point is it removes tools from the PCs, not from the GM. The level 4 Druid can no longer conveniently turn into a harmless looking bird for four hours, spy on the enemies and learn everything. Other abilities are made Rare so the GM can allow PCs these tools only when those abilities contribute to the story rather than allowing them to avoid the story entirely.

PF2 gives the GM more tools for railroading the PCs into following the intended story, but doesn't force the GM to do this. A GM can still choose to allow the PCs to befriend the giants rather than kill them, take control of the infernal machine rather than destroy it, or murder the king rather than serve him.

Reduce PC narrative magic power makes it easier for GMs who are bad at improvising. It also makes it easier for GMs to railroad PCs excessively.


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I don't think their point was necessarily that a GM should be taking tools away from players, but that it is an option for different kinds of settings. I'm beginning to appreciate the rarity system a bit more and I think the ability to clue both players and GM's into the possibility of a spell or item existing but not necessarily being a player option without actually going out and earning it helps tables that have really clever players that nevertheless don't want every game to devolve into the Tippyverse.

I definitely don't think that the GM should be doing this sort of thing reactively to make it so the player's ideas just conveniently never work if they don't do things as the GM envisions how they should be done, but settings where there isn't cheap and easy teleportation and where it might actually take a quest or two to get such a rare spell can be interesting in their own right, and having the tools to make such a setting isn't the same as barring any other kind of setting. It means that there can actually exist really strong spells that would imbalance the game severely, since they can be setting-specific and hidden away and act as a reward.

I particularly don't buy the argument that this is somehow "removing options" for the game at large. Calling it "doublespeak" is taking it really far and I just don't see the basis for that accusation when just reading through the book. If you're going to complain about the game becoming too accessible or you're going to argue that's mutually exclusive with the aim of having a deep and crunchy system that rewards mastery, I think you should at least give specific examples of how it actually hinders your own enjoyment and how it isn't simply an optional thing you can ignore. And rarity is something that, RAW, you can just completely ignore for common and uncommon feats, items, spells, powers, whatever. It's basically the same process as saying yes or no to homebrew or splatbooks.


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Helmic wrote:

I don't think their point was necessarily that a GM should be taking tools away from players, but that it is an option for different kinds of settings. I'm beginning to appreciate the rarity system a bit more and I think the ability to clue both players and GM's into the possibility of a spell or item existing but not necessarily being a player option without actually going out and earning it helps tables that have really clever players that nevertheless don't want every game to devolve into the Tippyverse.

I definitely don't think that the GM should be doing this sort of thing reactively to make it so the player's ideas just conveniently never work if they don't do things as the GM envisions how they should be done, but settings where there isn't cheap and easy teleportation and where it might actually take a quest or two to get such a rare spell can be interesting in their own right, and having the tools to make such a setting isn't the same as barring any other kind of setting. It means that there can actually exist really strong spells that would imbalance the game severely, since they can be setting-specific and hidden away and act as a reward.

I particularly don't buy the argument that this is somehow "removing options" for the game at large. Calling it "doublespeak" is taking it really far and I just don't see the basis for that accusation when just reading through the book. If you're going to complain about the game becoming too accessible or you're going to argue that's mutually exclusive with the aim of having a deep and crunchy system that rewards mastery, I think you should at least give specific examples of how it actually hinders your own enjoyment and how it isn't simply an optional thing you can ignore. And rarity is something that, RAW, you can just completely ignore for common and uncommon feats, items, spells, powers, whatever. It's basically the same process as saying yes or no to homebrew or splatbooks.

you can ignore that rule isn't an argument, not everyone has that luxury. How it hinders enjoyment is class locking feats, not allowing actual multiclassing, not allowing interesting builds crushing everything into blandness with the core idea being nothing is powerful, nothing is special, nothing requires planning (hell as an experiment I built and played a character never taking general or skill feats, it made no appreciable difference). If your setting doesn't work because of the magic system, change the setting to take account of those abilities, or make the few people who have them the tyrant gods of the planet (Or take the PF2 option and make magic so terrible the classes may as well not be in the game)


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Edge93 wrote:
A question I have here, as it's unclear from your post. What tools does PF2 remove?

Most conditions that actually stop something, and most of the abilities that inflict them with any reliability. An obvious example being paralysis, which slows you down, slows you down, slows you down, then finally stops you. Unless a statistical anomaly occurs and a critical failure happens on a save.

Also, the things like those I mentioned directly: available flight, available dimensional travel.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Matthew Downie wrote:
Edge93 wrote:
A question I have here, as it's unclear from your post. What tools does PF2 remove?

I think the point is it removes tools from the PCs, not from the GM. The level 4 Druid can no longer conveniently turn into a harmless looking bird for four hours, spy on the enemies and learn everything. Other abilities are made Rare so the GM can allow PCs these tools only when those abilities contribute to the story rather than allowing them to avoid the story entirely.

PF2 gives the GM more tools for railroading the PCs into following the intended story, but doesn't force the GM to do this. A GM can still choose to allow the PCs to befriend the giants rather than kill them, take control of the infernal machine rather than destroy it, or murder the king rather than serve him.

Reduce PC narrative magic power makes it easier for GMs who are bad at improvising. It also makes it easier for GMs to railroad PCs excessively.

Correct, but there's a flip-side to this. I - as a GM - can no longer tell a story with PF2 that involves PCs having access to those abilities. At my table, everybody loses.

I'd also like to take a moment to add that I don't solely want magic-users to be enabled as they were in PF1. I would prefer martials to be similarly enabled. It's true that martials have less narrative-impacting abilities in PF1, but I a} feel that should have been addressed by giving them more, and b} don't feel that was a problem because the story is a team effort. But this is a debate that's been had many, many, many times.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Anguish wrote:
Edge93 wrote:
A question I have here, as it's unclear from your post. What tools does PF2 remove?

Most conditions that actually stop something, and most of the abilities that inflict them with any reliability. An obvious example being paralysis, which slows you down, slows you down, slows you down, then finally stops you. Unless a statistical anomaly occurs and a critical failure happens on a save.

Also, the things like those I mentioned directly: available flight, available dimensional travel.

There are loads of options for Flight, not sure what you are talking about there.


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I think one thing we need to divorce is whether something is not possible due to the framework PF2 sets up, or whether something isn't possible because we have tiny amount of content to work with.


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Barnabas Eckleworth III wrote:

Might not have been charitable. Maybe I took it differently than some people did. It just looked like... I finally understand PF2. I can tell my players no, and here's how! It's my story!

I think a goal of being easier for GM and players is a good one.
For me, things that cut down on prep time are wonderful (books full of NPCs of all classes and levels are a godsend).

It clearly takes all sorts, and I strongly disagree with this approach to GMing. I just finished a very GM-centric campaign and didn't enjoy it all that much. To my mind, playing D&D/Pathfinder (which I view as essentially the same thing with the possible exception of PF2e) should be an exercise in collaborative story telling.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Malk_Content wrote:
Anguish wrote:
Edge93 wrote:
A question I have here, as it's unclear from your post. What tools does PF2 remove?

Most conditions that actually stop something, and most of the abilities that inflict them with any reliability. An obvious example being paralysis, which slows you down, slows you down, slows you down, then finally stops you. Unless a statistical anomaly occurs and a critical failure happens on a save.

Also, the things like those I mentioned directly: available flight, available dimensional travel.

There are loads of options for Flight, not sure what you are talking about there.

Flight for a few minutes at most.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Malk_Content wrote:
Anguish wrote:
Edge93 wrote:
A question I have here, as it's unclear from your post. What tools does PF2 remove?

Most conditions that actually stop something, and most of the abilities that inflict them with any reliability. An obvious example being paralysis, which slows you down, slows you down, slows you down, then finally stops you. Unless a statistical anomaly occurs and a critical failure happens on a save.

Also, the things like those I mentioned directly: available flight, available dimensional travel.

There are loads of options for Flight, not sure what you are talking about there.

There are less of such, and those that exist are less available, and when they're used their utility is reduced.

Look, I honestly don't mean to get into/start another PF2 debate. This is territory that's be trod many a time. I've tried to be balanced, and clear that nobody is wrong for wanting what they want, but to suggest that PF2 - as presented in the playtest - is not inherently less in terms of potency isn't going to work. Yes, there are some exceptions (at-will cantrips for instance).


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Dekalinder wrote:
"DM of the ring" should be an obbligatory read for everyone who wishes to become a DM

Link, please? (Okay, I'm lazy. :-))


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I am a DM, I have a general outline of where I'd like to se the party go and what they will accomplish.

I set the world and the rules so that the methodology of how they get there is up to them.

Along the way, the goal may evolve through influence by player input, but more often than not, I have found I have loftier pinnacles planned for them than they themselves imagined.


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Ed Reppert wrote:
Dekalinder wrote:
"DM of the ring" should be an obbligatory read for everyone who wishes to become a DM
Link, please? (Okay, I'm lazy. :-))

Ask and ye shall receive


Wow. That is a really interesting take on how to DM...

I have always thought of it as a COLLABORATIVE effort with the party...

...just, wow.


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Edge93 wrote:

You'll have to pardon me, but I'm not sure I get what most of this post is trying to reference or assert.

What exactly do you mean by "narrative transformations due to player power increases"? Are you talking like "I can cast Teleport so we go where we want now, and any travel-based plot the GM comes up with is down to whether or not the players feel like doing it" kind of thing, or are you talking about something else entirely?

I mean if it IS that, then that's still present. It's just not automatically available, which really if a GM wanted this out in PF1 they'd put it out anyway. But this way instead allows a GM who wants these things to grant their players the thing instead of a GM who needs them gone or doesn't want them having to take the thing from the players.

"If your characters are always concerned with the same kinds of threats, then their power increases are going to be a purely numeric thing", this is even less clear. What do you mean by always concerned with the same kinds of threats? If you mean like enemies and death being constant threats then yeah, probably not changing. If you mean like "Water and gravity are still hindrances even though we are x level" or such kind of thing, that makes more sense but there's still a lot of standardly-available stuff that gives you control over different kinds of situations. For things not standardly available, see the above point.

And lastly, not sure what you mean by interacting with limiting mechanics in character, the only thing I can think of there is the Rarity system, but that's something that is really easy to incorporate in-universe.

What I wrote is intended as a comment on this philosophy, not necessarily the game we've seen so far. I'll try to clarify all the same.

The "narrative transformations" comment refers to both of your examples and several others. Player power increases in a way that the types of challenges they face changes, and player power increases numerically. If too much of that change is numerical, then the game is nearly identical from level to level. So, if your characters are always being attacked on the road by bandits or dealing with poisonings, then level advancement is mostly cosmetic.

The question of when certain tasks should become trivial is a question that changes the shape of the world pretty drastically. For instance, the world could be so infused with teleportation that ship ports and roads cease to exist, or teleportation could be common enough that the wealthy can afford to under police land travel allowing for an unusual amount of bandit and monster activity even in populous areas while still allowing the need for roads and ports.

Any task could be made more or less trivial, but by ensuring that no task becomes trivial, the power of heroes becomes a common by necessity.

Interacting with limiting mechanics is harder to explain, but I'm not talking about rarity or item level despite those being perhaps the most obvious. As an example, if a player has assurance in diplomacy and the gladhand and group impression feats, they can determine the relative power of people in the room by walking in to it. Due to the tight limits on rolls and saves, the players will have a good lock on power level.

Of course, the problem is made more noticeable with monsters being created with a method that doesn't touch on player rules as it causes threats to return aberrant results which is as good as detection.

PF2 seems to have gone more toward keeping every encounter type valuable, which will tend to make the experience flat across levels. Some solutions have merely been pushed upward in level which contributes to the feeling that PF2 is a 1st-10th level version of PF1.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I agree that for some styles of campaign it is necessary and desirable to trim PF1's spell list down. I do this every campaign. It's not done to keep the PCs from succeeding, but to support the kind of game that everyone wants to play. (When I'm playing, I often nominate spells for the campaign ban-list.)

For example, we did an AP where the PCs were all flying all the time, and after a point, all teleporting all the time. The result was that the landscape and geography became meaningless. It felt really flat. For subsequent campaigns we gutted the movement magic and things were more colorful and fun.

I don't know that Rarity will be much help with this. I'd have to trust that the many, many PF authors all have roughly the same idea about what's dangerous in a campaign than I do. On past experience, this is unlikely. Rarity might be a rough guide to which spells need careful checking--or it might be quite useless. In any case it is unlikely I can use Rarity straight up. To start with, when I ban something I do *not* want to say that it's rare, I want to say that it's nonexistent. If it is rare and the PCs want it, they should eventually (in a high-level game particularly) be able to get it, and then we're back to Flatworld.

As a GM I am torn. Ease of NPC design is important to me. But having NPCs and PCs work on the same rules is critically important. And the player enjoyment of rich customization is important. I actually think these are not fully reconcilable: something will need to be compromised. If PF2 is going for ease of NPC design, I appreciate that, but I think it misses by too much on the other two and my group is unlikely to switch.

Lantern Lodge

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Making a roleplaying game an "It's the GM's Story" or "it's the PC's story" is the wrong way to design the game. A GM who demands the story goes according to their desires will soon find they have no players. Players who regularly and deliberately destroy a GM's adventure will soon find they have no GM. The story belongs to both, and.. to a lesser extend.. the module designer/game designer.

To me, the job of the game designer is to provide both the GM and the players with the tools they need to have fun. How versatile and easy (yes, two opposing designs) a game is determines how wide spread it becomes.

If pure ease of use is desired, just make everything a coin flip or rock paper scissors to determine the outcome. Very simple, not much fun, but fast. If pure versatility is desired then the game bogs down in complex and contradictory rules until it takes an hour just to decide what one character can and will do.

For me, I think it should be somewhere in the middle. PF2 looks interesting for people who like the low magic type of play. It doesn't look as interesting for people who like the characters dripping in minor magic items. I think that is the way they want to take the game, which is their choice. I hope they have good luck with it.

For the GM/Player balance, like any new game we are seeing bare bones rules. It leaves out a lot of the wildly different character races and types that we have gotten used to in PF1. I'm sure those things will be added into future books, but that the custom rules will make the game more complex again. At the beginning, this will make the GM's job to control/guide things much easier because there will be less options they have to account for. As future supplements come out, this will swing back in the direction of players having more control over the story as they pull some feat/power out of some rare supplement that the dungeon designer didn't know about. Then the habit of banning certain classes because they are to effective, game breaking, or slow the game to a crawl will start up again.

For now, I see the options that an adventure designer needs to account for is very limited in the current PF2 rules, so the GM's who want to have more control over the direction their game goes should enjoy that.

Boojum


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Mary Yamato wrote:
the PCs were all flying all the time, and after a point, all teleporting all the time. The result was that the landscape and geography became meaningless. It felt really flat.

Mind blown. Abilities that enable the third dimension "felt flat".

This is why there will never be a game that makes everyone happy at the same time. <Grin>


ErichAD wrote:

The "narrative transformations" comment refers to both of your examples and several others. Player power increases in a way that the types of challenges they face changes, and player power increases numerically. If too much of that change is numerical, then the game is nearly identical from level to level. So, if your characters are always being attacked on the road by bandits or dealing with poisonings, then level advancement is mostly cosmetic.

The question of when certain tasks should become trivial is a question that changes the shape of the world pretty drastically. For instance, the world could be so infused with teleportation that ship ports and roads cease to exist, or teleportation could be common enough that the wealthy can afford to under police land travel allowing for an unusual amount of bandit and monster activity even in populous areas while still allowing the need for roads and ports.

Any task could be made more or less trivial, but by ensuring that no task becomes trivial, the power of heroes becomes a common by necessity.

Yeah, okay, that makes sense. It hearkens back to a scale I heard once of recommended scale for PF1 adventures. It was something like:

Levels 1-4 you're doing small jobs, local hero and first quest kind of stuff.

Levels 5-8, more region-wide stuff, like defending a small city or taking down a group of bandits with wide influence.

9-12, influencing the fates of entire kingdoms and countries.

13-16, influencing the fate of the entire world.

17-20, why are you even on the material plane anymore? You're done here, go find a new plane to save. Or several.

I mean, I don't think every game will follow such a structure but it's another way to frame the idea of moving beyond entire categories of threats, not just levels of threats. I think I get that. Again, not for everyone, but probably a lot of people.

ErichAD wrote:
Interacting with limiting mechanics is harder to explain, but I'm not talking about rarity or item level despite those being perhaps the most obvious. As an example, if a player has assurance in diplomacy and the gladhand and group impression feats, they can determine the relative power of people in the room by walking in to it. Due to the tight limits on rolls and saves, the players will have a good lock on power level.

Okay, so I know you are putting this description forth as something that shouldn't happen, but... this actually sounds really cool. Like, using a combination of social abilities, knowledge, and experience to make a grand and influential entrance into a room while specifically watching the crowd with the purpose of figuring out who the major players in a crowd might be, that is to say anyone who isn't quite so impressed with your flashy entrance. That actually sounds like a really cool use of roleplaying abilities and something an actual spy or agent or con artist or other socially-experienced operator might do.

ErichAD wrote:
Of course, the problem is made more noticeable with monsters being created with a method that doesn't touch on player rules as it causes threats to return aberrant results which is as good as detection.

You'll have to pardon me, this is another assertion I don't quite get. I assume you're saying that basically if a player notices someone doing something outside of player abilities or rules then that raises a red flag. But I don't really see how this would happen naturally. PC and NPC math can be calculated differently if you don't build NPCs the same way as PCs, but the numbers on their stat block shouldn't turn up anything that a player can pick up on.

If you mean that monsters can have abilities PCs can't, I mean, that's always been a thing in PF. And I would just figure if you don't want to flag a creature as a standout then it would be best to just not use abilities that the players know OOC they can't get. And if a creature is in a position where they need to use such an ability then either it's probably trying to stay low-key, in which case the players likely wouldn't notice something off, or else it's a character doing something flashy or noticable, which is already a hint that the creature is important regardless of whether it's using a PC ability or not.

If you are talking about something entirely different here then my apologies. XD

Anyhow, thank you for clarifying! I follow your reasoning much better now, I think.


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Rob Godfrey wrote:
you can ignore that rule isn't an argument, not everyone has that luxury.

I mean, why wouldn't it be an argument in this context? This isn't an optimization problem, where a clearly superior feat choice means the feelings of competence and excitement fro the mechanics of a character are mutually exclusive with making a mechanically distinct character with more flavor options. The choice is made at the campaign level, by the GM. Just ask your GM to permit those spells. If they say no, maybe you should consider how hard it is to GM Pathfinder in comparison to many other RPG's and that not every GM is going to have the raw talent to make a Tippyverse game interesting.

You really do have that luxury, just talk with your GM or your players. If they say no, well their feelings matter too.

Rob Godfrey wrote:
How it hinders enjoyment is class locking feats, not allowing actual multiclassing, not allowing interesting builds crushing everything into blandness with the core idea being nothing is powerful, nothing is special, nothing requires planning

Those are all decidedly not the rarity system or anything OP brought up in their post. Class locked feats aren't really class locked, there's duplicates and multiclassing is far more granular now and will enable anyone to pick up Power Attack if they're willing to spend the feats for it.

Like referring to it as not "actual" multiclassing is kind of throwing me for a loop. You're spending a resource (feats this time around instead of levels) to gain the class features of another class. How is that not "actual" multiclassing? How is that any less "real" multiclassing? They fixed it, multiclassing doesn't mean giving up cooler high level abilities or f%&*ing up spellcasting, character concepts get off the ground at much earlier levels, you can invest as much or as little into a secondary class as you want to get only the stuff that fits your concept.

Rob Godfrey wrote:
(hell as an experiment I built and played a character never taking general or skill feats, it made no appreciable difference).

...in combat? They're not supposed to matter much in combat, that's why they're not class feats. General feats often have powerful combat effects, but they're not supposed to be build-defining. +5 movement speed, +1 initiative, expertise in a save, they're useful things but they're not something that should have to compete for space with something like Power Attack or a random flavor skill feat.

In fact, all the feats that grant you access to higher tier feat types I think are kind of bad and I hope those get removed or altered before the final release. The separation of feats by tier means it's possible for players to make mechanically viable and interesting characters, since not every feat has to be combat relevant to be optimized.

Rob Godfrey wrote:
If your setting doesn't work because of the magic system, change the setting to take account of those abilities, or make the few people who have them the tyrant gods of the planet (Or take the PF2 option and make magic so terrible the classes may as well not be in the game)

I mean, having to change the setting to fit the system is kind of one of the major complaints lodged towards PF1, it has a s&&@load of unspoken expectations about how it should be ran that sets people up for disappointment. What A GM could do instead of doing any of what you listed is just use PF2's guide and just restrict access to a handful of items and spells that have a tendency to break s$&$, and that's perfectly valid. A new GM shouldn't have to put up with working around the implications of Wish, and a GM that has limits is not a bad GM. It is good to understand that not every GM is super talented with years of experience running Pathfinder specifically, it is OK to admit that you're new and you can't improvise a fun session if a fundamental assumption of an adventure you had planned is compromised by the existence of a spell you couldn't have known existed. That's kind of the other end of the deal, when someone is new to GMing you as a player probably shouldn't be doing all you can to make that a bad experience for them.

If you are an experienced GM... just let players have access to those spells. Someone else not doing the seame doesn't hurt you, and to imply otherwise is a bit... well, yikes.

As for holders of rare spells being powerful, yeah that's fair enough. It might vary depending on the person who has the spell, an evil and ambitious wizard with access to the good s$+& is going to accomplish more than a nerdy scholar who only really has the spell because they want to preserve information.

As for casters being balanced, that's again not really relevant to what OP was talking about. Martials are in a fairly good spot for once, so casters not being the only valid high level choice is hardly concerning to me. As someone that's really loved the idea of martials, it's kind of hard for me to take the "casters aren't top tier,they might as well not exist" argument very seriously. Like mate, the disparity between classes is absolutely nothing compared to PF1, casters can contribute just fine and they just need some tuning and maybe a dedicated blasting option for people who want to cast fireball.


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Richard Crawford wrote:
Because after all, it's the GM who's telling the story.

One of the reasons I play Pathfinder Society is to avoid GM fiat.

A game where the NPCs can operate under different mechanics and different rules is not what I want. An NPC hitting me for 2d6 with a weapon that only does 1d6 in my hands, just because, is going to create all kinds of bad experiences for me as a player. I'm hoping Paizo is not going to be doing this type of stuff.


N N 959 wrote:
Richard Crawford wrote:
Because after all, it's the GM who's telling the story.

One of the reasons I play Pathfinder Society is to avoid GM fiat.

A game where the NPCs can operate under different mechanics and different rules is not what I want. An NPC hitting me for 2d6 with a weapon that only does 1d6 in my hands, just because, is going to create all kinds of bad experiences for me as a player. I'm hoping Paizo is not going to be doing this type of stuff.

I strongly agree with you in this matter. I'd play computer-based RPGs if I was forced to play one with different rules for PCs and NPCs, since those mediums do it much better in that manner.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

Making GMing easier is necessary for the long-term survival of the hobby. It's the hardest role at the table to fill (everyone wants to play, only a small subset thereof is willing to GM) and far and away the most work.

Gee, I wonder how the hobby survived that long if GMing was that hard for all these decades. Only a handful of geniuses mastered that art and I guess they must have found a way to GM on all tables worldwide at almost the same time.

/s

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Hythlodeus wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

Making GMing easier is necessary for the long-term survival of the hobby. It's the hardest role at the table to fill (everyone wants to play, only a small subset thereof is willing to GM) and far and away the most work.

Gee, I wonder how the hobby survived that long if GMing was that hard for all these decades. Only a handful of geniuses mastered that art and I guess they must have found a way to GM on all tables worldwide at almost the same time.

/s

It certainly explains why pen and paper RPGs are such a tiny hobby compared to board games, miniature games and CCGs.


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I tend to think of GMs as falling into one of three categories:

1 Geniuses, who can improvise well and remember all the obscure rules. Rare.

2 Hard workers, who spend hours before every session reading / writing / improving an adventure, studying enemy abilities, coming up plans to deal with possible PC actions, etc. They like rules to either be simple or familiar, because complicated new rules add to their already excessive workload.

3 Bad GMs.


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Rob Godfrey wrote:
[you can ignore that rule isn't an argument, not everyone has that luxury.

If you think altering rarity is "ignoring the rules" you have fundamentally misunderstood the intent of rarity. It is meant to be adjusted to taste to fit a specific setting. A specific example we've been given is longswords are common in Varisia and katanas are uncommon, but if you went to Minkai katanas would be common and longswords rare. This concept applies equally to magic. If you want to adapt a setting to the assumption that people are opening Gates and Teleporting all over the place, feel free. The rarity listed in the playtest rulebook is just for a baseline setting of Golarion.

Furthermore, uncommon options aren't actually supposed to be impossible to get. You just need to talk to your GM about it. If you want to have teleport and think it makes sense for your character, talk to the GM. If they don't think teleport is going to cause problems for their adventure, they can just let you have it at character creation. This isn't ignoring a rule. Quite the opposite in fact. It is using a rule to acknowledge and discuss the existence of a potential problem and make sure everyone is on the same page for a solution. Your GM may recognize an option causes problems for their plans and still let you have it-- by bringing the option to their attention they can now make adjustments to compensate for it.

Mary Yamato wrote:
I don't know that Rarity will be much help with this. I'd have to trust that the many, many PF authors all have roughly the same idea about what's dangerous in a campaign than I do. On past experience, this is unlikely.

Again, rarity is something you adjust for taste. If you think there are dangerous options that are left common (or safe options with an unnecessarily high rarity) you can and should alter their rarity. That's using the system as intended. This is still true if you are running an AP instead of your own homebrew.

Quote:
In any case it is unlikely I can use Rarity straight up. To start with, when I ban something I do *not* want to say that it's rare, I want to say that it's nonexistent. If it is rare and the PCs want it, they should eventually (in a high-level game particularly) be able to get it, and then we're back to Flatworld.

If you mark a spell as "unique" and then never introduce it specifically it might as well be nonexistent. If the only copy of a spell is in the spellbook of Kharzoug the Claimer and you aren't playing Rise of the Runelords, it might as well not exist. There could be a single version of an artifact left in the world... buried on the other side of the planet, leaving no trace for the PCs to ever discover.

Quote:
As a GM I am torn. Ease of NPC design is important to me. But having NPCs and PCs work on the same rules is critically important. And the player enjoyment of rich customization is important. I actually think these are not fully reconcilable: something will need to be compromised. If PF2 is going for ease of NPC design, I appreciate that, but I think it misses by too much on the other two and my group is unlikely to switch.

I don't think we have seen anything indicating NPCs work differently for magic or rarity. Like, there's no NPC option which currently represents an option player's can't also take.

The only thing we have seen is that NPCs don't get item bonuses and potency the same way. And that's not taking an away options from players. It mostly just skips a step in NPC creation and figuring out loot tables. (It may be a bridge to far for immersion reasons, but it doesn't give NPCs anything new.)


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Heh yeah, i would totally sit down for a next session of a PF game where the GM just showed a NPC, of my class/race..., with cool power that i can never have, cause he is an NPC, so he gets the cool toys so he can play the boss encounter.

I would totally, 100%, do that /s :P.


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Nox Aeterna wrote:

Heh yeah, i would totally sit down for a next session of a PF game where the GM just showed a NPC, of my class/race..., with cool power that i can never have, cause he is an NPC, so he gets the cool toys so he can play the boss encounter.

I would totally, 100%, do that /s :P.

I mean, that's how its been since time immemorial. Did we all forget about those boss NPCs where the entire bottom half of their stat block are a bunch of special abilities granted by author whimsy and distinctly not stuff PCs are going to get ever?

"Hey, why can that rogue shoot lasers out of his eyes but I can't? My verisimilitude is shattered!"

"It's okay player, he's a "chosen of Nethys" that grants him a laser eye attack, it's right here at the bottom of his sheet,"

"Oh, okay, all is right in the world now!"


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I mean, Bestiary Cecaelias in PF1 all have grab on their tentacle attacks regardless of what class levels they have. PC Cecaelias in PF1 cannot get grab on their tentacle attacks.

So what's changed?


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I'll add that when I said NPCs in my previous post I was specifically referring to humanoids of ancestries you can use for PCs. Bugbears have the "bushwhack" action but you can't make a bugbear PC anyway as written. If Bugbears became a playable race, I'd expect them to make bushwhack a feat like they did for Goblin Scuttle.

If your players are freaking out that they can't duplicate the exact abilities of a dragon or a devil, I think you need new players.


Captain Morgan wrote:
Rob Godfrey wrote:
[you can ignore that rule isn't an argument, not everyone has that luxury.
If you think altering rarity is "ignoring the rules" you have fundamentally misunderstood the intent of rarity. It is meant to be adjusted to taste to fit a specific setting. A specific example we've been given is longswords are common in Varisia and katanas are uncommon, but if you went to Minkai katanas would be common and longswords rare. This concept applies equally to magic. If you want to adapt a setting to the assumption that people are opening Gates and Teleporting all over the place, feel free. The rarity listed in the playtest rulebook is just for a baseline setting of Golarion.

Two issues with this:


  • There aren't actually any provisions in the rules for making a common item uncommon or rare, so this would fall under RAI.
  • You can gain access to uncommon items and treat them as common with certain feats, so, apparently, there's a network of secret Tien black markets selling katanas to people in Varisia.


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Biggest issue people have with bestiary monsters in PF2, I glean, is stuff like "the monster does an extra die of damage with their weapon, but when I kill them and take their weapon they do not."

Which, I wonder, if we employed the PF1 model of "give the monster a special ability which lets them do an extra die of damage when they use a specific weapon" would appease anybody.

RazarTuk wrote:
There aren't actually any provisions in the rules for making a common item uncommon or rare

I am supremely confident that the playtest book avoided all kinds of language akin to "feel free to change this to fit the needs of your game" because they didn't want people to contaminate the data with house rules, but once the actual book launches that language is going to come back. But in any case changing rarity of something via rule 0 is going to have a lot fewer repercussions than limiting (or increasing) access to something without the rarity rules in place.

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