The straitjacket of Rarity in P2E


Rules Discussion

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Shisumo wrote:
The resistance to having a simple conversation with one's GM in this thread is really weird to me.

I mean it doesn't even require a conversation a lot of times:

{PCs are shopping in a new town}
PC - Is there a magic katana I can buy?
GM- It doesn't look like it, the swords you can see are all in "western" styles.

Now the GM knows that the PC wants a katana, and the player knows that unless one falls in their lap, they might have to go out of their way to find one. First rule of improv is "actively listen to what other people are saying."


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graystone wrote:

I'd rather see "Giving GMs agency and control" as giving the GM the tools they need if they want to use them instead of baking such rules into the system and make people have to take them out or alter them if they don't work in their entirety.

So IMO I'd rather see the rarity system as a DM tool to control availability instead of the system making that decision for them and making them alter it if they disagree.

They are a part of the system that I as a GM can use, the same with every other rule or anything else in the system.

I don't really get this reasoning at all, and it seems like you have to make a high Acrobatics check to make the logic work.

The fact that it is part of the system, is also why it is a DM tool, and just like with any other part of the rules system, I can decide to use it, or not, or alter it for my campaigns.

I see these types of arguments, and it makes me think it is more about a player finding the right group to play in, more than any particular rule.

The system is there, and I feel like the focus should be more on finding the right group, a group with a GM you feel comfortable talking about these things with.


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I imagine all this has less to do with telling GM's they can run the game as they wish (seems pretty basic) and a lot more to do with setting out rules and assumptions for Adventure Paths and PFS organized play.


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I feel where rarity is really important, beyond the basic "the GM can run the game how they want" is that this gives the GM something to point to in the book in case a player believes they should be able to buy any item in the world in the tiny hamlet they find their character in.

Saying "there are no katanas, they are uncommon and this is Ustalav" has more weight to it than "there are no katanas, this is Ustalav".


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I think it's more about changing the baseline assumptions.

If a GM restricts an option that the rules assume is freely available, the GM is taking something away. The PF1 rules assumed everything is an option for players. Restricting race or spell options, or saying something like "I want that item to be a special reward later" could end up with players rightly miffed for being denied an option that is supposed to be open.

If instead there are options that you have to ask to use, or get as important loot in a dungeon, or a special quest reward, they are fun bonuses that the GM gives out.

I personally find that a lot more compelling than just buying items.

It also has the aforementioned benefits of allowing easier setting and campaign customization by switching up the rarities of various items.


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Is there any reason players can't make up two characters? One with no access to uncommon/rare items and another that assumes said access?

We already do this with PFS characters, who have to comply with the extensive list of legal modifications and exclusions on the Additional Resources page, but none of those necessarily apply in a home game, even with the same character. In those type of situations, multiple character builds make perfect sense.

Showing up with both versions when you make your case to a different DM will go a long way towards getting a fair hearing.


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Shisumo wrote:
The resistance to having a simple conversation with one's GM in this thread is really weird to me.

This. You said it much more succinctly than I did.


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Thebazilly wrote:
The PF1 rules assumed everything is an option for players.

Just want to point out, this has never been the case in the actual printed books.


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Chetna Wavari wrote:
The main quest is to stop the Orcs. I doubt the answer to stopping these new orcs was in the library. Researching the spell in the library is a side-quest.

I'll agree to disagree on the semantics of 'side-quest'.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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For players who are interested in pure theorycraft and enjoy building characters without a GM and not intended for play... then I don't see any reason why the rarity system matters. You're not going to play the character, so have fun playing around, I say.

If you're playing characters for PFS, that campaign has its own specific guidelines as to what is allowed, and that's not something that is really up for discussion. The rarity system, in fact, was in part invented to allow the PFS runners more tools to organize that massively multiplayer game.

If you're playing characters for a home game, your GM is the one who makes the call, pure and simple. Again, players absolutely SHOULD talk to their GM to work out potential options for using uncommon or rare features, and as the game continues to expand, other routes by which you can qualify for these types of things will continue to develop. If the GM is running a game set in Golarion's Inner Sea region, we've done the rarity work for them. If we expand into other regions, like Tian Xia or Arcadia, we'll (hopefully) provide advice or details on how rarities are adjusted there. And if you're homebrewing or running in another published setting, you will have some work to make changes to rarities if your setting deviates far from the expectation of Golarion as a shared baseline... but in that case, you can adjust as you go along. No need to decide what rarity a katana is on day one if the region you're setting your game in doesn't feature them and none of the players are interested in starting the game with one, after all.

It's not a straitjacket. It's a skeleton. Without a skeleton, we'd just be suffocating piles of meat. A skeleton gives us a framework to live within, just as the rarity system gives game worlds a framework to exist on.


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Elorebaen wrote:
Thebazilly wrote:
The PF1 rules assumed everything is an option for players.
Just want to point out, this has never been the case in the actual printed books.

I agree with you on this, but there were more than a handful of players that definitely thought that's how things worked.


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Ravingdork wrote:

I imagine this is especially frustrating for people who want to make characters, but don't have a GM to talk to about it (such as those who jot down characters for future game opportunities).

What do you guys think? Does it feel suffocating to you too?

It does not feel suffocating for me. In the scenario you describe, just make the character (s) you dig. Assume Uncommon is available, as it says in the Core Rulebook.

In addition, I would say it makes sense just to be aware that some of the choices may need to be changed out depending on the GM. But, this is no different than any other game, regardless of edition or ruleset.


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James Jacobs wrote:
It's not a straitjacket. It's a skeleton. Without a skeleton, we'd just be suffocating piles of meat. A skeleton gives us a framework to live within, just as the rarity system gives game worlds a framework to exist on.

Well said, you've put my thoughts on this more succinctly than I've been able to. Thank you James for all that you do.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I like rarity as a concept, but I have some quibbles with the specific spells they've made uncommon, which will probably lead me to mostly ignore it as written. I was excited about it as a method of marking off those spells/abilities/items that had a specific lore-related reason for limiting access--maybe it's a spell that only one religion uses, or an ability taught by a particular monastic school, or a spell created by a particular powerful wizard. Instead, it seems like it's putting those things in the same category as, say, spells that might cause issues in certain types of campaigns (like discern lies), but that don't have as much of an in-universe reason for being less common.

(The one that really got me to raise my eyebrows was resplendent mansion. It's a 9th level spell and not marked uncommon...but magnificent mansion, a 7th level spell, is marked uncommon. I guess wizards prefer to spread the methods of getting resplendent mansions instead of magnificent ones? :-) )

I imagine I'll continue the same rule I had in PF1 (both as a player and a GM), which is that your PC has to have a reason to know something that's tied to a specific place/tradition/background event/etc. Pretty much the same thing as the rarity system, just a difference of what's uncommon and why. So I definitely agree that talking to your GM about your character concept is a good thing, but I feel like more differentiation between the different reasons something might be rare or uncommon would be more helpful in that regard than the system as it stands now.

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

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Folks...

James has exactly the right of it above. Rarity, as a system, is a tool for helping to manage content in your game, both in world and on a more meta sense.

As a concept this has always existed, but we decided it was important enough to the game to give GMs concrete tools for its use at the table. You may come from a place where this concept was never used, and I can see how it might suddenly feel restrictive, but the hyperbole here is a bit much, and is bordering on bad faith.

There will be more guidelines on this in the Gamemastery Guide. Until then, as always, use the rules as you see fit at your table and let others have the same freedom.


The rarity system existed in a far more faint manner already in PF1, lot of gameplay options were locked behind gold costs for lot of items, feat chains for feats, prestige classes for class features, etc. Just like lot of elements, in the transition it is now an actual, sitting in the plain sight, system rather than a collection of disparate, unconnected functions. It is just that wizard spell selection was not really regulated in any way, very vaguely by what book they came from and what level they were.


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I like rarity for items, my problems is with spells. No direct way to get them on the rules, and with the very high number of iconic spells that suddenly are rare, I see three problems.
The first is that seems quite hard to do an Abjurer or a Diviner when an high percentage of your school spells are gated.
The second is just setting consistence. Near all clerics where using spells like Protection, and suddenly they get uncommon. How to explain that?
The third problems is simple character adaptation from one Edition to the other, when a good numbers of spells have restrictions previously inexistent.

Resume: I would have liked far more rarity if it haven't axed so many iconic spells, or at least where a good on rules way to get them.


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Meraki wrote:
The one that really got me to raise my eyebrows was resplendent mansion. It's a 9th level spell and not marked uncommon...but magnificent mansion, a 7th level spell, is marked uncommon. I guess wizards prefer to spread the methods of getting resplendent mansions instead of magnificent ones? :-)

I can't say for 100% certainty what the thought process was behind this decision, but at the very least the biggest difference between the two is that Magnificent Mansion involves the creation and travel to an extradimensional demiplane while the Resplendent Mansion is a physical creation on the Material Plane.

Involving Planar Travel and Mechanics usually involves an extra set of rules and may or may not be used in some campaign settings.


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Alaryth wrote:

I like rarity for items, my problems is with spells. No direct way to get them on the rules, and with the very high number of iconic spells that suddenly are rare, I see three problems.

The first is that seems quite hard to do an Abjurer or a Diviner when an high percentage of your school spells are gated.
The second is just setting consistence. Near all clerics where using spells like Protection, and suddenly they get uncommon. How to explain that?
The third problems is simple character adaptation from one Edition to the other, when a good numbers of spells have restrictions previously inexistent.

Resume: I would have liked far more rarity if it haven't axed so many iconic spells, or at least where a good on rules way to get them.

The first issue I see as totally valid; the flip side of that, though, is that an unprepared or novice GM can have their campaign severely derailed by a Diviner in a way that other forms are wizards aren't likely to manage.

The second issue is a disconnect between "this is a common player choice" and "this is common in setting", I think, especially where it comes to things like divination. My read of the adventure paths and the setting in general is that things like divination and teleportation have always been supposed to be hard to come by outside of PCs.

Regarding your third issue and the final bit... I mean, there is an explicit and well-defined in-rules way to get those options. That way is "talk to your GM about it". I don't understand the seeming desire for a way to go "over your GM's head" on potentially campaign-disrupting spells.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, PF Special Edition Subscriber

Persoally love the new rarity system. Will be using it and glad to see they included it. Beyond society play this is all just guide posts for the GM to give them a sense of how often something should be encountered in the wild or found in a local shop and gives a sense of excitement when the players do. Been looking for something like this for a long time and always implemented something like this in my home games anyway.


Only problem is for rarity is spells the rest is fine as alaryth pointed some of schools are heavily gate behind it. Simple solution would be pay in town or village wherever to for somone to fetch a scroll or details about uncommon spell so you can buy it, while having rare being set aside for quests or gifts from/killing some bosses.


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Alaryth wrote:
I like rarity for items, my problems is with spells. No direct way to get them on the rules, and with the very high number of iconic spells that suddenly are rare, I see three problems.

For the first, if you're up front about "I want to be a diviner" the GM will know that "uncommon divination spells" are a thing that you will be excited to find in the spellbook of an evil wizard the PCs murder and rob. In PF1, "there is a spellbook in the loot pile" was a thing that only really mattered in contexts where "shopping" was not convenient. It's not really different from how a martial's first magic version of their preferred weapon is probably a seeded drop by a helpful GM.

For the second- Nothing about the setting implies a large number of people were casting any particular spell. Sure, every PC cleric might have been casting protection from something, and darn near every arcane archer was aiming for Antimagic Field, but PCs are exceedingly rare in the setting- there does not need to be more of them than "characters played at your table." So if twenty four people know and use a spell, that doesn't make it common.

For the third- I would never recommend converting an active character to a new system. Like I wouldn't have a clue how to convert my Gillman Medium or my Caligni Kineticist. Presumably options for these sorts of things will appear eventually, but I can just play those characters in the game where the rules support them in the meantime. When I play PF2, I'll pick concept I can make, not ones I can't.


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Reziburno25 wrote:
Only problem is for rarity is spells the rest is fine as alaryth pointed some of schools are heavily gate behind it. Simple solution would be pay in town or village wherever to for somone to fetch a scroll or details about uncommon spell so you can buy it, while having rare being set aside for quests or gifts from/killing some bosses.

You can already do that, though. You just have to involve your GM in the process.

I continue to be confused why people want to cut the GM out of the process of introducing potentially disruptive spells into the campaign.


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On fact, the one shining example of why I'm not very happy with Rarity is not even a Divination spell. Is Protection. I totally get that something must have been done with that spell, but with the "+1 to Saving Throws, +3 versus control" I think the broken part of the spell is taken care of. Why suddenly one of the most ubiquitous divine spells besides Heal is uncommon?


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Because alot of gms are very rulebound where they wont allow anything if you dont normally have access to it. I seen multiple times so no it better if they can buy them but gm may not allow instead of need gm permisson first.


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I don't want to be misunderstood; I'm not agaisn't rarity, just versus some of it's examples. I'm not specially happy with it, but not annoyed.

I suppose part of the problem some people have with this is that it may not be seen as a negotation between player and DM, but as a request. On a negotation both parts have some power, while on this case, the final decission on the matter is 100% on the DM side. I can see why some can be not happy with this.

For the record, I'm 50/50 player/DM.


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Reziburno25 wrote:
Because alot of gms are very rulebound where they wont allow anything if you dont normally have access to it. I seen multiple times so no it better if they can buy them but gm may not allow instead of need gm permisson first.

I don't mean to sound callous when I say this, but truly, avoid those GMs.

You will be happier in the long run if you stay away from bad GMs. Expecting the rules to help you "beat" a bad GM will never work out well.

Alaryth wrote:

I don't want to be misunderstood; I'm not agaisn't rarity, just versus some of it's examples. I'm not specially happy with it, but not annoyed.

I suppose part of the problem some people have with this is that it may not be seen as a negotation between player and DM, but as a request. On a negotation both parts have some power, while on this case, the final decission on the matter is 100% on the DM side. I can see why some can be not happy with this.

For the record, I'm 50/50 player/DM.

I would argue that it is as much a negotiation as anything in Pathfinder is a negotiation. The GM always has basically absolute power, so any negotiation is going to be lopsided.

That said, I firmly believe that a good GM will see it as meeting their players halfway as much as possible. And a bad GM doesn't need the rarity system as an "excuse".

I guess in short, I see where you are coming from, but I think the system does more good than harm.


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MaxAstro wrote:
Reziburno25 wrote:
Because alot of gms are very rulebound where they wont allow anything if you dont normally have access to it. I seen multiple times so no it better if they can buy them but gm may not allow instead of need gm permisson first.

I don't mean to sound callous when I say this, but truly, avoid those GMs.

You will be happier in the long run if you stay away from bad GMs. Expecting the rules to help you "beat" a bad GM will never work out well.

True bust those dm are most common and I rather uncommon spells be opt out on dm part rather than opt in.


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Reziburno25 wrote:
Because alot of gms are very rulebound where they wont allow anything if you dont normally have access to it.

Given that the book explicitly talks about characters seeking out uncommon items and using them as rewards or quest pieces, a GM who refuses to include them in their game altogether isn't exactly rulebound.


I feel like if you are a wizard who specialized in a certain school of magic, it would make a lot of since that your DM would let you just choose Uncommon spells in that school. It would feel very thematic and the player would get to play how they wanted to play. If I was a DM that would probably be my first house-rule.


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DMs are not divided on Good DM / bad DM. There is a glorious grey scale. And while I'm quite sure I would play quite happily as Max Astro and other people defending current rarity as a DM, the "grey DM" will see the rarity system as a way to say "NO" to many request, and be totally sure the rules are with him, because that is the way they see rarity.


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I think part of the big disconnect in viewpoints comes from the reliability of gaming groups, and whether or not you play PFS.

For instance, I have two gaming groups I play with face to face. We're all friends outside of our game, and we usually talk with each other and the GM about what characters we want to play. If I want to do an unusual character concept or I want my character to gain access to something, the GM will usually work with me, unless it would be truly problematic for the game.

However, if you don't have a regular gaming group, such as only playing play-by-post, it can be a lot more difficult to know that the GM is one who will allow you to access the teleport spell, or that will allow you to gain access to protection (which, I'll admit, I don't quite understand why it's Uncommon). If you play PFS primarily, you constantly have different groups and GMs, and you have a set of additional guidelines you have to adhere to. It can be a lot harder to make a character that does what you want the concept to fulfill.

Personally, I think the rarity system could be a good tool, and I know that as a GM, I'll be fairly flexible on it, usually allowing my players to get access to Uncommon things as either quest rewards, as a reward for creative thinking, or even as a downtime activity. However, that's just me, and I'm hardly representative of the entire player base. Other people having concerns about their concepts being invalidated due to a GM who isn't willing to work with them are perfectly valid, though, and I hope that once the Game Mastery Guide comes out, the guidelines Jason Buhlman said would be in there will help make it easier for people to gain access to the Uncommon or Rare things that they want for their build.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Gloom wrote:
Meraki wrote:
The one that really got me to raise my eyebrows was resplendent mansion. It's a 9th level spell and not marked uncommon...but magnificent mansion, a 7th level spell, is marked uncommon. I guess wizards prefer to spread the methods of getting resplendent mansions instead of magnificent ones? :-)

I can't say for 100% certainty what the thought process was behind this decision, but at the very least the biggest difference between the two is that Magnificent Mansion involves the creation and travel to an extradimensional demiplane while the Resplendent Mansion is a physical creation on the Material Plane.

Involving Planar Travel and Mechanics usually involves an extra set of rules and may or may not be used in some campaign settings.

Hmm, yeah, that's probably it. I'm not sure if I'd put creating a self-contained extradimensional space in the same category as traveling to an entirely different plane, but that could very well be why it got the uncommon tag, if they were doing it for everything that involved planar stuff.


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Wheldrake wrote:
It still doesn't mean the rarity concept is garbage.

I agree, and I don't believe anybody said that it was.

A system can still have a flaw, or be poorly implemented, and the system itself still not be considered garbage.

Fallyna wrote:

Is there any reason players can't make up two characters? One with no access to uncommon/rare items and another that assumes said access?

We already do this with PFS characters, who have to comply with the extensive list of legal modifications and exclusions on the Additional Resources page, but none of those necessarily apply in a home game, even with the same character. In those type of situations, multiple character builds make perfect sense.

Showing up with both versions when you make your case to a different DM will go a long way towards getting a fair hearing.

This is a good idea, but only really works if your core character concept isn't dependent on one of those uncommon character assets.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Ravingdork wrote:


It's the paralysis caused by the unknowns (see any of my above posts, or threads related to this topic for numerous examples of confusion and frustration). As written many common and iconic character concepts simply aren't possible without a GM to allow it. This is incredibly frustrating for players who don't have access to a GM.

If you don't have access to a GM, then what are you playing? If you're creating characters in a vacuum - absent an ongoing game, that's not really affected by rarity. Go nuts and create to you heart's content.

If you aren't creating in a vacuum and have a GM running or intending to run a particular campaign - then you have access to a GM. Ask them!


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Alaryth wrote:
DMs are not divided on Good DM / bad DM. There is a glorious grey scale. And while I'm quite sure I would play quite happily as Max Astro and other people defending current rarity as a DM, the "grey DM" will see the rarity system as a way to say "NO" to many request, and be totally sure the rules are with him, because that is the way they see rarity.

I should clarify - while I do feel that some things make someone a bad GM because I am super opinionated (as anyone familiar with me surely knows by now), at the end of the day a bad GM, for you, is one who does not fit your needs as a player in a way that you cannot resolve by talking to them.

Ultimately this is my view on this system, basically. It is a GM tool like any other. Like any GM tool, you should talk to your GM if you feel they are misusing it. If you do that and it doesn't help, you should maybe consider that you might not be compatible with your GM.


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Bill Dunn wrote:

If you don't have access to a GM, then what are you playing? If you're creating characters in a vacuum - absent an ongoing game, that's not really affected by rarity. Go nuts and create to you heart's content.

If you aren't creating in a vacuum and have a GM running or intending to run a particular campaign - then you have access to a GM. Ask them!

This. Theorycrafting in 1E meant you're pretty much assuming that the character survives and that a theoretical GM allows you to make the choices you're making. Theorycrafting in 2E is pretty much the same. You're your own theoretical GM. Go nuts.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Ravingdork wrote:


This is a good idea, but only really works if your core character concept isn't dependent on one of those uncommon character assets.

Well then it's clear that your core character concept would NOT have worked with that GM in the first place. Good thing you showed up with one that will! Sounds like it works to me.


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James Jacobs wrote:

It's 100% legal for a GM to say any Uncommon or Rare thing is available to players.

If you're a player and you want an Uncommon or Rare thing, talk to your GM. They might just give it to you. They might make you go on a quest or something to track it down. They might not give it to you because that thing doesn't work in the game they're running.

This is a core part of the whole "Giving GMs agency and control" that 2nd edition is all about, and will help GMs keep a handle on their game to a level of complexity they are comfortable with.

Talk to your GM.

I recall as a GM being "straitjacketed" by all players having access to teleport or insane Disable Device modifiers. I would need to house rule to keep them out, which I didn't. But it did trivialize a lot of adventure challenges and environments. The rarity system and being able to say a trap requires a Master proficiency now gives more GM support, within the system itself, to not simply have players not face-rolling a lot of adventures. And the GM is free to unlock these things for players, within the system itself.

PF2, by acknowledging problems for adventure design and giving GMs room within the rules to account for them is not "straitjacketing," but liberating.


Meraki wrote:
Gloom wrote:
Meraki wrote:
The one that really got me to raise my eyebrows was resplendent mansion. It's a 9th level spell and not marked uncommon...but magnificent mansion, a 7th level spell, is marked uncommon. I guess wizards prefer to spread the methods of getting resplendent mansions instead of magnificent ones? :-)

I can't say for 100% certainty what the thought process was behind this decision, but at the very least the biggest difference between the two is that Magnificent Mansion involves the creation and travel to an extradimensional demiplane while the Resplendent Mansion is a physical creation on the Material Plane.

Involving Planar Travel and Mechanics usually involves an extra set of rules and may or may not be used in some campaign settings.

Hmm, yeah, that's probably it. I'm not sure if I'd put creating a self-contained extradimensional space in the same category as traveling to an entirely different plane, but that could very well be why it got the uncommon tag, if they were doing it for everything that involved planar stuff.

Magnificent Mansion is more powerful because it's a "hide from enemies" spell in a way that Resplendent Mansion isn't.


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Elorebaen wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:

I imagine this is especially frustrating for people who want to make characters, but don't have a GM to talk to about it (such as those who jot down characters for future game opportunities).

What do you guys think? Does it feel suffocating to you too?

It does not feel suffocating for me. In the scenario you describe, just make the character (s) you dig. Assume Uncommon is available, as it says in the Core Rulebook.

In addition, I would say it makes sense just to be aware that some of the choices may need to be changed out depending on the GM. But, this is no different than any other game, regardless of edition or ruleset.

Where does it say "uncommon is available?" Everywhere I look everything seems to say "pick from the common options." Full stop.

Even if a GM says my character can get access to, say magic aura so that I can properly play my spy caster, that doesn't necessarily negate the rule that says I can only get common spells on level up. Having access may still mean having to pay for it via Learn a Spell. If you have a GM, it's easy enough to clear up, but if you don't, nobody can tell you what the baseline assumption should be, and if their are any guidelines or suggestions on that, I haven't yet found them.

Rules absentia can be really frustrating!

James Jacobs wrote:
For players who are interested in pure theorycraft and enjoy building characters without a GM and not intended for play... then I don't see any reason why the rarity system matters. You're not going to play the character, so have fun playing around, I say.

I imagine the intent for most of us is usually to play the character someday. It's essentially a complicated form of jotting down a good idea before you forget it.

The problem is, without a GM to intervene, the written rules don't seem to allow for any wiggle room. It's all just off limits.

I started this thread hoping to get some clarification on this point and to see how others felt.

James Jacobs wrote:
It's not a straitjacket. It's a skeleton. Without a skeleton, we'd just be suffocating piles of meat. A skeleton gives us a framework to live within, just as the rarity system gives game worlds a framework to exist on.

I apologize for my earlier phrasing in the thread title. In hindsight, I should have picked something less antagonistic. Please feel free to change it to something more suitable, such as "What do you think of P2E's rarity system?"

I think it's a good and creative system with lots of potential, I just have some concerns with how it was executed, how every other character option seems to say "Pick from the common items."

That causes a lot of problematic issues over, say, tagging everything and simply saying "GMs may restrict uncommon options that they feel are not appropriate for their game."

The latter works as a great guide system that empowers GMs and simplifies their lives. The former may do that, but is also a hard-coded gate system that limits comon--even iconic--character concepts, frustrates what I imagine to be a significant minority of players, and leaves for a lot of unanswered questions about intent and baseline assumptions.

Jason Bulmahn wrote:
...the hyperbole here is a bit much, and is bordering on bad faith.

There are many people in this thread and elsewhere who have legitimate concerns. Please don't let a few bad apples lead you to discounting those concerns out of hand.

Jason Bulmahn wrote:
There will be more guidelines on this in the Gamemastery Guide. Until then, as always, use the rules as you see fit at your table and let others have the same freedom.

I'm really happy to read that! Though I'm sure we made this thread a harder read than it should have been--and I apologize for that--I sincerely hope that everyone comes away from it with a little more insight for having been a part of it.


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Ravingdork wrote:

That causes a lot of problematic issues over, say, tagging everything and simply saying "GMs may restrict uncommon options that they feel are not appropriate for their game."

The latter works as a great guide system that empowers GMs and simplifies their lives.

I disagree. Saying "GMs may restrict" puts the GM in the situation of saying no to players; saying "GMs may allow" means the GM is saying yes to players. The former leads to resentment of control-freak GMs; the latter leads to gratitude for a GM willing to work with players, even if they end up at the same place in practice.

It's entirely about the framing of the situation.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Ravingdork wrote:


Even if a GM says my character can get access to, say magic aura so that I can properly play my spy caster, that doesn't necessarily negate the rule that says I can only get common spells on level up. Having access may still mean having to pay for it via Learn a Spell. If you have a GM, it's easy enough to clear up,
Yes, just ask the GM to specify what “have access to” means.
Ravingdork wrote:
but if you don't, nobody can tell you what the baseline assumption should be, and if their are any guidelines or suggestions on that, I haven't yet found them.

Yes there are, it’s what your GM allows. If no GM is available then theorycraft on what you think your GM would allow or simply what you think is cool.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Joana wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:

That causes a lot of problematic issues over, say, tagging everything and simply saying "GMs may restrict uncommon options that they feel are not appropriate for their game."

The latter works as a great guide system that empowers GMs and simplifies their lives.

I disagree. Saying "GMs may restrict" puts the GM in the situation of saying no to players; saying "GMs may allow" means the GM is saying yes to players. The former leads to resentment of control-freak GMs; the latter leads to gratitude for a GM willing to work with players, even if they end up at the same place in practice.

It's entirely about the framing of the situation.

A good point!

Rysky wrote:
If no GM is available then theorycraft on what you think your GM would allow or simply what you think is cool.

Guess I'll have to won't, I? :P


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

The baseline assumptions are: no rare or unique, uncommon if another feature allows.


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I would be more impressed with the Rarity system if it
1) Didn't seem to ban the things that make the game world fundamentally different because the thing exists. Such as lie detection magic and some divination spells that city guards would ABSOLUTELY love to use (such as Locate, which could find lost items and thus the thief)
2) Wasn't defaulting to banning all things. Why not just a limit to uncommon, but people can have a few?
3) Didn't take so much agency from the players. The GM is already the mightiest thing in the game! I, as a frequent GM with optimizing players (and as an optimizing player with sorta-optimizing GMs) do *not need* more power like that as a GM. Part of the point is for the players to have power and options... and this takes away from that.

I mean, I get cultural limitations, like Dwarf items being common in dwarven lands, but uncommon outside. That *makes sense* and is a sensible rule to prevent "because it's more powerful" play that ignores the RP reasons. I like that part.

Some niche spells might be restricted. I suppose not many people need Nondetection, so I get restricting that to Uncommon - I'm guessing thieves' guilds and people who value secrecy or have items other covet will have or want that, but not many others. But I don't get putting spells that are very useful in that list, even though they change the setting. Those who know such powers and formulae would be in high demand as teachers... and the huge advantage their power GAVE THEM would nearly guarantee not only that the knowledge survives but that their students become the top of the field... and give said knowledge to their subordinates in turn. Jealously guarding knowledge doesn't do much past retirement, after all.


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I think good guidelines for theorycraft characters are:
- No rare or unique options.
- Whatever uncommon options you unlocked via a feat choice.
- Whatever uncommon options which are essential for the build, provided it's not a majority of the build.


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I am GM about half of the time. I see the positives of the system. Not having the full guide lines from the start does cause some problems, even if it is understandable.

The thing about uncommon options, is that by their very nature they are not always an option. I plan on not buying books that have a lot of uncommon stuff unless I plan to run a game around what is in it.

It is not fun to finally find a game, just to find out that you have to redo a character build you had been looking forward running because the DM does not let options in the game from books pass the Advance Players Guide. Made me feel like I wasted money on buying the other Pathfinder books, when you cannot use what is in them.

The main problem I have with the rarity system is how it is packaged. The uncommon options should be in books for GMs, not general player books. I do not want to buy a book targeted at me as a player just to find out that I may not be able to use it. It feels like I have been cheated. I hope they keep the uncommon stuff to GM targeted books.

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