The straitjacket of Rarity in P2E


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Liberty's Edge

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I'd think checking about specific Uncommon stuff you happen to want would still be pretty doable in a PbP game. I mean, most characters want, what, a few spells?

It's certainly an issue when building characters in a vacuum, but if you have a GM you can contact in some way, can't you just say something like 'I'm interested in your game, but I really want to get magic aura for the character I have in mind, is that okay?'

I mean, I played some PbP games once upon a time, and there was usually a discussion of what everyone was interested in playing, and that question seems super normal in structure, though the content is new.


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graystone wrote:


theelcorspectre wrote:
I'm not sure if you've mentioned earlier, but when you play games do you mainly play online or in-person?

I have before, but I don't recall if I did in this thread: I play PbP, no PFS. My location, my health and family issues combine to make going to a home game/FLGS [or DMing] untenable.

theelcorspectre wrote:
You're entitled to your privacy and you shouldn't feel pressured to answer me if you would rather not.
No problem at all, ask away. I welcome honest dialog and questions to understand points of view. ;)

I can understand your concerns. You obviously have a lot on your plate and the less hoops you have to jump through to find a game that fits your playstyle the better. Obviously with the default rules being a little vague in places regarding rarity and some other things makes it a little more difficult then if the rules were more "hard". Even though a lot of people like the way the rules work and others are at least fine with it (I'm personally more in the latter camp), I can see how it would add difficulty to the experiences of people more like you.

I must admit that my experience with Play-by-post games are a little limited, so you should take my advice with a grain of salt. Instead of having to talk to every potential DM you find online and having to ask the same questions over and over, I would recommend typing up a generic letter/questionnaire that asks all the questions you would have for the average game. These questions would probably include "how accessible are uncommon spells", "are certain magic items available to purchase like you would certain common goods", "are there any races that aren't available or at least would face heavy prejudice in this campaign", and so on. Once you have this generic letter/questionnaire made up, save it to your computer. This way whenever you see a potential campaign that you are interested in, just pull up your letter/questionnaire, edit it a tiny bit so it makes sense, and send it to the DM/GM.

I hope this advice was at least a little bit helpful, but I apologize if it was not. I am hopeful that you are correct about the Gamemastery Guide and I hope that you find a game that helps you enjoy the system sooner rather than later.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
It's certainly an issue when building characters in a vacuum, but if you have a GM you can contact in some way, can't you just say something like 'I'm interested in your game, but I really want to get magic aura for the character I have in mind, is that okay?'

You could, but it's a hassle for both parties. If you need an effect, then instead of simply taking it, you have to ask and get an answer which often has a time lag, especially if you're not building characters all at the table in a session 0. Then, as you level, it could repeat again and again depending on things.

Given how intricate some builds got for my group, I know most of us would have to ask the GM many times, and how can *that* be adjudicated fairly between requests?

I get that some things should be restricted. My group does not really use Blood Money, for example. That sort of spell, something ONE PERSON designed for personal use and never shared, or niche effects for uncommon problems are the sorts of things this system would go well with.

But the system is illogically geared towards not having to say that society is different because the spell exists. It removes agency from the people who need it (players) to give it to the one who doesn't (GM, the most powerful thing in the system) for the sake of not having to determine the logical consequences for society of said spell existing, and in so doing adds extra work for everyone.

If the spell would break the game by existing - then the GM needs to step up in providing challenges, or extrapolating how things change based on its existence. I know I've sometimes had to. Often, in one campaign. But that's not a reason for the spell to be gated behind a blanket "GM approval only" core rule. Removing stuff is for HOUSERULES.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
I'd think checking about specific Uncommon stuff you happen to want would still be pretty doable in a PbP game. I mean, most characters want, what, a few spells?

While and single individual issue is simple enough to ask, the more you have to ask the less likely you are to get into a game as there are always more players than slots: the person without a page of questions will seem like they are easier to deal with than one that does. For myself, it's not just an individual rarity but what access means, like can I expect to buy more Shuriken if I lose them. Then I have to ask about bulk [I really hate it, both it's concept and it's implementation] and any other 'ask the DM' rules that happen to affect my character. It's more complicated than 'can I take magic aura?'

theelcorspectre wrote:
I would recommend typing up a generic letter/questionnaire that asks all the questions you would have for the average game.

LOL I might have to but as I mentioned to Deadmanwalking, with more players than slots my handing in a sheet of questions is likely to impact the number of games I actually get into. It'll be a balancing act it decide what questions are the most important to ask so I can ask the best one as I'll try to limit it to what I feel will be accepted as 'normal questions'.

theelcorspectre wrote:
I hope this advice was at least a little bit helpful, but I apologize if it was not. I am hopeful that you are correct about the Gamemastery Guide and I hope that you find a game that helps you enjoy the system sooner rather than later.

I was thinking along the same lines, so I'm not sure how helpful it was but none the less it's appreciated: the devil will be in the details in what the list will look like. I'm most likely just going to join a few 'normal' games and see what issues really bother me and which I can live with and then make up the list. Thanks for the thoughtful questions and suggestions. ;)


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graystone wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
I'd think checking about specific Uncommon stuff you happen to want would still be pretty doable in a PbP game. I mean, most characters want, what, a few spells?
While and single individual issue is simple enough to ask, the more you have to ask the less likely you are to get into a game as there are always more players than slots: the person without a page of questions will seem like they are easier to deal with than one that does. For myself, it's not just an individual rarity but what access means, like can I expect to buy more Shuriken if I lose them. Then I have to ask about bulk [I really hate it, both it's concept and it's implementation] and any other 'ask the DM' rules that happen to affect my character. It's more complicated than 'can I take magic aura?'

Yeah I can definitely see a DM immediately ignoring a player with a long list of questions because they see that as "high maintenance". Personally, whenever I run a game on sites like Roll20, I actually like it when players ask a lot of questions as, to me, it shows that they are passionate about the game. However, I can't say which mindset is most prevalent.

graystone wrote:
theelcorspectre wrote:
I would recommend typing up a generic letter/questionnaire that asks all the questions you would have for the average game.
LOL I might have to but as I mentioned to Deadmanwalking, with more players than slots my handing in a sheet of questions is likely to impact the number of games I actually get into. It'll be a balancing act it decide what questions are the most important to ask so I can ask the best one as I'll try to limit it to what I feel will be accepted as 'normal questions'.

That sounds like a good idea. Maybe try to decide what the three most important questions to you are?

graystone wrote:
theelcorspectre wrote:
I hope this advice was at least a little bit helpful, but I apologize if it was not. I am hopeful that you are correct about the Gamemastery Guide and I hope that you find a game that helps you enjoy the system sooner rather than later.
I was thinking along the same lines, so I'm not sure how helpful it was but none the less it's appreciated: the devil will be in the details in what the list will look like. I'm most likely just going to join a few 'normal' games and see what issues really bother me and which I can live with and then make up the list. Thanks for the thoughtful questions and suggestions. ;)

No problem. I'm glad I could be of some amount of help. Good luck.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
graystone wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Also gaining them from your class.

What class gains an uncommon non-focus spell?

PossibleCabbage wrote:
I would recommend people for whom "ask the GM" is not an option (this is far from my personal experience, but whatever) to just pay attention to what organized play does and see if that works for them.

If the adventures put out so far are the norm, it seems like rarity is going to be adventure based: if you want a certain uncommon item/feat/ect, you just go out of your way to play the adventure that has it and get the sheet for it. Other games don't really get to 'pick your own' adventure like that.

From my understanding, that's primarily how uncommon/rare things are going to be given out in the official campaign setting material too. Each AP book or Module book is going to have things only accessible to characters that have completed those books.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

It just occurred to me that this system might be limiting for adventure designers too.

Can't give the NPCs uncommon items and spells. What if the GM running the adventure doesn't want them in his game? Putting them on a bad guy is a sure way to get it to the PCs.

That's going to make for a much narrower selection of NPCs.


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Is it the GM or the adventure designer who most benefits from being able to limit availability? I can imagine "no mind reading" or "no teleportation" being very liberating for an adventure writer.

"At this point in the adventure, the king the party have been working for reveals his evil plans, and they have to fight their way out of his castle with the help of the secret resistance movement. Or, if you ignored our advice on rarity, they probably detected the evil of the castle ages ago, or they'll just teleport out as soon as the ambush is revealed. In this case the party will probably skip all the events of this chapter. Good luck; you're on your own."


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Matthew Downie wrote:

Is it the GM or the adventure designer who most benefits from being able to limit availability? I can imagine "no mind reading" or "no teleportation" being very liberating for an adventure writer.

"At this point in the adventure, the king the party have been working for reveals his evil plans, and they have to fight their way out of his castle with the help of the secret resistance movement. Or, if you ignored our advice on rarity, they probably detected the evil of the castle ages ago, or they'll just teleport out as soon as the ambush is revealed. In this case the party will probably skip all the events of this chapter. Good luck; you're on your own."

Good point. Bit of both I suppose.


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How about: "The king has sufficient resources to have access to spells to mask his evil plans against detection powers. If the players know how to teleport and he is aware of this, he arranges for the following modifications to the ambush in the hopes of killing them before they can flee."

And the modifications are something simple like: +2 guards, +4 archers, and the Court Wizard and Court Priest join the fray?

EDIT: "If they manage to [DO ACTION X] instead of [ACTION Y], then this part of the plot diverges in this way until they kill him, in which case it the plot is restored by [ACTION Z].

Liberty's Edge

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Ravingdork wrote:

It just occurred to me that this system might be limiting for adventure designers too.

Can't give the NPCs uncommon items and spells. What if the GM running the adventure doesn't want them in his game? Putting them on a bad guy is a sure way to get it to the PCs.

That's going to make for a much narrower selection of NPCs.

This is incorrect. After all, by this logic they can never include Rare or Unique items at all and yet including such is the clear intent. It's also demonstrably untrue of the already published adventures (which feature Uncommon stuff all over the place).

It is instead assumed that GMs will take responsibility for not running adventures that feature things they wish not to include in their games.


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Putting uncommon stuff on baddies is awesome. It means that the PCs might be excited to find whatever the fresh corpse was carrying, because they couldn't normally just buy one. It makes "looting the dead" more interesting than "what can we sell"?

Like the thing about uncommon items is I have no problem with a party having every single uncommon item in the book, I just want them to come across it organically in the world instead of just finding it in a list and deciding "I'm going to buy that."


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Ravingdork wrote:

It just occurred to me that this system might be limiting for adventure designers too.

Can't give the NPCs uncommon items and spells. What if the GM running the adventure doesn't want them in his game? Putting them on a bad guy is a sure way to get it to the PCs.

That's going to make for a much narrower selection of NPCs.

Not at all. The whole point of rarity is a means to limit what there is easy access to. It's the difference between getting Blood Money because you retrieved it from Karzoug's spellbook and walking into a shop to buy it.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Ravingdork wrote:

It just occurred to me that this system might be limiting for adventure designers too.

Can't give the NPCs uncommon items and spells. What if the GM running the adventure doesn't want them in his game? Putting them on a bad guy is a sure way to get it to the PCs.

That's going to make for a much narrower selection of NPCs.

Thats already the case though. They are already constrained by "what choices do I think will be well perceived by the largest portion of our consumer base." Whether or not to give out rares is fundamentally the same choice as whether or not to give out firearms or including speaking roles for goblins.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Ravingdork wrote:

It just occurred to me that this system might be limiting for adventure designers too.

Can't give the NPCs uncommon items and spells. What if the GM running the adventure doesn't want them in his game? Putting them on a bad guy is a sure way to get it to the PCs.

That's going to make for a much narrower selection of NPCs.

It just means they need to tag everything with the appropriate rarity for GM consideration.

Take a look at AP #145 Hellknight Hill. It is loaded with uncommon, rare, and unique magic items, monsters & NPCs. Technically, every custom built NPC is going to be unique. It’s not going to be constraint for adventure designers.


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Yeah, while I agree there are some issues with rarity I can't really see that being one of them. If anything the uncommon/rare/unique tags mean that adventure writers can be less scared of inventing the new blood money when they want to give a bad guy some special thing... Hell I'm pretty sure that's the entire point of the system.

If the GM doesn't want those items in their games... I mean, GMs modify APs to suit their tastes all the time, pretty sure that's a fairly normal thing.

Paizo Employee Customer Service Representative

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Locking this thread until we are able to review it.

Paizo Employee Customer Service Representative

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I have removed some posts and the replies to them. The bickering and personal attacks in this thread need to stop. The thread got heated enough that it is clear that some time away from it was probably a good thing. I hope that, now that I am unlocking it, we can have a less aggressive discussion.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Ravingdork wrote:

It just occurred to me that this system might be limiting for adventure designers too.

Can't give the NPCs uncommon items and spells. What if the GM running the adventure doesn't want them in his game? Putting them on a bad guy is a sure way to get it to the PCs.

That's going to make for a much narrower selection of NPCs.

As a matter of fact, adventure writers are ENCOURAGED to give NPCs uncommon items and spells. That's the ENTIRE POINT to a certain extent—that PCs will gain access to these things via actual game play. By looting uncommon/rare/unique items from slain foes. By learning uncommon/rare/unique feats or spells from allied NPCs. And so on.

See Age of Ashes for proof if you want, I guess.

But to echo Diego—please avoid personal attacks and bickering in this thread (everywhere, in fact, if you can!). I'm more than willing to chat with folks about how the rarity system can be utilized, having just spent about a year working with it for Adventure Paths and in an office campaign I'm starting up this very evening. Having seen it in play from a GM and an adventure designer, I am LOVING it.

Silver Crusade

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

Yay! Hope you have fun tonight


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So from Arcane Mark a couple things I have grown to really like about rarity.

By having divine spells be uncommon, you can avoid the problem of "every spell in every book on the Cleric list, including the book where the PDF went out to subscribers yesterday, is known by every single Cleric." You can instead have "this spell is particular to Clerics of Nethys" and have it uncommon, but give all the Nethysian clerics access. It was bizarre when Inner Sea Gods gave all clerics access to all the spells. Like "all the Pharasman Clerics (with access to 2nd level spells) in the world learned 'Ghoul Hunger' in April 2014" is weird and wrong.

By having certain plot warping spells be marked uncommon, we can resolve the problems in a narrative of "why didn't the villain just scry/teleport/etc." through something other than "they never thought of that." A BBEG not using a certain tactic because they don't know the relevant spells" is a lot more satisfying than "they were pretty incompetent and never did the super efficient thing."

Like when Teleport was a spell which was widely available, it was impossible to have a situation where "we need to arrive to such and such a place before someone else" in which "cast teleport" was not the optimal solution. I'd much rather the PCs be able to win that race because they can teleport, but in case they don't have access to teleport for whatever reason, I don't have to fiat "the evil wizard chooses not to teleport for mysterious reasons."


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A DM has control over the setting, the NPCs, the story...there is one thing the DM can not directly control, and that is the PCs. But that kind of thing, specially for things that previously it was not needed, invades the only thing the players have some control; their characters. "You can give them easily" is still a way for the DM to have extra control over the characters.

When I am the DM (as I said before, more or less half the time)I think about the rules like they where the law physics of the setting. Of course, I have to rule things on the fly, but the less I need to do it, the better. So all this "return power to the DM" on PF2 is one of the parts I like LESS on the game (with the on my opinion overnerf on magic). The laws of reality should not include "ask that person". I find it inelegant.
The DM has always had a near complete control over all. Letting them control over the one thing they can't control is something I don't like specially. On the contrary that others, is not a practical thing; I play with the same group of friends since many years ago, and each one do DM on a different campaign. But still, cutting access from so many things, specially for spells that where common before, I can't really like it.

On the other side, I don't want to seem like a Nayseyer of PF2, I'm liking the system on 90%, and I truly believe that is an improvement from PF1. Is just that those few things I don't like I REALLY don't like.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
PossibleCabbage wrote:
including the book where the PDF went out to subscribers yesterday

*Frustratedly refreshed inbox until it gets in my downloads*


Malk_Content wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
including the book where the PDF went out to subscribers yesterday
*Frustratedly refreshed inbox until it gets in my downloads*

The realistic but absurd example Mark gave was "skipping a session this week, because you know the book which comes out next week will have a bunch of useful cleric spells you will then be able to cast in the current situation."


Alaryth wrote:
there is one thing the DM can not directly control, and that is the PCs.

That's not really exactly true though. DMs always have had discretion over access. The only real difference is that the book has now codified which things are no by default rather than leaving it up to the GM.

I'm not saying it's all good, I think uncommon access could be handled better and I'm not a fan of some of the choices, but it's not exactly a brand new concept either.

Dark Archive

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As an older player it is very easy to see how this harkens back to an older model where you were super excited by getting awesome treasure.

As someone in no particular hurry to switch this is an obvious appealing point. Really moreso than any other change I've seen. Why is that relevant because with the very little I have invested in 2E it still took almost no time to immediately understand the rational behind it. For all of the high powered rhetoric of player agency, the current default means 1E is only really 1 game. I'm content with it for a variety of reasons, but in 1 AP after another you can see contrivances to deal with obvious problems created by mid level spells. Trying to truly create an environment for different genres of adventures is a stretch because one way or another by time you get to level 10+ there a so many ways to get the same bag of tricks. The rarity system restores a real creative freedom and opens the system up dramatically for many different adventure types.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:

It just occurred to me that this system might be limiting for adventure designers too.

Can't give the NPCs uncommon items and spells. What if the GM running the adventure doesn't want them in his game? Putting them on a bad guy is a sure way to get it to the PCs.

That's going to make for a much narrower selection of NPCs.

This is incorrect. After all, by this logic they can never include Rare or Unique items at all and yet including such is the clear intent. It's also demonstrably untrue of the already published adventures (which feature Uncommon stuff all over the place).

It is instead assumed that GMs will take responsibility for not running adventures that feature things they wish not to include in their games.

Things that the GM will need to know about BEFORE they buy the adventures.

Dark Archive

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The Raven Black wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:

It just occurred to me that this system might be limiting for adventure designers too.

Can't give the NPCs uncommon items and spells. What if the GM running the adventure doesn't want them in his game? Putting them on a bad guy is a sure way to get it to the PCs.

That's going to make for a much narrower selection of NPCs.

This is incorrect. After all, by this logic they can never include Rare or Unique items at all and yet including such is the clear intent. It's also demonstrably untrue of the already published adventures (which feature Uncommon stuff all over the place).

It is instead assumed that GMs will take responsibility for not running adventures that feature things they wish not to include in their games.

Things that the GM will need to know about BEFORE they buy the adventures.

Umm, that is nonsensical. One of good points of rarity system is allowing you to have AP exclusive items that you obtain during the AP, but can only use in other APs if GM allows it.

Like one issue in 1e was that players might want item from another AP and crafting rules completely allow them to do so so either GM has to put their foot down and say "No you can't do that" or they allow them to have encyclopedic crafting knowledge of all items you can find from in internet :p

Like, rarity system has MULTIPLE purposes. One of them is avoiding options that trivialize certain aspects of game(e.g. teleporting and traveling) and another is providing exclusive rewards. And sometimes its just plain common sense "katanas aren't common in Inner Sea, so you can't find them at every blacksmith. So instead you have to find blacksmit who knows how to make them".

Would you prevent player's buying Scholarly journal about devils in Egorian simply because its uncommon item BECAUSE you probably wouldn't find such book at every small town?

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
CorvusMask wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:

It just occurred to me that this system might be limiting for adventure designers too.

Can't give the NPCs uncommon items and spells. What if the GM running the adventure doesn't want them in his game? Putting them on a bad guy is a sure way to get it to the PCs.

That's going to make for a much narrower selection of NPCs.

This is incorrect. After all, by this logic they can never include Rare or Unique items at all and yet including such is the clear intent. It's also demonstrably untrue of the already published adventures (which feature Uncommon stuff all over the place).

It is instead assumed that GMs will take responsibility for not running adventures that feature things they wish not to include in their games.

Things that the GM will need to know about BEFORE they buy the adventures.

Umm, that is nonsensical. One of good points of rarity system is allowing you to have AP exclusive items that you obtain during the AP, but can only use in other APs if GM allows it.

Like one issue in 1e was that players might want item from another AP and crafting rules completely allow them to do so so either GM has to put their foot down and say "No you can't do that" or they allow them to have encyclopedic crafting knowledge of all items you can find from in internet :p

Like, rarity system has MULTIPLE purposes. One of them is avoiding options that trivialize certain aspects of game(e.g. teleporting and traveling) and another is providing exclusive rewards. And sometimes its just plain common sense "katanas aren't common in Inner Sea, so you can't find them at every blacksmith. So instead you have to find blacksmit who knows how to make them".

Would you prevent player's buying Scholarly journal about devils in Egorian simply because its uncommon item BECAUSE you probably wouldn't find such book at every small town?

As a note, a system that tries to fulfill several purposes at once is very rarely successful.

My point is that a GM might not want to allow access to Teleport to his players at all. So any adventure that provides an opportunity for PCs to get it, or even worse an adventure that relies on that, will need some rework to function well.

But how can the GM know about that before buying the adventure ?

The Rarity system is a great idea, but its execution is a delicate thing IMO and I do not think it is a flawless system just because it allows GMs to avoid some of the pitfalls they had to deal with in PF1.


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The Raven Black wrote:
My point is that a GM might not want to allow access to Teleport to his players at all. So any adventure that provides an opportunity for PCs to get it, or even worse an adventure that relies on that, will need some rework to function well.

I'm the type of GM who might prevent players getting access to teleportation. I dislike the way teleport allows players to skip massive amounts of content, break adventure concepts, etc. ("We teleport the ring to Mount Doom, drop it, teleport home.")

But if an adventure gives PCs teleport on purpose, that suggests an adventure that is designed to handle teleportation. If that's the case, I would be OK with running that adventure and letting my players get teleport.

Another reason a GM might want to restrict something is flavor. "No guns in my nice medieval style fantasy world!" But in this case, it's likely that either guns will be a major part of the campaign (so we'd probably notice in advance and know not to buy it) or they're minor and easy to remove ("You find a shotgun... I mean, a crossbow.")


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

No one can really tell if a given stand alone adventure will be appropriate for their game without actually getting it, reading through it, and often making alterations to make it fit the sort of game they are looking to run. The blurb only tells us enough to tell if an adventure is worth looking into.

Adventure Paths are another matter entirely. Part of running an Adventure Path involves substantial buy in. You are opting to follow the setting, tone, themes, and pacing of the Adventure Path.


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The Raven Black wrote:

My point is that a GM might not want to allow access to Teleport to his players at all. So any adventure that provides an opportunity for PCs to get it, or even worse an adventure that relies on that, will need some rework to function well.

Yeah, if you want to take an adventure and change it to fit your setting you might have to alter stuff.

This isn't new, though. It's been around as long as prewritten adventures themselves have been. Trying to turn that into some proof that rarity is broken feels like a weak connection to me.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Squiggit wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

My point is that a GM might not want to allow access to Teleport to his players at all. So any adventure that provides an opportunity for PCs to get it, or even worse an adventure that relies on that, will need some rework to function well.

Yeah, if you want to take an adventure and change it to fit your setting you might have to alter stuff.

This isn't new, though. It's been around as long as prewritten adventures themselves have been. Trying to turn that into some proof that rarity is broken feels like a weak connection to me.

This is how I'm using the rarity system, really - as a kind of 'red flag' to highlight new elements or peculiar things I might like to think about. It's really just a formalisation of what we did anyway, in my view.

I may well outlaw a common element in some games and I may well make some rare element universally available. As far as I'm concerned, the rarity system is an explicit "starting point" that lets the designers include weird and wacky elements without overly concerning themselves with whether they'll be universally embraced.

(I could see things like sacred geometry, the inclusion of technology-items and even the guidelines for alignment shifts in Horror Adventures being far less controversial if they'd all been slapped behind a massive "Rare - this may change the game more than you're comfortable with" tag).

At the very least it will hopefully restrict some of those arguments about the interactions between disparate rules elements which begin "By RAW...." If either of the elements are Rare (or even uncommon) there's an implicit buyer-beware caveat that you may need to make some judgement calls if you allow them in.

In terms of adventures, I don't think anything has changed - merely that those items one might be more inclined to modify are now quite likely to have a warning tag.

Grand Lodge

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

Personally I really like the rarity system. I think the concept was some what applied to games anyway...if the GM did not want something in the game you could not find it or buy it anyway. This is just a visual queue to help GM's think about these things before they allow them into a game.

I also feel that it takes something that was common place and makes it special. Not everyone in the world has access to Resurrect and those who do guard the secret closely.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

I like the rarity system. I like that there are things that can't be easily bought or chosen, it prevents every sorcerer from picking spells lost to time from ancient Thassilon just because they leveled up. That's an advantage to me. I guess I see Uncommon as "this should be findable, but you will have to at least look." Which means you should be able to get access if you want it.

One thing I thought of that could be neat in a home game is a PC deliberately making a desirable item less rare. Example: PCs find a nice Rare or Unique magic item, crafter PC reverse engineers the formula, and then distributes said formula far and wide so that after a while, the item becomes easier to get. For me, PCs being able to make changes like this to the campaign world is part of the fun.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

After making a bunch of characters, playing in a couple games, and hosting some of my own, I'm starting to come around on the rarity system.

On paper, it looks really restrictive, but in practice it's very much plays out like it did in P1E.

An overly restrictive GM, might change that, but if the game ends up being less for for it, that's really on the GM than the system.


I think it looks fine, I'm just wondering how it will play out in PFS. I'm hoping it won't be impossible to get uncommon items, at least.

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Ravingdork wrote:

After making a bunch of characters, playing in a couple games, and hosting some of my own, I'm starting to come around on the rarity system.

On paper, it looks really restrictive, but in practice it very much plays out like it did in P1E.

An overly restrictive GM, might change that, but if the game ends up being less for it, that's really on the GM than the system.

It feels like there is a lesson here for all of us, considering you started with calling it a “straight jacket”!

Not a personal attack, as I generally like your posts.


mrspaghetti wrote:
I think it looks fine, I'm just wondering how it will play out in PFS. I'm hoping it won't be impossible to get uncommon items, at least.

If I had to guess, society adventures will hand out specific uncommon items/access to specific uncommon feats like candy.

You won't be able to just grab the ones you want unless the adventure you're playing has it.


Garretmander wrote:
mrspaghetti wrote:
I think it looks fine, I'm just wondering how it will play out in PFS. I'm hoping it won't be impossible to get uncommon items, at least.

If I had to guess, society adventures will hand out specific uncommon items/access to specific uncommon feats like candy.

You won't be able to just grab the ones you want unless the adventure you're playing has it.

That's kinda what I'm afraid of. I will keep hoping that there are occasionally boons that let you buy an uncommon item of your choice though.


mrspaghetti wrote:
I think it looks fine, I'm just wondering how it will play out in PFS. I'm hoping it won't be impossible to get uncommon items, at least.

My assumption is that since the (diagetic) Pathfinder Society basically exists to know where things are or what things are in a place, that the Society can get pretty much anything uncommon for you if you have enough status with them.

Unlike in a game with characters who are not affiliated with a group like that, they're more or less going to find the stuff that's in the place they're in. But the Society can get you stuff from Osirion, Irrisen, and Nex pretty easily even if the entire campaign does not leave Andoran.


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I feel like PFS might end up having a whitelist of uncommon items you can buy or can obtain through boons.

The one 'problem' I think I have left is that there are essentially two kinds of uncommon. Things that are uncommon because they have a strong impact on the mechanics/narrative of the game and things that are uncommon because they're not easy to grab in setting.

So I could see like, a boon that lets you grab a Katar, but Teleport might be something you're given for a specific adventure and can't actually keep.


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I'd even say that there's arguably a third kind of "uncommon."

There's (1) things that are flagged as being potentially disruptive to campaigns - teleport, many divination spells, etc., which DMs might be more likely to want to ration out access to.

There's (2) things that are mechanically largely insignificant in terms of the texture of the campaign and what characters are capable of, but are simply less common in the inner sea region - most uncommon weapons, for example.

Finally, there's (3) things are meant to be universally accessible to characters that have a specific feat or class feature, and generally off-limits otherwise. Most focus spells fall into this category.

And that's just for player options.

These aren't exclusive categories, and there's a little bit of blur between some of them, but the rarity system does seem to be serving multiple roles that are partially orthogonal. I don't think this is a crisis or anything, but I would not be surprised to see "which kind of uncommon is X supposed to be?" becoming a question people have in the future.


Deadmanwalking wrote:

if you have a GM you can contact in some way, can't you just say something like 'I'm interested in your game, but I really want to get magic aura for the character I have in mind, is that okay?'

I mean, I played some PbP games once upon a time, and there was usually a discussion of what everyone was interested in playing, and that question seems super normal in structure, though the content is new.

I had a player ask me if they could get Detect Alignment either at character creation or at some point during play. I reassured them there would be opportunities to get a variety of uncommon spells throughout play (including detect alignment) but they wouldn't be able to start with any (unless they have a feat/class feature/background/whatever that grants it to them).

AFAIK there was no hurt feelings or issues with anyone involved as to how I'm handling that uncommon spell. It was a pretty straight forward exchange that took only a couple of minutes.


I think most of those "potential narrative warping spells" are uncommon either because (diagetically) the people who have them don't want everyone to have them or (non-diagetically) the GM wants a reason the antagonists don't have something that would be genuinely useful for them, but would make the PCs' lives too hard.

I figure a good way to handle this as a GM is to make the person who does not want their alignment detected no matter what have "detect alignment" in their spellbook (along with dispel magic). So you can get that spell as soon as you get your grubby hands on their spellbook.

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