I just finished browsing the GameMaster Guide. Some really nice content in there.
I am definitely going to have some fun with RELICS :)
The additional HAZARDS look good and the magical item QUIRKS look like a lot of fun.
Deck of Many Things - I have this really ornate & cool looking metal d20 - it has a very eldritch demonic look to it :)
Thinking of introducing it as a DoMT's minus the Void & Throne cards. Roll the dice get a card. Could be fun !
STAMINA - This looks interesting. I am definitely going to give this a trial run and see how it plays out. I like the feel of it. How only a core % of your hp's represent physical damage.
So I've never been interested in Gamemastery Guides, and it was one of the few books in PF1 that I never picked up. But between the editions, I switched groups (not out of any bad blood, just ended up moving around the world), which afforded me a new way of looking at the game. It's easy to be a good GM when you know what your audience wants and has wanted for the past 10 years, but with new players I found myself looking to try out new things.
My new group is very interested in variant rules (or at least one member is, who - I am certain - is reading my paizo posts right now), but I had always avoided them. I never ran gestalt games because my old group had no interest. No need to tweak things or pull levers because I never had anyone curious enough to ask about what goes on behind the screen. So right now, I've been really enjoying the variant rules and am looking for ways to test them out in smaller games.
Unfortunately, we live in a rather difficult place to pick up new players, so while I have a million and a half games planned for trying homebrew, giving dual-classes a shot, or playing around with encounter design... Well, sometimes it's hard to find players!
The hexploration rules! I'm just about to start running Kingmaker in 2nd Edition, and the timing is perfect.
The monster, hazard and item building guidelines also look super useful, and ditto the NPC gallery. I'm quite tempted to use the Ancestral Paragons tweak (where you get twice as many ancestry feats) as well.
Relics are one of my favorite things. Making a central piece of my equipment something that I can more viably keep over time AND adding a lot more personal flavor to it is going to feel fantastic.
I have had one player already express interest in a relic and we have a long history in our games of amusing magical intelligent objects so I am quite keen as well.
bag of weasels
The mechanics for monster design, chase, etc are all necessary to run a game so I dont have an opinion on them.
The npcs and items are useful and save a lot of work.
I do like some of the variant systems. Having an actual chart for XP encounter adjustment if you don't add level is great. I can see us doing a one-shot like this.
Deck of Many Things - I have this really ornate & cool looking metal d20 - it has a very eldritch demonic look to it :)Thinking of introducing it as a DoMT's minus the Void & Throne cards. Roll the dice get a card. Could be fun !
Having used Deck of Many Things in a game long ago in a previous edition, the castle is actually one of the few reasons why players would seek out this item. Whenever a game revolves around "The army is coming and there is nothing to keep them away", that's what that card does.
When the deck is actually used to fish for a specific card, players will generally draw multiples, and that does take some of the fun out of a dice when you have to re-roll. Such a thing is such a critical part of the experence and such a high-risk move, that it kind of deserves real cards in my opimion.
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Influence and Stamina are deffo going to be used in my games. Once my group comes back from haitus they are likely going to court over certain misdemeanors and Influence is going to be perfect for that.
Stamina is about the only think I thought they would bring over from Starfinder as core and was disappointed it wasn't there.
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For me, it is definitely the Automatic Bonus Progression. I think that PCs needing magic item bonuses to match up to equal level enemies is wrong for me. I have the (possibly unpopular) opinion that PCs should be using magic items to do things that they couldn't before or increase options, not be a numbers game to keep up, and that if (and only if) a weapon or piece of armor has a magic item bonus, that should be used to fight against a higher weight class. That said, I do enjoy that there are property runes that grant additional damage with an appropriate damage type.
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The NPC gallery is interesting, but the thing I think I'll get the most use out of is the Monster Design chapter. It's allowing me to dust off an AP I was writing (and abandoned out of frustration with monster design in PF1) and continue it. Sure, I'm going to have to rebuild the first two adventures as well, but I'm alright with that.
However, the relics are going to be a godsend for the same AP, as I'd been trying to build them in PF1 and flubbing it, so having something that does it far better makes me happy.
There are a bunch of other things I love, but those two are the ones that I think are best for me, personally.
I really like the VP mechanic. I’ve already got ideas for new ways to us it in my game, which is surely the sign of a cool, new mechanic. We’re also going to be giving a few variants a try this weekend (point buy, skill points, and proficiency without level). I won’t have a good opinion on them until we do, but I’m hoping they all work out. I’m particularly excited about the extra flexibility proficiency without level gives me for encounter building, assuming it works as advertised.
The monster building rules are also pretty solid. Since the preview, I’ve already created a number of new ones for my game. I jumped ahead to the subsystems and variants stuff, so I’m circling back to the earlier chapters now and working through them.
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I'm pretty much going to echo what others are saying in this thread.
I love the relic system. I like how relics have powers tied to theme; it feels very Godbound to me and that's not at all a bad thing.
I also just love love item-based stuff, so cursed items and artifacts coming back was great. I especially like that intelligent magic items have more of an impactful role now than I feel they did before. The extra actions but with big strings attached ideology is one that I think could spice up a lot of games.
I enjoyed a lot of the alternate rules systems, but I think my two faves right now are probably deep backgrounds and level 0. I like deep backgrounds more because they give you tools for designing your own backgrounds, which is nice.
I'm looking forward to slapping together a campaign starter adventure with the level 0 rules.
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Victory Points is a highlight for me as well. It's a pretty basic framework but that gives you a lot of room to mess with things. I'm thinking of making up a 5-room dungeon that consists of an Influence, a Chase, an Infiltration, and then a couple combats (not necessarily in that order) and see how it all fits together.
I also like Stamina. I liked the Vigor rules in P1e, and incidentally let people use Heal checks in a way that's turned out to be pretty similar to how Medicine checks work in P2e, except Heal checks could only patch up the Vigor/Stamina points. Knowing how strong Medicine is right now, this might be a variant I employ just to make things feel a little less like you're defibrillating someone with a gaping axe wound and more like you're wrapping a bad sprain or whatever, but need rest or magical healing for the real hits.
The book strikes me as a "Phase One" mashup of Unchained, Ultimate Intrigue, and Ultimate Campaign, which I dig. I like having all of these tools at the outset, and it feels like the designers took what they liked or what they thought worked, polished it up a bit, and then put it in here. If the CRB is a car, the GMG is a toolbox and a repair guide.
I also like the tone of the book. There are examples everywhere. I've been pretty much a full-time DM for years, and I appreciate that the book is both giving me bits of inspiration for how to get in there and run things in an easy and straightforward way but also looks like it'd be really easy for a new DM to pick up and run with. The ease of use in this edition is really nice.
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I'm starting a new campaign soon and while I'm definitely using other parts of the book the thing my players have appreciated the most are deep backgrounds. For reference, the initial setup is that the players are in Korvosa and are members of the Cerulean Society with a free Rogue multiclass per the variant rules in the book.
One player wanted to play an Ancient Elf Druid with a bear companion, but wasn't sure how to fit them into the campaign. We rolled him through the Deep Background.
First, he grew up with two siblings and because he rolled a 1 he grew up on the frontier. We decided that he grew up near a cave system with older siblings hundreds of years ago, and these siblings taught him how to survive under the surface. He didn't decide on a Lore yet.
His major childhood event was an earthquake. He decided that he was captured by the Drow along with his siblings and separated from his siblings. Under harsh treatment as a slave, he grew to despise his first taste of 'society'. One day, while in his cell a powerful earthquake hit the city he was in, collapsing most of the cavern. The ceiling caved in and broke the chains connecting his collar, giving him a chance to escape. Believing his siblings dead, he climbed up into a newly opened fissure. He took Drow Lore.
His influential associate was a mentor, his sibling. Remembering the lessons they taught him, he made his way to the surface. It took decades, and had an adverse effect on his mental and physical health. He emerged outside the Mindspin Mountains and stayed as a hermit in the forests.
For his party member associations he rolled Desperate Intimidation and Rival Hunters. We decided that one of the party members, en route to Korvosa to try as a thief crossed his path when they set a trap to catch dinner. They caught a bear cub, and he confronted the party member telling them to let the cub go and run. That party member listened, and came back later to learn more from them (their backstory is that of a wanderer looking to experience different cultures). The elf lured the bear cub back with honey so that they could heal it when poachers attacked. The two tried to scare away the poachers, but their numbers were too great. Mama bear came in to protect her cub, driving out the poachers but dying in the process with her cub on death's door. The party member convinced the elf to travel to Korvosa, as the city could heal the cub better than he cub. Reluctantly he agreed, and the two set off. Lacking money, he got a loan from the Cerulean Society to pay for healing which he could only replay through service.
Now we have a player invested in his background, connected to the party, with a clear goal and potential plot hooks galore. What does he do if he finds his siblings are alive? How does he change if he stops fearing society? What if one or both of his siblings became Drow antagonists later in the plot or be finds the same poaching group working with allies on one of his quests?
Compare that to: Hermit. Constitution, Cave Lore, Nature, Dubious Knowledge.
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Victory Points: an easy to understand foundation on which to build minigames.
Vehicles: the first set of vehicle rules that I'd actually want to use in a set piece encounter.
Automatic Bonus Progression: very useful in some campaigns.
Monster & Hazard building rules - indispensable
Dual-classing: something I might use if I'm running a campaign with 2-3 players.
Adventure- Campaign-, Nation- and World-building rules, a lot streamlined since last time.
This is a useful book, especially for somebody who is new to GMing as well as great tool in creating your own campaigns. I wish I had something this well written when I was a kid DMing in AD&D 1st edition.
As an added note, anyone ever considering to write a fantasy or sci-fi story this book would find this a great tool.
I tend to stay on the organized play side of the game, so while I think it is a great guide, I am not sure its something required for PCs or GMs.
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A lot of specific things, but in the big picture, two things.
1) I like the even balance between empowering the GM to make their campaign their own, and guiding the GM on how to be collaborative and caring about the players' fun. I feel there are good points to GM empowerment and GMs sharing responsibilities with the players, but most people usually sit on one side of the spectrum or the other: Viking Hat GMs or Waiter at Chili's GM. This book got it right in the centre.
2) It's not the best GM advice book ever, but it's the perfect one to help understand Paizo's PF2 system and their supplementary material. The mechanical advice is perfect for the system, and the kind of adventure/campaign advice is perfect for the world and adventures Paizo makes. This book will help you run a game congruent with the crunch and fluff you'll get with other Paizo product.