Intrinsic, Fundamental AP Design Flaw


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Sovereign Court

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

Often you can find good ways to explain some of those inconsistencies.

Council of Thieves spoilers:
One of the most inconsistent parts of the backstory of the campaign was the reason why the son of the patriarch would go on to make a pact with hell to sire a son.

The explanation for that is that a Harrow reading by a Varisian fortuneteller told him, that he would never sire a son. First came a daughter and then he took those drastic measures to ensure he would have a son, thought the prophecy still came true, as Eccardian was not his son, but sired by Mammon himself.

Another Council of Thieves inconsistency (no spoiler is necessary here):
The biggest reason this AP is held in such low regard ist failed expectations. From the start it seems, the PCs have a chance to strike against House Thrune. If the beginning of the campaign would have concentrated on themes like "Make Westcrown Great Again" or "We are Batman" the reviews would have been much more favorable, because then the expectations would have met the outcome of the AP.


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Mathmuse wrote:
And if I declared aloud to my players, "Necromancers aren’t required for undead," then I would be openly criticizing the encounter. That is one of Tallow's complaints: GMs criticizing the encounters as they run them, though I had altered the encounter myself. Rather than ruining the mood, I let them make Recall Knowledge Religion rolls and investigate the area, searching for information about the possible necromancer.

Wouldn't a recall knowledge let them know that undead also rise spontaneously? Possibly with a higher result allowing them to determine if these were spontaneous or raised be a necromancer.


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Note that this whole undead sideline is kind of meta, since it's players incorrectly remembering how undead work. In character that should either be a "You don't know" or "It can be spontaneous" depending on that knowledge roll.

Scarab Sages

Rysky wrote:

Kinda but not really. Plotting around assumptions and mistakes can be fun, but are not mandatory.

The AP can’t really account for your players making up assumptions. Undead can be created by necromancers, they can be created to get revenge.

Can be. Nothing in undead or the example situation hard codes their creation and your players assumptions are just that, assumptions. That there’s no Necromancer or too many undead from one event for one player’s liking is not a failure of the AP.

That being said, I do agree that in some cases, especially between books where the authors change, unintentional red herrings can be a problem for a GM in ensuring the adventure continues to move forward along the plot without railroading the players.

Scarab Sages

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CorvusMask wrote:
I mean, I agree that GM advice of "If players make a really long deduction that they are proud of, you can change things so its true so that players feel happy about being right" can be good idea, but it can also be good idea to let players sometimes just be wrong about their assumption.

I think its a long-time trope/inside joke, "Hey, don't say that, you'll give the GM ideas!"

I do, though, enjoy with player assumptions in creating encounters or side adventures that were never intended.

Scarab Sages

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Oliver von Spreckelsen wrote:


Another Council of Thieves inconsistency (no spoiler is necessary here):
The biggest reason this AP is held in such low regard ist failed expectations. From the start it seems, the PCs have a chance to strike against House Thrune. If the beginning of the campaign would have concentrated on themes like "Make Westcrown Great Again" or "We are Batman" the reviews would have been much more favorable, because then the expectations would have met the outcome of the AP.

I think we are really starting to narrow down the specific issues in transition between books that W E Ray initially spoke about, when they are written by different authors. In many cases, an author of an earlier book might make unintentional promises that never get realized because it wasn't in the outline/adventure skeleton assignments handed to the authors by the developer. This is why more comprehensive collaboration is important, in my opinion.

Grand Lodge

Tallow wrote:
I think we are really starting to narrow down the specific issues in transition between books.

.

Yeah, for me, to get what I was hoping for from this Thread, I'd love to see some posts really detailing a few specific cases in individual AP volumes. (I had to not-read the Council of Thieves posts because it, along with HR and HV, are the ones I can't have spoilers to.)

And then, looking at those cases, see if it's really true at all and how significant or insignificant a problem it is.

Scarab Sages

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W E Ray wrote:
Tallow wrote:
I think we are really starting to narrow down the specific issues in transition between books.

.

Yeah, for me, to get what I was hoping for from this Thread, I'd love to see some posts really detailing a few specific cases in individual AP volumes. (I had to not-read the Council of Thieves posts because it, along with HR and HV, are the ones I can't have spoilers to.)

And then, looking at those cases, see if it's really true at all and how significant or insignificant a problem it is.

I've only run* Kingmaker and Ironfang Invasion, and played* Reign of Winter and Skulls and Shackles.

*I've done bits and pieces, mostly of book 5 and 6 for PFS, of Rise of the Runelords, Shattered Star, Jade Regent, Iron Gods, & Giantslayer and I played through book 2 of Carrion Crown as an AP. So none of these are really APs I can speak to in regards to transition.

Kingmaker: The transition between book 1 and 2 was the most seamless. Book 2 and 3 was maybe a little jarring, since the entire book more or less had nothing to do with the overall metaplot except for I think a couple kingdom events (which were like secondary and tertiary side encounters). Book 3 to 4 also had some issues in transition and book 4 to 5 kinda did, but it actually made sense. Book 6 tied it all together so its transition was fine. But what tied it all together was doing the Kingdom Building, and as long as exploration and expansion was the focus of the adventure, then the jarring transitions were mitigated almost entirely. I can imagine if you played without that aspect and just played the story, with the kingdom stuff in the background, the GM would have had to work hard on the transitions. I did not have to work hard on them.

Skulls & Shackles: I've only played the first 3 books, and the transitions are pretty good as it follows the natural progression of shanghai'd slaves to pirate lords without missing much of a beat (at least through book 3, no idea if this trend continues.) The only issues I had were the sub-games in book 1 and 2 became monotonous. Book 3 rocked.

Reign of Winter: I've played through book 5, and the central conceit of the entire AP makes the transitions fine. They would be jarring if the players don't buy into this central conceit. But with buy-in to the central conceit, the transitions make perfect sense and work very well. Each book is entirely and incredibly different from the last (with the exception of book 1 & 2), and without the central conceit, they would literally be 6 separate adventures barely stitched together with any cohesion. But it actually works really well, because of the reason why they are so drastically different.

I feel like, perhaps (and I'm kinda speaking out of turn, because I'm assuming) the reason some transitions are seen as faulty, is because the developer did not devise a cool tool by which to help the GM transition from story to story smoothly.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Tallow wrote:
Rysky wrote:

Kinda but not really. Plotting around assumptions and mistakes can be fun, but are not mandatory.

The AP can’t really account for your players making up assumptions. Undead can be created by necromancers, they can be created to get revenge.

Can be. Nothing in undead or the example situation hard codes their creation and your players assumptions are just that, assumptions. That there’s no Necromancer or too many undead from one event for one player’s liking is not a failure of the AP.

That being said, I do agree that in some cases, especially between books where the authors change, unintentional red herrings can be a problem for a GM in ensuring the adventure continues to move forward along the plot without railroading the players.

*nods*


Feedback (albeit subjective) is always a good thing. It's worth noting that the plural of anecdote isn't data, and I am under no illusions that my personal opinions represent anyone other than myself. That said- I don't know if I really feel like there's any reliable data on which AP's are best or worst liked. I've seen some polls, but nothing official and the boards hardly represent the entirety of the AP playing population. If there has been anything akin to scientific data, I haven't seen it.

I'd imagine that Owlcat games did some research when deciding on Kingmaker and Wrath of the Righteous, or at least I'd hope so. It is worth noting that Wrath of the Righteous isn't a "universally acclaimed" AP, at least by your metrics- even though it seems to carry consistent themes throughout (I guess chapter 1 of the 1st book and book 4 could be argued to be slightly off theme).

I'd also argue that Reign of Winter is by far one of the best AP's ever written (and to be honest, every AP I've read I've enjoyed) and carries the same theme throughout whilst exploring different aspects of the same theme. Admittedly, book 3 turns some people off but personally I'm a fan of even that.

Shadow Lodge

Artofregicide wrote:
I'd imagine that Owlcat games did some research when deciding on Kingmaker and Wrath of the Righteous, or at least I'd hope so. It is worth noting that Wrath of the Righteous isn't a "universally acclaimed" AP, at least by your metrics- even though it seems to carry consistent themes throughout (I guess chapter 1 of the 1st book and book 4 could be argued to be slightly off theme).

Owlcat might not have been free to pick and choose any AP to adapt. Paizo is the rights-holder, and I very much doubt that their agreement to allow Owlcat to adapt Kingmaker extended that permission to every AP. Likely it extended only to Kingmaker, leaving any subsequent adaptations to be covered by their own agreements. Interestingly, James Jacobs has indicated an interest in remixing Wrath of the Righteous to rework some problematic elements, and I can imagine that influencing Paizo's decision to let go its rights (Wrath is popular but flawed) as opposed to the rights of a more universally-acclaimed AP.


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Artofregicide wrote:


I'd also argue that Reign of Winter is by far one of the best AP's ever written (and to be honest, every AP I've read I've enjoyed) and carries the same theme throughout whilst exploring different aspects of the same theme. Admittedly, book 3 turns some people off but personally I'm a fan of even that.

I avoided this Ap because I didn't want to got to earth in my sword and sorcery world. I may give this another look now based on posts here

Shadow Lodge

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Sunderstone wrote:
Artofregicide wrote:
I'd also argue that Reign of Winter is by far one of the best AP's ever written (and to be honest, every AP I've read I've enjoyed) and carries the same theme throughout whilst exploring different aspects of the same theme. Admittedly, book 3 turns some people off but personally I'm a fan of even that.

I avoided this Ap because I didn't want to got to earth in my sword and sorcery world. I may give this another look now based on posts here

Reign of Winter:
It's not like you're traipsing around Petrograd attending Soviet meetings and dispatching armed food requisitions to the countryside. You're in the middle of nowhere Siberia, a couple hundred miles in any direction from any place worthy of the name, and interacting with 1) fictionalized versions of historical people, 2) monsters pretending to be fictionalized versions of historical people, and 3) plausible but entirely fictional characters given texture by fictional relationships to fictionalized versions of historical people. It's easy enough file the serial numbers off if that bugs you.

Calling the setting "Earth" is just a perq for people like me who like blasting White Guards with fireballs.


zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Sunderstone wrote:
Artofregicide wrote:
I'd also argue that Reign of Winter is by far one of the best AP's ever written (and to be honest, every AP I've read I've enjoyed) and carries the same theme throughout whilst exploring different aspects of the same theme. Admittedly, book 3 turns some people off but personally I'm a fan of even that.

I avoided this Ap because I didn't want to got to earth in my sword and sorcery world. I may give this another look now based on posts here

** spoiler omitted **

For me it's mixing it up with sci-fi. I didn't care for Iron Gods for the same reason before I read more on these forums about it. Starting from Row, I dropped my AP subscription. If I ran IG, it would be ooc for me and my one and only sci-fi shot as I still would rather keep that genre separate.

It's just my taste. Even way back, I preferred Greyhawk/FR and never bought anything Eberron for setting flavor reasons.

I'm a collector of these APs anyway , it can't hurt to pick up an Row PDF or two to see if I'm missing anything special.


Especially now, as the PDFs are all 25% off.

I might pick a few up, with this sale.

Scarab Sages

Sunderstone wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Sunderstone wrote:
Artofregicide wrote:
I'd also argue that Reign of Winter is by far one of the best AP's ever written (and to be honest, every AP I've read I've enjoyed) and carries the same theme throughout whilst exploring different aspects of the same theme. Admittedly, book 3 turns some people off but personally I'm a fan of even that.

I avoided this Ap because I didn't want to got to earth in my sword and sorcery world. I may give this another look now based on posts here

** spoiler omitted **

For me it's mixing it up with sci-fi. I didn't care for Iron Gods for the same reason before I read more on these forums about it. Starting from Row, I dropped my AP subscription. If I ran IG, it would be ooc for me and my one and only sci-fi shot as I still would rather keep that genre separate.

It's just my taste. Even way back, I preferred Greyhawk/FR and never bought anything Eberron for setting flavor reasons.

I'm a collector of these APs anyway , it can't hurt to pick up an Row PDF or two to see if I'm missing anything special.

Keep in mind I've only played through Book 5, so I don't know what happens in Book 6.

But a few things to consider:

1) Book 5 is the only book that would have you going to "Earth."
2) It is not sci-fi. At worst, I'd call it Pulp in the vein of Allan Quatermain style pulp (as in late 1800's early 1900's.
3) Yes, there are "modern" firearms, but that's about the most "real world"-ish you will get. The rest is still pretty fantasy/horror.

Scarab Sages

I wonder if the best way to reword W E Ray's question, is:

"What are the easiest/hardest APs for GMs to make fun for their players?"

and

"Is there a common element that is the most difficult for GMs throughout the entire catalog of APs?"

and

"Are the most difficult elements only evident to players when GMs allow them to be evident during play?"

I'm of a mind, that if a GM has enough time, energy, and motivation, they can make any adventure fun for their players. Skill also has something to do with it, but largely I would say any GM who has players willing to consistently play at their table has enough skill to modify things as necessary. Experience, in my opinion, might be the only limiting factor as far as skill goes, for a GM effectively modifying an adventure to work best for a particular group of players.


I think the biggest, most intrinsic design flaw of APs is that they are so awesome, that I wish 2 or three of them could be developed simultaneously. I feel bad for the APs coming in at the end of PF1's life cycle because a lot of players might be jumping over to second edition and not be interested in the work it takes to convert them, but I know a lot of people are sticking around with PF1 so it might be the kind of thing where some of the newer ones just need more people to play them and share their experiences with them before people will find ways to resolve the plot issues that inevitably arise when players expectations are different than the designers.

The other issue that I ran into with some of the newer, but pre-PF2 APs is that magic was just so disruptive to how they could be played that the GM was basically having to be ready to rewrite the 4th, 5th and 6th books on the fly, making the writing of certain plot points kind of irrelevant. It is going to take by play groups a while to catch up that far with either Age of Ashes or Extinction Curse so I don't really feel like there is much I can say about it at this point.

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