Guidelines for Rules Changes


Organized Play General Discussion

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

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(posting this in General Discussion because it concerns both Starfinder Society and Pathfinder Society)

Ten years ago the original "Guidelines for Rules Changes" thread was Stickied in the PFS Forum to answer the frequently asked question of what happens when Errata, FAQs and/or Society restrictions impact existing characters. Its solution was generous for its time, but in the years since a patchwork of answers from different members of Leadership has evolved, and the side effect has been a noticeable increase in player anxiety everytime a change occurs. In addition, we are often left in a frustrating limbo until an answer surfaces. The August Errata for the Starfinder Core Rulebook, for example, still hasn't been addressed, leaving individual GMs to handle character Rebuilds on their own.

Change is inherent to this hobby. Ambiguous text needs clarification. Unforeseen interactions may need to be limited. Or the Campaign itself might change. I've seen everything from Equipment, Feats, Spells, Companions, Familiars, Boons, Classes, Prestige Classes, Archetypes and Races/Ancestries changed to varying degrees. Even rules elements such as spell-like abilities, combat maneuvers and ability scores have been overhauled in one way or another.

But while change is unavoidable, we should acknowledge that change affects both characters and players differently. What may be an insubstantial change to one person may be a major upset to another. It could be mechanical, utilizing Paizo's intricate rules interactions to create a finely tuned specialist, or emotional, such as emulating a hero or favored trope. And we should be mindful that different people handle the stress of change differently.

Plus, a change today has a bigger material impact than a change did ten years ago. With the advent of Achievement Points, literally hundreds of hours may be invested in a character's creation. Money, too, in order to acquire the books, art, miniatures or even dice to represent your character perfectly. I've even encountered players who cosplay their characters.

For all of these reasons, I believe it would be helpful to establish a universal rule for both Campaigns to handle rules changes. Such an overarching policy could benefit players and Leadership alike, because players would know what to expect when their characters are impacted, and Leadership would no longer need to spend time and resources issuing statements everytime the rules changed. Rules changes are stressful enough, we shouldn't compound the issue by dismissing the impact those changes may have.

In case you're wondering what sort of universal policy could handle different Campaigns and different rules systems, I simply propose allowing players a full character Rebuild whenever they feel their character has been negatively impacted by a rules change. It's a decision that can only be made by the player affected. Some people have personalities or characters who are more adaptable than others. Banning an obscure Animal Companion may have no impact on 99% of players, or even 99% of characters using that Animal Companion, but for the one player who's invested equipment, feats, boons, time, art and money into that story, the change can be devastating.

I created this post to discuss the possibility of allowing full character rebuilds, and would appreciate constructive dialogue about any true concerns, and/or what language would be required to implement such a change. What I respectfully request while engaging in this discussion is mindfulness and empathy. This is a stressful time for everyone, and it's a stressful topic for many. My aim is to improve the gaming experience for everyone equally, and this is an issue very dear to me personally. Please be kind ^_^

5/5 5/55/55/5

Full seems to be a little much. Why not just anything reasonably connected with the change?

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/5 **

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Full seems to be a little much. Why not just anything reasonably connected with the change?

That sounds fine to me, as long as the player is the one who decides. Ie, this should work completely on the honour system.

It really doesn't seem that big a deal any longer. I can get a rebuild for ACP so all we're "risking" is some free ACP.

I expect some people will "cheat". Quite honestly, I don't care. As long as the character that makes it to the table is legal it really doesn't bother me if the player slightly "cheated".

If the possibility of "cheating" is considered too major a problem then perhaps an alternative would be to allow one free (or extremely cheap) rebuild per character per year, or per 3 levels, or something of that order.

We should also be clear. Right now the chances of my being caught if I actually DO cheat is vanishingly small. So, right now the dishonest aren't affected by changes as much as the honest and there is a strong incentive to cheat.

5/5 5/55/55/5

pauljathome wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Full seems to be a little much. Why not just anything reasonably connected with the change?

That sounds fine to me, as long as the player is the one who decides. Ie, this should work completely on the honour system.

It really doesn't seem that big a deal any longer. I can get a rebuild for ACP so all we're "risking" is some free ACP.

These should all work.

Starfinder doesn't have ACP yet. And the only rebuild option is the incredibly limited mnemonic editor (it only does the level you're on and one previous)

***

I think it's worth differentiating between three cases.

1. The change is in the players' favor, e.g., alchemists getting Powerful Alchemy as a class feature. I don't think players should get rebuilds for these changes.

2. The change takes away options that were controversial to begin with, e.g., alchemists trading formulas for free. I don't think players should get rebuilds for these either.

(Sorry for all the alchemist examples, but my -2001 is an alchemist and alchemists are heavily errataed so those examples just spring to mind.)

3. The change takes away options that were not controversial, e.g., clerics suddenly being limited to CRB spells. I think players should get rebuilds.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

The topic of cheating always strikes me as an odd objection in any discussion, because cheaters don't care what the rules allow.

It's like saying that we shouldn't have boons for exotic races because people could photoshop a boon for their race of choice.

If anything, I would think that a broad policy for addressing rules changes could disincentive cheating, because Rebuilding would be accessible without any strings attached.

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While I appreciate the currently available AcP Rebuild for PFS2, I think it's inappropriate to ask someone who's been impacted by a rules change to use it. There is a 15% wealth cost and an AcP cost. Regardless of your opinion about whether those costs are appropriate, you're just throwing salt on the wound of someone who was negatively impacted by something outside of their control.

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Watery Soup wrote:
I think it's worth differentiating between three cases.

That's a good idea. It would probably be helpful to work on a list of mutually agreeable terms to help show Leadership what the community's thoughts are.

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/5 **

Watery Soup wrote:

I think it's worth differentiating between three cases.

1. The change is in the players' favor, e.g., alchemists getting Powerful Alchemy as a class feature. I don't think players should get rebuilds for these changes.

2. The change takes away options that were controversial to begin with, e.g., alchemists trading formulas for free. I don't think players should get rebuilds for these either.

(Sorry for all the alchemist examples, but my -2001 is an alchemist and alchemists are heavily errataed so those examples just spring to mind.)

3. The change takes away options that were not controversial, e.g., clerics suddenly being limited to CRB spells. I think players should get rebuilds.

Unfortunately, the difference between cases 2 and 3 above is often very unclear. Your example listed in case 3 (if you're referring to the fact that non Core common spells now require Learn a Spell) is officially a clarification, ie it is actually an example of case 2 according to what we have been told.

While I understand the emotional appeal of not rewarding people who take advantage of clear cheese I don't think it's worth going down that particular rabbit hole. It would just lead to too many arguments and recriminations for too little gain.

Liberty's Edge 3/5 5/5 **** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

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The whole concept of something changed so I should get a complete rebuild just smacks me of being "entitled".

I understand the approach is coming from a customer service stand point. And the old axiom is that "the customer is always right". A concept I don't agree with on a personal level.

I agree that there should be some level of rebuild involved but not a complete rebuild. In 1e, a measured approach was taken to allow limited rebuilds for things that impacted the character. In fact, with the errata, that limited approach is in place for some gear that is no longer in the game.

Grand Archive 4/5 ****

BigNorseWolf wrote:
pauljathome wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Full seems to be a little much. Why not just anything reasonably connected with the change?

That sounds fine to me, as long as the player is the one who decides. Ie, this should work completely on the honour system.

It really doesn't seem that big a deal any longer. I can get a rebuild for ACP so all we're "risking" is some free ACP.

These should all work.

Starfinder doesn't have ACP yet. And the only rebuild option is the incredibly limited mnemonic editor (it only does the level you're on and one previous)

For PFS2, the ACP rebuild (I think?) still costs some amount of earned gold. So, some ACP and Some earned gold.

I was thinking a certain amount of free days of "retraining downtime" could be part of the solution. (Since for a lot of things, downtime retraining is going to be a cheaper solution than even a full, free rebuild.)

I would be *very* surprised if any PFS2 full rebuild were to omit some variation on the "recalculate earned gold x 85%, then rebuy all gear."

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

The customer service approach is definitely where I'm coming from, and I agree customers are entitled to full accommodation when possible.

It's just bad business to offer anything less, but especially in this environment, where the Organized Play "product" is the community itself.

Before the Pandemic, I used to sell and service luxury Swiss watches. Despite our best QC, occasionally we returned a watch to its owner that wasn't functioning 100%. It was always embarrassing when they brought the watch back to us, but generally people trusted us to take care of the issue. For us, there was a cost in doing so—paying for the same parts and labor a second time. But we never passed that cost on to the customer. We'd go out of business if that became our regular policy. But there was still the whole inconvenience of the matter—the customer would have to go weeks before their watch would be finished. We just wouldn't further accommodate them beyond trying to expedite the refinish ahead of schedule.

Fortunately, in our case here, it costs Paizo nothing to make things right. And it has no impact on players who are unaffected in the first place.

Offering full Rebuilds is the perfect customer service potential that other companies dream of ^_^

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

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I don't know if the AcP rebuilds are the ideal model here - they don't allow you to change ancestry, heritage, background or class.

Watery Soup wrote:
2. The change takes away options that were controversial to begin with, e.g., alchemists trading formulas for free. I don't think players should get rebuilds for these either.

Take battle medicine as an example, which was definitely controversial. When it was first published nobody could have known that the answer would end up being "one hand plus worn", it was going to be either 0 or 2. Over the course of several minor shifts and finally the second printing and then another round of discussion did we finally settle on the current version.

Is it really reasonable now to punish someone for betting on the wrong number of hands? I don't think so.

1/5 5/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think if a rebuild were to happen, it'd need to be a full one.

I haven't played a *lot* of PFS2, but there seems to be a much more 'solid' baking-in process on characters.

Trying to divorce one or two banned/limited options that are 'baked-in' with a character would be a problematic mess.

Also, with ACP is an exceedingly rare commodity (at least for me) that is currently feeding the mouths of 'bring character back from death'/'allow access to uncommon(and rare) Ancestries'/etc.

This further penalizes folks who didn't 'bet correctly' on the designer intent/orgplay desires.

The above being said, however, there needs to be some sort of safeguard to prevent the 'OmniCharacter' that swaps out whatever isn't helpful for a given scenario with things that would help.

I'm not sure if a supervised rebuild would work the best and it'd be kind of problematic given current medical crises.

2/5 5/5 *****

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

As a general policy backstop, I'd prefer both

A) something like what Jared listed up stream (extra downtime days, that can only be used for retraining), but it would need to be something on the order of ~36 days or so to allow for a couple feats and maybe a class feature to account for teh degree of changes in a major errata drop.

B) And a limited number(per year) of 0 AcP, but still 15% gold, complete rebuild options for the case where a character is heavily impacted.

Together they provide a pretty solid backstop, barring additional allowances made by the OP team (such as all the more targeted refunds/etc that they already posted regarding item prices/no-longer valid items/rune combos, etc).

5/5 5/55/55/5

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Watery Soup wrote:


2. The change takes away options that were controversial to begin with, e.g., alchemists trading formulas for free. I don't think players should get rebuilds for these either.

I don't think you could have a good definition of that. There's almost always at least one person objecting to anything.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

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This assumes that players aren’t already rebuilding their characters when rules change. I stopped counting the times I’ve played with a character a second time and some of its build was retconned without any official rebuilding (in or out of game) being used. The player simply changed their character either because they no longer liked the options they previously selected or because rules changes (errata/faq) changed their vision of the PC.

We already have rebuilding options within the AcP system. However, if you feel a player should be able to rebuild for free based on rules changes there’s only two ways to do it. First, you leave it up to the p,Ayer to decide how much of their character is affected and how much to rebuild. This is the free full rebuild option. Second, org play leadership specifies each and every component that can be rebuilt. Not the best solution since it will take a lot of time, something the developers claim not to have, which means characters could be sitting in limbo for months or more while we wait on the rebuild rules. And let’s face it, if players don’t like the rebuild options they are most likely either going to quit playing or just change their character anyway.

Whatever the final version is, it has to be fair and implementable, otherwise people are going to ignore the rule and do whatever they need to do to continue to enjoy their character and the game.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

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TwilightKnight wrote:
However, if you feel a player should be able to rebuild for free based on rules changes there’s only two ways to do it. First, you leave it up to the p,Ayer to decide how much of their character is affected and how much to rebuild. This is the free full rebuild option. Second, org play leadership specifies each and every component that can be rebuilt. Not the best solution since it will take a lot of time, something the developers claim not to have, which means characters could be sitting in limbo for months or more while we wait on the rebuild rules.

These are the cornerstones of my thinking, too. Less stress for both Leadership and players.

And, it can be implemented across both Pathfinder and Starfinder, which a limited Downtime system wouldn't be able to handle.

Dark Archive 4/5 *** Venture-Lieutenant, Finland—Turku

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I wholeheartedly agree with TwilightKnight and Nefreet.

In theory, I believe the best solution would be if the Organized Play leadership could weight every change and errata and ruling, and fairly assess which portions of characters could be rebuild to accomodate it.
However, that's both inpractical because of the work required, and the extent of rebuilding needed is subjective. In practice, "full rebuild to the extent you feel is needed" is the best solution.

Did a ring granting you melee attack get changed? Luckily it was just a backup weapon, you're happy with just a refund. Did you spend a boon, and pick your stats, class, feats, and faction to support a concept that relied on this ring? A refund is not going to cut it.

5/5 5/55/55/5

TwilightKnight wrote:
This assumes that players aren’t already rebuilding their characters when rules change. I stopped counting the times I’ve played with a character a second time and some of its build was retconned without any official rebuilding (in or out of game) being used. The player simply changed their character either because they no longer liked the options they previously selected or because rules changes (errata/faq) changed their vision of the PC

Not sure if this is included in that group or not but if an option changes you are allowed to swap it for something else.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

That's not a universal rule across Campaigns, currently =\

5/5 5/55/55/5

Nefreet wrote:
That's not a universal rule across Campaigns, currently =\

Ouch.. not allowed in PFS2?

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

I was going to say it doesn't exist for SFS, either, but it looks like the 3.0 Guide has some limited rules to handle Playtests and Errata similar to those of PFS1.

5/5 5/55/55/5

Nefreet wrote:
I was going to say it doesn't exist for SFS, either, but it looks like the 3.0 Guide has some limited rules to handle Playtests and Errata similar to those of PFS1.

There's similar if not the same wording in 1.0. It's under playtest and errata.

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