Anyone Else Not Like the AP Format?


Pathfinder Adventure Path General Discussion

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I realize I'm likely in the minority, but I'd prefer adventure content of a mega adventure along the lines of what is put out by other companies that focus on, well, the adventure. Approximately half the content of each AP is stuff I don't use, and I end up spending around $150 per campaign (when you can get similar material from other companies for less than half that).
Does anyone else agree? Like could we get adventures without all the setting "filler?" Just some good, "meat and potatoes" adventuring? (Especially now that Paizo seems to be the sole content creators for PF2).


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

This is an extremely vague question.

Do you have an example in mind of what you're looking for in a product?


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Harles wrote:
could we get adventures without all the setting "filler?" Just some good, "meat and potatoes" adventuring?

I think they mean they don't want any new material included in the APs. Just use already published monsters, magic items, backgrounds, heritages, weapons, archtypes, NPCs, world geography, etc.

Quote:
(Especially now that Paizo seems to be the sole content creators for PF2).

But I think they are confused about PF2 content creators. They seem to have overlooked 114 products from 16 different 3rd party companies.


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AnimatedPaper wrote:

This is an extremely vague question.

Do you have an example in mind of what you're looking for in a product?

Like not short stories, detailed gazetteers that have nothing to do with the adventure, over half the content that isn't playable.

I want adventure content. Dungeons to explore, dangerous wilderness encounters. Good, classic content. Not "read this 10 pages of historical treatise on the history of an elven society that's never going to come up in play."


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CrystalSeas wrote:
Harles wrote:
could we get adventures without all the setting "filler?" Just some good, "meat and potatoes" adventuring?

I think they mean they don't want any new material included in the APs. Just use already published monsters, magic items, backgrounds, heritages, weapons, archtypes, NPCs, world geography, etc.

Quote:
(Especially now that Paizo seems to be the sole content creators for PF2).
But I think they are confused about PF2 content creators. They seem to have overlooked 114 products from 16 different 3rd party companies.

I don't mind some new content when it's necessary for the adventure. But mostly, no, just use standard stuff. Let the monsters be in the Bestiary.

And I'm not finding much 3PP adventure content. So far only Legendary Games.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Harles wrote:
AnimatedPaper wrote:

This is an extremely vague question.

Do you have an example in mind of what you're looking for in a product?

Like not short stories, detailed gazetteers that have nothing to do with the adventure, over half the content that isn't playable.

I want adventure content. Dungeons to explore, dangerous wilderness encounters. Good, classic content. Not "read this 10 pages of historical treatise on the history of an elven society that's never going to come up in play."

That's still just telling me what you don't want, not what you do. "Classic content" is as ill-defined as "meat and potatoes adventuring". I don't want to say it is meaningless, as it clearly means something to you, but you aren't conveying that meaning to me. As an example, that treatise may well influence my play even if it doesn't do anything for you.

You may want to check out the Adventure line. There's not a lot of items in it yet, but that probably closer to what you're looking for. The Slithering for example was 5-1 adventure versus backmatter, and all of it was written to directly support the adventure itself (being a gazetter on the city the adventure takes place in and some monsters and items that show up).


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AnimatedPaper wrote:
Harles wrote:
AnimatedPaper wrote:

This is an extremely vague question.

Do you have an example in mind of what you're looking for in a product?

Like not short stories, detailed gazetteers that have nothing to do with the adventure, over half the content that isn't playable.

I want adventure content. Dungeons to explore, dangerous wilderness encounters. Good, classic content. Not "read this 10 pages of historical treatise on the history of an elven society that's never going to come up in play."

That's still just telling me what you don't want, not what you do. "Classic content" is as ill-defined as "meat and potatoes adventuring". I don't want to say it is meaningless, as it clearly means something to you, but you aren't conveying that meaning to me. As an example, that treatise may well influence my play even if it doesn't do anything for you.

You may want to check out the Adventure line. There's not a lot of items in it yet, but that probably closer to what you're looking for. The Slithering for example was 5-1 adventure versus backmatter, and all of it was written to directly support the adventure itself (being a gazetter on the city the adventure takes place in and some monsters and items that show up).

Ok. Let's say we have a 32 page book. One page is a table of contents. The next page is a background and synopsis of the adventure. Pages 3-28 contain adventure content (detailed below). Pages 29-31 can include new magic items, monsters, etc. Page 32 is the OGL. (Larger books can follow the same ratio.)

Adventure content can include one large adventure site (dungeon, castle, cave network, etc) or several small ones; an overworld map of the environment around the site(s) with random or planned encounters. NPCs limited to one paragraph of description and motivations, not page-long backstories for someone who probably won't live through a single fight.
It's really not hard. This is how the TTRPG hobby presented adventure modules for decades.


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It sounds like you might be happier with the OSR school of things than Pathfinder.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Harles wrote:

Ok. Let's say we have a 32 page book. One page is a table of contents. The next page is a background and synopsis of the adventure. Pages 3-28 contain adventure content (detailed below). Pages 29-31 can include new magic items, monsters, etc. Page 32 is the OGL. (Larger books can follow the same ratio.)

Adventure content can include one large adventure site (dungeon, castle, cave network, etc) or several small ones; an overworld map of the environment around the site(s) with random or planned encounters. NPCs limited to one paragraph of description and motivations, not page-long backstories for someone who probably won't live through a single fight.
It's really not hard. This is how the TTRPG hobby presented adventure modules for decades.

As I wouldn't use the descriptions you did in your OP, yeah it was a bit hard to tell what you meant. That's why I asked.

To be honest, I'm still not totally sure what you're looking for. Do you object to skill challenges? Are the different kinds of "dungeons" that Paizo likes to throw in good for you, or do you simply remove it as you come across it? You said in your original post that you throw out half the content; I wasn't sure if you meant half of the adventure itself because it wasn't "meat and potatoes" enough for you, though now I see you meant the entire backmatter. I think that's all you mean, anyways.

From what Paizo has said, pure adventure like you're talking about doesn't make them enough money to have as a marquee product, so they don't do that (notice PFS scenarios aren't offered as physical products). The Adventure Path is more analogous to Dungeon/Dragon Magazine. Instead, they offer PFS scenarios and the Adventure line I linked to above, but there's only a couple PF2 adventure released so far.

There's a number of PF1 adventures that you can swap in monsters for though and run more or less as is. Just put in monsters of the same CR from PF2, adjust any skill checks to the general DCs, and you should be fine.

Difficult Class-Rules

This is also a great tool for finding appropriate creatures to plug in, as it has the stat blocks from PFS scenarios as well as the rulebooks: https://pf2.easytool.es/tree/


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keftiu wrote:
It sounds like you might be happier with the OSR school of things than Pathfinder.

I do run OSR games, 5e, and some PF2 (it's my wife's favorite system currently in print).

I wouldn't mind some more OSR-sensibilities in the design of PF2 adventures. Whether that's from Paizo or a 3PP, it doesn't really matter.

The AP format just doesn't appeal to me. I can certainly ignore the stuff I don't want to use, but the storylines are too complex for me to get a handle on. By the time I got to the huge info dump at the start of Part 3 of Age of Ashes, I was ready to throw in the towel. I couldn't even explain it to myself, much less try to create a believable world for the party to explore.


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AnimatedPaper wrote:
Harles wrote:

Ok. Let's say we have a 32 page book. One page is a table of contents. The next page is a background and synopsis of the adventure. Pages 3-28 contain adventure content (detailed below). Pages 29-31 can include new magic items, monsters, etc. Page 32 is the OGL. (Larger books can follow the same ratio.)

Adventure content can include one large adventure site (dungeon, castle, cave network, etc) or several small ones; an overworld map of the environment around the site(s) with random or planned encounters. NPCs limited to one paragraph of description and motivations, not page-long backstories for someone who probably won't live through a single fight.
It's really not hard. This is how the TTRPG hobby presented adventure modules for decades.

As I wouldn't use the descriptions you did in your OP, yeah it was a bit hard to tell what you meant. That's why I asked.

To be honest, I'm still not totally sure what you're looking for. Do you object to skill challenges? Are the different kinds of "dungeons" that Paizo likes to throw in good for you, or do you simply remove it as you come across it? You said in your original post that you throw out half the content; I wasn't sure if you meant half of the adventure itself because it wasn't "meat and potatoes" enough for you, though now I see you meant the entire backmatter. I think that's all you mean, anyways.

From what Paizo has said, pure adventure like you're talking about doesn't make them enough money to have as a marquee product, so they don't do that (notice PFS scenarios aren't offered as physical products). The Adventure Path is more analogous to Dungeon/Dragon Magazine. Instead, they offer PFS scenarios and the Adventure line I linked to above, but there's only a couple PF2 adventure released so far.

There's a number of PF1 adventures that you can swap in monsters for though and run more or less as is. Just put in monsters of the same CR from PF2, adjust any skill checks to the general DCs, and you should be fine....

I guess the Adventure line might be closer to what I would like. I have a hard time following the plots of the APs, and a lot of it isn't relevant to what I want to do as GM.

I'm hopeful about the upcoming shorter series of APs. I hope they're not as heavily plotted as the other APs I've seen and actually focus on the adventurers and not the motivations of NPCs and distant history (which was a big detraction from Age of Ashes when I ran that), but we'll see.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

I think they see the heavy plots of AP volumes as a selling point, unfortunately for your purposes.

That there is vastly more background information than what actually makes it into the adventure is a pretty frequent criticism. I personally do like the hugely intricate plots that tie the adventures to the setting, but I will admit it is difficult to convey all of that information that DMs get out to the players. I hope they find a better balance at some point, with more details inside encounters rather than infodumps, though I'm not sure that will be any less confusing.

Shadow Lodge

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I suppose we're just going to dance around the fact that the only actual example the OP gave of the thing they're upset about can only be referring to the (6-page, not 10-page) backmatter article about the Ekujae from Cult of Cinders?


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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
I suppose we're just going to dance around the fact that the only actual example the OP gave of the thing they're upset about can only be referring to the (6-page, not 10-page) backmatter article about the Ekujae from Cult of Cinders?

I mean if you feel like dancing, I'm not gonna stop you. Haha.

Sorry I don't have my books handy to give numerous precise examples. I will say that the 6 pages devoted to the Ekujae Culture is about 5 more pages than I needed to run the adventure.
But for me it's not a simple "cut this chapter." For example in Book 1 there are several instances of an entire page of background information in the middle of an encounter, which to me just gets in the way of running it. An entire page describing the treasure found in Voz's camp. A half page describing the personality of a spider monster.
Could I just ignore it? I tried. I glossed over some text in an encounter in Book 2 and ended up TPKing my party. There's a lot of unimportant fluff in there that gets in the way of expedient play, for me anyway.


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As others have said, it sounds like the module line is more your thing. 64 pages, mostly adventure, a few pages at the back with stuff to help you flesh out the adventure if the players want to do more than follow exactly what the module says they should do.

Personally, I love the AP line. Lots of information to make the world feel more real. Yeah, some books have information that I don't care about, but that's fine; I'm sure some people find it useful.


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Sometimes my games depend on the material that Harles does not want. My players love narrative control and will go off the planned path of the adventure. Then I consult the supplemental material about the setting and lay a new path in the direction they are going.

One example is The Divinity Drive, the 6th module in the Iron Gods adventure path.

The Divinity Drive:
The intended path for The Divinity Drive is that the party sneaks into an opening in the rear of the mile-long crashed spaceship Divinity and fights their way to the front, with occasional areas of non-hostiles for a rest, in order to confront the evil intelligent computer Unity.

My players where flying their own tiny 6-man spaceship over the Divinity when Unity took control of their autopilot. The party talked to it over radio and agreed to come in voluntarily because they wanted jobs as repair crew. Unity agreed because they had his former priestess Casandalee with them. Unity intended to kill them off, but they were really good repair crew, so it hesitated until the party befriended half its minions, sneaked through the maintenance tunnel to learn its secrets, wrestled control of the Godmind from it, and tried to stop its evil plan.

To write their missions in the forgotten parts of the Divinity, I relied on two Gazetteer pages in the back of the module, which included a map of the Divinity. The map is not necessary for the module as written, since it contains individual play-grid maps of each place the party is meant to visit. I expanded the gazetteer entries into months of gameplay.

Sovereign Court

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I like the AP format.

You have to remember, nobody subscribed to an AP line for ten years because they need more adventures to actually run.

They subscribe for the four-sixths of the AP that they enjoy reading each month.

Take out one part and you alienate one part of the audience. Keep it varied and a lot of people are getting enough stuff they like.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

I like the AP format because it is the closest I can still get to subscribing to Dungeon magazine.

Every month I get a dungeon; some tips on GMing; new monsters, magic items, and other goodies. The dungeon is serialized so it takes my players up through levels with a coherent storyline.

If you don't want the connected story, it's easy enough to deconstruct the dungeon, rewrite it for your own world, and otherwise make use of the component parts offered in the magazine.

Silver Crusade

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Yeah I get it for it's toolbox aspects, not necessarily for it's maps and stat blocks. I enjoy picking through them for ideas.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I love the AP format. Maybe my group is just really role-play and narrative focused, but I've used more of the "extra" content than not in my campaigns, either tying it to character backstory, generating new NPCs, providing depth to Lore checks, or whatever. I can't think of a section of the Age of Ashes books that I didn't dip into heavily at some point, actually.

And even if I didn't use it for our games, I totally resonate with the Dungeon Magazine comment above. After we ran Book 2 of Age of Ashes, I made an Ekujae PFS character using the extra content in that book. I made a one-shot side-quest based on the Droskar info in Book 4. I love the care and depth of the AP books.

As others have said, probably individual adventure modules are going to be your thing. Or maybe PF2E conversion of other system's dungeons. But at least for me, I hope they don't veer too far off their current Adventure Path format.


The only "problem" with the AP format was that back in the days of 1st edition Pathfinder, the short stories and some of the other content could have easily been turned into additional encounters and adventuring content to help characters reach level 19 or 20. And we know it's doable as Return of the Runelords actually has the PCs reach level 20.

Now that 2nd edition Pathfinder is out, and the entire XP system has been revamped to 1,000 XPs per level? It's not a big deal. The adventure will have what is needed to reach level 20 by the end of the AP, even with additional content for world-building and stories and the like. And the GM can insert their own content if they so desire.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Tangent101 wrote:
The only "problem" with the AP format was that back in the days of 1st edition Pathfinder, the short stories and some of the other content could have easily been turned into additional encounters and adventuring content to help characters reach level 19 or 20. And we know it's doable as Return of the Runelords actually has the PCs reach level 20.

They actually experimented with having additional encounters for a while. I've been poking through Second Darkness, and there are additional optional encounters that they had as articles in the back. Some of the comics also had some.

I'm curious what feedback they got, since they did wind up stopping.

As an aside, one of my hopes for a PF2 book is some kind of "Encounter Codex" with several kinds of encounters that can be dropped into a variety of campaigns, probably using the digitalized maps. Say, have a single map, but 3 to 5 encounters of various levels and types (social, combat, skill, hazard) that could take place on that map.


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AnimatedPaper wrote:

They actually experimented with having additional encounters for a while. I've been poking through Second Darkness, and there are additional optional encounters that they had as articles in the back. Some of the comics also had some.

I'm curious what feedback they got, since they did wind up stopping.

It wasn't positive.

I liked the set pieces, actually, but it was a minority opinion. Most people would rather have that extra encounter inserted into the main adventure, and it made more work for Paizo staff to edit and develop two separate things rather than one whole.

Grand Lodge

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The thing about APs is that they aren't just adventures. They're also functional world-building, harkening back to the day with Pathfinder was nothing other than the AP. Since it's been a successful format, Paizo has (rightly) been hesitant to mess with it too much.

-Skeld

Grand Lodge

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Yeah, I think it's a 'Pathfinder-APs-are-both-"Dragon"-and-"Dungeon"-Magazines' thing.

Dungeon Magazine had adventures with a little DM-material.
Dragon Magazine had various Player and DM material.

Paizo made Dragon and Dungeon until WotC zh+t on the whole industry -- forever soiling the name "D&D" -- so Paizo makes their flagship product a monthly combo of Dragon and Dungeon.

....Considering Dragon sold TONS more than Dungeon, I doubt Paizo will eliminate the Dragon content from the APs for more Dungeon content. (see Paizo's Module line that did okay but never set the world on fire with sales -- and is now defunct)

Developer

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W E Ray wrote:
(see Paizo's Module line that did okay but never set the world on fire with sales -- and is now defunct)

Our stand-alone adventures are continuing, as strong as they ever were (which, admittedly, could be stronger). We haven't made the Modules line defunct, although we did change the name to "Pathfinder Adventures."


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I personally like that every damn guard in the dungeon has a page long backstory and motivation to be at the exact place they are at the moment the group encounters them. As a GM I rely much on that content. It helps tying loose threads together that sometimes happen while excessive roleplaying, it helps tying NPCs to the backstories of my PCs, which came in handy a couple of times already, and it also fleshed out the world the PCs were running around. Granted, 80% of the time, my group will never learn anything of that, but for the 20%? It certainly pays off.

I really would miss that content, if they stopped doing that.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

As a new Pathfinder player, I wasn't quite sure about the Adventure Path format at first, but I've actually warmed to it quite a bit. As mentioned previously, it's just the "Dragon and Dungeon magazine combination," but with a theme across six issues.

I compare it to something like the PFS scenarios, which are *just an adventure*, and while I am interested in those, it's much less because there's usually less for me to take away from it than the standard adventure path. That is to say, I may not want to run Agents of Edgewatch, but there are things of interest to me, such as lore articles, new rules bit, items and equipment, character features. In addition to an adventure I may salvage some ideas from.

I get that it's not for everybody, but I like it.


I'm pretty happy with the format. I sometimes wish the extra articles were more player friendly. I have one player who loves getting into the background of whatever area is being explored. I accidentally shared an article (AoA) which had some spoilers.

Dark Archive

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Harles wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
I suppose we're just going to dance around the fact that the only actual example the OP gave of the thing they're upset about can only be referring to the (6-page, not 10-page) backmatter article about the Ekujae from Cult of Cinders?

I mean if you feel like dancing, I'm not gonna stop you. Haha.

Sorry I don't have my books handy to give numerous precise examples. I will say that the 6 pages devoted to the Ekujae Culture is about 5 more pages than I needed to run the adventure.
But for me it's not a simple "cut this chapter." For example in Book 1 there are several instances of an entire page of background information in the middle of an encounter, which to me just gets in the way of running it. An entire page describing the treasure found in Voz's camp. A half page describing the personality of a spider monster.
Could I just ignore it? I tried. I glossed over some text in an encounter in Book 2 and ended up TPKing my party. There's a lot of unimportant fluff in there that gets in the way of expedient play, for me anyway.

Umm. Wait what?

I had originally thought you were talking about 1e AP articles where articles were kinda random and sometimes were completely unrelated to subject matter of AP book itself. But umm, you don't like the flavor texts?

Like only "spider monster" I can think of in books you are talking about is the friendly npc party can recruit to help them. So umm, why wouldn't you want to know their personality is like?

Also, what do you mean with flavor text getting in way of running the adventure? Do you mean you like running adventures from book without reading them in advance or doing extra prep with notes and such? I can understand not finding the info you want to find quickly from book in middle of game yeah, but that is possible to manage around.

Either way, I have strong apathy for old school D&D style "There is a owlbear in a room. Why? Dunno, its just there. Kill it" room descriptions so this might be just about the tastes I guess. (I do find checking out D&D's style of doing things in different editions interesting, but I'm finding that I strongly prefer paizo's format)

(5e was little bit better in this, but I still found the flavor in encounter or dungeon rooms wanting <_<)


Let me look at one of the books I've run and rate it for how useful it is to the GM: Night of Frozen Shadows

Pages 1-6: Contents, The Story So Far, etc.
Page 7: Possibly useful background to the adventure. Tells us stuff about the goals of the bad guys.
Page 8: Summary of what the adventure is going to be about.
Pages 9-53: The adventure. Mostly very useful. Occasionally contains text saying things like, "On a voyage into the Steaming Sea in search of magical artifact to protect his fortress, Snorri contracted an illness that defied all attempts at healing and ultimately killed him."
Page 54-59: Statblocks and backgrounds for NPCs. Note that the backgrounds are mostly useless to running the adventure. It would be useful if this stuff it made things less bland, but they aren't set up to do that. It doesn't matter that, "Captured, beaten, and humiliated, Goti and his mother were marched in chains across the hills and moors of the Linnorm Kingdoms toward the market of Jol," when he's supposed to ambush the party and will probably die in two rounds.
Pages 60-61: Magic items.
Pages 62-69: City info. Could be useful to inspire the GM to add more stuff, but the chances of it becoming relevant (or me remembering it was there if it does become relevant) are low. Sample sentence, chosen at random: "At the quarter’s northwest end stretches the Street of Winged Thorns, which features a series of shops selling well-made archery equipment."
Page 70-75: Stuff about Shelyn. Useful if you're playing a PC who follows Shelyn. Not so useful if you're GMing.
Pages 76-81: Fiction. Never read it. Might be great.
Pages 82-91: Bestiary. Lots of creatures who don't appear in this adventure. On page 83, there are Caravan Encounters, which are actually part of the adventure, though the Caravan subsystem was broken from the start and should probably be dropped.
Pages 92+: Adverts.

I'd say more than half of the pages were useful to running the campaign. However, if we dropped some of the thirty pages or so of stuff that isn't useful, it would be easier to find the bits I need, and we might be able to include things like:

Does it matter if the PCs rush to the next thing without giving the bad guys time to plan the assassination attempts that are supposed to be a significant portion of the chapter?

What's this supposed to mean: "If both rowers fail the check, their kayak turns upside down — a DC 15 Strength check is required to right the boat before its occupants drown"? Instant death if you fail the roll?

What to do if the PCs turn right instead of left and never find the legendary sword? Does this matter?

What could make these encounters more interesting?

How does the villain talk? Instead of, "She mocks the PCs for their futile attempts to disrupt her plans," why not give me some actual dialogue?

What sort of things are the friendly NPCs who are following you around supposed to say and do so they don't seem like either a useless waste of space / intrusive GMPCs?


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Matthew Downie wrote:

rate it for how useful it is to the GM

[opinions about chapters]
if we dropped some of the thirty pages or so of stuff that isn't useful,

the GM

How about "to me as a GM"?

stuff that isn't useful
How about "stuff that isn't useful to me"?

Some of us find the parts you disparage quite useful, and would not at all want to see Paizo drop those thirty pages or so of stuff that is interesting, useful, and handy to have when GMing this/

Grand Lodge

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Yeah, different stuff for different customers.

I remember when James Jacobs came out quite vocally, at the very dawn of Pathfinder (when it was still 3.5), and said that he absolutely and forever, always would include a few pages of new monsters. A mini-Bestiary in every volume.

I think it was me who started a Thread -- or maybe I just joined another Thread -- exasperatedly asking 'Why on earth?!' For me, for the past twelve years, those pages have been grossly waisted. But, even all those years ago when Dungeon 148 and 149 and 150 were being published (and we weren't sure how excited we were about a whole new campaign setting and AP format and what would become RotRL), some folks on the Boards really, Really loved the idea of having a few pages of new monsters in every volume.

Yeah, different stuff for different customers.


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W E Ray wrote:

Yeah, different stuff for different customers.

I remember when James Jacobs came out quite vocally, at the very dawn of Pathfinder (when it was still 3.5), and said that he absolutely and forever, always would include a few pages of new monsters. A mini-Bestiary in every volume.

I think it was me who started a Thread -- or maybe I just joined another Thread -- exasperatedly asking 'Why on earth?!' For me, for the past twelve years, those pages have been grossly waisted. But, even all those years ago when Dungeon 148 and 149 and 150 were being published (and we weren't sure how excited we were about a whole new campaign setting and AP format and what would become RotRL), some folks on the Boards really, Really loved the idea of having a few pages of new monsters in every volume.

Yeah, different stuff for different customers.

Ha, that's wild. Frankly, as I'm transitioning more and more to trying to run homebrew stuff, those half-dozen monsters at the end of every book are becoming the best value parts of most of the AP volumes!

It is weird how differently people respond to things. I never would have guessed that anyone would be annoyed by additional monsters being added to the available pool every month. Shows what I know!


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Okay. Let's consider for a moment: what is the Adventure Path?

Is an Adventure Path a fully-crafted campaign that your group goes through without any significant changes?

Or is an Adventure Path the framework from which a GM can create a richer and more developed campaign for her gaming group?

If it is the former? Then that stuff is pointless.

If it is the latter? Then that stuff can be truly priceless.

It can change from issue to issue how useful that information is.

And it can also change in different running of the APs as to how you plan on running the AP. For instance, in Rise of the Runelords I mostly ran it as-is. The second time I was running it, I expanded on stuff. I included the Goblins-on-the-Beach scenario found in one of the Pathfinder comic books, and integrated the goblins and swamp from the first part of Jade Regent into the game (sadly, the campaign died before it left the swamp as one of the players frankly was living in the glories of his old games and not wanting to put in the effort of actually being in a new game starting at 1st level).

Ultimately? Do what you want with the AP. Use the elements that work for you. And ignore the parts that don't work for you. But do know that just because you might not see value in half of an AP, that doesn't mean someone else won't utilize that content. :)


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Matthew Downie wrote:
Pages 62-69: City info. Could be useful to inspire the GM to add more stuff, but the chances of it becoming relevant (or me remembering it was there if it does become relevant) are low. Sample sentence, chosen at random: "At the quarter’s northwest end stretches the Street of Winged Thorns, which features a series of shops selling well-made archery equipment."

Your ability to memorise or use this is not the author's fault. If it weren't there, some people would have the opposite complaint, that the AP doesn't describe the towns where the players will end up.

Matthew Downie wrote:

Page 70-75: Stuff about Shelyn. Useful if you're playing a PC who follows Shelyn. Not so useful if you're GMing.

Pages 82-91: Bestiary. Lots of creatures who don't appear in this adventure.

This was something of a thing in early APs, when Paizo were still introducing the world while not having enough material ready for publication to fill 64-page books and hardbacks. Less of a thing now.

Matthew Downie wrote:

On page 83, there are Caravan Encounters, which are actually part of the adventure, though the Caravan subsystem was broken from the start and should probably be dropped.

True that it doesn't work well and is optional, but it was worth a go. About half the APs have included something odd like that, some being more successful than others.

Matthew Downie wrote:

Pages 76-81: Fiction. Never read it. Might be great.

Try it? Reading is good. Anyway, no fiction in later APs.

Matthew Downie wrote:
What's this supposed to mean: "If both rowers fail the check, their kayak turns upside down — a DC 15 Strength check is required to right the boat before its occupants drown"? Instant death if you fail the roll?

Drowning rules. Core rulebook p445. Reading is good.

I can't comment on your other complaints, not having read the AP.

Silver Crusade

Sporkedup wrote:
W E Ray wrote:

Yeah, different stuff for different customers.

I remember when James Jacobs came out quite vocally, at the very dawn of Pathfinder (when it was still 3.5), and said that he absolutely and forever, always would include a few pages of new monsters. A mini-Bestiary in every volume.

I think it was me who started a Thread -- or maybe I just joined another Thread -- exasperatedly asking 'Why on earth?!' For me, for the past twelve years, those pages have been grossly waisted. But, even all those years ago when Dungeon 148 and 149 and 150 were being published (and we weren't sure how excited we were about a whole new campaign setting and AP format and what would become RotRL), some folks on the Boards really, Really loved the idea of having a few pages of new monsters in every volume.

Yeah, different stuff for different customers.

Ha, that's wild. Frankly, as I'm transitioning more and more to trying to run homebrew stuff, those half-dozen monsters at the end of every book are becoming the best value parts of most of the AP volumes!

It is weird how differently people respond to things. I never would have guessed that anyone would be annoyed by additional monsters being added to the available pool every month. Shows what I know!

Agreed for the same reasons, the Bestiary is what sells the AP issues to me the most.


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W E Ray wrote:

Yeah, different stuff for different customers.

I remember when James Jacobs came out quite vocally, at the very dawn of Pathfinder (when it was still 3.5), and said that he absolutely and forever, always would include a few pages of new monsters. A mini-Bestiary in every volume.

I think it was me who started a Thread -- or maybe I just joined another Thread -- exasperatedly asking 'Why on earth?!' For me, for the past twelve years, those pages have been grossly waisted. But, even all those years ago when Dungeon 148 and 149 and 150 were being published (and we weren't sure how excited we were about a whole new campaign setting and AP format and what would become RotRL), some folks on the Boards really, Really loved the idea of having a few pages of new monsters in every volume.

Yeah, different stuff for different customers.

I was in the no monsters crowd back then (I was also in the no fiction crowd, so I guess I got my way there). Still am really.

For me it was always about keeping like things in with other like things though. I’d have preferred an AP to include more set pieces, side treks, optional adventures....Given the unpopularity of the side quests, I expect I’m never going to see those again!
I like to have all my monsters in the bestiaries.

One comment made (by Vic Wertz, I think) some years ago was that it’s not a straightforward page-for-page substitution, in terms of work. Adventures are the most intensive and difficult type of content - so swapping out eight pages of monsters doesn’t free up resources for eight pages of adventure. (I dont remember the off-the-cuff ranking he gave, but I recall fiction was the “cheapest” from a staff resource perspective and adventures the “most expensive”).

There was also the fact that different people can do monsters/fiction/backmatter/main adventure simultaneously. Dropping monsters and making the adventure part bigger means the main developer and author have a lot more work with half a dozen freelancers twiddling their thumbs while that volume is coming out.

Ultimately APs are still really like a periodical magazine - in the same way we may personally prefer more international news, more sport or more lifestyle articles....there is a diverse audience and some resource constraints that we don’t always see.


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It's interesting to circle back to the old Dungeon/Dragon magazine idea and sort of see the AP line as an extension of that. Most of the issues for me never really got used so much as strip mined for ideas and then tossed aside until a special game I was running. But also, I devoured the fiction and was happy when I "rediscovered" it in the PF1 APs. But also, I entirely understand why that's gone now. Conversely, I had a friend that never touched a Dragon magazine unless it had something on the cover that appealed to him or his current character. Rogue? Instant purchase, get that one article and done with the rest.

Anyway, jumping ahead to current APs, I still sort of treat each book as a little Lego kit of ideas. "Ooh, y'know I can actually use this monster over here to really show off the world," or "I'll bring this up during this part of the game which paralells this character's backstory." My own personal anecdotes:

Age of Ashes book 2:
I loved the Ekujae background information and it helped me flesh out the town, the NPCs, and the general attitudes of the first part of book 2. Two of the characters in the party, a money grubbing Abadarian Kalistrade priest and a "small-business start up" alchemist, kept clashing ideologically with the elves. After a particularly fun roleplaying session between Nketiah and the alchemist on the subject of multiple souls, my players felt like they had a stronger connection with the Ekujae. ...The cleric also made it his personal duty to try and convert them to the ways of Abadar/supply side Jegus. So there's that.

And while it isn't an AP...

The Slithering:
The information present in the book about Kibwe sets it up to have a rather mysterious and cryptic past that has been fun to play up with my group. Especially after entering into the Archive of the Sun where they feel they're entering into a museum of history where they just don't understand the function of things that came before. It's led to a few questions from the characters who see the greatness that Kibwe once stood for and can stand for, further giving them cause to fight against the plague.

All of this is to say that you really get out of these books what you want. Not every group is going to have the same playstyle just the same as not every GM will use the material the same way. I think that a group that just needs the dungeon and the monsters to populate it is just as valid as the group that just spent three hours arguing over the sewer systems of Absalom, so long as everyone involved is enjoying those games.


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As Ruzza said, the APs are the building blocks for better adventures. Let's take "The Snows of Summer" - the first part of Reign of Winter. In the game, you have background on Captain Orlov of the Pale Tower's guard. She recently found out that her draconic ancestor had been hostile to the White Witches and had been slain. But her write-up also states "she's not wise enough to surrender and fights to the death." So, what's the point of that backstory? It provides the GM with an out, in letting the PCs roleplay through the encounter.

It also seemed rather odd that she had the key to get to Jairess's part of the tower, who had the key to get to Radosek's tower. So I altered things. Orlov was Jairess's lover. She was upset with Radosek for making unwanted advances on Jairess but also knew that she couldn't protest. When the PCs arrived? She was hostile but a quick Charm Person by a two-tailed Kitsune Oracle went and had her willing to talk and she went with them to Jairess. Jairess did a fight until first blood, lost, and surrendered her key.

The love triangle didn't exist in the game. Orlov was meant to be interesting but doomed to die. The background turned her from a simple combat encounter to someone with a story to her... that in turn allowed her to have a non-combat aspect that intrigued the party (who let her and Jairess go - the two of them were headed off to the south to try and escape Irrisen over the mountains).

All aspects of the AP help build on this. Those story snippets? They give extra context that the GM can utilize. The sketches and art? Can be shown to the players. The monsters? Can be a part of a random encounter or incorporated into the main story itself. The information on a region or monster can help craft more information on those areas and monsters to become something more interesting.

Just because it's not directly related to the AP doesn't mean the extra content doesn't have value and can't be incorporated into the story at some point.

Dark Archive

I've always enjoyed 1e ap bestiaries, though I do have noticed they have bit more inconsistent editing than bestiary books. But I do like 2e's format of "all bestiary monsters tend to appear in adventure at least once"

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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CorvusMask wrote:
I've always enjoyed 1e ap bestiaries, though I do have noticed they have bit more inconsistent editing than bestiary books. But I do like 2e's format of "all bestiary monsters tend to appear in adventure at least once"

Fun Fact: This was pretty much always intended to be the point of a bestiary in any adventure, but we had to lighten up on it pretty quickly when it became obvious that we didn't have the resources or time to have all the monsters in an Adventure Path volume tie in to the adventure.

For 2nd edition though we do.

It's trickier though, because you either have to (listed in my order of preference)...

1) Have the adventure writer design all the new monsters, which not every adventure writer has the interest, time, or talent to do, or...

2) The developer revises the adventure so that all the new monsters in the adventure, often rewriting entire encounters or entire chapters to do so, or...

3) Have other people design monsters for the adventure that you think will fit, then once they're done send those monsters to the adventure writer to fit in.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The one question that comes to mind for me is whether the "Adventure Toolbox" content of the APs will ever get any errata. I realize that's a pretty niche concern and probably not worth the effort, but given how easy it is to find the content via AoN, I feel like those monsters, items, and whatnot may have a much longer life then they did in PF1 APs.

My mind is stuck on the Mechanical Carny (from The Show Must Go On), that references abilities the monster doesn't have, so I'm thinking more "stuff that has obvious errors" vs. issues of balance or design.

Silver Crusade

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Errata and questions concerning creatures in the toolbox are discussed on each AP's GM Reference thread on these forums :3

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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profounddark wrote:

The one question that comes to mind for me is whether the "Adventure Toolbox" content of the APs will ever get any errata. I realize that's a pretty niche concern and probably not worth the effort, but given how easy it is to find the content via AoN, I feel like those monsters, items, and whatnot may have a much longer life then they did in PF1 APs.

My mind is stuck on the Mechanical Carny (from The Show Must Go On), that references abilities the monster doesn't have, so I'm thinking more "stuff that has obvious errors" vs. issues of balance or design.

If your GM isn't comfortable making rulings, you can always ask on the threads here to get advice from other GMs. Now and then the developers who worked on those adventures answer questions on the threads as well; I haven't developed one myself since Age of Ashes though so I can't speak to the exact question you ask about the carney. My guess? That ability was cut because the monster ran out of space, so you should just ignore the reference to abilities it doesn't have.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

To be clear, I was able to find a solution for my issue. I was more thinking in two or three years, there's going to be stuff in the Archive of Nethys, the ostensible Compendium of all things Pathfinder, that has errors. I guess it just seems different to me because it's not JUST in the PDF or the book anymore.

But I also realize that errata for an Adventure Path is probably silly.

It was an observation from my D&D 4E experiences. Dungeon & Dragon content was also included in the "Compendium" along with official sourcebooks. But while official sourcebooks typically had an errata process, those Dungeon & Dragon articles did not. So, in late era D&D 4e, there'd still be stuff that popped up in the Compendium from those articles that still had weird typos or just didn't make sense.

That's the only point I'm trying to make, really.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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profounddark wrote:

To be clear, I was able to find a solution for my issue. I was more thinking in two or three years, there's going to be stuff in the Archive of Nethys, the ostensible Compendium of all things Pathfinder, that has errors. I guess it just seems different to me because it's not JUST in the PDF or the book anymore.

But I also realize that errata for an Adventure Path is probably silly.

It was an observation from my D&D 4E experiences. Dungeon & Dragon content was also included in the "Compendium" along with official sourcebooks. But while official sourcebooks typically had an errata process, those Dungeon & Dragon articles did not. So, in late era D&D 4e, there'd still be stuff that popped up in the Compendium from those articles that still had weird typos or just didn't make sense.

That's the only point I'm trying to make, really.

Ah. For what it's worth, whenever we brought rules from other sources into new books, be they later volumes of the Adventure Path or a rulebook or whatever, we always do take that chance to revisit the rule if needed. We don't just reprint it without looking at it again.


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James Jacobs wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
I've always enjoyed 1e ap bestiaries, though I do have noticed they have bit more inconsistent editing than bestiary books. But I do like 2e's format of "all bestiary monsters tend to appear in adventure at least once"

Fun Fact: This was pretty much always intended to be the point of a bestiary in any adventure, but we had to lighten up on it pretty quickly when it became obvious that we didn't have the resources or time to have all the monsters in an Adventure Path volume tie in to the adventure.

For 2nd edition though we do.

It's trickier though, because you either have to (listed in my order of preference)...

1) Have the adventure writer design all the new monsters, which not every adventure writer has the interest, time, or talent to do, or...

2) The developer revises the adventure so that all the new monsters in the adventure, often rewriting entire encounters or entire chapters to do so, or...

3) Have other people design monsters for the adventure that you think will fit, then once they're done send those monsters to the adventure writer to fit in.

I quite like how each AP installment contains a few monsters not featured in the adventure. (Talking Extinction Curse here)

The reason is that I always come up with extra encounters, sidetracks or what not.

Having two or three monsters that just scream "USE ME" is a creative aid.

Even if I go for the simplest approach: just adding one to an existing encounter to spice it up.

Br,
Zapp

PS. Assuming the monster gets a picture. Just a stat block is not nearly as fun or useful.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

edit: I read the first few responses, got pretty frustrated with their tone and wrote something long (that I thought was more responsive and less pointless nitpicking). It seems like the thread is pretty long now. Sorry if this is redundant.

Harles wrote:

I realize I'm likely in the minority, but I'd prefer adventure content of a mega adventure along the lines of what is put out by other companies that focus on, well, the adventure. Approximately half the content of each AP is stuff I don't use, and I end up spending around $150 per campaign (when you can get similar material from other companies for less than half that).

Does anyone else agree?

Yes. The product suffers because of the bundling.

Aside

Spoiler:
The back matter's sometimes surprisingly low utility (like an essay about a Starfinder race that's tangentially related to the main Pathfinder adventure). And the adventures are often truncated (i.e. "we really wanted to include x but we didn't have space" is something you often hear from the author) or "the author had this awesome segment but I had to cut it for space reasons" from the developer.

If you're really into adventures and think it's an art form this will make you pretty sad. It makes my soul weep a bit they're butchering a bunch of cool elanor ferron ideas, or dropping Vanessa Hoskins flooded dungeon from AV in favor of low synergy stuff that could literally go *anywhere* else.

Since they're the only big company producing decent adventures you really want them to lean into that strength.

However it's probably not rational for them to make the "best" adventures.

Paizo's indirectly addressed this over the years (which I may be remember incorrectly anyway) but this is also supposition
1) maintaining monthly subscriber dollars - they have to have things for people who won't run the adventure or that reward the completionist. By definition the stuff has to be unconnected to the adventure, or even DMing, if it worked well with the adventure it's likely not attractive to the person.

2) it's less burden on core AP creation staff to generate "filler" content - it's a lot easier to farm out ~25% of the book in small chunks; until recently that development was actually done by a different person from the adventure developer (see 4 )

3) They have the audience they have... they have a loyal base of subscribers now - that base of people like semi-random paizo related cool stuff showing up in their box - I think one of the Know Direction podcast hosts really likes this

4) They're working on addressing the issue a bit... They added an extra AP developer a year ago and ~now the AP isn't split up for development? (this obviously fights with 1) and 3)

5) Low competition - you don't have great options - which is why you're probably posting here asking them to change instead of just buying someone else's products
5a) wizards kind of does, but their adventures are only low tier, quality is not clearly better than paizo (some of it is pretty poorly structured, publishing schedule is irregular, ) - plus you have to convert
5b) 3rd party energy is around OSR style stuff - plus you have to convert
5c) the kingmaker reboot is late (I don't want to say development hell and there are monthly updates but.... idk... it would have been an actual competitor to the APs)
5d) kobold press hired amanda hammond and has a big kickstarter... but it's aimed at the 5e market (so far as I can tell)

6) Adventure quality is DM dependent... A good DM can put more time into an OK product and make it an amazing experience. Some DMs probably like having an adventure that they fiddle with.

7) For all my kvetching some of my best player experiences have been in APs (vs DMing AoA which was a mess that collapsed).

8) Is the DM the consumer... or are the players... who are super hyped to play the AP the real deciders? Does the DM just grin and make it work? (This point will make more sense to you if you're a parent of young children and you think about the movies you've watched over the past year).
8a) Does having a bunch of random player facing stuff instead of better constructed adventures lower your sales in this model? The DM would like a "better" adventure... but the alpha player wants to play the cool new "master of bloody blows" archetype that's "specially suited" for the martial arts AP. Maybe sticking in the archetype (which the player sees on AoN) drives interest in your product in a way that 5 more pages of carefully thought out connective tissue and interesting encounters doesn't?

9) Maybe paizo isn't targeting the casual DM anyway with the APs? Like the uber competent I-can-make-anything-work, I-love-golarion DM just... makes it work.
9a) If you make a higher quality, better thought out, better organized, more focused product for the casual DM... maybe they make it to book 3 instead of burning out mid-way through book 1? But maybe it was never going to work out anyway? Maybe the casual DM should be going beginner-box -> Otari Adventure anyway?

There is some interesting historical path dependency. Paizo was originally the dragon/dungeon magazine staff before WotC decided it wasn't worthwhile maintaining those and fired everybody. There is a sense in which they are "still doing the same thing" they were doing throughout 3rd edition of Dnd 20(?) years ago-> Producing a magazine each month about DnD; random stuff + adventure.
I would not be surprised if there was some genetic disposition toward keeping some element of "random stuff" in the adventures.

Harles wrote:
Like could we get adventures without all the setting "filler?" Just some good, "meat and potatoes" adventuring?

I would *not* assume they don't like high quality focused modules.

-They made a lot of modules for PF1 some of them are considered classics.
-They made Plaguestone (which was pretty excellent). They prioritized getting it out on time and making it good (and it was both).
-They just released Slithering and the Otari Adventure.
-Eric Mona's fantasy heartbreaker adventure Dead God's Hand is still sitting in my side cart a year(?) after it was supposed to come out because "it's not right".
-James Jacobs has Malevolence coming out. He can do whatever he wants so I have to assume it's going to be decent or better? (Given his position I dobut anyone told him to write it).
-They are testing out a module product for the first time with Starfinder.

I think it's probably market based?
If the modules are good and sell well then there could be a 2nd "golden age" of Paizo modules. You could see pull over from 5e, etc.

And if sales don't live up they have some evergreen adventures to point people to. (Of course if the modules are too consistently good and too regular then maybe they do cannibalize AP sales.)

Someone might say you should look at PF Society modules. (Given your existing frustrations I would not.)

Harles wrote:


(Especially now that Paizo seems to be the sole content creators for PF2).

There is more to say about the 3rd party market but this post is already long. But I agree there isn't much. I'm confused about why the responses didn't take this as a given.

I went looking for PF2 adventures last year and there was ~1 adventure (7th level Ron Lundeen rewrite of an existing adventure). Vanessa Hoskins did a great kinetisist book. There are some interesting fan posts on the reddit. I haven't heard much buzz about anything else.

I have to guess that it's a particularly tough market
-there are a lot of PF1 module fan conversions / PS society adventures that cover the "low end" and high end (like kobold press) is going to aim for 5e DnD?
-Since a lot of play is society (or the DM just says "only society legal") that probably acts as a drag.

Sovereign Court

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Raging Swan have converted a bunch of their adventures to 2e, if you’re looking for 3pp adventures.

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