2nd Edition APS....


Pathfinder Adventure Path General Discussion

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Not much, admittedly. It was a throwaway/flippant remark that has spiralled hilariously out of control.

Paizo Employee Director of Community

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Everyone, please take a step back and a deep breath. I've removed a string of posts that went into personal attack territory. Acknowledging not everyone will like every AP, and that different themes mean different appeals, puts us all on the same baseline. Let's start there and have a discussion on themes and stories. Thank you.


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The Raven Black wrote:
keftiu wrote:
The uniting theme is the Magaambya; growing from students (books 1 and 2) to powerful graduates (books 3 and 4) to heroic masters capable of saving the school’s founder (books 5 and 6). It’s one of the most coherent APs of 2e, baked into the Branch/Study and Free Archetype mechanics every single PC engages with.
I guess some people may have thought it was the Being Harry Potter and his friends AP, while it sounds more like Being Severus Snape and his colleagues AP.

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series are not the only books about a wizards' school. Diane Duane's Young Wizard series and Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic series are other examples. Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books have a college for the psychic Heralds of Valdemar, and she varies her student characters by mixing the herald students in with bard students and healer students at associated colleges. The blurb for Strength of Thousands reminds me most of Circle of Magic, because in the next four books, The Circle Opens, the former studnets have to teach other emergent mages.

Pathfinder rules do not readily adapt to roleplaying children, so we should not expect an adventure path about a boarding school for children.

This discussion of Strength of Thousands has given me an interest in running the adventure path after my current campaign. Though the circus hook for Extinction Curse also has merit. The Pathfinder 2nd Edition adventure paths do have several interesting hooks that make a good elevator pitch, "In Agents of Edgewatch you play police officers in Absalom and hunt down extremely dangerous criminals."

The question for me is what substance do they have to engage the players after the novelty of the initial hook? I rely on my players' love of narrative to keep them excited about the campaign. We finished all six modules of the campaigns that I ran, except our current campaign of course, so good narrative seems an effective technique to keep a campaign going. I heard that many campaigns stop short of the end.

mikeawmids wrote:
keftiu wrote:
…has anyone been “disappointed and frustrated” with Strength of Thousands? I’ve pretty much only seen glowing praise.

I'm a liitle disappointed with the overall meta-plot, in the sense that there doesn't appear to be one. This AP, more than any other I can recall, is more centered around its theme than its story.

** spoiler omitted **

Like Iron Gods, I feel this AP is very clearly split into three parts, each consisting of two modules.

I ran Iron Gods. The 3rd module, The Choking Tower, did feel like a side quest that drained momentum out of the story. It did delve well into the Numerian setting about alien technology dropped among less advanced people. Yet both the connection to the overarching plot and the literary theme were lacking, so its story did not feel central.

In contrast, the 4th module, Valley of the Brain Collectors, still lacked the connection to the overarching plot but it restored the theme. To go into detail requires a spoiler shield:

Valley of the Brain Collectors:
Back in Lords of Rust the PCs learned that the Divinity fleet of spaceships had crashed into Numeria while trying to escape from the alien Dominion of the Black through a random interstellar portal. In Valley of the Brain Collectors, we find that a scout ship from the Dominion managed to follow the Divinity fleet through normal space. The Iron Gods, Hellion and Unity, seemed halfway like alien invaders to the PCs. The Dominion were 100% alien invaders. Encountering these alien horrors gave the party an understanding of Unity's fears. Yet fighting them was also a lot like fighting Hellion's and Unity's robotic minions. It was a parallel plot to the overarching plot, not a side plot.

My own players' take on Iron Gods' literary theme of science and religion fit the module, too. Their characters studied technology and helped people with their knowledge. They studied the Dominion aliens and eldritch technology and figured out their weaknesses. They aided allies mad Paeytr and kasathan Isuma with their understanding of both Divinity and Dominion histories.

Splitting an adventure path into three parts does not doom it if the story can be kept anchored on what the players care about. If I run Strength of Thousands, then I will have to watch for the players' interests and support those aspects beyond the split.


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I actually ordered the first 4 volumes of Strength of Thousands. It sounds interesting and well themed, generally reviews are positive, and I am aching for anything less general medieval western fantasy setting.

Blood lords sound like it would be fun, but too many people I play with would take an instant dislike to the premise.


Berhagen wrote:

I actually ordered the first 4 volumes of Strength of Thousands. It sounds interesting and well themed, generally reviews are positive, and I am aching for anything less general medieval western fantasy setting.

I'd love to hear how you like it! I've been very impressed.


Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Perhaps you'd like to vote for your favorite AP OVER HERE.


Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Personally, I found Age of Ashes to be the most engaging of the 2e AP's. I like world-shaking consequences and a variety of settings, so that one's perfect for me. Also...I hate circuses.

I'm having fun in Abomination Vaults and Fists of the Ruby Phoenix, but they're not exactly weighty in terms of consequences.


Tarondor wrote:

Personally, I found Age of Ashes to be the most engaging of the 2e AP's. I like world-shaking consequences and a variety of settings, so that one's perfect for me. Also...I hate circuses.

I'm having fun in Abomination Vaults and Fists of the Ruby Phoenix, but they're not exactly weighty in terms of consequences.

Book 4 of Strength of Thousands has two very fun shakeups to the setting!


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From my many players (48+) point of views on the PF II AP's so far

Age of Ashes has the most overall fun and interest factor hands down

Extingtion Curse was the least liked

Agents of Edgewatch was quite interesting to many

Abomination Vaults was interesting but players flagged a bit by mod 2

Ruby we tried but jumped to STR of 1000's when it came out so no general good/bad/its ok as of yet

STR of 1000's to early to tell as we are just starting out

Cheers

Tom

PS

What I'd like to see is a mercenary type AP, Ala The Black Company by Glen Cook and I'm sure there would be a place for it somewhere in our world here!!

I'd like to see Wrath get the same treatment as Kingmaker did, updated to PF II

Finally I'd like to get another AP in new Cheliax sooner or later

:)


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Sunderstone wrote:

1) Paizo folks (JJ in particular) stated they are going down a path lighter in tone with second edition.

I don't know what JJ and others mean by "lighter", but personally I like material that is more adult and edgy.

(I'm not calling it mature since to some folks it's immature, and that's fine)

I don't mind culture (books, movies, art, RPGs...) that take risks and might even offend. Much of our great art wouldn't exist if conforming to norms and precedent was the overarching goal.

Since WotC already covers the family-friendlier direction, I lament Paizo's move away from their earlier house style.


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This is a point that gets retread often with no real tangible evidence. Just because Paizo no longer markets themselves as "the dark and edgy DnD" doesn't mean that the world is suddenly sunshine and rainbows. Extinction Curse features a circus full of horrific, gruesome abuse. Agents of Edgewatch has a Saw-style murder-torture dungeon. Demon lords and Cheliax still exist. Malevolence features significant amounts of body horror and grim backstories.

Just because you decided you liked the goblin eating someone's face in Rise of the Runelords doesn't mean that's the end-all standard of Paizo content. Most of the dark and edgy stuff from then was, ultimately, pretty dumb. We should never have another Hook Mountain Massacre.


Zapp wrote:
Sunderstone wrote:

1) Paizo folks (JJ in particular) stated they are going down a path lighter in tone with second edition.

I don't know what JJ and others mean by "lighter", but personally I like material that is more adult and edgy.

(I'm not calling it mature since to some folks it's immature, and that's fine)

I don't mind culture (books, movies, art, RPGs...) that take risks and might even offend. Much of our great art wouldn't exist if conforming to norms and precedent was the overarching goal.

Since WotC already covers the family-friendlier direction, I lament Paizo's move away from their earlier house style.

You might get your wish with Blood Lords in 2022. It certainly sounds like something with the potential to be edgy.


Grankless wrote:

This is a point that gets retread often with no real tangible evidence. Just because Paizo no longer markets themselves as "the dark and edgy DnD" doesn't mean that the world is suddenly sunshine and rainbows. Extinction Curse features a circus full of horrific, gruesome abuse. Agents of Edgewatch has a Saw-style murder-torture dungeon. Demon lords and Cheliax still exist. Malevolence features significant amounts of body horror and grim backstories.

Just because you decided you liked the goblin eating someone's face in Rise of the Runelords doesn't mean that's the end-all standard of Paizo content. Most of the dark and edgy stuff from then was, ultimately, pretty dumb. We should never have another Hook Mountain Massacre.

Agents of Edgewatch is not family friendly unless you're part of the Hills have Eyes or House of Thousand Corpses family. Agents of Edgewatch was the first Paizo AP where I felt queasy reading it. I was not expecting it to be so insane after the warning released with it.


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Zapp wrote:
Sunderstone wrote:

1) Paizo folks (JJ in particular) stated they are going down a path lighter in tone with second edition.

I don't know what JJ and others mean by "lighter", but personally I like material that is more adult and edgy.

(I'm not calling it mature since to some folks it's immature, and that's fine)

I don't mind culture (books, movies, art, RPGs...) that take risks and might even offend. Much of our great art wouldn't exist if conforming to norms and precedent was the overarching goal.

Since WotC already covers the family-friendlier direction, I lament Paizo's move away from their earlier house style.

You seem to have missed the torture porn part of Agents of Edgewatch, and the entirety of Malevolence.


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Strength of Thousands is on the lighter end of things in places... but it also features secret police and vicious inquisitors who burn people alive in public. Pathfinder's earlier edge was more in shock value than anything I personally found interesting, and our modern era of publishing happens to not revel in being pretty virulently racist (see: the 1e Mwangi material). I'm very happy here.


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I would like a land of the Linnorm Kings ap! give me my pathfinder vikings saga!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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keftiu wrote:
Strength of Thousands is on the lighter end of things in places... but it also features secret police and vicious inquisitors who burn people alive in public. Pathfinder's earlier edge was more in shock value than anything I personally found interesting, and our modern era of publishing happens to not revel in being pretty virulently racist (see: the 1e Mwangi material). I'm very happy here.

The earlier edge was also pushback against restrictions, wing stretching by us after we started doing our own thing that didn't require approval from WotC over everything we published, and testing what the interests and comforts of our audience was. At the time, the interests and comforts of our audience were pretty eager for us to go darker and edgier than we had with our D&D content (as evidenced in part by the popularity and success of Rise of the Runelords and Curse of the Crimson Throne), but as that interest has changed and evolved over the years, so has the content we produce... although as you point out, we DO still do edgier or more mature content now and then still. In part because some of us still do prefer the grittier or horror elements of the genre (it's not just me alone at Paizo who is interested in horror and grim fantasy), and in part because there are still customers who want those things, but I hope we're doing so more responsibly now, if only by including content warnings and leaning in hard on making sure GMs and players understand consent in gaming.

Those who complain that Paizo is too soft are just as loud and just as legit as those who complain Paizo is too edgy and grimdark. To me, the fact that we hear complaints and compliments from both sides means we're doing a pretty good job at straddling the line, but that's no excuse to grow complacent and stop listening to customer feedback. And there'll be mistakes along the way, which when I'm involved I've always tried to be gracious and honest in my apologies and have taken those mistakes as opportunities to learn and do better.

But yeah... to those who think that Pathfinder's no longer edgy... my rebuttal to that claim is the adventure I wrote earlier this year called "Malevolence."


James Jacobs wrote:
keftiu wrote:
Strength of Thousands is on the lighter end of things in places... but it also features secret police and vicious inquisitors who burn people alive in public. Pathfinder's earlier edge was more in shock value than anything I personally found interesting, and our modern era of publishing happens to not revel in being pretty virulently racist (see: the 1e Mwangi material). I'm very happy here.

The earlier edge was also pushback against restrictions, wing stretching by us after we started doing our own thing that didn't require approval from WotC over everything we published, and testing what the interests and comforts of our audience was. At the time, the interests and comforts of our audience were pretty eager for us to go darker and edgier than we had with our D&D content (as evidenced in part by the popularity and success of Rise of the Runelords and Curse of the Crimson Throne), but as that interest has changed and evolved over the years, so has the content we produce... although as you point out, we DO still do edgier or more mature content now and then still. In part because some of us still do prefer the grittier or horror elements of the genre (it's not just me alone at Paizo who is interested in horror and grim fantasy), and in part because there are still customers who want those things, but I hope we're doing so more responsibly now, if only by including content warnings and leaning in hard on making sure GMs and players understand consent in gaming.

Those who complain that Paizo is too soft are just as loud and just as legit as those who complain Paizo is too edgy and grimdark. To me, the fact that we hear complaints and compliments from both sides means we're doing a pretty good job at straddling the line, but that's no excuse to grow complacent and stop listening to customer feedback. And there'll be mistakes along the way, which when I'm involved I've always tried to be gracious and honest in my apologies and have taken those mistakes as opportunities to learn and...

I haven't read Malevolence. But if you want a rebuttal you can use Agents of Edgewatch. First module made me sick. Not sure who dreamed up Pickled Punks, but that is super twisted. Made me feel queasy reading that room. Whoever wrote that was in a dark place.

Silver Crusade

King Fredrick III of Denmark I believe


Rysky wrote:
King Fredrick III of Denmark I believe

Also carnival sideshows as late as the 1950's and 60's.


Rysky wrote:
King Fredrick III of Denmark I believe

Now I feel queasy again. I would never want to look at that myself.

Imagining something like that crawling around like a living thing leaping onto you and chewing at your body while crying like it wants its mother is just a terrible image.

Acquisitives

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Rysky wrote:
King Fredrick III of Denmark I believe

Now I feel queasy again. I would never want to look at that myself.

Imagining something like that crawling around like a living thing leaping onto you and chewing at your body while crying like it wants its mother is just a terrible image.

Great stuff. Loved it.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
keftiu wrote:
…has anyone been “disappointed and frustrated” with Strength of Thousands? I’ve pretty much only seen glowing praise.

Much as I enjoyed the NPCs, both student and staff, I got progressively less interested in running the AP with each volume that got released. None of it was bad, but it also did not resonate with me.

The exception being volume 4, which I can strip out of its Magaambya framing and run as a stand-alone, I think.


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AnimatedPaper wrote:
keftiu wrote:
…has anyone been “disappointed and frustrated” with Strength of Thousands? I’ve pretty much only seen glowing praise.

Much as I enjoyed the NPCs, both student and staff, I got progressively less interested in running the AP with each volume that got released. None of it was bad, but it also did not resonate with me.

The exception being volume 4, which I can strip out of its Magaambya framing and run as a stand-alone, I think.

Volume 4 is the single adventure I most want to run most out of all 2e’s offerings:


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Same. If I’d had more time, I’d have run my playtest dual class psychic thaumaturge through that one.

What would posses any respectable faction to designate a poppet as their ambassador is an interesting question, but sounds fun.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

I just wrapped up book 2 of Strength of Thousands, and we’ve been pretty over the moon about the entire campaign so far. Book 2 is some really great urban intrigue. I think book 3 requires the most legwork to make interesting, but I’ve been laying a lot of groundwork for it that I think will make it feel less removed from the main story.

Spoiler:
The prospect of getting to be a teacher herself is the most excited my fiancé has been about anything in the AP yet


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Super ironically, I have a homebrew game I have been running in Golarion, in the Mwangi expanse that has just hit 10th level, and after reading the premise of book 4, I was like, “thanks Paizo, this is the exact adventure I need to keep this story moving!”


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One thing that i have noticed about 2e APs is that there are a lot “tasks”, especially in the early going. For example, while looking at the first Quest for the Frozen Flame, you are asked t: fetch water, capture tapirs, fix a stone, prepare the camp for evacuation, etc.

On the one hand this shows the flexibility of PF2, but on the other hand, I’m not interested in doing tasks. It just feels a lot less exciting to me. There is less tension and less conflict IMO. The author hints at something menacing that will happen but it has zero impact on the tasks themselves. Other PF2 APs have these tasks too (Strength of Thousands) and its one of the major difference I feel between a 1e and 2e AP. It just struck me as a stark difference in the tone of adventurers. Hopefully, as the system matures, these tasks can be presented at more opportune times and can have a bigger impact on the story that is more exciting. I am thinking that these sort of tasks could be really relevant in a rebellion or in a kingmaker setting and would work wonderfully there to support the larger narrative of events.

This is all just my opinion of course, but its feedback about the tone and difference for 1e vs 2e AP’s and this might be what some folks are identifying as different without putting their finger on it,


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Yeah on top of tasks, the APs should try to exploit the action system of Pathfinder 2.
I want to see challenges where it takes several actions to do something, whilst something else is happening.
Example: A tree branch has fallen on the road and the cart cant make it through. It takes 7 actions of athletics, divided between any members, to remove the branch. Meanwhile, there's an ambush going, or part of a chase.


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Errant Mercenary wrote:

Yeah on top of tasks, the APs should try to exploit the action system of Pathfinder 2.

I want to see challenges where it takes several actions to do something, whilst something else is happening.
Example: A tree branch has fallen on the road and the cart cant make it through. It takes 7 actions of athletics, divided between any members, to remove the branch. Meanwhile, there's an ambush going, or part of a chase.

Those are the types of things I would absolutely like to see.


Duskreign wrote:

One thing that i have noticed about 2e APs is that there are a lot “tasks”, especially in the early going. For example, while looking at the first Quest for the Frozen Flame, you are asked t: fetch water, capture tapirs, fix a stone, prepare the camp for evacuation, etc.

On the one hand this shows the flexibility of PF2, but on the other hand, I’m not interested in doing tasks. It just feels a lot less exciting to me. There is less tension and less conflict IMO. The author hints at something menacing that will happen but it has zero impact on the tasks themselves. Other PF2 APs have these tasks too (Strength of Thousands) and its one of the major difference I feel between a 1e and 2e AP. It just struck me as a stark difference in the tone of adventurers. Hopefully, as the system matures, these tasks can be presented at more opportune times and can have a bigger impact on the story that is more exciting. I am thinking that these sort of tasks could be really relevant in a rebellion or in a kingmaker setting and would work wonderfully there to support the larger narrative of events.

This is all just my opinion of course, but its feedback about the tone and difference for 1e vs 2e AP’s and this might be what some folks are identifying as different without putting their finger on it,

You have your quest for frozen flame module?


PDF as my sub has shipped.


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The argument could be made that the mundane tasks we commonly see early in an AP could be intended to introduce new players to skill checks and other mechanics of the game.

But when it is still happening later in the AP, it begins to feel like someone was having trouble hitting their word count.

I just cut the mundane crap and zero in on the exciting or plot central content, or spice it up to be less, well, boring.

For example, in Kindled Magic, the PCs are given these cool elephant birds/chocobos and then given the thrilling task of... delivering post!! Wow. This would bore my table to tears. Tear that out and replace it with a shady chocobo race/chase through the bustling marketplace. Immediate improvement. :D


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

It's funny, I likewise just got my copy of Broken Tusk Moon and thought the tasks at the beginning sounded super cool and fun. Admittedly they aren't quite as exciting as a combat encounter or a dungeon, but I appreciate stuff like that(and the various tasks in Kindled Magic) as an on-ramp into understanding the PC's, their allies, and the setting around them as a live-in world where more mundane things have to happen to keep things moving. Also a great way to establish character personalities and party dynamics in less fraught circumstances that will later bear out in the exciting adventure portion.


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The byproduct of making everything "middle of the road" appealing means it loses its appeal for those that are interested in something more. It feels like Paizo went from making adventures they wanted to make and were never allowed to, to now making adventures that they think some imaginary audience won't be offended to play rather than finding an audience that desires to play these adventures.

My one attempt at playing a second edition AP went down in flames because the younger players got bored and wanted to move on to something different - which is what these adventures feel like. Something that sounds different from the last, but feels familiar to the point of being completely uninteresting.

At the risk of generalizing, it seems that modern players seem more interested in their latest character build, leaving the "story" in which they are building their PC as secondary to whatever they have in their head. When the two don't meet, it's time to move on to the next one.

Liberty's Edge

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PFRPGrognard wrote:

The byproduct of making everything "middle of the road" appealing means it loses its appeal for those that are interested in something more. It feels like Paizo went from making adventures they wanted to make and were never allowed to, to now making adventures that they think some imaginary audience won't be offended to play rather than finding an audience that desires to play these adventures.

My one attempt at playing a second edition AP went down in flames because the younger players got bored and wanted to move on to something different - which is what these adventures feel like. Something that sounds different from the last, but feels familiar to the point of being completely uninteresting.

At the risk of generalizing, it seems that modern players seem more interested in their latest character build, leaving the "story" in which they are building their PC as secondary to whatever they have in their head. When the two don't meet, it's time to move on to the next one.

"Offended" ? "Some imaginary audience" ?

Intriguing words.

AFAIK the latest APs, like Abomination Vaults, Strength of Thousands are very well received and the coming ones look extremely interesting too.

So, looks like Paizo actually know what they're doing on the AP front.

Silver Crusade

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Pfffft, that was ridiculous to read.

Also “it seems that modern players seem more interested in their latest character build,” is NOT a modern phenomenon, it’s been around as long as Dungeons and Dragons has existed.

Liberty's Edge

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This reminds me of Rolemaster times 30 years ago. When my PCs died so often I gave up on giving them names.

A true golden age of role-playing I say.


The APs seem no different to me than they've always been. A mix of material with different scenarios, some you will like, some you won't. Buy what you like, ignore what you don't.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

As a still fairly new GM for Pathfinder in general, I’m just thrilled that I’ve been able to run every 2e adventure path I’ve tried straight from the book with very few issues. After you’ve been running 5e prewritten adventures for 3 years, where even the most universally beloved of them requires the use of dozens of reddit threads to make it run smoothly, it makes you really appreciate the little things Paizo consistently gets right.

In my eyes, the biggest strength of the 2e adventure paths is how easy they are to pick up and run with fairly little prep. Important story beats are laid out for the GM early on, NPCs are well-characterized, and encounters are balanced (despite there sometimes being too many filler ones for my liking… this is a problem with all pre-written adventures though). I’ve generally just had to do a single read-through of each book I run before starting, and sometimes I can even afford to just go chapter by chapter as my players are working their way through the book. Compare that to 5e where you need to read through the entire adventure multiple times to understand key details and then read all the guides that are out there to fill in all the gaps the developers left.

To those of you who were around for 1e APs: is the ease of use of 2e’s adventure paths something that’s pretty much always been the case, or has it gotten worse/better since the early days of 1e? I’m curious to hear what people think, because maybe I’m giving 2e too much credit given that my only point of comparison is 5e, not to mention all the other game systems out there.


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willfromamerica wrote:

As a still fairly new GM for Pathfinder in general, I’m just thrilled that I’ve been able to run every 2e adventure path I’ve tried straight from the book with very few issues. After you’ve been running 5e prewritten adventures for 3 years, where even the most universally beloved of them requires the use of dozens of reddit threads to make it run smoothly, it makes you really appreciate the little things Paizo consistently gets right.

In my eyes, the biggest strength of the 2e adventure paths is how easy they are to pick up and run with fairly little prep. Important story beats are laid out for the GM early on, NPCs are well-characterized, and encounters are balanced (despite there sometimes being too many filler ones for my liking… this is a problem with all pre-written adventures though). I’ve generally just had to do a single read-through of each book I run before starting, and sometimes I can even afford to just go chapter by chapter as my players are working their way through the book. Compare that to 5e where you need to read through the entire adventure multiple times to understand key details and then read all the guides that are out there to fill in all the gaps the developers left.

To those of you who were around for 1e APs: is the ease of use of 2e’s adventure paths something that’s pretty much always been the case, or has it gotten worse/better since the early days of 1e? I’m curious to hear what people think, because maybe I’m giving 2e too much credit given that my only point of comparison is 5e, not to mention all the other game systems out there.

I cannot emphasize enough how much better it is than 1E. I had to rewrite nearly every monster and NPC villain in PF1 APs past level 7 or so as PF1 game math broke down in favor of the players. Not just broke down, but basically collapsed into uselessness. The players were so powerful with so many broken options available that the monsters and NPCs as designed were like a combat practice dummy for PCs to try their new abilities on.

That does not happen in PF2. Even weaker enemies generally do their job in providing a little bit of a fight. And BBEGs and boss monsters can be outright vicious.

PF2 APs run out of the box very easily. I usually only tweak numbers depending on party size or if I want to make a main BBEG fight more interesting.

Grand Lodge

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PFRP Grognard wrote:
At the risk of generalizing, it seems that modern players seem more interested in their latest character build, leaving the "story" in which they are building their PC as secondary to whatever they have in their head. When the two don't meet, it's time to move on to the next one.

.

Rysky wrote:
(That) is NOT a modern phenomenon, it’s been around as long as Dungeons and Dragons has existed.

.

I'm going to have to strongly disagree with Rysky, here, as my experience is far more tat of Brother Fen's.

In the 80s and especially in the 90s, gameplay in my various groups, including at game stores with the convention atmosphere, was so much more about the setting, the plot of the adventure, roleplaying and atmosphere -- and far below that was the character build.

Heck, 'character build' wasn't even a thing. It didn't exist. There just weren't Class Level options or variety. They hadn't been invented yet.

A Fighter went from one attack per round to one attack per three rounds after four levels. And five levels later two per round. That was IT. Your Whole character. Casters levelled so slowly, and there were so fewer spells that the game just didn't evolve as an exercise in levelling. And the Thief's 'Skills' would only go up a few percentage points here and there.

ALL the dynamic and creative additions to your PC were given by the DM in Homebrew Boons. All of them. For the entirety of your character's adventuring life. And they were ALL based on the roleplay you did IN that campaign as the story unfolded.

In the 80s it was more haphazard, make-it-up-as-you-go, and inconsistent based on DM whim and character death was more prevalent. In the 90s it was much more about the campaign setting and how one roleplayed his or her character.

....It was the horrible creation and introduction of Feats, and the damning change of the game to work on a battlemat, that ruined all that roleplay fun.

For 20 years now of playing this game, the characters are just Toons of techno-stats and Feat-Tree munchkins that don't need the campaign setting or story or plot or roleplay at all.

One doesn't roleplay a critical meeting with the town sage; no, instead one rolls a Skill check against a bland DC. One doesn't describe his combat maneuver with the greatsword; no, instead one robotically adds up numbers to add to a colorless d20 roll. One doesn't get creative with spell use in the encounter with the monster; no, instead one reads verbatim the rules of the spell from a book and counts squares on an unimaginative grid.

In the 90s especially, one could play this game practically without dice. Just roleplay. For the past 20 years, players don't even need to attempt an investment in the story; they can just about what they're going to add to their character sheet next level -- and then the level after that.

Heck, groups even make game decisions based on Levelling-up! They decide to go into the woods to find a random encounter so they can make 6th Level before going back to the dungeon and fighting the Vampire.

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