Rules vs flavor


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Liberty's Edge

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This is kind of an eye of the beholder question and I don't want to start an argument but I'm just curious, how do you feel about the ratio of rules to lore in the recent books? Feels like they are way more lore heavy than 1e.

I would like more rules but I am curious if I am an outlier. I know 1E ran away with rules after a while but I think they could do more crunchy content.


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I would take even more lore than we're currently getting, personally.


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dnjscott wrote:
This is kind of an eye of the beholder question and I don't want to start an argument but I'm just curious, how do you feel about the ratio of rules to lore in the recent books? Feels like they are way more lore heavy than 1e.

Are you distinguishing between the rulebook product line and the Lost Omens (setting) product line?


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There is also the fact that the new edition's books are making a point of being more Golarion-centric, so there is naturally going to be a greater amount of lore about Golarion in them versus the system agnosticism from 1E.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
RexAliquid wrote:
dnjscott wrote:
This is kind of an eye of the beholder question and I don't want to start an argument but I'm just curious, how do you feel about the ratio of rules to lore in the recent books? Feels like they are way more lore heavy than 1e.
Are you distinguishing between the rulebook product line and the Lost Omens (setting) product line?

All the rulebooks outside of the core are pretty heavily tied to Golarion - Secrets of Magic, Guns and Gears, and the upcoming Book of the Dead. I like it that way but there isn't a clear division of rules from lore since core ended.

Liberty's Edge

RexAliquid wrote:
dnjscott wrote:
This is kind of an eye of the beholder question and I don't want to start an argument but I'm just curious, how do you feel about the ratio of rules to lore in the recent books? Feels like they are way more lore heavy than 1e.
Are you distinguishing between the rulebook product line and the Lost Omens (setting) product line?

Looking overall - I don't really care if they want to separate rules into different books but there are definitely more lore books than rule books and the rule books have a lot of lore as well. Like the livestreams a while back said the book of the dead would be 50/50 split so other than Dark Archive what rules books are coming out soon?


dnjscott wrote:
RexAliquid wrote:
dnjscott wrote:
This is kind of an eye of the beholder question and I don't want to start an argument but I'm just curious, how do you feel about the ratio of rules to lore in the recent books? Feels like they are way more lore heavy than 1e.
Are you distinguishing between the rulebook product line and the Lost Omens (setting) product line?
Looking overall - I don't really care if they want to separate rules into different books but there are definitely more lore books than rule books and the rule books have a lot of lore as well. Like the livestreams a while back said the book of the dead would be 50/50 split so other than Dark Archive what rules books are coming out soon?

Book of the Dead and Dark Archive are both from the rulebook line.

Liberty's Edge

keftiu wrote:
dnjscott wrote:
RexAliquid wrote:
dnjscott wrote:
This is kind of an eye of the beholder question and I don't want to start an argument but I'm just curious, how do you feel about the ratio of rules to lore in the recent books? Feels like they are way more lore heavy than 1e.
Are you distinguishing between the rulebook product line and the Lost Omens (setting) product line?
Looking overall - I don't really care if they want to separate rules into different books but there are definitely more lore books than rule books and the rule books have a lot of lore as well. Like the livestreams a while back said the book of the dead would be 50/50 split so other than Dark Archive what rules books are coming out soon?
Book of the Dead and Dark Archive are both from the rulebook line.

I'm curious about Book of the Dead - has a lot of content apparently compared to page count (player support, bestiary, lore, adventure in 224 pages). I like the theme a lot though. I figure it will have a lot more lore than the "pure lore" books have rules though (and then there is a ratio of how many books are released)

Anyway wasn't really trying to get super deep on the split, just wondering how others feel... it's a personal preference thing


For me? I'm very much a rules over fluff guy in general (I'm pretty good at making my own fluff) but I have tremendous respect for the job suspect that this is part of it. They want to keep the crunch coming steady but slow, because that lets them be a lot more careful with it... and so they fill out the remaining space with lore... which you pretty much can't have too much of.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

It seems like the Pathfinder 2e line is taking some of the editorial choices Starfinder made (3-volume APs, mechanical content mixed in with backstory/flavortext in each splat) and running with them.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I am personally quite fine with it, I'm a massive Golarion lore fan so it's all enjoyable to me (Plus I just find lots of it excellently written from an objective perspective) and also from an economical perspective it makes a lot of sense so I see why they'd want to do it: Gives a form of additional content for people who buy the books over just using Nethys.


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As someone that only runs campaigns in my own world, I much prefer books with a heavy focus on rules. But that's just me. I know there are plenty using Golarion for either homebrewed campaigns or AP, so more lore is probably appreciated for them.


I do think a big part of it is that mechanical options are more difficult to write. They can cause confusion or balance issues or be underpowered and unused... Lots of possible problems. Fluff and lore and all of that is a lot easier to write, and fills a book out a lot easier. I would love a book that is straight up class feats for hundreds of pages, but that's too much work.


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To put it another way: my wishlist for mechanics (Inquisitor, Synthesist Summoner, a couple niche options) is a lot shorter than my wishlist for lore (revisits of the Golden Road and Broken Lands, finally exploring Arcadia and Southern Garund, giving Tian Xia more love, returning to space).

Horizon Hunters

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I am definitely in the group that prefers rule books. Books like the APG and Secret Magic are by far my favorite.

I am trying to force myself to read through lore books. I get distracted very easy when reading these books :(. I really do want to homebrew campaigns though and want to have a better understanding of the world for my characters.


Rules definitely. I do appreciate the lore and flavor of rule books though. The explanations of the different traditions of magic in secrets of magic were great.


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Seems the same to me. We get plenty of new rules. We get plenty of lore. Use both as you wish as is always is the case from Paizo.

Paizo feels almost exactly the same to me except for using a different rule set and having to deal with the same issues many companies are having to deal with in the current environment.


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I'm pretty happy with how things are, personally. I'm always happy to get more rule options both as a player and a GM, but I love reading the lore. Sometimes I wish there were a few more new player options in some of the Lost Omens books, but they're generally a really fun read. If they need to keep it rules-light to avoid things getting unbalanced or broken, I'm fine with that. As for the rulebooks line, I'm currently reading through Secrets of Magic and it seems like a great ratio to me. I'll admit the little bits of story interspersed among the spells are making it much easier for me to get through a few pages at a time without zoning out, so I end up appreciating both more.


I don't give a flying rat's rear about the lore portions since I don't actually like Golarion as a setting. As such, I would prefer if Paizo were to separate the lore and rules parts of their rulebook line into separate books that can be purchased separately or as a bundle. Or perhaps just sell "reference" versions of the books that hold just the rules in a smaller, probably paperback, form. That way I don't have to spend money on product I don't want for the product I do want and the book I get will take up significantly less space.
Honestly, the reference book/pamphlet is probably a good idea anyway, even if it only comes in a bundle with the full book or pdf. I'd pay an extra 5-10$ for that.


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Rules without the lore backing it up strays into "borderline unreadable" territory for me.

Lore with no attached rules is fine, I read lots of things that have nothing to do with games.

It is true that there seem to be more lore-centric books these days. Last rules heavy book was Guns & Gears?


The flavor text and lore really helps to cement the identity of classes and abilities. That and the artwork.


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By the way, for reference, Guns & Gears has 159 pages with rules text out of 236 pages. This number includes the glossary as rules pages and any page with any rules text even if it is ~20 words or an optional sidebar.

Our "rules heavy" book is ~33% "no rules" pages. Albeit a few of those are full page pictures, there are also a few "rules" pages with two sentences or a tiny amount of sidebar that has an optional rules element.

How much of our "lore heavy" books are rules? I am using Lost Omens World Guide since it is my only "lore heavy" book. There are 35 pages with rules text out of 135 pages, which includes pages with the rules for pesh and similar items as well as those with tiny sidebars with optional rules.

Which means our "lore heavy" book is ~26% rules pages, with most of those pages having only a small amount of space dedicated to rules.

As for my opinion on that bit of data, if there were no rules elements in the lore books I wouldn't care (though there should probably be some to sell flavor), but I think our "rules heavy" books should be closer to 75% rules than 66% rules. A page or two that give a bit of context for automotons is fine, but the history of Alkenstar should be in a Lost Omens book instead.

Liberty's Edge

BaronOfBread wrote:

By the way, for reference, Guns & Gears has 159 pages with rules text out of 236 pages. This number includes the glossary as rules pages and any page with any rules text even if it is ~20 words or an optional sidebar.

Our "rules heavy" book is ~33% "no rules" pages. Albeit a few of those are full page pictures, there are also a few "rules" pages with two sentences or a tiny amount of sidebar that has an optional rules element.

How much of our "lore heavy" books are rules? I am using Lost Omens World Guide since it is my only "lore heavy" book. There are 35 pages with rules text out of 135 pages, which includes pages with the rules for pesh and similar items as well as those with tiny sidebars with optional rules.

Which means our "lore heavy" book is ~26% rules pages, with most of those pages having only a small amount of space dedicated to rules.

As for my opinion on that bit of data, if there were no rules elements in the lore books I wouldn't care (though there should probably be some to sell flavor), but I think our "rules heavy" books should be closer to 75% rules than 66% rules. A page or two that give a bit of context for automotons is fine, but the history of Alkenstar should be in a Lost Omens book instead.

Yeah I wonder this too because although there are lore books and rule books it also seems like there is more lore in the rule books and less rules in the lore books but I'm not sure if I'm just imagining that...


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My priorities:

1) Numeria
2) Rules
3) Flavor

Silver Crusade

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"but I think our "rules heavy" books should be closer to 75% rules than 66% rules."

That kinda feels like splitting hairs if I'm being honest.


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Mixing lore and rules generates the most sales bc those craving character options grab the next shiny thing and those that want fleshed out world info grab the next shiny thing. It's just good business. Making books of pure rules or pure lore is actively shooting yourself in the foot as far as potential sales go. A rules fan or a lore fan might complain about the ratio in a particular book, but if there's none of their favored half in a release, they're more likely to skip it entirely. As a fan of rules and lore, I like the current ratio. A rules book is 60-70 percent crunch and the rest is evocative lore to help frame the rules. Lore books have a fair smattering of relevant options to entice the uninitiated. Personally, I bought Mwangi Expanse for the ancestries and accompanying art. Afterwards, I appreciated the setting of the expanse a lot more despite having originally only come in for the bug eyed horse men.


I like reading descriptions and lore of monsters. It's good to have some context and an idea of how to gauge them from one to another.

Beyond that, I was never interested in Golarion and its history. I personally preferred it more when they didn't talk about it and kept it to APs and such. It's fine that the game has its own primary setting, but I'm willing to wager that the vast majority of PF2 games played have nothing to do with Golarion.


dnjscott wrote:
BaronOfBread wrote:
Yeah I wonder this too because although there are lore books and rule books it also seems like there is more lore in the rule books and less rules in the lore books but I'm not sure if I'm just imagining that...

It largely depends on the books you look at. I don't have Guns and Gears, so can't comment much on that, and I really don't want to spend time checking exactly how many pages of content vs lore is in Secrets of Magic, but taking a look at the Lost Omens line, some books are almost entirely lore, like Legends and Absalom : City of Lost Omens, while others are more than 50% rules, like the Ancestry Guide. Quite a few of the smaller Lost Omens books actually contain large amounts of rules text.


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Overall I am someone that like rules, but want some flavor to make the whole thing readable and easier to digest.

No one likes an instruction manual. But a book with only lore is at worst an uncogesive mess and at best fantastic novel (ex: The Silmarillion).

Having said that, the amounts of each that Paizo adds to each book is probably just a part of what they actually come up with. I cannot imagine that they don't make extra stuff and then curate only the parts that they like.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Aren't they just putting out less books than PF1 in general? I know they are also trying to keep a tighter leash on editorial control for contentto avoid busted feats.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Captain Morgan wrote:
Aren't they just putting out less books than PF1 in general? I know they are also trying to keep a tighter leash on editorial control for contentto avoid busted feats.

Sort of yes, sort of no. Same number of rulebooks, but the players companions and campaign setting books have been consolidated into the Lost Omens line. They’ve also mentioned that their overall word count has increased a bit, even before counting projects like “Absalom: extended dance remix” and Kingmaker.

I think perhaps its the players companions going missing that is driving some of the change. That used to be their “heavy mixture of lore and rules” line, and now the rulebook line seems to be taking that same mixture and supersizing them. If I view the rulebooks as REALLY BIG players companions, then the ratio makes sense, but I do miss the rulebooks as a separate line.

It’s all kind of arbitrary. I think what turns me off about G&G and SoM is that both have large sections of pure lore with no rules referenced at all, and that feels wrong for this line. Perfectly fine for a Lost Omens book, but not what I expected there. Meanwhile, I’m sure there are more than a few who would like the rulebook line to be dropped completely and we get an additional couple Lost Omens books a year, perhaps making those a bit more rules dense in the process (in specific selected titles if not generally).


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Rysky wrote:

"but I think our "rules heavy" books should be closer to 75% rules than 66% rules."

That kinda feels like splitting hairs if I'm being honest.

Fair enough. If I am honest with myself, I would prefer the "rules heavy" books look like the APG. Which has ~10 pages out of 270 dedicated to lore/context (I counted 9 but I wasn't being too thorough).


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In case anyone is curious, Luis Loza recently posted to Reddit asking people for their opinion on this topic relating to the Lost Omens line. Here it is.


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My instinct is, "Always more rules!", but a little reflection and it's clear to me that's not what I really want.

What I actually want is for setting books to have a light dusting of rules. That's because the setting-specific rules are mostly not useful for me- they're uncommon and hard to pick apart from things like campaign-specific loot, and they often have thematic ties to organizations and things that are too niche for my use even playing in Golarion. Take Lost Omens- Legends. That had contracts you sign with a specific person, alchemical recipes you can only learn from one teacher, and so on. I only want a little bit of that.

Something like the Bazaar book, which had a bunch of shops? Yeah, 50/50 is good for that.

Liberty's Edge

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Yeah, I have to be honest... I'd rather there be a dedication to the LO series where at least half of the book is crunch but that doesn't seem likely and... that's fine.

For non-LO books though, anything short of 3 parts rules 1 part lore just feels like a ripoff at this point. If setting and lore soaks up that much pagecount I'd prefer if they just created a whole new line of splatbooks that are almost entirely lore/flavor based while allowing the rest of the hardcovers focus on actual new rules and things the players can actually interface with.


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To me there's really not as much separation between rules and lore as people tend to say there is; not outside of the core mechanics of how the game works at least.

For example, in the core book it's mostly just the Skills and Playing the Game chapters that have rules that aren't lore-soaked. All the other major rule sections (ancestries & backgrounds, classes, spells, feats even, and more) the rules that are there either create lore or are the representation of lore - and if a book tries to present rules content of that sort and pretends it doesn't have any lore, just rules, it comes off as really bland (if not contradictory, like how some games will present an option called dwarf that has bonuses to wield axes and hammers like that isn't lore) and for me at least makes the book really hard to actually read.

So I like the blend where it is currently at.

Dark Archive

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Sauce987654321 wrote:

I like reading descriptions and lore of monsters. It's good to have some context and an idea of how to gauge them from one to another.

Beyond that, I was never interested in Golarion and its history. I personally preferred it more when they didn't talk about it and kept it to APs and such. It's fine that the game has its own primary setting, but I'm willing to wager that the vast majority of PF2 games played have nothing to do with Golarion.

Don't bet too much, you may well lose ;)

Their APs are a huge part of Paizos sales and are intrinsically linked to Golarion, that's a large part of why they're so popular, so no, most PF2 probably is played in Golarion.


Richard Lowe wrote:
Sauce987654321 wrote:

I like reading descriptions and lore of monsters. It's good to have some context and an idea of how to gauge them from one to another.

Beyond that, I was never interested in Golarion and its history. I personally preferred it more when they didn't talk about it and kept it to APs and such. It's fine that the game has its own primary setting, but I'm willing to wager that the vast majority of PF2 games played have nothing to do with Golarion.

Don't bet too much, you may well lose ;)

Their APs are a huge part of Paizos sales and are intrinsically linked to Golarion, that's a large part of why they're so popular, so no, most PF2 probably is played in Golarion.

I would be curious to see the numbers. Paizo has a good reputation for their APs, and certain online tools like Foundry making running an AP really easy. At the same time, creating and running your own adventures/worlds has been a staple of the hobby for a long time. Of my friend group that plays PF2e, everyone else is running APs and I'm the outlier running homebrew.


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thenobledrake wrote:

To me there's really not as much separation between rules and lore as people tend to say there is; not outside of the core mechanics of how the game works at least.

... All the other major rule sections (ancestries & backgrounds, classes, spells, feats even, and more) the rules that are there either create lore or are the representation of lore...

For that to be true, you need rules that inform/describe the setting. Unfortunately, one of the major prices of separating the player rules and the NPC rules is that PC rules no longer inform the setting, though they may describe it.

The majority of rules in PF2 do neither of these things. The only part of a class that adds to lore is the intro page because we can't assume any part of the rules apply to the world. An NPC does not have a class, they just do whatever their stat block says they can. They might have features from multiple classes or none whatsoever. Plus there is level scaling and some NPCs being different levels in different situations. Also, the majority of class feats/features are only applicable in encounter mode and specifically in combat encounters.

Ancestries and backgrounds have the same problem classes have. As an example, orc NPCs almost invariably have Ferocity, but orc PCs have a ton of other options and so might not have it (not that I don't see them almost always take Ferocity). Plus the PC version of that feature is different from the NPC version.

Some features do describe the world, like clan daggers or a line of flavor text in a feat tied to some in setting character. But they are the vast minority.


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Rules representing lore does not inherently require NPC rules to be the same as the PC rules.

And that's besides the fact that every system anything remotely like Pathfinder that claimed to build NPCs on the same rules as the PCs are built has been dishonest about that because NPCs have different options and no inherent limitations.

None of that is really all that relevant though because, to use the example of Ferocity, it doesn't matter if it is lore of "literally all orcs are hard to kill" or lore of "some orcs are hard to kill" that is still a rule that creates and participates in representing a piece of lore.


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Orc warriors have Ferocity, but I’ve yet to see an Orc Shopkeeper NPC with the ability.


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The lore is the world. The rules are merely trying to provide mechanics to emulate that lore. So if you are not sure how a rule should be interpreted, look at the lore: The interpretation that results in the closest match to the lore is the 'true' one.

So we need rules/mechanics to play the game, but the lore tells us how to play (in) the world. So in my mind, a good RPG resource needs to both provide some mechanics allowing me to interact with the world, but also the fluff that tells me what the world is actually (supposed to be) like.

So, ideally a happy balance, but I prefer them to err on the side of lore.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

its funny I never actually viewed the classes as existing as things in the world, or at least its not a 1:1, in my world a "Druid Enclave" may include druids, rangers, champions of nature deities, etc. Classes can inform things that exist in the world but that doesn't mean its a 1 for 1. Archetypes in 1e made that pretty clear when some shared similar names with classes and features. And some classes wouldn't make sense if that was like a set term, like fighter or hunter, those are just things people do. The mechanics are away to express the world but the world isn't limited to them. I guess that's also why I was okay with the changes between 1e and 2e, they are just different ways to express the world that existed and for the most part the broad strokes are the same. How wands functioned always made more sense as how the mechanics work not necessarily the world. And whats more important is the story/lore over that.

But on the main subject, I currently like the level of lore compared to mechanics. We still get quite a bit of mechanics but letting lore have a stronger focus means we get to expand on concepts, explore new areas, and also act as a buffer to the rules we do get becoming bloated.


I like the current balance, although I think there are some holes to fill and spell lists/skill feats/magical item lists to expand on.

PF1e had more mechanics in their rules books, but had to devote a lot of page space and mechanics to do less than in PF2e imo. Multiclassing is a good example of this, so many options in PF1e... but if you compare core to core for multiclassing, so little actually worked and a lot of the variance was utterly meaningless or a limitation/flaw of the core system. I should mention how much ai love that PF2e ditched the requirement of class skills.

What I am not liking is mixing GM and Player content together as book of the dead will

- player races
- archetypes
- equipment

- monsters
- an adventure

The adventure specifically is pretty egregious. I know I will never be able to use it, because apthe players in my group that buy books will flip pages because they bought the books and asking someone not to read purchased material or look at art because I may run it is rich.

(Oh and I hate the decision to ditch uniform spine elements entirely... the stylized fonts are near impossible to read at a distance and look really tacky next to the previous core books and lost omens line.)


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
pixierose wrote:

its funny I never actually viewed the classes as existing as things in the world, or at least its not a 1:1, in my world a "Druid Enclave" may include druids, rangers, champions of nature deities, etc. Classes can inform things that exist in the world but that doesn't mean its a 1 for 1. Archetypes in 1e made that pretty clear when some shared similar names with classes and features. And some classes wouldn't make sense if that was like a set term, like fighter or hunter, those are just things people do. The mechanics are away to express the world but the world isn't limited to them. I guess that's also why I was okay with the changes between 1e and 2e, they are just different ways to express the world that existed and for the most part the broad strokes are the same. How wands functioned always made more sense as how the mechanics work not necessarily the world. And whats more important is the story/lore over that.

But on the main subject, I currently like the level of lore compared to mechanics. We still get quite a bit of mechanics but letting lore have a stronger focus means we get to expand on concepts, explore new areas, and also act as a buffer to the rules we do get becoming bloated.

I had conceptualized things like this too, but then read that in world a Fighter is called a Fighter and the same is true for all the classes. Maybe someone else can remember which book it was because I can't at the moment. I don't think that drastically changes what you're saying but wanted to mention.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think the lore is more valuable now that Paizo has opened up the IP on setting content in the infinite programs.


As a person who now primarily runs homebrew campaigns set in Golarion, I really like the current ratio of lore to mechanics in both of the main book lines.


I like rules instead of lore as my preference is to run my own game world. I am running a standard module now because its just easy.

But I enjoy good lore idea and scenarios whereever I find them.


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Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I suspect I'd like a 60% rules to 40% lore split. More importantly to me though is that said rules are organized in such a fashion as to be easily found, utilized, and referenced.

An ability, feat, or item does me no good if I can't ever find it (or worse, was wholly unaware of it) because it is buried deep in a lore entry that is only tangentially related to the mechanical ability itself.


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Exactly Ravingdork.

Mechanics entry are useless if you can't even find them. Or worse, they require that you search through multiple books just to find the exact rule regarding it.

But also I think that a "game" should focus on the mechanics of the game. The lore of it should be used to enhance the mechanics, not the other way around.

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