Frustrated with Square Concepts and Round Rules


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
The recommendation I got (from AlastarOG, I believe) was a Red Dragon Instinct Barbarian/Flame Oracle combo. Tempting, but I'm not used to playing Barbarians, and I felt like it might be TOO on-the-nose for Age of Ashes, believe it or not.

I think there's a number of ways to get the fire damage rolling, actually!

Obviously there's proccing it with Produce Flame, or with the flaming rune, but there's a ton of other options:

As was already pointed out, Barbarians and Monks can both deal fire damage on their attacks.

Bespell Weapon at level 4 allows you to add fire damage after casting a fire spell.

Lavasoul Ifrits get a fire damage unarmed attack, AND they can grab a Wish Blade, allowing them to add fire damage to their sword, which is pretty dang perfect now that I think about it. Ifrits also get a number of other fire-based abilities they can pick up, and are a natural pick for this sort of build.

Kobolds can get a fire breath.

As previously mentioned, Charhide goblins can pick up Torch Goblin to add fire damage to all attacks.

An Elemental Heart dwarf can ignite everything around themselves once per day, and Spark Fist is available to certain ethnicities to deal fire damage on unarmed attacks.

Kitsune get Foxfire.

Sprites can get Sprite's Spark.

You could also take a primal spellcasting archetype to get access to Flame Wisp, adding fire damage to each strike (or just take Trick Magic Item and pick up some scrolls).

Sorry for rambling a bit, but the point I was trying to make is that its absolutely a viable build, you just need to find a way to ensure your combat loop is consistent.

Personally, I think if I were making this build, I'd take Ifrit heritage and Genie Weapon Familiarity for Wish Blade. Perhaps take Sentinel at 2 for medium armor (or at 4 after taking armor prof general feat at 3, for heavy armor). Everything after that is just gravy. Divine access can get you access to spells like True Strike and Fire Shield, which fit the play style quite well.

The biggest issue you'll run into is the concealment, but you're also concealed, so most enemies will miss you just as often as you miss them.

Radiant Oath

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Lightning Raven wrote:
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
The recommendation I got (from AlastarOG, I believe) was a Red Dragon Instinct Barbarian/Flame Oracle combo. Tempting, but I'm not used to playing Barbarians, and I felt like it might be TOO on-the-nose for Age of Ashes, believe it or not.

One of my tips about Age of Ashes is not worrying about exploiting weaknesses. It doesn't come up nowhere near enough, despite what the AP implies.

Also, warn your GM that the Charau-Ka Butchers have higher Hit and Damage bonuses than they're supposed to have, if you check out enemies of the same level, you'll notice that they don't have the same numbers. It was, most likely, a misprint.

Not in terms of exploiting weaknesses, in terms of narrative: combining Dragon Instinct Barbarian with Flame Oracle may tie it TOO CLOSELY to the AP's themes, to the point that the character feels like an artificial insert fully formed at birth for it, rather than an organic person who grew up on Golarion.

It's a balancing act: I want my characters to fit into the AP closely enough that if it were a book or TV series, they'd make sense as one of the protagonists, but not so close that they look like a blatant Mary Sue the plot bends to support.


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THATS WHAT THE PLAYERS GUIDES ARE FOR

Radiant Oath

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The Players' Guides give the BASICS, they don't go into detail. You couldn't write a literary analysis of the AP with just the information the Players' Guides give you, and that's what I want: for the story that emerges from the game to actually be GOOD, as opposed to reading like an isekai or a bad fanfic.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I dunno, if you're worried about the story feeling organic and meaningful, I feel like reading the story ahead of time and trying to tailor your character appropriately is going to be worse at accomplishing that than just reading the basic information and if certain aspects of the character happen to line up really well that's just neat.


I kinda like the berserk feel of a noble warrior cursed by Dahak to always witness the wrath that he is straining to unleash upon the world.

He struggles constantly agaisnt this apocalyptic vision, and will rise up to challenge even the gods and prevent the advent of the age of ashes.

Dragon instinct barbarian/Oracle captures the cursed by Dahak style real well, but all the options above are also neat.

Heck be an ifrit dragon Barbarian Oracle !


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I'm in the same boat as the OP myself. I keep getting ideas for a character that's cool and seems to fit with PF2's mechanics, but then as I build it I keep noticing all the little obstacles that make it less good than I'd like it to be. To me, the level of balance the system goes for seems to overshadow everything else about it and it makes everything I try to build come off as less than the sum of its parts. This is likely just a perspective issue and an issue of having spent too long reading about the system and too little time actually playing it but it is a hurdle to overcome.


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Maybe I'm being annoying but that's real objetive of a TRPG rules. To limit the char to inside a controllable and balanced concept.

Rules and mechanics doesn't exist to allow you do what exactly you want your char do but instead to limit it. Is the way that the game allows the players to have some fun without overshadow the others or being too OP a kill everything and doing every thing they want like an isekai's protagonist.

So it's normal that the rules frustrates your char creation concept. For example a level 1-5 char cannot fly. No matter how much do you want your char have fly this exists to avoid that a low level char just avoid many low level challenges just flying over then so you cannot fly yet.

About the read-ahead question I understand a little those who want to have the idea what they will face to allow them to create a char better suited to that story. If we think about fantasy books like Lord of the Rings and Harry Poter, the main characters are already prepared to the story runs around them, maybe a halfling that are soo good that could resists to the temptation of the mostly evil and vicious ring or a human mage that has a "birth" mark that links him to main villain. Yet theses characters even being the perfect heroes necessary to save the world they still don't know what they will face.

So I have to agree with Malk_Content. To solve this situations during a RPG AP that players guide are for yet they maybe aren't perfect but you can also take hints with your GM this also is one of their tasks, help players doubts and help with their characters creation. GMs are equivalent for RPGs that directors are for movies/theater play one of their jobs is help the actors to do better characters.


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I have lots of ideas for characters I want to make but can't, for whatever reason, make work. So I set those aside and instead make the ones I can make work. It's not like I'm going to get to play even half of the characters I come up with anyway.


I can sympathize with frustration with certain mechanics but to me (as a dm as well as a player) those nitpicks are well worth the ease of play they help provide the system.


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Okay the next trick to having characters that work well within an AP without cheating and to have fulfilling character concepts is this.

Do not plan out your entire characters progression beforehand. It's thar simple. The players guide gives you enough info to make an appropriate starting character with a background that links into the opening plot of the AP, ancestries that won't cause major issues and a set of skills that will be useful throughout. Then as the story gets told, pick level up options that fit with what story so far.

You'll spend less time trying to make something perfect (and failing because you don't want something too perfect anyway) in a game that will probably fold before the 8th level feat you are building towards comes online. You actually get to have an organic character thar adapts to not only an unfolding story but (more importantly and this is why I hate people coming to the table with characters planned all the way out) also to your fellow players. You don't have to spend the whole game pretending you don't know the answer to the all its puzzles and paths. You get to actually roleplay instead of playing poor.mans gloomhaven.


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Malk_Content wrote:

Okay the next trick to having characters that work well within an AP without cheating and to have fulfilling character concepts is this.

Do not plan out your entire characters progression beforehand. It's thar simple. The players guide gives you enough info to make an appropriate starting character with a background that links into the opening plot of the AP, ancestries that won't cause major issues and a set of skills that will be useful throughout. Then as the story gets told, pick level up options that fit with what story so far.

You'll spend less time trying to make something perfect (and failing because you don't want something too perfect anyway) in a game that will probably fold before the 8th level feat you are building towards comes online. You actually get to have an organic character thar adapts to not only an unfolding story but (more importantly and this is why I hate people coming to the table with characters planned all the way out) also to your fellow players. You don't have to spend the whole game pretending you don't know the answer to the all its puzzles and paths. You get to actually roleplay instead of playing poor.mans gloomhaven.

That's definitely a good point to make. When I was playing Age of Ashes, I had my monk planned out from level 1 to level 10, but this didn't stop my from tweaking it so it suited the story. One of my pivots included learning elvish, upgrading thievery and swapping a couple of high level feats once I had a better understanding of the challenges I was running into and problems my character had to solve (Winding Flow proved to be a great choice on my Tiger Monk, given that there's a lot of enemies with stronger AoOs in that AP).

Grand Archive

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I can't relate to the OPs problems with character story in APs. The player's guides have always given enough information for me to create a character within the starting of the story. Because that is all that you need, the 'why are you there at the beginning'?

Strange Aeons (PF1)
I built an occult researcher that was possessed by something relating to Nyarlathotep. [Human Psychic (abomination discipline)(arch: mutation mind) It worked quite well with the story.

War for the Crown (PF1)
I built a minor noble who was a young adult and just wanted to party. He pretended to be a smooth talker but was very nervous on the inside. [Human Occultist (arch: Silksworn)] He blended fantastically into the story and, to everyone's surprise, ended up getting married with one of the NPCs.

Wrath of the Righteous (PF1)
I built a zelous spellcaster of Iomadae. [Human Mystic Thurge (wiz/cleric) He was overly zelous. After a few situations in the AP, he mellowed and became a tempering voice, tempering the other over-zelous.

Hell's Rebels (PF1)
I built a noble of the spy-esk family, trying to prove himself by forming his own info network. [Half-elf Investigator (arch: infiltrator) I built him to start with both rich parents and noble scion. With the GM's permission, I started the game having recently finished renovating, and thus owning, a bar. He maintained a disguise even from his party.

this is just PF1...

I simply cannot relate to the OPs concerns in the character story department. With the information given in the player's guides, and a minimal amount of lore knowledge of the area, characters seem fairly easy to put together.

Liberty's Edge

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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
The Players' Guides give the BASICS, they don't go into detail. You couldn't write a literary analysis of the AP with just the information the Players' Guides give you, and that's what I want: for the story that emerges from the game to actually be GOOD, as opposed to reading like an isekai or a bad fanfic.

Trust your GM.


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I must admit, as a GM, I dislike the player's guides. They give very bad directions at what character you should play.

For example, if I take the Abomination Vaults one, there are 7 backgrounds in there, 2 are good fits for the campaign, 2 will have their moment, and the remaining 3 are bad fits for the campaign.
What's the point using the guide, then? I'm still wondering.


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Has it been mentioned that Free Archetype, Ancestral Paragon, and Dual Class rules exist to cater to concepts that can't fit in the baseline rules?

If you can't build a character using the baseline, and it won't work with even a combination of the above, then I'm going to call it unacceptably OP and it's a good thing it's not allowed.


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Backgrounds are to get your foot in the door, that's all. By the time you are ten pages in you should been invested in the shared experience you've all had together.


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Malk_Content wrote:
Backgrounds are to get your foot in the door, that's all. By the time you are ten pages in you should been invested in the shared experience you've all had together.

When a 10-page guide has half a page on a specific pantheon and a background linked to it, you expect that creating a character centered around this pantheon and background will be a bit more than a foot in the door.

I don't need a 10-page player's guide for a foot in the door, I just need a door (which should be a 2-line description). I expect a player's guide to give me ideas for thematic characters.


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Yeah there's definitely a feeling that some backgrounds have cool/integrated moments, and some make narrative sense for first session, and some are filling in a generic concept that wasn't well covered by the former two.

I'd honestly rather only have the first category, even if that means there's only 2-4 AP backgrounds in the guide; if its not going to key in specifically, we already have a wealth of backgrounds from other sources, and at least that way the player isn't expecting it to matter/offended when it doesn't come up.

It feels a little like the player guide doesn't want to tip the scales/reveal the plot too much, which is fair, but I can see where it sometimes crossing the line for certain player/gm philosophy pairings into a misleading/unfun choice.

Silver Crusade

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SuperBidi wrote:

I must admit, as a GM, I dislike the player's guides. They give very bad directions at what character you should play.

For example, if I take the Abomination Vaults one, there are 7 backgrounds in there, 2 are good fits for the campaign, 2 will have their moment, and the remaining 3 are bad fits for the campaign.
What's the point using the guide, then? I'm still wondering.

They can vary a lot.

Curse of the Crimson Throne was one of the worst. According to the boards, more than one group ended in book 1 when the PCs, all built to handle a specific bad guy, killed said bad guy in the first adventure. The PCs looked at each other, went "have a nice life", and wandered off.

Ruins of Azlant, on the other hand, I thought did a reasonable job of setting out expectations and the backgrounds were reasonable entry points.


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pauljathome wrote:
Ruins of Azlant, on the other hand, I thought did a reasonable job of setting out expectations and the backgrounds were reasonable entry points.

What I dislike is when the backgrounds are only entry points.

For example, there's a Ghost Hunter Archetype in Abomination Vaults. The Archetype is quite bad (unfortunately) but being a ghost hunter is definitely super thematic to the campaign.
Is there anything in the player's guide telling you about it or even hinting that you may face ghosts? One word in the introductory text, hard to build a ghost hunter from there.

So the GM has to make all the work. I personally started AV before getting my hands on the later volumes so I've been unable to tell my players that half of the backgrounds were useless and unfortunately they chose these ones and not the thematic ones...


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I do wish the AP archetypes we're a little better integrated, and potentially encouraged to be given out as free archetypes. I like them to be rewards rather than lateral moves.


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I agree that many player's guides are way subpar to help players to do good choices. One more reason for you to trust in your GM.

For example. In AoA the player's guides basically gives some backgrounds to help to give the players some motivation and says that is good to know manufature and gives the spoiler that the players will win a castle/fortress and says that's good they know almost all basic ancestries languages + draconic. The rest of the book is basically useless or just spoil somethings that they don't need to know IMO.

As GM I give them many other tips. Instead of know every language I said that is good to know Mwangi common language instead of learn many ancestry specific (this does't spoil too much because they know that some creature related to Mwangi would appear but nothing more), instead to recommend all basic ancestries I recommend to take humans if they want a more easier interactions in some parts yet any other ancestries won't give a real problem to them, just will be more challenge in some parts and I say that would helpful them if someone is trained in survival and nature skills but it's not really necessary to progress (it's just helps in some parts), having anti-undead and good alignment attack maybe helpful an late game (this part I spoiler a little but isn't uncommon to face undeads and very evil creatures in golarion) and so on. I also advise when some other player already take some of recommend abilities to avoid all them to focus too much in same and so on.

But I only give those tips to those who want them. Just 1 player picked up some tips in my table the rest was just "Thanks but I will just do my char as I want" and the adventures goes very well in same way. Many of them just preferred to face the challenge and try to solve with their own choices than simply follow a recommend script and still everything works fine!

In the end the only thing needed is as player trust in your GM and as GM trust in your players and every one will have fun.

SuperBidi wrote:
I personally started AV before getting my hands on the later volumes so I've been unable to tell my players that half of the backgrounds were useless and unfortunately they chose these ones and not the thematic ones...

This is a thing I already learned long time ago from other systems and APs. I only start to GM advetures that I know everything. Take a partial plot could create problems depending in how the things progress.

Captain Morgan wrote:
I do wish the AP archetypes we're a little better integrated, and potentially encouraged to be given out as free archetypes. I like them to be rewards rather than lateral moves.

I do this when I adapt society games to my tables (out of PFS official games). I give to all players the pathfinder archetype for free and without multi-dedication limitation.

Radiant Oath

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Yes, trusting the GM is very important. But that means I'd need to HAVE a GM to trust in the first place. The reason I do this is because I'm waiting for recruitment threads to appear, so I can immediately place my character in the running and hope they're selected as soon as possible, rather than wasting precious time scrambling to get something up so I can actually play what I *want* to play (if I'm picked). Otherwise, other players will get their ideas in first, and I'll have to play something else to fill whatever gaps the party has so I still get picked (like, if everyone's submitting fighters and wizards but there's no healer, so in order to get picked I'd have to play a cleric when I wanted to play a paladin or sorcerer or something), especially if one of them submits a concept that's essentially the same one I wanted to. So I want something that any hypothetical GM might accept, so I have to assume the worst and that they'll say no to any requests I might make. Play-by-post auditions are very stressful, and I want to minimize that stress (and the potential pain of rejection) as much as possible!

And in regards to not building my character out from 1 to 20 in advance, that goes against every unspoken rule I've been taught since 3.5! Almost as soon as I began playing seriously via play-by-post I learned going with the most obvious straightforward or flavorful-looking choices was tantamount-to-suicide, because there were so many bad options in the rules that you needed to plan your build out from 1 to 20 just to ensure your survival, and since 1e was 3.5's direct descendant, it inherited those same problems, as evidenced by the fact that I built a Warpriest, one of the more solid, idiot-proof classes in 1e, and managed to screw THAT up.

And yes, I have a lot of the same problems SuperBidi has with the guides, and they voiced those problems more eloquently than I could.

Grand Lodge

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I find the characters grow to fit the AP organically, so I don't mind the backgrounds growing obsolete. People are supposed to change and evolve.


On the other hand if ap backgrounds were too integrated to the overall plot the game would lack the flexibility to allow other backgrounds.

Grand Archive

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I will note that 'background' refers to what the character did before. While can be relevant to character growth, it need not be a ball and chain the development of the character must deal with constantly.

As for your difficulties getting into games, might I suggest gathering your own group of people that you trust and enjoy playing with? It definitely takes time but it is worthwhile. This internet thing allows for contact with a lot of people. Utilize it to pick and choose those that you want to play with.

Liberty's Edge

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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
And in regards to not building my character out from 1 to 20 in advance, that goes against every unspoken rule I've been taught since 3.5! Almost as soon as I began playing seriously via play-by-post I learned going with the most obvious straightforward or flavorful-looking choices was tantamount-to-suicide, because there were so many bad options in the rules that you needed to plan your build out from 1 to 20 just to ensure your survival, and since 1e was 3.5's direct descendant, it inherited those same problems, as evidenced by the fact that I built a Warpriest, one of the more solid, idiot-proof classes in 1e, and managed to screw THAT up.

True in PF1.

Utterly untrue in PF2.

Note : if I was GMing a PbP, I would want PCs with stories and personalities that resonate with the AP and that inspire me. Not bland soulless perfect builds.

Liberty's Edge

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The background gives you a Skill feat. It is sad when the feat ends up useless in the AP.


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The Raven Black wrote:
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
And in regards to not building my character out from 1 to 20 in advance, that goes against every unspoken rule I've been taught since 3.5! Almost as soon as I began playing seriously via play-by-post I learned going with the most obvious straightforward or flavorful-looking choices was tantamount-to-suicide, because there were so many bad options in the rules that you needed to plan your build out from 1 to 20 just to ensure your survival, and since 1e was 3.5's direct descendant, it inherited those same problems, as evidenced by the fact that I built a Warpriest, one of the more solid, idiot-proof classes in 1e, and managed to screw THAT up.

True in PF1.

Utterly untrue in PF2.

Note : if I was GMing a PbP, I would want PCs with stories and personalities that resonate with the AP and that inspire me. Not bland soulless perfect builds.

I completely agree! IMO Archpaladin is thinking too much about what all the problems and situations he/she may face. 2E is way different in this way is a game way more tactical than build oriented, bad build choices don't punish you like they do in older versions and how you interact with other players make much more difference in gameplay.

My suggestion is just relax and when you find a good table just talk with every one and the good ideas of what to do will come naturally.


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PF1 had a thing in some APs where choosing some trait at character generation had (almost always positive) consequences later in the AP. I'd like to see something like that come back.


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I want to say this delicately: this is a pretty severe case of overthinking it. Characters do not need to be perfect, mechanically or thematically, and agonizing over how to do so for hypothetical, nonexistent campaigns doesn’t seem like it’s bringing OP much joy.

It’s not brain surgery, it’s playing pretend - it’s supposed to be fun, not this source of stress.


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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:

Lately I've been trying to come up with ideas for things to play in 2e and each time I ask how to build it in the Advice board, I've gotten similar responses: that the character concept I'm thinking of isn't doable with 2e's options unless I do something completely different and "reflavor" it, usually because it's either too MAD or requires too much multiclassing or because of how casters and martials are balanced in this edition, and it's making me very frustrated.

You can multiclass into a caster class as a martial, but your casting will be a joke. You can multiclass into a martial as a caster, but then you'll be so useless with your weapon it might as well be for show. If you want to melee as a Druid, you HAVE to Wild Shape, even if you have a cool sword you want to use instead. You can play a gunslinging mage, but forget being able to use those cool gunblades, the action economy allows air repeaters and bayonets only! The only way to be EFFECTIVE means to play your class in the most straightforward way possible, the same boring ways everyone else has already played them, or else have to ask your GM if you can "reflavor," and that just feels like cheating to me. Like my concept is "too good for the rules everyone else is using," sneer sneer, and if I was treating the rules SERIOUSLY I'd stick to concepts that are actually workable within them.

I want to like this edition, but every time I come up with a new concept I run into this problem: whatever I want to play is something the rules aren't balanced to support, unless I want to water down the concept to its most generic form, or be satisfied with the cognitive dissonance of playing with a square peg in a square hole and insisting it's round in spite of all observable rules. It's making it hard to enjoy the process of character creation at all, which in turn prevents me from, you know ACTUALLY PLAYING THE GAME. What do I do?

The openness of PF 1 gave you more possibilities, but it also meant more things could go wrong.

PF 2 reduced the chance of similar errors, but the freedom to do what you want also suffered.

Greater security will reduce freedom in most situations. It's a delicate balancing act. I'm not saying PF 2 is wrong, but it may be the wrong game for you, just like PF 1 is the wrong game for others.


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I will like to point out that there are many people who are subscribed to Paizo but who themselves don't run games.

The idea that you should never read the books you bought with your money in the off chance that maybe you will play in that campaign seems weird to me. That is not even including the fact that many AP have important lore sections that may affect other campaigns or character that might join other campaigns. So to say that reading AP is solely as a way to metagame seems bizarre. Specially when you can simply ask people, "hey did you read this campaign?" and "can I trust you not to metagame? I will kick you out if I catch you cheating".

People can and do separate what they learn from the bestiary, so why couldn't they separate what they learn from an AP? Or do people expect that none of their players have ever read any of the books or been in any campaign because, "oh you might cheat"?


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Usually those who buy and reads AP is those who want to GM.

I already read many APs, including some that a I didn't yet played. This gives me many ideas to better GM the game. But this have a price if someone calls me to play a game I already read. Even trying to acting like I didn't know what will happen I know that will not be same thing as I'm playing an adventure that a don't know what's going to happen. Due this I usually say "Sorry but I already read this AP, don't want to try any other?" In most cases the response are no but in this cases still play but I try to play in the most passive way to try to avoid guide the game using my privileged information and being honest my GM side usually enjoys seeing my fellows doing their natural choices and I thinking "oh no! Not this way!" kkkk.

And let's be honest if you haven't any intention to GM why are you buying APs? This usually is a problem for hibrid players that GM and play different tables. The most players don't do this even for economical reasons.


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Its getting a bit off topic, but I started off years ago purchasing the AP subscription because I wanted to study adventure design. Comparing and contrasting with several other sources of published adventures for d20 systems. No intent at the time to play or GM them. Of course that lead into me GMing a lot of them since they're good, but there's at least one example why someone would buy them with no intent to GM.


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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
The reason I do this is because I'm waiting for recruitment threads to appear, so I can immediately place my character in the running and hope they're selected as soon as possible, rather than wasting precious time scrambling to get something up so I can actually play what I *want* to play (if I'm picked).

I mean I guess then the only question that matters is... is your strategy working for you? Because if it does, then no big deal.

If it isn't, then listening to some of the people explaining why they think your decisions make you less appealing might be helpful.


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So two things here:

One: adventure design is fun to study and I get it, you want to read it. Hey if you like an AP nothing is preventing you from running it with friends or a pick up game. Go on the foundry discord and there's a thread just to find group and free GM's always find players !

B: Imma have to agree with the group, I like putting twists in my game and if I was running an online game and I knew or suspected you had read the AP or played it before to completion I would probly pick another player. Specially if it's one with major plot twists like agents of edgewatch.


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AlastarOG wrote:

So two things here:

One: adventure design is fun to study and I get it, you want to read it. Hey if you like an AP nothing is preventing you from running it with friends or a pick up game. Go on the foundry forums and there's a thread just to find group and free GM's always find players !

B: Imma have to agree with the group, I like putting twists in my game and if I was running an online game and I knew or suspected you had read the AP or played it before to completion I would probly pick another player. Specially if it's one with major plot twists like agents of edgewatch.

Yeah, if the concern is about being filtered out of online groups, being thoroughly spoiled on Adventure Paths in advance is probably contributing.

Radiant Oath

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YuriP wrote:
And let's be honest if you haven't any intention to GM why are you buying APs? This usually is a problem for hibrid players that GM and play different tables. The most players don't do this even for economical reasons.

For the lore, mostly. I want to be immersed in the world of Golarion and to do that as thoroughly as possible, I need as much lore as I can get my hands on! I'm already far enough behind because I never played PFS and missed out on that metaplot entirely. And more comes out all the time, so I feel like I'll never be caught up.

It's not like I read the plots thoroughly enough to influence the gameplay anyway, most of the time I don't even remember because I avoid reading the ones I'm actively playing in.

keftiu wrote:

I want to say this delicately: this is a pretty severe case of overthinking it. Characters do not need to be perfect, mechanically or thematically, and agonizing over how to do so for hypothetical, nonexistent campaigns doesn’t seem like it’s bringing OP much joy.

It’s not brain surgery, it’s playing pretend - it’s supposed to be fun, not this source of stress.

That's the thing: I'm feeling like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. I've either wasted the money I spent on the AP books because any anxiety I have about playing would be magnified by 10 if I tried to GM, or I've wasted the money I spent on my English degree because I'm not using the skills they taught me and being satisfied with mediocre storytelling at best. Overthinking is what English majors are SUPPOSED to do! It's not like I use those skills at my actual job.


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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
I've either wasted the money I spent on the AP books because any anxiety I have about playing would be magnified by 10 if I tried to GM, or I've wasted the money I spent on my English degree because I'm not using the skills they taught me and being satisfied with mediocre storytelling at best. Overthinking is what English majors are SUPPOSED to do! It's not like I use those skills at my actual job.

It sounds like those skills aren't being used at all, because you're not currently playing any games - and anything with a pick-up group of strangers isn't going to be near the pinnacle of storytelling, anyway. This is a hobby for most people, something snuck into spare time between all the hours they spend doing hard things; unless everyone at the table is as invested in weaving a deep/profound/emotional yarn (which is possible - but building a group interested in that and capable of it took me around four years), you're going to be disappointed no matter what.

Play some casual games, like PFS scenarios or the One-Shot line. Try your hand at running something smaller than a six book, year and a half long AP campaign - it only gets easier the more you do it. Roll up some characters for fun, focusing on making someone to daydream about, rather than an optimized machine, and then come talk to us about them.

I sincerely wish you the best with this, it sounds stressful as hell... but how you're approaching things right now is untenable, and is letting both your books /and/ your degree gather dust.

For what it's worth, I'm active and vocal here, and consider myself an outspoken fan despite having not played PF2 yet. My love of this game is lore and art first, with actual play in a distant, mostly-theoretical second place. There's ways to be part of this community and to justify the purchase price of books other than how you feel like you have to.

EDIT: At the risk of overstepping proper my bounds as a rando on the internet - have you had any therapy for this anxiety? It seems pretty debilitating, and a little beyond the scope of frustrations with Pathfinder 2e as a system.

Liberty's Edge

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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
YuriP wrote:
And let's be honest if you haven't any intention to GM why are you buying APs? This usually is a problem for hibrid players that GM and play different tables. The most players don't do this even for economical reasons.

For the lore, mostly. I want to be immersed in the world of Golarion and to do that as thoroughly as possible, I need as much lore as I can get my hands on! I'm already far enough behind because I never played PFS and missed out on that metaplot entirely. And more comes out all the time, so I feel like I'll never be caught up.

It's not like I read the plots thoroughly enough to influence the gameplay anyway, most of the time I don't even remember because I avoid reading the ones I'm actively playing in.

keftiu wrote:

I want to say this delicately: this is a pretty severe case of overthinking it. Characters do not need to be perfect, mechanically or thematically, and agonizing over how to do so for hypothetical, nonexistent campaigns doesn’t seem like it’s bringing OP much joy.

It’s not brain surgery, it’s playing pretend - it’s supposed to be fun, not this source of stress.

That's the thing: I'm feeling like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. I've either wasted the money I spent on the AP books because any anxiety I have about playing would be magnified by 10 if I tried to GM, or I've wasted the money I spent on my English degree because I'm not using the skills they taught me and being satisfied with mediocre storytelling at best. Overthinking is what English majors are SUPPOSED to do! It's not like I use those skills at my actual job.

Maybe it can help to remember that you are not a writer nor a storyteller here. That is for the GM.

You are expected to be a storyplayer.

Actors do not completely rewrite the play. Same here.

The best strategy IMO is to build a PC without caring how they will fare and test them in PFS. You might end up actually enjoying it. It might even be liberating.

This is even easier in PFS since the adventures are usually on the Avoid killing the PCs side.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
. . . or I've wasted the money I spent on my English degree because I'm not using the skills they taught me and being satisfied with mediocre storytelling at best.

You're responsible for a single character--and not even their plot--in a shared storytelling game with random dice results. Prepare to settle.

I make a personality and try to reflect how that personality responds to and is changed by different events (that I don't control).

As for the lore, there's a huge backlog of 1e lore books if you want lore without spoiling APs. Not everything--looking at the Magaambya--but a lot.


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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
The Players' Guides give the BASICS, they don't go into detail. You couldn't write a literary analysis of the AP with just the information the Players' Guides give you, and that's what I want: for the story that emerges from the game to actually be GOOD, as opposed to reading like an isekai or a bad fanfic.

it seems like you're missing the point of a game where outcomes are necessarily unknown until they happen


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I always interpreted creating a character as a person that lived in that specific world that is an outlier (enough that they decided to risk their lives adventuring) and with a particular goal in mind (with a definite ending or an enduring objective).

You're not a protagonist. You're one of the main cast. But the difference is that the story being told isn't fully controlled by one person, thus the "Chekhov's Gun Rule" don't apply. By that I mean that not everything you have or are will be relevant to the story, unlike what happens with stories in other media.

What makes a TTRPG story good is the moment to moment at the table with everyone dealing with what's happening through their characters. This can be tense, funny, intriguing, scary and above all, most likely unplanned. Approaching TTRPGs and AP's in general as if you're expecting to experience some kind of intricate plotting like Sanderson's works with Joe Abercrombie's level of character work is an exercise in futility.

My suggestion when playing AP's (probably something that every veteran RPG player knows) is: Create a character that interests you within the boundaries suggested by the AP, make the effort of creating a character that wants to engage with the story and that wants or has good reasons to care about what's happening. Ain't nobody got time for grimdark lone wolves trying to hog the spotlight as often as they can.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Even if the rules could perfectly manifest your vision for your character's abilities and you get your gunsword-wielding wizard with a gun, what happens when you encounter the perfect creature with a weakness to some energy type that you can trigger with spellshot, but the fighter wielding a pick wins initiative, runs up to the it and rolls a natural 20 on a Power Attack swing and kills it in one blow?


Blake's Tiger wrote:
Even if the rules could perfectly manifest your vision for your character's abilities and you get your gunsword-wielding wizard with a gun, what happens when you encounter the perfect creature with a weakness to some energy type that you can trigger with spellshot, but the fighter wielding a pick wins initiative, runs up to the it and rolls a natural 20 on a Power Attack swing and kills it in one blow?

Oh how many times I saw this happen! The perfect creature or situation that would make your character shines and you roll initiative but you ends up in the end! So you wait and just before your turn will arrive someone rolls 20! And kills/solves the all the thing! 🤣

TRPGs are games to party play, are game to have fun, are games to laugh of many unexpected things, are games to desperate your self due a bad roll or to cry due that perfect roll or abilitie who saved the day. To shine and receive thanks from your friends and to be very tankful to them when they saves you.

It isn't a perfect game where you want to do the best and achieve all achievements. It's a game where anything can happen and all players including the GMs many times have fun being surprised by everyone sometime even from the luck!

Radiant Oath

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
keftiu wrote:
EDIT: At the risk of overstepping proper my bounds as a rando on the internet - have you had any therapy for this anxiety? It seems pretty debilitating, and a little beyond the scope of frustrations with Pathfinder 2e as a system.

You're fine. Yes, I'm currently seeing a therapist regularly and have actually brought up some of the issues discussed here (though in a more generalized way, like you're saying).

Blake's Tiger wrote:
Even if the rules could perfectly manifest your vision for your character's abilities and you get your gunsword-wielding wizard with a gun, what happens when you encounter the perfect creature with a weakness to some energy type that you can trigger with spellshot, but the fighter wielding a pick wins initiative, runs up to the it and rolls a natural 20 on a Power Attack swing and kills it in one blow?

That part's easy: I congratulate the fighter for their skill and prowess and move on.

Grand Archive

It is possible to plan general character development without future knowledge of the story.

For example, in 1e I built an exploiter wizard with 1 level dip in sorcerer with the shapechanger bloodline. They were going to specialize in spells that change shape. My future character development plan was to have the character have a crisis of identity because of the different forms they could hold and that, mechanically, they could hold a different form all day. To really delve into the 'Is my identity tied to my form?' especially if the form could be anything.

A character's mechanics, or future mechanics, can definitely help tell the story of the character. So much so that the AP they are in could be ancillary, or even irrelevant.


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But all of that depends on the story.

Also people brought up some other stories that aren't TTRPGs. But every single ensamble cast story behaves like a TTRG story, down right to the GM focusing on one or two people because they have the better storyline/RP.

So in a scale of "how much potential for a thematically appropriate character" you have:
1) Read or participated in one or more AP and based their character on something from that. (Specially good for twist villains for games that allow it).
2) Read the player guide and used that as basis.
3) Asked the GM for some story hints.
4) Made a random character.

Sure you don't "need to know any lore what so ever to play a TTRPG. But knowing more lore is never a bad thing to come up with more characters tied to the game world.

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