Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
 
  • Post
  • Reply
MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


Nuns with Guns posted:

if I remember the 4e rumor mills right, Ravenloft was slated to be a full 4e setting released some time in late 2011 but then 5e was announced in January 2012 so there went that :v:

It was shelved before the 5e announcement, and they ended up basically saying it was because they were never really satisfied with what they had for it as far as what they would have released in a campaign setting book per se, and didn't want to release something lovely just to have it released. As it stands there was probably enough support to piece together a pretty solid Ravenloft campaign between the various Domains of Dread thrown into Dungeon and Dragon magazines, the stuff in the Undead and Shadowfell books, and all the other support. It basically was rolled into the core setting for 4e, same as say Sigil or Spelljammer, and there's enough there to gently caress around with it if you really want to, but you'll need to look at a lot of different sources to pull everything together...

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


I GOT YOU A HEROIN ADDICTION THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING!!!

Holy poo poo dude, that's just vile.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


Regarding stupid names, I ran with numbers in Scorpion Emperor. Ichiro, Nishi, Sanjuro, all the way up to some Bayushi named Hachiman.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


Count Chocula posted:


My personal brand is demanding I defend Beast


Why? Why does it demand that you defend something that literally everyone around you is suggesting is horribly executed and providing concrete examples to support that?

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


nmage is less applicable to the real world than omage - count chocula 2016

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


Going to have to disagree there - Trinity was way more interesting than Aberrant's mess. There was something good in Aberrant, sure, but it was presented messily in the corebook and was less accessible-feeling to me than Trinity was. Adventure! was also made knowing it wasn't going to get any follow up books, so it didn't die off mid-stream leaving mysteries of the setting unresolved - it was metaplot free. As metaplot free as a game that's designed to finish filling out the metaplot of three game lines could be anyway...

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo



Part 1: Overview

Iím here to talk about the Pathfinder Beginner Box.

First, I want to take a couple of paragraphs to give a bit of an overview. While Alien Rope Burn reviewed the game a few years ago (and it was an excellent review) thereís a couple of points that I want to review before digging into the Beginner Box proper.

The basic history behind Pathfinder is probably pretty well known to readers of this thread, so I wonít go through that. Iím also pretty confident that everyone knows that itís not the tightest designed game, in that it is built on the framework of 3.5 D&D. It may not be the most groundbreaking of games, but full disclosure, I like it quite a lot despite its flaws.

An important thing to note is that the Pathfinder RPG very much exists to support the Pathfinder Adventure Paths, released monthly, which are the bread and butter of Paizoís business and what allows them to keep operating. The Adventure Paths, in turn, are designed with the intention that non-optimized groups can get through them without too many issues. Theyíre basically designed for a group of players who arenít char-op experts with tons of system mastery, and that leads us to the Beginner Box.

The Beginner Box is one of three points of entry to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, alongside the Core Rulebook (weighing in at close to six hundred pages) and the SRD. While the SRD is free and contains basically all the rules from all of the books, it also contains all the rules from all the books. For experienced gamers, either of these can be an approachable product, but letís be honest--thereís a lot to be said for a box product that can be put on the shelf at say, Target or Walmart or other major retailers, and can introduce the game in a clear and concise way for newcomers. Weíll explore how well it succeeds in further posts, but for now weíll wrap up this post with a quick summary of the contents of the box.


Image shamelessly nabbed from Paizo's product page. The pawn bases don't look like that, but otherwise accurate depictions.

On opening the box, the first things visible are two small baggies--one contains a set of polyhedral dice, in red, the other contains a small number of bases to be used with Pathfinder Pawns. The dice are red with white numbers, and are perfectly serviceable dice. I mean, theyíre nothing special but they donít need to be. Beneath those is a slip of paper labelled ďBefore you go any further, read this page, as it will help you get started with this box.Ē It provides suggestions for what to do if youíre on your own but want to experience what a game might be like (turn to the solo adventure in the Heroís Handbook,) if you want to just be a player and start immediately (grab a pregen and go,) if you want to make your own character (the Heroís Handbook and a blank sheet,) or if you want to be the GM (the Game Masterís Guide is the starting point.)

Below that there are the aforementioned pregenerated characters, the Heroís Handbook, the Game Masterís Guide, a Transition Guide with tips on graduating from the Beginner Box to the full game, three sheets of durable Pathfinder Pawns to go with the bases I mentioned earlier, and a double-sided flip mat of good quality. The Pawns and the flip-mat serve as both helpful game aids for the contents of the Beginner Box and a really good hands-on introduction to two of Paizoís game aid product lines--itís easy to imagine someone grabbing the Beginner Box, finding the Pawns useful, and buying a Bestiary Box of the things for their own adventures--or buying the Pawn kits for whatever Adventure Path theyíre planning to run, for example. The flip-mat, likewise, is higher durability and quality than the simple folded paper maps usually found in this kind of product, and is clearly meant to be able to be written on with wet or dry erase markers and reused. Thereís also, finally a one-sheet with ads for the Core Rulebook, Bestiary, Inner Sea World Guide (the setting book for Golarion) and on the reverse, for the Pathfinder Society, the Organized Play group for PFRPG.

Based on the quality of the contents alone Iíd call this off to a good start as an introductory product--thereís clear instructions on where to start without assuming that everyoneís going to want to start the same way, high quality game aids that match other products in the game line, and everything a new play group is going to need to get underway. Weíll see how well the books themselves manage to present information on what to do and how to play in future posts. (I'll also try to have more images to break up the text a little bit.)

Next time, weíll take a look at the pregenerated characters and the Heroís Handbook!

MollyMetroid fucked around with this message at 17:29 on May 26, 2016

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo




Part Two: Pregenerated Characters

One of the minor conceits of D&D 3rd Edition was the idea of the iconic characters. These were characters who appeared in the rulebooks in art and examples, characters of each class, to help give a more unified feel or something. D&Dís artists mostly used it to kill off Regdar, the fighter iconic, in as much art as they could.


Remember Regdar? He mostly died a lot.

While D&D abandoned the idea after 3.5, Paizo ran with it to an extent that WotC never had, providing articles on their webpage to introduce each new Iconic character for each and every class. They show up in art, in the comics, in the audio dramas, and as pregenerated characters.

One of the reasons I am a fan of Paizo and Pathfinder is that they have always pushed for diversity in their Iconics--Seelah, the paladin iconic, is a badass woman of color, Kyra and Merisiel, the cleric and rogue iconics, are canonically lesbians in a relationship with each other, and Shardra Geltl, the shaman iconic, is a trans woman. Itís really a great bit of inclusivity in an industry where that is either sorely lacking at worst or frequently awkward and misguided. We need not list examples, as everyone in this thread is aware of several recent ones.

The four pregenerated characters in the Beginner Box are the Iconic characters corresponding to the four character classes represented in the Heroís Handbook--the Fighter, Valeros, the Wizard, Ezren, the Rogue, Merisiel, and the Cleric, Kyra. I canít find too much to complain about with this selection, since it reflects the classic adventuring party makeup, has 50% female representation, and thanks to Kyra, isnít just white folks, either. The sheets are full color, folded pamphlets with a portrait of the character on the front page along with suggestions of the types of things that might appeal to potential players about each.


Kyraís sheet points out that sheís good with a scimitar--not a class feature of the cleric, but of the character in particular.

The main portion of the sheets provide guided tours of what information is found where on the sheet and what it means, and clear explanations on how to use each detail listed.

For example, the main portion for Valerosí sheet is reproduced below:


Click to embiggen.

(Paizo has the full set of sheets available for a free download on the product page for the Beginner Box, along with several other free downloads and additional material, incidentally, for anyone interested in seeing the lot of them.)

Valeros is, as I mentioned above, the Iconic Fighter. Heís arguably the simplest of the four characters, and as you can see the sheet includes separate listings for his longsword attack as a default two-handed grip, the power attack, and one-handed with sword and shield. Each of these options is clearly explained as well. Merisielís sheet has a simple diagram to explain flanking, for the purposes of sneak attack. The two casters, Kyra and Ezren, have a couple of spells each.

In all honesty I feel like these characters do a good job at their intended purposes. The Fighter is absolutely the best at hitting things with a sword, the Wizard has a couple of flashy spells and a feat that lets him chuck his staff around with magic and use it to hit things from a distance several times a day, and so on--theyíre good at feeling like theyíre the best in the group at their specialties. The pregens are first level, only go up as far as 5th level (following guidelines in the Heroís Handbook), and the Beginner Box being a simplified product does not include the full variety of spells--so the problem of the casters outperforming noncasters is very highly mitigated. Itís definitely still true that fighters in the Pathfinder RPG proper are underwhelming compared to other options...but in the Beginner Box, itís not so much of an issue.

It took more :words: to cover the subject of the pregenerated characters than I expected, and the Heroís Handbook is pretty big, so I will break here and discuss the Heroís Handbook on its own in the next post!

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


Doresh posted:

Dude must be really boring to waste his powers like that. If he really needs to get talentless hacks into the business, how about reality TV? Is that even a thing in BNW?


:goonsay: Merisiel is a pink-skinned elf raised by Not-Gypsies. That's not white at all.

I think the Beginner Box might be the only place for Valeros to shine, because it doesn't get far enough in level to include Two-Weapon Fighting, which he otherwise loves to dump most of his Feats into.

And does anyone know how those comics and audio dramas are? The only bit of iconic fiction I have are those little short stories at the beginning of each chapter, and they make everyone sound like a bad 90's hero.

I have heard that the comics are not bad at all, though the review I got from a friend did mention not having the best art. I have not branched out to the audio dramas yet, personally.

I can say that the Pathfinder novels on thee whole aren't bad - for what they are. The best of them are easily on par with good Forgotten Realms novels, which may be damning with faint praise but if what you're looking for is a fun afternoon's beach read or airplane novel or whatever, you could do worse. They're not about the Iconics, though.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo




Part Three: The Heroís Handbook

The Heroís Handbook is the starting point for anyone who wants to make their own character instead of using one of the pregens - a fair enough position to take for an RPG. On the inside cover is a summary of the steps in creating characters. Only three races (human, elf, and dwarf) are represented in the Beginner Box, and only the four classes already spotted in the pregens (thatíd be Fighter, Wizard, Cleric, and Rogue.) A positive note, by the way, is that the picture they used to represent the Human race is a headshot of Seelah, the Paladin Iconic character.


Who is awesome.

Paizo are, as I said, in my previous post, really serious about diversity and inclusivity. Itís one of the things theyíre really good at.

Rules, less so:



There are also page references for each step of character creation listed. A handy reference, overall, and in an easily located spot. Next, the book has a brief solo choose your own adventure style introductory adventure of 23 paragraphs - not really a lot of choices, a couple of places where you can die (through combat damage or trap damage plus combat damage) but overall a relatively simple dungeon. You fight a goblin, rescue a captured kid, encounter a trap and a dungeon mold hazard, and defeat a skeleton, then get like 500 gold and a magic sword as a reward. It uses very simplified rules, but gets the point across well enough.

Immediately following this is an example of play - weíve all seen these. This one is nothing special. Then the remainder of the book is spent on the step by step process of creating a character. This actually covers everything that is needed, clearly outlined at each step, to create a full first level Pathfinder character, albeit with a very limited selection of choices available for spells and feats, and of course, races and classes. That said, by following the guidelines in the book, youíll basically have a character that could be played alongside characters created with the core rulebook and other supplements. It also has the steps needed to level up to 5th level, and once the guided tour is done, suggested and simplified builds for each class are listed.

There are a total of about 30 feats listed, and maybe a dozen spells for each level of spellcasting that will be reached by wizard and cleric (so a dozen level 1, a dozen level 2, and a dozen level 3 options--a page for each level.) Mostly they are not of the type to render non-casters irrelevant, partly due to the limited selection and partly due to the low level nature of the Beginner Box.

This is one of the most straightforward guides Iíve seen on how to make a simple character. It holds the readerís hand through the process, never offers so many options as to overwhelm, and gives enough direction that nobody should be coming out of the process with an unplayable wreck, assuming they didnít roll for poo poo when they were generating stats. Rolling for stats is honestly the only problem I have with this portion of the Beginner Box, but I hesitate to suggest that point buy would have been a simpler option for new players. A single array of ability scores, built to match a point buy selection that should provide a decent range of high and lows, might have been better, but if rolling for ability scores is the worst sin this box commits itís still doing better than many of the games covered elsewhere in this thread.

I mean, letís face it, Beast it ainít.

The Heroís Handbook wraps up with an explanation of how PCs do things, including some simplified rules for exploration and a simplified combat system (it doesnít include, among other things, attacks of opportunity, for example, though critical hits are included and explained clearly.) On the inside back cover thereís a glossary of terms, on the back cover proper thereís a summary of combat sequence and a reprint of the same flanking diagram and roll calculations shown within the book - always nice to have quick reference charts.

I'm not going bother summarizing the character creation rules or the combat rules--I can't imagine that folks aren't familiar with how creating a Pathfinder character works or how combat works in what is basically a D&D clone. Those truly interested can refer to the PRD. The main thing is, the book lays it out clearly and is easy enough to understand that new players should be able to get a game going and, if not get all the rules right (there's a lot to know, after all, even stripped down,) at least have a pretty reasonable facsimile and have a good time with the pack-in adventure..

As an amusing side note, the art in the book is fairly in keeping with Paizoís standard production values (good, in general.) Remember how I talked about Regdar, D&D 3rd Editionís Iconic Fighter, dying a lot in art?


Meet Lem. Lemís the Iconic Bard for Pathfinder. Unlike Regdar, this isnít an average day for Lem.

Next time: the Game Masterís Guide.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo




Part Four: The Game Masterís Guide

The Game Masterís Guide (not to be confused with the GameMastery Guide, which is one of the corebooks of the line) is 100 pages, and contains, in no particular order:

A simple ten-room adventure
A sample map and suggested plot to use with it, for novice GMs to populate themselves for a second adventure
Advice and tips on how to plan adventures, run the game, and create new content, including a list of a dozen adventure hooks to get the juices flowing
12 pages of magic items
24 pages of monsters
Sandpoint, a sample town that DMs could use as a base for adventurers, with additional story hooks and a couple of key NPCs.
A few more rules, for environmental hazards and status conditions, plus examples of tasks for common DCs

Weíll tackle this one thing at a time. First, the ten-room adventure. It uses one side of the flip-mat included in the box (the other side is blank, which weíll come back to later.) The encounters include a pair of goblins that attack the heroes (a simple combat encounter), the room the goblins sleep in (to demonstrate an exploration segment, as there is treasure to be had), a magic fountain that gives random effects - if you throw a coin in before drinking you remove the chance to have negative effects, otherwise you get either a +2 or -2 to something in the next fight, for the most part. Next, a trapped altar (showcasing trap type encounters), a giant spider (a fight with more going on tactically than a straight up slugfest, plus it has poison so can introduce conditions), a magic pillar with some nearby graffiti that offers a hint of whatís to come. The pillar grants a bonus to swimming and allows someone to breathe underwater if it is activated, which comes in handy in the next encounter--a pool of water with a nasty crab-monster hiding in it, but the most important treasure in the dungeon on the other side: a +1 dragon-bane longsword. And some potions and stuff, but really the sword is the one thing thatís going to make or break a party in this adventure. Then thereís a roleplay encounter with some goblins - you can fight Ďem or parlay with Ďem--and after that a set of skeletons guarding the final room of the dungeon, which is the lair of a young black dragon--that sword makes sense now, yeah?

I like a lot of things about this as an introductory dungeon. It does a very good job of having a variety of different things to show a new GM that thereís more than just fights to worry about. The goblins in the roleplay encounter can be dealt with by just killing them, or by finding a missing goblin (the giant spider killed her and sheís where the treasure in that encounter is from.) The dragon at the end is a tough fight, but itís also made explicit that it doesnít have any interest in dying - if the party does 25 damage (of 54 hit points) or hits it even once with that magic sword, it will flee to fight another day. It is suggested that it sticks around for at least two turns, but I really like that it sets up a recurring antagonist in the first adventure who will have a reason to go after the heroes and who the heroes will have a reason to go after. It also suggests half-a dozen possibilities of what to do next.

Which is another great thing about this Game Masterís Guide - it is not shy about providing adventure ideas. There are probably two dozen or more seeds throughout the book for adventures to get the novice GM thinking about what to do next. The book specifically points out as well that your job is not to ďwinĒ but to make sure everyone has fun, and so on.

Thereís a section on building a dungeon, with a sample map given:



Not coincidentally this map is of perfect dimensions to be copied to the flip-mat. The guide also lists types of encounters (combat, roleplay, obstacle, story, etc) and how to set them up, along with rewards for them like treasure and experience. The section concludes with a short description of a dungeon, Ravenís Watch, the map for which is above--though the specific details of the map are left 100% to the GM.

I canít say enough how cool I think that part is. For a D&D style game, building dungeons is often the meat and potatoes--and this Beginner Box not only provides a solid example dungeon with the full gamut of encounters, but follows it up with something that will allow a novice GM to get their feet wet a little more gradually than just diving right in from there.

Next thereís a section about different environments and what one might encounter there--dungeons, forest, deserts, mountains, swamps, and cities. The dungeon section includes rules for traps, breaking doors, and several environmental cues. The wilderness types are short and include rules for traversing them or terrain hazards. The section on cities talks about shops, laws, and several urban environments (including sewers, of course, because thereís always a sewer level.)

Next, 12 pages of magic items. Itís a limited selection, but covers the bases pretty well. Each item has a small illustration to accompany it, but very little fluff text or examples of how to flesh out magic item history--this isnít actually all that uncommon in these style of games though, so itís fair enough.

Following that, 24 pages of monsters--thereís a quick guide to reading their statblocks, and another reminder that combat isnít always the best or only option heroes can take even with aggressive or evil foes. The Pawns included in the box provide a set of minis for each of the monsters listed in this section as well, which is very nice.

Thereís a section following the monster list about random encounters, with a number of encounter tables provided for different environments. The following section of advice is also present here:



Thatís something like the third or fourth time thatís been pointed out, and I really do appreciate it being there in a product like this, because itís all too easy (especially with video games being a dominant form of exposure to this sort of genre for many people) to forget for tyro GMs.

The next section is Sandpoint, and it is not given tons of detail. Thereís a map, a couple of key NPCs listed (the mayor, the innkeeper Ameiko Kaijitsu, the town priest, a couple of other suggested NPCs for each of the four classes to interact with) and a list of local adventure hooks.

Worth mentioning is that Sandpoint is the starting town for not one but two Adventure Paths, including the very first, Rise of the Runelords, and later the ninth, Jade Regent. In both adventures Ameiko Kaijitsu features prominently, largely because she is one of the developersí former PCs, which is why I called her out by name in particular. Sandpoint is also featured in the Goblin themed adventures that Paizo produces for Free RPG Day. (So far there are three available in pdf for free from Paizoís site, with a fourth due out this year as well.) None of this is mentioned in the Beginner Box, mind you, but itís a neat little nod.

Then, a section on conditions (stunned, poisoned, sickened, unconscious--all the nasty things that the game lets you do to your foes or your players depending on which side of the board youíre on) which is illustrated with examples provided by the distinctive Pathfinder goblins for each condition. These are cute as hell, but not always the most illustrative--the disabled goblin below represents having 0 HP but being stable or conscious--doing any standard action causes damage, and if youíre still at negative HP you go unconscious and begin dying. Thatís not what I get out of that illustration, but, most of the others are better.


Blinded, disabled, and deafened goblins.

Then wrapping up the book, the last page is ďwhere to from hereĒ, with suggestions being another free adventure, an additional bonus class (the barbarian), and some other free resources from the Paizo site for the beginner box specifically, as well as the Core Rulebook, the Bestiary, and the Inner Sea World Guide for setting details on Golarion.

On the inside rear cover is a pretty standard set of hand-drawn map symbols that should be familiar to anyone whoís ever designed a dungeon for a D&D style game, and on the rear cover exterior is another reference page with several more common conditions and a diagram illustrating the cover rules.

And thatís the Game Masterís Guide. Since I covered the flip-mat in this particular post for the most part, that leaves for further discussion the pawns and the Transition Guide, which I will discuss next post, and the supplemental downloadable freebies from the Paizo site, which I will examine if people are sufficiently interested as well.

Next time: The Transition Guide

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo




Part Five: The Transition Guide

The Transition Guide is, to my understanding, an addition to the Beginner Box that was not originally included in the product at launch--it was added to reprints, but it was also a free download on the beginner box page. Itís short, at under 20 pages, but itís a valuable addition to the box.

The first thing in the booklet is a list of rules that were skipped or simplified in the BB proper: Opportunity Attacks, disarm/grapple/trip, with CMB and CMD, base attack bonus (which is more simplified than absent,) monster templates, bonus types and how they interact, hit dice, taking 10 or 20, armor rules (which are simplified in the beginner box, not having max dex bonus or spell failure rules), creature sizes, multiclassing, ability damage, concentration (in the BB, casters canít be adjacent if they want to cast at all,) and languages.

The booklet also suggests that good places to start looking for other options to add to the game compared to the beginner box are the races, classes, and feats sections -- makes sense, all of those areas are very simplified in the Beginner Box and all of them are pretty simple to pick and choose things to add from the core rules without making things too much more complicated.

The next two sections are how to read the non-simplified spell and monster statblocks. Not especially exciting. Thereís a section on how to level Beginner Box characters from level 5 to level 6, adding a couple of things where they had been simplified (clerics getting domain spells, for example, or the fighterís armor training, the rogueís uncanny dodge, arcane and opposition schools for the wizard, plus the scribe scroll bonus feat)

The next, and final section, takes an adventure that is downloadable free from Paizoís site, Master of the Fallen Fortress--which was designed for the core rules--and provides guidelines on how to read it and how to adapt it to work for the Beginner Box, or just run it as a full adventure--itís a little bit different as it was not written with the expectation of being a beginnerís product specifically.

In a few places in this transition guide, itís pointed out that you can take what you like and leave the rest from the core rules or any other Pathfinder product. Itís a nice touch to reiterate that!

The back inside cover houses advertisements for the Adventure Paths, the fiction line, the campaign setting line and the accessories products, plus a plug for the subscription options and for paizo.com. The back cover is an ad for the Pathfinder Society, the Organized Play setup for Pathfinder.

The Pawns

One thing I didnít spend much time talking about in this box was the Pawns. These are sturdy cardboard miniatures, basically--thereís several sheets of them, they have solid art that matches their bestiary entries, theyíre in the same scale as a standard heroic-scale 32mm mini would be--they play nicer, in my opinion, with said minis than the pog-like tokens that come in most beginner boxes for games of this type. Thereís not much to be said here beyond that--theyíre a nice accessory, and Iíd actually legitimately consider buying these if I were running Pathfinder in person, as they come in both bestiary boxes, that provide pawns for every creature in one of the five Bestiaries printed to date, and in Adventure Path kits, for many (but not all) of the Adventure Paths with baaaasically everything youíre gonna need for those paths. Which is nice because they can get fairly obscure at times.

Closing Thoughts

The Pathfinder Beginner Box is, for a product aimed at beginners, certainly among the best, if not the best overall, that I have seen. All of the books provide clearly laid out and accessible information without overloading the reader, the Game Masterís Guide provides a full adventure and the structure of a second, plus dozens of hooks for further ideas, the Transition Guide provides a third adventure among tips for graduating to the full game, and the accessories are fantastic, especially compared to similar products. The right elements are emphasized in the right places to make this a good starter product, and the free support on the website gives even more playability. Itís got great production values, as most of Paizoís products do, and overall I am left with a positive impression. Itís also got a lot of information on where to go next, and excellent samples of the accessories Paizo offers. Overall, while this is probably not a product that is really aimed at experienced gamers, thereís enough there to make it a good point of entry for Pathfinder. Which is, after all, the point.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


Nobody commented on my review like, next to at all.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


I don't think nobody was reading it, I just don't think anyone was commenting on it because it's way easier to wallow in the terribleness of poo poo like Beast than to get into the enthusiasm for something cool.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


like now that I know I wasn't just shouting into a void with the Beginner Box review I might actually do some more. It's one of those things where it's really hard to tell if people are reading and enjoying it or just skipping past it to get to the next Terrible Things The RPG discussion, especially when there's nothing particularly controversial in the topics you're covering.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


Would there be interest in examining a pathfinder adventure path?

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


I was thinking reign of winter which also plays with other planets and is the weirdest one so far. I don't have kingmaker so it's not really one i could do. Iron gods might be possible though.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


Okay so do more people want to see a writeup of Iron Gods (which is a campaign about ascending an AI to godhood and includes a city built on top of a crashed starship) or Reign of Winter (which is about Baba Yaga but involves travel to another planet and a chapter called Rasputin Must Die, in which our heroes go to 1918 Russia and fight Rasputin in a Siberian fortress)? Also available are Wrath of the Righteous (fight demons become demigods), Mummy's Mask (NOT-EGYPT and flying sky pyramids), or Jade Regent (Go to not-Japan and help your friend become empress, also includes bioware style NPC relationship rules.) My personal preference would be one of the first two but if more people want to see one of the others I could be convinced.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo





Part One: Overview

As has been mentioned recently in discussion in the thread, Paizo didnít originally set out to create Pathfinder. Originally they were the company Wizards of the Coast hired to produce Dungeon and Dragon magazines during the period of D&D 3rd Edition. When WotC pulled the plug on the release of 4th edition, bringing those two magazines in-house, they left Paizo and a number of other 3.5 freelancers out of work, with the rules knowledge, experience, and publishing infrastructure to produce monthly release products. Rather than roll over and die, Paizo took that and ran with it, thanks to the OGL allowing them to essentially print their own version of the game.

The Adventure Paths are Paizoís bread and butter. They offer a subscription to most of their product lines, often including discounts from the cover price, free PDFs for subscribers released early, or both. Theyíve gone on record multiple times stating that the Adventure Paths are what allow them to stay in business as a company (with last time I saw something like 20 full time employees) and theyíre very careful about doing things that might compete with that. Reprinting old adventure paths is one of those things that they donít like to do - every AP volume is available in PDF, but they donít generally do collected editions (with certain specific exceptions, and those exceptions being specifically called out as such) and once they run out of print copies of the back-issues, theyíre very difficult to obtain. Secondary market prices for some of the out of print AP volumes have been observed in triple digits.

As a monthly product, the Adventure Paths are largely equivalent to Dungeon Magazine, albeit with somewhat higher production values in that these are trade paperback bound books rather than magazines. They have a page count of about 96 pages, which rounds out to 100 pages in the PDF editions once you include the inside and outer covers. About half of this page count is dedicated to the adventure in each volume, with the rest being filled with various supplementary materials--typically new magic items, new monsters, a six-page serial fiction that runs for the length of each adventure path and parallels the theme and setting (though not the actual story) and a different article each month ranging from monster ecologies to expanded descriptions of Golarionís deities to full gazetteers of important cities or towns that appear in the AP, among other things.

Reign of Winter is the twelfth Adventure Path--they release two a year (six issues, monthly)--and easily one of the strangest. The focus is on, as implied by the title, winter--the basic plot is that Baba Yaga, who normally shows up every 100 years to install a new ruler in Irrisen, has gone missing, and pockets of winter are showing up all throughout Golarion out of season. The PCs end up caught up in events, and must find Baba Yaga, a journey which will span continents, planets, and even bring them to Earth to face off with Rasputin in his magically and technologically defended Siberian fortress. So, itís pretty out there, which is a big part of why I chose this AP.

Now for the full disclosure part: I like Pathfinder. I like Paizo. Pathfinderís rules are not great, but the game and the company behind it have gone to great, even extreme lengths to be inclusive and positive in an industry that badly needs it.

Also anyone reading this should also be aware of Alien Rope Burnís previous review of the Pathfinder Core, available here.

Next time, Iíll get started on the adventure portion of the first chapter of Reign of Winter: The Snows of Summer.

MollyMetroid fucked around with this message at 20:10 on Jun 5, 2016

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


Just Dan Again posted:

Please come back, Mors :ohdear:

Mors is just busy with some stuff away from the forums, I am assured that he is fine, just way busier than he'd like.

I assume once he clears all that he'll be back in full form.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


I finished the Beginner Box review and have moved on to reviewing the Reign of Winter Adventure Path, Halloween Jack. Accuracy is important.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo





Part Two: The Snows of Summer

The Snows of Summer is the first part of the Reign of Winter Adventure Path. (Maybe I should have titled the overview Part Zero? Oh well, itís going to get out of publication numbering anyway pretty quick.) The introduction of the adventure informs us that it is designed for four players and uses the medium experience track. (Pathfinder has three experience tracks, for people who like different speeds of advancement; each adventure path specifies which track it uses.) By the end of this first chapter, the expectation is that PCs will be well into level 4, and specific milestones are listed for around where the party should level up. I like this, it allows groups that want to track the numbers to do so while letting GMs who just want to hand out the levels when appropriate to do so as well with a rough idea of where itís appropriate.

Another detail here: Not every adventure path runs all the way to level 20. In fact, most donít--of the APs I have read through, only one springs to mind as hitting the level cap, and thatís Wrath of the Righteous, which additionally includes the Mythic rules and puts the PCs at the level of demigods by the end (including the ability to grant spells to cleric worshippers, if the right mythic path is selected to do so.) Reign of Winter finishes around level 17. Most of the APs also have suggestions on how to follow up or continue the campaign further if so inclined.

It should go without saying that the remainder of this update will contain major spoilers for both the Snows of Summer adventure and the Reign of Winter Adventure Path. If you want to play this, ever, without foreknowledge, skim on by. Iím also going to note that I have no intention of listing every single encounter in depth--Iíll provide highlights and generalized summaries of specific encounters, more than complete breakdowns of the adventures. There are about 300 pages of just adventure to cover through this AP, without even touching on the supplementary material, so for the sake of my own sanity if nothing else I wonít be exhaustive about this.

A full summary of the adventure background is printed next. Basically, Baba Yaga comes to Irrisen every 100 years, installs one of her daughters on the throne, and takes the previously reigning daughter off to parts unknown. In fact, she consumes their lifeforce to retain her own vitality and power, but they donít know this--but Elvanna, the current reigning queen of Irrisen suspects something like this, and has made arrangements with her half-brother, Grigori Rasputin, to trap Baba Yaga and now plans to plunge all of Golarion into the same kind of endless winter that plagues Irrisen and rule over it as the Witch Queen. Sheís shackled Baba Yagaís famous hut and hunted the Three Riders who appear in Irrisen to herald Baba Yagaís return. Thatís all deep background stuff that will come up more later on.

More immediately relevant are the winter portals. Opened by Winter Witches in service to Elvanna, they are causing pockets of winter to appear elsewhere in the world. The village of Heldren, far from Irrisen, is near one such portal, opened by a Winter Witch named Nazhena, and maintained by her apprentice and lover Radosek. Radosek, for his part, sent agents through the portal to scout and seize control of the region, specifically an ice mephit named Izoze and a moss troll named Teb Knotten. These agents ran across a group of bandits operating in the area who quickly realized they couldnít hope to stand against the fey, and now act as servants. They kidnapped a noblewoman who was passing through the area, and are currently holding her with plans to either ransom her or bring in someone capable of impersonating her to use in furthering their scheme somehow.

In this case, the adventure is split into four segments. The first involves investigating the disappearance of the noblewoman who was passing through the area as well as the reports of mysteriously cold weather in the middle of summer. A bodyguard of the noblewoman, beat up and badly injured, staggered into town reporting that creatures from the far north (heís a native of northern lands, so he recognized them as what they were) assaulted the caravan and took the lady captive. If thatís not enough on its own to get the PCs moving, the town council can come ask them for help investigating it.

The weather in the cold pocket is cold enough that characters are going to want to prepare for it or have to worry about environmental damage. The rules for cold weather are referenced here for that purpose. The first stop on the journey is to investigate the site of the caravan attack. Thereís a lot of bodies here, covered in ice and while the carriage and bodies have been looted thereís a bit of treasure to be had all the same. The bandits left a trail. A couple of the bodies were reanimated as zombies by the leader of the bandits, who is an evil cleric, and shoved into the carriage, presumably to deter any pursuit. Whatever. The bandits also left a trap nearby, beneath which they buried most of their haul from the caravan for later retrieval.

Then thereís a couple of encounters that are arguably both skippable (if youíre not bean-countering the XP, at least) and also possibly tougher than they should be for level one PCs. The Adventure Paths, as a general rule, are designed to be possible to complete for any group of roughly balanced PCs--the expected party makeup for this could easily be the pregenerated characters we saw in the Beginner Box. This particular adventure frontloads a nasty ambush that donít feel entirely in keeping with that design philosophy--and there are a couple of other encounters later on that I will point out that are also somewhat rough, though those at least have the benefit of being encounters designed to be boss-like fights, not, yíknow, literally the second encounter in the adventure.

So, an arctic tatzlwyrm (CR2) is hiding in a snowbank. It takes a Perception roll of 26 to spot it. Remember, these are first level characters--a cleric with 18 wis and a rank in perception gets a +8 to perception checks, meaning that they have to hit 16 or better, for a 25% chance at detecting this before it strikes, and thatís about as good as itís going to get. It waits till itís noticed, or until itís ready, to strike, preferably at the lightest armored member of the group so itís easier to chew on, attacking at +5 versus AC for 1d8+3 damage. So in our group of pregens from the Beginner Box, this is Ezren the Wizard, who has 7 hit points total, taking at least half of his HP if he is hit. From ambush. The tatzlwyrm also has the ability to inflict Strength damage with its poison breath. It has 22 HP, so itís not likely to go down in a single round, especially since itís possibly taken out the wizard entirely if it got a lucky damage roll. Iím not particularly enamored of this particular encounter, especially since it offers no treasure and no development of the plot, just a really tough fight really early on for no real reason.

The next fight is...also a bit odd. Three (named) sprites are hanging around, guarding the path. They can do 1d2-2 damage on a successful attack and inflict the numbing cold condition, which staggers targets for one round. They can also cast, once each, color spray, which will knock out heroes for a round, then have them stunned and blinded for a couple more. Effectively these sprites canít do more than 1 damage per attack, but can be very annoying. Unlike the tatzlwyrm, which can be spotted by a starting group of heroes, these sprites require a DC30 perception check to make out, and once theyíre spotted (by getting a -20 to that when they start attacking) theyíll cast Dancing Lights to make sure that the party thinks their numbers are significantly more than they actually are. Once they start taking attrition or someone pulls out a fire based attack, they flee to warn the others.

Further encounters with ice fey and a couple of nasty traps later, the PCs start running into bandits, starting with a few set to act as sentries. Theyíve largely occupied a lodge, which the PCs, being big drat heroes, can clear out without too terribly much trouble - the only really tough bandits are the leader himself, a cleric of Norgorber (god of murder) who pretends to be a necromancer so that his men will be less creeped out, and Ten-Penny Tacey, a half-orc burglar who will fight the PCs purely defensively--sheís a down on her luck burglar who owes little loyalty to the bandits despite the leaderís efforts to get her to join on, and will not fight to the death. Once the PCs have cleared the bandits, they find the missing noblewoman, and can either bring her back or press on up the rope bridge that leads beyond the banditís camp--and has the tracks indicating that further ice fey and bandit traffic was occurring there, implying the source of the winter weather in the middle of summer.

This is getting a bit lengthy, so Iíll chop it off here and pick up with that in the next post.

Remember, you can read the Pathfinder Core review in the F&F archive.

Next time: Snows of Summer, part two.
maybe I really should have rethought this title thing

MollyMetroid fucked around with this message at 20:11 on Jun 5, 2016

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


It will likely be the weekend before I get the next post of Reign of Winter up, in case anyone was wondering. (Nobody was.)

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


SO I said Reign of WInter would continue last weekend. It obviously didn't--a bunch of stuff, personal and otherwise, came up and has put the review on the backburner for a bit. it's still coming, I haven't abandoned it or anything, but expect updates to be a bit irregular for now.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


Probably "things we don't know what they are or how to avoid them or deal with them"

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


inklesspen has to update it manually and does it in bursts, I believe.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


The Mantis are a minor clan in first and second edition. They're around, but in their constituent parts--the families that make up the Great Clan version are each minor clans originally. They become a Great Clan after the Second Day of Thunder, which--you know, I'm sure that'll get touched on somewhere in this thing, so I'll just leave it there. Third and Fourth have them as a Great Clan though.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


There were clones or something.
It was a stupid arc.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


Hidden Chicken was my canonical introduction to Rokugan.
It is well worth reading through for anyone familiar with the setting from like, the line launch to the end of Hidden Emperor.

Edit: Worth noting is that Rich Wulf was pretty much in charge of the game for a long time.

MollyMetroid fucked around with this message at 03:40 on Sep 2, 2016

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


They definitely use ashigaru.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


Traveller posted:

In the case of the Shadowlands in particular, while PCs aren't likely to go and kill Fu Leng on their own we are shown meaningful victories over the Shadowlands. The Crab have lost territory to them, but they have also gained it back even if the victory was not perfect (the Kuni Wastes) and continue beating back Hell on Earth with gumption, muscle and funky war engines. A natural game pitch after Way of the Crab and Book of the Shadowlands (and Bearers of Jade, when we get to it) is "are your PCs hardcore enough to gather an army of badasses and finally recover the Hiruma lands" and it's not out of the question that they can do it. IIRC, the Hiruma lands are in fact restored later on in the metaplot. The Bloodspeakers tend to be localized sources of misery with the big spook of Iuchiban being released in the background but also you have the Clans repeatedly teaming up to take him and his hordes of skellingtons down. The Kolat are... well, the loving Kolat, admittedly. But as you say, there's no meaningful opposition PCs can present against the Shadow.

Regarding Iuchiban, will you be doing the Tomb adventure?

The funniest thing to me about Iuchiban is how absolutely incompetent he is. The canonical introduction to him is his right hand man getting fed up that he has hosed up SO MANY TIMES and trying to strike out on his own. Iuchiban is powerful and dangerous as hell, but not actually good at planning or anything long-term. And they know it.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


I would if I had a copy of it. That one's...hard to find.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


One word: Dread.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


It's just such a shame about the Chinatown portion of the game.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


I really wanna hear more about Myriad Song.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


I mean, I've read that review (several times now) but still don't feel like I really know as much as I'd like to.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


Alien Rope Burn posted:

For those getting into the Slayers anime for the first time, bear in mind the quality of the various TV series / OVAs / movies / mangas varies pretty wildly. The first season of the TV series is probably the best thing to watch, but it slips in the second season and gets into pure nonsense in the third. I remember some of the movies (third? fourth?) being pretty funny but lean towards being pure lowbrow comedies (I imagine all the breast jokes wouldn't over so well with me these days). The worst for me was probably the (extremely loose) companion Lost Universe, which is probably one of the most boring and irritating pieces of garbage I've suffered through in 26 segments.

This can't be emphasized enough. While the first season has by far the worst animation quality, the writing is superior on almost every level to the followups.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


Vader's stupid pun joke reminded me of the Vader from the Star Wars Radio Drama, who has to narrate his poo poo because you can't see what's going on. Radio Vader is hilarious.

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


DS9 and Bab5 were a case of parallel evolution. One was not meant to torpedo the other. There's more than enough quotes from the period from executives on either show and evidence from like, casting crossovers to demonstrate that they had nothing but respect for each other.

loving Majel Barrett appears on Bab5 for poo poo's sake.

There have always been a ton of fan-legends about how there was vitriol between them, or between the studios, or how Paramount was originally pitched Bab5 and said no then wrote DS9 instead--and they've always been nonsense. Please stop perpetuating them.

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

MollyMetroid
Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo


There was more drama behind Talia Winters leaving the show than just that. Andrea Thompson reportedly wanted her role to be bigger and bigger, to the point where she wanted primary billing, and that just wasn't happening. So JMS wrote her out.

Edit: and Patricia Tallman, the redhead, ended up dating JMS for a while decades later.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply