A Pathfinder Open Questionnaire–Now With Working Comments

Update: This is repost because I just noticed the comments on the post were not working. It is working now, so comment away!

For the past few months, we here at DEM have been developing an adaptation for Amethyst using the Pathfinder rule setting, called Renaissance. This adaptation is not an update of our original 2008 D20 book, rather a conversion of our 4th Edition Amethyst Foundations and its sequel, Evolution. However, recently, a few of our playtesters have questioned some of our design decisions regarding this update.

More than one tester has voiced a concern that our rules have a distinct “4th edition” feel to them. This is peculiar considering a humorous remark I made while being interviewed for the Gamers Haven podcast a few months ago. On it, I’d commented that our Amethyst Foundations had been accused of having a “3rd edition mentality” and that our Pathfinder book may be accused of having a “4th Edition mentality.” Little did I know that those would be the exact comments offered by my playtesters. So instead of walking blindly or ignorantly into the final product, I’ve decided to present all of our production concepts here and ask you, the gamers, what you think.

What I discuss below are not final decisions; the rules are still in their “alpha” phase and are due for more work, but responses will help us customize the gaming experience to the people who would be actually buying it. We want to make the product you want…well, a product we both will want.

NOTE: I wrote this article and these questions before the announcement of 5th Edition D&D, where they basically ask the same thing. Once again, WOTC steals my thunder (chuckle).

1. RACES
Our races, though following Pathfinder mostly, do deviate in one regard. Their ability adjustments are variable, a trend started with PLAYER’S HANDBOOK 3. Where a normal elf or dwarf is fixed, in our setting players have the option of where to take the penalty and where to accept the bonus.

Example
CHAPARRANS

Ability Scores: +2 Wisdom; +2 Constitution or +2 Strength; -2 Constitution or -2 Charisma

Question: Is this too confusing and would players prefer fixed adjustments? Just so you know, Amethyst’s canon setting has no outside races.

2. SPECIAL ABILITIES
In an effort to make our race and class features easier to read, we decided to present them in bullet form, not unlike powers from 4th Edition. The same information is imparted, just in a way which we believe is easier.

Example
Action:
Swift
Attack of Opportunity: No
Requirement: You must be within 5 feet to a tree.
Uses per Day: As many as your Wisdom modifier.
Effect: You teleport up to 50 feet to another tree within range. You emerge within 5 feet of the targeted tree. The trees must be rooted in the Earth.

Question: Will readers react coldly to this unusual shift in presentation?

3. LIFEPATH
Carried over from Foundations, Renaissance introduces lifepaths, which can affect your character in minor or major ways. These have no class prerequisites and with more than 40 of them, should satisfy any player. But shouldn’t they be archetypes? Archetypes modify classes (like Amethyst’s class focus did in our 2008 book) while our lifepaths do more general changes and are not tied to one class. Two lifepaths are workaround to select classes not permitted in the canon setting.

Examples
BLOOD ROYAL
Natural Instinct:
You gain a +1 bonus to any two Charisma- or Wisdom-based skills of your choice.
Aura of Admiration: You gain Diplomacy as a class skill and gain 1 rank in it.

DOPPELSHIDO
Double-Form:
Select one one-handed melee weapon without the double or reach property. This is your selected weapon with Double-Form. If you wield your selected weapon with two hands, the weapon gains the double property. Both the primary and off-hand attacks inflict the same damage. You must be proficient with the chosen weapon. Your chosen weapon is the only type of weapon you can receive these bonuses from (you may purchase magical versions later, but the specific weapon type cannot change)

Question: With archetypes already established, should we shoehorn lifepaths into that, even considering that many lifepaths wouldn’t work as archetypes and would need to be removed?

4. DUAL CLASSES
We have this idea of creating dual classes—basically some of our classes are broken into two complete sub-classes. Each sub-class shares identical hit dice, saves, skill ranks, class skills, and base attack bonus, meaning they only differ with class abilities. Because both sub-classes are listed as one class, selecting one as your favored class will equate to both being a favored class; you will gain favored class bonuses gaining a level in either class. For example, you could multiclass either front grounder or heavy grounder and still gain favored class bonuses, but not if you multiclass in front grounder and marshal. These classes are still considered separate for the purposes of class abilities (e.g.: A 4th level front grounder / 2nd level heavy grounder character is not a 6th level grounder, nor is he a 4th level heavy grounder)

Question: Would such a mild alteration be accepted? We could always remove the rule outright and keep these classes separate. We’re just trying to be clever.

5. POWER-LIKE ABILITIES
We know that some 3rd edition class abilities act like powers without looking like powers. If a character can do something unique each round, how is that different from an at-will power? As a result, we’ve offered certain class abilities that, though balanced and written for 3.75, do resemble powers (this is related to point 2 above).

Example
Burst Fire:
Starting at 2nd level, you can make a burst fire attack. As a full round-round action, you can apply the heavy auto property to a weapon you are wielding which has it and target all creatures in a 10 ft radius in weapon range. All attack rolls suffer a -2 penalty.
6th level: The area of effect increases to 15 ft radius.
11th level: The area of effect increases to 20 ft radius.
16th level: The area of effect increases to 25 ft radius.

Question: Would players accept this or should our classes not deviate from the accepted form?

6. MEDICAL EXPLOITS
In a moment of both genius and madness, we gave our medical operator class a spell list. These are not spells, mind you, but are gained and operate just as a cleric would gain and use spells. They are presented as spells, but are actually extraordinary abilities he can use at any time given his exploit/spell list.

Example
STANOZOLOL INJECTION
Level
medic 1 Casting Time: 1 full-round action
Range: touch Target: one living creature
Duration: 1 hour
Effect: The target gains a +2 enhancement bonus to Dexterity (affecting attack bonuses, Reflex saves, Dexterity checks, etc). The target also receives a +10 ft bonus to speed.
Advancement: At 10th level, you can target up to 2 creatures, but each requires a full-round action.

Question: Is such a bizarre application of existing rules too weird to be accepted?

7. MONSTER LORE
Simply put, we’ve included our monster lore from Foundations. We don’t have a problem with this.

Question: Do you?

8. MULTIPLE MONSTERS
The Pathfinder bestiary offers one orc. We included five different pagus at different challenge ratings and weapon loadouts. Even though it isn’t hard to upgrade monsters in Pathfinder, we still wanted to remove the stress of designing different versions of the same creature.

Question: Should we bother?

9. MINIONS
I love minions from 4th Edition. I think they’re a little too much experience, but I really wanted them to remain in Amethyst. So we made them by adding the special ability “Minion”.

Minion: If the pagus strifebringer suffers more damage in a single hit as his hit dice, it is killed (8d6 = 8 damage or more in a single hit).
As a result, minions have reduced experience but do allow for larger battles. (One a side note, our puggs are actually weaker than kobolds if encountered alone; I thought that was funny).

Question: Should we include such an obvious homage to 4th Edition and is this unwise? Are you guys cool with it?

10. COMPLICATED CLASSES
Our classes offer a lot of customization, different abilities depending on your basic concept, and abilities trees similar to that in D20 Modern. Some of our playtesters have argued that we should attempt to make our classes similar to Pathfinder classes, borderline copies, altering the rules only when in regard to using firearms. I think that would taste of being unoriginal, but it would make the transition easier for those unaware of how D20 modern created their classes.
Question: Make the classes distinct or stay close to the mold of Pathfinder?

There you have it, ten questions. Answers may be posted here, on our facebook page, or at the forums at DiasExMachina.com

Chris Dias

Chris Tavares Dias is the literary equivalent of that crusty burnt cheese at the bottom of the fondue pot. Some people claim he looks like Mathew Perry. He would like that to be true. It's not. In 2010, Chris co-wrote and created Amethyst Foundations, a 4th Edition setting based on the previous version under 3.5. It has received critical acclaim for integrating science fiction into classical fantasy. In August of this year, Chris was last seen staring at a dead raven that had fallen beside his car. Two months later, his watch and notepad were found in the stomach of a basking shark that had washed ashore off the coast of Florida.

2 thoughts on “A Pathfinder Open Questionnaire–Now With Working Comments

  • January 22, 2012 at 11:00 am
    Permalink

    Honestly, the only one I would have problems with is the duel class. All the others seem fine, though I would suggest having sidebars in the rules explaining your choices, just so people understand what is going on.

  • January 26, 2012 at 3:53 am
    Permalink

    Results from our Pathfinder questionnaire (From DEM Games)

    Thanks to everyone that emailed me, posted on Living Dive, posted here, or posted on our page at DiasExMachina.com. This is what we decided upon based upon your feedback (along with the recap of the original questions).

    1. RACES
    Our races, though following Pathfinder mostly, do deviate in one regard. Their ability adjustments are variable, a trend started with PHB3. Where elf or dwarf is fixed, in our setting players have the option where to take the penalty and where to accept the bonus.

    Result: We’ll make the bonus variable, but the penalty fixed.

    2. SPECIAL ABILITIES
    In an effort to make our race and class features easier to read, we decided to present them in bullet form, not unlike powers from 4th Edition. The same information is imparted, just in a way which we believe is easier.

    Result: This was the big one, and received the most widely diverse opinions. I think what we’ll do is return to original Pathfinder presentation but underline or bold the important elements to ensure players can get at the important bits.

    3. LIFEPATH
    Carried over from Foundations, Renaissance introduces lifepaths, which can affect your character in minor or major ways. These have no class prerequisites and with more than 40 of them, one should satisfy any player. But shouldn’t they be archetypes? Archetypes modify classes (like Amethyst’s class focus did in our 2008 book) while our lifepaths do more general changes and are not always tied to one class. Two lifepaths are workaround to select classes not permitted in the canon setting.

    Result: Well, it appears relatively obvious that Lifepaths will be renamed Traits. However, our lifepa—err traits, are more powerful. So despite the default rule of allowing two traits, we’ll suggest only one Amethyst trait, regardless if it’s type. Characters can still select another trait from any other Pathfinder book, but only one from our list.

    4. DUAL CLASSES
    We have this idea of creating dual classes—basically some of our classes are broken into two complete sub-classes. Each sub-class shares identical hit dice, saves, skill ranks, class skills, and base attack bonus, meaning they only differ with class abilities. Because both sub-classes are listed as one class, selecting one as your favored class will equate to both being a favored class; you will gain favored class bonuses gaining a level in either class. For example, you could multiclass either front grounder or heavy grounder and still gain favored class bonuses, but not if you multiclass in front grounder and marshal. These classes are still considered separate for the purposes of class abilities (e.g.: A 4th level front grounder / 2nd level heavy grounder character is not a 6th level grounder, nor is he a 4th level heavy grounder).

    Result: The big issue with this involves a slight confusion. Some people suggested that we combine the dual classes into one. This would not be a good idea considering the sizes of our individual classes. This is also why they wouldn’t work as archetypes. Despite me believing the idea is sound, it’s looking like we’re going to drop dual-classes entirely.

    5. POWER-LIKE ABILITIES
    We know that some 3rd edition class abilities act like powers without looking like powers. If a character can do something unique each round, how is that different from an at-will power? As a result, we have offered certain classes abilities that, though balanced and written for 3.75, do resemble powers (this is related to point 2 above).

    Result: Once again, this is the conflict between ease and tradition. Despite the benefits, it looks like class abilities will be adjusted to resemble Pathfinder.

    6. MEDICAL EXPLOITS
    In a moment of both genius and madness, we gave our medical operator a spell list. These are not spells, mind you, but are gained and operate just as a cleric would gain and use spells. They are presented as spells, but are actually extraordinary abilities he can use anytime given his exploit/spell list.

    Result: Looks like the precedent of Alchemist places Medical Exploits firmly in our game. So they stay.

    7. MONSTER LORE
    Simply put, we’ve included our monster lore from Foundations. We don’t have a problem with this.

    Result: Looks like these stay.

    8. MULTIPLE MONSTERS
    The Pathfinder bestiary offers one orc. We included five different pagus at different challenge ratings and weapon loadouts. Even though it isn’t hard to upgrade monsters in Pathfinder, we still wanted to remove the stress of designing different versions of the same creature.

    Result: The first thing to state is that we do not have a page budget for monsters. We are either presenting you with 20 monsters with 20 stat-blocks or 20 monsters with 40 stat-blocks. We’re not sacrificing monsters to present duplicate monsters. That appeared to be the only issue people brought up. Since you don’t have to worry about that, it looks like these are in.

    9. MINIONS
    I love minions from 4th Edition. I think they’re a little too much experience, but I really wanted to remain in Amethyst. So we made them by adding the special ability “Minion”.

    Result: Some people don’t have experience with minions, but one thing they are not are lower challenge-rating monsters. With my experience with 3rd Edition, you can’t use lower challenge rating monsters as minions because they cannot hit the players without rolling a natural 20. We’ll be looking over these monsters to make ensure they are balanced before keeping them.

    10. COMPLICATED CLASSES
    Our classes offer a lot of customization, different abilities depending on your basic concept, and abilities trees similar to that in D20 Modern. Some of our playtesters have argued that we should attempt to make our classes similar to Pathfinder classes, borderline copies, altering the rules only when in regard to using firearms. I think that would taste of being unoriginal, but it would make the transition easier for those unaware of how D20 modern created their classes.

    Result: One thing I need to stress is that Amethyst using Pathfinder rules is still Amethyst, so there will be some things that will simply feel different. I mean we have powered armor and railcannons….right on that issue alone, there’s no way to make Amethyst play like Pathfinder. Having modern rules in Amethyst is mandatory since we have firearms, cars, and helicopters. People wanting Pathfinder with no alteration won’t enjoy Amethyst, as it’s being presented as a science/fantasy with modern rules (rules which can be used in homebrew games outside of Amethyst). Of course, you could use our races and lifepa—sorry—traits to create a party with all fantasy classes in Amethyst, never encountering technology…but it’s still there, part of the setting. We have monsters which are firearm-wielding commandos. One’s a giant robot. It’s the nature of the setting.

    One thing we don’t want to do is just present our classes as archetypes, as it simply feels lazy on our part. So we won’t be making our classes clones of Pathfinder classes. That being said, we may be…gulp…simplifying them.

    Again…thanks for your input. It won’t make everyone happy, but these decisions do reflect the consensus of comments received. We’ll have the beta rules for Amethyst Renaissance available by next week. Playtesting is still open (though the time window is shrinking).

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