Paizo News: The Future of Pathfinder Society Organized Play, Part VI: Establish Order, No Matter the Costs

The Future of Pathfinder Society Organized Play, Part VI: Establish Order, No Matter the Costs

Monday, April 25, 2011

The proud empire of Cheliax once spread across two continents, but fell to diabolical rule after 30 years of civil war following Aroden’s death. Chelaxians believe their nation superior to the others in the Inner Sea region, and won’t let something as simple as the death of their patron god prevent them from attaining their prophesied age of glory. The ruling House Thrune and its allies rose to power amid chaos, and established order with the help of the armies of Hell; they maintain control decades later with the same regimented organization of their infernal minions. Though Cheliax already controls the Arch of Aroden, and thus the western entrance to the Inner Sea, Queen Abrogail II’s strategists know that control of Absalom is vital if Cheliax hopes to establish order throughout the region. They believe that victory is well within their grasp, and that it will come on the backs of the weak.

We led off the parade of factions two weeks ago with a look at Andoran, which is far and away the most popular faction. Though Andoran’s neighbor geographically (and alphabetically in the list of ten factions), Cheliax couldn’t be more different than its freedom-fighting rivals. Not only are the lawful-evil tendencies of the organization at direct odds with the chaotic good spirit of liberty, but the faction has also been the least popular in terms of active members in all three seasons of Pathfinder Society Organized Play.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why, though. These are the “bad guys” of the Pathfinder Society campaign. They’re the ones who send players on missions to spread the influence of Hell and the Infernal armies of the House of Thrune. If there’s one thing we can learn from the trend in membership between the Andoran and Cheliax factions, it’s that players want to be heroes!

So what happens to Cheliax going forward? So far, nothing, though faction leader Paracountess Zarta Dralneen’s flagging leadership has certainly caught the eye of her superiors. It’d really be a shame for her to be punished personally for the fact that she represents the “bad guy faction.” I know I’d personally hate to see her replaced, since I love reading her innuendo-drenched faction missives. I just hope Queen Abrogail and her lackeys are as amused by her suggestive tone and rampant hedonism as most Cheliax faction players are.

Luckily, we won’t be gauging a faction’s success on its membership numbers next season, but rather the rate at which active members succeed at faction missions. And while there are many disparaging things the champions of good can say about Cheliax, that they aren’t dedicated isn’t one of them. Then again, we’ve already said there will be another “good guy” faction next year. What would happen to Cheliax’s resolve if we were to add another “bad guy” to keep things even? Will newly added prestige awards allowing Cheliax faction PCs of all classes to advance in the ranks of the Hellknights be enough to keep the already low number of faithful from jumping ship? Only time (and maybe some prayers to Asmodeus) will tell.

Check back next Monday for a look at the new scenarios and special events we’ll be offering at GenCon to celebrate the launch of Season 3!

Mark Moreland
Developer

Paizo News: The Future of Pathfinder Society Organized Play, Part V: The Quest

The Future of Pathfinder Society Organized Play, Part V: The Quest

Monday, April 18, 2011

The hardest part of organizing and running Pathfinder Society events is selecting what adventures to offer on a given day. A coordinator needs to have an idea of how many players will show up, how many GMs will volunteer, what level range all participants will want and be able to play in, and most importantly, what people have and haven’t played before. The sanctioning of Pathfinder Modules for Society credit was the first step in adding to coordinators’ arsenals of available adventures, and last week we unveiled yet another set of material for Pathfinder Society play: Pathfinder Society Quests.

Pathfinder Society Quests are two- to three-encounter mini-adventures covering two subtiers designed to be run in under two hours. Whether you need to run them when a party moves like a greased snake through a Teflon pipe through an adventure and has a few hours to kill before the end of their scheduled slot, after poor dice rolls result in a TPK in the first half of an adventure, or as a short demo or delve event at a game store or convention, Pathfinder Society Quests scratch many itches. These short missions don’t include faction missions, and provide no XP or gold, but they do come with unique item access or specialized boons. And as if that weren’t enough, they can be replayed as often as you want, even with the same character.

The first Quest in the line is the Tier 1–5 adventure “Ambush in Absalom,” by yours truly, which can be found in the spring issue of Kobold Quarterly (available in print or PDF here). The adventure’s Chronicle can be found on the KQ #17 product page or at the bottom of the Pathfinder Society Additional Resources page. Over time, we’ll release more Quests, both in other venues and on paizo.com. Eventually, Pathfinder Society Quests released elsewhere will make their way to paizo.com for all members to access. Stay tuned for more information about how you can submit your own Pathfinder Quests for inclusion in this exciting new program!

Next Monday we’ll continue examining the existing five factions and what changes might be in store for them next season with a look at Cheliax, whose members are very vocal, but aren’t so great at recruiting others to their cause.

Mark Moreland
Developer

Paizo News: The Future of Pathfinder Society Organized Play, Part IV: Freedom and Democracy For All!

The Future of Pathfinder Society Organized Play, Part IV: Freedom and Democracy For All!

Monday, April 11, 2011

The young nation of Andoran threw off the shackles of aristocracy when its liege nation Cheliax adopted an official policy of diabolism after Aroden’s death, and has since established itself as the Inner Sea’s largest democracy. Though free from the tyrannical rule of Taldor and Cheliax, Andoran hopes to see tyranny in all its forms wiped from the Inner Sea, and its allies strive ever to increase their own presence in Absalom, which they see as the key to ending slavery and oppression’s hold on the weak and poor of Avistan and Garund. Through the efforts of the Steel Falcon branch of Andoran’s elite military Eagle Knights—especially the work of the naval Gray Corsairs—the nation aspires to advance its ideals abroad through diplomacy and battle.

Congratulations, Andoren Pathfinders! Since the very beginning of Pathfinder Society Organized Play at Gen Con 2008, your faction has been the clear frontrunner in terms of popularity, and with a huge army come huge successes. Though the faction war isn’t a zero-sum game, we’re happy to call Andoran the clear victor in the first three seasons of Pathfinder Society play.

But, you’re probably asking, if Andoran’s victory didn’t bring about the collapse of Cheliax nor the abolition of slavery throughout the Inner Sea, what was the point? As the first step in making character choices matter and faction prestige count, we’ll be introducing several changes to the faction from an in-world perspective to reflect its increasing influence in Absalom.

First, we’ve given the faction a new symbol, displayed for the first time in this very blog post. While the symbol is changing, shirts with the old faction will still earn players a free reroll per session. This symbol will replace the clip-arty falcon currently displayed on the paizo.com messageboards and Pathfinder Society membership cards.

Additionally, Captain Colson Maldris, the highest-ranking Eagle Knight in Absalom and leader of the faction, will be receiving a promotion for the successful forwarding of his organization’s goals—a promotion that should open up additional doors for him among Absalom’s complex upper classes and increase his chances of further cementing Andoran’s influence in the Inner Sea, that is, as long as his agents in the Pathfinder Society continue to perform with such diligence and aplomb.

We’ll also be shifting the faction’s alignment from neutral good to chaotic good, to emphasize the less lawful tactics of sabotage, subterfuge, and incitement to revolt the Eagle Knights often employ to see tyrannies topple and democracy thrive. For those Andoren paladins out there, don’t fear. With the advent of five new factions next season, Andoran won’t be the only obviously good-aligned faction. But if you don’t want to change factions and have been doing okay with most past missions, you won’t see a huge shift from the Andoren status quo when the faction’s alignment officially changes.

Tune in next Monday for a look at the newest addition to the arsenals of both GMs and event coordinators, and a change to our open call submission process to increase authors’ chances of being published in official Pathfinder Society sanctioned adventures.

Mark Moreland
Developer

Paizo News: The Future of Pathfinder Society Organized Play Part III: The Rules that Govern the World

The Future of Pathfinder Society Organized Play Part III: The Rules that Govern the World

Monday, April 4, 2011

Continuing our series of Monday blogs on the future of the Pathfinder Society, today let’s talk about the campaign documents that outline the rules of the campaign.

The Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play has seen several incarnations since the campaign began in summer 2008. Currently in version 3.0.2, it has grown to a dense, 38-page PDF including the basics for players, GMs, and coordinators, as well as many explanations and clarifications of rare corner cases. While most of these rules are staying the same, the nature of any campaign is that it evolves. And the current document is simply too unwieldy for us to continually update, re-layout, and re-edit (not to mention print, for all of you following along at home). Today, we’ll be updating the document to version 3.0.3 with a few revisions noted below; this will be the last revision to this document until we release version 4.0 in July.

A few months ago we moved the list of Additional Resources to their own page on the website where we can more easily update them without needing to redo the entire guide every month. This has worked out really well for us, and we plan to keep updating it here. This table of information has been removed from v3.0.3, replaced with instructions to find this information on paizo.com instead.

Additionally, we replaced the old replay rules section on page 18 with the new rule implemented on the messageboards in October outlining the 1:1 player/GM credit rule. We’ve clarified the Play! Play! Play! rule on page 17 to try to eliminate the misconception that the rule should negate every other rule in the book, while maintaining its intent of encouraging people to find creative solutions in order not to have to turn people away. Finally, we clarified a rule that was incorrectly interpreted in past versions of the guide regarding animal companions with Intelligence scores of 3 or higher (page 20).

So what’s in store for campaign documentation in the future? Great things!

In July, we’ll release not one but three new campaign documents, each with a different target audience. The first will be a 4-page introduction to the campaign with only the basic overview of the campaign and how someone can get started right away. This will be aimed at people new to the campaign who wander up at a game store or convention and just need the bare minimum to get started right then and there. We’ll also have a longer, more detailed version of the player’s campaign guide with extended information on additional options and explanations of factions, traits, day jobs, spending Prestige, and so on. The third book will be a GM- and coordinator-oriented information about creating sessions, reporting, and other organizational elements of the campaign.

Many of the specific corner cases and campaign specific rules that don’t really belong in something everyone’s expected to download and print before participating in the campaign will be moved to an online FAQ instead. This will allow us to more quickly address rules clarifications in a single, easy-to-find location instead of continually bloating the PDF campaign documents. We will have the FAQ up and full of information by the time Season 3 kicks off, and maybe even sooner if the deadline gods smile upon us.

Check back here next Monday for a glimpse at the first of next season’s 10 factions—the freedom-loving nation of Andoran—and see what changes they’ve brought about in the last three years of dominating Pathfinder Society Organized Play.

Mark Moreland
Developer