Tag Archives: Pathfinder Second Edition

Can We Improve RPG Leveling Systems?

Look at me, killing monsters for wealth and XP! Experience points (Exp or XP) are a great reward for players and a fun part of the game (it’s all fun though, right?). But do they really do their job? Can we build better RPG leveling systems that include roleplaying?

Void Dragonborn

Leveling up with XP is a staple of the genre and games like D&D and Pathfinder would lose much of their playability without it. Imagine being level 1, forever!  Each new level gives you more options and lets you fight bigger monsters and face more dangerous challenges. But has anything really changed for your character? Hasn’t the bar just moved? Has the character’s experience of the world really changed them at all?

Before I sound too much like a jaded grognard, I’m not saying that the system’s broken. It doesn’t need fixing. But what if the system incorporated character development? What if your character didn’t just become more powerful, but their outlook changed and they grew in their understanding of the world?

The Mouse Guard RPG and Marvel Heroic Roleplay both tie mechanics to your character’s goals, and I’ll bet there are a ton of other systems that do too. How does it work? Basically, you gain some penalty or bonus (or both) when your character’s goal or flaw comes into play. These goals or flaws often change at the end of a session or when you level up your character.

In D&D, we have ideals, bonds, and flaws, but they’re not linked to level progression. With One D&D recently announced, are we likely to see that change? What might an ideals-based leveling system look like?

An Ideals-Based RPG Leveling Systems

Instead of (or in conjunction with) using inspiration in your D&D games, players earn experience points when they play to or against their ideals. You can award XP according to four tiers linked to the XP Thresholds by Character Level table in the Dungeon Master’s Guide (Chapter 3). For example, a minor use of an ideal, for a 6th level character, you might only award 300 XP. Going against their ideal that causes major consequences might, in contrast, be worth 1,400 XP to the same character.

This XP is awarded only at the end of the session, and could be divided between the players to ensure nobody is too many levels ahead of the rest. In essence, while one character might have had a significant moment of personal growth (or regression), their whole party is affected and learns from it.

This isn’t rocket science, so I’ll be surprised if GMs aren’t already doing something similar. Let me know.

RPG Blog Carnival

A big “thank you” to Adventures to Authenticity for hosting this month’s RPG Blog Carnival. This month’s topic is “Character Development”,  so head on over there to see all the great articles submitted by the community.

Camp Karate Goes Copper

Camp Karate, our game of hot-blooded dramatic roleplay, is now a copper seller on Drive Thru RPG. To celebrate, we’ve got a special discount link for you, so you can join in the action. Haya!

Camp Karate RPG

5e Madness Cards for Home Printing

We’ve added a PDF version of our Madness Cards for 5e to Drive Thru RPG, so you can print them at home. We still think the POD option is better, but here’s a discount link if you want the PDF.

Madness Cards Set
Just look at the prettiness! You get two sets of the cards in a nice tuck box if you order the POD version.

That’s all from me for today, have an amazing weekend.

Rodney

Fun for One RPG Blog Carnival Roundup

Trumpets. Red carpets. Fireworks. It’s an auspicious occasion! Not only is it Rising Phoenix Games’ birthday (yay!), but it’s also time for the December RPG Blog Carnival roundup, just as we ring in the new year! Here’s a look back at December 2021, where our topic was “Fun for One”.

rpg blog carnival logo

Gaming is Good for your Brain

Kim Frandsen of Beyond the Horizon Games, who should be no stranger to regular readers, provided insights into how game designers gain inspiration from their experiences, including their experiences of other people. This includes gaming, which he says is good for you — and that’s something we certainly agree with.

Read the full article on Beyond the Horizon

The GM is the Real Star of the Show

Antony Brotherton of Dragons Keep Roleplay Club talked about that one player we can’t do without, the GM. Antony offers five great tips for new GMs, but experienced GMs will surely be taking notes and nodding their heads too.

Read the full article on Dragons Keep Roleplay Club

DriveThruRPG.com

So You Want to Solo Pathfinder 2e?

Here at Rising Phoenix Games we looked at getting into solo games of Pathfinder Second Edition. I’m sure it’s a topic we’ll be revisiting throughout 2022 and beyond.

Read the full article, right here

Fun for One — Final Thoughts

Tabletop roleplaying games are a unique beast, and Game Masters, players, and RPG designers are faced with many unique challenges in their quest to deliver the most entertaining and meaningful gaming experience possible. The key though is that everyone adds their bit to the mix, so the whole is always better than its parts. And, when everything comes together, it’s an amazing experience that is unique to tabletop roleplaying.

So here’s to 2022 and all the adventures we’ll have, the hardships we’ll overcome, and the tales we’ll have to tell.

Game on!


Let’s Go Solo with Pathfinder 2e — A Quickstart

There are loads of reasons to play RPGs alone, from avoiding the plague to testing out homebrew rules, or just for the fun of focusing on a single hero’s story. These days, there’s a huge number of tools and adventures for the solo player. We’re going to look at some of the intricacies of roleplaying solo with Pathfinder 2e.

December is Fun for One!

No, I’m not being a Grinch. I mean that the RPG Blog Carnival is parked here this month, and we’re talking Fun for One. That can mean all sorts of things, not just about solo gaming specifically. Go check out the host page, and be sure to check the comments for more posts on the topic. You can even add your own, so why not join us?

rpg blog carnival logo

Now, back to going solo with Pathfinder 2e.

The Core Appeal of Solo Play

Playing a game alone is usually fun for very different reasons that make a group game fun.

Solo games can present a puzzle for you, and you alone, to solve. In this sense, every combat encounter becomes a puzzle: how do I defeat the enemy without losing too many resources (Hit Points are one resource, after all).

Solo TTRPGs are very introspective, and you can enjoy the time alone with the character and their story in a uniquely intimate way. I love writing stories for exactly the same reason, and it’s probably why solo adventures intrigue me.

You might enjoy your solo experiences in other ways too, and here’s the point: understand that solo play is fun for a different reason and play your game to maximize that experience.

Solo Pathfinder 2e Encounters

Let’s take encounters and think about them as puzzles some more. How do we get more of a tactical challenge from encounters, if we’re a solo player?

XP Budget and Character Adjustment

In a solo game, the XP Budget is the Character Adjustment. See XP Budget, in the Game Mastering chapter of the Pathfinder Second Edition Core Rulebook. In other words:

XP Budget for Solo Play
Trivial – 10 XP or less
Low – 15 XP
Moderate – 20 XP
Severe – 30 XP
Extreme – 40 XP

This XP Budget limits what you can throw at your hero, especially if your hero is 1st or 2nd level. You might consider playing a 3rd level character right out the gate to make up for this. Otherwise, you’ll be serving up Moderate to Extreme encounters until you gain a level.

Random Monsters and Generated Dungeons

Completely random tables aren’t going to provide good synergies for building meaningful encounters. Instead, take a look at the maps, map tiles, and monster miniatures you have. What interesting combinations can you build from those?

I’ve already spoken here about building dungeons as a way to invent encounters,  where you put yourself in the role of Dungeon Keeper, using tiles and dungeon scenery as a toy to inspire you.

If you still want to randomize parts of the encounter, then create short, D4 or D6-based lists that let you swap out a few elements of terrain or change up some of the monsters in the encounter. You might have a table for environmental factors, like the level of lightning and if the ground is slippery or not.

Help and Healing

Before you jump into playing the game, decide how deadly you want your game to be. Do you need to keep an NPC handy to cast stabilize, or will you have a magical item that casts raise dead on you whenever you die, up to three times? Will monsters kill your hero if you’re defeated, or will they attempt to heal your hero and keep you as their captive?  

DriveThruRPG.com

Wanna be a Great GM? Get an Education!

So, you want to impress the boys at your local with your masterful storytelling? Figure you’ll show the ladies a good time with dice and an epic quest? Looking to put “Professional GM” on your CV? Well then, if you want to be a great GM (or DM, or Storyteller), then you need to get an education.

What kind of education? I’m not talking about school — stay in school kids — I’m talking about life experiences.

Cruel Trinkets of the Mad Gods

Why?

Rules are great. Acting skills are useful. Improv skills are even better. Knowing and understanding all the tools available to you, that’s the road to being really great.

But all of this isn’t very useful without some real experiences. Some fuel for the creative fire.

Go ride a horse. Practice martial arts. Write with a quill pen. Hike up a mountain. Go camping. Gut a fish. Travel.

Real experiences always beat book learning. What you’ve lived through becomes a part of you in a way clinical understanding never can.

Have you ever noticed that many writers, those brave souls who battle with pen and paper their whole lives, struggle to sell a good novel, while non-writers (usually sportspeople and explorers) seem to create best-selling books without much effort? There are exceptions, but I’ll bet that the key ingredient here is substance. Those with real experiences have something meaty to offer.

A poorly-researched example, as Exhibit A: Stephen King cited being hit by a car as inspiration for many of his books. I’m not sure which, but my Google-fu tells me it’s a bunch. Sorry, Stephen, you’re free to pipe up in the comments.

Your experiences are beautiful pigments for painting truly memorable images at the table. Your fantasy games will be so much more real when you embellish them with realistic details drawn from your experiences.

So look, listen, and learn. I promise it’ll be worth it.

Thanks to The Five Foot Square for hosting this month’s RPG Blog Carnival. Do go check them out and join in the fun.

While you’re here, please check out our store or our Drive-Thru RPG page. We have loads of publications for D&D 5e, Pathfinder, and unique systems we know you’ll love.

Why You Absolutely Must Play Pathfinder 2nd Ed.

Pathfinder Second Edition has been around for a while now, and if you’re still finding excuses not to try out the system then let me tell you why you absolutely must play Pathfinder Second Edition.

Pathfinder Second Edition
Image credit: Yuri_b

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 was a great system. The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (good old 1st ed) was also a great system, which built on 3.5, streamlining some of the clunkier rules. Something then happened in the D&D world that might be better left forgotten, but then came Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, another amazing system. Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition marked a renaissance for the hobby and became immensely popular.

Then came Pathfinder Second Edition, which might not have become the smash hit D&D 5e is, but does have the benefit of all these systems that came before it.

Which is why you need to give it an honest go.

If you’re serious about your TTRPG hobby (you probably shouldn’t be too serious though, it’s just a hobby), then you owe it to yourself to see what Pathfinder Second Edition has to offer with its new take on fantasy roleplaying and D20 systems in particular.

Steal Like a GM

Great gamemasters steal ideas all the time, and because Pathfinder Second Edition evolved out of so many other, solid D20 systems it has a lot to offer in terms of new mechanics, reworked rules, and fresh perspectives. You might find something you want to adapt for your own game, even if you’re sticking with 5e. There are plenty of resources on the Internet for converting PF2 to 5e, which will give you pointers on how to tackle your thefts. (Don’t actually steal something folks. I’m talking about grabbing inspiration and making it your own.)

Ultimately, PF2 has a lot to offer players who like fiddly-bits in their games. While 5e is great in general, the level of abstraction in the system can get frustrating, while Pathfinder Second Edition offers many more dials and switches to tweak. If you’ve never tried Pathfinder, then go see what all those dials and switches can do for you.

You can find Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Fifth Edition books in our store.


RPG Leveling is Broken — Why Levels Suck

RPG leveling is broken. And yes, I’m looking at you, Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder 1 and 2.

First off, thank you to Plastic Polyhedra for hosting this month’s RPG Blog Carnival, to which this topic relates.

RPG Levelling is Broken
Image by Esteban Sayhueque

The Problem with Levels

Here’s my gripe:

In real life, but even more importantly, in stories, characters grow in ways that have nothing to do with their skills and abilities. Think of most comic book heroes. They generally have a set of skills that don’t improve during the course of their adventures, though they might get better control over their powers over time. There’s not much story in abilities. Rather, characters face personal challenges that grow their personality… their character.

Now, I get that gaining power is fun, but it’s false fun. Gaining an extra attack, just because I’ve reached level 5, doesn’t make my character stand out from other barbarians. Reaching level 15, just so I can kill level 15 monsters, isn’t real growth, it’s just gated content. Bilbo didn’t gain a new feat that enabled him to sneak past Smaug. He had a magical ring for that!

Character Building is not a GM’s Prerogative

The GM can offer chances for a player’s character to grow, but ultimately that isn’t the GM’s job. The GM’s job is to stoke the fires of the furnace that will forge the character’s character, and the player’s the blacksmith.

But the mechanics can help.

A Few Solutions

Leveling up in D&D or Pathfinder type games could, with a few rules tweaks, be more meaningful. We won’t even throw out the core rules, I promise.

Your character should change in a meaningful way during their adventures, such as gaining new flaws, changing alignment, become more set in their current alignment, developing a new phobia, or seeking to accomplish new goals.

A ton of RPG systems already implement mechanics for these. The Mouse Guard RPG and Cortex both used a system similar to 5e’s flaws, ideals, and bonds, but they change very frequently and are linked to how you gain experience. This isn’t a new idea.

Encourage your players to play to their flaws, ideals, and bonds, or to hooks linked to their alignment, and offer them experience for doing so. How much you offer them is your dial; turn up the roleplay by offering more, or turn it down and focus on traditional advancement by offering less. Then, when a character levels up, force them to refine their flaws, ideals, and bonds, or add new ones. Encourage them to be specific.

Get your players more connected to their character’s story, because feat or skill choices aren’t meaningful decisions.

Image by Ubergank

The Grimdark Pamphlet

The Grimdark Pamphlet offers new ideas and rules for taking your Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition game to darker places, where your choices matter and death is a real threat. We update the book from time to time with new rules, so your once-off purchase gets you a growing repository of rules and GMing advice. It also includes information on joining our playtest.

Grimdark Pamphlet Cover

Till next time, Be The Hero!