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PF2E About Agents of Edgewatch

CapnZapp

Legend
First off, I am aware of this:

Folks, this the latest in a lot of long threads which are proving to be identical. We're already closing some of those down as they have run their curse and are just repeating things over and over. This thread is already doing the same, so I'm closing it.
I made two attempts to find the other threads the moderation message is talking about, but I couldn't find any. Assuming the message wasn't really saying "don't discuss the AP controversy at all" I am starting this thread since I can't find anywhere else to post. (Just wanted to make that clear - I'm not trying to evade moderation. I honestly believe I have something to say which wasn't said before simply because at that time, the module wasn't out.)

Anyway, after having time to actually read through Devil in the Dreaming Palace I gotta say I'm disappointed.

I'm disappointed Paizo really think their response is enough to get them into the clear.
I'm disappointed anyone would find their response going far enough to make things good.

To me it's crystal clear that Pathfinder and D&D is about heroes fighting monsters. Yes, it's also about exploration and social interaction and equipping your character with loot (we'll get back to that shortly) and whatnot... but at the core of the game we have hundreds of pages that support a highly detailed simulation of heroes fighting monsters. Official adventures are combat encounter after combat encounter, with short brief interludes of doing other stuff sprinkled in.

The tl;dr is: if you're uncomfortable with replacing "heroes" with "cop heroes" and "monsters" with "criminal monsters" you should not give Paizo your money and you should skip this AP.

Let me explain:

First off, the module lets me down in my expectation we would get a real sense of time and place. The imagery of the module is all over the place. There's even pictures that could have been taken straight out of Victorian London (complete with genteelfolk in "modern" fashion).

What's the problem with that?

In order to get a handle on what the morality of the place says about expectations on local law enforcement, the fantasy game needs to tell us, or at least hint us in.

If Absalom gave off strong vibes of Ancient Rome, and was awash in details about who upheld the peace in that great old city (I actually don't know, and now I'm curious - during the Republic, wasn't the Senate nervous about soldiers in their city, and kept the legions as far away from the capital as possible? Later there was the Praetorian Guard, but did they bother with the crimes of regular folks? Anyway, I digress). Or, perhaps Tenochtitlan during the 1400s (religious priest cops?), or maybe Khanbaliq during the Yuan Dynasty (barbarian cops trying to understand a foreign civilization), or, for that matter, the capital of the Moon People that just does things differently. I mean, this is a fantasy game, there need to be no direct analog to any one (or three) historical methods of peacekeeping.

But there needs to be something. What we have now is pretty much nothing and everything. Do you play cops that has to comply with a modern protocol? Or is it the Wild West, where the fastest gun is the law? Or what?

And that's the problem, since it makes it easy to project whatever you, the customer, fancies the most.

While I can see why Paizo chose this approach (make the city as generic as possible so as many Paizo fans as possible will want to buy it), in the context of this discussion it creates the situation where you can (too) easily apply modern day morals to your fantasy game. It makes the AP an easy target for people getting upset with the state of law enforcement in the United States of 2020.

If the AP instead had presented an Absalom that (just for the sake of example) was modeled on Ancient Rome, and gave out a load of details on how the peace was kept there, the product would have been so much better for it. Questions like:
  • who do I answer to (as a "beat cop" or its equivalence)? Does my superior give a rat's ass about how I do things, or just that the masses stays quiet?
  • do citizens get to complain at all, and if so, who listens? Maybe "community leaders" can get your ass fired, while the common man is powerless?
  • do I simply get to keep the stuff I "confiscate" from criminals? (Likely not!) But if yes, do my superiors just take my word for it, or can I just rob any citizen and say I took stolen goods?
  • if a citizen is killed during a bust, do I have to answer to someone? (Or am I judge jury and executioner in my ward?)
  • the question of guilt: how do I know my suspect is actually guilty? What amount of force is justified when I'm sure? When I'm not?

Questions questions.

Now, how do Agents of Edgewatch handle these issues? There are two main answers:
a) well enough
and
b) piss poor

If you accept that Pathfinder is about heroes fighting monsters, and you accept that the AP was conceived as hero cops fighting criminals-that-are-monsters, the answer is clearly "well enough". No questions are asked about the actions of law enforcement, because you aren't law enforcement, you're fantasy heroes that are in the right by default. You don't have to worry about bringing in the wrong person, because the AP makes it clear that you're on a story railroad and the guilty are placed in front of you, while the innocents are always safe. You never face moral dilemmas more than any other AP. You never have to face decisions real cops have to face.

If on the other hand you expect the AP to provide tools to tweak the game into something that even remotely resembles actual law enforcement, where questions such as "is this really the right guy" and "how do we take him without getting innocents in the crossfire" are always present, the answer cannot be anything else than "piss poor" and my only recommendation is "stay away".

Why?

Take the question about loot.

Did the AP create a subsystem where you hand in confiscated goods, the goods and tools of bad guys, and get, I don't know, "store credit" to equip your character as you level up?

Nope. The AP hands out specific items just like any other dungeon. It specifically hand-waves the issue by saying, and I quote "The guards’ only actual means of earning liquid cash is by requisitioning possessions and money from any criminals they catch breaking major laws—no trial required." which boils down to "you get to keep the loot, just like always". All questions regarding whether you did right are also handwaved, since, and again a direct quote, "the focus of this Adventure Path is fast-paced action rather than legal paperwork". The text tries to make this about skipping court proceedings. It is completely silent on the actual issue at hand: are you simply assumed to always make the correct decisions regarding loot? Apparently, that's not a question players need to worry about. Just like regular murderhobo heroes don't have to worry about killing monsters and taking their stuff.

What does it say then? It says "All findings are to be meticulously catalogued so as to prevent abuse of power, and any confiscated goods with identifiable owners must be returned." which turns out to have no impact whatsoever, since it means "you get to keep the loot, just like always". Loot is magically separated into two categories "stuff returned to the rightful owner" and "stuff you get to keep". And of course the adventure summary lists only the latter category.

This is just one indicator Paizo is trying to both eat the cake and have it too. One one hand you get to play just like normal, on the other hand, you get to have the moral high ground for free, no extra effort required.

But it gets worse. The free pass to play just like normal (greataxing monsters, fireballing them) hasn't even started yet!

The AP itself rather reasonably says
Because using lethal weapons is the default assumption of Pathfinder’s combat system (which imposes penalties on nonlethal attacks made with lethal weapons), you might consider making a house rule for this campaign that unless otherwise stated, attacks by the player characters are always nonlethal and don’t take the usual penalty when they use nonlethal weapons.
Had that been all, I could have given Paizo a pass. A weak pass, but still, in line what every other fantasy adventure starting with "you apply for a job in the City Watch" has to say.

Sure, it's not enough if you expected actual support for anything else than "cop heroes fighting monster criminals", but it is at least short and inoffensive.

If you go "but if I want a more realistic feel where the choice in how to bring in perps isn't taken away from the players?" you're bound for disappointment. Will you find advice on how to change your character build to make, say, a Barbarian work in a world where lethal force isn't the automatic choice? Will you find a feat that allows spellcasters to cause non-lethal damage with their magic?

No to all these questions. I've heard forumists speculate in the AP enabling "merciful attacks" (a magical weapon property and a metamagic effect in PF1, respectively, that turns lethal damage into non-lethal damage) but no. There are a small selection of nonlethal options, but all of them suffer the problem of being far weaker from a minmax option. There are no non-lethal options that allow the Barbarian to keep making d12 attacks at no penalty. There are no options for the spellcaster, period. There is no attempt to rebalance the Barbarian against the Bard, to speak plainly. (Some warriors can thrive using the non-lethal options presented, but the Barbarian - created to wield two-handed big-dice damage weapons - cannot. And the Bard, being built with the expectation that social - peaceful! - interaction is only a small part of the game, becomes a no-brainer minmax choice in any campaign that frowns upon just killing foes).

There's even one option that even I (that aren't personally up in arms about modern day law enforcement) can see is so very very misguided. They offer nightsticks as a nonlethal option, as a . It's impossible to not ask "WHAT WERE THEY THINKING" when you realize that the imagery of cops beating suspects into unconsciousness using nightsticks is presented fully non-ironically as a reasonable option. I quote: "nightsticks
are designed to subdue foes without causing permanent injury." Yes, they really say that.

Now to put that into perspective. Since we're playing a game of pretend, where no actual monsters (human or otherwise) get hurt, but where monsters die by the score, and every level 20 hero has left behind a trail of corpses a mile long, nightsticks does come off as merciful.

So again, the question becomes: Can you play the game without drawing parallells to current events? If "yes", then okay. If "no", you should simply not give Paizo any money.

The final piece of the puzzle is the added layer of official rulings in the Player's Guide.

There it says that basically heroes can't cause lethal damage, period. It basically allows players to play heroes fighting monsters, and hero cops fighting monster criminals specifically, but magically nobody gets hurt.

It feels deeply illogical and insincere to expect people to just playing the game normally, except magically nobody ever gets hurt, as if that's going to solve anything. And I hope I have shown why this is so lazy compared to having a fantasy adventure that gives real insight into what morals are in place in this fantasy city, and what is expected from fantasy city watch members, AND how to tweak the game's character options so that these remain reasonably balanced against each other.

In conclusion, the only way to not be incredibly disappointed by this is to go into Agents of Edgewatch with open eyes: this is just like any other AP except you're in uniform. You still take names, you still fight monsters, you still keep their loot. Nothing changes.

It is in no way a module to support playing fantasy cops, and I fully acknowledge how it comes off as outright reprehensible for anyone unable to separate your fantasy gaming from parallels to modern day events. Don't be fooled by Paizo's attempts to salvage the situation. I see nothing else than a panicky attempt to salvage sales.


Zapp
 
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ccs

40th lv DM
Sound like they need to apologize more for crappy writing than anything else.

As for how to adjust your characters to an effective non-lethal approach? I fail to imagine that PF players - who often display amazing degrees of system mastery - can't figure that out. I suspect that it's not that they can't, but won't.
 

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
Let me explain:

If you accept that Pathfinder is about heroes fighting monsters, and you accept that the AP was conceived as hero cops fighting criminals-that-are-monsters, the answer is clearly "well enough". No questions are asked about the actions of law enforcement, because you aren't law enforcement, you're fantasy heroes that are in the right by default. You don't have to worry about bringing in the wrong person, because the AP makes it clear that you're on a story railroad and the guilty are placed in front of you, while the innocents are always safe. You never face moral dilemmas more than any other AP. You never have to face decisions real cops have to face.
Not disagreeing with you, and as a fan of Paizo’s AP, Paizo is especially poorly placed to deal with these issues.

The best Paizo APs have raised some pretty interesting moral questions, with Evil NPCs that the players could work with (and occasionally redeem). In the past, Paizo has touted its horn as being more mature, realistic and gritty than D&D (which I would broadly agree with).

All those things work against Paizo when the AP mirrors current events a little too closely.
 

Retreater

Legend
I'm still running their first AP, "Age of Ashes." "Extinction Curse" did not appeal to me because of the circus theme - my games tend to get silly enough on their own. When Paizo released their statement about "Agents of Edgewatch," I sent it to a couple of my players and talked it over with my fiancée (who also plays in the game), and after some initial awkward chuckles about how inappropriate they felt it is to play this game in these times, they quickly shot down the idea.
I suppose after "Age of Ashes" we might go to "Aegis of Empires" which I just preordered. Granted, we are playing on Roll20, and having an official module release on there would save me a LOT of time (converting "Age of Ashes" to VTT has been a massive undertaking). But it's more important for me to deliver a good experience at the gaming table. And I do not think "Agents of Edgewatch" will do that.
Reading your assessment (which I greatly appreciate, BTW), I am disappointed in the Adventure Path. However, I'm not surprised. I would not ever want to run a "town watch" campaign, and I can't imagine a set up that would make the concept appealing to my gaming tastes.
 

dave2008

Legend
It is surprising that they don't have a discussion about the legal system in an adventure about cops and criminals. It also seems like a missed opportunity to add some new rules about social interaction or how to determine criminals or protect innocents from collateral damage.
 

dave2008

Legend
All those things work against Paizo when the AP mirrors current events a little too closely.
But from the sound of it, that is exactly what this adventure needs: "...Evil NPCs that the players could work with (and occasionally redeem). In the past, Paizo has touted its horn as being more mature, realistic and gritty..."

If that is what they are good at, they should have leaned into it here, IMO.
 
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dave2008

Legend
However, I'm not surprised. I would not ever want to run a "town watch" campaign, and I can't imagine a set up that would make the concept appealing to my gaming tastes.
While I generally agree with this sentiment, I have seen enough good anime in this genre to think it could be done well and be interesting and exciting.
 

Retreater

Legend
While I generally agree with this sentiment, I have seen enough good anime in this genre to think it could be done well and be interesting and exciting.
Even though I do not watch anime, I believe you. I can enjoy watching buddy cop movies - they can be entertaining, funny, heartwarming, etc. But the premise of the "town watch" campaign in a TTRPG, just gives me pause for several reasons.
1) Player agency is reduced - they are given jobs, report to a superior officer.
2) You're likely stuck in one town, on one beat, on one shift. You don't get a variety of locations (or combatants), etc.
3) Add to that all the other issues mentioned (lethal force, stealing property from people)

As someone who has come into PF2 about 6 months ago, I really wish that Paizo would have delivered some more "meat and potatoes" Adventure Paths before something like this, which forces artificial constraints on players and is contrary to what most people would want in their fantasy role-playing game (for real, who fantasizes about being a cop and plays D&D/PF?)

Dragons, giants, evil wizards in crumbling towers, invading demons, gothic horror, pirates. These are the things they should be focusing on, since there's next to nothing in official PF2 adventure content (and even less from 3PP). They should forget everything they wrote for PF1 and reset this as if it were a new experience (which it is). So give us something like Runelords, give us something like Kingmaker (which is due out next year for 2E, but that should've been prioritized above this).

Instead we got an Adventure Path equivalent of Tyranny of Dragons in "Age of Ashes" ("sorry, but our writers were learning the system as we designed the campaign, and you're going to have to put in a lot of your own work") and "Extinction Curse" ("if you don't like the ridiculous premise of running a circus throughout your adventuring career, you're just out of luck.")

I am hoping that 3PPs (I guess, only Legendary Games at this point) can carry the weight of good adventure design for Pathfinder 2. This is a surprising thing to say about Paizo, who used to be considered some of the best writers out there for adventure content.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
But the premise of the "town watch" campaign in a TTRPG, just gives me pause for several reasons.
1) Player agency is reduced - they are given jobs, report to a superior officer.
2) You're likely stuck in one town, on one beat, on one shift. You don't get a variety of locations (or combatants), etc.
3) Add to that all the other issues mentioned (lethal force, stealing property from people)
Whatever you might think about issue #3, there is absolutely no reason to think #1 and #2 will be problems.

#1: This is an AP, not a sandbox. Player agency is never a concern, believe me.

#2: Absalom is the campaign setting's biggest city. I haven't seen 5/6th of this AP, but i have no doubt in my mind the variety will be there.
 

dave2008

Legend
Even though I do not watch anime, I believe you. I can enjoy watching buddy cop movies - they can be entertaining, funny, heartwarming, etc. But the premise of the "town watch" campaign in a TTRPG, just gives me pause for several reasons.
1) Player agency is reduced - they are given jobs, report to a superior officer.
2) You're likely stuck in one town, on one beat, on one shift. You don't get a variety of locations (or combatants), etc.
3) Add to that all the other issues mentioned (lethal force, stealing property from people)c
I don't think 1 & 2 are a concern for an AP, rr at least it shouldn't be if written properly. Regarding #3, that is exactly what I would want it to tackle in this AP. That is what I find the most interesting about the anime I was referencing. How do you handle the gray areas of crime and punishment. The ones that do it well are brilliant.

As someone who has come into PF2 about 6 months ago, I really wish that Paizo would have delivered some more "meat and potatoes"
i agree with that. It does seem they are going a bit out of their way to present these APs as different.
 

Porridge

Explorer
An interesting response. A couple thoughts:

I'm disappointed Paizo really think their response is enough to get them into the clear.
I'm not sure why you think Paizo thinks this? They're apologizing and donating part of their proceeds because they know this was a mistake, and are trying to do what they can to mitigate the mistake.

Now, some have suggested that it would be better if Paizo canceled or redid the AP. But the books were already printed a while ago, and Paizo has said that they literally can't afford to cancel the AP, or destroy what they've printed and rewrite it. So they're trying to do the best they can given their financial position. But from what they've said, I don't think anyone at Paizo "think{s} their response is enough to get them into the clear".

First off, the module lets me down in my expectation we would get a real sense of time and place. The imagery of the module is all over the place. There's even pictures that could have been taken straight out of Victorian London (complete with genteelfolk in "modern" fashion).

What's the problem with that?

In order to get a handle on what the morality of the place says about expectations on local law enforcement, the fantasy game needs to tell us, or at least hint us in.

If Absalom gave off strong vibes of Ancient Rome, and was awash in details about who upheld the peace in that great old city (I actually don't know, and now I'm curious - during the Republic, wasn't the Senate nervous about soldiers in their city, and kept the legions as far away from the capital as possible? Later there was the Praetorian Guard, but did they bother with the crimes of regular folks? Anyway, I digress). Or, perhaps Tenochtitlan during the 1400s (religious priest cops?), or maybe Khanbaliq during the Yuan Dynasty (barbarian cops trying to understand a foreign civilization), or, for that matter, the capital of the Moon People that just does things differently. I mean, this is a fantasy game, there need to be no direct analog to any one (or three) historical methods of peacekeeping.

But there needs to be something. What we have now is pretty much nothing and everything. Do you play cops that has to comply with a modern protocol? Or is it the Wild West, where the fastest gun is the law? Or what?
I think this one is actually just an unfortunate consequence of the pandemic. The AP's release was supposed to coincide with the release of "Absalom, City of Lost Omens", which answers the questions you're asking. (I think the idea was that by relegating details about the city to the Absalom sourcebook, they could fit more content into the AP itself.) But Erik Mona is the head writer of the book, and he's been fully occupied dealing with issues that have come up as a result of the pandemic, so the book's been delayed.

They offer nightsticks as a nonlethal option
Yeah, I agree that this was clearly a mistake.

(Somewhat ironic that the one page "nonlethal gear" section was the most tone-deaf part of the book!)

The final piece of the puzzle is the added layer of official rulings in the Player's Guide.

There it says that basically heroes can't cause lethal damage, period. It basically allows players to play heroes fighting monsters, and hero cops fighting monster criminals specifically, but magically nobody gets hurt.
Yeah, I wasn't enthusiastic about this either. I think the original AP's stance on non-lethal options was better (allowing the GM to either (a) use the optional rule of allowing PCs to choose to do non-lethal damage without penalty, or (b) make the avoidance of lethal force a challenge for the players to work round).

Happily, this is trivial to change, since the AP already provides you with these options.

In conclusion, the only way to not be incredibly disappointed by this is to go into Agents of Edgewatch with open eyes: this is just like any other AP except you're in uniform. You still take names, you still fight monsters, you still keep their loot. Nothing changes.
By and large, I think you're right that Paizo was trying to make this AP feel at least somewhat similar to the feel of more standard hack-and-slash APs.

That said, I don't think it's right to say that this is just like any other AP. For example, the percentage of encounters which can be resolved without violence is much, much higher than most APs. And pretty much every encounter with sentient opponents assumes that the party will either de-escalate the situation without resorting to violence or use non-lethal means to subdue them.

(I'll also flag that the those who are uncomfortable with the idea of playing the city watch can also follow the AP's suggestion to play as something like consultants or private investors/detectives. As far as I can tell, the AP should still run pretty smoothly with that substitution.)
 

Kaodi

Adventurer
So... how hard would it be for a DM to, if nothing else, say that no, you do in fact have to choose options that allow you to do nonlethal damage? Like daze, all of monk, and penalties to attack?
 

Rhianni32

Adventurer
I assumed the intent of this AP is adventurers doing adventurer stuff, in a town setting vs dungeon or wilderness, with the flavor text but not restrictive mechanics of being city guards and having a boss. Instead of a noble giving a quest with a reward for adventurers its the captain of the guards. Instead of clearing out the wererats in the city sewers because a merchant pays the party, they are doing it because they are guards. i.e. its just flavor text but the same old same old.

Seems like they tried to delve too far into being city guards with the non lethal force stuff which pretty much breaks most of the rest of the games intent of players killing anything without a name and taking its posessions as their own.
 

Retreater

Legend
If others were wanting this I do understand your frustration. But how is this AP different than any other Paizo or any game company makes? They put out material, a GM reads it and then edits to fit what they want and what their players want.
For me, I don't want to change the entire concept of the Adventure Path. If the designers want the players to be cops, that's what it is. Especially in an Adventure Path, you don't know how little changes might become significant changes as the story progresses, and you end up making more work to fix an issue than just improvising and making up something on your own. (Same thing with that blasted circus AP - I'm not running that one either.)
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
That doesn't sound particularly interesting. I was already turned off by the AP by Paizo deciding to make all damage nonlethal in a fantasy game and making it seem as if any law enforcement that uses lethal force is automatically wrong. It was a ridiculous overreaction by Paizo in a fantasy game made for killing monsters and evil creatures as the primary means of advancement. If they wanted to offer nonlethal alternate rules for that handful of people who can't tell the difference between fiction and reality, then have at it. But this broad assumption that we're all dumb and can't tell the difference between fantasy cops in a world with dragons, demons, and H.P. Lovecraft types of creatures just to name a few is just strange.

If a customer can't tell this is a game for killing monsters and feeling like a fantasy hero, then I don't know that they should be playing this game to begin with. What's going on in the world isn't going to suddenly make fantasy gamers go, "Wait a minute. Maybe I need to be nicer to that orc warlord trying to destroy my village? Maybe there's just a misunderstanding between us." Or "It's time for me to stop judging that demon from The Abyss. Perhaps he's just from a different culture than I am." It's not going to make any more sense if I'm a cop trying to do nonlethal damage to a serial killer who ends up being a demon or a group of cultists engaged in human sacrifice to the Old Gods to destroy the city. I'm not taking them in or pulling my punches if they try to kill my cop character. That's an even worse lesson to teach to try using nonlethal force when someone is using lethal force against you. The module would get even dumber if everyone including the psychotic cultists started using nonlethal force against the police so they can be sensitive to real world issues. I can't even imagine thinking that is a sensible way to handle this AP. Do the monsters use nonlethal force too or is this a one-sided use of nonlethal force? As in the monsters get to kill you, but you somehow magically knock them all out?

It would have been a 100 times better if the AP writers or Paizo public relations had instead gone through each module prior to publishing and flagged encounters where the players should use nonlethal force. Then the DM can cue the players that this is a situation where they should follow the law and take the subjects in alive. And that not only should take in the subjects alive, but are legally obligated to take in the subjects alive. Not only would this have made them feel more like real cops knowing they are expected to follow the law too, but would have fit the game environment much better by letting the players clearly know when they can take off the cop gloves and fight for their lives versus do their job and capture troublemakers in a nonlethal way.

I do this all the time in my games. I clearly let my players know when a situation requires use of nonlethal force and that there are likely legal and reputation repercussions for killing enemies. I cued my players a few times in Extinction Curse when breaking up some brawls. It's a much smarter way to handle the situation than a blanket nonlethal force ruling. That ruling just shows a company overreacting in a way that makes their customer seem dumb. I've handled nonlethal force and sticky situations in towns or civilized areas often. If you cue the players, they handle it even better because they act in a restrained manner and roleplay in a more interesting way. Even in the Age of Ashes AP I've had players take in quite a few enemies to the authorities to ensure the entire party isn't filled with murderous, sociopathic psychotics. Sometimes players get to caught up in the war game aspect of these RPGs wanting to use their combat abilities and forget they're supposed to be characters in a story. I don't like them forgetting that. An overly bloodthirsty party isn't interesting to run.
 

ccs

40th lv DM
For me, I don't want to change the entire concept of the Adventure Path. If the designers want the players to be cops, that's what it is. Especially in an Adventure Path, you don't know how little changes might become significant changes as the story progresses, and you end up making more work to fix an issue than just improvising and making up something on your own. (Same thing with that blasted circus AP - I'm not running that one either.)
I don't know about you, but when I change something in an AP I absolutely know its significance.
Thats because I don't ever run them in real time/as they're being released. If one sounds interesting? I'll pick up the first one or two installments to read though. If I'm still interested I'll get the rest. But the soonest the path will be released is 7 months from initial release. That way I know the whole story, how all the pieces do/dont fit together, & whether there's anything further down stream that i should know about/set up early on.
 

Retreater

Legend
I don't know about you, but when I change something in an AP I absolutely know its significance.
Thats because I don't ever run them in real time/as they're being released. If one sounds interesting? I'll pick up the first one or two installments to read though. If I'm still interested I'll get the rest. But the soonest the path will be released is 7 months from initial release. That way I know the whole story, how all the pieces do/dont fit together, & whether there's anything further down stream that i should know about/set up early on.
Honestly, I don't thoroughly read through all 6 volumes. I'm good to know what's in the immediate book I'm running - MAYBE a bit into the next book. When I had enough time to sift through 600 pages of gaming, I would do this, but then later be disappointed when the campaign ended early into Book 3 - which happened most times.
This is why I try to stick as close to the book as possible. Running it by the book helps cut down my prep time, reviewing months worth of session notes, thinking about what to change from session to session. Which is the whole point of running published adventures anyway.
 

Green Onceler

Explorer
So give us something like Runelords,
Sadly, I don't think we'll ever get an AP like Rise of the Runelords again from the big RPG publishers.

I've just reread the first four books prepping to run a group of newbies through it and I just can't see either Paizo or Wizards wanting to go that dark again given the current gaming milieu.
 

Retreater

Legend
Sadly, I don't think we'll ever get an AP like Rise of the Runelords again from the big RPG publishers.

I've just reread the first four books prepping to run a group of newbies through it and I just can't see either Paizo or Wizards wanting to go that dark again given the current gaming milieu.
It doesn't have to be that dark (or even dark at all). I'm just thinking how that was an epic campaign. Being a circus or cops - not so much. That's stuff to bring out later in an edition's lifecycle. Age of Ashes isn't this way.
I think Paizo is approaching PF2's adventure content with the assumption that they're building on PF1, when instead it's more like a hard reset, content-wise.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
We do not get to know details about what activities are prohibited or restricted in Absalom. We do not any details on how its law enforcement is expected to behave. Every nuance or complexity is hand-waved away. The takeaway seems to be that modern-day morality is in place, which significantly takes away from the fantastical aspect. (I don't mean that rape and murder must be allowed for a fantasy setting to feel different. But not saying anything at all definitely isn't helping) Just pointing to the rulebook description of "lawful alignment", which is essentially all you get to work with here, is no substitute for actual local laws and customs when it comes to fantasy gaming in my opinion.

And the worst part is that none of this matter anyway, since the AP puts you on a roller-coaster where you don't make decisions that matter; you simply follow the trail, help those clearly marked "innocent", and kill and loot those marked "guilty". There's no consequences for making mistakes because there are no wrong turns to make.

Again, you pretty much need to consider this to be just another AP where barbarians and wizards kill monsters and take their stuff. Barbarians and wizards in uniform, but without any meaningful differences from generic (lawful) heroes. If that isn't what you expected, my only recommendation is to keep your money. The only way to tell Paizo you find this effort unsatisfactory is to vote with your wallet. There is nothing here to build on if you want the players experience playing actual cops (city militia, town guards...) to be immersive to any degree. You need to create everything yourself.

On the other hand, if you're already done with Age of Ashes and Extinction Curse, and just need another path of adventures to fill your gaming nights, I guess this isn't any worse than the previous efforts.

It's just that the theme and setting gave hope to something more, that comprehensively isn't there and never was intended to be there.

To get to the point: Paizo imo doesn't deserve the attention from the IRL comparison, since there's nothing there that constitutes actual law enforcement. That's right, the drama isn't only negative, it's positive too - creating buzz along the "all PR is good PR" line that's making people talk about the AP in a way the content just doesn't merit.
 
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