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Pathfinder 2E Exploration mode discussion

Emerikol

Adventurer
2. For the OSR people/old timers. Did AD&D 2e have a similar mode? I know it had ten minute turns in combat (as opposed to its one minute rounds), but did it have them out of combat? Was this dropped from the line at some point or am I just misremembering things in my advanced age?
I think it was very much present in old versions of D&D like 1e. The DM did more of the heavy lifting on details but it worked.

I was going through B/X the other day and realized just how much that game influenced some of the DM things I do. For example, the idea of a caller and a mapper. That as very true of my games and those terms were used though we nicknamed the caller the menial decision maker.
 

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!DWolf

Adventurer
So last session of my PF2e game, the party arrived in the city of Kalabuto… which has no city map anywhere. So, based on the single picture of Kalabuto I could find, I made one (attached). The transition from traveling overland to exploring the city was incredibly smooth as I was able to just put down the city map, put the character’s minis on it, and start the exploration. The session was a blast as they began to try and unravel the mysteries of Kalabuto (we’re playing a mashup of Carrion Hill, Cult of The Reptile God, and Dawn of the Scarlet Sun), though in retrospect, I don’t think that I conveyed to some the players just how populated Kalabuto was; they kept expecting people to know everyone else in town and getting confused when they didn’t. For the next session I am going to be sure to emphasis the number of people in the district descriptions.

I am also going to implement a simple factional activity system (in preparation for a more detailed scenario later in which multiple factions will be competing to explore a lost city). I included it as well though it is more of a sketch at this point.

Finally, with the release of Bestiary 3 and the troop template… I rebuilt some of the expedition’s NPC to interact with the system. Basically, I built the expedition as a troop with the minion trait, and some of the followers the characters acquire through the Leadership subsystem can add abilities to the troop. For example: the medic gives the troop the ability to heal themselves, the lieutenant gives the troop actions even when the PC leader doesn’t, and the bomber alchemist allows bomb volleys once per day.
 

Attachments

  • Kalabuto 1.png
    Kalabuto 1.png
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  • Activity System.pdf
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!DWolf

Adventurer
I think it was very much present in old versions of D&D like 1e. The DM did more of the heavy lifting on details but it worked.
I know it was present in earlier editions - but as far as I can determine it was removed in 2e proper (but I just have the phb) - except some adventures still use them? So is it in the dmg somewhere? Or is it just a holdover from earlier editions that got included due to edition bleed over?
I was going through B/X the other day and realized just how much that game influenced some of the DM things I do. For example, the idea of a caller and a mapper. That as very true of my games and those terms were used though we nicknamed the caller the menial decision maker.
What I wonder is how much of our fun with games, such as pathfinder 2e, is based on what we have played before? For example: people read encounters in adventure paths very differently. I remember older adventures in which an encounter was a room description, a creature section with a couple of monster stat lines, and then maybe a treasure listing and you had to provide everything else yourself. The adventure would have four cult guards in a muddy chamber with no treasure and you had to figure out: how can the PCs detect them before they reach them (are they talking among themselves? patrolling every half an hour and leaving tracks? asleep and snoring from sitting in a dark guard station so long?) and what do they know about the environment around them (additional dungeon rooms/monsters/treasure locations), etc.

Nowdays a lot more of that is provided (at least in pathfinder): but I notice that many people tend to strip out everything but the creature and environment description when they read it then run it as a straight combat and I wonder if they are throwing these things away because without the experience of having to add things they don’t understand the value of having it done for you?

Likewise, because I have experience with morale systems, do I read statements in modules like “They fight until destroyed,” differently than other GMs without that experience? To me it reads as a description of the creatures morale, but a lot of people seem to read it as a mandate of how the encounter should go: it can’t be anything other than a fight to the death no matter what the action of the PCs.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
I am also going to implement a simple factional activity system (in preparation for a more detailed scenario later in which multiple factions will be competing to explore a lost city). I included it as well though it is more of a sketch at this point.
This looks like a kind of wandering encounter generator. Are you also considering something to generate long term effects?

A couple of existing systems come to mind for example: faction clocks (Blades in the Dark) and the faction subsystem in Stars/Worlds Without Number. Of the two, faction clocks are simpler (and map nicely onto the VP subsystem), but the faction subsystem in WWN is more sandboxy and likely a better source of unexpected events and interaction between factions.

I’m only familiar with Scum and Villainy, but I assume it works the same in most Forged by the Dark games. In that system, every faction has a tier and a status (with the PCs). Status represents the party’s relationship with the faction and is affected by doing jobs for them. Factions have goals, which are tracked by progress clocks. During downtime, the GM makes a fortune roll to see how factions progress on their clocks. As they gain segments, that should effect the world in ways that are reflected that back in the fiction.

Factions in WWN have attributes and assets. At regular intervals (about once per in-game month), the GM goes faction by faction and has them take a turn. On their turn, they get treasure and can attack, move, or do things with their assets. Certain interactions require rolls, which is where the unexpected outcomes can happen (e.g., an attempt to infiltrate can fail, or an attack might go better and destroy an asset sooner than expected). The result of their actions should then be reflected back in the world.
 

!DWolf

Adventurer
This looks like a kind of wandering encounter generator. Are you also considering something to generate long term effects?

A couple of existing systems come to mind for example: faction clocks (Blades in the Dark) and the faction subsystem in Stars/Worlds Without Number. Of the two, faction clocks are simpler (and map nicely onto the VP subsystem), but the faction subsystem in WWN is more sandboxy and likely a better source of unexpected events and interaction between factions.
In Kalabuto there is only one long term effect that I’m worried about: Delay - how long is each faction stuck in the city (tracked in half-days). So I have a very simple system where each action against the faction increases the delay by 0.5 days (which of course further increases the possibility of more delays - and the players can mitigate this for their own faction by taking actions).

Looking further into the future - the exploration and conquest of a lost city, there is a bare-bones system presented in the module I’m adapting from but I don’t like it much so I am planning on using a modified version of the Leadership subsystem (which I am already using) coupled with the Company System from REIGN (basically leadership provides four of the Company stats, while the morale system provides the last one). Even though the dice mechanics are different I like the system because it very organically couples PC actions to faction results, allows multiple faction actions in short periods of time, is very organic and easy to use, and I can use it in my upcoming Legacy of Fire inspired game for small to medium scale mercenary companies and kingdom building/management.

That being said, I read the WWN system you recommended and I absolutely love it. Especially the actions through assets. But it seems much better at larger scales and timeframes than what I need. I wish I had a game I could incorporate it into though because it looks fantastic. It would have been absolutely perfect for the nation level political stuff towards the end of my kingmaker game.
Each company has five stats: Might, Influence, Treasure, Territory, and Sovereignty which are measured in numbers of ten sided dice. They also have assets that add additional dice for certain actions. Actions are resolved by taking a pool comprised of two attributes appropriate to an action, along with any modifiers for assets or PC actions and then rolling the dice pool and looking for matches - the higher the number and/or the more dice that match the better. Some rolls may have a set difficulty and others might be opposed by enemy actions. Turns are a month by default, but there is no limit the number of actions can be taken in a turn except that each time you use an attribute it’s value temporarily decreases by one.
 

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