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Subject: Differences from PACG? rss

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The Hound
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Hi all,

This is sorely tempting, despite the silly price (and please let's not debate the price here). 2 questions, though:

1. How different is this really from the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game? Despite the addition of plot points and a bit more character customization, the basic game seems the same. Looking at the rules I can see that while they've changed the terms, the mechanics seem the same(e.g. timing cards are no longer blessings, but they're still timing cards) How much added value is this really going to give me over a complete set of the first season of PACG?

2. Is it still going to be 80%-cornering-villains-style missions? To me, this is the big one. Personally I'd like to see an even mix of several different types of missions, with the standard "cornering" missions as only 1 in 5.


EDIT: Are there any real gameplay vids out there? All I see are the gameplay element conversationy ones.



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Jason Brown
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This is from Liz Spain, who is answering questions throughout this forum

voodoobunny wrote:
There's a bunch of mechanical tweaks throughout, but here's three big changes from PACG:

1. Character growth is completely different. Instead of checking boxes on your character card, memory Fragments you earn from successfully completing scenarios get added to a 9-pocket sleeve sheet around your character. The Fragments add more dice to your rolls, and also give you new powers. In between sessions, you can rearrange your Fragments to change which stats get bonuses. Also, death isn't the hindrance it used to be.

2. Players have an easier time boosting each other. Characters can give their neighbors dice bonuses based on their character Virtues and Fragment position. For example, if your character has the Rage virtue on the left side of their character card, you can give a die bonus to Rage checks to the character to your left.

3. You can run the game with a GM. For obvious reasons, there isn't a tabletop RPG mode of the Pathfinder ACG. However, Apocrypha can be played with a game master at the helm, who controls the setup of the cards, can add checks and new power templates to encounters, and provides story bits throughout the game. If your GM is out narwhal hunting one week, you can just flip over to playing a session the GM-less way.


And your second question:

voodoobunny wrote:

But to give you some idea, here are examples of mission concepts we have that break the mold:

1. Rescue survivors trapped in collapsing locations
2. Infiltrate a cult to steal a sacred artifact
3. Siege a fortified stronghold
4. Escort a hostage out of a dangerous zone


1. Is about exploring quickly and carefully, without triggering a collapse. Not combat.
2. Try to stealth or charm your way through. If that fails and you resort to combat, everything goes to hell in a hand basket.
3. All combat, all the time. But nothing moves and you can choose to recuperate before engaging the siege again.
4. Avoid combat if possible, otherwise take down the monster without getting the hostage hurt.


Unfortunately, there's no Watch It Played or Off The Shelf type playthrough videos, just the snippets on the campaign page. There's supposed to be a total of 9 coming out.
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Throknor
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The one difference that I find big but seems to slip past uncommented is the dice. In Pathfinder Adventure Card Game the checks range from 2-50+ and are beaten using multiple d4s-d12s with multiple pluses. While based on the RPG this is forces linear passage and makes it hard to start new characters late. It also can make the final battle, or even some individual checks, anti-climatic as skilled players can game it to roll twenty dice with +10 or higher. This is why the Veteran key word exists [add the path number to the difficulty], and why you remove Basic/Elite cards later. It also introduces power-envy which gets players to use resources on items marginally better instead of saving for the goal.

In Apocrypha Adventure Card Game so far all checks I've seen have ranged 6-15. While there seem to be ways to easily get 8 or 9 dice (all d6s) you can only use three of them for the actual check. It looks like this single change will make it plausible to play the chapters in any order. There would not be a need to balance a chapter thinking 'What range of rolls would be possible?' It also means new characters can be nearly as effective as existing characters, and existing characters could reasonably move between campaigns relatively easily.*

Granted, I'm just going off what I've seen in videos and the rules. But I've been in a group that went through all of Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords – Base Set and is in the middle of Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Skull & Shackles Adventure Deck 5 – The Price of Infamy, and gaming the dice is just something you have do.

* One caveat: while the videos and rules mention how to determine how many of each card type a character will start with, I haven't really gotten whether this is random every game or they keep a deck between. This could influence moving between campaigns; hopefully a video or comment will clear that up.
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The Hound
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Hmmm....tis worse than I thought. Let me get this straight:


1. Character upgrades are different (as I mentioned).

2. It's easier to boost other characters (frankly, who cares).

3. You can run this with a GM (when a main feature of PACG is that you can run it without a GM).

4. The dice rolling allows for seamless entry of new characters (when the second primary feature of PACG is leveling).


Still sorely tempted, but this is not helping

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Liz Spain
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Throknor wrote:


* One caveat: while the videos and rules mention how to determine how many of each card type a character will start with, I haven't really gotten whether this is random every game or they keep a deck between. This could influence moving between campaigns; hopefully a video or comment will clear that up.


Pretty astute on all counts, Throknor. The change to a non-d20-based system for Apocrypha allows us the flexibility to create a non-linear campaign system.

As for the character decks, they work pretty much the same as they do in PACG. Starting characters can choose their decks from Basic gifts (boons) and replace those cards with ones acquired during missions. Over time, a character's deck grows and changes.

The gifts are less incremental, though. Given the non-linear nature of the campaign and the modern horror setting, Apocrypha is less about hitting bigger things with bigger swords. It's more about having the right tool for the right job, which means characters that go through a lot of missions will see their character decks cycling gifts out more often. (What is good for the Fae gander probably won't do much for the Golem goose, for example.)
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Mike Waleke
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The Hound wrote:


Hmmm....tis worse than I thought. Let me get this straight:


1. Character upgrades are different (as I mentioned).

2. It's easier to boost other characters (frankly, who cares).

3. You can run this with a GM (when a main feature of PACG is that you can run it without a GM).

4. The dice rolling allows for seamless entry of new characters (when the second primary feature of PACG is leveling).


Still sorely tempted, but this is not helping



2. not just easier it also has more consequences such as boosts and/or shared damage, if you don't play solo or play solo with multiple characters you might care.

3 I think you are misunderstanding the difference in PACG you can't run it with a GM only gmless. In Apocrypha the "default state" is gmless, but you also have the option of using a GM.

4. There is "leveling" in the form of memory fragments and such, but because each fragment makes you more powerful as well as slightly more unstable (the horrible things I have remembered :Shudder: ). It is possible for a new character to just jump right in, and sure the more experienced characters will get to roll more dice for a check, but it is still possible that a new character beats a check.
 
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Liz Spain
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The Hound wrote:
Hi all,

This is sorely tempting, despite the silly price (and please let's not debate the price here). 2 questions, though:

1. How different is this really from the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game? Despite the addition of plot points and a bit more character customization, the basic game seems the same. Looking at the rules I can see that while they've changed the terms, the mechanics seem the same(e.g. timing cards are no longer blessings, but they're still timing cards) How much added value is this really going to give me over a complete set of the first season of PACG?


Since PACG is based on Apocrypha, the bones of the games are the same. If you like PACG, there's a good chance you'll like Apocrypha. Thematically, they are pretty distinct. The mechanics of each game are tuned to the aesthetics of the different settings.

PACG: Characters start out weak and through loot-collection and linear level-gaining, they are able to beat on increasingly tougher baddies. The variance of dice results is high, the potential to "overkill" things is easy to munchkin, but the consequence for failure is high.

Apocrypha: Starting characters gain strength by gaining new powers that give them specializations. These specializations, however, leave the experienced character with new weaknesses that they must overcome with clever play. Loot collection in Apocrypha is more about finding things that will take advantage of something's weaknesses. The variance of dice rolls is lower, it requires a lot more effort to overkill a roll, but if you die in the process, it's not as big of a deal.

PACG is like Pathfinder, where the 1st level wizard will get instantly crushed if he wanders into an adventure for 19th-level characters. Apocrypha is more like the FATE RPG, where the brand new character can run next to experienced characters and contribute to the adventure. The new character won't be as effective, and might need protecting, but they won't be instantly murderfied.

The Hound wrote:


2. Is it still going to be 80%-cornering-villains-style missions? To me, this is the big one. Personally I'd like to see an even mix of several different types of missions, with the standard "cornering" missions as only 1 in 5.



Simply put, no. The design of Rise of the Runelords was simplified down to involve few missions that broke the mold. Those of us on the design team are glad that a major point of player feedback about PACG RotR is that it has too many corner-the-villain missions. They are boring to design.

OTOH, the two subsequent PACG sets have a LOT more mission variants, and the 4th is coming along nicely with lots of fun new mission types.

Apocrypha will continue to play on the edges of the mission design space. We will do our best to prevent it from feeling redundant.
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The Hound
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madmanw wrote:


3 I think you are misunderstanding the difference in PACG you can't run it with a GM only gmless. In Apocrypha the "default state" is gmless, but you also have the option of using a GM.

4. There is "leveling" in the form of memory fragments and such, but because each fragment makes you more powerful as well as slightly more unstable (the horrible things I have remembered :Shudder: ). It is possible for a new character to just jump right in, and sure the more experienced characters will get to roll more dice for a check, but it is still possible that a new character beats a check.




Re 3: No, I got it. My point is that if I want to play Pathfinder with a GM...I'll just play me some Pathfinder. The nice thing about PACG is that it's the Pathfinder/D&D experience without a GM, or just solo. So touting the ability to play Apocrypha with a GM isn't really a thing for me.

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Claudio Hornblower
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The Hound wrote:
Re 3: No, I got it. My point is that if I want to play Pathfinder with a GM...I'll just play me some Pathfinder. The nice thing about PACG is that it's the Pathfinder/D&D experience without a GM, or just solo. So touting the ability to play Apocrypha with a GM isn't really a thing for me.

Sorry I don't follow. You asked for differences from PACG: they told you that Apocrypha can be played with or without a GM.
This is a difference.

To me it's a huge plus (something like playing the old World of Darkness RPG I hope), to you it is not, but nobody forces you to play it with a GM, it'll be still fully playable GM-less exactly like PACG if I understand correctly.
I see no touting, just answering a question.
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Edwin Karat
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The Hound wrote:


Hmmm....tis worse than I thought. Let me get this straight:


1. Character upgrades are different (as I mentioned).

2. It's easier to boost other characters (frankly, who cares).

3. You can run this with a GM (when a main feature of PACG is that you can run it without a GM).

4. The dice rolling allows for seamless entry of new characters (when the second primary feature of PACG is leveling).


Still sorely tempted, but this is not helping



I can sympathize with these points. Abstractly, I see two primary differences that matter to me:

1) Power growth is relatively flatter, as is the difficulty. I can see both pluses and minuses to this. As a plus, it's easier to tune difficulty -- towards the end of the campaign, the PACG checks were either impossible or trivial, depending on whether you were good at that or not. In part, this is due to not having a GM who can tweak difficulties to match the party's strengths and weaknesses. As a negative, it can be fun to gain broken powers or combinations of powers. Taking that away could take away some of the thrill.

2) It's not constrained by the Pathfinder system. That does allow for more variety and more interesting mechanics variations, but we'll have to trust the designers. (I went to school with two of them, so I'm willing to trust them to do something interesting.)

I'm ambivalent about the first point, but the second point is what convinced me to back the project.
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Liz Spain
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karat wrote:


1) Power growth is relatively flatter, as is the difficulty. I can see both pluses and minuses to this. As a plus, it's easier to tune difficulty -- towards the end of the campaign, the PACG checks were either impossible or trivial, depending on whether you were good at that or not. In part, this is due to not having a GM who can tweak difficulties to match the party's strengths and weaknesses. As a negative, it can be fun to gain broken powers or combinations of powers. Taking that away could take away some of the thrill.



From a character growth standpoint, I'm a big fan of the principal of "give the player enough rope to hang themselves." That is, in Apocrypha, new characters are weaker, but less likely to blow themselves up. OTOH, accumulating powerful combos of fragment powers should feel satisfyingly munchkiny -albeit with the consequence that your character is more likely to explode in a blaze of glory.
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Craig Stockwell
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voodoobunny wrote:
From a character growth standpoint, I'm a big fan of the principal of "give the player enough rope to hang themselves." That is, in Apocrypha, new characters are weaker, but less likely to blow themselves up. OTOH, accumulating powerful combos of fragment powers should feel satisfyingly munchkiny -albeit with the consequence that your character is more likely to explode in a blaze of glory.


Didn't some clever designer term it, "What does not kill me makes me stranger"? ^_~
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Well if the GM is out hunting Narwhales she or he probably hates bacon (if you know what I mean.)

Clearly such a GM would be unspeakably evil. How much could an evil GM impact the game? Further, which type of GM (good,evil,neutral) would provide for a more interesting, fun, diabolical, or challenging game?

Is the difficulty/challenge dictated more so by the game mechanics themselves (no cheatsy GMses) or by the GM/GM fiat?

Edit: OK the difficulty of the game appears to be based on the actual module itself per "That is to say, the GMed modules will run the gamut from Mike Selinker to Paul Peterson; AKA quirky-but-friendly to nigh-table-flip-inducing."

I love flipping me some tables! Thanks voodoobunny!
 
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Liz Spain
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OverGauss wrote:
Well if the GM is out hunting Narwhales she or he probably hates bacon (if you know what I mean.)

Clearly such a GM would be unspeakably evil. How much could an evil GM impact the game? Further, which type of GM (good,evil,neutral) would provide for a more interesting, fun, diabolical, or challenging game?

Is the difficulty/challenge dictated more so by the game mechanics themselves (no cheatsy GMses) or by the GM/GM fiat?


If the GM is running a pre-built module by the book, the game will only be as evil as the designer who was in charge of writing that module. That is to say, the GMed modules will run the gamut from Mike Selinker to Paul Peterson; AKA quirky-but-friendly to nigh-table-flip-inducing. With as many RPG designer rock stars as we've got contributing content, I'm excited to see what they come up with.

If your GM is designing their own modules, feel free to withhold GM-coffee-service rights from that person if their mission results in a Total Party Kill. Beyond that, recommended flavor is up to the GM, depending on what the group likes. Apocrypha is ultimately a cooperative game and the GM isn't actively trying to reign victorious over the other players.
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Overgauss .
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Cool deal thanks for your response! Would you please go into more detail on what the role of the GM is when playing by the book? For instance is the GM an active player or more like a referee?

Lastly can you comment on the tweakability/customizableness/sandboxy vs scripted nature of the official modules?

Thanks in advance!
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Liz Spain
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OverGauss wrote:
Cool deal thanks for your response! Would you please go into more detail on what the role of the GM is when playing by the book? For instance is the GM an active player or more like a referee?

Lastly can you comment on the tweakability/customizableness/sandboxy vs scripted nature of the official modules?

Thanks in advance!



We're currently in the process of testing out different module concepts. Some are more like a toolkit with story bits attached --which is *very* tweakable. While on the other end we have a more fully-scripted type of module, with each card sorted and narrative written for the GM to read aloud to the group.

Given the nature of the game, usually with multiple investigable nexuses, things tend to be sandboxy. We're going to test out what sort of modules appeal to folks, and we may end up with a mix of types. We're bound to have GMs of all experience levels diving in to Apocrypha.
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Your comment implies a goal of empowering GMs of all skill types by allowing both a scripted scene for novices, and those that otherwise prefer a script to follow, as well as a toolkit of sufficient sophistication to allow a GM the ability to get down into the axle grease and craft a more open world experience.

I must say when you succeed in doing both of these things gamers will rejoice! You have the talent on hand and 2016 can not come soon enough.

With luck this project will be as important to RPGs as Magic: The Gathering was to card games.

An RPG in a deck of cards. What a fascinating prospect.
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Edwin Karat
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voodoobunny wrote:
karat wrote:


1) Power growth is relatively flatter, as is the difficulty. I can see both pluses and minuses to this. As a plus, it's easier to tune difficulty -- towards the end of the campaign, the PACG checks were either impossible or trivial, depending on whether you were good at that or not. In part, this is due to not having a GM who can tweak difficulties to match the party's strengths and weaknesses. As a negative, it can be fun to gain broken powers or combinations of powers. Taking that away could take away some of the thrill.



From a character growth standpoint, I'm a big fan of the principal of "give the player enough rope to hang themselves." That is, in Apocrypha, new characters are weaker, but less likely to blow themselves up. OTOH, accumulating powerful combos of fragment powers should feel satisfyingly munchkiny -albeit with the consequence that your character is more likely to explode in a blaze of glory.


Can you explain more about characters blowing themselves up? I usually see character growth as making the character more stable, not unstable. In PACG, adding more cards to your deck meant that you knew that even if you discarded your whole hand, you had enough cards to refill it without dying. On the other hand, increasing your hand size upped the cap on maximum damage you might take. So, you'd want to get more cards in your deck before increasing your hand size.
 
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Liz Spain
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karat wrote:
voodoobunny wrote:
karat wrote:


1) Power growth is relatively flatter, as is the difficulty. I can see both pluses and minuses to this. As a plus, it's easier to tune difficulty -- towards the end of the campaign, the PACG checks were either impossible or trivial, depending on whether you were good at that or not. In part, this is due to not having a GM who can tweak difficulties to match the party's strengths and weaknesses. As a negative, it can be fun to gain broken powers or combinations of powers. Taking that away could take away some of the thrill.



From a character growth standpoint, I'm a big fan of the principal of "give the player enough rope to hang themselves." That is, in Apocrypha, new characters are weaker, but less likely to blow themselves up. OTOH, accumulating powerful combos of fragment powers should feel satisfyingly munchkiny -albeit with the consequence that your character is more likely to explode in a blaze of glory.


Can you explain more about characters blowing themselves up? I usually see character growth as making the character more stable, not unstable. In PACG, adding more cards to your deck meant that you knew that even if you discarded your whole hand, you had enough cards to refill it without dying. On the other hand, increasing your hand size upped the cap on maximum damage you might take. So, you'd want to get more cards in your deck before increasing your hand size.


More experienced characters have more cards, but each additional power either puts a character at greater risk (like a bigger hand size) or adds a major drawback that often involves burying cards or taking damage from unavoidable places (like the top of the deck).
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