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A Broad Overview of the Season 5 Changes

From: Ryan C. B.
Sent on: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 5:07 PM

Hey all,

So, I don't email like this very often, but its that time of year when the rules, they are a-changin'. So to help guide you through the transition, I thought I'd drop by with a quick summary of what exactly has changed in Season 5. If you want a more in-depth look at what is different, check out this awesome forum thread by Scott Young, VC of Winnipeg. The Lamplighter stuff isn't PFS-wide, but he makes some great observations. Also, fair warning, this is not an exhaustive discussion of the entire Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play version 5.0 changelog. This is just the highlight reel, tagging the big changes. There's lots of little stuff the changelog covers, and you'll want to review the entire document before you show up to play your next session.


The Inventory Track Sheet

First up, you all have probably noticed the new Inventory Track Sheet. The ITS is now mandatory for all characters as of August 14, 2013. You'll also notice a change in how Season 5 chronicles are laid out, and this is part of the new ITS tracking sheet. Whenever you make a purchase before, during, or after an adventure you must list the new item on your Inventory Track Sheet. On the track sheet list the item, the amount you paid for it in either gold or prestige, and the chronicle number on which you wish to purchase it. Then, at the conclusion of the current adventure show the Inventory Track Sheet to the GM and the GM can fill in the amount of gold you spent on item purchases.

With the advent of the ITS, there is now no need for any chronicle to leave the table un-filled; you can now make your purchases on the ITS and reflect that on your next chronicle. GMs, that means there is now no excuse for not filling out the entire chronicle at the session as the Guide directs. At the beginning or the conclusion of a session, pass out the blank, unsigned chronicle sheets. Ask the players to fill in the top information. I also like to ask for starting XP, PP, and gold to save time later. Then, after you fill in the amount of gold, experience, and Prestige earned, pass the chronicle back to the players unsigned for them to complete all the blank fields of the chronicle. After filling in all the blanks on the chronicle, have them pass the Chronicle and their Inventory Track Sheet to you, review their math, and sign off on the Chronicle. I used this for every slot I ran at Gen Con. The whole process for every player takes a solid ten minutes, fifteen if someone dawdles. There are no excuses not to do it right anymore, and if someone cites time they're full of bull plop.


The Core Assumption

Players, you're in luck-ish! The Core Assumption has changed. You are now only required to own the Core Rulebook and bring a copy of Guide 5.0 to the table with you. All other material is entirely optional, the Field Guide has been dropped from the Core Assumption. On the other hand, that means if you have vanities or items from the Field Guide, you need to treat that like you treat any Additional Resource material (see below). Note that Wayfinders have been reprinted in Guide 5.0 as a sidebar; those are still part of the Core Assumption.

GMs, you guys need to be aware that for you there is a larger Core Assumption. GMs are expected to have physical copies of the Bestiary, Bestiary II, Bestiary III, as well as the Ultimate line of books, the Advanced Players' Guide, the Advanced Race Guide, The GameMastery Guide, and the NPC Codex. Fortunately, you don't have to buy all these; if and only if you are a GM, you may use the PRD, found here, to replace any GM's Core Assumption material you do not own. This doesn't mean you should be pulling it up from the PRD on your tablet; print this material in advance if you do not own the relevant physical or digital document and bring it with you. The site you're GMing at may or may not have wifi, you may run out of battery and not have access to a power outlet, the power may fail, or the building may collapse into a sinkhole. In all of those cases but one, you're still going to need that additional resource even without access to the PRD so bring an offline, preferably physical, copy of that resource. Again, the PRD is only available for Gamemasters. Players may not use the PRD as an Additional Resource when building characters!


Additional Resources

The new Guide has really reinforced the requirement that we verify additional resources. With the new requirement that all resources either be a physical copy of the book or else a watermarked printout I can't stress enough how important it is to make sure your additional resources are in order. If you do not have the additional resource, the GM is empowered to disallow the character the use of whatever additional resource they do not have the book/PDF/printout for. I'm going to deviate from the link If a player does not have an acceptable additional resource for their rules item, I strongly encourage GMs to disallow said rules item, if necessary offering the player a pregenerated character. That seems harsh, but if we continue letting this rule slide we only make the problem worse for players who travel to or from our region. Remember, d20PFSRD and Archives of Nethys are not legal additional resources.

As an extension of this, anyone who uses non-Core material also needs to provide either a printed or digital copy of the most recent Additional Resources page from paizo.com to verify the source of their additional resource. Every player should be carrying this; its easy to download the .pdf, the printout is entirely black and white and costs something like $0.30 at a print shop. You can also carry this one digitally if you have a tablet or laptop that you're using. When the GM asks for your additional resources for a feat/spell/prestige class/base class/whatever, provide the Additional Resources document and the relevant source material. The GM will read the rule so they know how your stuff works, and everyone will get back to gaming.


Faction Missions and Prestige

How we gain Prestige has also changed in Season 5. Effective August 14, 2013 faction missions from Season 0-4 are entirely optional and do not grant prestige. Players receive 2 PP for successfully completing Season 0-4 missions. For Season 5 and forward, scenario success conditions now have two tiers. A basic success is worth one Prestige, and going above and beyond in some way is worth two. The scenarios aren't going to tell you what above and beyond means, either; you need to use your noggin, look for clues, and generally be an exceptional Pathfinder to get that. Its harder, but that's supposed to happen and what the campaign was trying to achieve.

That doesn't mean faction missions are gone, though. In Season 5, each faction has a goal. That goal is found in the relevant section of the Faction Talk forums. During every scenario, you should keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to help your faction achieve its goals. Again, you aren't going to be told what you need to do anymore. You need to put on your big boy/girl pants and go looking for ways to help your faction above and beyond the bare minimum effort required to complete the scenario. Instead of Prestige, achieving success in faction missions grants some pretty nifty boons on the Chronicle sheets, favors you can turn in later for additional help or rewards. It might be wise to include a copy of your faction's goal with each character, so you can refresh your memory before starting the scenario.


Gold and Playing Up

Mmm, gold, right? This has to be good? Well, sort of. In Season 5, the way we calculate gold earned in a scenario has changed. On the new chronicles, there is now a category called "Out of Subtier" gold.Out of Subtier gold is awarded when a PC does not match the subtier being played, and is awarded whether the PC played up or played down. For Season 0-4 scenarios, calculate the Out of Subtier gold total by taking the average of the low and high tier gold value. For those of us who are lazy mathematicians, add the lower subtier gold value and the higher subtier gold value, and then divide by two. So, if you play a 1st level PC in Subtier 4-5 of a 1-2 scenario, that PC should receive Out of Subtier gold. If you play a 5th level PC in Subtier 1-2, that PC should receive Out of Subtier gold. This helps mitigate the damage caused by PCs playing up constantly and accruing nearly 50% more character wealth than the expected guidelines in the Core Rulebook, while still taking some of the sting out of playing down to make a table go off.


Calculating APL

This is one of the most significant changes to the Guide. In Season 5, there is no "between Subtiers" category of characters anymore. Which tier you play is determined based on APL and is scripted. Because I can't really explain it more effectively than the Guide, I've copied that text here. The text can also be found on Page 31 of the Guide to Organized Play:

"In order to determine which subtier a mixed-level group of PCs must play in, calculate the group’s average party level (APL). Divide the total number of character levels by the number of characters in the party. You should alwaysround to the nearest whole number.

Starting with Season 4, scenarios are designed for sixc haracters and contain instructions on how to adjust the scenario for four-character parties. When the APL of a table is between two subtiers (like APL 3 for a Tier 1–5 scenario), a party of four characters must play the lower tier without any adjustments for party size. A party of five to seven characters whose APL is between two subtiers must playthe higher tier with the four-character adjustment.

For scenarios written in Seasons 0 to 3, when the APL is in between subtiers, a party of six or seven characters must play the higher subtier. Parties with four or five characters must play the lower subtier. In the fringe case where there are no players that are high enough to have reached the subtier level (such as a party of six 3rd level characters), the group may decide to play down to the lower subtier."

So... pay attention! Seriously though, while we're all learning a new system make sure to review the Gude, page 31, when you're determining the subtier of your table during a muster. We'll learn it and it'll be as reflexive as the old system once we get it down, but in the meantime we'll all learn together by reviewing the document together at the table.


Retraining

The new retraining rules are in! If you own a copy of Ultimate Campaign, you may now retrain. The retraining rules are on Page 10 of the Guide to Organized Play and pages[masked] of Ultimate Campaign. In addition to the base costs of retraining found in Ultimate Campaign, you must pay a Prestige Point for each day you spend retraining. You must have a legal character, including qualifying for all feats and class features, at the end of retraining in order to exercise retraining. No taking Whirlwind Attack then retraining out of your Dodge feat, folks!


There are some very specific requirements to complete when retraining.
All retrains must be made in the presence of a Pathfinder Society GM. All changes must be listed on the Chronicle you are applying the retrain to. If the GM wishes to audit your character, they must be allowed to do so. This is a full-on audit, not just a review of the relevant portions of the character being retrained. I encourage all GMs who have characters requesting retrains at their table to perform a full audit; without proper documentation retraining can make auditing nigh-impossible after the retrain. If the GM does not believe there is time to perform a retrain, they are able to decline to allow you to exercise the retraining rules at that session. This is solely at the discretion of a GM. As an example, I will rarely if ever allow a retrain at Legion Games. The window of time in which we need to complete the scenarios is too small to reasonably perform all the necessary paperwork required to retrain. Other sites, such as the Source, also have some serious time restrictions. If you want to retrain, my recommendation is to show up early and accept that you may not be able to apply the retrain for that session. Emailing your event coordinator beforehand can help a lot with this, as an event coordinator can show up to facilitate the retrain audit. While retraining is a powerful option and will breathe new life into old character concepts who fell by the wayside, it will also require us to be prepared and willing to accept that it may not be an option at every session.


Faction Retirement

Starting on August 14, 2013, two factions have met their end. The Lantern Lodge has become an NPC faction, while the Shadow Lodge is no more. There are some changes in store for us with the end of these two factions. Any character who was a member of either of these factions must immediately change to one of the eight remaining factions. This is not optional and there are no costs associated with this faction change. Unlike normal faction changes, the character may keep any optional titles or boons associated with being that specific faction, such as the Master title from Lantern Lodge. Under no circumstances can any character belong to the Lantern Lodge or Shadow Lodge factions anymore.

This also impacts the scenarios Rivalry's End and Way of the Kirin. I know some of you did not get a chance to play those scenarios before they retired. I'm sorry. As of August 14, 2013 those scenarios will no longer be able to grant the Pawn of the Grandmaster or Triumph of the Lantern Lodge boons to any character, as it is impossible for any Lantern Lodge or Shadow Lodge characters to exist. If you missed it, I apologize. That's simply the way it is.


I look forward to the Year of the Demon. There are exciting times ahead, with new allies and dangerous foes. There's more in the change log, so in addition to this email there is a post in the General Discussion area of the Meetup where we can discuss and clarify any changes that have taken place. I hope to see you all soon!


Good Gaming,

Ryan B.

 

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