As copies of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Core Set start to arrive in subscribers' homes, Liz is here with the latest Core Principles blog. We also have a long-awaited treat for you: the new PDF of the Core rulebook! Check the link below and you'll get it! —Mike
Download the Core Set Rulebook — 3.0 MB zip/PDF
Hi! I'm Liz Spain, the designer at Lone Shark Games best known for not so much pushing the envelope for what we do in the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, but ripping that envelope open and refolding it into a stylish hat. If you liked the added wackiness of products like Mummy's Mask and the Alchemist Class Deck that tread weird territory, that was probably my fault.
One of my favorite things about designing for PACG is getting to see it played in the wilds of game stores and conventions. It's fun people-watching, but I also get to hear about how you want to play the game. Some folks asked that the game play in less than an hour, while others spend all day engaging an epic campaign. Families play PACG in a laid-back manner with kids, and dedicated competitive card players crave the brutality of an experience that can seem unwinnable except by perfectly harmonized strategy. We got asked a lot to make the story of the adventure more relevant and descriptive, and others asked for scenarios that can be played repeatedly. So, of course, we set out to do all those things at the same time.
We cut ties with the idea that every PACG story needed to be an epic. Treating the Core Set as a toolkit for grafting on adventures of every size really unleashes our ability to make things interesting. If you're looking for the sultry burn of a long intrigue adventure, Curse of the Crimson Throne is a 26-course meal with all the bells and whistles, going from adventure 1 ("B" is gone forever) to adventure 7. (You read that right.) For the impatient (and perhaps a little unhinged) among us, the upcoming We Be Heroes packs a goblin-sized adventure into two scenarios of wackadoo fun. You can even use the tools of the Core Set to craft roguelike scenarios, with six random scenario types in Core and two more in Curse.
But especially important is that the Core Set itself is a satisfying survey of things that PACG scenarios can do. We aimed to provide an Adventure Path of a size we'd never made before: a three-adventure campaign you could blast through in a weekend marathon if you wanted. At Lone Shark, we called this a "mini-Path," but really, "Adventure Path" is the official term for a connected set of any number of adventures greater than 1.
We found the perfect adventure that could strike the middle ground between one-shot and epic in a little green book by Mike Shel called The Dragon's Demand. In it, a wizard obsessed with a zoning issue dies, and dealing with his legacy goes... awry.
You wanted more story? Have an illustrated 2-page spread of story for every scenario, including denouement if you succeed. Fans of the PACG Organized Play might recognize this kind of scenario layout. The extra room really lets us designers stretch our imaginations, finding new way to pull the levers of how PACG functions. Also, we compartmentalized the setup instructions and the rules you need during a scenario, so you can find the important stuff for the moment at a glance.
But what makes The Dragon's Demand the perfect story for the Core Set (which we expect you'll play a lot) is that it packs a lot of different beats into a compact narrative: Begin with the classic ride into town as a brief intro scenario to quickly teach how the game works, then explore a trapped magical estate, delve into ancient tombs, negotiate with sinister minions, rescue stolen townsfolk, and maybe even face a dragon at the end. The variety of situations in The Dragon's Demand allows us to parade a variety of our favorite scenario mechanics.
The PACG Core Set and the elements of this Adventure Path are designed as a toolkit. While remaining true to the story notes of The Dragon's Demand, we tried to capture elements you'd expect to build an engaging tale in the tabletop RPG.
The barriers and story banes in particular stray further than ever from direct mortal dangers and include the sorts of things that might stymie hero investigators hunting a mystery. Globally useful concepts like a witness to a disaster or a person needing rescuing are introduced here and then used whenever the story dictates.
But we haven't neglected to pack the box full of monsters. With the concept of story banes, a challenging Kobold Champion villain for heroes fresh off the hay wagon can become a masterful manipulator's loyal lieutenant in later chapters. Underappreciated stars of The Dragon's Demand story (they do die a lot in the tale), the clever little dragonlings lay all kinds of traps for our heroes. Though goblins get much love, kobolds are so hot right now with a sleek updated look. (And check out the homebrew AP "We Be Kobolds" by Tyler Beck and David Jacobson, which inspired us to look deeper into the scaly rotters.) And when it comes to changing up flavor for future stories, variability on the similarly scaly Drake and Dragon throw new flavor onto reusing story banes for new tales.
I'm not ashamed to admit: I want you to get hooked on the new PACG. Whether you're playing your first scenario ever or playing your favorite scenario of Core for the umpteenth time, our hope (and hopefully clever design) is that you'll find something new to explore.
Adventure Card Game Designer