Groundbreaking – Edition Changes 2.0

Randal here, back again to take a look at where we are with Groundbreaking. We last left off talking about the context for how I wanted to lay the foundation for magical education “systems” in the region. I wrote that bit just before the Advanced Player’s Guide (APG) released, even calling out that I wanted to see the APG before discussing witches. I then took some time off to write a review of the APG, followed by moving to a new house, so it has been some time since I started this topic. However, before we add further fuel to the fire that is my grand plan for laying out how spellcasters are trained in Marathis’ Cradle, I want to spend today revisiting the topic of edition changes

Just over a year ago, I wrote a post about how my personal switch from 1st edition to 2nd edition wasn’t going to change my overall plans for this blog. Until recently, I think I have done a good job of keeping my content rules light, focusing on the lore aspect of everything. And by “until recently” I am referring to the Eidolon Summoner Dedication archetype that I wrote, followed by the Patron Summoner Dedication that piggy-backs it. I bring these up to show that I am enjoying 2nd edition so much that I am constantly coming up with new and cool ways to expand the game for myself and my group(s). When I wrote those archetype feats, I didn’t even think twice about how to fit these new rules into a 1st edition package, telling myself that the summoner already exists so there wasn’t much need to worry about it (even though I wrote this for the Eidolon angle and not for the Summoner aspect). The truth is, I have left 1st edition behind completely, and am not looking back.

World building is about lore, first and foremost. Where are you, who is there, what are they doing, why and how are they doing it. When you are writing purely for the sake of writing, then you need not look further. However, when you are writing within the framework of a game, you need to keep that framework in mind. If you intend the lore to be interacted with during the game, you really need to remember that. The lore that I wrote about the aquatic kobolds was fun, and I plan to revisit them soon, but as I kept that bit as strictly lore, there wasn’t more I needed to do. I really wanted to write up a kobold ancestry (not knowing one would be in print so soon) along with multiple heritages around their aquatic and cavern lifestyle. If I had done so, while keeping in mind that I was saying edition neutral, I would have needed to include rules for both 1st edition and 2nd edition. Kobolds existed already for 1st edition, but I don’t recall any aquatic options. They weren’t in 2nd edition yet, so I would have had to write it from the ground up (which I actually did for a home game I was running). If I wanted to have the lore for the area that the kobolds were mentioned in, and try to include the rules for both editions, I would have had to make some concessions.

  1. The most obvious is that it was all extra writing, taking up more space, and requiring extra work to ensure that it was readable and the two different editions were easy to access/read without confusing you about which is which. Generally, I keep my posts here above 1,000 words, but usually below 1,200 (an easy number I could meet weekly; and just carried over when I cut back because I cut back due to free time constraints). Would I split the content into two posts, one for each edition? That gets sticky about tying the lore to one and not the other … do I do a lore post and then two edition posts? Nah. See, overthinking it. I would likely either write less, or cut things out to try and even things between the systems. Nobody wins there, and cutting content or writing less than what I want isn’t fun! BTW, if you want to see a master of game write and release content for multiple systems, Owen K.C. Stephens does an amazing job of this (for 4 systems!) with his 52 in 52, go check it out here!
  2. Which leads me to my next concession … fun! We are writing this lore, and building this world, because we are having fun and it is enjoyable. I am so wrapped up in 2nd edition, that I have actually forgotten a lot of the 1st edition ruleset, and I don’t care to recall it, to be honest. Let’s say I whip up a new Kobold ancestry and heritages for 2nd edition. I would then have to spend time, 30 minutes, and hour, or more trying to figure out what already exists for kobolds in 1st edition before pointing to it or writing new content, which would then require more time to lookup similar content to make sure I remember how it is supposed to be formatted. I already don’t want to do 1st edition, so it would take longer as I distract myself with other things … it is not fun. For me. For you (to read my half-hearted attempt at a 1st edition parallel).
  3. And my last concession is about … time. Regardless of the size of your world, or the reason for doing it (homebrew, paid work, fun blog), writing takes time. Creating new lore, and making sure you don’t step on your existing lore, takes time. Some people have more time than others, and that is to be expected. If you have been following since the beginning, you will notice that I started doing this every other week, but was having so much fun and had the time that I stepped up to weekly posts (granted I alternated with Terraforming; but it still applies). Recently, I have had very little time … and unfortunately, I will be taking a little bit of a hiatus as I work out some issues with my free time (by-products of moving). I won’t be able to write blog posts for two months or so (at this point I think I will miss my next 4 slots).

What does this have to do with world building? My hope is that I was clear enough that world building is a labor of love, that takes time and dedication. To improve the quality of the time you spend, you need to focus on the things you enjoy the most, or at least find a way to latch on to those things while you write. Sure, a purely lore blog is great, but if you are trying to tie the world to a game world, you might need to buckle down and make some choices.

What does this have to do with Groundbreaking specifically? Going forward I will be focusing on 2nd edition Pathfinder so that I can have more fun while providing more useful content. It will be much more useful to be able to simply open to a blog post and use the material directly, instead of trying to figure out which parts fit your system, or flesh out parts that I left undone to avoid choosing a system (or worse, only half developed to keep my work load down).

What does this mean going forward? When I return from my hiatus, I will be picking up where I left off. Spellcasters and how they are trained. With the news that Magus and Summoner will be playtested ahead of the Secrets of Magic book, I have a good chance of being able to include them in my plans as well! Additionally, I will be starting an effort later this year, or perhaps early next year to go back through Groundbreaking and revisiting all the various bits to ensure I have them properly done within the 2e ruleset (the early rumors stuff was a hybrid of 1e and 2e playtest skill checks). Also, I plan to start including more info when I do quests and such, so that they are much easier to grab and play, and I might just include more usable rules like the Eidolon Summoner archetype.

Take care, my friends, I will see you again in a couple months, rested and ready to sling some spells (and also to carefully duel with some magic). Please join us at our Discord server to let me know what you think or to simply have a chat (I will still be around)!

Randal Meyer

As a lover of crunch (rules and numbers), Randal is always tinkering with rules options. His love of magic users has led him to always fuss with the mechanics of magic and magic items. Years of GMing on the fly have given him endless ideas and content from which to draw on for adventures (ideas, plots, NPCs). When not working, gaming, or playing with his kids, Randal is likely working on improving Sage (his Discord bot for immersive play-by-post gaming that you can see in action on Know Direction's Discord in the Know Direction Societous PFS channels) over at!