Pathfinder 2e and AresMUSH Changeover

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We are currently in the process of rebuilding our game on the Pathfinder Second Edition tabletop roleplaying game and the AresMUSH code base. This page serves as an overview for the changeover and includes an FAQ.

Overview

Tenebrae: Emblem of Ea is a game that has been running in some form since 2002, starting life first as an AD&D 2e game before transitioning to 3e, 3.5e, and then finally Pathfinder 1e, with the theme receiving updates and rewrites with every edition update. However, running a game that is over two decades old almost continuously, and with as many changes as we've had, comes with challenges. A database that has been continuously edited and has seen multiple iterations of coders through the decades has a significant amount of technical debt, and that's precisely the issue that our game currently has.

In 2020, we experienced a massive server crash that took the game down for several days. Lolth, the server admin and host of the game at the time, worked tirelessly over that span of time and managed to resurrect the game. She discovered clear evidence of database corruption in the form of missing objects, disconnected rooms, and many other nasty things. Multiple codewizards and server admins have prodded the code and database and came to the same conclusion: the game is operating on limited time before database corruption fully claims the game. In the wake of this diagnosis, staff decided afterwards to begin the transition to a new and more modern codebase. AresMUSH was selected due to its modern functionality and accessibility, such as being able to play in a web portal.

With the decision made to begin work on a new iteration of the game on a new codebase, staff also were faced with a decision. Given that Pathfinder 1e is a notoriously complicated system and that we were having to build a game for a new codebase, staff decided to look at choosing a new edition/system. Fifth Edition was considered, but the restrictive SRD meant that staff would have to spend a considerable amount of time homebrewing elements of the game in addition to the other work involved in getting the game off the ground. Ultimately, staff chose Pathfinder Second Edition (PF2e) for an ideal combination of accessibility, open and interesting game design, relative ease of implementation into an MU* format, and legal concerns (which would become even more of an important focal point with the 2023 OGL controversy).

Finally, staff also decided to take the opportunity to revisit the theme. It was important for us to create a compelling world with a consistent tone and provide players with plenty of intrigue for running plots and weaving stories. While we have kept many details of the theme refresh under wraps, as the overarching plot of our current game will lead directly into the world that is created in the new game and player actions will shape that world, many aspects of the world have been revisited with an aim to make the world feel less like a comedic fantasy story and more like a truly compelling high fantasy world with more diversity and complexity than our current theme.

TL;DR:

  • AresMUSH codebase: a modern codebase that can run on modern hardware that will keep our game running for years to come.
  • Pathfinder 2e: a TTRPG system that is accessible, well-balanced, and is developed by a company that has no history of sending legal action after fan-run projects like ours.
  • Theme refresh: a comprehensive and compelling theme with a consistent mood and epic feeling.

FAQ

Q: What will be available at the new game opening for character creation?
A: We are using the Core Rulebook + the Advanced Player's Guide as a basis for character creation. Future release packages will see content from additional sources added later on down the road. Due to the nature of our game as an MU*, not all content released by Paizo can or will be added.

The following is the final list of options that are playable at open. Names listed in parentheses after an option are the in-world name for them. Our tengu are called egalrin, for example.

Playable classes: Alchemist, Barbarian, Bard, Champion, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Investigator, Monk, Oracle, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, Witch, Wizard

Playable ancestries: Human, Dwarf (Khazad), Elf (Sildanyar), Goblin, Gnome, Halfling (Bassin), Hobgoblin (Arvek), Lizardfolk (Makari), Orc (Oruch), Ratfolk (Kailli), Tengu (Egalrin)

Playable heritages: All CRB + APG heritages for each of the previously listed ancestries, which includes Half-Elf (Half-sil) and Half-Orc (Half-oruch) for the Human ancestry, plus the following Versatile Heritages: Aasimar, Changeling, Dhampir (Dar), Duskwalker (Ashen One), Tiefling

Playable backgrounds: Acolyte, Acrobat, Animal Whisperer, Artisan, Artist, Bandit, Barber, Barkeep, Barrister, Blessed, Bookkeeper, Bounty Hunter, Charlatan, Cook, Courier, Criminal, Cultist, Cursed, Detective, Emissary (Society), Entertainer, Farmhand, Feybound, Field Medic, Fortune Teller, Gambler, Gladiator, Guard, Haunted, Herbalist, Hermit, Hunter, Insurgent, Laborer, Martial Disciple, Merchant, Miner, Noble(*), Nomad, Outrider, Pilgrim, Prisoner, Refugee, Returned, Root Worker, Sailor, Scavenger, Scholar, Scout, Servant, Squire, Street Urchin, Tax Collector, Teacher, Tinker (Engineer), Ward, Warrior

(*) Characters with this background may be raised noble, but cannot be in line to inherit titles or property.

Additionally, we are allowing only the multiclass archetype dedications initially. Other archetypes will be added as the dust settles. Instead of the default ability boosts associated with ancestries, we are using the January 2023 errata that allows players to assign two free ability boosts.

Q: Are there any restrictions on character concepts/builds for the new game?
A: Yes. To staunch tieflings with the Cursed background running around, at least for a while after the game’s opening, we are imposing a limit of 1 Uncommon or 1 Rare trait per character. If that confuses you, don’t worry. In Pathfinder 2e, everything has traits associated with it, and there are Uncommon and Rare traits that indicate if something shouldn’t be readily available. They’re listed on the Archives of Nethys entries for any given class, ancestry, heritage, etc, after the header of the page.

We also disallow the following character concepts:

  • Content that does not comply with game rating, including explicit descriptions.
  • Underage characters. All PC’s must be of, and appear to be of, the accepted age of majority for their race.
  • Evil alignments. This includes intelligent magical items.
  • Characters that do not adhere to theme.
  • Blatant rips from existing media (such as video games, TV shows, anime, etc.). It's fine to take inspiration from such, but copyright infringement is not okay.
  • Characters that are intended solely as joke characters, to poke fun at another character, or to serve as satire on any RL topic. While we are not opposed to some silliness, humor should be thematically appropriate and not excessive.

Remember also that players are making characters that are expected to go on adventures. This means a certain amount of risk and a certain ability to do so. While we welcome ‘unconventional heroes’, a player character in the new game has signed up and agreed to go on adventures, full stop.

Finally, we will not be including the following options from the Core Rulebook and the Advanced Player's Guide:

  • The Swashbuckler class. The Pathfinder 2e implementation of Swashbuckler is too dependent on GM interpretation, and with a game where anyone can be a GM, it's unfair to have a player character's ability to do things hampered because one GM makes a different call from another one.
  • The Summoner class. Summoners are a strange case. The Eidolons, the primary feature of the class, can only be done one of two ways; either everything is custom, which case it's impossible to build code for them, or everyone picks from one of eight Eidolons. Either way you go, they're not nearly as satisfying as they would be to play at a traditional tabletop setting.
  • The Superstitious Instinct Barbarian. In a game where your potential party composition could be anyone, this is simply a potential PRP/staff event killer.

Q: I'm a veteran player. Can I bring a character of mine to the new game?
A: Yes. However, all 'ported characters' or 'rebooted characters' will start at level 1 and be subject to the character creation rules like a brand new character will be.

Q: I’m a recent/new player to this game, or I’m looking at joining this game. Should I hold off on my current ideas and wait for you to launch your new game?
A: That’s up to you! But we fully recommend new players to join up with us now. We are holding off on divulging a lot of information about the new theme because the actions that characters take in the overarching staff plotlines will result in impacts on the new theme. We are also refraining from publishing a ‘release date’ on the new game until we have the technology settled and everything is ready to go, so if you want to play now... Play now!

Q: I see you don’t have [X] listed in your list of allowed character creation features. Will you have it in the future?
A: Maybe. Some things are likelier than others. Given that our game does not take place in the default setting of Pathfinder 2e, not all options that Paizo has published will ever be appropriate for our theme. We also have to deal with the fact that our game is a slightly different beast than the average tabletop RPG, so some things, like the Swashbuckler class (which depends heavily on GM fiat, which is impossible to get consistency on when you have many potential GMs at one time), are simply never going to be ported over.

Right now, because we are on borrowed time with our current game’s database, we have elected not to consider any additional errata or items for character creation. If we try to add everything that Paizo publishes as it’s announced and launched, then our game will never launch. Please have patience with us and do not request your favorite [X] to be added. Staff are only human and trying to do what we can in the limited hours of the day in trying to run both the current game and developing the new one.

Q: Do you have a release date for the new game?
A: Short answer: no.

Long answer: no, because staff have given estimates in the past for the changeover, which resulted in players scrambling to finish their personal storylines. Because staff are human and are currently running a game in addition to building a new one, the process simply will take time, and therefore, we are not announcing a release date until the technology is in order and there is a game to play.