Thanks to everyone that emailed me, posted on Living Dive, posted here, or posted on our page at DiasExMachina.com. This is what we decided upon based upon your feedback (along with the recap of the original questions).
Our races, though following Pathfinder mostly, do deviate in one regard. Their ability adjustments are variable, a trend started with PHB3. Where elf or dwarf is fixed, in our setting players have the option where to take the penalty and where to accept the bonus.
Result: We'll make the bonus variable, but the penalty fixed.
2. SPECIAL ABILITIES
In an effort to make our race and class features easier to read, we decided to present them in bullet form, not unlike powers from 4th Edition. The same information is imparted, just in a way which we believe is easier.
Result: This was the big one, and received the most widely diverse opinions. I think what we'll do is return to original Pathfinder presentation but underline or bold the important elements to ensure players can get at the important bits.
Carried over from Foundations, Renaissance introduces lifepaths, which can affect your character in minor or major ways. These have no class prerequisites and with more than 40 of them, one should satisfy any player. But shouldn't they be archetypes? Archetypes modify classes (like Amethyst's class focus did in our 2008 book) while our lifepaths do more general changes and are not always tied to one class. Two lifepaths are workaround to select classes not permitted in the canon setting.
Result: Well, it appears relatively obvious that Lifepaths will be renamed Traits. However, our lifepa—err traits, are more powerful. So despite the default rule of allowing two traits, we'll suggest only one Amethyst trait, regardless if it's type. Characters can still select another trait from any other Pathfinder book, but only one from our list.
4. DUAL CLASSES
We have this idea of creating dual classes—basically some of our classes are broken into two complete sub-classes. Each sub-class shares identical hit dice, saves, skill ranks, class skills, and base attack bonus, meaning they only differ with class abilities. Because both sub-classes are listed as one class, selecting one as your favored class will equate to both being a favored class; you will gain favored class bonuses gaining a level in either class. For example, you could multiclass either front grounder or heavy grounder and still gain favored class bonuses, but not if you multiclass in front grounder and marshal. These classes are still considered separate for the purposes of class abilities (e.g.: A 4th level front grounder / 2nd level heavy grounder character is not a 6th level grounder, nor is he a 4th level heavy grounder).
Result: The big issue with this involves a slight confusion. Some people suggested that we combine the dual classes into one. This would not be a good idea considering the sizes of our individual classes. This is also why they wouldn't work as archetypes. Despite me believing the idea is sound, it's looking like we're going to drop dual-classes entirely.
5. POWER-LIKE ABILITIES
We know that some 3rd edition class abilities act like powers without looking like powers. If a character can do something unique each round, how is that different from an at-will power? As a result, we have offered certain classes abilities that, though balanced and written for 3.75, do resemble powers (this is related to point 2 above).
Result: Once again, this is the conflict between ease and tradition. Despite the benefits, it looks like class abilities will be adjusted to resemble Pathfinder.
6. MEDICAL EXPLOITS
In a moment of both genius and madness, we gave our medical operator a spell list. These are not spells, mind you, but are gained and operate just as a cleric would gain and use spells. They are presented as spells, but are actually extraordinary abilities he can use anytime given his exploit/spell list.
Result: Looks like the precedent of Alchemist places Medical Exploits firmly in our game. So they stay.
7. MONSTER LORE
Simply put, we've included our monster lore from Foundations. We don't have a problem with this.
Result: Looks like these stay.
8. MULTIPLE MONSTERS
The Pathfinder bestiary offers one orc. We included five different pagus at different challenge ratings and weapon loadouts. Even though it isn't hard to upgrade monsters in Pathfinder, we still wanted to remove the stress of designing different versions of the same creature.
Result: The first thing to state is that we do not have a page budget for monsters. We are either presenting you with 20 monsters with 20 stat-blocks or 20 monsters with 40 stat-blocks. We're not sacrificing monsters to present duplicate monsters. That appeared to be the only issue people brought up. Since you don't have to worry about that, it looks like these are in.
I love minions from 4th Edition. I think they're a little too much experience, but I really wanted to remain in Amethyst. So we made them by adding the special ability "Minion".
Result: Some people don't have experience with minions, but one thing they are not are lower challenge-rating monsters. With my experience with 3rd Edition, you can't use lower challenge rating monsters as minions because they cannot hit the players without rolling a natural 20. We'll be looking over these monsters to make ensure they are balanced before keeping them.
10. COMPLICATED CLASSES
Our classes offer a lot of customization, different abilities depending on your basic concept, and abilities trees similar to that in D20 Modern. Some of our playtesters have argued that we should attempt to make our classes similar to Pathfinder classes, borderline copies, altering the rules only when in regard to using firearms. I think that would taste of being unoriginal, but it would make the transition easier for those unaware of how D20 modern created their classes.
Result: One thing I need to stress is that Amethyst using Pathfinder rules is still Amethyst, so there will be some things that will simply feel different. I mean we have powered armor and railcannons….right on that issue alone, there's no way to make Amethyst play like Pathfinder. Having modern rules in Amethyst is mandatory since we have firearms, cars, and helicopters. People wanting Pathfinder with no alteration won't enjoy Amethyst, as it's being presented as a science/fantasy with modern rules (rules which can be used in homebrew games outside of Amethyst). Of course, you could use our races and lifepa—sorry—traits to create a party with all fantasy classes in Amethyst, never encountering technology…but it's still there, part of the setting. We have monsters which are firearm-wielding commandos. One's a giant robot. It's the nature of the setting.
One thing we don't want to do is just present our classes as archetypes, as it simply feels lazy on our part. So we won't be making our classes clones of Pathfinder classes. That being said, we may be…gulp…simplifying them.
Again...thanks for your input. It won't make everyone happy, but these decisions do reflect the consensus of comments received. We'll have the beta rules for Amethyst Renaissance available by next week. Playtesting is still open (though the time window is shrinking).
â€œI despise stallions. I ride them as I ride an ugly noble women--smiles for appearances and politics only. Stallions. All personality with no depth. They prance like ponies and trot with arrogance. I always say, respect your mules most of all. A stallion may lead with the king and gather the eyes, but a mule will follow behindâ€¦and carry your kingdom.â€