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Pathfinder Core Rulebook


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I started playing Pathfinder last year, but haven't really gotten much experience with it as my group fell apart rather quickly. But I did manage to buy the Core Rulebook, Advanced Player's Guide, Ultimate Magic, Advanced Race Guide, Bestiary 1 and 2, all of the Carrion Crown adventure path, and sign up for their ongoing adventure path subscription so that I'd get all of Reign of Winter.

 

It's a fun game, but a few certain things can get a bit too "crunchy" for my tastes and are really easy to abuse unintentionally because of that. Like the Synthesist archetype for the Summoner. It's extremely easy to build an Eidolon(the Summoner's pet) that's using more points that what is allowed without realizing it. The same can be said for a bunch of things, but the Summoner is one of the most easily abused. The Gunslinger class and firearms mechanics that they introduced in Ultimate Combat can also lean into the "accidentally overpowered" category without the player and DM having brushed up on all the errata and the FAQ.

 

One of the big things that I do like about it, though, is the fact that everything required to play the game is available for free online. The Pathfinder Reference Document. No need to actually buy the books, unless you're like me and enjoy the feel of them and like looking at all the artwork. They may keep certain prestige classes or items locked up in their splatbooks and adventure paths, but everything else is 100% free.

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I don't think I'd run a game of it (but my current 2E game will be the last fantasy game I run anyway) - but it does seem to amicably suit the more freeform adventure-style game my other DM enjoys. So I'd play it, playing it looks cool.

 

The difference in DM style for me and the others works out like so:

 

1. My favourite DM runs games like Indiana Jones movies. They have a story, but it's not a deep story. It just ties all the adventure together. Adventuring is the key, and the story is good enough in a high-concept fashion. It's very open to classes, races, everything. He's mastered the art of balancing it all.

 

2. The other occassional DM likes to run games with strong elements of stuff he likes. So you'd get maybe a Norse-style game, heavy on atmosphere, and sort of a historical/fantasy mash-up. I don't much like this style, as I'm not into the myth and legend the same way so I find it difficult to get into or get any character development out of.

 

3. And my way of running stuff is more like the Lord of the Rings. It's stripped of lots of things (humanoids, other cultures, special kits, special classes, weird magic) but the trade-off for the reduced breadth is massive depth. The story is everything, and characters have full choice of action to determine the nature of events while also enjoying many opportunities for roleplaying and story advancement. It's less about adventure, and more about getting into a living world where things matter. There's no such thing as a "+1 sword", every item of note has a name and a history.

 

Of those three styles, Pathfinder seems best suited to #1. It can, of course, be adapted to #3 (or even #2) but to get the most out of a new system #1 would work best. 2E required extensive modification to work for #3, we've almost invented a whole new edition out of it. I'd expect most systems tend to embrace "adventure type" gaming and would require significant modification and restriction to work likewise. Mostly this is because in order for story to develop properly, and characters, they should start off very weak and become legendary - whereas most systems, including 2E, follow the philosophy of "they're adventuring because they're already exceptional compared to regular people". I disagree. I say what makes them exceptional is their willingess to take risks most people think crazy, much safer to be a farmer, and they are no different from regular people. Except that they take these risks, and that allows them opportunity to do and find exceptional things. They do not start as heroes - they become them.

 

That's a very, very hard kind of game to run. Especially as most creation templates put an emphasis on ability, class powers, and special junk to define a character by what they are, not what they do - and that's antithetical to my preference. Even as a player, because I don't make "a paladin" - I make a man motivated by things in his past who sets out into the world to right an egregious wrong, restore honor to the byfallen, and stand against evil because there's hard work that needs doing and who else will fight for what's right? If that happens to match a Paladin, then that's the class/kit I take.

 

I'd be interested to see how I could make that work with Pathfinder. Should fit nicely as a player.

Edited by buglips*the*goblin
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I'm a player in two Pathfinder campaigns and I enjoy them both. It is a refinement from D&D 3.5 but it does still have its bugs. I grab the books I want on PDF so I can read them on my iPad. The paging is a bit slow (since the pages are dense with PRETTY) but its nice to flip through the rules on my commute and switch between whatever books.

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It would be (in fact has been for me) pretty easy to run a low-magic game at lower levels. Start the PCs with a level of an NPC class (shaman, warrior, noble, whatever), and use a limited point buy for characteristics. Then allow PC classes as the PCs rise in power.

 

That said, Pathfinder depends on a specific magic item budget for standard game balance, so you would need to watch the power (and abilities) of higher CR opponents pretty carefully to keep from overwhelming the group later on.

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It's not an issue anyway, because I'm tired of running fantasy games. This one is my last. Anything after this will be either Pulp, or Pulp Blend like Chronoscope.

 

Even if it wasn't, though, I couldn't see buying a new system just to strip it down was where I was going with it. If I bought into Pathfinder I'd play it mostly as-is, otherwise just mod what's here and doesn't cost extra money. And if I was going to buy Pathfinder to use as-is, then best to instead encourage my other DM to try it out since that's more his style and more of it would get used.

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I have been playing a lot of Pathfinder during the past year. I started out just wanting to get a feel for the system, but Paizo has actually done a pretty good job streamlining D&D3.5, and I'm enjoying the heck out of it. As an added bonus, most of the rules content is available on the web, if all you want to do is check it out and evaluate it. (By now I have several of the books in hard cover, and lots more in PDF)

 

That said, Pathfinder is geared substantially towards D&D style fantasy. I could imagine tuning it towards different genres, but it might become a lot of work. It might work pretty well for a steampunk kind of game, or maybe a Land of the Lost style Pulp game, but some of the core feel is going to remain unless you do some significant work.

 

If I had to run a Pulp game tomorrow, I would probably go with Feng Shui for my system. It's not a perfect fit either, but it is, by design, very free-wheeling and action-oriented. It is, after all, modeled on the classic Hong Kong action cinema. Re-tuning it for a classic Pulp adventure would not be a whole lot of work. (Also, it is a tremendously fun game to play.)

 

I would also be willing to consider playing some of the more dedicated pulp-style games out there, like Savage Worlds, but I have no experience with them, so I would be reluctant to run right out of the gate.

 

If I had to customize a whole game system to fit a world, I would probably start out with either GURPS or Hero as my basis, and go from there.

Edited by klarg1
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I'm a player in two Pathfinder campaigns and I enjoy them both. It is a refinement from D&D 3.5 but it does still have its bugs. I grab the books I want on PDF so I can read them on my iPad. The paging is a bit slow (since the pages are dense with PRETTY) but its nice to flip through the rules on my commute and switch between whatever books.

 

Paizo has started offering "Lite" versions of their rules hardback pdfs. They're much nicer for tablets.

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PF is a good way to go for crunchy rules, but I am still irked at the fact that their $50 (retail) 375 page "Core" book is not a complete game. (No monsters)

 

a valid point, but at the same time it covers D&D 3.5's Players handbook and DM's handbook in one, and I paid more than half that for just the Players handbook back in the day

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I think they left monsters out primarily for a couple reasons. First, their initial audience was 3.5 players, and the systems were so close that DMs can easily use existing 3.5 monster tomes for most situations. Second, adding a bestiary to an already hefty tome (my edition has 575 pages with some very small writing) and they were looking at an impractical size.

 

It's important to remember they were also taking a chance with the project. They were makers of a successful line of modules who basically decided to replace Wizards as the makers of D&D. That takes some guts, and making an even more expensive book would have made it an even more risky venture. As it was my copy cost me $53.99 in 2010, I don't know if I would have made the plunge for an extra $30. I do remember being disappointed myself by the lack of monsters.

 

Also, following the model of D&D, they wanted a system that would encourage people to buy new volumes every few months or so, and psychologically this is easier if you already have more than one book for a system. Couple this with the fact that, as pointed out above, all monster stats are freely available online or in published modules, and leaving them out does make sense. I do think it would have been a good idea to include a stripped down bestiary, with a solid assortment of mainly iconic lower level monsters in the core book, just so people would have a complete game.

 

Another possible reason for leaving them out is the danger of violating an IP. I know over the years of 3.0, 3.5 and the OGL supplements, the people I heard of getting in trouble were the ones who used a mind flayer or some other IP claimed monster. Paizo was already taking a risk with the large, professionally made core rule book, it would have been an economic disaster if the initial press run had to be pulped because it turned out they had included an image of a rust monster on one page.

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