Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pathfinder: In the Beginning

Okay, so I said I was going to try and give my outside looking in sort of review as I start to venture down the wild and crazy path of Pathfinder. Here is the first installment. I decided I’d try and break it down, more and less, as I read through the book, section by section. I will leave the discussion of the forward and introduction to itself. There really isn’t much I can say here. It is pretty standard stuff, but also a good read, which immediately gives me some high hopes for the rest of the book. Did I mention I hate un-layered PDFs, especially when they cost the same as the dead tree editions? Ahem…moving right along.

So, I read through the section on Ability Scores. You know, Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma. Nothing much has changed here. I’d have to look back at my old copies of 3x, but I think they expanded the table in Pathfinder out. It’s up to 45 now, which immediately brings to mind that they expect you to end up playing some truly epic level characters. Conversely, they expect your characters to battle some truly bad ass monsters and villains. I dig that.

Then, I get onto the section on races. No, we’re not talking Nascar and Rally here. Nope. We’re talking dwarves, humans, elves, half-orcs, half-elves, halflings, and gnomes…oh my! So, we stuck with some core races. I will have to check with some of my Pathfinder gurus and see which books are good to read for some good renditions of other races. I make a note of that and move on.

This is where it first hits me that this book has some amazingly talented artists behind it. Everything so far has been mostly layout and splash pages. Someone invested time and money into the art and that is blatantly obvious when we get to the chapter on player character races. They varied between male and female images for each of the races and they stripped everyone down to their skivvies. I think this is one of the moments I have heard of when we hear about disproportionate females represented in fantasy and RPG art. That doesn’t happen here. Everyone is a healthy, if athletic build. That makes sense for adventuring heroes, though. They also give male figures and female figures the same treatment. I’ve heard the idea that—if you’re going to portray women that way, you must treat men the same and be equal in proliferation. Looks like they have done that here. Good for the team. Talent, thought, and devotion blended together in one makes for an excellent mix.

As I read over the descriptions for each of the varying races, I admit I mostly skim. A lot of this is old news to me, but what I do read is written very well. I am surprised the half-elf gets two favored classes due to their varying nature, but humans still only get one. But, humans get that extra skill point each level, so I guess it makes sense. I make not of this in the event I ever choose to make a character to multi-class with. One thing that does catch me off guard is the halflings and the gnomes. I group those two races together, because they are both two I would never consider playing. For me, they always seemed weak and even borderline silly. The new art got me to look at these descriptions where I found them to be just as much a threat of anything else listed there. I know others will gladly disagree—that halflings and gnomes have always been a serious and very playable race. But, they just never fit my tastes. These new renditions finally got me thinking I might just play one.

I have to read more about these favored classes, which takes me into the next section on classes in general. From what I understand you get either a bonus skill point or a bonus hit point for each level gained your favored class. I also believe they did away with experience point penalties for multi-classing. That takes me into the next section on classes, which I’ve already started one. That’s pretty darn good looking.

That brings me to another interesting question for you Pathfinder aficionados out there. Am I doing this all wrong? With my experience with the system Pathfinder is based off of, should I be reading it differently, focusing on specific chapters, or reading different books? My goodness, does Pathfinder have a lot of material out for it.