Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Stepping Onto the Path: My Introduction to Pathfinder

Since its inception, I have had a love/hate relationship with Pathfinder. To some, that may not be that shocking. What might shock you is to find out that is my feeling without ever having played it. When the beta rules were out for free download, I downloaded them. I even rummaged through them a bit. I never read it cover to cover. It seemed to me like someone took D&D 3x and amped it up a bit. Then, 4th came out. Some of us were pretty excited about this. I know I was.

Fourth ended up being a lot of missed opportunities and broken promises to me. However, I’ve said it before, D&D 3rd and d20 hit the sweet spot for my gaming tastes in a number of ways.  Was I ready to go over to what, for me, was essentially another 3rd party publisher product? Those seemed to be really hit or miss. There had been a lot of hubbub about this one, but others had all sorts of chatter pumping them up as well. And, after the Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition licensing came out, a lot of people took a step back while Paizo charged onward. Was that a smart move? I just couldn’t be sure at the time.

Then, Pathfinder came out. There was still a lot of excited people. They seemed to have a strong community on their forums and elsewhere. I just couldn’t be sure which direction I should turn. At the same time, it was very hard for me to find anyone to game with due to location and work. So, when I saw the price of these Pathfinder Core Books, I choked. Oh no, that certainly wasn’t for me.

However, times have changed.

I am back in the gaming scene. I play online a lot and with people here locally. Pathfinder always intrigued me as it only continued to grow bigger and stronger. The products I was seeing related to the line were good looking and looked like a lot more than mere fluff. Here’s a little secret about my gaming tastes. I like books—lots of books. What I don’t like is a 175-300 page “rule book” with no new rules in it—all campaigns. I would rather have 25 pages of fluff and 175 pages of new rules, applications, variations, gear, etc. Pathfinder and supporting products seem to have met that mark. Then, I started reading some of the various material, and I was quite happy with the quality.

I’ve mentioned several times that I would like to play. I do not want to start off just running it myself, because I feel too much like I would just be running D&D 3x again. There were changes made here and I would hate to make the mistakes that could lead to disagreement at the table or hurting the system in another newcomer’s eyes. Finally, my chance to play in a game run by someone who has been running it for some time, +Mark Knights, seems to be nearing. Better yet, he’s been helping point me in the right direction on where to find helpful tidbits of information spread throughout the various PDFs I purchased over the years for a game I thought I might one day play.

Now, with the help of the aforementioned GM, I am getting into this system and I am liking it. I am so far liking it for the same reasons that I liked 3x, but I am also liking it for some of the things that I have seen done with it. The other day, I cheated and read a book never designed for me, The Advanced Player’s Guide. I actually just read a snippet, because I found out there was a summoner class in it, and I am always interested to see how people have tried to pull off a summoner class. I know I have tried to build one in different systems and it has never quite worked out right. I read what Pathfinder hand, though, and I immediately thought “Gee, that’s exactly how I would have done it, if I would have thought it.”

So, if you haven’t yet, be sure to check out Mark’s blog over at The Pathfinder Chronicles where he talks a lot about Pathfinder, role playing in general, gives GMing advice, and might even give you a sneak preview of his upcoming independent game (hush, hush, and all that jazz).

Meanwhile, I’ll be writing about my adventures in discovering the beauties, mysteries, and horrors of Pathfinder. This is probably true both of the books and supplements I am about to dig into as well as the adventures my poor characters is about to barely survive.