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Black Hammer
January 5th, 2016, 02:32
I've been playing RPGs for a while, long enough to have played four versions of D&D, (I have never actually played straight 3.0, oddly enough) along with a host of other systems, from classics like Traveller to weird stuff like Torg to new ones like Wild Talents and Night's Black Agents. I was reading the newest version of D&D when I realized I was pretty much completely burned out on generic fantasy RPGs, but I'm not sure that's the case. WHF still interests me, somewhat, but for the elements that aren't fantasy: the hint of steampunk, the various flavors of madness, and the relentlessness of mortality. I have no desire to explore elf-riddled woods or poke around mines dug by fat bearded short folk and invaded by skinny green short folk.

None of my local tabletop groups had any interest in Pathfinder, so I never had much experience with it. "D&D 3.75," they sneered. "A glorious return to leftovers from old versions of D&D, with Vancian spellcasting and such. Why not bring back different experience growth per class and racial level caps." "I'm sure it's a great character creation minigame, like 3.5 was, but I wouldn't ever want to run it."

Now, to each their own, and I don't begrudge anyone having their hated games any more than I would their favorites. Still, Pathfinder obviously appeals to some people, and I'm mildly curious what that appeal is. I'm mostly curious how it runs from a DM's perspective and what it offers compared to other systems. I've looked at the rulebook, but I've also read the rules to Vampire: The Masquerade, and on paper that sounded great too. (And thematically, it was and is; unfortunately the rules don't hold up half so well as the setting.)

I like Savage Worlds (Deadlands, Achtung! Cthulhu), GUMSHOE (Trail of Cthulhu, Night's Black Agents), Shadowrun, and Legend of the Five Rings. I've really enjoyed some narrative or storytelling focused games, although I still want a little crunch in my games, as Shadowrun and L5R might imply.

sciencephile
January 5th, 2016, 18:57
Pathfinder is good for those of us who want to keep within the D&D 3.5 ruleset, but with cleaned up rules (such as combining the Listen, Search, and Spot skills into a central skill called Perception). I have not had any interest in going to D&D 4e (or even 5e really). I think it really comes down to preference and nothing more. To me, D&D 3.5 was the golden age of RPGs and Pathfinder is a way to hang onto a better version of that with additional content for it coming out. Wizards of the Coast abandoned 3.5 so there is nothing there. Paizo took up the torch with Pathfinder and many of us just continue to game in a way that is familiar to us.

As a GM, I have run hundreds of hours of Pathfinder and it runs pretty much similar to 3.5. I personally would like to try other systems (such as Warhammer 40k, Stargate: SG-1, Cthulu, etc.) but Pathfinder offers the biggest pool of players out there so sometimes one must follow the laws of supply and demand.

RustyAngel
January 5th, 2016, 19:52
If you look in the back of the 3.5 book and the back of the pathfinder book you'll see a few of the same names. There is even a preface in the first pages of Pathfinder that talks about working with many of the people who made 3.5. So while others sneer '3.75' we say that with a bit of pride because 3.5 was a great system (my first system to be precise, all tho I have tried others more recently). Pathfinder cleans it up and keeps it going as mentioned above. It streamlines the system but not so much as to over-simplify it. Some complexity is needed for growth after all.

One of the main reasons I enjoy it is for its balance of ideas. When it comes to game systems there is a spectrum that bounces between ideas; On one end we have structure that allows games to be paced and flow well. Structured games tend to leave little room for player imagination, often telling players how it is supposed to be played and what their roles are, leaving little room for individuality. They focus more on the group as a whole and getting players from point A to point B. On the other end we have free-form where the only limit to a character is the players imagination. Games that focus on free-form tend to take longer as they focus more on storytelling with fewer dice rolls, with dice are involved it can be often difficult to interpret what a character is trying to do in terms of math and mechanics. If you drew a line on a piece of paper and on one end put 'structure' and on the other wrote 'free-form' you could map out where what systems fall on the graph. Granted individual interpretations would vary.

Pathfinder, in my opinion anyway, hits close to the point of equilibrium. It is by no means perfect (I'm sure anyone here in the forums would be quick to point out is flaws) but it does find a nice balance between structure and free-form. Yes you have rules and classes, but each class is given a chance to be something more than just a stereotype. You could have five warriors who use the same weapon and by the time they are level four each one could be radically different in how they approach a situation. Often times this can cause the game to run a bit sluggish as they are so many abilities you are capable of and thus many rules to go along with them. For many of us it is worth putting up with it as it allows us to break out of pigeon hole characters and be something more, while at the same time holding to a series of rules that keep the game flowing; finding an awkward yet suitable balance between structure and free-form.

But honestly if you're looking for someone to 'sell' you on Pathfinder. Experience teaches best and other such cliche's. Try to get in on a game, or sit in on a game, for a few sessions or a few levels and think about it.

Black Hammer
January 5th, 2016, 20:45
Thanks, those answers helped a lot. While I have no ill will towards 3.5, I also have no particular urge to revisit it, either. I think I'll leave Pathfinder off my menu for now, but will keep it in mind if I have an urge to run a generic fantasy game again.


As a GM, I have run hundreds of hours of Pathfinder and it runs pretty much similar to 3.5. I personally would like to try other systems (such as Warhammer 40k, Stargate: SG-1, Cthulu, etc.) but Pathfinder offers the biggest pool of players out there so sometimes one must follow the laws of supply and demand.

I've never really been able to run games for something I don't find interesting. I admire GMs who can just put together a good campaign out of anything; for me, there has to be inspiration, or I just don't have the energy to do research.

RustyAngel
January 5th, 2016, 23:47
I think I'll leave Pathfinder off my menu for now, but will keep it in mind if I have an urge to run a generic fantasy game again.

While pathfinder has plenty of 'generic' fantasy elements it's been around enough to challenge its own conventions from time to time, like the Numeria campaign setting that incorporates magic and technology, so you get some interesting adventures (http://pathfinderwiki.com/wiki/File:Numerian_mecha_scorpion.jpg)

Ken L
January 6th, 2016, 01:26
There are a number of variant rules that can be employed to as optional additions to PF. PF's real strength is that it's an open system so anyone can pick up and play it. Given the popularity still of the 3.5 system, it's easy for old school D&D players who don't like 4e and 5e to continue with what they already know.

Building characters is highly variable, and it's easy for new players to create non-functional characters. But in the end, it depends on how you GM, what kind of encounters that you make, and the party composition. A strength to this is that there are a large number of avenues to pursue and specialize for character development.