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WhiteTiger

My First Blog and My first Review - Pathfinder Part 1.

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My First Attempt at a Review – Pathfinder RPG


Greetings, Ladies & Gentlemen. (said in the immortal Heath Ledger’s Voice of the Joker)

For tonight’s entertainment, I bring you My crazy, non-sensical, illogical, emotional, tyrannical
and generally over-the-top & low-blow tirade review of….. (brace for it)….


Pathfinder the Roleplaying Game

Now I’m not going to explain what Pathfinder is, since anyone who is actually going to read this already knows what it is. So without further ado and in the immortal Heath Ledger’s Joker’s Words… Here We go !!!


First off, This book is a gargantuan 3D6 bludgeoning improvised weapon that pretty much overcomes any and all damage resistance. This thing comes in at a whopping 575 pages and weighs over 4 pounds. Now don’t forget to record that on your character sheet so that you can remember how much encumbrance your character is suffering from. It pretty much combines all of the old requisite Player’s handbook and GameMaster’s Guide rules and combines them into one big behemoth of a Tome which is a good thing since it probably reduces printing costs and I don’t have to worry about keeping track of a multitude of books. The art on the front cover is good and
most of us have probably seen it before on Paizo’s website and on various other books that Paizo has published in the past.

Now moving into the guts of this thing. You get the usual introductions by the authors, which in this case is first done by none other than Monte Cook, a well-respected author of many fine books within the d20 open gaming license universe and another introduction by the Lead Designer – Jason Buhlman. I personally don’t know very much about Jason Buhlman. I recall that He did some work on the Eberron universe… I believe it was called Secrets of Xen`drik. I’ve never played Eberron nor read any of the associated works but since Paizo hired him, I can only assume that they must have great confidence in his ability to reinvigorate the old D&D 3.5 community with this new updated work. Oh and by the way, the 3.5 community is not as old as some people try to make it sound.

In Chapter 1, you get the usual description of what this game is all about, what you need to play, etc. It gives you a fairly lengthy and solid description of all of the common terms that you will need when you play such as, what a GM is, what BAB is, Damage Resistance, Spell Resistance, Hit points, different conditions that your character is suffering from like prone or disease, etc. You then get a sample narrative of how a combat scene takes place. After that, We jump into Character creation. One of My favorite parts, I might add.

The first step in creating your character is determining your ability scores. Personally, I like to choose my race first but it doesn’t really matter that much either way. They give you 5 different ways to do it. The standard way is roll 4d6 six times. The classic method is to roll 3d6 six times. Obviously, You will statistically end up with a weaker character but it could still be interesting to try it once in a while. The heroic method is that you roll 2d6 and add 6 to the result. This method of rolling mostly eliminates low scores (i.e. never getting less than an 8) although high scores will still be fairly rare. The 4th choice is to use a dice pool. You grab 24 D6’s and you have to assign a minimum of 3d6 to each ability score roll. There is no maximum, so if you feel you need a super high score in one ability you could assign something like 6d6 to one score in the hopes of getting that 18. The final choice is purchase. The chart is on page 16 and the GM will tell you how many points you have to spend.

This chart is different than the one presented in the old 3.5 GM book. The usual stat bonus chart on page 17 gives your character the usual list of bonuses that you mark on your character sheet to show how good your character is physically and/or mentally including bonus spell slots. This chart is the same as 3.5 which is what I expected. I am going to wait until I start the 3rd chapter before I remark on why I felt Paizo did what it did in regards to the change in purchase points, race enhancement s and XP charts but for now, let’s move on.


Chapter 2 – Races

I can say without a doubt that all of the races got stat improvements. Although some got a lot more than others. First up are the Dwarves. At first, I thought they got a lot of improvements but it was my eyes playing tricks on me. Paizo put labels on each of the stat bonuses and threw me off for a second but after checking the old PHB, the only real difference is the +2 wisdom. I do admit though, it looks better organized and easier to read. Oh and by the way, The Dwarves of golarion is due out sometime in November, 2009 so if you are looking for more options then you might want to check it out.

Now it’s the Elves turn. They get a +2 to intelligence which is awesome for wizards and they get a +2 to overcome spell resistance and identifying magic items. All I can say is “Wow, are these new elves super-powerful spell-casters in this new edition”. I think we are going to see a lot more elf arcane characters from now on. The elves get a +2 to perception which is a condensation of Listen, Search & Spot which is great. I did notice that they got rid of the 5-foot free search check to spot a secret door. I don’t have a problem with that since I feel that everyone should get a chance to make a roll to notice it anyway. How come only the elves got to do that in the first place??? I guess I’ll never know.

Now here we have the Gnomes. I admit that I don’t play short or small races and the Gnomes are no exception but I do like where Paizo is taking them. In April 2010, Paizo is releasing a Gnomes of Golarion companion book where they will talking about the Gnomes history, specifically they will be talking about the “Bleaching” which is some kind of weird aging process because they used to be fey and because they left that world and came to Golarion. Oh, at this point, I feel I have to comment on the artwork of the races. It’s interesting how Paizo decided to show them in their underwear, it particularly reminds me of a fundoshi. In a way, I kind of like that because it makes me feel like the book was built more for adults than kids.

The Dwarf is pretty standard. The elf strangely has black eyes and looks like he wants to rip your throat out. The Gnome is cute and she looks like a punk teenager and if she were my daughter, I’d probably never let her out of the house looking like that.

For the most part, the Gnomes didn’t gain much. They get a +2 to charisma which is an obvious boost since the Gnomes most obvious class(es) to take would be either the Bard or the Sorcerer. The original +2 to craft (alchemy) is now +2 to any craft or profession skill. This is a good thing since it allows you to tailor your character more to your liking. The +2 listen is now +2 perception similar to the Elf.

The Half-elf is the uber-hottie in this book as far as I’m concerned. They get to add a +2 to any ability score of their choosing. This is an awesome thing for flexibility in building your character. They also gain a free Skill focus feat at 1st level which can be useful. The last big thing that they gain is “Multi-talented”. This allows the player to choose up to 2 favored classes and every time you gain a level in either class, you can choose to gain either an extra hit point or a skill point.
In a word… Sweet!!!

The Half-Orc got fixed in a major way. I’ve noticed in the past of how few players actually played one and I’m sure that was due to the net negative -2 that they suffered. Who wants to play an inferior character??? Answer: No one that I know of. They get the same bonus that the Half-elf does and no longer suffers any negatives. YAY!!! They also gain a +2 to intimidate checks. They also gain “Ferocity” which allows them fight on for more round if they brought to 0 or lower Hit points. Overall, I’d say that the Half-Orc is now roughly on par with everyone else. Oh and by the way, I noticed that the new Half-Orc seems to have gained some “Hulk” blood or maybe He’s been hanging out with the WoW crowd. Zug-Zug!!! Dabu!!!

The Halfling didn’t change too much either. The Sure-footed power is a roll-up of the old 3.5 skillsas well as the Keen senses ability. The rules for small didn’t really change and the Halfling still gets a +1 to all saving throws and a +2 to fear effects. The only thing the Halfling gets is a +2 to Charisma which is the same as Gnome and the class choices for the Halfling would be either rogue, bard or sorcerer or a multi-class version of what I just mentioned. Oh, and speaking of classes, I just read the latest on Paizo’s website. They now have a sample character of the new Oracle class. This is a spontaneous divine caster that uses charisma as it’s main attribute. I can definitely see any race with a bonus to charisma should be able to play this class pretty effectively.
The poor halfing though, He doesn’t look too happy posing in his jockstrap though. LOL!!!

Lastly, it’s the Human. Well, long story short, they got the absolute least amount of changes.
You get a +2 to one ability score and that’s it. It’s exactly the same as 3.5.
The female though looks like she is about to audition for a bout on the UFC.

Chapter 3 – Classes

Starting on Page 30, you will notice a brand new XP progression chart. This chart has 3 “speeds”, - Slow, Medium and Fast. I’d be willing to bet that few players will be too keen on playing on the slow chart. Personally, as a GM, I plan on testing this using the Fast chart. Besides, I can always withhold XP until I feel the time is right anyways. This new chart evokes some thoughts of nostalgia due to the fact that I used to play 1st & 2nd edition and back then the charts used to go up to 2 and possibly 3 million XP so this is kind of cool. You get 10 feats, 1 at every odd level instead of the old 7. This is an EPIC win as far as I am concerned. WOTC produced dozens of splatbooks that generated several hundred feats for you to choose from but you could only get 7??? You pretty much had to play a human and/or a class that gave you more feats if that was what you wanted.

There are no more penalties for multi-classing. YES!!! It’s about frickin` time. No more calculating XP loss. Favored Class now actually means something and when you take a level in your favored class, you can choose either a bonus hit point or a bonus skill rank. I can’t argue with that choice.

Before I get too involved talking about what changes occurred with all of the classes. I wanted to talk about why I felt Paizo ramped up the stats for all the races. It seems to be pretty obvious that they wanted to close the gap between the regular races and the level adjusted races. The most obvious proof is located in the Council of Thieves player’s guide. This guide is free and you can go to Paizo’s website and download it whenever you feel like it. I believe the entry is on page 5 or 6. It basically gives you some different options as to how to deal with the tiefling if the GM allows it in the game. One of these choices is for the GM to enforce an XP hit. Basically, the player would only earn ½ XP until the GM felt that a reasonable amount of XP difference between the tiefling player and the rest of the group. This XP difference could be 1,000 or even 2,000. There are other methods available such as reducing the tieflings powers. Although, I doubt if too many player’s would be willing to go down that road.

I also noticed that there are less points to spend if you use the purchase points system. You only get 25 points if you use Epic but in the old 3.5 it was 32. When you spend your 25 points and then add in your bonuses, you should be just about the same as the old 32 point chart. The trick here is that putting in a stat boost and reducing the point expenditure, you somewhat close the gap between the non-Level adjusted races and those that are, but your starting stats are still roughly the same as in 3.5. That’s pretty smart there, Paizo.

I’m guessing that if you wanted to play an even higher level adjusted race, you could probably apply the same rules and still be relatively balanced. If for example, the GM allowed you to play a Half-Janni from the Qadira companion book, you would have to suffer a 2 level loss to stay balanced in a standard 3.5 setting but in Pathfinder, you would first take a 2,000 XP loss (example: earning only ½ XP until you reached 4,000 xp) and then at some point down the road you then take a one level loss. This would make the Half-Janni much more tolerable and less painful to play and you could play it at a lower level. I see this as a win-win for everyone.


Barbarian

The big thing that changed for the Barbarian was how Rage was handled. You gain a number of uses that increases as you level and you get to pick additional types of rage powers as you level. The different uses can generate a lot of different effects such as more DR, more damage, faster speed, resistance or immunity to certain conditions, etc. I do have to say that I think a couple of them are kinda stupid. Example: I rage and My vision get better??? (i.e. gain low-light).
Man, I can see it now…. “RRRRRAAAARRRGH, Hey look guys, now I can see!”. I think I smell a little WOTC primal power getting figured into this new Barbarian. It’s almost like it’s tapping into animal powers. If you were going to do that then you should have given the barbarian access to Totemic powers. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if Paizo does exactly that in a future splatbook but I wouldn’t hold My breath for getting a check in the mail for coming up with good ideas.
For now, I am going to dock a point from the final score for adding stupid powers unless a new splatbook from Paizo comes out that ties some of these powers to something that makes sense.
The barbarian was always a useful class and is now even better, albeit with a few corny powers.



Bard

The bard gains a bigger hit die, D8 vs D6. It gains more spells known and more spell slots but not more spell levels although it’s still treated as a full spellcaster. The bard also gains more musical powers. Most of them are pretty cool like being able to generate a Mass Cure Serious Wounds for the party. That’s really awesome. The bard can also prevent certain conditions from occurring like frightened or shaken and the bard can cause fear against his/her enemies.

The only thing I don’t like is adding more save or die effects to the game. I think this just boils down to when you get to end of the campaign. I prefer a knuckle-drag-out of a fight rather than just chuck “save-or-die” powers at each other and the winner is the one who got lucky and made their saves. Okay, that to me is not fun. I think a better power for the bard would be to allow the bard to generate more damage from sonic spells without having to use a larger spell slot.

I’m probably going to dock points from Paizo, every time they add more “save-or-die” effects. The power that I was referring to is “Deadly Performance”. I think it would also be useful to add some sort of focus for the bard in a future splatbook. What I am getting at is to allow the bard to maybe pick either 1 - 7th level cleric spell or 1 - 7th level sorcerer/wizard spell at a high level and be able to use it as a spell-like ability up to maybe twice a day. I’ve noticed several situations where 6th level and lower spells don’t work against some of the really powerful monsters and I still feel that the bard is too weak at the upper levels. He’s pretty good in a mid-level campaign but of limited use when you start getting close to epic level. The bard did get better but still needs more work.

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