Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Pathfinder Advanced Player’s Guide

Posted by Rampant Coyote on September 26, 2010

Okay, I’m being a total fanboy here, but…

I actually had *some* time with my extended weekend to delve deeper into the Advanced Player’s Guide for the Pathfinder RPG (a pen-and-paper RPG which is based heavily on the D20 3.5 rules). I’m way impressed. Okay, maybe not so much with the Alchemist class, but the book is otherwise packed with the kind of flexibility and fun-sounding options that made me excited about D&D 3.x in the first place, over ten years.

But I couldn’t help but think: If this had been a product by Wizards of the Coast for Dungeons & Dragons, the same material would have been scattered across six different rule books, bulked out with filler.

Back in the day, I really liked how they married the old-school class-based system of D&D with skill-based rules.  It seemed like a best-of-both-worlds approach. But over time, it became clear that the makers of D&D really wanted to downplay feats and skills because new classes sold more books.  After all, if you make some cool ability a feat, you’ve only filled up maybe 1/6th of a page. But if you turned it into a class ability for a brand new class, then you can fill 3 pages with largely redundant information. And then you could also make it a class ability for three or four more classes, with minor variations, and put them all in separate books!

Pathfinder isn’t doing that (at least not so far). I especially like the class variant idea. Want to be a fighter that specializes in archery? No biggy, just choose fighter and this variant, which exchanges a couple of class abilities with new ones, and you are done! No need for a whole new base class or prestige class.

Maybe it’s just the programmer side of me that says, “Oh, efficiency!” I dunno.  The other thing that this seems to be doing is setting a precedent for DMs that feels a little more like old-school gaming, where GMs (Game Masters) felt more free to throw simple house-rules into their game rather than depending upon an official release to introduce needed mechanics to the system.  Swap a few abilities around, and voila! Or viola. Or trombone. Something like that.

Filed Under: Dice & Paper - Comments: 5 Comments to Read

  • Miral said,

    *plays viola* 🙂

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    I played the baritone back in junior high… 😉

    But I never took French.

  • screeg said,

    If efficiency is your thing, why go with classes at all?
    Regardless, you’re on the money about filler.

  • Xenovore said,

    If “efficiency” is key, D & D (and any other variant thereof) is not the system to use.

  • Jakk said,

    Re: screeg: Regarding filler: Yes, definitely… thanks to the APG, using two books I can create a Pathfinder character with just as many (if not more) options than I had spread across a dozen splatbooks in 3.5, and I can do this in less than half the time.

    Re: screeg and Xenovore: Regarding efficiency: I tried to build a classless d20 fantasy system during my attempts to correct the deficiencies (please don’t ask me to list them) that I found in 4E, which would have been a far better system had they gone classless altogether (but then it wouldn’t have been WoW compatible), but it didn’t have the right “feel” without the classes.

    Regardless, as far as efficiency goes, D&D is still far more efficient than systems like Rolemaster and GURPS. Xenovore: I’m curious as to which system(s) you play.