|Paizo Pathfinder® Paizo Games|
|About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ|
Hey, it beats trying to understand where others are coming from. And why they keep running into the same exact problems, even when others keep saying they aren't problems.
Or, failing that, looking at games with more modern and progressive design, and how in many of those games "martial-caster disparity" is a non-issue.
That depends on how many you can fit on one arrow. For maximum stack-age, I prefer ballistae.
Dragonchess Player wrote:
Now rogues can be fun and effective characters to play in the right campaign/group; they can also be "un-fun" and ineffective in other campaigns/groups. But the same can be said for any class, really.
And yet, it seems to be most often said for Rogues and other pure martials.
I played in a game once with a "Paladin" who used "Lay on Hands" from a Wand of Cure Light Wounds.
I'm pretty sure they were actually a Rogue, but darned if I could get a straight answer out of the player.
Jack Smythe wrote:
This stuff confused me too, and I don't think there are obvious answers. It would have been nice if they'd clarified.
The powers that be are very satisfied by the status quo, and I think that asking them to try and address things that would drastically alter the status quo is asking for disappointment when those things play it safe and follow the party line and therefore change nothing in the long run.
^ This right here is why these threads keep popping up, IMO. And the reason Status Quo Is God (or a Level 15 Highgod Paragon) is because Paizo's making oodles of money from Pathfinder.
I feel like it'd be a mistake to equate that with quality, though. At this point, Pathfinder's ubiquitous because it's ubiquitous. It's like PHP, if you're familiar with web code; it was in the right place at the right time, and was considered good enough when it came out. But now we're all stuck dealing with its tangled "spaghetti code," and basically having our imaginations held back by the assumptions made for this one game.
Like that martials need to be "realistic," and have maximum scrutiny applied to their actions, while casters can do whatever they want because magic.
Third-party fixes are an option, but they don't scale. How many people are you going to get to use them? How do you share them with people? Which one do we standardize on? What about people who are stuck in someone else's game ... like, say, Pathfinder Society?
I think we're going to start to see more and more games like D&D 5e, Dungeon World, and Fate take off and get popular. Not just because they don't have this problem (or don't have it as bad), but because the time and money it takes to start playing them -- or even introduce all your friends to them -- is less than it takes to fix Pathfinder. Whether it's your game, your character, or the system itself that we're talking about fixing, here.
Paizo might fix things eventually, but as long as they've built their whole business model on standing athwart progress -- and as long as the people who love their game, and feel empowered by it, have more free time and money than those who'd play anything else if they could -- they're going to keep rejecting it. And cede this design space to other people.
I just finished reading Distant Worlds, and any time it talked about sex (or sometimes just women's outfits) I had the distinct impression that I was reading, like, 30's pulp sci-fi or something. Like whoever wrote it had missed the boat big time, and was unironically writing for an imagined audience of sexually-repressed 15-year-old boys, about stuff like fifty foot tall women in loincloths fighting amazon dinosaur riders. Or "a plaec wat maeks u raep ppl, an then thay hav babbies an go aan raep ppl too!!1"
I'm sure there are ways of exploring these topics that aren't cringe-tastic, at least for me. But I really feel like it shows that this was one of their earlier efforts.
Berti Blackfoot wrote:
Also, even for sexually liberal societies, there is a big difference between portraying nudity or consensual sex and casual violence against women. But removing all of that second sort of content is usually good, because often the violence against women in art isn't necessary, and the constant showing it over and over can be traumatizing for people who have been attacked.
Agreed ~ however you feel they ought to be used, this is what trigger warnings were invented for.
My personal issue with the material was less that they used the word "rape," or said that one of the NPCs raped people, but with the way that it was presented. I don't have my copy with me anymore (I threw it in the trash), but the scene in which Kreed raped the newlywed was portrayed as an attack on her husband, with the emphasis on his experience of it.
I shouldn't have to say what the problem with this is.
Moreover, the blurb on Kreed went on to talk about how when he's not committing casual acts of violence, he's actually not so bad and is randomly generous to people. Or something. YMMV, but I feel like this part was less of a commentary on IRL rape culture and the normalization of sexual violence, and more of a ham-handed attempt to introduce "moral ambiguity" into a game where "I kills it with my greataxe" is the default mode of interaction.
Speak for your own species, Frost Giant. :P
I personally love having tons of choice. That's why I keep getting frustrated trying to design characters for Pathfinder. I have to read forum guides to figure out which of the 1000+ options are relevant. Only to find out that the character I want to play is the equivalent of an Animate Rope spell, and I should be playing something else if I don't want to die. Especially in Pathfinder Society, where not only does it cost money, but they also don't pull their punches as often, and there's more of a burden on players to optimize characters.
Then I find out there's awesome third-party content that does exactly what I need. But it's not anywhere online that I can link my GM to it, and she's skeptical of third-party stuff by default (when she didn't buy it herself) because she's still not done reading through the ACG yet, and she thinks half of the PRD looks munchkin-y anyway.
The problem isn't volume of choice. It's the difficulty in finding the right choices for your character, and then having to either pay for or negotiate the right to use them, and that everyone takes it for granted that this is just How An RPG Works.
Fate Core System players design their own stuff as a group, every day, and their game's made it into a fun collaborative process. Meanwhile, Paizo sells flash cards to help people not forget the rules, and they're about to start selling a strategy guide to teach newbs how not to make characters that suck. Is it just me, or is this a product that shouldn't have to exist?
You do need to buy them in at least PDF form, if you want to play your character in Pathfinder Society. Even though modern Player's Companions have a big, legible notice right on page 1 that says you can find the rules you need to use everything in them in the PRD, with no mention of whether or not that will fly with your PFS GM.
Either way, most books have at best only a handful of options which complement a given campaign or character build. But at the same time, most Pathfinder hardcover books have at least one option which does, which was the point of the original quote:
Ivan Rûski wrote:
With every new hardcover that comes out, at least one character from my group is able to be redone to closer match their players' original vision.
I'm not comparing Pathfinder to any other game here, "crunch-centred" or otherwise. I'm saying that buying, or at least reading, roughly 100x more pages than you actually need, is a feature of Pathfinder, for better or worse.
I think it's worth acknowledging this fact. I also think it's worth considering if there are other ways to get our gaming on, for less of an investment of time and money. Paizo's done a lot of things I like, but unless they are signing my paycheck I don't have to identify with them and worry about where their money's coming from.
Ivan Rûski wrote:
With every new hardcover that comes out, at least one character from my group is able to be redone to closer match their players' original vision. So if anything the focus of my games is becoming clearer with more options, not more muddied.
If you have to buy a dozen-odd books to even come close to playing the character you wanted to play in the first place, you may be playing Pathfinder.
So, the PRD states that it's a standard action to use a Cleric domain ability unless otherwise noted.
Speak with Animals, the level 1 Animal domain ability, says you can use it "for a number of rounds" based on your cleric level.
Does that mean you have to use a Standard action each round to use it? Or does the "for a number of rounds" clause count as being "otherwise noted?"
Keeping in mind that I am presupposing how long my character will survive and how many high-level adventures she'll be able to participate in here ...
I wanted to go summoning Cleric for Pathfinder Society, with detailed notes on each summon and plans for how to use them ahead of time. Augment Summoning is pretty much mandatory for this build, and requires Spell Focus. Fortunately, Wizard gets Spell Focus instead of Scribe Scroll in PFS, and also has a Conjuration school ability that increases duration of summons so the level's not totally shot.
Here are the relevant variables:
* 14 Intelligence (I wanted the skill points for Knowledge skills)
* Non-human character (can't just take both feats at level 1)
* Deity does not grant Rune domain (and Separatist build does not interest me)
Is a 1-level dip in Wizard worth it, for the bonus feat and for the ability to basically UMD without taking the skill? I was considering taking the Magical Knack trait for Wizard as well, so I'd be able to use 2nd-level scrolls without making a caster level check.
Speaking of which, can you take 10 on the caster level check to use a scroll, if you're not in combat? And does a Wizard's prohibited school thing apply to Cleric spells also, i.e. would I have to use two Cleric spell slots to prepare a Wizard prohibited spell? If not, does the Conjuration school ability that increases the duration of summons apply or not?
Step 1. Pick up a copy of the Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of the Moon, at your friendly local games store. It, another softcover Player Companion, and the contents of the Beginner Box are the only Pathfinder books that you own.
Step 2. Discover the Lunar mystery for Oracles. Decide that it looks neat. However, it’s for a class that your books don’t cover, and it grants a lot of weird spells.
Step 3. Discover the following paragraph right at the start of the book, prominently displayed in legible font right under the table of contents:
This Pathfinder Player Companion refers to several other Pathfinder Roleplaying Game products and uses the following abbreviations. These books are not required to make use of this Player Companion. Readers interested in references to Pathfinder RPG hardcovers can find the complete rules from these books available for free at Paizo.com/prd.
Step 4. Go online and get the rules you need to play your character. Show up at the Pathfinder event your friend told you about, at your local games store, with a Lunar Oracle.
Step 5. Confess that you’d much rather be playing a Kitsune.
Step 6. Find out that Kitsune do in fact exist, and are in fact a legit choice for Pathfinder Society. However, you need to have a “boon,” which is essentially a signed permission slip from your parents, I mean the Venture-Captains, saying you’re allowed to play a fox instead of a crow. The only ways to get these are to go to a convention in another state, which you wouldn’t be able to afford unless you sold your own body parts, or to go to a certain thread on the Paizo forums to trade a different boon for the Kitsune one.
Step 7. Remember that you have an honest-to-Daikitsu signed “get out of death free” boon because you participated in the Beginner Box Bash a few years ago.
Step 8. Offer it up for trade, and get a response surprisingly quick.
Step 9. Receive, via US mail, a sheet of paper that looks suspiciously like a photocopy or computer printout, which contains the following sentence:
This Chronicle sheet must be the first Chronicle sheet for the given character, and you must bring a copy of one of the above-listed rulesbooks (the Advanced Race Guide or the Dragon Empires Gazetteer) to all sessions in which you play this character as if access to this race selection were granted by the Additional Resources list.
Step 10. Ask yourself, “WTF is the Additional Resources list?”
Step 11. Oh.
Step 12. Read the following sentence from that link:
In order to utilize content from an Additional Resource, a player must have a physical copy of the Additional Resource in question, a name-watermarked Paizo PDF of it, or a printout of the relevant pages from it, as well as a copy of the current version of the Additional Resources list.
Step 13. Track down all the books that you need to duplicate the content relevant to your character from the Pathfinder Reference Document, which is an official resource published by Paizo itself and explicitly endorsed by a prominent paragraph on page 1 of Blood of the Moon, which says that those books are not required to use it.
Step 14. Realize that you have to pay a minimum of $40 to play a character you like, using rules that you bought and paid for and contained a large notice from Paizo itself telling you where to fill in the blanks. These PDFs would contain a prominent watermark with your email address, which is not information you want to disclose to men that you're casually acquainted with. Adding insult to injury, the PDFs themselves would be basically worthless for tableside reference, because it’d take much longer to look up rules text in them compared to in the PRD, on your phone. Even though that is the stated reason why you have to bring them on the Additional Resources page:
... we cannot assume that every Game Master will have the products listed below. As such, it's up to players to bring these items in order to familiarize their Game Masters with the rules.
Step 15. Realize that if your Kitsune character ever dies, you’re going to have to go back and repeat the whole process of finding another boon, if you want those $40 worth of PDFs that you don’t want to buy to do you any good.
Step 16. Go on the Paizo.com messageboards, to see if there’s any sign of the PRD being added as a legit “additional resource.”
Step 17. Find a ton of people like (and like-ing) this guy, who condescend to people who asked about it, dictate their own priorities to them, blame Paizo’s mixed messaging on them, ignore the fact that Paizo’s policies burden some players a lot more than others, and in general infantilize and insult them even more than Paizo already does by requiring things like signed permission slips.
Step 18. Give up and play other games instead, using books that you bought at the local games store that welcomes you and treats you like a person, instead of PDFs that you bought online from a company that doesn’t.
This is only a partly fictionalized account. I already knew about Kitsune and the Additional Resources list going in. What I didn’t know was that there’s a boon trading thread (i.e. that I had any hope of playing a Kitsune ever), and that newer Pathfinder Player Companions were explicitly telling people to go to the PRD to fill in the blanks, instead of burying the reference in legal text like they used to. So I tried to imagine what it would be like, for a newb to go into it this way.
Also, I’m still playing in Pathfinder Society, and buying Pathfinder Player Companions that I think are cool and want to use for my character (like the Animal Archive,) instead of selling my Pathfinder stuff on eBay.
Because my PFS GM lets me use the PRD.
I actually really liked the original concept of the Arcanist as someone who uses study and discipline (INT-based casting) to unlock their natural potential (Sorcerer bloodlines).
I get that the "Sage" bloodline is one approach to this concept, but it ties you down to being an Arcane Sorcerer instead of, say, someone with a spellbook and draconic or celestial heritage.
I guess there were huge balance issues with the original version of the class, but I wish this fluff hadn't been thrown out. And as long as the Shaman got all-new versions of both hexes and mysteries, maybe Arcanist could've gotten new bloodlines.
So there is a personal sacrifice to (attending cons).
Which a lot of people aren't able to make, due to disability or finances or other reasons which no one seems to be acknowledging.
But there is a way to push for your viewpoint so that it doesnt create a flame war on these boards.
Yes, it's called "pretending there isn't a problem with acceptance of people who are different from others."
Todd Morgan wrote:
Please, don't express disagreement in a way I don't like. Nothing is screwed up for me by restricting races because I'm not left out by the policy.
Fixed that for you.
Todd Morgan wrote:
3. Eliminates races that aren't present in Golarion or are evil
So a race can be evil. We're just swimming in unfortunate implications today. What year is it, again?
Todd Morgan wrote:
Look at the potential crunch non-racial boon holders get. It's a huge percentage of the book, and they can use core rules to make themselves a unique character that fits their profile.
If, and only if, their profile happens to be that of a HEDGHog.
It makes no sense for a horde of kitsune to descend on this part of Golarion, as their homeland is far away.
The only way your "horde of kitsune" will materialize is if there are a horde of people who want to play kitsune. Current PFS policy is to exclude those people.
But one of the reasons I left LFR was that "monsters as PCs" didn't fit for me. I played at a table full of undead and monsters, and the table played it exactly as normal. The townspeople should want to kill us on sight, not greet us as heroes.
Which leaves out the people who want to play "undead and monsters" and be greeted as heroes on account of they do heroic stuff, as opposed to killed on sight because they have fur or differently-coloured skin.
I'm not the one who's bringing the unfortunate implications into this conversation. You just literally don't realize what you're saying.
The setting dictates the races.
And the players dictate the setting. Just in case you've forgotten what happened with the Shadow Lodge.
Todd Morgan wrote:
That's patently false. No one is irrelevant in this game. I think Mike has proved this time and time again by putting potential rules to the community as a whole and weighing his decision.
Someone who feels left out is telling you she and others feel left out. "No, you're not" is the wrong way to respond.
Todd Morgan wrote:
Second, there is a sacrifice to attending a convention.
That is not in dispute. By bringing up disability and means, I am pointing out that it's a sacrifice many aren't able to make.
Todd Morgan wrote:
Saying that they don't deserve something special for (going to cons) is unfair. Why should someone who doesn't make the same sacrifice deserve the same rewards? Just because? No.
This is a straw kitsune argument, against something I didn't say. I am 100% okay with giving out swag at cons. I'm trying to point out that playable race options are not like other boons, because for many players they're the only way to have a character they can identify with. Saying otherwise is erasing the people for whom this is an issue, which is easy for you to do because most of them don't play in PFS for obvious reasons.
Todd Morgan wrote:
People like the racial boons because they can make something that few other players can (when you look at the total number of players it's a small number of people who actually acquire the boons). Gamers like specialness.
There is nothing about this statement that I disagree with, or that I feel invalidates my arguments: That allowing ARG races would be a good thing, and that the reason they aren't allowed right now is because things are screwed up massively.
Patrick Harris @ SD wrote:
I count two pages of Kitsune material in the ARG, six pages of Dhampir material, and seventy pages of stuff for HEDGHogs counting in half-elves and half-orcs. I'm willing to bet that the ratio is similar across the rest of the game line.
Todd Morgan wrote:
If you make the sacrifice to attend a convention you should get a reward and the racial boons are a huge draw for conventions. Every convention organizer has said so that has received them. You can't argue this isn't the case.
You can argue that it's missing the point, which I did in the post above that. And you can't argue that the current system results in a lot of players not being able to play characters they identify with, and a handful of people having the option to play those characters when it's a lot less important to them.
Being able to go to a con is not a matter of being willing to "sacrifice." It's a matter of ability (do my body and neurology allow me to attend a con?), temperament (would I enjoy a con?), means (can I afford to go to a con?), schedule (am I allowed to go to a con?), transportation (can I actually get to the con?), and a ton of other factors that have nothing-the-heck whatsoever to do with desire to play a particular race.
The current system is more than inequitable. It's screwed up. The only reason it's considered acceptable is because the people it's inequitable to are considered irrelevant.
That's easy. You get the hell off my lawn, you freak! Which is basically what GM's "argument," and every no-ARG argument, boils down to. But IMO, if Paizo didn't want goth girls and furries playing their game, they shouldn't have made the flipping ARG to begin with.
Playable Shadow Lodge characters FTW. Open playtesting FTW. Players advocating the changes they want to see in the game, FTW. This is something to keep making noise about until those changes happen. Because those changes will happen if enough players want them, because this is Paizo we're dealing with and not A Certain Gaming Megacorp.
Addressing a few points that players have made since the first post.
1. Oh noes this would be unrealistic.
I shouldn't have to tell anyone that "realism" got thrown out the window long ago. And if I want to troll PFS with a character who "doesn't fit", I could just roll Yuna and Valefor and pray to the Fayth. Or heck, I could play a Gunslinger.
Every time you see it, replace "this would be unrealistic" with "this would allow people I don't like to play in PFS." That, again, is the elephant in the room.
2. We need to give out race boons at conventions so people will come to them.
To the average PFS player, getting a Dhampir or Kitsune boon is like getting a cupcake. It doesn't break the game or give them any material advantage, especially since there's less supplementary material for them than for HEDGHogs, and it sure as hell isn't the reason that they go to cons. It's just a neat extra that they can use on a whim or toss if they feel like it.
Contrast that with the players who want to but can't. They can't get to cons because of inadequate means, punishing schedules, disabilities, or just the fact that conventions aren't fun for them and they'd rather not waste hundreds of dollars just to play a flipping fox.
Yes, this is personal. That's the point. There's no reason for this ban, besides people's personal feelings that certain kinds of persons should not play their game. Or if they do, they shouldn't get to play as the kinds of characters that they actually like using the $40 book they bought, because screw them.
If you get to play your favorite character, and you are able to attend cons, you really don't have the right to tell others they're "whining" about this.
To recap in case there's anyone who dun know what we're talking about, the Advanced Race Guide and the guidelines for using it in Pathfinder Society games just got released. The Advanced Race Guide details rules for how to play 30 races not already in the Core Rulebook. The number of these races playable in Pathfinder Society games without special permission is 0.
The way to get this special permission is to receive a campaign boon from attending other Pathfinder Society events, usually those held at conventions. This results in numerous players who want to play a certain race but aren't allowed to, and a tiny handful of players who are allowed to play a certain race, many of whom probably don't want to. For some reason, this is seen as okay, and the people who've pointed out that this is inequitable are seen as spoiled and entitled whiners.
The justification for why this is okay partly involves game balance issues, but mostly centers on how people don't want the PFS to be like Mos Eisley. The assumption is that if ARG races are allowed, all of a sudden PFS will be swarmed with them.
This is screwed up on multiple levels.
First off, let's take that assumption at face value. At your next PFS game, everyone's playing Kenku Bards, Kitsune Summoners, and Catfolk Rogues who say "nya." I don't know how you'd describe this, but I'd call it a flipping spectacular success for the Advanced Race Guide.
My FLGS got 11 copies in today, and after I bought mine they were down to three. What does that tell you about what Pathfinder players want? I personally know at least one person other than me who'd go back to playing PFS if they were allowed to play an ARG race.
Yet this is the way things are right now, by design. If you want to play a character you can identify with, and that character's race isn't in the half-dozen or so that've existed since 3.0 came out, you have to first create a different character, put in your time, and pray. This despite the fact that the choice of class affects gameplay a heck of a lot more than race does, and there are OVER 9000 class archetypes on offer, many of which (Gunslinger, Synergist) are extremely different from everything else.
Here's the elephant in the room.
The "we don't want Mos Eisley" argument is loaded with more unfortunate implications than the Order of the Stick has metagaming. Let's look at the ways to interpret it, from the most to the least charitable.
1. We want to preserve the Golarion setting.
Golarion is a world dominated by HEDGHogs (humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, and halflings). HEDGHogs comprise nearly all of the characters in the lore. It is very HEDGHy. Allowing non-HEDGHog characters compromises the creative vision, and will make the world seem less like Golarion and more like the (unbelievably successful) Star Wars series.
Problem: This argument is self-refuting. If anyone feels threatened enough by the prospect of a large number of ARG race player characters to need to invoke Mos Eisley against them, that demonstrates that enough people want to play non-HEDGHogs that "preserve Golarion's racial purity" is not a priority for the player base.
2. We don't want weird player characters hanging around.
HEDGHogs have been around since the start of 3.0 and before. Ergo, they are not weird like Tengu and Kitsune are. Weird stuff should either be disallowed altogether, or only allowed with special dispensation from on high.
Problem: This doesn't make any sense at all unless you accept the premise that "weird is bad." Which is dangerously close to "diversity is bad", especially when you factor in players who don't want to play "normal" races but do want to play "weird" ones. Which brings us to the most unfortunate way to interpret that argument:
3. We don't want weird players hanging around.
There it is, the big anthropomorphic elephant stomping all over the rulebooks.
Tieflings are disallowed because of the stereotypes of the kind of people who play them. Aasimar are disallowed because of the kind of people who play them. Catfolk and kitsune are especially disallowed because of who wants to play them. Anything else, talk to the hand, because we don't want your kind either.
The Geek Hierarchy joke is funny because it's true. No one wants the damned furries ruining the game with their damned furriness. Because all furries and all furry characters (including Abel) are sex-crazed maniacs, and the existing rules against R-rated stuff at the table are somehow inadequate at keeping their fur-fueled libidos at bay. This is so self-evident that we have to tell people not to use half of the $40 book they just bought in droves, rather than test the hypothesis.
Well, I'm a furry. Hell, I'm an otherkin. And I've GMed Pathfinder for all-furry groups before, where all the players except my significant other were completely new to Pathfinder. These are new players who got exicted about the game, going out and buying Reaper minis and dice and everything, because it let them go on D&D style adventures with their furry characters.
But PFS doesn't want us there, because somehow the idea of playing a HEDGHog does not interest us. And frankly, I think there are a ton of other unfortunate elephants lurking there in Mos Eisley. How about teenage anime fans? Paranormal romance readers? Goths? Tell me who you'd freak out about if they showed up with their favorite character, and I'll tell you what your prejudices are and whose money Paizo is losing.
Yeah, this is overblown. Yeah, I'm another person whining about nothing. But I and my friends also aren't showing up to our FLGS to play PFS and spend $$$. Instead, my significant other and I go to D&D Encounters, where the DM allows them to play a Gnoll Swordmage. And if that's the way everyone wants it to be, just keep on doing what you're doing.
I'll keep working on forking Pathfinder. You wouldn't believe how enthused my players are about it.
This is about the idea of making more stuff in the vein of the Beginner's Box. There are a couple of problems I'm seeing Paizo face here.
One, a direct sequel won't work.
Something like "levels 6-10" necessarily limits it to people who've "beaten" the Beginner Box. Take a look at the Pathfinder products Paizo makes: Basically every book can be used in a wide range of levels, including for creating new characters. You don't have to buy them in any particular order, either. After you've got the Core Rulebook, you can just buy whatever interests you.
This is probably how Paizo wants it, and this is probably why there's so much in the Beginner Box that's designed to funnel people towards the Core Rulebook. Everything else it makes follows from that.
Two, the Core Rulebook is unbelievably clumsy.
It's a 576-page small-print doorstop. It's the book Paizo had to make to get the ball rolling, but Paizo seems to have chosen to err on the side of "comprehensive" rather than "fun" for it, or even "legible." It's my personal feeling that it serves as more of a reference for players who already know how to play 3.5, rather than an introduction to a new game. It does a good job as the former, but a terrible job as the latter, especially for RPG newbies.
That's why Paizo had to make the Beginner Box. Starting out, there was a ginormous pool of dissatisfied 3.5 players to poach for a new game. But at some point that wound down, so now they need to bring in new blood. 4e did that with the Essentials line, but that was controversial for many of the same reasons 4e was.
Paizo, in contrast, made it a priority not to alienate its existing players, so with the Beginner Box it again erred on the side of "comprehensive." This time around, though, the old classes and rules were given a fresh coat of paint, and a presentation that was designed to appeal to new players and ease them into the game. It's the same game; Paizo's just starting to think about player acquisition instead of retention, and how it'd appeal to newbies.
That's why we need more products like this.
The market of people who are dedicated enough to slog through thick hardcovers designed for last century's sensibilities is only going to get smaller. There's no reason that market can't still be served, and Paizo has shown that it's dedicated enough to keep doing so. But just like it's selling the new Pathfinder Battles prepainted minis at the same time as Reaper sells do-it-yourself figs, these new Beginner Box style products -- which are classier, better designed, easier to get into, and just plain more fun, at the expense of not being as concise -- also need to be made.
The question isn't whether or not they'll get made, the question is who's going to. Here's hoping it's Paizo, and that it stays classy and continues to value its existing customers.
A "Core Rulebook 2.0" or similar alternate presentation of the main rules, designed to be streamlined and tasteful but not significantly altered. Maybe along the likes of 3.5 compared to 3e, at most, and with classes like Magus and Summoner built-in. Paizo's learned a lot about how to design and typeset since it started this Pathfinder thing. Sooner or later, it'll be time to put that experience to work.
Just a reminder.
Paizo is not a publicly-traded corporation. It has no shareholder obligations. It can have goals other than "make as much money as possible," like "make the coolest games possible." And it can look to a horizon beyond the next quarter. Moreso than Certain Large Competitors, it recognizes that it's made up of actual people, and it has made a name for itself by letting them pursue their passions and building relationships with its customers.
Whether you're talking about what Paizo should do or is likely to do, keep in mind that Paizo's not likely to stop being awesome. Also keep in mind that for Paizo, "being awesome" and "making boatloads of money" have gone together so far.
I think gaming in general fills needs that are either not experienced or not acknowledged by social alphas. See: Reality is Broken, an in-depth historical and psychological look at the needs fulfilled by gaming, and the ways that modern society seems deficient by comparison.
On the one hand, you could have someone who's painfully socially maladroit, but who has the same basic needs as everyone else: Recognition, compassion, and achievement. How much do you want to bet that she's not getting them at her school or job? How much do you want to bet that most people aren't getting those things, but she's just in a position where she's feeling their loss more acutely?
On the other hand, gaming, especially roleplaying, also fulfills needs which are experienced by smaller groups of the population. People who are having trouble facing themselves -- trauma survivors, people with different orientations or gender / species identities -- can experience catharsis through roleplaying, in a way that's not possible anyplace else.
Those of a different neurotype, like autistics, also find it easier to master games than "RL," since they have fewer unwritten rules (and the consequences of failure aren't as tragic). People will help you learn to play games; if you fail at "RL," they blame it on you.
I think maybe the most revealing stats are the ones used by the Humble Indie Bundle and Wolfire Games. They get like two-thirds of their revenue (roughly) from Windows, and one-third split more or less evenly between Mac and Linux users.
They've found added benefits from supporting Linux, too: Since it's such a small community, it's easier to make waves and get Slashdotted (or the 2011 equivalent) for writing a Linux game. And the kind of players they get on Linux are not only more loyal and more willing to pay for stuff (like Mac owners), they're also more likely to send extremely detailed and helpful bug reports.
Windows is in decline, and the Humble Bundle people are ahead of the curve with cross-platform support. I strongly suggest Paizo take cues from them. (Heck, Android and iPad support might be where to aim in the long long run.)
Okay, cool. So, long-term you want this to be sorta like Neverwinter Nights, then, with player-created modules and things. Or maybe Vendetta Online, with its Player Contribution Corps -- they do a really good job of cultivating their community over there, and making players feel like they have a stake in the game's ongoing development.
It's less than what I was hoping for, which was some kind of Second Life (or Pathfinder OGL) thing where players own their contributions, and can monetize them or even create their own worlds. That's kind of a big project in and of itself, though, and I get the impression this game is basically trying to capture a small part of Golarion rather than all the possibilities inherent in Pathfinder itself.
Either way, I'm looking forward to it and I wish you all luck! I know Paizo "defaults to open," as the people at Red Hat put it, and that's one reason I'm such a fan.
One of the big things that's set Paizo apart is that nearly everything they publish -- besides the "crown jewels" of Golarion and their stockpile of fantasy artwork -- is OGL-licensed, making it basically the gamer version of open-source.
So I'm asking this: Is Pathfinder Online going to be federated or open-source in any way?
Is it going to be like Neverwinter Nights, where we can start our own servers and bring characters between them?
Is it going to be like Saga of Ryzom (or Pathfinder Off-line) where the code's open-source but the setting and story are Paizo's?
Is it going to be like Second Life and OpenSim, where people can create their own addons for it?
I'm not saying we need to be allowed to cheat and/or break the shared world. But one reason Pathfinder -- and RPGs in general -- has done so well is because you don't have to be just a player. You can basically become a game developer as well, and create your own scenarios and share them with your friends. Or even make money off of them, especially with OGL-licensed content.
Is Pathfinder Online going to send us all back to being just players again?