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Has Pathfinder given up on being fantasy?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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Andoran

After looking through some of the books (namely UM and UC), it has occurred to my group that PF has pretty much given up on being a fantasy game and just gone "screw it, let's go Steampunk". Especially after UC. I mean, just look at the picture of the Spellslinger Wizard... Not that this is a bad thing, just an observation and a thread to see if anyone else has noticed this and what people's thoughts are on it. Personally, I quite like it.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

We have a gunslinger in the party I play in, but there's no doubt it's fantasy - not steampunk.


20 people marked this as a favorite.

Fantasy is a broad term that accommodate many sub genres.

Shadow Lodge

26 people marked this as a favorite.

Define fantasy. I guarantee your definition is different from mine.


7 people marked this as a favorite.

Tell that to the 13 arrows in 6 seconds thread.


Ringtail wrote:
Fantasy is a broad term that accommodate many sub genres.

Steampunk being a normal genre, if Wikipedia is to be believed. Okay, it's just a normal genre(scroll down), but you get my point.


Azten wrote:
Ringtail wrote:
Fantasy is a broad term that accommodate many sub genres.
Steampunk being a normal genre, if Wikipedia is to be believed. Okay, it's just a normal genre(scroll down), but you get my point.

I'm sorry-my post was short and unclear. I wasn't implying steampunk was a sub genre of fantasy; I meant to imply that Pathfinder could be its own sub genre of fantasy (albeit one which borrows from many others).

Andoran

@ TOZ. Fantasy in this case meaning High Fantasy, generally something akin to Tolkien. You know, that style of setting that 90% of D&D games have been set in since it began. It is generally what the word fantasy means unless there is a different context in play


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

My definition of fantasy is the fantastical. Pathfinder hasn't left that definition yet.

Shadow Lodge

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Some of us have never read Tolkien.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

13 people marked this as a favorite.
TOZ wrote:
Some of us have never read Tolkien.

... And some of us tried and failed.


With all the resources available, it should be very easy to make a fantasy campaign or make new ones. Pathfinder is still a young game and there is more to come in the future. If they ever get the rights to Ravenloft, I'll be on that bandwagon day 1.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
TOZ wrote:
Some of us have never read Tolkien.

*raises hand*

That'd be me. Though not for lack of trying. I can get almost 3 pages into the Lord of the Rings before I just can't do it anymore.

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

My wife said much the same.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
The White wrote:


After looking through some of the books (namely UM and UC), it has occurred to my group that PF has pretty much given up on being a fantasy game and just gone "screw it, let's go Steampunk". Especially after UC. I mean, just look at the picture of the Spellslinger Wizard... Not that this is a bad thing, just an observation and a thread to see if anyone else has noticed this and what people's thoughts are on it. Personally, I quite like it.

All PF has done is give you some of the tools to play different genres of fantasy. The rest is up to you.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Ringtail wrote:
TOZ wrote:
Some of us have never read Tolkien.

*raises hand*

That'd be me. Though not for lack of trying. I can get almost 3 pages into the Lord of the Rings before I just can't do it anymore.

I ran into issues in the "travelog" section of The Two Towers.


12 people marked this as a favorite.

From my experiences reading Tolkien's epic masterpiece, it's astonishing, brilliant, mezmorizing, atmospheric, and epic. Simply magic, and groundbreaking for its time. Tolkien set the standard, and left an early blue-print for an inspiration of a whole genre called Fantasy.

Andoran

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Lord of the rings is a decent fantasy series. While i respect toliine for imo creating the gnere. Imo some parts of it have no aged well. Thank god the left out the whol Tom Bombidil sequence in the movies. I have read much worse. I have also read much better too.

Shadow Lodge

8 people marked this as a favorite.

I guess Arthur, Cu Chulain, Beowulf, Gilgamesh, and all the others didn't do the job.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
SuperSlayer wrote:
From my experiences reading Tolkien's epic masterpiece, it's astonishing, brilliant, mezmorizing, atmospheric, and epic...

To me, those adjectives better describe The Name of the Wind. But luckily there's room in fantasy for most tastes.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
TOZ wrote:
I guess Arthur, Cu Chulain, Beowulf, Gilgamesh, and all the others didn't do the job.

Those guys right there are what I think of when I think of heroes.


The White wrote:
@ TOZ. Fantasy in this case meaning High Fantasy, generally something akin to Tolkien. You know, that style of setting that 90% of D&D games have been set in since it began. It is generally what the word fantasy means unless there is a different context in play

Thread. The first link in this thread about calibrating your expectations puts Aragorn (and most extraordinary people for that matter) at around a level 4-5. It puts Gandalf at a level 8-10. Not exactly the high fantasy demigods that pathfinder or other fantasy games produce.

Silver Crusade

8 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

It has not "given up being fantasy", rather the rules allow for a broad spectrum of different fantasy options. Steam punk is but one subgenre, tolkienesque high fantasy is another. A GM is free to include or exclude anything from the rules to suit the flavor of their particular game.


Tolkien is what helped bring the genre into pop. culture. Fantasy has existed for long before that with mythology and legends. I've read a lot of Tolkien's works and enjoyed them. Some are more long winded than others when it comes to detail, but it was history and mythology that made me enjoy the genre before I read many of the great authors. The easy, and very enjoyable, read of Tolkien's is The Hobbit. I'd suggest reading it before Hollywood releases their imagining of it in 2012.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber
The White wrote:
After looking through some of the books (namely UM and UC), it has occurred to my group that PF has pretty much given up on being a fantasy game and just gone "screw it, let's go Steampunk". Especially after UC. I mean, just look at the picture of the Spellslinger Wizard... Not that this is a bad thing, just an observation and a thread to see if anyone else has noticed this and what people's thoughts are on it. Personally, I quite like it.

Not as such. Pathfinder is simply a rule-set that is - by definition - increasingly complete. Unless Paizo publishes a book documenting places in Golarion where you can get your loincloth cleaned, they've got to keep pushing the edge material-wise. Sure, there are optional primitive guns now. That's definitely edging out of the "ugh, me swing sword" style, but it's a very reasonable thing to extend the rules for. We're not talking about space travel or microprocessors or cell phones... we're talking about alchemical projectile throwers. Shrug. They should be available in a sensible fantasy world, somewhere.

So far I haven't seen anything that doesn't feel sensible.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
The White wrote:
@ TOZ. Fantasy in this case meaning High Fantasy, generally something akin to Tolkien. You know, that style of setting that 90% of D&D games have been set in since it began. It is generally what the word fantasy means unless there is a different context in play

I would never consider Tolkein to be High Fantasy. It's a low magic setting. I would suggest that there's really never been a significant or well known piece of media that depicted a world as fantastic as the assumptions of D&D/Pathfinder.

And for the record, I grew up loving the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings cartoon movies, and I enjoyed the Peter Jackson epics, but I absolutely despise the books. The writing style is awful--no sense of pacing and way too much description.


Ringtail wrote:
Azten wrote:
Ringtail wrote:
Fantasy is a broad term that accommodate many sub genres.
Steampunk being a normal genre, if Wikipedia is to be believed. Okay, it's just a normal genre(scroll down), but you get my point.
I'm sorry-my post was short and unclear. I wasn't implying steampunk was a sub genre of fantasy; I meant to imply that Pathfinder could be its own sub genre of fantasy (albeit one which borrows from many others).

Steampunk IS a Fantasy subgenre.

What else on Earth would it be?

Pathfinder is a conglomeration of many Fantasy subgenres, including High Fantasy, Steampunk, Adventure, Pulp, Horror, Cosmic Horror, Folk, etc.

Andoran

4 people marked this as a favorite.
TOZ wrote:
Define fantasy. I guarantee your definition is different from mine.

I define fantasy as "however TOZ defines fantasy". GUARANTEE BUSTED!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I find it funny that Tolkien is considered high fantasy -- especially with the number of people on this site in general that call it low fantasy.


7 people marked this as a favorite.
mplindustries wrote:
The White wrote:
@ TOZ. Fantasy in this case meaning High Fantasy, generally something akin to Tolkien. You know, that style of setting that 90% of D&D games have been set in since it began. It is generally what the word fantasy means unless there is a different context in play

I would never consider Tolkein to be High Fantasy. It's a low magic setting. I would suggest that there's really never been a significant or well known piece of media that depicted a world as fantastic as the assumptions of D&D/Pathfinder.

And for the record, I grew up loving the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings cartoon movies, and I enjoyed the Peter Jackson epics, but I absolutely despise the books. The writing style is awful--no sense of pacing and way too much description.

Actually, I'm pretty sure the literary term "High Fantasy" (because it only recently became a game term) was coined specifically FOR elf-based, completely fabricated magical worlds like Middle Earth. In fact, the first time I ever heard the term was in a reference to The Lord of the Rings. It was being used to differentiate that from Sword & Sorcery stuff like Conan and Elric. The notion of it being a "high magic setting" rather than a "low magic setting" is a game concern that didn't have anything to do with the literary term "High Fantasy" until... well, pretty much until the creation of this forum.

I would never call The Professor's writing style "awful," by the way. I personally love his broad strokes of mythology and his attention to detail. I understand if you don't like it, but to call it "awful" would imply that you or I had forgotten more about writing than Tolkien had ever known, rather than the opposite. You know, the real world opposite, where he knew more about mythology, folklore, novelization and writing by the time he was in his twenties than you and I will ever know put together?

Shadow Lodge

Jeremiziah wrote:
TOZ wrote:
Define fantasy. I guarantee your definition is different from mine.
I define fantasy as "however TOZ defines fantasy". GUARANTEE BUSTED!

I refuse to define it! Thus, you are wrong!


4 people marked this as a favorite.

NEWS ALERT. You guys don't know what "High Fantasy" is. The term was coined for literary use, not game use.

You guys seem to think it is a game term. Again, IT IS A LITERARY TERM.

See here, oh lowly apprentices: edjicatin'!

It helps to remember that not everything in the world was invented with your gaming lives in mind. Sheesh!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Bruunwald wrote:
Actually, I'm pretty sure the literary term "High Fantasy" (because it only recently became a game term) was coined specifically FOR elf-based, completely fabricated magical worlds like Middle Earth. In fact, the first time I ever heard the term was in a reference to The Lord of the Rings. It was being used to differentiate that from Sword & Sorcery stuff like Conan and Elric.

Considering how much more Middle Earth was based off of actual folk lore and 'the real world' compared to Conan and Elric I find that comparison ironic.


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I thought fantasy was just another way to describe various thoughts dealing with the imagination. However I must be wrong because apparently the Lord of the Rings series started it all.


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Webster Fantasy Definition

First, I honestly don't believe that high fantasy was developed by Tolkien and Lewis. We've had it for a while in myths and legends. While a far of land might not seem like another world, back in the day places like India were just as mindboggling to conceive, let alone popping down to the Underworld or visiting Vanahiemr. Homer telling the Odyssey might have been akin to Star Wars is to us.

Also, Middle Earth wasn't completely original, as it drew heavily from myths of northern Europe and mixed liberally with Tolkiens wartime experience. I'll give the man credit, it is perhaps the most detailed fantasy world ever made, but it does draw inspiration from other sources rather than being completely invented. Though I fail to see how elves are a qualifier for determining if something is high fantasy or not. It's like saying high fantasy must be based off of medevial Europe.

Personally I've always seen any form of D&D as sword and sorcery rather than high fantasy. Whatever you call it though, the system should be able to support multiple styles of game play.


I think Pathfinder is 100% High Fantasy, Just not generic high fantasy.


Black_Lantern wrote:
I thought fantasy was just another way to describe various thoughts dealing with the imagination. However I must be wrong because apparently the Lord of the Rings series started it all.

There (are no heroes)is no imagination left in man.


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D&D Fantasy ain't literary fantasy either.

It's a Skinner treadmill, built on expectations of power accretion through gear and special abilities. You play your game, you upgrade your gear, you maybe roleplay a bit, you level up, you gradually acquire so many special abilities that scenario design becomes about as difficult as balancing the US Federal Budget.

In Literary Fantasy, there isn't a thriving market in +2 to +3 sword upgrades. Magical swords are Speshul and Rare, the Things of Heroes. Or may not exist at all - there are 0 magical swords in the Conan stories by Robert E. Howard.

Narsil remained the Sword That Was Broken for about 2,200 years before it was reforged as Anduril, Flame of the West. Tell me a D&D campaign where that happens... :)

This implies that the casting time for Make Whole is a bit longer in the LoTR setting. :)

D&D Fantasy is Fantasy Special Ops Home Invasion Fantasy. And as R.A. Salvatore has demonstrated, it's a lucrative fiction genre.

(At least it doesn't have Wiccan sexpot monster hunter detectives who collect vampire, werewolf and Unix sysadmin boyfriends and get power ups from having lovingly described orgies where all these powerful male figures serve only to please her...)


The White wrote:
After looking through some of the books (namely UM and UC), it has occurred to my group that PF has pretty much given up on being a fantasy game and just gone "screw it, let's go Steampunk".

Pathfinder (in the sense of the Golarion campaign setting) has had elements like that since (practically) Day 1 (e.g. the "wand rifle" from Entombed with the Pharaohs). So I'm not sure what you mean by "giving up"; it was like that to begin with.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

High fantasy can have guns, robots, aliens, trains, steam technology, organic technology, techno, rap, drum and bass, dubstep, dinosaurs, dino-riders, bombs, single moms, cryptids, pyramids, psionics, cryonics, ninjas, airships, gunships, starships, worldships, chainsaws, and chainguns.

None of those make something not-fantasy.


If by fantasy, you mean Tolken-esque, then yes, Pathfnder has ncluded somethings that do not fit in that kind of fantasy. Looking at the UC, which is the first deviation that I've really seen, most of it is very much in-line with Yolkien fantasy.


I don't think the point of the original post was to babble endlessly about the definition of high fantasy. Without putting words in the posters mouth, I think he meant sword and sorcery. Adding guns and bombs does make things more steam punkish. Though I do have to ask, in a setting where magic already exists why would a gun be invented? Preferences aside unless for some reason you were unable to use magic nobody would use or even ponder the need for firearms. For instance in the real world when fire arms became more reliable people stopped wearing heavy since guns made it useless. The tools of war are dictated be need. Likewise if guns already existed nobody would try to harness magic since there would already be an effective way to blow somebodies head off. In the end realism goes out the door in the "game".

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

Setting dependant.

There could be some places that don't have magic or reliable means of using it. (this is the case in the Pathfinder setting)

There are also people and possibly races that can't use magic.


Sardonic Soul wrote:
I don't think the point of the original post was to babble endlessly about the definition of high fantasy. Without putting words in the posters mouth, I think he meant sword and sorcery. Adding guns and bombs does make things more steam punkish. Though I do have to ask, in a setting where magic already exists why would a gun be invented? Preferences aside unless for some reason you were unable to use magic nobody would use or even ponder the need for firearms. For instance in the real world when fire arms became more reliable people stopped wearing heavy since guns made it useless. The tools of war are dictated be need. Likewise if guns already existed nobody would try to harness magic since there would already be an effective way to blow somebodies head off. In the end realism goes out the door in the "game".

Dunno why it's called steampunk, most of the new contents aren't even steam related. Alchamypunk or Arcanopunk seems to fit better ._.

As to the op's post.
Remember that the artwork is as much defined from the setting, as the artists take on it, so if a wizard looks steampunk, it might be just that character there, or the artist had enough leeway to make it in a type/style that he enjoyed.


Hard to find something less Tolkien-esque, yet pseudo-medieval than D&D/Pathfinder.
The only thing that annoys me is how many gunslinger archetypes are characters from a Western, or could be leading an expedition to hunt Rhinos in Congo.
Anyway, options = good.


Ringtail wrote:
TOZ wrote:
Some of us have never read Tolkien.

*raises hand*

That'd be me. Though not for lack of trying. I can get almost 3 pages into the Lord of the Rings before I just can't do it anymore.

Quite different here, I've readed LOTR three times and I will certainly read those at least one more time in the future.


LOTR and PF are very different

LOTR is high fantasy but low magic
PF is high magic and high fantasy

PF is starting to creep away from generic fantasy, though even pretty early D&D had weird bits of tech sneaking it

one thing PF is doing is moving away from my 'fantasy' baseline......I am not interested, and therefore not buying products with ninjas, gunslingers, numeria, arcanopunk etc

The One Ring rpg gets LOTR spot on, so id never try to hack PF to it

on the artwork: the PF stuff isnt my thing....for s start many of the actiony scenes on the covers just aren't possible under the rules set!!

Luckily the PF base stuff is pretty good for what i want to play

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Tolkien's writings, maybe except Hobbit, are dreadfully boring and uninspired. No character development, little in the way action and mind-numbing focus on purely academic stuff such as genealogy and linguistics. Oooh this tree here, it grew up from an acorn that fell down from a tree that has a story of it's own, and the trees that were before it remember blah blah bleh.

Of course, there's much to owe to the Professor for the role which his works played in making the genre go mainstream. Ironically, his academic background helped out, as thanks to it he was much more respected than any pulp fiction writers.


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Golarion as a setting seems to be early modern fantasy, instead of medieval fantasy. I'd say 16th to 17th century from what I've seen, though I have to say I havn't seen that much, as such settings don't interest me at all.
However, I work on an ancient fantasy campaign, and Pathfinder RPG works just fine for that. The only special tweak to do that is simply not to allow all options that the game offers. You probably still get the occasional barbarian petioning the board of the ministry of magical education, but usually you wouldn't have barbarians and druids in the same place as clockwork and steam engineers and gunslingers.

With barbarians, fighters, oracles, ranger, rogues, and sorcerers, Pathfinder can be a perfectly well game for ancient fantasy campaigns. That some books also have options for other types of fantasy campaigns doesn't change that a bit.


LOTR is debatable as to whether it is high fantasy or low fantasy (not necessarily the same thing as whether it is high magic or low magic).. yet granted that most would agree on the 'high fantasy' label for LOTR.

Interestingly, Pathfinder (the Golarion setting, specifically) can also be argued as low fantasy. See this thread for more info.

Furthermore, a thought for all those who don't like guns in their D&D/Pathfinder/Fantasy.. how to you resolve naval/siege technology? Any reason that the military technology hasn't made it out of the ancient world when the sociopolitical and economic aspects HAVE? Cannon and even hand-held firearms have been a part of historical warfare as early as the 13th century.. even before the Hundred Year's War, which is decidedly 'low tech' compared to what's available in the Core rulebook equipment lists. Guns/cannon came onto the scene long before other iconic 'fantasy' staples such as full-plate armor. Indeed, why would there even be plate armor in a world where guns were never invented?

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