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Rules Bloat Theory -- New(?) Solution


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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Grand Lodge

In another Thread some folks were discussing the gross number of Feats in the game. Another for Classes. Others have discussed too many spells or Archtypes or what have you. And these concerns often lead to discussions about when Paizo will publish a new version of the game, or worse, encourage folks to soil themselves, damage their brain cells, and taint their souls with a WotC game.

And it got me thinking it through because I just didn't see it. I remarked, bloat only happens when you actually buy All the Companions, get all the Ultimates and Hardbacks. If you just have the Core, APG, UM, UC, ACG and UI, it's fine. It's easy to disallow the various soft-backs & Companions and, say, the UC & OA.

....Then I considered the two gamers in my current group who don't own any books.

They have their phones. ....Ah ha.

....So here's my question, do the folks who think too much bloat exists in the game use books they purchased or do you use the d20PFSRD?

Because I know, for example, that when I have wanted to look up Traits trying to find something not in the APG, going online to the D20PFSRD is a royal pain. There's approximately 3,867,319 of the frickin' things. Who the hell is going to peruse That trying to find a Trait that does something specific for a PC?!

But lots of people do.

And I can see Players who only have their phones going through every possible Class, PrC, Feat, Spell, Trait, Magic Item, etc. and taking bits and pieces to break the game.

But these people didn't necessarily buy any of these products.

So I'm sincerely curious, do the complaints regarding bloat only occur from the people who never bought any Paizo product in the first place?

Because if that's even mostly true, I'm no longer concerned about bloat hurting Paizo's product. Ignore them.


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The couple shelves of Pathfinder books I have says "yes, the bloat is real."

It's not just the number of minor options, either. It's the number of options buried in bookX that give new (feat-dependent) rules to options previously seen as universally-available. It's the new optional rules systems that may or may not be very consistent with the non-optional rules systems they're supposed to be a supplement to.

It's the rules system which has so many caveats and FAQs that (in PFS) a clarification had to be changed because the team wasn't aware of the existence of a rule doing exactly what they wanted to do.

Shadow Lodge

Ooo, which clarification was that?


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Bloat is the pejorative for options.


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Rhedyn wrote:
Bloat is the pejorative for options.

Yeah and options is the sugar coating term for bloat. This thing works both ways.

Anyway, to the OP. Generally speaking you're probably right that most people who claim PF is bloated are people who look at it from the perspective of SRD users or people looking from a very macro perspective at the overall state of the line. That said, dismissing people who use the SRDs as a bunch of no good freeloaders who never spent a dime is incredibly unfair. Even if you brought every single splat out there, I highly doubt you're lugging all those to your friend's house for game night. Hell, even if you have all electronic copies you're still more likely to just hit search on nethys or d20 rather than searching through each individual pdf for that one feat/item/race. It's convenient and honestly an easier go to option than the books themselves. So now you have people defaulting to the websites and now they're back to staring at an overwhelming amount of stuff which still will lead to people claiming the system is bloated if they're so inclined to say so.


TOZ wrote:
Ooo, which clarification was that?

This one - trip weapons, as per a 6-year-old blog post, can make drag and reposition maneuvers. The initial clarification for the Balor Whip feat from Villain's Codex explicitly granted it this ability.

Shadow Lodge

Oh, okay. So the team didn't know about another clarification, not a rule in a rulebook. Still embarassing, but more understandable.


One advantage to using a website over the book, if you own it, is that errata and faqs are often found on the site. The sites often strip material of setting information, so there is both good and bad to using an online resource when making Pathfinder characters.


TOZ wrote:
Oh, okay. So the team didn't know about another clarification, not a rule in a rulebook. Still embarassing, but more understandable.

It's somewhat understandable, yes, but that just proves that there are a lot of rules sources out there. Not all of them are in the books, and not all of them are in the FAQs. Some stuff is just... out there, whether a clarifying blog (light-based stuff, which references a different FAQ) or just in a message board post somewhere (with varying degrees of legality depending on who said it or who you talk to.)

Because when there's a fairly official group that maintains the subset of their own company's rules used for organized play... and they lose track of the rules? That might be a sign that there's a lot of them.


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I'd like to see a number of feats be incorporated as default rules and even more feats be turned into chains you receive the next level of at the appropriate level. Like if improved grapple granted greater grapple and rapid grapple at 6 and 9 respectively.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

The issue with that is, what if you want to take those feats earlier? If they don't already have an 'appropriate' level, do you still gate them behind level ups, or do you allow them to be taken earlier? I've played around with the idea, one fix being able to spend a feat slot on improving up to the next level, but it's still wonky.


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I always stick to the PRD rather than pfsrd. So much more compact, and it's the stuff that's potentially got rulings on.


Easy solution to rules bloat: specify which resources are permitted for your campaign and don't allow material beyond those sources.

Just because something has been published does not force you to allow it.


I've ignored bloat since I recognized it versions ago. The core pathfinder product is great. It's what I always wanted it to be. If we don't like a rule, we change it. If we want to do something new, we do it. I love the choices. It's why I left wotc behind. I won't say I left D&D behind, because I consider pathfinder the true inheritor of D&D.

Core + house rules, done.

Grand Lodge

Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Dismissing people who use the SRDs as a bunch of no good freeloaders who never spent a dime is incredibly unfair.

.

Yeah, somewhat. I see that.

I'm really not trying to be snarky with this Thread, honest (not sure who I'm trying to convince of my lack of snarkiness).

Obviously I don't know what goes on at other people's tables and how many people are actually, legitimately, concerned with rules bloat -- but I realized at my table that it just seemed like the two gamers that don't have books and rely on the SRD are the ones that made 'ME' concerned. That's what made me think of it.

For a while I felt bad (somewhat) for disallowing this or that spell when a Player asked. You know, cuz they spent all that money on all those books.

Because sincerely, seriously, if most of the people who complain about bloat are dealing with Players at the table who don't even have the books, why bother? Tell the Players who use their phones to buy a Core and an APG and just use those! If they ever get around to buying an ACG they can use that too. Until then, 3/5 of their PC sheet needs to be rewritten.

....I dunno

Grand Lodge

I wonder also -- reading TOZ be a funny ass-hat still -- if another aspect of this is the Player who just HAS to know all of the rules. And flaunt it.

Like, I have no interest (or time) to learn tons and tons of stuff. I know the Core. It took a couple years but I know the APG. In the last couple years I've started to know the ACG. But personally, and by extension my gaming friends, don't seem to have to know all the latest stuff, all the latest errata, all the new options (whatever word we're using).

But I have known Players that DID want to be up on all the new rules and such. And I can see now how, were I the odd man out in a group of Players who dogged every new aspect published, I'd be concerned that the game had grown too bloated.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
The issue with that is, what if you want to take those feats earlier? If they don't already have an 'appropriate' level, do you still gate them behind level ups, or do you allow them to be taken earlier? I've played around with the idea, one fix being able to spend a feat slot on improving up to the next level, but it's still wonky.

I mean, you cannot take GG and RG any sooner than 6 and 9 BAB respectively. So it doesn't matter at what level you take Improved grapple evacuee you would get access to the chain as appropriate. So if you took IG at level 1 you still need to wait until 6 to get GG and 9 to get RG. If you take IG at BAB 9, you would get all 3 feats.

The real issue comes with chains that do not specify levels or that do not chain neatly, so for instance you design a chain of feats like Dodge, Mobility, spring attack but some people only want the first 2 feats of the chain but instead want to go for Combat Patrol as the third feat.bIn that case, I'd turn each feat into 3 feat chains that must start with a feat try currently qualify for and the next two be feats that require the initial feat or have no prerequisites. Feats from this chain are gained as soon as they are qualified for OR every two levels if the feat has no prerequisite. Exceptions would be 17 and 19 given the whole "not enough levels" thing.

More importantly than chaining feats together though is cutting down on feats that should just be part of the rules. Things like antagonize, or that feat that let's you negate falling damage by doing a plunging attack on someone. That stuff should be either part of the rules or GM fiat territory.

Shadow Lodge

W E Ray wrote:
-- reading TOZ be a funny ass-hat still --

Hey man, some things never change...


Most of the time it is easy enough to learn as I go along. When players level up, I look at their choices and, if I am not familiar with something, I look it up and discuss it with the player.

This really comes up with 1.6 players per campaign so it's no big deal and fun to learn about new options I don't know of. Core only is painful for the weaker classes; I prefer to allow options and restrict only where it's a huge problem.

Communication is key.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

so Bloatsage is for the Rulez Lawyer that owns everything?


Volkard Abendroth wrote:
Just because something has been published does not force you to allow it.

True but it does force you to make a ruling on whether to allow it, which can be a full time job if you let it.


Ring_of_Gyges wrote:
Volkard Abendroth wrote:
Just because something has been published does not force you to allow it.
True but it does force you to make a ruling on whether to allow it, which can be a full time job if you let it.

It's much easier to work with a whitelist than a blacklist.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I think a lot of the bloat is due to poor design. Instead of having 20 different traits that make 1 skill a class skill, why not just have 1 trait that lets you choose a skill and make it a class skill; you can take it as often as you want, choosing a different skill each time.

Instead of having dozens of feats that improve lots of different combat maneuvers, just make a feat that gives you a +2 and no AoOs when you use any combat maneuver; it can improve by +2 based on BAB just like Power Attack. Being able to trip AND bull rush AND disarm isn't over powered, is it? If anything, it will help fix the martial/caster disparity by giving the martials some additional options. Also, it doesn't require a lot of effort to make the system backward compatible if new combat maneuver types are invented.

But now I'm talking about so many changes, it's getting perilously close to PF 2.0, which would make a lot of material unusable for official game play.

Maybe come out with a Complete Crunch, that just organizes all the crunchy bits of races, classes, skills, feats, combat rules, equipment, spells, archetypes, PrCs, magic items, and universal monster rules.

Key word is organizes.


Easy way to remove bloat only allow the rule books your happy with anything you don't like say sorry not in my game

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

hmmm... so bloat is a negative connotation that means an undesirable expansion of rules and text.
a lot of that is opinion as PF is a work of art. It's not a science although it is a rough model of a fantasy world.

Paizo IS a publisher and if they wish to pay the light bills they need to produce new things and sell it to the gaming public. Is producing new stuff bloat? lol... no.

Right now a home game GM has many options as they have better control of what is in and out of scope for their game. So GMs have control to remove/exclude product/classes/feats that don't match their goals, part of that is negotiation with their players.

PFS (Organized Play) has two options, Core and Standard.

BTW I always suggest GMs START with PFS rules and include crafting. That's a good reviewed set of rules that won't have things getting out of control. From there you can easily exclude books you don't care for via your own Additional Resources.

In the realm of RAW, there's a lot of flavor text. That's normal as part is an explanation of how the power is conceived to work so you can't just delete the flavor text freely. I don't think of that as bloat for the most part, but sure the text could be cut down to a third of the current word count and less if you use algebraic math notation. Sadly that skill level is not assumed in the readers. I'd also point out that cool art sells books and there's no rulez in that art.

I think it's best to compare PF with other games in it's niche, like Forgotten Realms, Ebberon, 3.5, GURPS, Champions, Call of Cthulhu, ...

I'd say there's less in PF than 3.0 or 3.5 (although the CRB is very close to the 3.0 PH in terms of text). The CRB contains both text from the PH, DMG, and MM1, so there's some bang for the buck in a "per book" format.

If a GM is concerned with rules bloat, work 'undercasting' into the standard spell lists. This mainly helps spontaneous casters spell lists. I'd be careful eliminating Feat taxes although certainly some Feats need rewording.

Following Sturgeon's Law of 90% crap, I feel PF does better than that. Probably if the general public saw the draft copies we'd all be grateful for the editors and internal reviews.

In home games and PFS more people use electronic versions. That's just technology helping out and making things more convenient as time marches on.


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What is bloat is subjective. One person's bloat is another person's "not enough stuff".


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Three different kinds of bloat problem:
(1) Worthless bloat - for example, a new spell or feat that no-one sensible would ever take. This just creates extra distractions for inexperienced players trying to build characters.
(2) Power creep bloat - anything that makes characters simply better than they were before. This throws off the CR system.
(3) Complexity bloat - new mechanics that the GM doesn't want to have to learn (but doesn't want to have to ban outright either).

Grand Lodge

Azothath wrote:
Paizo IS a publisher and if they wish to pay the light bills they need to produce new things and sell it.

.

This is the other thing (I forgot to mention).

I remember back in '07-'08 when it was still all up in the air, though, and posting that I thought it was a great idea that Paizo, after the Alpha and Beta testing for the Core, were going to make adventures their primary product. I posted that that would really help against eventual rules bloat down the road. Eventually they published the Core, after four whole APs and over a dozen modules -- not to mention about 30 PFS Scenarios and some campaign setting material. It'd be another couple years before we finally got the APG.

But then the Companions every month changed from Setting material to Crunch material. Now, I don't begrudge Paizo at ALL for the monthly, 'Here's 32 pages of new Feats, Spells, Equipment and such' each themed to a different aspect of Fluff-- Gnomes, Elves, Humans, this-or-that-Alignment, etc., etc. But after half a decade of it, plus with more and more other books, all with at least a few Crunch options, there is a massive amount of options. Bloat.

But truth be told, there aren't that many SuperSubscribers out there. It's true, after a decade of Paizo products I look at my own shelf (as a Charter AP subscriber who temporarily turned off my subscription during the 'Pirates are Stupid' and 'SciFi is NOT fun' APs) and get overwhelmed by the roughly 300 Paizo books that are there -- but 90% of that is adventures and setting. And I don't feel a problem with Bloat.

But I'm not on my phone looking at double the amount of options than I have on my own shelves.

So again I wonder, for the people who are concerned with bloat, are you playing with people who have their own books or just use the SRD?!


W E Ray wrote:
....So here's my question, do the folks who think too much bloat exists in the game use books they purchased or do you use the d20PFSRD?

Pages like d20PFSRD and Archives of Nethys might indeed be part of the problem: The huge amount of options is very visible there, resulting in a feeling of being overwhelmed, so it's tempting to dismiss the options as 'bloat'.

However, these pages are not guilty of creating these options. And they are part of a good solution also: They provide new presentations of the options, improving the overview. Where PRD limits itself to one book at a time (well, bestiaries are thrown together), the other websites offer a cross-book view on things. For example try to get an overview of human FCBs - you need multiple PRD pages for that, but only one d20PFSRD or AoN page.

The advantage of 'cross-book' is probably not so obvious when you are more used to books than wikis. But as soon as you try to accomplish certain things, like focusing a PC or a NPC consequently on a theme, optimizing a PC or trying to point out tendencies in Paizo's products, cross-book becomes your new best friend.


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

"Bloat" to me means "never-ending options" and the likelihood there is no reboot to make my purchases null and void.
Bring me more and more every month, thank you!


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W E Ray wrote:
So again I wonder, for the people who are concerned with bloat, are you playing with people who have their own books or just use the SRD?!

Last time I GMed, every player used the internet as their primary source of options. I would assume that's standard these days. (All of them chose character classes or archetypes I was unfamiliar with.)

I was the only person in the group with a (mild) problem with bloat, and I was the only person in the group to have spent significant money on Paizo products.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Bloat is real, it’s happening. I feel like I’m talking about climate change! No I don’t want to get into that discussion on these boards though. They could streamline a lot of this stuff but it most likely would not involve a new edition which many people are against (I’m not one them). I’d love to see a tweaked Combat Maneuvere system. Spells that overlap maybe being cleaned up (flavor is nice but I can do that all on my own). Archtype system over hauled to simpler chains. Feats and chain feats cleaned up. The forums are filled with great ideas even if I don’t agree with them all.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Oh not to mention I’d love to see a player handbook, gamemasters guide and and Bestiary book seperate to help navigating the books easier. If they didnt make a new edition and just released though books I’d still buy them over the corebook which is great and falls a part about every 2 years unfortunately.


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Ring_of_Gyges wrote:
Volkard Abendroth wrote:
Just because something has been published does not force you to allow it.
True but it does force you to make a ruling on whether to allow it, which can be a full time job if you let it.

Not at all.

You don't waste energy blacklisting new content. You whitelist what is permitted at the start and of the campaign and done.

Grand Lodge

@ Lost Ohioian,

Here's my question, do you own and use the rulebooks -- or use the SRD?

.

Because the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced my OP was correct -- and thanks to Matthew Downie for addressing it.

If you only own four or five books (maybe Core, APG, ACG, UC and UM) and that's what you're using -- and you've had a couple years each to learn them -- it doesn't seem as if there's Bloat.

But if you've got your five books and the Players at the table -- who don't own a damn thing, btw -- are constantly using Feats and Spells and Equipment and Traits and Archetypes that are wildly unfamiliar, well then it seems like Bloat is a problem.


Lost Ohioian wrote:
Bloat is real, it’s happening. I feel like I’m talking about climate change!

The difference between bloat and climate change: participation is optional.

W E Ray wrote:

@ Lost Ohioian,

Here's my question, do you own and use the rulebooks -- or use the SRD?

I own far more books than I can carry or easily use.

I use the SRD and Nethys to look up information. The books are for collecting and casual reading.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
W E Ray wrote:

@ Lost Ohioian,

Here's my question, do you own and use the rulebooks -- or use the SRD?

.

Because the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced my OP was correct -- and thanks to Matthew Downie for addressing it.

If you only own four or five books (maybe Core, APG, ACG, UC and UM) and that's what you're using -- and you've had a couple years each to learn them -- it doesn't seem as if there's Bloat.

But if you've got your five books and the Players at the table -- who don't own a damn thing, btw -- are constantly using Feats and Spells and Equipment and Traits and Archetypes that are wildly unfamiliar, well then it seems like Bloat is a problem.

I’m old school that way. I have stacks of books that flip through all the time. That’s not to say I don’t look online as I think everyone does but I always prefer to look into the books first. Frankly, I don’t mind the choices but with each book and by default online, classes get tougher monsters more grand, magic topping old spells. If there was a rewrite this would stand out more to creators and be fixed. Yes it would only restart cycle but isn’t that how business stay profitable.


Basically at this point I think the SRD is basically a genie that got released from a bottle and can't really be put back in, even for people who own the books.

Simply put the convenience factor for everyone cannot be overstated. I mean, if someone wants to play a cleric, which is easier: opening up your CRB, APG, and UM books/pdfs to spells and parsing through those individually or just going to the cleric spell list section on the SRD and going to the right level?

If the SRDs didn't exist there'd probably be a lot less bloat claims simply due to niche splats like say Horror Adventures won't be as widely spread but again, SRDs are a genie that you can't put back. It's convenient to everyone from Freeloader Fred to Paizo-Buyer Paul and the price people pay for that convenience is that every splat and every option (eventually) gets put on display and as such people will grumble about an overabundance of stuff if their taste dictates. I don't believe it's something that can simply be pinned down to those who buy the material and those that don't.

Personal Credentials: Currently in a game where 4 of 5 players own PDFs of the crunchy books. Every single one of them sticks with the SRD/Nethys for reference and character construction


Its a no win situation though...."Publish or go extinct"

Paizo have to maintain a core staff element that all require salaries, and also with the shadow of 5E looming they have to get material out there.... where I'm from 5E has 90% of the fantasy RPG market


W E Ray wrote:
the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced my OP was correct...

Really? It seemed like you switched from "complaints about bloat mostly come from players who don't even buy Paizo products, therefore Paizo should ignore them" to "complaints about bloat mostly come from players who game with other people who don't even buy Paizo products."


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I have pretty much all of the books (RPG, AP, CS, and PC subscriber). Two of my players use internet sites extensively while the other two use me as the library. There is also a lot of intra-party planning. So once the two book-based players let the others know what they are after, the internet-based players will help them with research and point them to particular books for particular options.

There is definitely bloat. Point out the entire stack of hardbacks and Player Companions to a new player and watch them balk. But no, no one should ever expect a new player to dive right into all of that. But the bloat is real. Traits are the worst offender, miles beyond anything else. Players find the good ones and ignore the other 90%. Most of them could be boiled down to more focused options. If they want to re-flavor something, why can't Paizo do that without creating an entire new mini-block of crunch? These things ceased being compelling a long while ago. They could even make a generic trait along the lines of +X bonus to Y and then allow the flavor to attach the restriction that makes it less-than-a-feat.

Feats and spells suffer a lot from pointless or overly-specific options. Sure there are some you might take once, in that campaign where you'll see that situation come up a lot, or for a character that will rely on it. But in general, a lot of stuff is never used. This I leave as the responsibility of the developers. I know the game isn't designed for optimizers or optimized characters, but the developers themselves should be able to create and recognize mechanically well-made characters. If a proposed feat isn't going to compete with the heavy hitters for it's "good character" target audience, then it is a bit of a waste. Spells below level 5 seem to be the biggest area where this occurs in the magic system. The spell lists for our game are broken into three parts; 1 - The things characters will actually care about being able to cast, 2 - The things characters will care that are on their list so they can use them as items or when the rare situation calling for them arises, and 3 - Trash, and this section is depressingly large. We have combined some of the things in category 3 into single spells that end up in 1 or 2, but these are mostly damage spells.

I agree that, if there is no new version in the near future, some collation and/or re-writing is going to become necessary. We have already seen some instances of this. My group reacted really well to the undercast mechanic from the psychic system and immediately wanted to apply this to everything from Summon Monster, to Cure, to Pit spells, etc. They are also very big fans of feats that offer scaling options like the above mentioned idea for improved grappling (or even just improved maneuver). There have been several years worth of options added to the game, but there hasn't really been a change to how many feats you get, how many spells known you can have, or how many traits a 1st level character starts with. And when those things do change, it always comes with new rules... class features that can be converted to additional feats, items that grant a spell known, or the ability to take drawbacks to get more traits. Not only is the bloat real, but so is the power creep.

In the end, while Paizo *may* care about this, they really don't have to. They could just let books grow old, dusty, and unused and only worry about the core set of features that matter, continuing to move them forward and use them in their APs and modules. Gathering it all up and/or tightening up the options at this point would be a large enough effort that it would probably detract from their primary work. The release schedule for Player Companions alone is probably the biggest fault in their approach. Putting one of those out every month leaves very little time to research the entire rules base for overlap/power combos/useless options before they hit their deadline.

I also own a fair amount of 3.5 material... probably not all, but most up to a certain point near the end of the edition. I can visually compare the material on my shelves and it's certainly a shock to see where things have come. I am becoming increasingly exhausted by physical books and (personally) I am hoping for a new, electronic-centered game some day... some day.

Grand Lodge

@ Matthew,
I think they're closely enough related that it counts.

I don't think Paizo should ignore them. I was referring to us; we should ignore them. That was my ambiguity, sorry.

I just am starting to think Bloat is a result of everyone using the SRD. Cherry-picking stuff from products of which they're not even aware with no regard to how they're intended to be used. And if you're frustrated with Players who have 'bloated PCs' it's probably because they use the SRD to build their PCs and perhaps you shouldn't feel bad about disallowing much of their character sheet-- they're not supporting Paizo anyway.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I don't use the PRD or any similar online resources at all to build a character. What I do use are my books and the list of options in PCGen. This list is filtered by what I qualify for, and also I choose which books to include options from. Right now my PCGen list of books that is automatically added is all the hard covers that have been released for PCGen, including the campaign setting hardcover, and two or three players companions that had options that we really like.

I see no evidence from my experience of bloat as a problem.

For my main group, I'm the GM, but I'm GMing for my small children, so I build the entire party of characters (with input from them appropriate to their ages) and then hand them a character sheet. That means I'm familiar with every option as I build the characters, rather than being surprised at the gaming table.


Having recently taken a look at the AD&D 2nd edition rules, with that rather limited ruleset, I have become convinced that bloat really started with 3.0. More specifically, WotC's decision to focus on selling rules and letting others make the adventures for those rules. See, what they wanted was to start selling rules to ALL the people playing. Further, setting books resulted in split customer bases, so setting books had to be focused on one setting only. For 3rd, it was FR.

Well, rules bloat is the flip side of that coin. You need to sell something, and if it's rules, you will eventually flood the market with those rules. I would say that Paizo has largely kept to the WotC line in this. As a result, bloat in PF is rampant. By contrast, 5th edition has been running for a good while now and has very little bloat. Their focus has been on selling to the DMs out there, with only two official books (PHB and SCAG) aimed at players, and the rest containing a few new options. Admittedly, they sell far fewer different books, but still.


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Sissyl wrote:
By contrast, 5th edition has been running for a good while now and has very little bloat.

Maybe WotC is aware that an important part of the appeal of 5E is its (relative) simplicity. So its players are way less open about a flood of new rules than PF players.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

5th Edition has about 20 books. Can anyone estimate how well Paizo would be doing if they had a comparable number of books for Pathfinder?


True dat. Still, they did focus on selling a few big books rather than numerous small ones, which is not automatically an invalid choice. What they did change was the decision to base their business model on selling rules. Without that, vistas of setting books and adventures become possible, but these are by necessity aimed at DMs, not players.

I would say, of course, that essentially reprinting Against the Giants, Ravenloft, Tomb of Horrors, Temple of Elemental Evil, and so on, is not the gutsiest move I've seen.


W E Ray wrote:

@ Matthew,

I just am starting to think Bloat is a result of everyone using the SRD. Cherry-picking stuff from products of which they're not even aware with no regard to how they're intended to be used. And if you're frustrated with Players who have 'bloated PCs' it's probably because they use the SRD to build their PCs and perhaps you shouldn't feel bad about disallowing much of their character sheet-- they're not supporting Paizo anyway.

Certainly, this is why the impact of bloat is as far reaching in the community at large. But, even if you ignore all Player Companion and Campaign Setting books, there is plenty of bloat in the hardbacks alone.

Of course, a GM can whitelist the books he prefers...but it becomes problematic when you like some of the options in a book, but not all. HeroLab helps with this; they typically break books out into sub-options you can check box. Implementation of this across the group is more difficult. No easy answer.

Liberty's Edge

The bloat was bound to happen. Paizo has handled it far better than that other company did for their game.

But the problem isn't the bloat; it's the GMs who do not have the backbone to manage the content dispite the demands of unreasonable players. So many players assume that when a book is released that the content will be available for all to use. Some GMs actually need time to look at the material and god forbit there is somethign that they decide they do not want in their game or that they may want to save for later.


Sissyl wrote:
Having recently taken a look at the AD&D 2nd edition rules, with that rather limited ruleset, I have become convinced that bloat really started with 3.0. More specifically, WotC's decision to focus on selling rules and letting others make the adventures for those rules. See, what they wanted was to start selling rules to ALL the people playing. Further, setting books resulted in split customer bases, so setting books had to be focused on one setting only. For 3rd, it was FR.

Indeed, specifically WotC concluded that hardbound books were the only really profitable books. So it was that they all had to have equal fluff and crunch, in order to sell to the widest cross-section of players.

Somewhat ironically, Paizo produces more thin softbound rules crunch. It is far too late now, but I wish they kept the vast majority of the crunch in the hardbounds, and used the subscription books for setting material.

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