I don't understand the appeal of Pathfinder, but I'd like to


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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So some background info: I've been running games for five years or so, off and on. I've played/run Savage Worlds, Apocalypse World, Fate, d100 games, OSR games, and 5e. In no particular order.

Now, you'll notice two big omissions there that seem to define the internet discourse surrounding Pathfinder: Pathfinder itself, and the game people came to Pathfinder in protest of, 4th Edition.

As a result, all I've got is second hand info, almost all of it hard to trust, and a good deal of it negative.

So I wanted to understand from the horse's mouth, so to speak: What is it that makes you love Pathfinder?

Why play a game where making a character involves an hour or more of pouring over options? To me, with no experience first hand, and negative second hand reports, it sounds tedious. But I'm a firm believer in a world where, if someone thinks it's fun then it's usually because it is. So very probably, I'm the one who's wrong here.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


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The problem is that you are looking at Pathfinder through the lens of 10 years of bloat. You can pick up the Player Guide & Bestiary and be ready to run. It doesn't take an hour to set up a character... that additional time comes from buying additional source books and grossly expanding your options (Pathfinder inherited this tendency for ever-expanding options from D&D 3.0/3.5).

1) I note that you can spend an hour setting up characters in other games as well. Champions and Mutants & Masterminds both come to mind.
2) Also, 5e Adventure league specifically only allows you to build characters out of the base rule book and _one_ other source book. Which puts a limit on crazy composite builds with one feat from each of seven different source books...


Sir Belmont the Valiant wrote:
The problem is that you are looking at Pathfinder through the lens of 10 years of bloat. You can pick up the Player Guide & Bestiary and be ready to run. It doesn't take an hour to set up a character... that additional time comes from buying additional source books and grossly expanding your options (Pathfinder inherited this tendency for ever-expanding options from D&D 3.0/3.5).

Well, sure. But imagine you're talking to someone who is thinking about joining the hobby. What would you tell them to convince them to play Pathfinder?

What I've heard from others when I asked, though they weren't especially helpful in making me understand, was that it provides options. 5e characters, they said, tend to all feel the same (a sentiment I would agree with more than disagree).

The SRD is a nice benefit, too. But I could also get access to a Delving Deeper SD and play 0e, or Swords and Wizardry and get some kind of strange 0e/AD&D hybrid. So it's great to have if you were, for example, arguing for Pathfinder over 3.5, but it's not unique.

So you might not win me over, but I'm not so much looking for reasons my preconceptions are wrong. I'm sure they're wrong. What I want to know is what makes you love it and why that's something you love, without falling back on nostalgia or the fact that you already own the books, because I have neither.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Linsolv, there is a thread you might find helpful: What makes the game Pathfinder for you. I hope that helps!

Jon Brazer Enterprises

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Reasons to play Pathfinder:

1) You can make a character and take it to just about any and every RPG convention and play it there. You can also do this with 5e.

2) The quantity of character options in the core book alone means you can make a very wide variety of characters. Add in almost 9 years of monthly supplements and you can make just about every concept you can think of.

3) The Pathfinder Compatible community is is alive an strong. You can buy our PDFs right off of Paizo's website as well as other major websites. If there something you want to play and Paizo hasn't covered it, a Pathfinder Compatible publisher has.

4) The default setting is designed to cover a wide variety of play styles. While it really does kind of break down as kind of silly when you look at it as a whole, it is really great when you look at a small, campaign size area. Want a horror themed game? There's a country for that. Want to play in a lawless area where you can topple a minor dictator and start your own kingdom? There's a country for that. Want to go tomb delving in pulp Egypt? There's a country for that. Typical standard fantasy campaign? There's a country for that.

5)Adventure Paths. If you want to run a long term campaign, Paizo publishes a set of 6 adventures that form a whole campaign. This is different from Wizards' campaign books in that they all have a conclusion at the end. There's no real good ending in Curse of Strad other than at level 10. If your group starts to break apart after 4 levels, you still have a satisfying ending at the end of book 1. You only make it through book 4, you're good.


ericthecleric wrote:
Linsolv, there is a thread you might find helpful: What makes the game Pathfinder for you. I hope that helps!

I'm reading through now, and hopefully it does provide some clarity! I'm a stranger around these parts and didn't really know where to look for this kind of thing; after scrolling through 'general discussion' for a moment I didn't really see another thread, but I was sure I'd left something on the table.

Dale McCoy Jr wrote:

Reasons to play Pathfinder:

1) You can make a character and take it to just about any and every RPG convention and play it there. You can also do this with 5e.

Sadly, doesn't really help me all that much in my particular situation. I can bully my players (kidding) into playing almost anything at least once. And if I can make it come off well, they'll be fine continuing. If not, I'm comfortable running on Roll20 and while it might be hard to find a GM for [insert system here], it's rarely hard to find 3 people to play it with you.

Quote:
2) The quantity of character options in the core book alone means you can make a very wide variety of characters.

I think this what I'm not getting. Is it fun to do this? How do you have fun doing it?

Like... I must sound very stupid asking this question. For me, it's obvious how making a character in, for example, Traveller is fun. It's literally storytelling with dice, even if you have to read into the dice rolls to get anything interesting out of it.

But is it that interesting to say "what kind of life did my person lead? Were they a... *checks list* fireman, policeman, or astronaut?" What can I do to make this more engaging as a player, or to help my players to make it more engaging as a game master?

Quote:
3) The Pathfinder Compatible community is is alive an strong.

Like the SRD, this feels like a big bonus for people who are on the fence, but if you're standing on the other side of the fence, it doesn't feel like something that pushes me into climbing over.

Quote:
4) The default setting is designed to cover a wide variety of play styles.

I do like this point. It helps me to understand the view you're taking. Normally, I look at the whole setting, and Golarion doesn't make a lot of sense and is very overwhelming. Which also turned me off of Forgotten Realms, though I also have a player who knows everything about FR and would be correcting me on every little thing if I played in it. Thinking of Golarion as a 'bundle' of a dozen different settings helps a bit!

Quote:
5)Adventure Paths. If you want to run a long term campaign, Paizo publishes a set of 6 adventures that form a whole campaign.

I've read a little of Rise of the Runelords and liked what they were trying to do, but at the same time, my experience with written adventures is only the first adventure or so of Horde of the Dragon Queen, and my players HATED it. Too many leaps of logic where the writer just wanted the players to be herded like sheep, when any game master will tell you they're not sheep, they're cats.

Have I given Paizo's writers unfair judgement in presuming that APs, like other adventures I have read and HotDQ in particular, are railroady and presume that players are just going to 'do me a favor and go with it'?


Linsolv wrote:
Quote:
2) The quantity of character options in the core book alone means you can make a very wide variety of characters.
I think this what I'm not getting. Is it fun to do this? How do you have fun doing it?

There are many ways someone might have fun creating a character.

Maybe they'll be paging through various classes and subclasses and options and see something that inspiring.
"A character who is permanently haunted by ghosts who both help him out and play tricks on him? Intriguing!"
"A frog-girl who uses her tongue as a weapon? Suddenly I realise that's what I was looking for all along!"

Or it could be about finding interesting combinations that allow you to do something unique.
"So by level 8 I could be permanently invisible and riding a tiger and I could use ventriloquism to make it look like it's the tiger talking when I speak? And I can use all my spells to make the tiger better at fighting?"
"If I save up for this magic item... I can turn into a songbird, and stab people with my beak, and still get my sneak attack damage!"

Or it could simply be about finding ways to maximise the power of a new type of character.
"By becoming a Barbarian Alchemist, I can make myself literally stronger than a giant... I'll be looking at a DPR of 178.4 against median CR+2 AC."
"By multiclassing occult with gunslinger, I'll be able to have my demon familiars reloading a dozen guns for me simultaneously, allowing me to fire more rapidly than anyone else!"

This is something that allows players to get creative in the manner of their choosing between gaming sessions, with no need for the GM to get involved.
"I can't wait until next week! But that's OK, we're nearly at level 5, so I can start choosing my next feat now..."


Linsolv wrote:

I've read a little of Rise of the Runelords and liked what they were trying to do, but at the same time, my experience with written adventures is only the first adventure or so of Horde of the Dragon Queen, and my players HATED it. Too many leaps of logic where the writer just wanted the players to be herded like sheep, when any game master will tell you they're not sheep, they're cats.

Have I given Paizo's writers unfair judgement in presuming that APs, like other adventures I have read and HotDQ in particular, are railroady and presume that players are just going to 'do me a favor and go with it'?

I'm currently trying to run HotDQ for 5e.

My players are enjoying it, but I'm spending hours and hours before every session rewriting almost everything in order to ensure that the choices available to the players make sense and they won't want to do anything that could derail the campaign.

Paizo adventure paths seem better in this respect. They're still pretty railroady, of course (a prewritten adventure and can't cater for every possibility, so has to make assumptions about where things are going) but the things the PCs are expected to do usually make sense in context.

However: Pathfinder probably isn't for you, unless your players are desperate for more character-building options. Maybe you should consider trying Pathfinder 2 when it comes out?


Zolanoteph wrote:

The appeal is that you get to play a system that doesn't baby or belittle you. While there are definitely some idiots who enjoy this game, it's hard to understand for less intelligent players. And system mastery is very rewarding for those who are clever enough and focused enough to learn.

For example from what I understand of 5E, many of the conditions like low ground, dazzled, blinded, etc. have been reduced to DISADVANTAGE. You roll twice and take the lesser result. Compare this to my hex crafter magus who can give you a disadvantage like debuff, reduce your STR, lower your attack rolls, lower your ac, saves, blind you, etc.

Pathfinder lets patient and well read people do very powerful, very specific things. 5E promises simplicity and mediocrity for everyone.

So what, though, puts Pathfinder over other systems that don't particularly baby you? Why not GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, or Mythras Classic Fantasy? They offer a lot of the same things (highly customizable characters, rapid resolution at the table) but they're completely different, and people tend to prefer one over the others.

In this case, why would someone prefer Pathfinder over, say, 250-point GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, where you have characters that are as heroic as, say, 5th or 6th level characters, and scale up (or down) as-needed?

Matthew Downie wrote:

There are many ways someone might have fun creating a character.

Maybe they'll be paging through various classes and subclasses and options and see something that inspiring.
"A character who is permanently haunted by ghosts who both help him out and play tricks on him? Intriguing!"
"A frog-girl who uses her tongue as a weapon? Suddenly I realise that's what I was looking for all along!"

Or it could be about finding interesting combinations that allow you to do something unique.
"So by level 8 I could be permanently invisible and riding a tiger and I could use ventriloquism to make it look like it's the tiger talking when I speak? And I can use all my spells to make the tiger better at fighting?"
"If I save up for this magic item... I can turn into a songbird, and stab people with my beak, and still get my sneak attack damage!"

Or it could simply be about finding ways to maximise the power of a new type of character.
"By becoming a Barbarian Alchemist, I can make myself literally stronger than a giant... I'll be looking at a DPR of 178.4 against median CR+2 AC."
"By multiclassing occult with gunslinger, I'll be able to have my demon familiars reloading a dozen guns for me simultaneously, allowing me to fire more rapidly than anyone else!"

This is something that allows players to get creative in the manner of their choosing between gaming sessions, with no need for the GM to get involved.
"I can't wait until next week! But that's OK, we're nearly at level 5, so I can start choosing my next feat now..."

I'll have to try doing this; as it stands, it feels like the actual rolling of dice and generation of stats just sounds like doing your taxes. I know, because I've met them, that there are people who like doing it. So, again, I must simply be misunderstanding something. I try to take responsibility for it. But if I'm going to understand, this is where I need to figure out how to adjust my mindset.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

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Dale McCoy Jr wrote:
2) The quantity of character options in the core book alone means you can make a very wide variety of characters.
Linsolv wrote:

I think this what I'm not getting. Is it fun to do this? How do you have fun doing it?

Like... I must sound very stupid asking this question. For me, it's obvious how making a character in, for example, Traveller is fun. It's literally storytelling with dice, even if you have to read into the dice rolls to get anything interesting out of it.

But is it that interesting to say "what kind of life did my person lead? Were they a... *checks list* fireman, policeman, or astronaut?" What can I do to make this more engaging as a player, or to help my players to make it more engaging as a game master?

As someone that supports Traveller and plays Traveller more often than Pathfinder these days, I'm right there with you.

Here's how they're different: Pathfinder character feel different. Compare a human army career to an aslan naval officer. From a role playing perspective, they are considerably different. From a mechanical perspective, the only difference these two have is a modifier to a dice roll. Anyone can do anything (except psionics).

Pathfinder, by comparison, characters work completely different. A fighter swings a sword, causing damage to an opponent, roll a d20 add a modifier. The rogue fights like the fighter but has to set up their attacks. A cleric casts hold person, causing the enemy to roll the dice and try to not be held. A wizard has to figure out what kind of spells to prepare for the day. Would fireball be more effective than lightning bolt.

At the end of the day, the two games have a different feel. If I want a monster squash with a story around it, I'll play Pathfinder or D&D. If I want to tell a story that has combat in it, I'll play Traveller.

The real difference between Pathfinder and D&D is character options. For your basic fighter, Beyond level 1 the only real choice you have is your subclass at level 3 and whether you're going to take a feat or up an ability score at level 4, 8, etc. Pathfinder fighter gets a feat at every level (odd levels for gaining levels, evens for fighter class), ability score bumps, skill point choices, and other class options as well. D&D is great for beginners/casual gamers, Pathfinder is better for advanced players.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

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Linsolv wrote:
my experience with written adventures is only the first adventure or so of Horde of the Dragon Queen

Here's the most important thing to remember with Horde of the Dragon Queen: it was published before all the rules were in stores. This means that the authors didn't have access to final rules. They lacked intimate knowledge of the game system. They didn't have years of experience with how this bit of rules over here interacted with this other bit of rules other there. Not their fault, but HotDQ is a bad selection to judge all premade adventures by.

The best adventure path, in my opinion, is Kingmaker (published by Paizo for Pathfinder). It is more a premise with a bunch of pre-planned events thrown at the players. I wish more adventure paths were like this. There are others that use this idea, but none take it as far as this adventure path does. This kind of adventure path means that your players can do whatever they want. They want to go over here instead of where you'd expect? That's fine. That part of the map is set up for them. They may regret it because that part of the map assumes they're higher level, but they have that as an option.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Linsolv wrote:
Why play a game where making a character involves an hour or more of pouring over options?

I'd phrase it differently...

Why not play a game where making a character is as rewarding as the effort put into it? A casual core-only human fighter with a greatsword works fine and can be created in minutes. On the other hand, an exotic, specialized, oddball race fighter/bard hybrid who primarily fights by throwing improvised weapons such as furniture or halfling allies... is also do-able.

For me, the joy in the whole edition (3.0e, 3.5e, Pathfinder) has been richness of available customization.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Linsolv wrote:
Have I given Paizo's writers unfair judgement in presuming that APs, like other adventures I have read and HotDQ in particular, are railroady and presume that players are just going to 'do me a favor and go with it'?

Mmmm. This is subjective. With any AP, there's a certain degree of railroading in terms of topic, by definition.

That said, the materials are vast, and well-written. The idea is that players want to do what is required of them, partially because Paizo is careful to not include a bunch of "shiny objects" to distract them. There's never been an instance at my table where players have heard about some background or setting reference and wanted to go off-script and explore it.

Once you agree "we're all on board to play an AP where we fight back the demon invasion and seal the portal that grants them access to the world", you've agreed to play Wrath of the Righteous, and railroading is no longer an issue. The key is to discuss the summary and goals of the whole AP in advance.


I basically started with Fate and Savage Worlds in my old group before doing True 20 and finally just running my own Pathfinder game. I wouldn't consider your opinion as "wrong". What might be fun for a lot of other people may simply not be your cup of tea. It doesn't make either side wrong, but some people have more fun playing in one style than another. So I'll try to hit up the points that attracted me to Pathfinder while I was playing Fate. However, it might best be summed up by saying that most of the reasons are mechanical. You mentioned being able to see the character's story in Traveller as you made him. In Pathfinder, it's definitely more about building the mechanics of how the character plays, not so much who the character is. Having an idea and finding the class/archetype that gives abilities to support that idea and the selection of feats to back that up and seeing it all come together can be a journey unto itself, but ultimately it doesn't tell you a lot about who the character is, just how the character plays.

Mechanical Progression: This is certainly nothing new to most RP systems (D20 in particular), but when advancing a character in the Fate game I was part of, there were no "levels" to speak of so when you progressed it really meant you got better at a skill or two or you had to really talk it over with the GM if you wanted a new perk or the like. In Pathfinder, clearly seeing what abilities I would get at what level and knowing how things would progress allowed me to look forward to leveling up a lot more.

Numerous Races: I honestly have never really cared for the "core" races--the ones that are in almost every Western fantasy setting. Elves, dwarves, some version of hobbits etc. Pathfinder has released a lot of different races suitable for player characters over the years, some with much more in-world definition than others admittedly, and without added rules like level adjustment. As someone who loves the idea of the plane-touched races this was a welcome opportunity.

Class Customization: While most classes did offer a fair bit of movable parts in the Core Rules, it was when archetypes were implemented that I really wanted to play Pathfinder! Before, if I wanted to play a class, but there were just some elements of it that I didn't see as part of my character or didn't want to bother with I was still stuck with those abilities. The archetypes allowed me to refine my idea, find something that better fit what I wanted to do. And now with so many other classes introduced over the years, it's hard to find a concept that you can't at least get close to mechanically.

Linsolv wrote:


I've read a little of Rise of the Runelords and liked what they were trying to do, but at the same time, my experience with written adventures is only the first adventure or so of Horde of the Dragon Queen, and my players HATED it. Too many leaps of logic where the writer just wanted the players to be herded like sheep, when any game master will tell you they're not sheep, they're cats.

I can't speak to the total of APs (I've only run one and am in the middle of another thus far and I make heavy changes to them) but my opinion is that a lot of pre-written adventures (APs in particular due to their length) require a certain degree of buy-in and suspension of disbelief to be run as is. If you don't have time to sit down and homebrew an adventure but want something long term, that is what APs are there for. But by the same token, they can't be everything to every character and obviously a character can at any time just decide to go do something else instead of what's presented no matter how many flashing neon signs are pointing to plot thread. Thus the players have to be willing to accept that it is likely to be somewhat railroady--otherwise there wouldn't be much of a way to write an overall arc. If the players aren't up to that social contract, then perhaps APs just aren't what they're looking for and making up the adventure as you go is needed instead.


Linsolv wrote:

So some background info: I've been running games for five years or so, off and on. I've played/run Savage Worlds, Apocalypse World, Fate, d100 games, OSR games, and 5e. In no particular order.

Now, you'll notice two big omissions there that seem to define the internet discourse surrounding Pathfinder: Pathfinder itself, and the game people came to Pathfinder in protest of, 4th Edition.

As a result, all I've got is second hand info, almost all of it hard to trust, and a good deal of it negative.

So I wanted to understand from the horse's mouth, so to speak: What is it that makes you love Pathfinder?

Why play a game where making a character involves an hour or more of pouring over options? To me, with no experience first hand, and negative second hand reports, it sounds tedious. But I'm a firm believer in a world where, if someone thinks it's fun then it's usually because it is. So very probably, I'm the one who's wrong here.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Pathfinder is kind of a game built on inertia.

Something you gotta understand is there is a huge part of the fanbase that has literally never played a non-d20 system, and to whom learning a different system seems like an insurmountable hurdle. A lot of people are in gaming groups that are built out of decades-long gaming traditions that are entirely structured around dealing with the specific quirks and flaws that have existed in Dungeons & Dragons from the beginning.

The things Pathfinder specifically has going for it?

Lots of character customization, by the standards of a class-and-level game. Put it next to 5e? In 5e, some characters are literally out of meaningful character customization choices at level 3. You've got your spec. You know what your key stats are. You're done. Pathfinder, you have more freedom... with the caveat that it's still a level-based game. But some people have serious issues breaking that paradigm.

Pathfinder has a large player base. Having players gets players. A lot of people play Pathfinder because their only real options are Pathfinder and 5e.

Pathfinder Society. Widely spread organized play, much like with the Adventurers' League, makes Pathfinder highly, highly accessible compared to most other systems.

Adventure paths. Paizo puts out some of the highest quality prepackaged adventures on the market. Right now, I believe there are twenty-four full, level one to level high-enough adventures, with two more on the docket before the launch of Pathfinder 2e.

Over the years, D&D has kind of become a parody of itself. WotC kind of shies away from that and tries to take itself seriously. Pathfinder embraces and celebrates the goofy kitchen sink fantasy that it is. You have Numeria, the land of lasers and barbarians, with robots and crashed UFOs, basically Yor: Hunter from the Future. You have gnomes making chainsaw glaives. You have pathfinder's take on goblins, which is the best take on goblins. They wear their heart on their sleeve with their inspirations. You have the Alchemist, the most iconic Pathfinder class, which is very Jekyll and Hyde. You have the Kineticist, an elemental mage which clearly draws heavy inspiration from The Last Airbender/Legend of Korra. You have the Vigilante, which has the Batman style double life going on. You have the Investigator, which is unashamed to flaunt its Sherlock Holmes inspirations. It comes from this place that drawing inspiration from new sources is nothing to be ashamed of, rather than necessarily locking down on the same old same old.

But it's still an unbalanced ball of unresolved legacy issues that has a much higher barrier to entry than it thinks it does and requires everybody involved to try not to break the game every time they look at it funny.


Kage_no_Oukami wrote:
I basically started with Fate and Savage Worlds in my old group before doing True 20 and finally just running my own Pathfinder game. I wouldn't consider your opinion as "wrong". What might be fun for a lot of other people may simply not be your cup of tea. It doesn't make either side wrong, but some people have more fun playing in one style than another. So I'll try to hit up the points that attracted me to Pathfinder while I was playing Fate. However, it might best be summed up by saying that most of the reasons are mechanical. You mentioned being able to see the character's story in Traveller as you made him. In Pathfinder, it's definitely more about building the mechanics of how the character plays, not so much who the character is. Having an idea and finding the class/archetype that gives abilities to support that idea and the selection of feats to back that up and seeing it all come together can be a journey unto itself, but ultimately it doesn't tell you a lot about who the character is, just how the character plays.

So I don't HATE mechanics by any stretch. But I have yet, at this point, to see how THESE mechanics are great. I'm trying, and I'm just about starting to see that there might be something on the other side of the fog, but as of now I'm still feeling like I'm completely out in the cold.

I recently did this same thing with GURPS and with 4th Edition D&D, both of which I probably had more negative feelings towards than Pathfinder, but both essentially managed to convince me that the problem was, fundamentally, that I had the wrong mindset about what the game was trying to do.

In the case of Pathfinder, I feel like people want the tactical miniatures game of 4e or, say, MageKnight, but they don't want... something about that.

They want the customization of Runequest or GURPS, but they don't want... something.

They want the dungeon crawling of Basic D&D, but they don't want... something.

Quote:

Mechanical Progression: This is certainly nothing new to most RP systems (D20 in particular), but when advancing a character in the Fate game I was part of, there were no "levels" to speak of so when you progressed it really meant you got better at a skill or two or you had to really talk it over with the GM if you wanted a new perk or the like. In Pathfinder, clearly seeing what abilities I would get at what level and knowing how things would progress allowed me to look forward to leveling up a lot more.

Numerous Races: I honestly have never really cared for the "core" races--the ones that are in almost every Western fantasy setting. Elves, dwarves, some version of hobbits etc. Pathfinder has released a lot of different races suitable for player characters over the years, some with much more in-world definition than others admittedly, and without added rules like level adjustment. As someone who loves the idea of the plane-touched races this was a welcome opportunity....

I can't really say I get the Mechanical part. Part of this is that I like low-powered stuff, where characters feel like humans, or at least starting there to see the characters grow into superheroes, but then that means you don't get to the "real" characters until you've been playing for 6 months because that's when you finally start getting your abilities.

As for the races, though... I'm with you there. I can imagine a world where people like elves or dwarves, but why would you want to play one when you can be a Kenku or Ratling?

Omnius wrote:

Pathfinder is kind of a game built on inertia.

Something you gotta understand is there is a huge part of the fanbase that has literally never played a non-d20 system, and to whom learning a different system seems like an insurmountable hurdle. A lot of people are in gaming groups that are built out of decades-long gaming traditions that are entirely structured around dealing with the specific quirks and flaws that have existed in Dungeons & Dragons from the beginning.

The things Pathfinder specifically has going for it?

Lots of character customization, by the standards of a class-and-level game. Put it next to 5e? In 5e, some characters are literally out of meaningful character customization choices at level 3. You've got your spec. You know what your key stats are. You're done. Pathfinder, you have more freedom... with the caveat that it's still a level-based game. But some people have serious issues breaking that paradigm.

Pathfinder has a large player base. Having players gets...

See, I get a lot of that. Part of my confusion here is that I know a player, though I don't play with him any more (his game is in the late evening, and my son wakes the house at 6 in the morning, so I don't want to be out of the house until midnight!), who is STUCK on 3.5. He loves it. Refuses to play Pathfinder because it would invalidate his shelf somehow. He's played other systems; he's even excited to do so. But he always wants to go back to 3.5 after.

So I can sit here and academically say, well, it's because they're stuck in their ways, whatever. But that feels really disrespectful to people. It assumes that they're not being 'rational,' they're letting their emotions control them. For any group, that would be unfair, but Pathfinder and 3.5 players seem to fancy themselves fairly smart folks, and I want to give them at least enough respect to admit that maybe they're seeing something I'm not seeing.

Edit: So I could give you a whole heaping list of things I just assume a priori about 3.5 players. Reasons that I assume they do things. There are a lot of people on the internet who'll do that, and I'm sure I'll go on to do it eventually in other places, if I can't get my head around things.

But I'm doing my best to put aside my presumptions and come to this in an honest, empty-cup kinda way, and hopefully come out of it understanding what's so fun about having to pick out feats and track my AC, touch AC and flat-footed AC, so that I can have a guy who shoots a six-gun that casts spells (which I'll admit is, without the paperwork stuff, a fun concept).


Linsolv wrote:

See, I get a lot of that. Part of my confusion here is that I know a player, though I don't play with him any more, who is STUCK on 3.5. He loves it. Refuses to play Pathfinder because it would invalidate his shelf somehow. He's played other systems; he's even excited to do so. But he always wants to go back to 3.5 after.

So I can sit here and academically say, well, it's because they're stuck in their ways, whatever. But that feels really disrespectful to people. It assumes that they're not being 'rational,' they're letting their emotions control them. For any group, that would be unfair, but Pathfinder and 3.5 players seem to fancy themselves fairly smart folks, and I want to give them at least enough respect to admit that maybe they're seeing something I'm not seeing.

Humans aren't rational, and are controlled by emotions. Doesn't mean they ain't smart.

Also, a lot of sunk cost fallacy, personal investment leading to perceptions of betrayal, and 3.X systems are very mechanically heavy in a way that requires you to invest a lot of yourself in order to build up the necessary level of system mastery to use them effectively. Folks tend to not want to abandon that investment.


Omnius wrote:
Linsolv wrote:

See, I get a lot of that. Part of my confusion here is that I know a player, though I don't play with him any more, who is STUCK on 3.5. He loves it. Refuses to play Pathfinder because it would invalidate his shelf somehow. He's played other systems; he's even excited to do so. But he always wants to go back to 3.5 after.

So I can sit here and academically say, well, it's because they're stuck in their ways, whatever. But that feels really disrespectful to people. It assumes that they're not being 'rational,' they're letting their emotions control them. For any group, that would be unfair, but Pathfinder and 3.5 players seem to fancy themselves fairly smart folks, and I want to give them at least enough respect to admit that maybe they're seeing something I'm not seeing.

Humans aren't rational, and are controlled by emotions. Doesn't mean they ain't smart.

Also, a lot of sunk cost fallacy, personal investment leading to perceptions of betrayal, and 3.X systems are very mechanically heavy in a way that requires you to invest a lot of yourself in order to build up the necessary level of system mastery to use them effectively. Folks tend to not want to abandon that investment.

So I hope you'll forgive my little diversion here, but like I said above, I put in the same work on GURPS recently. I had a friend, the GM in the game with my 3.5 friend, try to sell us GURPS. Hated it. There were a ton of reasons it didn't work out, only a couple of them the system's fault. But I'm always running into people online who are crazy about GURPS. So I ask my friends, why? What could possibly appeal to them about this system that is, you know, fine at best. And I get the standard answer: Sunk cost.

But then I spent a week, talked to them, got a few big tips on where my game had gone wrong, how I could have fixed it, what I could do in the future to make it work out better, etc.

Is part of it sunk-cost? You're sure right, it is. But something drew them in, in the first place. (As it happens, the answer is 'because GURPS is a chimera that can be anything at all, including rules-light or rules-heavy, and has more supplements even than Pathfinder does,' more or less.)

So here's another question, perhaps one that I should have put in the original post.

How do you dig into the character options, as a newbie?

I'm inclined to think that it's boring, as I've already said, but I was inclined to think that, for example, board games were boring, until I played Ticket to Ride. Then I could take that experience with TTR and translate it into other board games, knowing that there's an anchor of 'fun' somewhere that I can try to tie back to.

If I'm going to get it, then I guess the answer is going to have to be to make a character and be excited to play it at the end. But is there something to this that isn't immediately obvious?


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How do you dig into the character options?

There are a few ways.

The normal and expected way? You start with the core book, maybe plus one. You pick a race, class, skills, feats, maybe some spells, and some gear. Class, feats, spells are the parts that require some measure of system mastery, but ultimately, you start small.

Once you're comfortable with that book, you spiral out to other books.

Most classes can nominally do well with just their book of origin and the core rules, setting aside the divide between casters and non-casters, and the rest is just more toys. There are also guides to almost every class and places you can get together with folks that have the ridiculous encyclopedic knowledge, which can point you to spiffy options you may not have considered.

But character creation in Pathfinder is not just a means to an end. It is, itself, a game. If you do not enjoy fiddling with character creation, you probably won't enjoy Pathfiner. Or Exalted. Or Shadowrun. Or most really heavy character creation systems.


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So, of course as with anything like this, YMMV. But here's my answer.

I, like many, cut my teeth on D&D. Specifically the old Red Box, from which I moved on to AD&D, and then to 3.0.

And like many, around the time I moved to AD&D, I found a multitude of other options. I found Champions. I found GURPS. I found Nightlife and V:tM. I found Call of Cthluhu. I found Star Wars. I found TSR's Marvel Heroes, I found Mutants & Masterminds. I found 7th Sea. I found d20 Modern. I found Deadlands and Shadowrun and FATE and FUDGE and Savage Worlds and the Unisystem.

I also discovered that while I loved role-playing games, I didn't particularly care for high-fantasy. I found myself preferring to battle supervillains or the Sith over fantasy games.

A little over a year ago, as I neared my 40th birthday, I decided I wanted an old-school dungeon crawl. But I didn't want to try to track down web-based resources for everyone, so that meant looking at one of the standards currently available, preferably one that had lots of resources available. And since I didn't want to relearn a lot, and didn't expect to be making a big investment, it was going to come down to 5e or Pathfinder.

Now, what made me choose Pathfinder? Well, a lot of it was that very complexity you mentioned. Because I generally found that complexity comes because it means you have options. I didn't want a Fighter, Mage, Thief, and Cleric as the required party. I wanted to open up different flavors for my players. Looking at 5e, it seemed too simple and too restrictive to suit what I was in the mood for. Since then, I've heard many good things about 5e, but at the moment, I can't imagine 5e scratching an itch that I don't currently get lots of relief from by playing Pathfinder.

And coming from systems like GURPS and Champions and Mutants & Masterminds, the "pick one from Column A, one from Column B" approach of Pathfinder was considerably simpler than the a la carte systems I spent most of my time playing.

The more I dug into Pathfinder, the more I found richness in the options. I never felt like there was too much - more options didn't mean that much more complexity because I only had to learn about the options that interested me (or my players).

But what really sold me on Pathfinder was the writing of the adventures and APs, and the setting of Golarion.

The fact that I know that when I go to Origins and GenCon there will be robust opportunities to play Pathfinder is only a bonus.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Having run HotDQ in 5E for my regular gaming group (they HATED it) I can say with some confidence that it was heavy-handed, obscure, and I got utterly SICK of the contradictions in the adventure (looking at you secret with two different Perception DCs on consecutive pages). My players spent the second half asking me what their characters were actually trying to achieve (and the answer was basically “travel 1,000+ miles for minimal reward for some guys in a town you visited once”).

Paizo’s adventure paths are not this. They have good hooks, continuity, and try hard to be engaging throughout, while telling a single coherent story.

My 2cp on playing Pathfinder: it is a game as complex as you want it to be. If you want the core 11 classes and 7 races and to tell fantasy adventure stories using a level-based advancement system, you can. It’s a bit more flexible than 5E in that regard (each class has more customisation options than you’ll find in the 5E PHB). And there’s 10 years of supplementary material - new classes, feats, spells, races, rule subsystems - that you can plug in with minimal effort.


Linsolv wrote:
How do you dig into the character options, as a newbie?

If wealth of choices and options is what you're resting your hopes on, then I would say you're not seeing the forest through the trees.

If you want a reason to play Pathfinder, sit down with four friends and a GM who understands the rules. Play the four base classes: Fighter, Rogue, Wizard, Cleric. Run a PFS scenario at a local games store, if necessary. For speed, I'd recommend using the pregenerated characters.

If you don't enjoy the experience of what the game is at its core, then you're probably not long for the game, no matter what. Using a greatsword instead of a dagger, or choosing spell X instead of spell Y, isn't going to fundamentally change your experience. While I certainly have my favorite classes, I would enjoy playing any of the classes in print with competent players. Half the fun is learning to succeed with what you've got. Each class presents a different set of tools.

Choosing the base classes will allow you to focus on the game-play. The feel in combat, the feel out of combat, the genre, the artwork. Right now, I'm playing a Savage World campaign, and it's not the same.


I don't know if this will help you or not, but I will give you a little story with my introduction to the game.

I wanted to try D&D since I was younger (which I later learned I meant a tabletop RPG not necessarily D&D), my brother in law was big into Pathfinder and had heard from my wife about my interest. I had minimal interest though because of time investment and scheduling and the like. He told me about the "freedom" of Pathfinder Society and being able to play anywhere.

With that my wife and I went with my brother-in-law to a couple PFS games and played pre-generated characters and learned the ropes that way. I found it neat and interesting, but wanted to play my own character.

Being a big fan of the "semi-mythological" person of Musashi Miyamoto I wanted to make a 2 sword wielding fighter, lucky for me that is a relatively basic concept, though you do have to pick a few specific options and balance a few stats to make it work decent. So with that I had a character up and running pretty quick for a couple games, and being my own character it felt good.

As I continued I kept looking in to ways to make my character stronger and more effective. A couple levels in as I was just about to get to some of the important options to my character, he died. which in Pathfinder Society at low levels, means he is dead-DEAD. It was my fault in the build concept, I had made him REALLY hard to get hit, but left him with low health so when he did get hit by the natural 20 critical hit he had no chance of survival.

Saddened, and frustrated, I still had a lot of fun to that point so I got into the rules and resources and did research and learned and studied and collected all kinds of options and opinions on a quest to make the most unkillable force possible. To me just that research was fun, gaining new knowledge, and then talking with and bouncing ideas off of the people I had met about character concepts and builds and different class and feat and item options I could take. I enjoyed the character building and the effort so that I could create something that I would be proud of.

Now my main character is a Lizard-boy Paladin whom named himself Paladinian because of his issues saying "Paladin" when he was found in the woods abandoned, only protected by the fey whom took pity on him, with 5 Intelligence (only slightly smarter than an animal) who runs around with his Warpriest "babysitter" (My wife) from the Mendevian Crusaders who sent him away to the Pathfinder Society because they were tired of his idiocy and hoped he could do some good there or if not at least die trying. He has slain beast not meant to be slain (more than one enemy written into scenarios as set pieces, evil in nature of course, because Paladin), and gained back SOME respect from his fellow crusaders.

I have a build planned out for him even beyond the normal levels of Pathfinder Society, but between him and my other characters that I have been theory crafting I always find it fun to look for more cool options for them to take and to discuss those options with all of those awesome people I have found playing with.

(P.S. I have only ever gotten to play within PFS because life and reasons)


N N 959 wrote:
Play the four base classes: Fighter, Rogue, Wizard, Cleric.

Honestly, the worst place you could possibly start.


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Character building is really fun for me. I sit on the floor with like 10 books in a circle around me, a character sheet, and a pencil. I don't come out for 3 hours and I love every minute.


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What you consider a bug (Ugh, it takes hours to make a character and there are a billion options to sort through) is, I suspect, considered a feature by most people who love PF (Yay! It takes hours to make a character and there are a billion options to sort through!) That's how it is for me at any rate.

I love that I can make any character I want. I love that I can make basically the same character out of several different classes depending on which mechanics I feel like using at the time. I love that I can make 5 oracles, for example, and none of them will be anything like any of the others.

We took a stab at 5e and, while I found it interesting enough, I felt very stymied. I had a very difficult time finding a class whose mechanics appealed to me because everything was so sparse. It didn't feel like my choices made much, if any, difference and the only real way to make a character unique compared to others of the same class came down to roleplaying. Not that I object to rp'ing but with PF I can make my characters individuals mechanically and with roleplay.

One suggestion: if you are feeling overwhelmed by the character creation process, the guides are very useful for paring down your options by highlighting the most commonly used and generally beneficial choices as well as steering you away from the less useful ones and the outright traps.


My personal reasons:

1) Paizo was responsible for both the Dungeon and the Dragon magazines, so when they announced their own game, I knew who were behind it.

2) It uses the D20 system, and while it is an almost 20-year old system, it is still familiar territory.

3) Due to this, a LOT of D&D 3.5E books I owned could be reused in Pathfinder.

4) More races that were also expanded, more classes, less prestige classes and the introduction of archetypes added a lot of options.

5) The format in books didn't changed much and I didn't feel some sort of fatigue.

6) Pathfinder focused on ONE setting and anything that could be used as regional materials could be used elsewhere. Reprinted materials were common, but not downright unusable.

7) They tried different ideas, with hybrid classes, mythic tiers, psychic magic and much more.

8) They DO listen to their fans. Case-in-point: they acknowledged that their latest class, the Shifter (Ultimate Wilderness), had a lot of problems and they are currently working on an errata for it, and possibly for the entire book while they're at it.

9) PDF files for digital books is an amazing thing.

10) I don't want to go into an "edition war", so I'll just say this: there were rules in D&D 4E that I didn't like at all and those made me look elsewhere, which is where I found Pathfinder.

As much as I kinda hate that Pathfinder is getting a 2nd edition, and possibly no conversion guide, I can understand them for doing so. As I stated, the D20 system is 18-year old, it needs an HUGE upgrade, and they said that they will recycle several elements from 1E in terms of of mecanics.


Linsolv wrote:
I'll have to try doing this; as it stands, it feels like the actual rolling of dice and generation of stats just sounds like doing your taxes. I know, because I've met them, that there are people who like doing it. So, again, I must simply be misunderstanding something. I try to take responsibility for it. But if I'm going to understand, this is where I need to figure out how to adjust my mindset.

Normally you wouldn't use dice when making a character in Pathfinder. You're not dependent on luck. You use point-buy to make the exact character you want.

However, it's generally not until you've played the game for a while that you can get a feel for it. Without that, it's hard to get excited about making a PC who can trip approaching enemies, but also cast spells, or whatever.


Quote:
For me, it's obvious how making a character in, for example, Traveller is fun. It's literally storytelling with dice, even if you have to read into the dice rolls to get anything interesting out of it.

I'll have to say that making a character in Pathfinder is quick, easy and fun when compared to Traveller. I did not have fun at all making characters in Traveller.

My first character lost his hand during the character creation. My friends character died. So, two hours down the drain and off you go making a new character hoping this time he would survive the creation process.
The setting was great, but what killed Traveller for me was that your characters never became significantly better at anything as the game progressed.
Space Opera was even worse, I remember using 4 hours to make a single character.
/Off-topic


These "convince me" threads are a colossal waste of time. If you don't want to play it, find something that appeals to you.

Meanwhile, I'll keep playing Pathfinder and effortlessly pumping out new PCs in five minutes with Hero Lab. That's how we roll.


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Brother Fen wrote:

These "convince me" threads are a colossal waste of time. If you don't want to play it, find something that appeals to you.

Meanwhile, I'll keep playing Pathfinder and effortlessly pumping out new PCs in five minutes with Hero Lab. That's how we roll.

I'm not sure what your point is, I guess. I'm not asking you to convince me, I'm just asking why you all like it, and trying to understand why you like what you like. Convince me or don't, I'm just trying to understand. That said, I feel like you weren't very polite.

I'm not really at a point where I want to throw it at any players, and I'm not about to carve out another several-hour chunk of time to play in another game (I don't know where I would be able to). But in an effort to give Pathfinder a shot, I'm going to try to find a little time to throw at running a solitaire game with 4 PCs against Carrion Crown, and see how that goes. If it sucks then it sucks.

Matthew Downie wrote:

Normally you wouldn't use dice when making a character in Pathfinder. You're not dependent on luck. You use point-buy to make the exact character you want.

However, it's generally not until you've played the game for a while that you can get a feel for it. Without that, it's hard to get excited about making a PC who can trip approaching enemies, but also cast spells, or whatever.

I just meant the act of creating a character. Of course, I don't have Hero Lab, and I'm not about to shell out for it (frankly, I don't have the space in my budget currently, regardless of how much I play Pathfinder in the future), but using PCGen it's taken me a while to make a Druid and a Gunslinger. Barbarian's up next, and then I'll round the team out with some fourth character. So while, yeah, I'm not literally rolling dice, I just meant it in the sense of "rolling up" a character. Idiomatically.


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Brother Fen wrote:

These "convince me" threads are a colossal waste of time. If you don't want to play it, find something that appeals to you.

Meanwhile, I'll keep playing Pathfinder and effortlessly pumping out new PCs in five minutes with Hero Lab. That's how we roll.

You are free to scroll right on by, friend.

Also, that ain't the kind of attitude that builds a community.


Linsolv wrote:
Brother Fen wrote:

These "convince me" threads are a colossal waste of time. If you don't want to play it, find something that appeals to you.

Meanwhile, I'll keep playing Pathfinder and effortlessly pumping out new PCs in five minutes with Hero Lab. That's how we roll.

I'm not sure what your point is, I guess. I'm not asking you to convince me, I'm just asking why you all like it, and trying to understand why you like what you like. Convince me or don't, I'm just trying to understand. That said, I feel like you weren't very polite.

I'm not really at a point where I want to throw it at any players, and I'm not about to carve out another several-hour chunk of time to play in another game (I don't know where I would be able to). But in an effort to give Pathfinder a shot, I'm going to try to find a little time to throw at running a solitaire game with 4 PCs against Carrion Crown, and see how that goes. If it sucks then it sucks.

Matthew Downie wrote:

Normally you wouldn't use dice when making a character in Pathfinder. You're not dependent on luck. You use point-buy to make the exact character you want.

However, it's generally not until you've played the game for a while that you can get a feel for it. Without that, it's hard to get excited about making a PC who can trip approaching enemies, but also cast spells, or whatever.

I just meant the act of creating a character. Of course, I don't have Hero Lab, and I'm not about to shell out for it (frankly, I don't have the space in my budget currently, regardless of how much I play Pathfinder in the future), but using PCGen it's taken me a while to make a Druid and a Gunslinger. Barbarian's up next, and then I'll round the team out with some fourth character. So while, yeah, I'm not literally rolling dice, I just meant it in the sense of "rolling up" a character. Idiomatically.

All well and good but the OP used the word "tedious" in the initial post as to the creation of characters IIRC. Others here are explaining how it isn't true but can appear to be if you look at the big picture after almost a decade of option filled book releases. The OPs tone throughout the thread suggests to me that despite being given examples of how PF can be much easier in character creation, he/she is still looking to be convinced (forgive me if I'm taking it wrong but it's coming across that way to me too). Brother Fen could use some tact however.

1) Op also stated no experience with PF, also well and good. As another poster or two suggested, no experience should run with just the Core Rolebook and maybe PF Unchained for better balanced versions of some of the Core classes for the first outing. Spitball some character concepts, open the Core book and create. This shouldn't take hours.

2) Carrion Crown is an excellent choice for an AP and works with any BALANCED party of the core classes IMHO. Again for "no experience in PF" drop the extra sub-rules like Trust Points in Book 1 and wing it based on your groups interactions with the residents of Ravengro, it's simpler that way.

3) Running an AP with "no experience" isn't too hard if you are an "experienced DM/GM" from other games. Always remember Rule 0 and you are golden.

4) I recently got a group going again, half were new to PF. I really wanted to start an AP but I ran a one shot "Crypt of the Everflame" as a prelude while introducing some of the NPCs from the planned AP (Runelords for classic tropes) as well as modifying the story to one of the PCs backstory. This was to see if they really would get into the game without committing to a huge AP.
Huge Hit with the crowd. We are going forward and even changing to the more advanced (IMHO) AP, Kingmaker (for more party decision making and involvement).

To answer the OP...
1) I love the options available for a bazillion types of characters as I grew with PF. It is a little bloat-ish, but I don't have to use or allow anything I don't feel fits the game.
2) The setting has a lot of flavors, maybe a little too much. I'm more of a classic fantasy setting type (like Greyhawk). Varisia, Ustalav, The River Kingdoms, resonate more with me, so I tend to stay in those regions more. I'm not closed to exotic locales every now and then though. There's something for everyone.
3) Same with APs. There's an AP for every group type. Personally this is where WotC fails IMHO. Not enough adventures for full time working guys like me with family life to juggle. I stopped homebrewing 25+ years ago. The only bad thing to me are the AP subsystems, though I'm treating most as "optional" or "in the background" (like the actual kingdom building and possibly mass combat in KM).

Advice to the OP...
Keep it simple and balanced for less GM work. Use the 15 point buy as intended by the Core Rulebook, balance the party (healer, melee, arcane at the least), start with a one shot over an AP (though book 1 of Carrion could be a good one shot with a little work at the end).


As the GM the big pull is the amount of material produced for PF. If you're running a long game it's much easier in PF than in, say, Savage Worlds.

The time to create a character is an issue for the GM, making humanoid adversaries a problem at higher levels, but for the player if it's something they need to do once a year or so - it's not much of a problem.


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I can only speak for myself:

Other games like GURPS and such have great customization, but in the end GURPS really lacks that "class niche" dungeon crawling that I like.

4e was GREAT for tactics play, but it was kind of poor for customizing to the character's personality.

Basic D&D is fun, but Basic/OD&D also had THAC0 and I don't personally enjoy THAC0.

Really what Pathfinder (even 3.5 D&D) for me is a sort of hybrid of all of those styles at once.

My class informs my tactics, my feats and smaller choice inform my character, and I can make just about anything I want with just the Core Rulebook, but things get even more fun with other books (like the advanced race guide.)

Its really a "I want to have my cake and eat it too."

While there are many systems that are quite focused on one area or style of play (GURPS with it's build anything, 4e with it's grid-based combat, even things like PbtA games with their Narrative First) 3.5/Pathfinder is the only system I feel touches on everything all at once. Combat, Roleplay, and Character customizing. It's a good middle of the road choice with a bit of all of it rather than a focus. Even the leveling system itself allows for many narrative possibilities. Levels 1-4? Down to earth home grown heroes. 5-7? Action Heroes (not super yet.) 8-10? Super heroes. So on and so forth. So I can even tone the game's narrative by allowing players to start at certain levels.


Customizing personality? You really need those little tables they've put in 5e backgrounds to give personality to your characters?

4e is damn fine mechanics, I miss playing it.
As for personality, I let it develop as the campaign develops, even if the character started up as a generic, history less mook, I make up the personality when I get fun (or logical) ideas.


One thing I've always liked about PF that I haven't found in a lot of other fantasy RPGs (that I've played anyway; they might be out there I just haven't found them) is that the PC race/class combos can be one thing, but represent something completely different.

Take Batman for example. Just looking at Core classes he's a brilliant hand to hand fighter, so maybe a monk; he's extremely stealthy so perhaps a rogue; lots of skills but also fighting so could be a ranger; or we could just go straight up fighter, but you'd want to capture his detective skills so perhaps adding in levels in another class.

All of these could build the same character, depending on how you want to build him.


I want crunch that I can sink my teeth into, which is why, while I can enjoy a 5e game, I will never enjoy it as much. RP is RP no matter what system you play it in, but if you have a head for tactics and strategy, a game that rewards those skills is going to be more fun in combat.

When almost all abilities are "gain advantage to ____" or "deal X type damage instead of Y type damage" combat gets very dull for me, and if I was going to run/play a game with less combat, I'd go Storyteller.


Big Lemon wrote:
RP is RP no matter what system you play it in, but ....

I might not be understanding your point of view correctly, but i think the system can affect roleplay direction and magnitude a lot through rewards and punishments.

For example, Double-Cross’s lois/titus system greatly rewards roleplaying dramatic character relationships. When you confess to your significant other, get your family killed, become friends with a once-hated foe, etc, you get access to extremely strong powers, on the tier of doubling your combat prowess or even coming back from the dead. Roleplay in Double-Cross strongly favors drama, whereas in Pathfinder, you only roleplay drama for the sake of roleplay itself.

That said, Pathfinder also directs roleplay, albeit to a far lesser extent. The divine classes punish certain kinds of roleplay, and the Medium gives both reward and punishment by the Taboo mechanic.

I don’t think systems that tie mechanic to roleplay are “better” than those that don’t, but I do think they’re very different and definitely worthy of consideration when comparing systems.


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For me it's the gains in power as you gain levels. In many games your advances feel very minor, if at all, over the course of a campaign. In pathfinder I really feel like I'm getting somewhere.

I enjoy all the fiddly little bits. The little tweaks, the +1 here, a +2 there whether in character creation or from equipment as you play.

I really enjoy pulling all those disparate parts into a coherent whole.

It's versatile. It doesn't take a lot of experience to change the tone completely by adjusting access to equipment, limiting classes or adding a level cap.

It's depth. There is information in just the CRB that allows you to take your adventure nearly anywhere. Some may say there are too many rules, but for me that's just less I have to make up (and very likely mess up!)

Pathfinder isn't perfect, there is almost certainly some basis for the negativity out there, but every system has it's issues. Pathfinder however offers so much more for me than any other system I have played.


linsolv wrote:

Like... I must sound very stupid asking this question. For me, it's obvious how making a character in, for example, Traveller is fun. It's literally storytelling with dice, even if you have to read into the dice rolls to get anything interesting out of it.

But is it that interesting to say "what kind of life did my person lead? Were they a... *checks list* fireman, policeman, or astronaut?" What can I do to make this more engaging as a player, or to help my players to make it more engaging as a game master?

Creating a character in PF is exactly the same in many respects, but without the dice telling you what skills you learnt and where you learnt them. You get to chose what skills, you get to decide why that skill and not another. You tell the story right from the start. It can be your character from the top down - with as much or as little random as you want. See what story develops as you make the choices for your character.

Or (this is my preference) do it in reverse and come up with a character idea, the story of them, then see how you can get the mechanics to best support that concept. There are at this point usually a couple to choose from, but even with just core there a number of ways to accomplish very similar tasks - not always equally well, but discovering that is part of the fun.


Personally, the plethora of character options is exactly what made me gravitate towards Pathfinder.

Especially after two 5e campaigns. I wanted alternatives and options and depth.

I find myself designing new characters purely out of fun, just to explore new archetypes I find.

I've never had options like this before. Even with the second 5e campaign I mentioned being a gestalt campaign, the characters were pretty bland compared to just about anything that can be put together in Pathfinder.


On the subject of character generation you do have quite a few options, you could do it "taxes style" and just take the point-buy system ( the most fair of the systems imo ) plop down Your stats, look through 10 years of material and make the character concept that you want to play the most.

Or you could do it dice-style where you roll Your stats ( in combination to Your selecting everything yourself) or you could roll up a character from stats to class to background and what not and only have to Select the feats given at the end.

If Pathfinder is scary big to get into, i would dread to see you attempt Your hand at Shadowrunner.

Examples of characters i made in Pathfinder: My Oracle of time, basically buildt to be similar to "Lenneth" from valkyrie profile in theme, however with a more naive and Bright personality and Haunted by spirits that made her attempts of appearing as a serious leader into a mess. Or you have my Rogue Evangelist, a wandering priest that spread the Word of pharasma despite him still clinging to his rogueish style. Or the Celestial Bloodrager with an archtype that gave me the option to use Heavy plate and just become a very angry Paladin, i named him "Kain" so you can imagne what he was like in the face of evil.

Dark Archive

Well, for me the ability to make any character I want is an appeal, not a detriment. I've been playing RPGs for 41 years. I got sick of just playing Elves, Fighters, Rogues, Mages in the 1980's. Went to ICE with MERP, and also played Car Wars, Battlebots, Cyberpunk, and a myriad of other games you probably can't even find in print anymore (Twilight 2000 comes to mind). Anyway, I picked up PF when it first came out because my brother helped them playtest it and I was pretty well hooked. At the time I was playing Powers and Perils, a D100 and pretty versatile game, but with astronomically unbalance higher level spells (ranges are sometimes factoral...). Anyway, Pathfinder appealed to me because it had pretty well written adventure paths (despite missing doors and mobs that don't fit in rooms). Making Characters was always part of the fun in AD&D, and at times this was all I did when I used to "play" - make a character, play one session, never touch it again. THEN comes PFS. A way to KEEP PLAYING through people who volunteer their time to run? Sure. Great. And I meet new people and make friends. Awesome. I've had good experiences at PFS tables and bad experiences. One thing I've started to NOT like is playing UP Tiers. So I avoid getting my characters one-shot by the EPIC CR bosses in the module that PFS doesn't seem to notice it threw in. Seriously, one module I went through at CL5 was 2 CR9 encounters, 2CR8's and 3 CR7's - +4 isn't even on the chart for designing adventures, and if I had played this in a home game I would have gotten 12 Fame and 2 levels (minimum) instead of 2 Fame and 1/3rd of a level... crazy. PFS is harder to play a "regular character" with a background and personality, but it can be done and is still fun. Min/maxing just to survive is a little tedious. But if you don't care about that and just make a regular murder hobo who is a whittler instead of a glass cannon you can do ok. For home games PF is great thanks to d20pfrsd /paizo having just about everything (except the adventure paths) available. What can be better than a free game?

My wife and son play, and they have Vigilante characters. I was like pfft, I'll just make someone who can raise dead at level 4 or 5 so if we get a TPK it will just cost us 5 PP to raise everyone and did that (Pal, Ranger, Cleric, Holy Vindicator now... has raised one player and one npc to deceive an Ifreet/ complete a mission). Anyway - the Vigilante's: holy crap! Who knew what THEY could do without playing them. Crazy stuff now that they are level 7 and it's only going to get worse (better)!

Anyway tldr: Been playing long enough that making the characters is half the fun. PFS allows me to play a character in any Con I go to again. So I can keep playing that character it took me an hour to make. LOL. Yeh. One hour... you don't own enough books if it only took an hour.


You're going to have to play for yourself. We can tell you whatever we want but because we all like different things and have different ways to play the game it could be completely different than what you experience.

Try to get in the game as a player first. Trying to GM first, especially for experienced players who know the rules might not be something you want to do.

Dark Archive

Dale McCoy Jr wrote:
The best adventure path, in my opinion, is Kingmaker (published by Paizo for Pathfinder). It is more a premise with a bunch of pre-planned events thrown at the players. I wish more adventure paths were like this. There are others that use this idea, but none take it as far as this adventure path does. This kind of adventure path means that your players can do whatever they want. They want to go over here instead of where you'd expect? That's fine. That part of the map is set up for them. They may regret it because that part of the map assumes they're higher level, but they have that as an option.

Lol. You won't make many kings if you manage to find the will-o-whisps first... Yes, that is a great little part of Golarion that is "open content" and can even be used in passing. Having played through it I like that it ties into Numeria, the far East, South, North... all over the area, really. Good content in that AP. Certainly learned that grappling Ogres was not for the weak.


At this point I love Pathfinder because I get to use all my dice instead of only my d%. The absurd amount of resources is also a big reason.
Individually, other games may have more versatile or better designed 'sections', but even if Pathfinder is not the 'best' in something, at least it's 'good' in almost everything I look for in a game. It's just a solid choice for me.


Because making obscure and complicating characters from obscure resources to do whatever you want makes you feel like a god.

--Is what some people might say. Not me...


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

I've been playing the D&D family of games since 1982, and I'd probably say that 80% of my gaming time since the start has been in game systems where you roll a d20 to hit an Armor Class, and you want to roll high.

Part of PFRPG's appeal is inertia. It's an extension of the 3.5 OGL, which has been a thing since 2003. That means, at its core, it's a 15-year-old system.

Pathfinder's greatest strength is also is biggest weakness: The bewildering array of PC options. It also appeals to those who like a "crunchy" system, where there's a specific rule for just about everything.

Another big selling point for Pathfinder, at least for me, it its campaign setting. I absolutely LOVE the Golarion setting, with its 10,000-year history, kitchen-sink approach, and 10th-meets-19th-century politics.

That said... I do get frustrated with the level of "crunch" involved, and my primary gaming group has moved on to more "rules-light" systems, particularly Fate Core and the "Powered by the Apocalypse" games. We thing that combats in Pathfinder just take too long, particularly in high-level play, and they start to all feel the same after a while. I think the "sweet spot" for PF play is lower-level than many: I like levels 5-9 best, and think that the game really starts to bog down after that.

I'm currently running a sandbox-style game set in Golarion, where the PCs are playing Pathfinder iconic characters, but we're using the Dungeon World ruleset.

(On alternate weeks, we play a "Weird West" game using Fate Core rules.)

I have played some 5e, and found that system to be a bit frustrating. For my tastes, it's too rigid to be a "rules-light" game, but doesn't allow nearly enough customization for a "crunchy" game.

I am being cautiously optimistic about PF2e. I like a lot of what they've previewed so far, althoug I'm a little dubious about a few things. (So far, the two things I'm skeptical about are goblins as a core PC race, and the concept of the Resonance system.) But I am trying to keep an open mind, and have preordered the Playtest Rulebook and Module.

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