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Session 0, or how it was all actually ok and I was too.
(Apologies for long post is long)
My son and I had our session 0.1, and got as far as Point 8 in the character generation guide that starts on page 12.
CubWolf is 7, has played the Beginner Box adventure (albeit with a party consisting mainly of goblins and elementals) but also a homebrew adventure with the Beginner Box characters (Ezren, Merisiel and a few others) and a homebrew with other characters that ran through the Beginner Box map that was set halfway up a cliff that was arrived at after a sandship adventure based loosely on the sandship pirates of the newset version of Thundercats. Right? So he has a pretty good grasp of the rules, and from a fairly steady diet of CRPGs/roguelikes as well as a stream of cartoons and manga he understands many of the tropes and traditions.
So we arrive at the Pathfinder Playtest. I'm currently down with the dreadest lurgy, and my crab-level is on Legendary. How did it go? Pretty simple and straightforward, even considering that cubwolf decided to make a Goblin Wizard. There was a little flipping back and forth, but no flipping out. And there were some serious pros to the current way things were organised, if not laid out.
* Stat generation was simple, and cubwolf decided to add points to everything, ending up with 12, 14, 12, 14, 14, 12. Not optimised for Intelligence, but balanced. I admire his naive approach, and did not try to get him to make the array different in the quest for power. We'll see how that goes.
* First, why is the TEML system presented on page 291 (literal cubwolf was all "you have to read through 291 pages to get to the most important system?") I'm even of the opinion that the TEML modifiers should be printed as some sort of footnote/superscript on the bottom of every page. I have zero problems with the +1/level system, don't really understand the issue, but it isn't intuitive yet. It feels like more math to work out a figure, then either subtract your -2 or add your +1, 2 or 3 to that for everything on your sheet. Luckily it is all over the character sheet, but still...
* What is "SIG" on every skill field on the character sheet? Oh. Just worked it out. Signature Skill. Which seems highly closeting, and useless until later. And has been abandoned.
* Yup. There really aren't enough feats at first level to express your ancestry, and the ones provided aren't great. So, it's a Playtest, and we should get plenty eventually. BUT, I agree with folks who feel more should be baked in, whether they are swappable in or out - like "you receive two/three heritage feats for free at 1st level to round out your ancestry" chosen from a list. Cubwolf chose Junk Tinker, and not being able to choose razor teeth or very sneaky didn't seem to bother him - "getting one feat is better than getting none". If only he could apply that to episodes of his favorite TV show, dessert or other things.
* He also chose Animal Whisperer as his Background. Backgrounds should be distinct in the chapters from Ancestries.
* A Wizard, eh!?! So our junk tinker goblin chose to be a universalist so with two feats chose familiar (raven) and reach spell to make his electric arc work at 60 ft with a little extra action. In terms of layout and presentation, Arcane School should be "Specialist Wizards", I was confused for a while (not being a caster player generally) whether you could still choose a school without having to be a specialist. I also couldn't work out why you wouldn't be a specialist given it took me half an hour to find "Universalist Wizard" at the end of the school section written in the same font/size as the schools. I was also a little unclear whether the specialist wizard could only choose the extra spell from his school, or whether all his spells had to be from his school. I'm thinking it is the latter?
Also, not getting a spell point pool as a Universalist seems really harsh, the extra possible uses of Drain Arcane Focus per spell level (instead of per day) notwithstanding - and at 1st and 2nd level that will be exactly NO benefit.
Again, in terms of presentation, why does it tell me under Wizard that I get another Ancestry feat at 5th level (and thereafter)? I'm sure every class does, but this really isn't the place, and much space could be saved in a character generation section. I think this is an attempt to make the game easy for new players, but I'm finding the game currently as presented really [i]isn't[i/] for new players. The Wizard alone, though on the one hand straightforward, is still an overly complex class.
Looking at Table 3-21 there are seven entries for what you get at 1st level. Arcane school shouldn't be there, as it doesn't universally apply (should be changed to approach or tutelage or style or something - either Specialist or Universalist) and ancestry feat shouldn't be in there either - it is a function of Ancestry, NOT class. Same with background. It doesn't need to be this complex, and ironically it is the attempt to clarify the presentation that clutters it.
The character sheet doesn't really work for Wizard proficiencies, as they have a short list of trained weapons, not simple designations of Simple/Martial.
N.B: Cubwolf liked the "spamming" of cantrips concept.
* Again with Layout - putting the class feats in the class writeup is distinctly weird, and reminds me of the "class as miniplaybook" that was 4e. Now, I'm no hater of 4e, so this is just an observation. Mostly class feats as a distinction seems to contain the class as concept rather than be an offering of options that provide true choice across characters.
* Then, "General Feats" is confusing, because the "traits" of feats can be General, or General and Skill, or even General and Move and Skill. The Feats chapter doesn't even start by explaining anything, like how many general feats you get at first level. Does cubwolf's goblin wizard get a general feat at 1st level? Apparently he gains one at 3rd level, unless he isn't "most classes" (p.160). Then again, a whole bunch of them are listed as 1st level, so how are we getting those? Nowhere on pp. 12-17 is that detailed, unless I've missed something.
And that's where we are at. Writing this up, it doesn't seem as straightforward as it was last night, but we did enjoy it and things were't too complicated, though now I am a little confused about a few things. How do you get 1st level General Feats? Did we add the stat bonuses from Background? (Just did a reverse engineer, and all is as it should be - putting that down to his precocity and me not following along due to mental aberration...errr sickness...)
Anyway, this is a rambling feedback of character creation, if you have any queries or clarifications for me, please provide or ask away!!! (1st level General Feats - what page is that described, what did I miss???)
I'm giving this a go, and will provide more feedback as I go - Next up - Equipment, making the second character (should be quicker?!?!) and maybe, the Adventure!!!