My Thoughts on the Pathfinder Playtest


General Discussion


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I'm not happy with the Pathfinder playtest. I wanted to be, really bad, both for my sake and because I am a big supporter of Paizo. They saved D&D 3.0/3.5 and turned into what it should have been. Now I know there will be those of you who will not agree with me, I understand that, but this is my story, my point of view, so bare with me.

I believe that Paizo is headed by good people. I do not think that there is any sort of evil plan. I do feel though that they are being a little disingenuous about the possibilities of this playtest. I've seen interviews where it was made to sound as if major faucets of this game would be changed during this playtest if we wanted it to be. Is that the case though? I do not think so.

It is more than likely that Paizo wishes to release the game at Gen Con 2019, which begins on August 1st, 2019. That is 10 months and 21 days from when I am writing this. I assume they will need to be pretty much finished and off to setting and printing at least 3 or 4 months before that, so that amount of time comes off the almost 11 months, giving the playtest and any changes that will be made to the rules, about 6 or 7 months. I do not see where that leaves this playtest much room to make an impact other than bug fixes and small rule changes like the new death rules.

Had the powers that be at Paizo had been serious about making that game that we want to play, they would have sent out an extensive questionnaire asking us what it was that we wished to see in a second edition BEFORE they even started, perhaps 3 or maybe even more years ago. But that never happened. They got together at their HQ and wrote the game that they wanted to sell us. Not the game that we wanted to play.

The playtest is not a bad game. I am sure in 5 years it will be pretty good. But it is not what I think that the questionnaires would have asked for. The system is not easily backward compatible, players have spent a decade sending their money to Paizo and we have in our hands a veritable mountain of books containing rules that will no longer be useful or easily transferred to the new system. Sure, the setting and all the lore is there, the wonderful Golarion. Thank the gods that they are not going to pull a Spellplague on us... right?

But the rules. The rules are changed in a serious and fundamental bunch of ways that makes using content from the first edition problematical at best. They took away so many classes and so many races (ancestries now) that we are not going to get back for years. Instead of talking to us and maybe hearing that this game should come stock with race creation rules that actually work and make sense, they made the game that they wanted and are asking us to debug it for them. Not to actually have a hand in it from the start, but to be beta testers for something that is fundamentally finished.

They are nice people at Paizo, but doing that to us is a mean move. Perhaps they figured they had no choice. Perhaps their priority is to pull things closer to what the upcoming generation is used to with the new edition of D&D. Perhaps we are not as much of a priority as we thought we were.

I know... I am not forced to play second edition. I can stay with first edition and be happy with that. It is just that when I imagined a second edition, I imagined a Pathfinder that would incorporate all the great strengths that Pathfinder had, while fixing it's weaknesses. Instead, I have in my hands a book that does not fix the weaknesses and actually, in a lot of ways, fixes what is not broken while reinventing the wheel.

I've ranted enough. I know there will be a lot of you who will dispute everything that I have said and maybe even call me an idiot. But please don't. This is not meant as an attack, it is a lament. I am sad for the second edition that could have been, had Paizo really wanted our input. If what I've written makes you angry with me, I'm sorry.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Sounds like your main problem is it not being backwards compatible with 1e. I guess I can see why it's annoying but you have to know that it's impossible right? If they tried to make the entirety of 1e backwards compatible with 2e would it really be much of a new edition?

If they were stuck trying to keep it compatible with 1e they'd be shackled by the mechanics of 1e and not be able to truly make a new edition. It'd end up more like Pathfinder Unchained v2. Maybe that's what you wanted though, which there's nothing wrong with really, but personally I wanted something separate from 1e. Something that could get away from the inherent problems of 3.5 and so far the playtest has been giving that to me.


It does seem that the playtest could have been more open at the beginning, seeing what people wanted, stating goals they have, problems they want to address, given themselves time to collect data, and then tune. This feels a bit like it was designed by a few people in isolation, lot of things out of the blue (UTEML, 4-tiers of success, resonance), and that was a problem I felt happened with 4th Ed.


Dire Ursus wrote:
Sounds like your main problem is it not being backwards compatible with 1e. I guess I can see why it's annoying but you have to know that it's impossible right? If they tried to make the entirety of 1e backwards compatible with 2e would it really be much of a new edition?

Well, even 3rd Ed is backwards compatible with monsters (some have the same AC in both 2nd and 3rd Ed), easy to convert 2nd Ed spells to 3rd Ed, and it's easy to convert and port over stuff from 3rd Ed/PF1 to 5th Ed; 4th Ed is the one that is very difficult to reconcile with other editions.


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Dire Ursus wrote:
Sounds like your main problem is it not being backwards compatible with 1e. I guess I can see why it's annoying but you have to know that it's impossible right? If they tried to make the entirety of 1e backwards compatible with 2e would it really be much of a new edition?

I think that more than anything, my main problem is that Paizo did not include us in the process. They wrote what they wanted and handed it to us. If they had included us in the process, I think that the other problems would have all solved themselves.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I mean isn't this playtest us being included in the process?


Dire Ursus wrote:
I mean isn't this playtest us being included in the process?

We are being involved at the tail end. All of the main concepts are in place, all of the rules have been written. We are beta testers, not able to affect major change. That is what I am bothered by.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I still think there's going to be major changes. Resonance for instance I expect will be significantly different when the core rules come out. Signature skills are going to be completely removed in the next errata that comes out today thanks to feedback. And I bet Ancestries are going to be significantly revised as well going off comments from some of the designers.

Just because you don't like some of the changes, doesn't mean they just made up all the changes out of thin air. It's obvious they are trying to address problems that people had with 1e. Just because they didn't ask you directly doesn't mean they weren't taking any feed back at all into consideration when they made the playtest rules.


Dire Ursus wrote:

I still think there's going to be major changes. Resonance for instance I expect will be significantly different when the core rules come out. Signature skills are going to be completely removed in the next errata that comes out today thanks to feedback. And I bet Ancestries are going to be significantly revised as well going off comments from some of the designers.

Just because you don't like some of the changes, doesn't mean they just made up all the changes out of thin air. It's obvious they are trying to address problems that people had with 1e. Just because they didn't ask you directly doesn't mean they weren't taking any feed back at all into consideration when they made the playtest rules.

If they did not ask the community directly, who did they ask?

Also, like I said, the game is ok. It may get good by publication, may be great in 5-10 years before PF3.

But the changes that will be made now, they are to the game that THEY wanted to make. The changes are going to be minor. Do you really think that resonance and signature skills are important on the grand scale? They are details.

Lets end it here, Dire Ursus. You and I are coming from different directions on this and I do not wish for this to at any point get heated.


Paizo is in a tough spot because, once they announce (or even hint) that they are working on PF2, it most likely significantly impacts the sale of PF1 products. I have personally stopped buying PF1 products as a result. If they had sent out surveys about what was desired in a new edition 2 years ago, their sales may have been impacted negatively for an unacceptable amount of time in terms of the company's financials. Not an easy problem to solve, but I don't think they were deliberately trying to ignore people's opinions.


Technotrooper wrote:
Paizo is in a tough spot because, once they announce (or even hint) that they are working on PF2, it most likely significantly impacts the sale of PF1 products. I have personally stopped buying PF1 products as a result. If they had sent out surveys about what was desired in a new edition 2 years ago, their sales may have been impacted negatively for an unacceptable amount of time in terms of the company's financials. Not an easy problem to solve, but I don't think they were deliberately trying to ignore people's opinions.

I know they are good people, I have a friend on the inside... but back in the 80's TSR put out a survey for the upcoming edition of their game and I never heard of a drop in sales. If the products were going to still be coming out for another couple years, would you have stopped buying? Maybe they were not intentionally doing that, but not including us in the earlier stages, I feel that was a mistake.


Bad Coyote wrote:
Technotrooper wrote:
Paizo is in a tough spot because, once they announce (or even hint) that they are working on PF2, it most likely significantly impacts the sale of PF1 products. I have personally stopped buying PF1 products as a result. If they had sent out surveys about what was desired in a new edition 2 years ago, their sales may have been impacted negatively for an unacceptable amount of time in terms of the company's financials. Not an easy problem to solve, but I don't think they were deliberately trying to ignore people's opinions.
I know they are good people, I have a friend on the inside... but back in the 80's TSR put out a survey for the upcoming edition of their game and I never heard of a drop in sales. If the products were going to still be coming out for another couple years, would you have stopped buying? Maybe they were not intentionally doing that, but not including us in the earlier stages, I feel that was a mistake.

Though 2nd Ed is completely compatible with 1st Ed, so that made the transition easier, and why they kept THACO; they waited to release the current d20 ability score and BAB system in 4th Ed Gamma World, in 1992 (3-years later).

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