Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player’s Guide

26 10 2010

OMG. It may be old news but I love the APG.
For me, the old Paizo quality is there to start with. The number of pages, the quality of the artwork, the fact that they’ve listened to the fans. They all say Paizo to me in a way that other RPG companies don’t. Am I biased because of the system? Actually no. I was never a huge fan of 3.5 (don’t get me started on the attack of opportunity rule, let alone grapple). No, it’s the quality of the product and the enthusiasm of the publishers and fans – no, it’s the partnership of Paizo and players that hooked me.
Not every offering has been awesome. I’ve bought most titles since the core rulebook came out. The wins have certainly outweighed the losses.
What appeals to me about this book is in many ways that it isn’t complete fantasy. OK, I’d better explain that one. What I mean is that they haven’t introduced six weird races. Rather, they have given ways to make humans, dwarves and the like unique. Now, you don’t just have six races that aren’t really distinguishable. Now you can flavour your gnome in so many ways.
The classes we’ve seen before to be fair, but the variants on the core classes are another welcome way of differentiating your standard fighter without having to create a whole new class that becomes an oddity.
The feats are a welcome addition – and you’d expect new spells and equipment to be fair.
The prestige classes build on what I’ve already said. Good without being weird.
The new rules I’ve yet to form a strong opinion on, but at least we’ve not been overwhelmed with optional additions.
I think you’ll love this if you like the core game and want more of the same.
You’ll find it wanting if, in my opinion, you want radical new things, like weird and wonderful races, classes and rules.
It won’t take a genius to work out which side of the fence I sit on.


Laughing? Well I’m very happy at least

9 12 2009

This is not a specific review about the recent Paizo play-test for new classes to add to the Pathfinder game.   Although it is their Cavalier class that got me excited, I am more inclined to pen something about character creation.

The reason I needed to write was that I’ve just created a character for a PbP Pathfinder game and the GM said it was OK for me to try the Cavalier.  I had toyed with being a paladin, but as someone who used to love playing a Warhammer Templar, I was keen to try out what the Cavalier could do.

Of course, the more representative class for Templar will be unveiled next year as the paladin will get new options – and apparently among them will be the opportunity to play a ‘Paladin’ that’s not LG.  But I digress.

I can honestly say that creating my cavalier was the most fun I’ve had with character creation in a very, very long time.  I accept that part of this is down to the class, but moreover it gave me the chance to create a character I had in my head – a wannabe ‘Paladin’ that is a bit shaky about her faith and goes off to search for divine inspiration – not because of it.

As I’ve said before, I’m no fan of min-maxing.  I’m even a player that avoids optimising my character (surely that’s min-max in a different language?).  No, I like to have an idea and then see it through onto paper.

Just like my assassin that is created as a rogue – but using all the right skills and feats to make her a sneaky sort that can get up close to her kills before delivering the telling blow – my Cavalier (I notice I’m using a capital ‘C’ but never mind) was based upon a Paladin that doesn’t have divine righteousness.

And as my character was built, I could see it forming in my mind.  I chose feats that suited the character – not ones to make me an optimal fighter.  I invested heavily in horse armour.  I figure I’ll never get to see it used – but that’s what my character would have done.  I’ve spent money on musical instruments and the like because it fits in with the faith – not because I ever expect to use them in anger (or even leisure).

Because that’s what role-playing means to me.   It’s about playing a role.  Not rolling dice.  Not killing lots of creatures – but rather I’m keen to get talking to the NPCs and the other PCs.  In essence, I rolled a character that fitted the religion – warts and all.  And getting to role-play it is what I’m so excited about.

And the better news is that if I pick a different religion, I can go through the process again and end up with a fundamentally different character each time.  Different skills, feats and trappings.  And the back-story can come from some nugget in the Paizo Gods and Magic sourcebook which devotes two pages to each major religion.    

So, as much as I can’t wait to play by Cavalier (still a capital I see), I also can’t wait for a chance to play a different one!

The Tome of Secrets (a review)

1 12 2009

My love of Pathfinder is already documented on these pages.  But that doesn’t mean I will always praise Pathfinder related content – I will always write it as I see it.

I was a little surprised to see a hard copy of The Tome of Secrets in my local store – as I live in England and the nearby stores aren’t exactly RPG-centric.

That said, I saw a copy and immediately grabbed it (without checking the contents). 

My first overall observation is that with the Paizo produced stuff so far, just about anything within their covers is allowable in the game.  OK, I have a house-rule about attacks of opportunity and players have to check with me if they want to take a trait from a supplement or the web-document – but pretty much anything is fair game. 

This is rarely the case with third-party sourcebooks and Adamant Entertainment’s offering is no different.  Having started with something of a negative, I’ll balance that by saying that overall it is worth the purchase price.  Doubly so as you get a free PDF once you have bought it.

The sections are well laid out and cover:

  • Three additional races
  • Eight additional classes
  • Drawbacks
  • Occupations
  • GM Options

Some Specifics

I like the fact that Adamant Entertainment worked with Paizo to ensure that anything that goes in here doesn’t contradict something Paizo will put out later.  So the races and classes and mechanics won’t clash.

The races are…interesting.  Not sure if I’d ever play one but they give a significantly different option to the Paizo core races.  The classes are good too.  One or two appeal (the Spellblade and Warlock in particular) and the rest serve a purpose.

I really like the drawbacks and the fact that a player is allowed a skill bonus to offset taking the  drawback.  Some drawbacks are very specific e.g. Cold Aversion only affects you at certain temperatures and some are generic e.g. Bad Shot means a -2 penalty on all ranged attacks.  As a GM I’d be sure players only took sensible drawbacks.  Taking Cold Aversion for a desert campaign would be vetoed at once!

Occupations considers what your PC did prior to becoming an adventurer.  There are rules on wealth creation, some random tables if you just want to trust chance (and these are grouped by region e.g. rural, marine etc.).  Each background occupation gives specific skills that can give both flavour and some helpful abilities.

The GM section covers a range of topics and the GM can pick’n’mix whatever aspects he wants to add.  So there are sections on the mechanics of a range of aspects, e.g. stunts, morale and enchantment.

My favourite section is all about chases.  With standard movement rates, in the typical game mechanics you either never catch someone or you do.  This depends on your relative movement rate.  One human will never catch another human.  So the mechanics here allow for variety in that scenario – and a whole new aspect of adventuring can begin – the chase.

Next up there are some random generation tables for magical items and some mechanics for modifying standard monsters to create something new for your players.  There is a random adventure generator and finally a section on gunpowder weapons.   

What could be improved

My first observation is the artwork.  None is poor but many artists have contributed and for me at least, I like a high degree of commonality.  So some is OK, some is good but I don’t get the feeling I’m reading from one source – rather a few that have been put together.  But then I’m awkward.

I think that not every page will appeal to every player or GM but then that should not put people off buying it.  There is enough for any group to justify the price – with over 180 pages of information to use.

You’ll like this if:

  • You like Pathfinder and want some extra dimension
  • As a GM you want to try some different mechanics
  • You like the idea of ‘chases’
  • You’d like a way to develop backgrounds for your PCs and NPCs

You won’t like it if:

  • You’re on a limited budget and Paizo produce as much as you can afford each month
  • You want a huge amount of depth on one specific subject – this book offers a lot of different topics
  • You’re of the opinion that if Paizo didn’t want to publish it, you’d rather ignore it

Overall I’d recommend it to anyone who is serious about Pathfinder.  Would I recommend every player had a copy?  Perhaps not but every group should have access to at least one copy.

PbP – an update

22 10 2009

As something of an interlude between writing about adventure plotting, I thought I’d give an update on my Play By Post exploits.

I’m involved with three games – all through the Paizo boards.

In the first I joined, I got to roll my own character and I’m playing in the Council of Thieves campaign.  I’m a rogue (and a wannabe assassin) and the game is going well.  The pace of the action means I get to post most days and I feel I’m getting into my character.

In the second, I picked up a character that the player stopped running.  It feels a little awkward being the newbie and playing someone I didn’t create.  The GM said I can change when the time is right, but I’m not sure if that’s a good idea.  Should I abandon a character that’s been in the campaign (Shackled City) since the outset just because I’m inflexible?

In the third, I’m running Rise of the Runelords as a GM.  I actually enjoy this the most – putting together maps and the like and the pace is brisk.  It’s overtaken the first game in terms of the number of posts and it’s over a week younger.

Overall I’m enjoying my PbP experience – and lets see how I fare after I experience players not participating or dropping out altogether.

Add PbP’s to the list

5 10 2009

ROTR BOFor any fans of the British TV series The Fast Show – “In’t technology brilliant!”

 For the rest of you – Isn’t technology brilliant.”  (Like most humour, you have to have seen it for it to work).

As well as playing my first game in over xyz years, and GMing after only a handful of sessions back, I’m now a Play By Post GM!

It’s different.  As is playing as a PC by posting.  At least it is for me.

The lack of interaction makes it feel a bit like being in a play.  I’m not sure which lines are mine – and I don’t want to steal anyone’s limelight.

Am I enjoying the experience?  Yes.  How much?  I’m honestly not sure, but I’ll blog again on the subject after a week or so of more gaming.

I waited decades for this?!

16 09 2009




Yes, my long awaited return to the GM side of the screen happened last night.  It was not without hitches.  Firstly my wife said she wasn’t feeling well – so could I stay home.

Having circumvented that stumbling block, I arrived on time (not early as I’d hoped) and started to set up.

Most of the players were on time but one was an hour late.  The assembled crew filled in the time tweaking their characters and buying all sorts of unneccessary stuff.

The ‘rules guy’ cast his eyes over the character sheets to make sure they were OK.  He’s been reading the beta rules for Pathfinder forever and knows the game better than I do (especially as he’s the group’s D&D GM).

Finally we started.  I felt I was doing a lot of description at the beginning.  I didn’t mind as I knew the first session would be a few battles and limited role-playing.

So how did it go?  The pluses were:

  • The players stayed around until the end
  • I kept control (mostly)
  • I enjoyed it (and they seemed to)
  • The campaign is awesome

What could have been better?  Well:

  • The group didn’t like the attack of opportunity rule.  More specifically, they didn’t like it that a player could go a roundabout route to an encounter to avoid one. Having reviewed the concerns, a house rule will come in next week.  In the heat of battle, a ‘will check’ is required to not fight in straight lines.  A success means the PC has remained calm and collected and has enough wits about them to avoid the attack of opportunity by taking a less direct route
  • Some of the rules confused me at times.  That will take practice I guess
  • The PCs did stuff I didn’t expect.  I winged it OK, but I could have been better prepared
  • The space of the GM is small and a lot of stuff I had prepared, I couldn’t find in the heat of the moment.  I will revise my preparation for next time
  • Spellcraft – this gave me the most headaches and I’ll have to work harder on this

Overall it was an OK session.  Room for improvement – but that’s always the plan.  I fudged a few rolls to make the game work and that’s what GMing is to me.  I’m not against the players.  I want them to succeed 100% – but by the skin of their teeth.  The first couple of encounters got them lazy but the third encounter woke them up – and that’s how it should be.

The best bit I can’t share without spoiling the adventure.  Suffice to say there is an aspect of the story that the GM has to shoehorn one of the PCs into.  As luck would have it, a player is being exactly what I want I need – so no shoehorn required.

I may talk some more about the game tomorrow – or I may go to one of my prepared topics.  I’ll just have to wing it.

One day to go

14 09 2009

As it’s only a day now until I GM, I thought the next few blogs should be taken up with what I’m doing to prepare and some more insight as to why I’m playing the Pathfinder game.

I’ll start today with the in-depth reasons I’ve chosen Pathfinder. I’ve briefly mentioned that I like it because it’s a ‘brand new game’ and that (most of) the players are eager to role-play this game. I stated that I also happen to like this game – so I think now is a good time to elaborate.

Oddly, I’ll start with a negative. I don’t like AC. There, it’s out in the open. It isn’t logical to me and I’m keen to write a house rule to get around it – but that will be a topic for another day. Now I can focus on the positives.

Firstly I love the genre. As much as I like other RPGs, I love the fantasy setting. And I also really like what Paizo have done with the Golarion setting. This is one world with a diverse landscape. D&D always seemed to me to be many different worlds and felt disparate to me.

I like the fact that the game is a logical development of 3.5 rather than a brand new start. This keeps 3.5 players relatively happy and new players (like me) equally happy.

The classes and skills work for me. Again, they’ve broadly taken what works with the 3.5 game and updated what was broken. Similarly I like the feats and spells etc.

Pathfinder7_PaladinThe intangibles I love include the fact that the game is the product of a massive play test. I know they’ve changed things that they’ve obviously spent a lot of time on because the players tell them it didn’t work.

I love the Core Rulebook and the quality of the artwork. Despite all of those positives, the thing that tipped me towards the game was the quality of the additional resources. The historical sourcebooks have been excellent and the campaigns are truly excellent for me.

The interesting aside is that I’ve never played Pathfinder and now I’m going to GM it. How will it work out? Wait for Wednesday’s blog to find out – and I’ll be able to give honst feedback as to how the game actually plays.

Tomorrow I’ll discuss the sort of house and table rules I’m looking to put in place.