Pathfinder Second Edition Playtest

I have people around me talking about this.  I have no interest in Pathfinder or the other big name game at the moment at all.  But the drone got into my head.  There are distributors stocking the playtest books?  What the hell?  Are they printing and selling this material?  Who would?  Why would you?  So I go on a bit of a hunt to find out the truth of it all and it becomes horribly worse.  Pathfinder, a game I once loved, has become a cesspool of big business.  They know that the masses are going to swallow their crap whole.  You are just a number to them.

The video


The publisher and a developer have a heart to heart with you about why this is needed.  I am sorry – if they are so invested in this, why are they reading from a script?  What happened to gamers making games for gamers?  Could they not just have sat down and told us without a script why these things are happening?  They can’t even look to us, the camera, because they need to be on point with everything they are saying.

The Products

Oh yes – Paizo are printing hard copy playtest materials.  Why?  Because it is all a money-making exercise – that is why.  I have distributors sending me emails about “get in early” for these books.  Why on earth should this even be a thing?  The material is going to be null and void in 12 month’s time!  Plus, they are holding back the playtest so the product can be made?  If they were serious about this game there would be PDF material out there now and people would be in it.  Heavens help us that their “product” is not in place beforehand.

playtest
The RRP is Australian dollars by the way

Why is a flip mat part of a playtest?

My thoughts?

If the second edition is headed in the direction of Starfinder – they have already made a worse game.  In Starfinder they ripped out mechanics that were put in place to make the errors of 3.5 edition eased.  Now they just take these mechanics – which were good – straight out.

This again makes aspects of the game very lacklustre. In researching this post I even accidentally clicked on an official Paizo blog about why the remake is so good.  It was about modes that they are injecting into the game – three of them Encounter, Exploration, Downtime modes.  There was the most inane dribble about how important this was.  It isn’t – these are meta terms that are important at a game design level – not at a functional level for the GM or player.  But it does tell me that they are going to fill their material with rubbish surrounding this stuff.  Artificial modes make worlds feel artificial and make people who play less engaged.  Modes are called “states” in a programming world and programmers do all they can to hide state changes because the user does not need to know or care what state a program is in.  They just need the program to work.

Do not be fooled here – Pathfinder is an OK game if you trim the rules bloat.  But Paizo just kept producing and finally got to a point where the return on investment was not meeting the corporate goals.  Subscriptions were dropping off rapidly and so they are doing the only thing big companies do when the bottom line is highlighted.  They try to make their consumers pay up again for a “new and improved” version.  I will not be joining in – there are fantastic games out there that do not require the investment or the sufferance of bloat to enjoy.  Try some of them – Dungeon Crawl Classics, Dungeon World, Conan, Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of.  You may just be surprised!

8 Comments


  1. You know, I saw the same thing with them reading from the script in the video and it made me a bit uneasy as well. I know not everyone is a professional actor, but there are plenty of people passionate about gaming who go unscripted (or have a bit of practice) and do just fine. This just didn’t sit right with me. Maybe I’m being too harsh, but seeing someone else point it out makes me wonder a bit more.

    As for whether it is a money grab or not–well, hell yes it is. They need fresh product to keep people coming in. Someone made mention of how it’s more generational and they might be right. Another friend often points out how all these different editions of Dungeons & Dragons could’ve been named something else and he’s right, but of course the company is going to capitalize on that name and familiarity.

    The PDFs will be free, but those aren’t for everyone. Point is, people ARE going to buy the beta playtest books and they know that. As a company, of course they’re going to give the people what they want–maybe not all the people, but enough of the paying customers.

    That’s the problem when we intermingle hobby with business. When does it stop being a hobby and start being a business. here in the US, we have some specific rules regarding that. But, I digress.

    You mention you don’t like them splitting up into modes. I think it’s a more common thing know. Blades in the Dark does it very well. At the same time, weren’t you saying you were looking forward to running the Carousing rules from the Conan game more? Isn’t that merely a mode of the game?

    Reply

    1. Yes, carousing is a mode but it is not specified as such. That is what I was saying, these things are OK at the game design level but force the users to think about it is not cool. It is just highlighted now because of that post.

      Reply

      1. Well, maybe, thus far, they simply haven’t named it yet. And there are people–myself counted among them–who enjoy that sort of behind the scenes look at the process.

        Reply

  2. People for some reason want the hard copies, sure its stupid but they will sell all they have and people will complain they missed out, so cant say that is a bad idea, the three modes have always been part of the game putting a name on them does not hurt it that much, but for what i have read i have a lot of issues with the look of the new game, for something that they have said is not like 5th D&D has most of the parts i dont like of it (spells not leveling up with level only which slot, skills being level not skill points)

    Reply

  3. “If the second edition is headed in the direction of Starfinder – they have already made a worse game. In Starfinder they ripped out mechanics that were put in place to make the errors of 3.5 edition eased. Now they just take these mechanics – which were good – straight out.”

    I am curious what mechanics you miss in Starfinder. There are loads of changes, but which ones are you mentioning here?

    Reply

    1. Specifically I was thinking of the CMB and CMD mechanic

      Reply

      1. Ah. I never liked CMB/CMD, and I don’t like the current iteration in Starfinder either. 3 different AC numbers to calculate, and track? Clumsy and ineffecient. Reminds me of Champions without the algebra.

        Reply

        1. Precisely my point – it is becoming more complicated and needs to go in the other direction

          Reply

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