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 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.
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.
Why is a flip mat part of a playtest?
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!