Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Pathfinder RPG Redux

I've already blogged about how I think that the new Pathfinder classes that were debuted as part of the Beta test were the "wrong" choices; they left untapped several more iconic archeypes than an eidolon forming summoner or a drug, potion and poison crafting alchemist, for example. Little did I know at the time that I made that post, but the new classes were only a small part of what the Paizo Advanced Player's Guide was going to introduce. For those curious, almost the entire text of the book if open content, and much of it's already appeared at the Pathfinder SRD site. Or, you can buy the pdf for only $10; at that price, it's--like the other "core" books--probably worth it for the art alone. Not only is there a very nice Wayne Reynolds cover piece (pictured here) but he also did the character studies for the six new iconic characters.

But what I'm talking about specifically are how they expanded the existing classes enormously. I've long said that I don't really like options that are too constricted for class builds. If you can't give me more open, flexible class designs, then give me more base classes, so I can get what I want. While I'm mostly settled on the latter, in theory I'd have preferred to see the former. I just didn't get to as often as I'd have liked.

Paizo's newest designs, however, give us tons of new ways to use the original classes, effectively giving us much more than just the six new base classes. To give you a quick example, the Rogue class now has twelve archetypes that serve as alternate versions of the rogue, each replacing some of the class abilities with new ones. Some of this goes into a ton of new a la carte rogue abilities; there are now sixty-four in all. But some of them don't; trapfinding and trapsense get replaced in a lot of archetypes, for example, since that's a very specific "dungeoneering" type archetype that would have that, and not every conceivable build of a rogue. The uncanny dodge tree also get's replaced in some others. These new archetypes, which might as well be the actual class name of the alt.rogue that they in fact are, include the Acrobat, Burglar, Cutpurse, Investigator, Poisoner, Rake, Scout, Sniper, Spy, Swashbuckler, Thug and Trapsmith.

Heck, I could run (and play in) half a dozen entire campaigns made up of nothing but rogue varieties here. Those variants cover several of the "missing" archetypes that I like, offer credible, and in fact fantastic updates to several of the mid-stage 3.5 classes that I liked best (almost as an afterthought, because they offer so much more as well) and in general do more to convince me that maybe I was mistaken in writing off Pathfinder as a needless change to 3.5. While I'm still not convinced that the updated races were necessary, and while I'd still have to cut a lot of classes out that really just have the wrong feel for my setting, I can actually see myself possibly dropping all of the 3.5 classes and adopting a subset of just Pathfinder classes instead as my preferred houserules.

Not saying that I'm going to do that, just that it certainly looks more and more like a good alternative. Frankly, a lot of those alternate rogue archetypes I listed above could be swapped in with a 3.5 rogue just as well too, and would work quite well, after all.

In fact, I'm reminded of Corey Reid's famous Barsoom Tales (well, they were famous within a niche crowd, at least) where the starting rule in the campaign was that characters could be human, and they could belong to the fighter, rogue or expert class. That was it. With these expanded options, that doesn't even sound restrictive in the least to me anymore.

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