Monday, January 28, 2013

Dippin' my toe in the Pathfinder pond once again...

So this past Saturday night I made my way to an acquaintance's house to play some Pathfinder. The group of guys I played with are technically "friends of friends," but we've known about each other's appreciation for RPGs for a while. It's just taken us a while to get together. I figure that, if we get together enough, we'll eventually take on a new level of friendship. You know how these RPG things can go ;-)

Anyway, there were four of us, one GM and three players. The GM is running the Rise of the Runelords adventure path. I played a half-orc rogue, and the other guys ran a cleric and a monk. We had a good time, joking around and killing some goblins, interacting with NPCs (in my case, lifting some valuables in the process), etc. It wasn't a session of earth-shattering excitement, but then again it's the first session we've ever played together. Hey, we were roleplaying, so that's a good thing!

I have to say that I still feel lost when I'm playing anything more complex than Basic D&D/Labyrinth Lord or Castles & Crusades. I may always feel that way. I'm not sure I can/want to grok the system, you know? As long as the guys are willing to have patience with my lack of system mastery, then we're good to go. I don't think these guys will give me the grief like my last Pathfinder group.

So, while I had fun, it was mostly due to the people I was gaming with, rather than an enjoyment of the game system. The experience has solidified for me the fact that I love the older systems, and am quite happy with them. I will very likely continue to play in the Pathfinder game, but I know I will probably never want to run a campaign using the system. Gimme the old games any day!


  1. Cool that you're playing again. Sorry that you're having so many problems with Pathfinder.

    I actually, as you know, like the Pathfinder system and am using it as the basis for my long-run World of Samoth campaign (11+ years and still going strong!).

    I do think it can be tough if you're playing with people who "get it" and create the best combination of race-class-feats that makes that totally awesome if you're not going to do that.

    In my game I'm running, two of the players really get the system and have used it to their benefit by creating characters that have taken full advantage of the rules. Another player gets about half of it but is much more interested in the background of his character (this is the kind of guy who will spend three hours writing a history of his character's family and designing their heraldic crest but will only spend 15 minutes updating his character when he levels up), and then I have one player who seems to have no interest in doing anything to his character. He hasn't leveled him up the past three times, and he's the only spellcaster in the group, so he's way behind, constantly has to stop mid-game to refer to the rulebook to see what spells he should be able to cast, hasn't updated his skill points or feats or anything, and just won't be bothered. He thinks the game is more about "my story" and that his stats are irrelevant. It's a very odd mix, but as a consequence, the two guys who get it are totally outclassing the other two during combats and stuff. It's very difficult to DM for them.

    The two guys who get the system have offered to help the other two update their character, but those guys just can't seem to be bothered.

    In any event, if you want to increase your guy's effectiveness a little more, just go here: It's a guide to building an effective Pathfinder Rogue, depending on which "build" you want (two-weapon fighting, Brute rogue, skill monkey, etc.)

    Good luck!

  2. Hey Martin, thanks very much for the thorough comment! I appreciate the pep talk! I'm sure I could get into the system and learn it if I tried, but something seems to hold me back. I guess I'm not that excited to "build" a character, or maximize the "synergy" between feats or whatever. I think I'm skilled enough in the system to hobble along, and I don't think I would be like the guy who doesn't level his character. I guess I don't like to play superheroic D&D characters, and that's what Pathfinder seems to me. I know, it may seem like I don't want to play it, but when it comes to playing RPGs I will try anything, as long as it's with the right group (i.e. they're not a bunch of impatient fanboys). I just know I perfer to run lighter rules when I'm GMing.

  3. Hey there - as a GM, like you, I definitely prefer something more rules-lite than Pathfinder. Something like Labyrinth Lord or even Savage Worlds is just my speed.

    As a player, however, part of me actually likes all of the tons of options that are available in Pathfinder to craft the exact character concept I have in mind. With something like Labyrinth Lord (B/X D&D), for example, every fighter is going to be pretty much the same, mechanically. Yes, you can role-play them all differently and that's a huge part of it, but really, if I'm a fighter in earlier editions of the game and I'm not wearing the best armor I can afford (magical plate mail), then I'm sunk. The rules don't allow for the nuances of playing a light armored barbarian-type fighter, or a fast-and-wily swashbuckler type fighter. The only real class-based benefit that a fighter gets is "can wear any armor and use any weapons."

    With something like Pathfinder, with all of its options, as a player, you can approach it differently and create a fighter-type that's exactly what you've envisioned without being penalized for not wearing plate armor.

    That's just an example, but hopefully you get what I'm saying.

    All that said, when I GM Pathfinder... I kinda just make it up. I've given up statting up NPCs and stuff. I either grab them from modules or old copies of Dungeon magazine (I don't even bother updating them from 3.5 to Pathfinder) or just kind of use my knowledge of the system to estimate attack rolls, saves, etc. It's pretty easy once you've done it for awhile.

    It's not "cheating" - I'm basing on the structure of the system, but just saving myself hours of crunching numbers - hours that I would rather spend working on other game-related stuff like plot twists and things like that.