posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Yup. The roughs are done. After writing and rewriting it's time. The 2012 apocalypse is upon FATAL & Friends.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Part 1: Introductions

Let's look at the cover!

"Look oooout, there's a prostitute trying to cast a spell behind youuu!"
"What?! Where? Maybe she's just pro-sex, you scaly dick!"

Let's look at the back. Blah blah exciting adventure, traps, fate is yours...

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game posted:

This imaginative tabletop game builds upon more than 10 years of system development and an open playtest involving more than 50,000 gamers to create a cutting-edge RPG experience that brings the all-time best-selling set of fantasy rules into the new millennium.

What you have to realize - in case you've just crawled out of a womb and haven't heard - is that Pathfinder is based directly on Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 and its tie-in system, d20. So that's what they're getting "more than 10 years" of development. Of course, they didn't develop it for ten years. Wizards of the Coast did.

But wait. Hang on. Hold up a second.

Dungeons and Dragons 3rd Edition was released in 2000. Pathfinder was released in 2009. So. They're counting development time before release, maybe? In 2003, it was revised as Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 . Now, one thing to understand is that Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 did develop many new ideas. None of which Pathfinder is legally allowed to use.

So yes, it was being developed, but very little of that development can ever be used in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game . Mostly, they're just revising 3.5, a game which was, if you count 1999-2003, roughly four years in development.

I realize this might sound a little nitpicky, but what I'm demonstrating from the outset is that Pathfinder is developing a mythology. Not a mythology of elves and dragons. It's about developing a mythology of being the true bastard heir to the Dungeons & Dragons empire, unjustly cast off of its throne. And well, crunching the numbers is a bit of primer before I mention...

... 50,000 playtesters ? Assuming groups of around five people apiece, you mean to tell me Pathfinder's crew of about two dozen writers and editors collated 10,000 playtest reports in any meaningful sense?

Nonsense, of course, to build the mythology, that this is a game rescued by and for the people. I have no doubt the designers probably even think that. It doesn't necessarily make it true, sadly.

I hate to slander this early on, but something I hear over and over while I've been writing this has been how Pathfinder basically ignored any genuinely critical playtest information. This is all anecdotal, of course, but every indication seems to point towards the playtest being more a marketing ploy - the game was set in a design course and that wasn't likely to change notably.

Jason "Car Warrior" Bulmahn

The lead designer is Jason Bulmahn, a former architect that was hired to be the editor of Dragon back in 2004, though there's no indication of editing experience before that. He also worked on some products for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 , like Elder Evils or Dungeonscape ... wait, stop.

Hold up.

"Lead designer" is misleading, isn't it? I mean, Pathfinder is a systemic successor to Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 , in that 90% of the rules are the same. So he's more of a lead revisionist, I guess? Plagarist, if you're going to be blunt about it. I mean, we know he can write and design, I'm not sure that's the best title here.

So who did design this game?

Monte "Muppet" Cook

Well, the next name we see is Monte Cook, or "Design Consultant". He actually was involved in writing Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 , but he got his start in writing for the crispy crunchity games known as Champions and Rolemaster . He then worked for TSR doing books like A Paladin in Hell and Faction War . Leaving Wizards of the Coast after Dungeons & Dragons 3rd editoin he continued to write for Dungeons & Dragons prolifically through his "Malhavoc" imprint published by White Wolf.

In 2006 Monte said he was done with RPGs and would focus on other creative efforts, a state of affairs that would last a year before he was back to making his own World of Darkness or somesuch, and then quit RPGs again, which lasted like half a year, and then wrote some more RPG stuff, and then he got hired for Pathfinder , but only as a consultant, because he doesn't write RPGs anymore. Whew! He recently finished a kickstarter for his new sci-fi RPG of the sort he doesn't write anymore, Numenera , a game that "focuses on story and ideas over mechanics". Given his previous work on Rolemaster (mechanically complex), Champions (mechanically complex), and Dungeons & Dragons 3e (mechanically complex)... we'll see.

The other two key designers of Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition , Jonathan Tweet and Skip Williams, just get an "inspired by" towards the bottom of the page. Jonathan Tweet gave us Ars Magica , Over the Edge , and Everway , all of which are pretty interesting RPGs, and worked on developing Dungeons and Dragons 3e & 3.5 for 8-9 years. He is now working on 13th Age , a fantasy RPG that draws upon Dungeons & Dragons but introduces a lot of added or radically redesigned systems. Skip Williams worked for years doing the "Sage Advice" column answering rules questions about Advanced Dungeons & Dragons , which is the nerd equivalent of hopping in an iron maiden and twirling around as fast as you can. He has done freelance work for Dungeons & Dragons since helping design Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition , and now writes for the Kobold Quarterly magazine. Neither did any work on Pathfinder .

There are some other people but fuck, I'm on the first page here and I'm already exhausted. Look up Sean K Reynolds on wikipedia.

They give a dedication to Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, even though Gygax expressed an emphatic distaste for Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 and the Open Gaming License that makes Pathfinder possible at all. In fact, Gary predicted that the OGL could be used to rob Dungeons & Dragons of its IP, rather prophetically.

But that's another part of the Pathfinder mythos: that it's a continuation of what Gygax started, that it owes everything to him. And perhaps it does. But pretending Pathfinder is a continuation of the old brown box is purest fabrication. And if you don't think they've made that assertion, well, read on.

That low humming sound you hear in the background is Gygax's corpse hitting 20,000 RPM.

And so, we have Monte Cook's introduction....

Monte Cook posted:

For almost three years, a team of us worked on developing a new rules set that built upon the foundation of the 25 years prior. Released in 2000, 3rd Edition started a new era. A few years later, a different set of designers made updates to the game in the form of 3.5.

And, of course, who carries on that tradition? Tell us, Monte.

Monte Cook posted:

Today, the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game carries on that same tradition as the next step in the progression. Now, that might seem inappropriate, controversial, or even a little blasphemous, but it’s still true. The Pathfinder RPG uses the foundations of the game’s long history to offer something new and fresh. It’s loyal to its roots, even if those roots are—in a fashion—borrowed.

Yep, Pathfinder is the true heir, unjustly dethroned, according to Pathfinder's creation myth. And - Monte - "Borrowed" is when you use something and give it back. This is taking. Grabbing. But being a grabber doesn't sound as nice. So he says "borrowed".

Monte Cook posted:

The game’s designer, Jason Bulmahn, did an amazing job creating innovative new mechanics for the game, but he started with the premise that he already had a pretty good game to build upon. He didn’t wipe the slate clean and start over. Jason had no desire to alienate the countless fans who had invested equally countless hours playing the game for the last 35 years.

It's like a series of political talking points. Continuation of 35 years. Comforting reinforcement of fandom. There is nothing that will challenge you or surprise you. Here, in Pathfinder , you are home. Game of the people.

Monte Cook posted:

One of the best things about the Pathfinder RPG is that it really necessitates no “conversion” of your existing books and magazines. That shelf you have full of great adventures and sourcebooks (many of them very likely from Paizo)? You can still use everything on it with the Pathfinder RPG.

This is not actually true .

Monte Cook posted:

In fact, that was what convinced me to come on board the Pathfinder RPG ship. I didn’t want to see all the great stuff that had been produced thus far swept under the rug.

Translation: "I, Monte Cook, can finally sell my backlog of d20 material once again, including the $120 Ptolus set."

Monte Cook posted:

The Pathfinder RPG offers cool new options for characters. Rogues have talents. Sorcerers have bloodline powers. It fixes a few areas that proved troublesome over the last few years. Spells that turn you into something else are restructured. Grappling is simplified and rebalanced. But it’s also still the game that you love, and have loved for so long, even if it was called by a different name.

See folks, it's still the real Dungeons & Dragons! And don't worry about the changes! It's not real change. Scary change. Threatening change. None of that here! Only gifts to the true fans who stay true... to trueness!

Monte Cook posted:

I trust the gang at Paizo to bear the game’s torch well. They respect the game’s past as much as its future. They understand its traditions.

Not like a certain other company by the coast that has destroyed Dungeons & Dragons ... not that you need to be a wizard to know what I'm talking about! hint, wink. Wink, hint. HINT, WINK.

Pictured: Paizo employees raiding Wizards of the Coast. Man, I should get into poltical cartooning.

Next, we get Jason Buhlman, who thank lawful goodness is a little more subtle. He just talks about the great adventures you're gonna have and how the whole thing came out of his house rules but has become a whole game which is actually somebody else's game plus his house rules.

But wait!-

Jason Bulmahn posted:

So while the Pathfinder RPG is compatible with the 3.5 rules, it can be used without any other books. In the coming months, you can expect to see a number of brand-new products, made specifically to work with this version of the rules, from Paizo and a host of other publishers through the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatibility License. This license allows publishers to use a special logo to indicate that their product works with the rules in this book.

Actually, the Pathfinder RPG ... is missing monsters. Not a monster to be found. It's not actually standalone. You need the Pathfinder Bestiary , sold separately.

Oh, and the license? Very clever. It lets them exercise some control over their licensees that the Open Gaming License does not. Of course, they don't actually need to raise a legal finger. People will jump in any pool if they think there's change at the bottom.

Jason Bulmahn posted:

Since the spring of 2008, these rules have undergone some of the most stringent and extensive playtesting in gaming history. More than 50,000 gamers have downloaded and used these rules.

Oh. That's where they get the 50,000 number from. Somehow, 50,000 downloads = 50,000 playtesters. This seems questionable. It seems like... bulllshiiit.

Oh, hey, here's something .

Originally when the playtest closed they said they had 45,000 playtesters. Here's another thought: they said they had 50,000 downloads. But there were four separate playtest documents. Was that for all four documents, or was it for the highest amongst them? Where did the extra 5,000 playtesters come out of? Is Paizo just really, really generous with rounding?

I don't want to call them liars. Maybe they're just really bad at the truth.

Next: The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatibility License! It's easy! It's free! It's... worth what you pay for it.

Pathfinder Open Gaming License

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Part 1a: The Pathfinder Compatibility License

After hearing of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatibility License , I decided to look further into it. After all, many, many companies have signed up for it, as it turns out.

There's no fee, but you're not allowed to use any of Pathfinder's setting material. Nor are you really allowed to get into adult content. You're supposed to hand in a copy of anything you publish 30 days after publication. Other than that, it's pretty fancy-free. And it turns out there's a registry where you can view all the applications. Most, frankly, are pretty bog-standard.

And then...

... there is...

... the best worst beworst of Pathfinder's licensees.


Christopher Glen Phernambuca

Its a campaign setting of a world known as Grimora. I understand that in your book on the Great Beyond: Guide to the Multiverse there is a planet with doors to different worlds, well this is where my world would come from. The world itself is set up in comparison to like judge dredds universe. The cities are civilized, while, the laying country sides are harsh worlds.

The people of Grimora are a strong city-oriented culture.
With magic that has aided the development of the world
for the last three thousand years. Science seems to have
molded with the arcane, and machines are engineered
with the aid of magic. Ships fly through the sky, carriages
pull themselves, and weapons know no bounds.
The world is teeming with endless possibilities.

Though, the world hasn't always been so. Civilized had
only bred destruction at its foundation. Grimora hides her
secrets closely, and all the questions of how or why things
have come to be. Nearly a thousand years ago a great war
took place, it was called the great cataclysm, cities fell from
the sky, and an ocean of souls would perish.

An earthquake shook with such force that the large cities
crumbled to the ground, and all there powerful magic fell.
In the aftermath the surviving people would flee to different
corners of the world, where some sort of magical aura
still flowed.

A few found such places but for the most part, they took
support from an interplanetary race known as the Draconians
which introduced them to mundane tools and science to aid
them in their rebuilding.

Now more than a thousand years later. Grimora is still healing,
and people have returned to a semblance of reality. However
outside the high walls of the city, the country side is still a
lawless world, of thugs, bandits, and warring bands, trying
to seize the days of ole.

A cataclysm?! A lawless land? It's Clicharia, the sacred land!

Dane of War Publishing posted:

Dane of War Publishing® is a DK-based company, which specializes in producing unique projects of our own.

Dane of War Publishing® exists to expand the frontiers of roleplaying and wargaming by developing new and better ways of doing things. Above all we want the people using our products to have fun.

In addition to our upcoming WWII Skirmish game, F.U.J.I.G.M.O.™, and Danes of War: For Konge og for land™, the The Danish military in the 17th and 18th Centuries sourcebook, I have chosen to adapt all of our zombie RPG material to be compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

Future products designed specifically for The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game will also be developed.

Dane of War Publishing® has committed to print all of our titles on chlorine free, recycled paper.

How would the Siege of Tönning be affected by the use of summoned giant frogs?

Also, Dane of War has made a habit of taking freely available work, removing the author's name, and reselling them on, as it turns out. To be fair, his plagarism is both legal and environmentally friendly.

Doyle Motes posted:

Doyle Motes

I am new to Pathfinder but not to Role playing games. I have played Dungeon and Dragons and the Advances System. I have started a Dwarf Fighter "Moto-sarus. Looking forward to joining in and having fun. I am up for playing day or night contact me.

In case if you were wondering if Paizo actually reviews submissions?

They do not.

Empty Room Studios posted:

Empty Room Studios plans to produce a Steampunk Musha compatible product, followed by several other settings.

I just want to say the subtitle of his product is "Victoriental Adventures".


Eridanus Books posted:

Eridanus Books

Remember when facing a dragon was a big deal and just getting across a chasm could be a challenge?

Eridanus Books presents a series of adventures and alternate rules for a Grittier kind of Pathfinder. Low-magic, skill-powered games in which quick thinking, improvisation and planning win the day. After all, how are you supposed to beat that Stone Golem without magic items?

Hire a wizard.

ICOSA Entertainment, LLC[/quote posted:

Pure Steam is a gritty, credible, feasible steampunk setting. The basic set provides low-magic options for fantastic adventure, but wizards, clerics, and other spellcasters are fully integrated. Expanded territories introduce more fantastic elements to satisfy players' magic desires. Firearms, pneumatics, dirigibles, and ironclad ships allow for a whole new way to explore and interact with the game environment.

Playing Pure Steam is akin to slipping into a comfortable shoe. Monsters and challenges are fresh yet familiar. Politics, religion, and geography are relatable to players' real world experiences. Winks and nods to the history of earth exist, but are tasteful and subtle, so as to not detract from gameplay.

Will you be a halfling hillbilly alchemist, distilling potions by moonlight? What about a Dwarven sea captain, making a harsh voyage to uncharted isles to discover new races? Why not attach your bayonet and charge the savage forces threatening frontier towns? Try an experimental gyrocopter to get to your drop zone. Or test your fate in a steamsuit, wrought with power but riddled with dangers.

Technology is on the verge of robust advances, with inventors nearing completing of short wave radio communications, cartridge ammunition, and oil boilers...

I prefer my new genre, called "Sparkpunk", where everything runs on the fanciful, wondrous technology of alternating and direct current, which is even more gritty and feasible because it is real.

Jason Bulmahn posted:

Free product for fans of the Game's Lead Designer. The file can be found through the fan page site on facebook.

The first installment of the Weekly Grind, a Pathfinder Roleplaying Game compatible adventure blog is now available online.

It can be found here .

It's interesting that the game's lead designer needs to apply for a Pathfinder Compatibility License. Also very, very confusing. This is the result.

John Wick Presents posted:

The Book of Thieves.
Written and Designed by John Wick and Jess Heinig

Not "rogues," who are sissy wanna-bes, but THIEVES.

This is not a book for rogues. This is the thief book. It contains a new character class: "Thief." The thief is a specialist in a particular form of criminal enterprise. None of this "I pick pockets of monsters" or "I open locks on treasure chests." The thief generally doesn't even like going into dungeons because they are dangerous and dirty and filled with things you can't con and sometimes don't even have treasure.

A thief will STEAL YOUR STUFF and he will do it with a smile on his face because your hard-won loot just paid for his ale and whores.

The Book of Thieves includes:
  • Rules for a new character class: the thief. Thieves are like wizards and sorcerers: all of them are thieves, but they have "specialty classes." The con man, the greaser, the wire, the thug, etc.
  • Rules for building street gangs and guilds.
  • Rules for City management and influence.
  • A new system for designing capers and confidence crimes (see my previous game, Wilderness of Mirrors for an idea where I'm going with this).
The Book of Thieves will also have the standard slew of new goodies: new Feats, new magic items, new gods to worship (street gods!), and all sorts of surprises.

At least with writing about con men, John Wick is speaking from experience, so there's that. Never actually released.

Wait, he put a second application in, for some reason-

John Wick Presents posted:


You may be familiar with a series of articles Jess Heinig and I wrote for Kobold Quarterly entitled "Wicked Fantasy." They were re-interpretations of the classic D&D races (humans, gnomes, elves, dwarves and halflings) done with a "John Wick twist."

I plan on making some tweaks to make them compatible with Pathfinder as well as adding five more races: orks, gnolls, goblins, rat-men and kobolds. I'll be adding more detail to the first five races as well.

I plan on releasing each race as a PDF and then collecting them all in a physical book at the end of the year (the same plan I used for the Big Book of Little Games in 2011). Anyone who purchases any PDF will receive a discount on the physical book when it becomes available.

If you would like to see a sample of what Jess and I did, I've included "the Reign of Men" below. (This is the original article before I've added 5,000 words of additional material.) The other races follow the same format.

Thank you for your consideration and I hope to hear from you soon,

John Wick

The Reign of Men

<<archaic text>>
And this is the Reign of Men. When all are king. Not subject to any gods or tyrants, men choose their own destinies. Free to wreck or ruin our own lives or to lift ourselves up from the muck and sing songs that no voice has ever sung.

And this is the Reign of Men. We are free. And so shall we always be.

<<end archaic text>>
Men have always been here. They are the Old Race. Newcomers—such as the elves, haffuns and uvandir—bring with them their strange ways and gods, but men and their Kingdom have always been here. From the first fires of creation to the moment when the heat of those flames die, men will be here. First to step from the fire, last to walk into the darkness.

The word “Kingdom” is accurate, and yet, misleading: a term the New Races use when speaking of humanity. While men do have a King, their own word best translates as “reign” or “rule.” Not the Kingdom, but the Reign of Men.

Established by a line of warlords in the earliest days, the Reign of Men has transformed itself many times. Once a tyranny, now something very different. Five centuries ago, the Kingdom of Men suffered a plague of philosophers, all asking questions of liberty and social duty. The movement transformed the Kingdom and inspired a young and newly-crowned king—Mantias Colevale—to change the way men were ruled. Some called him “the Philosopher-King,” and others ridiculed as “the King of Mans.” But the laws Colevale passed forever changed the direction of the Kingdom, creating something the world had never seen before.

Now, to be human is to be part of something larger. A citizen of a self-deciding government, each man has liberty and responsibility. He has what the philosophers called courage: the ability to recognize you are not the most important thing in the world. As such, men do not serve themselves: they serve the Reign. While human achievement is always self-satisfying, satisfaction is not the end goal. “What betters the Reign?” is the prime question. The King serves the Reign. His magistrates serve the Reign. The citizens serve the Reign. And the Reign provides them freedom to pursue happiness.

At least, that is what was true. These days, the bones of the Kingdom are old and beginning to brittle. The blood is thin. And where the word courage was once shouted from the rooftops, it is now a chorus in a song: repeated over and over again from habit. True, there are those who still remember the passion of the philosophers and their transformative magic, but those days are long gone. The selfish reward themselves while the needy suffer with naught. Temples of foreign gods are on every street corner, their luring voices calling to the weak. And the King sits on the throne a bitter and broken man. Where is the courage of men? Where is the glory of the Reign?

Not all is lost. The courage of men remains, although it may be asleep in their hearts. There are those who carry it still. Those who inspire others through their deeds. Stories spread of young men and woman whose actions may yet ignite the quiescent fire. Even now, word of their deeds are told throughout the Kingdom through by voice and printer’s ink. Some even speak of a second Reign when men will rise up as they did before.

Rise up and take hold of their own destiny. Rise up and claim what is theirs. Rise up and Reign.

The Elevation of Men
“If we only contemplate on what we are, we will never see what we may become.”
— Valir Severin, The Philosophies
Humans are bound not by a common faith, but by a common philosophy: that all men may become more than they are through rigorous training, insight and learning. The Kingdom of Men builds schools and universities to bring this insight to all men and women.

While other races seek insight and power from external entities, humanity looks for power from within. Will, self-determination and dignity are the virtues of men and these virtues provide men with powers the other races can only describe as “magical.” But men would claim these abilities are the exact opposite of magic; instead, the abilities taught to children in human schools and universities are only tapping into latent power within the human spirit.
Instead of temples, men have universities. Each town and village has at least one building dedicated to knowledge and learning; a place where men go to cure their curiosity.

Instead of priests, men have philosophers (sometimes called “travelers” or “seekers”). These scholars bring books with them wherever they go, teaching and learning both, bravely baring the fragile light of knowledge to a dark and haunted world. These philosophers are not simply book-bound clerics, but men and women trained to find and fight wickedness and evil, to protect those who cannot protect themselves. They can be found everywhere in the Reign of Men, armed not only with knowledge, but also with armor, shield and sword.

In these dark days, many men fall away from the path of philosophy and take up the faiths of enemy gods. As it turns out, some of the most fanatical and devoted of any god’s followers turn out to be human.

Look in the temples of the elven or dwarven gods. You will find humans there, chanting prayers. Most of their human cousins upon these apostates sadly, seeing them as misguided fools, but more than a few even look upon them with a deep hatred, seeing them as traitors to their own race.

Human Pride
When the other races speak of humans, instead of “human will,” they often invoke “human ego.” Instead of “human pride,” they talk about “human overconfidence.” It is no secret humans are a proud race, but that pride can get the best of them from time to time. Tales of humans rushing into danger with no thought to their own safety or well being. Courage or hubris? It is hard to decide.

Human Racial Traits
• +2 to Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma: Humans have an ancient lineage and a proud heritage that stresses standing on their own. They excel at teamwork, innovation, and inspiration. As a result, humans have great wellsprings of inner strength.
• Medium: As Medium creatures, humans have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
• Human base land speed is 30 feet.
• Divine Power: Because humans developed as a culture without the influence of gods, they are fiercely resistant to the divine magic that other races take for granted. Humans who choose to adopt a divine patron, though, bring that conviction to their divine studies. As a result, humans gain one of two bonuses. Humans who are not divine spellcasters (those who do not have any divine caster level, divine spells, or access to domains) gain a +2 racial bonus to all saving throws against divine spells and effects (including effects from divine scrolls). This bonus increases by +1 for every four character levels. Humans who possess divine spellcasting ability instead gain a +1 caster level bonus to all divine spells. Humans who start with no divine casting ability and later gain it, or who have divine casting ability and lose it, change the bonuses from this ability appropriately.
• Improved Teamwork: When a human character takes the Aid Another action, the recipient receives a +4 bonus to the corresponding check, instead of +2.
• Martial Weapon Proficiency: Even humans who live in relatively secure areas must occasionally defend themselves, and many human cultures have a particular weapon associated with their nation. Humans gain Martial Weapon Proficiency in one weapon of the player’s choice at first level.
• Rally: Humans can drive others to new heights of determination through shouts of inspiration and encouragement (or threats). Once per day as a move action, a human can bolster the will of an ally by haranguing, shouting, yelling a battle cry, or otherwise inspiring new resolve in the ally. The ally must be within 30 feet and must be able to hear the human. Rally affects an ally who has failed a Will saving throw since the human’s last turn. Make a skill check using either Diplomacy or Intimidate skill; the result counts as a new saving throw result for the ally against one effect (human player’s choice). A human cannot use this ability on himself. Additional daily uses of this power are gained at every third level, so it can be used twice per day at 3rd level, three times per day at 6th level, etc. Rally is a sonic, mind-affecting, language-dependent ability.
• Skillful: Humans pursue a wide range of careers and live in a multitude of conditions, and as a result learn to excel in many different skills. Choose one skill. That skill permanently counts as a class skill for all classes. Additionally, that skill gains a +2 racial bonus. This bonus increases by +1 for every four character levels.
• Automatic Language: Common. Bonus Languages: Any (other than secret languages, such as Druidic). Humans have had to learn to deal with other cultures and races, so they tend to pick up languages from a wide range of sources, as well as having their own regional dialects.
• Favored Class: Any. When determining whether a multiclass human takes an experience point penalty, his highest level class does not count.
God Killer
Fighting against the followers of cults and religions has made you savvy to the ways of divine spellcasters and unholy monstrosities.
Prerequisites: Human, Knowledge (Religion) 4 ranks, no divine spellcasting ability.
Benefit: Your racial bonus to saving throws against divine spells and effects increases by +1. You gain a +1 bonus to melee attack and damage rolls against anyone with divine spellcasting ability. As a full-round action, you may make a single melee attack against a divine spellcaster and gain an attack and damage bonus equal to the highest-level spell that the caster currently has prepared. This bonus supersedes (does not stack with) the normal +1 bonus granted by this feat. If the target currently has no divine spells (or no spells above level 0) prepared, you gain no bonus from this special attack, but you can still gain the normal +1 attack and damage bonus on regular melee attacks.
Special: If you ever gain divine spellcasting ability, you lose the benefits of this feat.
Improved Rally
Your ability to rally others makes you a natural leader of men.
Prerequisites: Human, Diplomacy 4 ranks or Intimidate 4 ranks.
Benefit: When you use your Rally racial ability, your skill check counts as a new Will saving throw for every ally (except yourself) within 30 feet. Allies must still be able to hear you, as normal. The Rally effect only functions on allies who failed a Will saving throw since your last turn.
Normal: Your Rally racial ability affects one ally.
Love of Knowledge
You pursue philosophia, the love of knowledge.
Prerequisites: Human, any Knowledge skills 4 ranks total.
Benefit: You may make untrained Knowledge skill checks, even if you do not have any ranks in the Knowledge skill, regardless of the DC of the skill check. Once per day per four character levels (minimum of once per day), you may ruminate on a subject for 2 minutes in order to take 20 on a Knowledge skill check. As usual, you may only take 20 if you are not under stress or threat and have uninterrupted time to consider the question.
Normal: You may only make untrained Knowledge skill checks if the DC is 10 or less. You may not take 20 on Knowledge skill checks.
Elevation of Man
Neutral Good
Human clerics often pursue the Elevation of Man, a loose code of ethics that advocates self-improvement, community, reason, and tolerance. Some clerics advocate orderly societies with strong rules to help protect the weak and advance the goals of nations, while others promote self-determination and individual freedom to pursue one’s personal destiny, but all adherents of this philosophy promote the common good and welfare of all humanity.
Portfolio: Humans, Philosophy, Self-Improvement
Domains: Good, Humanity, Philosophy, Protection
Weapon: Long Sword.
Humanity Domain
Granted Powers
+2 sacred bonus to all Charisma checks and Charisma-based skill checks when interacting with humans. All humans who would normally start at an interaction stance of Indifferent start as Friendly instead.
Humanity Domain Spells
1. Bless: Allies gain +1 on attack rolls and saves against fear.
2. Eagle’s Splendor: Subject gains +4 to Cha for 1 min./level.
3. Heroism: Gives +2 bonus on attacks, saves, skill checks.
4. Tongues: Speak any language.
5. Telepathic Bond: Link lets allies communicate.
6. Heroism, Greater: Gives +4 bonus on attack rolls, saves, skill checks; immunity to fear; temporary hp.
7. Holy Word: Kills, paralyzes, blinds, or deafens nongood subjects.
8. Holy Aura: +4 to AC, +4 resistance, and SR 25 against evil spells.
9. Heal, Mass: As heal, but with several subjects.
Philosophy Domain
Granted Powers
For a total time per day of 1 round per cleric level you possess, you can act normally regardless of magical effects that control your actions or influence your mind as if you were affected by the spell mind blank. This effect occurs automatically as soon as it applies, lasts until it runs out or is no longer needed, and can operate multiple times per day (up to the total daily limit of rounds).
This granted power is a supernatural ability.
Philosophy Domain Spells
1. Comprehend Languages: You understand all spoken and written languages.
*2. Calm Emotions: Calms creatures, negating emotion effects.
3. Suggestion: Compels subject to follow stated course of action.
4. Imbue with Spell Ability: Transfer spells to subject.
5. Atonement: Removes burden of misdeeds from subject.
6. Owl’s Wisdom, Mass: As owl’s wisdom, affects one subject/level.
7. Scrying, Greater: As scrying, but faster and longer.
8. Moment of Prescience: You gain insight bonus on single attack roll, check, or save.
9. Astral Projection: Projects you and companions onto Astral Plane.

Did he just post the whole supplement?

Joshua L Simon posted:

Why Publish an Avlis Setting?

Avlis as a setting already exists and has existed for some time. It will continue to exist in whichever incarnation it takes in the coming years. Though it started out as a small project known only to a dozen people, today there are over 500,000 people who have heard of it. The majority of these people are players of Bioware’s Neverwinter Nights ( A search on their message boards will reveal the degree to which Avlis’ existence is common knowledge within that community. Thus, this setting is not simply an amateur submission from an unknown fantasy author who has never shown it in public before. The concept of Avlis is tested and true.

The online incarnation of Avlis through Neverwinter Nights is arguably the most successful persistent world (PW) created with that software. Here are some references in which Bioware has mentioned or featured Avlis:

Avlis has also been featured on many unofficial fan sites, such as Neverwinter Connections, where it is rated the number one PW:

A google search on “The World of Avlis” reveals over 6,000 hits: Google+Search

Of course not every one of the 500,000 members of the Neverwinter Nights community would be likely to buy an Avlis sourcebook. Out of those 500,000 people, maybe 10,000 have tried Avlis.

Another piece of market research can be seen here:

In this non-scientific poll, respondents were asked “Would you buy a hard cover d20 System Avlis Sourcebook?” There were 281 responses as of January 21st, 2006. 152 said “Yes”. 66 said “Maybe”, and 19 said they would buy more than one copy a piece.

In short, an Avlis sourcebook should be published because it already has an established market. The editor of Dragon Magazine commented in a seminar at GenCon2004 that any sourcebook selling 1,000 copies is considered wildly successful. For Avlis, the first 100 to 200 copies are going to be extremely easy to sell because no advertising is necessary. In effect, the publisher is getting a 100 to 200-copy jump on that 1,000 mark. Depending on the publisher’s quality and market penetration, this could go a long way.

Introduction: The World of Avlis

Sometime around 1977, a group of teenagers and kids in the back woods of New Jersey’s pine barrens began playing a Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) campaign that would last for decades in one form or another. Today, in 2009, The World of Avlis is ready to take the next step towards release and become a published Campaign Setting. This document will give a brief overview of Avlissian history, races, and magic. It will then briefly describe the unique features of the world and the advantages of taking it to publication.

[setting details snipped]

Avlis was designed to take advantage of two specific qualities that are not often seen in d20 campaign settings, or even official Wizards of the Coast releases. Chiefly, the world is designed to mesh well with any other fantasy roleplaying d20 supplement or fantasy world, which is historically the best-selling kind of RP world.

One disadvantage of the “new and innovative” d20 world approach is that the book must stand in isolation because no other material can mix with it without destroying the tone and feel of the work. As an industry, this hurts the sales of other d20 sourcebooks, and ultimately this affects the original sourcebook, causing it to sell fewer copies. Avlis is designed to work well with many additional classes, races, feats, dungeons, and adventures available in other d20 publications. On its own, it contains a good number of prestige classes, spells, and races that can be extracted and used in nearly any other setting.

The second design principle lies within the world’s fiction. Traditionally, questions of morals and ethics are extremely cut and dry in roleplaying games. “Good” kills “Evil”. Things are either bad or not bad. Law goes overboard on organization and chaos is strictly flippant. Cookie cutter monsters have horrible tactics and love to throw themselves into suicide missions, and heaven forbid they show any personality! Avlis’ design is decidedly not like this. The world responds heavily to alignment, but not in an absolute sense. Alignment is used as a guide to determine whether a being is selfish or selfless, intellectual or compassionate. Every creature on Avlis is self-aware. Each believes that it is “good” and that it is doing the “right thing”, but from its point of view there are those that would see its plans ruined. Even the history of Avlis has multiple points of view on what occurred and why it did so. The races that make up the population are never “cookie cutter monsters”, but instead they are beings with civilizations, motivations and concepts all their own. To illustrate this, the orcish race on Avlis has been retooled to be an intellectually advanced and stimulating race, which accomplishes its goals mainly through political duress, and not brute force.

This is only one example, and all in all these factors play into the main theme of Avlis: connection. Every decision in the world has a ripple effect that permeates into other things. The players of this world are constantly beset by moral dilemmas that require them to think about the results of their actions on other parties.

d20: enabling your heartbreaker settings for over ten years.

Mark White posted:

My compatible Pathfinder Role-playing game takes the best of Kung Fu movies and Asian culture and transcribes that into a role playing game. My core book will contain 3 main class types. The three types will focus on either Physical, Mental, or Spiritual Power.

The Physical classes will depend on the martial arts style chosen during character creation. They will have 30 different styles to choose from. As you level, you become more proficient in your style (class). You can multi class and gain benefits from multiple styles. An example would be a Level 6 Drunken Mantis Fist boxer. You could also replace a style with a weapon skill.

The Mental classes will be able to pick a martial arts style but the style will not be as involved as a physical classes would be and will not define the class. The mental classes will be similar to Rogue, Swashbuckler, Ninja, scout, and more.

The Spiritual classes will consist of spell casters and healers. Styles will function the same as the mental class styles. The spiritual classes will focus on different aspects of divine and arcane spells. Depending on your choices you can shape your character into a bard, mage, cleric, druid, etc.

The cool thing is that I'd like to allow all of the core races as well to add a fantasy feeling. So, you could very well have an Elven Buddhist Dragon Fist Master or a Half-orc Ninja of the Iron Head clan.

I would like to release my own bestiary eventually, expanded styles from different regions of the world, and have a line of adventures based on Asian history and movies but set in the Pathfinder universe.

d20: enabling your Asian stereotypes ofor over ten years.

Mossy Mountain Gathering posted:

Mossy Mountain Gathering is a group of independent designers, writers, and artists that live in the Appalachian Mountains and beyond. The focus of the group is on quality, economical 3.0/3.5/Pathfinder designs and system generic products. Mossy Mountain Gathering is interested in producing both free and commercial products as well as creating games in the interesting of promoting local charity interest. Quite simply, we are a bunch of free thinking, role playing loving hippies, ravers, etc. with creative gaming at heart. Mossy Mountain Gathering is also currently working on some innovative board game designs that may be released in the near future.

d20: enabling your hippies... wait.


Otherverse Games posted:

Otherverse Games is an imprint of Skortched Urf Studios, started by Chris A. Field. Otherverse Games produces sci-fi, fantasy and even erotic horror campaign material, including the popular Black Tokyo campaign, unusual Otherverse America future history, as well as the Thinking Races series, which brings an assortment of interesting new player species to fantasy gaming. Otherverse Games will produce top quality fantasy material compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and anxiously awaits a modern version of this interesting new system.

It should be noted the Pathfinder Compatibility License excludes adult content.

Postmortem Studios posted:

Initially 6-Pack adventures, which will be 'pick up and play' short adventures suitable for one-off evening's play or convention scenarios. Further support I have not yet considered but could be just about anything from game settings to campaigns or monster guides.

It should be noted the Pathfinder Compatibility License excludes adult content.

Prysm posted:


Prysm is a world that was created by myself and other Dm's and players, staring from first edition DnD, we actually had the world finished and left everything at a friends house but when he moved he lost several items. So I am trying to refinish my world and am still working on it, I have several friends helping out and even have the gaming community giving me help as well. We have our own gods (players who have gone to the epic levels), and some of our own house rules.

What I was trying to get out there first is an adventure, it is kind of an choose your own path type adventure that can be used by any level. The Dm only has to choose monsters and traps, the adventure also allows the Dm to customize the challenges.

The adventure is run by Karak The Dark and Terrible a one time loyal servant of Gumby, The First Lawful Evil Bard of Hell and God of Murder, but is now a follower of Amaril Nailo, Hunter of Evil, Patron of Oath Takers, and God of Commraderie. Karak now travels the world with his extradimensional dungeon, which he uses to test would be heroes, those who succeed are rewarded and those who fail come out a little broken but wiser.

one such room is a s follows: this room has a destinctive pentagon shape to it, 20 feet deep, it is 30 feet wide at the far end it tapers to only a 10 foot wide opening you have just entered. In the centre of the room is a jar floating in the air (at a random height determined by the Dm. Another of Karak's floating apprentices appear beside you looks to the key and smiles. 'You must retrieve that jar in order to proceed, it can't be grapsed with magic or touched by anything other than your body. Good luck). With that he disappears leaving you to ponder the problem.

The room looks like this:
[ J ]

The Dm can set the dc for the jump check for the key, I started at 15 and can go all the way to 23, as I ran this for 1st to 3rd level pc's.
The jar has a potion in it that gives a permanent 2 bonus skill points the pc's can put anywhere, if they get it and if they try to cheat the jar falls to the ground and shatters. No matter the out come the servant reappears and gives the pc's a silver key to unlock the next door.
There are other rooms where the pc's need to deal a certain amount of damage to a dummy to proceed, or they have to play chess, craft a key, ect.
It is through this adventure and others that I hope to eventually get my world published as part of the Pathfinder universe.

Mind: blown.

Punching Love Productions posted:

Punching Love Productions is creating a campaign setting compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Trial-sessions are scheduled for January, and content will be released to the website leading up to that time. Content will be released as it is finalized. Eventually, .pdf files of "Syndecon: Vetrina di Tempo" will be released for sale, complete with professional art and all pertinent information. If sales of these .pdfs goes well, a hard-copy book will go into the works.

Here is a preview of what's to come:

“Schism: A state of disunion, dissension, or mutual hostility. A division into mutually opposing parties of a body of persons that have previously acted in concert.” The Oxford English Dictionary

Technology and magic are both fascinating concepts, and Syndecon is a setting where both have an equally powerful role. Taking some elements of the steampunk and steamgoth genres, tending towards the darker regions of each, Syndecon takes the world–Argethen–at a time where nations have grown to unexpected heights, and tensions between bordering countries are rising. The Last Schism, where the world itself was fractured into its current shape, is in the back of everybody’s mind as telltale signs of another schism are becoming evident. The weather has become increasingly more unpredictable and violent, warring factions plague Argethen’s resources, and strange, supernatural phenomena have drastically impacted numerous locations around the world.

Steamgoth? Will these genre innovations never end?!

Sean K Reynolds Games posted:

The goal of SKRG is to publish quality games that help you make better choices about your gaming. They may teach you something about game design in general, the game in particular, or even some part of the real world; ideally, SKRG products should leave you understanding the rules better so you can make better choices for your game, whether in designing your own material or evaluating published books to determine if they're balanced, campaign-appropriate, or worth reading at all.

A recent Pathfinder ruling by this author on the Pathfinder official forums has spawned over 2000 posts of rules arguments.

Storm Bunny Studios, LLC posted:

Storm Bunny Studios, LLCis a games-design studio that focuses on innovative and non-traditional approaches to a variety of gaming – be it tabletop, tactical, or theatrical. Its principle product is the Rhune: Dawn of Twilight campaign setting – a fantasy fusion of northern ideas and steampunk sensibilities – that is best defined as stormpunk.

It will also support a wide array of common fantasy settings (across a number of systems) by producing unique products that focus on art and story – by keeping the “fluff” in the fore of its design philosophy. By keeping an eye on the elements of story and myth, it will push beyond the traditional lines established by the “crunch crowd.”

The company will offer future artists, writers, and designers a place at the 3PP table, but without necessarily forcing any given system on them (although it will remain in full support of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game system). Additionally, it will explore projects that focus on solely story-driven material rather than mechanics, giving a large portion of the theatrical gaming community system-free stories to tell.

Storm Bunny Studios, LLC will continue to support its favorite gaming systems by providing quality, balanced products that include streamlined mechanical solutions alongside stunning art and layout.

Visit us soon at Storm Bunny Studios, LLC or check out Rhune: Dawn of Twilight. You can also see us on Facebook for more information about Rhune!

Stormpunk: congratulations, you have reached the end of creativity. Pack it up, folks, we're done.

The Shining Jewel, LLC. posted:


LEGENDS OF THE SHINING JEWEL is an ongoing living-style city of AMTHYDOR(TM), a city set in the player-created World of RAIA(TM). The LSJ Campaign uses the PATHFINDER® RPG game system and is for the mature, serious-minded role-players. Players will create their own Player Characters (PCs) that will advance and grow in LSJ Campaign tournaments. The campaign contains elements of High Fantasy, High Magic, High Intrigue, and High Role-playing. Originally started as a developmental project by the Universe Construction Company (UCC) for TSR, Inc. in 1992, the project has evolved beyond what TSR (or even WIZARDS OF THE COAST) expected, and continues to grow several years later.

[advert details snipped]

A lot of hard work is being done to make the LSJ Campaign a great place to be. If you have any constructive comments or questions, please feel free to email any of the campaign staff.

Thank you.

Jay Fisher
LSJ Campaign Coordinator

Wait, I have a little bonus content to share from these folks that speaks for itself. posted:

A gnarled gypsy woman, her arms covered in gold and silver bracelets, takes you by the hand, tracing the lines of your palm with a touch
that sends shivers down your spine. She looks deeply into your eyes, peering into your soul. She draws a card from a deck of small plaques
covered in ornate pictures and symbols. She selects a small talisman from her collection, placing in your palm and closing your fingers
around it. “No, don’t look now. That will spoil the magic. Save it for when you need it.” She is sure to have something that will aid
you in your darkest hour.
For $2 players may purchase a sealed envelope, to be delivered at GenCon. Each envelope will contain a cert for an item. The item may
be a potion, a scroll, a pet rock, a mundane object or even a permanent magic item.Opening the envelope represents using or activating the item (drinking a potion, reading a scroll, putting on a ring, etc). There’s no way
to know what’s inside until you open it.The rules are simple —- You can give an envelope to any of your PCs.– You may use up to two per scenario or interactive.

– You need to pay via PayPal, sent to . You cannot pay cash at the convention.

– 1 envelope for $2
3 envelopes for $5
7 envelopes for $10

"A pet rock from a Gypsy woman?!... I hit her in the skull with it. How much XP was she worth? Nevermind, fuck the XP, can I get my $2 back off her corpse?"

White Haired Man, LLC posted:

What Is White Haired Man?

White Haired Man exists because Virtual Tabletop (VTT) software and other methods of online roleplaying have become viable within the last few years. We are excited about this nascent community and want to participate in the pioneering spirit that pushes online gaming forward. We can best do this by jumping in and creating content for online games.

We offer small-scale settings that can be easily introduced into a campaign and reduce the Gamemaster’s preparation time. Our settings do not force the Gamemaster to rework an existing campaign setting. Our work also reflects the roleplaying styles we enjoy a low level of magic, high drama, intense roleplaying opportunities, and realistic consequences for character actions.

The settings themselves are available for free on the White Haired Man web site in a rules agnostic format. That is, the free setting contains no rules that tie it to a particular game system. Each setting will include a number of adventures. While the adventures are designed to follow one another in a series, most of them can also stand alone if the Gamemaster desires.

The adventures comprise our core products, and do contain the information necessary to run the adventure in a particular game system. Adventure Formats include a stand alone PDF for Pathfinder, Savage Worlds or OGL/3.5. We also offer a PDF with a module for the Fantasy Grounds II Virtual Tabletop software for either Savage Worlds or 3.5 OGL rules.

We have posted our first setting: the swamp village of Kith’takharos. A Kith’takharos Fantasy Grounds II module is also available. The module includes all the Kith’takharos information from the web site, plus additional game mechanics and graphics for either Savage Worlds or 3.5 OGL rules. Check out Kith’takharos and let us know what you think.

Tell me more about this exciting swamp village, I see there's more.

White Haired Man, LLC posted:

Who Is White Haired Man?

Andugus – Graphic Design & Artist

“White Haired Man is the stuff of dreams. How many times have you met those who talked about their passions? How many of those people pursued one? One day I awoke and knew I had to pursue mine. That or live my life knowing my dreams would remain unfulfilled. That day I decided to stop talking about it and toss caution to the wind. In my heart I knew that passion would lead me to success though I couldn’t define how.

“I enrolled in college at age 40 to pursue a Bachelors Degree of Science in Graphic Design. Not because I needed a degree, I needed artistic skills to unlock ideas into visual information. A month later White Haired Man became more than a two year conversation between Viz and myself. Now, White Haired Man is the vessel of my passion and gained knowledge. Through thought, ideation, and plain hard work I contribute to the creative force that is White Haired Man. Without fear of failure or need of financial success. I am living the dream. It is my hope that our work will enrich your role playing game experience; creating intense role playing opportunities. Leaving you with memories shared with friends that create bonds; bonds that you’ll enjoy for many years to come.

“Today I have a new dream. I dream White Haired Man products will be as successful at your game table as they have been at mine.”

Viz – Writing and Electronic Design

“I could probably list at least a half dozen reasons why I joined Andugus to form White Haired Man. For our collaboration, the most important thing is that we have been friends for many years and have developed a good working relationship. We can be honest with one another with no reservations, and we are.

“I’m not going to list all the other reasons, because most of them are ancillary. The real reason is that I love to write and I love roleplaying. What could be better than to meld these into the collaboration that is White Haired Man?

“Writing is a magical process. Even though I might know what I want to write about, I never know ahead of time what words will result or how they will be arranged. Even this statement is an example of that. Somewhere within me these words are produced, and I am the vessel through which they emerge into the world. When they turn out well, I am as amazed as anyone else. All I know for sure is that practice is essential.

“In addition to the writing, I also create the Fantasy Grounds modules. This is an art of a different kind, working out the best organization of the material so that the Gamemaster has convenient access to the most important information.

“I could say many more things, and most would resemble the old cliches about doing what one loves, working hard, persevering, etc. But I have learned that those sayings are cliches because they’re true. Creating settings and adventures is deeply satisfying.”

Okay, that was a little weird.

And to prove I read through them all-

Zombie Sky Press posted:

We'll have a little bit of everything. Stay tuned!

Let's have a look- Mosquitofolk?! Okay, I'm not sure I can hate on that at all.

And that's it for the Beworst of the Pathfinder Compatibility License. Really, most of this is a super-depressing read that I can't go into any detail on - reams of generic, indisguishable adventures and settings, tons of derivative monsters, races, feats-

Fuck, have you people looked at the Pathfinder product line now? Paizo's pumping out product material like a binger on a diuretic. What's more, it's better produced, better marketed, and better known than anything on this list. There are some folks on this list I think do genuinely good work - FunSizedGames, Green Ronin Publishing, or Reality Blurs - but the Pathfinder Compatibility License feels more like a rat trap to lure writers and designers into, and then watch as they try and compete with a company well out of their weight class for the same kind of material.

Okay, I'm thoroughly bummed out. Let's get back to the corebook. Certainly that'll help me feel better!

Next: Roll 3d6, then buy our stuff.

Getting Started

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Part 2: Getting Started

And what is the Concentration check DC for frostbitten cleavage?*

Enough faffing about, time to start on the main course.

*deep breath*

Okay, so we start out here with your "what a roleplaying game" is sort of explanation, which is honestly described pretty well.

And then they mention some things new gamemasters might need!

Players might need dice (available at, it says). You might need minis if your GM decides to use a map, and if you use a map, how about Paizo's line of GameMastery Flip-Mats? Wow. I really am speechless.

You know, for the record, I looked up Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 for comparision to see if it tried to shill supplements and supplies. In the verrry back it it has an ad for Dungeons & Dragons novels. And obviously you're going to need a Dungeon Master's Guide and a Monster Manual , but that's only aimed at dungeonmasters. What about the current edition of Dungeons & Dragons**? The back page has an ad for their online service. That's all. So Pathfinder is different in how it's marketed. Right here, from the first page of Chapter 1, it's not just trying to sell you on a game, it's trying to sell you on a game line . Paizo is, frankly, better at marketing its game, and it shows.

Then it gets into the basics - how dice are rolled, that you gain shit (gold shit, magic shit, experience shit), going up levels, adventure awaiting, etc.

As Merisiel strode off to adventure, all eyes were on her butt.

Then we get:

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game posted:

The Most Important Rule

Oh boy.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game posted:

The rules in this book are here to help you breathe life into your characters and the world they explore. While they are designed to make your game easy and exciting, you might find that some of them do not suit the style of play that your gaming group enjoys. Remember that these rules are yours. You can change them to fit your needs. Most Game Masters have a number of “house rules” that they use in their games. The Game Master and players should always discuss any rules changes to make sure that everyone understands how the game will be played. Although the Game Master is the final arbiter of the rules, the Pathfinder RPG is a shared experience, and all of the players should contribute their thoughts when the rules are in doubt.

Pathfinder: "We know you just paid $50 for a 576-page rulebook, but we already have faith in the fact you're going to want to throw rules out."

That way when you find out some of the rules are bad we can be like "But look at the Most Important Rule".

Anyway, then we get a chapter list, and then a listing of terms. I'm going to go out on a limb and assume most people are basically familiar with Dungeons & Dragons third edition (if you're not, here it is ), and am just going to list the major differences:
When, we get an example of play where some folks fight some skeletons, then a scary skeleton shows up, and they run away, because that's what heroes do .

Victory goes to the most metal.

Finally, it's time for:

Generating a Character

It goes over the basic steps of character creation - ability scores, race, class, skills, feats, equipment, then stuff like name or blue/grey eyes.

Then we get into the first rules of the game.

Ability Scores

First, they cover how we're going to generate ability scores. There are five methods provided:
Here we are on the first rules of the game, and Pathfinder can't even settle on a single rule. Granted, it's traditional for Dungeons & Dragons and its clones to waffle all over the place on oh attributes are determined, but it doesn't excuse it. Well, at least they can't use the rules section to hawk chips or dice and book-

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game posted:

This [purchase] system is typically used for organized play events, such as the Pathfinder Society (visit for more details on this exciting campaign).

- neeevermind. And if you're wondering if that's free, not quite. The Pathfinder Society requires you to buy the Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Pathfinder Society Field Guide . Only $19.99.

I'm hopping a bit forward in terms of rules to explain something. Every monster has a Challenge Rating. Every character has a Character Level. In theory, you take four characters of Character Level X and they can reasonably face a monster of Challenge Rating X and have a fight that's challenging but that they have a solid chance of winning.

You may notice that attributes - one of the core means of determining a base power level - does not figure into this. For some reason, this game assumes that a character created with "Classic" generation is equal to one with "Heroic" generation, much less somebody that rolls a plethora of ones versus somebody that throws a litany of sixes.

What's more, when you roll attributes, you're stuck with them for a long while, unless your Pathfinder game is particularly deadly. A Pathfinder campaign can last for years, and you can suffer from having a few dice rolls cripple you for ages, restrict your options, and basically punish you for having a gamemaster who's asinine enough to make you do any of the roll options listed above.

See, random attribute generation can work well for short-term games where you don't have much choice in character creation anyway. For something light and short, random attribute generation can work, because there's no need to invest overtly in your character. Pathfinder has a 576 page rulebook where your choices are fucking essential to your character's effectiveness. It should never, ever, ever restrict your choices based on a dice roll at the start.

It's like baking a pizza, and you get to flip a coin. Heads, you get to make your pizza with some fine-ass tasty dough. Tails, you get dough that literally came from somebody's ass. Flawed characters can be cool, but it's even cooler when you get to choose to play a horribly flawed character, rather than having it forced on you.

Anyway, they haven't even covered attributes yet! Well, they do now. Each attribute score provides a modifier to rolls equal to:

(Attribute Score - 10) / 2 = Attribute Modifier
Round down to the nearest whole number.

The attribute score is never used for rolls. Why would you have an attribute score in the first place? Tradition. There's no other reason to have a figured attribute for every rolled attribute , other than to give people the illusion that they're playing Dungeons & Dragons. You could easily create a means to roll and generate a modifier if you're hung up on rolling scores like some kind of troglydyte.

Yeah, I said trogs. Complete with:

Aura stench (30 ft., DC 13, 10 rounds)

In case you really are a trog (sorry, I don't mean to be mean to trogs, some of my best friends are trogs) and have come out of a cave, these are:

Also there is a huge chart that details when caster get bonus spells from their attribute.

The formulae boils down to this:

Attribute Modifier = X where X is the number of Spell Levels you get a single bonus spell in, to a maximum of the 9th Spell Level.

X - 4 = Y where Y is the number of Spell Levels you get two bonus spells instead of one.

Y - 4 = Z where Z is the number of Spell Levels you get three bonus spells instead of two.

Z - 4 = Fuck where Fuck is the number of Spell Levels you get four bonus spells instead of three.

Well, that's complicated. Why not just give bonus spells equal to the attribute modifier? Well. Once again... tradition.

And that's all for this chapter! Attributes! My review of them: terrible.

Next: Races & Racists.

* There are some of you that might say "Gosh, she's obviously using endure elements !" Well, congrats, she's used a valuable spell slot to fix an issue she could have solved with a parka.

** By which I mean the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons, which I will endeavor to generally keep out of the conversation to avoid aggravating PTSD symptoms related to the Edition Wars.


posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Part 3: Races

Caught in a tight spot, Seltyiel arms himself with self-loathing, racial epithets, and dance moves.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game posted:

From the stout dwarf to the noble elf, the races of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game are a diverse mix of cultures, sizes, attitudes, and appearances.
Let's look at... diversity!

Pathfinder is a clothing-optional game.

Well. Um. Most of those look pretty caucasian to me, or close enough. Sure, some are small, and some have sharpened ears. Only the Gnome and Half-orc are really different on the skin tone spectrum.

Also, to nitpick entirely, you'll see a little black seam on the edge of the art in this chapter where it was pasted in sloppily. It really does look that way on the PDF. I hope it was fixed for the print version, but I don't have one handy to reference.

Pathfinder emphasizes the importance of race because you can't change it later on unless there are wizards involved. It at least has the decency to point out some races are really bad for some class or character choices. It doesn't get a lot more specific than that, though. Yes, it's pretty much saying "warning, traps ahead!"

Basically, each race modifies your attributes from before. Yes, it would have been nice to know what attributes your race favored before you assigned your attributes, but... traditionally the attribute section came first. Doing this ass-backwards is important because that's the way Gary did it, fuckers.

They also get a bunch of miscelleanous crap bonuses, as you'll see.

It mentions Chapter 12 has rules for playing moe powerful or unusual races. I checked Chapter 12. There are no such rules.

Now, before I dig into the races proper, I want to explain one of my theories behind Pathfinder-style design. I call it "balance by nickels", where races are given a bunch of tiny bonuses that mostly don't add up to diddly shit. In addition, fairly often a race will get some skill bonus that won't sync up with the Class Skills associated with their class, or get won't get skill bonuses their Attribute Modifers would actually assist. It's a badly thought up design theory, where many races end up only being barely-distinguishable, and hell, it's hard to remember modifiers when your race literally gets five or six of them.


We're told "Dwarves are a stoic but stern race", as if those two terms were contradictory. They're pretty much the same dwarves from anywhere else. They live in mountains or underground, and fight giants, orcs, and "goblinoids". In fact, they are genocidal where orcs and goblins are considered, and train everybody, from the warrior to the midwife, how to murder them. Yes, dwarves are racist as fuck.

They like beards, rocks, wealth, metal, and think halflings, elves, and gnomes are a bunch of elitist fops. Because they're racist. Short and racist. And greedy.

Anyway, they're tough and wise (despite racism), but not very likeable. Not even dwarves get along with dwarves very well. They're stable on their feet, able to see in the dark, resist poison and magic, and get to use dwarfy weapons like axes, heavy picks, and warhammers. And, best of all, they don't have their speed reduced by armor!... even though other races get to run in armor just as fast as dwarves do, because the speed penalities just bring them down to dwarf level.

They're a good example of what I mean by having nickel bonuses. They get stuff like a +2 bonus (10%, or a "dime") to... notice traps or hidden doors if they're made out of stone. Oh, and they get to make checks automatically. Alternately, any other race can just pixelbitch every inch of the dungeon. They get a +2 bonus to Appraise checks!... but only where gemstones or precious metals are involved. These are the kind of bonuses that rarely come up, and are flavorful but ultimately inconsquential. Still, most dwarven bonuses do add up - for example, they get a good Constitution and Wisdom and bonuses against poison or magic that play off of that.

Play a Dwarf if you like:


Elves are like faeries, but not really, because... um. I got nothin', and neither does Pathfinder . They're also like amazingly slow chameleons, as it turns out, and have their coloration reflect their environment, which is how you'll get the night blue and blood pink elves later in the art. They get to live a long time and get to be all graceful and fashionable. They love nature (not literally*) and humans (literally). They're not racist like dwarves, they just think all other races are inferio- okay they're not as racist as dwarves. Oh, and they have babies with humans and then hate on them, because, hey! Racism.

But they love kindness and beauty. Also fuck ugliness (metaphorically).

Anyway, they get to be graceful and smart, but kind of frail. They can see better in the dark, get to be better at overcoming magic resistance, resist enchantments better, and they notice things better, and all of them get to use bows and stuff.

Oh, and very randomly they gget to be immune to sleep spells. Unlike Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 , they still sleep, though.

Play an Elf if you like:
* Well, it might still be literal, I wouldn't put it past them.


These are tiny people who are more fey than elves but still aren't fey, because! That is why. They're supposed to be weird and come in funny colors like green or pink, and have fancy animu hair. And-

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game posted:

Gnomes possess highly mutable facial characteristics, and many have overly large mouths and eyes, an effect which can be both disturbing and stunning, depending on the individual.

Anyway, they're hard workers, pranksters, tend to be mercurial and passionate, etc. They like magic and music, blah blah. Oh, and they all train to kill goblinoids and reptilian creations, so. Racist are they.

They're hardly and winsome, but physically weak. They move slowly and can get knocked around easily because they're wee, but have an easier time hitting and dodging. They see better in darkness, get to cast a few minor spells, resist illusions, get bonuses on Perception, Crafting, and get to use gnome weapons whatever the fuck those are.

Oh, and they get a bonus on a Profession skill, a skill no self-respecting adventurer will touch, since it has no mechanical use save making pathetic amounts of money in downtime. Oh, and both gnomes and dwarves get a large (+4) bonus to dodge attacks from giants, but since giants have such large strength bonuses and high hit dice for their Challenge Rating, they're generally pound the shit out of dwarves and gnomes anyway .

Play a Gnome if you like:


Humans and elves like to get it on, apparently, and then disown their offspring, which are half-elves. Or half-humans, maybe? Homo Elvish. Once again, we're already back to the racism.

They're big on freedom and being adaptable and wander around. Also they have shiny, colorful eyes. Like marbles! They a boost to any one attribute they want, your standard model sees-better-in-dark vision (seriously everybody gets that), they get to be better at any one skill, that dumb sleep immunity, resistance to enhancements, better senses, and they get two favored classes instead of one, a trait that is only useful if you multiclass, which is way less useful than it was in 3.5, so fuck it.

They're just kind of generic and hated by humans and elves because, that is why. Boring!

Play a Half-Elf if you like:


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game posted:

Half-orcs are monstrosities, their tragic births the result of perversion and violence—or at least, that’s how other races see them. It’s true that half-orcs are rarely the result of loving unions, and as such are usually forced to grow up hard and fast, constantly fighting for protection or to make names for themselves.

Yes. It pretty much starts out saying "By the way, your character? Probably the result of a rape."

So people hate on them a lot and so they get tuff, and often become good fighters and-

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game posted:

... orc leaders have actually been known to spawn them intentionally, as the half breeds regularly make up for their lack of physical strength with increased cunning and aggression, making them natural chieftains and strategic advisors.


Anyway, most half-orcs are tough on the outside but softies in the inside. Elves and dwarves hate them, because racism.

They get a bonus to any one score as they like, just like half-elves, so they can be smart or charming, they can see in the total dark, they get bonuses to intimidate, and can fight for one round when they'd normally fall over. Which is kind of neat, but half-orcs are just kind of lousy compared to the other races we've seen so far. See, back in 3.5, half-orcs got less in terms of racial benefits since they got a bonus to Strength, and the designers falsely thought Strength was the best attribute. But here, they get less benefits because... um... they get less benefits.

Play a Half Orc if you like:


They're half-human and half-ling- wait, what? They're not that? This game is confusing with names.

Anyway, they're cheery, lucky wee folk, but they don't get a pot of gold or anything. They're cowards, but sometimes get into trouble because of curiousity. Also they like to walk on bare feet. Wow, these guys sound a lot like hobbits.

They only have small towns or live in the bad parts of town. They're good at hiding, tricking folks, and taking their shit. They get along with gnomes really well. Also they're magically lucky and often go off on adventures like in that one book about the Rings.

Yeah, yeah, we all know where a lot of these races come from, I just find it amusing all these years later and we still see this race nabbed from one of the most famous fantasy novels so shamelessly. At least other games try and give them some twist or alteration. There's no twist here. These are skinny hobbits.

Anyway, they're agile and charming, but weak. Like gnomes, they're small, and get bonuses against fear, a bonus on noticing things, climbing and being agile, and they get to use slings (exciting!). Oh, and the luck they kept talking about? Halflings get a nickel bonus - a +1 to all saves - that's it. That's their fancy luck.

Play a Halfling if you like:


Who let these jerks in?

Humans are the dominant race, they're really varied, come in a variety of skin colors from brown to not brown, they're ambitious and ingenious and flexible and :wank:

Also they fuck and make lots of babies. Well, they don't say it that way, necessarily:

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game posted:

Humans are fecund, and their drive and numbers often spur them into contact with other races during bouts of territorial expansion and colonization.

Humans tend to see the other races as stereotypes, which is is convenient, because they are, except for elves, they're hot for elves. They can be evil or good and blah blah vague shit blah blah more vague shit etc.

Anyway, humans get a bonus to one ability score, a bonus feat, extra skill ranks, and... that's all. That may not sound like much, but generally they're the best race. Why? Because they can just specialize in whatever class they want with that feat and those skill points. And that extra feat? Most classes have to wait two levels and about 40 encounters (seriously, I mathed that shit) to get that second feat. Of course, they'll have to spend it wisely, since the feat section is laden with the trap of crappy, crappy choices.

Play a Human if you like:
And that's all for the races of Pathfinder! Compared to Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, they tried to beef up most of the nonhuman races, but it's pointless; they get nickel bonuses while humans get flexibility. And in this game, flexibility is generally far better than a generic bonus to a skill. This game loooves random bonuses to skills to "balance" things. It doesn't really work. The races are, indeed, better balanced than Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 , but still suffer in ways, where some races will be better with classes or skills that are just better than others. Which would you rather have, the dwarf's bonus to Appraise gems, or the elf's bonus to all Perception checks ?

Next: Classes! Or: nerds rule, jocks drool.


posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Part 4: Classes

Or raped, Seoni.

Time for classes!

Well, first it starts with character advancement. Most of this is the standard from Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 , though there are some differences. There are three experience point tables - slow, medium, and fast, which the gamemaster decides from. Also, favored classes have changed. Instead of incurring an XP penalty for multi-classing too much, each character chooses a favored class. Every time you take a favored class, you can gain an extra skill point or hit point, which is a welcome improvement from Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 .

Don't get too hopeful, mind, we're about to talk about classes.


Cue victory theme.

Apparently, all fighters that ain't urban don't bother training as warriors. Instead, they become barbarians, who just charge at people like maniacs. It would have been better named "berserker", but... sigh... tradition. Anyway, they're warriors that go crazy, flip out and murder things.

They get to be solid frontline combatants, and get the most hit points of any class, improved movement speed, the ability to rage out and get strong but careless, reduced damage taken, and can sense ambushes. Also, they get a bonus to avoid traps, but since their base ability to avoid traps isn't very good anyway, it's a shit bonus.

Rage is their core ability, but it's got problems. It only lasts for so long, so they've got a time limit to their ability which is X amount of rounds a day. Which means barbarians pretty much just need to deal damage. They don't have the luxury of being able to pull fancy moves too often, because they need to take enemies off the board before they become fatigued and their damage-dealing capability really drops. So they're effective at what they do, but it ends up being a boring, repetitive thing to do.

The big thing that Pathfinder adds are Rage Powers, which are special abilities the barbarian gets while raging. But the balance is all over the place with this stuff, from getting to rage again after your rage runs out (fantastic) to niche and dumb, like being better at jumping or swimming while raging (NSFW) . Or really, really dumb, like superstition , which gives you a +2 to save against spells... but you have to make saving throws against all spells, including buffs and healing thrown at you by other party members. That's possibly a death sentence if your rolls go awry. Not exactly worth a +2.

The angriest backstroke.

The real problem with bullshit like raging climbing or raging swimming is that you get X rounds of rage a day, which means you're spending your combat effectiveness to clamber a wall, most often. What's more, it doesn't really improve your swimming or climbing speed appreciably, so you have a very short window of time to swim across a river or climb up a mountain, after which if you haven't gotten to the shore or the top and are suddenly fatigued, which can put you in a real bind.

To be fair, there are some handy combat abilities, especially as you go up in levels. But how those abilities are implemented has been done with little thought to their implications or actual usage.

Oh, and a side note: rage increases your constitution (and thusly your hit points), and you gain constitution from it, but- when you fall unconscious, you go out of rage. Which means your constitution drops, your hit points drop, and chances are you either die instantly or fall very near death, since you just lost your (level x 2) in hit points.

But all and all, barbarians are probably one of the more effective nonmagical classes - they're just boring because of their laser-like focus on "roll to hit, roll damage" ad infinitum. Firmly middle of the road, and one of the few classes Pathfinder didn't really power-up.


Aaaa he has monkey feet aaaa-

Bards are magical performers, but also jerks-of-all-trades for some reason. Really, they're like a bunch of class features were left in a pile and assembled into a class. They know how to use swashbuckling-type weapons! They cast arcane spells! They can buff friends with magical music! They have sage-like knowledge!

They get middle-of-the-road hit points, good skill points, the ability to buff via magical performances, a bonus to knowledge checks, and... uh... a bonus against the magical music of other bards. They also get spellcasting, which is pretty huge.

Unlike Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 , you don't actually have to take Perform to most Bardic Performance uses. This is good in that the bard is not longer taxed out of skill points just to use their core ability. This is bad in that the buff effects require no Perform ranks, so you flail on a broken guitar and give your party courage, somehow.

Another key difference from Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 is instead of having X uses that last X rounds, the bard's music is tracked by having X rounds per day instead. This means the bard has to balance noncombat uses and combat uses much more closely, especially since noncombat uses inherently consume more usage.

The really big drawback of bards is a lot of their buffs are matched by the spells of clerics and other spellcasters. It seems like it's a unique buffing ability, but it really isn't.

The spells of bards tend towards illusion and enchantment spells, with some divinations. At low levels than can do things like mind control people, create illusions, put people to sleep, summon monsters, etc. At the top level they can see far away, get large buff spells, force people to dance, etc. They get spells slowly compared to full spellcasters, but faster than token spellcasters like the paladin or ranger.

Ultimately, bards are solid in that they can at least do many things at a moderate level of competence, and really shine outside of combat or in social situations. They're also boosted a lot by the Leadership feat, which basically lets them break the game with the use of buff spells and numerous followers.


Don't worry, her goddess handles the cleavage end of things .

Fuck us, it's the cleric.

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 overpowered this class in response to trying to make healers fun to play, and Pathfinder apes that mistake. Though they get middling hit points and low skills, they get plenty of devastating abilities. They're the most robust divine spellcasters in the game, since they get full spellcasting, the largest divine spell list, and domains, specializations that add to their spell list. Unlike most other spellcasting classes, they can completely swap their spells everyday, and aren't restricted to a list of chosen spells or a spell book. That means every time you add a supplement to the game, they get a whole new bunch of powers.

They also get the ability to channel energy, Pathfinder 's replacement for the old turn undead ability. It's thankfully cleaner rules-wise, and is also more reliable, since it practically always works, but less powerful in some ways. Essentially, good characters channel positive energy, which heals all living creatures around them and damages undead. Evil characters channel negative energy, which heals undead and damages living creatures. Neutral characters get to pick one or the other. They get to use this 3-6 times a day or so.

Then there are Domains. Domains give the cleric some bonus abilities that work like spells, and a extra set of spells they can prepare. The thing is, the balance is all over the place with this shit. Take, for example, the Artifice Domain, which lets you use mending at will. Sounds great? Mending is a 0-level spell that any Cleric can prepare. 0-level spells can be used at will. Yay! You just wasted a Domain, practically. Or you could take Liberation, which gives you the ability to cast freedom of movement for a limited time each day, at 1st Level. Freedom of Movement ordinarily requires you to be 7th level to prepare it, and lets you do things like automatically escape grapples. Yeah. Which would you like?

Oh, and if the ability for the cleric to cast healing / hurty spells isn't enough, with channel energy on top of that, they also have the ability to spontaneously change any spell they have prepared into a cure spell (if good) or a cause wounds spell (if bad). Yep. If it wasn't enough that they get to choose any spell on the list, they don't need to worry about preparing healing spells, since they can just discard any prepared spell to cast them.

What's more, their spell list is one of the better ones in the game. At 1st level they can do things like buff the entire party and penalize all enemies (no save). They can speak any language. They can create an area where no violence can happen. They can walk in the snow naked without harm.

At higher levels, they can heal practically any malady, raise the dead, find traps like a rogue, paralyze creatures, know if any idea is good or bad, summon angels and demons, mind control people, turn into mist, etc. At the top levels they can have their god directly intervene, travel to other worlds, negate all magic in an area, and so on.

Angel Summoner and BMX Bandit ? Hell, Angel Summoner could only summon angels . A cleric can summon angels, make people implode, control the weather, and know if you've been bad or good and where to find you. Hell, they can bring back a person's that's been dead for a century even if they don't have the body, even if the body is in another universe, just bam, back to life.

Oh, and they fight pretty well and get to wear armor. If they violate the tenets of their god, they lose their powers, but since these tenets are entirely undefined in the class description, I'm just going to assume they don't exist.


Big eyes, small mouth.

These are people who get power from worshipping nature. Not a god, or anything, just nature is like, bam, you are now magical . Okay, they master "primal magics", but how they learn or find those magics... Anyway, they're like clerics, but get more skills and wear crappier armor. They get full spellcasting, but have a more limited set of nature spells. They can also drop any spell they've prepared to instead summon a fightin' animal.

They can either gain an animal companion or choose a cleric domain, but they have a limited list of domains that seems to have been picked from "worst domains clerics can choose". Animal is the best one they get, ironically, and it's entirely fucking redundant for them. On the other hand, their animal companions get to level with them, gain magical powers, get bigger, etc.

There's also a bunch of random nature abilities they get, befriending animals, walking through brambles unhurt, can't be tracked, good at resisting faerie magic, etc.

The big bugaboo ability they get - and it's a doozy - is wild shape. Ever wish you could fly at first level? Well, just turn into a bird. At later levels, being able to become a bear or elemental starts to make them into devastating combatants that well exceed most combat classes in the long run, especially since they can team up with their animal companion for double magic bear action.

Oh, and did I mention they're full spellcasters to boot? I did. Like clerics they get to cast healing spells, and even at low levels they can throw fire or bind people in vines. Later on they get to call lightning from the sky, attack you with giant bees, or turn you into a sloth. At the highest levels, they can see anywhere, make people die, summon a "swarm" of elementals, or create a tornado.

The big difference from Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 is that they only get buffed by wild shape, rather than morphing into a whole new set of attributes. Without any doubt, their power level has been reduced. That being said, it only changes them from "insanely strong" to "insensibly strong".

Definitely comparable with the cleric. Not as cosmically powerful, but their ability to shapechange, summon creatures, have a companion, and so on, lets them fill in a combat role with or without genuinely risking their own hide.


"Madmartigan? Never heard of the guy, I swear!"

Or you could play a fighter. They get to swing a sword, or fire a bow, or use any weapon they like! They get a strong amount of hit points, though not as much as the barbarian, but for some reason are as unskilled like clerics or sorcerers, even though they don't have spellcasting. So what do they get?

Feats. Remember the whole idea of nickel bonuses I discussed in the race section? Feats are nickel bonuses writ large. Most provide +1 and +2 bonuses to this roll or that roll, generally in a narrow circumstance. So, for example, an iconic feat they can pick up is Weapon Focus, which gives then +1 to hit with one type of weapon. So if they choose a longsword, it doesn't apply to rapiers or shortswords. Hell, they have to be 4th level to pick up Weapon Specialization, which gives them +2 to damage with a single weapon.

For contrast, barbarian's rage gives them +2 to attack and damage at level 1 with just whatever weapon, and they get bonus hit points while raging on top of that.

What's more, Pathfinder has taken time to reduce the power of some fighter feats from Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 . For example, Combat Expertise. Combat Expertise used to let you add +1 to your Armor Class for every -1 you took to hit, and was limited by your attack bonus (to a maximum of +5 / -5. Now, it's +1 / -1 at level 1, with another +1 / -1 for every four levels you have. So instead of waiting for 5th level for the feat to max out, a fighter has to wait until 16th level .

So by the time a fighter gets a -5 to hit and a +5 to Armor Class, a wizard can cast limited wish and a cleric can cast resurrection .

Granted, the fighter has gotten token improvements. They get a bonus against fear effects, reduce penalties from armor, gain bonuses to hit and damage with a specific group of weapons, etc. But they're tiny bonuses that don't scale on any level comparable to spellcasters.

What's more, since they don't have any skill points, they're not much good outside of a fight. What's more, there are classes that are better at dealing and taking damage (barbarian) or good at dealing damage and noncombat functionality (ranger, rogue).

But it could be worse, it could be a...


Monks are basically the result of Brian Blume really liking Chiun from the Remo Williams books, and thus that Asian stereotype was passed on, and now Pathfinder picks it up blithely, and carries it on through a distorted game of racial stereotype telephone. Dungeons & Dragons 3e tried to buck the stereotype by making their iconic monk an African woman, but Pathfinder brings it back to form with an Asian man.

So. They're good at being disciplined and punching people. They get a middling hit die, a bad sign for a melee fighter that doesn't wear armor, middling skills, but very good saving throws. Ironically, for a class that's supposed to fight close in, they get a weaker attack bonus than any other melee class, for no apparent reason. They get a bonus on their Armor Class from their Wisdom Modifier when not wearing armor, which is pretty much there to keep them from being totally screwed from the fact it requires them to not wear armor. They get extra attacks and improved punching damage as they level up, but most of that isn't valuable until later levels. Their average attack bonus, lack of magical weapons, and penalties for multiple attacks means they don't hit very often when they do their "Flurry of Blows".

They get a vast array of abilities that looks impressive, but the major issue is that they specialize in nothing enough to shine. They can heal themselves, but nothing like a cleric or paladin. They can move quickly and jump high, but that doesn't match up to a flying wizard. They can dodge area attacks, but not as well as a rogue. They can teleport or gain spell resistance, but not as soon or effectively as a sorcerer or wizard. They can avoid falling damage, but under more limited circumstances than a sorcerer or wizard. And so on.

What's more, their movement abilities conflict with their flurry ability. Their flurry ability requires them to stand largely still. Ever see those wuxia films where characters just stand in one place while punching at each other for the whole fight? Me neither, but the monk has to make a choice between flitting around and actually doing damage.

They do get stunning fist, which lets them inflict status effects once they overcome their mediocre attack chances, or quivering palm, which is strong a save-or-die effect. They also get a ki pool, a pool of points which they can spend to bypass damage reduction, do an extra attack, or improve their ability to dodge for one turn.

All the same, they have to wait until their later levels to start getting impressive abilities, and once they do, classes like clerics and sorcerers have reached their stages of cosmic power.

Oh, and if they become nonlawful, they can't advance their abilities, because Pathfinder equates personal discipline with your moral leanings for some reason.

Perhaps the biggest dissapointment, unlike Chiun, you don't get a set of class abilities based around being a bitter, racist old man, so really it falls down in just about every respect.


Note the chink in her armor right between the breasts.

These are holy champions who gain power from... um... it doesn't really say clearly. From being good and lawful, I guess. Worship isn't mentioned anywhere in the class description, so I guess the Pathfinder world just rewards being a disciplined, benevolent guy on a horse. There's no talk of them being taught magic or anything, they just get it.

Anyway, they get to be magic warriors, kind of like fighters that get divine powers instead of feats feats feats. They can sense evil, do extra damage to evil creatures, solid saves, the ability to heal with a touch, bonuses against fear, immunity to diseases, and later on they get the ability to heal status effects. They can channel energy like a cleric, but not as well, a special magic weapon or magic riding animal, and finally they get a short list of spells to cast.

Their smite ability got changed from 3.5 from it being a X uses per day ability to where when they smite, they get to smite repeatedly until their foe's dead. This is a huge damage increase for them.

Their spells only go up to 4th level over 20 levels. Most of their powers just buff or heal, with a few lie-detector spells. At the lowest levels they're just improving a weapon or shielding other characters from damage, and at the top end gaining a powerful holy sword or neutralizing poisons. It's a very limited list, and contains a lot of redundancy - a lot of the later spells are just improvements or variations on earlier spells.

They lose their powers if they perform an evil act or violate a particular code of conduct, but the game doesn't really define what an evil act is, so it mainly serves as a vehicle to inspire GM / player arguments. (Do a search for "grognards.txt" and "paladin" for just a small taste.) Oh, and if they lose their powers, they need a cleric to cast a spell to give them a chance to regain their powers.

Ultimately, paladins are supposed to be clerics what fight better, but the problem is clerics' robust spellcasting list actually lets them replicate most of a paladin's abilities and surpass them. The paladin is a better fighter early on, but quickly gets outpaced, and has abilities solely around healing, preventing, or dealing damage... but when not facing evil or chaotic foes, much of their utility fades away.

What I say is: play a cleric, buy a horse, take the war domain, and be a superior fascimile. If you want to be a paladin, you can at least say "Well, it could be worse, I could be a fighter." Paladins get to be a lot better than their Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 counterparts, but they're not in the big leagues.



Look, over there! It's Aragorn. Hey, Aragorn!

Aragorn says hello.

This is the class to be if you want to be a Ranger of the North from Lord of the Rings. Like the not-Hobbits earlier, or the Monk just before, D&D is just like "Let's take this character and call it a class! It's the perfect crime! No one will ever know! "*

Aragorn says to shut the fuck up and talk about his class before he jams a piece of cram into my eye.

Rangers are tough and fighty like fighters, but are skilled like bards. They get favored enemies, which are class enemies they get bonuses against, and favored terrains, when are terrains they get bonuses in. As such, they're a "GM-dependent" class, and get to play the fun sub-game of making educated guesses of where and what will be included in adventures, and hoping they get their bonuses to apply! It's exciting because it's risky.

They also get a choice of an animal companion, like a bard, or the ability to boost their friends against favored enemies. They also get bonuses on tracking, taming animals, and evading traps and explosions. They also get a choice of getting bonus feats for bows or paired weapons. Why the latter? Aragorn, bitches.

They also get nature-spells, like shitty druids. Most of these have to do with healing, animals, plants, or generic utility like a magic alarm. So they can enchant animals, run faster, or at the top levels they can teleport using trees or move through any impediment through freedom of movement - remember that spell that Clerics of liberation get at 1st level? Rangers get it at 12th.

Ultimately rangers have it decent. They're to druids what paladins are to clerics - a melange of fighter and a casting class, but unlike paladins, they have more useful skills and less redundant spells. They also get to fight pretty well.

Firmly middle-of-the-road along with barbarians and bards- Oh shit, MY EYE!


* A genuine quote attributed to Gary Gygax, no doubt while rubbing his hands together fiendishly.


Merisiel, blood elf rogue

Rogues are more assassin than assassins. Oh, sure, they're supposed to be replacements for thieves, but their core ability is murdering people by stabbing them by surprise and doing a bunch of extra damage when they do it.

Oh, sure, they can just knock people out with a sap, I suppose, but fuck, this is Pathfinder , where people leap around fighting tiger-wizards. There will be stabbing.

Rogues also get bonuses against being surprised, can avoid area spells and traps better, get a bonus to find traps... but see, there's been a change. In Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 , only rogues could sense a trap of sufficient complexity. Now that's no longer true, so the rogue trapfinding ability is devalued greatly. Which is why many variant Pathfinder rogue classes "sacrifice" the trapfinding ability, as if it were a sacrifice in the first place.

Also, rogues get rogue talents. These are a variety of abilities, from the useful - a bleeding attack that causes damage over time - to total garbage - the ability to crawl faster on all fours. Whee! Look at me, I'm adventuring like a baby!

However, rogue talents can also be exchanged in for combat feats like a fighter gets, and the rogue gets them at the same rate. Later on, they can choose any feat. They also get the best skill selection in the game.

So they're like fragile fighters, but are way more useful outside of a fight, and can potentially do crazy damage with their backstab. Unlike Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 , their sneak attacks work on most sorts of creatures, except blobs. And unlike fighters, their ability to deal damage seriously ramps up as they level, given they can get the right angle on their foe.

Ultimately, they're the best class that doesn't have magic powers of some sort, since they rule the skill check, so they're useful in a variety of non-combat situations, and have high damage potential in combats. Even in combat, they can take talents like resiliency and defensive roll that grant them increased survivability.

It's a more interesting design, though, and looking at rogues is like a glimpse at how much better non-casters could have been designed. They're still dwarfed by non-casters, but they're at least a lot less sloppily designed.

Speaking of sloppily designed...


Mandatory Achewood reference

Sorcerers are magical slackers. They just get magical powers from their heritage and don't have to do the hard work like their more nerdly wizards. That's why they're weaker than wizards, and in fact, weaker than all the other full spellcasters in the corebook. They're just too saucy to gain nerd power.

Anyway, they get low hit points, low skills, but that doesn't matter, they get access to the best spell list in the game. Fire energy bolts that hit people automatically! Put people to sleep! Shrink people! Fall from any height safely! And that's just first level... at the top end, they get to teleport, kill with a word, stop time, or wish for whatever they like.

But that's not all!

They also get to ignore minor material components when casting spells (not a huge deal) and also get to choose a bloodline. As you may have guessed by now, some are fantastic choices and some are terrible choices. Each gives magical powers, bonus feats, extra spells known, another skill, and a special ability for your spells. Like Draconic, which gives you great spells like spell resistance and fly , and gives you a bonus skill in the form of Perception, the most-used skill in the game. On the other hand, there's Celestial, which gives you Heal, a useless skill for any party with magical healing, and terrible feats like Mounted Combat and Ride-By Attack (not too useful once the bloodline gives you wings ...).

The big drawbacks sorcerers face is having to dump their attribute points into a lousy attribute (Charisma) and they have to choose their spells they know as a subset of their actual spell list, and don't get to change them very often. They also don't get very many spells, and high attributes don't improve it.

Still, they have high potential for smart play, and later spells let you upend the game system and slap it silly.


World's Best 1st Level Grandpa

The best for last. These are ubernerds that learn magic by reading books and learning math and recipes and shit like that. They are, most likely, the most potent most versatile class in the game once you start getting to the mid-to-later levels.

They get the same spells as general class layout as sorcerers, only they get to choose every day what spells they want to prepare from their spellbook., and can spend time and money learning new spells without leveling up, unlike a Sorcerer. They are the nerds supreme, focusing on intelligence, and so get decent skills as a side effect, even though their basic skill ranks are on the low side.

Oh, and they get to choose either to have a magically empowered item or a familiar animal. Also, the item can we used to give the wizard and extra spell slot. They also get a handful of bonus feats every five levels, but can only choose magicky feats. Not much of a drawback, given a wizard focuses solely on spellcasting most of the time.

They also get to choose a specialty, which allow them to focus on a single school of magic. You're going to want to do this, because you get a good deal more spells you can use every day through this effect. Specialties also give special magic powers only that specialty gets. And yes, some are crap and some are great, not just because of the powers, but just the fact that the schools are badly balanced, with some getting more or better spells than other.

For example, the conjuration school covers all summoning, has numerous useful attack and defense spells, or... you could go with abjuration, which is a one-trick pony of defense, with numerous spells that are redundant, and defensive magical abilities that don't stack with each other. Or you could play a universalist, and fuck you if you do, because you get no bonus spells at all, ha ha. Ha. Ha. Cue cartoon sequence where your head turns into a candy sucker. Also, they get all their specialty powers by 8th level, after which they can prestige class without giving up class abilities at all if they build themselves right.

But in any case, wizards get to turn invisible, see anywhere, teleport, throw fire and lightning, create illusions, mind control people, raise zombies, summon monsters, slay people with a word, turn into a dragon, create gates to other worlds, and, of course, wish for anything they like.

And if they don't like the powers they have, they can just choose other powers from their spellbook.

Or you still could play a fighter and get piddly bonuses to hit and damage. Your call! Pathfinder is all about choice . Granted, some of those choices are ice cream and some are ass cream, but that's part of the challenge of Pathfinder - having to play the mini-game of optimization, and learn which traits are worthwhile and which are worthless.

One Last Word

The thing about Pathfinder classes is that they look balanced to the beginner's eye. That is, let's put the monk progression list and the wizard progression list next to each other.

Which looks more impressive? The monk's, of course. The wizard has a lot of white space where it looks like they're not progressing, when in truth they're leaping and bounding beyond the monk.

Pathfinder is good about the illusion of balance to those that don't analyze the utility and effects of different class abilities. Once you realize spellcasting is broken, or that most feats are shit, though, the whole thing falls apart like a crumbly cookie.

And, honestly, having tons of options is fun! Even sometimes realizing what abilities benefit you and which don't can be fun; there's a sense of discovery, of finding hidden treasure and outwitting the character system.

But it's bad design , and punishes those unwilling to get out the scale and set different options against each other. It was a big leap forward when Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition came out to offer more interesting mechanical options than Advanced Dungeons & Dragons could ever manage, but Pathfinder does very, very little to advance the game it's based on. It rounds off some of the edges, but that's it.

Next: Skills, or what you're stuck using when the spellcasters are napping.


posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Part 5: Skills

"And so, Seelah prepared to penetrate into the soft, wet spaces of the worm."

So. Every character gets skills based on their class. The amount of skills is shown on the list below:

Of course, this is a little deceptive, since Wizards will jump up to "Fun-Size" or "One Scoop" based on their Intelligence attribute. No other class focuses on Intelligence, though many rogue players like to buff up to "Three Scoop Sundae". Of course, humans get more skill points for being human.


Now that we're done with those scientific measurements, I'll note the big change: there are no longer cross-class skills. Anybody can buy any skill, which is a big advantage for the "store sampler" folks, who before had to pay extra for some of the best skills to try and "balance" them. Not anymore! Good news for the fighter, fantastic news for a wizard.

Instead, each class skill you have gets a +3 bonus to rolls with it, and you can't have more ranks in a skill than your level. A much cleaner way to do it, but as mentioned, it devalues skill monkey characters like the rogue somewhat.

This is actually pretty rad.

The skill rolls are otherwise the same, you're rolling attribute modifier + skill ranks and trying to beat a number on d20. You can throw away the d20 if there's no risk of failure and just take a 10 for your roll instead, or 20 if you take 20 times as long to perform your action.

So let's see the skills. A lot of skills have been consolidated to reduce the amount of overall skills, which is good, though multi-focus skills like Knowledge are still massively bloated. But here they are: lot of skills have been consolidated or eliminated.

Old man, cat. (I can't always come up with something.)

On to the march of skills!

A night elf pickpockets an orc.

So! You may be wondering how spellcasters maintain their dominance with so few skills. Well, I did a little exercise to see what spells either replicate or invalidate a major portion of a skill. Let's see:
This is certainly not a complete list, there's undoubtedly some I've missed. There are also numerous more creative uses not covered here - using disintegrate to destroy a trap or lock, use summon monster to help intimidate somebody or as a riding mount, use illusion spells to enhance a bluff attempt, and on.

One-legged spellcasting.

The same principle can be applied to class features, replacing a barbarian's rage with bull's strength and bear's endurance, using bless in place of a bardic performance, etc.

This is the problem that skills run into is that many spells exceed their capabilities without even requiring a roll . Skills are still useful, but they have the unfortunate quality as being a fallback condition when more useful spells aren't available.

Shrinking the skill list was a solid change, but falls into the issue that some skills, like Acrobatics or Perception, benefit hugely from it. In addition, you still have skills like Spellcraft and Knowledge (arcana) that work in very similar fields, but for some odd reason weren't folded together.

So - two steps forward, two steps back.

Next: Grimtooth's Feats, the most cunning traps in roleplaying.


posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Part 6: Feats

Correction: "At point-blank range like this, thanks to the Point-Blank Range feat, he became 5% more likely to hit, so his chance of missing was slightly reduced."

Now, each character still gets feats, which generally provide additional options or a small bonus to a statistic. There's no real thematic or mechanical characteristic for that feats represent, other than the fact you get to choose them every three levels or so. Most characters get ten feats over twenty levels, plus from their class:
One thing that bears noting is that the amount of feats gained has very little effect on a character's power level. A lot of how feats interact with classes has more to do with how existing feats enhance existing class features. Wizards benefit a bunch from the feats they get because they get feats that make their cosmic power even more cosmicker, while fighters start out with very little in terms of class abilities and practically no consquential ones until very late. What's more, feats rarely stack on top of each other very much, and when they do, it's only in mild increments.

Each feat has different prerequisites, which are generally roundabout ways to restrict what level you can choose them at like attack bonus. Which is one way monks and rogues get screwed - they have a lower attack bonus, so they can't select a lot of the combat feats often until they're obsolete. The rogue, thankfully, has enough other benefits to compensate; the monk does not.

Also, some have attribute prerequisites, which present the issue I put forth in the attribute section: roll badly or assign your attributes without enough foresight, and you can't take certain feats. What's worse, many feats have "odd" requirements for attributes like 13 or 15, attribute values that normally have no benefit over a 12 or 14, for example. Some feats also require a certain amount of planning out your level increases from level 1 to obtain before they become obsolete or you literally get locked out of purchasing them. They not only often represent nickel design, but make you bend over backwards for those nickels. What's more, the balance between feats is nonexistent; some give you a +2 bonus on two skills, while another might give you a whole unit of troops and a sidekick.

There are several types of feats; a feat can be more than one type. For example, most critical feats are combat feats as well.
So, time to give you the most notable feats - the worst or more mechanically significant or whatever. Most are just boring, so.

So that's feats. It seems any feat related to combat tends to have much more stringent requirements, while most spellcasting feats have mild requirements at best, when they have them at all. What's more, many warrior feats for fighters, paladins, or rangers requires them to develop additional attributes. A fighter that wants to maximize effectiveness of Whirlwind Attack, one of the higher-tier fighter feats, has to develop Strength (to actually hit), Dexterity, and Intelligence. A wizard that wants Quicken Spell, one of the higher-tier spellcasting feats, needs... Intelligence, to improve his spellcasting, and that's all. Some of the higher-tier warrior feats require attributes of 19 in Dexterity, often a nonessential attribute for them (useful, but not essential). A great cleric feat like Selective Channeling requires Charisma 13, and that's all. Metamagic feats generally have no requirement at all other than level.

It's a mess. It's a system that really needs to be scrapped and rebuilt from scratch, but Pathfinder would never be that daring. Instead, it gimps a wide number of combat feats in the name of "balance", when they were already weaker options in Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 .

Granted, Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 actually advanced fighters by giving them more interesting options like tactical feats, more effective class variants, and finally martial classes. Pathfinder , however, rewinds the clock back to 2003, and then somehow manages to play things even more conservatively for feat design.

Next: Traits - feats' inbred cousin.


posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Bonus post for a short subject...

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Part 6a: Traits

This seems to be a good place to discuss traits. Now, traits you won't find in the corebook - they originally appeared in Paizo's Adventure Paths as feats that tied players closer to their setting. There's a free web supplement for the core that details them, and I'm going to cover it, since every Pathfinder book down the road assumes you know what the hell they are.

What are traits? Well, basically, half-feats that are intended to be flavorful and add background detail to your character. Every character gets two, but they note GMs can choose to give more or less.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game posted:

Trait bonuses do not stack—they’re intended to give you a slight edge over the non-PCs of the world, not a secret backdoor way to focus all your traits on one type of bonus to gain an unseemly advantage over the rules.

Funny, is that why they give a mechanical advantage? And if you're thinking by now "I bet some are better than others..."

... you bet your bippy.

Here's a sampling!

Combat Traits
Faith Traits
Magic Traits
Social Traits
Yep. If anything, traits are even worse in design than feats. Trying to pretend getting a +1 to Heal and getting +1 to your Will save or 5% off the cost of all magic items you make are even close to equivalents is laughable, and to those who think so, I laff in your face with face laffs .

There's also an "Additional Traits" feat added, which gives you two traits, in case you need a secret backdoor way to focus all your traits on one type of bonus.

James Jacobs and F. Wesley Schneider get the blame credit for this web supplement, and we move on.

Next: Equipment - things to kill with and get killed in.


posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Part 7: Equipment

Don't recognize these monsters? Find them in Pathfinder Bestiary... 2!

First, we start with how much money a character gets. Yep, if you wanted to have a fighter with heavy armor? Hope you roll enough gold to purchase it! Granted, they do give the higher gold amounts to characters more likely to use quality weapons and armor, but not enough to buy top-end items.

They go over coins, which are gold, silver, copper, and platinum pieces. 50 coins are one pound. It also gives us an idea of what trade goods are worth. One pound of pepper is as much as one sheep which is as much as one dagger which as much as two hundred sling bullets. A light repeating crossbow will cost you one hundred and twenty five sheeps or twenty five cows.

Fuck adventuring, I've got enough money here to start a farm instead.

Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Livestock

Anyway, it mentions that if you sell stuff to stores, you'll generally gets best price, which means the optimal solution is to have a party member set up their own item store and sell to other suckers adventurers. Capitalism, ho!


Yeah, it's time to talk about weapons! Weapons deal damage, get a critical hit on a 20 (and make a confirmation roll). Weapons have several categories, like simple (nearly anybody can use these), martial (mostly just warrior-style classes), or exotic (you have to pay a feat tax to use these). And there are special weapons like:
Then, it's noted if you're using a weapon in two hands, you get an extra half of your Strength modifier to damage, and if you wield a weapon in your off-hand you only get half your Strength bonus in damage. There's weapon sizes, the net effect of which is if you're playing a halfling or gnome, you get to do less damage.

Then we get a big table of weapons!
Most of the rest are sensible, but as noted, some are clearly just better than others. If you just want the best damage odds, grab a greatsword or composite longbow and have at it.

Also, about using double or paired weapons? It can work, but bear in mind you need a high damage bonus to offset the lack of accuracy (usually though some ability like Rage or Sneak Attack). It also costs you more feats, you need a really high Dexterity, and you have to invest in two magic weapons in the long term, and fuck that, just grab a greatsword already.

There are also Masterwork weapons, which get a +1 to attack rolls. It costs 300 gp for all weapons, so it costs as much for a dagger and a greatsword equally, because Pathfinder sticks with old, dumb rules through thick and thin, dammit.


Now armor gives you Armor Class, which makes it harder for you to be hit, because attacks bounce off, right?

I mean, it makes sense that a mace might do a lot less damage against a hard plate suit, right? Well, let's extremeify that example.

How about a greatsword against padded armor? How about a greatsword that's on fire against padded armor? How about a 20' greatsword wielded by a 100' tall giant where both the giant and the sword are on fire against padded armor? Well, you get an extra 5% (nickel) bonus to defense each time.

Yeah, it's goofy, and I don't care how many fluffy pads you're wearing.

Armor has drawbacks, however. Each has a "maximum dexterity bonus" where if you have a high dexterity, your bonus is capped. So if you were dreaming of being a sword-and-board fighter in full plate, swingin' with your sword and bashin' with your shield, ha ha, you dumb fuck, you fell into a trap.

See, the two-weapon feats require Dexterity, which will be a big expenditure for you to fufill. But your armor will restrict you from ever using that Dexterity effectively. You'll get your shield and sword at the same time, but you'll be punished with hefty penalities.

If that wasn't enough, armor also has armor check penalities that are applied to any Strength or Dexterity-based skills, ranging from -1 (studded leather) to -7 (half-plate).

Each armor also has an arcane spell failure chance. Whenever a wizard or sorcerer uses a spell while in armor, they have to roll a percentage chance or fail. Not a huge deal, they can get better protection via spells.

Lastly, armor can slow you down. Medium or Heavy armor slows you down by 10' if your racial movement is 30' a turn, or 5' if you're part of a slowpoke race that moves at 20'. Dwarves get to ignore this, but as mentioned, they're already slow.

There's masterwork armor that reduces the armor check penalty. There's also adjusted costs for armor by size. Finally, it has the time detailed it takes to put on armor (hint: don't bother if a fight has already started).

It should be noted that armor, if anything, makes you more vulnerable to magic. It doesn't protect you from magic rays, and potentially limits your Dexterity bonuses to defense. So if you want to fight a wizard, don't bother being an armored fighter. Just don't.

Special Materials

There are fancy materials to make weapons and armor out of, which are:
Goods and Services

This is where a all the boring stuff goes that doesn't murder things that scream and bleed. Most of it is pretty standard fantasy RPG stuff and you already know what it does. But here's a few notables:

And that's it for equipment. Was it boring for you? It was boring for me. Oh, and for some reason there are no costs for spell components. One would think there would be, but many components are unpriced, because the game actually encourages you to ignore those costs. Yep, rangers have to count every arrow and rogues have to count every vial of alchemical fire, but wizards are assumed to have whatever they need as long as they have a pouch to carry it in.

Next: Additional Rules - the truth of good, evil, life, death, and encumbrance.

Additional Rules

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Part 8: Additional Rules

Best RPG chapter name ever.


Oh, now Pathfinder is going to teach us about morality. Oh, Pathfinder! Teach us about morality!

Anyway, good creatures protect innocent life, whatever that is. Evil creatures debase and destroy innocent life, whatever that is. Good creatures love live and stuff, evil characters like harming people. Neutral people are basically without any convictions at all, or something.

Lawful characters are honest, trustworthy, obedient, etc., while chaotic characters do what they want. Lawful characters are reliable but also inflexible, chaotic characters do what they want. And so on.

"Welcome to wonder of World of Warcr- what, that's tuesday?
Why didn't you tell me, you stupid imp? Welcome to the wonder of... Pathfinder!"

Anyway you have the nine standard alignments that mix that shit up, from Lawful Good to Chaotic Evil. There are some descriptions and they're passable, or at least as good as these olde-timey definitions ever get. It doesn't really define so much as handwave, in any case.

It notes that generally not to sweat if somebody's playing their alignment or not, but the gamemaster can switch it if they think their alignement switches, but that they should warn the player and talk it over with them first, especially since it can fuck over character types that are dependent on alignment. Reasonable stuff.

Of course, it would help if there were actual rules or guidelines for alignment shifts, but arguments between players and GMs are supposed to hash it all out, I suppose.

Vital Statistics

This covers stuff like height, weight, and age. And yes, elves still reach adulthood by 114-120. I imagine they must potty-train at 15, hit puberty at 68, and somehow still end up only being level 1. Elves are fucking slow .

Same goes for gnomes and dwarves only less so.

They also detail how to figure things like aging and encumbrance. Basic stuff, nothing more to pick on here.


Adventure in the fanciful land of... Tpyge... and see the wonderous... Dimaryps! Man, I feel so creative.

Here is where we suddenly switch modes from character elements to the movement rules. There... was no warning. Suddenly... rules!

It details how overland movement works, that running multiplies your move by 4 unless your heavily encumbered, in which case it's only by 3. In tactical combat, there's also sometimes hampered movement where you're trying to move through tough terrain where your movement is halved.

There's details for how long it takes to move short distances (like around a dungeon) and long distances (like through wilderness). You can do forced marches, there's verrry basic rules for chases, etc.


Here it talks about how lighting works and what penalities you take from darkness, how to damage objects or break down doors... blah blah, nothing really to discuss. The rules work at a basic level, and no doubt get wonky down the advancement road, but I'm not going to linger. It's time for a fight!

Next: Combat - how to TPK your BFFs, OMG.


posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Part 9: Combat

Disappointment results when we learn there's no rules for targeting bad boobplate.

Victory... or death!

Well, that's going to make for some short campaigns if the latter comes up too often. But this isn't the sort of system for those that play magical tea party baby games*!

How Combat Works

There's initiative rolls, determining surprise, resolving the surprise round, start normal rounds... each round is 6 seconds, etc.

Combat Statistics

You have your attack roll, which uses your Strength modifier and attack bonus (for melee) or Dexterity modifier and attack bonus (for ranged). You get your Armor Class, which is 10 + armor & shield bonus + Dexterity modifier. Sometimes you'll be flat-footed (stunned, surprised, stupid) and you don't get to use your Dexterity modifier, and sometimes things like bad touches ignore armor (like a lot of "touch" spells).

There are other bonuses and penalties you'll give from magic or feats or size or whatever. None of these can "stack" if they're bonuses of the same type, except dodge bonuses.

Then there's damage, where you get to add your Strength to a roll of dice dependent on your weapon. There's all sorts of side cases like if you have penalties to damage and don't do any damage you still do 1 nonlethal point instead and damage varies depending on what hand is holding a weapon as mentioned earlier and there's ability damage that can damage your abilities. And so on.

If you hit points hit 0, you're disabled. If they hit -1, you're dying. That's a bizarrely small cusp. And when you reach -Constitution, you die.

There's also attacks of opportunity, where if you rush in or out of somebody's weapon range, they get an attack against you. If you just mosey in or out, you're fine. Some other things also provoke these attacks of opportunity, like casting spells or firing ranged weapons. Each character can only make one attack of opportunity per round, unless you have the Combat Reflexes feat, which allows you to add your Dexterity modifier to the amount of attacks you can make.

Yes it is another example of Dexterity being
necessary for a melee feat-

An example of when attacks of opportunity are triggered. Remember, the use of miniatures in Pathfinder is optional.

Anyway, there is a huge chart detailing when attacks of opportunity happen and when they don't, and visual aids.

Pathfinder's simplified Attacks of Opportunity.

Yeah. Anybody who tells you Pathfinder "cleaned up" Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 , just point them at that page. No thanks are necessary, my misery is a public service.

They go over speed (again), and then we get saving throws. There are three types: Fortitude, which is used against stuff that attacks your body which is not hit point damage, Reflex, which is used to dodge things but is not related to your Armor Class, and Will, which is used to resist mental effects but is not your Concentration check.

Confused yet? Awesome!

Anyway, saving throws are usually done against spells, traps, and certain monster abilities. Why yes, d20 is wonderfully redundant, what with Constitution checks, Hit Points, Fortitude saves, etc.

Actions in Combat

There are different kinds of actions. You can perform one standard, move, and swift action in a turn, or a full-round action and a swift action in a turn, and any number of free actions, or two move actions and a swift and some free actions-

It took me a bit to realize they're supposed to be fighting underwater. (Those rules are later.)

Standard Actions

Here's standard actions you can do. Standard actions are the big, valuable piece of the action economy, like attacks and spells.

An example of movement through difficult terrain. Remember, the use of miniatures in Pathfinder is optional.

Move Actions

These are move actions. But they're not always involving moves, sometimes they're just lesser actions that are less taxing than standard actions. Confusing? Sure.

This is a pretty nice picture.

Full-Round Actions

These are the sort of big deal actions that take your entire turn. Mostly just a means to punish warriors to take multiple attacks.
Free Actions

These are miscellaneous actions that barely take any effort.
Swift Action

Like a free action, but you can only do one a round.
Immediate Actions

There really aren't too many of these, they take up your swift action on your turn. Feather fall , a spell, is the only example they give.

Miscellaneous Actions

As if this wasn't complex enough, here are some special cases!
Injury and Death

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game posted:

What Hit Points Represent: Hit points mean two things in the game world: the ability to take physical punishment and keep going, and the ability to turn a serious blow into a less serious one.

But as you go up in level, it takes more healing to heal you, which means the less serious injuries are actually more serious or something and hit points still make as much sense as a mace of sharpness .

Also if you take 50 points of damage or half your HP on a single attack, whichever is more, you have to make a Fortitude save OR DIE.

If you're at 0 HP, you're disabled and can only take one standard action before doing into dying. If you're dying, you lose 1 hp a turn until you stabilize. You get to make a easy Constitution roll each turn to try and stabilize. Healing and Heal checks can stabilize you as well.

You heal 1 hit point per character level. Yes, that means tuff characters with more HP per level (like barbarians and fighters) effectively take longer to recover and heal than weak-bodied wizards or sorcerers. They also require more magical healing. This makes no sense, but Pathfinder is bad at math, as we're well aware by this point.

There's also nonlethal damage, but who cares? I want to see blood, you sissies!

Movement, Position, and Distance

It goes over the basics of movement (again) - encumbrance, hampered movement, movement actions, etc. Every square on a combat map equals 5'.

You can't move through an enemy square while they're up and about without making an Acrobatics check to cartwheel past them.

There's difficult terrain that slows you down, and obstacles that slow you down more. Flying and incorporeal creatures ignore this, of course.

Big and Little Creatures in Combat

Really small creatures can stuff into a square with other creatures. Really big creatures take up multiple squares. basic stuff. They get certain penalties and bonuses based on size, etc.

Combat Modifiers

Cover gives you a bonus to Armor Class, sensibly enough. Concealment, though, gives a random miss chance. Yes, a 20th level fighter and a 1st level fighter get an equal chance to whiff an unseen foe. Which is dumb, but that's how they do.

An example of the cover mechanics. Remember, the use of miniatures in Pathfinder is optional.

You can flank foes by having two people on opposite sides. This gives a bonus to hit and let rogues get their Sneak Attack on. It's the main way rogues will get their Sneak Attack on.

An example of flanking. Remember, the use of miniatures in Pathfinder is optional.

Special Attacks

These are different moves you can do in fights:

I can count 18 dice rolls required to make this scene happen. Can you find more?

Like Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 , several options here provoke attacks of opportunity, requiring you to take feats like Improved Disarm to perform them without getting shivved. Though the unified mechanic is nice, requiring a feat for each has something of a chilling effect. Putting risk on a lot of these moves makes people less likely to use them. And putting a feat tax on them actually makes them less likely to take a feat just to use them, when it would be simpler just to take feats that improve damage-dealing capabilities or class features. Worse yet, if you want to perform a combat maneuver without being strength-focused, guess what? There's a feat tax if you want to use dexterity instead.

In short, they potentially make combat a lot more boring, and I think it's the wrong move to make.

Now, to be fair, those who focus on a given maneuver will be a lot more effective than they were in Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 . The odds of actually succeeding for a focused and skilled combatant shake out better, though you still run into the problem where as you go up in levels - and face bigger monsters and greater spellcasters - the less effective it gets. This is either due to the creatures you face being too strong or big to effect reliably, or having magical or supernatural effects that allow them absolute immunity to your tactic.

I believe her proportions indicate the aberration creature type.

Special Initiative Actions

Oh yes, we're not done with special edge cases for actions.
And that's most of the fightin' rules, aside from special terrain conditions or... magic....

Next: Fuck me, it's magic.

* Yes, I am referring to Woof Meow .


posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Part 9a: Grappling

I didn't run across the material I'm going to include here before the post I made on combat today, which is too bad, because it totally deserves inclusion. So I'm putting it here. See, I write ahead on these FATAL & Friends writeups, way ahead in Pathfinder's case, which is what allows me to post every day. Right now, I've already started on work for the next book I'm doing, which required me to look up the grapple rules to refresh myself on something. Instead of turning to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game , though, I turned to the Pathfinder System Reference Document , since that's easier to dig through for some things.

And well. I mentioned that they simplified grappling. And that's a bit of a misnomer, because more importantly, they just phrased it better for the most part and cleaned up the language. It's still complicated. How complicated?

Well, I found this chart on the SRD that sums up the grappling rules for those who find themselves puzzled.

I have nothing more to add.

Next: Magic... for real, this time. Fffffufufuuuuuuuuuu-


posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Part 10: Magic

Yep, the spellcasters do the heavy lifting even in the flavor fiction.

Erik Mona, Head Publisher at Paizo posted:

[Vancian magic] anchors the game to the pulp fantasy traditions that inspired it in the first place. After three decades of presenting magic in this way, it seems ludicrous to all of a sudden say that it no longer exists. You can build other systems of arcane jiggery-pokery without sacrificing this core fantastic element of the game, so why bother?

The more you cut the ties the game has to the pulp fantasy traditions that inspired it, the less it begins to resemble itself. It's part of the lingua franca of the game, and it has been since the very beginning. It is a feature, not a flaw.

Getting rid of Vancian spellcasting for the Pathfinder RPG was never on the table. It would be as preposterous as scrapping the alignment system. It was Not Going to Happen.

I'm preparing to curse at Erik Mona. A curse on you, Erik Mona. I have cast my curse.

Fuck him and his grog cronies for keeping this overcomplicated mess of a system intact like a memetic filth to infect future gamers just because it Came Before. Kill it. Kill it with fire.

Am I overreacting? Yes. Still. It's a mess.

Casting Spells

First, you choose a spell to cast. This may be a spell you've prepared, or, if you're a bard or sorcerer, a spell of your choosing from your list. You have to be able to produce all components, like somatic (handwaves), verbal (blabbin'), and material (eye of newt). You can't cast it again before taking a nice eight hour nap.

Yep. Once you're out, you're largely useless until you can have some warm milk and naptime.

Then, you have to be able to concentrate. The formula for a concentration check is:

1d20 + Spellcasting attribute modifer + caster level

You have get injured, you have to make a concentration check. Doesn't happen very often. Generally, other people have to ready an attack to do so, or you have to be taking continuous damage like acid rain, or you have to be casting one of the few spells that takes a long time. You also have to make a check if you get nailed with a Bad Spell during casting. If you're being grappled, you can't cast any spell with somatic components or material components you don't have in had, it requires a concentration check. Same if you're suffering vigorous or violent motion like an earthquake or storm. Trying to cast while entangled also requires a concentration check.

You can also cast defensively to avoid getting stabbed while casting a spell. If you fail, you lose the spell, but don't get nailed with an attack of opportunity.


Anachronistically tacky.


If you ready yourself for countermagic, and you make a spellcraft check to identify a spell being cast, and you have the exact spell being cast prepared, and you successfully cast it, you can automatically negate another spellcaster's spell.

You can also use dispel magic in place of a spell. This only gives you a certain chance of success, though.

How's that for arcane rules! Get it? Arcane?

Caster Level

A lot of spells level with you. This is a big advantage casters get, that they automatically get bonuses to range, area, damage, effect, etc., based on your level.

Spell Failure

This mainly comes up if you're wearing armor, as mentioned before. I wonder what sort of combat manuever it is to throw a chain shirt on a spellcaster?

The Spell's Result

And once all of the above is figured, yay! You can figure out what effect the spell has.

Boobplate. Again.

Special Spell Effects

Some spells use other special rules!
Combining Magic Effects

You can stack spells with different bonuses together. If you have the same spell cast repeatedly, the highest-strength version applies and the last spell's result applies. If two people are trying to control the same creature and have contradictory commands, they must make opposed Charisma checks to see who wins out.

Spell Descriptions

Spells have a formulae through which they are described. There's a name, and:

Every spell has a magic school, which mostly just matters to sorcerers and wizards, who have abilities that give them bonuses or penalities with certain schools.

Next, spells get descriptors (evil, fire, mind-affecting), which can affect certain abilities that interact with spells with those descriptions.

Spells have a level between 0 and 9, which you cross-reference with a table under your class to see what spells you can cast at what level. Why not just use the caster level instead of having a specific spell level? Because that's the way Dungeons & Dragons did it in previous editions and making things easier to use is less important than that.

Components describes what spell components are needed-

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game posted:

Usually you don’t need to worry about components, but when you can’t use a component for some reason or when a material or focus component is expensive, then the components are important.

Oh, maybe not. See, warriors need to track and pay for every arrow they shoot, pay for expensive armor, pay for expensive alchemical items, possibly get their weapons or armor damaged by spells or rust monsters, but spellcasters? Oh, they get their items handwaved, unless they're captured and stripped or if their material cost is an expensive penalty cost.

Because fuck fighters . Also, if you don't need to track them, why are they there in the first place?

Because mindless adherence to tradition is awesome.

There are also focuses and divine focuses, which are basically components that can be reused.

There are several ranges for spells, from personal (only affects you), to touch (requires you to poke as mentioned under combat), and then close, medium, long, or unlimited. If a spell has a target, you have to be able to see it, unless the spell says otherwise. Then there are some special effects to detail:
There are four types of area effect as well:
And there's Line of Effect, which can target anybody you could say, target with a bow.

Spell blast templates. But remember, the use of miniatures in Pathfinder is option- *snort*, okay, can't say it with a straight face anymore.

Spells have duration. Some have timed durations, others are instantaneous, others are permanent, some require concentration (which takes a standard action each round) to maintain, and there's other funky stuff, like spells that last forever until discharged.

Some spells have a saving throw to reduce or cancel their effects. The formula is:

DC 10 + spellcasting attribute modifier + spell level

You can voluntarily accept a spell. There are a lot of special cases here, blah blah blah.

Armor and shield doesn't protect you against spells, because fuck fighters. You thought you could use your magic shield and block the party from that fireball ? Ha ha, fuck you, you burn as easily in plate armor as you do in padded.

Some creatures have spell resistance, where the caster has to make a caster level check to overcome their # of spell resistance. The formula is:

1d20 + caster level

This ability exists because saves are complicated and sometimes you don't get them so they came with an entirely separate mechanic rather than clean up the saving throw rules because-

- Pathfinder is bad at rules.

Arcane Spell

I'm not done yet? But... but...


Arcane spells are the sorts of spells cast by wizards, sorcerers, and bards. Each gets a number of spell slots of each spell level. You can put lower-level spells in a spell slot than its spell level, but not vice versa. If for some reason you can't cast spells of a certain level (your character was built really badly) you can fill the higher-level slots with the highest level you can cast instead.

Why limit spellcasting by attribute, when Dungeons & Dragons didn't do it in older editions before 3.5? Copy / paste, really. Oh, and for the record, sorcerer and bard spellcasting is controlled by how likeable they are. I'm not sure how that works either. Maybe magic is just really shallow and vain?

Wizards have to sleep for eight hours and prepare for one hour. I imagine this makes a lot of career wizards nap-happy. Wizards also need their spellbook, unless they have the Spell Mastery feat, that lets them prep spells without a spellbook.

Unfamiliar scrolls and spellbooks require a Spellcraft check to decipher, or you can just cast read magic , which is a 0-level spell, and fuck Spellcraft. A wizard using a borrowed spellbook has to make a roll for every spell they can cast from it. This can be dozens of rolls at higher levels. Enjoy bogging the game down!

Now time for wizards to break the game over their knee. See, wizards get two extra spells in their spellbook every level. Or, they can copy spells from scrolls or spellbooks. Or they can just research a spell they don't have access to and create that, or even create their own spells (there are rules for doing this, but no guidelines on creating spells like I win or defenestrate fighter .

A spellbook has limited space, but you can have multiple spellbooks, so that's not an issue. Writing books into a spellbook costs gold and hours, but it's generally just a token gold cost for your level.

Sorcerers and bards don't have to futz around with spellbooks, but only gain spells by leveling up. They only require 15 minutes of preparation after their 8 hour sleep. Yay, only 8 hours and 15 minutes instead of 9 hours!

"You'd have a sour expression like mine too if you'd drilled gems into your skull!"

Divine Spells

Divine spellcasters (rangers, paladins, druids, clerics) prep their spells like wizards, only they don't have a spellbook, they just take whatever spells they need off their spell list. Yes, this results in any supplement you use with divine spells directly boosting the versatility (and likely power level) of divine casters, because they just prep any damn spell they like.

Also, they don't need a nap, they just need a particular time of day to prep and regain spells. You have to prep right then, even if it's fightin' time, and if you oversleep or forget, no spells for you. Prepping takes an hour, and any spells you cast in the last eight hours cast against the amount of spells you can prep.

There are divine magical writings, which Knowledge (divine) won't help you with, you still need Spellcraft.

If being able to cast any spell from your class list wasn't enough, divine casters can research and create new spells just like wizards do.

Special Abilities

There are spell-like abilities, which are like spells, but don't require components or focuses, even if the spell usually does. They can be cast in armor, and can't be counterspelled. It doesn't say explicitly if they require concentration checks when necessary.

There are also supernatural abilities, which are affected by stuff that messes with magic, but don't resemble spells.

There are extraordinary abilities, which are like supernatural abilities, but are not supernatural, and there's natural abilities, which are like extraordinary abilities, but come from a creature's "physical nature", like poop.

Next: See that shadow blotting out the sun? That's the spell section.


posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Part 11: Spells

Note the fighter in the background just getting dragged off.

I just want to cover a interesting set of numbers first:
Just in case you forgot what this game is really about. The spells section - not even including magic - is about as long as the entire character creation section.

Why don't barbarians, rogues, and fighters get 100+ pages of combat feats? Why don't they get rules on being able to train and spend GP to expand their feats known like wizards and clerics do for spells?

I'm sure you can work out your own answers at this point.

I'm going to look at each class and pick out some choice spells for each. Going through the 400 or 500 spells or so that are in here would be a bit more insane than even I'm willing to tackle.

Magically delicious?

Bard Spells

Bards get a mix of enchantment, illusion, and healing, largely. Their progression is unique to them; no other class in the core gets a middle-of-the-road progression like they do. But that defines bards pretty well: good at many things, great at nothing.

1st Level
2nd Level
3rd Level
4th Level
5th Level
6th Level
And that's just a taste of what bards get access to, and their spell list is supposed to be one fo the weaker ones. Yeesh.

"Welcome to our scenic burial cham- ow! Ow! What the hell?!"

Cleric Spells

Clerics start out getting mostly support, healing, and alignment-oriented spells, but later on they get much broader, random effects. They have probably the second strongest spell list in the game, behind wizards and sorcerers.

1st Level
2nd Level
3rd Level
4th Level
5th Level
6th Level
7th Level
8th Level
9th Level:

Yes, they can wreck castles single-handed.

Druid Spells

Druids mostly focus on nature crap - spells relating to animals, plants, healing, and eventually some elemental effects. They're not as flexible as clerics, but still have a pretty strong spell list.
1st Level
2nd Level
3rd Level
4th Level
5th Level
6th Level
7th Level
8th Level
9th Level

Paladin Spells

Paladins have a lot of redundancy - they basically get some protection, healing, and some buffs - but a lot of their high level spells resemble stronger versions of their low-level spells. What's more, there's redundancy with their "lay on hands" ability, so they don't have the most compelling list, but it's still got definite strengths. It's just fairly narrow.

1st Level
2nd Level
3rd Level
4th Level

Ranger Spells

The ranger spell list, on the other hand, is mostly just boring. It's basically the druid, only less so. Healing, animal, plant stuff, still relatively potent, but with a lot of niche spells that makes this one of the weaker spell lists.

1st Level
2nd Level
3rd Level
4th Level

Seriously, they commissioned this art, and somebody was like 'that'll do'.

Sorcerer Spells

Time to get into some of the strongest spell lists in the game. Sorcerers and wizards use the same spell list (mostly; wizards get a few extra spells only they can cast), but I've divided them up to conquer the huge, sprawling list that they represent. What do they do? Well, just about anything except heal, since the cleric gets niche protection. Not sure why they bother, really.

That last sentence is spoken with a tired English accent. Very, very tired.

1st Level
2nd Level
3rd Level
4th Level
5th Level
6th Level
7th Level
8th Level
9th Level


Wizard Spells

Like sorcerers, only more flexible, but can't cast quite so many spells in a day. Therefore, they get extra spells that... let them cast more spells. Sounds like cheating, doesn't it? Well, cheating is what wizards is.

1st Level
2nd Level
3rd Level
4th Level
5th Level
6th Level
7th Level
8th Level
9th Level

No means no.

Now, to be clear, Pathfinder does nerf some problem spells. The issue is that keyword, "some". A lot of unbalanced spells - and the overall unbalanced nature of the spell system - remains unchanged. So spellcasters take a hit, but it's not like it changes the issues spellcasting presents in the game. After all, there are still a lot of unbalanced spells to pick from. It mainly just changes the priorities of spellcasters when maximizing.

Also: note to mage armor, mage hand, mage's disjunction, mage's faithful hound, mage's lucubration, mage's magnificent mansion, mage's private sanctum, mage's sword, magic aura, magic circle, magic fang, magic jar, magic missle, magic mouth, magic stone, magic vestment, and magic weapon: cut it out. Mage, mage's, and magic are all redundant adjectives for a spell. We know spells are magic. Thank you.

Next: Prestige classes, also known as "character minimization".

Prestige Classes

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Part 12: Prestige Classes

Wouldn't it be cool if you could do that move in the flavor text? Maybe some other game has rules for it.

Prestige classes, for those that have been hiding in a rubbish bin for a decade, are classes with special requirements you can generally only enter after five levels (at the very least) of a regular class. Why? Because. That is why.

Generally they have specific race, feat, bonus, or spell requirements. This means if you want one you have to decide very early, because some of the requirements are pretty complex.

Their inclusion here is particularly odd because for the most part Pathfinder doesn't add nearly as many prestige classes as Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 had. Their existence in here is generally superfluous, wasted space, that would have been much better giving the fighter some more feats, more DM advice or tools, or even *gasp* some sample monsters to make this a complete game.

Arcane Archer

Did you know: elf ears also function as weathervanes?

Basically, this lets you be a magic archer that shoots magic arrows. Can I just say this is crap and be done with it? I suppose you want to hear why, don't you? Let's tell you why it's crap.

First, it requires you to be an elf or half-elf. It's the only prestige class in the book with a race requirement, since they ditched the dwarven defender from Dungeons & Dragons 3.5] . So it's not like there are any other races that get unique classes. Why they kept the racial requirement is puzzling; it's inane with the amount of other requirements.

Second, it requires an attack bonus of +6 and to be able to cast 1st level spells. That means you have to take a level of sorcerer or wizard (a single level of which will give no attack bonus) and then six levels of a fighting class. That means you have to be at least 7th level to enter this class.

It grants spellcasting, but it's a joke, since it makes you give up three levels of spellcasting. If you enter in the quickest way - around 6 levels of fighter and 1 level of wizard - by level 17 you'll be 8 caster levels behind any caster. If you wait through 14 levels of wizard, you can enter, but you'll lose 2 caster levels by level 20. Really not worth it, since spellcasting is better than any amount of arrow-shooting. Either way, to meet the spellcasting requirement means sacrificing attack bonus, which makes you a notably worse archer than any straightforward archer. Hell, you'll never get a fourth attack without feats.

It lets you enhance your arrows as magic items, but fuck - by the time you get the level for those arrows, you'll have the means to buy, find, or craft them anyway. So it's convenient, but redundant. And no, if you have a magic bow, it doesn't stack with this ability. The main advantage is being able to adapt to enemy weaknesses, but that's something a pure spellcaster can already do better.

It lets you put area spells on arrows and shoot them, but hell, most area spells you want to throw around already have range and don't have a miss chance. You can shoot arrows that ignore cover and concealment, which is nice but probably not that create for limited-use abilities over 10th level. About the only saving grace of the class is the ability to create arrows with a decent saving throw DC that are save-or-die arrows. But once again, spellcasters will have much better save-or-die effects at the same level (like the aforementioned mass murder of weird ). Also, the save-or-die effect is restricted to creatures of 100 hp or less.

As a wise mollusk once said, it's a trap.

Arcane Trickster

Yes, put the belt-strap right between your breasts. Just like that.

Basically a mix of spellcasting and thievery. But once again, it's a spellcasting class that makes you give up spellcasting levels. In this case, it requires you to be able to cast 2nd level arcane spells and sneak attack of +2d6. That means, for example, you'd have to be at least a 3rd level rogue and 3rd level wizard. So you can't enter it until 6th level, and any spellcaster that takes it is at least three spellcaster levels behind, which leaves them a full spell level or two behind any equivalent caster. So what do they get?

Well, it's better than the arcane archer, at least. They get to do minor telekinesis to use Disable Device or Sleight of Hand up to 30 feet. They get sneak attack damage like a rogue, the ability to declare somebody flat-footed once or twice a day (no save), cast a few spells each day without talking or waving their hands, free invisibility, and finally they get to apply their sneak attack damage when it applies with spells.

It's bad, but a creative player could have fun with this one - in addition to the spellcaster levels, both sorcerer and wizard will be losing feats and other class features. Ultimately it's a fun concept, but requires you to get hit repeatedly in the optimization gut to go with it.


"Remember, the key to being an assassin is subtlety." [

Like it says on the tin, you murder people for $$$. It's basically like a rogue but murders people better. It has the pathetic requirements of Disguise at 2 ranks, Stealth at 3 ranks, and having to kill somebody to become an assassin (it doesn't mention if there's a guild you join, or what, so it doesn't make any sense). It also requires an evil alignment for some reason, it's not rogues, fighters, barbarians, rangers, monks, and paladins aren't all geared up and trained to murder people. It says "... the nature of their duties inevitably pushes them toward an evil alignment.", but that doesn't make any sense, because the class isn't associated with an organization or code of honor or faith that might require any duties at all.

You give up most of the skill ranks a rogue gets, and instead get some more killy abilities. You get an save-or-die attack if you charge up for 3 rounds and unleash a sneak attack against a target, though the save DC is pretty middling (and reliant on Intelligence, for some inane reason). They get to use poisons, hide weapons, make it harder for their targets to be magically raised, and some Stealth enhancements. At higher levels, they can use their death attack once a day without waiting.

Ironically, though, their attack bonus is only middling. What's more, they miss out on the tremendous bonus of rogue talents, which are generally way better than the abilities they get, and also take a hit on skills. What's more, their key ability - the death attack - is reliant on Intelligence, an ability with no direct worth in combat.

This whole class would have been a lot simpler if you just took the more worthwhile abilities and folded them into the rogue's talent array. It's just a mess on its own.

Dragon Disciple

"This isn't actually magic and damn it fucking hurts!"

A prestige class for sorcerers that want to turn into real dragons when they grow up. Crap, and here's why.

They lose out on three levels of spellcasting, and instead get a bunch of bonuses to armor, Strength, Constitution, Intelligence, wings, blindsense, a breath weapon -

- but ultimately nothing that helps them with spellcasting.

You get the ability to cast form of the dragon spells... later than you normally would. Furthermore, the class never grants the most powerful one, form of the dragon iii , and in face, delays you until 20th level to get it, where normally you would get it at 17th level.

It might be useful for a spellcaster that wants a barbarian-equivalent hit die and a much greater ability to withstand damage, but generally there are much better things for a sorcerer to focus on than trying to be an amazingly shitty tank.


Actually pretty bad at duels.

This is for buckling swash. It requires an attack bonus of +6, so you'll need to be at least 6th level to enter it. But what do they get?

Well, enhanced damage, but only when using low-damage fencing weapons. They get enhanced defense, but can't use medium or heavy armor, or use shields. The problem here is obvious; the bonuses only really cover what they're giving up.

They get bonuses on initiative, on Reflex saving throws... they get the ability to try and parry incoming melee attacks, but only if they give up attacks to do so. Later on, they at least get the ability to opportunity attack any foe they parry, but it seems like a pretty swingy ability, since it's dependent on succeeding at two attack rolls in a row. They get some defense bonuses when avoiding certain opportunity attacks, the ability to charge over difficult terrain, and so on.

The final ability is the only really decent one, as it lets them penalize foes on a critical hit... which is something a fighter can do with critical feats, anyway - the duellist just gets more flexibility.

It's really a dog of a prestige class, and only really starts to shine at the very end. It's too back-loaded, with all the early powers mostly being apology abilities for what you have to sacrifice to take the class. The rogue makes a better swashbuckler - they get more skill points to flip around and charm people, more damage when they land a hit, and rogue talents that are even better for reducing damage. If you're looking to just deal damage and move around the battlefield, the fighter is still better for that, and the fighter is crap.

In other words, just like the prestige classes for spellcasters, players wanting to take this class will take a hit - but melee fighters are already starting from a low bar to begin with, and this class does nothing to help.

Eldritch Knight

Elric's awkward teenage years.

This is a spellcaster that's practiced in fightin'. Like the arcane archer or the dragon disciple, though, the issue is one of lost spellcaster levels. The eldritch knight, thankfully, only loses two spellcaster levels - one level to having to take single level of a martial class, and is forced to lose another upon taking the first level of the class. The requirements - 3rd level spellcasting and martial weapon proficiencies - restrict this to 6th level spellcasters.

What does the eldritch knight get? A better attack bonus, a better hit die, three combat feats, and the ability to cast a bonus spell upon getting a critical hit. Oh, and armor? The eldritch knight gets no actual ability with armor. They still have to dump feat slots on that. Yeah. Unarmored frontline combatant. Good luck with that.

It's not the worst choice, but Pathfinder punishes not being specialized. An eldritch knight will never have the class abilities, attack bonus, or feats to shine in melee combat, and will lag behind other spellcasters. It's definitely a notch down for any spellcaster that takes this path, but it's not as severely punishing as most of the others we've seen.

Yes, that is damning with faint praise, for the record.


Dwarves make lousy wizards, but don't tell him that. It'll break his heart.

This is about the only truly beneficial prestige class in the book. It's largely for wizards, since it benefits spellcasting and intelligence, and requires metamagic or item creation feats (which wizards get as bonus feats), though other spellcasters can take it to lesser benefit. The skill requirements mean you have to be 7th level to enter this class, but a good wizard will wait until 8th level, get their final specialist ability, and then enter.

"Most loremasters cannot be bothered with distracting and pointless philosophies such as ethics, and so tend to be neutral, neutral good, or neutral evil." Oh. I'm not sure the author understands the word "ethics".

Loremasters get bonuses on Spellcraft, Knowledge, and bonus languages, and their apex ability is to cast legend lore (with greatly reduced casting time) or analyze dweomer] . They also get the Secrets ability, which lets them boost bonuses or get bonus feats or spells, depending on their Intelligence modifier and level. And, unlike previous spellcasting prestige classes, don't have to give up any spellcasting ability.

What do wizards give up? If they have a bonded item, nothing. It's a net gain. If they have a bonded familiar instead, they lose on on some of the familiar's modest benefits later on (increased Intelligence, natural armor, spell resistance, or the ability to scry on the familiar).

It's telling of Pathfinder's design philosophy that the arguably most powerful class - the wizard - gets the most beneficial and synergistic prestige class. There is no emoticon for a raspberry sound but I am making one as I write this, for the record.


Mystic Theurge

Aim for the spellbook. You can't miss it.

Want both divine and arcane spellcasting? You've come to the right place! A mystic theurge needs 2nd level arcane and divine spellcasting, meaning they have to be 6th level to enter this class.

The mystic theurge advances in the arcane and divine spellcasting paths, and gets the ability to swap their spell slots between the two. At top level, they can cast two spells - one from each casting type - and gets an additional bonus to affect the target if they're targeted with both spells.

At first blush this class looks ridiculous, but the issue is both classes advance three levels behind. So ultimately, the mystic theurge takes a hit in power level, but of any of the sacrifices we've seen - wizard/rogue (arcane trickster), sorcerer/dragon (dragon disciple), wizard/fighter (eldritch knight), this is the most worthwhile, since the mystic theurge gets increased staying power and flexibility compared to a single-class spellcaster. Ultimately I'd say they're weaker than a straight wizard or cleric, but if you're going to make the sacrifice to multiclass as a spellcaster, this is perhaps the only worthwhile sacrifice to make.

Pathfinder Chronicler

What's important in a character design is that it be overloaded with accessories.

This is the only truly new class in the book, and lets you thrill to the challenge of being a fantasy... historian. The skill ranks restrict it to 5th level or higher.

There's no clear entry point for the chronicler, but it's mildly oriented towards bards. It's the only class other than rogue to get the best skill progression. So, what do they get?

They get bardic knowledge, which stacks with the bard ability if you already. They also get bardic performance. And then this whole shit goes off the rails, trainwrecks, and kills all of its passengers stone dead when you see it gets no spellcasting ability. None. Zero. You're giving up the bard's most potent ability, so what do you get out of it?

Well, more skill ranks, but the pathfinder chronicler does have some interesting ability, at least. They get the ability to produce low-cost items out of their utility belt, effectively. They get to inscribe tales that boost the reader with their bardic performance. They can cast doom from afar or otherwise denounce targets and thusly get some social-shifting abilities. They can summon barbarian spirits to help them fight. They get language, navigation, and saving throw bonuses.

They sound kind of fun, but ultimately there's not much here worth the sacrifice. At the very least, they're different , not much being a melange or variant class, which I'll laud. But any bard that takes this has to give up the bard's biggest advantage to do so, and that's just not worth it.


The problem is that the arm has to stay there to keep the boobs from popping out.

This is a spooky class for rogues that basically gives them power over darkness and shadows. The description mentions spellcasters taking this class, but given it provides no casting ability, those are some pretty dense spellcasters.

They get some abilities to hide, evade 'splosions, see in the dark, and dodge around. They get some rogue talents, but not as many or as good as a rogue gets. They can create minor illusions, a limited shadow teleport, minor conjuration or evocation via shadows...

Their first weirder ability is to summon a shadow to help them, though you'll need the Pathfinder Bestiary to get the stats for one - apparently they just couldn't find the room in a 576-page book to slip it in. In addition, they get tremendous defense bonuses while in darkness when they hit their apex, getting Damage Resistance 10 (no weak spot), a bonus on saving throws, and blinding folks they critically hit.

Ultimately this would be perhaps the most even of the prestige classes... if they had sneak attack. As it is, rogues get a lot worse at fighting by taking this - better at tricking, maybe, but they lose their biggest combat advantage to do it. Fighting classes that jump into this lose out on their attack bonus. It's a trap, but it's at least an interesting and flexible trap.

No More

And that's all for prestige classes! As you can see, unlike Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, Pathfinder really encourages people to stick with their base class... by beating them in the skull with the nerf bat if they dare take a prestige class. I started out saying this was wasted space, and rereading it only confirms that. Pathfinder only seems to be keeping Prestige Classes out of tradition, but clearly doesn't know what to do with them design-wise.

What's more, most of the prestige classes mainly just are aimed at giving options to spellcasters, especially arcane spellcasters. Arcane archer, arcane trickster, dragon disciple, elritch knight, and mystic theurge only reward sorcerers and wizards. Any spellcaster can enter loremaster but it's ultimately intended for wizards, as it requires Intelligence. Duelist is the only pure fighting prestige class, assassin and shadowdancer are for rogues, and bards have the pathfinder chronicler. Barbarians, druids, monks, paladins, and rangers won't find a whole lot to like here. You'd think after just going through over 160 pages of rules on magic and spells they'd throw their mundane classes a bone and give them some toys to play with, but no. Pathfinder doesn't really give them a second thought.

Next: Gamemastering, also, buy our stuff.


posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Part 13: Gamemastering

"Don't take a picture yet, my tongue isn't all the way out!"

First it starts with the roles of the game master in an attempt to define it.

Starting a Campaign

It points out that you'll have to prepare when running a game, either making a "sandbox" for PCs to explore or crafting adventures. It emphasizes note-taking and consistency, etc.

Published Adventures

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game posted:

Published adventures are your friend. As a Game Master, you’re going to be spending a lot of time as it is preparing for games—and when you don’t have time to come up with an adventure, a published adventure can be a godsend.

This is the sort of advice you get from a company that got their start in selling adventures. It points out that adventures should be adapted to your group, and that they offer a large variety of published adventures, of course, in exchange for money. It's not bad advice, but it's flavored with the sort of glowing adjectives one would expect from a salesman.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game posted:

To learn more about these valuable GM resources, please visit .


Building an Adventure

It points out you can do full write-ups for adventures, but generaly that you only need to do an outline, maps, encounters, stats, etc.

Also, that you're not writing a story, even though they said your first role is as storyteller. The point they're trying to make is that the story is defined by the players, but it's a bit confusing. Anyway, they point out three elements to include:

Stat Blocks: It points out it's best to prepare these in advance. Of course, to find out what a statblock looks like, it refers us to the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary .

Designing Encounters: This is how you go about designing conflicts to challenge the PCs. First, you determine the APL (average party level) and then the CR (challenge rating) and the the BTE (build the encounter) which determines the XPB (XP budget) for monsters, traps, and hazards. I may have made up some of those later initialisms but you get the idea. NPCs who aren't straight monsters have CR of their class -1. It notes all sorts of ways to adjust CR and really it's much ado about nothing.

As we've seen, a party made up of a wizard, paladin, cleric, and rogue will have potentially better chances to face off against challenges than a party made up of a monk, ranger, fighter, and sorcerer. What's more, good skill or feat choices could adjust that as well. Also, there's magic items to be considered - CR assumes characters will have a certain $$$ amount of magic items, but a wand of fireballs will be more useful in combat than a crystal ball , but the latter is worth more towards the PC's value of magic items.

And if you want to see how broken the CR system is in the first place, a 12th level commoner is considered CR 10, or able to face off against aforementioned wizard, cleric, paladin, and rogue at level 10. For the record, the commoner has a horrible hit die, horrible skills, bad attack and saving throws. They'll have 25 hit points, which most of those classes will be able to remove in a single attack by that point, unless they don't have at least basic optimization (like a wizard with no attack spells or a paladin with a Charisma of 10 or lower). This is considered to be the same challenge rating as a fire giant or an adult white dragon, for the record. A 20th-level commoner would be CR 18, and considered the same as a fight with a kraken or ancient blue dragon, even though they'd effectively fight like a 10th level fighter, have the hit points of a 10th level cleric, no class features, and little in the way of useful skills or combat proficiencies.

Awarding Experience: Basically you figure this bullshit CR number against the APL and then figure that on a table with the number of characters in the party and then that gives you an XP value of each encounter.

In case you're wondering, the amount of encounters for the PC to gain a level, presuming a four-person party facing challenge ratings at their level, is roughly 20 encounters to gain a level. If we kick things up to "fast" progression, that goes up to to a level about every 13 enounters. Roleplaying challenges - that is, significant skill bits and roleplaying bits where the PCs accomplish a thing - are worth one encounter of their CR. When you finish an adventure, you might get two such encounters in XP as a bonus.

That means for medium progression, getting four encounters a week, a group will take about a year to hit 10th level, and two years to hit 20th level. Clearly, Pathfinder asks for some serious dedication of your group. Of course, this is definitely how Pathfinder really hooks players - by requiring a high level of dedication and time, it encourages a long-term association with the game and the purchase of supplements, adventures, etc. Furthermore, people are more likely to associate themselves with the game when they've dedicated a lot of money, time, or brainpower to it, and will be a lot more likely to defend their choice irrationally after the fact.

I don't think it's deliberate, but it's part of the Dungeons & Dragons formula, and one Pathfinder follows lavishly.

Placing Treasure: Okay, so you're got your CR, and that lets you know how much $$$ your group gets for each encounter. In addition, there's a "player wealth by level" for assigning magic equipment to PCs after 1st level. The player wealth by level is less than the normal gain of items, and presumably is so to account for one-shot expenditures of various sorts.

It also mentions that characters starting with additional wealth shouldn't spend more than:
"What about sorcerers?", you ask, "Since some of them get lasers they can fire whenever, what do they need magic weapons for? And druids, do they really benefit from-"

Fuck you, these are the rules.

It also mentions that humanoid enemies generally give more magic items because they get magic gear depending on your level. It suggests you then have the PCs fight some monsters with little or no treasure.

In short, it's a horrible balancing act the GM has to maintain, keeping treasure and XP at equal pace, lest the game break. If only there were some system that tied XP and treasure together...

Building a Treasure Hoard: What's more, the GM is supposed to make sure the treasure hoard is flavorful and include coins, gems, artwork, jewelry, and gear because apparently it's super-important if you got a ruby or an amethyst.

The GM can place items deliberately or just say screw all this careful balance and roll randomly for items! When you roll randomly for items you just use an average value of the magic item category (minor, medium, or major) for the cost of the item. So you could alot a slot for a major item (40,000 gold) and end up with an item over 200,000 gold! Or one that's under 20,000 gold!

Why do they stress item balance and then do a stuka right into unbalanced territory again? Because random treasure was a major part of Dungeons & Dragons , of course! And by using averaged costs, Pathfinder takes the time to make it even worse.

Preparing for the Game

That dragon's got an axe!

They have a number of suggestions for for things to prepare - read up on or design an adventure, come up with props or handouts, cleaning up, help folks with rules questions, etc.

There's a pretty solid summation of the everyday issues with running a game, dealing with absentee players (though no real suggestions on such). Anyway, it's better than most GMing advice sections, even though it's brief.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game posted:

Try to use common sense here—while it’s tempting to load up with potato chips and soda pop, gaming is no excuse for poor health!

paizo sez we know you are fatties but please stop luv paizo

During the Game

Now, they discuss common issues and techniques.
Campaign Tips

It mentions the presumption of Pathfinder is campaign play, keeping the same characters between adventures and leveling them up until you vomit puke. It also mentions it presumes the setting you're using is the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting , but you know, that other publishers publish other ones (and I hope you like steampunk, there!), or that you could make your own.

Of course, it mentions how daunting and heavy world-building can get, and suggests you start with Earth analogs - but there's help in the Pathfinder Gamemastery Guide ! Gamemastery?

Man, a book to buy if you don't want to make a world, and a book to buy if you do want to make a world. There's no escape!

Cost of Living

It mentions that adventures have to pay for normal stuff! Not sure why this wasn't under equipment or something, since it seems an important thing to track for the money-conscious adventurer. Anyway, it ranges from 3 gold pieces a month (so poor you can't pay attention) to 1,000 gold pieces a month (fabulously wealthy!).

Monstrous Characters

"Protection? No, this is my party armor."

It notes that you can add or remove races from play, and that you can add monster races as well. It says that if you allow a more powerful race, that normal PCs should be able to start a level higher or start at a level equal to the hit dice of the monster being play. Yes, this is terrible balancing as usual, and I can't be bothered to prove it. If I do the Pathfinder Bestiary , I'll look further into it then.

Anyway, it's not like this book has rules for any of these damn races, so it's a waste of space.

Ending the Campaign

The main part of this isn't really about ending the campaign, it's about discussing with your players what level they stop leveling at. That's all it's really concerned with. It also mentions that it requires careful timing to stop a game exactly at 20th level, and not fall over to 21st, as if a gamemaster can't actually stop XP gain. XP is a force of nature , bitches.

It mentions you can exceed 20th level, and that other compatible products have been produced which provide rules for it. By "other products" they mean the Epic Level Handbook for Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition , and by "compatible" they mean "require a complete rewriting of most of the book". There's This has been your Pathfinder Weasel Cant to American English translation to enhance clarity and diffuse confusion.

Well, okay, Little Red Goblin Games has published a guide to "Legendary" levels, which allows you to swell your numbers and power levels. I really wanted to mock it, but it's not really any worse than Pathfinder's core rules, to its credit.

And finally, reluctantly, Pathfinder just gives up and adds rules for characters over 20th level.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game posted:

Note that these guidelines aren’t robust enough to keep the game vibrant and interesting on their own for much longer past 20th level, but they should do in a pinch for a campaign that needs, say, 22 or 23 experience levels to wrap up.

Uh-oh. When even Pathfinder admits a set of rules is a horrible kludge, you know you're in for a treat.
Ugh, that ends this chapter in a ripe, poopy way, don't it? Peeeewww. Now, Paizo has just announced the playtest for "Mythic" adventures for Pathfinder , and released a playtest, but that doesn't involve high-level PCs. Instead, it's a means to boost the power levels of PCs at any level, as their sort of answer to epic adventuring... and, well, throwing their hands up at the very idea of leveling beyond 20.

Next: Time to detail environments! Or: all the rules you need for awesome sewer adventures. Radical!*

* it is not actually radical


posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Part 14: Environments

I bet you thought I was joking about sewer adventures! I was not.

Welcome to Sewerfinder! Roll for pipe circumference.

It doesn't waste time getting to the point of things:


There are four basic dungeon types:
Whaaaat sewers should be their own category. I'll add them in for you, Pathfinder .
You're welcome, Pathfinder .

"Sorry this dungeon's a mess, but another party showed up and you know how it is-"

Anyway, it gets into dungeon terrain. First: walls! It gives durability and hit points for each kind of wall, for adventurers that say "fuck it", and just go through those mazelike structures with a pickaxe.


Geez, walls. What could be more exciting? How about floors?

I dunno after all this floor business, I'm on the edge of my seat, what's next?

Also, there are rules for what detect spells can detect, stairs (fuck yes!), cave-ins and collapses, slimes/molds/fungi-



And then there was the dungeon with so many traps it killed all the monsters. Ooops.

Because in fantasy Vietnam the tunnel rat gets it worst of all.

Anyway, traps have a Challenge Rating just like monsters and molds, they have DCs to notice them, disable them, what triggers them, what causes them to reset, how long they last, and what terrible thing they do. And there are two types
And then we get a list of triggers for traps:
There's duration (most traps are just instantaneous, but there are exceptions), and then triggers!
And sometimes they'll have a bypass element where the creator can disable the trap:
Then there's the effect of the traps! I know, I know, but I'm going over this all to show just how exciting and detailed this chapter is! From stucco to switches, this chapter has it all! Who even needs fucking characters, I'm just going to build switchvania. Oh, I suppose we do need characters to hit those switches, how droll.
Then, there are a bunch of special traps. It's a trapocalypse.

Sample Traps

Silly warriors, always getting into trouble!

Yeah, we ain't done yet. Highlights through the wonder of bullet points!
Well, certainly that's enough about traps, we don't need-

Designing Traps

Noooo fuck nooooo stop it stop it.

Anyway traps can be built by PCs, you put the elements listed above together that gives you a Challenge Rating, which determines the Difficulty Class of the Craft roll to make a goddamn trap. If you're making a magic trap you have to have somebody with Craft Wondrous Item and the ability to cast the necessary component spells. The cost of the trap ends up being 1,000 gp x the CR of the trap, or 250gp x the CR for very simple traps.

Yes, this means a punji pit costs 750 gp. No, I have no goddamn idea why. Get some sticks, dig a hole - how hard is that? So that's:
Ugh. Fucking labor unions.

There are magic traps and those require a spellcaster and Craft Wondrous Whatever and spell components in addition. There's a lot of charts but I'm just done with traps, time for a new section.


It's time for bold adventure actually no ha ha it's time for Blair Witch.

Getting Lost

Yes, there are rules for... wait, which section of the book was I on? There are rules for getting lost. Thankfully, you don't have to roll to follow a road or river or whatever. Otherwise... there's visibility and terrain which can affect the Survival check, and if you get lost, you have to check again to realize you're lost, and another to get back on track.

Forest Terrain

It turns out all the trees are actually druids and rangers.

There's a fucking table to randomly determine what terrain features are in every square of a map, dragged in from Dungeons & Dragons 3.5. Has anybody ever used this? Hands up if you have, Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 players. Be honest.

Anyway, trees can provide cover and are honestly tougher than most monsters (but are a lot easier to hit). There's undergrowth that messes with movement and skill checks. There's some short rules in case you meet elves that live in treehouses. There's details on how fallen logs and streams mess with movement.

There's rules for stealth and detection, see, the sneaking person gets their DC raised by 2 because undergrowth is noisy, but the watcher gets their DC raised by 1 per 10 feet instead of 1 per 20 feet because animals are makin' noise, and have a lower maximum distance at which they can detect people (3d6x10 for sparse forest, 2d6x10 for medium, 1d6x10 for dense). Couldn't you just use one modifier... no...?

Forest Fires (CR 6)

Yeah, we have rules for forest fires, you have to roll to spot them at +16, because, you know, it's assumed the characters are blind as bats. Anyway, fires move at 120' a round and do heat damage (roll Fortitude to avoid taking fire damage), smoke damage (roll Fortitude to avoid taking nonlethal damage), and catching on fire (rules not included in this section).

Marsh Terrain

Yes, they have tables for determining what sort of terrain you're in. Are you in a ditch? Roll to find out?

Anywhat, there's bogs, which come in shallow and deep, undergrowth which messes with movement, hedgerows which work as small walls, and quicksand to sink in. Quicksand is DC 8 to notice, which is important to know in case your characters are basically blind. There's swim checks to get out, Strength checks to assist, etc. Oh, and hedgerows are back! Fucking hedgerows. They work like walls. Obviously hedgerows were more important to include in this book than rules for dragons. After all, first you face the threat of the hedgerows. Then the dragons.

* Rules for monkeyants not actually included in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game .

Hills Terrain

Yes, Pathfinder . Tell me about some fucking hills. How do I know if I'm going up or down? How do I know? Is it a Survival check-

So they start out once again with a means of randomly determining what a hex contains. You know, in case you use those optional miniatures rules they keep assuming you're using, because, you know. Optional.

There are gradual slopes, that give a bonus to hit for the higher person, steep slopes, that make it harder to backflip. There are cliffs, which are "1d4 x 10 feet tall, although the needs of your map might mandate a taller cliff". There's undergrowth like before, some details for hiding...

Oh, yes, and "If you add a stream or streambed, remember that water always flows downhill."

If this game had a face I would punch it.

Mountain Terrain

Anyway, we have three types of mountain terrain: alpine meadows, rugged mountains, and forbidding mountains. And yes, there is a chart for what terrain goes where. Also, apparently rock walls are important because you place them between squares, not in them!

There are slopes and cliffs and undergrouth, like in hills, but the cliffs are 2d6 x 10 feet high. There are chasms to fall in to, and scree, which is gravel that can make things slippery. Rubble makes it hard to move and do cartwheels. Rock walls require DC 25 checks to ascend, so if you want to start as a rock climber at 1st level, hahaha, you'll break your neck. There are caves, some of which are monster lairs. There's also streams and ice and stuff.

Avalanches (CR 7)

Running in the correct direction.

It is so fucking weird that natural disasters have a challenge rating. I guess this means if you have a little villa of Level 9 peasants, they can take on an avalanche, even though they don't have the skills or abilities to do so. But Pathfinder doesn't care! Anyway, spotting an avalanche from 1d10 x 500 feet requires a DC 20 Perception check. Wait, it's a random distance? You could have a +20 Notice, and not notice it before somebody with +4 Notice, just if your random roll was past because

But at half that distance you automatically notice it. There's Reflex saves to avoid taking damage, and getting buried and start suffocating. Yes, this means it's possible for a rogue to flip out of the way of an avalanche.

Mountain Travel

Uh, now we discuss high-altitude breathing... what? What...? What...? How does this Extreme Survival shit really enhance the game?

As you get higher, you start needing to make Fortitude checks to avoid fatigue. But if you live in a high place for awhile you can get acclimated. Also, zombies don't have to worry about altitude, which is good to know.

Of course, it should be noted these height ratings are totally just based on Earth's atmosphere and all that. So. If you're running on some sort of fantasy world where this is different, it might be different! Er, I'm noting this, not Pathfinder .

Desert Terrain

This where sand grows. Also they include tundra
as a desert. Tundrea have ice sheets, rubble, and undergrowth. Rocky deserts have rubble, undergrowth, and more rubble! And sandy deserts have rubble, dunes, undergrowth, and rubble again.

There's tables, see.

Dunes count as slopes. Strangely there are no rules for slipping down a dune. Also you can see very far in the desert.


Sandstorms do nonlethal damage, reduces visibility and Perception checks. Also you get sand in your bum-crack, moving along.

Plains Terrain

What. What the fuck are you going to say about plains. Seriously.

Apparently there are three terrain types here - farm, grassland, and battlefield. That's right.

There are trenches and rubble and berms on battlefields! Farms have fences! There's rules and you don't care!

Aquatic Terrain

It notes that aquatic terrain is kept simple because most PCs can't breathe in water. Have you met my friend, the wizard? He can breath in water. He can do anything!

Anyway, there's flowing water in rivers, which requires Swim rolls to keep from being swept away. There's lakes and oceans, which just require swim checks, because apparently we have high-altitude rolls but no undertow.

Also invisibility doesn't work in water very well, you look like a dorky bubble.

Underwater Combat

You can't throw weapons underwater, so forget fish people throwing tridents. You can use a bow or sling, though, at severe penalities.

If you're trying to attack from land into the water, waterborne foes get serious cover bonuses, but magical effects that don't require attack rolls (and aren't fire spells) get to work normally, because

Oh, wait, fire effects can work if you make a good enough caster level check, it's just a steamball instead of a fireball that does the same damage. Also, you have to make Concentration checks to cast spells underwater if you can't breathe. There are spells to fix that, of course.


There are floods sometimes! Flooding rivers are harder to swim in. That's all!

Urban Adventures

This scene could happen if you have custom rules for hit locations.

Pathfinder Adventure RPG posted:

At first glance, a city is much like a dungeon, made up of walls, doors, rooms, and corridors. Adventures that
take place in cities have two salient differences from their dungeon counterparts, however. Characters have greater access to resources, and they must contend with law enforcement.

Uh, also, you're usually not trying to kill everything and take its stuff, I hope...!

You can trade money for goods and services in a city, and there are laws and stuff, and guards who enforce those laws, and sometimes they won't even let you carry your +4 sword of baby kebabbing around, WTF.

Most of the terrain features are like a dungeons, except for some exciting new terrain features, like walls! And watchtowers! And gates! There are rules for climbing or breaking them.

There's guards and soldiers, but most are just 1st level warriors, which means an angry puppy could murder one if he's unlucky. Officers are higher level and are warriors or fighters and sometimes even have a real class like cleric. It also details their shifts and assignments and ugh.

Siege Engines

Anyway, they have rules for disabling or breaking these first, but you can buy armor for them or enchant them too. Anwyay, there are the following:

Urban Adventures, Cont.

Badly maintained streets are treated as rubble, making Acrobatic checks more difficult. Roads are 25' wide for wagons, with 5' sidewalks. Details, folks! So many details! Crowds can provide cover, or you can use social skills to manipulate them.

There are rooftops, which require Acrobatics checks to move across, and sewers, which are like moist, wet dungeons. Also sewer adventures are better than dungeon adventures, it doesn't say so but it's implicit. There are rules for climbing and breaking buildings. And there are details on city lights, but some people hire lantern-bearers. Also dark alleys give bonuses on Stealth checks.

Pathfinder : we cover things you know, and add Acrobatics checks to damn near everything. At this point I'm not sure how people without at least a +5 in Acrobatics aren't like falling over whenever they make a journey of a hundred feet or more.


Time for a random weather table! It has calm, cold, cold snap, downpour, heat wave, hot, moderate, powerful storm, precipitation, storm, warm, and windy. But what does it all mean? Where are the numbers

Well, Rain, Snow, Sleet, and Hail are thusly detailed:
The Planes

Not gonna lie, this is rad.

Yes, there are other dimensions, other worlds, infinite possibilities!

Pathfinder , noting infinite possibilities, has opted just to crib from Dungeons & Dragons once again.

You have:
Alright, I'm just going to stop here for a moment before I wrap up the planes. One of the reasons to keep the planes the same means they don't have to muck with the magic system. The whole plane system is defined by various spells, so yes, this is another section where the needs of magic dominate the thematics.
Now we've defined all of reality to meet the needs of wizards, and can move on.

Environmental Rules

Or, how you take damage just bein' somewhere. Mindin' your own business, but the environment just won't leave you be.

If you played a cleric, you wouldn't be in this situation. Also, you'd be home by now.

If you read this, just be glad you didn't have to read the most boring chapter of the book. It's overcomplicated because it uses a number of different mechanics - nonlethal damage, fatigue, auto-death, lethal damage, Constitution damage, etc. - to simulate various conditions when one would probably do. It's also not clear why some situations fatigue you and others don't.

But I'm getting out of here like a bat out of hell, but first I have to make my Fortitude save to fly in these winds because I'm Tiny, and then I have to make my Fortitude save or take damage from the heat, and make another Fortitude save from the smoke, and it's pretty dark, so I'm pretty sure I have penalties on Acrobatics...

Next: NPCs, and why you're better than them.

Creating NPCs

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Part 15: Creating NPCs

I'd hate to see how they act when a wizard casts meteor swarm.

Now we get on to NPC classes! These are designed to be simpler to quickly generate NPCs... but... they're not that much simpler. You still have to spend skill points and choose feats and maybe spells, they're just missing a lot of class features. So let's get on to them!


These are minor clerics. They get a smaller spell progression (worse than bard, better than ranger or paladin). They also get a familiar like a wizard. They have lousy skills and hit points, but... their spell list is pretty good! They can turn invisible, cure wounds, animate the dead, polymorph, shoot lightning bolts...

... arguably better than having a fighter or monk in your party. They may be weak spellcasters, but they're still spellcasters, and ones that get their entire spell list to choose from! And furthermore, their spell list is arguably better in places than that of a cleric - they just never get to be as outright powerful. It's kind of weird that they get traditionally arcane spells as part of a divine spell list, but I suppose they're supposed to fill in for either NPC wizards or clerics.

The best NPC class for an NPC to be, clearly.


Looking at her proportions... under that skirt, I think we're looking at another aberration.

See, there's a family, and they go to see a talent agent, and... no? Oh.

They've got middling hit points and middling skills and middling attack and no class features and generally it just sucks being a member of the aristocracy.



Somehow more badass than a lot of the iconic adventurers.

The worst class in the game, because Bulmahn is a classist pig. Well, not really, but why do commoners have less hit points than aristocrats? "All this hard work in the field has made me sickly and weak!"

Anyway, they have the worst attack bonus, saves, skill points, hit points, etc. It really does suck to be a commoner. The universe - which is to say the rules - literally hates you.


Like aristocrats, but they get more skill points and more skills to choose from.

Yep, it's better to be a skilled laborer than a king.


High hit points, low skills, high attack bonus, that's all you've got here. They get to use any normal weapon and armor, unlike the other NPC classes.

But ultimately it's a fighter that's much worse. Consider that.

Creating NPCs

There's seven simple steps to creating an NPC!

Step 1: The Basics

Determine the race and class. Note all the racial features. You should also figure out its level but they don't mention this for some reason.

Step 2: Determine Ability Scores

There are three methods:
Then add +1 to an ability score for each 4 levels the NPC has, and then add racial ability modifiers!

Step 3: Skills

Add up all the points you have for the class and figure in their Intelligence bonus and distribute that amongst skills. Or just simply choose a number of skills equal to the skill points they have and then they get skill points equal to each level in each skill.

If an NPC has two classes you choose skills and you're using the simple method for each seperately starting with the class with the fewer skills.

If they have three or more classes you have to assign skills manually.

Then be sure to add any racial modifiers, modifiers from attributes, class abilities, favored skill bonuses, bonuses from equipment, bonuses from magical items before you're done!

Step 4: Feats

First assign any feats from class abilities (and also races, but they only remember humans for some reason), then a feat for 1st level, and then another feat for every two levels. To their credit, they have easy lists of feats to choose from. To their discredit, there's no details on what the requirements of a feat are, so be prepared to flip back to the feat section and check out all that to make sure they're legal feat choices.

Step 5: Class Features

Choose and note all the class features the NPC has. If they have spells, it notes it's okay just to note their high-level spells and key spells, and choose some off the list during play as you need to determine them.

Step 6: Gear

Cross-reference with a table by their level to determine the GP value of all the gear they have, then divide that by category to see the division of their gear values (weapons, protection, magic, limited use items, and adventuring gear), and then buy items in those five categories. Leftover money converts to jewelry and gold coin carried by the character. These are lower than PCs of the same level because it's just treasure you get for offing them.

To clarify things magic weapons count as weapons and a wand might count as a weapon if it's an attack spell but if not it might be a magic item and it gets a little confusing.

Step 7: Details

Determine the NPC's attack, damage, saving throws, CMB, CMD, intitative modifier, and Armor Class. Make sure you count any bonuses from magic items into their scores. Give them the average hit points, name, alignment, religion, and define their personality.

That's all! Wasn't that simple ? In fact, it's so simple, they recently released Pathfinder Chronicles NPC Guide *, a book full of NPC stats to make it even simpler... er!

I have to wonder at what point they decided to use repurposed WoW art.

And we round out the chapter with a sample of NPC generation with Kiramor, the Forest Shadow. Check out this simple statblock:

Man. It's so simple I'm amaze- I- my. I think I've strained my ability to be sarcastic for the rest of the day.

Next: Magic Items, or why your badass barbarian needs to be decked out in jewelry and finery like a ponce to be effective.

* A full fifth of that particular book is dedicated to to the Paizo staff's personal PCs. How would you like to spend money to hear "let me tell you about my character..." stories?

Magic Items

posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Part 16: Magic Items

For some reason, Amiri's magical sword just looks like the same buster sword she has in all the art.

The second-longest chapter in the book, as you may recall, because

Magic items come in many flavors: armor, weapons, potions, rings, rods, scrolls, staves, wands, and wondrous items. Also there are minor artifacts, which are like magic items but way more badass, and major artifacts, which are badasser.

They detail that each item gives details for uses of detect magic on it. It also gives general guidelines if it's not detailed.

Using Items

To use an item, you have to activate it! Sometimes items work just by putting them on, sometimes they require a standard action. There are four ways to switch a magic item into the "on" position.
Most magic items adjust size to the wearer, but some rare ones don't.

Magic Items on the Body

Basically there are 15 "slots" you can put magic items onto. You can't put more on because (no reason given). They are:
So if you run into an NPC wearing armor, a shirt over that armor, a girdle over that shirt, a mantle over that girdle, a robe over that mantle, and a cape over that robe, look the fuck out.

Saving Throws against Magic Item Powers

These are dependent on the minimum level to cast whatever effect the item is doing, except staves, which use your level.

Damaging Magic Items

All magic items get saves against damaging spells based on their caster level, except intelligent magic items, which make Will saving throws based on their Wisdom. Magic items that lose half their hit points might not function normally, but it refers us to the Appendix.

There's the broken condition, which generally halves the bonus of an item or makes it use twice the charges etc.

Repairing magic items takes half the time and cost to make them, or you can just find a wizard or cleric to cast make whole , which takes an action and has no cost.

There are some random rolls if your magic item have limited charges to see how many charges they have left, and how to adjust its value based on the remaining charges.

Purchasing Magic Items

Apparently you can buy magic items in most major cities. The size of a community determines a "base value" of the magic items you can find, and then you have a 3/4ths chance of actually finding an item you're looking for. You then roll randomly for higher-cost items to see what's available otherwise.

If you're running a campaign as a low-magic campaign you divide these values by half. "GMs running these sorts of campaigns should make some adjustments to the challenges faced by the characters due to their lack of magic gear." In other words, it's a bullshit rule that they've never going to support.

Or you could have magical communities that increase the base value of magic items available! They do not mention adjusting challenges based on those, however.

Magic Item Descriptions

Every magic item description has certain things:


Pants not included.

Now we're getting into actual magic goods - in this case, armor. Armor mostly just provides a bonus to Armor Class, no more than +5, but some abilities basically reduce this bonus in order to give you powers. Armor can go up to +10, but only to accomodate additional powers.

Shields are part of this and stack with armor bonuses.

Here's some notable armor abilities:

Then we get specific armors!

Mostly just magic swords, really.

Magic weapons add to both attack and damage, not more than +5, but can have up to +10 to accomodate powers just like magic armor. Some of these glow, but most don't.

And then we have some specific weapons.

These can duplicate spells up to 3rd level that target one or more creatures. There are potions, which you drink, and oils, which you smear all over yourself, so oily, so smeared, mmmm-

That's it for potions.


These are magic rings. Once again, you can only wear two, for some reason. Maybe the gods of magic were very limited on fingers.

All the rings listed are specific items.

Insert your own dick joke here.

They're like wands but don't use up charges and generally have unique effects. There are also metamagic rods, which let spellcasters cast metamagic without increasing the level of their spell or having the feat. Lesser metamagic rods work up to 3rd level, and greater work up to 6th level spells. Makes the feats a bit of a waste, really, since the rods are so good.

And hard.

And long.

What I'm saying is that they will help wizards fuck this game .


These are wads of paper you scribble down spells for later use. There's no level limited, and there are a lot of strictures in how you use them and rolls to make if your caster level is too lost to normally cast them and a special scroll mishap effects. The GM chooses what mishap happens, so you can blame your GM.


Sticks and stones will annihilate you.

Each staff casts certain spells at the user's casting level. It basically holds 10 charges, which a spellcaster can recharge by giving up spells at the start of the day. Each spell cast from a staff uses a certain amount of charges.

All staffs are unique but generally just give access to spells and are too boring to go over specifically.


These store spells of 4th level or lower, and can cast that spell up to 50 (!) times. You have to be able to cast that spell to use a wand.

There are just so much of this shit - wands, staves, scrolls - that are spellcaster specific and just designed to give them additional access to spells, as if they didn't already get dozens of spells a day.

It's like "Oh, you have a win button? Have s'more, wizards!"

Wondrous Items

Pigments, huh. You had somebody illustrate pigments.

The generic catch-all anything-else category of magic item.

Oh look they illustrated the Mirror of Lif-

Are we done with this shit or what- oh no-

Intelligent Items

Some magic items are smart, but they're very rare. They get Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores, and are treated as constructions. Many have to glow in order to see, because... um... I have no idea. Doesn't say.

Intelligent magic items have an Ego score, which is how hard they hard to control, and an alignment. They bestow negative levels on characters that don't match up with their alignment. So, the idea if an evil sword that corrupts the user, no matter how iconic, just doesn't happen. It's not compatible until you're evil to begin with.

Being intelligence, the ability scores it has, what senses it has, and how it communicates increases the item's cost. Then, it gets a special power(s) which it uses on its own, and doesn't require an action from the wielder. Most powers are just spell-like abilities or general bonuses towards a skill or roll, in addition to whatever magic powers the item has in the first place.

Some have special purposes, which makes them harder to control but then they get a unique power when fulfilling that purpose.

A magic item's Ego score is dependent on bonuses it gets from its attributes plus a special bonus derived from a table based on its cost, which creates the Ego score, which is really the Will save DC the wielder has to make when conflicting with the item's personality to get it to do as they like. If the item wins, they can force the user to concede to an action of the item's choosing.

And intelligent magic items don't get along with other intelligent magic items, because they're jerks by nature, apparently.

Cursed Items

Memorize these descriptions, adventurers.

This is how it works. You train players to pick up and use every magic widget that comes along. Hell, the game presumes it. And then, ha ha, it's a trap! Gotcha!

It's harder to detect cursed items, too - you have to make your Spellcraft check at a DC 10 higher than normal. A lot of cursed items force the user to keep them, reappear when discarded, or other similar forced plot hijinx to keep them in play. No, you don't get a Will save or anything.

There are different common effects for cursed items, including:

Then we get specific items. Most of these can only be dealt with by casting remove curse and other spells which means - yep! - only spellcasters can deal with them.


These are special plot device sort of items. Also, they're invulnerable, and can only be destroyed one way like that one... ring. Yes.

First, we have minor artifacts.
Noticing a theme here? Most minor artifacts are borderline cursed, with drawbacks that often could kill you if used improperly.

Then we have major artifacts.
Man, I can't wait to throw my high-level characters on the virtual spears that most artifacts represent. It may be a different section from the cursed items, but it continues with...


Magic Item Creation

One big difference between Dungeons & Dragons third edition and Pathfinder in magic item creation is this: magic items no longer cost XP to make. See, in Dungeons & Dragons , a spellcaster could get extra magic items (since it's cheaper to make than buy), but they'd pay in being a level behind everybody else. In Pathfinder , they just get the ability to... make additional magic items. And be better than other classes. Yes. Even better than they already are. Better and better as they gain levels. Better, better, better.

Anyway, when you make an item, you have to make a Spellcraft check. If you fail, all of your money and time are wasted. If you fail really well, all your money and time makes a cursed item instead. Each item has certain prerequisites to be created, usually spells, an item creation feat, etc. You can make items without that spell, but it adds to the Spellcraft difficulty.

So if you're using Master Craftsman, mentioned back in the character creation section? Not only do you have to take an extra feat to make magic items, not only are you more limited in what you can create, but the DC is going to be notably higher for most things you try and make, because seriously, what are you wasting your time with not being a wizard if you're an artificer?

The basic cost of the item is half the market price + the actual cost of the physical item + any spell components. They take about a day per 1,000 gp to create, though potions and scrolls can be less. You can speed it up by increasing the Spellcraft check.

There are various tables totalling effects and costs and I could not care less. It's full of holes - a lot of it is based on spell levels, and not every spell of a given level has equal efficacy. As mentioned for rods, wands, scrolls, etc., it's really focused on being a system for spellcasters and giving spellcasters additional benefits. Sure, there are magic armor and weapon, but those tend to be a lot less flexible are a prime examples of nickel design, where fighters have to pay extreme amounts just to get another +1 or +2 on their attacks.

Next: I'm done, right? That's the last chap- oh, appendices ? What the shit?


posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Part 17: Appendices


Here's where we get rules for special abilities and conditions, presumably put here so they're easy to flip to, which isn't a bad idea. Also, there are are a lot of them.

Appendix 1: Special Abilities

There are spell-like, supernatural, and extraordinary abilities; I'm not going to go over them again.

Appendix 2: Conditions

This is where status effect are listed, like bleeding, blinded, confused, grappled, etc. The significant ones have already been covered elsewhere in my review so I'm not going to belabor them too much.

Appendix 3: Inspiring Reading

This covers a lot of fantasy and horror books, but books only. The fact that the iconic barbarian nabbed her sword from Final Fantasy 7 and that half their elves busted straight out of World of Warcraft is a fact not given its due.

Appendix 4: Game Aids

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game posted:

In addition to a few character sheets and some dice, there are a wide variety of additional tools available to enhance your game.

Of course there are.

This is where they mention there are Adventure Paths, Modules, Chronicles (their setting books), GM Screens, Flip-Mats and Map Packs, Item Cards, Critical Hit Decks, and a free conversion guide for 3.5.


Then we have the Open Gaming License closing this thing out. In addition to Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 , it also mentions Pathfinder borrows material from The Book of Experimental Might (by Monte Cook) and Tome of Horrors (by Scott Greene, with Clark Peterson, Erica Balsley, Kevin Baase, Casey Christofferson, Lance Hawvermale, Travis Hawvermale, Patrick Lawinger, and Bill Webb).

Why Tome of Horrors ? Because it's their backdoor into TSR's monster library. See, back during the d20 days, Necromancer Games consulted with Wizards of the Coast to find out what critters Wizards had no intention of revising, and was able to get permission to do Tome of Horrors, which took these reject monsters and put them in d20.

Which made a lot of classic Dungeons & Dragons monsters d20.

Which Pathfinder is going to nab like a shopping spree in the later Pathfinder Bestiaries. Like a junkie rogue on haste with five-finger discount gloves .

Because Pathfinder isn't about building a game of their own, but taking Dungeons & Dragons away from Wizards of the Coast. It's what the d20 Open Gaming License was always about, and this is its fruition.

Next: The outro.


posted by Alien Rope Burn Original SA post

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Part 18: Epilogue

First off, I want to say, for all my snark, if you enjoy the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game , that's just fine. It's a popular game and has a lot of passionate fans. To be honest, there is a lot of fun with any game with this level of crunch - puzzling it all out is an interesting metagame even when you are aware of the flaws. I don't think it's great design, but there is an appeal to the puzzle that Pathfinder's options present. Hopefully at least you're more aware Pathfinder's foibles, and can better deal with them.

And if you have folks who haven't gotten to see a more critical look at Pathfinder , you can point them here. It's not a matter of edition warring, but looking at Pathfinder on its own terms. Not everything I've said has been perfectly serious, of course. I think a lot more of the art here than I probably let on during the review - there are a lot of pieces I like, but I'm trying keep things entertaining for such a long FATAL & Friends. The layout is gorgeous and well-presented, and the actual writing and organization fo the book is solid. The content, however, is the core of the book, and that's where I generally find it lacking.

I decided to do this FATAL & Friends writeup because Pathfinder's so popular; I wanted to understand it better, what makes it successful and where it succeeds and where it fails. I was neck-deep in Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 for awhile, and I ran it for years as well as writing a lot of mechanical material for fan publication s online. I feel like I do understand its appeal and success better, even if it hasn't endeared itself to me much more than when I started.

And, honestly, it's hard to find any critical views of Pathfinder online. Here's some examples of some reviews from the top of a google search.

Adaen of Bridgewater, posted:

They essentially wanted people to continue to be able to use their 3.5 materials in a 3P game.....which is nice, considering the thousands of dollars that many people have invested in that system.

Robert A. Howard, posted:

I could scarcely be happier with what Paizo has done. The rules flowed nicely, and most importantly kept out of the way until needed. Combat was also quick and easy, and the Pathfinder RPG has made it easier than ever to keep the action flowing without a lot of downtime. This system is an excellent choice for any fantasy setting, and I am confident that if you enjoyed Third Edition, you're really going to love what they've done with this game.


People harking back to The Good Old Days of earlier versions of the game, in particular the shining diamond that is version 3.5.


The reigns have been taken up by other companies, most notably by Paizo Publishing, who have essentially taken the whole thing over, streamlined, improved and repackaged it into something new but familiar under the rather splendid banner of Pathfinder. And if youíre looking to get into the game, itís heartily recommended that you pick up the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, 574 pages that contain everything a player needs bar the dice.

Often reviews just boil down to Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 was good, this is a better version of Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 , therefore it is good". Hell, even I couldn't avoid constant commentary regarding Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 . It's become a touchstone for our hobby, as was intended .

Ryan Dancey posted:

The OGL/D20 project also ensured that a version of D&D would exist as of the 3rd Edition version no matter what future incarnation of D&D might be developed. Future versions of D&D would be benchmarked against that milestone, and if the market decided they did not want to switch to the new version, unlike in previous iterations where all commercial support for the previous version would be terminated, the market would be able to keep supporting the version that they preferred. This raises a high bar to future versions of D&D ñ you have to be so much better than the 3e game that people will voluntarily switch platforms.

I went for it back in 2000, like so many others did. It was genuinely interesting and slick compared to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition , which had felt like a relic for a decade at that point. d20 was an literal attempt to homogenize the gaming industry, and it's probably as successful at that as any system's going to get. It was exciting, but systems are like technologies, and all the flaws and bugs remain even though they've been exposed many times over now.

My D&D shelf. A lot of this was "donated" from friends after the d20 / OGL collapse.

While I was in the midst of reviewing this, I had a fellow goon mention something interesting.

Asimo posted:

I realize that if I ever theoretically had the urge to publish an RPG, I would be as thorough as possible but still go and include a bunch of non-critical broken rules and loopholes since apparently nerdarguing and houserules seem to be the primary attention-driver.

Ooof. Well, that's terribly cynical, but really, maybe a squeaky rule does get the house rule. After all, think of the most popular systems - how many have been really well-designed? I don't think it's that people don't give a shit about systems, but rather they're not terribly critical about them. And when they find one that's "good enough", they just tweak it and house rule it enough to file off the sharp edges.  And then they settle in, and if somebody points out the flaws, they lash out. After all, the house rules have invested them in the system they had to "fix" in the first place!

Maybe only flawed systems create that kind of investment. When a system isn't flawed, you can pick it up, use it, and put it back exactly the way you left it. House ruling is a form of devotion and investment. A friend of mine once compared the weekly ritual of getting together for roleplay to be akin to a religious ceremony, and if so, systems become the mystery cults of optimizers and gamemasters.

And, ultimately, this game itself emerged from Jason Bulmahn's house rules for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 . Of course, the reasons for Pathfinder's invention have as much to do with business as hobby - Wizards of the Coast left a lot of publishers hanging over how they were going to license Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition , and so Paizo turned towards revising Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 rather than sit on their hands and publish nothing. And it's worked out better than they ever dreamed, I'm sure.

In that way, it is the "game of the fans" that they describe, but those fans aren't the 45,000 or so downloaders of the beta. Those fans are people like Jason Bulmahn and Sean K Reynolds, who have gotten to make perhaps the first American Dungeons & Dragons heartbreaker to truly make it since the Palladium RPG or Rolemaster . This is on account of the Open Gaming License and Monte Cook's blessing giving them a sort of false legitimacy, an illusion of continuity. It is Ryan Dancey's dream come true, and it's no coincidence he works with Paizo now. After all, he designed d20 to survive the market in the first place. Paizo's claiming of the d20 system isn't some dastardly turn on their part; it was part of the Open Gaming License's intent in the first place. Of course, putting a $80 price tag on a set of house rules is entirely their doing, and folks can judge that for themselves.

Ryan Dancey posted:

One of the goals of the OGL and the D20 project was to ensure that no single company would ever have the ability to kill Dungeons & Dragons. TSR almost did so; near the end of its existence it had pledged the copyrights and trademarks of the D&D franchise as security against loans it could not afford to repay. Had TSR gone into bankruptcy it is likely that for at least some time, and possibly an extremely lengthy period, nobody would have had the right to publish using that IP while the bankers fought over the carcass of TSR.

More d20. More. MORE.

There are times when I was posting this up that I thought maybe I'm wrong . Maybe quality in system design isn't that important, or maybe I'm looking for the wrong things. I could be nitpicking too hard on things that just don't matter to your average TRPG player, hating them because they play a game I don't love. It's tough looking through blogs, boards, and reviews and seeing litanies of unabashed love and devotion for the game.

It reminds of me of an Over the Edge game I was where - and I don't know if this was an element of the game's twisted setting itself or a product of my gamemaster's twisted imagination - at one point my character had to investigate a business  "Pervy Ernie's". It was basically Chuck E. Cheese, but instead of a cute cartoon mouse, Pervy Ernie was basically a caricature of a child molester. Brown trenchcoat, wide-brimmed hat, shadowy face, and lollipop in hand, he was the exaggerated figure of "waaant some caaandy?". The adventure never actually had any sign that any children were ever victimized at Pervy Ernie's, but only outsiders to the setting ever noticed anything wrong with it - the locals seemed blithely unaware, which only made the thing much more creepy.

And that's how this feels when you dip your head in deep enough. Something is wrong with the whole situation - be it sloppy rules, the blatancy of the whole Grand Theft System, or just the salesman swagger of Monte or their kickstarters. There's something off about the whole affair, and it seems so plain to the eye from outside the fandom. And it makes you wonder why it isn't plain to everybody else. They get people to purchase something they give away for free through their System Reference Document. That's the sort of salesmanship that's not just good - it's downright surreal. Like Ernie.

But we'll see what the future will bring. Pathfinder will need to branch into more and more niche products as the line goes on. Next year we'll see the release of Mythic Adventures , a significant variant of the Pathfinder rules. They'll have to (and have already started to) do more and more things that are exclusively theirs once they start running short on nostalgia to mine. The question is, can they succeed with that?

We'll see. As a wise man once said, "People don't want the best hamburger they could have, they generally just want the hamburger they know."

Next: The Pathfinder Bestiary.