Playing Pathfinder Playtest

In March, Paizo announced the Pathfinder 2nd Edition playtest. Now the playtest is well under way. Today I had a go at running the playtest adventure path, Doomsday Dawn, which is a Lovecraftian apocalyptic. It makes sense to mark the upheaval of a new edition with an apocalyptic adventure!

My biggest problem with the playtest material is that character generation is a huge obstacle. This is one thing that has put me of Pathfinder previously. However, this playtest material is at least more straightforward than Pathfinder 1st Edition. I just don’t think making a character requires that many numbers –that’s why I like Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition! I just want to get playing as quickly as possible.

The character generation problem could be solved by providing plenty of pregenerated character options (at least so that players can learn how characters work) or with a digital toolset. I found some pregens here, and two of my players opted to use a pregen. We found that the goblin alchemist was a lot of fun but the human paladin didn’t make sense. It’s kind of annoying having a character with a thievery proficiency whose code of conduct forbids them from stealing.

Another unhelpful obstacle to was the amount of details the dungeon master and players need to consider when making a check, a save or an attack. You shouldn’t need this many stats for a roleplaying game.

Those are my main gripes. I understand that Paizo will be trying to make Pathfinder more accessible to new players while also retaining what the existing Pathfinder community likes – which apparently includes lots of stats! There’s always going to be some barrier to entry in any community, because it’s the barrier that defines the community.

One thing I really like about the material is the feat system. You have opportunities to choose new feats at each level, making character advancement very flexible. Each ancestry and class provides feats that are available only to characters of that ancestry or class. More powerful feats only become available at certain levels. Some advanced  feats have simpler feats as prerequisites, so it works a bit like a skill tree in an MMORPG.

I’m impressed by the wide range of feats offered. It seems like Paizo are really trying to make sure the ruleset is comprehensive from the beginning. On top of the feats there are thirty-eight cleric domains. If the finished product contains all of these, it should mean you don’t need to carry around a mountain of splat books just to run a game.

As well as choosing feats as you level up, there are opportunities to improve your skill proficiencies. If you’re a spellcaster, your cantrips improve as you level up too.

Something that stands out to me is that a lot of flavor is built into the class rules. This is stuff that D&D 5E players would roleplay, but here it seems baked in a lot more. The way the bard’s feats are written, they sound like performances. A number of classes have taboos built in, based around their god or their totem. Some feats and spells also have particular alignment restrictions, making sure alignment matters.

In short, I would say that the playtest material is a lot of fun if you can get past the (still rather high) barrier to entry.


You can download the free Pathfinder playtest package from Paizo here.

You can also buy paper copies of the playtest books on Amazon or at your local store, while stock lasts.

Pathfinder Playtest

Pathfinder Playtest

It’s ten years on from when the original Pathfinder playtest began in 2008, and Paizo are about to start the process all over again. The playtest for Pathfinder 2nd Edition will begin on August 2 this year. In the meantime, Paizo are previewing some of the features of the new iteration.

I think it makes sense to develop a new ruleset at this point because the pool of people who play tabletop roleplaying has changed (it’s become larger and broader). I think that’s partly because of the accessibility of Dungeons & Dragons’ 5th Edition rules, which I think have lowered the barrier to entry for many people, myself included. I think the original Pathfinder rules still create a high barrier to entry, like previous editions of D&D. It sounds like Paizo wants to make sure Pathfinder 2nd Edition is more easily accessible while still offering plenty of crunch.

So what do we know at this stage? Alchemists will be included from the start as one of twelve iconic classes. Goblins will also be included as an option for player characters from the outset. I think that makes a lot of sense since goblins are one of the most recognisable things about Pathfinder. 10th-level spells will also be included from the beginning.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition will focus on exploration and encounters (encounters means combat, punctuated by breaks for downtime. Hazards such as traps, poisons and diseases will be more dangerous. There’ll be traps that player character have to actively fight against in order to survive. Rangers will also have the ability to set traps. It should also be easier for game masters to design or modify monsters.

In the leadup to the beginning of the playtest, Paizo are publishing regular previews on their blog. Here’s what I’ve gleaned from them so far:

Actions

In this new ruleset, Paizo is trying to simplify actions. In combat, player characters will be able to take three per turn. If they choose to they can use all their actions to move or use all of them to attack. (If you use all your actions to attack, the attacks will grow progressively less accurate, though.) Most spells take two actions to cast, but some only take one – so I’m guessing player characters will be able to cast two spells in a turn if they have a one-action spell available? Player characters also get one reaction (such as making a classic attack of opportunity) each round, which can be used outside their turn if the circumstances are correct.

Levelling up

In Pathfinder 2nd Edition, player characters will level up whenever they earn another 1000 experience points, and there will be choices to make each time. Every time a character levels up they will have the opportunity to choose feats rather than getting set abilities. The feats a player chooses for their character will determine that character’s abilities and actions. It sounds like there will be a lot of options from the beginning. Paizo say they’ve created a formatting system which should make it easy to see what feats do with just a glance. If a player changes their mind about the feats they’ve chosen for their character, they will have the option of retraining.

If you want to participate in the playtest you will be able to download the playtest rulebook and the playtest adventure Doomsday Dawn on August 2 2018. If you want to make sure you get your paper copies, you will be able to preorder from March 20 (that’s Tuesday next week). Pathfinder 2nd Edition will officially launch in August 2019.

By Chris Booth Twitter  Instagram  Website