[Editor’s Note: Here in The Rat Hole we love our Roleplaying Games. With our regular reviews, you may have noticed a distinct lack of big games like Pathfinder, 13th Age, Dungeons & Dragons, etc. The main reason for that has been that there is just too much out there. Starfinder gave us the opportunity to jump in on the ground floor of that game, and the advent of the Pathfinder Second Edition Playtest gives us a similar opportunity. The best part about the Pathfinder Playtest materials is that the digital editions are completely FREE to anyone wanting to download them. You can visit www.PathfinderPlaytest.com to get those materials and make sure you fill out a survey about the game to help Paizo make Pathfinder 2E the best it can be. -dc]
I was happy to finally get my copies of the Pathfinder Playtest materials at Gen Con earlier this month. It took a bit longer for me to get through than I was hoping, but over the next few months both Brent and I are planning to write about it a lot of the coming months. Likely taking a different approach to things as we do. But since we both, more or less, finished our initial passes of the core rules about the same time I’ve decided to keep my first thoughts in a similar format to his.
10 years ago, when Pathfinder first launched, I was in a very different place in my life. I hadn’t played D&D in years, and generally didn’t have a ton of time for any games, forget about an RPG. A few years ago a nice group of people invited me to join their Pathfinder group, and while I am no longer living in the area to play they remain good friends. I’m honestly not sure where I’m going to land with this playtest, but it’s certainly an exciting prospect. Anywho, below are some of the things I jotted down as I went through the core rulebook.
• Ancestry not race- When Pathfinder came out 10 years ago it had to make a choice between staying with some traditional terms that would help players crossing over from other systems would feel comfortable with or taking a lead in a burgeoning new era of social awareness. There was very little wrong with the decision of using the term “race” as it was a mostly accurate term. But I am happy to see it phase out, being replaced by the term “ancestry”. Ancestry is every bit as accurate in its usage, and in a time of great real-world divisions it is a subtle statement of unity.
• The whole game is written to be significantly more inclusive. Referring to players as She or He in a largely interchangeable way. I’m hoping that Paizo will drop both, in favour of a gender-neutral They. My desire here stems not from any sort of political leaning, and more towards the fact that it just flows better. The fact that it is also a more inclusive term makes it that much better.
• having half-Orc and half-Elf as something that is added onto an otherwise full human, and not a full ancestry anymore, is an interesting choice. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but it does open up the possibility of similar combinations in the future. Let’s not forget we are dealing with the playtest, not the final product.
• Alignments have been written better, actively discouraging the sort of lazy roleplaying that often came from saying “oh, I’m just Chaotic-Evil”
• The default is to choose a balanced ability score when creating a character, but old school players still have the option to roll their character’s stats manually.
• Sign language.
• Changes to character advancement make figuring out advancement easier.
• The new skills, and the actions/free actions/reactions taken with those skills, have been specified. This makes the results more standardized while providing better guidance for the GM in other circumstances.
• Crits handled very differently in this edition. I’ve always hated the whole having to roll a second time to “confirm”
There were a few other things that stood out, but those were the big ones. As I went through my own list, it was interesting to see the things that Brent called out that I did or didn’t. All told, this is looking like it’s going to be a terrific game. I don’t expect we will have new thoughts every Friday, and this is likely to be one of the very few times when you’ll get two articles on the same day. But as we go through, I encourage you to check out www.PathfinderPlaytest.com and download you free copies now. Whether you GM a session, play in one, or just read through everything, there are surveys for you to fill out and be involved. So go do it.