GamerZone: “Pathfinder” (a look back at the rise of the new king of tabletop RPG’s)

For decades, the Dungeons & Dragons” brand has held esteem as the fantasy role-playing experience par excellence. Its beginnings were inconspicuous, starting with a small set of rules. Over the years, the rules expanded prolifically to suit the wealth of ridiculous situations that a group of nerds could produce from their overactive imaginations, climaxing in the update to 2nd Edition. When Wizards of the Coast bought the original publisher, TSR, 3rd Edition was developed. This edition first met with resistance from old school gamers, but after some time was embraced as the rightful RPG system of the modern world. It was glitchy, and the rules were seemingly endless (and I still can’t remember where to find the rules for taking damage from a fall), but so were the previous versions, and this edition had more customizability than its fore-bearers.

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After eight successful years, 3rd Edition (and of course its improved, but not terribly different, semi-successor 3.5) was laid to rest, and Wizards released Dungeons & Dragons” 4th Edition. The edition was intended to make gameplay easier, and it did. Rules were simplified, and the rules set is much easier to memorize. For this reason, there are many gamers that embraced the change. For the rest of us, we’re still angry that we spent so much on books that are not compatible with a new system that we don’t like. Multi-classing is gone, as are Chaotic Good or Lawful Evil, and neutral alignments are just “unaligned”. Furthermore, a character may progress to 30th level, but no further. What?! Is D&D a hipster game now? What nerd would actually want to sacrifice complexity for a lack of options? So, many of us have continued playing 3.5, plugging our ears and screaming “LALALALALA!” at the mere mention of 4E.

In 2009, Paizo Publishing heard our obnoxious whining and gave us the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game”. Guess what? It’s just like D&D 3.5, but better! First, it’s less glitchy, but it also has things to please any gamer. Power Gamers, the classes now have more features, and less empty levels, as well a gaining a feat every other level instead of every three. Rules Lawyers, the game is more balanced, so Game Masters are more likely to agree with your book thumping. Role-Players, the class powers are more diversified, and there is a wealth of “Class Archetypes” to modify the class to fit your character concept. Tripping, grappling, and so on are now unified under a simple “Combat Maneuver” rule. Sensory skills are unified under “Perception”, while sneaking and hiding are both under the “Stealth” skill. Polymorph is easy now! You will never lose experience!

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After five years of publishing, Paizo is continuing to release source-books, and soon it will have covered most of the original 3.5 expanded rules set. Until they do, feel free to use 3.5 sources (d20 System), they’re almost totally compatible. I welcome you to explore the nearly perfected original D&D experience with the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook”. Unlike past sets, it includes all the information needed to start for both players and Game Masters. I still can’t find the rule for falling damage, though. So if by some miracle you’re a TTRPG fan reading this and you’ve not yet checked out Pathfinder, first, where have you been? And second, what are you waiting for?? GET OUT THERE AND GAME!!

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-Ben Thorstein
Guest Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine

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