Pathfinder Second Edition – TL;DR

Paizo has announced a second edition of their much loved tabletop role-playing game Pathfinder.  While this is welcome news to most, many see this as a knee-jerk reaction to the success of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition.

Not an entirely unfair call in my opinion.  I think a large part of Pathfinders success is due to Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition.  Many of us playing 3.5 at the time looked at the new 4th Edition rules and collectively turned up our noses at it.  With perfect timing Pathfinder hit the market and offered an alternative, one that allowed us to continue to use all of our existing 3.5 books and material with a few minor tweaks.  In short Paizo was in the right place at the right time with the right product.

Along with the official second edition website a lengthy FAQ was released.

There are a couple of big and obvious questions most Pathfinder players are going to ask so I figured I’d paraphrase and whittle it down for easy consumption.

Is Pathfinder Second Edition compatible with the First Edition of the game?

No. You can convert stuff though, much like any other RPG system.

I feel this is going to be the biggest reason seasoned Pathfinder players don’t make the switch. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it was the mantra sung when players rebuked 4th Edition and moved from 3.5 to Pathfinder. For many gamers who now own dozens or even hundreds of book from 3.0 onwards, the worry is they are now obsolete.

I know my weekly group is likely to take a look at second edition but unlikely to make the change.  Between us we own the bulk of the Pathfinder rulebooks and are happy with the system, leaving us little reason to outlay cash for a new edition.

Is this then a product aimed more at new players?  As much as I personally didn’t fancy 4th Edition it certainly brought a lot of new people into the game and for that I’m thankful.

 

What are the main differences in the new edition?

There is a lot of apparent renaming here. Your ‘Race’ is now your ‘Ancestry’ for instance. Feats now appear to be linked with class, race or skills. The inclusion of Alchemist as a ‘Core Class’ and Goblin as a ‘Playable Race’ really aren’t that drastic and seem odd points to highlight.

“Gone are the confusing action types like move, standard, swift, and immediate, instead replaced with a simple system of three actions and one reaction each round.”

That was confusing? Did you play 2nd Edition?!? Some have argued that combat is too slow and that 5th Edition has sped it up greatly. As someone who played the original Middle Earth Role-Playing, combat in Pathfinder seems plenty fast enough to me.

To be fair though the new system sounds fine, but not entirely necessary. I do wonder though if they’ve defeated the ‘grapple’ problem at last.

“All of the varied systems and formulas for determining your character’s bonuses and statistics, like saving throws, attack bonuses, and skills, have been unified in a single, easy-to-use proficiency system based on your choices and your character’s level.”

Hmm, again it was this simplified streamlining of things in 4th Edition that put a lot of players off.  We looked at the list of available skills and wondered where they all went to.  Trying to ‘Appraise’ something in 4th Edition was difficult.  Of course I’ll have to see it in action before I can make any definitive conclusions.

I’m really pleased though that Paizo are planning to run this as a free playtest before committing to the final product.  I sincerely hope they listen to the feedback they receive and are prepared to make changes if necessary.  If they had simply dumped a second edition on us without any consultation I’m not entirely sure it would have faired well.

It strikes me as a little odd though that the playtest rule book and module are to be made available in a physical printed copy and more than that the rule book comes in softcover, hardcover or a deluxe hardcover.  A $59.99 USD ($76.16 AUD) hard cover book of playtest rules?!?  Only collector’s need apply I guess.

Personally I think I’ll stick with the free PDF’s which will be available on the Paizo website August 2nd 2018 (read Saturday the 4th here in Australia).  So you’ve got plenty of time to organise some friends for the weekend.  The ‘Doomsday Dawn’ adventure module includes quests to run a party from first all the way up to 20th level which is neat, giving you a chance to really test out the new rules and game balance.

We’ll be sitting down with the game ourselves later this year and will bring you a lengthy review with our thoughts then.

Meanwhile if you’ve got some thoughts of your own, don’t be afraid to share them in the comments below.

Official Pathfinder Playtest Website – http://paizo.com/pathfinderplaytest
The Playtest FAQ – http://paizo.com/pathfinderplaytest/faq

Paizo also released this video to go with the announcement which is worth the watch if you have the time.  Judging by the comments here most are cautiously optimistic.

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