[Read ‘Em ‘Cause You Got ‘Em] Pathfinder Core Rulebook

Pursuant to my twin goals of getting some regular play time in with the local Pathfinder Society chapter and putting a Barnes & Noble gift certificate to use, I ordered the Pathfinder RPG’s core rulebook. It arrived this week and, since I spent the day bundled up on the couch recovering from a cold, I opted to spend it looking the game over.

I was pleased when I first read Paizo’s announcement they would publish an OGL successor to Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition. Given the usual clamour and lamentation that accompanies an edition change, plus the news that the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons wouldn’t be OGL, it seemed likely to me someone would pick up the 3.5 torch. I also treasured the notion of the RPGA population jumping ship to continue their Living Greyhawk campaign in the same nebulous space all we other roleplayers occupy, but that didn’t really come about. Though I would be fascinated by a comparison of the RPGA’s member roster pre-fourth edition with Pathfinder Society‘s current rolls.

So the Pathfinder core rulebook is, as I surmised from my play session a couple months back, pretty much Dungeons & Dragons in all the significant ways that I can identify. The changes I have noticed from my read-through today I like quite a bit, such as giving bards a sorcerer-like spellcasting ability and what seemed to be the removal of experience points as a cost for creating magic items. In fact, from what I remember of them, Pathfinder‘s core rulebook is all the important stuff from Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition’s Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide, minus even a cursory assortment of monsters to fight. That’s my only complaint about the book: it’s missing a smattering of critters for player characters to kill. Then it would, in my estimation, a ready-to-go package out of the box. But I guess that wasn’t part of Paizo’s design remit. Aside from their certain plans to publish any number of bestiary supplements — which they have done since launching the line — I imagine the creatures in the d20 SRD could be used with a minimum of fuss.

Not being very big on the system crunching and lacking the long term play experience with Dungeons & Dragons that others boast, I can’t say much about what Pathfinder did to “fix” the 3.5 revision. I admit I glossed over stuff like feat minutiae and the Spells chapter. I’ll never have a head for it, so I try not to worry about it too much. My general impression, though, is of a positive change that focuses on and enhances the play style and entertainment goals that people expect from the archetypal roleplaying game.

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