#RPGaDay2015 29: Favorite RPG Website or Blog

RPG-a-day-2015Certainly the RPG website I visit the most is RPG.net. It was one of the first I stumbled across when learning about role-playing games and its reviews database at the time had a strong influence on how my library grew. I still visit it regularly — multiple times a day, in fact. For a long time, though, that custom of frequent visits has felt akin to turning on the television to make noise in the house: you get more comfort from the constant background buzz than you do any significant gain from the content there. Like any web forum, there are perennial topics that come up again and again. It’s almost reassuring to see people continue to bicker over whether role-playing games are dying and whether game publishing is an industry or a hobby.

Instead, I’ll give a shout-out to d20pfsrd.com. A dedicated team of Pathfinder fans did an amazing job of taking the game’s system reference document and to host it the Google Sites platform with a breathtaking amount of cross-referencing. It’s absurdly easy to jump from one related topic to the next because how of thoroughly game terms are hyper-linked. They use a “linkifier” script to recognize the use of a term that needs to be linked, and run it through what must now be thousands of pages.

Those thousands of pages are ridiculously up to date, too. As Paizo releases more open content, the d20pfsrd.com team industriously brings it into the site. That website is such a huge boon to sifting through the maze of options that has sprung up around playing a Pathfinder character. I can’t recommend it enough to someone trying to figure the mechanical part of a character they’d like to play.

The Pathfinder System Reference Document

With all the Pathfinder action I’ve been up to lately, I would be remiss in acknowledging what’s made it all possible. Sure, I’ve owned the core Pathfinder rulebook for a couple years now and that’s helpful at the table for referencing basic rules — did you know a rolling a 1 on a saving throw is an automatic failure? I didn’t — but between core, base and alternate classes and scads of archetype variants for each of those, the options for a game are dizzying and not easy to track.

Fortunately, Pathfinder being an open game and all, there is not one, but two online resources comprising all that open content: the reference document maintained by Paizo itself and Pathfinder SRD, an independent web site. These two sites have been tremendous help in building Alexandros Callimachi and Morley Bishop. I don’t really know what I’d be playing without having the opportunity to idly browse pages in my own time, rather than scanning someone else’s book at a character generation session.

At this point, with all the use I’ve gotten out of their open content, I really ought to flip Paizo some more business. The Advanced Player’s Guide? What supplement would you recommend for a Pathfinder player?

Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition System Reference Document

One mighty-thewed soul, John Reyst, has assembled the open content from the third edition of Green Ronin’s Mutants & Masterminds role-playing game into a hyper-linked web site.

And it’s attractively marked up, to boot. Seriously, this is a slick-looking  rendition, all cool colors and rounded corners. I had no idea one could do that with a Google Site.

When the third edition of Mutants & Masterminds hit the market in the wake of the licensed implementation as DC Adventures, I opted to give it a pass because of three things:

  1. I didn’t see myself returning to the superhero genre in the immediate future.
  2. My gaming purchases have dwindled and I wasn’t prepared to lay out for a book I didn’t know I wanted to own.
  3. The changes and new material being discussed by early adopters didn’t appeal, as I was honestly happy with the relative complexity of second edition Mutants & Masterminds — occasionally overwhelmed, I admit, but generally happy to have a system on which to fall back.

Now with the SRD, I can click around, browse the material and evaluate the touted changes on my own time at a very appealing time and money cost.1

1 I’m much happier reading rules content for free on a computer than I am paying to read the same. Go figure.

[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.