Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

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When D&D 4th edition was announced it was immediately rejected with a lot of negative feelings by a rather large number of people. Realizing a lot of 3 and 3.5 material would suddenly become mostly useless and that Wizards would be making a significantly different game, Paizo Publishing decided to cash in on the 4th edition naysayers and appeal to the people who wanted to stick to the old edition, but realized it still needed to be fixed.

Thus the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game came about, usually called D&D 3.75 or 3.PF due to the fact that it largely resembles 3.5's ruleset but with various non-drastic updates, fixes and changes. Notably, grappling now more closely resembles something that might almost be called "sense" (gasp!) and Half-orcs and Half-elves don't suck anymore. Spellcasters are just as crazy as ever once they've got a few levels in them, while melee classes, generally speaking, got buffed across the board. Not enough to make them outshine the wizards, but take what you can get. This is assuming that your DM isn't a newfag incapable of compensating.

Noted for the mishmash campaign world (which contains elements lifted from pretty much everything, ever, from real-world history to crappy pulp Sci-Fi to LotR with a dash of Order of the Stick thrown in for good measure), entire published campaigns called Adventure Paths, and decent maturity level (in both senses- gay people exist, as do bum-fuckin', banjo-playing, inbred hillbilly ogres). The setting is both good and total shit at the same time, no better than any decent gamemaster can come up with on their own.

Essentially fairly well-done Darker and Edgier D&D. And the Adventure Paths & Modules are pretty good. If you're the sort of skub DM who uses shit like that.

Golarion[edit]

The campaign setting explained in one handy graphic.
Main article: Golarion

The main setting of Pathfinder is the Inner Sea region (basically the equivalent of the Mediterranean sea zone in our world) on a planet called Golarion. Unlike other D&D settings, many of the cultures and civilizations of the Inner Sea region are in severe decline after the only deity which represents humans in the Great Beyond (the outer planes), Aroden, died a few centuries ago. To add salt to the wound, this caused a series of events which fucked up the world: the formation of a massive supernatural stationary hurricane that annihilated two entire nations and allowed pirates to develop their own kingdoms, the obliteration of a noble barbarian empire by a tear in the tissue of reality opened directly into the Abyss, and most of the prophets and diviners committed mass suicide as an imminent prophesied golden age for mankind suddenly faded into nothing. As if this wasn't enough, the two greatest empires started to collapse in the religious hysteria, Cheliax (the Golarion equivalent of the Holy Roman Empire) suffered a civil war that ultimately put on the throne a noble house with links to the Nine Hells, making worship of the devil (Rock me Azmodeus!) the official state religion. Taldor (a mix of the Byzantine Empire and the Spanish Empire during the Habsburg era) started to lose territories at the hands of the Keleshite Empire (the "Persian" ethnicity in Golarion), while banks owned by brass dragons turned its culture completely decadent and stagnated by the bureaucracy. As this happened some provinces declared independence from Cheliax, creating two new countries, Andoran (which is like the 13 colonies after winning the Revolutionary War, so basically America (fuck yeah) with swords and sorcery) and Galt (France during The Terror with some elements which remind you of the Soviet Union after the end of the Russian civil war).

If all these political fuck ups are not enough, Golarion is in fact a cage built by the gods for an entity known as Rovagug, basically a massive worm which works like a black hole and represents entropy. It's also connected with the Plateau of Leng and there are cults to the Old Gods (yes, the H.P. Lovecraft ones, so you can roll a CE cleric of Nyarlathotep for the evulz). Of course all of this is hidden by the Pathfinder Society (imagine National Geographic meets your standard Adventurers' Guild and then, as awesome as that sounds, make them incompetent), one of the many factions and secret societies whose selfish intentions are just helping civilization to sink more into the pile of crap it is mired in instead of helping it come out. The remaining deities and their churches aren't helping either, the veteran gods have already seen an apocalypse obliterate the world once and the new ones are just useless adventurers who can't grasp that they aren't mortals anymore.

Beyond the Inner Sea region there are even more continents and nations, but barely anybody gives a shit about them (including most of Paizo's writers) with the exception of Tian Xia, where weeabooness and furfaggotry meet. There's also the Darklands (the Underdark of Golarion), divided into three levels, each more under and darker than the last. And if the planet seems too shitty for you the whole solar system is full of civilizations and monsters to rip and tear through in your quest for loot, not to mention the shenanigans you can get into in the other planes of the multiverse.

The Classes of Pathfinder
Core Classes: Barbarian - Bard - Cleric - Druid - Fighter - Monk
Paladin - Ranger - Rogue - Sorcerer - Wizard
Advanced
Class Guide:
Arcanist - Bloodrager - Brawler - Hunter - Investigator
Shaman - Skald - Slayer - Swashbuckler - Warpriest
Advanced
Player's Guide:
Alchemist - Antipaladin - Cavalier
Inquisitor - Oracle - Summoner - Witch
Occult
Adventures:
Kineticist - Medium - Mesmerist
Occultist - Psychic - Spiritualist
Ultimate X: Gunslinger - Magus- Ninja - Samurai - Shifter - Vigilante
Ultimate
Psionics:
Aegis - Cryptic - Dread - Marksman
Psion - Psychic Warrior - Soulknife
Tactician - Vitalist - Wilder
Path of War: Harbinger - Mystic - Stalker - Warder - Warlord - Zealot

Pathfinder Tales[edit]

The series of novels written for the setting. There are over thirty of them now, with some Forgotten Realms authors occasionally writing for Paizo, most notably Ed Greenwood who made Forgotten Realms. This may be an indicator of how much Wizards of the Coast messing around with the settings drove people off.

Adventure Paths[edit]

One of the big draws to the system is the pre-written campaigns Paizo puts out called Adventure Paths, or APs. Each AP is 6 books long and run on average from levels 1 to 15 though some end earlier in levels and at least one takes you to level 20. WARNING: The following may provide spoilers.

Rise of the Runelords[edit]

Pathfinder's 'flagship' AP, RotR hits a lot of more classic tropes. Starts off with the party fighting goblins and an evil Aasimar, moves on to fighting ghouls and a Lamia, then it becomes a mild wilderness game to fight your way to a big ass dam and fight several types of ogres and giants, save a few towns, then go off to fight dragons an ancient evil spellcaster.

Curse of the Crimson Throne[edit]

An Evil Queen and intrigue in and around her court. Popular enough to get an update from 3.5 to Pathfinder just like Runelords did. Also fucking impossible. Do not attempt if your GM has any sort of malicious intent. Fucking bards, man.

Second Darkness[edit]

Drow want to blow everything up, and the elves who send you to stop them are kinda jerks. Not one of the most popular APs.

Legacy of Fire[edit]

Genies and Arabian Nights the adventure Path

Council of Thieves[edit]

Be a hero and help the Nazis against the Mafia. Huge city but a total shithole. Has some major issues with player involvement because a lot of shit happens behind the scenes and the AP doesn't think much of informing the players about it. Needs some work from the DM.

Kingmaker[edit]

Make Your Own Kingdom: The Adventure Path. A Russian company[1], with Chris Avellone leading the narrative design, got the rights to make it into a CRPG and it is due to release on 25 September, 2018.

Serpent's Skull[edit]

The jungle exploration path with lizardfolk, normally considered one of the weakest APs alongside Second Darkness.

Carrion Crown[edit]

The classic horror monster path

Jade Regent[edit]

Travel to Tian-Xa to get a good heir to the throne, to the throne. A lot of the path is just getting there.

Skull & Shackles[edit]

Pirates! You start pressganged on a ship, and after breaking free you need to make a name for yourself on the high seas. Awful for a GM that doesn't want to spend hours voicing the dozen or so important NPCs appearing in just book 1.

Shattered Star[edit]

Semi-sequel to Runelords, you need to assemble a powerful artifact and a different villain of ancient Thassilon threatens to rise. Almost pure dungeon crawl.

Reign of Winter[edit]

Somebody turned down the thermostat in Taldor, so you go and investigate. Things get out of whack when you fight winter fey in the middle of summer, get teleported to Bumfuck, Icy Nowhere and get roped into a date with a Winter Wolf, and it only escalates from there when you go to another continent, another planet, and another galaxy on your quest to rescue damsel-in-distress Baba Yaga from her uppity daughter and son, Rasputin, and his army of tear gas elementals, WWI Russian soldier zombies, and magically-animated tanks.

Wrath of the Righteous[edit]

The Demons of the Worldwound have decided that being trapped in the area around the Worldwound is a bum game, and break free, inadvertently giving your party mythic power in the process. You progress deeper into the Worldwound and eventually to the Abyss itself to save the world from demonic invasion. Good plot and NPCs, could use some work on the game balance, DMs may want to up the difficulty.

Mummy's Mask[edit]

Ancient Egyptian/Osirion path with ancient tombs, mummies, and floating pyramids. Also an emphasis on moral shades of gray.

Iron Gods[edit]

Travel through Barbarians and scavenged technology land fighting aliens, an organization that wants to monopolize all high technology, and face down an AI that wants to make itself a god. Do not charge the final boss if it's linnorm is still alive. Learn from others mistakes.

Also a steampunk twist on this campaign would be amazing.

Giantslayer[edit]

Big Stuff. Kill it fast before it kills you. Do no attempt to make giants fail will saves. The ap accounts for it.

Also, the 5th book is just a fire-themed version of the 4th.

Hell's Rebels[edit]

In a city at the edge of Cheliax, the Thrunes moved one of their family that even those devil-worshipers find too much. As he cracks down, you rise up. Well developed city. This AP actually is what most people think Council of Thieves was going to be.

Hell's Vengeance[edit]

The bad guy path- Cheliax can't focus on the Hell's Rebels rebellion because they're dealing with one of their own, an ill-considered attempt at their capital. You work for the Queen in helping put it down and restoring order in the lands. Pretty damn great if you have an average to good GM.

Strange Aeons[edit]

Lovecraft the adventure path. Lethal as fuck. Bring backup characters and do not, I repeat DO NOT have a mental score below 10. You'll be insane by the end of the first book. Also bring a tank along with you everywhere.

Ironfang Invasion[edit]

One of the more "traditional" recent adventure paths, this one involves stopping a massive hobgoblin army, though it does have some relatively unusual twists in the later books. Set in the country of Robin Hood (or Wood, for those of us who live in T.H. White's books).

Ruins of Azlant[edit]

Visit the ruins of not-Atlantis and fight evil psychic fish (Aboleths), lots of nautical themes and aquatic monsters. Also, there's a magic theremin as an optional treasure.

Rage[edit]

Pathfinder's barbarians are champion swimmers, but only when raging.

The Pathfinder RPG inspires a large amount of nerdrage over its rules, with frequent bawwing over class balance, perceived nonsensical nerfs to fighters, buffed CoDzilla and wizards and general trollage. Any discussion of the differences between Pathfinder ("3.75" for fanboys) and regular 3.5 is almost guaranteed to produce a flamewar.

Second Edition[edit]

Paizo has announced that they are working on the second edition of Pathfinder, which will be released in August of 2019. It make several changes, and will make both goblins and alchemists core choices. Will probably include elements of Starfinder. Also, after decades of deflecting criticism with "4e, bluh bluh," the devs naturally put in a dig at the infamous 4e Forgotten Realms while listing what they would not do to Golarion. The playtest will hit August 2nd 2018.

The dig at 4e is hilarious because, as /tg/ has pointed out, many of the planned mechanics are literally exactly the same kind of mechanics that 4e did itself. Just trading 4e's dry but easy-to-read mechanically focused layout style for "natural" layout style that can make it harder to figure out how the mechanic actually works.

Noted Changes from 1E (As Gleaned From the Playtest)[edit]

  • Races
    • Goblins are now a default race.
    • Half-Elves and Half-Orcs are now reduced to feats that humans must pick up at first level.
    • Each race now adds +2 to two stats, -2 to one stat, and a +2 to any stat you want so long as it wasn't mentioned before. Humans just grab two floating stat boosts.
    • HP is now added between a racial HP value and the Class HP value which includes Con. Just like Starfinder, but without any stamina to buffer out.
    • Many of the key features of each race has been cut out and moved into ancestry feats that you gain at level 1 and every 4 thereafter. All that remains for most is just their types and whether or not they have darkvision.
  • Classes
    • Alchemists are a core class now. However their pseudo-casting is now replaced with the ability to learn and slap together whatever alchemical items they want by spending their Int-dependent Resonance.
    • Barbarians no longer have a pool of turns per day with which they can rage, but now they can spend it infinitely...for three turns before needing to cool off for a turn. It's...strange to adjust to, and it especially hurts animal totem barbs, who need to rage for their natural attacks.
      • Totems (a popular addition to Barbarians based on its new abilities) are now a default feature, giving various features from hauling fuckoff-huge weapons to turning into an animal.
    • Bards get full spell progession.
    • Cleric domains don't grant spells anymore, only powers (which are just spells that require Spell Points to cast). Instead, clerics get extra spells determined by what god they worship.
    • Druids get subclasses based upon Orders: Leaf (Casters with Leshys for familiars), Storm (Blaster druids), Wild (Wildshape-focused), and Animal (Pets)
    • Skill ranks have been done away with completely for proficiency ranks that ring more similar to games like Dark Heresy mixed with 5E: Untrained penalizes you for trying a skill, Trained lets you roll with the requisite stat with no penalties, and Expert, Master, and Legendary are bonuses to the roll in question. This proficiency system even spills over to your armor proficiencies, weapon proficiencies (so as to replace BAB), and saves.
      • In a bit of a turn from its sci-fi cousin, Level 3 doesn't automatically grant 1/2 character level to damage with a weapon group they're trained in, but now only martial characters can get a specialization boost that raises the proficiency rank for attacking with a single weapon group. Casters can raise the proficiency ranks for spellcasting, but that's usually level 10. Barbarians also lack this system, though level 3 gives them access to all special crits and then gain a rank up for weapons at a later level.
      • Because of how mandatory Perception was, it's now a pseudo-skill that every class gets some sort of training in. It's now also the skill check needed to roll for Initiative. Funnily, Fighters (One of the classes considered most shat upon by 1E) is now an ultra-badass at this skill.
      • Each class also has a selection of "Signature Skills", which permit the player to advance their training in a particular skill to even higher levels for bigger feats. As of the 9/10 errata though, Paizo seemed to get the memo about how pigeonholing this was and just scrapped Signature Skills and just let any skill reach the top-level and gave every classes a few default-trained skills as compensation.
    • The spell pool is now drastically shrunk down to 4 types: Arcane (Wizards), Divine (Clerics), Primal (Druids), and Occult (Bards, because shut up). Sorcerers are the only casters that are wild-cards, their bloodline feature dictating which spell list they can take.
      • As one can notice, Rangers, Alchemists, and Paladins aren't on the list. Rangers and Alchemists make do by making items (Traps for Rangers, Alchemical Items for Alchemists) while Paladins and Monks (and a few other classes to a lesser degree) utilize a spell point pool and specific feats to gain new powers.
      • Spellcasters no longer get more spells by just getting a high casting stat.
      • Spells now have a rarity, which might be an attempt to limit the rarity of certain really powerful spells. On a similar note, some of the known campaign-ending spells (Wish, Time Stop) are now reserved for 10th-level spellcasting, which is available ONLY if you select a single feat at level 20 for the primary casting classes and you are still gonna need to find them thanks to rarity.
      • Caster Level no longer affects spell strength, instead, now there are multiple level versions of the same spell, meaning that they have to be "learned" at that level if you want to cast a spell at a "heightened" strength (making it sound like diet metamagic, but in reality just gimping spontaneous casters)
      • Spontaneous casters and Prepared Casters have the exact same spells per day progression (Sorcerers get extra bloodline spell slots, but Wizards get school spell slots, so there's no real difference except Sorcerers have a very finite spell repertoire).
  • Similar to SF, backgrounds are now a mandatory feature. Each gives a boost to two stats (one chosen from a set of two, the other to any stat so long as it's not the same stat as before), a skill feat, and training in a related Lore skill (the new name for Profession, though now only tied to Int).
  • Feats are given practically every level now, split between class feats, general feats, ancestry feats (racial), and skill feats. Expect the feat bloat to explode even harder than fuck.
    • Multiclass feats make a return. In addition to the ones that grant features from established classes, there are some archetypes (Gray Maiden, Cavalier, Pirate) for new perks.
    • Skill feats at least add some new uses for the skill, mostly because of how feats and actual abilities are built off the same format.
  • Perhaps the most controversial feature made in the playtest so far is Resonance: a pool based off Level+Charisma (except for Alchemists who use Int for this), this allows Alchemists to make items and allows anyone to use any magical items, either triggering a power or just allowing you to use an item's passive perk. The contention is that you need to spend this crap every day, meaning that those loaded with magical items are stuck having to figure out what items they want to use every day and traps Alchemists who want to make stuff into focusing on a particular set of items/elixirs/mutagens.
    • Magic Weapons now add an extra die of damage per + instead of just adding +1, making them a lot more reliable. The properties are now included in runes, which every weapon has an allotted limit to fill.
  • Another controversial feature is the action economy: Rather than the typical Standard, Move, Swift action with Free actions sprinkled on, you now get three actions, and everything, from moving to casting, takes an action. In fact, multicomponent spells (Somatic, Verbal, Material, etc.) eat an action for every component the spell needs. Even Metamagic now eats up an action to cast with it.

Links[edit]

  • Pathfinder at Paizo Publishing, for those too damn lazy to use Google.
  • Pathfinder Wiki, because every goddamn thing has a wiki these days.
  • Pathfinder SRD: For those of you who are too lazy and/or cheap to get the books.
  • Archives of Nethys: Another great repository for more obscure Pathfinder splatbook content.