Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
Pathfinder Logo.jpeg
RPG published by
Paizo
Authors Jason Buhlman
First Publication 2009

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) and entire published campaigns called Adventure Paths set in that world. 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, and tends to include more annoying politics as time's gone on. As far as the mechanics, it's divisive to say the least. It doubles down on 3.5 in almost every way (hence why it's often referred to as 3.PF), so if you liked 3.5 for its options and crunch, you'll probably like Pathfinder even more. On the other hand, if you disliked 3.5 for its bloat and poor balance, you'll probably hate Pathfinder.

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
Player's Guide:
Alchemist - Antipaladin - Cavalier
Inquisitor - Oracle - Summoner - Witch
Advanced
Class Guide:
Arcanist - Bloodrager - Brawler - Hunter - Investigator
Shaman - Skald - Slayer - Swashbuckler - Warpriest
Occult
Adventures:
Kineticist - Medium - Mesmerist
Occultist - Psychic - Spiritualist
Ultimate X: Gunslinger - Magus - Ninja - Samurai - Shifter - Vigilante

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. Continuing from the Shackled City, Age of Worms and Savage Tide adventures Paizo created when running Dungeon Magazine, each AP is 6 books long and, unlike the Dungeon Magazine adventures which went 1-21, run on average from levels 1 to ~15, though two go all the way to 20. These are detailed on the Adventure Path page.

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 stating all changes would be the passage of time and that every AP happened. The playtest 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.

Links[edit]

  • Pathfinder at Paizo Publishing, for convenience.
  • Pathfinder Wiki, because everything has a wiki these days.
  • Pathfinder SRD: Without the hassle of getting the books. Also includes plenty of third-party material, chiefly Psionics and Path of War
  • Archives of Nethys: The SRD for the system. Once a great fanmade alternative to the official SRD, Paizo decided they couldn't be bothered to maintain the official one anymore and hired the owner to make it the official one.