Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Pathfinder Beginner Box

So I bought this awhile back on a whim. I'd been curious about Pathfinder for awhile, if only because it's the successor to one of the worst balanced games I'd ever played which still has some nostalgia. But I waited awhile, reading reviews of what's been called one of the best beginner boxes of all time. People were commenting that certain rules were changed, tweaked, simplified... that intrigued me. So I looked for specifics, and found the key differences:

  1. Spellcasters couldn't cast while adjacent to foes. Just period, couldn't happen. This fixes pretty much all problems with spellcasters, cause all I have to do is base the poor spellcaster and spells are impossible!
  2. No attacks of opportunity. This lets combat move really fast, and moves the emphasis off of combat. 
  3. Max level is 5. No, not 20 (where the system breaks down so badly it's unreal), not 10 (which really is as far as the system can really go), but 5, right around the E6 idea!
... did they do this on purpose? Please tell me they knew what they did! They managed to fix all the problems that 3rd edition ever had, and put DnD back to it's true roots: a dungeon crawler, where combat was just one aspect of the experience. And since you couldn't get above level 5, the game stays at a very grounded stage, making the dungeon crawl is actually a dungeon crawl, not a cheap dungeon fly-by. 

And least, that's what I hoped it would do. This was all stuff I'd just thought about in my head. So I tried it. 

What can I say? It works. I ran a session of it, and it was AWESOME. The wizard was the perfect utility knife, the cleric healed and backed up the fighter, the rogue attempted to deactivate traps and  screamed in horrific pain whenever hit, and the fighter OWNED in combat, a veritable god on the battlefield! I ran them through a relatively tame dungeon, only killing two of their characters before they managed to beat the place. Everyone had a great time (even if the person "born of gamer aristocracy" complained that I was too tough. Bah, I took it easy on them!), and none of these people were newcomers.

The actual physical product is gorgeous. There's a player and GM book, and some of these AWESOME little pawns, along with character sheets, pregenned characters, dice, and battlemap. All the materials are well-made and durable. 

The player's book has everything a player needs to play, with a good variety of feats and other things. I found the GM's book to have an OK selection of monsters and traps, but nearly enough for what I wanted. Granted, I know it's a beginner's box and all, but I would have liked something to help people generate their own traps and monsters. The advice was of no use to me, because most of it was centered around a type of game I really don't think this rule's set was ever meant to actually play a narrative-based game. It would probably work out OK for beginners, but I'm afraid that they'd think this was meant RPGs could do, which is a horrible thought.

So, for all you people who ARE new to the RPG world, welcome! This product is really good,and I recommend it! But just be aware that the game will work out expertly for one thing only: dungeon crawls. If you like the idea of trudging through a dungeon so you can kill things and take their stuff then MAN this is the product for you! But if you're looking for something a little more story-oriented, I suggest picking up Mouseguard instead. It'll be much easier on you than this game when it comes to making stuff and, unlike this box, Mouseguard is meant to be self-sufficient. This game? Not so much.

Overall, though, an excellent product!