Hey, you can read the full comic here. This would normally be subscriber only, but I want to talk more about pathfinder without gate-keeping stuff. Also, hey, sign up and get exclusive comics, paper miniatures, crunchy stat-filled homebrews, and the occasional adventure.
So here are some running thoughts on Pathfinder. We’re about half-way through the first module, and it’s a really well designed adventure beyond being simply playtest material. The writing is compelling and the encounters have been fun. We’re not exactly racing through the material though.
We’re coming to this fresh from a bunch of long, interconnected D&D 5e sessions. 5e is a mechanically simple RPG that rewards, I think, a lot of different playstyles and RP styles. Pathfinder 2e is more complicated (not much more, I don’t think, but it takes some getting used to) — but that complexity comes with a lot more flexibility, and I think, a more proactively narrative-oriented RPG than 5e. For example, in 5e, characters have an investigate skill. I can create a puzzle with stuff to find in it, as the DM, and it’s perfectly fair for the characters to solve that by its player saying, “I’d like to investigate the room.” They used the key-word. I know what roll they want to make. If they hit a high enough number, they find the key or the spell scroll or whatever was tucked away in the room. Pathfinder 2e’s skills a laid in a way to encourage more probing play. There’s no investigate skill, so players will have to say what, specifically, they’re doing to search that same room for clues.
The skills feel a little out-of-tune right now, and I’m hoping that Paizo makes some changes to how proficiency is calculated, but despite any grumping you might hear when you google this, the system is perfectly playable even in this early form.
And, in general, I think Paizo gets WAY more right than they’re getting wrong.
Races have been reflavored as “ancestries” which is nice for a lot of reasons — it’s a dogwhistle for chasing off certain political types from the game, which I deeply appreciate — but also just a better way of thinking about the differences between elves, humans, and other fantasy humanoids. And every time you make a dwarf, it can be different from other dwarves you’ve played right out the gate, since you customize your ancestry with feats. In fact, this is how you make half-orcs and half-elves.
The action economy is also really engaging now, and I enjoy spell-casters a lot more for it. You have three actions, and you can do whatever you want with them. Attack three times? Go for it. Move, jump off a ledge, and then attack? Cool. I mentioned spell-casters because their spells take actions up according to the requirements to cast. Verbal requirements are an action, somatic requirements are an action, and so on, such that a complicated spell can be your whole turn. Or you can (I think) divide the casting over several turns.
By far my favorite interaction so far, though, is using one action to cast true strike and a section action to boop a fucker.
Not that I’ve personally done that, DMing and all.
I have a few complaints, but it’s play-test material, and the last time I sat down and played it was two weeks ago; I’d want to have the material much fresher in my mind before leveling any harsh criticisms at it, especially since Paizo is rolling out errata already.
For now, Pathfinder 2e left me with a pretty good taste in my mouth. The playtest materials are free, so grab ’em and let us know if you’d play the new system.