Adventure Paths and A 4E Observation

This summer I am taking a foray into Pathfinder. I’ll be running the Kingmaker Adventure Path with some friends. We’ve wanted to take Pathfinder for a spin for a while. We all played a lot of 3E/3.5 — and we had some wonderful games. PF seems to be a very nice evolution of 3.5, with a lot of thought put into making a version of 3.5 that might have been all along.

I don’t run a lot of pre-packaged adventures (though I’ll certainly mine them for my own games!) but I decided to try out the AP since this game is just a summer game and I want to focus on really getting in some quality play around my other work. And after looking at several APs, Kingmaker really made my players excited.

Something really, really nice about the PF Adventure Paths — the Players’ Guides. Well done Pathfinder. This is how you create a campaign guide. Long enough to be substantial, short enough to keep player attention — I was blown away reading these for the various adventure paths. These Guides do a great job of balancing the needs of the campaign with offering players choices, they work hard to build in hooks for PCs that are both mechanical and story-driven, but also don’t lock you down to, “Your great-uncle Fred sold you a keep!” They give you choices that spark further idea creation instead to build your character background.

They do presume that a player have some knowledge of the Pathfinder Campaign setting, but they also do a nice job of mitigating this by making it into something that — if a player doesn’t know the setting — they can still get involved, and perhaps even feel a bit of that same mystery I remember feeling the first time I poured over a map of Greyhawk, reading the names, with very little knowledge of what it actually was… Such a good feeling. Two people in the game have no familiarity with the PFCS at all, but still got really excited after being shown the Guide for Kingmaker.

I’ve been playing/GM’ing for nearly 28 years and this is still the best example of building a document that manages player expectation, shapes character creation in a meaningful direction, and also — almost off-handedly, builds a great deal of excitement. A+ for these.

As an aside — my quick 4E comment: I wrote recently about what 4E got right for me, and what it got wrong. One thing that 4E does really, really well is build Excitement!

I recently looked through Heroes of Shadow, and it made me want to start playing 4E again! The Vampire Class (really?), the Vryloka, the Shades, the Shadow Paladins… this is great stuff. I mean, I’m sure that if I started playing 4E again, some of the bugbears of that system would start to wear on me again — and who knows if any of that stuff I just mentioned is actually fun to play… but just looking at the book, I had the same feeling I got when I read the new tieflings, or the Shardminds, or the Knight in the Essentials book… 4E just presents itself as EXCITING!

So, maybe my next project should be to run a D&D 4E game using a Pathfinder Adventure Path? Best of both worlds, right?

Thanks for Reading!


5 responses

  1. That does sound fun. There is a lot of room in d&d for the sort of sword-and-politics adventure promised by Kingmaker, and I can’t think of any 4e products that have attempted something like that. I wouldn’t be surprised if the best 4e adventures weren’t for 4e.

    I actually think that if my DM told me “Your great-uncle Fred sold you a keep!” I’d be reasonably excited 😉

  2. I actively convert Pathfinder adventure paths to 4e. You can find my efforts on Rise of the Runelords at and Curse of the Crimson Throne at

    Both of those projects are on hold for the moment, though I plan on revisiting them and finishing up the remaining bits. I’m currently converting Legacy of Fire at (which is the website I’ll be consolidating those projects at in the future).

    They run beautifully in 4e, and converting them is a great way to learn the ins and outs of the system.

    1. I’ll have to check that out when I have time to just “get into it.” I’m thinking about figuring out a way to run the Kingmaker AP with two groups, one paying Pathfinder and one 4E and just experiencing it from two different ends. I think this would be great fun — and slightly easier than running two games since prep could overlap to some extent.


  3. I agree that since Essentials came out, 4e keeps piquing my interest, but then I quickly tire of it. I really like the Essentials material, but it gets to be a real pain to run games after a while.
    I can’t blame this strictly on the system. I tend to play with an unpredictable number of players, sometimes it is just one PC and other times it may be 6. Since 4e is made to support a standard party, it tends to become more difficult if you are running a solo adventure. Also we rarely use miniatures and we still use graph paper and pencil to make small (not to scale) maps. Basically we don’t play in a manner that the game was designed to be used.
    That doesn’t mean that we can’t play the game, we just have to tweak it a bit more to make it work. Running non-standard games, without minis and dungeon tiles/printed maps is much easier (for me at least) with 3.x/Pathfinder. Of course I’m biased as Pathfinder & 3e are my favorite system(s).
    4e is a fine system, but PfRPG just works better for me and my players most of the time.

  4. @Paul
    “I actually think that if my DM told me “Your great-uncle Fred sold you a keep!” I’d be reasonably excited ;-)”

    I got a chuckle out of this. I’ve played this adventure actually (well, the guy’s name wasn’t Fred…) and it was fun. I just meant, you know, the backgrounds are evocative and appropriate without being dictated or proscriptive… which also has it’s place and can lead to a great game in some instances.

    @Geek Gazette
    I can certainly sympathize. I find that 4E does invite a certain play-style and does support a full-party-session more than it does play with one or even just two PCs. I know there are work arounds, but I think this decision is actually built right into the core of the game. I have no problem with this, and I enjoy 4E still, and I have considered running it again… but we’ll see what Pathfinder has to offer me. I’m pretty excited about running a 3.x style game again — I look forward to experiencing this — especially since one of my players only knows “D&D” through 4E and one of my players is a huge 3.5 player who took more than one campaign to Epic levels and is STOKED! about Pathfinder…

    Should be a hoot.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: