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!