The Dragon Age game I’d been playing in has gone on hiatus — though I am hopeful it will return. My dwarven warrior needs to swing that axe! In the lull, I am now running the Kingmaker Adventure Path using Pathfinder. And I have to admit, I was nervous. I had left 3.5 behind about a year and a half before it officially closed up shop and became 4E. And then for the first two years that 4E was out, we played it pretty exclusively. I ran a lot of 4E in that time, and reading the Pathfinder core rules — even though I liked what I was reading — I wasn’t sure about transitioning back into a 3.5’ish environment.
So, two sessions in to the Kingmaker path and here are my initial thoughts/observations…
I know it’s only two sessions… but… in two sessions I’ve already remembered the joy of having a meaningful combat encounter that only lasts about half an hour. That’s great. We’ve already had a “boss fight” against a lieutenant of the bigger boss — and while it was an important encounter, we didn’t break out a battlemap and we didn’t use minis and it went great. Don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoy both types of combat, and the highly tactical encounters of 4E have their appeal, but this more free form, loose combat is a different kind of exhilaration and so far I’m enjoying it.
Encounters Not Always Level Appropriate…
One of my players in the Pathfinder game is primarily a video game player, and most of her RPG experience comes from the two years she played 4E with us. So it is great fun watching her play her Sorcerer, with 7 hit points, and seeing her expression when things go wrong. For example: A big part of the Kingmaker AP is exploration of a wilderness. So the party is making the rounds, poking around on the edge of this little swampy area (still 1st level mind you) and I roll for a random encounter — and I actually get one! (The chance of rolling one is only about 15% on the exploration phase). And that encounter is a Shambling Mound… Yup. So, I call for some perception checks, have the thing come heaving its way out of the sucking ooze of the marshy ground and — they run. They run like crazy and keep running until can’t even see the swampy bit anymore.
God that took me back.
They also caught a glimpse of an owlbear on a ridgeline that same session and went the other way… And they marked out these random encounters on their exploration map, so we might be revisiting these guys later on.
Well, again, don’t get me wrong — I’m not a ‘FinderFanatic or anything — and I still wouldn’t mind playing 4E again, so no edition hate here — but it’s been refreshing to see what Paizo’s done with the old chassis and I’m happy to say that my players and I are really enjoying so far. We’re actually going to try and see if we can make it through the whole Kingmaker AP, and I’m hoping to pick up another player at some point (right now the party is only 2 people — a sorcerer and a ranger) to round out the group, but overall, it feels good.
I’d recommend to anyone who is still using 3.5 and has been hesitating or wondering about Pathfinder — go for it. You’ll likely enjoy the ride. It’s actually been enough fun that the girlfriend — who is playing the sorcerer is thinking about trying to put together a group to run the Carrion Crown AP.