Thoughts about Pathfinder

I’m playing Pathfinder again, this time with my wife. There’s a local DM and a table-top group, which is always fun. Pathfinder has got a ton of adventures available, but I don’t think I would ever want to DM it — there’s just too many rules and supplements. Even as players it took us days to pore over the rules, figure out the combat, decide upon classes (she went fighter, I went wizard evocation-admixture), choose skills, traits, and feats. That was way too much time preparing and though we could do it again in less time now, the rules could stand a huge culling. As we played, I realized that it is so much work keeping all the rules straight, that there’s not much time for the DM to create the world, and hence the story. By contrast, Call of Cthulhu is a very simple system, so there’s a lot more time for character interaction and story-telling, plus the world is modern and easy to understand, which gives the stories a firm foundation. My own system (Journeyman) started with a COC campaign in the 1980s, where I added a magic system that could help the characters survive. Eventually we tired of the modern period, and I took the characters back to my old D&D campaign location (originally called Gaeran, and now known as Garst) through a maelstrom. As I developed my own combat system and skills, I kept that simplicity as much as I could. I also spent a lot of time on designing the world (Navah), which helps drives the stories. When I run Journeyman, it also helps that I wrote everything myself, because it all makes sense to me. I’ve written enough now that I forget things and the players keep me honest (which is most satisfying), but the fact that the world is believable to me allows me to craft stories, and stories I can believe in. D&D and Pathfinder don’t do that for me, though they are fun to play. The worlds all too often don’t make sense, and feel like cardboard stage backdrops, so flimsy they tip over if you push too much on them. And I think that’s because the rules are so baroque, it becomes difficult to spend time developing the world. I had a similar problem with Traveller. Traveller has a consistent backdrop and a great deal of background material, which is really helpful. Jim Vassilakos’s Galactic 2.4c program eased the pain of jumping from world to world. The worlds were largely those cardboard backdrops, but things made a lot more sense once you were in space. Traveller has the additional problem that the equipment list is huge, and people often spend more time picking equipment than they do building their characters. Complexity again. These days I’ll take my table-top gaming where I can find it — there’s not many gamers left out there. Pathfinder? Cool. Traveller? Even better (nostalgia is on its side, though the tech lists feel pretty dated these days). And maybe, just maybe, I can put together a table-top game of my own again. For the meantime, Roll20 keeps me going.


About lostdelights

An old gamer flying his freak flag, I've been playing table-top role-playing games since 1978. I've been building my own system (Journeyman) since 1981.
This entry was posted in Journeyman, Pathfinder, Thoughts. Bookmark the permalink.

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