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Forum » Role Playing Games » Pathfinder » The Basics about... Pathfinder
The Basics about... Pathfinder
Bad-AshDate: Sunday, 03 Mar 2013, 3:22 PM | Message # 1
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What’s it about?
A traditional fantasy game, Pathfinder is an extension of the most famous of all role-playing games, Dungeons & Dragons (it’s a long story, ask and we’ll tell you all about it). Players can take on the roles of brave warriors, wise wizards, sneaky thieves, holy knights and priests, and so on, and choose from a variety of the commonly known fantasy races, such as Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, etc..

As an adventuring party, the players can get involved in all manner of exploits across a fantasy world. For instance, one game might see the party quest across nations for a long-lost magical artifact, while another might see them delve into a goblin-infested dungeon, and yet another might see them caught in the political intrigue at a royal court.

How does the system work?
Although Pathfinder uses a variety of dice, most of the rolls are made using a d20, adding a number of bonus and subtracting penalties and trying to overcome a target number. The harder the task the higher the target number, usually in increments of five. Combat also works like this. For example, an attacker rolls a d20, adding all his attacking bonuses and tries to overcome the defenders armour, which is ten plus armour plus other defensive bonuses.

What’s good about it?
It’s a minor variation on the biggest role-playing game of all (see above), and as such is played by practically all role-players everywhere (so if you learn this game, you should be able to get to play anywhere else anytime). In addition, not only does this make the setting somewhat familiar to new players, many of the fantasy clichés actually originated with earlier editions of this game and so are easily recognized.

The system is complex and allows players to grow their characters from adventurers first braving the dangers of the fantasy world all the way up to epic heroes that battle dragons and demons and rule their own kingdoms or guilds or churches. And the choice of characters is vast, even with just the basic rulebook, with a total seventy-seven available combinations! Add in all the other supplements and the sheer variety of characters you can create is staggering.

What’s bad about it?
Personally I’ve found that the core rulebook isn’t always clearly written or laid out, but that’s really a minor flaw.  More importantly the system encourages gradual growth in characters that can be seen as overpowering; beginning characters can struggle to fight off a band of goblins and die from a single stab from a dagger, for instance, but after a time those same characters can destroy whole tribes of goblins single-handed and be mauled by a dragon and shrug the wound off without blinking. (This is obviously meant to encourage a heroic, high-fantasy style of play and that can be fun but the game itself is a little contradictory in its approach, and lacks any sense of realism. Whether this is bad or not though depends wholly on your own viewpoint.)

However, the biggest issue with Pathfinder is the lack of a basic setting. The core rulebook is built around a setting, going so far as to identify the character races and gods, for instance, but offers nothing more. No world, no map, no information, nothing. Ideally the book should have either included a setting or have been written much more neutrally, but this is an issue Dungeons & Dragons has always had. To get around that, the GM has to either spend a lot of money buying supplement books to learn about a fantasy world or spend a lot of time creating his or her own.

What do I need to play?
At a minimum, nothing, provided the GM has the core rulebook at least, along with plenty of dice to lend out. However, ideally you should bring your own dice (Pathfinder uses all the role-playing dice, d4s, d6s, d8s, d10s, d12s, and most importantly d20s), pens or pencils and plenty of paper. If you wish to be more involved then buying the core rulebooks is a good idea, and beyond that you could purchase any additional supplements the GM is using or which appeal to you.

Where can I learn more?
Plenty of places. Any role-playing store,group or online forum will usually know something about Pathfinder and/or Dungeons & Dragons. Online, the publishers (Paizo) have their own website ( and there are countless fan sites.

Message edited by Ash - Sunday, 03 Mar 2013, 3:27 PM
Forum » Role Playing Games » Pathfinder » The Basics about... Pathfinder
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