Top 10 RPG list – number 9
The latest step in the evolution of the worlds most popular RPG Pathfinder has a lot going for it. Released when Wizards of the Coast moved on to do D&D4e there were always going to be gamers who refused to change to the new edition. Pathfinder took the mantle of 3.5 and applied a lot of what I suspect to be several houserules and codified them into a single cohesive whole. This is a game where you really can get away with nothing more than the core rulebook, sure the bestiary is a nice touch but you can find all of the Pathfinder monsters on the http://www.d20pfsrd.com/ Pathfinder System reference document.
I remember the resistance offered when TSR released AD&D 2nd edition, the wailing and gnashing of teeth as gamers perceived their beloved loopholes being closed up in the new edition. There was a similar reluctance for D&D3 as the cleaner design removed many trappings of the system that some people held onto like a security blanket. I was a little hesitant to get the new edition as I had recently purchased the excellent Core Rules 2 campaign package; a suite of digital tools that enabled character creation; writing handouts, dice roller and mapper in an all in one package. The new edition put paid to me using it again which was a pity since Core Rules 2 was a most excellent tool.
Although having everything in one book does make for a monster (ho-ho) tome, it is not the largest game book on my shelf; something that I will discuss in a future top ten posting.
I think where Pathfinder really shines though are the adventure path series, a series typically containing six books which form the basis for a campaign. In an age of every increasing splat books, it is a refreshing change to see a company willing to support their core line with a series of pre-packaged campaigns. Even if you don’t use them as written you can always mine them for inspiration and use them as a basis for a new campaign.
There are quite a few other fantasy games available and many appear to draw inspiration from D&D in one shape or another.
Pendragon casts you as a knight in the tales of King Arthur which isn’t a bad thing; using a familiar setting makes it easier for players to get a sense of what is going on and at least an idea of what may happen. There is one campaign adventure available The Great Pendragon Campaign which enables you to play through the rise and fall of King Arthur. Since this is a rather long campaign, the game provides you with the chance to create and play knights from different generations, with the game clock running it is somewhat important to find time to get married and try to start a family to ensure that there are future generations to carry the family name. Since the system is derived from Runequest combat can be quite deadly and another reason to have an heir and a spare to hand 🙂
Back in the 1980’s, riding the wave of success of the Fighting Fantasy game books a slim paperback RPG appeared called Maelstrom. It was simple to play and had everything you needed in one volume and this little gem quickly disappeared until the rights to the game were recently acquired and a facsimile edition was reprinted.
Last year a brand new edition was crowd-funded and subsequently released the afore mentioned Domesday edition which rather than being a small standard sized paperback is available in both soft and hard cover. The game is set in York in 1086 and has a lifepath based character creation system that reminded me of Warhammer 1st edition and by the end of it you have not only a character but a rich background for you to hang plot hooks off of. I’m always in favour of lifepath systems for this very reason.