Showing posts with label DnD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DnD. Show all posts

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Converting D&D 5 to Pathfinder 2: Character Conversion

This isn't going to be about a full conversion. Mostly because I feel the best conversions are done in situ by the GM. 

Today I want to talk about converting one of my D&D 5e campaigns, "Into the Nentir Vale."

D&D 5e to Pathfinder 2e

A bit of background.  Into the Nentir Vale began as, obviously enough, a D&D 4e game.  I ran the intro adventures for it with a group, and the reactions were mixed. I tried again with some Pathfinder, a one-shot, but it never quite jelled the way I wanted it to.  Fast forward a few years, and D&D 5 was released. I did a series of posts on sunk cost analysis/bias and conversions leading up to it:

Once these were all done, the adventures went on under 5e.  Well...we know how this will turn out.

Somehow it seems fitting that I am converting it again to Pathfinder, this time 2e.

The adventures themselves are the HPE adventures from D&D 4e. Essentially I am removing about 1/3 of the content to make it play a bit faster.  I am scaling the monsters and encounters to fit a 20th level maximum (vs. a 30th-level one), but in many ways, the conversion between 4e and Pathfinder 2e is easier than converting between D&D 4e and D&D 5e.

The Character: Rowan McGowan

Rowan is my test character here. She is a reoccurring NPC and one I used as my internal tests of various combat situations.

Rowan McGowan, Witch Knight

Like the campaign itself, Rowan has seen some history and conversions. She began life as a witch for D&D 3.5. Her concept is a "Witch Knight" or "Witch Guardian."  This is a witch that takes up the sword to protect others, typically of their faith and/or other witches. Rowan is a protector of the "Old Faith." Some of her exploits found a home in my Pagan Witch book, for example. 

In D&D 5, Rowan was a multi-classed Warlock (Hexblade)/Paladin. Her background was an acolyte to cover her growing up in a religious order of witches. She picked up the blade when she saw others of her kind being killed.  Her devotion is like a Paladin, just to a different cause. Multi-classing her was pretty easy to do since Charisma is the prime ability of both Warlocks and Paladins.

When converting her to Pathfinder there were a number of key differences.

First, while warlock was a compromise in D&D 5 (I wanted a core book class) I can do a proper witch in Pathfinder.  But witch's main ability is Intelligence in Pathfinder (though I will argue with some authority that it should be Charisma). Also Pathfinder 2e does multiclassing VERY differently than what D&D 3.x/Pathfinder and D&D 5e do it. Interestingly enough, it is more similar to how D&D 4 did it.

In 5e Rowan's first level was Warlock (Witch) and then she took a level in Paladin. I have been leapfroging the classes. She is level 4 now with 2 levels in both Warlock and Paladin.

In Pathfinder Her class is Witch. I had her take Weapon Proficiency at level 1 so she could use simple weapons.  At level 2 she is still a witch but I had her take the Champion Dedication feat. This "multi-classes" her into Champion, the Pathfinder version of a Paladin. This is similar to the Multi-class feats of 4e.

Here she continues to 4th level.

The progression is more straightforward in Pathfinder with fewer options in the beginning.  The progression in 5e is less straightforward with lots of options. 5e Rowan has more spells for example, but her maximum casting choices will be limited at higher levels. Pathfinder Rowan will have access to much more powerful witch spells, even if she has fewer right now.

Rowan McGowanWitch 4


Chaotic Good
Medium
Human
Versatile Heritage
Humanoid

Perception +7;
Languages Common, Draconic, Elven
Skills Acrobatics +1, Arcana +9, Athletics +4, Diplomacy +10, Intimidation +10, Lore: Scribing +7, Occultism +7, Religion +7, Society +7, Survival +7
Str +4, Dex +1, Con +0, Int +1, Wis +1, Cha +4
Items Half Plate


AC 22; Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +9
HP 32


Speed 20 feet
Melee Greatsword +10 (Versatile P), Damage 1d12+4 S
Devoted Guardian Requirements Your last action was to Raise a Shield. You adopt a wide stance, ready to defend both yourself and your chosen ward. Select one adjacent creature. As long as your shield is raised and the creature remains adjacent to you, the creature gains a +1 circumstance bonus to their AC, or a +2 circumstance bonus if the shield you raised was a tower shield.
Occult Prepared Spells DC 17, attack +7; 2nd ; 1st CommandMage ArmorCantrips Chill TouchDazeMage HandRead AuraProtect Companion
Arcane Innate Spells DC 20, attack +10; Cantrips Detect Magic
Arcane Innate Spells DC 20, attack +10; Cantrips Shield
Focus Spells (1 points) Pact Broker Range 30 feet; Targets 1 creature Saving Throw Will; Duration sustained up to 1 minute You offer to broker a pact of peace. If the target accepts and doesn't take hostile actions against you and your allies, you take a –1 status penalty to Deception checks to Lie to them. If they refuse and take a hostile action against you or an ally, they must attempt a Will save. If they accepted the offer and then take a hostile action against you or an ally, they must attempt a Will save and treat the result as one category worse. Regardless of the outcome, the target is then temporarily immune for 1 minute. Success The target is unaffected. Failure The target takes a –1 status penalty to attack and damage rolls against you and your allies. Critical Failure The target takes a –2 status penalty to attack and damage rolls against you and your allies.
Phase Familiar Range 60 feet; Targets your familiar You draw upon your patron's power to momentarily shift your familiar from its solid, physical form into an ephemeral version of itself shaped of mist. Your familiar gains resistance 5 to all damage and is immune to precision damage. These apply only against the triggering damage. Heightened (+1) Increase the resistance by 2.
Additional Feats Arcane SenseArcane TattoosChampion DedicationRoot MagicStudent of the Canon
Additional Specials Arcane Tattoo (Shield)Champion Archetype Cause (Liberator Cause)FamiliarHexesPatron (Pacts)Tenets of GoodWitch Spellcasting

--

Rowan's Character Sheets

Thankfully I still had her PDF from D&D Beyond. 

There are subtle differences to be sure. Pathfinder Rowan has better AC and HP compared to her D&D 5 counterpart on paper. I am not sure if those will make much of a difference though in play. 

I knew 5e (and 3.5s) Rowan had a tattoo on her shoulder blade but I was not certain of what yet. In Pathfinder I figure it is the symbol of her Goddess Desna.

While putting these sheets in her folder I noticed I had also started AD&D 2nd Ed, Castles & Crusades, and DragonAGE versions of her started as well!

The conversion was pretty fast, to be honest. These systems still share DNA. In many ways, the Pathfinder version is much closer to my original concept of her so I am pretty happy about that. I will need to see how I can convert the other characters now.

Converting monsters will just be a one-for-one swap out. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Playing...something

The OGL 1.1/2.0 drama has thrown me for a loop. Not gonna lie.

2023 Year of the Monster

My whole "Year of the Monster" was built on a foundation of doing monsters of various types all year. I still can, but I need to pivot.

Case in point. I have been silent for the last few days so I can get at least one of my planned monster books out. I am scraping nearly everything and dumping all the art I would use for other projects into it. Hopefully, I'll have something soon.  

I also admit that my enthusiasm for some other plans that were going to extend into 2024 is critically low. 

Even if WotC/Hasbro does some serious backpedaling, my trust is low, and my expectations are non-existent.  This is disappointing because I have enjoyed all editions of D&D. I have also enjoyed writing for all editions of D&D. But I am, right now, not willing to support Wotc/Hasbro and the new version of D&D and my support of 5e is going to be minimal here.

I am though looking forward to some Pathfinder 2nd Ed discussions and deep dives. Also, I am going to try to feature more smaller publishers here. See what they have to offer. Even ones still doing 5e. It's not their fault that Hasbro is doing what they are doing.

So bear with me in this pivot phase.


Monday, October 24, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: The Dungeons & Dragons Tarot Deck

The Dungeons & Dragons Tarot Deck
Here is something you never would have seen from TSR at the height of the Satanic Panic.  Over the summer Wizards of the Coast released a Dungeons & Dragons-themed Tarot desk.

The Dungeons & Dragons Tarot Deck

78 tarot cards. Illustrated full-color guidebook.

For me, Tarot has been a part of D&D ever since my High School DM got a Rider-Waite Tarot Deck at the best Occult Book Store the 80s had to offer, Waldenbooks.

Since then I have used them off and on over the years. I mostly used it in place of a Tarroka Deck when I run my Ravenloft games. And they are pretty much essential to the running of any sort of Blue Rose campaign, 1st (True20) or 2nd (AGE) Edition.

I have never bought into a divinatory sort of power to these cards; that is not my world view. BUT I have over the years noticed that people ascribe meaning to these images based on their own internal workings. In this case, it makes them a rather rough Thematic apperception test, with all inherent problems of that. (In grad school we may or may not have had a song called "T-A-T" sung like AC/DC's "T-N-T"). But also I can admire the art on these for art's sake.

So when an Offical Dungeons & Dragons Tarot Deck was released, well you know I have to grab that!

D&D Tarot, Major Arcana
Major Arcana

The art is amazing really and worth the price ($24.99) of the deck. 

There is a guidebook as well where we learn the suits Wands (clubs), Swords (spades), Cups (hearts), and Pentacles (diamonds) have been replaced by Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.  This is not that bad really. Any book on Tarot will reveal these associations are already there. WotC is just saying the quiet part out loud.

D&D Tarot, Guide book

D&D Tarot, Guide book

D&D Tarot, Strength
D&D Tarot, Strength

D&D Tarot, Intelligence
D&D Tarot, Intelligence

D&D Tarot, Wisdom
D&D Tarot, Wisdom

D&D Tarot, Charisma
D&D Tarot, Charisma

The art is indeed gorgeous, but feel some of the symbolism of the Tarot is lacking here. True, this is supposed to be a game aid AND much of the symbolism comes from our world and our myths. So these might not apply to the multitudes of D&D worlds.

For comparison's sake, I'll look at a few Major Arcana cards from this deck and compare them to other decks I use.

My main decks are the Smith-Waite Deck, which is an alternative to the Rider-Waite Deck with the art by Pamela Colman Smith restored to its original colors, The Witches Tarot, and the Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law.

The Fool

The Fool

The Fool is the card of new beginnings. In the Hero's Journey, the Fool represents our hero in their starting phase. Young, brash, and lacking wisdom. In S-W deck this is a youth leaving home (the pack he or she carries), they look up to the sky but are oblivious to the danger in front of them. The dog at their heels is trying to warn them.  We get similar imagery in all four cards. The dog is absent in the Witches Tarot and looking away in the D&D Tarot. 

The Hanged Man

The Hanged Man

In our world this is Odin hanging on the Tree of Knowledge. It signifies a sacrice given up for great understanding. In the Hero's Journey this can be the loss of the mentor figure or other loss of innocence. The S-W deck and Witches Tarot this is obvious. The Witches Tarot goes one step more and has the man old and missing an eye. The D&D tarot keeps the man upside down.

Death

Death

One of the most feared and most misunderstood cards in the Tarot deck. Death is not always about physical death, but change. In the S-W deck Death is a skeletal knight riding a white horse (an allusion to the Biblical Death riding a Pale Horse), he tramples or walks over people regardless of their station or class because death comes to all. This is also seen in the Witches Tarot. The Shadoscapes deck takes this notion one step further and show a phoenix.  The symbolism on the D&D Tarot is not quite as sophisticated. 

The Devil

The Devil

Lastly we get the Devil. In S-W deck the Devil is presented as a demon-like figure. The people in the foreground are slaves, but as their loose chains show they are slaves to their own desires; Worldly comfort (the grapes) and power (the fire).  The Witches Tarot goes with the Horned God and he is still of Earthly pleasures and desires.  The D&D Tarot goes with the Prince of Hell, Asmodeus. Which in the context of the D&D worlds works.

So Yes a fantastic-looking deck, but lacking in some of the classical symbolism of other Tarot decks.

If you use Tarot in your D&D games then this one is system agnostic. You can use it with any edition.


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Saturday, August 27, 2022

#RPGaDAY2022 Day 27 - How has the character changed?

After 40 years all my characters have changed a bit. 

One character I had, Nigel was a Neutral Evil assassin, but over the years my DM pointed out he wasn't actually acting very evil anymore and he slowly had drifted to Chaotic Neutral, even to the point of losing his assassin's guild.

Larina went from a rather minor character in the late 80s to more and more importance in my games. I even made subtle changes to her looks, ie her eyes went from brown to blue, and in-story I claimed it was because her magic had become more powerful.

Now how *I* have changed with my characters is I am far more willing to try weird characters. Crazy Gnome bards (although not that weird anymore), crazy little goblin cultists, anything. I was never big on the Sword & Sorcery trope characters, but now even less so.


RPGaDAY2022

Friday, August 26, 2022

#RPGaDAY2022 Day 26 - Why does your character do what they do?

Ah. The age-old question. Why do characters adventure?

For the Johans it was always about destroying the forces of evil. Fighting the undead and demons so innocents would not have to perish.

For Larina, it was always trying to uncover that next occult secret. Or in my case with her, discover the ins and outs of a new game system and its magic.  

For each character for me it is usually about exploring some archetype or some aspect of the rules I want to uncover.

And some characters, like my gnome bard Jassic Goodwalker or my goblin warlock Nik Nak, it is just about having a good time. Both for me and the character. 


RPGaDAY2022

Thursday, August 25, 2022

#RPGaDAY2022 Day 25 - Where has the character been?

I suppose for the purposes of this #RPGaDay I should have started out with just one character.  But where is the fun in that?

So the Werper family began in Mystara, Glantri to be exact. I know clerics in Glantri. But when I moved over to AD&D 1st Ed my DM and I merged our worlds (me Mystara, him Oerth) Glantri changed a bit.  Since then Johan the III was trapped in Ravenloft and thought to be lost. Johan the IV was the first ever to travel to the Forgotten Realms. All of them have been to Abyss to fight demons, their sworn enemies and Johan II even ended up in London in the 1980s.

Likewise, Larina has been EVERYWHERE.

But I love a good plane-hopping adventure.

War of the Witch Queens will introduce my kids to my favorite playground, the Multi-verse. They have already been Krynn, but didn't know it yet.


RPGaDAY2022

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

#RPGaDAY2022 Day 24 - When did you start playing this character?

Again, more than one character means more than one date, but that is cool.

For Sinéad and Nida it was in January of 2021 that I rolled them up, making them some of my newest characters. Though both had concepts prior to this and Nida at least had a name.

For my others, well I got in the habit early on to put the date I made the character on their sheets.

Johan I was 1/9/1980
Johan II was 1/30/84
Johan III was 1/2/86
Johan IV was 9/13/2000
Johan V was 6/13/2008
Johan V Pathfinder version was 2/19/2011
JohanVI D&D Next PlayTest 8/17/2012, converted to 5e proper on 9/13/2014

Larina, despite all that I post about her, was not my first character.  She was created on October 25 (or 26), 1986.  I have been saying October 25th forever, but some details on her sheet lead me to believe that it was more like the 26th. 

Larina's first sheet

While every new edition means the next in line for the Weprers, Larina moves between the editions.  Advantages of being a quasi-immortal witch.


RPGaDAY2022


Tuesday, August 23, 2022

#RPGaDAY2022 Day 23 - What situation are they currently in?

Going off of yesterday's post here is what is happening. 

Phygor is "exploring the world." That is code for I don't know what I am doing yet.

Johan is still in the Demonweb with the other D&D 5 characters.

The OSE characters are all NPCs in the "War of the Witch Queens."

But let's talk about my AD&D Second Ed characters, Sinéad and Nida.  These characters are still rather new for me.  The stats I posted are not the ones I am playing. They are still both 1st level, and they are not in the same game. Well. At least for now.

We are trying out all different editions of D&D here and these will be my return to AD&D 2nd Ed AND my first real introduction to the Forgotten Realms.

Of the two I have only played Nida once. Sinéad is 1st level, but I have not taken her on any adventures yet.  Right now there is not a lot to tell them apart save that Sinéad is a half-elf and might be the daughter of my last AD&D 1st ed character.  Not sure about that one just yet. Though I do think I am getting a grasp on who they might be.

Nida
Nida, Witch of Rashemen

Sinéad
Sinéad, half-elf Bard/Wizard

The current situation right now is me needing to move them forward. 


RPGaDAY2022


Monday, August 22, 2022

#RPGaDAY2022 Day 22 - Who is your current character?

Johan VI
One thing I never quite understood was the assumption that anyone has just one character at a given time. I have dozens!  I might be playing them all, but they are there.  Here are some of my favorites.

D&D 5e

This is my current 5e character, Johan Werper the VI. He is a cleric/paladin. He is the great-great-great-great-grandson of my first ever D&D character Johan Werper, the Cleric.  Johan the First was followed by Johan the II (Paladin), Johan III (Cavalier), Johan IV (Cleric, Prestige Paladin 3e), Johan V (Paladin, multiclassed feat Cleric, 4e) and to the new generation.

It has been a real joy to have a multi-generational arc for my characters and great to play with this concept of the Lawful Good paladin across all generations of the D&D game.  Each has given me something slightly different and all have been a blast to play.

Some of my other characters for 5e that jump between PCs and NPCs are Tayrn Nix,  Half-elf Warlock (Fey Pact), Celeste Holmes, Human Wizard (Sage), Cassandra Killian, Human Sorcerer (Divne Soul), Jassic Winterhaven, Gnome Bard (College of Lore), Sasha, Cleric (Knowledge Domain), and Áedán Aamadu, Human Druid (Circle of the Land).

Old School Essentials

Some of my OSE include the druid couple Asabalom and Maryah and my Pagans Lars and Siân.  

AD&D 2nd Edition

I have two I have been working with. I was just telling my oldest last night I need to pull them out again and do more with them.  Both are AD&D 2nd Ed interpretations of a Witch, Goodwife Sinéad (Witch Kit) and Nida (witch of Hala/Witch of Rashemen kit)

DragonQuest

My character for this game is still Phygor

--

Of course, I do have to mention my iconic witch Larina, who gets stated up in every game I play.

Larina by Djinn



RPGaDAY2022


Sunday, August 21, 2022

#RPGaDAY2022 Day 21 - Setting Sunday: Share an intriguing detail from a game setting you enjoy

Setting Sunday!

It is said that AD&D Second Edition was the king of settings and campaign worlds.

One I always found interesting was the AD&D 2e setting Red Steel

Essentially "Fantasy Australia where even the rocks can kill you." Credit to TSR for trying something so new so late in the game development.

I always liked the idea and wanted to explore it a lot more, just never got around to it.  Though with my Mystoerth setting I could likely find a place for it.

Another great 2nd Edition setting was Masque of the Red Death, an attempt to bring AD&D to the Victorian Horror genre. For a while, this was my absolute favorite setting even if the system (AD&D 2nd Ed.) never really worked well with the setting (Victorian Era earth). 

In both settings there are things in the world that can corrupt the PCs.  And as it turns out both are red.

In Red Steel it is the dust and rocks, but there is also the red steel to protect you.

In MotRD it is the eponymous Red Death, the evil force that haunts Gothic Earth.

Both came out at similar times and I have to admit I wanted to explore more connections between the two other than the superficial. 

See what I mean when I said I could just play D&D and never run out of ideas!

RPGaDAY2022


Friday, August 19, 2022

#RPGaDAY2022 Day 19 - Why has your favorite game stayed with you?

 Why has your favorite game stayed with you?

Well if we are talking about Dungeons & Dragons then I think it is because of all the endless possibilities. If I only ever played D&D for the rest of my life I don't think I would run out of ideas.  There is always something more to be done, some new dungeon, hex, or plane to discover and explore.

Maybe that is why it has also been the king of RPGs for nearly 50 years.


RPGaDAY2022

Thursday, August 18, 2022

The Launch of One D&D

Today Wizards of the Coast announced the next phase of D&D with the code name "One D&D."

One D&D

The playtest is being run out of the D&D Beyond Environment, so you will need a Twitch account to get access.

https://www.dndbeyond.com/one-dnd

The first playtest packet covers Character Backgrounds/Origins

What do we know so far?

The new core rules will be backward compatible with D&D 5 to the point of all existing D&D 5 materials work with the new rules.  This fits my prediction that rules were going to be closer to something D&D 5R or Edition 5.5.

They will be taking feedback, giving people time to playtest first. 

The new edition/revision will have new core rule books.  There will be a closer tie to the books and D&D Beyond as well as their own new digital service.   [source]

Wizards will also be including more features for inclusivity, so among other things I expect more species options as PCs and dropping the default alignment for characters, but maybe not necessarily so for monsters.  I think we have seen some of these changes for monsters in the Spelljammer Monstrous Compendium and Monsters of the Multiverse.

So to me, this feels like the changes 2nd ed did to 2nd ed revised, 3.0 did to 3.5, or 4e did to Essentials. 

Beth Rimmels over at ENWorld has a complete coverage of what is going on.
https://www.enworld.org/threads/one-d-d-takes-5e-to-new-digital-places.690754/

In any case, it is going to be fun to see where this new D&D goes.

Grabbed the playtest. Looks like we get a "Primal" spell source for Druids now. No Goblins though as a playable species!

Monday, August 15, 2022

#RPGaDAY2022 Day 15 - Who would you like to Gamemaster for you?

Interesting question.

Normally I prefer to game with people I know. Conventions are an obvious exception.  So there isn't really anyone out there that I would like to have as a Game Master. 

I would however like to play a game with Matt Mercer of Critical Role.  He just looks like he runs a fun game. Yeah, that might make me a heretic among the old-school crowd, but I stopped caring about that years ago.


RPGaDAY2022

 

Saturday, August 13, 2022

#RPGaDAY2022 Day 13 - How would you change the way you started RPGing?

I don't think I would change anything, to be honest with you.  Save for maybe hold on to some items longer.

Generally speaking, I am not one to have regrets or second guess my past. Things happened, I made the best choices I could with the knowledge I had and it made me what I am right now and I would not want to change that.

My struggles to figure out how Holmes Basic worked with the Monster Manual or Moldvay Basic/Cook Expert worked with the AD&D Players Handbook set me off into directions to understand these systems better. Which got me to write my own material. Which got me into writing my own material for online use. Then to working with real publishers. To produce materials that people buy now. 

It all goes back to that. I would not want to change any of it really.

RPGaDAY2022


Friday, August 12, 2022

#RPGaDAY2022 Day 12 - Why did you start RPGing?

Like I mentioned on Day 8 it was the late 70s and early 80s and honestly, Dungeons & Dragons was everywhere it seemed. This was before the full Satanic Panic had hit my small town (that would be later) and it just seemed like something all the cool kids were doing.

Of course by the time I picked up D&D all the "cool kids" had moved on to "Call of Cthulhu."  Yes I can still recall being told "oh. You are STILL playing D&D?"  Yeah, here I am 40 years later...and still not one of the cool kids I guess.

Eh. No worries. My kids think I am cool. 

...

I have been informed that they don't think I am cool.  Whatever. You all still like me.

RPGaDAY2022


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

#RPGaDAY2022 Day 10 - When did/will you start Gamemastering?

When did I start Game Mastering?  Right away to be honest.

It would have been with the D&D Basic Set edited by Tom Moldvay. I am sure I ran my younger brother and sister through some adventures.  I know I had made my own dungeons then and still have a couple of the maps. One, in particular, had a red dragon in one room and a green dragon in another.  No idea how they got through the doors.

I would like to think I got better.

RPGaDAY2022


Monday, August 8, 2022

#RPGaDAY2022 Day 8 - Who introduced you to RPGs?

That one is a little harder to figure out.  I feel like that in the late 70s and early 80s D&D was all over the place. I knew of it as far back as 77 or 78. I didn't read any of it until 1979 though.

I borrowed the Monster Manual from my classmate Geordie Herald. I got a copy of Holmes' Basic from someone. My first real DM was Jon Cook. 

In truth, there was this critical mass of D&D in my town in the late 70s. I DO remember I almost didn't get involved with it due to my interest in video games. But reading mythology and "The Hobbit" and watching all sorts of horror movies I think made my involvement in the game at the time rather inevitable.

All roads lead to the Keep on the Borderlands it seemed.

RPGaDAY2022


Thursday, June 23, 2022

Review: Pathfinder 2nd ed Advanced Player's Guide

Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide
Continuing my exploration of the Pathfinder Second Edition I am going to examine the book you all knew I was going to get to sooner or later. 

Like the previous edition of Pathfinder the Advanced Player's Guide introduces some new classes to the Pathfinder game, and like the previous edition, one of those classes introduced is the Witch.

Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide 

As before I am considering the hardcover Special Edition version of this book. The book is 272 pages and has full-color interior art.

This book is Player focused and shares a lot in common with its predecessor. It also follows the format of the Second Edition Core rules.

Introduction

This introduces us to the book and gives us an overview of what we can expect.

Ancestries & Backgrounds

Now here are some neat ideas. We get five new Ancestries here. They are Catfolk, Kobolds, Orcs, Ratfolk, and Tengus.  

The Catfolk are fun and comparable to the D&D Tabaxi and Rakasta (not Rakasha).  Likewise, the Tengus are like the D&D Kenku.  Orcs are orcs, but I like what they are doing with them. Orcs has always been the "Klingons" of D&D. Someone to fight in the TOS ("The Original Series" or "The Old School") but that changed later on. We have Klingons in Starfleet in TNG and beyond and now we can have Orcs as a player race.  Orcs are still described as being mostly chaotic (which I like) and even, maybe just a little bit evil. Player Character Orcs don't have to be.  Also like Klingons, these Orcs seem to see their gods as something they should strive to kill. A little John Wick influence here? (The game designer, not the character).  These orcs would be interesting to play.  We also get Ratfolk (anthropomorphic rats) and Kobolds.  Now I will admit, I really don't like Pathfinder's ultra-reptilian Kobolds.  I am certain they have their fans, but if I am going to play a small annoying creature why would I choose anything but a goblin? 

Each ancestry gets a set of ancestry feats to choose at 1st, 5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th levels.  

There are new heritages as well including the new versatile heritage which gives you lineage feats as well. I know the "feat haters" are already screaming. Yeah, that might be justified. The lineages are Changeling, Dhampir, and Planar Scions which include Aasimar, Duskwalker, and Tiefling.  These feats are also taken at 1st, 5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th levels.  

More feats are given for the Core Rules ancestries as well. I think the next goblin I play is going to need the "Extra Squishy" feat.

There are more backgrounds as well including Common and Rare backgrounds. 

Classes

Ah. The real reason I bought this book!

In addition to the four new classes, Investigator, Oracle, Swashbuckler, and Witch, there are new features for the twelve Core Rules classes.

The Investigator is an interesting class and one I can see working well in an FRPG.  Basically is Sherlock Holme could fit into your game then this class has a place too.  The Oracle is a staple of classic mythology and is a divine-powered class. A nice alternative to the cleric.  The Swashbuckler is neat and all but I didn't "get it" until I started thinking of them as a DEX-based fighter as opposed to the normal STR-based one. That leaves just one more class.

The Witch

The Witch has been a great addition to Pathfinder since 1st Edition and I rather like this one too.  This witch is an Intelligence-based spellcaster. Like many interpretations of the witch she gets a Patron and Familiar.  This is how she learns her spells. Now for me this points more to Charisma, but there are a lot of Charisma-based casters in Pathfinder. Wisdom would have also been a good choice.  These witches also get Hexes which are powers they can use that are not spells but spell-like. 

While clerics are clearly divine spellcasters and wizards are arcane, witches as a class can move about these distinctions. So depending on their Patron Theme, they can be Arcane, Divine, Occult, or Primal.  A Rune Witch is arcane, but a Winter Witch is primal. This time also grants a skill, a cantrip and a spell.

In addition to spells, hexes, patrons, and loads of feats, witches also get Lessons, each lesson gives the witch a hex and their familiar a spell. Witches don't use spell books here, just their familiars.  There is so much customization I could make 1000s of witches and no two would be the same. 

Witches in Pathfinder fill the same ecological niche that Warlocks do in D&D 5.

Following the witch we get new feats for the twelve core rules classes. Typically a two- or four-page spread continues with PF2e's design aesthetic. Sorcerers, I should note get new bloodlines as well. 

There is also a section on animal companions (largely stats) and familiars. 

Archetypes
Archetypes

Like the Core Rules of PF2e this has several archetypes that can be applied to classes via the applications of various feats and skills. I do see where some of the 3.x Prestige Classes are now living on here as archetypes. There are also the multi-class archetypes for all the new classes. One of these new archetypes is the Cavalier. I can complete my "Dragon 114" duo with a human witch and an elven cavalier!  Some of these archetypes can be be taken as early as 2nd level, others (typically the former Prestige Classes) need more requirements and have to be taken at higher levels.  I would need to compare and contrast the archetypes to the old Prestige Classes to see how they work out.  I can see where you can build your own Batman now with the monk class, the investigator multi-class feat, and vigilante archetype. 

One thing though. I can see these archetype being adapted to D&D5 or even OSR D&D with some care and attention. 

Feats

Feats are either the boon or bane of Pathfinder. This chapter has more of them.

Spells

New spell casting classes mean a need for new spells. 

Items

New magic items.

All in all this book is a lot of fun. The art is great, and the layout and design is fantastic. There are a lot of great ideas here and I would love to try them out.  Hell. I would be content in making a different PF2e witch a day just to see how many I could do.  But don't worry, I am not going to that except maybe for myself.

There is a lot here I would love to see find a home in some way for D&D, maybe for D&D6.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Review: Pathfinder 2nd Edition

Pathfinder Second Edition
All month long I have been talking about, but more appropriately around, D&D. For the rest of this week I want to talk about D&D's, now adult, younger cousin. Pathfinder 2nd Edition.

This won't be a full review. The Pathfinder Core book is massive and absolutely packed. Plus there are plenty of reviews out there.  Instead, I am going to look at some of the changes, updates, and innovations of the game and compare and contrast it to Pathfinder 1e, D&D4, and D&D5.

A bit of history first. Pathfinder 1st Edition was published by Paizo Publishing in 2009.  It was an immediate success with the core book selling out at it's appearance at Gen Con.  Don't quote me, but I think it was some sort of record.  Since then Paizo has always had a huge presence at Gen Con.  Paizo had been one of the 3rd party publishers of choice back in the 3.x days 2000-2008. It had a license to publish Dragon and Dungeon magazines and its support products for 3e were some of the best on the market. When Wizards of the Coast shifted direction and released D&D 4th Edition with no OGL backing, Paizo saw their opening.  They released Pathfinder to a huge public beta testing and took in all sorts of feedback. The Core Rules, which combined what had normally been the Player's book and the Game Masters' book into one massive tome.

It is hard to appreciate just how successful Pathfinder was.  When sales of D&D 4 spiked, but then dropped suddenly, Pathfinder took over the throne of best-selling fantasy RPG from D&D.  D&D didn't just sit on that throne, they built it, often from the bones of vanquished enemies like DragonQuest. So successful that many people began to call it D&D 3.75 and even the rightful progression of D&D 3.x.  

Pathfinder was a success and really would have been a success even without D&D4 underperforming (make no mistake D&D 4 still sold better than pretty much everything else combined). 

Fast Forward to 2012-13. Wizards announce they are holding public playtests for what they are calling D&D Next. The playtests are similar to Pathfinder's.  In 2014 D&D 5e is released to critical and commercial acclaim.  D&D retakes its throne and stays there.  Meanwhile by 2014 Pathfinder is moving along with a 14-year-old system (the 3.0 OGC). It survived the d20 boom and glut and still is the game of choice for many.  But sales are low and the true money maker of any RPG are the core books.  So in 2018 Pathfinder releases their 2nd Edition Playtest book.

Pathfinder 2e Playtest and Special Editions

It does not go over as well as the first playtest, this is the third time the market has seen this from the Big 2, but it is enough that Paizo releases Pathfinder 2nd Edition at Gen Con 2019.  That brings me to today, Pathfinder 2nd Ed in 2022.

Pathfinder Second Edition

Pathfinder 2nd Edition (PF2e here on) is the update to the best-selling, award-winning Pathfinder RPG. For this review/overview I am considering the Special Edition hardcover from my FLGS.  The book is 640 pages with full-color art.

Let's just start from the top. This book is gorgeous. The art is what you have come to expect from Pathfinder and this one does not skimp on it. 

PF2e interior art

There is an evolution here that is very interesting. It is something I call my "Modula-2 Experience."  Back in my undergrad days, I learned to program in Pascal. Not uncommon really, lots of people did that then. But later on I picked up other languages. I had already learned BASIC and Fortran so I picked up C and Modula-2.  C is very different than Pascal so keeping the syntax straight was an issue at first but then became easier. Modula-2 is almost identical to Pascal with some odd bits here and there. Picking up the syntax was a lot easier, but became harder to keep them separate as I went on.

Pathfinder follows the Modula-2 path from D&D's Pascal.  To extend the metaphor more, D&D 3 is Pascal, Pathfinder 1 is Modula-2, D&D 5 is Object Pascal/Delphi and Pathfinder 2e is Oberon. To extend my metaphor to breaking Original D&D is ALGOL.

Exploring PF2e is fascinating. There is a game here that I easily recognize and yet looks new at the same time.  All of the same abilities are here, many of the same races (now called "Ancestries & Backgrounds), and classes.  In fact, the first 240 or so pages read like D&D 3 or 5 or Pathfinder. It's when you delve into the details that differences become apparent.  

1 Introduction

This chapter introduces us to RPGs in general and the Pathfinder 2nd Edition in particular. It (and the rest of the book) features the main text and sidebars to explain the text or put it into context. For example, the text on page 7 mentions dice and the sidebar shows a picture of dice with the standard die nomenclature. 

This covers the basics of character creation such as deciding on your concept, rolling or assigning your six abilities (the classic six), figuring out your character details, and more.  We have six ancestries and twelve character classes.

Ancestries and Classes

Now I will say this. While I appreciate a good character sheet breakdown, the PF2e sheet is ugly as hell. For all the great art in this book that is one garish sheet. Wow. I'll stick with the black & white one.

2 Ancestries & Backgrounds

Modern RPGs are moving away from the concept of "race" and instead are going with Ancestries. I rather like this approach, to be honest. While "race" might be a good term, there are enough negative connotations to it (see my discussions of 19th Century Race Theory) to make it less than desirable. Plus Ancestries and Background help parse out what you get via your parents (eyes, pointy ears, and more) and what you get growing up in a culture.  

Ancestries are what older games call "race" it helps determine your ability score bonuses and sometimes penalty, your size, your speed, and what languages you might know. It also gives you "traits" and who well you see in the dark.  Heritages are sub-specialties of the Ancestries.  My favorite ancestry for PF2e right now is Goblin. Yes, you can play a Goblin in this game! The heritage I like the most is the Ironguy Goblin. You can eat anything.  I love Pathfinder goblins. 

Each ancestry gets an ancestry feat (PF2e is crazy with feats) at the first level. This helps define your character. For example, one feat is Goblin Song where you sing annoying goblin songs to distract your enemies.  You can get additional ancestry feats at 5th, 9th, and 13th levels. Some have pre-requisites. So you can't take "Very, Very Sneaky" at 13th level unless you took "Very Sneaky" before.

An interesting note here. Half-elves and Half-orcs are not an Ancestry. You take Human as your ancestry and then half-elf or half-orc as your heritage. The rule implication here is clear.  You can have mixed ancestry and heritage as the rules allow, you just need your GM to be ok with it. 

Backgrounds are chosen like a feat but are akin to the Backgrounds of 5e.  Akin, not the same.  These usually give some sort of skill, skill boost, or feat. 

Languages come from your Ancestry, heritage (sometimes) and background (sometimes).  

Your HP at level 1 is based on your Ancestry and not your class.  This is a good change since it can also apply to monsters and level-0 NPCs.

3 Classes

Here we get the classes we know from 3.x, more or less. There is the new Champion class, which replaces the Paladin (a Paladin is a type of Champion) and the new Alchemist. 

Alchemist

Each class has an ability boost, HD for leveling up, saves, attacks, and what skills they have access to. They are constructed very similarly to D&D 3.x/PF1e classes. Each class also has a series of feats they can take at various levels. These include Class Feats (specific to class) and General Feats (used by all). You take a Class Feat at 2nd level and every even level after. General feats are taken at 3rd level and every four levels after. There are also skill increases, ability boosts and other powers/abilities so that there is something happening at every level for all classes.   There are also sample variations on each class; these are done with the choices you make in powers, skills, and feats.  For example a Paladin is a Lawful Good Champion and Dancer is a Bard that takes ranks in Acrobatics and Perform (among others).  So customization is through the roof and no two characters of the same class need to look or feel the same. 

Seoni the Sorceress

To add to this there are even Archetypes to define your character or at 2nd level you can take a multiclass feat to add some abilities of another class to your current one. Much like D&D 4e used to do.  There is just so much to do with these classes.   No surprise then that classes take up almost a quarter to a third of this book.

I do miss the Prestige Classes from 3.x/PF1e though. Though with this level of customization they can be "thematically" folded into the existing rules here with no issues.  Want to be an Arcane Archer? I am sure there is a good skill/feat options that allow you to do that. 

4 Skills

There are 17 skills for PF2e. They are well described and include things you can do untrained and things you can do trained. There are also specific examples of things you can do with each skill and whether or not these are move actions, require concentration or other modifiers. For example, Climbing is a type of Athletics check and it is a Move action. 

5 Feats

Pathfinder isn't Pathfinder without Feats. Love them or hate them they are baked into the system here more than D&D or PF1e. And there is a lot of them. Again though great for character customization, bad for GMs needing to keep track of everything.

6 Equipment

Covers the shopping list. But also has premade Class Kits you can buy which have all the basic gear a class is likely to take. 

7 Spells

The next largest section (about 120 pages) is Spells.  All the same, schools are here, but now magic is divided into Arcane (Wizards), Divine (Clerics), Occult (Bards), and Primal (Druids) Spells.  So seeing a bit of PF1e's later material and D&D4e DNA here.  There are Spell Slots from 0 to 10 (yes 10th-level spell slots) and spells of level 0 (Cantrips) to 9. So you can heighten a spell to higher slots or sometimes a spell might need a higher slot depending on a feat. Similar to 3.x certainly but also a little feel of 5e's spell slot system.  So for example there is no Monster Summoning I to IX. There is only Summon Animal (or Construct or Fiend or Fey etc.) and you can heighten the spell at higher spell slots. So taking Summon Animal at a 7th level Spell Slot lets you summon a level 9 or lower animal. 

Spells are all listed alphabetically and tagged with various descriptors like "Cantrip," "Divination," or "Mental" and more. The description also lists what tradition(s) they belong too, Arcanes, Divine, Occult and/or Primal. 

There are also "Focus" spells that are unique to a particular Class.  Bards, Champions, Clerics, Druids, Monks, Sorcerers, and Wizards all get their own lists unique to them. Yes monks get "Ki" spells.  

Like past versions, but mostly like D&D 4e there are also Rituals. these take longer and have certain requirements that need to be met. 

8 Age of Lost Omens

This covers the very basics of Golarion, Pathfinder's game world. It includes a little history, the lands, and the gods. 

9 Playing the Game 

This is mostly the Game Master's section but there is still plenty here for players.  Covers all the rules needed to play with an emphasis on the basic d20 roll and checks. Note there is no "Natural 20 = critical hit" here, BUT score 10 higher than their DC/AC then you do have a crit! So that is kinda cool. 

10 Game Mastering

This is the Game Master's chapter. Lots of advice here on how to run PF2e games (and some of it applies to any d20-based game.)  There is a lot here yes, but obviously more could be said since there is a Game Mastery guide out as well. 

11 Crafting & Treasure

Modern gamers love to make things. I blame Minecraft. This chapter covers making things (great for the alchemists) and treasure. This is also a fairly large chapter.

Treasure

We end with the Appendicies. 

--

This book is huge and it is packed with information.  The index is great and very useful. In fact, the entire design of the game allows ease of access to all information. This is one of the things that made 4e a well-designed game (not the same as "playable") and we see it live on in OSE as well. 

Who Should Play Pathfinder Second Edition?

Anyone who loves to play D&D in its myriad forms and also loves deep character customization.  In fact, if you love building characters and don't have a game going at the moment then Pathfinder has a lot to keep your character-building hobby very busy.

It is not a lite game. It is very, very crunchy.  While the differences between PF1e vs D&D4 were very pronounced there is less obvious differences between PF2e and D&D5 at least in terms of the types of games you can play.  I will say that if you were to play something like "Keep on the Borderlands" the differences in play between D&D5e and PF2e would be minimal and all resting on the mechanics of the game. Still, you are going to roll initiative, roll to attack an orc, roll a d20 to see if you hit, and then roll damage as indicated by your weapon type. At higher levels, these mechanical differences will become further apart, but essentially they both still have the same DNA linking them back to D&D 3 and before.

There is a lot to like about this game. There is a lot of game here too and that might not be to everyone's taste.

I can something like the Ancestries, Heritages, and Backgrounds making their way to D&D proper. It is so useful and gives so much more customization that looking back it seems like a no-brainer.