You read this review two years ago.

I mentioned in my last post that I was looking to refocus my gaming – less 4e and more of “something else”, whatever that may be.  Unlike most 4E bashers online, I think I can say pretty confidently that I gave it a chance… and I don’t hate it, I just think that:

  1. The system breaks at Paragon (and WotC’s aware of the issue and ignores it).
  2. There’s no way all the pre-essentials stuff will be updated before this edition run ends.
  3. I’m just tired of WotC’s shit.

Last weekend, the Pathfinder guys had a one-day mini-con.  Good guys (and girls).  I enjoyed playing with them.  Met ’em at Comicpalooza.  We had a few LFR guys there and the familiar faces were nice to see.  But you don’t care about who I play with – if you care at all about any part of this, you want to know what a guy who’s spent the last three years pretty heavily involved in 4th edition thinks of Pathfinder.

Honestly, I didn’t get what I wanted out of the game day.

Ooooh… provocative statement to draw the reader in…

What I was hoping for was to either love the system so much that I walk away from 4E altogether, never looking back, and regretting the decision to go to 4E instead of Pathfinder in the first damned place.  Or, to just dislike it so much that I started to appreciate 4e and quit my bitching.  Neither happened.

I’m really glad I went, and I hope to play with those guys again soon.  I think its a foregone conclusion that I’ll be buying Pathfinder books and probably even Hero Lab… but I’m not rushing to do so.  It’ll be a tempered, budgeted decision.  Not “damn the torpedoes, I’ll just eat Ramen this month” gotta-have-it-now purchase.

Am I going to encourage my local LFR players to start doing Pathfiner Society?  Maybe when the starter kit is released, I dunno.  It took a while to get a good LFR playerbase here.  I’m not anxious to tinker with something that’s working.

Anyway, about the system: If you know 3.5, you know Pathfinder.  There was a lot of “oh yeah, I remember this” from 3.5.  It did make me miss certain things about 4e, though.  I played a rogue, and “I’m going to stab him” isn’t as interesting as saying “I’m going to stab him, and if he makes an attack against me before my next turn, I’m going to do it again”.  So in that sense, I missed a 4e thing.  A lot of 4e things are cool (I don’t need to list them, do I?), and I’d miss their absence.

Pathfinder is more of a sim, whereas 4e is more of an arcade game.  Not that either’s bad.  Simplicity isn’t necessarily bad.  I think a new guy coming to 4e – if he’s guided right and isn’t left to surmise on his own that Heroes Of… means “start here” – has a lower entry point to the system than a Pathfinder player would have, and that’s huge for me.

The truth is, this isn’t an accurate comparision because I didn’t fall out of favor with 4e until the paragon levels.  If we’re comparing my first impression of 4e with my first impression of Pathfinder, 4e wins.  Does Pathfinder grind at the higher levels?  I honestly don’t know.  My main 3.5 character was… 11th level, I think, and I don’t remember any grind issues there.

The mods wrapped up in 4 hours, which is getting rarer and rarer for LFR – then again, we’re talking level one mods.  The main thing that stood out in the system comparision was that PFS mods are better written, in my mind, than the LFR mods.  That’s not to bad-mouth any writers (save for one).  But if I’m picking out three LFR mods that I’ve played at random, and put their stories up against the three PFS mods I played on Saturday, I’d give the story prize to PFS.  Then again, its possible that we got the three best mods PFS has to offer, I dunno.

So, to be fair: If I compare “Master of the Fallen Fortress”, the intro mod we played first, to any of the 4e mods I’ve seen that are designed to be introductory – I’d give it to Fallen Fortrees (except for maybe “Into the Shadowhaunt”, the D&D Game Day mod that was run the day 4e was released).  I’ve done a lot of intro stuff, so I’m going to call myself qualified to make such a statement.

UPDATE: Didn’t take long for someone to say it.  No, I didn’t see Fortune Cards.  However, if you wear a shirt of your Pathfinder faction, you get one re-roll per mod.  I asked a guy if he was serious and he said yes… so there you go.  Both sides have their own lameness.

You probably wasted your time reading this and I probably wasted my time writing it.  But that’s my most honest review of Pathfinder that I can give right now.  I think I’ll gradually get more into it.  I’m not planning on buying any 4e stuff right now, but Pathfinder stuff is on my list.  I’m still playing 4e with friends – planning on playing on Saturday, in fact.  Am I going to go through the trouble of building a playgroup for Pathfinder now?  We’ll see, I guess.

Unrelated: Jason loves the new Monster Vault – but I’ll let him tell you about it.  There, there’s your D&D news.

BTW: When I’m talking about my local playerbase, I’m referring to my lil’ suburb part of town.  The Houston LFR group was going strong long before I got there.


About Matt Savage

Matt Savage once had a torrid affair with a gelatinous cube.
This entry was posted in Comicpalooza, Dungeons & Dragons, Living Forgotten Realms, Pathfinder. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to You read this review two years ago.

  1. eudemonist says:

    Just wanted to state that I, personally, disagree with your characterization of Paragon tier as “broken”. Last game we played, a P3 Special, was as close to perfect (at least with regard to fight balance) as anything I’ve played yet. My experiences have been mixed, of course, and there are certainly paragon fights that don’t “work”, but, taken as a whole, and with consideration given to the newness of the system (yeah, the system’s been out a while, but it’s only recently that organized play has really started digging into Paragon play), it works just fine. Can you be more specific about the breakage you’re referring to?

  2. Matt Savage says:

    Fight balance is fine… it just takes forever to get through a fight. That’s my only problem – but its a big problem.

    As such, 6 1/2 hour mods aren’t unusual at paragon tier… and that’s messed up.

    Okay fine, they’re closer to five. And that’s not so bad in terms of “old guy needs his beauty sleep”, its more that when combats drag, I lose interest about halfway through. The BBEG does his interesting attacks, the PCs do their interesting attacks… and the BBEG isn’t bloody yet – there’s still at least five more rounds to slog through.

    THAT’S when I start looking for other games to play.

    • eudemonist says:

      It’s my experience that players and DM contribute far more to run-time than do modules themselves. Option Paralysis and the search for the “perfect” power to use right now–being ready when your turn comes does more to speed play than anything a writer can do.

      • Matt Savage says:

        I’ll agree with that to a degree, but I also thing that the scaling in the ruleset itself is the issue more than individual mod authors.

        I think by now I can claim that I know how to run a table or play in one. I think by now most of us can. Its not us – its the system.

        For noobs, and people that just don’t get it – yeah, its them.

        You dick.

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