Posted by : David Guyll January 19, 2009

First off, I want to clarify that in 3rd Edition wizards didnt forget their spells. They actually cast most of the spell ahead of time, which was what they were doing when they were preparing spells. Same mechanics, just different explanations. It makes more sense, I suppose.

My general opinion of Paizo material is that its not nearly as good as people seem to claim it is. They laud Paizo as a pantheon of adventure writing, when their shit is basically the same as what you get out of 4th Edition: a long string of fights. This isnt surprising, because action games are incredibly popular, and D&D is and always was an action-adventure role-playing game.
What truly makes it entertaining are the decisions that you get to make, and I mean more so than just a choice of which action you will take. For example, terrain features can make an otherwise boring encounter a lot of fun.

My most recent experience with Paizo was their first Pathfinder adventure path, Rise of the Runelords. I read through all six adventures before selling them after trying and failing to run the first one, Burnt Offerings. Paizo to me is pretty famous for stuffing their adventures with lots of pages of filler. Adds to the page count and probably makes you think that, damn, you are getting your money's worth out of it. The problem is, I realized that most of the stuff crammed in there was never going to see the light of day.

You can sum up Burnt Offerings pretty easily: goblins attack Sandpoint, and the players go to Thistletop and defeat them, bumping off some corrupted celestial chick in the process. Now, the path is pretty convoluted, which drags the game down as you try to navigate your way through the adventure layout, but in the end its exactly like those 4th Edition adventures that so many people villify: its a string of combat encounters divided up by lengthy travel times.
Sure, they try to add character to the monsters. The bugbear ranger likes to eat bird's feet, and some goblins were passed out after a pickle binge, but is this anything the players will discover? Not really, unless they like to question monsters about their dietary habits.

Whether or not they add in those lines of text about the monster's hobbies is only of relevance to the DM, since she is the only one reading those books (or should be, at any rate). Also, the old format for mapping really sucks since its not always clear where a monster starts out during an encounter. There have been several occasions while running adventures out of Dungeon where I didnt notice a monster was in the room until the players were already rummaging through some shit ("Oh, wait, there are three zombies in here, and that crate was a mimic.").
The delve format makes it incredibly easy to setup a room, explain what things in the room do, and get the ball rolling. I hated going into an area with water and having to remember how swimming worked. In general I would just end up winging a lot of those things.

Anyway, thats my stance on Paizo. Its basically 4th Edition with more clunk and junk. If you want your monsters to do random things like write poetry, go for it. Put it on a notecard or something and file it away under "DMs Eyes Only". I've also entertained the notion that perhaps they are afraid of having to remaster a newer system, or of the competition that is now surfacing along with it. Perhaps they are more about the opportunity of selling you your books again using a somewhat updated system, since Pathfinder is basically 3rd Edition with whatever 4th Edition mechanics they could forcibly attach.

On another topic, I want to also touch on Jason's mention of rituals. I played a lot of spellcasters in 2nd and 3rd Edition, and this is something that I'm so fucking happy to finally have. I hated trying to basically guess what spells I would need to be useful throughout the adventure. With so many energy subtypes it was a pain in the ass to play a thematic spellcaster. Wanna go all fire? Well hopefully you dont run into one of a million monsters resistant or (more likely) immune to fire.
More importantly, I like how rituals let you use non-combat spells without having to worry about hamstringing yourself in battle, while at the same time having to kick yourself if you found out that something like knock would have been much more useful.

Also, I recall that Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser were both able to use magic to a minor degree without actually being full blown spellcasters. This trope also fits other stuff like Hellboy, where he could perform some minor feats of magic without actually being a wizard.

Rituals are a great mechanic. They add a lot of flexibility to the game without adding a crapton of rules or gimping yourself.

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