Saturday, January 8, 2011

First Impressions of Pathfinder: The good, and the bad

See part 1 and part 2 of this series. For my final post, I'm basically just going to make a bullet point list of some improvements, and some gripes that I have with the system. These will be more or less random, so bear with me.

The Good
  • Combat Maneuver attack and defense. Finally, random actions like grapple, trip, sunder, etc. are consolidated into a single number.
  • Domains, Spell Schools, and Bloodlines give casters more magic to fall back on at low levels. This is more fun than busting out a stupid crossbow or sling.
  • Some trap feats got fixed. Toughness comes to mind, as it's essentially an extra hit point per level, but the first 3 are front-loaded so first level characters still get a nice boost.
  • The classes are more balanced than 3.x, though they're still not up to the level of 4e classes. Given the nature of the system, it's unlikely that they could be, so good effort Paizo.

The Bad
  • Too. Many. Status. Effects. Dazed, dazzled, cowering, panicked, frightened, fatigued, exhausted, shaken, sickened, nauseated (why is this different from sickened?!), staggered, paralyzed, stunned, pinned, grappled, entangled, confused, blinded, and even a few more. A lot of these things sound exactly the same, and even mechanically could be consolidated so easily it's not even funny. The list in 4e is so much easier to memorize, and reference if you do forget something, it's not even funny. All conditions are summarized on a single page (and it's not even a whole page!). Pathfinder takes over 3 pages to summarize everything, and the print is a LOT smaller. It's bad enough that some spells are several paragraphs of description, but then you have to read even more if a status effect is referenced! Way. Too. Overly. Complicated.
  • Dex mod still isn't added to ranged damage, yet Str mod is still added to damage of composite longbow. News flash: if you get hit with an arrow, it's going to deal damage to you regardless of whether it came from a regular longbow or a composite longbow. The composite will likely have more range, because yes it will launch the arrow with more force. But if you're going that route with the simulationism, you might as well add damage to hits at closer range because the arrow has lost less energy. Point being, the contribution of Str is negligible. Adding Dex to ranged damage makes more sense, because a high Dex character has better aim, and so is more likely to hit a vital area of the body, which would translate to more damage. Even from a simulationist view the 4e system makes more sense. Likewise, weapon finesse should add Dex to damage as well as attack rolls. Rapiers deal damage through technique, not brute strength. Same argument applies; an agile character is more likely to hit an exposed/vital area with a rapier.
  • The skill list from hell still exists. But the funny thing is, Pathfinder consolidated Spot, Listen, and Search in Perception (just like 4e), but didn't consolidate any other skills! It's more a slap in the face than anything, really. That's just more stupid numbers that I have to erase and change every time I level.
  • I only briefly scanned the section on combat, but despite the new Combat Maneuvers system it still looks like grappling is overly complicated.
  • Stat blocks are just as bad as ever, CRs still exist, and the end result is that it looks just as annoying to DM as 3.x ever was.
  • Spells are still walls of text that require a lot of prep work before playing, or a lot of referencing during the game. Summoning is particularly annoying since you need all relevant monster stat blocks at hand.
  • Starting gold still penalizes certain classes. Yeah, I get that I normally won't need to buy a longbow as a Druid, but if I'm an Elf I'd at least like the option to do so.
  • EDIT: Wow, full round actions sure are stupid, especially at 1st level for summoning. Basically, I get to spend my entire turn "casting" (even though nothing is happening), to get a summon onto the field 1 round later, and for only 1 round (at first level, at least). So I sacrifice my turn now to get 2 turns next round. Doesn't make sense, since that's one more round that the enemies are alive and hitting the party. Delayed damage is why the original Assassin is literally the worst striker in 4e. Granted, at higher levels summoning makes sense because you sacrifice an early round for several rounds where you essentially get multiple turns, but from a gaming standpoint that's still not great because it bogs down play. Really makes me appreciate the elegance of 4e summoning/pets. But most importantly, consider this: a round is 6 seconds, and each turn just details what everyone does during that round. It's all happening simultaneously, so a full round should be the same time as a full turn. Why can't my summon just pop up at the end of my turn? I don't give a crap if I can't attack with it until next round, I want enemies to see that it's there so they attack it instead of me! Especially since during that round where I'm just "casting," if I get attacked I can lose the spell if I fail a concentration check. For a game that seeks to be more simulationist that gamist, there sure are some wacky rules.
Alright, that's all I'm going to list for now. I feel like there are a few other things, but I can't remember them right now. I may go back and update this list.

1 comment: