Pathfinder Observations

When I first looked over Pathfinder (RPG based on the d20 system and often called D&D 3.75 edition) I was pleased to see the addition of a Combat Maneuver Bonus (CMB) and Combat Maneuver Defense (CMD). I thought this was an awesome way to sort out all the different, yet often very similar, combat mechanics. You want to Disarm someone? Okay, roll a d20, add your CMB and if it’s higher than the targets CMD you Disarm them. Same sort of deal for things like Grapple and Bull Rush.

Not so much for Feint.

Feint still requires a Bluff check, which makes sense. It is an opposed check against two different options; one being the raw talent and cunning of the target and the other being their skill as a bullshit detector.

Interesting that they deviated and it does make sense. Still a good change.

Skill changes are definitely much better. I absolutely love the changes they made, it’s incredibly simple. no silly cross cross penalty, instead they just give you a bonus if it’s a class skill. Oddly enough, 4e had this sort of mechanic as well.

The classes I read seem more powerful, which isn’t a bad thing because they’re all more powerful, not just one or two of them. With this additional power comes extra choice and customization.

The Druid, for example, can forgo his animal love slave and pick up nature-like domains; plant (extra tree hugging powers), animal (gives him a weaker ‘companion’ and some domain spells and some abilities – good catch on that), air, water, earth (screams, “Dwarfs be here” at me) and fire. Pretty cool, especially the Fire Druid. That just begs to be played next to a plant or animal druid. “You treat ’em, I cook ’em”

The Rogue, which was a combat class more fragile than any other, has had a HD upgrade and a bunch of other features tacked on. These Rogue abilities tend to focus on Rogue things, but you can switch them out for a Combat feat if you so choose. Finally, someone who actually played a Rogue got their hands on the design Wizards created and fixed it. At one point I almost posted a blog entry about how I’d fix the Rogue and they’ve done a hell of a job, addressing all the issues I could think of.

I took a look at a lot of the Rogue Special Ability options and they’re all really good. Lots of options for customization or specialization and even mechanics to help prevent them from getting squished right after they land that vicious sneak attack! Even some of the abilities that set the rogue apart are improved. For example, Trapfinding lets them find and disable magical traps, but it also grants them a skill bonus to finding traps and to disabling devices. Kind of cool – sets you up with an extra boost above the average person that might have Disable Devices.

The Wizard gets a bit more of a benefit for the cost they pay in order to specialize and even the non-specialist gets something. You have the option of going with an object that is bonded to you or a familiar. Familiars look to be about the same, I wasn’t too interested in those so I took a look at the bonded object. It’s considered a magic item and it lets you cast any one spell you have (prepared, I think?) without expending a slot, once per day. The downside of it is if you lose it or it is no longer in your possession, you have to make Concentration checks (a skill that no longer exists, instead it’s like making caster level check).

Needless to say, I can imagine players suggesting their bonded item is a butt-plug. No pick pocket is going to get their hands on that and most captors wouldn’t look there… well, some might. So that makes it almost impossible to note. Of course, as DM I’d require they RP it or they don’t get the benefit.

I mean walk oddly or ensure they collect it after a bowel movement… jeez people, what did you think I meant?

Almost makes me want to play a Wizard.

Because of the changes…

Fighters get some benefits allowing them to get general bonuses with weapon groupings, there are a good number of new and interesting combat feats, they get armor bonuses that reduce the impact of heavy armor on their movement (Armor Check Penalties, Max DEX and even movement speed). They also get a Bravery class feature that scales up as you level and gives you a bonus to saves against fear effects. When you sit back and think about it, Fighters (especially the ones that stand up at the front and take a beating for the group) have to be incredibly brave, nearly fearless or incredibly dumb to take the sort of beatings they do.

I’m a little iffy about the races. It really does seem like the Humans got the butt plug inserted sideways. They should have the feature that the Half-Elves get, the whole picking two favored classes thing. I’d suggest they upgrade it to consider every class level they take as a favored class. I guess in a way they do get that because they get a bonus skill point per level and still can pick a skill point or HP. Still, it doesn’t seem to weigh right against the abilities of other races.

I mentioned they tweak several feats, well a lot of the tweaks involve allowing an ability to scale. Now if you take some of the skill feats, the bonuses will scale up as you hit a certain level of ranks. Other feats have been added for some of the newer combat maneuvers and to impact your combat maneuver bonus or defensive bonus.They’ve even added in some teamwork feats that grant you bonuses in certain situations while another member has the same bonus.

Very cool stuff.

Admittedly, I didn’t look into the spell casting much as of yet. The character I currently have converted (Smaken) is a level 7 Half-Orc Fighter. I also created an Elf Rogue (or Rouge for some that have no idea what a Rogue is) who was focused on combat (survival) a little. He still has loads of skills but I tried to pick ones that would help him.

Anyway, there is still a lot to read and figure out, but so far, pretty good. My biggest complaint is that the core book is too big. Damn thing is huge! Gone are the days of just bring one regular sized rulebook to the session, now I’m stuck bringing that big beast of a Core Rule Book.

Ah well, I’ve got to get some exercise some how.



4 thoughts on “Pathfinder Observations

  1. Pathfinder sounds really cool. I’ve had the core book for a while now, and I remembering flicking through it and being excited for the changes.

    I was hoping for our group to play, but we got sidetracked with 4e and then, when I got bored with it, shifted to a few other systems. We’re now having fun with Warhammer 40k’s Dark Heresy, but maybe we’ll get around to Pathfinder at some point.

  2. Yeah, I’ve noticed and part of me is envious since I really enjoyed the extreme feel to the 40k games I’ve played namely Dawn of War, all the expansions and Dawn of War 2, +1 expansion – I haven’t got it yet. No time!

    I’m still following Slain By Elf 🙂

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