There’s only a handful of our beloved Pathfinder races and classes represented in the Pathfinder Playtest, but should that stop us from running them our playtest adventures? Well, yes and no…
Dear DovahQueen: I am excited about the new edition and want to be involved in the playtest. I have one player who has put their foot down and said ‘No, I only play X class or Y race and they don’t have it’ … should I work with them to provide that option via house rules, stay true to the playtest and use only printed options without them as a player, or talk them into some close approximation?–Everlasting Gamemaster
Dear Everlasting: I don’t think any new edition would be complete without a whole swath of fans being frustrated at the changes. Debates will rage at the inclusion or exclusion of whatever features are now different, and while that’s a natural part of the process, it doesn’t have to ruin our games. There’s a few hangups I have with the playtest too, but for the most part, I haven’t found many things yet that don’t have a viable workaround. I don’t normally like to advise in black and white terms but I’m going to have to give you a solid answer this time: do not provide house rules to appease this player. In any other context, I’d recommend handing them as many house rules as you need to, but this is a playtest. This isn’t designed to be a perfect system; it’s designed to be a crash trash for what’s supposed to be a game that should last us another decade. This is the time to be using the rules as written to an absolute tee. House rules at this stage will only insert variables into the equation which could sour the final product. That said, I do think there’s a lot that can be done to compromise with this player and make everyone happy.
For starters, I think we kinda have to go back to the days before we had over 40 base classes and who knows how many races. Before we had Slayer, we ran characters that we multiclass Fighter/Rogues or Ranger/Rogues. Conjuration Wizards were our go-to before the Summoner was a thing. Samurai has never been that hard to picture using a Fighter or Ranger. Sure, the more ‘specific’ classes made the concept a bit easier, but they were still doable. If this were my player, and they weren’t thrilled about the playtest because their favorite Magus wasn’t in the core rulebook, I’d try to talk them into a Fighter with the Wizard Dedication. Wizard with the Fighter Dedication would work well too. That one of the things that I’m pretty excited about in the new edition. The modularity of the playtest is kind of a hot-button topic in the community right now, but I think that the way it allows us to realize a vast slew of different concepts from a much smaller pool of core ideas is one of its strengths. If you can get them to articulate exactly what they want, I think that between the core classes and the archetypes, you should be able to help them build a facsimile of their preferred class in the new edition. There are a bare few things that just aren’t gonna work to well (I’m looking at you Two-Weapon Rogues), but for the most part those are few and far between. Plus, all those issues are being put at the forefront of the feedback to Paizo, so I’m sure they’ll get worked. AND! Your player should consider that if they don’t participate in the playtest because their character won’t be exactly as desired, they risk not getting that valuable feedback to Paizo and shooting themselves in the foot with the final 2nd Edition launches.
Not having their race represented is still something you can work with, but it’s gonna take a little more finagling. Two of my all-time favorites are Tieflings. While they’re not in the playtest book, it would be so easy to create a Tiefling using all the rules labeled for Elves. Write “Tiefling” on the character sheet, interact with and address the character as you would a Tiefling, and submit your playtest data as Elf. Will it be perfect, no, but again for those in the back: this is not Pathfinder 2; this is the playtest that will help build Pathfinder 2. I’m 100% certain that the full second edition will have options for Tieflings and other desired races. Granted, some races with defining special abilities will be more difficult to recognize in this manner. I’m sorry, but any form of ancestry-powered shapeshift out of the gate just isn’t gonna happen in the Playtest. We’re all just gonna have to bite the bullet on that one. This same kind of reflavoring and handwaving works pretty well across the board too. In the playtest, I’m gonna be running with a pig animal companion that uses the stats of a wolf. I’d even consider asking Gunslinger mains to consider adding flavor to a Fighter with a crossbow for the greater health of the game.
From what I’ve seen of the communal discussions right now, I’d recommend you do your best to remind your player that this is the playtest and that playing by the rules (for now) helps Paizo build a stronger second edition. I think a lot of folks are losing sight of that. That being said, be as familiar with the playtest rules as you can. That knowledge under your belt will help you soften the blow by having a whole host of options ready to concede to them. Nobody likes when they can’t play their favorite thing. Help them do just that, but try to find a way in the system to do so.
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