Hi, everyone! Welcome to Guidance, or I guess as it should be called today, Augury. Why Augury? Because I’m going to look forward into the future… well, sort of. You may or may not know this, but I’m pretty good at reading people. (Know Direction Headhoncho Ryan Costello falls into the VERY small category of people I can’t read well.) With this in mind, I’m going to be taking my best shot-in-the-dark predictions regarding what the lead-up to Pathfinder 2 is going to look like and what I think Paizo’s plans are from today ’till launch.
Prediction #1 — Regular Spurts of PF2 Information
This one probably will surprise no one, but I don’t expect the Pathfinder Design Team to be quiet from January to GenCon 2019. I expect to see and hear a LOT of information from Paizo about how the Pathfinder Playtest shaped Pathfinder 2’s design and what sort of changes they made with our feedback. There are a couple of reasons that I think this.
- Paizo was VERY regular with information about the Pathfinder Playtest between March 2018 and GenCon 2018. There were weekly blog posts and plenty of Designer Posts and interactions on the forums. Considering that they did this in order to hype the community up for the Playtest’s release, it stands to reason that they’ll do the same leading up to Pathfinder 2.
- 2018 saw Paizo’s self promotion via Twitch skyrocket, and they’re gonna need stuff to talk about. The looming Pathfinder 2 release is a low-hanging fruit for the Pathfinder Twitch Channel, and its one with obvious marketing benefits for the company (see above).
- Paizo REALLY needs damage control right now. It’s no secret that the Playtest wrought a massive schism in the community, and it does Paizo no good to let their new flagship sink after investing almost four years (or more) into its creation. Regular spurts of information is an effective way to do this.
Prediction #2 — We’ll Start Seeing a Lot of Pathfinder 2 in April
Paizo’s printing schedule for GenCon products is super predictable. The product needs to be in warehouse two months before release date, which is August 1st this year. That’s basically a July release, since Paizo typically releases at the end of the month, which means the product needs to be in the warehouse by May (which, conveniently, is PaizoCon). That, in turn, means that the PDF needs to be created and the product sent to the printer about 3 months ahead of that, at the end of February. This makes the schedule look something like this:
- Playtest Ends Mid-December, Designers finish compiling feedback and decide on changes. Begin writing End-December.
- Writing and Editing ends Late January / Early February, with Internal Office Playtest Games sprinkled throughout. Art team begins laying out the book Early February as sections are complete and the entire product is written by the end of February.
- Late February PDFs (Bestiary and CRB) goes off to the printer. Design team begins working on whatever comes after those books.
- Early to Mid April Paizo begins running in-office Playtest games of Pathfinder 2 in the office. Blog Posts become more frequent at this point as well.
- Late April / Early May 3PP are given early access to the PDF to begin planning their support products for the launch. Copies are likewise given to Glass Cannon Podcast and similar Actual Play podcasts. Maybe even sample adventures, though I am guessing that they’ll be told to convert older adventures / write their own for use with the rules if they want to participate. (There’s no way that they give PF2 AP-01 or any Pathfinder 2 Organized Play scenarios out early.)
- Late May is PaizoCon, so we hear a LOT about Pathfinder 2 at the PaizoCon banquet and it’s likely available to play on the floor. Whatever product comes after the Core Rulebook and the Bestiary is announced.
- June / July see lots of in-depth information given via Paizo Twitch and Paizo’s blogs. We’ll definitely get a “Best of Pathfinder 1” blog series at some point where the creative staff talks about their favorite Pathfinder 1 things.
- August 1 Pathfinder 2 is released at GenCon 2019.
Prediction #3 — Pathfinder 2 Won’t Sell Out at GenCon 2019
Starfinder had insane amounts of hype attached to it, and it famously sold out on Day 1. That won’t happen with Pathfinder 2 for three reasons.
- There is NO WAY Paizo won’t bring enough copies. This product is their baby, and every day they have no books left at their storefront is a day they failed to sell Pathfinder 2 to players. They definitely learned their lesson with the Pathfinder Playtest, and my guess is that they’ll have even more product to peddle this year.
- The other reason is that I am predicting that many customers will be cautious around Pathfinder 2. There was a LOT of negativity surrounding this Playtest; people who don’t even play Pathfinder know about it. A common complaint I predict is people citing Paizo’s need for what less friendly community members call “Week 1 erratas”, or the need to put out FAQs for their books within a short while. Everything from Paizo’s most beloved books (aka the Starfinder CRB) to their most reviled ones (aka Ultimate Wilterness) have needed a lot of polish from Paizo early on in their release for the past few years, and with the time crunch that Paizo needs to launch this book there will likely be a decent chunk of people who don’t pick up this book in print until they’ve gotten an “all clear” from their friends and families.
- Along the same lines as above, I am betting that there will be a population of people who feel burned by the Playtest who won’t give PF2 the time of day until a few books down the road. Again, they’ll probably cite examples like “the Advanced Player’s Guide is what made Pathfinder Pathfinder!” or “Starfinder was unplayable until the Alien Archive came out!”
Prediction #4 — WotC and Others Will Launch Something
As mentioned, its pretty common knowledge that there’s a sour taste in the Pathfinder Community following the Playtest, and the time between October 2018 (when the feelings started) and GenCon 2019 (when PF2 launches) is plenty of time for rival RPG companies to try and mobilize a product to try and “Paizo” Paizo. Yes, that includes WotC; they don’t NEED to Paizo Paizo, but if they pull it off, they could take a chunk of their customer base back.
That being said, I don’t think anyone who tries to Paizo Paizo at GenCon 2019 will be successful in doing so. Anyone who hasn’t been won over by 5E likely won’t be since the most common reason cited is the game’s lack of Player-facing options and complexity, while no one else is going to be able to put out a product that caters to the Pathfinder community with the same polish, charm, and recognition. Paizo themselves didn’t do that; Pathfinder 1 came after 4E after all and it was a relatively slow climb to the top. Regardless, I expect to hear about other companies launching big RPG products around GenCon 2019 to try and take a slice of Paizo’s pie.
Prediction #5 — Pathfinder 2 is Going to Be GOOD
Yeah, I know. “Alex, you’re such a shill! You write for Paizo!” At the same time, I am part of a public gaming group that quit playing the Pathfinder Playtest. We never ended up giving our thoughts on Pathfinder Playtest, but my opinion on it was fairly sour. I think you can see and hear a lot of that in our recordings, especially in Part 2 when I’m playing a sorcerer. Despite this, everything I’ve seen and heard from the PDT leads me to believe that they’re willing to make the hard choices for the betterment of the game, such as:
- Completing reworking the math. I don’t know if I agree with the numbers Jason gave personally from a design perspective, but as a designer I can say that reworking ALL the Math in a 500 page book is no easy task. If you’re willing to do that, you’re willing to do a lot.
- Axing Resonance Points. From the outside, it sure looked like the PDT was willing to do whatever it took to keep Resonance as a mechanic. Yet one of the first things announced was that Resonance would die. Permanently. Being willing to make a massive change like that is an excellent sign of devotion to the fans.
There are others I can cite, but I think these are the two big ones people complained about and they’re definitely the two that I think show the devotion and dedication of the PDT more than anything else.
Prediction #6 — The Next Big Release Will be Spring 2020, and It Will Be All About Ancestries
Okay, final prediction. Remember that book announcement I mentioned? I think its going to be dedicated to ancestries, and we’re going to get it in Spring 2020. Why not Winter 2019? I think that the Bestiary will technically be occupying that slot from a production perspective, so we won’t see another big release until 2020. And why ancestries? Well, I have a bunch of reasons regarding that.
- Pathfinder is NOT a new world. There are a lot of established creatures and cultures in it, and to have a seamless transition narrative-wise you need those missing pieces. Until they’re added back, the world is going to feel incomplete, like Paizo retconned someone’s favorite ancestries from the world.
Okay! And those are my Big 6 Predictions for Pathfinder 2 in the new years. But those are my thoughts; I want to hear yours! Comments below or hop into to Know Direction Discord, go to our Pathfinder 2 Channel, and @Me with your thoughts. (I’m @TheEverymanGamer on Discord.) Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a great day!
Until next time, I’m Alexander Augunas the Everyman Gaming, and I’ve just blessed you with guidance! Take care!