KD Reviews 2e – Staff Thoughts

The Know Direction staff is full of talented bloggers, writers, and designers, with a passion for Pathfinder. Some of our members weigh in with their thoughts on the new edition.

Alex

Well gang, we’re finally here! We begged and we slogged and we pleaded through 17 months of playtesting and agonizing waiting, and we’re finally here. The release of Pathfinder’s Second Edition. I have more thoughts on Pathfinder Second Edition then I could possibly fit into a blog this size, so I will try to summarize my thoughts as aptly as possible.

Overall, I adore this game. I don’t think we’ve ever had as much flexibility or as depth in a Roleplaying Game as we have in Pathfinder Second Edition. Yes, I know you could do more with the entirety of the PF1 or the 3.5 library, but can you say the same for just the Core Rulebook? Personally, I think you can’t. Every class is built to give players meaningful choice, and you can’t even say that about the Core PF1 classes. The wizard, for instance, was not a class rife with choice initially, and I really like 2E for the choice we can make. I like backgrounds as a simple, meaningful choice that is broad enough to give you plenty of options. I like heritages as a way to give ancestries more, and I like the concept of PF2’s archetypes (though I do think that many of the multiclass archetypes are too limited; it is ridiculous that a multiclass bard has to wait until 8th Level to pick up inspire courage).

That being said, there is one thing I despise about Second Edition: the layout. The new sidebar layout is an atrocious waste of space; it takes a quarter of a column (about 125 words) and typically fits about 60 in them. Across a 400 page book (the size of PF2’s Bestiary) that’s 24,000 words wasted. Additionally, the book eschews the easy to reference section style of the SF Core Rulebook and Beginner Boxes, both which were praised for their reader friendliness, and instead goes back to the run-on-text style of games 30 years its senior for its Playing the Game and Game Mastering chapters. In my opinion, this layout is a complete regression of Paizo’s award-winning track record with layouts and I personally will be playing in spite of it, not because of it.

Overall I think Pathfinder Second Edition shaped up to be a great game, but I am starving for new content. Kitsune! Magus! BLOODRAGER! I need it all! Here’s hoping for a great launch and some even better products on the horizon! Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and finish making some characters and getting some more practical play experience! See ya after GenCon!

Luis

Writing a review for Pathfinder Second Edition is interesting from my perspective. As a Paizo employee, I’ve been able to literally hop on my computer or walk down the hall to see the sausage being made first hand even as far back as the Pathfinder Playtest. Now that you have the final rules in your hands, I get a chance to talk about it more in depth. In short, I think what the design team made with the help of all the playtesters and their feedback in as short of a time frame as they had is nothing short of amazing. It’s a game that cleans up a lot of the big flaws of 1E while speeding up gameplay, but still giving that fantasy, and specifically Pathfinder, experience.

Never in all of my time reading and playing the finalized version of the rules do I ever feel that player characters are left feeling useless. It was very easy to have that happen in 1E once you were out of your two good spells or when all you did was another basic attack because you took Weapon Focus at first level. 2E combats that by providing characters interesting abilities and powers to keep things interesting right out the gate. Mind you, stuff like Double Slice or Sudden Charge can become stale after a while, but it’s better than just standing still and doing another attack. You have interesting options at first level! The reduction of feat chains also makes it easier to both get excited for things to come in the future and to change your mind about your character as you progress through your career. You’re no longer locked in by the choices you made four levels ago and it’s very liberating. Each level doesn’t need to be planned out, but is easily adjusted even if you already did plan everything.

I’ve had more experience as a 2E GM so far and I can say that after running over a year’s worth of material that things are just as easy for an experienced GM and even easier for newer GMs. The game offers just enough guidance on both sides of the screen to help make on the fly adjudication easier. It also maintains a better balance of narrative and mechanical control allowing players to shape the world without wresting too much control from the GM. 1E gave too much info to players (DCs and the like) that a GM had a hard time arguing against the rules themselves. 2E tells players when the GM dictates DCs, but the GM is encouraged to trust their gut or even work with players to adjust difficulty and experience. Additionally, the rarity mechanics allow GMs to dictate the type of material that exists in the game with relative ease. I love it. Also, once a GM gets used to the new game, it’s easy to create new monsters and magic items on the fly because the existing material provides so many great examples. I’ve had to make many monsters on the fly and it took literal seconds to do so, which makes my life easier.

There’s a lot to love with 2E and I’m hoping everyone gives it a fair shake. While I don’t think it’s the perfect game (and frankly, I don’t think any RPG will ever be the perfect game, even for its most diehard fans), I think it has such a great foundation that it will be another great system to build on for years to come. I’m looking forward to everyone’s thoughts on this game, so let us know what you think!

Vanessa

Pathfinder 2 is a revolution on the Pathfinder brand. It answers the promise that D&D 4th Edition made and never fulfilled: to make an easy to play system that is balanced and has lots of options. Though heavy crunch and tons of options seem at odds with “easy to play,” Pathfinder 2 achieves this through an interesting and modular character creation system, and abilities that are relatively easy to use. Yet, sorcerers still feel different than wizards who feel different than fighters who feel different than rogues. Each of the 12 initially released classes seem to have their own niche and playstyle while keeping things that are ubiquitous, like attack rolls, consistent. 

The three action economy is a gem. It allows for maximum flexibility in playing your character as well as how abilities in the game are designed. You’ll love it. It’s the best new feature.

This works hand-in-hand with how class abilities, mostly class feats, are relegated to a specific level instead of having a list of prerequisites. You no longer need to build your character backwards from the end goal to make sure you hit all your pre-reqs. Intead, you can choose the most interesting option at each level and grow your character organically. It also allows for very easy expansion of the system in future books. Along with the retraining system, as Pathfinder 2 grows and expands, so too can your characters.

Negatives: the change in currency rates is a little jarring, but it does mean you’re not hauling around 50,000 gold pieces in raw coinage and gives the world additional verisimilitude. Levels on items are a little funky, but it’s implemented better than in Starfinder, so I can tolerate it.

Overall, this is a fantastic system to play and a great system to write for. I can’t wait to tell stories in this new system. See you in Golarion!

Randal

I admit, I am a total fanboy, and so far I have not been let down. There are a few elements of the core rulebook that have me scratching my head, and there are a few choices that I would not have made. But, this book wasn’t written by me for me, and so I accept them with the knowledge that I love most everything else about this new game.

The combat changes that the action economy brings has me really looking forward to how it will be stretched with new content from Paizo and 3PP. I already have some ideas in mind that I need to find a home for. I can already see the dynamic combats that I will instigate as a player and adjudicate as a GM. The creatures and their action options are almost worth the price of admission alone.

The changes to the mechanics of spells and powers gives me joy for the laundry list of ideas that I want to write up in that space. Terminology aside, moving all powers to Focus Spells and making them functionally the same as spells is going to save a lot of headache with players new to both the game and different classes.

I think my favorite change is the flavor of magic items. One of my favorite things about playing RPGs is the magical gear, and 2e looks to deliver by making items different again. The weapon and armor runes is personal to me, as I have long been against switching out your favorite weapon every time you find a more powerful one. I long ago house ruled a version of just this concept and am happy to see it as a core mechanic.

While much of the KD team is at Gen Con this year, I, alas, am not. The KD motto is “We Con When You Can’t” … but since I “Can’t Con” … and they are at the con and “Can’t Blog” we thought we could mix it up … this week I am founding the “KD Can’t Con Team – We Blog When They Can’t”. I will be writing a blog a day for the next few weeks to fill in for our team members that are traveling and attending Gen Con. Instead of tackling specifics or doing raw comparisons, these will be summaries of my thoughts on each chapter.

Ryan Costello

What started as one gamer wanting to talk about his love of a game has turned into an empire of gamers talking about their games. Ryan founded what would become the Know Direction Podcast network with Jason "Jay" Dubsky, his friend and fellow 3.5 enthusiast. They and their game group moved on to Pathfinder, and the Know Direction podcast network was born. Now married and a father, Ryan continues to serve the network as a co-host of the flagship podcast, Know Direction.

Explore & Encounter, KD Tries Pathfinder 2e - An Actual Play Special - Two Yaks head butting behind an image of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game 2nd Edition core rulebook

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