Hello, and welcome to a special review of Pathfinder Second Edition. With most of the Know Direction team at Gen Con 2019, gluttonously consuming second edition in all its glory, most of our blogs are on hiatus. I, Randal, writer of Groundbreaking and Terraforming, am here to fill that void with a chapter by chapter review of the new core rulebook. This review is intended to simply be my take on the material as I read it, as first thoughts and impressions, and not a hard comparison of changes from first edition.
Chapter 1 – Introduction
I wanted to read every word of every page of the CRB for a couple of reasons. The biggest one being that I am usually a GM and I like to know the rules as best I can. Running a close second is that I like to be able to point people (especially new players) to where they can find what they need; be that the answer to a question or an explanation of some rule or term that they are struggling with. I also plan to teach these rules to family members that are either young or non-gamers, so knowing how the introduction is laid out it is pretty important to me. I even found the ToC more helpful than expected. The art for the entire book is, of course, amazing.
I felt they did a wonderful job of introducing and rehashing the terms and ideas throughout without it becoming redundant and boring. Even for a 10 year Pathfinder veteran with 10 years of DnD prior to that, I wasn’t completely bored to tears reading this chapter. I feel like it will work really well for new players as they start in the shallow end and slowly wade into the sea of terms that we all know and use without thinking. Even the sidebars were easy to jump to as they seemed to be careful about not running sentences or thoughts onto the back of the next page.
The ancestries and classes spread of p22-23 is a neat idea, and I personally am digging the class symbols/icons that they are using. The guide for character creation (notably the steps) seems to be well thought out and helpful to new players and veterans alike. I know I will be walking my players through this numerous times, just as I know I will be referring to it for my first few builds to ensure I haven’t forgotten anything as I adjust to the new rules. Doing the steps again with a sample character is also nice for newer players that may not have a veteran with them.
Each level is now only 1,000 XP. I am still figuring out if I like this or not. It is entirely possible that 20 years of an ever increasing XP total is twisting me up (completely excluding video game RPGs) . It could be that I know this means that XP rewards are now relative to the party’s level, instead of everything having a set XP (I believe this has gone back and forth over various edition/game changes). I get that it makes it simpler to work with Society and that it is likely easier for new people and people that prefer less math (and you no longer have to look at a table to find out how much XP you need at each and every level). I am sure I will adjust in time. The leveling-up checklist is really handy, and I was happy to see them point out that you can do level up actions in any order, specifically calling out stat bumps before taking feats that have stat prerequisites; this will avoid many conversations and google searches.
All in all, I found the Introduction chapter to be well put together and easy to follow; for a veteran player learning a new set of rules to a familiar game. I suspect it will be easy to follow and won’t drown new players, but I won’t have any proof of that for a few months still.
Random notes: I noticed that shortly after discussing critical success and critical failure, they used the word critical in reference to a roll, but not in reference to success or failure. I chuckled at the possibility for confusion. Also, on p17 where they describe the actions, the text for Single Action (the bolded words “Single Action”) is extremely faded in my book, somebody with poor eyesight may not be able to read it.
Tune in tomorrow for Chapter 2 – Ancestries and Backgrounds!