Friday, November 7, 2014

Overreaction Friday - D&D goes Pathfinder

There's an interview with Mike Mearls here and some additional discussion on EN World here that spurred this post. The short version is that it looks like WOTC is adopting Paizo's core approach:

  • Paizo puts out two Adventure Paths per year, with separate supporting books for players and DM's

  • WOTC will put out two "stories" per year, with at least a supporting source book aimed mainly at players
Now Paizo also puts out additional material like poster maps, flip-mats, cards, and sometimes miniatures for each of their AP's but they have been doing this for a while. WOTC will likely be doing a little more than this too, from miniatures sets to a special DM screen (they did one for Tyranny of Dragons) to tie-ins with the Neverwinter MMO. 

They also note that they have plans through 2018. I think that's interesting because I don't think Paizo plans out their AP's that far in advance other than having a pool of ideas suggested previously. I suspect part of that may be that WOTC is deliberately drawing on D&D history and has a list of the first ten or so things they want to tackle while Paizo has less "legacy" to deal with given their separate campaign world. 

It is interesting too in that up until very recently all we heard was that "adventures don't sell" - yet Paizo found a way to make that work. In fact, it's to the point that now WOTC seems to be basing their whole approach around a similar adventure-centered concept. What changed? Did gamers suddenly decide to spend more money than they did in the 90's? I'm going to say no. I think building a fair amount of setting material into the adventures probably helps, as does tying a source book for players to a set of adventures. 

I also think it's interesting that WOTC's D&D team is smaller than Paizo's Pathfinder team. Both of them use a lot of outsiders/freelancers. Maybe it's just setting more reasonable expectations for tabletop D&D at WOTC - if so that seems like a good thing to me. It will also be interesting to see if it stays that way.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pathfinder Updates

Somewhere along the way Pathfinder shifted from a side game last year into the one game I am consistently running these days. I just ran session #20 of our Wrath of the Righteous campaign. I need to get the summaries up on here sometime soon but for now some observations:

  • Locally (DFW Texas area) I don't see any loss of momentum in PF as might have been expected with a new version of D&D. I think that to some degree they cater to different tastes as far as game mechanics, even if the type of games run are similar. I suspect a lot of people are playing both. Regardless, the local Pathfinder Society is adding games at more stores rather than any kind of cutback so that's good news for Paizo.
  • Paizo ran a big sale in October and this forced me to think about some things. I have a "collector" impulse that flares up from time to time and with a game as big as Pathfinder that can be a bad thing. As I was about to place an order for a fair number of discounted Pathfinder AP modules I had a moment of insight that I thought I might share: I already have 5 or 6 Adventure Paths that I would like to run or am already running. Assuming it takes two years to play through one start to finish, I already have 8-10 years worth of material here! That's not even counting any kind of self-created campaign, and it's not counting any conversion of older material. I ended 3rd Edition with a lot of good adventures I never ran because we just ran out of time and moved on. There's a sort of ranking process that happens in my head  - "what would I run next?" and "what would I run if a separate group wanted to play right now?" - if I have two or three campaigns I'm looking forward to do I really need another Pathfinder campaign right now? I'm getting to where the answer is "no" for a change. There are enough "system" books for PF to keep me interested for quite a while, so I really don't need to go back and fill in all of the older AP material. the only reason would be to say at some point "I have them all" and while that's nice for research purposes, I've realized I can probably live without unlocking that particular achievement. While it is possible, given the miracle of the internet, to collect every published item from any given game system, I don't really want to turn my house into the Texas Paizo Museum.
  • Playing and running in the same system really does invest you in the game. Rules we cover in one campaign inevitable turn up in the other. Some nifty character ability or item in one sometimes generates a "hmm" when I sit down for the other. There is some synergy there that I haven't experienced in a years.
  • A quick rundown of the previous, current, and upcoming AP's. There plus Rise of the Runelords, Shattered Star - and maybe the Emerald Spire big dungeon - are my main Coming Attractions for PF for the near future.
    • Wrath of the Righteous - awesome, epic, and a lot of fun to run so far. Mass combat has been quick and fun as well as the party invades and lays siege to the city of Drezen.
    • Mummy's Mask - looks like a lot of fun with a pretty big scenery change from Fantasy Europe to Fantasy Egypt. No big rules tweak here like Mythic for WotR, just a different environment.
    • Iron Gods - pretty wild mix of fantasy and tech. Lots of new stuff for technological items. Very different environments though there is still quite a bit of traditional fantasy in there, including dungeon crawls.I expect there will be a lot of SF conversions cooked up using the books here as a core. 
    • Giantslayer - not a ton of details yet but it looks like this is going to be Pathfinder's "Against the Giants" and I have high expectations for it. I always enjoy running giants as a DM - I'm not sure why, I just do. The descriptions so far have me very interested. 
    • Hell's Rebels - I don't know enough yet to have a strong opinion. On the surface, running around rebelling against an evil empire doesn't interest me as much as some of the others but then again it could be a decent fantasy Star Wars and what's wrong with that?
  • Watching my son play alongside friends I have had for years is a pretty cool thing. It's not an indulgence on their part as far as I can tell, and it's not dragging a half-interested youngster into an otherwise grown-up party - he's old enough now and experienced enough that he can hold his own and contribute just like anyone else. It doesn't matter what game, or even really what hobby - having some shared interests and watching them grow up and do their own thing in something you both understand and enjoy is a really good feeling. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Something New for FATE - Save Game

"Save Game" is a new campaign for FATE that caught my eye. This is the description:

A vicious computer virus threatens to corrupt the entire internet, and the only ones standing in its way are the characters from your video games.

8-bit heroes battle monsters and corrupted files—it's Wreck-It Ralph meets Lord of the Rings in a fight for the fate of the world!

I have to say that it worked - I'm interested. Interested enough that I'm reading it now. I'm thinking the younger set is going to like it on the idea alone, while the older set will appreciate some of the humor.

I needed an excuse to look at FATE again anyway - this was it. I'll have a more about it next week. If you're interested yourself it's on DTRPG here.

Motivational Monday