June, 2014 - I am a long time AD&D player, that is, I play an earlier version of the game that came out prior to 1987. I have limited exposure to later systems, via computer games, i.e. Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale. This is my first experience actually playing a character in any later version. I appreciate that Pathfinder is set apart from Wizards of the Coast’s inflated D&D product line. I don’t like that Pathfinder has totally inflated its own presence in the same way. But I will retell my experience of playing Pathfinder here.
I was struck by the complexity involved and the time it took to make characters. I didn’t care for that. Some might argue that having all of these variables, these options stated in the books, makes it easier to create and run a unique character. I disagree. Surely it should be up to the player to make the character unique. There is no character creation ruleset that, by itself, makes a character interesting. Read any novel. How often do you like the main character that is like every other main character? How good would mystery novels be if every detective was some form of Dick Tracy? I suggest that the fewer rules you have in character creation, the more unique and interesting the character HAS TO be.
My next critique is all of the rolls. I find myself rolling dice to see if I am successful at doing things slightly greater than mundane. What I like about AD&D is that the characters are heroes. I don’t need to roll to see if I fall on my face when I jump from the top of a stationary wagon. I’m a hero, and so I land with style, style reflected in the fact that I have an above average Dexterity. No roll should be needed.
The real problem with the rolls is the time it takes to do them. It hurts the pacing of the scene. Let me describe what I am talking about, if I can. We have five players sitting around a table. The Dungeon Master has thrown a bunch of Orcs at the party, an ambush. Scores of them, waving falchions in the air as they charge forward. Instead of allowing the danger to be realized and the tension to build, we get a call for a large number of individual die rolls. We have charts and rules from some book telling us how we are situated to meet the threat. And, of course, if I do roll bad, and my character falls off the wagon, then all of the players laugh at my gaff. Where did the tension go?
My DM is skilled. Let’s see where this goes next.