Friday, April 17, 2009

An Opportunity Missed

The other day I got a package in the mail from Paizo. That's not unusual, since I'm a Planet Stories subscriber and regularly get packages from them. This package was larger and thinner than the ones I usually receive, so I was curious about its contents. I opened it up and inside was issue #20 of Pathfinder magazine. I was surprised by this, since I hadn't ordered it. A quick check with Paizo -- whose customer service is excellent -- revealed that the product had been sent to me in error instead of the next Planet Stories volume. I was told to keep the copy of Pathfinder and that a new Planet Stories book would be sent to me immediately (which it was -- again, kudos to Paizo customer service).

I hadn't looked at a copy of Pathfinder since its earliest issues. I make no bones about my respect for the Paizo guys and gals. I've even reviewed several of their products quite favorably, albeit with my usual caveats. Unfortunately, Pathfinder appeared just in time for my return to old school gaming, so I never had any strong desire to take up a subscription. Having had the chance to look over issue #20, which is the second part of an Arabian-themed adventure path, I can't say I regret that choice.

That's not to say that the issue's feature adventure, "House of the Beast," is a bad one, because it's not. There's actually a lot I like about it, particularly its Sinbad the Sailor-like ambience, with its ruined desert fortress housing a dark cult. Paizo does a superb job of presenting an exciting world that draws heavily on the pulp fantasies that inspired D&D -- perhaps too good a job. One of my beefs with this issue of Pathfinder is the depth of the information it provides to frame the adventure. The adventure itself takes up pages 6 through 49 of a 96-page product, which is a lot when you consider that the titular House of the Beast is no megadungeon, but a small-ish ruin whose levels generally have fewer than 20 chambers each, sometimes much fewer. Much of its word count is taken up by exhaustive descriptions of the dungeon's rooms, inhabitants, and features, as well as background information tying it all together into a rational whole.

And then there are the D20 mechanics. I realize I've been spoiled by having played Swords & Wizardry exclusively over the last few months, but that doesn't take away from the pain of being reminded just how expansive D20 stat blocks are, even when it comes to very simple creatures. I can't imagine trying to run a game as complex as this ever again. The whole thing almost made it difficult for me to appreciate the excellence of the adventure, which is, at its base, a satisfying -- if very focused -- dungeon crawl rather than a story-heavy railroad many associate with the Adventure Path concept. But the rules are too much and, having played D20 games for a long time, unnecessarily so. I know backward compatibility with v.3.5 D&D is important to Paizo and I respect that on one level. Yet, I can't help but wonder about an alternate universe where the upcoming Pathfinder RPG wasn't a nearly-600-page tome costing $50 but instead a slimmer, less expensive volume with simple rules better suited to my freewheeling tastes.

In the end, though, I'm not the target audience for Pathfinder and, while I regret that because I like the Paizo crew and want to support them, I'm also fine with it, because I already have a game that caters to my idiosyncrasies. I sometimes imagine an alternate universe where Paizo marries their unmatched world building skills to a simpler set of rules. I honestly don't know what would happen if a company as savvy as Paizo adopted and promoted a retro-clone as their rules vehicle, but it's fun to imagine it nonetheless.

48 comments:

  1. I honestly don't know what would happen if a company as savvy as Paizo adopted and promoted a retro-clone as their rules vehicle, but it's fun to imagine it nonetheless.

    Total worlds domination, of course!

    Allan.

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  2. I'm a subscriber to Paizo's Adventure Paths and Companions.

    I must say, you frame very well how most of us "grognards" will feel towards an AP adventure. Just not enough suggestive elements but rather exhaustive descriptions which, in many regards, can suck the enchantment out of the room for a reading DM.

    This is mainly why I stopped being a subscriber of the Chronicles: I realized that I didn't need that mountain of information about the setting, but rather "get to the adventure already!". The same way, the fiction components of the AP volumes don't interest me. When I see Elaine Cunningham writing fiction for Golarion, I honestly cringe, because it feels like the 2nd edition days of setting-milking are coming back. This is not what I want from a Pathfinder setting.

    I still like 3.5 as a sort of very specific, tactically oriented, AD&D with the D&D volume turned all the way up, as Monte Cook was writing a few years ago.

    I just hope Golarion won't affect the rules of the RPG themselves. They have a setting already. Let the rules be a gateway to a million worlds of imagination, not just one designer's.

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  3. Pathfinder lite? (C&C-style, rather than with the systemic fiddliness of 3.P)

    I'd be all over that like a rash! :-)

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  4. I can't express my appreciation for this post enough. I've been a fan of Paizo's work for some time and thought the work they did for Dungeon and Dragon Magazines was phenominal. I was less impressed and even disappointed with the direction they chose by revamping 3.5. Pathfinder really doesn't address the broken math of d20 at upper levels, the complexity of preparation for the DM (it should not take hours to incorrectly stat an NPC), and does several things to make the game more complex. (Rage points? Uh-oh.)

    I'm both pleasantly surprized and dissappointed by 4e. The products have been better in flavor and quality than I anticipated. I really appreciate the lightened burden they've placed on the DM. The stat blocks are manageable and much simplified. Yet, they really did a hatchet-job on the feel of D&D is some spots. The underlying mechanics of each class feel like they've been ironed out, but too much so. Powers start to look and feel pretty much the same at each tier--the descriptive bits seem to differ, but the crunchy bits look largely the same. And as much as I always had suspension-of-disbelief problems with Vancian magic, it's like Wizards dismantled it and didn't know what to replace it with. Rituals do not do it for me.

    So, your blog has encouraged me to look more closely at S&w and OSRIC. Perhaps those rules have the answers to questions I didn't know I had. Thanks, and keep up the good work.

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  5. So I am done writing the remake of Fortress Badabaskor with notes for each entry that needed stats. I figure once the writing was done and proofed that most of my work as a writer would be done. Stat it up and send it off.

    Then it went on
    and on...
    and on...

    A quarter of the way through I bought DM Assistant to help me create these damn d20 Stat Blocks.

    After I was done my tight text now ballooned to double it's length. While the Eostros team and Goodman Games is great work with every suggestion I made about shortening the stat block was shot down.

    While I appreciate the flexibility of d20 having played GURPS. The rigidity of the D20 statblock sucked the fun out of it.

    This is in comparison to the Wild North which was a snap to have everything full stated.

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  6. This is completely shallow, but I love the artwork so much that I nearly started a subscription. Thanks to this blog, I bought the Classic Monsters Revisited which was a much better fit and was still chock full of incredible illustrations.

    If Paizo did do a retroclone version--or more, regularly published edition-neutral products like the CMR I would be all over that.

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  7. At some point in the near future, I'm going to be running one of these "adventure paths" using Labyrinth Lord. I'm mainly doing it as an experiment to see how well it works, since our group has already had some success with one of the paths under 4e's ruleset. I'm intrigued to see if it will work in the other direction too.

    Since 3.5e and LL are still recognisably the same game, I think conversion will be fairly easy, but I suspect that the differences in earning xp will become significant as the game goes on.

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  8. I feel the same way about Castles & Crusades as you do about the latest Paizo offering James.

    I bought the C&C Collector's Edition in the little white box. Had I found that before I found Labyrinth Lord, I would have loved it. Now it is not "retro" enough for me. The D20 elements still flavor it too heavily for my taste. It is like drinking water out a coffee cup that hasn't been washed.

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  9. James wrote: "I can't help but wonder about an alternate universe where the upcoming Pathfinder RPG wasn't a nearly-600-page tome costing $50 but instead a slimmer, less expensive volume with simple rules better suited to my freewheeling tastes."

    Doesn't that pretty much describe the Castles & Crusades RPG? For all its imperfections (from the perspective of us crusty old grognards), I've been thinking lately that C&C is our best hope for old-school fantasy role-playing to have a lasting appeal to the mainstream.

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  10. @Gortimer: I enjoy Labyrinth Lord, but Castles & Crusades has found a place for me as sort of a “meeting place” between editions. I can pretty easily use a large amount of my 1e and 2e stuff with it, but I can also port the d20 stuff nicely enough. It’s also a nice compromise for some of my gaming buddies and I who still enjoy some of the d20/OGL elements. Plus, the system is simple enough and easy to GM for me--the whole SEIGE engine "clicked", which is always nice.

    I’m actually torn—I’m thinking about getting either the C&C White Box or Labyrinth Lord for a younger relative. I like the fact that the White Box is a boxed set, and comes with dice and the adventure. I may end up letting him see both and letting him decide. I think either would be a fine gift.

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  11. I'm currently running the first Pathfinder campaign with a regular, weekly group. I tend to, in-place, weed out a huge amount of the complexity of DnD 3.5. I gleefully ignore complexity, and focus instead on fast, fun, encounters. That said, if one of my players wants to dive into the rulebook, we pause and do so, under the assumption that "gradually we will learn as much of this game as we need to in order to have fun".

    I am mindful that, essentially, D20 is roughly the same system that Jonathan Tweet put into place for the Sidewinder release of Talislanta (in about, what, 30 pages?)

    One of the simple house rules I put in place for my Pathfinder campaign is that we threw experience points out the window. I told my players I'd be levelling them up at narratively important points, and so we haven't had any XP accounting, or worrying about encounter balancing to keep the players moving at the pace the adventure needs, or any of that.

    Rather, I just have to figure out at what rough point in each adventure it makes sense for the players to be at level x and award them appropriately. So far, it's worked like a charm and helped to bolster the low-fi approach we're taking to the game.

    I tried to move the group over to 4e, and they really didn't like it.

    So we're sticking with my low-fi take on DnD3.x, and it's working just fine.

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  12. Actually, the system is what Tweet used for the white-book edition of Talislanta that immediately preceded the Sidewinder release, now that I think about it...

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  13. "The D20 elements still flavor it too heavily for my taste. It is like drinking water out a coffee cup that hasn't been washed."

    Agreed. The fundamental premise that mixing in elements of WotC's terrible designs with classic D&D can result in anything other than a greater or lesser degree of unfortunate pollution is at fault.

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  14. I agree. Having lots of info spread over many pages "affords" looking it up, trying to hunt for the correct explanation, the exact name – ruining the tension at the table. I'm a Paizo charter subscriber and the sheer wall of text that goes along all of the adventures makes things tricky to find at the table while sucking my motivation to improvise at the same time. Every month I wonder: Are the cool ideas and the nice pictures enough to justify the price?

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  15. "Every month I wonder: Are the cool ideas and the nice pictures enough to justify the price?"

    The price is the reason why I don't plan on ever getting any of the Paizo APs; they just cost too much.

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  16. Kelvin,

    I'd love to hear how it goes.

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  17. Doesn't that pretty much describe the Castles & Crusades RPG? For all its imperfections (from the perspective of us crusty old grognards), I've been thinking lately that C&C is our best hope for old-school fantasy role-playing to have a lasting appeal to the mainstream.

    I think, for a company like Paizo, C&C might have been a good fit, but I'm not yet convinced it's the best option overall.

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  18. This is OT, but you mentioned Sinbad and dungeons, and it occurs to me that I've seen the City of Brass done a dozen times (and this seems like it might be another incarnation) but I've never seen anyone try my favourite Sinbad voyage on a party; in which the PCs are stripped of all their possessions and interred alive in a catacomb, so that they have to figure out how to escape using nothing but native intelligence and the grave goods of those previously interred. That's an antagonistic underworld.

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  19. I sometimes have difficulty reading your blog due to my feelings on the retro gaming movment, but this was an easier entry. The retro movement can have it's simplified rules. To me, a dislike for other rules formats equals a stagnation of the gaming hobby as a whole.

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  20. @Zach, it might sound cheesy, but have you considered getting the soft cover of the Swords & Wizardry White Box and making your own "box set" to give him? Then you could add dice, minis, dungeon tiles, whatever else you think would help get him started.

    Better yet, save some cash for the other goodies, download the free PDF and make a booklet version.(Major props to K. Forest and his blog).

    Now, if only they still sold the dice you have to color in with crayons....

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  21. @Jay: No, not cheesy at all—I actually entertained doing it. It’s another option that’s still on the table. I actually think it sounds like fun to try, but I’d want to make sure I did it well. There are definitely some good crafty links to do so, though.

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  22. Hm. You could always send it to me if you don't want it. ^,~

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  23. Rach,

    That's the thing: I do want it. There's a great deal of good in Pathfinder, but it's weighted down by a rules set that's too complex for my liking and that, ultimately, won't break the cycle of madness that brought us 4e.

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  24. Now, if only they still sold the dice you have to color in with crayons....They do!

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  25. I find myself reading through the first two Pathfiner sets (on pdf) wishing that we had stuff like that back in the day of 1E. Imagine some of the settings/plotlines with about half of the bloat hacked out and compatiable with AD&D. Too bad.

    I've found some uses for the material, though (it's really beautifully presented, IMO) by pulling out individiual scenarios. I'm converting the Stone Giant Fortress (Runelords Book Four, I believe, and written by Wolfgang Baur) for my own game. It's really easy once you start tossing all the stat blocks and such and get right down to the meat of the material.

    I'd love to see a Paizo retro-game, but I have a feeling that it wouldn't satisfy the true believers no matter what.

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  26. C&C + Paizo...wow, that's a neat idea. Never happen, but still, there's so much creativity on both sides that it would nearly HAVE to be a win win situation.

    I really liked the first few issues of Pathfinder myself. In fact, I ran the very first one under C&C. I just LOVED the way they portrayed goblins in that issue. But yeah, I eventually got tired of the hugely extensive descriptions.

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  27. Jay, no problem. I quite fancy picking up a set myself. ;)

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  28. Forgive me if I'm carpetbagging. I put up a blog about my thoughts on Pathfinder as well.

    http://jdh417.blogspot.com/2009/04/trouble-with-pathfinder.html

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  29. I downloaded a copy of S&W, I'll give it a read.

    But I was vastly disappointed with C&C. I bought a copy, read it and promptly traded it in so I could order a 3.5 book. It was wonderfully 'old school'. And I discovered that I don't much like that style of play any longer.

    I have found a version of 3.5 that is quite a bit 'lighter' though, Everstone: Blood Legacy.

    I love the Grogardia site, but my love of 3.5 is greater. :)

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  30. To me, a dislike for other rules formats equals a stagnation of the gaming hobby as a whole.

    Care to elaborate?

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  31. I'd love to see a Paizo retro-game, but I have a feeling that it wouldn't satisfy the true believers no matter what.

    Probably not -- and that's OK. I imagine Paizo knows their fan base better than I do. I just regret the fact that they're producing a lot of great gaming material that shows a knowledge of and respect for the game's roots and it's wrapped in a rules set I just can't stomach any longer.

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  32. But yeah, I eventually got tired of the hugely extensive descriptions.

    Maybe that's something their customers really want, I don't know, but it's a big turn-off for me. The world they've constructed, Golarion, is extremely well-done and the many homages to D&D's past and to pulp fantasy classics warm my cranky heart. But I just can't bring myself to drop so much money on the support materials, when more than half of it is something I don't want or will never use.

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  33. I love the Grogardia site, but my love of 3.5 is greater. :)And there's nothing wrong with that. I wish more people understood that 90% of my complaints about things represent my own personal feelings on the matter rather than any kind of transcendental truth that all must accept or be damned for all time in my eyes. It's always good to see when people whose tastes and opinions differ from my own can still get some use out of my blatherings. Thanks.

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  34. *shrug* It sounds like your nitpicking to be honest.

    Whether you like the mechnics or stat blocks is really taste.

    But listening to the complaint of "depth of information" just doesnt sit well. While I have a ton of old school 1st modules, frankly some of the rationel or even whats going on was thin at best or silly/irratonal at worst.

    I like the story that flows feeling. Information on why people do what they do. Even if I never use the AP, the continuality is nice and having a story to read is a bonus.

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  35. But listening to the complaint of "depth of information" just doesnt sit well.

    And yet several people in these comments have already noted they know exactly what I meant by that and share my opinion.

    You will notice I didn't say I thought Pathfinder was a terrible thing or that people who liked its approach were terrible people. Indeed, I went out of my way to note my liking and respect for Paizo and what it does and that I found some worthy things in this issue.

    Why it's "nitpicking" to say any of this is beyond me.

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  36. "One of my beefs with this issue of Pathfinder is the depth of the information it provides to frame the adventure. "

    We're not saying your nitpicking James. You just did the equivalent of reviewing 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets' without ever reading 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone'.

    These Pathfinder books are not designed to be stand-alone, (though they can be run that way)but acts in a campaign. Book 19 is the start of the story & campaign.

    If you have some time, pick up a copy of #19, read through it and then go back to #20. #20 will go from "eh..ok" to "Great".

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  37. These Pathfinder books are not designed to be stand-alone, (though they can be run that way)but acts in a campaign.That's part of my problem with the Adventure Path format, though. I think, as presented, Pathfinder is too tightly written. To get maximal use out of its adventures, you're talking about buying 6 $19.95 products and that just doesn't interest me. By comparison, it was quite possible to use the individual adventures of the Giants/Drow series without having to commit to using all of them.

    I'll admit that I'm just not a big fan of the Adventure Path as a format, so perhaps I can't look objectively at it. That said, I don't think there's anything wrong with saying, "This format does nothing for me and in fact ensures I will never buy any future issues of Pathfinder." I'm a little disappointed by that, because these are clearly lovingly made products and the Paizo crew are awesome. However, they don't mesh well with my preferences and I can't justify the expense of buying them.

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  38. I just regret the fact that they're producing a lot of great gaming material that shows a knowledge of and respect for the game's roots and it's wrapped in a rules set I just can't stomach any longer.But what difference does it make which system these supplements are built for? You talk about how natural the monster- and encounter- and area-design systems are for old-school systems; I think you're rhetorically overcompensating, but if the combat mechanics and implicit ecologies or your favourite old-fashioned RPGs are built for flexibility, what's stopping you adapting this Paizo flavour rather than cooking up your own flavour?

    (That is, if you actually like the flavour.)

    4e is built specifically to encourage conversion and adaptation. Its design and presentation make that obvious: from the paper-thin default world to extensive coverage of creature/power design and modding in the DMG, to the clear consistent (and predictable-for-the-DM!) subsystems for improvised actions and creature/NPC modification and creation.

    Creating a monster in 4e takes minutes; modding one takes seconds. Given strong flavour from elsewhere, it's really easy to put together combat/behaviour mechanics - and there's a system for checking whether the resulting monster is in line with level/role expectations.

    You claim - correctly or not - that your favoured systems are equally flexible and equally rich. Why not back up your claim with a little 'simple' conversion work?

    And then: what possible reason could you have for rejecting this material as 'too detailed'? Just chuck the stuff you don't like - which you'd do anyway, assuming you're not a drooling fundamentalist of the 'Gygaxian inerrancy' school (I know you ain't). Hell, chuck the new mechanics entirely and use your simple monster-creation system to fit reasonable creature-mechanics to the rich Pathfinder flavour.

    What's so difficult about that? If the world is interesting, a less-detailed version of it will still be interesting. Why do you place an upper limit on the amount of world detail your game/system can handle?

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  39. Goddamn Blogger text-mangling harrumph.

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  40. "Why do you place an upper limit on the amount of world detail your game/system can handle?" -- As for myself, I would answer that we live in the days of Information Overload from the Internet. Getting information is no longer the problem; the problem is finding the relevant information. I often feel like I'm drowning in the text. I would like to prepare 20 minutes for the next game, but I have 30 pages to skim. I have 15 plot elements described, but I need to remember the four that I will actually use. Filtering is taking away from time I could be spending with my wife, so to speak.

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  41. Will said:

    The fundamental premise that mixing in elements of WotC's terrible designs with classic D&D can result in anything other than a greater or lesser degree of unfortunate pollution is at fault.Now, I'll admit I'm not a proper retro-gamer (in fact, I'm still having quite a bit of fun with 3.X, even at the terrible heights of level 21 ;-) ) but I find this a bit hard to grasp as a serious argument. I can appreciate not liking later editions, but the notion that they're like some sort of cancer when pumped into (O/B/A)D&D's body seems a bit unfair.

    I mean, I'll admit that C&C has an issue with identity in that it's too 1E for some and too 3E for others; the later retro-clones have adopted a line far closer to the original ruleset and all it's pros & cons, which is arguably more what people were actually after. (I'd rather run OSRIC or S&W if I was in a retro mood, certainly, since they capture their games pretty well even when they differ: assuming I wasn't just using my 1E or OD&D books.)

    But the notion that's there's nothing to learn from later games (and specifically WotC) seems a bit of an unhealthy attitude for people to take. I mean, sure, certain things go against the grain: but I'm curious as to how someone can seriously say that there's nothing to be gained by, say, C&C's attempt at a unified mechanic in the SIEGE engine or the basic principle behind monster template design in 3E or 4E.

    I can get not liking what Wizards D&D is; I can't get being so reluctant to nick from it, since deep down, isn't that the heart of retro-gaming? Emulating and improving aspects from other games out there to see how it goes?

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  42. Why not back up your claim with a little 'simple' conversion work?

    My point wasn't that I couldn't convert Pathfinder to Swords & Wizardry with ease. The point is why would I spend money on a product that requires me to do so?

    What's so difficult about that? If the world is interesting, a less-detailed version of it will still be interesting. Why do you place an upper limit on the amount of world detail your game/system can handle?

    For me, it's a simple question of economy. Much as I like Paizo's world building, it's not so much better than my own that I'm going to pay the prices they're asking for the privilege of having to rewrite the mechanics and pare down the details they give me to something more manageable and in tune with my refereeing style. I like having the room to wing it and make up my own details. If I like to do that, all that extra detail in Pathfinder is wasted on me.

    The whole point of pre-made adventure modules is their ease of use. I simply don't find Pathfinder easy to use, particularly because they're so information-dense that I'd have to spend time I'd rather use otherwise to prep the module. If that works for you or others, great, but it doesn't for me.

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  43. But the notion that's there's nothing to learn from later games (and specifically WotC) seems a bit of an unhealthy attitude for people to take. I mean, sure, certain things go against the grain: but I'm curious as to how someone can seriously say that there's nothing to be gained by, say, C&C's attempt at a unified mechanic in the SIEGE engine or the basic principle behind monster template design in 3E or 4E.

    I don't believe anyone's stated that there's nothing to be learned from later game designs. Speaking for myself, though, I don't work on the assumption that newer means better, especially when the older designs work just fine for my needs. I think unified mechanics like the SIEGE Engine wreak havoc on the class system by over-emphasizing the mechanical importance of ability scores. Some people like that and that's fine, but it's not my preference.

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  44. I don't believe anyone's stated that there's nothing to be learned from later game designs.Well, I can only say that I did not read "anything other than a greater or lesser degree of unfortunate pollution" in that way.

    I think unified mechanics like the SIEGE Engine wreak havoc on the class system by over-emphasizing the mechanical importance of ability scoresI certainly appreciate specific examples being bad, and as I said in my own post I get that people seeking a retro-game aren't necesarilly looking for anything to be redesigned.

    I guess I often find the retro-gaming community to have some, er, interesting approaches to "new" material which are no less illogical than the "it is new, therefore it is good" they accuse others of having. The notion that a combination of old and new designs can only end in the old design being "sullied" just seems unhelpful to me and one which, ultimately, doesn't produce as much new material from the community. (I'd rather a C&C tried and failed than all that was churned out was yet more adventures with blue and white maps)

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  45. So I'm at a bit of a loss here, James. If I'm reading you correctly, it sounds like you're saying that you like the material "unofficially" but you can't "officially" like it because it comes from the 3.5 gaming family and those products are too detailed with too many rules.

    I understand the rules argument, but I fail to see how you can criticize a sourcebook for being too detailed. Paizo doesn't force you to read all that flavour text, nor do they force you to impose it on your players.

    Don't see why you can't use this sourcebook as inspiration with whatever 0e variant you prefer.

    So if they make great settings then how is this bad? Creativity is always a merging of what you are carrying with you from a variety of sources, applied in a new way. No system has ever forced you to use everything they write.

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  46. Chris,

    My beef with Pathfinder is quite simple: given that so much of it is taken up with rules and background I do not need nor will I use, its cost is prohibitive. I simply will not get enough use out of the majority of its content to justify paying the price Paizo needs to sell it out to turn a profit on it.

    If the cost were lower, I might be willing to overlook the unnecessary detail, but maybe not. Bear in mind that I prefer the 1980 World of Greyhawk folio over the 1983 boxed set.

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  47. The notion that a combination of old and new designs can only end in the old design being "sullied" just seems unhelpful to me and one which, ultimately, doesn't produce as much new material from the community. (I'd rather a C&C tried and failed than all that was churned out was yet more adventures with blue and white maps)There's a couple of things at work here you have to understand. First, old schoolers generally do believe that system matters. The reason there's such a strongly negative reaction to the introduction of innovations like the SIEGE Engine is that they think these things undermine what they like about the old games. It's not simply a knee-jerk aversion to the new; it's a feeling of "if ain't broke, why fix it?" Second, many -- though not all -- old schoolers don't care much about new product. There's a strong do-it-yourself mentality at work here. There's minimal "need" for new material.

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