Chad Perrin: SOB

23 July 2008

expand the Pathfinder RPG article on Wikipedia

Filed under: RPG — apotheon @ 11:20

The Wikipedia article on Pathfinder RPG needs some more additions and fine-tuning. It’s still kind of a “stub” article, as it stands.

Things it needs:

  • off-site source links: Any Wikipedia article needs some off-site sources. An “external links” section, as at the end of the Arduin article, is nice — but more importantly, information within the main content of the article needs reference links (as in the References section of both of the Arduin and Pathfinder RPG articles).

  • fleshing out: There’s stuff already in the article that needs some additional content added. For instance, when I added the Abbreviations subsection, my explanations for each of them was pretty scant — except in the cases where there are no explanations at all. I just ran out of ideas for what to say. Perhaps more importantly, the Reaction subsection is just pathetic. Some cursory research at the Paizo, ENWorld, and RPGnet discussion forums and a little time spent writing up the information one finds there would help immensely (especially with reference links).

  • more writers: As things currently stand, I’ve written about 75% of the content in that article. This thing should not be solely my work. Adjust my phrasing where it’s clumsy or comes from too narrow a perspective. Add more sections and subsections to expand the scope of the article. Contribute!

There are some obvious sources for links and more information that can be used to expand upon the content of this article:

  • ENWorld Forum: There’s some Pathfinder RPG discussion in general, as well as PRPG vs. 4E discussion in particular, at ENWorld.

  • Pathfinder RPG page: There’s some information about the RPG here, of course, but perhaps more importantly you can start here to get a download of the current playtest version (Alpha 3 as of this writing). I’m sure that, in writing about Pathfinder RPG, it would help to have the development/playtest version of it handy for reference. This page also features commentary from the Paizo CEO, the publisher, and the Pathfinder RPG lead designer.

  • Pathfinder RPG Announcement: The press release style announcement of the upcoming Pathfinder RPG contains a fair bit of stuff that might be useful in fleshing out the Wikipedia article.

  • Pathfinder Wiki: The Pathfinder Wiki, while apparently prone to neglect, has a bunch of information in it that could be used. Of particular interest is the Pathfinder RPG page.

  • RPG subreddit: Headlines related to Pathfinder RPG occasionally make their way here.

  • RPGnet Forum: There have been some very contentious discussions at RPGnet on the subject of Pathfinder RPG, particularly as it relates to D&D 4E. The RPGnet community seems to have a strong 4E bias.

  • SOB/RPG: I write a fair bit about Pathfinder RPG in the RPG category here at SOB. Sources for “some people argue that blah” type content in the Wikipedia article, summarized histories, and so on, can be harvested here.

  • WotC/Gleemax Forum: I’ve heard rumors there have been discussions related to the “edition wars” between 3.5, Pathfinder, and 4E here. I haven’t seen them myself, but that doesn’t mean you won’t (especially since part of the reason I haven’t seen them is that I just don’t frequent the place at all).

Those are all general sources, for the most part. Some more specific sources include:

There ya go. I did half the work for you. Go forth and compose text.

21 July 2008

What does “compatibility” mean for Pathfinder?

Filed under: RPG — apotheon @ 08:58

This is part of my RPG series of entries here at SOB. See the inaugural entry in the series for more details.

PRPG compatibility isn’t about keeping your core books.

One of the major problems with adoption of the new 4th Edition system is the fact that most, if not all, non-core books will be obsolesced by the new system. As things currently stand, you can go buy the new three core books for 4E (PHB, DMG, and MM, naturally) and exactly one module. That’s it. Considering the vast modifications to the system, expecting to get much rules-related use out of your 3.5 MM 2-4, Expanded Psionics Handbook, and gameworld books is unrealistically optimistic at best.

Now consider the market involved. New gamers will go to stores and buy new books. New gamers will not just magically stumble across old copies of D&D 3.5. All the new blood goes to the new game books — which means 4E if we don’t have something like Pathfinder as an alternative. Of course, the rules in the 3.5 core books are distributed under the terms of the OGL, which means you can distribute them freely. That’s not quite good enough, though. Gamers like having physical books, including gamers like me, so electronic distribution isn’t quite enough to support a significant fanbase. Physical books, on the other hand, cost money to make.

Reprints of D&D 3.5 books don’t make for much of a money-maker when 3.5 is “obsolete”. On the other hand, D&D 3.6, with improvements in some of the more flawed, complex systems of D&D 3.5, might really catch on. It’s not just a retread: it’s an update. 3.6 is, of course, Pathfinder.

The trick is to make it backward compatible. If you can’t use the non-core books you already own with it, you’re far less likely to get the new Pathfinder book. Not only would you have to start rebuilding your collection of supplements all over again like you would with 4E, and not only would you have to wait until the additional books are actually published, but you would have the problem that Paizo (or another publisher other than Wizards of the Coast) probably won’t create the volume of supplementary books you already own if you already have a significant collection, nor is Paizo likely in the near future to build the kind of third-party publishing support that Wizards had.

Not only does Paizo need to attract people who already own a bunch of non-core books that they don’t want to give up, but it needs its new Pathfinder update of D&D 3.5 to be compatible with those books so that there’s a decent range of non-core books out there to support its new core book. It doesn’t get much easier than for customers to already own the books. Better yet, with 4E out now, 3.5 books tend to be pretty cheap in a lot of places — so if you seek them out, non-core 3.5 books are really cheap.

News flash: Paizo isn’t doing this Pathfinder thing primarily to make money by selling a new game (or, if it is doing it for that reason, it needs a refresher course in business sense). It’s creating and publishing this new Pathfinder RPG to maintain a user base for 3.5 compatible game modules and other materials Paizo publishes.

Some people complain that Pathfinder’s Alpha releases aren’t really 3.5 compatible, though. What they see is that the rules in Pathfinder differ from those in the core books. What they’re not seeing is that the rules are meant to be compatible — not identical. In fact, the new Pathfinder book is in some respects meant to replace the core books. They’re meant to be compatible with everything other than the core books.

You have some choices:

  1. You can just keep using your 3.5 core books, and watch the 3.5 gaming community die around you the way the 1st Edition, 2nd Edition, and 3.0 gaming communities have basically died off completely, then eventually move on to 4E — or not. Maybe you’ll stop playing. Gaming groups aren’t eternal, though. Campaigns end. Eventually, something changes.

  2. You can move on to 4E. You might want to have a look at the books before you do so, though. Depending on your tastes, you might not like what you see — especially if you’re the type that thinks Pathfinder isn’t “compatible” enough. On the other hand, maybe you really do prefer game systems like those in MMORPGs over game systems like, say, D&D’s before 4E. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

  3. You can give something like Pathfinder a shot, and realize that what Paizo is creating is an attempt to improve on the 3.5 system, to help you keep using your non-core books with a vibrant and growing gaming community rather than having to choose either replacing them all or sticking with a system whose gamer community is poised to start withering away.

  4. You can give up.

I’m okay with replacing three core books with a single new (and improved) core book, having Paizo and third-party new published materials available to me when I want new books, and keeping all my non-core books still relevant — rather than having to rebuild my D&D gamebook collection from scratch. I’m okay with having a strong and growing gamer community attached to my game of choice without having to use a system that, frankly, I don’t much like (such as 4E). In general, I’m okay with Paizo’s definition of “compatible”.

I don’t want things to stay the same just to have them stay the same. I’m not afraid of change — as long as the change is for the better.

15 July 2008

Little Brother

Filed under: Geek,Humor,Liberty,Review,RPG — apotheon @ 07:29

A few hours ago, I finished reading Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow. This goes on the list of books every intelligent, thinking person should read. Seriously.

When I say I finished it a few hours ago, I mean that I basically started reading it when I decided to get in twenty minutes or so of reading before I went to sleep. Twenty minutes turned into a marathon reading session. I devoured the 380 pages of story, two afterwords, and bibliography in one sitting.

Doctorow has made it available to everyone who wants it, free of charge, online. Get it from his Little Brother Webpage, if you’re up for reading it electronically. I, however, chose to borrow it from the library. The local library branch didn’t have it — I had to wait for an inter-library loan to come in. On one hand, it was worth the wait. On the other hand, in retrospect, I wish I hadn’t needed to wait. I’m now considering buying a copy for myself — not only to keep, but to support its author as well. Maybe I’ll buy several and hand them out as door prizes at a party (and I’m only half-kidding about that).

It’s essentially written for teenagers — hell, it’s even educational — but don’t let that stop you, no matter how old you are. It’s a great read, and (this is going to sound clichéd, I know) one of the most important books I’ve ever read. I don’t think I’ll ever say that it “changed my life”, but if I didn’t already sympathize with it so much, it certainly would have changed my life.

The book takes place in a future so close to right now that it’s difficult to figure out at times that it’s not meant to be wholly contemporary. It’s full of technologies that exist, many of which are available right this second for anyone with the interest in using them (though some have been fictionalized a bit). Scott Westerfield’s one-sentence summary of the plot on the back cover reads “A rousing tale of techno-geek rebellion — as necessary and dangerous as file sharing, free speech, and bottled water on a plane.” It’s capped by two afterwords — one by Bruce Schneier (you should know who this is), and the other by Andrew “bunnie” Huang (the original Xbox hacker).

I’ll finish up with a paraphrase from one of the people who recommended this book to me in the first place:

Go. Read it. Now.

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