This is part of my RPG series of entries here at SOB. See the inaugural entry in the series for more details.
Paizo Publishing made the free Beta test PDF for its upcoming Pathfinder RPG available for download at the Pathfinder RPG Webpage. The “softcover” print edition of the Beta is available for order in the Paizo store, as well (though it’s not free like the PDF download). I’m going to have a look through the PDF in the next few days and decide whether I want to buy a copy of the Beta. Whether I buy a hardcopy Beta will probably depend mostly on how complete it is. It’s always nice to have a physical book to refer to in the course of a game session, after all — but if I have to refer to the D&D 3.5 core books too much in addition to the PRPGb book, I may not consider the book worth its price tag. On the other hand, it’ll be a piece of gaming history.
Anyway, immediately after downloading the Beta and unzipping it, I noticed that there’s a “web enhancement” PDF included. It contains a bunch of spells and magic items that didn’t make it into the Beta’s page count. It might be worth printing the web enhancement document on my black and white laser printer, if I get the print version of the Beta. That being the case, having these spells and magic items in a separate document won’t dissuade me at all from paying for a print version of the Beta. After all, cutting a bunch of usually unimportant magic items out of the Beta so they can fit in other stuff that’s more important for day-to-day use of the book strikes me as a good sign. That means the Beta actually contains more stuff that’s important to the game than Paizo expected it to contain, after all.
The Beta still has a problem that the Alpha had, though: instances of capital A in headings don’t display in PDF readers using FreeType for font rendering. I talked to someone at Glyph & Cog (the developers of xpdf) about it, and it seems to be a matter of Adobe’s PDF authoring software violating Adobe’s own PDF document specification standard with regard to how fonts should be handled. It’s not a huge problem — but it’s enough of a problem that I wouldn’t spend actual money on the PDF, since I don’t want to spend real money on something that doesn’t display correctly in the software I prefer to use. I could use Acroread, except it sucks almost as bad as the Adobe Reader application for MS Windows — so the fact capital As aren’t displaying in heading text is a small price to pay for getting to use a slimmer, simpler, easier to use PDF reader.
Luckily, the Beta PDF is free.
I’m pretty sure I’ll comment more on the Beta in the near future.