I posted a few articles about the future of Pathfinder Society (PFS), especially in the days of 5e. I remember how, at the time, a number of people called me crazy, hater, naysayer, and a prophet of doom. I will admit to being quite partial to the latter.
But that's not it. That's very far from it.
I love the Pathfinder RPG and in spite of a couple of issues, it still supports and provides the framework for the type of fantasy games I like to run and participate in.
With 5e growing and drawing more and more people every day, it should come as little surprise, that players are flocking to the new game. I'm seeing a drop in attendance of PFS attendance across the board.
This lead me to ask myself. Why is that?
1 - Did the quality of PFS drop? It is worth to ask the underlying question of whether the product offered is worse than it was. From everything I've seen, this is a clear "NO". The addition of John Compton has made things better. I cannot tell you how I disliked the blandness his predecessor injected into everything. Season 5 had a good theme and it was presented in a consistent way. Individual adventures were hit or miss, but the overall was good.
I can't say I heard anything about 5e on this one. So until I can see for myself, I will keep giving the advantage on this to Paizo.
2 - Is the campaign simply "too old"? The campaign has been on-going for seven years now. In spite of a large number of changes, is it simply time for "something new?" Sure there were changes: more factions, then less faction, then factions becoming meaningless. The rules changed and added different elements but it's still essentially the same campaign. I believe, this is one of the key factor in this potential decline. While the campaign is changing, it is still the same campaign as it was when I started back in Sept of 2009.
It is very hard to fight Malibu Stacy's new hat. And this hat now has a feather in it! I mean how can we resist? This is a complete do-over and reinventing the character! Well done WotC! You win this round! What do I know? Don't ask me, I'm just a girl! *Giggles*
3 - Is there simply too much offer for the demand? There is something to be said about glut in the gaming industry. If one has too many opportunity to play, then the excitement about it dims. Don't agree? Imagine you have cake every night. The same cake, and not a crummy one, a perfect cake of that kind you love. I imagine a vanilla white cake... or a Queen Elizabeth... NICE... But after three or four days of it. Yup. I loses its appeal.
Now with 5e on-boarding, and more GMs and groups adopting the system. I must give the advantage to 5e. For now.
4 - Did the campaign simply not give the players any buy-ins? That is something that's been bothering me about it for the longest time. What do *I*, a player, have invested in the campaign? How does *MY* taking part in the campaign affects anything? It doesn't. Or it doesn't in a time frame where I can see the impact that I have. Frankly, I don't see it. Players are allowed to be spectators and witnesses and not movers and shakers of the campaign. Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing bad about that. Sure, they gave us the post-adventure checkboxes, but I have seen nothing that tells me which option has been retained. Where is the unique con-only content? Why should I play at a large event rather than at home with my own group?
By contrast, the Adventurer's League has checkboxes, designated premiere events where results are tabulated, and special items can be handed out. Players get to impact what happens!
Hands down 5e.
5 - Is the theme not exciting? This is a big one for me... super-science of year 6. I personally didn't like the idea or the adventure "Expedition to the Barrier Peaks" itself. That's just... well not my cup of tea. I was only partially surprised that many people, like myself, really dislike the theme. Seems to be a mixed bag.
However, what I find is that there were so many much more thematic and interesting options. Between the Iron Gods AP, they would did an AP about Osirion (Mummy's Mask) and the next one is about Orcs and Giants. Let's see... Ancient Egypt, or Orcs, or robots and lasers? I realize that without PFS going the Star Wars route, a number of books would not sell...
Again comparing to the Adventurer's League where we are presented with the most iconic of plots with dragons and Tiamat. Again the advantage here, I have to give to 5e.
By my own factors, I will give 3 to 1 advantage to 5e. The theme really split people so its pretty much a toss-up, so I chose no to assign it.
I think Paizo is phoning it in with PFS this season, letting people go to 5e . I really hope the robots and star ship aspect goes away for good in season 7 and that we get a fun theme that will rally players to Pathfinder and PFS.
You know the funny thing? I have no desire to play 5e. It's sad.