JP On Gaming

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

[Tweaking Pathfinder] Rule bloat, time for a new version?

I have been talking to a lot of people about many gaming things. One sad fact that I keep hearing is that people are moving away from Pathfinder and into 13th Age or 5e. Although the specifics change wildly, one of the things that really stands out is what people call "Rules Bloat". I can't help but nod my head and say "yup". Many adapt the Adventure Paths - which as still seen as some of the best stuff out there - to their new system of choice.

Pathfinder was first released in 2009, meaning that it is now fully six years old. Six years of monthly releases of adventure paths, campaign setting book, AP player guides, hardbacks, and so on. Now I know the do not release one of each of those monthly, but there are monthly releases for Pathfinder. The sheer amount of books and material makes it that a tablet is now needed for the average player/GM to carry what he needs to run a game. It has

I, as a small-time publisher and a lover of the game, find myself in a bind: on the one hand, I love and want to see Pathfinder keep being successful; on the other, I have to go where my customers are going.


I will admit that because I do not use any of Paizo's splat books in Legacies, I don't feel the bloat as badly. It also cuts out some of the worse overpowered stuff out there. No offense, but some of these feats and abilities are just so powerful. I will point you to Reign of Winter's Tribal Scars feat. Wow! That is worth like 3 feats in one: save bonus, skill bonus, HP bonus...

Which leads me to the question...

Is it time for a NEW Pathfinder?

I have been thinking about it for the past two years that Paizo should begin looking and putting efforts into a new version of Pathfinder. Something along the lines of a 3.0->3.5 or 3.5->PFRPG rather than a full edition where all your books become obsolete. I think having to throw the pile of Pathfinder books out, like WotC has been doing every edition would be a death knell for them, so a "half-edition" would be nice. Just to trim out the fat, tighten some of the things that creeped in over time. I thought Unleashed would be the first step - and still believe it - but I will admit I expected to hear a new version in 2016.

Now we will be going to 2017 before the next edition which I believe is VERY late.

Here are some thoughts of mine:
- Get rid of Appraise in favor of an appropriate Knowledge skill.
- Get rid of Climb and Swim into an "Athletics" skill.
- Get rid of Craft in favor of Knowledge or Survival.
- Get rid of Disguise in favor of Bluff.
- Get rid of Escape Artist as a skill, make it either an Acrobatics or a Climb check.
- Limit the amount of bonuses to skills (particularly Perception/Stealth) a character can get beyond his own abilities. - Simplify charge rules so they become something like "every square you must be closer to the opponent than the square you are currently in."
- Make AoOs like 5e AoOs: only when you leave a threatened square
- Replace the current flanking rules by an "outnumber" rule, like in 5e and other.
- Instead of targeting corners and coming up with complex shapes, target a square and all distances are counted as movement from that square.
- Use the Unleashed classes in a CRB
- A new CRB would be welcomed as most of ours are falling to pieces

Those are just a few random thoughts I would like to see in an upcoming new version, but I am not attached to any of them. They are nonetheless worth discussing now, hopefully get something in the ear of the Paizo team.

I wish I had that much power/reach...



  1. I feel like if you're going to roll craft into anything it should be profession - and encourage the expanded profession rules like in Legacies.

    I too can't stand the charge rules in PF and much preferred the 4E rules.

    They're still printing plenty of CRBs with errata!

  2. Rule bloat only impacts your game if you let it, simple enough. People leaving for other games are searching for something else. An overabundance of rules that you can choose to accept or ignore doesn't really sound like a reason to leave a game on the shelf unless ALL of those rules are required to play, then you have a legit complaint.

    When in doubt, house rule and move along.

  3. I thought they were releasing something that only used the core rule books...a sort of Golarian lite. News is they would release books for this for this lite setting that doesn't add things, just tells adventures.

  4. Good points all of you. Good points. That's is the type of thinking I loke to generate by doing these posts.

  5. I would not mind a more streamlined edition of Pathfinder either.

    I agree with McTeague, you could roll appraise, craft and profession into one type of skill.

    The call of the PFS to start the Core Campaign was a good one for introducing new players without scaring them away. But as David Dolph says, more support for this would be nice.