When I started Papers & Pencils, then called “Comma, Blank_,” I was still a D&D 3.5 player. I was aware of Pathfinder, but preferred to stick with the system I already had 30+ supplements for. About two years ago, by some happenstance, I was chatting with a fellow at my local comic book store, Fantasium. He was interested in starting a Pathfinder campaign, and he seemed cool, so I gave him my email address and purchased the Pathfinder Core Rulebook on an impulse. I never heard from that guy again, which didn’t matter much, because I was thoroughly impressed by Pathfinder’s improvements to 3.5. My initial reaction to the system was nothing but fawning praise, and I immediately started referring to this as a “Pathfinder Blog.”
Then I found Hack & Slash, and from there started to explore more of the OSR. I was exposed to a greater diversity of game design theories than I had known existed, and many of my fundamental ideas were challenged. My opinions began to shift. Issues which I had previously viewed as “the limitations of tabletop games,” became “the limitations of the tabletop games I’ve played.” As an example, I had long been frustrated by how difficult it was to get players to manage their characters on their own, the OSR made me realize that perhaps my game was asking them to manage too much shit.
In the last two years I’ve become increasingly dissatisfied with Pathfinder. One reader* recently told me they were surprised I still played, given how critical I am of it. And truth be told, I don’t. Not really. I do still have one Pathfinder game in progress, but I run it in such a modified form that there’s about as much Pathfinder left in that game as there is man left in Darth Vader. And when this campaign ends (presumably when I move away from the players) I doubt if I’ll ever start another game based on the Pathfinder rules.
Put plainly, Pathfinder and I have parted ways.
That doesn’t mean you’ll never see another Pathfinder post here. I’d like to finish my Pathfinder Class Analysis series, because I’ve found that project to be fertile grounds for game design inspiration. I’ve also got at least one pathfinder-specific project which I’ve wanted to finish for years now, but have been putting off because I’m lazy and dumb and lazy. What it does mean is that Colorful Characters, Merciless Monsters, and Magical Marvels won’t be posted with Pathfinder game rules any longer, which is a big relief for me, because fitting everything into the Pathfinder framework was exhausting work.
Since 90% of my readership is non-pathfinder players anyway (somehow I ended up as an honorary initiate in the OSR?) I presume this news is long overdue for most of you.