Review Policy and RPG Material Reviews

I’ll try to state my review policy.  My reviews are not fair and balanced.  If I like something, I usually really like it.  If I don’t like something, I really don’t like and will be blunt about why.  If I’m somewhere in-between on a text, I won’t have much to say about it either way.

As for RPG materials, my current collection dates from 1994.  I had a collection from April 1980 through June 1994, but lost it to a personal disaster.  Most of the material in the collection is systems that were in print as of 1994 and onward.  I do have some out of print material, thanks to a FLGS which I’ve been going to for just shy of thirty years.  They have shelf on shelf of out of print books, supplements and whatnot.

So here’s my first RPG review, which is based on the one I posted at the Paizo Web site, for the Pathfinder Core Rulebook:

After years of seeing the Pathfinder rule books on the shelves of my FLGS, I took the plunge in December of 2012. I bought the Core Rulebook and began skimming it immediately. My first discovery was the character creation rules. They were fun! Characters were cool in a way that I hadn’t seen in previous editions of the world’s oldest role-playing game. Within three months, I was up and running my first Pathfinder adventure. That was three years ago and I have no regrets getting involved with the Pathfinder system.

The rule book is thick, but don’t let that deter you.  The core rules are simple and are the focus of the first half of the book is on character creation and development.  The Pathfinder system is about options and this rule book gives you options.  Seven player character races with fresh twists on the approach to the standards from the world’s oldest role-playing game system.  Eleven character classes, with options for everything from martial characters, through divine and arcane casters through strikers (what MMO players call “DPS characters”).   The skill is system is clean and robust enough to support a variety of interactions with the environment, creatures and other characters.  The Feat system allows for a lot of customization for a character.  There is enough variety in the equipment chapter that a player can find nearly any bit of mundane gear they want or need.  The spell description section is a hundred and thirty-three pages long and offers a huge variety of arcane and divine spell choices.  The first chapter which gets a meh response from me is the Prestige classes.  I haven’t had the use for them in three years of refereeing.  I’m still exploring the options in the core classes.  Gamemastering and adventure design are covered in one chapter each, with enough information to get you started.  One caveat about adventure design.  Using the adventure design as written will create outlines which support “dangerous” adventures, just as described on the back of the rule book.  While Pathfinder characters have a fair amount of resiliency, it is not difficult to design an adventure which will challenge, injure and possibly easily kill first level characters.  The chapter on creating NPC’s is robust and offers a detailed, useful system for creating characters with class levels.  The chapter on magic items is a hundred and eleven pages long and includes rules for magic item creation.

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