Friday, December 2, 2011

Pathfinder Online Announced

** Originally posted on **

I have been playing tabletop roleplaying games for a long time, longer than I have actually been playing the video game variety. I was involved in a game of Vampire: The Maquerade when I was a mid-teen, and played in a Dungeons & Dragons campaign made up of almost all the same people. This was back in the mid-90s before I had experienced the crushing reality of life and I entered a sort of personal Dark Age of tabletop gaming. I wouldn’t play another game of D&D for over a decade, totally missing out on the entire third edition of the game. I began again in 2008 when the fourth edition was released, coming back to the table with fresh eyes and a willingness to adapt to all of the changes that had occurred over the course of the last 12 years. I created an elven archer and brought the character to my local Living Forgotten Realms nights, which are held across North America. I met new people and had some good fun, until I realized that I wasn’t playing Dungeons & Dragons. The system that I was playing was nothing like the D&D I knew. The battles were slow tactical affairs with grid-maps to represent the environment and markers or minis for your characters. The story was weak at the best of times, and at the worst of times would be completely skipped to fast-forward to the engagement of steel and mana. I felt like I was playing Final Fantasy Tactics. (Don’t get me wrong, FFT is a great game, it’s just not what I was there for.) So I made the jump back to older editions of the game, bringing a couple of my new-found friends along with me.
Many share my view about the fourth edition of D&D as opposed to older versions, but some maintain that it is the failing of the users to take the reigns and really drive 4E as it should be. I understand that view but would rather play a different game, thank you.
Pathfinder is a kind of spiritual younger sister to D&D. It grew out of the desire for more third edition content after the fourth was released. Since the latest system was changed beyond recognition, it made sense. Also called the “d20 system,” it too has undergone many changes in it’s rules. The errata to the core books that everyone needed to play was so large at one point that they rebooted the entire series and called it the 3.5 edition. There was a lot of grumbling and moaning about having to buy all new books amongst the fans of the game, but it wasn’t necessary. After all, there was the Official Errata, which was free but fairly confusing to use unless you already knew it inside and out. More and more errata was piled onto the system until Paizo, the company who handled publication of the Dragon and Dungeon lines of magazines. Announced that they would be releasing an RPG called Pathfinder. Obviously taken straight from the pages of the 3.5E and errata, they also made it their own. With new monsters, a slew of wonderful adventure modules, and new rules of their own, they released the hefty core rulebook under their own banner.
Now, Paizo has gathered certain figures from Wizards of the Coast (D&D Publisher) and CCP (EVE Online) to create a company called Goblinworks that will handle all aspects of what they promise is going to be a “sandbox/theme park” style MMO. I am assuming they don’t mean that all player characters will have mascot-heads and ride roller coasters for experience points. They are proposing a model of gameplay that revolves around player interaction, rather than collection and mail-runner quests. Paizo has stated that they would like to see players building glittering castles, garner support from neighboring townships to take down larger military powers, and yes, maybe even have a quest or two to kill a bothersome dragon.
This is exiting news for me, and I believe it can be done well. The way Paizo and Goblinworks are talking about this new project feels reminiscent, to me, of the power-struggle and economy inherent within EVE Online. Let’s just hope the project gets off the ground!
For more information about Pathfinder Online, visit If you’d like to know more about tabletop Dungeons & Dragons, visit

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