Tuesday, 6 September 2011


It's now been a little over six months since my "Pathfinding the shark" post, which now appears to be the most read post of all time on this site.

I hate to be a naysayer. I have no intention of telling people how to conduct their business and even less intention of telling people how to play their games. My opinion doesn't really matter.

Even so, it seems that my feelings about the new Paizo splats were fairly correct. Since that post the Ultimate Combat book has come out in full and it wasn't met with much approval. There seems to be a (relative) consensus that it's the worst book Paizo has ever put out.

NB: That's not saying much. Even at its worst, Paizo's products are still miles better than the worst products we ever got for 3.x.

But (and again, I hate to speculate) it could indicate a trend. The core book was a decent rewrite of the core, the APG was great, Ultimate Magic and Bestiary 2 were okay, Ultimate Combat is ok-to-meh-to-suck. This is not a scientific fact but a "common sense" observation that might have no value at all: the more supplementary material you put out for a game, the lower its quality.

In our current Pathfinder game everything 3.x and Pathfinder, including third party material is "fair game". For me, that's a nightmare to consider and I'm only building my characters with the PF Core+APG. For some it's paradise.

I'm a Pathfinder supporter but I was never a loyal Paizo fan/customer. All I can say is that with each book they release the further I am from their core audience. Nobody's loss really, just sharing my feelings.


  1. The simple fact is that, like WotC, Paizo is on the Supplement Treadmill, which I think has been shown to be an unsustainable business model. At some point a) your market is saturated and b) your product's value is diminished.

    I get Paizo's weekly store emails, and there is a staggering amount of material being put out for PF, especially when you include all of the 3rd-party products. It's 3e all over again, albeit a little smaller scale.

    The best thing Paizo could do, *for the game*, is produce a core set of rules, and then NOTHING ELSE. Let the fanbase hammer on the game for five years or so, learn from their feedback, and then put out a new edition of those core rules with improvements based on those learnings. (This, to me, is the reason for new editions: iterative development that improves the ruleset.)

    Of course, you can't sustain a business of Paizo's size on that model, much less pay for all that gorgeous color art. Ergo, splat city.

    And, hey, Paizo rightly identified a core 3.5 fanbase that loves to buy lots of splats... even though the products ruin the game. And these are probably the same people that would have cried bloody murder if WotC had released the same "3.75" edition that PF essentially is.

    For me, the solution is to simply not buy into any of this. Granted, I am much more satisfied playing games like Burning Wheel than I ever was playing D&D 3e.

  2. Yep, exactly. You said it much better than I could.

    Luckily, since we already learned the ropes of the game with 3.x we run Pathfinder pretty much for free off the SRD. So, as I said, I'm not really a Paizo customer, and this (potential) splat fever doesn't really affect me. But it's nevertheless disheartening/worrying to look at.

    (And to be honest it's nowhere near as bad as in the d20 heyday of avalanches of truly atrocious supplement books.)