Like many others, at Gencon this year, we picked up the paperback copy of the Pathfinder 2.0 playtest. First of all, I like the idea of grabbing the playtest this way, because it covers the cost of the book, plus I get to hold a copy of it in my hands and pass it around the table. PDF’s work, however, I still prefer the feel of the books in my hands. That was nice. However, I am not sure who did/would purchase the more expensive copies like the hardback, or the even higher priced special edition copy. That seems a little over kill for my tastes, but to each their own.
Digging into the book as we got home (ok why am I lying, as soon as I got into the hallway from purchasing it), I started to really look at some of the new items that made it into the playtest. Remember, this is just a playtest and can change when the actual edition comes out. This isn’t an exhaustive list, as we are still pulling it apart and playing it to see where the bits and pieces fall. As we get moving along with the playtest and digging into the book more thoroughly, we will post further articles.
It seems that they are taking some of the ideas used in Starfinder and adapting them into the Pathfinder ruleset for the next edition. For instance, they provide the point allocation style ability score generation. They still have the roll based generation rules, but that is listed as an alternative. Not sure how we like that, but we will see. We tend to prefer having our fate in our own hands/dice.
What We Liked
First thing we noticed was that “races” has changed to “ancestry”. Just a change in the parlance? Not really. Now you get more benefits and flaws from choosing an ancestry. If we are reading this right, at first level, you gain HP for just being a dwarf. No longer are you solely relying on your class and constitution for hit points. Which means, even before the constitution bonus, a Dwarven Paladin will start with 20 HP. That makes being a stalwart champion just a little easier at lower levels, without really upsetting the balance of the game. They can take just a little more damage, but only meet out the damage that they could before. It makes lower levels seem more survivable, even if only a little bit.
Ancestry has it’s benefits. You also gain feats for being a certain race. Since this is a playtest, there are only so many ancestries in the book. Not sure if they intend to add more or not, but the ones listed should be enough to get you started. The feats allow you to customize your character from the beginning. Because you get those feats every four levels (1, 5, 9, ect.), there are some that require other feats first. We can see that there is a lot of room to grow these feats and allow them to make more interesting characters as you go along. Granted some of the benefits of the feats are questionable, I think that they are an interesting step forward to making characters unique.
The ability score adjust for each ancestry is interesting as well. Some of the races seem to have better adjustments than others, but that makes some sense with the races to begin with. Hard cap is set to 18 at first level, then goes up from there. However, it does seem that you could read that once you have the 18, and bump with the ability score adjustments from the ancestry, you could have a cap of 22. Still looking into that.
Backgrounds seem to be an interesting bonus, as it also can provide some bonuses to ability scores, useful skills, and if we are not mistaken some hit points in some areas. We will go back and look into that further in the future as we get into play. Reminds us of the old school GDW systems where you set out a life path of your character, with origins, backgrounds, career choices, ect.. We love those old games (Dark Conspiracy, Twilight 2000, Traveler), and this makes us feel nostalgic for those types of systems. Something we hope gets more developed as this goes further.
What We Are Unsure About
As we said before, the allocation style ability score generation is a little off putting to some of our group. However, more than that, Hero Points are something we are not really sure is needed. Looking at them in our games, would we ever use them? Would they make a difference? Why were they added in the first place? We know when we get into it that it may make more sense, but at first look, we are a bit skeptical.
The resonance points for using certain magic items/magic spells. While we understand the mechanic, it appears that it would be really hard to have a magic item wielding dwarf. You get negatives to your resonance points to begin with, plus if you take a certain feat you lose even more. That seems more like a class feature than a racial one. We harken back to first edition AD&D and the Barbarian distrust for magic.
There are some things that interest us and some that have us skeptical. As we look further into the system and how the play mechanics break down we will come back and talk more about the salient points of the system and how they stack up. Watch this space for more.