Pathfinder Playtest: Actions! Reactions! And a Glass Cannon!

As you may have heard, Pathfinder recently announced that in August they’ll be releasing the beta version of Pathfinder’s Second Edition ruleset. For the first few months these rules will be available for a free download on Paizo’s website, and feedback will be collected from us, the players. Known as Pathfinder Playtest, this news has stirred up a lot of excitement. As mentioned in my previous post on the matter, I’m excited for the new edition, but also afraid. It’s not that I worry about the rules–I know I’ll like them–but I worry about the investment. I have no intention of leaving behind 1e, especially in regards to the Pathfinder Society. Although I know I’ll switch over to 2e eventually, the cost that’s going to be involved when 2e officially launches is going to prevent me from making the transition immediately.

Pathfinder is slowly releasing some spoilers and details on their blog of the new Playtest rules, and has an extensive FAQ section dedicated to the game already. So what do we know? For starters, alchemist will be one of the classes released with the original core classes in the first book. Also, goblins will be among the core ancestries up for offer, which is exciting! Who doesn’t love goblins? Wait! Ancestries? What’s that? It’s a new name for races, which will influence your character as it always has. In addition to ancestry and class, your character will also be influenced by a third category called your Background. I’m not sure what this is exactly, as details haven’t launched yet, but it sounds like having a theme from Starfinder. There’s also plenty of other little things that have been hinted at, but the only things that have been spoilered in any kind of detail is the action system.

You know all that work you put into learning which actions are standard, move, swift and free actions? Ignore that! Instead, everything costs one Action. During each round, every player gets three actions. Want to attack three times? Go for it! Draw a potion, move and administer it to someone else? Sure! Move and attack twice? Yup! Open a door, move through, shut a door? Yup! Three actions. Do what you will. Those of you choosing to attack multiple times take a cumulative -5 penalty on those additional attacks (so the second attack is at a -5 penalty and the third is at a -10). The only exception mentioned so far in regards to the ‘one Action’ rule is spells. Most spells will cost 2 Actions, some can be cast as 1 Action, and some will be cast at variable Action costs, which will increase the spell’s effectiveness. Every character also gets a single Reaction that they can take between the start of their turn and the start of their next turn. In addition to attacks of opportunity, each class has special Reactions they can take, like a fighter readying a shield against an attack in order to reduce its damage. So far I like this concept. It’s effective and uncomplicated. But will it work? After hearing it in action on the Glass Cannon Podcast special where they tried out Pathfinder Playtest alongside Jason Bulmahn and Erik Mona, I think it’s going to be great. This podcast was a lot of fun to listen to, and featured a lot of cool glimpses at the new rules.

My favourite thing I learned from the podcast? Initiative is no longer a single score. Instead, what you roll for initiative is determined by what you’re doing. For example, if you’re looking around and keeping alert it will run off of your Perception. If you’re slinking around and hiding at the time, Stealth will be what you’re rolling. And if you’re checking out the terrain and looking for tracks, you’ll roll Survival for your initiative. It’s a neat way to run initiative that sounds like a lot of fun.

For further details on Pathfinder Playtest check out Paizo’s website, blog post, or the podcast mentioned above.

What’s surprised me more than the new rules we’ve heard about is the variety of attitudes I’ve seen on the Paizo Messageboards about it. Some people are thrilled, which is what I expected, and some people are worried–also expected. Some are upset. One GM was so angry he immediately dropped every game he was GMing, leaving dozens of players in the lurch! Seriously!? How unprofessional can you be? Luckily, the wonderful community of players on the Paizo Messageboards leapt to the rescue and are managing replacement GMs as we speak. My character leaps for joy and thanks her lucky stars.

Since the announcement of Pathfinder Playtest, the news has settled. The shock has faded. And we’ve received a glimpse at the new rules and how play works.  So how do I feel now? Excited. I can’t wait until we get to learn more about the new system.

And you? How are you feeling about Pathfinder Playtest and the upcoming Pathfinder 2e?

I’d love to hear your opinions!

Jessica

Author: d20diaries

Author of d20 Diaries.

One thought on “Pathfinder Playtest: Actions! Reactions! And a Glass Cannon!”

  1. I think I’m also somewhere in the middle. Excited at something new, but feeling the investment of 1e being “sunk” (over time).

    They stated that if they were to open up the core rulebook, they wouldn’t bother without doing further surgery (paraphrasing because I’m too lazy to look up the quote). This is a pretty key statement, implying a coupling between improvement and backward incompatible iteration. To me it seems an arbitrary constraint. If the core rulebook could be re-opened to define a new set of “baselines”, would it solve enough of the problems with the game today? E.g., if they picked a commonly used set from Unchained, the set of classes from APG, maybe some enticing selection from Advanced Races, and an abbreviate Inner Sea Primer, how robust of a CRB (still 1e) could they create?

    Now, I’m not grousing, part of me is still excited for 2e. It’s just, from their reasoning and only knowing what we know about the new rules, I’m not seeing clear lines drawn between a large body of persistent problems and this being the only way. But of course that’s just me in the armchair, doing the usual armchair opinion thing 🙂

    Like

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