Finding a Familiar Path – Part 2July 26, 2018 Off By Chase
(Continuing on from Part 1, Chase explores the growing similarities between Pathfinder 2nd Edition and Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. -Dan)
Reading the Trail
There are elements shared between Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragons that would be petty and irrelevant to identify as similarities. Fighters exist in both. No one cares. Meanwhile, game rules can’t be copyrighted, and regardless, both games share a pedigree. They inherit many of the same problems and each addresses these problems differently. There’s no one right way to correct them, and even if there were, incorporating them isn’t an accusation of plagiarism.
That said, walk with me.
Each PF2e preview character released so far on EN World is two pages: a page of game statistics (name, ancestry, class, attributes, AC, hit points, et cetera) and a reference sheet for the character’s feats and abilities.
Abilities and spells are formatted like powers from 4th Edition. Each is formatted into an easy to read block of text, with the name, ability type, and level in an all caps header. Bolded keywords. The action cost to use it. Range, area, targets, duration, triggering conditions and prerequisites, all blocked out before the ability description. All there.
Most non-spell abilities come in the form of feats, a mainstay of d20 mechanics. Class abilities are feats, now. Combined with a unified proficiency and progression system, one might expect Pathfinder’s level advancement chart to look somewhat reminiscent of 4e’s own chart. This might seem trite and pedantic, had class and power homogeneity not been a common criticism of 4e.
Following the Quarry
Haste, an iconic spell in D&D, once allowed those under its effects to act twice on their turn. The drawback was that it aged the recipient by a year each time it was cast on them. A character could die of old age after heavy use of the spell. D&D v3.0 removed the magical aging drawback, and the game’s action economy has been a design headache ever since.
Pathfinder, for the most part, inherited the action economy of v3.5. What a character could do, how often, and under what penalty could be difficult to parse at times. Even optional rules seem exhaustive.
PF2e simplifies things considerably: three actions, no types, most things take one action. Most spells take two actions to cast, though some are variable. Each character has one reaction to act outside of their turn, with different reactions based on class. This is a necessary change, to address the design flaws of its predecessors if nothing else. That it resembles 4e’s standard/move/minor action economy and the ability to trade down actions is a consequence of design starting in similar spaces.
A Resonant Lair
Resonance is a new mechanic to Pathfinder. Its main design goal is to reduce the reliance on healing from magical items, namely wands of cure light wounds. Using magical items takes resonance; after depleting their pool, magic items may stop working for that character for the rest of the day.
4e characters recover health through healing surges. Items and abilities can trigger healing surges, but after a certain number of surges each day that character no longer benefits from them. A character can only use a handful of magical item powers per day, as well.
The Proving Ground
Resonance is the most controversial inclusion to the new edition and may undergo the most iteration once playtesting begins. The nature of testing means any of the things described in this article can change before a final product reaches store shelves. The changes proposed for Pathfinder Second Edition are intriguing, and a lot of thought and design has gone into them.
Pathfinder cut its teeth ten years ago providing the game experience its parent chose to provide no longer. The game that birthed it returned to its roots sometime later, but by then its child was fully formed and ready to compete in the same hunting grounds. The elder, in its Fifth season, proved mighty, and the progeny circled, biding its time.
Little did the cub know, its paws found a familiar path.
About The Author
A mountain of a man and our very own modern era Diogenes of Sinope, Chase is a being of many talents. He enjoys philosophy, pop culture, games of all kinds, and cursing instead of using commas.