I have noticed a trend in my gaming habits over the many years. As a system starts to release more rules supplements I slowly begin to lose interest in that system or at the very least begin to feel overwhelmed at the number of options. With the D&D genre as an example and a touch of Pathfinder thrown in my gaming pattern highlights this trend.
The Sea Grows Deeper
I stuck with 1st Edition D&D right up until the 2nd Edition of Advanced D&D came out. I played that during high school and early college and then the options increased with the release of numerous “splat” books. Some of them were actually pretty fun and did offer interesting options, but as time went on the sheer number of options became overwhelming. Coupled with other life events I took a break from RPG gaming.
I came back with the release of D&D 3.5, yes, I skipped D&D 3.0. D&D 3.5 was great fun. It scratched all the right itches. I really liked the flexibility and felt like I had the tools at my disposal with the class system, skill system, skill resolution and feats. The core books provided everything I needed. I even bought into some of the Complete series of books as well, though that did signal the start of option creep to me as well. Eventually as more option books and rule supplements were released I began to lose interest with D&D 3.5 as well.
I took a much shorter break from RPGs during the awkward 3.5 to 4e phase, made even easier as the 4e rule set just did not attract me to that release. When I sought to come back to the RPG table it was with Pathfinder. At the time there was only the core rulebook and Bestiary in the Pathfinder rule system. It was great – I was back to a core set of rules, there weren’t hundreds upon hundreds of options to choose from. It felt safe and the game felt less about the rules and options and more about playing the game. I really enjoyed my early days of Pathfinder gaming.
Next the Advanced Player’s Guide was released. I also enjoyed this book, it added just the right amount of options and choices in my opinion. A very solid product offering and I easily put it in with my core release assumption of the Pathfinder System.
Now it seems Paizo has started with the unrelenting release of rule supplements with the Ultimate series of books and the even more recently announced book with 30 new prestige classes due in the upcoming year. So once again I find myself trying to stay afloat in a sea of feats, classes, options, archetypes, spells and more. And once again I find myself intrigued by other systems as my life raft to regroup and refocus.
I think there are two seats at the table to look at the amount of options, that of the player and that of the GM. Let’s take a closer look from these two seats through the Pathfinder lense.