Monday, May 23, 2011


Pathfinder. You looked so terribly promising.

3.5e backwards compatibility. Awesome new takes on old classes and races. A stunning default setting with some world-class modules.

And then you had to go and let me down with NPC generation. Even 3.5e wasn’t as clunky as this. 4e completely takes you to the cleaners.

I count nearly 30 discrete steps to build a NPC. With no available free (or even decent paid-for) software and a dazzling array of options, building monstrous NPCs for a game is completely ridiculous.

Maybe I’m too much into custom NPC development, but in my 4e and 3.5e games, I’m happy to come to the table with a dozen types of invented NPCs. For every session. In PF, this would be a full time job.

So I’m sorry, Pathfinder. You did everything right for players: lots of options, lots of cool options. But for the DM, you did the one thing that ensured you’ll never get the ridiculous amount of fan-created content that you needed to actually beat the D&D franchise: you made it hard.

In an environment where fan-created content is the lifeblood, and to many fans the reason for the game, you chose to err on the side of being too complex.

I’m not prepared to go through edition wars, but I would like to draw a comparison to 4e: 4e has a half-dozen discrete choices, after which the rest is either up to the DM or rather irrelevant. I can pick a level 5 brute, pick one at-will and two encounter powers and I’m very nearly done.

Please, as a gamer and a creative DM, please either invent a shorthand NPC generation system (if you want inspiration, look to Epsilon's Simplified NPC System for Exalted), or put out some cheap/free software for building NPCs. Because I can’t use your system as it stands now.

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