Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pathfinder Goes Old-school

In spite of embracing 3.x, there's always seemed to be a certain friendliness among the Paizo ranks towards the Old School way of doing things. I know Mr. Maliszewski has been very grateful, for instance, for their reprinting of many of the pulp classics that inspired the founding of D&D.

Pathfinder, however, has been fairly antithetical to the Old School way of doing things. While the adventures offered allow flexibility in how their challenges are tackled, the existence of an "adventure path" pretty much necessitates a railroad.

So I find this press release about their latest six-volume adventure path rather interesting:

We're very proud of Kingmaker, as it marks a new kind of Adventure Path for us. As always, there's an underlying story—this one involving a secret villain and a bandit lord and trolls and barbarians and missing villages and superstitious kobolds and drunk thugs and so much more—but how that story unfolds is going to be left in large part up to the players. In each of the six Kingmaker volumes, you'll find several quests for the PCs to complete. And don't be surprised if players make up their own quests as they explore the land!

Not only are we tackling a more nonlinear "sandbox" approach to adventure construction (which means that it's very likely your PCs will work through this adventure in a completely unique order), but as the Kingmaker Adventure Path unfolds, your PCs will settle towns, gather followers, raise nations, and fight wars. By the end of Kingmaker, chances are good that one of your PCs will, indeed, be king or queen of his or her own nation!

And just to drive home the Old School vibe, each volume will include an original monster from Ed Greenwood.

Now, if I thought people were actually sinking the money into market research, I would be crowing from the rooftops about how Old School is the new Cool School. Between this and WotC bringing back Gamma World and boxed sets, there certainly appears to be a real Renaissance underway.

I suspect, however, that what's really happening is a sort of Old School fever; our enthusiasm for our games and our styles of playing is infectious. And we keep doing the impossible. Fans are not supposed to be able to churn out regular, dead-tree periodicals full of volunteer articles and art that look worth a damn, but we do. Boxed sets were supposed to be dead, but we sell out print runs. "Unsupported" games are supposed to quietly die away, but things seem better than ever for TSR-era versions of the game.

These are amazing times we're living in, and it's us who are making them so. Fight on!


Michael S/Chgowiz said...

Very interesting!

Gothridge Manor said...

I just subscribed to this series thgis moring. First time I've subscribed to an adventure path so I am very interested how it unfolds.

Anonymous said...

I think, insofar as Paizo is concerned, that genuine interest in "old school" sensibilities is really a primary part of the impetus, here. Current Pathfinder Editor-in-Chief James Jacobs and I collaborated with Gary Gygax and Rob Kuntz to republish WG5 (in the form of "Maure Castle") for D&D's 30th anniversary, and our allegiances to Greyhawk have been clear since the days when TSR was on AOL.

I tend to run "sandbox" style games almost exclusively, and I think most of my 3rd edition/Pathfinder designs (notably "The Whispering Cairn" in Dungeon #121 and "Howl of the Carrion King" in Pathfinder #19) are more open-ended explorations than railroady quests.

People have been asking for a more sandboxy Adventure Path for years, and we've been eager to try one out.

The response so far has been phenomenal, and there's a ton of interest.

Our rules are certainly in the "modern" school, being based on 3.5, and the Adventure Path publication model often brings with it a lot of plot, but our sensibilities regarding subject matter and the style of the games we run are definitely heavily inspired by AD&D as presented by the likes of Gygax and Kuntz.

I hope you get a chance to check out Kingmaker, and I hope you find that it works great with your game system of choice.

Thanks for mentioning it here. I read the blog regularly and always appreciate your point of view.

--Erik Mona
Paizo Publishing

trollsmyth said...

Tim Shorts: Be sure to let us know what you think. I think this one, more than most, will be of interest to Old Schoolers, in large part because it may be the best treatment for "end game" play in 3.x, and maybe in any version since Birthright. (Though I'm sure I'm forgetting something in that list.)

Erik Mona: Looking over my bookshelf, I see that Howl of the Carrion King is among the Pathfinders I've picked up, along with Endless Night by Schneider which also has a rather sandboxy approach to it.

I'm very much looking forward to seeing how y'all tackle a more sandboxy approach as well as the traditional end-game activities of clearing wilderness, establishing a stronghold, and defending it against all comers. Best wishes on Kingmaker. :D

Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting this up, it's very encouraging.

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Now days everyones loves old school stuff, actually this post makes me fell so nostalgic.