We interview an experienced role player, Mirto Musci, to find out Pathfinder Second Edition: will the new Paizo title be promoted?

The second edition of one of the most famous traditional plant role-playing games of the moment has been released for a couple of months, Pathfinder. Published by Paizo, Pathfinder is mainly known for having taken over the setting of D&D 3.5, refining the rules and creating its own narrative universe.
More than ten years after the publication of the now historical Basic Manual, Paizo decided that the time was ripe to go a step further. And so, they announced Pathfinder Second Edition.

After years of secret break-in, in 2018 the play test official of Pathfinder Second Edition, downloadable for free from the Paizo website. Then collecting the feedback of many players from all over the world, the publishing house further revised the new game system.
And so, in August of this year, Pathfinder Second Edition saw the light with four publications. In fact, not only do we have the Core Rulebook, But also a Bestiario and two playable adventures: The Fall of Plaguestone ed Age of ashes.

An interview to get to know Pathfinder Second Edition

Personally, I still haven't had a chance to play Pathfinder Second Edition, but whoever reads my articles will know that I am a lover of its first edition. In fact, on the Patreon of the Seekers (now undergoing renovations!) I have made available some abstracts related to The book of invasions. It is a campaign inspired by Irish mythology and based on the game system of Pathfinder.

In fact, in my opinion this title Paizo is exceptional for those who love to do worldbuilding, because it provides material that supports all types of settings. Indeed, in many ways, Pathfinder encourages players to create their own worlds, without always staying within the Golarion universe: after all, we have the rules, so let's use them!

So, needless to say, I'm definitely curious about Pathfinder Second Edition. But not having the material time to try it, I wanted to interview for you (but also for me!) One of the best known role players and masters in the Italian fandom of Pathfinder. I'm obviously talking about Mirto Musci, veteran of the Paizo titles, which he has been playing for ten years, although he is also a player of D&D third, fourth and fifth edition. University computer science researcher in life, Mirto is also writing Polis, a card game on power and politics in ancient Greece, soon to be released with Wyrd Edizioni.

Mirto had the chance to try both the playtest and the final version of Pathfinder Second Edition. So here is what you think of the game!

Mirto Musci
Mirto Musci

We know you've tried Pathfinder Second Edition! Did you play it in a one-shot or series of sessions?

At the time of writing, I only played live two sessions di Pathfinder Second Edition, not to mention those of the playtest. I hope in the short to medium term to increase the number, obviously.

Specifically, I played the first two sessions of the adventure Fall of Plaguestone, official adventure released at launch along with the Core and the bestiary. The two sessions were played in a row: one in the morning, and the other in the afternoon of the same day.

What kind of story did you tell and with which and how many players?

I have played with a group of 4 Guests besides me, of various levels of experience: from the complete neophyte to the expert of over 20 years of RPG. Fall of Plaguestone we liked it a lot, I have to say a great launch product that starts, and this is definitely out of the box, with the investigation into a mysterious murder. Do you think that I rolled the victim with such transport that, when he died, the magone fell on the whole group!

Cover of the adventure path The Fall of Plaguestone
Adventure path cover The Fall of Plaguestone

What other titles have evidently, in your opinion, inspired the new game design of Pathfinder Second Edition?

I don't like talking about comparisons because we know where they go. For sure Pathfinder Second Edition it is much more detached from the Wizards house than the first edition which was considered by many to be a sort of D & D3.75.

Having said this, let's not fool ourselves, since the inspirations are many. The talent tree class creation system reminded me of the true20 system, for one thing. The entire Vanan magic system is a great classic from the early days of the game. From third edition the general installation of the d20system is taken. Of the fourth many aspects: from the asymmetry of the game world, to the introduction of rituals, to the care of the balance of classes. From fifth edition some inspiration for concentration on spells and many other little things.

But in reality it is from the latter that <font style="vertical-align: inherit;"><font style="vertical-align: inherit;">PF2018 stands out more: if in the fifth edition the concept of bounded accuracy, Pathfinder Second Edition remains faithful to the high level of power of the third edition, even if mediated by a very accurate balance at high levels. In conclusion: for Pathfinder Second Edition we can talk about a game in many ways innovative and original, although with many references to the past in the choice of game terms.

What are the aspects in which Pathfinder Second Edition it is more detached from Pathfinder First Edition?

Without any doubt thegame world asymmetry. If in Pathfinder 1 the obsessive care of the construction rules of the PCs was applied identically to the NPCs and to the opponents in general, in the second edition the PCs follow completely different rules. This aspect, certainly very gamista, has the big advantage of greatly simplify the work of the DM, and make combat encounters more unpredictable.

Another big change is in the accumulation of bonuses: In <font style="vertical-align: inherit;"><font style="vertical-align: inherit;">PF2018 there were really a lot of them, potentially even with very high values. In Pathfinder Second Edition there are only three types, and with a maximum bonus that reaches +4 only in some rare cases. The impact of such a change on the entire system is truly enormous! Personally I have never liked numerical optimization too much, so I can only be happy about it.

Also very interesting is the rarity system which divides the game elements into common, uncommon and rare. A really useful tool for the DM for managing power levels. An example: all divination and spells that depend on alignment are uncommon. If the DM doesn't want to cover one or the other, he simply won't make them available in game.

Finally, one cannot fail to mention the system of proficiency, which almost entirely governs the mathematical structure of the system. But maybe it's more interesting only for those who have a bit of a game designer's eye like me. 🙂 For everyone else I just say they are universal and really easy to use!

Cover of Pathfinder Bestiary Second Edition, obviously illustrated by Wayne Reynolds
Cover of the Bestiario di Pathfinder Second Edition, obviously illustrated by Wayne Reynolds

What changes did you not expect? Which ones did you like most and which ones did you like least?

I frankly did not expect one beat so hard on the whole system of magic, also because it is due to the accumulation of many, small changes that together create an important effect. To name three: the reduced duration of lots of buff spells, the concentration needed to maintain summons, and the elimination of many of the save or thumbs-up effects for mid-session (limited only to the case of critical failure). In my opinion this change is certainly good for the game; the magic continues to be powerful and versatile, but no longer as dominant as in the first edition.

I didn't even expect theabolition of the surprise shift and encumbrance, but I really enjoyed. The novelty that I appreciated most, and that was widely expected, is the new economy of actions with the three-point system. It is perfectly integrated into every element of the manual and allows great tactical depth in combat.

I loved the new one mortality system, in some ways less dangerous (at the first time you go down you are sure not to die) for others terribly lethal (from the second onwards, it is easier not to stand up anymore!).

Beautiful, to close, the new systems for the skill management,equipment, and above all of the complex traps. I recommend reading them carefully. For one thing, now there is no longer a weapon similar to another!

I didn't really appreciate the introduction of the background: flat and uninspired. I did not like the presence of the three game modes (meeting, exploration, downtime). Accomplice, perhaps, the lack of the material of the future GM guide, it seemed to me an artificial and cumbersome division. Above all, but here it is my personal taste, I did not like the introduction of very heavy ones fall damage… If you can survive the breath of a great wyrm, why die from falling into a ravine?

Instead I am fighting on the new model of critical successes and failures. Now a natural 20 or 1 has potentially very dangerous effects on almost every action. On attacks, luckily 1s have no effect, and 20s simply double damage with no confirmation roll. The effect is that of a much more unpredictable and cinematic game than in the past. I was afraid I would hate this change and instead it turned out to be functional and fun in the short judgment. I suspend judgment for the moment.

Which class has benefited most from the new edition? Which one, in your opinion, was better in Pathfinder First Edition?

Warrior e Thief, hands down. I don't want lovers of these classes in D&D 3.X/Pathfinder 1, but for mechanics lovers it has always been clear they were a step below the other classes. Not anymore, on the contrary. The warrior's talent tree is like a symphony that invites me to play it: truly inspired. Beautiful also the thief, in <font style="vertical-align: inherit;"><font style="vertical-align: inherit;">PF2018 the true master of skill. Do you think he has access to a skill feat at every level! Very nice too Barbarian, and in general all the fighting classes that in the first edition suffered from little versatility compared to the magic classes.

Unfortunately I found it really disappointingAlchemist. A class without meat or fish and very cumbersome to play. A real shame, considering that in the first edition it was a versatile and performing class in many different roles.

Image from Pathfinder Second Edition Core Rulebook, in which we see a PG Goblin. Source
Image from Core Rulebook di Pathfinder Second Edition, where we see a PG Goblin. Source

How are Goblins as a playable race?

Really beautiful, as well as funny of course! Some of their racial talents make him the true masters of stealth. I do not share the criticisms that someone has made for their inclusion in the basic manual: goblins have always been the Paizo mascot, and there have never been even non-evil goblins on the adventure path.

Did the combat system come out more fluid and faster from what you could see? Is the strategic component still present?

From what I have personally tried, and listening to the experiences of the many who have tried the game, in Pathfinder Second Edition the fights are extremely faster. There are many reasons, in my opinion. The ability to attempt multiple attacks per turn right away helps a lot. Not to mention the abolition (except in some cases!) Of the attacks of opportunity. To make you understand, in 4 abundant hours of play you can play 4 or more combat encounters without sacrificing role and exploration. It was unthinkable in the first edition.

To have a complete opinion, of course, I have to wait to experience the game at a high level. At the moment, however, I have the impression that the strategic component is even greater than in the first edition! Being able to combine attacks and movements at will, access to combat maneuvers for everyone, and the great variety of monster skills produce a truly intriguing combat.

Cover of the recently announced Bestiary 2 of Pathfinder Second Edition, also by Wayne Reynolds
Cover of the recently announced Bestiary 2 di Pathfinder Second Edition, also by Wayne Reynolds

Races, backgrounds, and Classes greatly guide the player in choosing Talents in Pathfinder Second Edition. Is this good or bad in your opinion? Does this affect the personalization of the character in any way?

Personalization of the PG in Pathfinder Second Edition it's incredible, and is probably one of the main strengths of the system. I do not share your vision of being routed in the choice, quite the contrary. Although they are collected in trees of specific talents (racial, skill, class, etc.) the number of choices and combinations of the basic manual alone is very high.

To make you understand: a twentieth-level PC, among racial, skill and class talents, can easily exceed 40 overall choices, without considering the choice of spells. In D&D fifth edition? You don't get to 10. Try it to believe it.

If to all this then add i Dedication that allow the "partial" multiclass, and therefore the possibility of accessing talent trees of other classes, and the fact that each upcoming book will enrich the lists of talents, I believe that a lifetime will not be enough to experiment with all the most significant combinations . Think that archetypes will also be released in the next manuals!

Many were surprised that a publishing house chose to publish, in 2019, a manual of over 600 pages. Do you think these 600 pages are all necessary? The Core Rulebook di Pathfinder Second Edition is it clear and well structured? Are there many images?

The choice of the 600 pages is due, in my opinion, to the desire to have a rich and complete manual and, above all, to the intent of the developers to promote the clarity of the rules so as not to repeat the mistakes and ambiguities of the past. Sometimes the manual may be pedantic, according to someone.

I, on the other hand, appreciated the desire to make it a real reference text. Do you think that each game element has a multiplication table with a set of descriptive traits that refer to the long glossary in the appendix: I really enjoyed it.

I have not noticed a density of images higher than the first edition, and perhaps even lower than much simpler regulations. But the images that are there I found them of the highest quality even if I personally do not really appreciate Reynolds' style. But here it's really just a matter of taste.

Se D & D5e is aimed very much at novice players, Pathfinder Second Edition what audience do you speak to?

In my opinion Patfhinder Second Edition è perfect for beginners. It has an entrance step only slightly higher than the fifth edition, but a much greater long-term depth. I believe that the target audience is universal, and can be attractive at different levels of experience and for different styles and tastes of the game.

However the main target I think are the many who have fled before D & D3.5 and then by Pathfinder 1 for the excess of "mathematics" felt in these systems. Now they no longer have to fear it: Pathfinder Second Edition does everything for make its complexity accessible!

Thanks for your kindness and see you soon!

Thanks to you for the opportunity!

Kyra, the iconic Pathfinder Second Edition Cleric (my favorite class), also illustrated by Wayne Reynolds
Kyra, the iconic Cleric (my favorite class) of Pathfinder Second Edition, also illustrated by Wayne Reynolds

Some final thoughts on these first impressions of Pathfinder Second Edition

Let's face it clearly: in my house there is a remarkable collection of manuals by Pathfinder. Since the announcement of the playtest, in 2018, therefore, I wasn't too interested in a second editionand, because somehow I felt I had already invested enough in this kind of d20system, which I love very much.

However, when Mirto tells me that the fights are faster and more tactical, the customization is high and the master creates the NPCs faster (you have no idea how many people I find myself creating for a single session!), I raise my hands . If the features I loved from the first edition have been improved, Pathfinder Second Edition magically falls on my shopping list.

So personally, I will try to try this new edition. Paizo has always worked with great care and precision, so I hope to find an organic and refined game.

And you have tried Pathfinder Second Edition? Let us know your impressions!