The Saving Throw
The Pathfinder Edition August 11th, 2009
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Gen Con Indy 2009 starts August 13th, but more importantly that date is also the release date for the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook. To honor this occasion, we are dedicating the entire column to all things Pathfinder. We will start off with a preview of the Pathfinder RPG, written by RPGamer's Mikel Tidwell. Then we have answers to your questions from Pathfinder game designer Jason Bulmahn.

This is your last chance to enter to win an autographed copy of the Pathfinder Core Rulebook. In order to win, you simply have to answer a short Pathfinder Trivia Quiz. If you kept up with Pathfinder's development, this trivia quiz should be rather simple. Answers to all the trivia questions can be found on Paizo Publishing's website. Answers are due by 11:59:59PM on August 12th.

Next time I will have a run down of what I saw at Gen Con. The speed of that update will depend on how fast I recover from my trip there and my son's upcoming birthday parties. Kid parties have a +22 attack bonus, and deal 6d10 damage.

Gaming Tip of the Column -- Jason Bulmahn's autograph is good for one limited wish. Here is the proof.

Looking for a place to play? Check out the Roleplaying Forum. We are always looking for new players and Game Masters or people who just want to talk about their favorite pen and paper or tabletop games!

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You Asked, Now Jason Bulmahn Answers

   Saving Throw: How does it feel now that the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook is complete?

Jason Bulmahn:Great. It was a long process from the Alpha playtest on through to the final game, but I am very pleased with the results. I think that we took enough time to get it right and that is what really counts. Unfortunately, there is no rest for me. I have already moved on to my next big project, which is not announced quite yet.

ST: Would it be possible to estimate the number of cups of (insert caffeinated beverage of choice) consumed during the writing of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook?

JB: I sent the data out to NASA for tabulation, but they have not gotten back to me yet. Suffice to say, I think I own a part of Starbucks now.

ST: Can you give us a brief overview of what is included in the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook? Was there anything slated to be included that was cut?

JB: The Core Rulebook contains all of the rules you need to play or run the game. For players there is a complete system for generating and advancing characters, including combat rules, prestige classes, spells, and magic items. For Game Masters, there are rules for handling the environment, including traps, diseases, poisons, and curses, as well as plenty of information on how to manage a group, a campaign, an adventure, and the world at large. The only thing the book does not contain is monsters. Those will be making an appearance in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary, due out in late September. At 576 pages, we just could not squeeze in another 320 pages of monsters (although a 1,000 page book does seem cool, I think it would be just too mighty).

ST: What are the biggest changes between the beta ruleset and the final printed version?

JB: Some of the biggest changes have to do with the classes. The paladin and the monk in particular had a number of changes made to their class abilities, but the barbarian, bard, and druid some some significant shifts as well. While much of the book is the same, there are a lot of changes designed to make the game simpler and clearer. For example, we worked a bit on the combat maneuver mechanics, adding a combat maneuver defense value (kind of like AC, but against things like bull rush, grapple, and trip) to make performing the maneuvers even simpler.

ST: What wasn't changed between the beta ruleset and the final printed version?

JB: Everything got a serious examination, but much of what was popular in the Beta is still there in one form or another. Arcane schools, bloodlines, rage powers, and the new mechanics for channeling energy are all still there, and many of them work even better than they did in the Beta.

ST: Have you been surprised by the passion displayed by the community of fans in response to Pathfinder RPG? Do you ever worry about what might happen if those fans are disappointed by the final product?

JB: I think I was a bit surprised at first, but as things began to grow, I really got caught up in it myself. I am a little concerned that the final product will not live up to some expectations, but on the other hand, I think that some folks that were not happy with the Beta are going to be thrilled by some of the rules in the final version. We knew going in that we were not going to make everyone happy, so we just tried to make the best game possible. I think we have done that.

ST: How did Paizo come up with the name Pathfinder for the new RPG ruleset and adventures?

JB: It was part of our brainstorming that happened just after learned that we had lost the magazine. A lot of names went up on that white board and it took us a few weeks to narrow it down. These days it seems hard to imagine what things would be like had we chosen anything else. When it came time to name the RPG, it seemed only natural to use the same brand.

ST: Paizo recently announced the PDF version of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook would sell for only $9.99. Do you worry that will take away print sales?

JB: Not at all. Quite the opposite in fact. I am a firm believer in both formats and I believe that they tend to feed off each other. This gives folks who are on the fence a chance to check out the rules without having to invest a lot of money. I think that after taking a look, those who are interested are much more likely to pick up a print version to use at the table. With a book of this size, its a little hard to read that much text on a screen, but a book makes it simple.

ST: Staying with the cost theme, do you worry that the current economic situation will hurt sales of the Pathfinder RPG products?

JB: Not particularly. I find that even when times are tough, I can scrape together some money for entertainment. The real upside to RPGs is that you can get hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of fun out of a single book, all for less than it costs to take the family out to the movies. Our fans and distribution seem to feel the same way, as we are now sold out of the initial print run of the book from our end. There will be plenty on store shelves when the book releases, but we are already ordering a reprint.

ST: What was it like working with Monte Cook?

JB: It was a lot of fun. Monte gave me some great advice and insight into how the 3.0 rules came into being. Although I had spent a lot of time pouring over and deconstructing the rules, it was fascinating to learn how Monte and his team did it initially. It told me what I could break, mold, or otherwise modify, as well as what should be left in place. His advice was invaluable. Not to mention that Monte is just fun to talk to and a genuinely good guy.

ST: What do you feel has been the biggest hurdle in getting the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook completed?

JB: That would have to be pulling together all the feedback and questions from the playtest. That process went on for about four months, looking at various parts of the game in painstaking detail. In the end, I combed through over 100,000 messageboard posts and emails concerning just about every rule in the game, looking for areas that needed work or improvement. In some cases, it made my job easier because the playtesters had come up with a perfectly workable solution. In others, it forced me back to the drawing board to redesign various elements. It was an awful lot of work, but I an positive that we ended up with a better game for it in the end. The playtesters did an absolutely fantastic job and everyone who helped deserves a lot of praise.

ST: Will the beta version free download remain available after August 13th? If not, does Paizo plan to release a "quick start" or "sample" of the final ruleset?

JB: The Beta will be going down with the release of the final rules on August 13th, but we will be putting up a free conversion PDF that walks you through converting your 3.5 campaign over to the new rules. This guide covers a wide variety of issues, from characters to monsters, and it also includes a list of rules that GMs should familiarize themselves with before getting started. We have a few other projects coming up, but I do not think they have been announced yet, so I am going to keep them a secret. I would keep an eye on on August 13th for more information.

Saving Throw would like to thank Jason for taking time out of his busy schedule preparing for the release of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook and Gen Con Indy 2009 to answer our, and your questions.


Finding the Correct Path

   While Pathfinder will be officially released at GenCon later this week, RPGamer managed to get a sneak peek at the core book last week, as well as spend some time with the Lead Designer, Jason Bulmahn, of Pathfinder.

Pathfinder is a cross-over paper-based roleplaying system from Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition. With Wizards of the Coast moving onto 4th edition, and no longer supporting any of the previous systems, Paizo feels there is a still a place for players who loved 3.5 edition and have not yet accepted the changes that 4th edition brings. The 4th edition of Dungeon & Dragons tried to make the game accessible to many more people by creating a battle system akin to those found in MMORPGs today. The 4th edition system has not been widely adopted by those who have been playing 3.5 edition for years. This is where Pathfinder comes in.

Pathfinder's main goal is to allow those players who like the 3.5 edition to continue to be supported and allow this previously established system and player base the chance to continue to grow. Paizo has tried to fix a lot of the problems that people have brought up about 3.5 D&D, without breaking the reverse compatibility that will be paramount to bringing over more and more players to the new system. This is important while Pathfinder starts off, as all the pieces are not yet in place. For example, while the core manual will be released on Thursday, the bestiary is still over a month away. It is imperative that players trying out Pathfinder have a system they are used to, so they can convert characters and monsters, allowing them to quickly and easily continue their campaigns or start new ones without having to struggle with a new system.

Pathfinder tries to streamline physical play, while combating some of the issues that players have come across with 3.5 D&D. When RPGamer spoke with Jason, he brought up the issues with grappling. In the original system, grappling a monster immobilized it, creating a cheap way to end a battle with a powerful mage or otherwise weak physical creature. It created an imbalance between physical and magical play. The change to grapple, while hindering a mage, does not completely immobilize him, making for more balanced experience. Pathfinder also simplifies the rolls required to make a grapple attempt by creating two new stats: Combat Maneuver and Combat Defense modifiers. Instead of countless rolls of attempt versus counter rolls, there's one roll to see if the attempt is successful or not. This makes for smoother gameplay without one action bogging down an otherwise swift battle system.

For fans of Paizo’s other works, they will be pleased to know that Pathfinder is not just a straight port of D&D monsters into a new system. Paizo has selected a large core monster set from D&D, but not everything. Instead, they will be adding monsters from other works into Pathfinder, continually refreshing the experience as the game continues to grow.

Overall, I spent some time pouring over the gigantic core manual. It is nearly twice the size of the original 3.5 edition manual, showing that Paizo wants to start off with as much information as they can, right from the start. They have already completely sold the first shipment, so it may take a while to find this book. Fans who want to continue playing 3.5 edition D&D should definitely give Pathfinder a try. I think they will be pleased with what it has to offer.

  by Mikel Tidwell

Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook sells out

   August third, ten days before the launch of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook, Paizo Publishing announced that the first print run of the book has sold out. Preorders have been more than five times greater than for any previous product in Paizo's seven-year history. Paizo has already ordered another print run. has retained enough copies to handle all subscriptions and pre-orders. Customers who have not already placed a pre-order with or their game or book retailer are encouraged to seek out a copy immediately following the book's retail release, as supplies are expected to run out well before the arrival of a second print run in early November.

"We thought we had printed enough to last us at least until the end of this year, but skyrocketing demand from our customers and distributors has us reprinting already," Lisa Stevens, CEO of Paizo said. "We have a healthy amount heading to Gen Con, but we think even those will go fast, so don't delay in picking up your copy!"

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook is the first release in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game line of hardcover tabletop RPG rulebooks. Clocking in at a whopping 576 pages and at a weight of more than four pounds, this $49.99 rulebook is the newest incarnation of the 3.5 version of the world's best-selling roleplaying game. Playtested by more than 50,000 players over the last year, the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook is the most hotly anticipated tabletop RPG release of 2009. A massive electronic download file ($9.99) remains available at

"The phenomenal support of the constantly growing community of Pathfinder RPG players has been a staggering sight to behold," said Paizo Publisher Erik Mona. "To sell out a hugely ambitious print run before the release date just goes to show what an immense audience this game will enjoy in the years to come."

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook can be found wherever gaming products are sold or can be purchased directly from Paizo Publishing via



That concludes our Pathfinder Edition of Saving Throw. I will be at Gen Con the next few days, enjoying the gaming and the return of the heat. Well, not the heat so much as the gaming. Next time I will have some news about Wonderland getting a RPG makeover, and the review of Gaming Paper's gaming paper. Hopefully a full review of Pathfinder RPG will follow as well.

Martin "On the Path to Gen Con" Drury

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