By Chock Schmidt
First, I’d like to apologize for the delay in getting this article to you. I’ve had a string of bad luck recently. Between a death in my wife’s family, falling unconscious in my basement and subsequently being taken to the hospital after being found by my father, job hunting, and a broken finger (which I’m using to type this very article), it’s been hard to sit at my computer for more than a minute or so.
Anyways, here’s something that’s been on my mind since my father-in-law (I’m just calling him Phil from now on) gave me an early gift due to his massive collection of Pathfinder books that he took with him to Denmark when his family moved there.
If anyone ever says you are supposed to hate your in-laws, then you are probably marrying the wrong person. Just my thought on the matter but I’ve only been married for a year and a half, so what do I know? But I digress…
Homebrew games are great. I’ve always been a huge fan of them. But sometimes, you really do need a different type of adventure than the normal one your DM sets out for you. A lot of times, DM’s will end up recycling a lot of bits from old adventures and using them in new ways for new storylines.
With Pathfinder, Paizo not only refined some of the mechanics that were lacking in 3.5, but they also started the idea of pumping out adventure paths.
What these are is a six-book set that takes your party from first level to 20th. It gives you all of the necessary tools to run the adventure, including storyline, creature encounters, loot, NPCs, etc.
The first time I used one of these, I was blown away. I found out how generous the Pathfinder world is compared to campaigns I had played previously.
For DM’s, it offers a way to control your campaign without having to spend tedious hours toiling over every possible encounter and outcome, creating countless creatures, creating NPCs that may not even be used and storylines that may not be followed.
The best thing about these adventure paths is that Paizo cranks them out so often, allowing avid players to play their hearts out and it gives casual players a plethora of choices as to the adventure that they’d like to choose.
The adventure paths actually started prior to Pathfinder making their own rule changes, so the first few sets of adventure paths are actually based on 3.5 rules but are backwards compatible with Pathfinder rules.
Some of you may be thinking that this is just a gimmick for them to make money on something that should be free. The truth of the matter of it is, however, consistency is key to any game. I’ve spent a lot of time playing with a variety of groups with a variety of homebrew adventures. Some of them were amazing, most were good, some were awful, and one was down right disturbing.
Two groups playing two different adventures will return with two completely different results. Two groups playing the same adventure path will at least have equality in the loot, experience, story, etc. So this way, no one gets shorted in playing such a great game. At first, I thought that pre-written adventure paths were a joke. My thoughts were “how can you take something as open as Dungeons and Dragons and linearize it into a paperback book?”
Well, after reading through quite a few of them, I learned a little something. Those adventure paths are made broad enough to give the characters choices, but not limiting enough to where all you do is kill a monster, move on to the next and kill that monster, rinse and repeat. I recently watched a short talk regarding the number of choices that people are offered and amount of money spent as those choices increase and decrease in number. It turns out, the more choices a person has, the less ability they have to think that it’s the correct one, so more time gets spent on determining the choice instead of actually doing something.
So after that small experiment, where would you rather be as a player? In a land of never ending choices such as the one you live in currently, or one that has a set goal for you to obtain? If you end up with never ending choices, you end up playing the game of papers and paychecks. If you have a certain goal in mind, you end up playing a really fun game.
As always friends, enjoy the game, immerse yourself in it, and let your imagination run wild with it. Chances are, if you don’t do it at game night, you’ll do it at work, and that might soon get you out of that job you’ve worked so hard to get to.
Thanks for reading!
© 2015, Patrick Cossel. All rights reserved.