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Pathfinder 2nd Edition Beginner Box Review

pathfinder beginner box

The Pathfinder creation came as a result of passion and determination to create a system that would allow its players the freedom they deserve when exploring the endless potential that are table top roleplaying games. Originally forming in 2002, Paizo took over publishing Dragon and Dungeon magazines, during which the company covered every aspect the game had to offer in its third edition and 3.5 counterpart.

However, in August 2007, Wizards of the Coast announced the pending release of the 4th edition of D&D, which replaced version 3.5. Many of the staff at Paizo were concerned about the more restrictive Game System License under which the 4th edition was being released, preventing homebrew content or expansions created by eager minded fans from garnering popularity without the rather unappealing risk of a copyright lawsuit from Wizards of the Coast, leading to the release of the stand-alone Pathfinder Roleplaying Game as a modified version of the version 3.5 game, under the Open Game License. Paizo announced a second edition of Pathfinder in 2018, a full 10 years after its original form. Like the first edition, it made use of an open playtest to refine various mechanics of gameplay, allowing for a more streamlined and accessible entry for new players to get stuck into

Similar to its rather popular cousin, Pathfinder 2nd Edition uses a D20 metric system in which players create characters and roll to measure their success or failure, pursuing an ever-expanding narrative filled with looming villains, monstrous creatures and friendly NPC played by the Games master who guides the narrative, rewarding players with powerful magic items or heaps of gold.

The Adventurers Dream

This starter set contains all the tools needed to start your adventures in the world of Golarion, including a set of gaming die needed to play the game (D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, D20) alongside 4 pre-made characters to let you jump right into the game if your group is short of a session 0 or simply wants to get going right away. These range from melee characters such as the Rogue or the simple but loveable Fighter, charging headfirst into combat in the name of Honour and chivalry, protecting his allies with an array of well placed shield blocks to deflect fang filled jaws and harnessing bravery as a tool, to the spellcasting classes provided being either the Divine Cleric, using a mixture of supportive magic to keep their allies afloat while not shying away from powerful offensive magic to even the odds, or the Wizard preferring to use experienced academic training to show off magical prowess through their spellbook and Arcane thesis.

The set also comes with a collection of 4 reference cards, detailing the combat steps and phases which serve as a handy lighthouse when navigating Pathfinders rich but sometimes lengthy combat ruleset. You are also provided with a 80 page hero handbook which covers everything a fresh faced adventurer would need including skills, spells equipment and even a solo adventure to kick-start the narrative without putting any additional stress on the game master to come up with a session spanning narrative for your first taste of what the system has to offer. Additionally you are provided over 100 pawns to use for the monsters that would seek to hinder the party or help them in the case of the more friendly souls that live across Golarions vast continents, and a 96-page Game Master's Handbook, containing an introductory adventure, over 20 pages of monsters, rules for building your own adventure, and magic items.

Not All That Glimmers...

One major point of discussion with Pathfinder 2nd Edition as a system is its rather descriptive ruleset, some see this as a fantastic detail that while keeping rules simplified in areas allows those committed to the game to truly master how indepth the game can become, from ever evolving illnesses that a party member can contract from a venomous beast to the crafting system, allowing certain characters to earn a little extra gold in-between adventuring through their trade, after all what better stamp of approval can a weapon receive than being auctioned by the very person it lands in the hand of most often?. Some however see these additional rules as lengthy, hard to digest pieces of the game that are important to help the game stand out from its kin, creating wonderful concepts such as secret checks in which the GM rolls secretly to decide the effect of something the players may have missed like a Fortitude save for a poison, though due to this rather unnecessary style of Gm’ing, often leaving the players isolated or fearful that any decision they make could lead to a secret check, it seems the idea worked better as a vision than what is provided in the rules.

The game also runs into issues that other TTRPG systems suffer which is the rather lengthy playtime commitment, often having progress come at the cost of 3-4 hour sessions which for a group of friends invested in the narrative might fly by during the experience, though for those looking for a quick activity to play with a heavy schedule may be more difficult.

A Refreshing Change Of Pace

Though these shortcomings can cause some division in its popularity among newer players to the TTRPG sphere, leading to other systems such as DND 5E being the better choice to begin with Pathfinder 2E provides a deeply unique experience for those willing to learn its mechanics, allowing for the imagination of its players to truly run wild in how their characters look, sound and feel, beating in a harmonious rhythm with the rest of their adventuring group to create what I can only describe as a symphony of every loveable fantasy trope that we have grown to adore over the years, from the simplest story of bandits stealing from merchant caravans to conflicts with the Lords of Hell themselves Pathfinder provides more than enough heart and content to make up for its £30 price tag and is sure to be a go to for any passionate fantasy fan.