The Grand Campaign is being played with the new Pathfinder rules, along with 3.5 add-ons as desired.
Our gaming group isn’t nearly as optimized as most, so we’re likely not hitting the best possibly mathematical combination of skills, feats, and spells, but then again, we don’t care nearly as much about that as telling a good story.
So far, we have a Cleric, a Fighter, a Fighter/Rogue, a Rogue, a Ranger, a Wizard, and two classes brought over from 3.5 – a Favored Soul and an Archivist.
For Roleplay reasons (most characters are descended from other characters from earlier campaigns) more than half the party are Half Elves. Needless to say, we’re pretty happy with Pathfinder Half Elves.
Fighter: Our fighters seem like pretty happy campers. No issues (at this level anyway) with the new Power Attack – the low penalty to hit means it gets used almost all the time, and the extra damage at this low level is really important. We have a Greatsword fighter and a Bastard Sword Fighter/Rogue, both of which can deal respectable damage – in fact, in certain games, these two characters being put out of action almost defeated the party, because their damage-dealing was so critical.
Ranger: Pure awesome – except for the Two Weapon Fighting tree. TWF just can’t compete with a Greatsword. It doesn’t have to be equal – variety between weapon types and fighting styles is part of what makes the game cool – but it would be nice if it had a clear advantage or was better in certain situations. It actually made more sense to build a Ranger with the Ranged combat style, thus freeing a fistful of feats to be used with the Greatsword – but that’s probably it’s own post right there.
Wizard: Like all low-level wizards, a bit of a struggle to be relevant in combat, espescially after running out of spells. Gaining steadily in power, though – a 3rd level Wizard is exponentially better than a 2nd. Evocation should also start paying off as higher level attack spells are brought into play. This character is also VERY survivable – we’ve played some very rough-and-tumble encounters, and the Wizard, ironically enough, is almost always still up at the end of the fight.
Cleric: Spent almost all his spells keeping the party from being wiped out in tough encounters. Turning under Pathfinder is just neato – being able to deal area damage to foes is really cool.
Rogue: A bit of a glass cannon – when things go well, he’s the most dangerous damage dealer in the group, but if things go badly, he’s knocked out. The closest the party came to complete defeat came when the Rogue and both Fighters were taken down … the group really depends on the damage output. Also, being able to Sneak Attack almost anything makes this a very fun class.
The Archivist is fitting in just fine. He doesn’t seem over or under powered versus the Core classes – just different. Since many of the game sessions thus far have had mysterious elements or benefited from library research, this character has been right at home.
The Favored Soul is probably our least happy camper just at the moment, and may multiclass into a Core class. (We’ll see). This has more to do with individual play style than weaknesses of the class itself – this player would be more comfortable swinging a sword than casting spells.
Overall, I have to say the improvements in skills alone make Pathfinder worth buying. We’re a roleplay and story heavy group, and being able to make relevant skill checks with more than just one hero is a big improvement. We’d become used to the Cleric doing all the talking, the Rogue doing all the lying and handling almost anything else, while the Fighter almost falls asleep waiting for the next brawl. Under Pathfinder, the Rogue still does all the lying, but the whole party usually participates in conversations (since all of them have at least one social skill and enough points to buy ranks in it) and often take an active role in things like investigations – since they all have some kind of detection skill, too. Heck, characters actually have ranks in Knowledge skills, which rarely happened in previous 3.5 games.
Additionally, most of our encounters have been slightly overpowered – this is a veteran gaming group who should be able to handle an extra point of CR, especially fresh. Many of the fights have been close-run things, but we haven’t had a single death yet – all the healers have managed to keep everyone alive, and thus far the heroes have won every battle – though some by a thin margin.
As I’ve said, we’re a roleplay and story heavy group not much interested in optimization, but thus far – Pathfinder gets an A+.
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