Countdown to PF Playtest/PF 2, Part III – General Hopes for Classes/Spellcasting
This series of articles was made possible by the following list of amazing people:
-Paco Garcia Jaen
-Justin Andrew Mason
As before: I’m pretty excited for PF 2.0 and PF Playtest; I have not yet received the books, and even if none of these wishes/hopes are fulfilled by the system, I’ll remain excited for its final version. I have not read any interviews, previews or anything like this in advance – consciously so. I want to open the Playtest books with a clean slate, without any preconceived notions, positive or negative. These are my wide-eyed hopes for the game.
So yeah, let’s talk about classes. I hope for an emphasis on player agenda on the one hand, and for internal, meaningful differentiation. When one way of building a class is clearly superior to the other in every conceivable way, that’s not necessarily something I’m big on. Partially, this ties in with feats and items.
To elaborate: Ever saw a crossbow and bow specialist back to back? Yeah…that’s one such example.
- Meaningful differentiation regarding similar specializations.
On a more design-focused level, I don’t object to linear classes – take Legendary Games’ Doomguard, for example. But I really dislike it when one choice is all that differentiates you from your fellows. This is what made the cavalier, though conceptually a class my players liked, all but nonexistent my games.
- Simple classes should have means to differentiate themselves from their brethren within the linear choices they offer.
These don’t have to be big differentiations or complex ability-chains, mind you – there are simple ways to pull this off.
Beyond that, I do hope that the design-paradigm we’ve seen for the occult classes and vigilante will see more love. Having actual ROLEplaying angles included in how the class works and presents its mechanics is a big plus as far as I’m concerned.
- Flavorful tidbits to ignite the imagination, without being super-specific.
Now, I do obviously hope that e.g. the fighter will have unique tricks this time around; that the monk will get unique abilities, etc. – but considering the steps taken by Pathfinder Unchained, I consider these to be likely developments.
- Unique abilities for EVERY class.
Speaking of which: Witch/mesmerist, for example, would be concepts that could warrant unique engines for spellcasting. The occultist’s implements, for example, can make amazing narrative tools. Similarly, it’d be nice to see ritual magic feature more prominently. Considering it’s a staple of high fantasy, pulp and horror gaming, the three most popular playstyles, having a robust ritual engine from the get-go would be amazing.
- Meaningful differentiation between spellcasting engines.
- Having a ritual engine would open vast venues for adventure design and narratives.
While we’re on the subject of spellcasting: For classes with a limited array of spells known, exclusive augmentations would make sense: After all, it’s understandable that the dragon-blooded sorcerer’s form of the dragon can become more potent than that of his bookworm wizard buddy, right? This may also allow for spell-streamlining and at least slightly combat the god-wizard issue.
- Unique augments/modifications for spellcasters.
On the other side of the magic spectrum, I’d really love to see a bookish priest and a war-like cleric, each with their own specialties. Considering how many caster-modification/full-caster-style cleric archetypes and options I’ve reviewed over the years, I seem to be not the only one.
- Full caster/war-caster differentiation for divine folks.
Similarly, divine magic never felt all that divine to me. Tying it closer to favor with a deity and tenets may be a good idea. I have seen other systems doing that rather successfully, and it really helps makes divine casters feel different from their arcane brethren.
- Make faith/dogma/etc. actually matter for divine casters.
….and honestly, those are the *big* things I’d love to see. Were I to go into details for every class possible, this’d bloat beyond belief…and beyond being of use to anyone. That being said, the timer’s ticking, Gencon’s approaching, and I am waiting with baited breath for the PF Playtest books, so if all goes well and they arrive on time, I’ll have my first article on the actual books for you next week!
See you then!
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