Pathfinder Big Books

Pathfinder made quite a few changes to Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, some subtle and some not so subtle.

I like quite a few of the presentation changes, and some of the character development changes excited me. Barbarian rage powers, paladin mercies, sorcerer bloodlines, all these choices excited me.

Over time, though, with the Ultimate series and third-party material, I realized I had too much material to keep track of, too many decisions to make, and too many variables to consider when trying to balance things. It’s an immensely rich toolkit, but I think works best if constrained by the setting. Don’t allow everything, but choose a subset of it all to actually use in play.

Which brings me to Echelon, my primary game design project. That game is built around talents, collections of related abilities that build on each other.

Pathfinder is an absolute trove of material for me to mine for Echelon. I want to work on rage-related abilities? Barbarian rage powers give me a lot of things to consider, including multiple types of rage. Almost all classes have at least one kind of special ability no other class has, and there are often several options for each and prerequisites for others.

I expect I hardly need mention the spells and feats. Dear gods there are a lot of those.

All in all, there is a wealth of information available to me here, but it is scattered across a large number of books. Even just the Paizo hardcovers (Core Rulebook, Advanced Player’s Guide, GameMastery Guide, Ultimate Combat, Ultimate Magic, the Bestiaries…) even trying to work with a single topic meant digging through multiple books. Many books even added more related options, often class-specific, to be considered.

To add to that, Pathfinder seems almost to have a richer third party publisher environment than Dungeons & Dragons 3.x did.

This was becoming unmanageable to me. I could run a Pathfinder campaign by ruthlessly excising a great deal of material, but keeping track of it all just for play purposes was difficult, and for the purpose of research, almost impossible if I wanted to consider all my options.

Research Documents

Out of self-defense, I started creating research documents. I mine d20-based materials that look likely and relevant to my current work (which includes Iron Heroes for combat-related talents, FantasyCraft for some others, Agents of Faith for divine feats related to cleric domains, Advanced Player’s Manual for Eldritch Threads, and so on), collecting the material I am interested in into consistently-formatted documents.

Specific to Pathfinder, I started collecting like information into other documents. All feats into one Word file (1207 feats currently, spanning 274 pages), spells (1390 spells from Paizo hardcovers, spanning 592 pages; somewhat over 1000 more from third-party sources, spanning 464 pages), each class has a file with all class-specific information that doesn’t fall into one of the other groups.

In building these documents, I realized they could be useful to others. How handy would it be to someone playing a Barbarian to have a PDF containing all the Barbarian stuff?

I’m thinking of packaging these for sale. The only ‘value-add’ is that they collect and organize the information covering a single topic. I don’t see necessarily doing books for spells and feats (those exist everywhere; I know because I have many of them), but I suspect the class books would be a good place to start.

Who knows, it might defray the cost of all the stuff I buy to add to my research…

Documents Currently

I’m not going to list all the documents I have right now, but I will list the class reference books I’m working on, with an indication of content.

These are current totals and do not include all references I will be incorporating (and the documents will grow over time anyway). The formatting is consistent and serviceable (which is what I need in a research document) but uninspired, no pictures or diagrams, and so on. There are some ‘waste’ pages (pages with just a title or something) because of how I sometimes split data, but I expect I can afford a page for each of the five sections when the document spans somewhat over a hundred pages.

Class Pages Archetypes Class-Specific Notes
Alchemist 48 20 Discoveries 87, Grand Discoveries 9
Barbarian 50 22 Rage Powers 113, Totem Rage Powers 27 rage power graph
Bard 62 25 Masterpieces 41
Cavalier 35 12 Cavalier Orders
Cleric 94 21 Domains 42, Subdomains 96, Variant Channeling 55 at least some domains might be used by druids also
Druid 86 44 Animal Companions 18, Plant Companions 5, Ooze Companions 1, Vermin Companions 13, Animal and Terrain Domains 34, Wildshape Options 2
Fighter 47 30 Expanded Weapon Groups 16
Gunslinger 34 13 Grit Deeds 18, Grit Feats 18
Inquisitor 59 19 Judgements 9, Inquisitions 48, Censures 10, Condemnations 21 (5 Initial, 6 Lesser, 5 Intermediate, 5 Greater)
Magus 32 10 Arcana 71
Monk 94 35 Vows 8, Ki Powers (many), Major Chakra 7, Ki/Chakra Feats 63 Ki powers are not yet included in the document
Ninja 12 0 Ninja Tricks 31, Ninja Master Tricks 13 Ninja Tricks are much like Rogue Talents
Oracle 84 16 Mysteries 29, Curses 39
Paladin 65 25 Oaths 13, Codes of Conduct 4, Divine Aspects 10, Stigmata 4 Includes Antipaladin alternate class
Ranger 42 22 Combat Styles 10, Ranger Traps 10
Rogue 63 34 Talents 92, Racial Talents 6, Advanced Talents 37
Samurai 21 4 Samurai Orders 5
Sorcerer 65 7 Bloodlines 38, Wild Bloodlines 22
Summoner 51 11 Eidolon Evolutions 83 (1-point 31, 2-point 25, 3-point 13, 4-point 14), Eidolon Models 24, Summoner Feats 2
Witch 42 9 Hexes 50, Major Hexes 21, Grand Hexes 8, Patrons 26, Patron Hexes 26
Wizard 63 13 Arcane Schools 9, Elemental Arcane Schools 6, Focused Arcane Schools 15 haven’t done Arcane Discoveries yet

This doesn’t even incorporate all the material I’ve got queued for inclusion.

Closing Comments

I’m not sure how I feel about doing this. On the one hand, this does create something potentially useful. These books would be basically a side effect of my actual project, but this does entail quite a bit of work. The OGL allows it.

On the other hand, it doesn’t actually create anything or add new content.

Thoughts and opinions?


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