The third blog about Pathfinder Online was recently went online, and now we received more information about how player characters will work in the game. Honestly, I have somewhat mixed feelings about this project.

What do we know ?

  It seems they are doing something similar to the EVE Online skill system, but with 4 interconnected parts. These parts are : Attributes, Skills, Merit Badges and Abilities. It’s basically Abilities which will define what a character is able to do, what armor and weapon could he use, what spells to cast, which mount to ride, or of he can heal, track, sneak, open lock. It’s mentioned to be nearly equal as class abilities and feats in the tabletop Pathfinder game.

  Attributes will be the same as in the tabletop RPG for the first look, but their effect on the character will be different. The progress made with Skill learning will be dependent on the connected Attribute, and there will be a different save (instead of the basic 3 : Will, Reflex, Fortitude) will be connected to each of them. On the other hand, based on the blog it seems that there won’t provide the benefits you would receive in the offline game.

  Skills will work on the same principles as they work in Eve Online. You will see an extremely varied and extensive skill tree, and your character learn new skills in real time. Hovewer there are some differences, as while in EVE the skill provide you abilities in themselves, now they are only serving as prerequisites to other parts of the character development, namely : Merit Badges and Abilities.

  Merit Badges will be awarded by progressing through the game (including training in some Skills), as well as the notable deeds of the character in question, and/or involve some in-game requirement like killing a number of monsters of harvest an amount of resources.  When you receive a new badge it will give you a new Ability associated with it in most cases. They will also incorporate the basic Pathfinder character classes from the tabletop RPG into the game, in the form of 20 merit badges per class (now called development paths). There will be 11 such paths will be available at the beginning : Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rouge, Sorcerer and Wizard, which will be expanded upon with other prestige classes, archetypes, and base classes in the future. If you receive all 20 merits from a path, you will receive a Capstone ability if you don’t have merits in the other paths.

  Abilities represent class features, feats, crafting and item-use abilities in the game, so basically this is what defines your character in the end. You need the other elements simply to reach these character-defining Abilities.

What am I think of it ?

Simply put, I have mixed feelings because while there are development decisions I could understand I support, this is not true for everything. My main concern, that it won’t be really the Pathfinder we know and love to play, but something entirely different. This could alienate many current Pathfinder players, who are supposedly the main target audience for the game.

Just to collect some of my worries :

– As I said, the complete change of the Pathfinder system has it’s own problems : it could alienate some players, while others will be surprised if things wont work the same way as on the tabletop. You have to learn everything from the basics. and don’t forget : it’s the Pathfinder title which will draw people to the game

– While they admit that the skill system of EVE Online is very complicated, they plan to add several additional layers and complications to it. I think it could turn down many casual players. I think the more complicated the system there is more advantage to the hardcore-players,as they will dedicate their time to optimalize they skill development and they will be the first to abuse specific combos.

– I think using the same development pool (skills) for combat and non-combat abilities could be a bane to crafters/miners/etc. in the long term. It seems easier to gain combat abilities and take what you want by force (or buy with resources you gained by force) than do it yourself, and it’s even include buildings, fiefdoms, goods, weapons. Or from the other side : if you spend your training on for example leather crafting, the better leather armor you could make you wil be more vulnerable to attacks, as you won’t train in combat skills.

– The mention of “kill 100 x monsters” and “collect 1 quadrillion wood” means that regardless of the real time skill learning they didn’t get rid of grinding completely, and it’s completely against what they said about that casual and hardcore players will be on the same ground. I guess it’s because you shouldn’t be a master woodman without ever seeing a tree, or “Legendary Troll Slayer” without at least wounding a troll. I hope they will be able to balance this aspects.

– I’m agree that crafting should be tied to Abilities, and I also understand Armor. But I hope it won’t mean that players start as peasants, and they can’t use a Longsword or a Bow at all, because they are untrained. It would be a pain if I should start a hope-to-be-fighter who can’t use weapons, or a sorcerer without spells. So I hope some starting character customization and/or starting skill choices.

I1m really interested how things will turn out. I really hope that it will be a successful project.

Regardless, I agree with some forum posters : I would be glad if they would release something like Neverwinter Nights with core Pathfinder rules than an MMO without the well known and tested tabletop rules we all know.

Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros