For years, Paizo officials have said that there would never be a second edition. I suspect that all evidence of those statements have been scoured from the Internet. A quick search didn’t find any. There might have been qualifiers along the way, such as ‘unless the demand is too great’ or some such. But I remember the message as ‘We won’t do a 2nd Edition.” With the inference, ‘Making you buy all of your stuff over again.’
I thought that they might be adhering to that pledge when they put out Starfinder, a science fiction RPG. That seemed like a smart approach if they couldn’t update the original Pathfinder.
But I believe that events conspired against them. The best thing that ever happened to Pathfinder was 4th Edition D&D (granted – it was the impetus for Pathfinder). The worst thing that ever happened to Pathfinder was 5th Edition D&D.
5th Edition have been a critical and popular success. Products have been well received, one after another, and third-party support is reminiscent of the old 3rd Edition Open Gaming License Days.
Meanwhile, Pathfinder has run into the problem encountered by every lasting RPG – bloat. The need to continue developing new products for players and GMs to purchase results in an ever-increasing attempt to add to the rules and options of the game. And Rules and Options bloat are an inevitable result.
There are many who argue, “If you don’t like all those options, just ignore them.” But that’s not how most people feel. I remember being criticized when I decided to run a Core Rulebook-only Play by Post (PbP) on the Paizo forums. I didn’t want to deal with the myriad of character options. This annoyed some people. Obviously, they didn’t play in that PbP. And as I’ve written elsewhere, I think that bloat cheapens the game system as well as imbalances it.
But a system needs to keep adding product to keep the company afloat. I get it.
You’ve got a cycle where a company needs to keep providing new product to both make money and keep gamers interested in the system. But over time, the result becomes rules and option bloat and an unbalanced RPG. So a the slate is wiped clean with introduction of a new edition, which allows for a slew of new products to sell and buy and a whole new run of options and classes.
With 5th Edition doing so well (whereas 4th Edition was a failure), Paizo has to fight to retain all those players who left D&D for Pathfinder, while continuing to attract new players.
Earlier this week, I read a comment from the head of one of the largest third-party providers, who said that 5th Edition is outselling Pathfinder two-to-one. That’s a big deal.
Though I’m currently playing the new Robert E. Howard’s Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed of, Pathfinder has been my system of choice for most of the past decade and I just ran the Beginner’s Box (a GREAT product and devoid of bloat!) a few months ago. And I’ve got a bookshelf of Pathfinder stuff.
There’s NO WAY I’m going to start over buying new books for a 2nd Edition. Not surprisingly, Paizo indicates it won’t be that big a deal to convert from 1st to 2nd Edition.
While many of the rules of the game have changed, much of what made Pathfinder great has remained the same. The story of the game is unchanged, and in many cases, you can simply replace the old rules with their new counterpart without having to alter anything else about the adventure. As for individual rules, like your favorite spell or monster, most can be added with a simple conversion, changing a few numbers and rebalancing some of the mechanics.
We shall see.
I espoused the virtues of Pathfinder in this post, and I think that Paizo is an excellent company. To me, this move to 2nd Edition seems unfortunate but necessary. I think it’s a reality of the RPG environment they find themselves in, with declining sales, rules and option bloat with the current edition and the popularity of 5th Edition with consumers and third-party providers.
I hope Pathfinder 2nd Edition improves the game and that it remains a viable RPG – alternatives to D&D are a good thing. But I think ‘Never say Never’ is a time-tested axiom in the RPG world.
Bob Byrne’s ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ column ran every Monday morning at Black Gate from March 10, 2014 through March 20, 2017 (making an occasional return appearance!). He also organized Black Gate’s award-nominated ‘Discovering Robert E. Howard’ series.
He is a member of the Praed Street Irregulars, founded www.SolarPons.com (the only website dedicated to the ‘Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street’) and blogs about Holmes and other mystery matters at Almost Holmes.