Friday, July 6, 2018
Weird Things - Pathfinder Resurgence, Return of RTS and Strategy Games, Delving into Descent
My wife might chalk it all up to "midlife crisis" stuff, but I've been amused to see that lately the following things have been transpiring in my personal hobby space, whatever that is:
Pathfinder is back, and I am happy it is. It helps that the group which I've been running it for (the same gang that also plays Starfinder) is playing the game purely for fun as an RPG, and we're not seeing the old escalating "char gen min/max minigame" conundrum that left my love of Pathfinder in the dust years ago.
It's even more amusing that with the exception of some newer books, I'm relying entirely on my Pocket Edition collection to run the current game. Who knew I'd get some use out of them???
In the tradition of the Starfinder game (in which the plot has, up to the last stopping point, been closely tied to the plot of the 1980 Conan the Barbarian movie....but, you know, in Spaaaace) I am also alluding to a plot origin in the Pathfinder plot. Should any of my players read this, I'll just state that it is at least peripherally derivative of Romeo and Juliet, but that should be obvious already. "She was the spirit priestess of the Catfolk god, he was the strapping human cleric of the One True God. Their love was never meant to be.....but these fine gentlemen will help unite the two lovers, for the right price!"
Also, you should check out Planar Adventures. This is the book I really really REALLY wanted back in 2010 after the first two Pathfinder rule books came out. At last, finally, it has arrived. Maybe I'll revive my 2010 planar campaign again.....hmmmm. Either way, this is officially the last hard cover book for Pathfinder (I think) before the Pathfinder Playtest and subsequent release of 2.0 in 2019. Fortunately, the rules content is minimal (more or less) so it will have some utility with the new edition for setting value!
I've also tried some board gaming, something traditionally anathema for me. Realms of Terrinoth was interesting enough that it prompted me to grab Descent: Journeys in to the Dark with the intent of teaching it to my son. As it happens, this became vaguely possible because Fantasy Flight also has a Descent App you can download that acts as the gamemaster for your board game experience, letting the players go co-op against the app.
Without the app, I'd have probably decided Descent was a better utility for map pieces and minis for a D&D or Pathfinder game (or 13th Age, T&T, etc.). With the app, I can see a future for it, although in the time it took poor old dad to figure things out my son grew a bit bored and went back to Minecraft. Sigh. Why is it I can read hundreds of pages of RPG rules and find delight, but board game mechanics make my head hurt? My theory is that too much abstraction is actually outside the deep but comforting grooves of world sim mechanical structuring that RPGs offer. Abstraction in mechanics is actually harder for me to figure out as a result.
Despite this, I seem to have Runebound, Imperial Assault, and Fallout in the wings (my kid is figuring out how easy it is to convince me to pick up games he drags off the shelf).
Finally, I've been a bit annoyed with computer and video gaming in general, though still oddly driven to enjoy the simple focus of the Switch.* That said, I loaded up on war games from the recent Steam Summer Sale, and have been unexpectedly enjoying the likes of X-Com: Enemy Unknown (amazing game), Total War: Warhammer, and 40K Dawn of War series. Also, Starcraft II which I already owned but a convenient sale at Blizzard let me add the stuff I was missing.
I'm not prone to enjoying RTS type games except in intermittent bursts....my time in this domain was all but exhausted back in the glory days of Warcraft 2, Civ 1 and 2, and the original Command & Conquer. Yet here I am winning (against the PC for now) in Dawn of War, Total War, and others. I've accidentally picked up more stuff on sale than I'll ever have time for, so I need to test the buffet, if you will, and pick wisely. Damn you Steam Sales!
Still, check out this video on Warhammer: Total War II to see why I got sucked in. I'm working through the first game now, but primarily because I am dying to try out the Tomb Kings expansion....see here:
*Nintendo Switch, for the old farts out there nodding sagely about the need for better discipline. Specifically, the elegant Junior Edition of Skyrim I like to call The Legend of Zelda, but in particular that insatiable, unrelenting Witch Who Wears Her Hair and Casts Magic with Her Gun Heels madness that is Bayonetta.