Pathfinder versus Dragon Warriors; a youngling’s perspective

Written By: Connor Gadsby - Oct• 23•13

Jasper

Hi there; Connor here! I’m a relatively new player compared with the rest of the group, so I usually end up not knowing what to say when the conversation veers into ‘statistics territory’, or going through all the feats/spells/class combinations that are broken;  leaving me to wonder ‘how they’re broken?’ Then I give up and resume trying to memorise every bloody spell in the Pathfinder rulebook again; and failing!

So I suppose it’s no wonder that I prefer the story and character bits of roleplaying; the meat on the bones that are the mechanics. But with no bones, the meat is unable to keep its structure, and without mechanics a peasant in the first village you visit in a campaign, could just wish you out of existence. Although, that would be…. intriguing………

Anyway, a good system is needed to compliment the characters and story being created. Now being no expert on tabletop gaming – or indeed anything except hitting
my head on my Stephen’s campervan Betsy–so I cannot claim the know-how of a seasoned veteran. But, having now played extensively with both Pathfinder and Dragon Warriors, two very different systems, I have naturally been comparing them to try and see which system is more suitable for me, and by extension, more suitable for character driven gameplay.

The first game I played was Pathfinder, and as someone who prior to my first session had only played mainstream RPG video games, the mechanics were a bit overwhelming, limiting my ability to strategize. My sneaky Rogue would only ever – in a combat scenario – do one of two things; fire at range with my bow, or sneak from behind and stab an enemy. This got ‘samey’ quite fast and took me out of the roleplaying experience a bit. It was just too complicated for me to get my head around.

It’s a good thing I didn’t start out as a wizard or sorcerer, because when you’re a newbie, it looks easier to work magic in real life than in game. According to the other players however, I learned comparatively quickly, and started to lose myself in the statistics and mechanics, so much so that I often lost sight of what my character actually was.

In hindsight, I barely stayed in character, and while it was still fun, it wasn’t as fun as I know it could have been. Though Pathfinder is a game of dizzying depth, the depth did sometimes get in the way of the storytelling, and the storytelling, I had quickly discovered, was what I was there for.

After quite a few months of Pathfinder, the simplicity of Dragon Warriors was actually quite refreshing. With a much more streamlined approach in every aspect from attacking to levelling up, it seemed to be what I was looking for. Combat was much faster too, with only one action per turn instead of two, it felt like it was your turn a lot more often. Of course, this was also because there as less to think about, less variation on what each player could do in combat, leading to quicker decision making.

While I did miss having heaps of weapons, armour, spells etc. to choose from, it did leave a lot more time for actual character development. More room to breath. If the group took a break to smoke or eat, they were no longer talking about weapons or spells, they were talking about the story. Sometimes they’d just carry on a conversation between their characters, providing a more enjoyable experience for me.

A simple approach to the gaming mechanics may seem comparatively shallow if you’re a regular D&D 3.5 or Pathfinder player, but I find a more streamlined approach to compliment my playing style far better. Don’t get me wrong though, Pathfinder is great, and I will no doubt return to it. But for good character driven gaming, I’m all in favour of less is more.

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