One of the most common criticisms leveled at D&D 3.5 was power creep. Every new splatbook upped the ante with more powergaming options. I had my own misgivings about power creep at the time, but now I think what I disliked was not power creep, but the related problem of rules bloat. I have come to this conclusion as a result of my experience with Pathfinder. The good folks at Paizo have made controlling both power creep and rules bloat a top design priority. As a result, their release schedule for rulebooks has been far more modest than that of WotC. Since the Pathfinder Core Rulebook was published in August 2009, Paizo has only released the Gamemastery Guide, the Advanced Player's Guide the Pathfinder Bestiary, the Pathfinder Bestiary 2 and now, Ultimate Magic. Now, I appreciate the wisdom of releasing only about three rulebooks per year, but I wish the books that did come out had more awesomeness in them. The Advanced Player's Guide, for example, introduced six new base classes. I have played one, the Alchemist, while my co-blogger, Obiri has test-driven the Witch (ok, that sounded dirty) and the Summoner. I did like the Alchemist and Obiri's Summoner has proven pretty effective, but the Witch did not impress me much and the other classes, the Cavalier, the Oracle and the Inquisitor are so lame, no one has even bothered to give them an audition. Furthermore, despite a mountain of new feats, spells and alternative class features, I have found very little in the book that appeals to me unless I'm actually playing one of the new classes.
Well, now we have Ultimate Magic. I will leave it to Obiri to review UM, but I will make a few observations. It introduces one new base class, the Magus, which mirrors the Eldritch Knight prestige class (and even uses the same iconic art). I like the concept of a fighter/mage and so I may try the Magus at some point, but most of the rest of the book follows the same recipe as the APG, an occasional morsel of meat floating in a thin, bland broth. The problem is power creep, or more precisely, the lack of power creep. It's a delicate balance to produce new options for character generation that are just as cool as the old stuff, but not more powerful. It is a balance that neither WotC nor Paizo seems able to manage. WotC chose to throw caution to the wind and just kept ramping it up. However, they were able to keep most of the core classes relevent by giving them lots of new hotness in parallel with the new classes they introduced. Paizo has chosen the opposite approach, introducing less new stuff, most of which is less appealing than what was already released in the core rules. I'm sure many will disagree with me, but I'm starting to look back fondly on the WotC way of doing things.
Let the flaming begin!
Another awesome Guardians poster design
4 days ago