April 5, 2013
A Look At The Fluff Of The Pathfinder Role-Playing Game
Pathfinder and I have an interesting love/hate relationship when it comes to the fluff of the game. The Inner Sea World Guide, the Pathfinder world-book, is a wonderful supplement detailing a very unique and interesting world with a wide variety of cultures, settings, organizations, and political intrigue. Many of their different nations are incredibly fascinating, their lore is well thought out, and the openness of their world presents many opportunities for characters to both feel a part of the world and make their mark upon it.
So then, what is my problem with it? Well, I think it stems from the reasons behind why I play Pathfinder in the first place. When I crack open those books and find my favorite d20 (lovingly (by me) referred to as the “death dice” given how many characters have met their ends by their rolls), I am looking for a simple, generic fantasy in which to craft my own unique adventure. In short, Pathfinder is one of the few games in which I choose not to use much of the cannon and simply create my own. In fact, it is really the only game in which I choose to do so. Why? Because, to me, Pathfinder is Dungeons & Dragons and D&D has always had a very loose tie with cannon campaign settings. They had several, in fact, but they were always presented as supplemental material rather than core, and I simply never made use of them, seeing as how my budget for purchasing additional books has always been somewhat limited; there are just so many good games out there.
Another reason the world of the Inner Sea World Guide never really sat with me is because the book never really seems to bring its world together. There are a lot of wonderful individual pieces, but it can be hard to see how they all fit together. There are some nations at war, true, and others that openly engage in trade with one another, but the connections do not feel all that relevant. My character might be from the Land of the Linnorm Kings, but what does that mean to everyone else she meets? Does she just come from “generic viking land” or is there something unique in what others see in her? This is, of course, dependent on how much of the setting the gamemaster wishes to implement into the game. Setting can be incredibly important in some campaigns, less so in others. Only in working with your gamemaster can you really bring to bear the importance of your character’s homeland into the game.
In short, what do I have to say about the fluff of Pathfinder? It’s good, but not necessarily for me. It’s no Gaia: Beyond Dreams or Seattle 2072. I have yet to have a gamemaster really bring the world to life in my eyes and the Inner Sea World Guide really hasn’t made me overly interested in trying to do so for my own players. I recommend looking through it, as it can be a great source of inspiration for your own campaigns. And really, what more should it be?
Image Credit: Paizo