Monday, August 7, 2017

3 Reasons I Write So Much About Pathfinder

I've received a fair amount of feedback on this blog over the years. While some has been good, and some has been bad, I have also received a fairly steady stream of questions. Some readers want to know my opinions on a given rule, or whether I allow certain books when I'm running a game. However, one of the most common questions I tend to get is, "Why do you write about Pathfinder so much?"

Sometimes people ask me if I'm ever going to do character conversions for 5th edition DND, and sometimes they ask why I don't write more about games like Call of Cthulhu, Savage Worlds, or Fate, but the meat of the inquiry is always, "Why do you spend so much time on this one system?"

Well, if this is a question you've wondered about, or asked, here are three reasons for the favoritism Pathfinder tends to get round these parts.

Reason #1: It's My Game

As I said in my post Why Pathfinder is My Game of Choice, this is the RPG I play the most. At any given time I'm in between two and three Pathfinder campaigns, and when I run my own games it's the system I use. I've played and run Pathfinder at conventions, and it is the game I have the most system mastery of. Because of all that, it's also the game I tend to have the most ideas for, and the most opinions about.

Reason #2: Pathfinder Guides Are Actually Useful

I mentioned system mastery, but I want to underline its importance in my decision when it comes to content. Pathfinder is a rules-dense game, and when you take into account all of the third-party material that's been written for it, some players and DMs can feel like they're drowning in a sea of options.

That's where I come in.

Whether it's a character conversion, an unusual character concept, or just a crunch post, my intent is to mark a path for my readers to find their way toward a particular goal. Whether that's building a solid Captain America lookalike, dealing with spellcasters, or choosing great gear options, I cut down the amount of digging and browsing that has to be done, saving my readers time and energy.

Now, that isn't to say I couldn't write those same guides for 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons, but they aren't as necessary in a game that simply doesn't have the same amount of content to slog through. With 5th ed, players may only have a dozen options to choose from, and minimal customization (I believe in 5e barbarians only have two paths of advancement, and fighters have three?). With Pathfinder the sky may very well be the limit when it comes to what you can pull off, and there are dozens of books to dig through... so those are the players I throw a line to.

Reason #3: It's What All The Cool Kids Are Playing

Most folks who stop by my blog game for fun. Some of my readers do it occasionally, and some of them do it religiously, but a majority of my traffic comes from people for whom RPGs are a fun past time. They're a great way to spend an evening with friends, they're good for meeting new people, and they provide a unique opportunity to be creative.

Those are all the same reasons I play RPGs. However, I don't write about them just for fun. I'm here because this is my job. So when I sit down to choose a topic I don't just ask what would be fun for me to write about; I ask what's going to get people's attention. Pathfinder is one of the longer-running fantasy RPGs right now, it has a big fan base, and several dedicated outlets that I can count on a signal boost from. There's plenty of material that hasn't been covered (or at least hasn't been covered in a way I would talk about it), and there's new stuff coming out all the time.

So, it isn't that I don't love Changeling, Vampire, Call of Cthulhu, Paranoia, X-Crawl, and the dozens of other games I've tried and played over the years. It isn't that I don't have opinions on them, or suggestions for how to make them more fun. It's that when I write a post about a character build for Werewolf, or tell a story about a session I once ran for Grimm, I'll get 300-400 people checking it out, and then it will slink off to the corner, never to be read again. There are a few exceptions, but those exceptions tend to prove the rule.

If I write a post about Pathfinder, and it isn't popular, I'll still pull in 1,000-1,500 hits on it during its initial promotion, and people will stop in from time to time because they found it on a Google search. If I write a post for Pathfinder and it is popular, though? Then I'm looking at 10,000 hits during the first week or so, and a potential for it to explode in popularity again as the subject that caught so much attention comes to the forefront of game discussions once more.

If Spycraft, Shadowrun, or even 5th edition pulled in that sort of traffic for me, then I would be switching systems in a heartbeat. But, excluding my general fantasy RPG posts, I don't get the same attention when I focus on other systems.

So, if you were curious, now you know.

Oh, lastly, if you want more thoughts, guides, and content on Pathfinder, then you should check out the Creative Repository Blog by Simon Peter Munoz, and That Boomer Kid by the infamous Clinton Boomer. If you like my stuff, you'll love what they have to offer!

That's all for this week's Moon Pope Monday post! If you want even more content from me, check out my growing archive over on Vocal's Gamers site. It's small now, but it won't stay that way for long. If you want to keep up-to-date on my latest releases, then follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Lastly, if you want to help support Improved Initiative, head over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a patron today! It only takes $1 a month to get some sweet gaming swag, and to help me keep making great content for you discerning gamers out there.


  1. I also enjoy the variability of characters in Pathfinder! I'm a religious follower of your blog also. I get email updates whenever you release a new post.

    Unusual Character Concepts is my fave. The best was the Summoner Child, whose teddy bear teaches her to hide from the men killing her parents. Genius!

    Keep up the great work!

  2. I too am a huge pathfinder fan, keep on keeping on buddy!

  3. I'm more of a point based system kind of guy, but I love pathfinder. It has great lore, interesting mechanics, and you can make a LOT of different characters. 5e just doesn't have the variety PF does, and I'm not a huge fan of it's tendencies to weaken magical items and crafting.

    Even if I'm playing a different system, I still find PF guides helpful because there's so much cool stuff you can do in it. I can't tell you how many times I was designing a GURPS or savage world character, thinking "hmmm, this is a cool mechanic in PF, but I wish it functioned a little more like this instead..." and figured out how to write it up in the other system