Paizo Publishing has put out “Alpha Release 2” of their Pathfinder RPG today. For those of you who don’t know Paizo, they were the company that was producing Dragon Magazine and Dungeon Magazine for the last many years under license from Wizards. During that time they took the two magazines to their highest point ever, and their “Adventure Paths” in Dungeon were some of the best D&D adventures to ever see print.
And if you don’t know about Pathfinder, it’s an open game based on the open content from D&D 3.5e. Their goal is to take the game forward while maintaining back compatibility (D&D 4e is fundamentally different from 3.5e in many ways – no old rules content of any sort will port forward without substantial modification). It will be a fully open game, and they are conducting a fully open year-long playtest; the final Pathfinder will premiere at Gen Con 2009.
So go download it and check it out! So far it’s pretty boss. They have it available for free through their store; if you haven’t registered you need to and then it’ll be in your “My Downloads” section under “My Account.” I don’t really like the ultra-retro D&D clone movement – OSRIC, C&C, etc – I think the game has improved over time. But the 4e changes being shown indicate that D&D is going to jump the shark, trying to become more of a computer game/collectible minis game experience, and I don’t think it’s “old school” to want your version of D&D to at least be a role-playing game.
Props to Paizo – they smelled the stink on the wind of what was coming from WotC in 4e (licensing-wise and rules-wise) and took action early. Wizards went through a cycle of pulling in/cancelling every license they had, from Dungeon/Dragon to Dragonlance to PCGen. Then, they started stringing along all the third party publishers, not being willing to say what 4e licensing would be like (the stringing’s still going on today). But Paizo said “No, I think we want to take charge of our own destiny, thanks” and took the open fork route. Three cheers!