Pathfinder Second Edition

This is probably the fourth or fifth time I’ve tried to write about Pathfinder Second Edition. The reason being that every time I tried to write about it,  I would quickly go off on a tangent about some aspect of the game that didn’t mesh with what I thought I should expect.

The short of it is, Pathfinder Second Edition (PF2e) is pretty much a completely different game. It still feels like first edition, but to me it is like comparing 1st edition AD&D to 4th edition. If they didn’t share the same name and a few commonalities, I suspect one could easily confuse both editions of Pathfinder for different gaming systems. 

If I had to say what I feel is the defining characteristic of PF2e, I would tell you it is a game about feats. This is in the same vein as how I would define Vampire: The Masquerade as a game of social interactions, or Shadowrun as cyberpunk and magic awesome fun time (I love Shadowrun, by the way.) or Starfinder as streamlined grade-A scifi rules, or AD&D 1e/2e as THAC0 (said colloquially as “Thay-Co”,which is short for “To hit armor class zero”). Anyway, enough examples. 

The thing about PF2e that I feel is going to make or break it for people is the customization options. I heard that while character creation has a similar number of choices in options and such to create your character, its something around a total of 70ish choices from level 1-20. That is without gear or spell selection. I rebuilt one of my wizards, one that specifically started as a PF1e character, so I do feel like converting them over to PF2e is a good example. I rebuilt them from the ground up and then leveled them to level 15 as a necromancer.

I know I haven’t had a lot of experience with the new system, but it was kinda exhausting, and at the end of it all, the differences were quite noticeable. Firstly, that I felt a little overburdened to pre-plan my character, because I didn’t want to end up at a high level and need a feat I couldn’t take because I didn’t have the prerequisite feats. 

I spent some time looking through other classes, by the way, did I mention that they added Alchemist as a core class and they changed the name of Paladin to Champion? Not big deals. So the list comes down to Alchemist, Bard, Barbarian, Champion, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, and Wizard. Pretty straight forward, kinda miss the Witch, but glad I haven’t seen Summoner (Summoners are so broken in PF1e, I banned them from my games after witnessing the great, annoying, 18 ability score man, where none of his abilities were effectively under 18, he could make four attacks per attack action and use summon creature at the same time).

Anyway, back to the classes. Monk, one of my personal favorites, feels like if I play one I am going to spend the levels trying to figure out the complex fighting style of my monk. Maybe it is less complicated than I feel it to be. PF2e has a lot of things that I do feel may help make the game simpler for players. One of those things is that combat is now based on three actions per round. You can do anything in those three actions in any order, but some things cost more than one action. Technically, you can make three attack actions, but there are penalties for each action used to attack beyond the first use. You can make three move actions. Some spells require three actions to cast. Some things cost two actions. 

This simplified system also comes with a rather comprehensive set of rules governing almost everything. That means that there are rules for all the many things you can do, which means that there doesn’t need to be much on the fly rulings by the dungeon master. But there are a lot of rules.

I can’t really say much more about it at this time, other than with all the feats and such, my wizard can literally intimidate someone to death and I can technically do so whenever I roll initiative. In other words, my wizard doesn’t have to cast spells to kill, she can innately cast power word kill and stun at the same time as a surprise round.

I think with all this, new players might struggle with the overwhelming number of options. Personally if someone asked me what would be a good TTRPG for someone that has never played before, I would probably pass them my copy of Dungeonslayers by Christian Kennig because the entire game fits in 20 pages including the covers and isn’t as abstract as some of the wonderful Grant Howitt games (Goblin Quest, Honey Heist) which often fit on a single page.

Pathfinder Second Edition is a solid game, it’s as robust and capable as its predecessor.  But I do feel like it is a game of complexity and is for players who like both a lot of options, but a lot of continued tweeking and management.

(I was sent the Pathfinder Second Edition Core rulebook and Bestiary by Paizo for review.)


SNAFU con 2018, an anime convention worth attending.

Sierra Nevada Anime Fans Unite convention Aka, SNAFU is an event that has become one of my yearly pleasures. I have been attending the convention for over 5 years, with this year being my fourth as a member of the press. In some circles, going to a convention in Reno, Nevada is a pretty big deal and for others, I would not blame them for scoffing at the mere idea of a convention in northern Nevada.

SNAFU, since its earliest days, is about anime and the fandom that has grown around it and while this convention has quite readily lived up to its acronym, it has also been one of the most warm, friendly, and just plain memorable conventions I have had the chance to attend. It is a smaller convention, relatively speaking, to those who may be more familiar with San Diego Comic Con, Anime Expo, or the like. Yet it is in this size, that I have found myself having a far better experience.

Seriously, let us take a look at the experiences of Jeremy and Gretchen Winkler at San Diego Comic con, they talked about not being able to see even a fraction of the vendor hall, of lines stretching for rooms in length, of high prices and people waiting for panels for hours so that they can ensure they get a seat.

However, there are some issues on the small convention side. In the case of SNAFU this year, a significant number of the convention staff had to step back due to the other 360 days of the year. Life happens, but it can cause issues. In this case, there was a sudden lack of panels and content. They were badly undermanned, even with a healthy supply of volunteers. Locations were marked wrong, maps were incorrect, and a series of last minute dropouts and additions were not made quite so clear. Their trusty badge printer went down and they spent countless hours printing their generic green weekend passes for all of the pre-registered attendees in attempts to try and laminate on the fly as they could, which led to a bit of confusion at the registration lines.

They handled it quite well. Maybe that is due to the attendees being understanding or they just did what they could do with what they had and made it work. By Saturday morning they seemed to have had most of the bigger issues solved and things were back to business as usual and to be honest, I have never seen a convention that didn’t have its own behind the scenes frantic messes.

The thing is though, even with its problems, SNAFU pulls together a splendid convention. It never feels too crowded, there is no massive line to get to meet their guests or worry that you wont get a seat at the panel you want to see. I’m always left feeling tired after con, but SNAFU leaves me feeling like I’m having to leave a good friend behind till next year.

What more is there to really say about such a convention? It is what you would hope for in a convention,72 hours of anime playing in the video room, gaming tables, warm and friendly artists, guests, and vendors, unique and inspiring panels, competitions, cosplay, karaoke, videogames… there is so much more that it is hard to list.

As always, I look forward to next year and if you want to check it out for yourself, they tend to update their site in spring and they are active on social media, so keep an eye on it for 2019.


Starfinder: Pact Worlds

Image courtesy of Paizo

     The Pact Worlds resource for Starfinder is 215 pages of more everything. Looking for a few more races or themes for your characters? It has that. Looking for new items and star ships? It has those too.

The bulk of this book though is campaign setting, that is of Starfinder’s own solar system, the Pact Worlds. Covering the fourteen locations found on the inside of the cover of the Core Rulebook, Alien Archive, and now the third resource for Starfinder; Pact Worlds goes into a fair amount of detail of each location, covering climate, populations, politics, history, notable locations and even a few ideas for new themes for characters that would make sense coming from these places. As we have come to expect with this system, Paizo has made sure to include beautiful artwork and maps as well as consistent organization and aesthetic, making this resource feel just like an expansion of the other books released so far.

I have found the little bit of history of persons of interest, such as Ceris Hightower, the longest serving member of the Pirate council of the Diaspora, to be well developed, making me want to use them for interactions with my players. She is but one example of so much that Pact Worlds has to offer if you are looking to expand your library. The book delves into the solar religions of the Sun and the various structures and AI rulers of Aballon, the planet of robots. How and why of the great immortal Liches of Eox, the drow of Apostae, the great corporate Dragons of Triaxus and their trade networks, and so much more.

If you are looking for more of Starfinder and haven’t already picked it up, give it a look. At the least it may give you ideas for your games, or new races if you like to have options.



Critical Hit and Fumble Dice by New Comet Games

I don’t remember quite how I came across the kickstarter for these dice, but so far my on-a-whim of extra cash to buy something for $14 plus a few for shipping, turned a pretty standard D&D 5e combat encounter into one of the most interesting combat encounters I have had in my twenty plus years. IMG_20180509_232722904.jpg

So what do these dice do?

Well they are a pretty simple set of three ten sided dice, a six sided die and a card to clarify any questions about what comes up on the dice. The first ten sided die has green lettering, this is the critical hit die. whenever you roll that beautiful nat 20 (or within the critical range for other games or say you have a champion fighter with that 19-20 crit range) you get to roll this die and see what you get. Examples of some of the bonus is 3x damage, or Blind opponent and +2d6 damage, or the 1 in 10 chance of instant kill. There is one side that is “Sever limb +3d6 dam.” in which the next die comes into play, the hit zone die. Pretty simple, extra damage or removal of that limb marked clearly in red. Now every time you get to roll the crit hit die, you get to roll die number 3, the yellow six sided die. This is the moral die and affects either your side favorably, or the enemy unfavorably.

Last but not least, the last ten sided die, the critical fumble. This is the one you roll when the dread natural 1 shows its terrifying single eye of judgement. With less damaging fumbles such as dropping your weapon to dangerous hit ally or deadly crit self.

So, not too complicated, but let me tell you the story of a simple encounter turned into a storm of epic plays and crashing waves of chaos.

Picture this if you will,

It was just past dawn as the heroes disembarked in Waterdeep after an expedition to the Sea of Moving Ice. Weary of the waves and down a member taken by the claws of a white dragon, they moved north towards the home of their Gnome wizard, Fiona. The eight foot tall Minotaur arcane trickster, Ganth, was the first to notice the blue scaled half-dragon bumble into the street before the party. The Cerulean scaled brute barely had time to utter his zealous dragon cult threats as the party spotted the ten cultists surrounding them before being set upon by the already spurned heroes. Fiona, in her early morning grogginess and momentary lapse of common dragon knowledge, let loose a Storm Sphere to minimal avail, slowing the mass of cultists but doing little damage. A moment later her inattention cost her as a young blue dragon came around a corner and let loose its breath attack, scuffing the armor of the party’s fighter, Lars, making a cultist momentarily question his allegiance as he took a face full of friendly fire, and Fiona was left taking an uncomfortable nap in the street as the smell of burnt hair filled the air.

Belangar, the Orc warlock took it upon himself to inspire the fear of death into the hearts of those that chose to interrupt their morning stroll. A volley of a dozen Scorching Rays came from him like a gunfighter fanning a peacemaker, one ray for all but those hiding down alley ways, and the first critical hit of the fight. a roll and one of the cultists was blinded for a round, learning why you don’t look directly at a laser pointer,  specifically one made of fire.

His screams of pain and blind panic, coupled with the fact that the robed orc had with one hand dealt fiery pain to nearly all of them, a wave of fear gripped all but the most zealous… or stupid. Meanwhile the static fluffed Tabaxi monk, Star, who had narrowly escaped the dragon’s lightning breath, took a lucky hit from one of the two half-dragons in the group of assailants, but that would be the only hit as she launched into a barrage of strikes against his scaly hide.

The Fighter, Lars, brandished his heavy crossbow, his Mandalorianesque armor gleaming in the morning sun as he let loose bolt after bolt, hitting one exceptionally hard with a critical hit, gaining a moral bonus for the party of +1 to attack for the next round.  Ganth, finally done laughing at the woefully clumsy Half-Dragon that had stumbled into their way before their ambush was ready to strike, took a pot shot at an advancing cultist, placing a hand crossbow bolt through the aggressor’s hand with another crit, making him drop his weapon and once more the prowess of their quarry made the cultists question their faith.

The half-dragon that had flanked the party now dueled with the lithe Feline monk, his quick and vicious attacks with his shield failed against the trained agile skill of monk, resulting in time after time of losing sight of her from his shield attack only to have her pop up from the other side to give a flurry of blows to him in a manner similar to her smaller domestic kin.

The fear began to settle deep in their souls as the cultists began to see the folly of their ways, Belangar manifested his hex blade from the darkness of his soul and let its blood lust loose upon a cultist that had moved next to him. a quick succession of cuts and an observant attack of opportunity from the monk left the lone swordsman injured and trying to stand after being knocked prone. Lars and Ganth let loose their bolts upon the enemy in front, watching as they fell in succession. The dragon watched as we now realize the two half-dragons were his, now disowned, sons struggled to land even a single blow. the one fighting the monk could not hit her while the one that had entered melee with the fighter and rogue found himself taking a swift pommel of Lars’s sword to the jaw in a surprise critical off hand attack, barely doing a scratch of damage but a glass jaw is a glass jaw, and he went down for the count.

A single cultist that had been straggling behind the dragon chose, with the sight of how his fellow cultists were fairing, to realize that his mother was right, this was just a phase and he was ready to come back and work the farm. With a moment to see if anyone cared, he turned and left without a word, dropping his sword and robes in a nearby pile of refuse before moving on with his life.

Disheartened by his incompetent sons, the young blue dragon chose pride over family and made a disappointed escape into the winding alleys and streets.

Lars took a brief moment to turn and feed Fiona a potion of healing, returning her from the grasp of death.

having had the worst morning of her life, let alone the past weeks, Fiona rose to her feet, glared at the remaining four cultists that continued to sling arrows at the group from what they assumed was a safe distance, and with a series of memorized motions and words that echoed as her eyes and the air came to life with flickers of flame, before turning old lady Ellis’s prized window box of flowers to ash, along with a good amount of laundry that hung outside of the windows and clothes lines that lined the long street for the next 40 feet with an inferno of hate filled reckless abuse of magic power, The Gnome let loose a fireball upon them not just because they had nearly killed her, but because frankly it was way too early and they couldn’t even wait until she had had her coffee.

It was at this moment, watching as his father turned his back upon him, his brother lay face down in the street while an orc fired more scorching rays at the only still slightly alive ally that had not already been burnt to a crisp or run away, and really was not doing so well from the rapid series of some 20 or more blows to the head from the monk, In a moment of overwhelming failure fueled depression, realized that the only thing he could still do right, since the monk was frankly taking a considerable amount of time, was to take his own life. (honestly it was three rounds of failed attacks against the monk and a natural 1, crit self came up on the crit fumble die).

The party stood among the carnage, blood and ash coated the cobble street and scorch marks stripped the walls. One Half-dragon lay unconscious, ready to be taken prisoner. There was a distinct need for coffee, or mead… or both and stronger.

(I may have forgotten exactly how it all went, but to put it simply, these dice added that little bit of something more with just a few extra, exciting rolls. Even just the whole effect of causing the enemy to make a fear check because of the warlock crit on one of his scorching rays, which if you think about how it looked, really should have been one of those moments that causes the enemy to hesitate because, he just hit almost everyone in one round like some kind of action hero.)

Want your own set? check them out here New Comet Games ( )


Previously on User Friendly Games…

Collection of the previous eight episodes and a little bit of description and what music was used in case you wanted to know.

User Friendly Games Episode 1 Adventure games

Yay, first episode where I spoke of things like Maniac Mansion (NES), Day of the Tentacle Remastered (PS4), Full Throttle Remastered (PS4), Thimbleweed Park (PC), and Night in the Woods (PC).
Update for those that stop here: I acquired Night in the Woods for PS4. Everything I said in the review is still valid, good story, good game. Now on console!

Music: Intro- Theme from Maniac Mansion (NES)
Outro- Theme from Final Fantasy (NES)

User Friendly Games Episode 2 Valkyria and D&D

Episode two where I tell you to go play Valkyria Chronicles because it is an amazing strategy RPG with beautiful graphics and detailed gameplay and storyline. Also went into how, while visually beautiful… for the most part, the sucessor Valkyria Revolution on PS4 was a disappointment.  Switching from video to tabletop, I reviewed the Dungeons and Dragons 5e book “Tales from the Yawning Portal” and D&D Beyond.
Update for those that stop here and wondered about it: D&D Beyond has grown and can be a valuable tool for DMs and players alike.

Music: Intro- Golden axe metal mix
Breaks 1 & 2- Skellige Winds by Miracle of Sound
Break 3- Nord Mead by Miracle of Sound


User Friendly Games Episode 3

Episode three, wooo more talking! I reviewed Shadow Tactics: Blade of the Shogun (PS4), Agents of Mayhem (PS4) and the Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting by Mathew Mercer for D&D 5e. I also reviewed the Razer Diamondback Chroma I purchased to replace my Diamondback 3g. But there is a bit of an update on this coming in the next few weeks as I deal with Razer Customer Support.

Music: Intro- Tech Noir by GUNSHIP
Break 1 (I forgot and misplaced the list, update when I find it.)
Break 2: One Shot at Glory by Judas Priest
Break 3: The Path by Miracle of Sound (If you haven’t figured it out by now, i really love his songs based on The Witcher series :3 )

User Friendly Games Episode 4 Starfinder

Episode four, where I say I’m changing my format, but still struggle to do so. I reviewed Starfinder and the resource Alien Archive from Paizo Publishing.

Music:Intro- Final Frontier by Iron Maiden
Break 1- Goblin King of the Darksun Galaxy by Gloryhammer
Break 2 and outro- Universe on Fire by Gloryhammer

User Friendly Games presents: The Witch is Dead, a game by Grant Howitt

Long episode where I lead the crew of User Friendly through a game of The Witch is Dead by Grant Howitt. check his work out at

Music: Lullaby by Nox Arcana

User Friendly Games Episode 5 D&D 5e Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

A quick review of the first released finals of the Unearthed Arcana playtests and a wealth of resources for D&D 5e.

Music: Halfling Camp Cover by Looloobug01

User Friendly Games Episode 6 Interview and Review of Triten Gaming System

I interviewed the creator of the Triten Gaming System and gave my experience with it. Check it out here.

Music: The Call by Miracle of Sound

User Friendly Games Episode 7 Pathfinder: Ultimate Wilderness and Battle Chasers: Nightwar

Review of Pathfinder resource: Ultimate Wilderness and the Rpg based on an unfinished comic book series that has found new life as a game, Battle Chasers: Nightwar (PS4)

Music: Force of Nature by Miracle of Sound

User Friendly Games Episode 8 Starfinder: Dead Suns campaign and Pathfinder: Ruins of Azlant Campaign as well as Monster Hunter World (PS4)

reviewed the first 3 books of “Dead Suns” and the first five books of “Ruins of Azlant” campaigns are not easy to review. Monster Hunter World(PS4)a game about the grind, with some server issues that are annoying. yes… when i recorded this I had played 213+ hours.

Music: intro- Birthday by Cruxshadows
Break- Graveyard of Dreams by Arch Enemy