Paizo Publishing, former publisher of Dragon and Dungeon and the company behind the Pathfinder d20 product line, announced today its plan to produce the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, due to release August 2009. Perhaps more significant was the company’s decision to stick with the D&D 3.5 ruleset as its foundation. Paizo intends for the game to be “designed with backward compatibility as one of its primary goals, so players will continue to enjoy their lifelong fantasy gaming hobby without invalidating their entire game library.” This move could be designed to help Paizo absorb any D&D fans who end up dissatisfied with 4th Edition once it arrives, and additional thunder-stealing is on the horizon – Paizo already has a free 65-page preview PDF available, and plans to release a full-color softcover Pathfinder RPG Beta release book this August for $24.99.
Multiple announcements accompanied the press release (below), including a statement from Paizo CEO Lisa Stevens. Stevens elaborated on the decision to stick with 3.5: “After careful evaluation of our options, we believe that the 3.5 core will continue to be the best system to tell the stories we’ve got planned for Pathfinder. […] We’re sure that lots of roleplayers are going to be thrilled with Wizards of the Coast’s upcoming 4th Edition, and we’re also looking forward to the 4th Edition products that our partner Necromancer Games will be creating. Paizo may also publish 4th Edition products in the future, but if we do, they won’t cross over with our Pathfinder products.”
Paizo publisher Erik Mona cut right to the heart of the matter in his statement: “Basing the Pathfinder RPG on 3.5 also allows Paizo more control over our destiny than simply following along with the latest edition and the newest licensing changes.” Beyond merely taking control of its ruleset, Paizo may be establishing an in-print system that other publishers can adapt for their needs. Interesting developments in the D&D upgrade shake-out, to be sure.
[UPDATE: A follow-up press release, added here, states the free Pathfinder Alpha PDF has already been downloaded 10,000 times]
Paizo press release follows:
Paizo PublishingÂ® Announces the Pathfinder RPGâ„¢
Pathfinderâ„¢ to continue under the 3.5 rules.
March 18, 2008 (BELLEVUE, Wash.) â€“ Paizo Publishing today unveiled the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, a tabletop fantasy roleplaying game that will serve as the anchor for the companyâ€™s popular line of Pathfinder adventures, sourcebooks, and campaigns. Today marks the beginning of a year-long open playtest of the new rules, which are based upon the popular 3.5 rules available under the Open Game License. The Pathfinder RPG is designed with backward compatibility as one of its primary goals, so players will continue to enjoy their lifelong fantasy gaming hobby without invalidating their entire game library. The first Pathfinder RPG Alpha release is available now as a free 65-page PDF download at paizo.com/pathfinderRPG. Until the finished Pathfinder RPGs release as a hardcover rulebook in August 2009, all of Paizoâ€™s popular Pathfinder-brand products will continue under the current 3.5 rules set.
“Iâ€™m really excited to work with the playtesters to make this the best game possible,” said Jason Bulmahn, Paizoâ€™s Lead Designer. “In the spirit of the Open Game movement, the Pathfinder RPG is really your roleplaying game. Itâ€™s a huge thrill to get to lead the design process.”
Paizo will issue additional Pathfinder RPG Alpha releases in the coming months, covering new changes and additions to the 3.5 rules. Gamers can download, read, and participate in the free open playtest by setting up a paizo.com account and joining the discussion with Paizoâ€™s design staff at paizo.com/pathfinderRPG. The Pathfinder RPG will be backward-compatible with the 3.5 rules, and the staff has kept this goal as a primary focus since design began in 2007.
This coming August, Paizo will release a massive, full-color, softcover Pathfinder RPG Beta release for $24.99. This book will be available on paizo.com, at Gen Con, as well as through hobby distribution at local game stores. Just like the Alpha releases, the Beta release will be available as a free PDF download on paizo.com. As Wizards of the Coastâ€™s core 3.5 rulebooks are expected to go out of print with the release of 4th Edition, Paizo will use the Pathfinder RPG as a replacement for the 3.5 core rules. The Pathfinder RPG Beta release will represent Paizoâ€™s first published take on an updated 3.5 system, and playtesting will continue through spring 2009, when Paizo will incorporate the open playtest feedback and create a hardcover Pathfinder RPG for release in the hobby trade, bookstores, and paizo.com in August 2009.
Paizo hopes to support 4th Edition with fan-created online conversions of its Pathfinder products and a complete line from its partner company, Necromancer Games, a trend-setter in the original Open Gaming movement. Necromancer has already announced a new 4th Edition version of their award-winning Tome of Horrors monster encyclopedia, and has plans for additional player and GM support products.
Today, Paizo also announced the hiring of Nicolas Logue to run the Pathfinder Society organized play campaign, a massive mega-campaign to launch at this yearâ€™s Gen Con. The Pathfinder Society will feature events at major conventions, retail stores, and home play as a way to involve thousands of players in a constantly evolving campaign environment fueled by downloadable scenarios released by Paizo. Nicolas Logue is a long-time Paizo contributor to the print versions of Dragon and Dungeon as well as the Pathfinder Adventure Paths and Pathfinder Modules line. He also co-runs an annual competition at Gen Con called Iron DM that will continue to be co-run by Nicolas Logue and his Iron DM compatriots. Nick begins working at Paizo in April.
“Nicolas Logue is one of the most energetic, personable gamers I have ever met,” said Erik Mona, Paizoâ€™s Publisher and the co-founder during his tenure at Wizards of the Coast of Living Greyhawk, the largest organized play RPG campaign in history. “Running a successful organized play campaign involves a magical combination of cool ideas, organizational skills, and enthusiasm. Nick is absolutely the perfect man for the job, and Iâ€™m thrilled that he will be joining us here at Paizo.”
Additional information on the Pathfinder Society campaign can be found at paizo.com/pathfindersociety.
ABOUT PAIZO PUBLISHING
Paizo PublishingÂ®, LLC is a leading publisher of fantasy roleplaying games, accessories, board games, and novels. Paizoâ€™s Pathfinderâ„¢ line of adventures and Pathfinder Chroniclesâ„¢ campaign setting support materials combines decades of game design experience into one evocative system compatible with the 3.5 rules. Paizo’s GameMasteryâ„¢ line offers easy-to-use tools for game masters of any fantasy roleplaying game to improve their gaming experience. Titanic Gamesâ„¢, Paizo’s board game imprint, unleashes fun, challenging games like Kill Doctor Luckyâ„¢ and Yetisburgâ„¢ that appeal to both families and casual gamers alike. Paizo’s Planet Storiesâ„¢ line of science fiction and fantasy novel reprints promises a master class in the genre aimed at building the greatest fantasy and science fiction library ever assembled. Paizo.com is the leading online hobby retail store, offering tens of thousands of products from a variety of publishers to customers all over the world. In the five years since its founding, Paizo Publishing has received more than a dozen major awards and has grown to become one of the most influential companies in the hobby games industry.
Other announcements were made regarding the Pathfinder RPG at http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG.