A Beginner Box 2?

Coming out of the overwhelmingly positive response to Pathfinder’s Beginner Box has been the request among some fans for a “Beginner Box 2,” or basically a continuation of the relative simplicity of the Pathfinder rules in the Beginner Box into higher levels beyond Level 5.

An interesting question, and one that it is extremely early to ask, given that the first Beginner Box is only coming out tomorrow! But hell it’s still fun to wish and speculate. Below are my own thoughts and wishes, which I also posted on the Paizo forums:

Some of this discussion and theorizing, while interesting, is preemptive. Paizo’s gonna eat the results if a Beginner Box 2 doesn’t turn out well, and so they won’t have the luxury we have and will not decide anything without looking at some hard date, such as: the Beginner Box’s sales, the response of young people, whether there are constant stories of 14-year-olds starting with the Beginner Box and moving on to the Core Rulebook but not making sense out of it, etc., etc.

On the last point, Paizo won’t quite know until the people who are new to the game have tried it. And I’m sure Paizo is thinking about free online “intermediate” materials for just those folks.

For now, Paizo’s goal and mantra is to greatly broaden the base for the full Pathfinder RPG. I’m not talking linear growth — I’m talking mushrooming growth. What we (the current enthusiasts of the game and even of tabletop RPGs period) want is secondary: they’re trying to tap into the zeitgeist and see if they can bring in a whole flood of new younger gamers. And so they’ll look at the results and, if there’s a giant new influx of gamers, gear their business model around how to please them. In my opinion, that’s the right approach. Sure, it’s scary and it’s bold and we might see more “MMO lingo” around these forums, but it also means bringing new life to the whole genre.

And so, to the extent we’re talking about a product to support a “rules-lite” version of Pathfinder beyond Level 5, it’s probably flat-out not on Paizo’s mind unless a huge market develops (much bigger than the current Pathfinder market) around the Beginner Box that also wants to stick to “Beginner Box play”.

But to the extent we’re talking about product ideas to transition to full Pathfinder, that is much more likely (IF the reception to the Beginner Box shows there’s a market for it). My own personal wish list for such an “Expansion Box” would be: pawns for more races and classes and higher-level monsters, a decent-sized “learner’s manual” that walks you through the main subsystems of FULL Pathfinder, and perhaps with a sample adventure thrown in to introduce these concepts (flying, AoO’s, iterative attacks, two-weapon fighting, energy drain, armor check penalties, you name it). This “learner’s manual” wouldn’t need its own lists of feats and spells because its goal is teaching young people how to take in and use the Core Rulebook.

I frankly don’t see the first scenario being very likely. I think young people who start with the Beginner Box will want to see their characters grow more powerful, and they’re quite capable of taking on new challenges and don’t mind making mistakes along the way, once their interest is sparked. I think the Beginner Box sparks that interest admirably.

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About ronaldsf

Grandmaster of the Pathfinders' Guild at Martin Luther King Middle School.
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