Paizo Publishing recently completed the second round of playtests for their upcoming release Ultimate Combat, the latest in their successful Pathfinder line. Featured in the playtest is the Gunslinger, a new class based around the firearm rules featured in the Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea World Guide, released last month.
With this round of playtests finished, there is still a lot of division amongst contributors to the Paizo forums concerning the new mechanics introduced for the Gunslinger. Many are unhappy with the developers’ attempts to emulate realism, seeing the firearm rules as an (some would suggest erroneous) example in which efforts to create believable results upsets the balance of the game.
The topic of the most heated discussion is a rule already in print in the Inner Sea World Guide that resolves some attacks made with firearms against the touch AC of the target (in other words, allowing bullets to negate armor worn by opposing characters and creatures). Despite developer commentary affirming that firearm rules were not a part of the playtest, and that the new firearm mechanics are effectively set in stone, passionate debate over the issue continued through the end of the playtest period.
Paizo Publishing has been using these kinds of playtests since the inception of Pathfinder as its own game system. In general, the ability to provide feedback, both in the form of detailed accounts of actual play and intuitive ‘armchair design’, has been an attractive policy for those who favor the material.
In the first round of playtesting, two ‘alternate classes’ were also featured: the Ninja and the Samurai. Only the Gunslinger made it to the second round.
It seems that contributors to the playtest have failed to reach any consensus concerning the class. Class features such as the new ‘grit’ mechanic, as well as ‘deeds’ which make up the bulk of the Gunslinger’s arsenal were found by many posters to be underpowered, mechanically flawed, or lacking in flavor appropriate to a fantasy roleplaying game.
The truth is that while there are clearly those who appreciate and accept the new class, a very loud portion of those on the forums are clearly dissatisfied. Paizo’s response to this dissatisfaction is yet to be seen.
Ultimate Combat is expected to be available for preorder from Paizo’s website in August 2011. To see the playtest forums, and for more information, visit www.paizo.com.