On January 24, 2011, Paizo Publishing began open playtesting for Ultimate Combat, a sourcebook for its successful Pathfinder fantasy role-playing game (RPG). If all goes well, this hardcover book will be released August 2011.
Anyone wishing to contribute to the playtest need only download the free PDF, play with the new rules and post to the Paizo Playtest boards to say what they think.
The highlight of Ultimate Combat will be the three new classes – samurai, ninja, and gunslinger – completely worked out from levels 1 to 20.
In addition to the new classes, there will be options for all the old classes, including rules for mixing the new rules in with the old to create new archetypes, like gunmages and big game hunters (i.e.., rangers mixed with gunslingers). While the focus of the book will be on combat rules, as you might guess from the title, there will also be additional information on related topics like siege weapons and Asian arms and armor.
The inclusion of samurai and ninja doesn’t worry me, many games have done the like with some success. Gunpowder weaponry, on the other hand is usually problematic. Warhammer Fantasy is about the only other dragon-slaying type game to have firearms but there such weapons are of generally limited use, just single-shot muskets and the like, and can easily be ignored. It’s a fine line. You make the weapons too limited and they’re useless specialty items good for an adventure or two at most.
On the other hand, if they make guns too powerful, magic and swords go by the wayside. After all, there’s little difference between a bazooka and a wand of fireballs, except the former can be used by any schmo, while the wand can only be wielded by a master of the mystical arts. What’s going to happen when the swordslinger sees what a gun can do? With Paizo making a whole class around guns, being too powerful seems more likely in this case.
What separates Pathfinder from most other RPGs is the publishers are open to input before actually publishing their rules. I guess if I’m worried about it, I’d better download that PDF and play with it so I can put my 2 cents in.