I, like many other fans of 3rd edition D&D (3e - Pathfinder), have been eagerly awaiting the release of the Pathfinder RPG core book, but I can't help wondering exactly why we are so looking forward to this rules revision.
Granted many of the "broken" mechanics in 3.x are to be resolved in the PfRPG and the rules set as a whole is expected, given what we've seen in the beta, to be better. However, the game is only a tweaked version of 3.x and Paizo has stated that it is intended to keep the books we already have useful. Which is what 3.x fans want.
Most of us have house ruled the broken parts of 3.x to the point it is "better" than the original, at least in terms of how we play individually with our groups. We all have tons of books to reference and years of familiarity with the system and our house rules. The thing that kind of puzzles me, and I'm as guilty of it as anyone else, is if we all want to keep playing 3.x why do we need a new revision and more books? Why don't we stick with the current version and the house rules we've come up with? Also if Paizo is making Pathfinder compatible with the books we already own, what is our motivation to buy anything other than their Core Book, the Beastiary and maybe the GM guide?
Here are some of my "theories" regarding these questions:
1. We love Paizo and want to support them. They made great material for 3.x and we are confident that if D&D can be fixed, they can do it much better than WotC. I think it comes down to a "stick it to the man/evil corporation that royally pissed us off" type of mentality. We want Paizo to succeed and WotC to fail out of some motivation to prove that we were "right" and WotC was wrong. Then when Paizo steps in to buy the D&D brand all will be better again... at least that is how some seem to imagine it happening. I'm not saying I'm one of them but I can't deny that the thought has crossed my mind. Of course it will never happen.
2. We want an official "fixed" version of the game. Our house rules may be great, but we want something that comes from professional game designers. This actually seems like the most likely reason and my primary motivation for buying Pathfinder. I like their version better than my house ruled version.
3. We've come to enjoy and think of 3.x as the true/best version of D&D and dismiss 4e. I know that 4e is the official version of D&D, but when I play the game, which I happen to like, it doesn't feel like D&D to me. It is a really good game on its own, but it just doesn't feel right to me personally. I have no better explanation than that. It is a matter of personal preference.
4. WotC has just pissed us(me)off too many times. Which could have some influence on how 4e is perceived by fans. A lot of people can forgive and forget, but I and many other still hold a grudge for the attitude that WotC has had as well as some of their actions over the past few years. While they are both companies whose goal is to sell product and turn a profit, Paizo seems much more customer oriented and fan friendly. Paizo staff actually post and interact with fans on the message boards on a regular basis. They seem to actually listen to what fans have to say about their products. They released the core rules beta, a nearly 500 page book, for everyone to download for free! How could you not like them?
5. Paizo seems to have a better track record of getting product out when they say and so far hasn't promoted anything that they can't deliver.
6. All during the 3.x era Paizo put out some damn good D&D content. Most of it was better (IMO) than what the WotC team put out. Of course this can be said of several other companies as well,but Paizo is the one that decided to keep 3.x alive. We/I trust them to continue that tradition.
7. We like buying new books. As loyal fans of 3.x we want to keep using our current books and system, but we want new books to add to our library with updated info. Paizo is making this happen.
On a bit of a side note, if we want the 3rd edition rules to stay strong, that means buying more new books. Paizo wouldn't release this product unless they expected fans to buy the products that support it. That means we will be expected to buy the settings, sourcebooks and subscriptions to Paizo's Pathfinder line of products.
Granted Paizo gives us good reason to buy those supporting products, but when you think about it, many of the complaints we had with 4e, such as buying new books are made moot. We will be doing exactly what we complained about in the first place. The only difference being it is the same system, just revised... even though it is technically a completely different game.
PfRPG is different enough that it can stand on its own with out every 3.x book that has been released thus far, but it is made to be compatible with what we already have. So it is possible that those of us cheering that our library of books will not be made obsolete, will only end up with an even larger library much of which is likely to be "revised" versions of books we already own. Which, unless I missed something, still ends up making the books we own "obsolete". If we don't buy new products 3.x will die off and become another old system that is only supported by fans and maybe some smaller publishers. This has kind of created a vicious cycle.
If we don't buy the new books, the system is likely to fail. Yet the fact it is compatible with the books we already own, thus not requiring the purchase of new books, is the reason so many of us like Pathfinder. If we don't buy the new stuff, 3.x dies (in the sense that no new products are being released) and if we do we just end up replacing what we already own anyway.... ad nauseum.
I still plan on buying and supporting Pathfinder, but I did kind of think all of this was odd when looked at from a different perspective. I don't begrudge and won't belittle anyone who chooses 4e as their default fantasy setting anymore than I would someone for choosing Spirit of the Century over Hollow Earth Expedition for pulp games, but I can kind of see the hypocrisy in it all.
It is all a matter of personal choice and nothing more.
*** Update: I have seen on the Paizo message boards that, according to Eric Mona, Paizo plans to release 2-3 sourcebooks for Pathfinder each year. Not 6-10, but 2-3. Of course there will still be their modules and adventure paths for those that want to buy/subscribe to them, but fewer actual sorcebooks will be released in an attemtp to control rules bloating.***
By the way I don't know if this is current or if I missed this at some earlier date or just forgot about it but I found a page with a pdf deal from Paizo. If you enter "PDFLove" at check out when purchasing a pdf @ Paizo's store you get 35% off your purchase. If it is old and I forgot about it, the deal may have expired, if not then I may be buying some new pdfs.
35% off deal.
Here is what I can only assume is an April Fools joke from Paizo about the d21 system. Some how I missed it until tonight.