Wednesday, March 2, 2011

SORD PF: The Pathfinder rules in a nutshell (or at least a PDF)

I recently heard about the "SORD" from the Know Direction Pathfinder podcast; a single reference containing all the rules of Pathfinder, stripped of pretty pictures, flavor text and other crunchless data bits.

I immediately sped over to DrivethruRPG site and purchased it. Hving downloaded it and had a chance to peruse it, I am ready to submit my judgment...

I like it. Go buy it now.

What? I need to qualify that? (Geez what a pain, life would be so much simpler if everyone just did what I told them...)

OK fine. The primary justification for this sort of publication is convenience. It's much more convenient to flip through a 40 page document than it is a 400 page document. When I'm looking up the rules for a combat maneuver or a special condition, I spend less time riffling through pages of off-topic text using the SORD.

Towards the end of making the rules more navigable, subjects are organized in such a way that all the information for a particular subset of rules can generally be found on a single page, at least wherever possible. This means you won't be scrambling back and forth between both sides of a page or piecing together sub-rules from across a 5 page section. That's good stuff, ladies and gentlemen.

That being said, flipping through a 40 page document is less convenient than flipping through, say, a 10 page document. However, the SORD is broken into sections. If you take a look at the table of contents, you will see that the sections are written in functional order, starting with a Combat Round section which covers the surprise round, normal combat rounds and actions, as well as Attacks of Opportunity. Subsequent sections are Initiative, Ready and Delay Actions, Actions, Attack Actions, and so on. It also puts all the Combat Maneuvers together.

It's worth pointing out that the largest sections are the Skill-based sections, which list the kinds of things you can do with skills as well as generic lists of options, typical tasks and DCs, modifiers and so on. Skills take up 12 pages alone. The core mechanics for combat and all the basic extensions (spell-like abilities, attacks of opportunity and combat maneuvers, as a few quick examples) account for perhaps another 12 pages.

The remainder of the "book" cover things like equipment, breaking things, poison, and many other things you probably won't have to reference every game. Overall, Myth Merchants has done a very good job of putting together a concise rules compendium that covers almost every aspect of the Pathfinder combat round.

Now. Go buy it.

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