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The Incredible Shrinking Pathfinder Core Rulebook

Sometimes you fall into one of those nerd spirals. You hear one thing, which makes you look up another thing and before you know it, you want to go deep on something that is totally new to you. Pathfinder has been a bit like that for me.

I knecore-rulebookw of Pathfinder as a role playing game and some of its history as a spinoff of Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 thanks to Clave. So, that intrigued me. As a former D&Der who has recently come back to the game, I was curious about those rules, as D&D 3.5 rules were/are dense. When you add in the fun I have had listening to the Glass Cannon Podcast, where they are live playing Pathfinder on their podcast, it intrigued me even more. I wanted to understand the rules and consider finding a Pathfinder game I could be a part of.

Thankfully, Pathfinder has an excellent Core Rulebook. Even more some, they have recently released the Core Rulebook in a compact, pocket edition size. And, to me, if you are interested in Pathfinder, it is completely worth it.

The Core Rulebook essentially has all the materials that you would think of being necessary to start an Pathfinder game. There are the core races and classes, and good definitions of each. It has a guided character design section, which is excellent when you are trying to create your first character and manage all the new rules dynamics involved. For players, this is a great first investment if you are delving into the world of the table top game.

Additionally, the Core Rulebook also has many of the things that you would typically find in a Dungeon Master’s guide, especially over the last 4 chapters. Where it would be an easy and cheap ploy to have a group have to buy at least 2 books (Player’s Guide and Dungeon Master’s Guide), Paizo has put them all in one nearly 600 page volume. But as you can imagine, the normal size volume is massive and carrying it around to all the places you game is a chore.

Which is why Paizo introduced the pocket size version of the Core Rulebook. To be clear, this is all of the information, pages, art, etc. of the regular sized Core Rulebook. But it has been shrunk into a format core-rulebooks-size-comparisonthat is a little bigger than a half a sheet of regular printer paper. The text in the inside of the book is smaller, and I could imagine harder to read on older eyes. But that said, this volume serves a variety of purposes:

It is a paperback. A well put together paperback but a paperback nonetheless. When you are constantly having to look up rules, feats, and other explanations, you need a book that can take that kind of reuse. My experience with the larger, hard bound copies of RPG books is that they are pretty to look at but they don’t hold up to the repeated use you need them to during a campaign. This book is a great as it just feels like a book that can and should be used all the time.

It is a portable size. Yes, it is packed and dense but it is a perfect size to carry to your game. Whether you are throwing it in with all your dice and character sheets in a bag or carrying it around, it doesn’t feel so overwhelmingly large that it is hard to manage.

It is beautifully put together. It is full color for the most art, on high quality, glossy pages that are going to withstand the use by Stan, the guy in your group that never remembers to get the Cheetos gunk off his hand before using your book. This book will clean up well and take a beating while still being pretty to look att.

It is a tremendous value. As I said, you are getting a 600 page in one compact volume. That alone is a bargain. That Paizo has done it in a volume that is just $25 list is amazing. (And routinely, it can be found online for less than $20.) It feels like they recognize that they want to make the entry point into the Pathfinder world to be reasonable, knowing that if you get hooked, they have many, many other products out there for you to invest more time and money into.
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[Disclosure: Paizo provided Nerds on Earth with a complementary copy of the Pathfinder Core Rulebook Pocket Edition for review.]

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