#RPGaDay 24

Day 24 — Most Complicated RPG Owned

This one’s a toss-up between two different versions of Dungeons & Dragons: AD&D and Pathfinder.

AD&D stands atop this category because its various systems, subsystems, and rules arcana made it pretty much impossible to play without constant reference to the rulebooks, frequent interruptions to look things up, and a strong sense that every time you tried to accomplish something task-based, you were pausing your main D&D game and starting up a mini-game to resolve whatever needed to be done. (The fact that the game was awesome in spite of all that speaks volumes to the power of the underlying paradigms, I think.)

Pathfinder is an honorable mention here because Paizo Publishing has done such a phenomenal job of building a new game on top of D&D v3.5 — but in the course of making sure the original core of v3.5 was kept intact, everything that’s been added to it has increased the complexity of possibility in the game. All the core Pathfinder expansion material (and much of the third-party expansion material) is excellent. But taken as a whole, it creates such a wealth of options for play (the original classes, new classes, backgrounds, new prestige classes, alternate class features, new races, archetypes, and on and on) that it  too often and too easily leads to a kind of analysis paralysis. Especially for new players, it’s impossible to figure out what you want to do with your character because there are simply too many options.