Does Pathfinder hate it’s players?

Because there’s a big chunk of the GameMastery Guide that rankles me. It appears the Viking Hat is alive and well in Paizo world. It’s part of the chapter on PCs and it’s subtitled Player Interactions. It’s basically a list of player types and how to accommodate them at your table. This is all well and dandy. I loved the typology in Robin’s Laws which was largely repeated in the DMGs for the last couple of editions. So I was interested to see if there were any new spins I’d not encountered before. There certainly were, and they are (in full); 


Continuity expert




Glass jaw



One-trick pony

Multitask master

Power gamer

Rules lawyer



Check that out. A list of flippant dismissals. Pretty much every one is meant as a pejorative. There’s a preamble that says “all of these different personalities make a campaign better” yet the following sections go to lengths to talk up the issues that these bring to the table.  Frankly, I think you reap what you sow, and if you have a table of players that you’re happy to classify in terms like lump, tagalong and loner, then your game is beyond all help. What I find astonishing is how the authors can’t bring themselves to add in personality types such as roleplayer, or gamist, or tinkerer, or optimiser or other such non-insulting terms. At least the text has the good sense to advise;

Recognise that labels can be a negative, and that you shouldn’t casually assign one of these personality types to a player, nor even mention your mental designations unless you’re sure the player will take it with grace and not see it as dismissal or name calling.

No shit. I suspect even the Dalai Lama would balk at calling his players lumps.

Maybe this would be ok if the section was titled ‘problem players’ or some such. Frankly, I’d be all for it, as forums are rammed with free advice on the very subject. But no, instead GMs are encouraged to pigeon hole their players, in the worst possible light, but shssssh! don’t tell anyone!




Filed under RPG

4 responses to “Does Pathfinder hate it’s players?

  1. Spiralbound

    I just received this book as a gift and have begun reading my way through it. I haven’t read that part yet, but I’m not terribly surprised. The opening chapter so far is filled with a lot of banal truisms – it’s like reading a rehashing of an overly generic GM advice blog; 3rd & 4th hand reiterations of concepts originally written 30 years ago…

    I had been hoping that the book would start adding some useful and well thought out actual content soon, but now after reading your comments, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll want to read their content when it does arrive? I thought that this game was supposed to be really good? How did this book get past the editors?

  2. This is one of those things I think the 4e DMG got right: It simply listed a collection of (fairly common) player types, with ways they WILL help your game… and ways they won’t. Even the Power Gamer and Slayer (more commonly known as the Combat Monster), two archetypes that are usually listed as being giant red flags in nearly every GM advice chapter I’ve ever read, are treated elegantly there; You’re simply warned not to let them get out of hand.

    Though… What’s a Viking Hat?

    • Ah yes, the viking hat. Its what a certain type of GM wears. You know the sort, “my way or the highway”,”rocks fall, everyone dies”,”and then you get arrested and imprisoned”. The GM who acts like its all about him and his game all the time and the players exist merely as fodder for his meglomania.

      I’d be amazed if its not on TV Tropes (but I’m not looking as it devours your day!)

      • Ahahaha. I figured as much.

        There’s one… Well, two things I dislike about Paizo.

        The first is their tendency to favor dark fantasy. The works of Nicholas Louge, among others, seemed to force a shift that took them away from orcish hordes and kidnapped maidens to dismembered corpses and mutilated, tortured victims. I got very used to being called “kiddy” for not liking them (though, to be fair, never by a Paizo staff member)…

        The second is their tendency to now and again favor the so-called “Gygaxian” style, to bow to the kludgier, gamier, more troublesome aspects of the hobby. To, indeed, now and then put on the Viking Hat. You should have seen their Maure Castle floors: Nearly indecipherable puzzles. Almost unavoidable traps. Insane encounters. Good God almighty.

        Don’t get me wrong, I still love Paizo and I will continue to use their products. But sometimes, like now, they leave me scratching my head…

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