A hastily-written scrawl with some vague remarks about games, Pathfinder, and the Glass Cannon Network.

Pathfinder? - April 2024 Part 2

1,693 words.

Pathfinder? - April 2024 Part 2

Well, well, it’s the day before publication date, and I’m just now creating a blank document to write a post. I haven’t done that in a while. I usually create a blank document early in the cycle and jot down a sentence or paragraph here and there over the weeks.

That means I don’t really have anything to say, and I don’t feel like writing, and I don’t feel like letting the world see any part of my life. Other bloggers push through this feeling and post anyway, because they’re hungry up-and-comers and/or respectable writers, hoping to break through into the big leagues to make that sweet, sweet blogging money.

Me? Not so much. I wonder what’s the point of blogging quite regularly. How does this in any way enrich my life? Mostly it just reminds me over and over that I frequently transpose words in my brain without noticing, and the blurry, dim spot in the middle of my field of vision from the cataract in my left eye is growing more annoying every day.


Anyway, last time I was talking about Dragon’s Dogma 2. I quickly tired of it and haven’t played it much since then. I find that it lacks momentum. It’s very much a “wander around aimlessly” sort of game, which isn’t really my jam.

I tried a handful of PS5 games to play while listening to podcasts or actual play shows on YouTube. I got something called Teardown, which is fun for idle hands. Wreckfest was another recent buy. Running cars into one another is quite fun and perfect for podcasts. I even got Minecraft, but I keep getting killed on the first night. I got Stellaris but it’s far too complicated to play while listening to a show.

Oh, after the Fallout show I got Fallout 76 on Steam in the big Fallout franchise sale. It stinks. It has other people in it, so I stopped playing as soon as I walked outside the first vault.

In a nutshell, I haven’t played much of anything noteworthy lately.

Media Production

Haven’t recorded anything in a while either, so my channel is going to run out of mediocre content pretty soon.

I keep trying to think of something to make out of playing TTRPG adventures solo. But–and I think I mentioned this before–almost 100% of the “play TTRPG solo” products out there have you playing as the player, which becomes essentially a choose your own adventure, which I find dull. I’d rather play solo as the gamemaster running NPC players. Not much out there for that.

But I found a web site that generates random dungeons, which was pretty cool, so I thought that might be a fun project. Can three or four NPC players survive to the end of a random dungeon populated with random monsters? Probably a dumb idea. Although it has a nice rogue-like feel to it. I thought I could use it to try out the Pathfinder system and see just how painful combat actually is.

The point is that my media production is in a state of idleness.


When I say “television” I mean not actually a television. I almost never watch something on a television anymore. (I watched one or two of the Fallout episodes on a television. That was the most recent usage.) To me, television means “produced video content,” which could include live streaming content, but only something professionally produced like a Critical Role (which isn’t live anymore).

I’m still watching Taskmaster Series 17 on YouTube, the best game show in production. This series of players isn’t really clicking with me, though.

I keep forgetting to mention that I watch shows on Dropout.tv with somewhat regular frequency, not just Dimension 20. Um, Actually, Game Changer, stuff like that. Their site is always open in a tab. (I don’t much like Very Important People or the new Smartypants though. They’re funny ideas, but they aren’t funny enough for a half-hour show format.)

Otherwise, I’ve fallen into a rabbit hole with the Glass Cannon Podcast Network, which was new to me. It started when I watched the one season of Faster, Purple Worm! Kill! Kill! on Plex (I think) and one of the episodes was a whole cast from the Glass Cannon network and I’d never heard of them before. Being a connoisseur of the top-tier Actual Play dynasties, I found that strange, so I checked them out.

Glass Cannon is a very New York-centric actual play production. Being an East Coaster myself, it’s a refreshing change of pace from the glut of West Coast shows, where they seem to live in an alien bubble that bears no resemblence to my life experience. Glass Cannon is what you would get if you took some FM morning radio DJs and had them play TTRPGs. It’s irreverent, which is great, because I’m not much into actual play shows that take themselves too seriously cough Candela Obscura cough. Glass Cannon has a pretty unique, almost late night talk show vibe, but most importantly the production quality is top-notch.

Luckily they have YouTube playlists for the more recent stuff, so I don’t have to mess with icky podcasts, which I can’t listen to except in very specific circumstances. (Usually, mowing the lawn or driving to the grocery store, which amounts to maybe an hour a week, and does not provide much opportunity to get through thousands of episodes of podcasts.)

Glass Cannon plays (exclusively?) non-D&D games, which is another thing that makes them unique. Their flagship shows are all Pathfinder, and I think they’re officially licensed. They also play things like Call of Cthulu, Delta Green, Traveller, and an assortment of TTRPGs you’ve never heard of, because you’ve probably never seen anything but D&D in the Actual Play space for the last 10 years.

Pathfinder Tangent

Glass Cannon provided my first look at actual people playing actual Pathfinder. My only previous experience with Pathfinder was Owlcat’s Pathfinder: Kingmaker video game. I found the rules in the game extremely … well, punitive. Try to stand up from prone? Oops! You took sixteen thousand attacks of opportunity from the three dogs around you and now you’re dead. Cast a spell? Oops! Another sixteen thousand attacks of opportunity and you’re dead again! Every time a PC gets knocked down in that game, the only viable strategy is to stay down, skip their turn, and hope the rest of the party can handle the rest of the encounter without them.

After watching Glass Cannon for a while, that’s apparently a feature of the system, rather than a bug. I’m developing an understanding of what kind of TTRPG player likes Pathfinder, as opposed to D&D 5th edition. And that kind of player is either a rules lawyer, or an anti-capitalist activist who hates Wizards of the Coast, or possibly both. Or possibly a podcast network who has wrangled an official sponsorship from Paizo, like Glass Cannon. Pathfinder is just rules stacked on top of rules stacked on top of other rules–a flash flood of rules all interacting with one another in unpredictable ways on every combat turn, with random “flat checks” on top of it all.

The point is, Pathfinder is a lot different vibe from D&D 5e, and I guess that’s a good thing. But it’s easy to see why all the actors gravitate toward 5e, which seems a lot more condusive to controlled storytelling.

I’m told by assuredly reliable Internet sources that Pathfinder was born when D&D 4th edition wasn’t complicated enough for the 3rd edition fans, so Pathfinder copied-and-pasted the D&D 3.5 OGL rules and called it a new game, and the world rejoiced. There’s probably more to it than that.

Besides having to track a complex set of rules, the other big difference I see in Pathfinder is that your character’s success seems far more dependent on randomness, whereas D&D revolves more around advantage and disadvantage, which tends to reduce the randomness of your character’s success.

The bottom line is that I don’t dislike Pathfinder, and I’d happily play it if anyone wanted to, it just seems to be different for the sake of being different. Especially with the new 2e Remaster, which throws out any D&D terminology that you might already be familiar with, for the sake of making it legally distinct enough to use a different license because of the (largely moot as it turned out) OGL firestorm. It seems to me that it would be a lot simpler to just play D&D 3.5 if you wanted to use a hardcore complicated rule system, instead of trying to figure out what a “xulgath” is in Pathfinder.

But I know nothing of these things, and it’s best left unremarked upon in an Internet post. People are really passionate about their hatred of Wizards of the Coast, I’ve learned, and will brook not a single bad word be said upon Pathfinder, the one true religion.

In any case, the Pathfinder 2e books are pretty. I wonder if encyclopedias would become fashionable again if they were printed as colorfully and artistically as a TTRPG hardback rulebook.

Day Job

Plodding along with Java development and occasionally some Python code. Nothing much of interest to report. Haven’t really learned anything noteworthy in a while. I get the subtle impression that there isn’t quite enough work for the number of engineers we have on the team to do at all times, which is somewhat of a challenge for the team.

World Context

I don’t know. Has anything happened lately? I remember some recent headlines suggesting that Trump is the only topic of interest in America right now because of one of those free-publicity trials he’s in. I checked the news this morning and there’s more student protests on campuses or something. I mean, for starters, American grasp of geography is apparently so bad now that they’re protesting in the wrong country. But who can keep up with the follies of youth anymore.


Hey look, I added comments again, because it was easy and free. I don't recommend writing anything that you don't want to lose, because I don't know anything about the stability of this platform.