Play Pathfinder on your computer! (Sort of)
Okay, so there isn’t a Pathfinder computer game yet. I know there is an MMO coming out, but that isn’t for a while yet.
Besides, there are several games already out there that I think already scratch the itch, each for a different reason.
And personally, I like the story and immersion that a single-player computer RPG can provide.
Remember that Pathfinder RPG is a revision of Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition, which was released in 2000. So a bunch of games that are for “D&D” (before 4th Edition came out in 2008) actually have rules VERY similar to Pathfinder’s.
Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2
If you’re looking for a Pathfinder-like game that is easy to learn and with decent action, check out Neverwinter Nights. It was super-popular when it first came out in 2002, and it has a sequel Neverwinter Nights 2. Its graphics aren’t nearly as good as today’s games, but you still get to be any one of the 11 core classes and 7 core races. It is based on D&D 3.0 rules, so you’ll want to read the descriptions to catch the differences from Pathfinder.
Also, the game lets you create your own dungeons and adventures. There is a thriving fan community out there of people creating their own content, some of which many say are better than what is in the original game.
The downside (for me at least, maybe not for you) is that it is an ACTION game, and remember that D&D and Pathfinder are based on everyone acting only on their own turn. This means that NWN acts in real-time, so it’s a very different experience and not as tactical as tabletop D&D/Pathfinder. However, you get to pause the action at any time and choose your actions if you want to have more tactics in your game. Also, NWN 1 only lets you have one character, and NWN 2 lets you have 4 characters.
Temple of Elemental Evil
This, I think, is the closest thing to playing a Pathfinder game on a tabletop in a computer game with nice graphics. It is based on a classic adventure module from Gary Gygax, and you get to create a whole party of up to 5 PCs, and once battle starts the computer rolls initiative and everyone acts on their own turn. You have the complete range of combat options that were present in D&D 3.5 (you can grapple, trip, ready actions, etc.), and so it is very tactically complex. The graphics are also really good even by today’s standards. You can raise your characters up to 10th level.
If you download Temple of Elemental Evil, make sure to check out the Council of Eight website, where fans have created patches that fix bugs in the game and also (optionally if you want it) expand a lot of the game’s content, and you can reach 20th level!
Knights of the Chalice
Personally, what I think is the most FUN tactical D&D/Pathfinder-like game out there is Knights of the Chalice. Sure, its graphics make it look over 20 years old and you can have a party of only 4 characters and you’re limited to 3 classes (fighter, mage, and cleric) and 3 races, but the game is FAST and VERY CHALLENGING. This game is the most fun for reasons that are hard to describe. First, you have what seems like the full range of tactical options you get in D&D/Pathfinder, and there 175 magic spells. You can use metamagic feats. The encounters are all unique and challenging in their own way. The AI is very smart in the battles and will do things like attack your spellcaster, or use metamagic to maximise its fireball spells. You will be doing a lot of thinking and planning in this game because the game doesn’t let you rest for long periods of time, and you will want to conserve your spells and other resources. You can also craft magic items (yay!).
You can get Knights of the Chalice at the company’s website, which also includes a free demo adventure so you can check it out.
Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2
I end with what many computer RPG enthusiasts agree are the best computer RPG of all time, Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2. It is made by the same company that later produced the Dragon Age series. However, they are based on the SECOND edition of what is now called D&D, and there are a lot of differences in the rules. HOWEVER, you will not be very lost when playing this game if you read the descriptions of classes and abilities onscreen.
It is well-loved because of its epic story that takes you from a lowly Level 1 character who is alone, finding out your own interesting backstory, finding friends and allies to join your party, and becoming a near-godlike figure at the very end of the series when you are pushing levels beyond 20. The villains are memorable, and he NPCs you get to join your party all have personalities, you get talk with them, and many of them come with their own sidequests. The world is very open-ended — you can stumble upon a sidequest and pursue that, or take a break from the main quest and run your own castle or thieves’ guild!
The action is a pause-and-play style, so it’s not turn-based and things go on simultaneously. But you can have a party of characters have nearly all of the options that are available to 2nd edition D&D tabletop characters.
This game is kind of required for people who like to play computer RPGs and like story. I played Dragon Age and liked it a lot, but it wasn’t as big or complex as Baldur’s Gate, so check this one out!
There is now a Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition that basically applies the Baldur’s Gate 2 engine (with its full range of “class kits” and interface improvements) to the Baldur’s Gate 1 game. I have not tried it myself — instead, I had the original Baldur’s Gate 1 and Baldur’s Gate 2 from Good Old Games, and applied free fan mods that are out there that make many of these same improvements, AND let you play the epic story of Baldur’s Gate 2 (which most say is an improvement even on the original). And that’s over a hundred hours of gameplay for a lower price than today’s games.
That’s it! Do me a favor — if you play one of these, let me know what you think!