Now for the physical product. There are a number of extras in the box that I figured would be useful to me no matter what. Extra battle mat, cardboard miniatures, set of dice. The miniatures especially will helpful as I am still running my 4E-derived game, and my players love their tactical combats. They are heavy enough to feel like they won’t be falling over all the time during play, unlike anything I would be able to print out and make on my own. These were popular enough that Paizo is planning to release a standalone Bestiary Box this summer. The only downside is they did not include as many bases as minis, so you have to swap the bases around, which I imagine might wear out the cardstock after a while.
The box itself is very nice, and I don’t mean the cover art (though that is good too). It feels very sturdy, and is quite deep without being bulky. I might even start using it to transport my gaming materials as I have been trying to reduce the quantity of stuff that I bring to sessions. I like making arbitrary rules, so I give you THE PATHFINDER BEGINNER BOX RULE: everything needed for a gaming session must fit inside the Beginner Box such that it closes entirely. This includes notes, dice, campaign notebook, miniatures, writing implement, etc. It could easily fit a set of hardcover D&D core books in terms of the depth, but for some reason the dimensions are such that it is a bit too small (even for Pathfinder-branded hardcovers, which seems like a strange design decision).
If I was going to buy an intro RPG product for someone, and I thought they could handle it, I would buy them the LotFP Grindhouse Edition. The Pathfinder Beginner Box would be my second choice, I think, despite the risk of embedding the combat grid in a new player’s consciousness.
“They are heavy enough to feel like they won’t be falling over all the time during play, unlike anything I would be able to print out and make on my own.”
If you have a look at the early days of my blog, I have a post about making upright tokens that are quite solid, more so than the ones in the PFBB box, using wood pieces that you can find at your local craft store like Michael’s or AC Moore.
For future reference, I believe this is the post:
The standup wooden ones look really nice.
I tried the PFBB miniatures in my game tonight, and they worked out okay. They are all the same shape, which can make them a bit hard to tell apart. Also, if you are using more than one of the same kind of monster, keeping track of which is which (HP remaining, etc) can be a bit confusing. In the past I used extra red dice, with the number facing up tracking the monster in question.
I have all my miniatures numbered to make it easy to keep track of individual monster hp. Michael’s (again) has sets of little number decals that are small enough to fit onto the base, and look much cleaner than writing numbers by hand.