Sunday, September 25, 2011

Unlikely Heroes: I'm A Lumberjack And I'm Okay

Game Date: 9/24/2011
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Adrilar (Greg): Elf Sorcerer
Davor (Ted): Half-Orc Sorcerer
Durp "Fisto" DuDerp (Cliff): Half-Elf Bard
Glynnyn (Tamara): Elf Druid
Keyanna (Chere): Half-Elf Dragonblood Sorcerer
Nishallivexiania "Vex" Corman (Matt): Half-Elf Monk
Ranell (Michael): Halfling Barbarian

The Session:
Last session ended with us preparing to tackle a room full of kobolds.  We began today's session facing the Kobold King, along with a pair of his finest guards.  The King was sitting on a giant dead centipede, wearing a stone crown.  He offered to give us the honor of being his sacrifices, but for some reason we turned him down and attacked instead.

The King cast a sleep spell which knocked out several members of our party.  On Keyanna's turn, she figured turnabout was fair play, and cast the same spell.  Her spell incapacitated the King and one of the guards, after which the battle ended pretty quickly.

Ranell put on a lot of the King's best equipment, and we proceeded down a side hall.  We found the King's consort, but she surrendered and we decided not to kill her (yet).  Down another hallway we found a sacrifice being performed.  A kobold shaman, guarded by two warriors, was ritualistically killing a couple of prisoners.  He tore the heart out of a sorceress, and was about to kill a young boy when we attacked.  After the battle, we looted the area, and found that we'd searched everywhere we knew to look.  Still no Jevra.

Ranell then slit the throat of the kobold consort before anyone could object, and we headed back to the upper levels.  We had a bit of trouble climbing back up the well, but eventually we made it (thankfully without disturbing that Forge Spurned creature).  As we entered the courtyard, Jevra came running up to us.  While we were thankful for her return, we had a bit of trouble believing her story.

Jevra had been showing off, and took the kids to see the ruins of the old orphanage.  But that area had proven too dangerous, so the kids went to the monastery instead, where they were captured by kobolds and separated.  That much of the story we already knew from the other children.  Jevra went on to tell us that she'd managed to survive by killing two kobolds and hiding.  Granted, kobolds aren't the scariest entries in the monster manual, but it still seemed an unlikely accomplishment by someone as young as Jevra.

We pressured her on it, and finally got her to admit there was something she hadn't been telling us.  As it turns out, her parents had been killed by werewolves, and Jevra herself had been bitten during the attack.  So she might be turning into a werewolf herself.  Ranell wanted to kill her right there, but we've decided to do whatever we can for her.  We knew that the local druids have been known to work with the werewolves, and we wondered if they might be able to help us.  They might not have an actual cure for lycanthropy, but at least they might know a way to help Jevra control it.

As we searched through the woods, hoping Glynnyn could find signs of druidic activity, we saw a hill giant.  We tried to hide, but several of the party members failed miserably, so we decided to try diplomacy instead.  The giant staggered as he walked, and we noticed he was crying.  We greeted him and asked him what was wrong.  The giant said that he'd been out drinking with some ogres, and had taken off his wedding ring so he could hit on some hot ogresses.  After that he must have had a lot to drink, because now he couldn't even remember where this drinking had taken place.  He was afraid to go home and face his wife without his wedding ring.

We offered to find the ring.  It wasn't difficult to track his path, and soon we found some smashed kegs and dead ogres.  His ring was easy to find, and we returned it to the giant.  He thanked us, then promptly regurgitated on Ranell and Keyanna.  He told us his name was Kardoblog, and he said that he'd remember us.  We won't hold our breath, but you never know.  Sometimes these "thorn in the paw" encounters pay off.  On our way back to town, we noticed some unusually large crows in the distance. 

We reached town just as they were getting ready to lock the gates for the night.  Once inside, we split up and started working on different tasks.  Orders of the day included baths for the puked upon, bartering for the loot-laden, inquiries of druidic activity, and lycanthropic security.  We took Jevra to the church and reported Jevra's problem.  The priestess first offered to kill Jevra with fire, but we talked her into just chaining Jevra up at night.

Over the course of the next few days, we got a few things done.  Jevra's friends gave us a tip about druids in the forest south of town.  Durp got his stone hand uncursed.  And we finally got to see the inside of the tower we're planning to rent.  It's three stories tall.  The first floor is made of stone, and the higher floors are made of wood.  There's also a basement.  The place hasn't been lived in for a while, so it's in a bad state of disrepair.  While exploring one crawlspace, we discovered the tower's trash/sewage system - several holes that drop into the lair of an Otyugh (a waste-eating monster).  The party is currently looking into hiring people to fix up the tower.  We're drawing up a floor plan that will hopefully give everyone enough room, so we can have a decent base of operations.

One morning there was a knock at our doors.  Kreed, the town's most influential citizen, wanted to see us.  We were rude to him as usual, because we don't want to end up as his lackeys.  Kreed told us that one of his lumber camps had been attacked, and many lumberjacks had been slaughtered.  While we detest being in Kreed's employ, we accepted the job due to the nobility of the mission... and the money was just too good.

Kreed sent a small army of lumberjacks with us, which we immediately deemed to be cannon fodder.  (Lumberjacks wear red shirts, right?)  He also sent his right-hand man, Payday.  Along the way, we came across a flock of large crows feeding on a dead horse.  Keyanna cast sleep on a few of them, causing the rest to fly off and start making lots of noise.  We didn't stick around.

After several hours we came across the lumber camp.  Some of the buildings were on fire.  While we stood around debating on where to look first, some of our group was struck by lightning.  We quickly ran behind some of the buildings.  It soon became apparent what had attacked the camp, as we were ambushed by kobolds.  Adrilar, already injured by the lightning, was reduced to 0 by the first kobold attack.  It seemed like a good enough cliffhanger, so we ended the session there.

Next week is WingFest, and the week after that is Nashville Zombie Walk, so there's no game until October 15th.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Unlikely Heroes: Girl Power

Game Date: 9/17/2011
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Adrilar (Greg): Elf Sorcerer
Davor (Rusty): Half-Orc Sorcerer
Durp DuDerp (Rusty): Half-Elf Bard
Glynnyn (Tamara): Elf Druid
Keyanna (Chere): Half-Elf Dragonblood Sorcerer
Nishallivexiania "Vex" Corman (Matt): Half-Elf Monk
Ranell (Michael): Halfling Barbarian
...and Jerry Mathers as "The Beaver"

The Session:
We're still exploring the cavernous sublevel of the Dwarven Monastery. The session began with us exploring a room full of stalactites.  Or possibly stalagmites.  Or stalagsprites.  I vote for stalagFreds.  Anyway, shortly after entering the room, a dark form swooped down from the ceiling.  It was a Dire Bat, who was quickly joined by two Shadows.

This encounter lasted longer than it should have, due to a lot of bad die rolls.  Adrilar went down early in the encounter, but he survived.  The Shadows could only be harmed by magic weapons, which few of us possessed.  So once the Bat was dead, those of us who couldn't assist retreated back into the hallway so the magic users/wielders could be in front.

For the record, Glynnyn killed the Dire Bat, Davor killed one Shadow, and Keyanna killed the other Shadow.  Due to the badassery shown by Glynnyn and Keyanna, we declared it to be our "Girl Power" session.  (Sorry Davor, I guess you're a girl this week.  That's what happens when you miss a session.)

We took a long rest in the stalac-whatever-filled room, and proceeded to search the rest of the level.  We found one hallway that led to a caved-in dead end.  There were a couple of dead kobolds near the cave-in, and the following was inscribed on the wall in Draconic: “Darky-dark below, and whispers soft and low. Evil lurks, its lipless mouth smirks. Do not go! Only death below!

We left this alone for now, and searched until we found last unexplored section of this level.  We were about to enter the room shown below (and Rusty was already starting to root through the Kobold minis) when something came up and we had to end the session early.

This was a short session.  One player was out, another arrived too late to play, and the game was cut short due to real life issues.  But after a couple of weeks without a game, it was still nice to get a gaming fix.  And it's really better this way, as the absent player won't have missed as much.

I hate to say this so early in the campaign, but I'm starting to get a little bored with Pathfinder.  This isn't anyone's fault; the campaign itself is great, the story is great, the DM is great, and the players are great.  It's just that I went into this wanting to try something new, and well, Pathfinder is just D&D 3.5 in a new hat.  There's nothing wrong with that, and I respect Pathfinder for keeping one of the best versions of D&D alive, and even improving it. But it's nothing I haven't played before.  I am having fun, and I do plan to stick out the campaign.  But I hope our next campaign is something very different.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dragon Age: Tabletop RPG

I've been rambling a lot lately about finding the perfect RPG for me (here), and comparing the ones I've played most so far (here).  A while back I was at The Great Escape and saw a good price on the Dragon Age roleplaying game.  I only picked it up because it was cheap, and I was looking for something to read on my trip to Dragon*Con.  I'm funny that way, when I can't get in the mood to read an actual novel, I like to read gaming books.

Reading through the Player's Guide, here's some of the things that jumped out at me:

Simplicity - The player's handbook is only 64 pages, and from what I've read it looks pretty easy to learn.  Unfortunately a few of the most important rules were found in strange places (IMO), and were hard for me to find by just flipping through.  It wasn't until I actually sat down and read it straight through that I managed to catch up on some of the basic fundamentals.  So for me, anyway, the book almost has to be read in order.

Races/Classes - There's only three races and classes in the basic set.  First you also have to pick a background, which effects which races/classes are available to you.  Players of the video game should be familiar with the selections, and already know about the limitations of the universe (for example, Dwarves can't be mages).  I'm not sure if more races or classes are available in the other books.  Of course, each class is somewhat customizable, so your warrior might not play anything like your friend's warrior.

Stats/Skills - There are eight stats: Communication, Constitution, Cunning, Dexterity, Magic, Perception, Strength, and Willpower. Instead of full stats and stat bonuses, you just have lower stats. So instead of stats ranging from 8 to 20 (with bonuses of -2 to 5), your starting stats generally range range from -2 to 4 (with the occasional 5 if the conditions are right). Your skill checks are generally done using the governing stat, but you have Focuses that give you an additional +2 to specific skills  like Leadership (Communication) and Stealth (Dexterity).  The game does ask you to roll your stats randomly, in order, so you may not end up with decent numbers for the class you wanted to play.  But you are allowed to swap one pair of stats once you're done rolling, so you at least have some level of control.

Feats - Talents are pretty much feats.  Some let you wear better armor, some improve your skills, and some improve your ability to use specific weapons.  Each class starts with one or more Talents, and you gain an additional Talent at odd-numbered levels.  Each Talent has two levels, so instead of taking a new Talent you might choose to upgrade an existing Talent from Novice to Journeyman.  For example, if you take the "Horsemanship" Talent, at first you're a Novice, and the Talent just allows you to mount a steed as a free action.  If you later upgrade Horsemanship to Journeyman, it also gives you a +2 bonus to speed when riding.

Dice - Each player needs three six-sided dice, where one is a different color than the other two.  These are the only dice used in the entire game. The odd-colored die is called the "Dragon Die", and is used for special circumstances, such as Stunts.

Stunts - When you roll doubles on your attack rolls, you get stunt points which you can immediately spend to add a little extra oomph to your attack.  Depending on how high you rolled on the Dragon Die, you can do things like hit a second target, shift, knock your target prone, disarm, change your position in the initiative order, etc. For spells, the stunt points can be spent to do things like reduce the mana cost, increase the damage, and so on.

Armor - You have both a Defense score and an Armor score.  Defense works like AC - you have to beat that number to hit the target.  Armor works like damage reduction - you subtract your armor score from whatever damage you take.

Healing - The healing system seems to be a good compromise between hardcore and video gamey.  In addition to the mage's heal spell, all players can attempt to heal other players for a few hit points (standard action, must pass ability test, heals 1d6+Cunning).  However, this heal skill can only be used once until the victim takes more damage.  You can recover a few more hit points during a 5 minute rest (5+CON+Level), but you can only do that once after every combat.  So you can't just keep taking 5 minute rests until you're full.  You can recover even more hit points with a full night's rest (10+CON+Level), which I think is a pretty good average between D&D 4e's cheese (recover everything) and Pathfinder's stinginess (1 or 2 hp per night).

Magic - Funny, I was just saying how I'd like to try a PnP RPG that worked this way.  Dragon Age uses mana points, just like most video games.  Different spells cost different amounts of points to cast, and you keep track of how many points you have left just like your hit points.  You get some mana back during a short rest, and all of it back with a long rest.  Additionally, mages also have one basic ranged spell (Arcane Lance) which uses no mana, so they're never completely without magic. 

Distance - The game measures everything in yards rather than feet.  If you use miniatures, it suggests letting each square or hex represent two yards.  This could get confusing at first, but I think I'd get used to it.

Death - There is no such thing as negative hit points.  If you hit zero, you stay at zero and are considered dying.  If no one heals you within a certain number of rounds (2+CON), you die.  I haven't come across anything about resurrection; so far it looks like death is permanent.  The good news is that everyone has the ability to heal, so if you just stay near each other, somebody should be able to heal you.

I have read a few reviews, but they vary a lot. Most were positive. Of the bad reviews, some complained it was too much like the video game, while others complained that it wasn't enough like the video game.  The reviews that weighed the game on its own merits (as opposed to comparing it to other formats) were generally the most positive.

Since I've yet to actually play the game, I can't say whether or not I recommend it yet.  I wasn't expecting much when I picked it up - it is based on a video game, after all - but now I'm actually looking forward to trying it sometime.  While there are some things in there that wouldn't be my preference, it still looks like an interesting game that should be a lot of fun to play. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Dragon*Con 2011

So, this was our second time attending Dragon*Con.  The first time was in 2008.  All we really did that time was walk around and take pictures.  We only did a couple of things that actually required our badge, and in the end decided we'd wasted our money.  Not that it wasn't worth it, it's just that our favorite parts of the trip were free, such as the parade. (2008 Facebook Pictures: Here.  Parade Video: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

Come to think of it, this is actually the fifth con we've been to, if you count Star Wars Celebrations.  We went to SW Celebration 2 in 2002, SWC 3 in 2005, GenCon Indianapolis 2007, and of course Dragon*Cons 2008 and 2011.

But Dragon*Con is our favorite.  Every year when it looms closer, we consider the following options:
1. Nope.
2. Be complete cheapskates.  Either get a cheap hotel Friday night, or just drive down very early Saturday morning.  Don't buy tickets.  Just watch the parade, walk around the hotel lobbies taking more pictures, then drive back up Saturday evening.
3. Pay, but make it worth it.  We still wouldn't pay for all three days, but whichever day we do pay for, make sure we actually attend some of the symposiums we paid for.  Come back with a couple of souvenirs.
4. Go whole hog.  Get a room in one of the actual hosting hotels, and pay for the entire weekend.

Maybe someday we'll do #4, but that plan might involve winning the lottery.  But this year we at least managed to scrape together enough for #3.

After poring over the event schedule, we decided to attend the con itself on Friday.  We attended two symposiums.  The first was Star Trek related, and was hosted by Garrett Wang (Voyager).  The second was a discussion of Doctor Who continuity.  We also bought some souvenirs at the vendor hall, walked around an art gallery, and took lots and lots of pictures (here).  On Saturday we returned to the con to watch the parade (pictures here).

It wasn't all about the con, though.  We got to visit with my cousin, and we went to the Atlanta Zoo (pics here).  We had a great time, and we're thoroughly exhausted.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

D&D 4e vs Pathfinder... in a Steel Cage!

My week off continues, and so do my ramblings.

So, I've been playing Pathfinder lately, and while I've been jotting down a few of my thoughts after each session's blog, I thought I'd take some time to make some more in-depth comparisons between it and D&D 4e. These are just my opinions; I know darn well that a lot of people prefer a more hardcore simulationist game than what I enjoy.

Winner: Pathfinder
From what I've seen so far, I would definitely say Pathfinder is more realistic than 4e.  However, realism is not always my first goal in an RPG.  I live a fairly humdrum life, and I like my fantasy to be, well, fantastic.  Realism already goes out the window the first time somebody casts a fireball.  Most of the time I don't want to roll to see if I successfully do the laundry, but sometimes that level of compulsiveness helps me get into my character.  Pathfinder doesn't quite go as far as that, but compared to 4e's heroism (see below), Pathfinder is much more down-to-earth.

Winner: 4e
In my opinion, D&D 4e is practically a super hero game with a medieval setting.  Sometimes I think they should have marketed it that way in the first place.  They should have kept 3.5 going, and made 4e a spin-off called "D&D Heroes" or something.  So while I don't think 4e should have been WOTC's flagship product, I am glad it exists, and I do enjoy playing a heroic character

Healing Surges vs Slow Healing
Winner: 4e
It's no secret that I dislike slow healing. Since I believe hit points represent stamina, not wounds, it just makes sense you could recover them by resting. D&D 4e's healing surge system is great at getting you back into the game so you aren't constantly heading back to town. The system is still a little clunky, IMO, but it's better than Pathfinder's "1 hit point per night" healing.

NADs vs Saving Throws
Winner: Tie
So the DM rolls a die against the player's Reflex, rather than the player rolling a save against the attacking spell's DC... I think 4e's method is slightly simpler, and simple is generally better. But overall I'd say it's six of one, half a dozen of the other.

Negative Effects
Winner: 4e
In older editions, there's several spells and effects that cause you to lose a level, or make one of your stats go down for a while. When this happens, there's a lot of re-mathing your character sheet, figuring out how that stat is going to affect your attack rolls, AC, saving throws, hit points, etc.  4e has a lot less of that nonsense.  When we reach the point where every gamer at the table is using electronic interactive character sheets on their netbooks/smartphones, automatically adjusting all their numbers instantly when they're hit by such a spell, then I'll be okay with it.  Until then, I prefer the simplicity of 4e.

Stat Advancement
Winner: 4e
I like how all the stats go up a notch, twice in your career. I've never bought into the idea that just because your character concentrates on STR and CON, you never get any smarter. 

Skills Advancement
Winner: Pathfinder
I liked assigning my skill points manually each level. It bugs me that my 30th level 4e Lawful Good Paladin, who never lies, still has more than 15 points in Bluff. It also bugs me that my high-level 4e Fighter doesn't have more points in Intimidate.

Skill Selection
Winner: Pathfinder
I've stood up for 4e on this one in the past, but I have to admit I missed options like Crafting.

Diagonal Movement
Winner: 4e
So what if a square is slightly longer diagonally than lengthwise.  When it comes to measuring distance for tactical combat, there's a lot of bad, complicated systems out there.  4e is probably the least realistic, but you know my feelings on realism.  4e wins for now, but I still haven't played a game that uses hexes.

Powers vs Basic Attacks
Winner: 4e Essentials
4e's way of giving Fighters more to do was nice. But Fighters already could do more than just attack if they really wanted to. Any time you roll a d20, you can flavor that attack as anything you want. If it's the same damage, then nothing needs to be changed.  Instead of just saying "I hit him with my sword", feel free describe it as a backhand swing or a sudden forward thrust as you roll your d20.  If it's something that actually affects the outcome (i.e. "I'm aiming for his left elbow so he'll drop the idol"), the DM can ask you to subtract a couple of points from your attack roll to simulate difficulty. The ability was always there, 4e just added more mechanical rules for it. And by doing so, they seemed to have shorted out some players' creativity, because those players don't seem to understand that the effects of Reaping Strike don't have to be described exactly like it says on the power card. I think Essentials represents a decent compromise between 4e powers and the basic attacks of previous editions.

Combat Length
Winner: Pathfinder, by a mile
This is the chief reason I've been enjoying Pathfinder lately. It is such a joy to get through an entire dungeon level in a single night. Sometimes when I was playing 4e, I would look up at the clock and just roll my eyes. "Has it really been 3 hours since we entered this room? Seriously?" There are ways to streamline 4e combat, but they take work, and some people just find it easier to switch to another game system.  I don't blame them.

Magic System
Winner: 4e
I haven't actually played a Pathfinder Wizard yet. But I've looked through the Player's Handbook, and I've played a lot of computer games based on D&D 3.5, and I honestly think preparing spells is for the birds. The whole "you can cast three 1st-level spells, two 2nd-level spells..." system is just more complicated than it needs to be.  Give me At-Wills, Encounters, and Dailies any day.  Someday I'd like to play a PnP RPG that uses a mana system like you see in a lot of video games. Just another number like your hit points, which will go up as you level. Different spells would cost different amounts of mana to cast, and your mana replenishes when you rest. Simple.

Roleplay vs Rollplay
Winner: Tie
Others disagree, but I really don't think the system matters much when it comes to the quality of roleplay. One of the chief criticisms of D&D 4e is the focus on combat, and lack of roleplay rules. But frankly, I'm not even sure what a "roleplay rule" is. Heck, roleplay probably works best when there aren't a lot of rules. Still, 4e's tactical combat probably attracts more action-loving players, which could have a detrimental effect on roleplay. On the other hand, I have seen roleplay done really well in 4e.

Character Customization
Winner: Pathfinder
I have a friend who loves to play 2-weapon rogues. In 3.5, that was no problem. Pretty much any class could take the two-weapon feats, and get an extra attack per round. So when he tried to build one in 4e, he was disappointed. Oh, sure, anybody can wield two weapons in 4e, but you can't use both in a round, so what's the point? Only a couple of builds feature true two-weapon effectiveness. D&D 4e has a lot of classes to choose from, and those classes have a lot of builds. All told, there's over 100 builds now. And yet, it still feels like each build is just a predesigned character built by someone else. 

Winner: Pathfinder
D&D 4e Multiclassing is a joke. The Hybrids are an even bigger joke. 'nuff said.

Winner: 4e... if you're into that.
4e was built on balance.  One could argue that it was the primary focus of the system.  If any class is discovered to have an overly desirable power, WOTC's errata police sniff it out and blandify it immediately.  This can be a good thing; spellcasters in older editions were downright frustrating at early levels.  But people who managed to keep their mages alive earned bragging rights.  Meanwhile, most 4e classes have similar difficulty, which probably contributes to the common complaint that the classes are too much alike (see below).

Class Uniqueness
Winner: Pathfinder
In older editions, your first character was a fighter.  Once you got the hang of that, you had to relearn the game a little bit the first time you tried a spellcaster.  But with 4e's powers system, all the classes pretty much play the same.  The ranges and effects might be different, but a fighter's Encounter Powers follow the same rules as a wizard's.  It's hard to say whether this is good or bad.  It does make the game easier to learn, and balances the classes.  But it also makes you wonder why we need so many classes and builds, when so many of them are similar.  Essentials throws a few wildcards into the mix, but it still doesn't beat Pathfinder.

Death and Dying
Winner: 4e
4e wins because it's harder to die.  I am not a hardcore player.  I like it when I can play the same character long enough to really know them.  I get sick of old school grognards who whine that "Death used to mean something in this game!"  I'm sorry, but I disagree.  When you die all the time, death becomes meaningless.  When your first 20th-level character is killed in an epic battle with a dragon, death means something.  When your twentieth 1st-level character is killed by an orc, death becomes cheap.  Once I've actually had a few 20th-level characters, I might change my mind on this.  But right now, the more I die, the more these characters just seem like scribbles on paper.

Winner: Tie
In both editions, 100 copper pieces equals 10 silver equals one gold.  So it's pennies, dimes, dollars. Simple!  However, a 4e platinum piece equals 100 gp, while a Pathfinder platinum is only worth 10 gold pieces.  Neither is better than the other, but I do wish game designers would keep it a little more universal.  It's not like they're even the worst offenders; for example the Dragon Age RPG has a system where 1 GP = 100 SP = 10,000 CP.  People who go back and forth playing different game systems are liable to get confused. 

Overall Winner
To be honest, I think "Edition Wars" in general are a bit dumb.  Do apples taste better than oranges?  Is hang gliding more fun than water skiing?  Is Star Wars more entertaining than Star Trek?  It's okay to like Pepsi more than Coca-Cola, and it's even okay to wear Pepsi T-shirts and to post on your blog why Pepsi rocks.  But when you get into internet debates arguing why Coca-Cola sucks, you've probably gone too far.  People need to learn the difference between "better" and "more enjoyable to me".

That said, I prefer Pathfinder's character creation and quick combats, but 4e's fast healing and simplified rules. I really wish I could play a 4e campaign, but with shorter combats, and with Pathfinder characters. Essentials goes a long way towards granting the last part of that wish, with older-style characters that are fully compatible with the 4e system.  I really like Essentials, something I'm reluctant to admit on a public blog.  There are places on the internet where I'd rather admit to being a transsexual than to tell them I like Essentials.  Heck, just saying you like 4e at all is like telling people you enjoyed the Star Wars prequels.  Showing support for Essentials is like saying your favorite Star Wars character is Jar Jar Binks.

There are a lot of things that annoy me about Pathfinder.  But despite Pathfinder's flaws (and really, they're not flaws so much as things I don't prefer), I'm really enjoying the campaign. Bottom line is, I don't need to know that I'm playing the "best" system out there.  It don't eat my favorite food for every meal, I don't go to my favorite city every vacation, and I don't wear my favorite outfit every day.

I'm fond of saying that the system doesn't matter if the story's good. That's not entirely true; I'm sure there's some systems out there that I'd hate if I actually got around to playing them. And a good story could easily be killed by an incompetent DM or bad players; but I've been pretty lucky so far where that's concerned.  I've been blessed with a wonderful DM who makes things interesting no matter what we're playing.  (But he does read these blogs, so lest he think I'm sucking up I should probably say something negative soon.  Perhaps I'll make fun of the way he pronounces "archetypes".)
It's "ahr-ki-tahyps", not "Archie types."
In any event, 4e and Pathfinder appeal to different parts of my brain. 4e is like a board game where I can empathize with the pieces. Pathfinder is like a storytelling game with a bit of gambling thrown in. Sometimes I'm more in the mood for one than the other, but I think I'll always enjoy both.