Crossing the streams, Ghostbusters taught us, is bad. Except, course, when it’s good. (Ghostbusters is, admittedly, kind of fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing.)
In the case of Munchkin Pathfinder — the fifteenth stand-alone version of the Steve Jackson Games classic — crossing the streams with the world of Paizo Publishing’s flagship role-playing game is good. Really good. After a soft launch last year at Gen Con, when the game was released in limited quantities and snapped up quickly, Munchkin Pathfinder saw its wide release late last fall, followed by a 15-card expansion set, Gobsmacked.
It’s a natural crossover fit for both properties, since Munchkin‘s origins are in the fantasy RPG realm, and the Pathfinder universe is rich in fantasy settings, characters, and backstories. Turning the Munchkin crew’s writing and artistic talents loose in the Pathfinder sandbox is a win all around. (Illustrations are, again, handled by GeekDad and Dork Tower artist John Kovalic.)
This iteration of Munchkin introduces Pathfinder character Classes and Factions to the mix. Factions take the place of Races in this edition, although the game was designed to mesh with other sets — particularly the original — which means you could put together a game involving all three character aspects. The game also draws its treasures and curses from the Pathfinder mythos — including a LOT of goblin-related humor (Paging Jim C. Hines!)
And yet the theming is not so inside baseball as to be off-putting to players who aren’t intimately familiar with Pathfinder: Not knowing the origins of the Decemvirate Helm or the Test of the Starstone doesn’t make the game any less enjoyable. And hey, maybe it’s yet another kind of Pathfinder gateway.
At the same time, if you’ve got a group of Pathfinder players who’ve never tried Munchkin, then this presents an ideal opportunity.
Munchkin Czar and game developer Andrew Hackard also drafted a more clearly written and organized rules sheet for the Pathfinder set, which is so helpful that I printed copies to tuck into our older Munchkin boxes for reference. Coupled with the true-to-its-roots fantasy theme, this makes the Pathfinder box a good set for introducing new players to the game.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a review copy of Munchkin Pathfinder.