Often times as players we get excited for the next big thing, our next feat or new spell level opening up, or finally get that next iterative attack. Leveling is fun, explosive gain in effectiveness, skills and magic (if any) so why not use fast track experience? Right? Yet most all official adventures and campaigns for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game are set to the medium track. Fast track can mean a lot of different things to a GM and the group as a whole.
What differences does it make? Well let’s take a look!
Fast Track Experience (Pros & Cons)
Over time most games set to fast track experience exhibit the following commonalities:
- Leveling Faster – As a base effect, this is obvious. Characters gain levels quickly. But this means more than anything PLAYERS need to be ready for leveling. Fast Track games will require more frequent selections and force commitments quicker than some players may realize. More table time is more frequently dedicated questions and players who forgot to level pre-game.
- Mechanical Emphasis – Because of the accelerated leveling, it means players tend to NEED to focus on mechanics more frequently. Sometimes this increases the overall game play skill of a group but it also can lead to too many people in the “rules kitchen” and trying to co-GM without ever realizing it. It is also great for testing new rules, settings and ideas. Be aware of this when fast tracking.
- Fast Games – Again this seems obvious but it isn’t always. Fast track games can and often DO reach level 20. This means you actually see class “omega powers” in action and deal with realities of high level play a lot more frequently. It also means you lose them faster as the stories of those characters end (or go on hold… or maybe get switched to/progress into Mythic).
- Multipliers – Fast Track can be super fun for rapid romps through the levels but be careful when connecting it to other ideas like character trees and party npcs as that the level acceleration can hit all of these characters as well (depending on your set up) or leave them behind either creating piles of “bookkeeping leveling” or large disparities in play ranges.
- Gear Issues – Fast track games that rely on random monster and/or loot-less combats often (quickly) fall under gear recommendations by level. This in turn can make the party bend as a whole to be glass cannons and lack general workday staying power. Story rewards or other “artificial” means of balancing gear may be required.
- Accomplishment – Fast track games tend to finish more frequently and give whole story arc completion on a predictable scale. The tend to reward fast and frequently which is often appreciated in casual or inconsistent groups.
- Incompatibility – With a lot of adventures designed for medium track experience, many GMs will find characters out-leveling Adventure Paths and modules midway through them. In turn this leads to “cake walks” and “farm runs” that are sometimes less fulfilling or frustrating to GM.
Fast leveling can be an excellent pace for groups that are mechanics-driven, story-junkies or in need of accomplishment fix. Minimize hiccups by planning for rapid levels, rules discussions and balancing issues with gear and established adventure products. If these sound right for you, drop the checkered flag racers!