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Pathfinder's fantasy RPG becomes a co-op card game in BattleTech creators' new deckbuilder Runefire

Light my Runefire.

Want to explore Pathfinder’s fantasy world of Golarion without bothering with character sheets and all that other RPG guff? Fancy another deckbuilding title from the studio that published Crossfire and Dragonfire but tired of Shadowrun’s aesthetic? Upcoming board game Runefire might hit that sweet spot.

Runefire is the result of a cooperation between BattleTech maker Catalyst Game Labs and tabletop RPG publisher Paizo. The latter has donated its expansive fantasy world and system for the former to stretch across the existing deckbuilder engine used in Crossfire (Shadowrun) and Dragonfire (Dungeons & Dragons).

Quick to play and emphasising storytelling, gameplay begins with players selecting an ancestry, class and starting gear that will be very familiar to Pathfinder players - most of the “quintessential” options will be available in Runefire. Beginning in the Inner Sea region, the group of adventurers will explore several regions and continents on Golarion, levelling up their character through battle and challenges, earning new feats and equipment and generally climbing that power ladder.

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"We are excited to see the rich world we've created in Golarion reach new fans through the incredible engine the team at Catalyst have built," said Mike Webb, Paizo’s vice president of sales and marketing, in a press release. "Whether you are a fan of Pathfinder looking for a new way to experience the world, or a fan of other games in Catalyst's system looking for a new setting, we think this is an outstanding combination."

Narrative choices will ripple throughout future adventures and quests, opening some avenues and closing off others. Ancestries and classes will each have specific solutions to problems that the entire party faces, and how they choose to proceed might come back to haunt them later. Catalyst and Paizo claim Runefire will be steeped in Pathfinder lore and will throw plenty of beloved - or feared - locations, monsters and notable figures in their path. All of this will also comply with the remastered Pathfinder 2E Core books, which excise all the D&D hsitory from its rules and worldbuilding.

“BattleTech will always remain my one true love. Yet the time I spent developing Dragonfire was an absolute high-watermark of my career,” said Randall N. Bills, creative director of Catalyst Game Labs. “I could spend weeks of fifteen-hour days in hard playtesting, and yet still sit down immediately and play the game for fun.”

Box art mockup for Runefire deckbuilding board game
Image credit: Catalyst Game Labs/Paizo

“I’ve literally been giggling as I’ve slid back into the joy of development within this game system,” he continued. “And along the way, I’ve absolutely fallen in love with the lore of Golarion. Working with Loren, Jay, Talon, Mike, Kristian, and Bryn—alongside Paizo—to weave in an authentic Pathfinder experience to create the best yet iteration of this game is just glorious. I can’t wait for everyone to throw this great game on their tables.”

Runefire will launch a crowdfunding campaign later this year, though the publishers did not specify a platform or date beyond sometime in 2024.

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