In a move that may have significant repercussions for the tabletop roleplaying industry, Paizo Publishing announced Tuesday that it will not be following Wizards of the Coast to Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. Instead, Paizo plans to produce the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game based on the 3.5 version under the Open Gaming License. Paizo is the well-respected former publisher of the Dragon and Dungeon print magazines. Paizo also currently publishes the highly popular Pathfinder subscription series of adventure modules. Lisa Stevens, CEO, explained the move, “We are taking advantage of the fact that tens of thousands of GMs all over the world have already been playing this game system and have some great ideas about how to improve what we think is already the best rules system in the business.” According to Paizo’s press release, a printed hardcover of Pathfinder will be available in August 2009. However, an alpha playtest version is available by download from the website now, and a printed softcover beta playtest version will be released in August of this year.

Opinions around the net are mixed. Altdorf believes Paizo’s offering will be competitive with Wizards’ 4th Edition. Disappointed, ChattyDM predicts that Paizo will eventually support 4th Edition with a separate product line. Highmoon marks this as the schism of D&D.