Pathfinder RPG

Does anyone here play Pathfinder? I have been invited to play and I am wondering how it is. My background is 1st edition AD&D. I never played 3.5.

Pathfinder looks pretty complicated and number crunchy to me. It looks like it encourages min/maxing in a Diablo 2 like way, with a ton of character advancement options. Am I wrong?

It’s a refined 3.5, which IMO (and I played since the pink basic set…) was the best D&D system.

There is some min/maxing, particularly with class advancements. A good DM will put a stop to that (and why do you think your fighter suddenly has sorcerer abilities?), though.

Trust me, it’s nowhere near as number-crunchy as 1st edition AD&D unless you skipped a lot of those rules - and you probably did, since most of us did. Still, very good system IMO.


I’ve heard very good things about it, but I’ve never played it. Then again, I loved 3.0 and 3.5. The best part about them was the object-oriented nature of them: components fit very smoothly together, unlike in earlier editions. The worst part about those editions was that as a DM I was never able to free myself from the shackles of properly statting out NPCs, and setting up an adversarial party of NPCs could literally take hours to do at mid-levels.

If Pathfinder smooths this process, it’d be fantastic.

I’ve played every version since the original D&D (not just AD&D). I agree with the above: if you liked AD&D 1, you’ll find Pathfinder (sometimes called 3.75, since it’s enhanced 3.5) to be less crunchy and more streamlined. You’ll always have options for min/maxing, but those options are less available than in 1, and there are easier ways for the DM to deal with them.

Conspicuously absent from 3.x (vs 1):
Bizarre dual- and multi-classing rules, especially those for the Bard.
Rolls every few days for getting fun new diseases.
Silly OP Psionics rules.
Huge walls of text with no pictures or diagrams.

FWIW, my favorite version was 2, though I do see a lot of good things in 3.x. There’s just an indescribable sense of >cool< that I feel was somehow lost in going to 3.x.

And, of course, 4 is almost more of a miniatures combat game than an RPG. In exactly the same way that MMORPGs aren’t RPGs, but to a lesser extent.

I advise anyone getting into D&D at this point, whether brand new or old, to go with Pathfinder, except for exactly 1 group of people: those familiar with MMORPGs, but with no pen & paper RPG experience. Those people should go with D&D 4, since it will be most recognizable to them.

I’ve played about a half-dozen sessions of Pathfinder (specifically, the Pathfinder Society, which is Paizo’s “living-style” campaign, developed primarily for conventions and public play).

Yup, Pathfinder is, essentially, D&D 3.75. I think it (and 3.5) is a good system…up until around level 8 to 10. After that point, it can become extremely numbers-intensive, and particularly lethal, especially if you have players who don’t min-max. I’m not a fan of save-or-die effects, characters doing hundreds of hit points of damage in a round, or a party spending 20 minutes before a combat figuring out all their bonuses from various buffs. Those were my big issues with higher-level 3x D&D, and I don’t think Pathfinder has done much to fix any of those issues.

I dunno–I think 4 has a lot going for it.
-DMing is a helluva lot easier for me to do.
-Everyone, not just spellcasters, get nifty things to do in combat. (In 3.x, weapon fighters tend to do the same thing every single round, which can get boring).
-A lot of the incredibly complicated 3.x rules around grappling, shapeshifting, and (to a lesser extent) attack of opportunity have been simplified.

True, the rules for out-of-combat behavior are much more limited, and I see this as a major flaw. But there’s still some very good stuff there.

Thanks for the replies.

Merijeek, you are right; in every 1st edition game I have played, we skipped a lot of unnecessary rules.

I think rules light games are great, that is why I am a bit worried about playing Pathfinder. The character sheets that I have looked at are ridiculously complicated. Still, it probably will be down to the DM whether it is a smooth game or a calculus exam.

Compared to 1E, there are more numbers, true.

OTOH, compared to 1E, 3x / Pathfinder are actually less complicated, in a way. One of the quirks of 1E (and, to an extent, 2E) is that there’s a different rule (and, a different mechanic) for practically everything. In 3x, 95% of the game mechanics are based on the same d20 mechanic. Yes, you have skill checks and attack rolls in 3x…but they use the same basic system.

It’s too late for me to be coherent.
Here’s the Pathfinder System Reference Document, with most of the content from both the Basic and Advanced Player’s Handbook (all new core classes, lot of optional customization)

I like Pathfinder very much. It rebalanced the core classes. (One of the big issues was nobody really needed a rogue after level 10 or so) It smoothed things in and out. And it made things fun again.

I agree that having everyone, not just spellcasters get to do nifty things is a good thing, and, in fact, that’s my favorite part of 4E. However, the definition of nifty is something I’m grappling with, at present. So far, in every game I’ve run, every single player spends several moments on every single turn going over his many options and figuring out which one to use. Therefore, every combat bogs down in number crunching instead of roleplaying or combat. While the powers are nifty, the delay is not.

If you had experienced players (something I’ve not had in 4E, thus far), they might be able to get past the myriad of options quicker, or have their turns ready before they get them (something I’ve been encouraging anyway). But then, if they were experienced roleplayers, they wouldn’t need to choose a special power - they’d make a move all their own and run with it.

I played it with experienced folks, true–and what I found is that the best players stepped up their game with it. 3.x doesn’t really encourage fighter characters to do anything besides swing and hit, and people often don’t bother to gussy that up in fancy language. 4.0 gave fighter-types a lot to do, and my best players would spend the time in between their turns thinking of how to make their actions maximally dramatic. I got a solid boost in the flair of combat via those rules.

Oh FFS, there were NO “incredibly complicated” rules around attacks of opportunity. Grappling, as long as you re-read the rules or just made a flow chart.

Shapeshifting I’ll give you, but that’s just because they had to add in perks like healing when you shifted, which has always been an issue.

As for 4E, I think it’s terrible. I should know - you can see my name in there as a playtester.


I have sortof the opposite experience. I find in 4E people are more likely to say “I Twin Strike again!” or “I do another Sly Flourish” in 4e than they ever were to just say “I attack” in previous editions, because, somehow, the fact that you are now using a named power that DEFINES what you are doing gives you LESS room for cool improv than you had before. People are RESTRICTED by that little pile of power cards. It’s even further hampered by the fact that, REALLY, it’s not clear how and why a lot of the powers do what they do. How do you differentiate the time you swing your sword to do extra damage equal to your wisdom modifier(?!) from the time you swing your sword and give your ally some temporary hit points?

And truthfully, you never really have THAT many cool things you can do because even by like level 10, you’ve basically got 3 things you can do once per encounter, 3 things you can do once per “day” and 2-3 things you can do whenever you want and which continue to make up the bulk of your actions.

And weirdly, I never minded playing a fighter in 3.X. Loved it, though I wish there had been a little more choice in feats.

To try to stay on topic, I haven’t actually PLAYED Pathfinder, but I skimmed over the rules at one point and I’ve done my share of 3.X playing, and it seems like a pretty solid system. It’s not “rules light” in the way Fate is, and it’s a very TRADITIONAL RPG (none of this weird new age indie integration of plot and story with mechanics stuff), but it’s reasonably smooth and does what I feel D&D should do - and I say this as someone who has played all the editions now.

That said, every edition of D&D (except maybe 4E - I haven’t done enough of it to say) really starts to collapse under the weight of its own rules crunch at a certain level, and 3.X/Pathfinder (or 1E for that matter) is no different. I wouldn’t suggest playing a level 15+ campaign in it, but starting at level 1 gives you a lot of time before you get to a level where the system starts to strain.

I’m currently playing in a Pathfinder campaign, and I’m enjoying it a great deal. It follows in the pattern of 3.x, streamlining or replacing quirky and incompatible mechanics while still allowing considerable flexibility. I’m not really a fan of the new classes, but I like what they’ve done with the old ones (particularly the cleric–I’m enjoying playing a cleric for the first time ever).

It also keeps the old D&D feel better than the “Diablo & Dice” of 4th Edition, which I tried early on and did not like at all.

Something I criticized in playtesting. There was one pregen, a ranger, who was totally superior to the rest of the party, and could very likely have taken the entire party on in a fight.

He had one ability that was a 1/combat that was one of those things which would would never not use. So, it basically became nothing more than queuing attacks…just like you would do in an MMO.

I launch standard attack sequence three!


I’m currently in a Pathfinder campaign. I hated 3rd ed D&D. So far, I like Pathfinder. I do not find it to be numbers intensive. It helps that we have a good DM.

We could try a play-by-post.

I’ve been running a Pathfinder campaign for about a year now, and it’s easily my favorite iteration of D&D to date. It is pretty rules heavy, by contemporary standards, although no worse than previous editions. It helps a lot that the rules are pretty logical, and mostly follow the same basic mechanic, so once you’ve figured out on part of the rule set, the rest will fall into place fairly quickly. It’s also a very tactical game. You can’t really play it without a battle mat and minis - fighters, in particular, have a lot of abilities that require knowing the precise position of combatants relative to each other. It can end up playing like a light war game, although it’s not hard to avoid that if it’s not to your taste.

I tried 4th ed. before Pathfinder came out. As a GM, I was enjoying it well enough, but two of my players were really hating the system, and we ended up dropping the campaign. Oddly enough, it was the two combat-oriented players who disliked the game. They thought the whole “combat abilities” thing was too limiting, like they were just doing the same thing, over and over, in every fight. In 3.x, they feel like the system offers more flexibility for them.

The casters in group were pretty happy with infinite Magic Missiles, though.

Really? I’m surprised that you’d have such different reactions to the two systems, as they aren’t really all that different. What makes Pathfinder work for you, that wasn’t working in 3rd ed?

They might have been even happier with a recent rules update to 4E: Magic Missile now automatically hits (returning it to how it worked in prior editions), for a set amount of damage (2+Int modifier+implement modifiers at heroic tier). My wizard now simply says, “Magic Missile, 12 damage”. :smiley:

Or they might have been annoyed. Lots of 4E players regard the magic missile change as a significant nerf because, truthfully, the amount of damage it does is terrible.