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Kendal

Best Version of DnD?

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I know I've read that some folks don't like Pathfinder, but I don't know the reasons why. It would seem to me the superior game but again my experience with it is very limited.

 

Well, in my case, Pathfinder doesn't appeal to me because of its overwhelming amount of things to keep track of. Bonuses, penalties, endless stream of feats, constantly incrementing skill ranks...

 

D&D 5E really streamlined all that clutter down, allowing for a more flowing gameplay, quicker and more intense combat sessions, and thus more room for that roleplaying we love so much..

 

In Pathfinder it took us two whole sessions just to go through character creation. In 5E I had a player join up at the last minute to replace a repeat absentee and she managed to get her character largely ready at 2nd level while the other players did their things and I killed off the absentee's character.

 

I get why some people really love it but I personally much prefer 5E.

 

It's one of those little things some of us long time players seem to forget.

 

I started to play PF when basically only the core rule book was out there. And it was essentially the combination of D&D's Player's Handbook and DM Guide, and already very similar to 3.x, it was easy learn.

 

A new player will feel quite intimidated by the sheer size of the rule book and the tons of other options. It's a bit overwhelming to old timers too. Like having $1 to spend in a candy store with everything.

 

 

I also have to reiterate why having a digital tool like Hero Labs very useful. It will track, and explain, all those little bonuses for you.

Edited by Cranky Dog
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I find it funny that my first impression of Pathfinder might be the opposite of what it actually is.

Having played both, I find I personally like 5E vastly more as a system.  That is not to say that Pathfinder is not a good system, indeed it is the ultimate expression of 3rd ed D&D in my opinion and Paizo really, really goes above and beyond supporting the system and its players. The problem is that I got seriously burned out on 3rd edition and as much as I appreciate the work Paizo has put into Pathfinder and the incredible customer service, I prefer the way 5E plays.  Keeping track of whether you have advantage or disadvantage is sooo much simpler than tracking a million little bonuses and penalties.

 

That being said, the 5E starter set is pretty useless.

Edited by Erifnogard
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I find it funny that my first impression of Pathfinder might be the opposite of what it actually is.

I am enormously fond of Pathfinder - but then I was also a huge fan of 3.0.

 

Pathfinder really is the next edition of 3.X, while 4e was a completely different game.

 

If you like 3e then Pathfinder is an obvious cleaning up and improvement of the rules - even the Grapple rules mocked by a faux Frenchman in that stupid commercial.

 

Easier to understand than the original 3.0 rules, they are still complicated - but the Patfinder beginner's Box actually does a very good job of explaining things as you go along - the short dungeon crawls are good tutorials.

 

Like 4e, 5e is a completely new game - but, and this is important, it also strives to go back to the feel of the older games - and having an easy means of conversion goes a very long way in that regard.

 

My least favorite argument for 4e was that 'It isn't a new game! It says so right on the box! D&D is a brand, not the game!'

 

My reply is 'If it isn't a new game, why are they telling people not to bother converting, but rather to just start over?' It was a new game.

 

The success of Pathfinder demonstrated that the game was more important than the brand. If your cat has kittens in the oven, calling them biscuits doesn't mean that they'll go well with butter*.

 

5e is also a new game - rebuilding the game around a similar core system - but has made great efforts to regain the backwards compatibility that 4e went so far to destroy. (One of the two reasons that I feel that 4e was such a bad, bad idea. The other was the GSL.)

 

Backwards compatibility, or at least rules for conversion, means that people are willing to at least try the new version. (I am an outlier - I have no interest in converting my existing campaigns, but am eagerly following The Gneech's rules for using 5e with Ghostbusters.)

 

The Auld Grump

 

* Four hours of sleep... does it show?

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I know I've read that some folks don't like Pathfinder, but I don't know the reasons why. It would seem to me the superior game but again my experience with it is very limited.

My one concern with PF. When I played the demo at PAX it seemed a very streamlined and well thought out rule set. However when I looked at the core rule set I was shocked to see it was almost 600 pages on its own, never mind all the other specialty rulebooks.

That seems more than a bit cumbersome to me.

Plus the hard back version weighs a ton, and the smaller sized gamers edition had print so small I'd need to wear readers to read it, not something I'd want to do at the gaming table.

 

 

I think one reason that people have started to(or always did) dislike Pathfinder is that it's very much a rules-bloated system from the very start. It was sold on being fully backwards-compatible with all previous 3E material, which meant that everything available in 3E was available in PF. What some people saw as its great strength, and which got a lot of people to switch over, is seen by a lot of people as being a big failing. And it's only gotten worse over time as Paizo has continued releasing a full rulebook(or two) and multiple splat books every year. There's something like 14 books for Pathfinder that are primarily rules-oriented, not counting the 6 Bestiaries and 3 or 4 NPC codexes. Some of those books are largely DM option type books, like Unchained and the Gamemastery Guide, but the majority of them are very firmly in the player options camp. It's just a lot of material to take in and make sense of for player and DM alike. And it certainly doesn't help that there are numerous so-called "trap options," all the feats and such that do more harm to a character than good, buried in all of them.

 

As for the 600 page Core book, it's because they combined the Player's Guide and the DM's Guide into a single book. I don't know if that was such a good idea, but they did it. I know it's caused them problems with the binding of the book failing, at the very least. At worst, it makes the layout of the book a bit tedious if you aren't already previously familiar with D&D and RPGs in general. Their releasing the Pathfinder Strategy Guide was an attempt to fix both that and the potential for option paralysis in new players.

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I remember when it first came out seeing a gamer in a gamestore hug that 600 page TOME and call it, "...my precious..."

:rolleyes:

 

True story. (edit)

Edited by TGP
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I think one reason that people have started to(or always did) dislike Pathfinder is that it's very much a rules-bloated system from the very start. It was sold on being fully backwards-compatible with all previous 3E material, which meant that everything available in 3E was available in PF. What some people saw as its great strength, and which got a lot of people to switch over, is seen by a lot of people as being a big failing. And it's only gotten worse over time as Paizo has continued releasing a full rulebook(or two) and multiple splat books every year. There's something like 14 books for Pathfinder that are primarily rules-oriented, not counting the 6 Bestiaries and 3 or 4 NPC codexes. Some of those books are largely DM option type books, like Unchained and the Gamemastery Guide, but the majority of them are very firmly in the player options camp. It's just a lot of material to take in and make sense of for player and DM alike. And it certainly doesn't help that there are numerous so-called "trap options," all the feats and such that do more harm to a character than good, buried in all of them.

 

As for the 600 page Core book, it's because they combined the Player's Guide and the DM's Guide into a single book. I don't know if that was such a good idea, but they did it. I know it's caused them problems with the binding of the book failing, at the very least. At worst, it makes the layout of the book a bit tedious if you aren't already previously familiar with D&D and RPGs in general. Their releasing the Pathfinder Strategy Guide was an attempt to fix both that and the potential for option paralysis in new players.

 

I remember when it first came out seeing a gamer in a gamestore hug that 600 page TOME and call it, "...my precious..."

:rolleyes:

 

True story. (edit)

This goes back to my argument.

 

For D&D 3.x veterans, the 600 page book was nothing as the rules were very similar.

 

To any other RPG novice though, it must seem like an unconquerable mountain. This isn't unique to D&D and Pathfinder. Any game that has been in publication for a long time will get rule expansions, revisions, setting books and what not, as people find what is and isn't covered by a basic rule book.

 

You got to wonder what 5e is going to look like in five years.

Edited by Cranky Dog
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You got to wonder what 5e is going to look like in five years.

Well, so far they haven't done any rule additions, as far as I'm aware. They have their Unearthed Arcana articles online where they throw out ideas for future products and houserules to help fix some perceived problems, like they've done a couple tests on psionics rules and the latest article is a possible attempt to fix the ranger's shortcomings, but nothing has actually been released as an official rule yet. They're doing a good job of focusing on putting out well done adventures rather than bloating up the game. Considering that we're approaching it's 2nd full year of existence, I think that's impressive compared to how quickly previous editions started to add rules in.

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I know I've read that some folks don't like Pathfinder, but I don't know the reasons why. It would seem to me the superior game but again my experience with it is very limited.

My one concern with PF. When I played the demo at PAX it seemed a very streamlined and well thought out rule set. However when I looked at the core rule set I was shocked to see it was almost 600 pages on its own, never mind all the other specialty rulebooks.

That seems more than a bit cumbersome to me.

Plus the hard back version weighs a ton, and the smaller sized gamers edition had print so small I'd need to wear readers to read it, not something I'd want to do at the gaming table.

 

 

I think one reason that people have started to(or always did) dislike Pathfinder is that it's very much a rules-bloated system from the very start. It was sold on being fully backwards-compatible with all previous 3E material, which meant that everything available in 3E was available in PF. What some people saw as its great strength, and which got a lot of people to switch over, is seen by a lot of people as being a big failing. And it's only gotten worse over time as Paizo has continued releasing a full rulebook(or two) and multiple splat books every year. There's something like 14 books for Pathfinder that are primarily rules-oriented, not counting the 6 Bestiaries and 3 or 4 NPC codexes. Some of those books are largely DM option type books, like Unchained and the Gamemastery Guide, but the majority of them are very firmly in the player options camp. It's just a lot of material to take in and make sense of for player and DM alike. And it certainly doesn't help that there are numerous so-called "trap options," all the feats and such that do more harm to a character than good, buried in all of them.

 

As for the 600 page Core book, it's because they combined the Player's Guide and the DM's Guide into a single book. I don't know if that was such a good idea, but they did it. I know it's caused them problems with the binding of the book failing, at the very least. At worst, it makes the layout of the book a bit tedious if you aren't already previously familiar with D&D and RPGs in general. Their releasing the Pathfinder Strategy Guide was an attempt to fix both that and the potential for option paralysis in new players.

 

I very much disagree with the term 'bloated' - while complex, the pieces do what they are supposed to do, and are simplified, in some areas from the 3.5 rules.

 

That 600 page book combines the PHB and the DMG - and allows a lot of character customization.

 

If I had to pick two Pathfinder books, it would be the Core and the APG - the APG deconstructs the classes, and allows players to create characters that are closer to being exactly what they want to play.

 

Me, I created a swashbuckling Magus - and had a lot of fun playing it. (My first few adventures, I spent a lot of time at negative hitpoints... but also did a lot of damage - not a glass cannon, more of a glass bayonet.)

 

And that was another reason for the failure of 4e - you were pretty much playing what the game designers wanted you to play, not what you wanted to play.

 

5e... I have no real idea - I rather suspect that they have gone back to handing the players the toolkit. (Which makes even less sense for only Pregens in the 5e box....)

 

The Auld Grump

 

*EDIT* As for 'unconquerable mountain' - not in my experience. I have taught a number of younger players the game - even before the Beginner's Box came along. But then having somebody to guide new players through the process is always going to work better than handing a 600 page book to somebody, and yelling 'Enjoy!'

Edited by TheAuldGrump
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I'd recommend avoiding the use of "bloated", "straightjacket", "simplistic", and other such descriptions. Technically, that constitutes the logical fallacy of "Begging the Question", a form of circular argument in which you assume the conclusion you prefer and then treat it as evidence. It's also rude to your interlocutors.

 

So far we've been able to keep this discussion fairly polite and informative, but it's come close to the edge a couple of times. I'd like to keep it on top of the cliff.  ^_^

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It sounds like this topic is moving into a “system mastery†argument. Some people really like system mastery. They like pouring over books to find all of the minutia, building mechanically interesting characters, or memorizing 100 pages of grapple rules. They get to trigger their mental reward mechanism when they show up with the most optimized character or are able to recite an obscure rule that pops up during combat, or just enjoy feeling like a rule for everything makes the game feel more like a simulation.

 

But, news flash, some people don't. They prefer to show up and just play. These players tend to gravitate towards “simple,†“lite,†or “straightforwards†systems. If character creation takes more than 15 minutes, then there is obviously a design flaw with the game system, and who wants grapple rules anyway?

 

Now as you might expect, it's a bit difficult to design a system that satisfies both groups of players at once. You can try to start with a streamlined rules set for the play now crowd and then throw on supplements for the system people to master, which has been the DnD route over the years, but hitting the sweet spot on the core book is tricky. Add enough books and the people who don't like reading all of it will start calling it “bloated,†even though those that do will be happy.

 

To make matters worse, system masters tend to resist switching systems. The reason is pretty obvious once you think about it. They've put all of this time and effort into mastering a system, but once they switch, they are back to zero just like everyone else. Not only do they lose the time they've put into learning their old system, but now they have to invest more time into learning the new one.

 

Game designers have recognized this for awhile, and it was a large part of what drove the d20 boom after 3E came out. Learn just one system, d20, and then you can play everything. You can't get your players to try Deadlands because they don't want to learn a new system? Well that's great because it's in d20 now and they can use a system they already know to play it! Of course, it turned out that d20 wasn't quite one size fits all, but they gave it a try.

 

All of which gets us back to the argument above. Do you like system mastery? If you like 3.pathfinder then the answer is probably yes. If you don't then there are plenty of other systems out there with a different design goal. Neither is right or wrong, but games can target a different audience and still be fun to play.

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You know - right now I could be taking the stance of 'do you like good games? If not, then 4e is the game for you!'

 

It is not about 'system mastery' - it is about playing the character that you want to play - was a swashbuckling magus the most effective way to build my character? Heck, no!

 

But he was exactly the character that I wanted to play.

 

Having the options that you want is not 'system mastery' - it is having a smorgasbord available for you to choose from. Not just to build the bestest character evar!!1!

 

So ditch the system mastery argument - especially given the way 4e was handled.

 

Most often it is just about having a game that lets you play what you want to play in a system that you like.

 

The Auld Grump

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Someone was saying something about character creation in Pathfinder taking a long time. I thought that was default; character creations at a table is probably limited to a couple of books and your ability to write fast; which has always been the case for any system I have ever played at a table (includes D&D 2-3.5, Shadowrun, SW d20, GURPS and Deadlands). Premades are a GM's best friend in those cases. He's not going to end up with a party full of random that may or may not sync well, and everyone gets to jump right in with something they can customize down the line. I can nail something down pretty fast, and I have done it before, but I have gone paperless as much as possible, and I know I am one of the exceptions.

 

People are also talking about bloat and too many books, and while I tend to agree (the wild assortment of books available for PF, and D&D in general explodes my head when I let myself really think about it) I feel I should point out that you don't have to use all of them. Or any of them. I've played games in PF, 3.5e and an assortment of others where the GM has said, 'we play with these books only', and it was fine. That is a choice you can make as a GM or as a player and it's perfectly alright to do it that way.

I do that as a GM pretty often; there are whole reams of content that I disallow simply because I don't have time to vet it.

 

Mind, I am not saying Pathfinder is better. It's a system, it works for me. If it doesn't work for you, I am going to cheer you on while you look for something that does work, and I will help with the victory party whether I like the system selected or not!

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You know - right now I could be taking the stance of 'do you like good games? If not, then 4e is the game for you!'

 

It is not about 'system mastery' - it is about playing the character that you want to play - was a swashbuckling magus the most effective way to build my character? Heck, no!

 

But he was exactly the character that I wanted to play.

 

Having the options that you want is not 'system mastery' - it is having a smorgasbord available for you to choose from. Not just to build the bestest character evar!!1!

 

So ditch the system mastery argument - especially given the way 4e was handled.

 

Most often it is just about having a game that lets you play what you want to play in a system that you like.

 

The Auld Grump

Whoa there. It was not my intent to offend, but it appears I have done so. This calls for some background.

 

For the last few years I have had a long commute (but no longer, yay!) and I got tired of listing to music and switched to other things. One of them was downloading gaming podcasts and audio recordings of con seminars. The “system mastery†label is not something I just made up, it is how the people who design the games we play talk about the hobby. While the term does tend to conjure up thoughts of rules lawyers and power gamers outside of the larger context, the term itself is much more general. If you have ever sat down to play a system you enjoyed, no matter how complex, you have experienced what they would call “system mastery.†It's also important to remember that it is not just a negative term. Designers want you to experience system mastery because it's part of what keeps you coming back to the game they have designed. If you aren't invested in the game to some degree, you probably aren't going to keep playing it.

 

I'm sorry if you don't like the term, but you're going to have to chase down the industry professionals on that one.  It's a wider term that applies to the broader hobby, including tabletop wargames and board games.

 

As an aside, the 4E bash was completely unnecessary, and I don't know why it even came up. I wasn't discussing 4E. Did I like 4E? Yes I did. I also liked 3E, 2E, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Vampire... well OK I never got into Vampire but I did like both of the video games. The point being, when you talk system with me keep in mind you are talking to someone without a lot of system bias. All tabletop game systems have some strengths and weaknesses; none are perfect.

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For the last few years I have had a long commute (but no longer, yay!) and I got tired of listing to music and switched to other things. One of them was downloading gaming podcasts and audio recordings of con seminars. The “system mastery†label is not something I just made up, it is how the people who design the games we play talk about the hobby. While the term does tend to conjure up thoughts of rules lawyers and power gamers outside of the larger context, the term itself is much more general. If you have ever sat down to play a system you enjoyed, no matter how complex, you have experienced what they would call “system mastery.†It's also important to remember that it is not just a negative term. Designers want you to experience system mastery because it's part of what keeps you coming back to the game they have designed. If you aren't invested in the game to some degree, you probably aren't going to keep playing it.

I'm sorry if you don't like the term, but you're going to have to chase down the industry professionals on that one.  It's a wider term that applies to the broader hobby, including tabletop wargames and board games.

 

Yea, system mastery isn't a term that just refers to min-maxing. It refers to the number of rules governing a game and what all is needed to be understood in order to play. A game with low system mastery requirements is pretty quick to pick up and play, even if you don't have someone already familiar with the game guiding you through. A game with a higher level of system mastery required will tend to have more rules that govern the game and so will take more time to get started in, even if you have someone guiding you. In wargaming, it's like the difference between Warhammer Fantasy and Kings of War. KoW requires a lower level of system mastery because units are counted as a relatively unchanging whole, with only a small number of options and special rules. Warhammer Fantasy required a higher level of mastery, because it had units counted as a collection of individuals that are constantly changing throughout the battle, have a lot of options available, and with more special rules.

 

So Kings of War is easier to jump into and easier to get a more complete understanding of, while Warhammer Fantasy takes more effort and understanding. But in both cases, once a player has a greater understanding of the system they're able to play more effectively and efficiently. For instance, it's mastery of the system that lets a KoW player know that the Reload! rule doesn't come into effect when paired with the Surge spell. A new player who's just starting out with the game may not make that connection. I know that as a very beginning wargamer, I didn't make that connection until I read about it elsewhere. I'd made the connection of Surge allowing players to pull off things like otherwise-unavailable flank charges by doing a move-pivot-Surge, because that's Surge's readily apparent use. But I would have never read into Reload! closely enough to know that a Surging a unit with Reload! would still allow it to shoot.

 

And those differences are the same kind of differences you'll find in various editions of D&D. 4E can be seen as something like RISK to 3E/Pathfinder's Warhammer. RISK requires very little system mastery to enjoy, much like 4E. You're kind of given a situation, your "character" is pretty heavy laid out for you with only a few choices to make in setup before playing, and then you just play until its over. Warhammer has you basically build everything from scratch, using a list of options for everything, and you have to know how it all works together to achieve what you want. You can set up things exactly the way you want, for better or for worse. Kings of War/5E is kind of a middle ground. You've got more choices than RISK/4E, but not as many as Warhammer/3E.

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I find it funny that my first impression of Pathfinder might be the opposite of what it actually is.

Having played both, I find I personally like 5E vastly more as a system.  That is not to say that Pathfinder is not a good system, indeed it is the ultimate expression of 3rd ed D&D in my opinion and Paizo really, really goes above and beyond supporting the system and its players. The problem is that I got seriously burned out on 3rd edition and as much as I appreciate the work Paizo has put into Pathfinder and the incredible customer service, I prefer the way 5E plays.  Keeping track of whether you have advantage or disadvantage is sooo much simpler than tracking a million little bonuses and penalties.

 

That being said, the 5E starter set is pretty useless.

 

I played a lot of 3.x D&D, and had a generally good time doing it. However... At this point, I don't have the time or attention to devote to running a game that requires that much work. And good lords of Waterdeep, was it a lot of work as the players climbed levels! At this point I'm much happier with 5e, which feels amazingly flexible, or RC/BECMI era D&D, which managed to put the PHB, DMG, and MM all in one book that's under 400 pages and is still holding up pretty well after... almost 30 years.

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