Getting into Pathfinder and or D&D help!?!


Gamer Life General Discussion


Hello, my name is Thomas and I have recently gotten my friends and I into tabletop/pen and paper RPG'S (we are PC gamers so we play a lot of MMO'S/FPS and things like that.) I have bought D&D 4E Starter Kit and Pathfinder Beginner Box. We are leaning towards Pathfinder as of currently and with D&D 5E coming out soon (if I recall correctly) we don't know which of these games to invest our time/money in. We want a game that has depth, customization, replay-ability, decent lore, and one where we wouldn't have wasted our money in with a new edition coming out and the old edition can't be backwards compatible, etc. If anyone could give a pro/con list and there opinions on each game (Pathfinder, 4E, 5E)it would be much appreciated thanks!

Dark Archive

I have never played 4th ED D@D. I have played D@D since the red box, and after I returned from Iraq everyone was playing Pathfinder in my unit. I enjoy pathfinder and it is easily compatible with D@D 3.5 so you have plenty of options for your games. I play tested D@D Next, and was not impressed. I think Pathfinder will be the one on top after it is all said and done.

Scarab Sages

Regarding new editions every few years:

Paizos backbone are adventures, not the rules - that (and reassuring comments of the designers here on the boards) makes it far less likely that there will be a non-backwards-compatible new edition of Pathfinder in the next couple of years.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

D&D 4e is a good game, though its by no means perfect.
Pathfinder is a good game, but again is by no means perfect.

If I were you, I would go with the game that is most widely played in your area, no point picking up PF if everyone else is playing D&D 4e, or vice versa.

Having said all that, the fact that D&D is between editions does give PF the edge. But make no mistake people will continue to play past editions, so people will continue to play 4e when Next comes out (I definitely hope to), and I still prefer 3.5 over PF even, playing PF only for PFS.

Talking of which, Pathfinder Society Organised play is great and if its something you're interested in it could be the winning factor; I hope WotC do a living campaign like PFS when Next comes out.


I'd go for pathfinder, but have no expirience with D&D4. I do have expirience with D&D 2, 3 and 3.5, the adventures of the last two can be used (if you put some work in it) for Pathfinder and Pathfinder has great adventures. D&D 4 relies, as far as I know, on it's own adventures, I have no idea if they're any good.
The clear upside of Pathfinder is that they have this forum :)

Sovereign Court

I've got quite a lot of experience GMing D&D4e for their Encounters promotional program, and we've been playing Pathfinder in our weekly home game since the beta first came out, so I can probably answer any direct comparisons questions.

depth: I think Pathfinder wins this one, it has a fantastic setting, tons of adventures and sourcebooks, etc. 4e had some printed adventures, though they are widely regarded as inferior in storylines to PF, and tended to be combat after combat.

customization: This is fairly even between the 2 games, though in slightly different ways. 4e has tons and tons of powers, the vast, vast majority of which are only useful in combat. Every class gets them, even martial classes like Fighters. Some can be used at will, some once per encounter, and some once per day. Many are very similar to each other (X amount of damage + some extra effect, like knock the target back 10', or they are dazed for 1 round, etc). Still, this gives a lot of choices in combat and a lot of customization for combat. Pathfinder has spells and character abilities instead. For spellcasters, this provides a lot more options at mid-higher than the 4e powers, and many of the powers are usable outside of combat. (4e did have rituals in the 1st PHB that allowed some out of combat magic, but it was dropped from 4e Essentials). Multiclassing is much easier in PF, allowing you to mix and match classes as you level to create the character you want. The Combat Maneuver system in PF also allows a lot of different choices in combat, like grappling, tripping, etc.

replay-ability: Because 4e is so combat focused, I don't feel it's quite as replayable as PF, but that's because I prefer plenty of non-combat play. Also, while 4e powers gives the players a handful of choices, they tend to use those over and over (especially the at will and encounter powers) and not look for other options (YMMV)

decent lore: PF has a fantastic setting and sourcebooks for it, as I said before, but I also liked 4e's cosmology (the opposed Feywild and Shadowlands, etc) and there are some good settings books available (Forgotton Realms, Eberron, Dark Sun). Each got very little support though, just 1 adventure and 1 other book, they had a policy of "3 books to a setting then move on" which I didn't like). The massive amount of support for Golarion in Pathfinder wins this category though.

new edition: Pathfinder hasn't announced any plans yet for a new edition, while 4e is getting no more books (they are instead reprinting older editions, like 1e and 2e, in collector's editions until 5e comes out). You can sign up for the 5e playtest on WotC site and download the material to see for yourself if you like the way it's going. It's definitely not much like 4e (I'd say it's closer to a mix of 2e and 3e, with some 4e and some entirely new stuff added in). It won't be done for quite a while though, so if you want a game right now that is supported and will continue to be supported in the future, PF is your choice. (4e does still have some online support coming out if you want to pay for their DDI online subscription, but how long that will continue is unknown)


Samurai wrote:

I've got quite a lot of experience GMing D&D4e for their Encounters promotional program, and we've been playing Pathfinder in our weekly home game since the beta first came out, so I can probably answer any direct comparisons questions.

depth: I think Pathfinder wins this one, it has a fantastic setting, tons of adventures and sourcebooks, etc. 4e had some printed adventures, though they are widely regarded as inferior in storylines to PF, and tended to be combat after combat.

customization: This is fairly even between the 2 games, though in slightly different ways. 4e has tons and tons of powers, the vast, vast majority of which are only useful in combat. Every class gets them, even martial classes like Fighters. Some can be used at will, some once per encounter, and some once per day. Many are very similar to each other (X amount of damage + some extra effect, like knock the target back 10', or they are dazed for 1 round, etc). Still, this gives a lot of choices in combat and a lot of customization for combat. Pathfinder has spells and character abilities instead. For spellcasters, this provides a lot more options at mid-higher than the 4e powers, and many of the powers are usable outside of combat. (4e did have rituals in the 1st PHB that allowed some out of combat magic, but it was dropped from 4e Essentials). Multiclassing is much easier in PF, allowing you to mix and match classes as you level to create the character you want. The Combat Maneuver system in PF also allows a lot of different choices in combat, like grappling, tripping, etc.

replay-ability: Because 4e is so combat focused, I don't feel it's quite as replayable as PF, but that's because I prefer plenty of non-combat play. Also, while 4e powers gives the players a handful of choices, they tend to use those over and over (especially the at will and encounter powers) and not look for other options (YMMV)

decent lore: PF has a fantastic setting and sourcebooks for it, as I said before, but...

Thanks for all the info! I am defiantly leaning towards pathfinder now. The only problem is if my friends will choose it over an older version of D&D seeing as the new 4e isn't quite what we are looking for. Other than that I will just have to talk them into Pathfinder being in a better spot for the time being :) thanks!

Sovereign Court

Well, if choosing a game that is in print and being currently supported is important, earlier editions of D&D are out of print except for the collecter's editions I mentioned. If they want to play 1e or Basic, there are several Old School retro-clones out there that can be used. If it is 3.x that they want, PF is pretty much compatible with it (we still use the 3.5 Spell Compendium with PF, as well as all the monster books and adventures. We are playing the Crucible of Freya in our PF game right now, a 3.0 module from Necromancer games, which has an old school feel to it.)

Whichever game you choose, you can always steal ideas, adventures, monsters, etc from others with a bit of conversion. (Though 4e is so different in terms of scale, power arrangements, etc that it would be harder to port things to and from it. You can still use ideas, though, like the Feywild.)

Shadow Lodge

Alternate idea: since you and your entire group are looking to jump into RPGs, you could actually use another one. I personally recommend Swords & Wizardry by Frog God Games. It's MUCH simpler than 3.X/Pathfinder or 4E, and likely to be much simpler than DnD Next will be as well. It's got great support from Frog God Games, as well as numerous other publishers, and can be used to play anything that TSR/WotC published prior to D&D 3.0 with very little conversion.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

At the risk of overwhelming you with a lot of choices, there are a lot of good RPGs out there, covering different genres from horror to humor, anime to superheroes, as well as fantasy. Once you start playing one game, you may find your interest in others grows as well. Do check them out. I don't think you will be disappointed.

By the way, in case this affects your willingness to dig deeper into Pathfinder, and if you're friendly toward PDFs, Paizo sells the Pathfinder PDF versions of the rule books cheap. Much cheaper than the print editions. You may find that eases the entry costs of checking out the game in depth.


While there are arguments to be made in favor of using a less-widespread system, if you're new to RPGs there are a lot of perks if you choose a system that is actively supported and is used widely. It makes finding other players easier (not to mention GMs), it makes getting help if you're stuck on something easier, it makes finding books easier, etc.

Go with a system that suits your needs, but there are consequences to choosing a system beyond simply how it plays.

Webstore Gninja Minion

Removed some posts.

Sovereign Court

If there is a gaming store nearby you might want to check to see if there are nights when the Pathfinder Society and 4e D&D (I know there is a name for the 4e version of Pathfinder Society; was Living Greyhawk/Forgotten Realms in times past) that your group can playtest in. That way your group can get an overall feel with each system and then decide where to go. You can also talk with the local in depth, which might assist you in your considerations.


Samurai wrote:
It {5E} won't be done for quite a while though

Yeah, that's still an unknown. WotC continues to release playtest materials, but has not yet announced a street date for the published game. At GenCon last August, Mike Mearls (one of the lead designers) indicated that he thought they might still be 2 years away from a finished game.

It's a completely different situation from 4E, the development of which was cloaked in secrecy until its surprise announcement at GenCon 2007 (which was only ~9 months before the first books were released). 5E was publicly "announced" at least a year ago (maybe longer), and is still apparently nowhere near release.


Duskrunner1 wrote:
(I know there is a name for the 4e version of Pathfinder Society; was Living Greyhawk/Forgotten Realms in times past)

Living Forgotten Realms is the 4E "equivalent" of Pathfinder Society (an ongoing organized-play campaign).

WotC also runs "D&D Encounters", in which they run a short campaign once a quarter or so (one encounter a week, every week, for about 13 weeks; there's no story or character continuity from one season to the next).


Thanks to everyone who has posted thus far. I looked into some of the other games you guys/gals mentioned and they seemed interesting. What I am looking for though is a game that is complicated and has a good community of players. Pathfinder and D&D seemed like they met that criteria especially since I found some groups around me. As for horror RPG's that defiantly sounds fun and will look into those in the future if I enjoy Pathfinder/D&D. Since 5E is most likely nowhere near its release we are going for Pathfinder since it has the closest game group near us and seems like it would be more fun. My friends and I do not know much about how Pathfinder/D&D work though but we are looking forward to getting involved and figuring things out. Thanks so far for your help everyone!

Sovereign Court

Thaistyx wrote:
Thanks to everyone who has posted thus far. I looked into some of the other games you guys/gals mentioned and they seemed interesting. What I am looking for though is a game that is complicated and has a good community of players. Pathfinder and D&D seemed like they met that criteria especially since I found some groups around me. As for horror RPG's that defiantly sounds fun and will look into those in the future if I enjoy Pathfinder/D&D. Since 5E is most likely nowhere near its release we are going for Pathfinder since it has the closest game group near us and seems like it would be more fun. My friends and I do not know much about how Pathfinder/D&D work though but we are looking forward to getting involved and figuring things out. Thanks so far for your help everyone!

If you enjoy horror, you might want to check out the Carrion Crown Adventure Path for Pathfinder. It has lots of classic horror monsters over the 6 linked adventures, such as ghosts, werewolves, and vampires.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

On the macabre horror note - Call of Cthulhu. Had to get that plug in there. Though I hear they're working on a new edition that, unlike the previous 6 editions, will be a substantial departure in rules. So, I'm a bit concerned.

Shadow Lodge

I doubt it will be that substantially changed. I'm a backer for the Horror on the Orient Express Kickstarter, and it's supposed to be compatible with either edition. So either it's dual-stated, or they will be very similar. My money is on the later. BRP is one of the better systems on the market...why mess with a winning formula?

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