Blending 5E and PF


4th Edition

Shadow Lodge

I have two players who hate choosing feats and magic items. They just want to play their character and play their game, and not have to do so much "homework." I have two players who love the Pathfinder classes, and are particularly interested in Occult Adventures.

With that in mind, a question for people who've spent more time with the book than I have: Assuming that we're going to play an adventure path (say, Iron Gods), is it feasible to let two players play 5E characters and two play PF classes? I've skimmed the book, and the differences seem pretty cosmetic (we'd need to think about saves, for example). Would the classes be roughly balanced (in fact, bonus points if the 5e classes are a little more powerful, to make up for my PF players, who are a little more tactically savvy).

Is there any reason this wouldn't work, or would be less balanced than it appears, at first glance? Has anyone played with this kind of mixing of the systems? I'm not interested in which one is "better"; I think both might be great for different players' interests and styles, and I'd like to put them the peanut butter and chocolate together and make a delicious game for my group.


Doram ob'Han wrote:

I have two players who hate choosing feats and magic items. They just want to play their character and play their game, and not have to do so much "homework." I have two players who love the Pathfinder classes, and are particularly interested in Occult Adventures.

With that in mind, a question for people who've spent more time with the book than I have: Assuming that we're going to play an adventure path (say, Iron Gods), is it feasible to let two players play 5E characters and two play PF classes? I've skimmed the book, and the differences seem pretty cosmetic (we'd need to think about saves, for example). Would the classes be roughly balanced (in fact, bonus points if the 5e classes are a little more powerful, to make up for my PF players, who are a little more tactically savvy).

Is there any reason this wouldn't work, or would be less balanced than it appears, at first glance? Has anyone played with this kind of mixing of the systems? I'm not interested in which one is "better"; I think both might be great for different players' interests and styles, and I'd like to put them the peanut butter and chocolate together and make a delicious game for my group.

At low levels maybe.

At high levels your PF characters will have bonuses to hit in the 20s and your 5E characters might be up to 10. The numbers just won't work.

Shadow Lodge

Thanks, thejeff! Is that the only issue? If I understand correctly, 5e doesn't assume magic items and caps abilities at 22, so there might be ways to balance that out. Instead of "proficiency bonus," we could just use the PF attack progression. (Part of my thinking in asking is that I'm not going to sink any money into books I'm not going to use, so if this is a crazy idea, I'll leave the $50 for the 5e PHB in my wallet.)


What I would do is use the basic PDF for those who don't want a whole plethora of options and get the PHB for the ones that do. That way each group gets what they want and everything is still balanced


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Doram ob'Han wrote:
Thanks, thejeff! Is that the only issue? If I understand correctly, 5e doesn't assume magic items and caps abilities at 22, so there might be ways to balance that out. Instead of "proficiency bonus," we could just use the PF attack progression. (Part of my thinking in asking is that I'm not going to sink any money into books I'm not going to use, so if this is a crazy idea, I'll leave the $50 for the 5e PHB in my wallet.)

Ability caps are at 20. Characters in 5e generally won't have attack bonuses or saving throws above +11 even at 20th level. The highest non-magical armor class is 20. The attack bonuses for multiple attacks are all the same - not like PF's decreasing by 5 for iterative attacks. However, only fighters get more than 2 attacks per round. Characters in 5e recover lost hit points faster than in PF, assuming no magic.

Spellcasters have fewer spell slots in 5e than in PF, and all of the spell descriptions are different. In particular, the concentration mechanic makes buffing work very differently. Cantrip damage scales with character level, but damage from other spells does not. However, many spells of level 1+ can be cast using higher level slots for increased power. Spell saving throw DCs are based solely upon the caster's level and ability scores, not the level of the spell.

5e D&D is not a revision of 3.5; it's an entirely different game. You could, with work and some fudging, convert characters from one system to the other, but using both in the same game is probably not going to work.


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I think you'd be better off importing some of the simplifications in 5E into PF. Allow your PF players to boost stats instead of taking a feat (for example).

Alternatively - get your players who are disinterested in character building the upcoming PF strategy guide. I think that will be better suited to your situation, to be honest.


It would be a pretty monumental task to have Pathfinder and 5th Edition D&D characters together in the same party. I would really recommend against trying this especially without experience with both systems.

I'm working out how I would do it, but in general I would say it isn't feasible at all. The best hope I would imagine would be to strip off system specific stuff from one set of classes and import them into the other edition (like giving 5th edition characters Pathfinder Base Attack Bonuses, Saving Throws, and boost save DCs or replacing Pathfinder scaling with proficiency bonuses from 5th edition.

Attack Bonuses: I see with this are that attack bonuses scale differently in each system. Attack bonuses for dedicated fighter-types scale a bit better than +1 for every level in Pathfinder (accounting for class abilities and feats). 5th Edition going from 1st to 20th level might mean you would see attack bonuses increase by +9. Part of this is do to weapons and ability score augmentation though. At lower levels the difference won't be noticeable but it will become more obvious as time goes on.

Saving Throws: 5th edition has Strength, Intelligence, and Charisma saving throws to varying degrees, but you won't see any of that if you just go Pathfinder with enemies. Scaling is different here as well. For bad saving throws, you don't see 5th edition saving throws scale at all and even good 5th edition saving throw values will lag behind. They start the same but over 20 levels, the Pathfinder character gets +10 on good saves and +6 on bad saves while the 5th edition character will get +4 on good saves and no growth on bad saves. That isn't including magic items and ability scores, both of which generally favor Pathfinder as well.

The DCs of character abilities in 5th edition will also lag behind at a rate similar to the difference between good saving throws in editions.

Spells: Surprisingly mostly the same. Spells don't have automatically scaling effects and concentration spells in 5th edition favor Pathfinder casters in a comparison of strength. Largely though this is probably the least of the problems and I could see a Pathfinder caster and 5th edition caster each doing their thing roughly equally.

Magic Items: This is a big thing seperate from the class design. Pathfinder assumes numbers are going up because of magic items at a pretty decent pace (AC, attack, damage, saving throws, DCs) but 5th edition locks that down a lot more with the bonuses on powerful items being much less than in Pathfinder. If you play with Pathfinder monsters you would need to run with Pathfinder magic items more likely than not.

Without modifications, the 5th edition characters will be weaker as the levels roll by. The most reasonable way to handle it is to port the class abilities from one system to the other, but at that point you would be dealing with a lot of rough edges.


It would seem the far easier option would be to pre-build the characters for those players that don't want to pick magic items or feats. Each time they level up, you simply hand them their updated character sheet.

Will require a bit more time on your part, but would seem to resolve the issues.

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Tormsskull's idea is probably best.

The only other fix I can think of is to stat out each encounter twice: once for PF, once for 5th Ed. It looks like damage and hit points in both systems are pretty much the same, so you'd just have give each monster an AC for PF and an AC for 5th, Saves for PF and Saves for 5th, attack rolls for PF and attack rolls for 5th.

So an ogre might have PF AC 15, 5th Ed AC 13, 100 hit points, PF attack +8, 5th Ed attack +5, 1d10+3 damage, etc. etc.

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