Thinking of moving to D&D 5E, is there too much meta in Pathfinder?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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swoosh wrote:
Raynulf wrote:
But casters and martial character do tend to play as being a lot closer together in terms of balance and effectiveness.
At least until you get into minionomancy abuse with simulacrum and necromancy and all that jazz.

Minion abuse is much more difficult in 5e. There are a lot fewer summon spells, and they're not as strong as PF. Create Undead allows you to make a maximum of five CR 3 undead by level 17 with no further castings unless you want to lose control of them (and that's using a 9th leve spell slot). Or three CR 2 creatures at level 11, when you can first cast it. Animate Undead can give you a maximum of 17 CR 1/4 creatures by level 17 if you're a necromancer and you use a 9th level spell slot to cast it. Both those spells require the use of your bonus action to command them (one command per bonus action, but you can give multiple minions the same command), so it gets a little difficult to use both spells at the same time, and their CR is pretty low to be of that much use.

Simulacrum is still simulacrum, as best I can tell. But I was never much into that spell, so I could be wrong.

Remember, spells no longer automatically increase in power as you increase in level. You have to use a higher level spell slot to gain the power increase of a spell (range not withstanding).


Jiggy wrote:


This part is simply untrue. 5E heavily empowered skills as the primary means of interacting with the world, and gave even the martial classes enough proficiencies (and enough chance of success when untrained) that characters of different classes all have the capacity to engage the narrative. On top of this, the backgrounds (which are independent of class) offer special abilities that are very narrative-focused, such as being able to secure an audience with a noble or being able to count on people letting you hide out if you're wanted.

There's a very common error that gets made when a Pathfinder player tries out 5E, where they don't see narrative power in their class features, and therefore conclude they don't have any. It takes a while for a lot of folks to get used to the new paradigm of automatically getting some narrative agency just from the underlying rules of the system instead of having only what comes from your class.

None of that is really relevant to the point though. Everyone has skills. Skills are good in Pathfinder and 3.5 and 4e too. That doesn't change the fact that classes with skills + options have more narrative power than classes that just have a (small) selection of skills.

I think you have the skill bit completely backwards too. If anything 5e has disempowered the way certain classes can use skills really. The shift away from skill ranks combined with 5e's laserlike focus on making most classes SAD and making feats and ASIs mutually exclusive means that often times you're rolling naked proficiency bonuses or nothing at all when trying to use certain skills. Which generally makes you a lot worse at a big chunk of skills than you'd otherwise normally be.

So yeah, I don't really see an argument there for those classes having particularly more narrative power than their Pathfinder counterparts.

Backgrounds are... okay. They're often very niche though and require a lot of latitude from the DM in order to function effectively. But yeah, if you're in the right situation and have a sufficiently generous DM you can leverage your background for narrative bonuses.

But you can do that in Pathfinder too. By roleplaying.

You also have your progression backwards. I'm a 4e player who switched to 5e and then dropped it for Pathfinder when our grouped realized how constraining, unfulfilling and frankly incomplete it felt.


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swoosh wrote:
Jiggy wrote:


This part is simply untrue. 5E heavily empowered skills as the primary means of interacting with the world, and gave even the martial classes enough proficiencies (and enough chance of success when untrained) that characters of different classes all have the capacity to engage the narrative. On top of this, the backgrounds (which are independent of class) offer special abilities that are very narrative-focused, such as being able to secure an audience with a noble or being able to count on people letting you hide out if you're wanted.

There's a very common error that gets made when a Pathfinder player tries out 5E, where they don't see narrative power in their class features, and therefore conclude they don't have any. It takes a while for a lot of folks to get used to the new paradigm of automatically getting some narrative agency just from the underlying rules of the system instead of having only what comes from your class.

None of that is really relevant to the point though. Everyone has skills. Skills are good in Pathfinder and 3.5 and 4e too. That doesn't change the fact that classes with skills + options have more narrative power than classes that just have a (small) selection of skills.

I think you have the skill bit completely backwards too. If anything 5e has disempowered the way certain classes can use skills really. The shift away from skill ranks combined with 5e's laserlike focus on making most classes SAD and making feats and ASIs mutually exclusive means that often times you're rolling naked proficiency bonuses or nothing at all when trying to use certain skills. Which generally makes you a lot worse at a big chunk of skills than you'd otherwise normally be.

So yeah, I don't really see an argument there for those classes having particularly more narrative power than their Pathfinder counterparts.

The point is that everyone can to use skills with a reasonable chance of success (if it's their thing) rather than PF's model of "autosuccess" or "don't bother trying". Also, the alternative (magic) is much more costly and less effective in 5E than in PF.

If you're playing a PF game and you get to some obstacle, it's usually best to magic your way past. If you're playing a 5E game, it's usually best to use skills (at least first). Since martial characters are as competent at skills as the magical types - they don't lack in narrative power compared to their counterparts.

The key thing to realise is that magic is more expensive (since you get much fewer spell slots, especially at the high levels) and that chances of success are greatly boosted for nearly everyone (although the auto-successes have been toned down - which is why it appears that skills are "worse" in 5E than in PF).

The imbalance was catered to by making magic less effective and/or more costly in resources compared to the same solution in PF, rather than by making martial characters better than their PF analogs.


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swoosh wrote:
Backgrounds are... okay. They're often very niche though and require a lot of latitude from the DM in order to function effectively. But yeah, if you're in the right situation and have a sufficiently generous DM you can leverage your background for narrative bonuses.

This is flatly untrue. Backgrounds are an integral part of character creation and provide four of [skill, tool, language] proficiencies. It is literally how one expands their proficiencies outside of class and race. It is most certainly not niche and not dependent on GM - unless you're trying to create your own background from scratch. But even then, the PHB has rules and guidelines for doing such. Choosing those four proficiencies from your character background is a part of character creation - just as much as choosing your race and class. It is not an optional rule.

Quote:
But you can do that in Pathfinder too. By roleplaying.

No such background mechanic exists in pathfinder.

That's the thing - 5e introduced a background mechanic. Prior to that, all D&D iterations had background fluff, but no mechanics. You might qualify 2e's secondary skills as a background mechanic if you chose to use them.

Edit: Just remembered certain feats that Paizo released that can only be taken at level 1 and may improve upon certain quest completions. I'd qualify that as a background mechanic, even if it is optional and required the use of a feat to obtain.

Quote:
I'm a 4e player who switched to 5e and then dropped it for Pathfinder when our grouped realized how constraining,

You're not the first 4e player I've seen with this sentiment. I think it comes from being used to having your character sheet listing all your options, rather than just having those options available to anyone through a flexible rule system. It's a similar mindset that exists in 3.X - options come from the character (and from the character sheet) rather than just existing.

To claim that 5e is constraining is to exhibit a serious misunderstanding of the game. It is far from constraining - it is the exact opposite. I've finally got my players to start thinking outside the character sheet! I've been trying for years! But I come from the 2e era where that was common. In the 3.X and 4e eras, you could do what your sheet said you could do, and often anything else was either impossible or so difficult that it would be a waste of an action to try. Sometimes this ain't the case, but there are so many times where it is the case that we often don't think to try during those times where it isn't. 5e brings us back to the 2e mentality where you can do so much more outside of the character sheet, we just have to use our imaginations in this manner again.

This is what I mean by a different mindset. We have to think outside the character sheet. If we don't, 5e will feel limited.

(And yes, we still use our imagination in 3.X and 4e, we just use it in a different way - hence "different mindset")

This isn't meant to be insulting. It's simply a matter of fact. I've been playing PF for over seven years now (D&D for over 25 years) and I've been an active member of these boards and other D&D forums for the past fifteen years, and I've seen it over and over and over from people asking for advice, talking about rules, and arguing about how to play and GM. I've experienced it myself and I've been battling it with my players (not only in my irl game but in the many games I've GM'd and played online) for years. We learn to use our imagination in other ways that we forget to use options that exist outside our character sheet - often because those options were limited or worse than what was on the character sheet. 5e brings us to where options outside the character sheet have become viable again, so we have to change our way of thinking to re-incorporate those options. Failing to do so will result in the belief that 5e is limited and incomplete. It is not.

Likewise - coming from a mindset where you often think outside the character sheet, only to find that you can't do something because you don't have the feat or the ability can feel very limiting. The problem isn't the system, it's the mindset. Going from 2e or 5e over to 3.X or 4e requires a different mindset. 3.X and 4e are much more complex systems and require that we think in a different way and use our imagination in a different way. They're different games and require different mindsets to enjoy. It's not too difficult to change our mindsets - we just have to approach the different games from different perspectives.


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Not quite true. Forgotten Realms 3.0/3.5 had regional back grounds that provided starting equipments and bonus feat options.

Other than that I agree with everything you say book rat. : D


Steve Geddes wrote:
The point is that everyone can to use skills with a reasonable chance of success (if it's their thing) rather than PF's model

I haven't really found that to be true. Even with proficiency I've found the lack of skill ranks (and therefore emphasis on ability mod) means that characters really struggle to have any meaningful success with skills that don't line up with your stat array. A low/neutral charisma fighter in pathfinder can roll a decent intimidate with ranks and other tools. In 5e you're going to be rolling really low values with those same stats and it's much harder to improve.

bookrat wrote:
This is flatly untrue. Backgrounds are an integral part of character creation and provide four of [skill, tool, language] proficiencies. It is literally how one expands their proficiencies outside of class and race.

A miscommunication, my fault. This point was specifically referencing the "features" section of the background. The nonmechanically defined fluff abilitie such as the Hermit's discovery or the Pirate's Bad Reputation. When and where and how effective they are is entirely at the whim of DM adjudication. That's what the point was referencing and what the person I was replying to seems to have been discussing.

Quote:
That's the thing - 5e introduced a background mechanic. Prior to that, all D&D iterations had background fluff, but no mechanics. You might qualify 2e's secondary skills as a background mechanic if you chose to use them.

Like I said, the feature component of the backgrounds doesn't really have a mechanical aspect to it and isn't really all that distinct, again, from simply roleplaying which you can always do.

Quote:
You're not the first 4e player I've seen with this sentiment. I think it comes from being used to having your character sheet listing all your options, rather than just having those options available to anyone through a flexible rule system. It's a similar mindset that exists in 3.X - options come from the character (and from the character sheet) rather than just existing.

Perhaps you're right, but my thought on the matter is just the opposite: 4e is a game designed purely around combat. You have skills, you have a few abilities that provide utility, but the vast majority of your out of combat utility is left up to however you as a group decide to roleplay it. So the "work outside your character sheet" angle was something we already had to do, which made me less than impressed with 5e turning around and touting its lack of rules and features as some sort of bonus.

Quote:
To claim that 5e is constraining is to exhibit a serious misunderstanding of the game. It is far from constraining - it is the exact opposite.

I have to disagree. It's very, very constraining. 5e's system provides very limited tools. It does, however, create the illusion of options by leaving so much of the game up in the air and vague. But, again, I don't really feel an emphasis on DM adjudication is a point in 5e's favor because rule 0 exists in every game.

5e certainly does make skill use a bit more appealing an option with how much more limited general magic is, but I still think a lot of the core problems persist and coming from other games, the way skills and feats and ASIs and class features are designed, 5e can feel very, very suffocating if you aren't playing a spellcaster and I don't think "thinking outside the character sheet" really fixes that, because I can do the same thing in 4e and PF and 3.5 and 2e and OD&D and shadowrun and FATE and WoD et al.

Putting all your attacks on one action that doesn't constrain your movement is nice though. Really, really, really nice.

I also really like 5e's Bard and Rogue. The rogue is a great example of a martial character with strong narrative power in their class features. I just don't think those improvements extend to classes like the Fighter or Monk.

Quote:
This isn't meant to be insulting.

Why would I be insulted? It's interesting seeing how other people view RPGs relative to my own perceptions of what is good or bad in system design.


Kurald Galain wrote:

The main argument for AND against 5E is whether or not you like bounded accuracy.

If you want every PC to have an even chance at every task, use 5E. If you want trained characters to be markedly better than untrained, or high-level characters than low-level, use PF instead.

Splatbook bloat is easily countered by running a core-only campaign, or otherwise limiting the books used. In terms of learning curve for beginning players, I see no substantial difference between the two (sure, PF has more rules, but a beginning player doesn't need to know them).

The idea that everyone needs an even chance at everything is one of the prime things I hate about 5e. I don't believe people who get to level with lots of hitpoints and lots of options for AC increasing should be as powerful at 20 as people who level with half the hp and far fewer effective ways of enhancing AC.

At the same time, with the advent of warpriest I kind of think Cleric unchained should be more Ecclistheurge than med armor with shield.


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swoosh wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
The point is that everyone can to use skills with a reasonable chance of success (if it's their thing) rather than PF's model
I haven't really found that to be true. Even with proficiency I've found the lack of skill ranks (and therefore emphasis on ability mod) means that characters really struggle to have any meaningful success with skills that don't line up with your stat array. A low/neutral charisma fighter in pathfinder can roll a decent intimidate with ranks and other tools. In 5e you're going to be rolling really low values with those same stats and it's much harder to improve.

It is true that your scores remain comparatively low, but what is often neglected in these discussions is the much lower DCs that go along with it.

It's expected that you'll meet challenges with a DC of 8-12 early on, maybe mid teens middle of your career and near 20 at the upper end. (I don't have my book with me, I'm basing that on the challenges in the published adventures and the DCs of monster abilities one resists).

What I've seen a few times is people from a PF mindset looking at a +5 bonus that rarely improves and equating it with a +5 bonus in PF. In Pathfinder you'll never achieve anything with that (without pouring character resources into it as you suggest with your intimidating fighter example) in 5E, you won't be as good as the expert with +10, but you're still in the ballpark.

Another not-often appreciated feature of attribute use in 5E is that the skill use doesn't have to remain tied to the 'usual' stat. So, if your big, hulking fighter were to intimidate someone just by threateningly looming behind the guy who was doing all the talking, it's entirely reasonable to make a Strength (Intimidate) check. People sometimes dismiss it (because it's DM judgement) but it is part of the written rules around attribute checks.


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swoosh wrote:
5e's system provides very limited tools. It does, however, create the illusion of options by leaving so much of the game up in the air and vague. But, again, I don't really feel an emphasis on DM adjudication is a point in 5e's favor because rule 0 exists in every game.

Whilst I agree with the general principle here (I like DM fiat and I think rule zero is not only part of the rules of an RPG it's the part that trumps all the others, making the rest of them little more than optional). Nonetheless, explicitly calling that out as desirable and as an intentional design choice makes it more palatable to the players, in my experience.

In Pathfinder, there are feats/abilities/rule subsystems/tables/charts and so forth to cover an enormous number of circumstances. The common result of that (in my circle of gaming friends) is that "if it's not in the rules, you can't do it" - it's not really true and if push comes to shove they'll probably concede it isn't true. Nonetheless, when confronted with an obstacle, they'll search through the rules and the subset of the rules pertaining to their character looking for how it is 'supposed' to be solved.

In 5E, by contrast, the rules are explicitly intended to have gaps. There's a mechanic, some numbers, some targets and you're expected to use those general principles to adjudicate situations quickly. If there's a guard at the corner of the building and you want to creep up and backstab him, there is no point looking in the rules for how that is resolved because they don't go into details (stealth was specifically called out by the designers as one of the areas they didn't want to codify too much) - it's deliberately left vague and 'situational' (ie in the hands of the DM).

I basically play all RPGs the same as I play my favorite (S&W/AD&D) - nonetheless, I definitely see the way rules are written as impacting on the mindset we adopt when we play.


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swoosh wrote:
Why would I be insulted? It's interesting seeing how other people view RPGs relative to my own perceptions of what is good or bad in system design.

The last time I presented such a view, the person I was conversing with took a lot of offense. I was trying to be proactive.

Thank you for taking what I said with a critical eye and with a reasonable tone. :)


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Quote:
No such background mechanic exists in pathfinder.

... thats what traits are...


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Ravingdork wrote:
In our games, the party has survived multiple TPK-worthy encounters in 5E not because the fighters excelled at killing things, but because my wizard could cast gust of wind to hold the enemies at bay while everyone pelted them with ranged attacks, or because my abjurer had cast alarm prior to an attempted night ambush on our camp, or could send his familiar (or a similar spell) to get help when the party was looking to get captured.

Are you sure the fight wouldn't just have been won another way if you hadn't been there?

A "TPK-worthy encounter" where the enemy are foiled by gust of wind sounds like hyperbole to me (or very situational, anyhow). Having said that - such an occurrence in itself isn't a bad thing. I don't think a good way to address M/CD is by making casters have no impact on encounters/narrative. Beating an encounter with gust of wind is great, provided the martials get to save the day sometimes as well.

Silver Crusade

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And here I am running Reign of Winter with very few restrictions (no evil, no unchained summoners, no ninjas or Samurai)...

So far 3 deaths, and 2 near TPKs, one from a giant weasel, and the players have spent more time chasing down the Paladin's horse (who isn't a companion animal yet and isn't combat trained so it runs away as soon as there is danger).

And we have 2 more people than normal in our party.

So I'd say it's not Pathfinder, it's maybe your players, maybe the AP, and maybe a bit of work needed balancing stuff.


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Milo v3 wrote:
Quote:
No such background mechanic exists in pathfinder.
... thats what traits are...

You seem unfamiliar with the background mechanic in 5e. Traits in pathfinder are hard numerical bonus or per day ability.

The backgrounds from 5e grant narrative power like securing an audience with a noble or a thief background having a buddies to hide the party away for awhile.


Scavion wrote:

You seem unfamiliar with the background mechanic in 5e. Traits in pathfinder are hard numerical bonus or per day ability.

The backgrounds from 5e grant narrative power like securing an audience with a noble or a thief background having a buddies to hide the party away for awhile.

I have played 5e, so no, I am familiar with them (and to be honest I dislike the mechanic). Traits in pathfinder are things like having rich parents, having been raised by dwarves, having a mystical bond with your sibling, that you killed someone at a young age, that your dedicated to protecting your family, that you learnt your combat style by learning the ways of the animals, that your body was born a living holy symbol for your god, that you have a guardian angel, that you were raised by a herbalist or healer so you've picked up a bit of knowledge, that you were raised by heretics so it's hard for you to accept divine magic, that you are an omen of some future event, that you instinctually know about the planes rather than being something that you were taught, that you are the chosen one (seriously that is one), that your difficult birth required healing magic and thus are a conduit of positive energy, you are possessed but because of that you have a bit more knowledge than the character on their own would have, that you were raised on the streets, that you're a bastard, that you've lived your life as a merchant or sailor or a criminal, etc.

There is a reason why traits are in the Background Chapter of Ultimate Campaign.


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Milo, I thought you said that you hadn't played 5e in a previous post in this thread?

I can see your point, but 5e backgrounds still do more than Traits. I think it's also worth mentioning that character flaws and story cues (bonds) are also built into the Background part of 5e character creation. The Background aspect is a lot more than a one-liner followed by a mechanical character advantage. It's a short process of having to discover and describe details about your character, and those decisions are far more visible in the 5e final character.


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Milo v3 wrote:
Traits in pathfinder are things like having rich parents, having been raised by dwarves, having a mystical bond with your sibling, that you killed someone at a young age, that your dedicated to protecting your family, that you learnt your combat style by learning the ways of the animals, that your body was born a living holy symbol for your god, that you have a guardian angel, that you were raised by a herbalist or healer so you've picked up a bit of knowledge, that you were raised by heretics so it's hard for you to accept divine magic, that you are an omen of some future event, that you instinctually know about the planes rather than being something that you were taught, that you are the chosen one (seriously that is one), that your difficult birth required healing magic and thus are a conduit of positive energy, you are possessed but because of that you have a bit more knowledge than the character on their own would have, that you were raised on the streets, that you're a bastard, that you've lived your life as a merchant or sailor or a criminal, etc.

Do you consider that "a mechanic" though? (Genuine question, not a challenge).


Coffee Demon wrote:
Milo, I thought you said that you hadn't played 5e in a previous post in this thread?

No, I said the opposite.

Quote:
I can see your point, but 5e backgrounds still do more than Traits. I think it's also worth mentioning that character flaws and story cues (bonds) are also built into the Background part of 5e character creation. The Background aspect is a lot more than a one-liner followed by a mechanical character advantage. It's a short process of having to discover and describe details about your character, and those decisions are far more visible in the 5e final character.

Flaws are also built in as part of the traits system. Still, I dislike 5e backgrounds, they don't really accomplish anything traits don't (even the skill things is done by traits, and it's even more better if you use Unchained Background skills rules), the items they give feel restrictive (I know you can change them but at that point why have them at all?), and I'd prefer special abilities that are tied to them were just flavour rather than "you need this background to do this" since it seems like it goes in complete opposition to 5e's thought process.

edit:

Quote:
Do you consider that "a mechanic" though? (Genuine question, not a challenge).

I do. They can be reflavoured of course, or the flavour can be ignored though. But they are definitely mechanics since they give you new abilities, give you new class skills, change how different skills work, and give bonuses.


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No, I meant the bits you listed. I know they have mechanical benefits (like new class skills or whatever) but all the things you listed as part of traits (which I assumed were intended as analogs to "you can get an audience with a noble" or "common folk will shelter you" or "you can contact a criminal organisation" etcetera).

In my mind, the Features of 5E traits are mechanical benefits of a different kind to the skill/tool proficiencies. I think the latter are good analogs for the mechanical benefits of PF traits, but I don't think there's a PF equivalent for the Features.

EDIT: I don't think it really matters about the line between flavor and mechanics, I'm just curious (as I would have predicted you'd classify all the bits I quoted above as flavor, not mechanics).


Steve Geddes wrote:

No, I meant the bits you listed. I know they have mechanical benefits (like new class skills or whatever) but all the things you listed as part of traits (which I assumed were intended as analogs to "you can get an audience with a noble" or "common folk will shelter you" or "you can contact a criminal organisation" etcetera).

In my mind, the Features of 5E traits are mechanical benefits of a different kind to the skill/tool proficiencies. I think the latter are good analogs for the mechanical benefits of PF traits, but I don't think there's a PF equivalent for the Features.

EDIT: I don't think it really matters about the line between flavor and mechanics, I'm just curious (as I would have predicted you'd classify all the bits I quoted above as flavor, not mechanics).

I think the "you can get an audience with a noble"/"common folk will shelter you"/"you can contact a criminal organisation"'s is the mechanic aspect, but it's still wrapped in separate flavour that can be changed which is the Criminal, Noble, Sailor, Folk Hero aspect.

The flavour and mechanics are tied together, but that is true of most mechanics and flavour in the games. Both PF's traits and 5e's backgrounds are a combination of flavour and mechanics.


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Nevermind, we've wandered into tangled cross purpose talking - I was asking about the PF traits....

It's really not important, I was just curious. Cheers. :)


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thejeff wrote:
Except that a lot of those spells have been rebalanced since 1st edition, in some cases since 3rd. Haste, knock, invisibility have all been nerfed pretty drastically. (Though haste lost the aging penalty.)

Granted, the mechanics have adjusted (I'm not sure on the "nerf" on invisibility, personally, as it seems much the same in Pathfinder as it was in 1st edition), but the overall effect is still the same: Magic is the best solution.

We played two campaigns (in 3.5 admittedly) where the premise was that everyone had stealth capability and worked as a special ops team for the campaigns (Red Hand of Doom and Eyes of the Lich Queen, specifically). The reasoning was that in almost every game, when the rogue-types try to do their thing, they either have to have solo-time or the clomping thugs in armor make it impossible... so instead we'd try an entire party that could actually use stealth and subtlety. And in the end, they served as massive exercise of proving the degree to which magic trumps... well, everything else.

In 5th edition, they not only removed some of the spells (such as invisibility sphere and knock) but made them much less viable as a quick-fix to everything through the concentration mechanic: A caster can maintain fly, or silence or invisibility, not all of them, plus a half dozen other buffs.

This also comes across in combat: The casters cannot buff themselves up to the whazoo. Haste is a concentration spell and affects only one target, ever, and the list goes on. Without the buff stacking, the overwhelming power of high level casters is dramatically reduced as they simply cannot bring everything to bear like they do in 3.5 and Pathfinder.

That said, casters are still powerful, but even at 18th level I found the barbarians, rogues, fighters and monks were every bit as capable in and out of combat. At least, that's my experience with the system.


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Raynulf wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Except that a lot of those spells have been rebalanced since 1st edition, in some cases since 3rd. Haste, knock, invisibility have all been nerfed pretty drastically. (Though haste lost the aging penalty.)
Granted, the mechanics have adjusted (I'm not sure on the "nerf" on invisibility, personally, as it seems much the same in Pathfinder as it was in 1st edition), but the overall effect is still the same: Magic is the best solution.

Duration is the big change - 24 hours -> minute/level. Definitely at least an attempt to balance.

5E takes it all much farther, admittedly.


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Milo v3 wrote:
Quote:
No such background mechanic exists in pathfinder.
... thats what traits are...

*blink*. Oh wow. I had completely forgotten that traits were intended to be used as a background mechanic. Thank you for the correction.


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Scavion wrote:
Milo v3 wrote:
Quote:
No such background mechanic exists in pathfinder.
... thats what traits are...

You seem unfamiliar with the background mechanic in 5e. Traits in pathfinder are hard numerical bonus or per day ability.

The backgrounds from 5e grant narrative power like securing an audience with a noble or a thief background having a buddies to hide the party away for awhile.

You know, it is weird. Posters frequently mention that 5e has fewer definitions of what you can and can't do, leaving it open to DM interpretation. This is not directed at anyone in particular, but Scavion's post made me think of this.

Background abilities (be it Nobility or Seer or what have you) seems like it does the exact opposite. Maybe WotC thought they needed to inspire players to think more creatively when it comes to background, but saying that your background allows you to do research and gain hidden knowledge implies to me that you can't do the same sort of thing without that background.

Sure, there may be a sailor buddy in your history, but he can't give you free passage because that is a perk of a background you don't have.

And yes, a good DM will allow these sorts of things but it still rubs me the wrong way. Feels almost like a double standard. 5e is less explicit which is great. But it is also more explicit here, which is still great.

Not hating on 5e (I run one 5e game, one Pathfinder game, and one 3.5 game), but Background abilities are one of the things I dislike in that system. Good system overall.


Xethik wrote:
Scavion wrote:
Milo v3 wrote:
Quote:
No such background mechanic exists in pathfinder.
... thats what traits are...

You seem unfamiliar with the background mechanic in 5e. Traits in pathfinder are hard numerical bonus or per day ability.

The backgrounds from 5e grant narrative power like securing an audience with a noble or a thief background having a buddies to hide the party away for awhile.

You know, it is weird. Posters frequently mention that 5e has fewer definitions of what you can and can't do, leaving it open to DM interpretation. This is not directed at anyone in particular, but Scavion's post made me think of this.

Background abilities (be it Nobility or Seer or what have you) seems like it does the exact opposite. Maybe WotC thought they needed to inspire players to think more creatively when it comes to background, but saying that your background allows you to do research and gain hidden knowledge implies to me that you can't do the same sort of thing without that background.

Sure, there may be a sailor buddy in your history, but he can't give you free passage because that is a perk of a background you don't have.

And yes, a good DM will allow these sorts of things but it still rubs me the wrong way. Feels almost like a double standard. 5e is less explicit which is great. But it is also more explicit here, which is still great.

Not hating on 5e (I run one 5e game, one Pathfinder game, and one 3.5 game), but Background abilities are one of the things I dislike in that system. Good system overall.

I LIKE the background mechanic of 5e, but there is NOTHING that I find that says a DM MUST do what people say the Background provides as far as rulings go in the books. It's a background...some DM's run with it, some just treat it as more numbers.

It's really up to the DM...the same with TRAITS and backgrounds for Pathfinder.

A DM can totally run with the backgrounds of a character in PF as well and create additional things. This is NOT a 5e thing only.

Of course, with my love of Dragon Age over 5e these days...I should say that I like the way Dragon Age uses their backgrounds far more than 5e. To me they have a far greater impact on the RP arena that 5e's impacts on it.

I think the descriptions are more flavorful in the DARPG and give more area for the DM/GM to work off of than the 5e ones.


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Xethik wrote:


You know, it is weird. Posters frequently mention that 5e has fewer definitions of what you can and can't do, leaving it open to DM interpretation. This is not directed at anyone in particular, but Scavion's post made me think of this.

Background abilities (be it Nobility or Seer or what have you) seems like it does the exact opposite. Maybe WotC thought they needed to inspire players to think more creatively when it comes to background, but saying that your background allows you to do research and gain hidden knowledge implies to me that you can't do the same sort of thing without that background.

Sure, there may be a sailor buddy in your history, but he can't give you free passage because that is a perk of a background you don't have.

And yes, a good DM will allow these sorts of things but it still rubs me the wrong way. Feels almost like a double standard. 5e is less explicit which is great. But it is also more explicit here, which is still great.

Not hating on 5e (I run one 5e game, one Pathfinder game, and one 3.5 game), but Background abilities are one of the things I dislike in that system. Good system overall.

Obviously, it's up to DM interpretation, but my view of the Background perks is that they're simply automatic for characters with that background, but other characters can still achieve similar results through role-play and story events.

Basically, if it's your background perk, you can just do it. Anyone else can attempt the same thing, but it's probably going to require a few successful rolls and some RP to accomplish.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Xethik wrote:

...saying that your background allows you to do research and gain hidden knowledge implies to me that you can't do the same sort of thing without that background.

Sure, there may be a sailor buddy in your history, but he can't give you free passage because that is a perk of a background you don't have.

And yes, a good DM will allow these sorts of things but it still rubs me the wrong way. Feels almost like a double standard. 5e is less explicit which is great. But it is also more explicit here, which is still great.

Not hating on 5e (I run one 5e game, one Pathfinder game, and one 3.5 game), but Background abilities are one of the things I dislike in that system. Good system overall.

I think you've made a subtle but pivotal misinterpretation.

If you don't have a given background ability, then it's not that you can't do that thing... it's that you can't do that thing automatically and for free.

So to use the Noble background as an example, any party can try to secure an audience with a noble, but it might require flattery, bribery, diplomacy, coordinating favors from other NPCs, and so forth. What the Noble background does is let you just say, "I'm so-and-so, and I'd like an audience with other-so-and-so" and have it just work.

Same with the Sailor. A party without a Sailor might be able to talk the captain into letting you ride in exchange for helping with chores, or maybe you have to pay standard fare. Having the Sailor just means you can count on it. Or if you lack a Folk Hero, you can still try to convince someone to shelter you, but having a Folk Hero means they'll just DO it.

Now, you might be thinking I'm kind of stretching things and it's not reasonable to infer from what's written that this is how it's supposed to go. But look at, say, the Outlander background: you can forage for food for your party. Are you going to tell me that without an Outlander, it's literally impossible to forage? You can't catch fish or find berries or eat the animal you just killed in a random encounter unless you have an Outlander? Is that the reasonable interpretation? Or is the reasonable interpretation that non-Outlanders have to use the normal mechanics/methods to find food (like Nature checks or whatever) while the Outlander gets to just be automatic?

Or look at the other half of Outlander's ability: you can remember the layout of where you've been. Is it reasonable to interpret this is meaning that non-Outlanders immediately forget the layout of anyplace they've left, causing them to constantly be lost? Or might it be more reasonable to interpret it to mean that IF you come to a situation where remembering the layout might be a challenge, other people need to make checks while the Outlander auto-succeeds?

Can non-Acolytes never get healing from a temple? Or can they still pay for healing while Acolytes just get it for free? Is being a Noble the only way commoners will ever believe it's okay for you to be where you are? Or does that only come into play when you're in a suspicious place?

The list goes on. If you look at a certain handful of background abilities in a vacuum, it becomes easy to think that they're precluding other PCs from doing certain activities, but if you read through them all and think about it, it starts to become clear that that's not how it works.


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Xethik wrote:


You know, it is weird. Posters frequently mention that 5e has fewer definitions of what you can and can't do, leaving it open to DM interpretation. This is not directed at anyone in particular, but Scavion's post made me think of this.

Background abilities (be it Nobility or Seer or what have you) seems like it does the exact opposite. Maybe WotC thought they needed to inspire players to think more creatively when it comes to background, but saying that your background allows you to do research and gain hidden knowledge implies to me that you can't do the same sort of thing without that background.

Sure, there may be a sailor buddy in your history, but he can't give you free passage because that is a perk of a background you don't have.

And yes, a good DM will allow these sorts of things but it still rubs me the wrong way. Feels almost like a double standard. 5e is less explicit which is great. But it is also more explicit here, which is still great.

Not hating on 5e (I run one 5e game, one Pathfinder game, and one 3.5 game), but Background abilities are one of the things I dislike in that system. Good system overall.

More I think that the background allows you to do it mechanically - without relying on the GM fiat. That doesn't mean someone without the Sailor thing in the background can't be given a free passage, but that's up to the GM.

That said, I'd want to heavily modify some of those backgrounds for setting assumptions. I don't usually have major merchant guild influence in my worlds, for example.
Edit: Or being a Noble might give a lot more advantages in your own country than across the world. Or be even riskier in an enemy land.


One of my players uses the sage background to research which ancient ruins will hold specific items rather than generic/random treasure, and I find the group as whole is more invested than if they'd discovered the exact same item by chance.

Of course, if the player with the sage background doesn't research the dungeon, I don't award any treasure at all, instead saying, "It looks like it's common knowledge than the Goblins of the Broken Tooth are dirt poor; if only someone had done some research . . ." :P


Kalshane wrote:

Obviously, it's up to DM interpretation, but my view of the Background perks is that they're simply automatic for characters with that background, but other characters can still achieve similar results through role-play and story events.

Basically, if it's your background perk, you can just do it. Anyone else can attempt the same thing, but it's probably going to require a few successful rolls and some RP to accomplish.

True, but the bigger question is whether the DM plays up the perk or not. It's one thing to have a mechanical use of it, but the RP part is whether the DM is going to utilize a further background in relation to it. Are there some RP portions directly related to it, or is it simply going to be mechanical in usage?

I'd say, the same goes for traits in PF. You can use them straight up as a mechanical device, but a DM can also do the same thing...what RP backgrounds does it need or provide?

Where are all these friends or tribal members, or old associates in the military...or any number of other things that might be able to be brought up in Roleplaying instead of just using either as a mechanical aspect.


Kurald Galain wrote:

The main argument for AND against 5E is whether or not you like bounded accuracy.

If you want every PC to have an even chance at every task, use 5E. If you want trained characters to be markedly better than untrained, or high-level characters than low-level, use PF instead.

Splatbook bloat is easily countered by running a core-only campaign, or otherwise limiting the books used. In terms of learning curve for beginning players, I see no substantial difference between the two (sure, PF has more rules, but a beginning player doesn't need to know them).

I would probably say the main difference is that 5e gives the player more freedom in terms of roleplaying the kind of character he wants, whereas Pathfinder has very specific builds someone must play to be useful in a group.

Even though beastmaster rangers are somewhat underpowered in 5th edition, I can still play a halfling rodent wrangler with a dire rat companion and be effective as part of the group. In Pathfinder, it's "play a halfling outrider or go home."


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Jabborwacky wrote:
Kurald Galain wrote:

The main argument for AND against 5E is whether or not you like bounded accuracy.

If you want every PC to have an even chance at every task, use 5E. If you want trained characters to be markedly better than untrained, or high-level characters than low-level, use PF instead.

Splatbook bloat is easily countered by running a core-only campaign, or otherwise limiting the books used. In terms of learning curve for beginning players, I see no substantial difference between the two (sure, PF has more rules, but a beginning player doesn't need to know them).

I would probably say the main difference is that 5e gives the player more freedom in terms of roleplaying the kind of character he wants, whereas Pathfinder has very specific builds someone must play to be useful in a group.

Even though beastmaster rangers are somewhat underpowered in 5th edition, I can still play a halfling rodent wrangler with a dire rat companion and be effective as part of the group. In Pathfinder, it's "play a halfling outrider or go home."

This is absolutely not the case in any respect. I definitely feel that the breadth of options in Pathfinder give me more build variety than in 5e.


Arachnofiend wrote:
Jabborwacky wrote:
Kurald Galain wrote:

The main argument for AND against 5E is whether or not you like bounded accuracy.

If you want every PC to have an even chance at every task, use 5E. If you want trained characters to be markedly better than untrained, or high-level characters than low-level, use PF instead.

Splatbook bloat is easily countered by running a core-only campaign, or otherwise limiting the books used. In terms of learning curve for beginning players, I see no substantial difference between the two (sure, PF has more rules, but a beginning player doesn't need to know them).

I would probably say the main difference is that 5e gives the player more freedom in terms of roleplaying the kind of character he wants, whereas Pathfinder has very specific builds someone must play to be useful in a group.

Even though beastmaster rangers are somewhat underpowered in 5th edition, I can still play a halfling rodent wrangler with a dire rat companion and be effective as part of the group. In Pathfinder, it's "play a halfling outrider or go home."

This is absolutely not the case in any respect. I definitely feel that the breadth of options in Pathfinder give me more build variety than in 5e.

I heavily disagree. Just because I can make the halfling rodent wrangler in pathfinder (and I did), doesn't mean he is useful. For the dozens of characters I can make in pathfinder, only a small fraction of those are viable in a game due to the game's mechanics. I can't make a halfling who can dart around, peppering an opponent with ranged attacks without mounted combat due to their low movement speed. Similarly, their damage takes a significant hit for being small. The mechanics start making decisions for the player.


I think at this point there are so much overpowered stuff out here that you can build whatever concept you want and still come out OK unless you concept is explicitly "to suck at combat". So build diversity is still vastly in favor of PF provided you are ok with the vast amount of time and resarch needed to make it work.


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Arachnofiend wrote:
Jabborwacky wrote:
Kurald Galain wrote:

The main argument for AND against 5E is whether or not you like bounded accuracy.

If you want every PC to have an even chance at every task, use 5E. If you want trained characters to be markedly better than untrained, or high-level characters than low-level, use PF instead.

Splatbook bloat is easily countered by running a core-only campaign, or otherwise limiting the books used. In terms of learning curve for beginning players, I see no substantial difference between the two (sure, PF has more rules, but a beginning player doesn't need to know them).

I would probably say the main difference is that 5e gives the player more freedom in terms of roleplaying the kind of character he wants, whereas Pathfinder has very specific builds someone must play to be useful in a group.

Even though beastmaster rangers are somewhat underpowered in 5th edition, I can still play a halfling rodent wrangler with a dire rat companion and be effective as part of the group. In Pathfinder, it's "play a halfling outrider or go home."

This is absolutely not the case in any respect. I definitely feel that the breadth of options in Pathfinder give me more build variety than in 5e.

I'm not sure about more, per se, but PF definitely has lots of options. In my opinion, the difference is that PF's options are well defined and specific. Pathfinder is a complex rule system, and as such tried to be all inclusive in its rules. If you need a rule, more likely than not you can look it up and get very specific guidelines about how to proceed. More often than not you do not need a GM to interpret it, the rules are explicit. As mentioned before, I believe this provides player empowerment and player protection. The rules are there for all to see. The downside is that as these explicit options become available, it could become one more thing that I can't do because I didn't pick that option, like not having the feat which grants a bonus to intimidation when I break a piece of furniture against the wall. Why is that a feat, again?

5e, by comprison, is a rules flexible system. The rules and guidelines are generic. Sure, you can make just as much of a variety of builds (mostly through the entirely customizable background chapter, but also through the archetypes available to each class), but since the rules aren't explicit, it requires much more GM interpretation and communication. Building a character in 5e becomes an exercise in team building between the GM and the players (which makes theorycrafting much more difficult). This provides GM empowerment and requires much more communication between the GM and the players (which to me is a good thing). The downside is that it provides little player protection for a bad GM. But then we get back to the same bit of advice that us Paizo community members have always given for a player dealing with a bad GM: open up communication and if you can't resolve it, find a new table or change GMs.


bookrat wrote:
I''m not sure about more, per se, but PF definitely has lots of options. In my opinion, the difference is that PF's options are well defined and specific. Pathfinder is a complex rule system, and as such tried to be all inclusive in its rules. If you need a rule, more likely than not you can look it up and get very specific guidelines about how to proceed. More often than not you do not need a GM to interpret it, the rules are explicit. As mentioned before, I believe this provides player empowerment and player protection. The rules are there for all to see. The downside is that as these explicit options become available, it could become one more thing that I can't do because I didn't pick that option, like not having the feat which grants a bonus to intimidation when I break a piece of furniture against the wall. Why is that a feat, again?

This.

I run into this all the time as a GM. Someone will want to do something, and someone else at the table either has the Feat or knows about the Feat that allows that, and the player doesn't have it. As they develop more mechanics and label them "feats," the more this becomes an issue.


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On the other hand, if you do have the feat for it nobody can tell you you can't do it. That is what happened in my (admittedly limited) experience with 5E - it's mostly a game of "mother may I" with the GM where a player can never go into a game session with the assumption that what they have conceptualized is allowed.


Arachnofiend wrote:
On the other hand, if you do have the feat for it nobody can tell you you can't do it. That is what happened in my (admittedly limited) experience with 5E - it's mostly a game of "mother may I" with the GM where a player can never go into a game session with the assumption that what they have conceptualized is allowed.

Admittedly, this happens, too.

I just find that PF tends to tie my hands as both a GM and and a Player more because of all the Feats, with new ones coming out all the time, when really what Paizo has done is work out some mechanics to do something that Players (or GM's for NPCs and monsters) have wanted to do for a while. Prior to them developing the Feat for it, it was still GM fiat just like 5e. Post Feat creation, it then becomes: "Do you have the Feat for it? If not, no." Even if it makes sense that most anyone could and should be able to do it. I've simply been home-ruling that some Feats are my guideline for that action and allow anyone to do it.


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Arachnofiend wrote:
On the other hand, if you do have the feat for it nobody can tell you you can't do it. That is what happened in my (admittedly limited) experience with 5E - it's mostly a game of "mother may I" with the GM where a player can never go into a game session with the assumption that what they have conceptualized is allowed.

This is correct. PF and complex rules systems like it provide player protection. And I've actually used the term "mother-may-I" while describing 5e. This is why I emphatically state that the two systems require different mindsets to enjoy.

Mother-may-I isn't a bad thing when open and honest communication is the standard and happens often. A player describes a situation, the GM thinks about it and says yes or no, and the player follows up with an argument* for why it should be in their favor, and the GM thinks about it and provides an argument* back, and so forth until resolved.

In my games, this happens very rapidly; especially combined with how much the PHB and the DMG recommend that you rule in the players favor for the betterment of the game and the enjoyment of the table. 5e is designed for a "you want to try that? Ok, let's determine the difficulty and the appropriate skill."

*Using the definition of argument where you present your opinion with backing evidence with intent to pursuade, not the colloquially used term for yelling at each other.


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Yeah, I don't deny the existence of 5E is a very good thing for people who enjoy a system where the rules are relaxed/weakened to loosen up what's possible for the narrative, it's just not for me since I prefer a rules heavy approach where I can walk into a game and more or less know what the expectations are and what I am capable of doing.

Maybe it's just because I come from a video gamer background but I personally feel more free in my decisions when I know what the limitations are. When I'm only guessing on whether or not a choice is valid it's difficult for me to make a choice at all.


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Arachnofiend wrote:

Yeah, I don't deny the existence of 5E is a very good thing for people who enjoy a system where the rules are relaxed/weakened to loosen up what's possible for the narrative, it's just not for me since I prefer a rules heavy approach where I can walk into a game and more or less know what the expectations are and what I am capable of doing.

Maybe it's just because I come from a video gamer background but I personally feel more free in my decisions when I know what the limitations are. When I'm only guessing on whether or not a choice is valid it's difficult for me to make a choice at all.

I hear ya.

This is why I've been careful not to say that one system is better than another. They are simply different systems and will be enjoyed by different people.

From my perspective, many of us gamers think because PF is so similar to 3.0/5. Then PF would be similar to 5e and don't make the attempt to change our mindset for the new system. Then, going in with the wrong mindset causes us to dislike what we see. By changing our mindset and seeing the system from the appropriate view, we can truly give a judgment to whether we like it.

Some, like myself, love it. Others, like yourself, don't. And that's fair. What's not fair is saying I don't like it when I haven't even given it the proper viewing - or worse, telling others why it's bad because of my own misunderstandings.

Also, Paizo is very explicit about not insulting other systems or other companies, and I've taken that to heart and have tried to follow their example in professional courtesy.


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Well, if you want to make that comparison PF also is a game of "Mother may I".
"Mother may I" use that sourcebook?
"Mother may I" take that OP archetype?
"Mother may I" take that stupidly retarded feat?
"Mother may I" learn that extremely umbalanced spell?

I mean, even the most "by the rulebook" game out there, sanctioned by Paizo themself, has a laundry list of "Mother may I" yes/no, and is not enaugh to stop table variance to pop up every other time.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

There is a large difference between 'may I use this rule' versus 'may I take this action'.

The first involves discussion before the game, while the second is during the game.


...I'd argue that that is a different situation because banning sourcebooks happens before character creation, not after, but I'm pretty sure you have no desire for a civil conversation.


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That's not really unique to Pathfinder though. Every tabletop ever requires you to ask your GM what is and isn't allowed and so on.

Heck, 5e goes out of its way to call almost everything a variant rule.


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And though it's not "Mother may I" in quite the same way, it's easy enough for a GM to get the same basic effect just by setting up the world. He's creating the environment you're dealing with - both the physical setting and any NPCs. He can thus control difficulties and outcomes by messing with the starting conditions, not your abilities.


TriOmegaZero wrote:

There is a large difference between 'may I use this rule' versus 'may I take this action'.

The first involves discussion before the game, while the second is during the game.

Maybe I missed some points, but I was quite sure the talk was about feats

This

Quote:
I run into this all the time as a GM. Someone will want to do something, and someone else at the table either has the Feat or knows about the Feat that allows that, and the player doesn't have it. As they develop more mechanics and label them "feats," the more this becomes an issue.

was the starting point of the discussion.

Banning/allowing feats is conceptually the same as banning/allowing certain actions, at least in my view.

Arachnofiend wrote:
I'm pretty sure you have no desire for a civil conversation.

How about we keep the personal insults out? I don't remember calling anyone an a~@#*%! yet, so I'd like for the other to extend me the same curtesy.


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Like thejeff said, setting DC's is a version of "mother-may-I". GMs can make it nearly impossible to do something, even when you have the skill or feat for it, except for a few spelled out DCs that are in the book. So that aspect still exists in both systems.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Dekalinder wrote:
Banning/allowing feats is conceptually the same as banning/allowing certain actions, at least in my view.

Not really, in my view. Again, one happens before the game, the other during. That is a fairly large difference, especially if the rules were agreed upon before the game and then changed during.

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