What Can Pathfinder / Paizo Do That 5E Can't


General Discussion


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Some of the posters here are claiming that PF2 is going to be 5E lite or whatever. I don't think it will be but 5E had a lot of great ideas IMHO that would improve a hypothetical OSR game, a new 3.X game, a hypothetical 6E game or even a 4.5. However 5E won't scratch every itch and I think they dropped the ball in a few places for a variety of reasons. I play all sorts of D&D and I can generally find something in them I like even the rough ones like OD&D or 1E AD&D or even 4E.

Note I have played a lot of 5E and even if you like the system there are some major flaws in, some minor ones and some things that other D&D's do differently that you might like better some of the time. %E may have also carried the simple is better concept a bit to far or did not think of some of the ramifications of concepts like bounded accuracy. A bit more complexity is fine, but its a fine line between more options are good and "this is to complex I don't want to play it".

1. Micro Feats Are Core.

In 5E feats are optional and they are bigger than 3.X feats roughly being 2 or 3 feats rolled into one. On occasion I do miss 3E and 4E type feats conceptually,in execution not so much. However there is a wide variance in feat power and while feats are optional its an on/off thing and if you like organised play they are not optional. This means feats like Great Weapon Master get compared with actor and that feat and Sharpshooter are generally regarded as a somewhere between overpowered if not out right broken as they have the problems of 3.x power attack- -1 to hit/+2 damage at least as a ratio as they are fixed at -5/+10. You can cleave in 5E using GWM feat but not with a battle axe or longsword. If 5E had micro feats you have a cleave effect and a power attack type effect on 1 feat.
If you design the PF2 feats right you can have better balance+ more options.

2. Breaking up Feats into Combat Feats and Non Combat Feats

A problem with a lot of the crap/weak or non combat feats in Pathfinder and 3E are that they are competing with powerful combat feats such as 3.5's power attack. Back in 2E AD&D they used to have weapon proficiency (proto feats in effect), and non weapon proficiency- the classes got both. In late 2E they merged these with the optional character point system in Skills and Powers and in 3.0 the non combat feats were lumped in with all the feats. A few classes got specific feats as bonus ones in 3.0/3.5 which in effect became class abilities (scribe scroll for wizards, ranger and monk bonus feats).Rather than taking options away form other classes this is giving you more options but expanding the power levels sideways rather than pushing it up. Of course some classes should get more combat feats than other. Conceptually this is a good idea, PF2 may need some organisation work. 2E AD&D for example had general NWP, Rogue, wizard, priest and warrior categories. It needs some work ATM but the idea is good.

3. Paizo Can Make Great Adventures.

If Paizo announced Rise of the Rune Lords for 5E tomorrow I think a lot of 5E players would rejoice and the old 3.5 ones Savage Tide and Age of Worms would arguably work better in 5E than 3.5 especially Savage Tide. Not all of the Paizo APs have been great but you can say the same about the WoTC ones as well and they made 1 stinker in Hoard of the Dragon Queen. Generally the worst Paizo AP is average vs out right bad even if it doesn't interest you or they are pushing the envelope with new mechanics (magi tech, domain rules etc). At the worst Paizo APs are average and formulaic, that is not a bad thing as such. At best you would have contenders for top 30 list of all time adventures, 5E has perhaps one or two contenders there.

4. Golarion.

What campaign settings are good or not is purely subjective, personally I am not a fan of Ravenloft or Dragonlance. Golarion as far as kitchen sink settings is a good one I think reminiscent of early FR and Mystara with a dash of Eberron. It has also not suffered form any Realms Shaking events to blow it up. Once again I don't think there would be to many 5E players upset if they ever converted Golarion to 5E such is its quality and some things like the Red Mantis could easily become a rogue archetype.5E has taken a story based approach and made FR front and centre. Perosnally FR fdied for me at the end of 3E into 4E I prefer Golarion and have used it for retroclones for example. Conceptually the difference between the Sword coast and Varissia is not that much.

5. Saving throws.
Well 5E kind of missed the boat on saving throws. They are very unbalanced with some being drastically better than others (con saves for spellcasters come to mind) while intelligence saves being all but useless. The saves are not all equal with wisdom saves and con saves being very good, dex saves are OK and the others less valuable. Classes with proficiency in con saves+ charisma or strength are a lot better than dex+ intelligence or intelligence+ wisdom. The other compounding problem is that since the saves do not really scale some of the classes primary stat they have huge incentive to boost matches up with one of the good primary saves (con, wisdom dex). A cleric with 20 wisdom for example may have a +11 wisdom save while a fighter who likely has a 14 wisdom probably lower has +2 while a wizard will have +11 wisdom saves and +8 wisdom saves with that 14 intelligence. Most classes only get 5 ASIs so the opportunity cost of buffing a bad save or attribute is quite high assuming you want to max your primary stat. There is still a wide variance between good and bad saves and since DCs are tied to your increasing proficiency bonus in effect most saves get worse as you level up as DCs increase but most saves do not. 3 saves are also easier than 6 and in 5E most aves are con/wis/dex anyway.

6. Intelligence is the Ultimate Dump Stat
In 5E unless you are a wizard and maybe one of the 1/3rd casters intelligence is semi useless. There are very few intelligence saves in the game and you do not get more skills or languages or anything off it. There are a few intelligence based skills but most of them you can live without or make do by being proficient in them with a 10 or 12 intelligence score (or buf using the cleric guidance spell).

7.Interesting Weapons and Armor.
There was not to much wrong with the 3.5 armour system and the weapons could do with a tweak perhaps. In this regard 5E may have simplified things a bit to far. 3.5, Pathfinder, and 4E all have their issues but this is not a major one IMHO apart from maybe the 3E crit hit system. 5E functionally has 3 armors in the game- studded leather, plate and whatever the best medium armor is and the usefulness of medium armor is more for spellcasters due to who strength and dex work in determining attack rolls combined with the amount of ASI's you get.

Pathfinder has more interesting armour IMH0 that is still reasonably simple to grok. Well exotic weapons could die in a fire I suppose but you could combine elements of the two to have a simple and effective weapon system. For example you can have 3.5 weapon crits deal crits like 5E but replacing the X2 and X3 effects with extra dice educing rocket tag but you crit more often as you dump the roll to confirm element. Crits would still be worth getting (great axes deal 3d12 damage, greatswords 4d6). You can do some interesting things with weapons in 5E but its more or less gated to classes such as Monks being able to weapon finesse spears for example. Or a mountain dwarf sorcerer wading into combat with a battleaxe. Whatever you do there you have design space different from 5E that can still be reasonably simple to pull off while being interesting/effective.

Silver Crusade

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PF2 is a system capable of facilitating non-identical characters of the same class. It is barely hyperbole to say that all 5e characters of the same class are identical.


Nothing, absolutely nothing. Both can sit there like books on a shelf, or files on my laptop, and not DO much else.

Both can provide me with hours of entertainment if I put a little effort into it.


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ThePuppyTurtle wrote:
PF2 is a system capable of facilitating non-identical characters of the same class. It is barely hyperbole to say that all 5e characters of the same class are identical.

For Mechanics, that's only true if you ignore race, background, feat choice, skill choice, class options, equipment choice, and magic items.

Beyond mechanics, that's only true if you ignore role-playing.

I'm in a game with four rangers, and they're all vastly different. I've run games with multiple fighters who were all unique. I've been in games with two land druids who you would never be able to tell they were the same class. And I've seen games where only one class was allowed, and every character was unique.

The claim that all characters of the same class are identical in 5e is only true for those who lack imagination.

Heck, I'm running an off-shoot of 5e that only has four classes, and with 7 players you'd think the same was true, but they're all truly unique individuals. They key is to actually role-play your character to come up with a unique person. If you rely on the mechanics to make your character a true person, then you're missing out on entire portions of the game.


I may be mistaken, but it seems to me that Pathfinder 2 can expand upon skills, regardless of class, far more easily and readily than 5E. Which is huge for me. One of my biggest gripes with 5E.


5e is built around providing next to no rules relying very heavily on DM guidance. I can barely call it a rule set really, the system could be dispensed with in favor of rolling 1d6 calling success on things you should be good at on a 3-6 and on things you shouldn't be good at on a 5-6. It is easy to run, but it's harder to run than it needs to be considering how little it provides.

So the easiest answer is, Paizo can provide a full rule set for playing and running a game.


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I think the biggest strength of Pathfinder 2 is that I can come up with different classes with different mechanical focuses in their completeness as well as hybridize.

I'm going to give an example of that with Paladins, because I am a Paladin guy, and I spent the whole weekend looking at the Paladin in extremes.

-----
Paladin 1: The Healadin

Class Feat Chain:
01. Hospice Knight
02. Warded Touch
04. Mercy
06. Channel Life
08. Greater Mercy
10. Cleric Dedication
12. Affliction Mercy
14. Basic Cleric Spellcasting
16. Expert Cleric Spellcasting
18. Ultimate Mercy
20. Divine Breadth

This is a Paladin/Cleric - By starting with a 12 Wisdom and raising it at 5 and 10 you hit the Requirements for Cleric Devotion as you get there - In addition to the bonuses a high Will save has - This gives you a few extra spells per day, and at level 20 is bolstered by divine Breadth. You heal a lot of HP, you cover a lot of status ailments, and in the end have 2 spell slots for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th level Cleric Spells. Not too bad!
-----

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Paladin 2: The Divine Swordmaiden of Iomedae
(This uses the Sword Ally)

Class Feat Chain:
01: Deity's Domain (Iomedae) (Zeal: Weapon Surge) (+1 SP)
02: Fighter Dedication
04: Basic Maneuver: Dueling Parry
06: Attack of Opportunity
08: Blade of Justice
10: Advanced Domain (Iomedae) (Zeal: Prepare for Battle (+3 SPs))
12: Advanced Maneuver: Dueling Dance
14: Litany of Righteousness (+1 SP)
16: Radiant Blade Spirit
18: Angelic Form
20: Advanced Maneuver: Weapon Supremacy

This is a Paladin/Fighter. The goal here is to be the best one handed longsword user you can possibly be (as a Paladin). While you can't get Legendary Longsword (Sad face!) you can get some really nifty buffs going on. Your dips into Fighter are there for Dueling Parry, Dueling Dance, and Weapon Supremacy - So basically for a +2 to your Legendary Heavy Armor Proficiency, bringing your level 20 AC with +5 Heavy Armor to 47! Yipes! While this probably won't stop a CR 20 greater demon from hitting you (easily) it will mean that his +35 to attack needs to roll a natural 12 or better giving him a 55% miss chance on the first attack and an 80% on its second! It can just forget the third, it ain't hitting you. This Paladin brings the pain by using things like Litany of Righteousness, Blade of Justice, and Weapon Surge to ramp up damage as well for extra sweetness.
-----

So - When people ask what this game brings that the other doesn't... I'd say that this game brings a much wider breadth of character options. You have much greater customization.

In my example up here I have one general melee character who can heal him/herself and others with a lot of energy and effort put into healing and removing status effects followed up by a martial powerhouse that focuses on personal AC defense and ramping out damage.

If you just handed someone these two classes, aside from both having Retributive Strike and (completely different) Lay on Hands, they might not even realize they were looking at two Paladins.

I don't think the other game on the market that is the primary competition of Pathfinder 2nd Edition offers that... In fact having played it... I can tell you that it simply doesn't.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

What can PF2 provide that 5E can't in 5 steps:

1. More options for customizing your characters than 5E does. 5E is stuck somewhere at late 2E width of customization options, which is not nearly enough for me.

2. A greater variety between classes. In particular, 5E martials feel same-y.

3. Better adventure path/setting support, but that we can take for granted.

4. Monsters that do cool things. We're on the right track with PF2 Purple Worms swallowing a character and then vomiting them as a ranged attack.

5. PCs that do crazy bat s~~#. 5E went too far in making sure that it won't trip over the "well this thing here is anime nonsense" sensibility of D&D grogs. Give me running on the walls. Give me jumping 50m in the air. Give me a diplomat who can stop a battle midway through it. Give me a master of disguise who turns around and *poof* she's someone else. Make it all possible without magic.


Wait, do you get bonus spells for stats? I thought you didn't.


The NPC wrote:
Wait, do you get bonus spells for stats? I thought you didn't.

Nope. Bonus spells for stats are gone. Where did that get brought up?


5e's lack of detail is enough to bother me. There's not a session of 5e play where the GM doesn't have to come up with some ruling on the fly because WOTC simply didn't make a rule for that. Once in a while is one thing, but it is far too often, and it gets really frustrating.

Already I'm encouraged by pf2e's skills. The detailed actions for what the various skills can do seems precise and all encompassing at once, and I expect it to be much more rewarding when a player and GM both know how something is going to be ruled, because there are actual rules for it.


5th Ed is basically 3rd Ed Lite; the secret sauce for 5th Ed is 3rd Ed/PF1 material.


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ThePuppyTurtle wrote:
PF2 is a system capable of facilitating non-identical characters of the same class. It is barely hyperbole to say that all 5e characters of the same class are identical.

5E classes have a surprising amount of depth in them. For example a level 3 fighter using just the PHB. For example

You have 3 archetypes. The fighter class has 6 fighting styles and you can go strength based or dex based.

So you have 3X6X2 36 viable fighters in the PHB alone. And that is before back ground and feats are taken into account. And none of them are trap choices. You might have a dex based sword and board battlemaster with the urchin back ground and they pick up a couple of thief skills and thieves tools. The champion version is a bit more brute force while the eldritch knight has some can trips and spell slots. The strength based ones tank around in heavy armor and might select the defensive options instead.

Throw in the fact that 5E PCs in effect get several feats built in for free vs Pathfinder (spring attack, weapon finesse, improved weapon finesse, TWF etc). By level 5 a dual wielder can move and have 3 attacks, 5 with action surge a level 14 PF2 fighter can have 3 attacks but can move.You have more moving parts but you have weaker fighters than 5E (or 2E even). You get less moving parts but you also get several abilities built in that are feat chains in PF.

Sure some of them may be samey but I assume every archer in PF is still taking point blank shot, rapid shot etc and every two handed weapon user takes power attack and if you want dex to damage you take scimitars and that feat I forget the name of it, often gets used with the magus. 5E you pick dual wielder, get off hand attack no penalty, dex to hit and damage level 2 and you can action surge and second wind. That is not to bad IMHO. I assume the dual wield feats in P core book are still ones used on that build? The ideas are very similar the 5E one just requires one choice and gets it at level 1.

How many feats do you have to take to get dex to hit, damage, dual wield at no penalty and move+ full attack. Level 1 5E 1 choice. ANd if you need to switch to a bow you don't get punished because you did not spend 3 feats on a bow although a 5E dedicated archery is very good (requires 1 feat).


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The problem is that while there are 36 possible fighters, those 36 possible fighters are not particularly different outside of"wields a different weapon"

And any 2 "great weapon champion" fighters are going to be practically identical. Meanwhile in pf2 withnchoices every level you get a real diversity of options.


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Elegos wrote:

The problem is that while there are 36 possible fighters, those 36 possible fighters are not particularly different outside of"wields a different weapon"

And any 2 "great weapon champion" fighters are going to be practically identical. Meanwhile in pf2 withnchoices every level you get a real diversity of options.

Funny that in the many games I've run for 5e, I've never actually seen two GW Fighters that were identical.

This white room analysis of 5e is very poorly done and shows a great misunderstanding of the system.

Even for two completely identical characters, say two variant human champion fighters with GWM, and the outlander background, both wielding great swords - those two can still be unqiue people just by putting in the tiniest effort of role-playing. All you have to do is think beyond the character sheet; don't rely on your character sheet "buttons" as the only options you have in game. This isn't a video game, and the mechanics aren't the end-all-be-all of the system.

When people talk about role-play vs roll-play, this is almost literally what they mean. Folks claiming that two characters are identical just because they share some of the mechanics together are those exact type of folks who miss out on all the wonderful role-playing aspects of the game. Don't skip that; there's a lot of fun to he had in that arena, and you can really bring out the flavor and personality of your character with it.

And if you don't believe me, then I challenge you to try it. Play a game where you're all required to play mechanically identical characters, and see how the role-play can make each of you shine in your own unique way.


Elegos wrote:
The problem is that while there are 36 possible fighters, those 36 possible fighters are not particularly different outside of"wields a different weapon"

Not at all, there are 3 Subclasses (one a spellcaster) in the PHB, each with different Features, different Fighting Styles to choose (fighters get two, eventually), then there are Feats and Skills, whether you want to go Str or Dex-based, light or heavy armoured, and Backgrounds.


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bookrat wrote:

Funny that in the many games I've run for 5e, I've never actually seen two GW Fighters that were identical.

This white room analysis of 5e is very poorly done and shows a great misunderstanding of the system.

Even for two completely identical characters, say two variant human champion fighters with GWM, and the outlander background, both wielding great swords - those two can still be unqiue people just by putting in the tiniest effort of role-playing. All you have to do is think beyond the character sheet; don't rely on your character sheet "buttons" as the only options you have in game. This isn't a video game, and the mechanics aren't the end-all-be-all of the system.

When people talk about role-play vs roll-play, this is almost literally what they mean. Folks claiming that two characters are identical just because they share some of the mechanics together are those exact type of folks who miss out on all the wonderful role-playing aspects of the game. Don't skip that; there's a lot of fun to he had in that arena, and you can really bring out the flavor and personality of your character with it.

And if you don't believe me, then I challenge you to try it. Play a game where you're all required to play mechanically identical characters, and see how the role-play can make each of you shine in your own unique way.

This is willfully misunderstanding the argument. We all know the same statsheet can have a bunch of different personalities attached to it. That doesn't make it not the same statsheet doing the same actions. WE want mechanical diversity.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Witch of Miracles wrote:
This is willfully misunderstanding the argument. We all know the same statsheet can have a bunch of different personalities attached to it. That doesn't make it not the same statsheet doing the same actions. WE want mechanical diversity.

Well said. Roleplaying well has almost nothing to do with the mechanics, so it's unrelated to a discussion about the mechanics. If you feel there's a rule that's getting in the way of your ability to storytell, that's something else, but mechanics like that are few and far between, and entirely separate from the possibilities for character diversity in any case.


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bookrat wrote:
Elegos wrote:

The problem is that while there are 36 possible fighters, those 36 possible fighters are not particularly different outside of"wields a different weapon"

And any 2 "great weapon champion" fighters are going to be practically identical. Meanwhile in pf2 withnchoices every level you get a real diversity of options.

Funny that in the many games I've run for 5e, I've never actually seen two GW Fighters that were identical.

This white room analysis of 5e is very poorly done and shows a great misunderstanding of the system.

Even for two completely identical characters, say two variant human champion fighters with GWM, and the outlander background, both wielding great swords - those two can still be unqiue people just by putting in the tiniest effort of role-playing. All you have to do is think beyond the character sheet; don't rely on your character sheet "buttons" as the only options you have in game. This isn't a video game, and the mechanics aren't the end-all-be-all of the system.

When people talk about role-play vs roll-play, this is almost literally what they mean. Folks claiming that two characters are identical just because they share some of the mechanics together are those exact type of folks who miss out on all the wonderful role-playing aspects of the game. Don't skip that; there's a lot of fun to he had in that arena, and you can really bring out the flavor and personality of your character with it.

And if you don't believe me, then I challenge you to try it. Play a game where you're all required to play mechanically identical characters, and see how the role-play can make each of you shine in your own unique way.

I just genuinely don't understand this argument, it seems to come from a lack of understanding that you can both roll dice AND role-play with your friends at the same time. You literally just said "Even for two completely identical characters,..." you should have ended your comment there and realized that played exactly into what the poster you quoted was talking about. I can role-play a frail middle aged gnome wizard with PTSD from his time as an artillery mage in the mage wars of 3288 in any system that lets me be both a gnome and a wizard, I can't get more options in a system with less options.


Zardnaar wrote:


6. Intelligence is the Ultimate Dump Stat
In 5E unless you are a wizard and maybe one of the 1/3rd casters intelligence is semi useless. There are very few intelligence saves in the game and you do not get more skills or languages or anything off it. There are a few intelligence based skills but most of them you can live without or make do by being proficient in them with a 10 or 12 intelligence score (or buf using the cleric guidance spell).

I am really confident in the ability of the Paizo dev. team to come up for some cool character options involving INT to attack/damage/AC/Saves

As far as I can remember, in PF1 the only 'rogue' who uses INT to AC is the rogue-duelist. "One can fight brutish, others can fight quick and nimble, but I prefer to fight clever".


bookrat wrote:
And if you don't believe me, then I challenge you to try it. Play a game where you're all required to play mechanically identical characters, and see how the role-play can make each of you shine in your own unique way.

4-5 people all charging into combat to full attack sounds like a real hoot huh?

That said, I've seen 1 good story of all the players playing the same Class. Said class had enough room to let you specialize into a few different paths but you still had your base training.

I have to find out which version of Dark Heresy the All Guardsman Party was using.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

For me the big difference between Paizo and WotC is their approach to support material. Wizards put out a couple of books a year, Paizo put out a couple of dozen (or maybe 8-10 if you translate it to equivalent page counts).

In my opinion, the difference between a PC built in PF1 and one in 5E is a focus on fine detail vs a focus on broad strokes. Personally, I can't think of a character I couldn't play in both systems, but they'll feel quite different if they're built up with a myriad of mechanical choices (leading to some thematic whole, as they'd be described in world) or painted in broad strokes with the intricate details fleshed out via flavor.

There's obviously no real connection between roleplaying and mechanically constructing one's character. Nonetheless, there are people who favor one of these bottom-up vs top-down approaches to the point where the other just feels like a bag of abilities to them. I definitely find some systems lead me to a PC that is imbued with personality and others leave me feeling unconnected to them as an actual, realistic character. I don't think that indicates anything about the various systems I've played though and I've found my tastes evolve significantly over the years.

Ultimately, the difference is much more about player preference than the actual system, in my opinion.

Sovereign Court

I've spent the last few days making characters for playtesting. Im getting a strong 4.5E feel from the game. There are numerous choices, but none of them are terribly impactful. The chassis is on lock down to ensure the system stays tight, including archetypes and MC.

What can PF2 do that 5E cant? Make a successful version of 4E?


Pan wrote:

I've spent the last few days making characters for playtesting. Im getting a strong 4.5E feel from the game. There are numerous choices, but none of them are terribly impactful. The chassis is on lock down to ensure the system stays tight, including archetypes and MC.

What can PF2 do that 5E cant? Make a successful version of 4E?

Yes, and keeping up with Weapon Damage is locked into magic items.

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