Why do you play TTRPGs?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


I've recently had a bit of a crisis of faith as I found myself scrapping further and further down the barrel in seeking players as folks seem to migrate en masse from Pathfinder to 5e.

I greatly enjoy DMing for Pathfinder but I can't DM for a game that has no players, but at the same time I just can't bring myself to switch over to 5e, it's just far too streamlined for my liking.

So, I want to ask folks what it is that brings you to the table so that I can get some perspective as to why folks might be migrating from one system to the other, whether it be the simplified mechanics, better world feel, just a bigger pool of players to play with, or what have you.

Personally, I greatly enjoy tabletop games that have a lot of switches and knobs to play around with, customization is my bread and butter and I love being able to finagle all sorts of characters within a games mechanics.


I think a better question would be what is it that 5e has that is taking all your players away.


Mostly to hang out, joke, and tell a story.

Honestly, most systems can deliver that.

Don't get me wrong, pathfinder is my favorite fantasy game. However, I'm currently playing a game of 5e, a game of 3.5, and a game of starfinder (my favorite game system overall). All of them are fun in their own way. I still occasionally make PF characters for fun, but the playing itself? That's system independent for me.


I play for a number of reasons. At my core, I'm a creative person and characters are a fun outlet for that (especially ordering and painting miniatures). That said, I don't hold any specific loyalty to Pathfinder. My favorite tabletop is actually Scion, which I run the first Wednesday of every month, and I have a strong liking of D&D 5e placing more emphasis on character rather than numbers.

Pathfinder and Starfinder do have a niche. 10 years of content mean digging through the archives I can always find something new to build, or interesting to play. That said, I have also had a bit of trouble collecting new Pathfinder players. Largely this is probably my age group, as I'm fairly young for a Pathfinder player. Most people my age only learned to play with 5e, and when I diversify out of that age range there's a mix of 3.5e veterans who would still prefer that game, or else players who've migrated to 5e, which I don't think is a bad thing.

Pathfinder to me specifically is like a Lego set. A bunch of premade pieces that you need to fit together nicely to make something cool. D&D 5e I feel is more like Playdough, where it's more flexible with what you can do. Scion, my favorite game, feels like a painting kit and a blank canvas. Each game has a place, and I enjoy them all for different reasons.

But one of the biggest things why I play? I enjoy the company. I enjoy sharing in or telling a story with my friends, and seeing them smile and laugh at the end of the day. I can always write a cool character, or play through a video game with a good story. I can't share that comradery on my own. So when one of my friends comes to the table excited to run Starfinder, or Battletech, or when I showed them Scion, I'm excited to learn and experience that new thing. Because even if it's bad, I've committed to the RPG social contract, that "no matter what happens today, I'm going to have fun". Which is the main reason anyone should play at all.

Grand Lodge

I think a lot of people are switching to 5e since Paizo is discontinuing Pathfinder 1e, and D&D 5E is a superior system to Pathfinder 2E.

I personally play because I enjoy RPGs and I enjoy playing them with friends and acquaintances. I will not play a game system I dislike just to hang out with people though, regardless of who is playing.

There are dozens of games I have played in the past, which I loved the setting, but hated the rules, and will never play again even if some of my best friends start up a game and ask me to play.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Slyme wrote:

I think a lot of people are switching to 5e since Paizo is discontinuing Pathfinder 1e, and D&D 5E is a superior system to Pathfinder 2E.

I personally play because I enjoy RPGs and I enjoy playing them with friends and acquaintances. I will not play a game system I dislike just to hang out with people though, regardless of who is playing.

There are dozens of games I have played in the past, which I loved the setting, but hated the rules, and will never play again even if some of my best friends start up a game and ask me to play.

You got that one wrong - people are migrating to 5e since 2014 because it is, except for the amount of character options and setting/adventure path support, a superior system to PF1.

The edition war is over. It was actually over the moment it was obvious that 5e is a solid game.


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Gorbacz wrote:
Slyme wrote:

I think a lot of people are switching to 5e since Paizo is discontinuing Pathfinder 1e, and D&D 5E is a superior system to Pathfinder 2E.

I personally play because I enjoy RPGs and I enjoy playing them with friends and acquaintances. I will not play a game system I dislike just to hang out with people though, regardless of who is playing.

There are dozens of games I have played in the past, which I loved the setting, but hated the rules, and will never play again even if some of my best friends start up a game and ask me to play.

You got that one wrong - people are migrating to 5e since 2014 because it is, except for the amount of character options and setting/adventure path support, a superior system to PF1.

The edition war is over. It was actually over the moment it was obvious that 5e is a solid game.

Personally I find it an inferior system in almost every way, there are a few things I like and I try to incorporate them as house rules but over all the pathfinder system is superior.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Please: No fighting Edition Wars here!

I play TTRPGs for the collective storytelling experience. As a player, I want to explore my character and their personality through interacting with the other PCs and NPCs, and also by navigating the problems presented by the GM.

At its core, a TTRPG ruleset is the codification of how to resolve disputes between characters, or between a character and their surroundings. I find the best rulesets enhance the storytelling aspect of the game, and I get frustrated with rules that get in the way.

The system you use has an effect on the kinds of stories you tell through it.

While Pathfinder had been my go-to game for nearly a decade, my playstyle has migrated away from heavily codified rulesets to prefer "rules light" systems that provide just enough framework for the players and GM to tell the story of the PCs. I'm still playing two PFRPG campaigns via play-by-post on the messageboards here, but my IRL game split into two groups (and I'm in both). One group is playing 5e, and the other is running minicampaigns in various rules-light systems, switching off GMs.

The second group has been using systems like Fate Core, Fate Accelerated Edition, Dungeon World, Tremulus, Uncharted Worlds, and Dread. We are currently playtesting a new swords & sorcery gane from Pelgrane Press called Swords of the Setpentine, which is based on the GUMSHOE system, and we're having a blast. I think Blades in the Dark might be the next game we try out.


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I enjoy both PF1 and D&D 5E, for somewhat different reasons.

I played and ran 3.0/3.5 for 10 years because when I tried 4E I didn't enjoy it as much as previous editions. I jumped on the PF bandwagon a bit late, but it very quickly became my group's new default system because it shared most of the same rules as 3.5, but improved upon and expanded a great number of things. My current homebrew campaign will continue to use PF for its lifetime (it was conceived in 3E, so depends heavily on conventions of that edition that PF shares), and everyone in that group also plays PFS as often as we can manage. In fact, PFS is proving very valuable to my home game, because it helps improve everyone's rules mastery, and lets us try out a much wider variety of character builds and special rules than we can do in a home campaign.

OTOH, it does feel like we're always playing catch-up with the staggering amount of content produced each year. The arrival of PF2 means we'll have a set limit for what we still need to learn about PF1, which is enough that my group could easily keep going for years without changing editions--as we hope to do with my current home game.

Apart from that home game and PFS, though, I'm far more likely to choose to run or play a far less rules-intensive system these days. Playing and running a system as crunchy as PF all the time can become exhausting at times. I've found that 5E is pretty much the perfect level of complexity for running games for my kids (and I've been sticking to published adventures so far, which makes for much easier prep). My kids are 13 and 14 now, and while they've enthusiastically joined us in doing PFS this past year, 5E is still a favorite. My daughter's high school just started up a RPG club, where they're playing 5E, and she's looking forward to doing some DMing there, too. (She GMed for the first time a couple months ago, with a different, even more rules-light system, and is completely hooked.) My son wants to learn to GM for PFS, but is finding that a much more daunting prospect.

I'm seriously considering running my next long-term campaign in 5E, as a change of pace--though with our time commitment for the PF campaign, I have no idea how soon that will be. One huge advantage of 5E over PF is that it requires far fewer books, by design. And 5E's slower release schedule means that, even if you're a system completist (which I'm not), 5E has a far more manageable number of titles to become familiar with.


I play for spending time with friends, exploring cool settings, creating fun characters and stories, and generally scratching whatever creative and adventurous itch I may have.

Systems are a secondary concern, but a bad system (which can mean a poorly functioning one or simply a bad fit for me) can engender frustration and reduce the overall enjoyment of a game. For instance a friend of mine ran Kult on FUDGE. While the original system was, IIRC, nothing to write home about, I really dislike FUDGE, and the only reason the game worked out so well is that the GM is a very good GM, and we hardly touched the dice. He also threw Dogs in the Vineyard at us and I detested everything about it, from concept to setting, to system.

I haven't actually played 5e, only read through and tried making characters, but it seems a bit on the simple side for my taste for what I want in D&D. I'm sure that with good GM 5e can work well enough, but there is enough about it that I just don't like. The whole bounded accuracy thing really annoys the hell out of me, for instance, and the arcanist casting, advantage/disadvantage, and more. Enough stuff bothers me about it so that it would chafe in any game I might play. A number of my friends and acquaintances are of the same opinion. 3.5 and PF are not perfect systems by any stretch of the imagination, but they are quite good for D&D. If for some reason I had to abandon them, I would probably want to just go back to 2e or even BECMI, regardless of the issues those systems have.


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I play for the creative outlet it gives me, the world building and rules tinkering I love to do, and the camaraderie of a group of friends I've known and gamed with for over 30 years.

We went straight from 3.5 to Pathfinder, and that's where we'll stay. Never had any interest in 4e, 5e, and we have none for PF2e. With the 3.5 material I have (which is a lot) to refit for PF, we'll never run out of options and stories to tell.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Opuk0 wrote:

I've recently had a bit of a crisis of faith as I found myself scrapping further and further down the barrel in seeking players as folks seem to migrate en masse from Pathfinder to 5e.

I greatly enjoy DMing for Pathfinder but I can't DM for a game that has no players, but at the same time I just can't bring myself to switch over to 5e, it's just far too streamlined for my liking.

So, I want to ask folks what it is that brings you to the table so that I can get some perspective as to why folks might be migrating from one system to the other, whether it be the simplified mechanics, better world feel, just a bigger pool of players to play with, or what have you.

Personally, I greatly enjoy tabletop games that have a lot of switches and knobs to play around with, customization is my bread and butter and I love being able to finagle all sorts of characters within a games mechanics.

My players all prefer 5E and their reason is basically that they don't have to do anything outside of the game sessions. They are all time-poor, middleaged parents. They like their one night a week gaming dose but no longer have the inclination/energy to "build" characters beyond a quick twenty minute browse through the books at the start of a session.

For me personally, system is pretty much irrelevant (simple games suit my style better, but I am not time poor so I can put the effort in to learn complicated systems if that's what the rest of the group wants).

I play for the stories so whatever system they choose I run PF APs almost exclusively and set everything in Golarion in the unusual situation where I'm running some other module. The campaign setting is far more important to me than game system.


I have a long-running PF group (currently I am running Slumbering Tsar), and we have no desire to switch to a new system (including PF2). I have started a very occasional campaign for some friends and their kids - they were familiar with 5E and it was far easier for me to learn 5E than it was for them to learn PF, so I'm running that campaign as 5E. Having learned 5E now, I really like it - it's not going to replace my PF game, but I understand why people like it, and if I was new to RPGs, I would absolutely start there (and probably stay there).

I play because I enjoy it, and because I can spend time doing it with people I like. If my PF group all decided they wanted to make the switch to 5E, I'd go along with that (but they won't, which is also fine).

The main problem I have is remembering what's in PF and not in 5E (or vice versa) when I run my 5E game.


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Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:
but there is enough about it that I just don't like. The whole bounded accuracy thing really annoys the hell out of me, for instance, and the arcanist casting, advantage/disadvantage, and more.

You just listed several things I like about 5E.


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As someone fairly new to Pathfinder and TTRPGs in general, there are several reasons why I keep coming back to the table.

So I just turned 28, but for most of my childhood and my young adult life, I never really got much exposed into this kind of gaming. I was never too much into video games, was very much into athletics and schoolwork and stuff. But always in the back of my mind, I had this wildly rampant creative imagination, but I never really got to/chose to let it loose. I'd see movies like LOTR or Star Wars and think to myself... I've got these kinds of stories and characters and lore swarming in my head all the time.

By random chance, I had a friend who turned me onto a podcast (The Glass Cannon Podcast) and it really kind of opened my eyes to what RPG are all about. I never really thought that I looked down upon or thought that kind of gaming experience was weird or lesser. If fact I actually had no real conception of what it even was, but I guess everything else in my life never really led me to ever experience it.

I really liked that podcast. I found it witty, funny, charming, and the guys on it sounded like my friends. Just a bunch of guys sitting around, drinking beer, busting each other's balls and playing a cool game. But also... the storytelling. The ability to tell your own story and using lore and mechanics to flesh it out... I had found that outlet for this creativity that I never let loose before. That was the beginning of the end of it for me. Turns out I even really love the improv acting of it too.

Some of the other reasons why I play

  • Consistent time for me and my friends. Often times as adults we get swept up in the ongoing and sometimes overwhelming monotonous responsibilities. This allows me to have scheduled (Me) time. (Me) time that I choose to spend with my buds
  • Games: it is really not much different than al other games when you boil it down. There are solidly constructed rules, you get to apply strategy, build a player, and luck is involved.

Reasons why it is tough &/or reasons for migration to 5E

  • Scheduling & consistency: As adults, its good to schedule the fun stuff, but the responsibilities are really more important. Scheduling and consistency is consistently difficult no matter what activity it is, whether it's RPGs, dinner with family, or pickup basketball.
  • Work: This is probably the most Pathfinder specific answer. There are a lot of rules, lot of mechanics, lots of content in general. Having a fun experience through a well flowing game takes work. Work by the GM and work by the players. I personally enjoy reading the rules, understanding the RAW vs RAI, learning nuances, and getting in deep and knowing many aspects of the game. Work and Fun are not mutually exclusive for me, but some people prefer a more laid back, loose, and easier approach to their RPG games.


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I play because it's fun. I only play a game once a week but I make a lot of characters in my free time. I like making characters and probably have more than I'll get to play.

As for why PF, my first introduction to a TTRPG was a convention. They were playing D&D. No idea what edition it was. I had to leave after only an hour, but I had fun playing with a pre-made character they had. The next convention I went to, I looked for a D&D table, but they didn't have any open. I was directed to an open PF table where I played one of those little one-shot games. The GM was hilarious. I played another one the next day and really enjoyed it as well.

When I got home, I looked for a way to play the game online and found it at Roll20. Even though my first character's build was a mess as I didn't really know what I was doing feat-wise, the basic rules of the game were easy to understand. It helped that the other players were pretty funny - a robot-hating barbarian, and a gunslinger pretending not to be an android. The barbarian was the only one fooled by the android's bad acting.

A few years ago, I went to another convention. This convention didn't have a PF game there but did have an open D&D session going. So I went in. And had absolutely NO idea what was going on. A guy helped me build a quick character but none of the options made any sense to me. Plus the whole thing was some kind of battle royal with 20 players and only 2 guys running it. It was so disorganized, especially with people coming in and out. It kind of spoiled me on D&D.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Steve Geddes wrote:
I play for the stories so whatever system they choose I run PF APs almost exclusively and set everything in Golarion in the unusual situation where I'm running some other module. The campaign setting is far more important to me than game system.

When it's my turn to GM for my rules-light group, I've been running a Dungeon World episodic minicampaign set in Golarion for a while now. I've been using PFRPG campaign setting material and the outlines of PF adventures for inspiration. The PCs are DW conversions of Ezren, Amiri, and Merisiel.

Dark Archive

I like rules, I can be more creative with rules. I've been playing since `89 and I like knowing a system and operating within it. I've yet to playout any edition of material, so I'm really tired of switching rules sets to follow the masses enough to find a game. Because despite my love of rules learning any new rules set takes away from actual gaming time and lore delving. Even a rules set I like and that is pretty similar like Starfinder I find to be more effort to maintain the working knowledge. In game I like a really compelling story which involves a fair bit of role play and some good tactical challenges.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Garretmander wrote:

Mostly to hang out, joke, and tell a story.

Honestly, most systems can deliver that.

Definitely this. It's all a question of tolerance. My groups can tolerate Pathfinders system. Others can't. Eventually, we might not tolerate it anymore.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Haladir wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
I play for the stories so whatever system they choose I run PF APs almost exclusively and set everything in Golarion in the unusual situation where I'm running some other module. The campaign setting is far more important to me than game system.
When it's my turn to GM for my rules-light group, I've been running a Dungeon World episodic minicampaign set in Golarion for a while now. I've been using PFRPG campaign setting material and the outlines of PF adventures for inspiration. The PCs are DW conversions of Ezren, Amiri, and Merisiel.

I find converting APs to be a great way to learn the philosophy behind a given system. It’s rarely a 1-to-1 translation, but as you go you suddenly realise the system you’re using has opened up a whole new way of looking at it. I ran Serpents Skull using DCC and it’s one of the most memorable games we’ve played in a long time.


I play for time. I play for love. I play for money. I play.

Mostly I play because this is the one thing, besides writing, that I have consistently felt any passion for. Sure, it waxes and wanes in intensity but there is no denying that I never get tired enough to quit this hobby.

The reason I prefer TTRPGs is purely the social aspect of it. You're with friends, or at least acquaintances willing to play the same game as you are, so there is less fear of making a fool of myself. I get to talk in silly voices, be intentionally melodramatic, and literally assume ANY identity I want at a moment's notice. While gaming I'm free from concern, focused only on what's happening on the table, in the room, in the moment.

I can express myself.

When freed from the shackles of reality and occupying a role in the game certain truths inside of me stagger up out of the darkness of my subconscious. You have a MUCH different view of the world, of priorities, of what matters to you as a Halfling Hunter/Warpriest in an evil tower in Irrisen than you do, say, in the Monday conference call.

Finally, I really like the idea that the game never REALLY ends unless you want it to. Even after an AP wraps there's more you could do; developing kingdoms, planar travel, heck, start your own family! One of my favorite 2e D&D campaigns is technically STILL running - my elf fighter/magic user had a daughter, she in turn reclaimed lands lost to our people an age before, and we left off where she had become pregnant.

As for why I play Pathfinder, that has to do with Paizo. They are a classy group. I find their CS and web staff highly responsive, their adventures well written and balanced (for 15 PT buy anyway), and the default setting very creative.

Its fun to play these games, be whoever you want, and chill with friends doing it. Pathfinder has a good mix of mechanics and magic; Paizo is a nice community of folks to do business with.


Been playing since 1978. My groups has been pretty consistent until about 5 years ago.

When we played we switched system all the time. Played a few sessons of Pathfinder, Dungeons and Dragons, Call of Cthuhlhu, GURPS, etc, etc, etc.

So we play and play all sorts of systems genre and games, we each too turns DMing, etc, etc, etc. The longest we system we ever played was 2E but that was in High School.

Why did we play? Fun, camaraderie, mutual interests, a creative outlet

Now that my original group is not playing consistently any more, I have a new group. My kids, nephew, and their friends. We have doing 5E and Call of Cthulhu, both which they very much enjoyed, but are starting Starfinder tomorrow. Why do they play? It is a fun diversion once a month from video games. They range in age from 15 - 18.


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Because it accesses the best graphics card on the planet: your own imagination, and the imaginations of anyone else at your table.

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