How did Paizo lose control to 5E?


5th Edition (And Beyond)

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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Ascension certainly needed the ST to make some calls because what you could cast was not clearly defined, that doesn’t make it more complex so much as less complete.

Liberty's Edge

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dirtypool wrote:
I don’t know Champions latest edition was written like 8 years ago, so calling an iterative D20 game the most difficult in fifteen years feels like some intense hyperbole.

Eleven-plus years. It was released in early 2010, so almost twelve.

But, okay, I should have said "most difficult in over a decade." That's not really hyperbole so much as rounding up.

But you could also argue that the 6th Edition was an small iteration on the 30-year-old game and system, as not every game revises itself as much as D&D and related d20 games, so it's not a "modern" game. Just like how Cyberpunk Red came out this year but is very much a 1990s RPG.

dirtypool wrote:
Particularly when you describe PF2 as behaving in ways in which PF1 did and PF2 does not. The game is specifically designed to not create a wider gulf between an unoptimized and an optimized character. It isn’t exclusively focused on mechanical builds.

Again, option creep = power creep. When you make a choice, as one option will be better, your relative power increases. And when you make a choice each level, by level ten that's probably a dozen small incremental increases in power. Especially when there's a couple new books each year, each also slightly increasing the power level.

While it's less bad than in PF1, it's not non-existent. It's just one of the inherent problem with games that focus on building characters: the choices have to matter otherwise it's just flavour, but because they matter they introduce imbalance.
But it's still not as big a problem as the "homework" aspect of option heavy games that focus on lonely fun between games rather than quick play and fun at the table.

dirtypool wrote:
Ascension certainly needed the ST to make some calls because what you could cast was not clearly defined, that doesn’t make it more complex so much as less complete.

Only less complete if you're playing without a ST or lack an imagination.

I always enjoyed the magic system in Dragonlance SAGA Edition where you picked the damage, duration, range, area of effect, and casting time of a spell, which set the DC. But other than that, the effect could be anything you imagined.

As a GM I've never felt the need to have a hard ruleset telling me what is an is not possible. Sometimes all you need to get your RP on is a Jenga tower and a cool setting.


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Jester David wrote:


Again, option creep = power creep. When you make a choice, as one option will be better, your relative power increases. And when you make a choice each level, by level ten that's probably a dozen small incremental increases in power.

I thought that was called leveling up. I mean it sounds like you want characters to stay at the same static creation point throughout the game.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Jester David wrote:
Again, option creep = power creep. When you make a choice, as one option will be better, your relative power increases. And when you make a choice each level, by level ten that's probably a dozen small incremental increases in power. Especially when there's a couple new books each year, each also slightly increasing the power level.

Except of course where the system balances new options with the originally presented options so that the expansion is lateral rather than vertical. PF2 balances the APG options with the G&G options with the SOM options with the CRB options so that power creep is minimal.

Jester David wrote:
Only less complete if you're playing without a ST or lack an imagination.

Less complete in comparison with the idea that it is “easier than PF2” as the two systems are extremely difficult to compare.

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Tristan d'Ambrosius wrote:
Jester David wrote:
Again, option creep = power creep. When you make a choice, as one option will be better, your relative power increases. And when you make a choice each level, by level ten that's probably a dozen small incremental increases in power.
I thought that was called leveling up. I mean it sounds like you want characters to stay at the same static creation point throughout the game.

C'mon, man....

You can level-up and gain power without choosing between a number of different feat-talents every two sessions. Numerous other games do it, typically with static class-based bonuses.
Heck, for four versions of D&D and twenty-six years, martial characters "levelled up" without any new abilities. (With the 50th anniversary still a couple years away, that means fighters have only gained new class features at higher levels for a minority of the lifespan of the hobby.)

That's without considering the innumerable RPGs that don't have hard levels (instead being skill based) or even firm character advancement. Many games DO have you remain at the same static creation point and changes are instead related to the character's personality and goals.

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dirtypool wrote:
Jester David wrote:
Again, option creep = power creep. When you make a choice, as one option will be better, your relative power increases. And when you make a choice each level, by level ten that's probably a dozen small incremental increases in power. Especially when there's a couple new books each year, each also slightly increasing the power level.
Except of course where the system balances new options with the originally presented options so that the expansion is lateral rather than vertical. PF2 balances the APG options with the G&G options with the SOM options with the CRB options so that power creep is minimal.

I will repeat. Option creep = power creep. Lateral growth becomes vertical growth. Perfect balance is impossible. Even in rock-paper-scissors there's an "optimal" choice.

Even if each new feat is only a 1% increase compared to the baseline, by 10th level that's a significant 10% boost of efficacy.

And given the number of new options made each three or four months—most of of which aren't playtested—there will always be some variance in power level.


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dirtypool wrote:
I’ve never found any of the WoD or CoD games to be overly complex, more the in character Disciplines/Powers/Knacks/Rotes to be all that comparable to D20 content.

Vampire, demon, werewolf are all quite simple, because most of the powers exactly tells you what they do. IMHO, Mage is a different beast, a chart has to be consulted in order to calculate the difficulty of a spell.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

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dirtypool wrote:

Pathfinder took the top sales spot in the 2nd quarter of 2011 and held it until the third quarter of 2014

Didn't realize it was that early. I was pretty sure I recall the celebrating on the boards and it was around the time D&D Next was announced. I won't argue with your facts, though, doubtless well-sourced versus my memories of nearly 10 years ago.

I do recall their run of Essentials was over in 2010 and they didn't release any more major rules books. There were some adventures and some player options in 2011-12.

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Christopher Dudley wrote:
dirtypool wrote:
Pathfinder took the top sales spot in the 2nd quarter of 2011 and held it until the third quarter of 2014

Didn't realize it was that early. I was pretty sure I recall the celebrating on the boards and it was around the time D&D Next was announced. I won't argue with your facts, though, doubtless well-sourced versus my memories of nearly 10 years ago.

I do recall their run of Essentials was over in 2010 and they didn't release any more major rules books. There were some adventures and some player options in 2011-12.

Pathfinder also tied in Q3 of 2010, when the Advanced Player's Guide came out but before all the Essentials books were released.

But Essentials was designed to give 4e a shot in the arm. And given WotC works 18 months in advance, they had to have been planning Essentials since early 2009. Which means that even before Pathfinder really launched, WotC was worried about 4e's sales.
It just became more obvious when the APG came out and Paizo starting outselling D&D.

And Pathfinder firmly took the lead in 2011 when WotC cancelled a bunch of Essentials books.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

There were core rules supplements like Book of Vile Darkness throughout 2011 with the final rules supplement: The Dungeon Survival Handbook in May 2012.


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Jester David wrote:

As for the movie...

Well, the MCU is the biggest thing ever in the cinema. And superhero comics are still struggling. Success in one media doesn't translate well to another.
If it was a novel series that'd be one thing. Buy the original book to read. But I doubt many people are going to start a new hobby after watching a popcorn film.

I'm looking forward to the movie, especially after hearing it was written by the folk behind Game Night and Spiderman: Homecoming. Also, I have a big old mancrush on Hugh Grant after seeing him in Paddington 2. :D


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Jester David wrote:
dirtypool wrote:
Jester David wrote:
Again, option creep = power creep. When you make a choice, as one option will be better, your relative power increases. And when you make a choice each level, by level ten that's probably a dozen small incremental increases in power. Especially when there's a couple new books each year, each also slightly increasing the power level.
Except of course where the system balances new options with the originally presented options so that the expansion is lateral rather than vertical. PF2 balances the APG options with the G&G options with the SOM options with the CRB options so that power creep is minimal.

I will repeat. Option creep = power creep. Lateral growth becomes vertical growth. Perfect balance is impossible. Even in rock-paper-scissors there's an "optimal" choice.

Even if each new feat is only a 1% increase compared to the baseline, by 10th level that's a significant 10% boost of efficacy.

And given the number of new options made each three or four months—most of of which aren't playtested—there will always be some variance in power level.

I haven't played 5th edition but I have played Pathfinder 2 and have all the books and the fact that we're however many rule books and classes and ancestries into 2nd edition with minimal power creep is astounding. I remember with 1st edition people were (rightfully) complaining about power creep with the release of Ultimate Combat and Ultimate Magic.

Not trying to nit pick, claim it's superior or anything just wanted to point that out.

Have a happy holidays!

Shadow Lodge

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We were complaining about power creep in the APG.

Liberty's Edge

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mikeawmids wrote:
Jester David wrote:

As for the movie...

Well, the MCU is the biggest thing ever in the cinema. And superhero comics are still struggling. Success in one media doesn't translate well to another.
If it was a novel series that'd be one thing. Buy the original book to read. But I doubt many people are going to start a new hobby after watching a popcorn film.
I'm looking forward to the movie, especially after hearing it was written by the folk behind Game Night and Spiderman: Homecoming. Also, I have a big old mancrush on Hugh Grant after seeing him in Paddington 2. :D

I'm waiting to see a trailer first, as I'm old enough to remember the build-up to the D&D movie in 2000. But I'm tentatively excited, as the talent involved is so much higher.

I don't expect it to cause a surge in D&D play though. Movie success doesn't reliably translate into other media.
It's also coming out at the worst time, a year before the 50th Anniversary edition. Nothing like people going into a game store and being told "oh, hey, don't buy those books. The new version is out in ten months." Or, worse... buying the books and a year later finding out they have to buy them again as everyone is playing 6e.


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As far as licensing and D&D sales go, my daughter is a huge Rick and Morty fan (I don't get it myself, but that's a different thread) so I got her the Rick and Morty themed beginner box for Christmas.

That should keep her and her cousins busy during holiday break!

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captain yesterday wrote:

As far as licensing and D&D sales go, my daughter is a huge Rick and Morty fan (I don't get it myself, but that's a different thread) so I got her the Rick and Morty themed beginner box for Christmas.

That should keep her and her cousins busy during holiday break!

Paired with the comic?

Let us know how it goes next week!


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Jester David wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:

As far as licensing and D&D sales go, my daughter is a huge Rick and Morty fan (I don't get it myself, but that's a different thread) so I got her the Rick and Morty themed beginner box for Christmas.

That should keep her and her cousins busy during holiday break!

Paired with the comic?

Let us know how it goes next week!

It's got an adventure supposedly written by Rick and there are various notes by Rick and Morty sprinkled through the rules and the pre made characters are all based on Rick and Morty characters, as well as obnoxiously bright dice that may glow in the dark (or are just obnoxiously bright).

Overall, even I have to admit it sounds like a good time.

I still hate WotC however, that'll never change. Or it will, who's to say.

Liberty's Edge

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captain yesterday wrote:
Jester David wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:

As far as licensing and D&D sales go, my daughter is a huge Rick and Morty fan (I don't get it myself, but that's a different thread) so I got her the Rick and Morty themed beginner box for Christmas.

That should keep her and her cousins busy during holiday break!

Paired with the comic?

Let us know how it goes next week!

It's got an adventure supposedly written by Rick and there are various notes by Rick and Morty sprinkled through the rules and the pre made characters are all based on Rick and Morty characters, as well as obnoxiously bright dice that may glow in the dark (or are just obnoxiously bright).

Overall, even I have to admit it sounds like a good time.

Did they like it?

captain yesterday wrote:
I still hate WotC however, that'll never change. Or it will, who's to say.

I hated WotC for a bit in the 2000s as well, in late 3e and during the 4e era. Pretty much because they were "the man" compared to Paizo and Kobold Press and the like.

But then I shrugged and realized that while WotC was big, the D&D team was a small, small part of the company and I could name most of the people in that team and rather liked a lot of them. And as the team grew, they added more and more people I respected including a bunch of Paizo alumnus.
It felt like I was hating on WotC because D&D was the biggest name, which was very much like being a hipster and disliking something because it was cool and popular. And I didn't want to just be a contrarian who based his opinions on disagreeing with other people.


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Jester David wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:
Jester David wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:

As far as licensing and D&D sales go, my daughter is a huge Rick and Morty fan (I don't get it myself, but that's a different thread) so I got her the Rick and Morty themed beginner box for Christmas.

That should keep her and her cousins busy during holiday break!

Paired with the comic?

Let us know how it goes next week!

It's got an adventure supposedly written by Rick and there are various notes by Rick and Morty sprinkled through the rules and the pre made characters are all based on Rick and Morty characters, as well as obnoxiously bright dice that may glow in the dark (or are just obnoxiously bright).

Overall, even I have to admit it sounds like a good time.

Did they like it?

captain yesterday wrote:
I still hate WotC however, that'll never change. Or it will, who's to say.

I hated WotC for a bit in the 2000s as well, in late 3e and during the 4e era. Pretty much because they were "the man" compared to Paizo and Kobold Press and the like.

But then I shrugged and realized that while WotC was big, the D&D team was a small, small part of the company and I could name most of the people in that team and rather liked a lot of them. And as the team grew, they added more and more people I respected including a bunch of Paizo alumnus.
It felt like I was hating on WotC because D&D was the biggest name, which was very much like being a hipster and disliking something because it was cool and popular. And I didn't want to just be a contrarian who based his opinions on disagreeing with other people.

They do! I myself don't watch the show but the box set is a big hit with the kids!

Full disclosure: I also got the out of state nephews a bunch of Pathfinder 2nd edition stuff (CRB, Age of Ashes AP (because I'm personally not a big dragon fan but they are, so I already had it on account of my subscription), and Guns and Gears. Which they also love.

So I'm going to call it a tie, I guess. Kudos to WotC for their astute licensing deals though!

And I admit I'm more amendable to buying 5e products then I was.


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I hate WotC because my original gaming group broke up when Magic The gathering came out and, and especially for what they did to the Forgotten Realms for 4th edition, which is still unforgivable, but, whatever if they put out stuff I find interesting or the kids are interested in I'm not going to dismiss it simply because of where it's from.


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28 heading into 29 years is a long time to hate WOTC

Liberty's Edge

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captain yesterday wrote:
I hate WotC because my original gaming group broke up when Magic The gathering came out and, and especially for what they did to the Forgotten Realms for 4th edition, which is still unforgivable, but, whatever if they put out stuff I find interesting or the kids are interested in I'm not going to dismiss it simply because of where it's from.

I had a friend who used to enjoy Battletech night at a FLGS that held big battle royals until Magic took over and everyone switched to that. It was a friendship destroying game for some time. Thankfully, it seems to have settled and you have Magic fans, RPG fans, and the few who do both.

You're not alone with the 4e Realms hate. Even R.A. Salvatore and Ed Greenwood hated it. But it's apparently been "fixed" with the changes mostly undone.
But don't quote me on that, as I know almost nothing about the Realms.

Paizo Employee Director of Community

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Removed a series of posts/replies as they dived into harassment. We may disagree on topics, but please keep direct personal attacks out of the forums. Thanks!


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Jester David wrote:
captain yesterday wrote:
I hate WotC because my original gaming group broke up when Magic The gathering came out and, and especially for what they did to the Forgotten Realms for 4th edition, which is still unforgivable, but, whatever if they put out stuff I find interesting or the kids are interested in I'm not going to dismiss it simply because of where it's from.

I had a friend who used to enjoy Battletech night at a FLGS that held big battle royals until Magic took over and everyone switched to that. It was a friendship destroying game for some time. Thankfully, it seems to have settled and you have Magic fans, RPG fans, and the few who do both.

You're not alone with the 4e Realms hate. Even R.A. Salvatore and Ed Greenwood hated it. But it's apparently been "fixed" with the changes mostly undone.
But don't quote me on that, as I know almost nothing about the Realms.

I've heard that as well.

I've moved on from Forgotten Realms to other settings like Eberron, Starfinder and Pathfinder but I might check out the Icewind Dale book they released, for a nostalgia rush if nothing else.


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What happened to the realms was the main reason I got into PF and not into 4e. Good thing they didn't continue on that path.


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Lord Fyre wrote:

When D&D 5E came out in 2014, it was not an immediate smash. Pathfinder 1E was still quite dominant in the marketplace.

What happened?

Couple of reasons:

#1 Appealing to the Average/Weekend Gamer. This is, I believe, one of the biggest appeals for the game. It's simple enough on the player that his choices need not be in-depth min/maxing calculations where Theorycraft is largely irrelevant and pointless OR it can be far more in-depth if you want - still the disparity of someone who goes full-hog Min/Max and that Casual Person that doesn't isn't substantially high.

#2 It's Easier to Run. Seriously, running a combat encounter is so much simpler from a DM perspective and a lot of that is because there aren't TONS of sub-systems where people are constantly looking up rules and modifiers and adjustments based on a specific spell in it's application to that particular instant...it gets bogged down real quick. 3.5 and 4E (the latter due to too many Interrupts) meant that combat had the potential to turn into a slog, which got worse at you go higher level.

Just look at something simple like a bigger crit range. In 5E, the Champion just crits on a 19. Easy peasy. No additional rolling to "confirm". Now multiply that by 3-4 per character and/or monster. Yeah no thanks.

#3 It's more modular AND your options matter. Lets face it, the VAST majority of Feats in 3.5 (and PF1) aren't great or - at best - simply add a bonus, but it's largely Exception-based. Meaning that you can do X, but it usually a horrible idea that will fail unless you roll high. This feat eliminates that penalty. Meaning these feats are the "exception" to the normal rule. 5E just says "nah, those penalties are pretty dumb, lets ignore them." Like Firing into Melee. In 5e, the monster might provide cover but...that's it. In 3.5 it's Cover plus you take a penalty to attack rolls. More math means less time playing.

As for it being modular, well it's easy to change campaign specifics to make it more lethal or more heroic with very little change to what the PCs or Monsters do.


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So there's this:

WOTC Sold Over $950M in Tabletop Games in 2021

ICv2 wrote:
Wizards of the Coast booked $952 million in tabletop game sales in 2021.... tabletop games accounted for 74% of the nearly $1.3 billion in sales for the segment in 2021, and grew at a blistering 44% rate.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

What do 2021 sales have to do with Dungeons and Dragons reclaiming the #1 sales spot from Paizo in 2014?

Unless you’re suggesting time travel was somehow involved.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

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dirtypool wrote:

What do 2021 sales have to do with Dungeons and Dragons reclaiming the #1 sales spot from Paizo in 2014?

Unless you’re suggesting time travel was somehow involved.

This is an illustration of the continued domination of the TTRPG market by Dungeons and Dragons. (i.e., PF2 hasn't made much of a dent, if any)

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

Why would it? It didn’t launch at a low point of D&D releases.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Lord Fyre wrote:
This is an illustration of the continued domination of the TTRPG market by Dungeons and Dragons. (i.e., PF2 hasn't made much of a dent, if any)

An article about how much money D&D made in 2021 does not prove, nor does it disprove, the size of the dent PF2 made. It also doesn’t answer your question about what happened from your original post.

If you want a thread about the continued dominance, create that thread. Be open about that being the intent instead of framing it as some sort of contest where one’s success paints the other as ineffective.

No one has done an all 5e appreciation thread, but there have been multiple “how did Paizo lose ground?” “How long can Paizo hold #1” they all end up being used by one specific poster as bait for edition war fight which is expressly against the forum rules. Just call it what it is instead of couching it in the terms that skirt the line. You might even get more engagement that way. Feel free to use the one I just dropped.

Dark Archive

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"According to ICv2, D&D publisher WotC made over $1 billion in total sales in 2021, including $952M in tabletop games."

That is honestly pretty insane even if only 50%(note: yeah I know actual percentage is about 75%) of those tabletop games were D&D related. D&D has insanely high amount of the market space.

Anyway, I don't like 5e either, but its definitely true that people only keep bringing this up as part of edition war :P

Paizo Employee Customer Service Representative

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Removed a post for spam reasons


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Lord Fyre wrote:

When D&D 5E came out in 2014, it was not an immediate smash. Pathfinder 1E was still quite dominant in the marketplace.

What happened?

For me it was Pathfinder 2nd. I used to run society games locally for Pathfinder 1st. 2nd felt to me the same 4th ed D&D felt and I had no desire to continue. I tried to fill the void with independent RPGS for a while ignoring all the good things I heard about D&D 5E. I finally gave it a chance because enough of friends I trusted had gotten into it, and glad I did. It's not perfect and there are some things I take from other RPGS etc. when I homebrew, but adventure league seems right for what its trying to do. I still think Paizo has some of the best adventure paths out there, but the mechanics are not motivating me to buy into a new edition.


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The title presumes that Paizo was in "control" of the tabletop roleplaying market. That seems like a mistaken assumption. Paizo never had "control" of the TTRPG market, it was ahead in market shares because of Hasbro's corporate mismanagement of D&D. Yes, Paizo absolutely made some smart business decisions during the Fourth Edition era but they've never come close to having the financial resources of Hasbro or the brand recognition of D&D.

Lord Fyre wrote:
When D&D 5E came out in 2014, it was not an immediate smash. Pathfinder 1E was still quite dominant in the marketplace.

This is like asking "How did the Nintendo Wii outsell the Playstation 3?" It's simple; D&D Fifth Edition introduced a metric ton of new people to tabletop roleplaying. This was a net positive to tabletop roleplaying in general, including Paizo. D&D Fifth Edition was far more accessible to the new people, leveraged it's broad brand recognition, and benefitted from the 2010s boom in 80s/90s nostalgia.


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Pathfinder was able to seize the moment when 4e face planted with most players. But it also inherited the overly detailed crunch of 3E. The APs were great and I ran lots of PF but as others have mentioned beyond level 10 things start to get annoying to track and once you start building spreadsheets to run an NPC it tends to lose appeal.

I didn’t come to 5e right away but when I did it was clear they had built a much better fantasy RPG with a more rules-lite approach that suited most players and DMs far better. I was quite happy to bid the days of 3E and PF farewell. Due to the lower amount of prep needed also got back to running more home brew adventures and campaigns.

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