Will Pathfinder 2nd Edition Be Based on D&D 5E?
  • Will Pathfinder 2nd Edition Be Based on D&D 5E?


    There seems to be a bit of confusion about the nature of Pathfinder 2nd Edition, with some folks believing that it will be based on the D&D 5E rules engine, in a similar way to how the original Pathfinder was based of the D&D 3.5 rules engine. The evidence points to it not being so.



    In accordance with Betteridge's Law of Headlines, the quick answer is "no".

    Paizo's Erik Mona says "While it's reasonable to assume that developments in other games have gone into some of our thinking with this new edition, it'd be wrong to assume that we're explicitly trying to make the game more like 5e, or like any other game. What we're trying to do is make the very best version of Pathfinder that we can."

    But decide for yourself! The demo game on the Glass Cannon podcast doesn't sound much like D&D 5th Edition at all, certainly not to me. But give a listen and draw your own conclusions.

    Pathfinder 2nd Edition will surely borrow concepts from a whole range of games, and 5E will almost certainly be notable amongst them. But even from the little description we have so far, I'm seeing influences from things like Cubicle 7's The One Ring, and other games.

    While Paizo has said that Pathfinder 2nd Edition will be release under the Open Gaming License (the OGL) it's important to note that the OGL has been around for nearly two decades, and dozens of games are released under it (Pathfinder 1, Fate, Mutants & Masterminds, WOIN), none of which have the slightest thing to do with D&D 5E. There isn't a "5E OGL"; there's just the OGL. It doesn't contain any rules; it's just a way to license content to third parties. Paizo uses the OGL to license its game engine to its large array of third party publishers, and will be continuing to do so, whatever form that game engine comes in.

    So why release it under the OGL? No matter what the system looks like, even if it diverged so far from D&D as to be utterly unrecognisable, many of the "nouns" of the system are rooted in D&D history -- spell names, monsters, and so on. "Magic Missile", for example, or "Ankheg", or a thousand other terms which were irrevocably made Open Gaming Content nearly twenty years ago and are a fundamental part of Pathfinder's identity as much as they are a part of D&D's identity. Pathfinder's "story" elements - those names - requires continuing access to those terms. That doesn't mean that the game system has anything to do with it, though, or that it needs to resemble 5E (or 4E, or 3E, or Fate, or WOIN, or any of several dozen OGL games). The OGL is a convenient and easy way to access those terms safely. There's no good reason not to use it.

    I think it's safe to say at this point that Pathfinder 2nd Edition isn't a variation of D&D 5E. It's more likely to be an evolution of the 3.x ruleset, diverging from the path WotC took significantly, but influenced by many game design evolutions across the industry in the last decade. I'm sure you'll be able to see some 5E DNA in it, mixed in with the DNA of various other things, but it looks like Pathfinder 2nd Edition is very different to WotC's current game.

    I mentioned that I'd be surprised to see Pathfinder 2 using even a single word from the 5E SRD. Erik Mona confirmed this. "It doesn't. This thing is far less 5e-inspired than people are assuming based on the first day of information we've dropped and the use of some similar terminology."

    I mentioned the question of backward compatibility yesterday. Paizo says "While many of the rules of the game have changed, much of what made Pathfinder great has remained the same. The story of the game is unchanged, and in many cases, you can simply replace the old rules with their new counterpart without having to alter anything else about the adventure. As for individual rules, like your favorite spell or monster, most can be added with a simple conversion, changing a few numbers and rebalancing some of the mechanics."
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    Comments 75 Comments
    1. TerraDave's Avatar
      TerraDave -
      Maybe 5E, with feat trees?

      "Based on" seems strong, but thing people have pointed to include:

      -Changes to magic items and less dependence on ability or defense boosters

      -A level based proficiency modifier (vs ranks and bab and the rest)

      -Backgrounds

      -Making their archetypes, like 5es subclasses, core (though of course they did have them already)

      -Implying that caster level based effects would be removed or toned down in spells

      -And that non-casters would be more balanced with casters

      -Streamlined monster creation and modification rules

      -"Pillars" of play

      Changes like these may improve play. They may also make it easier for 5E players looking for a crunchier game.

      But it will be its own thing. A d20 game that requires conversion to use with other d20 games, including PF 1E.
    1. Over the Hill Gamer's Avatar
      Over the Hill Gamer -
      I would love to see a major, supported system out there where combat resolution is faster than Pathfinder or 5e -- a game that is less of a miniatures wargame and more of a roleplaying game. A game where someone who has never played an RPG before could sit down, quickly create a PC, and get right into play.
    1. lyle.spade's Avatar
      lyle.spade -
      PF, especially in the 5e era, attracts a certain kind of gamer, in search of a certain vibe and flow at the table - and quite different from 5e, although they both share the same long-term roots. I don't see it being 5eFinder at all, either.
    1. Larrin's Avatar
      Larrin -
      The description they gave for monster design sounds decidedly more 4e than 5e.
      "We've moved away from strict monster construction formulas based off type and Hit Dice. Instead, we start by deciding on the creature's rough level and role in the game, then select statistics that make it a balanced and appropriate part of the game."
      Level, Role, unique abilities, not attached to creation rules: that was the good side of 4e monsters.
    1. VisanidethDM's Avatar
      VisanidethDM -
      Quote Originally Posted by lyle.spade View Post
      PF, especially in the 5e era, attracts a certain kind of gamer, in search of a certain vibe and flow at the table - and quite different from 5e, although they both share the same long-term roots. I don't see it being 5eFinder at all, either.
      I don't think there's been an egregious flow of players migrating from 5E to Pathfinder, in fact the opposite is probably true. People who saw reasons to play Pathfinder over 4E may have decided to give a shot at 5E; people who played Pathfinder and were disappointed by 5E aren't exactly "new buys" and 4E fans well, they don't really like PF generally.

      Keep in mind that Paizo only ever played the role of the newcomer "stealing" someone else's fanbase: this time they're in the opposite position, they have an "old" product that people may be dropping to try the new hot stuff. This move is quite likely a reaction to them seeing their sales suffer.
    1. VisanidethDM's Avatar
      VisanidethDM -
      Quote Originally Posted by Larrin View Post
      Level, Role, unique abilities, not attached to creation rules: that was the good side of 4e monsters.
      Monster design is also one of 5E's weaknesses, so them not pursuing that model may be proof that they're trying to imitate what D&D editions do best.

      If I were to try and copy 5E to steal some of its thunder I still wouldn't imitate the monster design ethos. It's kind of a mess.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      "Streamlined monster design" describes most any modern tabletop RPG. It's about as specific as "Written in the English language". It's certainly not evidence of being based on 5E.
    1. MechaTarrasque's Avatar
      MechaTarrasque -
      I think prevailing game design philosophies will inform/inspire PF 2e like they did 5e. I think there is a market for "simpler than PF 1e, but more complicated than 5e" that I don't think WotC is that interested in pursuing, and Paizo is in a good place to do so.

      Monster design is very similar to 4e's, and I think they could do some interesting things with it (like differentiating fiends, like making the baseline demon a brute/berserker, the baseline devil a expert/trickster/skilled [I forget which one it is called], and the baseline daemon a spellcaster, which would still allow exceptions if you need a primary caster demon for example).
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Yeah, that monster design definitely feels like it has more in common with 4E than 5E. 4E was divisive, but the monster design was certainly one of its stronger points.
    1. Von Ether's Avatar
      Von Ether -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      Yeah, that monster design definitely feels like it has more in common with 4E than 5E. 4E was divisive, but the monster design was certainly one of its stronger points.
      Mathematics or not, I did appreciate that many monsters came in "families" with different encounter roles. That made it easier to theme a campaign on certain monster for spits and giggles.
    1. mach1.9pants's Avatar
      mach1.9pants -
      Yeah I agree with the gist of the article, PF2E will draw from 5e, not be based on. It's not like Paizo have read or played nothing but pure Pathfinder for the last decade! Like most rpg geeks they'll have read and played a lot of systems and picked up things they like from here and there. Some of those they will fit into their version of a better Pathfinder.
    1. dave2008's Avatar
      dave2008 -
      Quote Originally Posted by VisanidethDM View Post
      Monster design is also one of 5E's weaknesses, so them not pursuing that model may be proof that they're trying to imitate what D&D editions do best.

      If I were to try and copy 5E to steal some of its thunder I still wouldn't imitate the monster design ethos. It's kind of a mess.
      I disagree. Now that I have the hang of it, I can make an interesting 5e monster a lot faster and better than I could in 4e. Now, does WotC make good monster designs. That is a different question. I think they are a little too simple, but that is me. The underlining structure for making monsters is pretty sound and easy IMO.
    1. Doctor Futurity -
      The monster design in Starfinder is, I suspect, exactly what (or close to) PF2.0's monster design is aiming for.

      For those who haven't checked it out, the Alien Archive for Starfinder provides the nicest, smoothest rules for designing new monsters I've seen in a D20 edition game.
    1. Ryujin's Avatar
      Ryujin -
      I wonder if they'll go more in the direction of Starfinder?
    1. mrm1138's Avatar
      mrm1138 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      Yeah, that monster design definitely feels like it has more in common with 4E than 5E. 4E was divisive, but the monster design was certainly one of its stronger points.
      I welcome anything that makes monsters and NPCs easier to run at the table. I really enjoy the way some of the OSR systems distill them down to their most necessary elements, often just armor class, hit dice (which often double as a to-hit bonus), and any special notes on their attacks.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by mrm1138 View Post
      I welcome anything that makes monsters and NPCs easier to run at the table. I really enjoy the way some of the OSR systems distill them down to their most necessary elements, often just armor class, hit dice (which often double as a to-hit bonus), and any special notes on their attacks.
      A secret of 5E ó you can run a monster with just one number (its CR). You donít need any of the rest.
    1. mrm1138's Avatar
      mrm1138 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      A secret of 5E ó you can run a monster with just one number (its CR). You donít need any of the rest.
      Is there anything that explains how that works? Also, what if it's a spellcaster?
    1. Moon_Goddess's Avatar
      Moon_Goddess -
      Quote Originally Posted by mrm1138 View Post
      Is there anything that explains how that works? Also, what if it's a spellcaster?
      Oh if it's a spellcaster you need to have 5 books open.
    1. AmerginLiath's Avatar
      AmerginLiath -
      Fifth Edition is built on the same basic d20 chassis as Third Edition, and indeed returns more to that systemís form (consider multiclassing, saving throws, etc) that Fourth Editionís mechanical divergences. Yet the game runs very differently than its predecessors did, drawing a mix of inspirations from older AD&D models and new modern stripped-down RPG systems.

      I think that PF2 is going to be following a parallel path of development, coming out of its ďD&D 3.75Ē origins in PF1. Just as Pathfinder observed things going on in 4e and reacted to that within its own ruleset, I think that there are going to large elements of PF2 that react to the success of 5e ó not in terms of copying the game in terms of observing where the d20 zeitgeist is now in the broader market, after the resurgence of the D&D brand and the breakthrough (to a degree) of the OSR community.

      So, no, Pathfinder 2nd Edition isnít going to be based on D&D 5th Edition. However, I think that itís responding to the same generational recombinations in the gaming industry that WotC responded to in themselves building their latest d20 game and in particular looking at what has and hasnít (from Paizoís perspective) worked over 5eís span (I expect a lot more PF2 books published, for example, partly as design philosophy).
    1. Superchunk77's Avatar
      Superchunk77 -
      If Pathfinder 2e moves in the same direction as the Starfinder rules, it could prompt me to switch from 5e. I enjoy the simplicity of 5e and hate the complexity of Pathfinder 1e, but I love the huge amount of customization options available in Pathfinder. IMO, 5e is "good" but there are a few mechanics I wish they didn't use.
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