3.5 3.5 vs. Pathfinder
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  1. #1

    3.5 vs. Pathfinder

    I was just perusing the Pathfinder SRD (I don't own any Pathfinder) and the question is burning my mind.

    Is there any REAL difference between 3.5 and Pathfinder?

  2. #2

    The difference between PF and 3.5 is probably less than the difference between 3.5 and 3.0 (mechanically speaking).

  3. #3
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    Pathfinder is more a a set of tweaks than some of the other 3.X RPGs. If you're looking around, others that have a good rep and are worth examining include (but are not limited to): True20*, Midnight 2Ed, Fantasycraft and Arcana Unearthed (based on 3Ed)/Arcana Evolved (based on 3.5Ed).

    * FWIW, True20 served sort of an inspiration for Mutants & Masterminds- an excellent supers game, IMHO- which currently has it's OWN nifty FRPG variant/sourcebook called Warriors & Warlocks.

  4. #4
    They're not much different, Pathfinder is just on the whole a much messier and less elegant tweak of 3E with some improvements but overall a worse rules system, punctuated by numerous instances of not learning from 3E's failures/problems (there's a reason 3.5 changed barbarian rage to not end when they go unconscious, but PF went and UNDID that bit of wisdom, for example) and the designers' insistances on making some classes mechanically weaker "for roleplaying reasons" (check out the Paladin playtest threads sometime) or to purposely invalidate entire combat paths that weren't unbalanced just because they didn't like them (like the flask rogue, or ranged rogues in general).

    *Puts flame retardant helmet on*

  5. #5
    My friends who ran the numbers on Pathfinder say that it's not really an improvement. More of a step to the side.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Lensman View Post
    Is there any REAL difference between 3.5 and Pathfinder?
    It depends on your definition of "real." To me, Pathfinder feels quite a bit different, but I have a very low tolerance for change -- particularly unnecessary change, which IMO Pathfinder has in abundance.

    But I basically agree with StreamOfTheSky's analysis: the changes can fairly be described as "tweaks," and are mostly for the worse.

  7. #7
    I tend to agree with the prevailing sentiment here. If you're familiar with 3.5, I'd look to PF for a few house rules but there's no compelling reason to change over. The combat maneuver system is great. The class changes vary from good to terrible, as do the feat/skill/spell changes. Skills were needlessly dumbed down and consolidated. The new material in the Ultimate books is also SRDed and is generally decent, as were the Complete books. There's also the setting, but I'd stick with whatever you already like.

    All that said, virtually none of the real problems of 3.X gaming were addressed.

    I'm glad PF exists but it doesn't exactly compel me to throw my 3e books away.

    Then again, it could be worse.

  8. #8
    OP, you may want to read this review of Pathfinder. Now, it's the gaming den AND Frank Trollman, so...be warned, they don't have the same politeness rules as ENWorld. But it's a rather entertaining and (IMO) painfully accurate overview of PF and why it's worse than 3E.

  9. #9
    Cutpurse (Lvl 5)

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    I think the best thing about Pathfinder is it's an ACTIVE rules line, whereas 3.5 is now no longer supported.

    I tried Pathfinder, and I liked some of the changes they made, but it failed to address some of the problem areas.

    For example, they changed how Grapple works, but it's still a combat maneuvre I avoid purely for the rules hassle.

    In the end, I decided to stay with 3.5 mostly because the Pathfinder rules are too close to the 3.5 rules, resulting in me second-guessing myself on every rule (am I remembering the 3.5 rule or the Pathfinder one, and/or are they really different?) and causing more rule-lookups then when I actually started playing 3.5.

    My conclusion:

    I think Pathfinder is better than 3.5, although I might not have played it enough to make a real comparison.
    I also think using rules that may still get errata and FAQ entries, or at the very least Customer Support is preferrable to a 'dead' (as in, no longer supported) ruleset.
    Because Pathfinder is so close to 3.5, you can probably use some of the splatbooks from 3.5 without too much problems, although you have to take the changed core rules into account.
    However, if you are already comfortable with the 3.5 rules, I would suggest staying away from Pathfinder, because of the rules headache mentioned above.

  10. #10
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    My experience is a bit of a mixed bag. I'll try and list some pros and cons below. Still, the most important point to note is that the scope for role playing does not change.

    - Combat maneuver system is easier to remember that 3.5 grab-bag of rules.
    - Class archetypes add flavour without unnecessary complexity.
    - Reduced Prestige Class range reduces the scope for munchkinism.
    - Reduced feat range reduces scope for munchkinism (pretty sure Persist DMM is gone for good from PF).
    - Removal of unnecessary skill sub-types (I like Spot, Search and Listen all being rolled into Perception).
    - Favoured class system makes more sense.
    - Class skills and cross-class skills make more sense and are easier to deal with for multi-class characters.
    - Medium armour makes more sense (since Clerics don't get heavy armour proficiency).

    - Reduced Prestige Class range reduces character sub-type options.
    - Removed some entertaining feats.
    - Added complexity in places for little gain (Wizard's bonded item, for example).
    - Summoner class annoys everyone at the table.
    - Removed some entertaining spells.
    - Unnecessarily long feat chains (some of the critical feat chains are 5 or 6 feats long).

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