Once upon a time, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson designed a great game – Dungeons & Dragons. The news spread worldwide, and soon everyone was playing tabletop RPGs, unleashing the power of imagination. But is it still as great as it used to be?
The rise of tabletop RPGs contributed to the creation of a gigantic community playing this type of game. Many new systems quickly came to life, set in various post-apocalyptic or vampire worlds – but high fantasy is still the most popular genre.
For this reason, D&D constantly maintains a high position in the ranking, gathering even more fans after the broadcast of famous TV shows like Stranger Things, revealing the details of the gameplay. But there is another – Pathfinder. Just as thrilling, exciting, and even more complex. So what to choose? If you’re a beginner wondering where to start your tabletop RPG adventure – we’ve got you covered.
Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder are table-top role-playing games based on rulesets and imagination. The first comes in its fifth edition, and later the second, which significantly improves the gameplay and introduces minor changes to the general rules. But the core is the same – players form groups and, led by a Game Master, enter the fantasy world for an epic adventure. Each of them designs their character by choosing from various races, classes, and additional features to make decisions regarding the development of their heroes and the entire expedition.
Along the way, their characters encounter humanoid or non-humanoid creatures, fight, and bond as a team to gain wealth and eternal glory. The course of the whole thing is supervised by the Game Master, who also creates the story and guides the team members through subsequent locations, assisting as NPCs or simply the narrator. It’s that simple, and it’s worth mentioning players can predetermine bending rules to adjust them to their preferences. The goal of both games is pure fun. So how about their differences?
Pathfinder emerged on the foundation of the 3.5 D&D edition, so the character creation system is almost identical in both games. Balancing and simplifying some of the rules of its ancestor, the title quickly gained recognition in the eyes of players worldwide.
One of the first differences between the two games revealing Pathfinder’s advantage is character creation. It is one of the most important, if not the most significant, moments in the game, perfect for building immersion. When creating a hero in Pathfinder, you choose from six traits, twelve races, ancestry, character background, classes, and equipment. Each provides various perks and bonuses, allowing you to be a better fighter, mage, or alchemist. The choice of these traits can be completely random and based on a dice roll or carefully thought out – a lot depends on how your team settles with the GM.
In 5e Dungeons & Dragons, you choose from traits, races, and classes and define your character’s personality or backstory. The hero creation system in this game is simpler and faster – which may appeal to first-time players. But both titles feature one more important thing – feats. These are various perks derived from the selected race or class, unlocking certain skills at specific gameplay stages. But in D&D, they are optional and provide far fewer development opportunities. In Pathfinder, you can refine your character to the smallest detail and create something unique, so if you care about the multitude of choices – choose this game.
The success or failure of each action in both games depends on the dice roll. Additional features and bonuses can affect the outcome, saving the hero from danger at the last moment. Such modifiers include skill levels, armor traits, or Proficiency. The latter is much more tricky to track in Pathfinder, where you must carefully consider each skill’s Proficiency separately. In Dungeons & Dragons, this trait counts at once, so it is easier and faster for players to determine what Proficiency bonus they have and whether the action has a chance of success.
Therefore, the rules of Pathfinder turn out much more complex and exaggerated, which can discourage beginners or experienced players. Pathfinder also features much less balanced classes, making some heroes overpowered while others have a standard skill level. So if you’re not thoroughly familiar with the 640 pages of Pathfinder rules from the start, you might have a hard time playing for the first time.
Pathfinder and D&D generated the release of many online and offline video games based on the rulesets of tabletop RPGs. To get more involved in the world of the former, you can now play Pathfinder Kingmaker and its thriving sequel – Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous. Both titles succeeded thanks to the Kickstarter campaign and were warmly welcomed by fans of this system. There were also plans to create Pathfinder Online, but ultimately it never saw the light of day.
When it comes to video games, Dungeons & Dragons fares much better. No wonder – this system predates Pathfinder for several decades. During this time, many video games set in the D&D world came to life, with the most popular ones like Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Planescape: Torment, and Icewind Dale. You can also play free-to-play Dungeons & Dragons Online – a great introduction to the title for beginners or video game players. The list of other games is simply gigantic, so if you are interested in playing more titles like Dungeons & Dragons, check them out here or research on Wikipedia.
Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder?
Summarizing all categories like character design, rules, and available video games, we strongly recommend Dungeons & Dragons. You can expect easier rules, faster character creation, and an overall more accessible world. It’s much more painless to learn, especially since almost everyone has heard of D&D at some point in their lives. So you probably know what to expect. D&D also means a much vaster selection of computer games and a chance to become a member of a massive community of fans of the oldest RPG ever.
But if, for some reason, you don’t like D&D or are already an experienced player looking for a breath of fresh air – play Pathfinder. The rules and character creation process can be more challenging. But once you learn them, the gameplay guarantees a much deeper immersion. It’s a fantastic recommendation for RPG freaks looking for a title providing more creative opportunities and options to use their imagination. But remember – whatever you choose, you will spend glorious moments in the company of friends and their imaginary avatars. Because that’s what it’s all about – unforgettable and epic fun!