Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Beginners Choice, D&D Next or Pathfinder?

Spent the last few days collecting the feedback from a few absolute beginners regarding the beginner sets of D&D 5th and Pathfinder, (Swift disclaimer, bribes may have been levied in the form of various sweets in return for their attention to the subject matter).  I also got the opinion of a few people who don’t actually play fantasy games, as I figured that asking someone who already has a take on the games would probably have a level of Bias involved that I’m trying to avoid.

Starting with the general layout of the box and the artwork within, Pathfinder scored heavily for being full colour all the way through, and not just the colours of the artwork, but the backgrounds and the way that the images were put together.  

Everyone noticed that the front cover image of the D&D box set was used repeatedly...

Whereas the pathfinder art was only repeated on the stand characters and only then to identify that the stand was that particular creature or character.  The other thing noted was that the D&D box set felt cheaper, more due to the lack of things within the box (and the filler space), whereas the pathfinder box was quite literally crammed to the top with usable accessories.


The absence of the percentile die was noted by a few of the beginners, with some of them looking at it from the point of view that a single die removed from a million units would probably save some money, but at the same time, it also gave the impression that the game had been looking to cut corners, particularly when you came to the demonstration characters and the addition of various leaflets, assistance, and other pamphlets in the Pathfinder box.
Who would have thought that one extra die was such a big deal...?

So we moved on to rules, and with both of the systems sharing at least some common ground from the previous editions, it was more a matter of how things had evolved since the time of Third Edition.  Spell usage and casting requirements on both sides were viewed as a little confusing, with one particularly enterprising rogue figuring that if you steal the mages box of components, you effectively reduce them to casting things that aren’t that powerful, which isn’t strictly true, but it means that they were at least giving it some thought.

That the Pathfinder had character sheets clearly laid out with the various actions that could be done was both noticed and appreciated, with the D&D sheets seeming somewhat bare by comparison.  All agreed that characters should be rolled up to see if the difference was still apparent when it wasn’t all singing all dancing, and so they were...


There was more back and forth glancing with the Pathfinder than the D&D, but with the way the blank characters were laid out, back and forth element took less time than the few bits of checking that the D&D required.  While I thought that the addition of the character generation rules for free as a download was a good move on the part of D&D, I was almost universally disagreed with by the beginners, all of which were much happier to have a book in their hands to flip through and considered the lack of said rules to look through in the box to be a dreadful larceny.  

I shall not repeat the exact commentary given, but it was spirited...

While they did do the character generation in the end with a printed out version of the rules, they did say that they would have found it far more tedious to have to do it by screen.

Which brings us to the adventures given to run through and both adventures offered getting a run through the first scenario only, rather than try and run through the campaign (and therefore delaying this review another month...), it was agreed that the board and the stands made it easier to visualise things, but it also added an unwanted dimension of turning any combat situation into a skirmish wargame which removed some of them from the feeling that they were playing something in their heads.  Somewhat counterbalanced when the board was removed while talking was going on.  Some liked, some didn’t, but the fact that the option to use the board with the starter set was appreciated.  With the D&D maps on the A4 size paper, the book had to be passed around to get the same impression as in the middle of the table, it wasn’t large enough for everyone to look at.

Adventure done, the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanism was talked about quite a bit, and while the Pathfinder rules were better laid out and clearer for the most part, there was little variance in the actions the characters could take, and most players didn’t feel confident attempting something not on the sheets.

That brought into play the GM’s sections of each box, a lot more ways around using things and tricks for new GM’s to try to get things working in the Pathfinder box, whereas the D&D box contained a few pages and skimmed over most of it.  It was generally agreed that while it would take longer to play through the D&D mini campaign, you’d have nothing to do at the end of it, whereas the Pathfinder instructions gave you ideas on what to do when you were done with the material that you were given.

That brought us on to the Monster Manual and creatures listed within...

From an experienced GM point of view, I’m happy to work with what I have to make something different, I know how to vary the hit points or attack bonuses to make things more or less difficult, and I’ve been doing that for years, so it’s second nature to me.          

From the beginners point of view, it did not go unnoticed that the only things listed as monsters in the D&D box were those that were in the provided adventure, many of them without artwork to accompany them, only a written description.  Very much the feel of “If you want more, there’s a monster manual coming out soon”. 

On the other hand, the pathfinder had all the creatures in the scenario and more, all in full colour with their own images. 

More than that though, when the creatures were encountered in the D&D book, there was the comment of “Go look it up”, whereas the Pathfinder stats were listed next to the creature in the scenario.  More monsters to play with in Pathfinder swung that particular vote decisively.

Small touches to be sure, but all the difference that needs to be made when it comes to people just starting out, both players and GM’s. 

This in particular was the thing that made the difference to all of the beginners, the D&D set expected that if you needed a rule, you went and looked it up, the Pathfinder saved you the time and put the rule there for you to save you that half minute of looking.  Everything was geared towards keeping you in the game and not in the rulebooks, and even though I hadn’t picked up on that (knowing most of the rules anyway...), it is a good way to start people playing, keep them as much in the game as possible, which isn’t possible if you have to break game every few minutes to check on something.

In the end, the beginners said that even though the pathfinder is more expensive by a small amount, the additional expense is more than worth it.  While they would play both games given the choice, they found the Pathfinder more interesting in presentation and ease of use, they liked the options that it gave them and that you could play for a long time with just the basic set without having to buy anything else. 

So in the Game of Games, D&D may indeed be Tywin to Pathfinders Tyrion, and both sides will have those that prefer them for different reasons, but in this test, Tyrion has certainly caught Tywin with his pants down...


And that’s never a good thing...                                                                                                                                                                                                      

64 comments:

  1. Starting to worry about TSR/WoTC/DnD. Paizo/Pathfinder have been hammering them, but when a new edition doesn't perk up sales...

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    1. I agree, I get the feeling that WoC is about 10-15 years behing when it comes to tehre product/components/value. It is looking more and more like a death rattle from WoC... :´(

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    2. Well, Paizo is doing what WoTC did with 3.5. 3.5 had all of that in the beginner's box, plus the beginner's box had miniature monsters that you could run all the adventures with. It also gave you some monsters with which you would be able to run new games and new hooks using the beginner's game. WoTC also had a "player's kit," which gave you a set of dice (complete with percentile dice and 4d6, everything you would need to run your character and roll up new ones), a character sheet, condensed rules to help you generate a character, and play rules that you could use to refer to instead of flipping through the PHB if you weren't that familiar with it yet. It also contained a "solo adventure," choose your own adventure-esque pamphlet that allowed you to "run" your character and try out the combat rules and such. It contained a paperback copy of the PHB as well, and while not as strong as the hardback, served me well for many years now (got back into it in 2005, book is still together today). All of this for around $35-$40, when the books themselves cost $30-$35 each at that time. So, it seems to me that WoTC has dropped the ball on D&D Next compared to Pathfinder, and 3.5. What do you think?

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    3. I think the problem with comparing them this early, especially to the pathfinder "Beginner Box" is that the 5e Starter Set really is only an entry taste, being as most content has not yet been released.

      The Pathfinder Beginner box did not come out until years after Pathfinder was published and running, so for them there was absolutely no reason to limit the content as it was all already online anyway and the only reason to create the beginner box is for sales.

      The 5e Starter Set, is more akin to a pre-release mini version of the game. It contains the basics that are required to play at the most basic level of the game, but all the complicated content is coming in the PHB.

      So yes, the Starter Set will feel more "boring" than the Beginner Box, as it does not yet have the content to Pathfinder has had over the years. I would not be surprised that once content is rolling out, we get a few books in, that 5e will make a Beginner Box equivalent which is all the rules to run or join a game including obscure ones, since they are already published online. That would be the time to compare.

      Unless of-course, Paizo made a Starter Set type box when they first released Pathfinder, That would be a more meaningful and interesting comparison.

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    4. The problem is that this wasn't a comparison between systems, this was a blind test by beginners to see which one got their interest more. When they've had chance to play them both, there'll be another review going up.

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  2. A good and nice read I must say. I would have likes a grafickal summary in the end where you list the diffrent things and teh winner (Monster part, Pathfinder winner. You probably already know what I am talking about). =)

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  4. A fair and unbiased review of both products. If I had thoughts of abandoning Pathfinder for 5E, thiis certainly put them to rest.

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    1. Show me where I can get the Pathfinder beginner box for $12.61 like the 5e starter set, and I'll call it a fair review.

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    2. Paizo blatantly steals D&D re-labels it then gouges the price of it and you fanboys bend over backwards to defend them, unbiased my ass

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    3. @mediaprophet the price differences were noted, but the sheer amount of extra's in the pathfinder box more than made the difference when it came to first impressions and bear in mind that we didn't do this test with experienced players, but with beginners, the experienced player reviews were earlier in the blog

      @demonic0jester Most of the beginners were expecting to like D&D more because they'd actually heard of it, certainly none of them are familiar with the epidemiology of the game

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    4. @Demonic0Jester - Paizo hasn't "stolen" anything. They're using the d20 engine, but they're doing so via the excellent Open Game License that Wizards of the Coast created back in the day. They did so because they felt that D&D 3e was the best choice for them going foward, and it seems a LOT of gamers out there agree.

      As for re-labeling it, even if Paizo wanted to use the Dungeons & Dragons brand, they wouldn't be able to, for what I hope are obvious reasons.

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    5. I heavily disagree. Paizo has done its best to copy as much none OGL material as possible and rebrand it. Tome of Battle and Magic of Incarnum were never up for grabs, nor were Mindflayers, Beholders, or a number of other creatures that Paizo has stolen and renamed.

      http://dreamscarredpress.com/dragonfly/ForumsPro/viewtopic/t=2948.html

      http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?308912-PF-DSP-Dreamscarred-Press-announces-ToB-inspired-product-II-The-Rematch

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    6. @Anonymous Dreamscarred Press isn't Paizo.

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  5. The Pathfinder Beginners Box costs twice as much on Amazon. MSRP is $15 higher. I expect to get a lot less for fifteen bucks less.

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    1. Me too, but I'm not the beginner

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    2. I have to agree with both of you. While I, as an experienced gamer, know what I'm looking for in a D&D product, anybody who is new to tabletop roleplaying games in general will fall into one of two camps. They either have the $ to buy the Pathfinder starter and will see that it's totally worth it, or they'll be able to afford the D&D starter and won't really even be aware of what they're missing.

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    3. Wizards and Paizo clearly had different missions/visions for these products. It's a little silly to compare them. Paizo deliberately produced a high-end product, geared towards character creation and simple campaign creation. Wizards' product is a single adventure in a box that bypasses both of those elements. (Yes, character creation exists in Basic, and additional content from the DMG and MM will appear in Basic later this year, but that material is free for everybody, regardless of whether or not they purchase the Starter Set.)

      It's interesting to see what newbies thought of each system, but the comparisons are nonsensical.

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    4. This response really put me off (as well as a few others in this thread) because it was a reply from a seasoned veteran of RPG.

      I, on the other hand, have a very limited experience with D&D from the mid-80's while in college (mostly an excuse to drink and tell stories.) In the here and now, my 13-year-old son has been interested in expanding beyond his only experience with the Adventure Maximus game within the last year or so.

      I had seen (and thought about purchasing) the Pathfinder Board Game system and then realized they had an RPG too, to compete with D&D. I didn't know the differences in the "starter sets" until now, except the very basic pictures on the boxes themselves. By looking at the starter and the beginner boxes, the D&D box made me feel like we'd be ripped off in comparison.

      Yeah it was cheaper (and maybe that was because it is targeted for a different market and potential customer) but when you are looking thru a FLGS and trying to find a product to buy, you look for something that is fun, the best bang for your buck, as well as a good product to support.

      We were leaning toward the PF box and after reading this review, we got it and haven't looked back.

      Yeah, I think the D&D starter has merit and maybe my son will get in to D&D as well, later. But to say this review is nonsensical, or as others cursed it and said it is biased or worse, is coming from their own jaded perspectives. I got the feeling this review was presented to, and the sets were for, beginners to the game.

      So, I want to say that the review is spot on, informative, and very helpful to a relative newbie (and a definite noob), and we are happy with the PF choice based specifically on this review. And personally, for those others that want to knock it, why don't you take a pill and get over yourselves!

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  6. I have both, I play both, I don't love either... I'm one of those rare beasts who actually came back to gaming because 4e was a breath of fresh air after 4e, and I live it's bug damn heroes style of play.

    I've been heavily involved in the Next/5e playtesting and I think WotC have done a great job. The starter set IS a little disappointing, but Imho the lack of char gen us countered he the fact that the core rules are free online.

    I do have a major issue with the Pathfinder box set... it doesn't look like any other pathfinder product... all the excellent layout tweaks used in the players book, character sheet, dm's guide, adventure text, monster text etc is missing in a core product like the main rulebook, bestiary or an adventure path. If you pick up a proper pathfinder adventure, almost all the monsters in it are 'see page xxx of Pathfinder Bestiary y', and it's jot uncommon for it to use monsters from a pdf only third party product...

    Finally, theres the fact that the Pathfinder Beginner's box came out 4 years after pathfinder did, whereas the 5e came out 2 months before the phb, 3 or 4 months before the monster manual and 5 or so months before any DM's book. Monster stats were still being play tested days before it went to print, artwork was still dribbling in... and I believe WotC even said that they kept it a cut down product so not to distract from the free rules and phb.

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    1. Interesting, I'll sort out a look at some of the pathfinder books to get that viewpoint out there, thanks for heads up. With regards having it being a cut down product, to be honest, knowing what else is out there, I'd have put a bit more in there, just to even the scales.

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    2. God my typing is getting worse, I should avoid using a phone at 7 am...

      I totally agree with opinions about the starter set. It IS disappointing, 1 cut down rulebook, 5 pregens, an adventure with limited monsters and some dice is poor when you compare it to Pathfinders excellent starter set. The Pathfinder one also comes with spare blank sheets, and online... an extra class and player options, and multiple extra adventures and monsters.

      Put simply, the Pathfinder box set is worlds apart, and is only slightly more expensive - its why it goes out of stock almost instantly... I've got friends who don't play Pathfinder but bought it simply for the map and the monster standees!

      I think WotC have down a bold thing by offering the core rules and core classes for free, and I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised at just how much stuff is packed into the PHB. I also think the layout of the core WotC rules is better overall, and I know they worked hard to make it a very readable design. *cough* its not like they had someone who sees a minimum of 5 things to test it on... *cough* ;)

      The fact that the starter set is also a mini campaign with 4 different locations and multiple npc's and sidequests, compared to Pathfinders chose your own intro, adventure and 'heres a sketch map and a few ideas' also scores highly in my book. I personally felt that the Pathfinder set kinda dropped you in at the deep end once the Black Fang dungeon finished.

      The other worthy starter set in my eyes is the black basic D&D set from the early 90's, with Escape from Zanzer Tems dungeon and the Dragon Cards... I can lend you it if you want them to try an old school starter set!

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    3. I think there's certainly mileage in that :)

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  7. The problem is attitude. WotC is coming at this from the angle of making money as first and foremost. Paizo, on the other hand, while certainly still a business and run like one, they involve the gaming community keeping their desires in mind when they create. I've 'upgraded'/changed my gaming for the last time. I'll be playing PFS as my D&D fix going forward. Full disclosure, I've been playing since Chainmail and watched all the incarnations.

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    1. Yeah. Paizo isn't grabbing cash. It only offers you the adventure, the anniversary adventure, the pre-adventure, the novel, the audio effects pack, the card game, the miniatures set, the cardboard minis set, the map book, item decks, face decks, and an audio drama. If you wish to spend more money, you can buy the limited edition of the adventure, or possibly a comic book. Or why not a plushie?
      Paizo is great at marketing if you think they're not all for the money. Even the designers must be bored at this point since the game only services 3rd edition grognards. Either forums have people who really love 3rd edition with all its warts and are blind to marketing, or there are shills.

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    2. LOL yeah, WotC didn't involve the community AT ALL in the development of 5E.... Is there a /rolleyes big enough to cover that?

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  8. As someone who prefers 5e over PF, I can’t deny the accomplishments of the PF BB!
    Great job, Paizo!

    It’s not a case of strictly better in every category: I prefer the visual experience of the 5e set (both art, typography and layout) and I like the simple rulebook that will have a life long after we’re done with the campaign. For my purposes the 5e box is better — for me and my group.
    The absense of map and minis, the more sandboxy set up, the hex crawl... Yum!

    But from a sheer usability and learnability stand point, the PF BB has some great solutions.
    The “rule is right there, no need to flip” seems like it would lead to a great experience.

    I can’t deny that I admire the PF BB — for the purposes of introducing people to Pathfinder. But the same approach would’ve been a bad fit for 5e. One of the goals and challenges for the 5e team was to enable players to think outside the rules, to try to do things outside of just the mechanized actions. PF’s goal was to enable both — to make the mechanized actions accessible and understandable while not denying more improvised play — whereas 5e (as the pendulum swung from 4e) almost had to emphasize the improvised and non-mechanical play.

    Overall I think WotC is happy that Paizo are kinda the caretakers of 3.5-style play. It’s all D&D to them. (At least to the D&D designer team — corporate probably disagrees...)
    For us players though, it’s great. We can choose what we want and play how we want.

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  9. "even though the pathfinder is more expensive by a small amount" How about twice as much? Also, the point about the adventure lengths is inaccurate. The Pathfinder adventure may take a second session to finish, while the D&D adventure will take characters ~6 sessions. If a brand new GM can take a campaign that far based on just a crawl through a dungeon and some snippets of advice, they're a pretty precocious individual. The D&D adventure is, in itself, a great teaching tool. It starts with a simple combat, goes into a small dungeon, explores a town and does some roleplaying, explores the wilderness and does some sidequests, and "ends" with a good, full-sized dungeon delve.

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  10. I think limiting the review to the first part is a bit of a mistake. It may have delayed the review by a month, but the full experience is necessary for a true review as opposed to a simple "first impression."

    The fact of the matter is that, for what's in the box, the BB offers a few hours of content while the Starter Set offers 20+ hours -- and for half the price.

    I'm a huge fan of both products -- and both companies, but the two boxes have decidedly different goals and not playing each to the end does a disservice to the product that takes the longer view.

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  11. Try this. Have your new players decide to play full PF. Tell them to use the rules in the Core Rulebooks instead of PF Basic and level up to 2nd level. Then have them do the same with the D&D Starter Set using it and/or D&D Basic PDF. Better yet, have a new player GM PF Basic and then have him or her in charge of upgrading to PF Core and run an adventure using the Core Rules. Do the minis, maps, and percentile die help?

    Have the same new DM run D&D Starter and then switch over to Tyranny of Dragons. Play continues just like in the Starter set.

    The players of PF Basic have to get a whole new set of rules and the GM has to learn different rules. Heck, a Strategy Guide is coming out for PF Core to help.

    The DM of D&D uses the same rules just has to improve some new DMing skills. The players of D&D see no difference at all except for options added to the D&D Basic PDF. No changed rules at all.

    These games aren't one shots. They should lead a new DM and new players into RPG gaming as a hobby if at all possible. Which set does that more easily, with less expense, and showing that minis/maps don't have to be included to play?

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  12. Sounds like Pathfinder wins in the art department. The two games are very different however, 5e plays theatre of the mind, pathfinder plays grid, producing varying levels of immersion. Many folks enjoy both, and as long as new players are joining one or the other (and will likely try both eventually), it's a win for tabletop RPGs as a whole!

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  13. Anyone can say "the additional expense is more than worth it"--but talk is cheap! Still, a deluxe version of WOTC's starter set with additional bling to catch people's eyes at the same price level as the Pathfinder box might not be a bad idea. Like many things with D&D right now, we'll just have to see what WOTC ends up doing. Early days!

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  14. The review fails to acknowledge the actual cost differences between the two products, as well as the provision of free Basic D&D Rules online, which somewhat invalidates the comparisons made. The two products also have differing objectives. In Pathfinder’s case, the core game is an intimidating 500+ page rulebook, and there is less brand recognition amongst casual gamers. Hence the Beginner’s Box provides an alternative entree point. In the case of D&D, the Starter Set is literally the entree point to progressively build on with Basic Rules, Players’ Handbook and so on. It’s why there is empty space in the box.

    So, in short, a negative, unfair review.

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    1. To be fair to the review, the availability of the Basic rules online is indeed covered, in the paragraph under the picture of the character sheets.

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    2. Covered but not acknowledged.

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  15. Ugh. It's disheartening to see that our hobby has become so fragmented by the whole Paizo v WotC thing, especially since I think a lot of it is fueled by the Paizo people (and who can blame them, they're all ex-WotC employees for the most part). Let's pretend that the D&D 5e starter set was instead a starter set for another fantasy RPG. Would it be fair to compare that starter set to that of a seasoned game like PF that already has a tried and rule set as well as a ton of art assets in their pocket? The author of this post is trying to do just that when D&D is essentially starting over with 5e. A lot of the criticisms of D&D 5e box in this post are graphic design, art and layout nits that I really don't are very impartial. I also hate to say that it sounds like these beginners were steered more towards PF as opposed to D&D, which again is disheartening.

    That being said, I actually think there is more 'bait and switch' with the Pathfinder Starter than the D&D 5e starter in terms of learning rules and going beyond the content presented in the box, especially with the living 5e document that is available for free online.

    Regardless, great post and I'll be visiting this blog often!

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    1. Thanks, I've been doing the pathfinder things recently because there's not enough D&D to look into yet, but there is something coming tonight for that. As for the beginners being steered, no, I left them in a room with both sets and came back two days later :)

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  16. If I had to choose I would go with D&D 5e box, it is cheaper with the online PDF has lots of aventure time... you don't need to play on a grid, the adventure is way better on Starter Set than PF BB. You get up to Level 5... with PF BB you only get one level of adventure tops. Cheaper and Better wins... PF box is wasted money most material is useless (only dice and back flipmat are used afterwards, only one real adventure really short) and rules do not make sense without the core book.

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  17. I have both products, and I am going to be running 5e for my group because my group consists of ten-year-olds and the system is somewhat simpler.

    In defense of the PF adventure, Paizo does make a few follow-up adventures available for free download. I got those and printed those out when running PF for one of my 10 y.o. players.

    In defense of D&D, I don't know anywhere that a % roll is required in the game.

    I agree that the pdf of the rules is a PITA to generate characters from on screen; I have printed it out and put it in a binder for easy reference. Not everybody wants to spend the $ for toner and paper to do this, of course.

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  18. Well, there IS a price difference... you can buy the D&D starter set for 12$ at amazon, the Pathfinder one costs 30$+ at paizo...

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  19. And you can get the Pathfinder box at Amazon for $24... free shipping with Prime.

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    1. so, at least you are paying double.

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  20. "Who would have thought that one extra die was such a big deal...?"

    Only people who had some idea what a percentile roll was and didn't realize there aren't any in D&D 5e

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    1. Or maybe explain to them they can just use the d10 and add a 0...

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    2. I don't know about in 5e but percentiles in D&D 3e/Pathfinder are largely pointless anyway. Things tend to be in increments in 5, which is 1 in 20 chance... so you can actually just roll a d20. 1 on the d20 = 1-5, 2 on the d20 = 6-10, and so on.

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    3. Or one can just roll the single d10 twice, first for the tens digit, then again for the ones digit. It's what people did before percentile d10s became common. They aren't really necessary, and never have been. With 5e, percentile rolls are so rarely used, it is no real loss.

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  21. Intentionally or not, your review methodology is very tilted in Paizo's favour.

    You didn't expose these players to the difference that is perhaps most important to a real-world purchase decision - price. Your language can also be read as trying to downplay this. Unlike some others, I'm not accusing you of doing this on purpose - I read you as saying the difference in *absolute* terms is not that large, which I disagree with but I see why someone with greater resources would regard it as true - but given that one is in fact over twice the price of the other on Amazon, your review is misleading regarding the *relative* difference.

    You also didn't mention the very significant difference in how much adventure material is included - a 20+ hour mini-campaign in the D&D case versus an adventure that, as I understand it, most groups finish in one or two sessions for PF. In fact, the single, very unclear sentence you devoted to this general topic might give some people, especially those not already familiar with the D&D set, the impression that both are on the Pathfinder end of this particular scale. Again, I don't think you did this on purpose. It looks like the sort of minor mistake an editor would catch in a professional review, which happens to the best of us. But intentionally or not, the choice to do a one-shot favours Pathfinder by ignoring one of the D&D box's biggest strengths.

    On the other hand, I've been making this point from the word go:
    "While I thought that the addition of the character generation rules for free as a download was a good move on the part of D&D, I was almost universally disagreed with by the beginners, all of which were much happier to have a book in their hands to flip through and considered the lack of said rules to look through in the box to be a dreadful larceny."

    Having this as a free .pdf is just not the same as having it IN THE DAMN BOOK, and no-one on the more D&D oriented boards will listen when I point this out so it does my heart good to see someone else making the same point.

    Despite this, though, it was almost inevitable that this review would go in favour of the Pathfinder set as soon as you made the questionable methodological choices I point out above. Probably without meaning to, you played directly to Paizo's strengths.

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    1. And thanks for the well thought out response, certainly it wasn't my intention to couch the review in pathfinder favourable terms and I'm sorry if it came across as such. Perhaps the latest set of thoughts might do something to redress the balance as what I've just seen is a significant step up from what was seen in the starter set.

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  22. I like having the Basic Rules pdf on my Kindle. I can quickly search or use the bookmarks to get to what I need. I do want to have the core books in my hands instead of pdfs.

    So, the PF BB doesn't play with the same rules as the full blown PF game and the adventure is short? I think I'd rather stick with the SK which has a lengthy adventure using the same rules as any future D&D adventure. And I can even keep going with the same characters if they don't die a horrible death at level 1 or 2...

    I'd be interested in hearing what beginners thought after playing through the adventures in both BB & SK. Of course you would have to explain to those who love PF they know need to learn the real rules and start over.

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    1. Started them on the D&D rather than the Pathfinder, but certainly there'll be feedback in a few weeks on what people thought of the scenarios.

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  23. Is it fair to point out that the Pathfinder box set MSRP is $35 vs the D&D 5e which is $20?

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  24. What a terrible article. The author is clearly lacking in intellectual honesty by reserving his caveat on pricing ("even though the pathfinder is more expensive by a small amount") to the very end, and then basically lying about the price difference. I've looked at Amazon.ca and the Pathfinder product is TRIPLE the price of the D&D product. "Small amount" my behind. This is like comparing a base-model Honda Fit against a loaded BMW 3-series coup and complaining the Honda lacks features. Well... duh! And seriously, a big photo of the percentile dice, when D&D doesn't even USE percentile dice? That's like complaining about a motorcycle not coming with a sunroof.
    You know, I really appreciate a well-written piece by an honest author who wants to shed some light on a subject, so I get pretty steamed when I see a heaping pile of garbage like this. The author is clearly biased against D&D and did his best to "prove" his opinion by obfuscating facts throughout the article. Shame on you, sir.

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    1. And I in turn am very appreciative when people who throw stones have the good grace to walk over them first, The price difference between the two sets that I got (Amazon England) was about £4 and I've said before that I didn't check pricing worldwide, so the revelation that it's three times as expensive elsewhere came as something of a surprise.

      With regards that I'm biased against D&D, you did read the article before you came down here I presume? Why not try reading the article a few days earlier when my thoughts (not those of beginners) were put forwards, or those posts afterwards while addressing the points raised.

      Still, good of you to comment, how about you put up your own thoughts on the matter for people to read?

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  25. Regarding Prices. Amazon pricing can be way off MSRP. Totally depends on who is selling it on Amazon. That is why you should buy it from you FLGS ...brick & morter stores. D&D starter MSRP $19.95. Pathfinder $34.95.

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  26. Paul Johnson and I believe the pricing comment from the author is in reference to the actual MSRP's which is only $15.00 price difference. Which is not necessarily a lot of money difference but can be to some people. & if a beginner only goes by price then that is their answer.

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  27. The price is largely negligible in either case considering that you are likely entertaining a group of five people for a couple of weeks, and, assuming it "takes" for many years to come. From my perspective I'd much rather focus on the quality of the systems if I was actually going to entice friends to intellectually commit to learning the stuff.

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  28. I think you're comparing products in two different categories here, and it's a bit disingenuous or at least naive and irresponsible of you.

    The Starter Set of DnD Next is clearly designed for early adopters who are chomping at the bit for an experience of the new system. Pathfinder's set is a polished and honed edition of a system that has been around for many, many years.

    You have proven that the set from Wizards is inadequate in comparison, but one result of your review is clearly shown in a comment which basically says that "I was going to try DnD Next... I thank you for saving me the time. I won't even bother."

    I'd be upset, personally, if something I had written had generated that kind of response and would take pains to edit my article, at least in an addendum, as a remedial measure so that people don't get the wrong impression.

    DnD Next looks to me to be a great system, much more streamlined than Pathfinder and much less complex and kludgey. It's a shame people are reading your article and are being turned off of trying it as a result.

    Let these new players deal with character development in Pathfinder for a while and experience the consequences of their choices in combat. After some experience (of having to read through a mess of rules and even have to go online and read guides just to have a decent character), they might look back to that experience with the DnD starter set and begin to re-evaluate their judgments.

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  29. The two shouldn't really be compared because of the obvious price differential.

    There is an old saying "you get what you pay for".

    Bells, whistles and design aside, the question that needs be asked is does the D&D 5e deliver when it comes to providing an adventure/storyline to beginner players as compared to the Pathfinder product? If the more expensive product does not notably outshine the less expensive product I believe that the less expensive product is the most ideal to get new players started. It is afterall a taste test, or stepping stone, for the real thing. Just my thoughts on the matter.

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    1. It does indeed deliver an adventure/storyline, but it's more interesting in what the players are playing six months later. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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  30. Thanks for this comparison John. As a complete beginner to RPG it was very informative. Unless you are in the position of having nobody to start learning a game with, I think many decisions will come down to what your 'mentors' are playing.

    In the event that you have nobody to learn from, and are starting from scratch with a group of friends with no experience, I would be looking for a 'starter' or 'beginner' box to give me as complete a package as possible to help my learning and continued involvement in the game.


    Finally, I suppose any sort of review like this will generate negative comments, with many seeming to have considerable time in searching out sites to criticise. Personally I don't tend to comment on these things, but felt I would on yours as acknowledgement of what I have felt being a worthwhile read.

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    1. Good morning Richard, thanks for taking the time to comment, glad the article was of some use to you.

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  31. As someone who hasn't played since 1e but interested in getting back in, this line stood out to me: "most players didn’t feel confident attempting something not on the sheets." Based on this, I consider both products to be failures.

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  32. Another point about the Pathfinder BB, it does a pretty good job of introducing players to the basic elements of Pathfinder, but it does a fairly poor job of helping GMs design their own adventures, after the initial BB adventures are finished. And this is probably by design, as Paizo has plainly stated that they want new players to move on to the Core rules as soon as possible.

    All else aside, I'm starting to get the feeling that Pathfinder may be approaching the end of its life cycle. The recent glut of PF supplements and sourcebooks is suggestive of earlier versions of D&D at the end of their life cycles. I wouldn't be surprised if we don't hear an announcement for Pathfinder 2 in the near future. Maybe Paizo is just waiting for a 5th Edition OGL. :)

    -Ed

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