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I've seen different references to online manuals for Pathfinder at d20pfsrd.com and paizo.com/prd.

What is the difference between these two sites?

Since the core rules are likely to be the same, having a more "official" source of rules seems moot. Are there any distinctive differences in content offered? e.g. Does d20PFSRD offer anything that the PRD doesn't (or things that should be paid for), or does Paizo miss out on anything by people using d20PFSRD that they can invest in making new materials?

Is there any real objective reason to use one instead of the other?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 35 down vote accepted

I use the d20PFSRD almost exclusively because it adds a bunch of stuff that the official PRD does not. They are similar in timeliness of updates of official Paizo content, but the PFSRD also includes...

  1. FAQs and clarifications. On the PFSRD, they look for FAQs and forum posts clarifying twiddly bits about the rules and put them into sidebars on the page and link them to their source. Here, see the Domains & Subdomains page as an example.

  2. Third party support. PFSRD contains lots of third party Pathfinder content as well, clearly labeled as such.

  3. Better organization. Compare the d20PFSRD Elf page to the PRD Elf page. The PFSRD page puts actual relevant info there (random height/weight tables, etc.) while the PRD includes elven equipment and magic items, which are best put in another location.

  4. Tools - The PFSRD has a bunch of random generators, databases, etc. The PRD is just text. Example: Spell Database

  5. "Labs" - The PFSRD has places for normal people to put their homebrews or other related info (like Treantmonk's Lab links to his class guides). Oh, and even Hero Lab data files.

  6. Better formatting and hyperlinking. The PFSRD does more subheadings and sidebars and stuff, and also takes more care to hyperlink back and forth. Compare Stealth and Stealth.

  7. The one minus of the PFSRD are the prominent ads. But, somebody's gotta pay to run the site. I just wish they formatted those in better, they were tacked on later in the design and it shows.

I guess probably they make them use the PRD for Pathfinder Society play because "it's official" or whatnot, but for normal home gaming/GMing I find the PFSRD way, way more helpful and when I traverse a link to the PRD from somewhere I think "Oh, poor guy... He doesn't know about the PFSRD..."

d20PFSRD doesn't put anything that "should be paid for," only legally OGL'ed content. And I don't believe there's any advantage to Paizo to them using their PRD, they don't even have ads on it. If they were super clever they'd be mining the Web analytics on parts frequently accessed to drive clarity/organization in Pathfinder 2 but that's really tangential (and I bet the d20PFSRD guys would hand over their analytics if they asked, because everyone's nice in the Pathfinder community.)

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It's worth noting that there are occasionally errors in the d20pfsrd that aren't in the PRD. It's rare, but it does happen. –  Bobson Jun 27 at 13:03

I mostly agree with mxyzplk.

There's one reason you might prefer Paizo's site. Its layout makes it clear what material is from what book.

In contrast, the PFSRD mixes everything together, which is ideal for a reference but less ideal for someone wanting to learn the game. There's so much there it can be overwhelming. (It does indicate the source of each bit of material, but again that only really helps people using it as a reference. It's the layout that matters.)

For that reason I'll often direct someone interested in learning the rules to the PRD (but also mention the PFSRD site!)

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d20prds does list everything together, but the sources for the content are always labeled. –  Colin D Jun 7 '13 at 19:36
    
@ColinD Oh, thought I'd actually mentioned that, but it doesn't actually help the use case I'm describing. :) –  starwed Jun 7 '13 at 21:40
    
I can see this being very helpful for core book only games. –  Canageek Jun 8 '13 at 18:08
    
If you don't actually own the book, yes. –  mxyzplk Jun 12 '13 at 12:09

If you play Pathfinder Society Organized Play, the PRD is a legal source for rules & content, while the PFSRD is not.

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