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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 37 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. More content. The PRD only has content from Paizo's hardback rulebook line, but the d20PFSRD has all the softcovers as well.

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

  4. 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. This is way more helpful for most real-play purposes.

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

  6. "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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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
    
And if reported they're fixed immediately - the PRD doesn't exactly get loads of editing or curation, so treating it as perfect is not supported by reality either. –  mxyzplk Nov 19 at 14:46
    
Another point, for me at least - the PRD performs terribly on my phone, randomly scrolling to the top of the page at random times making it almost unusable. –  MartianInvader 2 days ago
    
I'd also add a point. You mentioned better organization, but it's also easier to find what you're looking for on the PFSRD –  David Wilkins 2 days ago

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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I like the use the official site for some things such as feat selection when playing or DM-ing a campaign with a limited book availability.

For the campaign I'm running right now, I made available to the players everything in the standard Paizo books except for mythic adventures. Since they can only pick feats from the standard books, it can be easier to look at the lists directly as it can be a chore to filter out all the books you can't pull from on d20PFSRD.

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