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I know this is abit of a "wide net" question. I am currently switching over to 5e from years of activity (after 4e was released) from 3.5e..

The mechanics of 5e seem secondary while the role-playing seems primary from my experience in about 10 AL games.

I've spent the last 13 years or so away from TT-RPG

I desire highly mechanical play with other players that are also "rules to their letter experts," not self-styled "RP-actors".

Is Pathfinder 2e the D&D akin system, currently is popular enough to find players, that fits my wants?

I have played D&D:Basic, Advanced, 2e, 3.5e, 4e (twice), 5e (about 10 times)

I have not played any version of Pathfinder

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D&D 5e has been optimized to make it simple to learn and play, which is what you are reacting to. Its design reflects the fracturing of the D&D fanbase after 4e, and to a certain extent embraces a more “old-school” (read: 2e or earlier) playstyle in which the rules are much more nebulous, fluid, and handled ad hoc by the DM. This both makes it simpler to learn and play (since there aren’t rules to learn, you just have to trust the DM’s judgment), and also mollifies some of the critics of 4e (and, to an extent, 3e) in an effort to reunite the fanbase.

The downside of this is that more of the experience is riding on the DM’s expertise and judgment, and the players are often not left with a lot of surety in terms of how things will work from one DM to another. That makes it difficult to plan on things as a player, and can in some cases reduce player agency.

Pathfinder 1e was a spin-off of D&D 3.5e, and is for the most part identical in its foundations to that system.1 D&D 3.5e was likely never intended to be, but in some ways it was a departure from 2e when it comes to the subject of “rules vs. rulings,” as the more precise language gave many readers the basic assumption that things would generally go mostly by the rules and that exceptions would be, well, exceptional. Pathfinder inherited this heritage, though Paizo tried to repudiate it, and despite the fact that, like 5e, Pathfinder was in large part a reaction against D&D 4e, which was the system that most truly embraced the “rules” side of “rules vs. rulings.”

With Pathfinder 2e, Paizo has seemed to, at least somewhat, more fully embrace this “rules over rulings” ethos, in a way they largely didn’t with Pathfinder. And, in ways that are probably not coincidental but I’m not sure were planned, Pathfinder 2e is actually reminiscent of D&D 4e. The lists of class feats feel very similar to 4e’s lists of powers for each class, and the use of tags is very similar to 4e. Even the design and layout of the book feels like 4e—the little action diamonds just look like 4e’s heavy usage of the ♦ character in power descriptions, and the nature of the one-two-or-three diamonds is similar to 4e’s color coding by power availability (at-will, encounter, daily).

Paizo has also discussed PF 2e in these terms, describing their audience as being more technically-minded, more interested in the rules themselves, as being interested in digging into them and combining them in creative ways. It would seem that these appearances are not merely superficial, and possibly unlike Pathfinder 1e, not unintentional.

The long and short of it is, yes, it is fairly likely that Pathfinder 2e is at least intended to cater more to your tastes than D&D 5e is. You may also want to take a look at D&D 4e—which, as I mentioned, probably wins overall in “rules over rulings,” even more so than Pathfinder 2e.

  1. Pathfinder 1e’s Core Rulebook and Bestiary are based on, and in most things have the same rules as, 3.5e’s Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual. Pathfinder could not reference 3.5e’s supplements (as they were not open-game content), and of course Pathfinder’s own supplements after Core Rulebook were never available in 3.5e.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ good answer, and your writing/wording is wonderful. I'm accepting this as a informed answer \$\endgroup\$ – Jeffrey Witty Feb 26 at 22:12

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