I understand that in terms of the core rules to run games

  • D&D 3.5 has: Dungeon Master's Guide + Player's Handbook + Bestiary(s)
  • Pathfinder has: Core Rulebook + Bestiary(s).

Pathfinder has a Game Mastery Guide, but I understand this contains extra information for writing/planning campaigns rather than running games.

I run Pathfinder games and I'm considering buying a 3.5 DMG. With the equivalent of the Pathfinder DMG combined into the CR, do I already have all of that information? Is there much practical advice for GMs from the 3.5 material that would apply to GMing Pathfinder that would make it worth buying?

Is there any non-rule content (like practical advice for running games) in the DMG, that is missing from the Core Rulebook and GMG?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ the 3.5 DM guide has a pretty extensive list of traps. The list of sample traps in PF is rather short, so you can use the 3.5 ones to round that out, although their CRs may be a little off (or a lot). \$\endgroup\$
    – Eric B
    Jun 26, 2013 at 13:00
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Generally speaking, all DM/GM guides contain practical advice that would be beneficial to all DMs/GMs of any game. My advice would be to read as many of them as you can. \$\endgroup\$
    – DampeS8N
    Jun 27, 2013 at 16:40
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Semi-answer: if you're looking for practical advice, I'd suggest DMG2 from 3.5, rather than the DMG. DMG2 had a lot more advice in it IMHO. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 26, 2014 at 1:14

2 Answers 2


Most of the GMing advice in Pathfinder is taken directly from the 3.5 DMG text, so it's got a lot of overlap, but not all of it was taken across. Expect a feeling of deja vu.

There are a few things that may be of use, though.

That which is of use, however, is material that focuses on home-grown worlds.

The Campaign and World Building advice is more full than Pathfinder's.

There is a system for generating towns and population breakdowns by class & level- it would require some reworking to the Pathfinder classes, but the basic modality is of use, and only minor reworking. (p. 137-139)

THe D&D Great Wheel Cosmology is useful if you're planning on adapting AD&D modules.

Large chunks have been superseded...

All of the NPC classes and prestige classes in the DMG are superseded by the Pathfinder versions. All of the PC class listings in short form have been superseded as Pathfinder works class skills differently. This eats up a large chunk of the DMG real estate.

Most of the magic items are duplicated; magic items are a large chunk of the 3.5 DMG. Likewise, Pathfinder has its own magic item creation rules.

Bottom Line

There is some use, but a lot of duplication and superseded material.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you read the DMG 2 (for 3.5 or 4)? Is there anything extra in there? \$\endgroup\$
    – StuperUser
    Jul 2, 2013 at 12:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @StuperUser No, I haven't. \$\endgroup\$
    – aramis
    Jul 3, 2013 at 4:25

It's been a while since I've read the 3.5 material, but if I remember correctly it depends on how much you want to deviate from or experiment with the Pathfinder system. If you'll be doing a lot of custom/homebrew stuff with your adventures, then the D&D 3.5 material has some extra stuff that can help you add in extra rules and classes, etc.

It also depends on how much external structure you need when you're doing your own thing. Many people are happy modding the Pathfinder rules alone, or winging it, but if that is outside of your comfort zone the 3.5 material could help.

Edit to elaborate on specifics:

As far as practical advice for GMs...I would say not really. GMing advice in manuals all tends to be about the same for me. I find you really learn more by running a few games and developing your own style. If you have any specific GMing questions, you can ask them on here and we'll give you our two cents from our experience. That is all we can give though; ultimately it is between you and your players to work out a style that suits your gameplay.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .