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Edition Peace

Pathfinder 2e was the opposite of what I wanted in many ways.

The biggest problem is probably that made a game less compatible with PF1e than 5e is. That’s right: it’s less difficult to run PF1e stuff in 5e than it is to run it in PF2e.

Ideally, I would’ve wanted them to go the other direction. An alternate “5e.PF” PHB, as different in focus as 5e as they wanted, more buildy, more fiddly, more options—but compatible with 5e adventures, and adventures in turn compatible with 5e’s core books.

They would’ve had to stick to bounded accuracy, sure, and I get that they didn’t want that, but outside of that they could’ve put in all the three-actions, multiple layers of ability bonus, feats upon feats upon feats cruft that they like to put in there.

Because when you think PF, what are the two things peeps love? The adventures, and the super fiddly buildy “Mathfinder” approach.

Offering both of those experiences separately would’ve been such a community-unifying gem. Run a PF party through CoS, or run a 5e party through Extinction Curse. Would’ve been simpler for 3PP too.

Programming nerds know what I’m talking about: how POSIX lets you have the userland from one Unix on the kernel of another. That’s not something you’d typically do, but you can do it, and, more commonly, you can stick to your own community, own userland most of the time but still be able to port over the occasional app that really catches your eye. Sort of like how Debian uses the Almquist shell from NetBSD.

PF1e was born out of a desire to remain compatible with 3.x, as a response to 4E. And then in response to 5e they decide to make something that’s incompatible with everything except itself. Talk about betting the farm! I don’t think the 4E comparison is fair — 4E was also notoriously incompatible with everything else, but at least PF2e is generously open source. (The OGL needs to close the product identity loop hole. It might as well be the MIT license with a gap this big. Kudos to Paizo for not taking advantage of that.)

Now 5e is releasing TCE to fulfill all the superfiddly building ultra-customizing dreams people have. Oh, man… I really wanted Paizo to do well. This is the team that ran The Duelist magazine, that ran Dungeon and Dragon magazine, that wrote legendary adventures for D&D, that spun off into its own company much beloved by fans and I might not have played much Pathfinder but I like the comics and novels that they make in their setting.

3.5 (and PF1) is my least favorite edition actually — I do like it well enough, but I’d rather play pretty much any other edition.

My faves are 5e > RC > Moldvay > 2e (with kits) > 4e.E > 4e > 0e/Holmes > PF2 > BECMI > 1e > 2e (vanilla) > 3.x.

For clones… Hmm, Dark Dungeons, probably, now that a lot of my other faves have been canceled. (OSR being OSR…)

Does it seem weird that I love RC & Moldvay but would rather play 4E than BECMI? BECMI is more similar to RC than 4E is, isn’t it?

That’s exactly why. Think of it the other way around—why would I wanna play BECMI when I have the RC?

(Or vice versa, of course, for those who prefer BECMI over RC.)

When 3e came out and they dropped the “advanced”, I was like “Yeees! Classic D&D is back!” but it turned out to be even more advanced than 2e had been and I could never get into it. I tried 4e a few times but I really got into D&D with Lab Lord and LotFP. I’ve read up on all the older editions because I can, uh… I can nerd out on the back history of things I get into. I have the RC in POD♥

I was playing OSR and I was running Fate Core so when 5e came out, that’s the style of game play I gravitated towards. Crawls & resource management & shenanigans & theater of the mind, and heavy emphasis on the traits, flaws, bonds and such. “My” 5e wasn’t a continuation of the 3e/4e branch as much as it was a streamlined OSR game.

5e out of the Starter Set, without feats and multiclassing, is simpler in many ways than most OSR games are. To me, the things that I liked from the OSR were all on the DM side: The blorby game play that made the dungeons feel so “real”. The wide-open unpredictability of location-based modules instead of the linearly written adventures from 90s games. The hard landscape to give decisions weight, instead of the on-the-fly weightlessness of improv-heavy games like Lady Blackbird.

After two years we did turn feats and multiclassing on. Just more variety, IDK. Not sure that was the correct decision. I still get overwhelmed by all the options on the players’ side and I have my ♥dorx help me helping the newer players.

My advice to new DMs is: get the Starter Set and maybe the Essentials Kit too. If you want more options for players then the PHB is an optional expansion book but don’t see it as “core”. Stay away from the WotC hard back adventure books and instead get some third party sandbox modules like Willow or Trilemma or make your own.