A majority of pen & paper nerds nerd out with Dungeons & Dragons

It’s not that D&D is a bad system, but stats like that always make me a little sad. There’s such a wide world of RPGs out there and so many people just start with D&D and never look any further.

I mean, 5th edition is fine. Pathfinder is better :) As long as it isn’t 4th edition.

Indeed. And for those who did look further, it is very hard to get back to a basic system such as D&D. To be honest, I didn’t try 5th edition yet, but I doubt it did away with the systems extreme focus on only combat (making it more suited to video game adaptations than actual PnP imo).
And meanwhile, you have systems such as Shadowrun, DSA/The Dark Eye, Mutants & Masterminds and more that are so much more flexible, dealing with combat in a way more interesting manner and also have deeper rules for so much more than just combat…
Whenever I played D&D sessions, I had the feeling that we were just going from combat to combat, with everything in-between just being party banter with little to no real character involvement.

That said, I find that its simplicity does make D&D a very good starting point, especially for people who aren’t really avid video game players. And I’m definitely interested to try out 5th ed at some point, just to see what changed.
Tried 4th edition once - it was the worst PnP experience I ever had. What a trashy system…

I’m the weird one. I played rpgs for 12 years or so, but I mostly played Rolemaster, Stormbringer, Call of Cthulhu, Paranoia, Star Wars, LOTR, Ars Magica (I was the DM for this one), Vampire, a totally homebrew fantasy RPG (I didn’t like the rules structure but the DM was pretty good), and even some Spanish games like Fanhunter and Ragnarok. I think played D&D in three ocassions.

Simple? Which edition? I tried writing a 3.5 character leveling spreadsheet one time and gave up.

It has a lot of feats, spells, etc. that you can pick when levelling up, which makes creating any kind of character creator/editor quite a cumbersome task.
But that is due to the mass of options available - of which 90% suck and if you take them you are just gimping your character, but that is a whole different problem with D&D altogether. Non-min-maxed characters are borderline useless.

The rules themselves are still very simple, including the rules for leveling up. Stuff like how to make an attack check, damage determination, combat maneuvers, skill checks, etc.
In other words, D&D 3.5 has a very high breadth, but a very low depth in its systems.

I found Pathinder to be even worse in this regard. Basically the same simple rules as 3.5 but an even larger “wealth” of useless options to pick…

Compare that to Mutants & Masterminds, which really doesn’t have that many options, but allows combining them in such a crazily flexible manner that almost anything becomes possible - nice breadth, but extreme depth.
I created a treant-like hero that could grow to be as tall as a house and spawn little sapling minions, a speedster hero that could also speed up the vehicle he was in, an AI that could control electronic deviced but only move along wires and data storages, a god-emperor constantly being carried on a litter by guardians (who were themselves four different heroes), …
All by just combining the options for abilities like lego bricks. Amazing, but much harder to wrap your head around than something like D&D.

Yeah, I really don’t agree that D&D is simple either by itself or especially by the standard of the broader world of RPGs, although 5E pared it down quite a bit (sometimes more than it should have, IMO - I still dislike the incredibly swingy and non-stacking Advantage/Disadvantage system). If it’s a good starting point at all - I’d quibble with that as well - it’s a good starting point because there are millions of people who already know how to play it and can teach you, not to mention are readily available to actually play with, not because it’s especially simple or easy to master.

There is still waaay more of this to learn and keep track of than in many less crunchy RPGs.

Well, now we have Pathfinder 2nd edition. That looks interesting.

But let’s face it. With all the rules out their, and the investment, people just want a system that works and that is easier to explain.

Once I got out of college, all my desire to learn and play interesting RPG systems was replaced with a desire to actually get a viable game scheduled with busy adults. It’s easier to do that with D&D because everyone retains the basics since whichever edition they first learned. In our current game, we’ve had maybe 12 combats in 15 sessions, talking and exploring the rest of the time, which unbalances the rest system, but who cares.

I tried to get our group off DnD. No luck. it is literally the 800lb gorilla.

Of course I laugh a bit when Shadowrun is given as a counter example of a better system. Based on my experiences on previous versions (have not played in a few years), I love the setting, but could never love the system.

How many hit dice does an 800lb gorilla have, I wonder?

For some reason, Paizo sent me the latest rules book and bestiary for Pathfinder. That stuff sure does take me back, but reading through it, I wonder what makes it any better than whatever edition of D&D is current. Something about character classes? The combat system? Some new twist to how people DM games? What is Paizo doing to try to improve on whatever D&D is doing these days?


They have to new archetype system for multiclassing which takes advantage of their new feat system. It needs to be filled in a bit, with more feats and archetypes though.

It feels like, with the exception of bringing spellcasters down to a similar power level as Martial classes, and giving some classes ‘subclass’ options (bloodlines for sorcerers, different types of clerics and druids), they went in the opposite direction of 5th edition.

Now you have more feats to further customize your character. (Feats for your class, feats for your skills, feats for your race, and general feats). And building your character is more of a series of discreet steps (race, heritage, background, class).

Also, they seem to have broken out your base attack bonus, and replaced it with proficiencies, such as high arcane proficiencies makes your spells both harder to save against and harder to dodge (so impact the spell DC), or in a particular weapon or unarmed attack.

I do like, just like 5th edition, if you want your spells to be better, you have to use higher level spell slots. On the other hand, how hard a spell is to save against is based on your proficiencies, not the level of a spell. That means a 1st level sleep spell is more likely to succeed when cast by a high level wizard, as opposed to a level 1 apprentice. But, both will have similar effects if both use a 1st level slot.

It is tough, wotc righted the ship with 5th edition. I don’t love the eratta filled complexity of pathfinder all of the time, but the system has a depth that 5e doesn’t have. It is a lot more difficult to pick up, but it is a more fleshed out system than 5e. More simmy if you will. The combat is also much more tactical than 5e,which I also don’t always love, as encounters often take longer due to the complexity of the combat systems.

There are arguments for both. One thing I do like about Paizo is the massive amount of support the system has, as well as more open-Ness to 3rd party campaign books and settings.

Plus, it is cool cause it is less popular, DND sold out man, I liked their first 3 albums, but they went corporate and sold out man.

How comes?

I have played all edition of SR except the very latest and find that Shadowrun is the perfect system, or at least as close to it as it gets.
Combat that offers details and depth without going overboard with either. In 15+ years of PnP I haven’t played any system that is resolved as quickly while also offering so many possibilities.
Magic that is not either simplistic mana points or completely inexplicable “you can only cast this X times per day”-vancian nonsense, but actually something that can be done unlimited amount of times - in theory, because it does come at a cost for the mage that will become hard to ignore if you overdo it.
Character building that allows you to create actually usable characters from the get-go instead of lvl1 nonsense that would die if facing off against a cat that lands a crit.
Class-less character building (well, more or less, you could count magic/mundane/ki as classes, I guess) to allow for more freedom.
No complete dump stats.
Gloriously detailed equipment (+cyberware) & vehicle customization - but you don’t have to do it, just buying the premade stuff is more than fine.
Edge - the limited possibility to improve your rolls. Allows you pull off those impossible stunts, or safe your character from certain death - but only so often.
Dragons that are actually worth their salt.
I could probably go on with this forever…

I think D&D 5E is mostly for those who don’t really like to deal with rules.
Things like Shadowrun for those who prefer to have a simulation system bring their world to life, and offering the possibilities to dive deep into character customization.

It looks like the character creation of PF 2nd edition is pretty cool.

I’d look to stuff like Fate or Dungeon World for systems for “people who don’t like rules.” DnD looks completely intimidating to many new players.

What kind of people? People who never even played any kind of video game in their life, let alone PnP?
Sure, I guess…
Not too certain why those should be relevant to me, though, to be honest.

First off its been a few years, but my brother and I both bounced off the dice/skill check system big time. We never tried in our home games (as it was DnD for him, and Star wars for me at the time) but we played multiple sessions per year 3-4 years in a row at GenCon. We had a blast playing but we both had no motivation to try to bring it home.

Maybe I need to try again, but my current group has zero interest.