Pathfinder D&D – A slightly deeper analysis

OK so here I am on vacation, eating, sleeping and reading about D&D! I have read the Pathfinder D&D beta rules and I definitely like them and am itching to see how they play out. Granted the rules are not terribly different from D&D 3.5. Some people call this version 3.75 but I think I’d call it 3.5.2.

Even though they made some big changes, combat works the same way, character creation is the same, skills and spells work the same way systematically/structurally.

Classes: Everyone has more to do. Melee classes get more abilities each level and caster classes get some bonus feats, arcane school bonuses for Wizards, Bloodlines for Sorcerors, and even a few spell-like abilities at higher levels. Hit points are beefed up a bit for the casters too (no d4 hit dice). Sneak attack too is open to affecting more targets and is more “finding the weak spot” than “stabbing vital organs”

Skills: many skills were merged together or just ‘absorbed’ by others ex: tumble and balance is now ‘Acrobatics’, hide and move silently is now ‘Stealth’, concentration and spellcraft is now ‘Spellcraft’. Also, skill points work like this: you get a certain amount of points plus your INT bonus per level and don’t get that x2 or x4 multiple at first level. Any class skill you put a rank in gets an automatic +3 bonus, and all skills you gain from multiclassing then join that list of class skills and ranks put in them also benefit from this bonus.

Races: Each race gets a +2 to two stats and a -2 to one stat in addition to racial features listed. Humans can choose to add a +2 to any one stat and get the extra feat and extra skill points.

Feats: some more are added and some old ones got a makeover. Cleave now triggers on a successful hit, and not the death of your opponent, great cleave is the same too; as long as you hit you keep swinging at new targets in reach. Even better is some have reduced prerequisites, opening them up to characters at a lower level or to classes that may not normally have taken them.

Spells: Chain lightning is there and it’s spectacular (a.k.a. unchanged from 3.5) but druids may not like the new wild shape powers. You don’t become the thing in the monster manual – you get bonuses to stats based on what you choose and some basic abilities of the animal. Granted you can shift shapes earlier in your career and I think more often but some power is sacrificed. Also polymorph has been more defined and is broken up into seperate spells like “beast form” and “dragon form” etc.

Combat: Some good changes here. Gone are the confusing old grapple/disarm/sunder rules. Now we have the Combat Maneuver Bonus (CMB).  STR bonus + BAB + size bonus (now not as severe as 3.5, -1 for small +1 for large) + feat bonuses (if any) is your CMB – anyone trying to grapple or trip or disarm you must make a DC 15+your CMB check (1d20 + their cmb). If they win you now have the condition “grappled” placed up on you (which has a small list of what you can and cant do in it). That’s it. much easier so far it seems. Combat is essentially the same thing as before though. Swift, free, immediate, move, and standard actions are still here; initiative, critical hits, full round actions, multiple attacks, saving throws, etc. are all the same as you remember from 3.5.

Items: seems the same with minor changes based on the spells and feats they grant you.

my review: It looks good. We’ll see how it goes for character balance and ease of combat once we try it. My guess is that people who weren’t thrilled with 3.5 in the first place might see this as an improvement but not enough of one to satisfy them fully. For me, I can see all the same freedom and fun I have now in 3.5 occurring again in Pathfinder just without some of the clunkier rules.

**Edited to add some more info**

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Pathfinder Edition D&D Beta rules out!

Proper slippers of spider climbing? Gnomes not monsters? Monks, bards, and druids exist? Silence spell not relegated to uselessness? Non-suckulent Chain Lightning? How revolutionary!

Free download here!

I have just skimmed some of it but I like the direction its taking. Once I absorb it I will post about it. Also, once we all give it a go on the table we’ll really have a good idea of what’s what in D&D land.

Huh? What’s that I hear? Is that the sound of Matt weeping and clutching his healing surges?

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