D&D 5e has earned its reputation as a uniquely accessible TTRPG. Is switching to Pathfinder something most players can easily handle?

Pathfinder 2e is one of the most popular tabletop RPGs on the market, but for many years Dungeons & Dragons players have yet to open a book from this TTRPG. DnD 5e has long been billed for its balance between simplicity and complexity, prioritizing accessibility for new players, and Pathfinder rules may seem more daunting by comparison. Though Pathfinder provides its own unique challenges for newcomers, the learning curves for Pathfinder 2e rules in relation to DnD 5e’s may not be as different as some players fear.


Paizo Publishing Pathfinder originally emerged as an alternative to Wizards of the Coast’s controversial Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, using the OGL (Open Game License) of DnD 3.5e to build a modified successor. The first edition of Pathfinder was backward compatible with DnD 3.5e content, making it easy to learn for the many fans dissatisfied with 4e who wanted to continue playing their favorite classes and modules. Like 3.5e, but Pathfinders complexity in aspects such as character creation can make it difficult for newcomers to jump in confidently. Pathfinder 2e arrived as a sequel it offered revisions to Pathfinder rules that streamlined the game in certain respects.

Related: D&D & Pathfinder: The Biggest Gameplay Differences

Pathfinder 2e rules share some basic features with D&D 5e

A purple metal 20-sided die on a pedestal with a blurred dragon in the background

Taken in perspective with the wider world of table games, Pathfinder 2nd and DnD 5e shares a lot of basic elements in their ruleset, but implements them in different ways. The games focus on the classics Dungeons & Dragons high fantasy RPG style, and both are built on a D20 system where players roll D20s and add modifiers to make skill checks and attack rolls. Pathfinder However, 2e rules establish many hidden checks, meaning DnD players switching to the system have to get used to less transparency about everything that happens at the gaming table. Skill features in both games, but Pathfinder skills vary with character builds and tend to be significantly higher.

Pathfinder 2e rules are crunchier than D&D 5e

The covers for the Dungeons & Dragons 5e Player's Handbook and the Pathfinder 2e Core Rulebook

DnD 5e reduces features like combat and character creation to core elements that require less math and minimal time investment, making the game a streamlined form of DnD compared to previous editions. Advantages and disadvantages, for example, simplify effects that were previously attached to more individualized modifiers. Though Pathfinder The 2e ruleset also streamlines some elements compared to its own predecessor, it still retains a somewhat higher level of complexity in these respects.

When it comes to learning Pathfinder 2e rules mean more robust character creation options that new players will likely spend more time setting up than they’re used to. An action economy with three actions in each party member’s turn opens up combat to more options as well.

Although differences like these take some getting used to, experience with DnD 5e makes a transition fairly simple. Understand the basic structure of DnD gameplay provides a framework that Pathfinders complexity can fit in. Switching to Pathfinder 2e requires the willingness to start learning something new Pathfinder rules and patience to deal with the initial slowdown of fighting multiple options and modifiers.

If these challenges sound reasonable, however, the transition process holds no major surprises. Pathfinder 2e can be easy to learn compared to DnD, although it has its own learning curve. However, DnD 5e players interested in rules that support more dynamic complexity should be able to handle it.

More: Mythic rules are Pathfinder’s answer to D&D’s epic systems

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