Most role-playing games go through occasional revisions. There are always kinks to work out and game-breaking rules to be re-written. In the case of Dungeons & Dragons, revisions lead to the birth of an entirely separate system. Pathfinder was born out of the rift between players of D&D 3.5 and 4th edition.
Many felt D&D was moving away from what made the game unique. Pathfinder is based on Dungeons and Dragons and is still very similar but these are two distinct systems with their own strengths and weaknesses. In comparing the two there are many advantages each game has over the other. Which game comes out on top in each area?
10 Pathfinder: Character Customization
This is an area where pathfinder blows Dungeons and Dragons out of the water. The Pathfinder rule system is infinitely more detailed and nit-picky when it comes to character creation. Players can specialize down to the atom. Pathfinder is a min-maxer's dream come true.
One could easily argue that all of that nuance can be played by the character in either system. They'd be right, as most of these customizations could be roleplayed but having rules and framework in place to USE the quirks of the character takes a lot of weight off of a DM's shoulders. Pathfinder makes playing a complex character a little easier when it comes to the math.
9 D&D: Flexibility
Dungeons and Dragons has a great deal of flexibility in the system. Compared to Pathfinder it can be down-right vague. If a player is new to tabletop role laying this could leave them feeling lost but for veteran players is a sandbox waiting for your creativity.
This flexibility gives both players and DMs more room to negotiate. It puts a lot of the creative force in the party's hands as a group. If the player feels comfortable making their own rules and playing their own way, D&D is the right game for them.
8 Pathfinder: Precision
Pathfinder is a mechanically intense game. Every last detail is thought of and mapped out for the player. Pathfinder ha a rule for nearly every combat situation. This takes a lot of the guesswork and decision making out of the hands of the gaming group.
Cutting back on the hours spent debating rules interpretations is a major improvement over the D&D model. Pathfinder is an extremely detailed and precise system. It's great for beginners who aren't comfortable filling in the blanks. It plays just as well for seasoned gaming veterans.
7 D&D: Improvisation
The benefit of having a loose and sometimes vague rules system is all the room it allows for improvisation. Running a D&D game doesn't necessarily require a lot of heavy prep work from the DM.
Pathfinder is so tight that it's hard to find room to make changes on the fly. If the player doesn't have a lot of time for prep work between sessions, D&D is the game for them. With basic familiarity with the rules, onecan quickly adapt to whatever the group or story needs.
6 Pathfinder: Variety Of Material
Pathfinder is fully compatible with D&D 3.5. that means the player can choose any Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 book and run with it in their Pathfinder campaign. With everything that's been published for D&D 3.5 combined with all of the Homebrew materials created over the years, there's a nearly endless amount of resources out there.
One will never run out of stuff to do in Pathfinder. 5th edition D&D books are few and far between. Wizards of the Coast and only put out a few since 2014. The difference in the number of materials out there is night and day.
5 D&D: Quick Character Creation
Dungeons & Dragons has a much simpler character creation system. Fewer options mean less time spent fine-tuning a character before one is ready to begin play. If creating a character quickly is important to the group, D&D might be the better game. Many players sit down to flesh out a character with a basic concept already in mind.
If one already knows which race and class they want to play as there's very little left to do. They need only fill out a few numbers based on dice rolls and charts and choose some spells or skills. Within minutes one will be ready to start their adventure.
4 Pathfinder: Clarity
When it comes to Clarity of rules Pathfinder has a clear upper hand over Dungeons & Dragons. Dungeons & Dragons has a lot of vagaries and non-specific in its rule system. This allows for a war creative space but it can also wait a lot of time when DM's and players disagree about interpretations of the rules.
If one is ready to step away from ruled wiring Pathfinder is an excellent option. When the rules are so precisely written and there's nothing left to chance there's no room for interpretation or debate.
3 D&D: Role Playing
With D&D's more open-ended rules there is more room to allow players to create their reality through role-playing. If one would rather spend their time discussing what their character would the party give in his or her personality rather than relying on heavy-handed rule Dungeons & Dragons wins in this arena.
There is an infinite World of possibility available to players and Dungeon Masters. Dungeons & Dragons provide a loose framework on which one can build their own fantasy.
2 Pathfinder: Living Games
If one doesn't have a regular gaming group that they can meet with to play, one could always pop into a living game. Both Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder offer these ongoing dropping games but Pathfinder has been added much much longer. Known as Pathfinder Society these games take place in local public spaces such as game stores.
Players can create one character that they play through all of their Pathfinder Society Adventures. They can drop in for 1 module or can show up every week it's completely up to the player. Dungeons & Dragons offers a very similar experience in Adventure League. While both games function similarly Pathfinder Society has been around much longer and has far more adventurous to choose from.
1 D&D: Nostalgia
Dungeons & Dragons was the very first role-playing game out there. Players began gathering around dining room tables to flush out these fantasy adventures in the late 1970s. Dungeons & Dragons has undergone plenty of revision since then but the bones and ghosts of the original game still exist.
If one'sgroup is interested in pure gaming Nostalgia Dungeons & Dragons Takes the Cake. Nothing beats the original if one is just in the mood for some good old-fashioned hack-and-slash.