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on 24 September 2009
The first thing to understand about this book is that is not a new game. Pathfinder's rules are an evolution of the 3.5 edition of the Dungeons & Dragons game rules. However, that said, it certainly feels like a new game. The people at Paizo have taken the old rules and given them a muchly needed overhaul to produce a game that is old and yet new at the same time. The change are subtle, but there are many of them and while these rules are technically backwards compatible with existing 3.5 products, it stands alone just fine.

The book is big, 576 pages and hardbound and it weighs a fair bit. This is hardly surprising as it is essentially the 3.5 DMG and PHB rolled into one volume. The pages are of good paper stock and there is a lot of art in this (albeit mostly recycled art from other Pathfinder products, but when the art is this good it's worth using it more than once!). The cover is by my favourite fantasy artist Wayne Reynolds, and there's plenty more art from him (and many others) inside too.

So if this is the same rules but yet not, what has changed? A lot of the problems with 3.5 have been tweaked and fixed (Shapechanging spells I'm looking at you), as well as all of the 11 core classes have been given a bit of a boost. Too often before they came across as the poor option and were only taken as a springboard into getting a Prestige Class. Prestige Classes are still present, but the core classes are now much more attractive, Fighters get bonuses for weapons and armour mastery, Monks get a pool of Ki points they can spend to power a multitude of abilities, Sorcerors get a bloodline which adds spells & powers to their repertoire, Barbarians have rage powers, and Paladins can do far more than just restoring hit points when laying on hands.

Races have been tweaked too. There are no new ones here, but the ones present (Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Halfling, Half-Elf, Half-Orc & Human) have all been subtly revised. Gnomes are now a fey race, Halflings are luckier and Half-Elves are more adapatable than before.

If you love D&D and yet do not like the 4th edition of that game, then I'd strongly advise you to give these rules a try. They are in my opinion a far more faithful continuation of the traditions of D&D than 4th edition will ever be.
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on 29 August 2011
I've been playing/dming role playing games for 16 years now. I've past from AD&D 2nd edition to 3rd - 3.5 and finally the notorious 4th. I even tried several other role-playing systems from time to time. I have to admit that I am thrilled with Pathfinder and the wonderful job they have done. It seems to me that this system combines the best qualities of 3.5 along with the best qualities of 4th (yep even the wow system had some good moments) More specifically:

No surprises here, the usual races are still there but with some sweet uplifts.
Humans get a +2 to any ability score they wish and so do Half-elves and Half-orcs. The Dwarves get +2 Con, Wis and a -2 Cha while the Elves a +2 Dex, Int and a -2 Con. Gnomes are present and they are now a fey creature with a +2 Con, Cha - 2 Str in their abilities and of course Haflings with a +2 Dex, Cha -2 Str. All of them have some extra sweet racial abilities from the Hafling luck to the versatility of the Half-Elves (they can have 2 favoured classes now).

Only the standard classes that appear in 3.5 appear in this book as well but there are quite a few changes.

-Barbarian. The barbarian now has rage powers, which are some powers he can perform while raging, usually once per rage. They vary from been able to have a moment of clarity (for a single round the barbarian can do things he cant normally do while raging like use combat expertise etc.) to extra damage on breaking items or even knock back. Very interested choices, all welcomed.

-Bard. Bards finally start been able to cast 1st level spells (hurray) but the major bonus they get is their new bardic performance abilities. They have several and they grow with levels reaching up to the impressive Deadly Performance at level 20 were they can actually kill someone out of sorrow or joy.

-Cleric. The Cleric finally doesn't have to spend all his spells especially in low levels to heal his allies. They now channel positive energy (the new version of turn undead) which not only harm the undead creatures in the area but also heals all allies. So there is finally some space for divine favor, cause fear and other sweet 1st level spells the clerics were too afraid to cast in case they need to heal someone. The domains have also some sweet powers, usually 2 of them and I really found them very interesting. Oh! And the cleric has only light and medium armor proficiency now and simple weapons plus the favored weapon of his deity.

-Druid. The Druid has kept his usual arsenal with his spells, animal companion or focus on an appropriate domain instead (air, earth, fire, water, weather etc) and of course his wild shapes. At level 20 he/she can wild shape at will.

-Fighter. Fighters now truly are war machines. They get bonus feats way to often and that allows them some good combinations but they also get armor specialization and weapon mastery as well. The first provides them with a reduced armor check penalty and an increased maximum dexterity bonus while the later gives them some increased fighting bonus. Its worth to mention that by level 20 the fighter always confirms a threat, has a higher critical multiplier and can never be disarmed.

-Monk. Monks have now a pool of ki points which help them perform some sweet special abilities from gaining an extra attack while performing flurry to abundant step and much, much more. It seems a good system and I believe that in general the monk is one of the classes that had been truly upgraded to a very useful ally or deadly foe.

-Paladin. Paladins and their new smite ability is a party member worth having in any group. The smite works pretty much like it did (Cha modifier to attack, level bonus in damage PLUS Cha modifier to AC considering the attacks of the smite target) but the clue is that it's not for a single attack or for the round. It's for the encounter!

-Ranger. First of all, d10 hit dice! He still chooses from ranged weapons expert to two weapon fighting and he gets to choose his bond. His bond is either with an animal and works like the animal companion of the druid or with his hunting group a.k.a. his party. The later is a very interesting option in my opinion. Plus apart from favored enemies he gets favored terrains as well.

-Rogue. The rogue has not only an increased hit dice (d8) but also gains some wonderful rogue abilities from the low levels. Defensive Roll and Crippling Strike etc are still available after level 10 but from level 2 the rogue now gains other lesser in power abilities making it a truly exciting class altogether.

-Sorcerer. Sorcerers have a great versatility since they get to choose from level one a bloodline. Bloodline determines why exactly you have your powers and provides you with bonus spells and some supernatural or spell-like abilities making each bloodline short of a small mini class by itself. Oh! d6 for hit dice as well!

-Wizard. Wizards also have d6 for hit dice and they can have a bond either with an animal (familiar) or an item. They are considered to have the appropriate craft feat but only for their chosen item, plus some cool extra bonuses. If they specialize in a school they can still learn spells from their prohibited schools but at the cost of 2 slots per spell memorized.

Overall rules
Characters now gain a feat in 1st level and every 2 levels there after, if you level at your favorite class you gain extra skills or hit points (there is truly sense now in leveling a class all the way to 20), all rules considering disarm, trip, bull-rush, sunder etc are really simple now and the skills have been merged into fewer (i.e. stealth, perception etc). It's an easy system and the changes are 90% of the times for the better.

Last Thoughts
I highly recommend this product I don't think many Players or DMs will be disappointed in giving it a shot, quite the opposite! Considering it's a Players Handbook AND a DMs guide all in one book its pretty heavy and large. Very good editing as well and the art is excellent.
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on 12 September 2009
First of all - I didn't get the book via Amazon yet. The first printing was sold out even before the official launch and Amazon world wide seemed to have trouble getting enough books - in the US they eventually arrived - same for Germany - the UK is still waiting. Therefore be aware if you buy now there is a chance you might have to wait for the second printing scheduled for November. If you wonder how I can review the book if my own order still hasn't arrived? Well - I got lucky and picked up one of the last copies at Orcsnest in London. My Amazon order I will keep in reserve - if it arrives prior November that is.
About the book - we are talking 576 page hard-bound - it really weights A LOT. The reason that the book has that many pages is, that in effect it represents an extended Players Handbook compared to D&D 3.x with all you need from the Game master guide. In effect - just one book with the contents of two.
The paper quality and print is good with lots of graphics and overall the book is well laid out. If you have played D&D 3.x you will be used to the usual order. Starting with Races, Classes, etc. All the standard races and classes from D&D3.x are available. If you are looking for new or strange ones - or even 4.0 ones you will be disappointed.
So if there isn't anything new - why should I bother? First of all - it gets more and more difficult to get 3.5 Player Handbooks (for a decent price). In addition - while Paizo tried to keep Pathfinder compatible with D&D 3.x - it isn't the same. They did a lot of tweaks. In my view I regard 90% of them as a step in the right direction. You can't please all - so if you rely on strange feat&weapon&skill combinations you might be disappointed that some of them got neutered.
In my view these changes are to cut obvious excesses while trying to make classes more distinct and add more 'Role' to the RPG. An example I like - the wizards have a limited number of Cantrips to memorize per day - but then they can cast them as often as they like. In addition they get small advantages depending on school they belong too. Now you really can play a wizard in the second row - casting away (and be it just a dazzle) without fear he is useless after room 3 and is out of spells - or would have needed to learn a missile weapon.
Another of the small changes - speed for dwarves stays the same - no matter if in Armour or not. Yes - the human is faster in leather - but give him plate and the dwarf will happily keep up with him.
In addition to the changes I feel that a lot is written in a more concise way. I read a few parts of the fighting chapter and realized how I should have played it in D&D3.x all the time. I also like to have all the sprawl cut back to a single book. Off course - who knows how the space will look in 5 years time.
Therefore if you liked D&D 3.x and want to start fresh, go on with a new campaign, etc. I can fully recommend Pathfinder. If you are deciding between D&D 4.0 and Pathfinder my recommendation would be - do you prefer 3.x or 4.0. If the first is the case - you won't regret Pathfinder and like it a lot. If 4.0 appealed to you instead of 3.x you probably won't find Pathfinder that much of an improvement to go back.
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on 3 April 2010
To be very straight: do you still feel confused or betrayed by the rules of d&d 4rth edition? Do you still think that a wizard should be more... "magic" and a warrior less... "card-tapping-dependant"? I am a believer of the 4rth ed, but I do have been playing it in a sort of limbo, willing to find the core of the game but never really feeling like I was getting nearer to it (to the point you completely ARE your pg, I mean).
So what with Pathfinder? 3.5 is back, really back, with strongly differentiated classes, a fairly good bunch of abilities, nice description in every paragraph to let you r-o-l-e-p-l-a-y every aspect of your pg, alot of interesting tuning on the "old" 3.5 rules (paladin are usable in a very rewarding way, every classes gets a curios and innovative rule like for wiz choosing between familiar and bonded object, or for barbarian to have special "moves" during rage, and so on).
In my opinion: Pathfinder get the best structure (3.5), revitalizing it, adjusting classes to make every single one amusing, removing the more frustating aspects (warriors are war-machines and can be proud to be, for example - all of this just tuning a bit some feats, as to say "dogde" now gives you +1 to AC when you are not flat-footed, or cleave: you hit the first target? you can attack an adjacent one... grasp the twist, uh?), letting you created vivid and complete pg - in doing so, you also get some ideas that are taken from the spirit of the 4rt ed... without it's questionable "rules" and math background.
Be happy, buy it - what's more, the adventures are incredibily well written and organized, and "old" 3.5 adventurers are easily adaptable.
Laslty: in ONE BIG book you have player AND master's handbook. And very good illustrations too; believe me, when you open this tome in front of your wanna-be-players, fairy magic start sprouting around, I never had this kind of "magic-portal" sensation since whe first saw the Immortal Set box when we where kids.
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Dungeons & Dragons v3.5 was arguably the finest incarnation of the finest RPG ever published. When the extensively revised v4 hit the shelves, the howling of the faithful was enough to give even the undead nightmares. With the purists in mind, Paizo publishing have released 'Pathfinder' - a 3.5 lovers revision - 3.5.5, if you will.

There was much to like about version 4, but also considerable amounts to dislike. In its attempts to bring D&D into the twenty-first century WOTC made it virtually unplayable without using a computer. Worse still, one could not help feeling that having produced a (beyond) exhaustive amount of source material for v3.5, a significantly altered v4 afforded them the opportunity to sell the same material, but for the new rules. i.e. maximum profit for minimum effort.

'Pathfinder' is the rewrite the traditionalists wanted, and it is an improvement in almost every respect. The rules have been simplified slightly and the text is more concise. This is a very well organised volume and the collapsing of Player's Handbook and DM's guide into one volume is a welcome move. The artwork is excellent and the production values are at least as high as the v4 books.

My only concern is lack of originality - if WOTC had produced this book as v4, many of those who have complained about the wholesale destruction of their beloved game, would have instead moaned about the 'capitalist pigs' gouging them for a product that is essentially the same as the one they already own. Although all races and classes have been tinkered with (for the better), there is nothing new, which I think is an opportunity missed. With perhaps a new race and an exciting new class, Paizo could have really made the game their own.

Which leaves me wondering, who is this excellent volume for? If you have been playing 3.5 for years, and were not moved to pick up v4, you are probably quite happy where you are and don't need 'Pathfinder'. If you are new to the game, then purely from a gaming point of view 'Pathfinder' knocks the spots of v4 and should be a better investment. The problem though, is that v4 is the official product, and that gives it the lion's share of the market, gamers and support... With the apparent difficulties Paizo are having with supply, one can't help feeling that the novice gamer might be better sticking with WOTC.

'Pathfinder's' continued existence may rely on the quality of Paizo's supporting material, which from the little I have seen is very good. They have a host of innovative printed and electronic material, enough to sate even the most rabid of fans, and the first adventure series written with the new rules in mind shows significantly more originality than the first v4 adventure. Paizo are currently inviting playtesting of new material, offering those who play 'Pathfinder' a say in how their game evolves, and that might be worth the cover price alone.
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on 10 January 2012
Firstly, I like the pathfinder revision of D&D 3.5. I like it a lot and I feel that Paizo have done an excellent job, classes are well balanced, particularly the arcane spellcasters, and combat maneouvres (disarm, trip, bullrush etc) are neatly smoothed out. There is some material in here for those who have previously played various incarnations of D&D.

However... even as an experienced D&D 3e/3.5 player I found the rules difficult to navigate - I knew that a rule existed in a previous incarnation, but all too often found it very difficult to locate the info that I wanted. Having previously bought heavily into 3e and 3.5 I felt I was buying an awful lot of info that I already had - essentially this volume is the old PHB plus most of the DMG bound up in one volume with a lot of very minor tweeks - I would have much preferred to buy these as separate volumes. Whilst the production quality is high (even though some of the artwork isn't to my personal taste), I have serious doubts that the spine will hold up to the shere number of pages that it has to hold. For a new player/games master I imagine that the size of this volume would be extremely daunting.

So, if you want to update your game of D&D to 3.75 then this IS the volume for you, BUT don't expect anything really new or original.
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on 1 August 2013
This is what d&d 4th edition should have been in my opinion .Illustrations layout and writing is good with all the old favourite races and classes humans elves dwaves gnomes halflings an half orcs.Ther is no major changes to the feel of the older d&d 3.5 game. My only complaint is whilst adding extra feats skills and spells to the game i feel the system does slow down and a chance for an esier game missed . High level games suffer with too much magic ,If you dont have a magic user or cleric you may find this game gets boring awaiting for all those solve everything spells .That said this is a great game for anyone wishing to play in a group with continuing plots every week ,but not for the first time role player fo a single nights game which will get lost in this huge book
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on 29 September 2013
The absolute genius of the OGL was that the whole world started to playtest your product. New players were introduced and new consumers as well. Competition bred massive improvement in everything from gameplay to artwork. And that was all thrown away, as was the beautiful magazine, Dragon, published by Paizo for the Dungeons and Dragons game (and the whole of the OGL). It was the greatest thing that could of happened, because now there is Pathfinder Fantasy Roleplaying. What a fantastic rebirth of the OGL content that saw the biggest explosion of new gaming and gamers in living memory. The artwork is amazing, the writing is professional and clean, the layouts are the product of vast experience, and the gameplay has been exhaustively playtested by an entire generation of players.

Well done, Paizo
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on 12 January 2013
This is an absolutely amazing rewrite and update of the WotC Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 version of the Players Hand Book and Dungeon Masters Guide. It superbly combines the core elements of both books into one absolutely massive tome of D&D goodness. The only other book you 'need' is the Bestiary (for the Monster Manual).

The interior art is superb, the writing style is first class, and the overall layout is engaging, clean and useful. If you want the D&D experience, this is the rule book to pick up.

Well done Paizo!
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on 2 November 2016
After managing to get a group of friends intrested into starting a tabletop RPG group. We decided to go with pathfinder. I ordered this book with it being the core rule book to get stuck into. Plenty of information to take onboard. Really looking forward to having our first quest.
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