Hello, adventurers! In the sprawling world of tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs), two giants often pique the interest of newcomers and veterans alike: Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) and Pathfinder. Both have rich histories, loyal fan bases, and offer countless hours of adventuring. But what sets them apart? Let’s delve deep and uncover the distinct nuances of these two epic realms.

1. A Brief History

Dungeons & Dragons: The granddaddy of all TTRPGs, D&D was first introduced in 1974 by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. It laid the foundation for what would become an expansive genre of games, evolving through several editions with the latest being the 5th edition.

Pathfinder: Born out of the 3.5 edition of D&D, Pathfinder was introduced by Paizo Publishing in 2009 as an alternative to D&D’s 4th edition. It continued the mechanics and style of 3.5, refining and expanding upon them. Pathfinder 2e, released in 2019, is the latest iteration, introducing many changes and updates.

2. Core Mechanics

While both games share the d20 system – where the roll of a twenty-sided die often determines the success or failure of actions – they differ in mechanics and gameplay:

Action System: In D&D 5e, characters get one action, one bonus action, and one reaction per turn. Pathfinder 2e utilizes a more flexible three-action system, allowing players to mix and match their choices.

Class Progression: Pathfinder offers more granular levels of customization with its feat-based progression, while D&D opts for a simpler, archetype-based system which can be more accessible to newcomers.

Magic System: While both games have Vancian spellcasting, Pathfinder 2e divides magic into four traditions (arcane, divine, occult, primal) compared to D&D’s broader categories (arcane, divine).

3. Themes and Settings

Dungeons & Dragons: With the vast multiverse concept, D&D encompasses numerous settings like Forgotten Realms, Dark Sun, and Eberron. Each setting has its unique flavor, from high fantasy to steampunk-inspired adventures.

Pathfinder: Pathfinder primarily revolves around the world of Golarion, a single, detailed setting with diverse regions, each with its history, politics, and cultures.

4. Community and Support

Adventures: D&D's official modules cover a range of stories and settings, often interconnected, while Pathfinder’s Adventure Paths provide lengthy, detailed campaigns set in the world of Golarion.

Organized Play: Both games have global organized play programs (D&D Adventurers League and Pathfinder Society), enabling players to participate in shared campaigns.

Here at Imaginary Adventures we host Pathfinder Society games each Wednesday at 6pm. Click the banner below for more details!

5. Complexity and Accessibility

D&D 5e is often praised for its streamlined rules, making it more accessible for newcomers to the TTRPG world. On the other hand, Pathfinder 2e, while potentially more complex, offers a higher degree of customization and can be rewarding for those seeking depth in character creation and progression.


Choosing between D&D and Pathfinder 2e boils down to personal preference. If you lean towards a more straightforward system with the freedom to hop between settings, D&D might be your calling. If intricate mechanics and deep character customization set in a richly detailed world appeal to you, give Pathfinder 2e a go.

Ultimately, the magic of TTRPGs lies in storytelling, camaraderie, and the shared experience around the gaming table (or virtual table). Whichever game you choose, unforgettable adventures await!

Stay tuned to ImaginaryAdventures.com.au for more insights, guides, and tales from the world of TTRPGs. Happy adventuring!

September 08, 2023 — Imaginary Daemo