Why Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder suck

If you haven’t played Role-Playing games, and D&D/Pathfinder in particular, just skip this post. If you have, then you may appreciate my rant.

I have been playing RPGs since 1981 and designing RPGs since 1983. I have tested, played and researched in detail scores of RPGs, and I’ve found many good systems and many well crafted settings. Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder are among the worst RPG systems made. Here’s but a few of the terrible design “features”:

  1. Classes: Enforcing stereotypes is a desgn flaw of any system. It brings with it unnatural restrictions that are hard to explain… “No, you can’t pick up that sword, you’re a Magic User!”
  2. Hit Points increase with level: A medium level fighter can take ten times the damage of an average man in the street. And it takes 10 Cure Light Wounds to get him from fainted to full HP as opposed to one CLW for the average man. You can’t kill an experienced adventurer with an arrow, etc.
  3. Armor Class: In D&D/Pathfinder, waring armor makes it harder to hit you, but the damage done from a weapon is just the same. In reality, armor never makes it harder to hit anyone, it subtracts from damage done.
  4. D20: Using a 20-sided dice with smaller adjustments makes the spread too wide. You’re a dancer with a +7 modifier on the dice roll. One day you throw a 2 on the dice and your dancing is below average.. The next day you throw 19 and your performance is beyond what any everage person can do.
  5. Complexity: With silly basic design flaws like the above, trying to make the system somewhat realistic is a very complicated task. It makes for a complex system with lots of special rules. If the basic design was more realistic, the complete system would be much simpler. Simpler systems make it easer for new players to join in and for new Game Masters to get up and running. Having the GM sift through pages upon pages of complex rules mid-game while players start fiddling with their phones sorta kills the fun. Simpler, more realistic systems let the actual role-playing shine and the playing sessions run more smoothly with less awkward rules getting in the way. The rules should help the game play, not distract from it with surprising unrealism.

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