Some Pathfinder players in the Guild will be trying D&D for the first time to join the D&D Battle Royale. This is primarily aimed toward them; but people brand new to D&D will also be helped by this post, too. This also gives the basics for Pathfinder GMs to run a D&D game.
As a whole, imho, 5th Edition D&D is simpler to run at the table and is more balanced, while Pathfinder RPG allows for more unique (and more powerful) characters.
What you can do on your turn
In D&D, you can Move up to your speed and do one Action. You can take your Action in the MIDDLE of your Move! (This is quite different from Pathfinder!)
These are the Actions you can take:
- Attack with your weapon
- Cast a spell
- Dash – you gain extra movement equal to your speed (in Pathfinder this is called “double move”)
- Disengage — you don’t trigger opportunity attacks due to movement
- Dodge – until your next turn, any attack roll against you has disadvantage (see below) and you make Dexterity saving throws with advantage (see below)
- Help – help an ally with an ability check or (if the target is within 5 feet of you), distract an enemy so that your ally gets advantage on the roll
- Hide – make a Dexterity (Stealth) check to attempt to hide (you must have the opportunity to hide)
- Ready – use your reaction to do something after something occurs (e.g., pull a trap lever if an enemy steps on trap door, etc.). (Unlike Pathfinder, this does NOT change your initiative order.)
In addition to your Move and one Action, you can:
- interact with the environment once (e.g., open a door, ready a shield, take out an item from your backpack, etc.).
- take one Bonus Action IF you have an ability that lets you do so (for example, any character can fight with 2 weapons, so long as they are both light weapons, with their action and bonus action)
- take one Reaction during another creature’s turn. Some special class abilities let you use a Reaction. And everyone with a melee weapon readied can do an opportunity attack (explained below)
You can always delay your turn, and jump in later.
Every square of movement is 5 feet
This includes diagonal movement. (In Pathfinder, every other diagonal square counts as 10 feet.)
Only moving out of an opponent’s REACH triggers opportunity attacks.
(In Pathfinder, these are called Attacks of Opportunity.) If you move out of an opponent’s reach, they can use their Reaction to make a melee attack against you. This means you can walk around a creature without triggering an opportunity attack, so long as you stay within its reach. There are no “five foot steps” in D&D.
Virtually nothing else provokes an opportunity attack:
Casting spells doesn’t provoke an opportunity attack.
Ranged attacks (such as with a bow or with a ranged spell) do not provoke opportunity attacks — instead, they get disadvantage on an attack roll. (See below.)
Standing up does not provoke an opportunity attack — it does cost half your speed of movement, however.
Advantage and Disadvantage
A lot of effects in D&D are translated into advantage or disadvantage. Advantage means you roll the die twice and take the higher roll. Disadvantage means you roll the die twice and take the lower roll.
Attacking someone while they’re prone, using Stealth to sneak up on someone, and other situations give you Advantage against the target. Shooting a ranged weapon beyond the first listed distance, making a ranged attack while within a creature’s reach, and a number of other conditions and special abilities give you Disadvantage against the target.
Each of your ability scores is a Saving Throw now also
This means you have 6 different saving throw bonuses. You might be asked to make a “Dexterity” save or a “Constitution” save against some danger. (In Pathfinder, you have 3 types of saving throws: Fortitude, Reflex, and Will.)
Spellcasters have “spell slots”
No spellcaster “fires and forgets”; instead, you have a certain amount of power for each spell level that you use up every day; these are called “slots.” Every spellcasting class has a number of “slots” for each spell level. Every time the spellcaster casts a spell from his or her prepared spells (or known spells) of 1st level or higher, he or she expends one of those slots.
You can also “power up” some spells using a higher-level spell slot to increase their effect; for example, you can use a higher-level spell slot to cast the 1st-level spell magic missile, to shoot additional magic missiles.
There are limits to stacking buffs, summoned creatures, and other spells
Some spells (and virtually all buffing spells) require that a spellcaster “concentrate” to maintain it. Concentration does not require any action or bonus action; this essentially places a limit of one on the number of concentration spells a spellcaster can maintain at once.
Resting is a bit more effective
Every character has a number of “hit dice” equal to their level. For example, a 6th-level fighter has 6d10 hit dice. When you take a short rest (1 hour or more), you can choose to spend some or all of your hit dice to get hit points back. For each hit die expended, you add your Constitution modifier also. A long rest (8+ hours, can only be done once per day), restores your health to full and gives you spent Hit Dice back (up to one-half your max total, rounded down).
D&D has Feats also — they’re just more powerful and rarer
At 4th level (and certain other levels), D&D characters can choose to add +2 to an ability score, +1 to two ability scores, or gain a Feat.
Magic Items are rarer and more “special”
You cannot buy magic items in D&D. (Also, gold is much more scarce.) Also, some magic items require that use a Short Rest to “attune” to them, and you are limited to 3 magic items that you can “attune” to at once.
How to die
You don’t go to negative hit points; instead, you go to 0 hit points and start dying. On your turn, you do one death saving throw: on a d20, you must roll 10 or higher. When you get THREE successes, you stabilize at 0 hit points. When you get THREE failures, you die. A natural 20 means you automatically stabilize. A natural 1 means you get two failures. If you take damage while dying, that is a failure. If you take a critical hit while dying, that is 2 failures. Another player can do a DC 10 Wisdom (Medicine) check on you to stabilize you.
If the blow that takes you down to 0 hit points also would send you to negative HP equal to or greater than your max HP, you die immediately. (For example, a 1st level wizard who has a maximum HP of 6 hit points and currently has only 3 hit points. An ogre hits her for 9 damage. Because this would take her down to -6 or less, she dies immediately.)
Some miscellaneous differences
For every weapon, your ability modifier that improves your accuracy also increases your damage by the same amount. (In Pathfinder, usually only Strength increases your damage on a weapon.)
With rare exceptions, a character’s ability scores cannot go above 20.
Instead of “Base Attack Bonus,” all classes have a Proficiency Bonus that applies to everything they are proficient with (such as weapons, some saving throws, some skills, spells, etc.). This Proficiency Bonus is +2 at 1st level and goes up to +6 at 6th level.
One’s AC is the same against all attacks. One’s AC is used against weapon attacks and spell attacks. (In Pathfinder, one can have lower AC if they are surprised or against special touch attacks.)
“Finesse” weapons, such as shortswords and rapiers, allow you to use your Strength or Dexterity modifier, whichever is higher. (One doesn’t need to take the “Weapon Finesse” feat like in Pathfinder).
Half cover (from another creature or a low wall): +2 AC
Three-quarters cover (portcullis, thick tree trunk): +5 AC