After some recent situations (see: fiasco) involving Hasbro/Wizards of the Coast, I decided it would be the perfect time to check out Pathfinder 2e. This is my first experience with Pathfinder 2e, and there are some differences between that and Dungeons and Dragons. You can read my thoughts on the Pathfinder Core Rulebook and The Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook here if you are so inclined.
I have played a total of four sessions in the Pathfinder Beginner Box so far (it takes a little longer when one of the party members has school the next day and needs a decent bedtime), so I’ll have to wait a while before sharing “finished” thoughts. I’m enjoying it immensely so far, though!
Today, I’m going to share my unasked-for opinions on the Pathfinder Beginner Box and the Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set. They have some similarities but there are also some things that are unique to each set. As with my other post, I’ll let you know: I am not going to bash either D&D or Pathfinder. There are things I like and dislike about both. I hope you give table-top roleplaying a try and enjoy whatever TTRPG you play!
For transparency: When I used the Beginner Box, it was the more simple version and did not include the extra dice, etc. The set we used included one set of dice, the rulebook, five pre-made character sheets, and a pre-written adventure. The set pictured above has quite a bit more, but I was happy with what the simpler version had.
My group and I played the (simpler) Starter Set a few years ago. This was one of my oldest son’s first experiences with Dungeons and Dragons and we had a blast. He needed a lot of help figuring out which dice to roll and why (it can seem a little complicated at first) but enjoyed playing his pre-made character in the most chaotic of ways. His lighting the tree my rogue was hiding in on fire comes up more often in conversation than you would think. At any rate, it sparked an interest in TTRPGs and he has since played a few homebrew campaigns and is joining the group on the Pathfinder adventure.
I thought that the story in the D&D starter set flowed well (although it was pretty straightforward). My only niggle with the adventure itself was that it seemed designed to show what a campaign can look like but didn’t really teach the mechanics of the game. My oldest said that he was frustrated by his confusion over what dice to roll and why. Can you tell he’s used to grasping new concepts quickly?
What stands out to me the most with this more deluxe Starter Set (pictured above) is that it comes with six sets of dice. I find that incredibly cool! This could be a player’s first experience with TTRPGs and I feel having a dice set to send home with each person shows an encouragement to keep going on future adventures.
The deluxe Starter Set has a bunch of extra items, such as extra pre-made characters (a LOT of them, which is great!) and paper figures. However, none of that is in the box. Instead, it will be emailed and you can print what you want to use. I go back and forth on this method. On the one hand, it is good to save paper and not have a bunch of stuff that maybe you aren’t interested in. On the other hand, I’m a homeschool mom. I am very aware of the cost of printer ink and I hoard that stuff like gold. I personally would rather have things included (at least some of them), doubly so because any figures printed on normal printer paper are going to be a bit on the flimsy side. But saving paper is good, so there’s that.
Now, on to the Pathfinder Beginner Box. Please forgive any lousy pictures: photography is not a skill I possess.
Unlike the Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set, the Pathfinder Beginner Box only has one set of dice. I LOVE THEM, though! Why? Because each one has a different color which is matched on the side of the pre-made character sheet. My oldest raved about how easy it was to know which dice was which when he was asked to roll. It also helped him quickly grasp which dice were used for what reasons. I do wish that there were a few more sets of dice, like in the D&D set, but these dice are still really stinking cool. I saw them and thought, “How smart and so simple!”
The Beginner Box also comes with figures, a map, and some other extras. I like that they are included in the box (again, I’m an unrepentant printer-ink hoarder) even though I know at least some of it probably won’t be used. Then again, maybe. The map is pretty cool, double sided and well made. It comes with four pre-made characters, but they are already printed and ready to go. The Beginner Box also includes a solo adventure (something that might be in the D&D Starter Set too, but I’m not sure).
I’m not far enough into the adventure in the Beginner Box but am enjoying it a lot so far. One thing that seems a little different is that, while the adventure is far from choppy or boring, it seems to be more aimed at teaching the mechanics of the game. This isn’t a bad thing, but it does feel a little different to the adventure in D&D’s Starter Set. I’m not finished yet, so my opinion on the adventure itself might very well change down the road.
Lastly, there are also action reminder cards for each player. As someone who is playing this after using Dungeons and Dragons for years and years, this is a handy addition. The actions are a little different and it’s so helpful to have a reminder.
The prices are comparable, so I don’t really have any thoughts on which set gets more bang for its buck. I was happy with the adventure in the Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set and I’m also very pleased with the Pathfinder Beginner Box.
As I continue playing the adventure in the Beginner Box, I’ll also share my thoughts on that. If you’ve made it thought this post, congratulations: both sets are much better than what I’ve written is.