Bringing Pathfinder 2 to D&D 5

As you may have heard, Mathfinder Pathfinder has announced a second edition (along with playtest documents that you get the privilege of paying for as if they were finished products).

Edit: According to a lovely commenter, the pdfs of the playtest materials will be free.

Pathfinder 2e logo???

They haven’t released a ton of information yet, but some folks have compiled a list of what we’ve heard so far. Additionally, there’s an actual play podcast you can check out.

I myself listened to most of the podcast and perused the document and got to thinking: I bet a lot of my 5e-favorin’ players would dig some of these changes (especially since Paizo is using a lot of the rules 5e does now anyway, whether they want to admit that or not).

So here are the ways I think you can take what we know of PF2 and houserule it into your 5e game so that you don’t have to admit to yourself you’re actually playing Mathfinder Pathfinder.

(Combat is last; so skip there if you want. Big changes for sure.)

HP & Damage

Oooh baby, players gonna love you.

HP @ First Level

Race (“Ancestry”) hp + class hp + Con mod = T H I C C

For example, a human paladin at first level with no Con mod has 18 hp (8 for race, 10 for class, +0 for Con mod of 0).

  • For race hp: use your size: d8 for medium, up and down as appropriate.
  • For class hp: use the max result of the class HD (clerics d8, fighters d10, barbs d12).

HP @ Later Levels

Don’t roll; use your class’s max HD result.

Recovering HP

Long rests restore Con mod x level hp.

Falling Damage

Take damage 1:1 per feet fallen. 10 foot fall = 10 damage

Resistance & Weakness

A creature with resist # X takes # less damage from X damage type. Weakness is the reverse.

I kind of like this as well. Reminds of how 4e did it.

I know from the playtest AP that skeletons, for instance, have resistance to fire and slashing and piercing but are weak 2 to positive energy / holy / divine damage.

You could mix and match this style by giving some monsters weak # X style properties and others weak double X / resist half X style, as in 5e.


You level at 1000 XP. When you level, reset XP to 0 and add the remainder.

So if I had 500 XP and gained 600 XP, I’d spend 500 of that gain to get me to 1000. I’d level up then, with 100 XP left over, which I’d add toward my new level, giving me a total of 100/1000 XP.

Presumably, they’ve got some different scheme for awarding XP, but I don’t know what it is yet. I assume it’s some relative scale of difficulty, together with ad-hoc awards, which a lot of people already do something similar to anyway.

Proficiency & Crits & Checks

Neato alternatives here for a bit more crunch.

Proficiency / Training

Make a relevant ability check:

  • untrained: -1
  • trained: +level

This simulates the +2 proficiency bonus you start with in 5e and increases every time you level, which can be nice (although of course you see they’re going completely the opposite way re: “bounded accuracy”—gonna get some big numbers here). Mathfinder.


Also trigger critical fails / fumbles if you exceed or miss AC/DC by 10+.

Pretty much the same as 5e here (with no-confirmation-necessary nat 20 crits, crits doing double damage, etc), but the +/- 10 thing is kinda nice I guess.

This counts for saves too. If you critically fail a save vs a spell, you’ll take double damage.


For pretty much every ability or skill, you have a defensive version of it that translates to a DC: 10 + the ability and training bonus.

Just like 5e, you’ve got a passive perception, a stealth DC, whatever. There aren’t opposed checks anymore.


By default, use Perception to roll init. If you were using another skill when init was called, use that one instead.

So if you’re stealthing around when combat starts, roll stealth for init. If you’re tracking something, roll survival. Not sure how much this adds, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.


Use a slot based bulk system that’s probably what Starfinder does.

I.e., you can carry significant items up to half strength score before becoming encumbered, and up to full strength score before becoming overburdened.

This is definitely better than the 5e system and is very similar to what a lot of OSR folks have been doing for some time now.


Some definite OSR influence here as well, with 5e clearly showing.


Items have tags that express special fx:

  • agile: +1 when attacking multiple times in the same turn
  • versatile: can be used to deliver multiple damage types (i.e., piercing/slashing)
  • hardness #: the # of damage something can take before receiving a dent

Very similar to 5e here.


Gear can take dents. When an item receives more dents than it can take, it is destroyed. You can repair an item’s dents.

For instance, a shield might have hardness 9. If the shield takes 9+ damage, it takes a dent. If it can only take 3 dents, it’s destroyed on its 3rd dent. Reminds of OSR notch/dent systems.


Mundane gear comes in different qualities. The modifiers affect relevant checks: attack rolls for weapons, AC for armor.

  • Poor: -1 (and perhaps worse, up to -3)
  • Normal: 0
  • Expert: +1
  • Master: +2
  • Legend: +3

Pretty neato for a low magic setting. I definitely like the idea of being excited to find your first +0 weapon.


Biggest change here is the action economy. I like it better for sure.


  • There are no more action types.
  • You get 3 actions per turn.
  • Every action is an action, although some might cost 2 or 3.
  • Most things are actions (open door, ready shield, pick up shiny)

Yes, so you can move 3x per turn if you want, or attack 3x, or cast 3 spells. But there are some caveats, below.


Go nuts, attack as much as you want, but:

  • Your 2nd attack in a turn gets -5 penalty (or disadvantage)
  • Your 3rd attack gets -10 penalty (or disadvantage x2)
  • Also, touch attacks are a thing: no armor bonus to AC vs these

Agile-tagged weapons interface with this by making the penalty slightly less severe, being +1 in these situations after the penalty is assessed or -4 inclusive of the penalty, however you want to look at it.


You can cast away, but:

  • A particular leveled spell (L1+) can’t be cast more than 1/turn
  • each component (material, somatic, verbal) costs an action
  • cantrips are only subject to component limitations; you can repeatedly cast the same cantrip in a turn, or mix a cantrip with a leveled spell

Dope. I love that the components each cost an action. Perhaps it will make people give more thought to the components. Overlooked flavor most of the time.

Clerics can channel divinity (“””””energy”””””) 5/day at first level IIRC. When they do so, the effect can differ depending on how many actions they spend when they do it. So, it uses up 1 channel div use each time, regardless of how many actions they use, but, if they manage their actions correctly, they can be more efficient. Frex:

  • 1 action: heal self
  • 2 actions: heal at range
  • 3 actions: heal burst and/or damage unholy


You can move 3x if you want, but:

  • jumping or climbing onto something is considered a separate action
  • moving 5′ without provoking costs an action
  • every other diag move costs 5′ more

You can still take your 5 foot step as an action to avoid the fighter’s oppatk.

(This is way less confusing than the disengage action, which applies a condition to your movement in general for the rest of your turn but does not itself constitute any movement, which is how 5e does it.)


  • Reactions are the same as 5e now, in that you only get 1/round, but your class can give you special reactions (probably feats do this too).
  • Only the fighter starts with opportunity attack.

OK. The rogue I saw does not have opportunity attack (because not a fighter) but does have a thing where he can spend his reaction to grant +2 bonus to self against melee attack targeting self. You can smell the feat-chains from here.


Rather than a single calculation, give every condition a number:

  • not slowed (-10 speed), hampered #: -# speed (which gets removed when you heal the damage that caused the condition)
  • slow 1/2: lose that many actions
  • enfeebled #: minus that much to attacks, strength checks, and damage
  • sick #: minus to your checks and DCs, can’t choose to eat/drink, can try to throw up as an action by making save
  • not dying, dying 1 (and every time you fail a death save, increase by 1, until you’re dying 4 = 💀
  • flanked or flat-footed: -2 to target’s AC
  • prone: -2 to attacks


There are other pertinent changes, for which I refer you to the already linked document, but these are the highlights for me.

I’ll probably run my next 5e game with some of these changes and see how the players like it.

Of course, my ideal game is far less complex than any of these systems; but, to live in society, we must adapt.


  1. It’s worth pointing out that the playtest materials will all be available for free in PDF form. Finished product or not, printing those books aren’t cheap and Pazio’s asking price is apparently cheaper then getting it printed out yourself. I will just use the PDFs.


  2. Gotta say, I’m not super stoked about dropping bounded accuracy – I think that’s one of the things 5e does best. All that said, it is fascinating to look at how PF2 is doing things (though I imagine I’ll be sticking with 5e for my own games).

    Also – just discovered your podcast and I think it’ll be one of my favorites. I’m a new DM currently wrapping up Lost Mines of Phandelver, and planning to jump right into OSR-in-5e as soon as my turn comes back around as DM (2 other players want to try it out). Would you recommend Maze of the Blue Medusa, Hot Springs Island, or Veins of the Earth for a longer-term OSR-style 5e adventure?

    Liked by 1 person

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