On 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons versus Pathfinder

This fight is not nearly as entertaining as the actual case!
Which one should you play? What is going to be more fun for you at the table? Which starter set should you buy?

Ding! Ding! Ding!

Two enter, one shall leave!!

"Sanctuary is the best cleric spell. . . .

The [5th edition Dungeons & Dragons] win button: 
1) find cleric
2) find chokepoint
3) cast sanctuary 
4) stay in chokepoint using dodge
5) burn down mobs from range
6) loot, repeat

The ogre had to make a DC 13 Wis save to even attack me (and ogres have a penalty to Wis saves), and EVEN THEN he had to hit AC 18 with disadvantage to damage me, and EVEN THEN I can keep myself healed up with healing word, which is a bonus action spell.

Someone in my group put the ogre's to hit chance in this situation at 10.1%." - Daniel Davis

This elephant is both prone and non-hostile
Is this how to run the spell?

What does the text say?
Moving Around Other Creatures"You can move through a nonhostile creature's space. . . . Whether a creature is a friend or an enemy, you can't willingly end your move in its space." Page 191, 5th Edition Players Handbook.
Sanctuary "You ward a creature within range against attack. Until the spell ends, any creature who targets the warded creature with an attack or a harmful spell must first make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the creature must choose a new target or lose the attack or spell. This spell doesn't protect the warded creature from area effects, such as the explosion o f a fireball. If the warded creature makes an attack or casts a spellthat affects an enemy creature, this spell ends."
So is the Cleric taking the dodge action hostile? Does he prevent creatures from moving through his space?

Let's look up where 5th edition defines hostile.

It doesn't.

It's slightly more complicated than that. Does hostile mean your allies, as some abilities seem to imply? Others like Charisma abilities seem designed to work on non-hostile creatures, meaning those who aren't part of your party but aren't attacking you. The word hostile is used dozens of times in the book. Some examples:

"It’s rare for a gnome to be hostile or malicious unless he or she has suffered a grievous injury." -- Page37 
"Your rage lasts for 1 minute. It ends early if you are knocked unconscious or if your turn ends and you haven’t attacked a hostile creature since your last turn or taken damage since then." -- Page 48 
"As an action, you present your holy symbol, and any magical darkness within 30 feet of you is dispelled. Additionally, each hostile creature within 30 feet of you must make a Constitution saving throw." Page 61 
"If the beast dies, you can obtain another one by spending 8 hours magically bonding with another beast that isn't hostile to you, either the same type of beast as before or a different one." -- Page 93 
"In general terms, an NPC’s attitude toward you is described as friendly, indifferent, or hostile. Friendly NPCs are predisposed to help you, and hostile ones are inclined to get in your way. It’s easier to get what you want from a friendly NPC, of course." -- Page 185 
"Low furniture, rubble, undergrowth, steep stairs, snow, and shallow bogs are examples of difficult terrain. The space of another creature, whether hostile or not, also counts as difficult terrain." -- Page 190

You know who decides what hostile means in each of those cases? 

You. You do. 

That's Pathfinder versus Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition. In Pathfinder, you'd find where it defined hostile, or failing that, ask for clarification of the meaning in the rule forums. In 5th edition, they don't bother to define it, because you with the other adults at your table can come to an agreement and consensus about what the word hostile means when it is used. Not defining all these corner-cases ("What happens if I use sanctuary to block a chokepoint?") is the design aesthetic of 5th edition. It's a deliberate design choice.

So as to "should I play 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons or should I play Pathfinder", the only real question you have to ask yourself is do you want to play in a game where you can appeal to an external authority for a ruling or one that expects you and your friends to be the final authority on how the rules work?

Any meaning, implied or otherwise in that statement is left as an exercise of the reader.

Update: And, from the mouth of the lead horse: Can dodging character with Sanctuary block chokepoint? stuff like this is a big part of giving DMs tools to adjudicate and improvise—so many situational elements in an RPG. -M

Hack & Slash 
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23 comments:

  1. Hmm. In my Pathfinder games, that Ogre would start tossing large furniture in a "sweeping fashion" through the sanctuary area, and be done with it. Sanctuary only protects against target hostility, not the kind of generalized mayhemic thrashing that Ogres are quite capable of (viz 'the Cave Troll scene' for the way that mayhemic thrashing can deal with large numbers of opponents without specific targeting).

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  2. Your final sentence sums it up (okay second to last but the last one was just a closer)...Some groups actually do want everything spelled out for them, they want the system to be the neutral arbiter of rules, they do not want to have to come up with an answer themselves as it may reflect personal bias instead of group consensus...and some people like the "new" 5E way of handling things. Pathfinder and 5E are almost becoming the proverbial 'apples and oranges'.

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  3. I would choose 5e over Pathfinder, but I can see other reasons (aside from the rules arbitration) that one might choose Pathfinder.

    1) Golarion is a rich world and the PF Adventure Paths are darn good. One could likely convert stats, but that does involve more work for the DM whose time may be constrained.

    2) Some people might like the 3.x style of gridded combat. I find it ironic that 4e haters often complain how 4th edition is so married to the grid, but then happily go back to playing 3.x or Pathfinder to their tactical heart's content.

    3) Power gamers love the "optimization" (read: min-max) Pathfinder feat trees and prestige classes offer.

    So... YMMV. I think Pathfinder and 5e don't necessarily cater to the same players because the play style of Pathfinder does attract the character sheet tinkerers. Perhaps some of those players will find 5e's de-emphasis on that aspect less appealing, but you never really know.

    Honestly, I wish I knew a DM who would run a Golarion-based 5e game. That setting has a lot to offer and Forgotten Realms feels like a re-tread by comparison. It just isn't as fresh and new as it was back in the AD&D days (especially after three major ret-cons).

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    1. 1) I do like Golerion, though many of APs could easily be adapted by using a comparable monster or filing off the serial numbers.

      2) There's many reasons why players prefer Pathfinder over 4th Edition. Grid-based combat has little to do with it.

      3) Actually, the Pathfinder community really hates feat trees and prestige classes. Many see the abundance of feat taxes as a major weakness of the game, and the only reason anyone takes prestige classes is for flavor or doing a fun gimmicky thing. Also, just because some like rules crunch does not mean they're power gamers.

      I like Pathfinder because of its content. I like the character options it offers because I have the tools to make fun and exotic character concepts with some mechanics to back. Most players that like character building do so for flavor than min-maxing.

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  4. @Victor Haag - Personally, the furniture tossing is just the kind of thing I'd disallow. Not that the ogre can't toss furniture, but any intent of throwing it in the direction of the cleric certainly falls into the defense this spell is intended to provide.

    @Courtney Campell - One might debate that page 185 contains the hostile definition -- any NPC or monster that "is inclined to get in your way." Which means that Sanctuary would "protect" you from some adversaries that are not inclined to attack you directly anyway. Want to piss off the surly innkeeper? Cast Sanctuary and stand at the bar. : )

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    1. Considering that's under the heading of "Social Interactions", puts a bit of a spin on it, no?

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  5. I think the original post ignored something that's critical, even setting aside the question of the definition of "hostile". In the 5E PH, p. 191, "A creature's space is the area in feet that it effectively controls *in combat*" (emphasis added).

    So, in the example provided, the person acting as the "chokepoint" would need to be in combat to control that area, rather than just standing there not being noticed by the ogre. So unless the chokepoint character wanted to actively stop the ogre, it could simply move through the chokepoint to fresh meat (which might leave him open to a rear or opportunity attack, but that's tangential to the notion that sanctuary creates an immovable blockage).

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  6. Besides arbitration of rulings there is another strong axis dividing D&D like games. An axis that 5ed in the middle or partway left or partway right depending on if you use feats, multiclassing. But, I'm not sure far enough left for my liking.

    That axis is "Build Characters" or "Play Characters". In 3.x et al character builds are a thing and are the main thing for many, many people. Rules, esp RAW are king and a player's fun is finding the most powerful, awesome build and then applying it to dominate in game.

    In "play characters" games user creation is simple with few options far left is 3d6 in order, pick a race and/or class, done. No building, no planning feats and classes and items from level 1 to 20. The fun of the game is what happens to that character, what you do as a player; with that character, their hirelings, their 3-4 cousins that replace them after they die horribly and maybe eventually their tower, castle or other piece of the feudal pie.

    D&D 5e is trying to straddle and please both camps.

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  7. I feel like this summarizes some of the more vocal members of each game's community rather than the games themselves, though the games do reflect these members in some respects. Paizo's design team has gone on record that they stress the importance of using common sense and leave it up to the GM to decide corner cases. They prefer not to make any ruling about corner cases. Of course, that doesn't stop players from starting 200 post threads about the definition of "wielding."

    Regardless, you made your point and I concede to it. Pathfinder is a rules crunchy game. 5th Edition is much lighter on the rules.

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  8. What if the ogre is an interior decorator? Would it still throw the furniture?

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  9. Nice example. After fourteen years of 3.5/Pathfinder I am absolutely 200% ready to return to the 5E methodology. Feels like 1990 all over again!

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  10. Awesome thanks for the article it's solidified my decision of purchasing the 5e after ordering pathfinder. I come from adnd and 3.5 ilk and felt sullied by 4e which was apparently made combat streamlined but seemed to make it less fun. It felt to me like they were trying to style it after an mmorpg and perhaps glean some of that market. A gripping story is what i play for, and any rulesplay which enhances narrative flow and adds juice (not through static number sets but through the whim of the players and the mercy of the dm :D ie advantage/disadvantage 5e stuff) to the dice, gets my happy hat waving.
    Really looking fwd to getting my hands on both systems :)
    Thanks again!

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  11. C, this reminded me of the Mearls quote "we are not going to try to make rules that would stop people who want to be bored from doing boring things

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  12. Pathfinder says you can move "through a square occupied by a friendly character," and that you can't move through a square occupied by an "opponent unless the opponent is helpless."

    Sure, helpless is defined in the glossary. But I don't see a definition in the Pathfinder rules defining "friendly" or "opponent" -- it seems to be left up to the GM. (It seems to be less-ambiguous dichotomy to work with, actually.)

    And besides, I would leave it up to the player to decide whether the character is trying to block the ogre. Then I'd try to guess whether the character can actually physically block the chokepoint.

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  13. This scenario shouldn't exist.

    Either a) the DM sees through the BS and (wisely) rules that the cleric is violating the spirit of the law by opposing the ogre, and the spell fails, or b) the ogre takes a couple hits from arrows and turns to run. Ogres may have a low Intelligence score but they aren't impaired.

    This example serves the point of this post if we ignore the presence of the DM. If we don't, the only conclusion is, "The DM makes a ruling and gameplay continues."

    Why are we still discussing this game as though RAW actually matters? If the rules are broken, fix them and move on.

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  14. "So as to "should I play 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons or should I play Pathfinder", the only real question you have to ask yourself is do you want to play in a game where you can appeal to an external authority for a ruling or one that expects you and your friends to be the final authority on how the rules work?"

    I don't know about you, but when I GM my home games, I AM the final authority. I try to be a fair an accomodating one as my players always have the option to leave and find an new GM. When I run PFS games, we don't take things to the messageboards to settle a rules question.

    I prefer Pathfinder, but that attitude practically is a sell point for the newest incarnation of D+D.

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  15. Also, a chokepoint will prevent to attack in range. So, it is more like a standoff of a priest against a group of vampires: he is just buying time until the sun rises.

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  16. I just realised the whole "I Win" scenario listed above relies on forgetting one key thing.

    If the cleric is making ranged attacks, he's already ended his sanctuary spell. Chokepoint gone.

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    1. I think it's the other characters making the ranged attacks.

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  17. We've seen the chokepoint/dodge tactic at my table: I usually just have the enemies try to shove the dodging character out of the way, and I grant that character advantage if they resist the shove using Dexterity (Athletics).

    I'm toying with just ruling that hostiles can move through your space if you take the Dodge action, because you're actively avoiding them much as you would a friendly creature moving through your space. Maybe that's too punitive?

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  18. What "hostile" means? Great question! LOL Hostile creature means the creature that wants to attack you. I can understand it even if english is not my mother tongue.

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    1. Exactly! not every term needs a definition in the rulebook, some just need a dictionary.

      Although I'ma native speaker of English, none of the five people in my gaming group are, and yet they would have no problem with this concept!

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  19. Look, I don't buy it. Pathfinder is founded upon the idea of house rules. If you don't like a rule that's suggested, you, as a group, can decide to house rule a situation. Pathfinder provides rules that you can consult if you like. The bonus is they're always way more clear than D&D.
    Plus, D&D is owned by Hasbro:)

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