Originally Posted by Rejakor
Piddly damage for everyone!
TOTALLY MAKES THE FIGHTER BETTER.
Thank-you for the discussion.
Like I implied when I started my first post today, there is little point in this in terms of anyone convincing any of the true believers on either side (myself included) so I'm going to break from fighting pointlessly on the internet to share my experience:
From an old GM's point of view, and one that understands game mechanics well, Pathfinder got a lot of things right.
In the core PF world, Fighters are killers for the first half of the game. They hit a lot, hit hard, and are tough to hit. Of the base classes, they fight the best in all situations and there are lots of functional builds that are fun to play. Rangers, Paladins and Barbarians are likewise fun and are slightly less effective than fighters at general fighting but are stronger situationally and come with more fluff, as they should. All of these 4 classes out-damage a blaster-wizard, except situationally (when the wizard can wipe out crowds of weak enemies where the fighter types are reduced to killing 1 or 2 a round).
Monks and rogues are both a tier below in combat and for that, I'm not sure that PF is perfect. There are decent combat builds for both classes but they are both glass cannons that trade strength in battle for other talents. The rogue in particular suffers from some strange (but easily house-ruled) wording in the stealth/concealment/sneak attack language, and he suffers from the false appearance of doing a lot of damage when he really needs to be dual-wielding or something to be ideally effective. Similarly, decent monk builds need to be done with a focus on actually hitting (STR) and doing damage (STR) and bypassing DR (magic weapons).
Just as in the 3.0 to 3.5 migration, many but not all of the spells were reduced in power, which relatively boosts the effectiveness of the preceding classes. That doesn't mean that there aren't great ways to manipulate the battlefield or win the fight as a spell-caster. It is possible to build optimized SoS or SoD casters but they are tougher because a lot of the SoS spells now come with re-rolls on the save or are preventable. It is a mistake to read expanded powers lists for the Clerics and Wizards and think that any of those powers is better than their respective top tier spells. For the most part, those abilities are something to keep the caster contributing longer but at a lower level.
Sorcerers especially were made more interesting and Druids can be optimally built one of two ways: to fight with their animal companions while beast shaped (High STR) or as primary casters. In-between builds suffer from Multiple Attribute Dependency. Cleric domains were cooled a bit so killer melee builds are a little tougher to make, as they should be.
I like the changes to the skill system (most of them anyway) and the combat manoeuvre system, those being the two most used of the core simulation rules that were significantly changed.
The first level wizard is still strongest popping Sleep 2 or 3 times, the fifth can rule the battlefield with stinking cloud, 7th with tentacles or confusion and so on. Still, other than sleep (which is good for a level and a half), none of these actually kills very much. This leaves lots of room for all the players to contribute and focus on their best area of expertise - fighters on fighting, rogues on sneaking and making hurt stuff bleed fast and so on.
Frankly, the core-only PF characters from our current campaign feel more like D&D characters than do the off-core classes, multiple PrC, and strange races builds we ended up with at the end of our 3.5 D&D days.
In my campaign, the 15 minute work day doesn't fly as I use dynamic, reactive enemies who listen and react according to their intelligence. This means that casters who nova their top spells in the first fight might be setting themselves up for trouble in later fights in the day if they are entering a wizard's domain who might just scry and fry them later. If that makes mine a grinding campaign, so be it, but it also teaches temperance among the spellcasters (especially when assaulting a dungeon or fortress or whatever), which helps balance them against the lesser
As a standalone rule set that is supported by excellent modules and accessories, it is a great deal and overall is an improvement. The best thing you can say for Pathfinder is that the people who play it like it and they are supporting that decision by giving it plurality of the market share. The inverse can be said for 3.5 (those who play it like it too) but just as I wouldn't have chosen to go back to 3.0 in my 3.5 days, I wouldn't choose to go back to 3.5 now.