I am a year into GMing a Pathfinder Adventure Path (Kingmaker) and have come to  dislike (loathe) the Pathfinder…

I am a year into GMing a Pathfinder Adventure Path (Kingmaker) and have come to  dislike (loathe) the Pathfinder…

I am a year into GMing a Pathfinder Adventure Path (Kingmaker) and have come to  dislike (loathe) the Pathfinder ruleset. I really want to switch the campaign over to Dungeon World, but I’m not sure how easy that would be, given the investment my players have in having carefully built their characters up to level 5. Anyone attempted a switcheroo like that? Any advice? Would it be a ton of work?

31 thoughts on “I am a year into GMing a Pathfinder Adventure Path (Kingmaker) and have come to  dislike (loathe) the Pathfinder…”

  1. What I plan to do in my next DnD session, is utilize the “this happens, what do you do?” aspect, and still roll with DnD statistics and abilities. You can always offer choices of outcomes like DW but modify it to fit your ruleset.

    I won’t do this all the time. There will still be bigger map battles, but the small scuffles will be over more quickly and more action-packed than a laid out battle between just a few folk. Why waste an entire hour for a simple passer-by fight?

  2. Interesting thought, Damian. You could use a degree of success method with the d20, something like -3 of the TN to TN +3 = partial success…

  3. Ask your players if they want to try a one-shot game of DW where they recreate their characters using the dungeon world playbooks. Set them at a level where they can get a few advanced moves and maybe a few multiclass moves, and jump in.

  4. Yeah, I was mulling over what advice I would give. I would say that Adrian Thoen has the right idea- ask them if they want to try a DW game. However, don’t try a conversion yet- just play it straight-up for fun and see if they like it.

    Assuming all goes well, then you can talk to them about converting the game. It’s not a smooth process and will take a lot of trust and collaboration, because there’s no one-to-one mapping between D&D/Pathfinder and DW. 

    My solution was to create custom classes for each character, using pieces of the DW classes. I asked the players what the most interesting, iconic aspects of their characters were and then we built around that. Make custom magic items for their most treasured items, and ignore the boring stuff that they just had to have to survive in the Pathfinder system. 

    Use this as an opportunity to make your story more interesting, more fantastic. This is a reboot, and you should invite your players to think outside the confines they’re used to. What’s a really cool spell or power the Wizard player has always wanted? Put it on the playbook, even if just as an advanced move. 

    Don’t try to map things like level, hit points, etc. from one game to the other. Just adjust the dials until it feels right. 

  5. Manu Saxena Sure you could. I believe I’ll use the following, but I’m still refining it if anyone has ideas:

    Set DC for obstacle/task/fight

    1, or more than -15 from DC = Failure with severe negative outcome

    -15 to -6 from DC = Failure with problematic outcome

    0 to -5 from DC = Failure with change in scenario that allows for a save

    0 to +5 from DC = Success with minor advantage

    +6 to +15 from DC = Success with a great advantage

    20, or more than 15 from DC = Instant success with extreme advantage

    GM: A guard comes around the corner but is looking down at something in his hands and hasn’t seen you yet, what do you do?

    Player: I jump in a plant.

    Instead of a defy danger DEX [or a skill or whatever it would be], you just tell them to roll their dex and compare it to the DC you set. Bingo, you have a fast outcome to each task in an event.

  6. As setting multiple/many DC’s on the fly may be difficult, I use the 15 = common, etc. system based on how hard the task is and shift the scales by 5’s in either direction. So jumping in a plant would stay as 15 for common success, but performing a specific maneuver on the guard may require a shift to 20 as a common success and thus greater chance of failure.

    Obviously you can quickly decide what specific DC you think is appropriate to any situation instead of a set system such as that.

  7. Hi Steve!

    Great advice so far, thanks everyone. It does sound like a fair amount of work to really make the transition a happy one, which makes sense. I’m going to have to give it a lot of thought.

    Damian Jankowski, the only problem with that DC conversion idea for my purposes is that it adds calculation when one of the goals for me in switching would be to reduce it. One of the great appeals of the 6-/7-9/10+ mechanic for me is how it is consistent and universally applicable. I think I would maybe want to go with converting Skill ranks to the -1/0/+1/+2/+3 scale and just use the 2D6 roll from DW. But then of course the next step would be converting BAB, etc. …

  8. Another thing to remember is that DW’s tiered outcomes heavily rely on the probability bell curve of 2d6. Most results sit in the exciting 7-9 zone where interesting things happen.

    The d20 is a much more fickle beast, giving you an even 5% for any given number to roll up. This requires the modifiers and DC to change the odds, and makes it a much more mathematical game.

  9. Damian Jankowski you should put away the d20 because it makes the outcome extremely random, and switch to 2d10 or something similar to have a bell curve as in DW.

    Also, why do you need a ton of different outcome degrees that are basically dependent on d20 chance much more than on character skill?

  10. Paride Papadia  That’s a good question. I suppose because it still allows for the dice to help shape the events, though allows players with higher numbers in a stat or skill to have a greater chance of success. I don’t think I can drop the D20 from DnD but perhaps I can change the way I calculate… If you say it is simply left to chance of the dice roll, what do you consider the 2d6 in DW? You narrate the outcome, but it is entirely left up to the roll.

    And you’re right, Adrian Thoen I guess it does get a bit mathematical at that point. Though, If I quickly decide that hiding in a potted plant is a 15 for a 0 point, then all I do is look at the difference. It is an additional step, but remember I’m trying to hack DnD a bit, not play with DW rules.

    Thanks for your guys input, though. I’ll look back at how I setup that table…

  11. I personally like a 2d10 bell curve better than the d20 line, because it makes the results more consistent (8-14 is going to be the most common roll), and the extreme results more rare. But that’s a personal preference, some people like the chance of an extreme result being the same as an average one, in which case they’d prefer the d20.

  12. The group I GM for switched from PF to DW after playing a homebrew campaign for 8 months. Transitioning from one character sheet to the next took a few days and I made up some new moves to replicate abilities they had acquired in Pathfinder. After a couple of sessions it was smooth sailing and we’re still running our game. 

  13. A full scale conversion would be hard. Seems that no matter how much players complain about a ruleset, change gives them pause.

    I agree that you should try a oneshot and see if they want to start something new (or maybe they’ll suggest a conversion, one can hope right?)

    I understand the frustration of being locked into a system you don’t want to continue, so if nothing else you can pull off these fairly easy behind the scenes changes.

    1. Stop rolling dice. The players probably won’t even notice. Just stay consistent

    2. Get rid of initiative. If you have a player who made a character with a high intiative, try to address him first. Otherwise, let the fiction take you to new awesome battles.

    3. This one should probably happen first or second. Get the players in the habit of thinking about the fiction by asking “what does it look like?” When they attack or cast a spell.

    These three should be enough to get that nasty taste out of your mouth, or piss off your players.

    Either way you have the opportunity to say “I don’t want to play this game anymore”. Honesty works pretty well 🙂

  14. Just stage a TPK in the Pathfinder game. Tell them to spend 3 hours creating new Pathfinder characters, or, you could get a DW game started in about 5 minutes. Done. 🙂

  15. Matt Smith

    Being caught running a PF game you do not want to be running is a pretty serious situation that requires out of the box thinking, intestinal fortitude and a hair trigger. It’s like removing a band-aide, you just have to rip it off fast before you realize it might hurt. On a more serious note, I think it’s important to understand what your players like and don’t like about PF before you change rulesets. For example, I switched my main group to DW from 4E D&D.  We did it as a 1 shot, but I kind of never gave them the option to return to the previous game. Left it hanging that we’ll come back to it someday and we probably will (I just haven’t told them that “some day” is years from now). We all like 4E but I was burnt out on it after running a weekly 2.5 year long campaign. One of my players (a recovering PF fan) very much likes the 4E heavily staged, grid based 1.5+ hour long miniatures fueled combats. DW simply can’t do that so I have to be careful to give him more tactical options/descriptions and queues for example. Everyone else is sane and likes DW out of the box. 🙂 Save yourself the trouble and TPK them. They’ll thank you later. Just make it a grand bastard of a combat that they will enjoy dying in, to tell the story of their characters glorious defeat.  🙂

  16. Square peg in a round hole. I tried something similar when I first got into Dungeon World. It failed. Completely. I lost players over it.

    Adventure “paths” necessarily violate the GM Agenda “Play to Find Out What Happens.”

    As well, Pathfinder and Dungeon World are very different RPGs. Assuming your group plays in a fairly traditional mode, you’ll be asking your players to go from a heavy simulationist approach to a heavily narrativist one. That’s a big swing. They can’t play the same way anymore and you won’t be able to GM the way you have been. That can be jarring.

    My recommendation is to simply start a new campaign in Dungeon World. Or at least a one-shot like Slave Pit of Drazhu to see if you and your group want to explore it further.

  17. Thanks for the feedback. I could never bring myself to consciously inflict a TPK just to satisfy my own desire to change rulesets. Everyone else is basically happy with Pathfinder, and they’ve invested a lot of time, thought, effort, and emotion in their characters, so I’m not going to squander that. My best bet might be to try a DW one-shot on them, see if anything sticks, and then start a conversation about switching. I started this campaign in response to a bunch of my students saying they had never played an RPG, and as their introductory experience I want it to be as positive as possible. That being said, I have adapted the DCC RPG approach of rolling in full view and not pulling punches, so they may yet all die despite my bets intentions.  

    Homer Thompson, I hear you about how published Adventure Paths don’t lend themselves to the “play to find out what happens” approach, but I think there could be a middle ground there. Switching to DW could be the push I need to break out of this AP’s restrictive design (it really does feel like some kind of cage) and go off the rails a little; make the campaign/story more dynamic. The empire-building rules in Kingmaker, for instance, are poorly considered, don’t seem to have been playtested that much, and are a drag in practice. It would be comparatively easy and much more rich from a narrative perspective to hack together something using the DW philosophy.

  18. The TPK is obviously a bit of humor. The point is that if you don’t want to be doing it, it’s gonna show. Keeping on with it, might actually hurt you and your group more than just up and saying/doing something. A one shot is a great way to give DW a try. And just find out what your players like from PF and try to bring the flavor of that into DW if possible.

  19. I second (third, fourth, etc.)  a one-shot. DW is not a replacement ruleset for a D&D or PF adventure. It’s a totally different game. It’s run differently, played differently, it has different goals than D&D or PF. It smells like D&D, but it ain’t D&D.

    The only way you could convert an adventure, in my opinion, is to recreate a location or a situation. If there’s any sort of predetermined plot or storyline (remember, story is a byproduct of play – nobody creates it beforehand), the rules of Dungeon World will fight you and it will be a bad experience.

  20. I’ve done something very similar to what you’re wanting to do, and what a few people (like Matt Smith ) are suggesting. I’m running a (for our group, anyway) very long lasting 3.5 campaign, and for the last ten sessions or so, I’ve been rolling only as many dice as I have to roll to make it seem like I’m still running the game they’re playing. Finding Dungeon World has helped me figure out it doesn’t matter what game we’re playing, there’s room for improvisation, especially on the DM’s behalf.

    I’d say, just rub your pathfinder game like you would Dungeon World. When they roll very well, give them unmitigated successes. When you’re not sure if that’s a good roll or not, give it to then with a consequence. If they roll crap, they failed and continue. Just… blur your eyes to the rules. Your players can play the same game, and you can run another. If they catch on, so much the better!

  21. Colin Stratton I’m assuming your players don’t know you’re doing that? What sort of reaction do you expect when you tell the players what you did? I don’t think I’d be very pleased to discover we weren’t actually playing the game I signed up to play. I prefer honesty and transparency in this regard.

  22. Yeah, any changes I make are going to be totally up front. I improvise a lot as is, but the way DW integrates that directly into the mechanics is what I really want.

    I started talking a bit about Dungeon World with them last night (after a three-hour Pathfinder mass battle, on hold until next session), in an attempt to pique their interest. Next week we’ll be down a few players, so it’s an opportunity for a one-shot, but I may throw Danger Patrol on the table instead of DW just to step away from high fantasy for a night. I will check out the Slave Pits of Drazhu, though.

    Hey, OT, but is a hard copy of DW available anywhere? I’m just seeing pre-orders online. I’m tired of paging through my pdf copy, I need to get my hands on the real thing.

  23. Jason Morningstar Thanks for the heads up. I didn’t actually notice to be honest! I’ve run it about 4 times and it was fun and challenging each time. My favorite part of the module are the pizza grease stains!

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