Not wanting to catch anyone by surprise I wanted to throw up a few quick notes on some of the changes between 3.5 and Pathfinder. As I have noted to our players, anything for 3.5 that have is probably legal. It is almost a case of adding something rather than taking something away when converting to Pathfinder, they designed it that way. I think you will enjoy the new rules once you’ve had a chance to try them!
So here are some of the basics:
Character Advancement: Pathfinder built characters use the XP chart found here: Classes; using the Slow Progression as the default. It will take more XP to level at higher levels than in 3.5; but this is offset by the fact that Pathfinder awards larger XP values and the DM’s bonues for role playing. In addition, works that expand on the campaign universe- character sketches, in character journals, etc. – receive XP bonuses as well.
I’m sure everyone will be pleased to hear that in Pathfinder characters gain a feat at every odd level rather than every 3; allowing for more and earlier customization (getting your 3rd feat at 5th level, then 7th, 9th, 11th, 13th, etc).
Skill Changes: Firstly cross class skills now cost the same as class skills, to make up for this you get a +3 to each class skill to balance it out. In addition several skills were consolidated in Pathfinder. The skill info can be found here: Using Skills and Skill List.
Favored Classes: Multi-class penalties no longer exist. You may multiclass freely as you wish. However upon character creation you may declare a favored class for your PC (not a prestige class). Each level you take in that class grants you either +1 HP or +1 skill point for each level in that class.
Combat Changes: Pathfinder combat is mostly like 3.5 combat, but has had a few major changes.
- Concentration is no longer a skill. A caster making a concentration check rolls 1d20 + CL + key ability + other modifiers (such as feats). Concentrating while being grappled is now much more difficult; having a DC of 10 + grappler’s combat maneuver bonus (see below) + the spell level.
- Combat Maneuvers: All the colorful stuff -Bull-rush, Disarm, Grapple, and Tripping, etc. were rolled into a single mechanic. All PCs have a Combat Maneuver Bonus (CMB) and a Combat Maneuver Defense (CMB) for combat maneuvers. A character’s CMB is their BAB + Strength + Size Modifier + other modifiers. This is rolled versus a character’s CMD, which is 10 + their BAB + Strength and Dex + Size modifier + other modifiers.
- Size: Creature size modifiers to combat maneuvers were halved (+1 large, +2 huge, +4 gargantuan, +8 colossal, reversing it for small, tiny, diminutive, and fine). Now success in these maneuvers relies more on skill and training.
- Acrobatics (Tumble) checks to avoid opportunity attacks now are rolled against the attacker’s CMD as a DC (thus a 20th level fighter is much more difficult to tumble past than a 1st level hadozee shaman).
- Use Rope was removed. Tying someone up can now be done as part of a grapple (with a -10 penalty to attempt to tie them while they struggle), or if they are unconscious or otherwise unable to resist it is done without checks. The DC to escape the bonds is 20 + CMB of the person who tied you up; and it keeps you pinned; and suffer from the Pinned condition.
- Poison now deals its damage over multiple rounds rather than all at once.
- Disease also changed mechanically.
- Wild Shape and all the polymorph spells (such as alter self, polymorph, shapechange and similar spells got nerfed into very effective but far less abuse friendly forms.
- Some Spells got reduced in power due, which corrected a lot of the casters are gods issues.
- All the classes got adjusted. Most of them simply gained new toys that make them viable through all 20 levels. Druid and Cleric had a variety of changes -druid because wild-shape doesn’t allow you to min-max-murder and cleric lost heavy armor proficiency and some spells, but now gets a free martial weapon and better turning mechanic.