Oddly enough, my kids don't even know much about D&D. I started them on Pathfinder. Hopefully this bodes well for the hobby as a whole, showing that other companies can be successful with the right approaches and by giving the right audiences the right stuff to work with
Seeing as how Pathfinder isn't drastically different from D&D in the first place. It's D&D 3.75, anyone will tell you that, and really, the only reason Pathfinder is so succesful is because they added on 3.5, the system that everyone loved so much and won't change from, and Wizards screwed up hard on 4e. Hell I know people who play only Pathfinder because it plays just like 3.5 but with new fixes or errata. I myself enjoyed Pathfinder for a time, and Congrats to Paizo, but I think it was an easy win. 4e is broken, but I like the game, not as D&D but as a tabble top war game. I recently gave up on Pathfinder though, but only because I played in a game that kept restarting and I could never keep a character because of it and character death. After my group's last 4e game, we switched back to AD&D2e and have tried out the Next playtest. I'm getting a little bored with the playtest, and honestly, I don't see myself ever changing from 2e from now on. My group of friends and I are 2e core players, and I think we're gonna stay that way.
4e essentials IS D&D 4.5. Admit it.
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