D&D Beyond vs. Pathfinder 2E on Foundry VTT

Today on Twitter, I saw a mutual talking about how good it was to run DnD 5e via D&D beyond because it cut out so much prep, and I completely understand the sentiment, as I love my heavily automated VTT with compendiums of all of the creatures and abilities I want at my fingertips.

As a professional GM, I recently have been pondering a return to 5e, particular in a play-by-post (hereinafter referred to as pbp) format, because I figured I might be able to stomach the system much better when I don’t have to engage with the system for hours at a time, and since pbp is often very roleplay focused, it provides even more opportunities to ignore it. 

I own many pdfs and hardcovers from my time in 5e, but I was never interested in D&D Beyond, I was not interested in buying my books again for another platform, especially a platform that has no guarantees of survival. So now that I’m thinking about it for pbp, most people expect D&D Beyond integration, so I have been looking into it…

Purchasing everything for D&D on D&D Beyond, with a 15% savings, costs you $1,118.14. Good Lord! That is a LOT of money. If you’ve been buying them as you go along, well you already got them, but if someone is looking to get started, hoo boy!

So, what if I told you that you could get the equivalent for Pathfinder 2e on a VTT with superior and powerful automation to DnD Beyond for $50. Yes! Fifty. Fucking! Dollars! That is 4% of what it costs for DnD Beyond. That’s not even the cost of the PF2E material, that’s the one-time cost of Foundry VTT, which does not have a subscription model (unless you want to host it somewhere online like Forge (which I do)). Because you see, everything Paizo has released in PF2E is available for free. 

  • Every monster.
  • Every Item.
  • Every Feat and Class feature.
  • Every spell.
  • Everything.
  • Even things from unique adventures are included.
Examples of the Massive Compendium available for free, the first shows the bestiary 1 compendium with token art from the token art module, the second shows the Abomination Vaults bestiary without token art (showing that even if you havent bought the token pack you STILL have the monster stats), Actions, Class Features, Classes, Feats, Rollable Tables, Journals (which includes Rule References, GM Screens, Archetype descriptions, etc) and a list showing the Iconic Pre-made Characters. This is just SOME of the Compendium you get for free.

Now if you are going to run your own homebrew campaigns, $50 and you are done, maybe drop $60 on the Pathfinder 2e Bestiary Tokens for Foundry, which adds beautiful art to all of the monsters from all 3 bestiaries automatically integrated into your comepndiums.

Examples of many of the Token art for the Pathfinder 2e Token Bestiary for Foundry VTT pack. This includes most of the Humanoid enemies.
Examples of many of the Portrait art for the Pathfinder 2e Token Bestiary for Foundry VTT pack. This includes most of the Humanoid enemies.

And if we are keeping track, that is currently $110. (we are currently at just a lil under 10% of the DnD Beyond cost.)

Again, if you want to run your own stuff, you are basically good to go at this point, you have all of the mechanical data you need to just quickly make characters or drop tokens onto a VTT, and if you bought the Token Bestiary, you have a ton of monsters that even come with really cool tokens!

Now what about if you want to play an Adventure Paths? Which by the way, by and large are much better quality than any adventure released by WotC, or smaller adventures? Or bounties?

Well Paizo has been releasing premium foundry modules for their Adventure Paths. And let me tell you they are fucking GOOD. They can be a bit pricey, but well worth it. They allow you to import absolutely GORGEOUS and well made modules completely ready to play. Maps, fully walled and lighted; macros to change the map when needed (a bridge is supposed to break under the characters? Hit a macro and the art changes to a broken bridge and plays a lil sound); all the enemy tokens pre-placed; The entire text of the adventure beautifully laid out in journals; map notes in every room to give you all the information you need to run it.

A screenshot of some of the features of the Kingmaker Premium Module, which includes special Kingmaker specific additional tools and beautiful automation and aesthetics

And while if you bought every single Adventure Path, Stand Alone Adventure and Pathfinder Society Adventure you would rival the cost of D&D Beyond there, you don’t need to buy them all all at once… not even all in the same year. Because I am talking about at least 8-10 years of play, playing weekly here. We are talking multiple level 1-20 or level 1-11 adventures here, like a dozen of them. And until you are ready to actually run that adventure, if you want to use a Feat, Monster, Archetype or whatever from that adventure? You can, because it comes with you installing Pathfinder 2E on foundry!

Now let’s talk about what foundry does when you are using it. Like what makes it better than Roll20, or I would imagine, DnD Beyond:

At its base, PF2E is already leaps ahead of any VTT i’ve ever seen. 

  • Character sheets are powerful and easy to use, allowing you to drag and drop nearly everything causes building your character to be exceptionally fast, many class features are automated to remind you and let you decide if you want to use them or give you check boxes that automate changes to the action.
  • Temporary effects are easily accessible or able to be dragged and dropped on characters to automatically add bonuses, penalties and adjustments to characters (so you get the “oh shit I forgot, there was supposed to be a +2 to that last roll, wait let’s go back I think that should have hit!)
  • In combat targeting allows quickly determining degree of success without multi checking a ton of stuff as well as automatically applying damage while properly applying Immunities, Weaknesses and Resistances, and the best sort of automation with this is that it autodetects flanking and automatically reduces the target’s AC to the relevant attacks while they are flanking.
  • A robust system of rule elements and macro options mean if you wanna put a little extra coding work into it you can do some really cool stuff, but even if you don’t want to put in the extra work a bottom bar of action and macro possibilities is very useful for quick actions without having to pop your character sheet open. Barbarians? Throw your rage on your bar and activate and deactivate it with the push of a button!

But if you don’t think it is Automated enough, or something else could be automated, it probably is! Through the robust community of Pathfinder 2E modders, you can find a module for that, I almost guarantee it! At current I use 76 active modules in my pathfinder games, these provide:

  • Small or large quality of life automation across all manner of tasks and options.
  • Aesthetics or fun elements, such a module that provides animations and sound effects to most abilities, magic spells and attacks.
  • UI Changes to provide a better experience for me and other quick reference utilizations for everyone such as providing characters better access to their active abilities while they don’t have their character sheets open.

Overall, if you want a robust VTT that provides you all of the basic information for the price of a $50 VTT and much better quality on paid products, and you are not tied exclusively to the DnD Brand, you should definitely give PF2E and Foundry a shot!

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