Pathfinder has been going strong for more than a decade, and the tabletop RPG has been given new life with the introduction of its second edition in 2019.
Pathfinder 2e’s Core Rulebook was released in 2019, and since, Pathfinder publisher Paizo has released a host of supplementary books including the Gamemastery Guide, Advanced Player’s Guide, Lost Omens World Guide, Secrets of Magic, two separate bestiaries and a host of adventure paths.
(If you’re learning the game, we highly recommend checking out the Beginner Box, which explains character creation and how to play the game plus a solo adventure and rules for game masters. Not too shabby.)
Pathfinder is off to a solid start, and we dig playing the RPG when we want a little bit different flavor from standard Dungeons & Dragons.
These are the things we like about the new edition (and a couple that are a little goofy).
Things we like…
The action economy is fun to play with. You get three actions, and you can use them however you want. Attack, attack, attack. Attack, step away, full move. Cast a two-action spell and move. Switch weapons, move, attack. Move, move, move. Move, attack, put up your shield. The possibilities are endless, making combat pretty dang adaptable and exciting.
Action icons are super helpful. Certain actions really take two or three actions. There are also reactions and free actions. And each has a helpful icon to tell you exactly how it’s used, making it easy to plan your turn.
Each class feels different. Only certain classes get things such as opportunity attacks. Different classes use different skills for initiative. Especially with casters, the way each class plays with the three-action turn is slightly different. It makes each character feel unique.
The way crits work is pretty neat. If your roll plus modifiers is 10 or more than the DC, it’s a critical success. That means a great roll of 25 on a creature with 15 AC is a crit even if you only rolled 18 on die. That makes it fairly easy to crit low level creatures and gives a wider range to critical hits.
Deep customization. The appeal of Pathfinder has always been a level of crazy-deep customization. That is good for players and DMs who like rules crunch and the possibility to create any character imaginable. And Pathfinder did it again with 2nd edition. There are six ancestries and 12 classes just in the core rulebook plus numerous feats and really make your goblin fey-touched sorcerer into something truly unique. Not too shabby.
Weapon properties are really fun. Some are deadly (deal an extra d10 on crits), some are agile (smaller penalty on second and third attacks) and some can disarm other creatures. The way ranged weapons have banded range not only makes perfect sense, it’s so great I wish other games would adopt it. Weapons add just another piece that flavors every character build and gives you more options.
The core rulebook’s index is rad as hell. This is a seriously geeky book nerd thing to be excited about, but the index in the core rulebook is both a glossary and index. It gives a brief explanation of the term you’re looking for and tells you the pages on which to find more information. So helpful!
Monsters feel new and different. Whereas 1st edition Pathfinder was mostly a simple extension of D&D 3.5, this 2nd edition takes the core of 3.5 and really runs off in a different direction, especially with monsters. Instead of simply calling monsters by their standard D&D names, Pathfinder renamed many monsters, expanded their backgrounds and altered their abilities. Even familiar monsters feel exciting and fresh. (There are already two bestiaries available, too.)
Things we dislike…
The character sheets are garish as hell. They are so difficult to read and godawful ugly. Pathfinder is complicated enough as it is, and their character sheets could use some help. It’s hard to find things, and the sheet’s organization does not help. While we’re at it, the marking of trained skills and weapons, etc. with a capital T is super confusing. Your longsword isn’t just a +5 to hit, it’s a “T+5,” which may make it confusing to new players.
A 20 isn’t an automatic crit. Using that “success by 10 or more” rule, 20s aren’t even close to automatic crits. And that doesn’t feel quite right. It makes some sense that a commoner would have an extremely hard time landing a critical hit on an adult dragon. I mean, isn’t it entirely possible the commoner throws a rock that hits the dragon in the eye? Limiting the possibility to “no way could that happen ever” doesn’t sit right with me. And on the subject of crits, the “success by 10 or more” mechanic will help you kick the crap out of lower level creatures, but makes landing a crit on tougher creatures so much harder.
It may seem silly, but it’s just a given that in D&D, natural 20s are crits. (Look, I know Pathfinder isn’t D&D but it is D&D. But it isn’t. But it really is. Right?) The whole “a natural 20 is a crit” thing is so ingrained in our brains that it actually says that in a mistake in the core rulebook. Seriously. There’s a part in the book that says “natural 20s are always crits” that apparently they forgot to change because they were probably reading their own book and thought, “Yeah, that sounds right.” (I’m not joking, this is a thing that the designers have discussed ad nauseum in streams.)