Pathfinder Second Edition

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Second Edition
2E-Logo.png
RPG published by
Paizo
Authors Jason Buhlman
First Publication 2019

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Second Edition is, as you'd expect, the second version of the D&D clone that is Pathfinder. That said, however, there is a lot changed here from the original's framework, going for a significantly more feat-centric playstyle. Though this is still a d20 game at its core, the mechanics being a good deal less complicated, and focused on a different direction than what was originally accomplished - as if they were trying to make their own game that shed its old identity.

This has, of course, brought about all sorts of reasonable and eloquent discussion in regards to the identity of Pathfinder itself. Most glaringly, there is the obvious outcry from the loyalists who have now wasted about ten years of their life and several hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in books about a single system and are now bemoaning that now Paizo's cutting off all support for it. While this is all true, it's also true that nobody's forcing people to play this new edition (Though that hasn't stopped neckbeards from screeching before). The second was how much this new system was pretending to become a lot more "tactical" in a manner similar to 4E, the sort of thing Pathfinder was straying away from and even opposed. Similar to this is the claims this to be a competitor to 5E because they claim things are getting dumbed down. While it is true that the system's been simplified from the 3.5E-plus-a-few-addons of 1E, but it's nowhere near the pick-up-and-play simplicity of 5E.

Noted Changes from 1E to 2E (As Gleaned From the Playtest)[edit]

Because we have the final version, this section is unnecessary, but is preserved for posterity. And luls.

The Second Edition Playtest took place between August and December 2018, wherein players had access to a free CRB, Bestiary, and several adventures to play them in (Split between five Pathfinder Society scenarios and Doomsday Dawn, a pseudo-Adventure Path that was more like a clip-show between several loosely-connected plots.) There's also the option to buy these books as physical merch, but doing so pretty much meant that your brain was nonexistent. All of the feedback was directed towards Paizo's surveys and forums, which could be a good centralizing point - if Paizo knew which comments to sift through in the avalanche of slush, salt, and general idiocy that comes with such a community. To their credit, they did at least release errata in a semi-regular fashion as well as some alternatives.

Needless to say that the playtest was quite contentious. Between a lot of features that people just outright hated, imbalance that took several months before addressing, if at all, and the simple need to adjust to a brand-new system, there was plenty to hate about this system. However, there was also some points that people respected, chiefly the streamlining of skills, the ease of making characters, and the improvements to healing outside of the cleric.

  • Races
    • Goblins are now a default race.
    • Half-Elves and Half-Orcs were briefly racial ancestry feats that humans can take at first level. This was dropped in later stage of the playtest.
      • The 10/24 errata decided to offer all the other races a selection of subraces that gave particular perks based on racial variants. For some, this restored at least one racial feature, but others gained a bit of an environmental theming. This also includes half-elves and half-orcs, whom are now under humans.
    • Each race now adds +2 to two stats, -2 to one stat, and a +2 to any stat you want so long as it wasn't mentioned before. Humans just grab two floating stat boosts.
    • HP is now added between a racial HP value and the Class HP value, which includes Con. Just like Starfinder, but without any stamina to buffer out.
    • Many of the key features of each race has been cut out and moved into ancestry feats that you gain at level 1 and every 4 thereafter. All that remains before factoring in subrace is just their types and whether or not they have darkvision.
  • Classes
    • Alchemists are a core class now. However their pseudo-casting is now replaced with the ability to learn and slap together whatever alchemical items they want by spending their Int-dependent Resonance special resources.
      • The 11/05 errata realized just how crippling using resonance for everything was and instead gave a whole separate pool made just so alchemists can make their things.
      • The 11/05 errata also finally divorces the bombs from the class' progression and gives a choice between four subclasses: bomber, poisoner, medic, and mutagenist. Each gains improvements as the class levels up, including the ability to infinitely produce certain low-level items.
    • Barbarians no longer have a pool of turns per day with which they can rage, but now they can spend it infinitely...for three turns before needing to cool off for a turn. It's...strange to adjust to, and it especially hurts animal totem barbs, who need to rage for their natural attacks.
      • The 11/05 errata made this even weirder by replacing the flat 3 turns with an ongoing save. See, every turn after the first, the barb has to roll an increasingly difficult save to continue raging or run out of fuel instead. This method is contested for the fact that it offers little better for the number of turns to rage (especially when 5E's barbarians could rage for an entire minute without any need to save) while now painting the funny image of all barbarians being asthmatic or running the risk of throwing out their backs with each turn.
        • Well actually it does make sense fluffwise. Barbarians are effectively redlining their bodies through their rage to pull off superhuman feats. As they grow stronger they can handle doing this for longer periods of time.
      • Totems (a popular addition to Barbarians due to adding new and fantastical abilities) are now a default feature, giving various features from hauling fuckoff-huge weapons to turning into an animal, as well as granting a special damage resistance while raging. They also force a taboo that strips any special rage powers if broken, with the exception of the Fury Totem (essentially the vanilla barbarian which instead gives a free extra class feat).
    • Bards get full spell progression.
      • The three main deals of bards (lots of utility in knowledge skills, performance to replace skills, and magical music) into three separate subclasses. The 11/05 errata gated some feats to certain subclasses and adds a feat to enable multi-subclassing.
    • Cleric domains don't grant spells anymore, only powers (which are just spells that require Spell Points to cast). Instead, clerics get extra spells determined by what god they worship (no word on how this'll work with original settings).
      • There are multiple forces that have managed to dethrone the cleric's undisputed rule as healmaster, from the Medicine skill actually being not-shit in healing, healing potions being rather cheap, Alchemists, and errata reducing the uses of channel energy.
    • Druids get subclasses based upon Orders: Canadian Leaf (Casters with Leshys for familiars), Storm (Blaster druids), Wild (Wildshape-focused), and Animal (Pets)
    • Paladins pretty much get three things guaranteed to them: a reaction (giving an ally protection from an attack and striking back), Lay on Hands, and the ability to infuse holy spirits to one thing (weapon, steed, and the newcomer shield). However, the issue with this is that due to how the action economy is, this means that shield-users are trapped every turn between blowing their reactions on their reaction power or using their shields. Forutnately, the 11/05 errata gave a few feats that grant bonus reactions explicitly for reaction powers and shield users (if you decided for some reason to use your divine bond on shields).
      • As of the 11/05 errata, Paladins are no longer forced into being Lawful Good. While the LG types retain the reactive strike power, the Neutral Good and Chaotic Good paladins gain new powers and different laws to enforce (NG can penalize the attack or weaken future ones that turn, CG allows for saves against grappling). Meanwhile, there's nothing known about how they'll do Antipaladins, if at all.
    • Rangers are pretty much gutted. All they really keep is the ability to hunt down targets (replacing the oft-loathed Favored Enemy with something more universal) and their ability to walk through terrain like nobody's business. The only fighting styles they have for them so far are dual-wielding, crossbows, and (as of the 10/26 errata) archery
      • The 11/05 errata enables rangers to do a few things to targeted foes: spam multi-attacks with reduced penalties (the original version), snipe for extra damage, screwing around.
    • Skill ranks have been done away with completely for proficiency ranks that ring more similar to games like Dark Heresy mixed with 5E: Untrained penalizes you for trying a skill, Trained lets you roll with the requisite stat with no penalties, and Expert, Master, and Legendary are bonuses to the roll in question. This proficiency system even spills over to your armor proficiencies, weapon proficiencies (so as to replace BAB), and saves.
      • In a bit of a turn from its sci-fi cousin, Level 3 doesn't automatically grant 1/2 character level to damage with every weapon group they're trained in, but now only certain characters can get a specialization boost that raises the proficiency rank for attacking with a single weapon group as well as gain access to crit effects with them. Casters can raise the proficiency ranks for spellcasting, but that's usually at level 10 on. Barbarians also lack this system, though level 3 gives them access to all special crits and then gain a rank up for weapons at a later level.
      • Because of how mandatory Perception was as a skills, every class now gets some sort of training in it. It's now also the default skill check needed to roll for Initiative. Funnily, Fighters and Rangers (Two of the classes considered most shat upon by 1E) are now ultra-badass at this skill.
      • Each class also has a selection of "Signature Skills", which permit the player to advance their training in a particular skill to even higher levels for bigger feats.
        • As of the 9/10 errata though, Paizo seemed to get the memo about how pigeonholing this was and just scrapped Signature Skills, letting any skill reach the top-level and gave every class a few default-trained skills as compensation.
    • The spell pool is now drastically shrunk down to 4 types: Arcane (Wizards), Divine (Clerics), Primal (Druids), and Occult (Bards, because Paizo really wants to redo Occult Adventures but doesn't want to make a new spell list just for the bard). Sorcerers are the only casters that are wild-cards, their bloodline feature dictating which spell list they can take.
      • As one can notice, Rangers, Alchemists, and Paladins aren't on the list. Rangers and Alchemists make do by making items (Traps for Rangers, Alchemical Items for Alchemists) while Paladins and Monks (and the other casting classes to a lesser degree) utilize a spell point pool and specific feats to gain new powers.
      • Spellcasters no longer get more spells per day by just getting a high casting stat.
      • Spells now have a rarity, which might be an attempt to limit the rarity of certain really powerful spells. On a similar note, some of the known campaign-ending spells (Wish, Time Stop) are now reserved for 10th-level spellcasting, which is available ONLY if you select a single feat at level 20 for the primary casting classes and you might still need to find them thanks to rarity. Expect this to work out like Paranoia's security clearances played straight.
      • Caster Level no longer affects spell strength. Instead, there are now multiple leveled versions of the same spell, meaning that they have to be "learned" at that level if you want to cast a spell at a "heightened" strength (making it sound like diet metamagic, but in reality just gimping spontaneous casters)
      • Spontaneous casters and Prepared Casters have the exact same spells per day progression (Sorcerers get extra bloodline spell slots, but Wizards get school spell slots, so there's no real difference except Sorcerers have a very finite spell repertoire).
  • Similar to SF, backgrounds are now a mandatory feature. Each gives a boost to two stats (one chosen from a set of two, the other to any stat so long as it's not the same stat as before), a skill feat, and training in a related Lore skill (the new name for Profession, though now only tied to Int rather than being multi-stat).
  • Feats are given practically every level now, split between class feats, general feats, ancestry feats (racial), and skill feats. Expect the feat bloat to explode even harder than fuck.
    • Multiclass feats make a return. In addition to the ones that grant features from established classes, there are some archetypes (Gray Maiden, Cavalier, Pirate for the playtest) for new perks. You need to sacrifice class feats to make use of this, and once you multiclass, you need to take at least two other feats from that class' list before you can multiclass elsewhere (with exception to one human ancestry feat).
    • Skill feats at least add some new uses for the skill, mostly because of how feats and actual abilities are built off the same format.
  • Perhaps the most controversial feature made in the playtest so far is Resonance: a pool based off Level+Charisma (except for Alchemists who use Int for this), this allows folks to make items and allows anyone to use any magical items, either triggering a power or just allowing you to use an item's passive perk. The contention is that you need to spend this crap every day, meaning that those loaded with magical items are stuck having to figure out what items they want to use every day and traps Alchemists who want to make stuff into focusing on a particular set of items/elixirs/mutagens.
    • Magic Weapons now add an extra die of damage per + instead of just adding +1, making them a lot more reliable. The properties are now included in runes, which every weapon has an allotted limit to fill.
    • Magic armor now adds their enhancement value to all saves.
      • Weapon and Armor properties are still tied to fixed slots, but now they don't threaten to absorb than one slot because of their power.
    • There was an alternative playtest that tried another method to dealing with Resonance, but it only provided preset characters to work with, and this was generally as derided as the original concept.
    • (For those of you wondering what happened to it, see "investing" towards the bottom of Miscellaneous below)
  • Another controversial feature is the action economy: Rather than the typical Standard, Move, Swift action with Free actions sprinkled on, you now get three actions, and everything, from moving to casting, takes an action. In fact, multicomponent spells (Somatic, Verbal, Material, etc.) eat an action for every component the spell needs. Even Metamagic eats up an action to cast with it.
    • While not in itself an issue, some of the things tied to it are indeed stupid. Chief among them are shields, which you need to raise every turn to get their fucking AC bonus. You can then spend a reaction to have this shield block a single attack, likely damaging the shield - and shields break pretty easily if they absorb enough damage on top of only absorbing a limited amount of it before just being overwhelmed and landing on you.
Playtest Classes[edit]

Like with every class in the original except the disastrous Shifter, Pathfinder 2E has playtests for its new classes. The first set was the reintroduction of several 1E classes on November 2019, and due for release in the Advanced Player's Guide on July 30 2020. Note that the below was based on the playtest and changes to several classes (particularly the Oracle and Witch) have been teased, but not detailed.

  • Investigator
    • Gain a small bonus to investigate things
    • Subclasses split between the class' history as a not-Alchemist class, Empiricism (As in that one Archetype that made them Int-SAD, now nerfed into just making your investigations faster), and Forensic Medicine (Making you a medic/CSI)
    • Gain a Rogue-tier amount of Skill Feats, though a majority will be focused on Mental-based skills.
      • Also gain a bonus to untrained knowledge skills - not quite the same as Bard's singular Lore skill, but it's still decent.
    • One feat also allows you to pull things out of your Bat-Utility Belt. Like a boss.
  • Oracle
    • Curses are now inherently tied to mysteries. Likely so you don't cheese out the really obvious ones (Clouded Sight, Lame, Tongues, etc.)
      • Curses now only flare up when you use your mystery's spells and increase in severity the more you use them. Use it too much and you get knocked out. For a whole fucking day. The only way to drop the curse is to use the Refocus action (The one used for recovering Focus Points) out of combat.
    • The current mysteries available are Battle, Flames, and Life. Each mystery also has associated Cleric domains which you can jump into via feats. Heck, one of the domains is even given to you upon generation like the Cloistered Cleric.
  • Swashbuckler
    • Panache is now a condition gained through performing particular actions. You can move faster and you deal additional damage with certain weapons.
    • This Panache can be spent on making Finishing Moves (attacks with more pretentious naming) that deals extra damage.
    • Your subclasses are Braggart (Keying off Intimidation), Fencer (Keying off Deception), and Gymnast (Keying off Athletics)
  • Witch
    • Cackle is now mandatory. It now lets you sustain spells using only your voice.
    • Your familiar gets more abilities as it levels up, though it's slower going than the Familiar Thesis Wizards.
    • Your Patron and progression is now keyed through Lessons, each of which grants you a Hex (Read: Focus spell) and your familiar a normal spell. While none of these Lessons depend on each other, it also makes theming a patron rather difficult.
      • Your first lesson grants access to one of the Occult, Primal, or Arcane spell lists, in a similar pattern to the Sorcerer

General[edit]

  • The usual explanation of RPGs for newbies includes the usual advice of making sure everyone's comfortable and on the same page. This is expanded upon in the later chapter on GMing, which introduces things like x-cards and a default set of expectations for players (which GMs are told to tailor to their tables). The default expectations are in many ways incongruous with the slightly crapsack default setting. There's a prohibition on players owning slaves even though slavery being legal is the default for the setting, with only a handful of abolitionist nations (This could even prohibit players from having noble titles since serfdom is widely considered a form of slavery). Depictions of cruelty shouldn't be shown even though Zon-Kuthon is a core deity.
    • Overall, this is something anyone can assume considering the company's political outlook.
  • The general math of the system has been considerably simplified, chiefly by axing the sometimes silly list of bonuses you can slap onto a test.
  • The general setting of Golarion has been set at a point where all the 1E Adventure Paths have taken place and were successfully finished. This means that, among other things, the Worldwound in Sarkoris has been shut, the Whispering Tyrant is free to raise hell, and Cassandalee the android is now a full god with a divine portfolio.
  • The Gamemastery Guide re-introduced quite a lot of older variant systems from Stamina and Automatic Bonus Progression (with accompanying non-magical high-quality items) to Gestalt character and rejiggering the new stat-boost system to be in line with 1E's Point Buy system.

Ancestries[edit]

  • Among the typical RPG fare (Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, Gnomes) are Goblins, Paizo's de-facto mascots for PF. As for the name? Well, the usual suspects claim that it's because calling them "Races" is problematic. Though it does also allow this part of the character to focus as much on biology as the culture the character was raised in.
    • Races and classes have static HP values instead of Hit Die (with the racial HP only applying for 1st level). Unlike Starfinder, there's no Stamina by default.
      • The Gamemastery Guide does include a quick-and dirty means to implement Stamina if you really want it: Just halve the default class Health and put the other half as stamina (+ Constitution). Of course, this will gunk up stuff like healing (since HP and Stamina are distinct pools), but you can recover this far quicker in exchange for a more limited means of recovery mid-battle.
    • Each race gives two fixed stat boosts and a fixed stat penalty as well as one stat bonus that can be assigned wherever you wish. Humans, being the snowflakes they are, just get two floating boosts.
      • Tengu and Orcs, added in the Advanced Player's Guide, will surprisingly be closer to humans; both have one fixed stat boost (Dex and Strength, respectively) and one floating boost.
    • Each race is divvied up into multiple subraces or "heritages". Each of these grants one specific benefit and can be the pre-req for ancestry feats (like the always-amusing Bouncy Goblin feat and its siblings).
    • Racial Weapon Proficiency is now a feat for each race, as is the ability to improve your proficiency in them if you don't already do so.
  • Dwarves
    • Gone is your ability to walk around in heavy armor like nobody's business. That is now a feat.
    • Your subraces give either a boost to resist magic, a better resistance to necromancy, resistance to heat, resistance to getting moved around, or a better resistance to poisons.
    • As befits a race with a lot of resistances, you have the highest racial HP.
  • Elves
    • Your subraces give either resistance to cold, darkvision, the ability to sense and identify magic without being a caster, or the ability to climb and run around in the forest.
      • A later supplement adds on a rather funny notion by making a subrace of elves (Ancient Elves, that is elves who are somewhere north of 200 years old) that take a multiclass feat for free. Needless to say that this is quite powerful in freeing up feat space, as even humans needed to blow a racial feat at level 9 to pull that off.
  • Gnomes
    • Your subraces give either chameleonic skin, a druid cantrip you can change, improved senses, darkvision, or another cantrip from the other lists that you can't change so easily.
  • Goblins
    • Your subraces give either a resistance to fire and burning, the power to eat trash (and resist getting sick), a bite attack, a resistance to cold, and being incredibly tough.
  • Halflings
    • Your subraces give either an improved resistance to fear, improved healing from sleep, extra languages, low-light vision, or the ability to walk through jungles without issue.
  • Humans
    • Half-Orcs and Half-Elves are now subraces for mankind (and can technically apply to other races). All this amounted to was the ability to pick up that other race's feats - and guess who got more.
    • Your other subraces? One gives a free general feat, and the other gives training in a skill that scales with you.

The Lost Omens World Guide would introduce three further races: Hobgoblins, Lizardfolk, and Leshys. The Advanced Player's Guide brings Catfolk, Kobolds, Orcs, Ratfolk and Tengu.

Also present due to a certain scenario are Shoonies, essentially little Pugmire dogfolk.

Versatile Heritages[edit]

No longer your half-_ will always be part human, now your can tack on any of the following to your OC by replacing their normal subrace. Technically, the half-elves and half-orcs fit here too. None of them really give you a lot beside access to their feats. In other words: You can now be a Dwarf Dhampir or Elf Tiefling, but you're only getting more feat options and a low-light vision upgrade, compared to other heritages' much more direct (if situational) bonuses.

  • Aasimar
    • Most of the tricks remain, though your some of your level 1 feats lock you into either having Angel, Archon or Azata origins. A later feat even lets you call upon one of your forebears as a ritual.
  • Changeling
    • Altered somewhat from their initial appearance, Changelings are still the offspring of Hags. Now they can be of any race and sex, instead of being humanoid and female-only. They still suffer from, women especially, what is known as "the Call", the psychic influence from their mothers that is pushing them to join their coven and turn into hags themselves (begs an interesting question about what happens to the men that end up following the Call...).
    • Their Level 1 subrace feat are split between Brine May, Callow May, Dream May, and Slag May origins, based off the type of hag their mothers are. Later feats provide bonuses like resistance to mental effects, dealing mental damage with your claw strikes, and eventually gaining access to some Hag Magic spells.
  • Dhampir
    • Vampires were never really restricted by the base creature, now neither are their hybrid offspring.
    • Compared to other versatile heritages, they're rather limited in their racial feat choices. Not a bad thing though, as you get all the important vampire stuff early on.
  • Duskwalker
    • Basically a psychopomp-based equivalent to Aasimar and Tieflings. Feat list is very limited, but it might be due to their very specific origin.
  • Tiefling
    • You get level 1 feats that lock your lineages to devil, daemon or demon as well as a later feat to call upon said forebear.
    • A good bit of your feats focus on your more distinct anatomy like a speed boost from hooves, natural weapons and tail trickery.

Classes[edit]

  • Alchemist is now a core class alongside the classic 3.X Roster (Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin Champion, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, Wizard).
  • Like Starfinder, each class has a key ability score you focus on for class-related saves, and this DC improves in proficiency as you level up. Each also boosts this key stat at level 1.
  • Most classes have no out of combat utility. What does remain tends to be gated behind Skill Feats.
  • The idea of a "half-caster", as in a class that gains limited access to the lower level spells, is mostly done away with; instead, some classes get "Focus Points".
    • One could also fulfill their limited-casting fetish through multiclassing (Casting classes grant a limited access to spell traditions and casting powers through the right feats).
  • As a side effect of the above, there are exactly four spell lists: Arcane (Wizard), Divine (Cleric), Primal (Druid) and Occult (Bard); no more, no less. All spellcasters are either assigned or "pick"[1] exactly one of the four as a baseline; subclass features, special feats and Focus Spells can allow access to a few spells outside the list, but usually at the cost of a feat.
  • Focus is a new-ish resource that lets you use spell-like abilities like Cleric Domain Powers, Ki Powers, and similar affairs. Playtesters might better recognize this as Spell Points. Fortunately, this recharges fairly quickly (10 minutes rest) and it's no longer tied to a stat.
    • Focus spells (almost) always[2] cost a class feat, and being able to cast more than one in combat also costs a class feat. In short: Focus Spells are a specialization, and you'll probably only use 1 per encounter, so make it count.

As to the individual classes themselves:

  • Alchemist
    • Replaced those spell-like infusions that were totally jank anyways with just gaining access to the big list of alchemical items without needing an extra feat. Some of these items you can even make for free without needing to spend much time or any cash on crafting. This is all managed by your daily resources.
    • Has the ability to instantly make some free lower-level alchemical things using that daily resource.
    • Split into subclasses for bombs, potions, poisons and elixirs/mutagens. Alongside some other improvements, you do get the means of producing infinite numbers of certain lower-level items for free.
  • Barbarian
    • Rather than the rounds/day nonsense of the past, now Rages last a full minute before needing a cooldown, just like in 5E. However, like last edition, going into a Rage does restrict what actions you can take and it initially needs a lengthy cooldown period that...just means you can't rage again. No penalties or anything.
    • "Instincts" are pretty much the replacements of Totems, granting a bonus effect to your rage, a bonus resistance to eventually develop while raging, and an anathema because everyone needs to fall.
  • Bard
    • Now full casters, with access to 9th level spells in their own rinky dink spell list (called "Occult").
    • Bards are also subdivided into subclasses through "Muses". One gives prolonged spells, one gives Versatile Performance (Perform for social skills), another gives Bardic Lore (That game-breaking know-anything Bardic Lore, now compacted to just a single proficiency to roll anytime you need to recall knowledge) and the last gives better weapon proficiency. Each also gives a free spell.
  • Cleric
    • Clerics are billed between two different subtypes: The caster-focused "Cloistered" cleric (Granting your first Domain Feat) and the combat-focused "Warpriest" cleric (Granting better weapon and armor proficiency).
    • Domains now only give two spell-like powers. Nothing more, nothing less. This is also done over two feats.
      • As a measure of compensation for this, each deity has a small set of spells they automatically grant their clerics.
    • Cure and Channel Energy are now one and the same. The effect you'd typically call Channel Energy is now an extended-casting version of the Heal/Harm spell.
  • Druid
    • Druids get subclasses based upon Orders: Leaf (Casters with Leshys for familiars and all the plant-stuff), Storm (Blaster druids focused on weather), Wild (Wildshape-focused), and Animal (Pets)
  • Fighter
    • Fighters possess an interrupting Opportunity Attack by default. For sake of gimping everyone else while uplifting the fighter, this is now an exclusive feature (though Champions, Barbarians, the upcoming Swashbuckler and, presumably, similar future martial classes can grab it as a class feat at level 6 while other classes get similar-yet-different reactions).
    • They took the Brawler's ability to take feats they don't have, though at a much slower rate.
  • Monk
    • Start off with Flurry of Blows and aren't automatically bound to Ki powers or Wisdom at all.
    • By default, you're shit with weapons. You'll need to expend feats for proficiency with either melee weapons or bows (Yeah, APG gave us back the Zen Archer)
      • Alongside the classic Monk powers, your starting Ki powers are either Ki Stride (Move twice in an action) and Ki Strike (Attack once, deal double damage of a certain type)
    • Your unarmored defense isn't locked to Wisdom and you still start with all good saves. Leveling up, however, means leaving one save at just "good" rather than "awesome".
    • Your styles switch up how much damage you do with your punches.
  • PaladinChampion
    • See that thing up there? The rename? That's a big stride that, among other things, allows you to actually introduce Paladins that aren't Lawful Good without needing all the rehashing/archetyping/using another class. Again, a sacred cow is slaughtered, and again, much bile and salt spilled forth from it. That said, Evil Champion options are coming in the Advanced Player's Guide (no word on Neutral ones yet).
      • Your alignment does influence your class power (a reaction that tends to protect your ally while inconveniencing an attacking enemy) as well as your starting spell.
    • Your dependence on Charisma is heavily reduced. Your few focus powers might only need it as a Saving Throw, and you can easily build around them. Hell, Lay on Hands doesn't even factor it in.
  • Ranger
    • No longer casters. Good, because they sucked at it anyways...only to return via focus spells as of the APG. For the most part, they're really focused on support and work best with pets.
    • Favored X is heavily scaled back. Hunt Prey echoes this by making it easier to locate a certain enemy, but this is universal. You have feats that make certain things easier to hunt and another for certain terrain benefits though.
    • Rangers are subclassed by Hunter's Edge, an action they get while using Hunt Prey. Your options are Flurry (slightly better multi-weapon attacks), Outwit (Bonuses to con prey and protection), or Precision (Extra damage on the first hit during a turn)
    • Though not an exclusive feature, rangers do have feats to make traps (here named "Snares") more conveniently, and these traps are established clearly, rather than the fuckstorm 1E gave us.
  • Rogue
    • Subclassed by Rackets: Ruffian (The brutish one with better armor), Scoundrel (Deception and feint master), Thief (Classic Dexterity to Damage), Mastermind (Learn and exploit weaknesses with knowledge) and Eldritch Trickster (Free caster multiclass)
    • In a sort-of homage to Unchained's Signature Skills, Rogues get a couple more Skill Feats than anyone else.
  • Sorcerer
    • Your bloodline now not only determines what bonus spells you possess, but also which of the four spell lists you can use. This is in addition to your bloodline spell-like powers, which are now the sole triggers for your arcana.
      • Unfortunately, this variety works against the Sorcerer, as there are several variations of the same feat for each spell list and thus limits your choices.
      • Crossblooded Sorcerers (i.e. I have two bloodlines at once like the mongrel I am) exist as feats, letting you poach spells off of one other spell list, but your limit is very small and the feats needed are very far apart.
    • Get 4 spells per day per level max to everyone else's max of 3[3].
  • Wizard
    • Bound items are now a constant that not even familiars can remove...though they can replace with the proper Thesis.
    • Besides schools (Which only grant one school spell and power and then another with a certain feat), you also have a subclass in Theses, which focus on one aspect: Familiars, Metamagic, Spell Blending (Giving you 5E's means to combine lower spell slots for bigger ones), Spell Substitution (Letting you swap spells during the day) and Staff Nexus (Build your own flexible staff)

Some side notes:

  • Companions are now effectively a chassis you add on by selecting a type of animal. Each has a special attack, each has a trained skill, and you can spend one action to give them two of their own.
    • The old archetypes (Before Ultimate Wilderness gave us all the gonzo things like robo-pets and dragon-pets) are now reclassed as Specialized Companions, which add a special capstone to pet progression feats.
  • Familiars have to select between two sets of powers: One grants it special properties (Which includes abilities the animal would normally have, like wings or speech), and the other has abilities made to support you.
  • Multiclassing (Labeled as 'Archetyping' for some asinine reasoning) is managed through feats, just like 4E. You have to take one entry feat instead of a class feat and then buy two associated feats before you can access another archetype.
    • This is also pulling double duty for Prestige Classes, as setting books let you access specific organizations like the Hellknights and Pathfinder Society, and some archetypes even branch off of other archetypes by circumventing the three-feat limit (See: Hellknight Armiger to Hellknight or Hellknight Signifier).

Advanced Player's Guide Classes[edit]

These classes officially debuted in the Advanced Player's Guide, after a playtest release in November 2019. The playtest notes are above. The below should apply to the APG versions:

  • Investigator
    • Gain a small bonus to investigate things
    • Subclasses split between the class' history as a not-Alchemist class, Empiricism (As in that one Archetype that made them Int-SAD, now nerfed into just making your investigations faster), Forensic Medicine (Making you a medic/CSI) and Interrogation (Charmer)
    • During combat they can scan an enemy, allowing them to roll before declaring their attack. If they attack with their roll, they get to add their Int-modifier, instead of what they normally would use, if they're attacking with certain weapons (agile or finesse melee weapons or unarmed strikes, ranged weapons, or saps).
    • Gain a Rogue-tier amount of Skill Feats, though a majority will be focused on Mental-based skills.
      • Also gain a bonus to untrained knowledge skills - not quite the same as Bard's singular Lore skill, but it's still decent.
    • One feat also allows you to pull things out of your Bat-Utility Belt. Like a boss.
  • Oracle
    • Curses are now inherently tied to mysteries. Likely so you don't cheese out the really obvious ones (Clouded Sight, Lame, Tongues, etc.)
      • Curses now only flare up when you use your mystery's Revelations spells and increase in severity the more you use them. It goes from Minor, Moderate, and Major. Refocusing drops your curse down from where it was back to minor, only resting for a full 8 hours gets rid of the curse completely. Use them too much and you eventually become overwhelmed, preventing you from casting any of your mystery's Revelation spells for the rest of the day. They are still able to cast other, non-Oracle related Focus Spells, however.
    • The current mysteries available are Ancestors, Battle, Bones, Cosmos, Flames, Life, Lore, and Tempest. Each mystery also has associated Cleric domains which you can jump into via feats. Heck, one of the domains is even given to you upon generation like the Cloistered Cleric.
  • Swashbuckler
    • Panache is now a condition gained through performing particular actions. You can move faster and you deal additional damage with certain weapons.
      • This Panache can be spent on making Finishing Moves (attacks with more pretentious naming) that deals extra damage.
    • Charmed Life is no longer limited in use, but it's a feat that only adds +2 to a save roll and spends a reaction.
    • Your subclasses are Battledancer (Keying off Performance), Braggart (Keying off Intimidation), Fencer (Keying off Deception), Gymnast (Keying off Athletics) and Wit (Keying of Diplomacy). Each gives you an additional means to gain Panache mode.
  • Witch
    • Lessons are special feats that provide bonus spells, allowing you to dip outside of your list.
    • Your familiar can potentially net six familiar abilities due to feats.
    • Your Patron designates which spell list you can use and grants you a special cantrip and your familiar a normal spell, similar to the Sorcerer.
      • Most of your patron themes are of vague concepts, though not all - The Lost Omens Legends splat gives you access to Baba Yaga as a patron.

Miscellaneous[edit]

  • FEATS. FEATS EVERYWHERE. Indeed, Paizo decided that the only way to customize things (including all skills not granted by class) is by making everything into a feat.
    • They are at least split across separate categories, earned at different rates (which are clearly marked on each class' progression chart) so you no longer have feats competing with every other feat in the bloody game this time around.
  • Opposed rolls are now almost non-existent in the system, now being rolled against a static DC based on a skill or save. It works out the same way as 5e's Passive Perception (so as though they rolled a 10 on the check).
  • Skills have been overhauled into a proficiency system akin to Dark Heresy, where being untrained gives no bonus but the various degrees of training lead to increasing bonuses. Similarly, there are also certain uses for each skill that can only be performed by someone trained in it.
    • The only ostensibly new skill is Lore, which covers knowledge of particular niches that wouldn't fit any other skill.
    • Combat Maneuvers have similarly been folded into skills rather than needing another number to figure out and are rolled against one of the target's Save DCs (the relevant save's modifier +10).
    • Everyone is now trained in Perception to some extent. Just as well, because this is now the default roll for Initiative (While some situations might let you use other skill) and everyone was already maxing out this skill to begin with.
    • DCs for all checks have four conditions: Success, Failure, Critical Success (Beating the DC by 10+, giving an extra benefit) and Critical Failure (Failing the DC by 10+, causing extra bad things to happen).
      • Natural 1s and 20s don't inherently do anything of their own, other than downgrade/upgrade your level of success by 1. So if your modifier alone is high enough to get a success no matter what you roll, a natural 1 will downgrade that into a failure.
      • While all rolls have these four states, not every roll has conditions for all four (ie; by default, a crit-failed attack roll is the same as a normal fail, but some reactions are triggered by being the target of a crit-failed attack).
  • Spells have been drastically reduced to being only four lists: Arcane (Wizards), Divine (Clerics), Primal (Druids), and Occult (Bards, because...we don't want another Arcane caster?), with Sorcerers gaining access to any one of these four, depending on their Bloodline.
    • No more will a maxed casting stat influence how much you cast per day.
    • Spells no longer have numerations, instead merely just having their effects scale by level. Prepared casters can heighten a spell just by preparing it in a higher-level slot at the start of the day, while spontaneous ones need to learn the spell at whatever levels they want to cast it at (though do have a class feature, Signature Spell, that lets them heighten some of their spells while only knowing them at one level).
    • 10th level spells now exist. This is generally restricted to the real game-breakers (Time Stop, Wish) and without a certain feat for the casters at level 20, you can only use one a day.
    • Cantrips use the same heightening, but still don't cost spell slots and automatically heighten. The wording is a bit finnicky at first, but it basically amounts to them being heightened to the same level as what a full caster's highest spell slot would be at that level (ie; when your wizard's highest level spell slot is 3rd, their cantrips are heightened to 3rd as well).
      • To clear up some confusion people have had - they are no longer "0-level spells", they are now "1st level cantrips".
  • The Combat System has been redone into a three-action system akin to the proposed system in Pathfinder Unchained. Everything has now been broken down into taking actions (Moves, Attacks, Spell Components/Metamagic), with Free Actions being a 'whenever' deal and one Reaction per turn (Unless you have certain feats to override this).
    • Similar to 4E, your actions now focus a lot on various keywords. However, the concise formatting clearly labeling what you roll to hit and how much damage an attack does is not present.
    • A step further from SF, Touch AC and CMD are no more. The latter was replaced by saving throws against combat maneuvers, while the former no longer had a use. Spells (which normally hit Touch) instead go for Spell Attack rolls like 5E. Flat-Footed, meanwhile, just inflicts a flat -2 to AC.
  • Weapons have crit effects like Starfinder, but these crits only work for those with weapon specialization (which is a class feature for martial classes).
    • Shields, for some idiotic reason, require spending an action to raise and confer their AC bonus. A certain feat also provides a degree of damage reduction before transferring the rest to the shield and, by extension, you.
    • Finesse Weapons let you use Dexterity to hit from the outset. No more feat tax on this front.
  • Magic Items involve investing into them, similar to how 5E has items work. However, your magic item limit is set at the more lenient 10.
    • Magic Weapons and Armor now have two base improvements. For weapons, these are the one for a bonus to hit, the other is to roll another die for damage. For armor, this is a bonus to AC and a bonus to saves.
    • The numerical bonus to the chief function also serves as a hard limit to how many properties you can add to a suit of armor. While it's good that now you don't need to worry about Vorpal hogging up an entire sword, the limit you have is exceedingly small.
  • Character generation and progression has been strengthened by a degree, even discounting the obscene feat overload. Between classes and backgrounds giving stat boosts, the general philosophy of adding +2 for everything, and each race offering a free floating stat boost, you'll find it considerably easier to put together at least a halfway competent character.
  • Easy to overlook but AC is now considered a kind of DC. Which means any status effect that says it reduces the target's DCs (ie; the Frightened Condition) also reduce their AC. So a sorcerer who's invested skill increases into Intimidate can use it to soften the enemy up either before their own attacks or make them an easier target for their allies.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. In quotation marks because these are chosen by the Player, but frequently not by the Character.
  2. The few exceptions are granted as a class or subclass feature, usually just to provide a base ability in focus spells.
  3. Besides 10th level, but 10th level is for the gamebreaker spells.