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Paizo Announces Pathfinder 2nd Edition!

Paizo has just announced the Second Edition of its Pathfinder Roleplaying Game! Read on for the announcement straight from the horse's mouth. The horse, in this case, being Pathfinder designer Jason Bulmahn. "In 2008, Paizo launched an unprecedented public playtest aimed at updating the third edition rules to make them more fun, easier to learn, and better able to support thrilling fantasy adventures. More than 40,000 gamers just like you joined in the fun by playtesting the new Pathfinder RPG rules and providing feedback, and the rest is gaming history. Now, 10 years later, it's time to put the lessons of the last decade to use and evolve the game once again. It's time for Pathfinder Second Edition!"


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Welcome to the next evolution of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game!

Just shy of 10 years ago, on March 18th, 2008, we asked you to take a bold step with us and download the Alpha Playtest PDF for Pathfinder First Edition. Over the past decade, we've learned a lot about the game and the people who play it. We've talked with you on forums, we've gamed with you at conventions, and we've watched you play online and in person at countless venues. We went from updating mechanics to inventing new ones, adding a breadth of options to the game and making the system truly our own. We've made mistakes, and we've had huge triumphs. Now it is time to take all of that knowledge and make the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game even better.

By now, you've probably read all about the upcoming launch of the Playtest version of the game set to release on August 2nd, 2018 (but just in case you haven't, click here). In the weeks and months leading up to that release, we are going give you an in-depth look at this game, previewing all 12 of the classes and examining many of the most fundamental changes to the game. Of course, that is a long time to wait to get a complete picture, so I wanted to take this opportunity to give you insight into the game, how it works, and why we made the changes that we made. We will be covering these in much more detail later, but we thought it might be useful to give a general overview right now.



Illustration by Wayne Reynolds​

New, but the Same

Our first goal was to make Pathfinder Second Edition feel just like the game you know and love. That means that as a player, you need to be able to make the choices that allow you to build the character you want to play. Similarly, as a Game Master, you need to have the tools and the support to tell the story you want to tell. The rules that make up the game have to fundamentally still fill the same role they did before, even if some of the mechanics behind them are different.

Building a Character

It's worth taking a moment to talk about how characters are built, because we spent a lot of time making this process smoother and more intuitive. You start by selecting your ancestry (which used to be called race), figuring out where you came from and what sorts of basic statistics you have. Next you decide on your background, representing how you were raised and what you did before taking up the life of an adventurer. Finally, you select your class, the profession you have dedicated yourself to as an intrepid explorer. Each one of these choices is very important, modifying your starting ability scores, giving you starting proficiencies and class skills, and opening up entire feat chains tailored to your character.

After making the big choices that define your character, you have a variety of smaller choices to make, including assigning skill proficiencies, picking an ancestry feat, buying gear, and deciding on the options presented by your class. Finally, after deciding on all of your choices, the only thing left to do is figure out all of your bonuses, which are now determined by one unified system of proficiency, based on your character's level.

As you go on grand adventures with your character, you will gain experience and eventually level up. Pathfinder characters have exciting and important choices to make every time they gain a level, from selecting new class feats to adding new spells to their repertoires.

Playing the Game

We've made a number of changes to the way the game is played, to clean up the overall flow of play and to add some interesting choices in every part of the story. First up, we have broken play up into three distinct components. Encounter mode is what happens when you are in a fight, measuring time in seconds, each one of which can mean life or death. Exploration mode is measured in minutes and hours, representing travel and investigation, finding traps, decoding ancient runes, or even mingling at the queen's coronation ball. Of all the modes of play, exploration is the most flexible, allowing for easy storytelling and a quick moving narrative. Finally, the downtime mode happens when your characters are back in town, or relative safety, allowing them to retrain abilities, practice a trade, lead an organization, craft items, or recuperate from wounds. Downtime is measured in days, generally allowing time to flow by in an instant.

Most of the game happens in exploration or encounter mode, with the two types of play flowing easily from one to the other. In fact, exploration mode can have a big impact on how combat begins, determining what you roll for your initiative. In a group of four exploring a dungeon, two characters might have their weapons ready, keeping an eye out for danger. Another might be skulking ahead, keeping to the shadows, while the fourth is looking for magic. If combat begins, the first two begin with their weapons drawn, ready for a fight, and they roll Perception for their initiative. The skulking character rolls Stealth for initiative, giving them a chance to hide before the fight even begins. The final adventurer rolls Perception for initiative, but also gains some insight as to whether or not there is magic in the room.

After initiative is sorted out and it's your turn to act, you get to take three actions on your turn, in any combination. Gone are different types of actions, which can slow down play and add confusion at the table. Instead, most things, like moving, attacking, or drawing a weapon, take just one action, meaning that you can attack more than once in a single turn! Each attack after the first takes a penalty, but you still have a chance to score a hit. In Pathfinder Second Edition, most spells take two actions to cast, but there are some that take only one. Magic missile, for example, can be cast using from one to three actions, giving you an additional missile for each action you spend on casting it!
Between turns, each character also has one reaction they can take to interrupt other actions. The fighter, for example, has the ability to take an attack of opportunity if a foe tries to move past or its defenses are down. Many classes and monsters have different things they can do with their reactions, making each combat a little bit less predictable and a lot more exciting. Cast a fire spell near a red dragon, for example, and you might just find it takes control of your magic, roasting you and your friends instead of the intended target!

Monsters and Treasure

The changes to the game are happening on both sides of the GM screen. Monsters, traps, and magic items have all gotten significant revisions.

First off, monsters are a lot easier to design. We've moved away from strict monster construction formulas based off type and Hit Dice. Instead, we start by deciding on the creature's rough level and role in the game, then select statistics that make it a balanced and appropriate part of the game. Two 7th-level creatures might have different statistics, allowing them to play differently at the table, despite both being appropriate challenges for characters of that level.

This also makes it easier for us to present monsters, giving us more space to include special abilities and actions that really make a monster unique. Take the fearsome tyrannosaurus, for example; if this terrifying dinosaur gets you in its jaws, it can take an action to fling you up to 20 feet through the air, dealing tremendous damage to you in the process!

Hazards are now a more important part of the game, from rangers creating snares to traps that you have to actively fight against if you want to survive. Poisons, curses, and diseases are a far more serious problem to deal with, having varied effects that can cause serious penalties, or even death.

Of all of the systems that Game Masters interact with, magic items are one of the most important, so we spent extra time ensuring that they are interesting and fun. First and foremost, we have taken significant steps to allow characters to carry the items they want, instead of the items that they feel they must have to succeed. Good armor and a powerful weapon are still critical to the game, but you no longer have to carry a host of other smaller trinkets to boost up your saving throws or ability scores. Instead, you find and make the magic items that grant you cool new things to do during play, giving you the edge against all of the monsters intent on making you into their next meal.
We can't wait until you find your first +1 longsword to see what it can do!

What's Next?

There are a lot of things we are excited to show off, so many in fact that we have to pace ourselves. First off, if you want to hear the game in action right now, we've recorded a special podcast with the folks from the Glass Cannon Network, converting the original Pathfinder First Edition Module, Crypt of the Everflame, to the new edition. Head on over to their site and listen to the first part of this adventure now!
Stop by tomorrow for the first blog taking an in-depth look at Pathfinder Second Edition, starting off with the new system for taking actions, then visit us again on Friday for an exploration of the Glass Cannon game, exploring some of its spoilers in detail!

We Need You!

All of us at Paizo want to take a moment to thank you, the fans, players, and game masters that have made this exciting journey a possibility. It's been a wild ride for the past decade, and speaking personally, I could not be more excited for where we are heading. But, as I am sure you've heard a number of times already, we cannot make this game without you, without your feedback and passion for the game. Thank you for coming with us on this adventure, thank you for contributing to our community, and thank you for playing Pathfinder.

Jason Bulmahn
Director of Game Design

Pathfinder Playtest Features

The new Pathfinder Playtest rules are the first step in the evolution to the new edition. We have incorporated the best innovations and lessons of the last 10 years to move the game forward in new and exciting ways. As we count down the days to the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook release, we'll be revealing more information on the following topics (and more!) on the Paizo blog:

  • 10th-Level Spells and 4 Spell Lists
  • Alchemists in Core
  • Archetypes and Multiclassing
  • Class Changes
  • Classic Monsters and Magic
  • Clean, Modular Information-Based Design
  • Combat Maneuvers that Rock
  • Designed for All Levels of Play
  • Easier to Play
  • Goblin Player Characters
  • Golarion-Infused
  • Heroic Storytelling
  • Innovative Initiative
  • More Customization
  • New Background System
  • Pathfinder Society
  • Production Values
  • Race Changes and Feats
  • Rebalanced Magic Items
  • Simplified Actions
  • Streamlined Proficiencies
  • Support
  • True to Pathfinder
  • Wayne Reynolds Art

Compatibility?

The big question -- backwards compatibility? Paizo says "While many of the rules of the game have changed, much of what made Pathfinder great has remained the same. The story of the game is unchanged, and in many cases, you can simply replace the old rules with their new counterpart without having to alter anything else about the adventure. As for individual rules, like your favorite spell or monster, most can be added with a simple conversion, changing a few numbers and rebalancing some of the mechanics."

Pathfinder Playtest Products

All Pathfinder Playtest products will be released as FREE downloads exclusively at paizo.com on August 2, 2018. On the same day, we'll release limited-edition print versions of the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, Pathfinder Playtest Adventure, and Pathfinder Playtest Flip-Mat Multi-Pack for players and Game Masters seeking the ultimate playtest experience. These print editions will be available for preorder from local retailers now and paizo.com between March 20 and May 1. We'll also have copies at the Paizo booth during Gen Con 2018 in Indianapolis on August 2–5.

Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook

This massive 400-page rulebook contains everything you need to create characters and run Pathfinder Playtest adventures from levels 1–20! With gorgeous new illustrations by Wayne Reynolds, the Playtest Rulebook lights the path leading directly to Pathfinder's future. Available in three editions: softcover, hardcover, and deluxe hardcover with foil-debossed faux-leather cover and ribbon bookmark.

Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn

This 96-page super-adventure contains seven multi-encounter scenarios designed to introduce the new rules and put them to the ultimate test on your game table! With adventures spanning all 20 levels and featuring most of the game's newest rules, Doomsday Dawn provides a thrilling tour of the new rules, and of the Pathfinder world itself!

Pathfinder Playtest Flip-Mat Multi-Pack

Throw your heroes into the action with this collection of two double-sided Flip-Mats for use with the Playtest Adventure. These beautiful full-color maps measure 24" x 30" unfolded and set the scene for climactic battles that will determine the future of Pathfinder! The maps' erasable surface can handle and dry-erase, wet-erase, or even permanent markers.
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Russ Morrissey

Comments

gunzler

Villager
I really like the idea of breaking up the game into three different modes of play. I can imagine the classes excelling in different modes. That sounds pretty cool to me.
 

Winghorn

Villager
Looking at their FAQ they're still going to be using the OGL, so it's going to be interesting how much this changes.

EDIT: Just realised that D&D 5E also used the term OGL. Maybe they'll switch which OGL they're using?

Other interesting bits to pull out:

[FONT=&amp]Many of the changes made to the game attempt to address [the power gap between spellcasters and other classes] by adding versatility and power to martial characters. At the same time,spells have been redesigned to ensure that they are of the right power when first acquired, but diminish in utility over time, giving spellcasters the tools they need to contribute[/FONT]
And:

[FONT=&amp]Gone are the confusing action types like move, standard, swift, and immediate, instead replaced with a simple system of three actions and one reaction each round. All of the varied systems and formulas for determining your character's bonuses and statistics, like saving throws, attack bonuses, and skills, have been unified in a single, easy-to-use proficiency system based on your choices and your character's level. [/FONT]
This is all sounding very 5E-ey.
 
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Inchoroi

Explorer
Oh, boy. I'm...not sure this is a good move, personally. I've always felt that part of Pathfinder's draw was its mechanical complexity and the sheer amount of options that it provided. It seems like they might be moving away from that, as did Wizards of the Coast.
 

TheDigitalMage

Explorer
Character backgrounds. Proficiency based on character level. No different action types. 1 reaction per round. The three pillars of gaming. No need for lots of magic items to boost saves etc. Yep Paizo have obviously learnt a lot from 5e!
 

Shemeska

Adventurer
Sweet! I for one welcome our eventual post-playtest Pathfinder 2.0 overlords :D

And no world-shaking events to break setting continuity like some games' edition changes have done. This is good.
 

Ian Danton

Explorer
I remember my visceral response to hearing about the launch of 3rd edition D&D so many years ago. Eric Noah launching the site this has grown into gave me a focus every day on arriving home from work to get the latest. Well I feel it again today. Believe me I am capable of being a cynic, yet Pathfinder has been my go to product now since 2009 and I am so excited that it is getting a second edition. I am so glad Morrus has maintained the platform, and I cannot wait once again to get my daily fix...... Bring it on!!!
 
Character backgrounds. Proficiency based on character level. No different action types. 1 reaction per round. The three pillars of gaming. No need for lots of magic items to boost saves etc. Yep Paizo have obviously learnt a lot from 5e!

Indeed. While all of those things are draws for me to DnD, those things with the complexity I'm used to in Pathfinder's heritage is not. I guess I'll download it and take a look.

I'm surprised that we are not seeing them convert an older AP to 5E, just to test the waters.
 

Mike Myler

Explorer
Luckily, two of the cons where they'll be showing it off are within about 25 minutes of my house.

How very convenient.
We made a day drive out to Origins last year and I was considering it (Wrath & Glory) before but now it's looking more like I need to work out a way to hoof it out there.
 
I really like the idea of breaking up the game into three different modes of play. I can imagine the classes excelling in different modes. That sounds pretty cool to me.
I want to be open-minded, but the entire play model and character creation system sounds like 5e: three different modes sound like the "three pillars," though they've folded interaction into their Exploration Mode, and made Downtime Mode a pillar, whereas it sits just outside of that in D&D 5e. Character creation is now comprised of selecting race (now termed ancestry), background, and class, which determine things like class skills, selected with skill proficiencies. Bonuses are all calculated by a unified proficiency system, sounding eerily similar to the Proficiency Bonus in 5e. I'd be shocked if they aren't using the 5E SRD as a model, given that they've had roughly 4+ years to get this rolling. They're even rolling back the reliance on miniatures. It seems like they're trying to recover some player spillage from 5e's premiere. And I'm not saying all of this to start an edition war. I'll likely pick it up, try it out, I may even enjoy it. They've squeezed an awful lot of mileage out of a tweaked 15 year old system iteration, and that in and of itself is impressive. Hell, if they are leaning more toward a system that's 5e compatible, it'll open up a shared market for their stellar campaign and adventure content, which IMHO has always been their primary draw.
 

Erik Mona

Villager
Just wanted to chime in here to say that the depth of options in character creation and advancement is a core principle of Pathfinder's design philosophy, and that has not changed with the new edition. If anything, there are even MORE ways to customize your character with the new rules, but we hope that they are better explained and work together a bit more seamlessly than all of that type of stuff does in the current version of the game.

While it's reasonable to assume that developments in other games have gone into some of our thinking with this new edition, it'd be wrong to assume that we're explicitly trying to make the game more like 5e, or like any other game. What we're trying to do is make the very best version of Pathfinder that we can.
 

Cergorach

The Laughing One
10 years per edition, I'll take that!

I've also got more confidence in Paizo then in WotC when releasing a new Edition. D&D 4E was mechanically strong, but very iffy fluff wise imho. When Dragon/Dungeon stopped and WotC made a mess of it online, Paizo stepped up with their Adventure Path line. They did with Pathfinder what we all wanted 4E to be, they still filled their World with more and more content that was both fluffy and mechanically challenging. Now we're almost 10 years down the line, D&D 5E showed up strong. Pathfinder isn't bad by a long shot, but it could do with a makeover. It's build on a 45 year old base, that get's revised every couple of years. It's imho a good indication of what Paizo can do when their 'branch' ages a lot better then the main 'branch'...

I do hope that they keep the 'feel' for Pathfinder. I think an Alchemist is interesting as a default character option, but a Goblin isn't going to fit most people's visions of a party... And while 'optional', it gives a different feel to the game, 4E had similar issues. On the other hand, if there are a TON of groups playing evil parties and/or Goblin only parties, go for it!
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I am super excited about this. I didn't know if I would be. Turns out I am!

Feels a bit like the old days. I'm totally on board!
 
Well, Paizo did what D&D has done. Made me lose interest. Never cared for, or enjoy, edition changes with too much dramatics. 10th Level spells? No thanks. I made a transition to PF because it was pillared off of 3.5 D&D and it was an easy conversion. I used the best of both worlds. But now 2E PF is more like 5E D&D. Nothing against 5E, but nothing in 5E can be converted to 3.5e, and it seems this way is now the same with Pathfinder.

Thanks for the long haul, Paizo, but this is where I get off the train.
 

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