Pathfinder 2E 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!"


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​
[h=2]New, but the Same[/h]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.
[h=2]Building a Character[/h]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.
[h=2]Playing the Game[/h]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!
[h=2]Monsters and Treasure[/h]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!
[h=2]What's Next?[/h]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!
[h=2]We Need You![/h]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
[h=2]Pathfinder Playtest Features[/h]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

[h=2]Compatibility?[/h]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."
[h=2]Pathfinder Playtest Products[/h]All Pathfinder Playtest products will be released as FREE downloads exclusively at 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 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.
[h=4]Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook[/h]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.
[h=4]Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn[/h]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!
[h=4]Pathfinder Playtest Flip-Mat Multi-Pack[/h]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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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.

I have absolutely no problem with more customization, as long as it's balanced enough to not require system mastery to have an effective character. Also, fast character creation and leveling are important. My observations were only that, based on how the blog presented the topics in a descriptive manner sans mechanics. All in all, though, I'm excited. August 2 can't come soon enough!


Already did my happy dance, spread the word to friends, families and my FLGSs, and requested a playtest material pre-order. Yeah, I am all in on this long overdue change. I am all in on this development! :)


First Post
Hmm. As someone who has been playing a lot more 5e than PF lately, this should be right up my alley. It does sound like a reaction to 5e's success and potential player loss. Many of the folks I know who stayed with PF did so because of the micromanagement aspects of the system. They might not be so enthused.

That said, the 3.5 ruleset was really beginning to show its age. Some core features (full actions and the way it gimped melee characters, touch AC, etc) were so unbalanced or unwieldy that each new addition to the rules just compounded the problem even more. So this may very well be the refresh PF needs.

On the other hand, I know quite a few people who have so much invested in PF 1 that I'm willing to bet that this will actually be a short term problem for Paizo. More than one PFS player I know has said (long before this edition was announced), "I've already spent so much that I'm not re-buying everything for a new edition if they make one!" That seems to me to be the biggest hurdle for Paizo: can the new edition offer enough difference and improvements to compel present players to buy, while not changing so much as to lose the discrete and granular nature of a PF game. I'm glad I'm not the person that has to walk that tightrope!

I wonder how long it will take them to ruin this edition. Will it be like the previous edition, where the core remains playable even after you add a few supplements? Or will it be like fifth edition, where the core healing rules make the entire game unplayable?

I guess I'll wait and see.


Unserious gamer
Intended to mimic 5e or no, it sure sounds like a more crunchy 5e, so I'll definitely be taking a look at this.

Only slight negative for me currently is 10 levels of spells (was hoping for 6th like Starfinder), but hopefully the upper end is curated like 5e was to prevent more CoDzillas.


I wonder how this ties into Starfinder?
How much is Starfinder an inbetween product of PF 1st and 2nd ed (if at all)? Or is Starfinder going in a third direction - or is it discotinued, when PF 2nd comes out?

Also I like their initiative concept and might try and reverse engineer it into my D&D 5th game.


@Eirikrautha that is a very good observation, I believe the response by player in requesting pre-orders and how many sign up for the playtest will give a good indication of how the more active PF playerbase is interested in a new edition.

As a GM who has owned and played ALL editions of D&D/PF, I really look forward to this development as the "core D&D 3.5 engine" is showing its age at 15+ years of use, and PF can really use a refreshing of the rules to a more modern engine.


Well, that was fun
Staff member
I like that it sounds like they're addressing the Xmas tree of magic item requirement. It has always been one of the big 3.x niggles for me - I like my magic to be rarer and more special.


Victoria Rules
Downtime as a 'pillar' - an idea that could (and maybe should) be ported into all kinds of other systems. Love it!


Well unlike Morris, I like my magic to be common and special so seeing that characters can still create magical items is definitely a big plus to me.

My only concern is that I can not really see much time for me to play test this given Starfinder and on the other hand I am excited to at least see what they come up with.

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.
Where does, "You were hit. You were definitely hit. You are suffering physical injury, and you will not be sleeping this off overnight. If you want to heal faster, use magic." fit into the core principles of Pathfinder?

Because I've always seen that as the cornerstone of a world that at least tries to make some sort of sense. It really is the dividing line between suspendable disbelief and simply not caring at all.


Well, that was fun
Staff member
Downtime as a 'pillar' - an idea that could (and maybe should) be ported into all kinds of other systems. Love it!

That sounds a lot like The One Ring's Journey, Adventruing, and Fellowship phases. Matches the Exploration, Encounter, and Downtime modes. Sorta. Not exactly, but the concept seems similar.
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Naked and living in a barrel
So WotC won the battle with 5e (yeah, yeah, everyone who works at both companies will tell us there never was a battle even if there was one for market shares). Paizo lost market shares.

Essentially, 3rd edition lasted 18 years. Longest edition ever. Sure it had reboots and tweeks, but the bulk of the rule system stayed the same for 3rd, 3.5 and 3.75 (aka Pathfinder). Amazing. And that was because it was a great system with great lore.

This isn't bad news for Paizo or their RPG, we'll just have to see how backwards compatible this is will be with 3.75. Cause that was the strenght when it came out and had to compete with the new edition and brand that was 4e D&D. I wonder if the focus will be with 5e compatibility now.

I wonder what is the business strategy behind this. Is it because 5e is now a mature RPG and the 5e market has topped? RPGers and D&D fans are starting to have edition fatigue and are willing to try or even switch to a new system? Or is is Paizo that needs a new system to give their business a boost that Starfinder failed to deliver? How is the business of Starfinder marketwise? Or maybe Pathfinder is just ready for a transition after 10 years?


First Post
"Deluxe hardcover with foil-debossed faux-leather cover and ribbon bookmark."

...for a playtest book.

Paizo's not even trying to hide the cash grab.


Intended to mimic 5e or no, it sure sounds like a more crunchy 5e...

That was my thought too.

To be honest though, the d20 kernel is 18 years old now. The system is saddled with all sorts of legacy elements and opaque rules. It needs, if nothing else, a good pruning of deadwood and to rethink some of the weaker and complex elements of the game. In the process I hope Pathfinder reflects mechanically the world its created over 10 years; a world where goblin can be a core [-]race[/-] ancestry and alchemist a core class; where rogues and monks and fighters aren't tied to decisions made nearly two decades ago, and where magic items aren't just stacking mechanical bonuses but truly interesting items again, and where spellcasters don't rule the game at nearly all levels.

It needs to evolve. However, there is a part of its fanbase that is derived of the very people who play it exactly because its 18 years old and they didn't need to change. It will be interesting if that part of the fandom which was so adverse to change can learn to accept PF2e...

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