First Look at the Pathfinder Playtest

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

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

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Tags: Pathfinder Playtest
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Grand Lodge

18 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

BOOM!


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I am excite!

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I am very hyped for this^^

Grand Lodge

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Claps his hands and rolls up his sleeves!


7 people marked this as a favorite.

Eager to see how they handle Crane Wing here.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Much Excite!!


Woohoo!

Dark Archive

Woot

Grand Lodge

12 people marked this as a favorite.

Wonder how much Pathfinder 2e will draw from Starfinder.


WHOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

Shadow Lodge

Looking forward to what is to come!


6 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

And I am wondering what the level of compatibility will be.

Edit: I saw some hints about this in the FAQ, but it will be useful to see just how much work will be required to make the older material work with the new.


I'm IN!


Interesting...

Scarab Sages

Paizo Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Can't wait. Hopefully the Nerfed stuff will be reinstated.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Drat I missed first! I am very much excited for this.


17 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Wow. I am not entirely convinced I'll be taking this journey with you guys. (I have enough unplayed Pathfinder products to last many years back here in Obsolete-land.) But I am totally excited to see the playtest roll out!

Silver Crusade

70 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I am experiencing a severe mix of feelings right now :3


1 person marked this as a favorite.

All aboard the Hype-Train!

Liberty's Edge Contributor

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Somehow, I thought I would be upset by the announcement of a new version of Pathfinder. Now that it's here, I'm actually okay with it. It definitely looks like Starfinder was the step toward a second edition of Pathfinder. I look forward to seeing what fun Paizo cooks up.

Scarab Sages

3 people marked this as a favorite.

About time!


14 people marked this as a favorite.

Although I don't expect Paizo to continue to create new content for PF "1", do you plan to continue to sell material for the original version of Pathfinder (particularly Adventure Paths)?

I, like many others, have active disinterest in switching to a new version of the game, but there are still decades left of AP's left for our group to explore, and we'd like to continue supporting your company, even if we don't go down this road with you.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I've always thought of Pathfinder as it's own second edition, but now I'm excited to hear it'l have an actual one!

I just hope it manages to avoid some of the bloat that Pathfinder accumulated over it's lifespan.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Where's the place to pre-order?


I am amazed at my own response to this. I am so excited! I did not even know I wanted a second edition! :-D

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Gulthor wrote:

Although I don't expect Paizo to continue to create new content for PF "1", do you plan to continue to sell material for the original version of Pathfinder (particularly Adventure Paths)?

I, like many others, have active disinterest in switching to a new version of the game, but there are still decades left of AP's left for our group to explore, and we'd like to continue supporting your company, even if we don't go down this road with you.

Please see the FAQ, especially the question But I don't want to change editions! I want to play Pathfinder First Edition forever and ever and ever!

Shadow Lodge

13 people marked this as a favorite.

Of all the news I expected to drop without fanfare on a Tuesday afternoon, this is not it.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Didn't see this coming this week. Next week, sure, but not this week.

AWESOME!

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

12 people marked this as a favorite.

If this blog is your first exposure to the concept of a new edition, I would suggest doing these things (perhaps in this order):

• Read the Pathfinder Playtest page, and make sure you watch the video near the top.
• Read the FAQ linked at the bottom of that page.
• Engage! Join us on the Pathfinder Playtest messageboards. Tell us what you think. Ask questions. We can't answer every possible question you might have, but we need to know what's important to you, so we can make the game you want to play.
• Keep an eye on the blogs at the bottom of the playtest page; we'll be adding more content regularly.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

15 people marked this as a favorite.

I think I'm like Rysky; I have different emotions.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

Ignoring the "we can't possibly know yet" questions, I'm both excited and concerned. This already sounds a lot easier to teach people (or pick up and learn alone) than PF as it exists today. It also sounds as though a lot of lessons were learned from publications along the way, such as Automatic Bonus Progression in Pathfinder Unchained. These are both great things.

That said, the elephant in the room question is now and will always be "how much of my Paizo collection will/won't work with this?" Given that there's a conversion of Crypt of the Everflame, I would venture that there is the possibility of a conversion guide, but it could very well be limited just to adventures. There are certainly loads of things that people will individually want to see included/excluded from the new edition. That all said, phrases like "10th-level spells and 4 spell lists" are reasonably concerning. One might recall that the current CRB has 6 spell lists. The natural question is "who didn't make the cut?" followed by "what does that mean for those classes?"

All that said, there's no question that I'll be picking this up. I'm curious what sort of adventure support we can expect on the lead-up, though - will there be organized play opportunities? Published adventures exclusively using the new rules?

10 years is a long time on this edition. I've been advocating for this for several of them while understanding the risk this poses to Paizo. New editions are hard and I hope that there are some lessons learned from Starfinder's development and launch that informed the work here. I hope, most importantly, that there won't be a shortage of books at GenCon this time around. If there's a subscription option that gets me on this train, I'll gladly take it to alleviate that concern for myself.


38 people marked this as a favorite.

I have but one fear from this... Skill Proficiencies, they're the thing I hate the most about 4e and 5e. Please keep to a skill points system. :(


1 person marked this as a favorite.

THIS HAS SO MUCH POTENTIAL. I AM VERY EXCITED.

Dark Archive

I'll be playing this Saturday.

Grins

Silver Crusade

This is awesome news! Some of the streamling looks like Starfinder or even 5e, but I'm good with this. It will be interesting to see how the player bade reacts

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Serisan wrote:
...the elephant in the room question is now and will always be "how much of my Paizo collection will/won't work with this?" Given that there's a conversion of Crypt of the Everflame, I would venture that there is the possibility of a conversion guide, but it could very well be limited just to adventures.

See this section of the FAQ.

Serisan wrote:
If there's a subscription option that gets me on this train, I'll gladly take it to alleviate that concern for myself.

The Pathfinder Playtest products won't be part of any subscription, but we will be accepting preorders between March 20 and May 1.

Silver Crusade

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

BOW DOWN BEFORE YOUR 2ND EDITION OVERLORDS!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Hm. I am... intrigued

While I'm not all THAT bummed by potential edition changes (no system is perfect, after all, and Pathfinder is definitely getting a little bulky in places)... I am definitely now less likely to pick up those PF1 pocket editions I was so hyped for when they were announced- in many cases, they'd be replacing the full-sized editions I already own. May as well save the do-re-mi.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

7 people marked this as a favorite.

Woot!!!!

Grand Lodge

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

We all guessed this was coming someday. Let’s see what the future holds, and how it rolls out!

Hmm

Sczarni

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Will Themes, like Starfinder, be a thing ?

The Exchange

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Vic Wertz wrote:
Gulthor wrote:

Although I don't expect Paizo to continue to create new content for PF "1", do you plan to continue to sell material for the original version of Pathfinder (particularly Adventure Paths)?

I, like many others, have active disinterest in switching to a new version of the game, but there are still decades left of AP's left for our group to explore, and we'd like to continue supporting your company, even if we don't go down this road with you.

Please see the FAQ, especially the question But I don't want to change editions! I want to play Pathfinder First Edition forever and ever and ever!

At the point at which it is no longer feasible to keep those pocket editions in print physically, I see that they remain 'in print' digitally. Will you consider putting them up for 'Print On Demand' at that point, or are the print on demand services still below the quality level that your happy for Paizo products to go out at?

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Sebastian wrote:
Woot!!!!

Ah, so that ambulance chase didn't end up with you getting a heart attack, good to know!

Dark Archive

6 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm amazed at the level of thought and work you've poured into a 2E that sounds like it'll be completely different in a very good way...but this honestly feels premature to me. Starfinder is still brand new and you've even recently made a new Complete book for 1E. You've hit the 10 year mark with no signs of slowing down. It was really exciting to think that you'd be the ones to break that ceiling. So...a bit of a bummer to see the playtest for 2E released now in that respect. Been playing for years but there are so many archetypes and mechanics and whatnot left that I want to explore in 1E that I don't think I'll be switching over anytime soon unless 1E is phased out of organized play at cons while I still have 1E scenarios left or the next homegame GM wants to run the Playtest AP. Someday I'll join in the new fun...but not now.


5 people marked this as a favorite.

I exclusively play society so I'm both excited and nervous. I hate the thought of shelving so many characters, especially ones that have cost multiple boons to play.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I too am a mix of emotions on this. 40+ books that may or may not be useful (I'm looking at you Monster books), BUT if they do something like StarFinder and make it easy to convert, I'll be ok with that. Something like how 1st to 2nd edition of D&D wasn't a MASSIVE change, just a little change.


21 people marked this as a favorite.

I am severely disappointed in Paizo and a little angry. This is exactly why I left D&D.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I'm cautiously hype! I'm really hoping the structure of the playtest helps keep a healthy and friendly environment possible.

Grand Lodge

9 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm torn on the subject. In one hand, NEW AND SHINY!, in the other, "but I've already invested in Pathfinder...heavily as is."

I will definitely get in on the playtest, but no idea if my wallet will be willing to buy into new books.

EDIT: Who am I kidding, my wallet has no say in the matter, it's just along for the ride.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

60 people marked this as a favorite.

What?! Why didn't anyone tell me?

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