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

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Pathfinder Playtest
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Yay!


27 people marked this as a favorite.

If it can retain some level of complexity, I think I'll enjoy it.

Please don't go 5th Edition on me, Pathfinder!

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

5 people marked this as a favorite.
brock, no the other one... wrote:
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?

That's likely several years away. Magic 8-Ball says "Ask again later!"


7 people marked this as a favorite.

10th level spells? Unless you are bumping the broken 7th-8th-9th level spells up there, please stop. This is the one chance we get to see the caster/martial disparity fixed, not broken beyond all recognition. Spellcasters absolutely do not need what was Epic spells in 3.5 given to them to break the game with.

Scarab Sages

3 people marked this as a favorite.

As long as Mounted Combat is done in such a way as it makes sense with the rules set, instead of being a cobbled together piece of kaka... I'll be happy!

Dark Archive

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

Huh cant say I'm all that excited about this.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

7 people marked this as a favorite.
Mark Moreland wrote:
What?! Why didn't anyone tell me?

You were so busy managing franchises that we just didn't want to interrupt!

Sczarni

7 people marked this as a favorite.

Ehhhhh. Thanks, but no thanks. There are only so many dollars in a bank account, and mine have been heavily invested in first edition Pathfinder. Not interested.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Just to clarify, but the Playtest book is exactly that right? Playtest rules, and not the actual 2E rules? I'm not too sure that basically charging to give input for a massive undertaking like this is the best idea.


I'm looking forward to testing some design ideas I have been having on the new playtest! Woooooohoooooooooooooo


15 people marked this as a favorite.

Have you learned NOTHING from WotC?
Don't piss off your costumers who are invested in the system that's already there

Dark Archive Vendor - Fantasiapelit Tampere

1 person marked this as a favorite.

WOUUU

It was something that was inevitable, but still it managed to surprise me.

Excited to see what future holds.

Liberty's Edge

Wow!!

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Here we go!

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

11 people marked this as a favorite.
Alchemaic wrote:
Just to clarify, but the Playtest book is exactly that right? Playtest rules, and not the actual 2E rules? I'm not too sure that basically charging to give input for a massive undertaking like this is the best idea.

The PDF edition will be free.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Vic Wertz wrote:
Alchemaic wrote:
Just to clarify, but the Playtest book is exactly that right? Playtest rules, and not the actual 2E rules? I'm not too sure that basically charging to give input for a massive undertaking like this is the best idea.
The PDF edition will be free.

Ah alright, so the books are more collectors items then, got it.

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Alchemaic wrote:
Just to clarify, but the Playtest book is exactly that right? Playtest rules, and not the actual 2E rules? I'm not too sure that basically charging to give input for a massive undertaking like this is the best idea.

The Playtest Rules will be released for Free in August in PDF form. They're charging for hardcopies of the book, which seems reasonable as they do need to cover printing costs.

Paizo Employee Chief Operations Officer

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Alchemaic wrote:
Just to clarify, but the Playtest book is exactly that right? Playtest rules, and not the actual 2E rules? I'm not too sure that basically charging to give input for a massive undertaking like this is the best idea.

That's why we will be offering the PDFs of the Playtest products for FREE.

Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Alchemaic wrote:
Just to clarify, but the Playtest book is exactly that right? Playtest rules, and not the actual 2E rules? I'm not too sure that basically charging to give input for a massive undertaking like this is the best idea.

They did the exact same with the Beta rules. It's one of the few print books I have kept.

Sovereign Court

29 people marked this as a favorite.

I just hope they don't make the mistake of seperating monster rules and character rules.

I know it makes it easier for their staff but it really spoils Starfinder for me.

Hopefully PF2 will keep the rules coherence of PF/3.5

Really worried about this one.

Silver Crusade

7 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Hythlodeus wrote:

Have you learned NOTHING from WotC?

Don't piss off your costumers who are invested in the system that's already there

By all reports 5e is doing fantastic sales.

But more importantly, they're still going to be selling soft covers of Pathfinder 1st Edition. So your favourite game isn't going anywhere :)


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Just so glad that it's happening!

And hoping that there is no established levels for archetypes abilities like in Starfinder...

Sovereign Court

Alchemaic wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
Alchemaic wrote:
Just to clarify, but the Playtest book is exactly that right? Playtest rules, and not the actual 2E rules? I'm not too sure that basically charging to give input for a massive undertaking like this is the best idea.
The PDF edition will be free.
Ah alright, so the books are more collectors items then, got it.

I bought the original PF playtest book because I don't like reading pdfs.

I doubt I am alone.

My memory is that it was pretty cheap, considering the size.

I still use some of the alpha playtest rules in my home games.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

yay! Evolve and streamline!

(boo! I am poor!)


22 people marked this as a favorite.

Along with another poster above, this was why I left D&D too. Edition changes bringing TOO drastic of a change. And I'm not liking any of this at all, it's too unfamiliar and too simplified and too...different.

Well, I am going to pass on this. I'm not liking what I am reading, it's becoming too much like 5th Edition D&D and Star Wars Saga and everything else that's getting too "streamlined" and "easy" and all it really does is dumb down and make less options in a game. Also makes transitions really hard. Really hard.

I jumped onto Pathfinder because it was easy to convert 3.5 material to PF system, but now I'm supposed to make a 2nd jump? And I can't even enjoy new goodies from Pathfinder 2nd Edition because it appears that while PF 1e can be converted to 2e, it doesn't seem like Pathfinder 2e can be converted to PF 1e.

Therein lies my problem. (Doubt it is anyone else's, but it could be)

Were I able to, say, purchase a 2e PF product but find that it wouldn't be easy to switch it to a 1E PF ruleset, then you lost a customer.

But when you make things like "10th Level" spells, for example, you're adding a dimension to the game that really shouldn't be there and making backwards compatibility too much work to bother with.

Edition changes are more harmful, I believe, than good because it separates communities and sadly this is where I part ways with keeping up with PF anymore and just stick to its roots in 1e.

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Tuvarkz wrote:
10th level spells? Unless you are bumping the broken 7th-8th-9th level spells up there, please stop. This is the one chance we get to see the caster/martial disparity fixed, not broken beyond all recognition. Spellcasters absolutely do not need what was Epic spells in 3.5 given to them to break the game with.

I'm really excited about this, it makes for a more even distribution of spell levels, and perhaps 0 level spells are being removed from the game?

Without the playtest document 10 spell levels can mean a lot of things, and I'm excited to find out what.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Hythlodeus wrote:

Have you learned NOTHING from WotC?

Don't piss off your costumers who are invested in the system that's already there
But more importantly, they're still going to be selling soft covers of Pathfinder 1st Edition. So your favourite game isn't going anywhere :)

It isn't? I bet new modules and APs will be released 2nd edition only. the game setting is actively dead for all purposes if no new content is written.

I'm sorry, but that's a huge deal breaker

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Mark Moreland wrote:
What?! Why didn't anyone tell me?

Lol.

I'm personally pretty excited. I would encourage everyone to read the entire FAQ before angrily running away. A lot of the answers there made a big difference for me.

Silver Crusade

18 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Bruno Mares wrote:

Just so glad that it's happening!

And hoping that there is no established levels for archetypes abilities like in Starfinder...

im hoping Archetypes work like Pathfinder than Starfinder.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

EXCITE


6 people marked this as a favorite.
Barachiel Shina wrote:

Along with another poster above, this was why I left D&D too. Edition changes bringing TOO drastic of a change. And I'm not liking any of this at all, it's too unfamiliar and too simplified and too...different.

Well, I am going to pass on this. I'm not liking what I am reading, it's becoming too much like 5th Edition D&D and Star Wars Saga and everything else that's getting too "streamlined" and "easy" and all it really does is dumb down and make less options in a game. Also makes transitions really hard. Really hard.

I jumped onto Pathfinder because it was easy to convert 3.5 material to PF system, but now I'm supposed to make a 2nd jump? And I can't even enjoy new goodies from Pathfinder 2nd Edition because it appears that while PF 1e can be converted to 2e, it doesn't seem like Pathfinder 2e can be converted to PF 1e.

Therein lies my problem. (Doubt it is anyone else's, but it could be)

Were I able to, say, purchase a 2e PF product but find that it wouldn't be easy to switch it to a 1E PF ruleset, then you lost a customer.

But when you make things like "10th Level" spells, for example, you're adding a dimension to the game that really shouldn't be there and making backwards compatibility too much work to bother with.

Edition changes are more harmful, I believe, than good because it separates communities and sadly this is where I part ways with keeping up with PF anymore and just stick to its roots in 1e.

agreed on all accounts


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

COUNT ME IN! I was there from the beginnings and I will be for this!

Dark Archive

15 people marked this as a favorite.

Guess I get to save money by cancelling my subscriptions. As I only play PFS I don't see the point in buying books I won't be able to use. I'm also not particularly thrilled by the fact that all the books I've already purchased are now glorified shelf decorations.

Dark Archive

5 people marked this as a favorite.
GeraintElberion wrote:
I just hope they don't make the mistake of seperating monster rules and character rules.

Yeah, I was hoping the PF would do away with some of the 'monster only' game-breaking abilities like granting wishes and creating spawn, and the notion of expanding that 'we balance this option by not giving it to you' logic doesn't appeal to me.

Sovereign Court

10 people marked this as a favorite.

This worries me as well:

Playtest FAQ wrote:


Does the new version of Pathfinder find a better balance between spellcasters and martial characters?

We certainly hope so. Many of the changes made to the game attempt to address this issue 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, while giving other characters a chance to shine with their abilities. Ultimately, we need you to tell us how well we have solved this issue. That is what playtesting is all about!

Martial/Caster disparity has always been theory-crafting nonsense which ignored the actual play experience in which a mixed team of heroes works together. When a wizard summons a monster to give flanking for the rogue's sneak attack or casts bull's strength to enhance the fighter or uses a wall to divide the enemy or brings the barbarian back from the brink with breath of life, that's Pathfinder.

I hope they focus on 'a diverse team of heroes who work together' with lots of niches, rather than 'anything you can do i can do better', which is how a lot of martial/caster debates go.

Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Mark Moreland wrote:
What?! Why didn't anyone tell me?

Well, would you keep it a secret?


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Sales low? Going to go the way of 5th edition and dumb down the game for the masses?

Going to give us a half ass way to convert our beloved games and characters? Leaving it up to us to make the choices?

Go ahead, please go the way of 5th edition D&D you traitors.

Rysky wrote:
Bruno Mares wrote:

Just so glad that it's happening!

And hoping that there is no established levels for archetypes abilities like in Starfinder...

im hoping Archetypes work like Pathfinder than Starfinder.

lolololol

As if I didn't read it. Why do you think I'm pissed. Take off your rose colored glasses already.

The Exchange

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Hythlodeus wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Hythlodeus wrote:

Have you learned NOTHING from WotC?

Don't piss off your costumers who are invested in the system that's already there
But more importantly, they're still going to be selling soft covers of Pathfinder 1st Edition. So your favourite game isn't going anywhere :)

It isn't? I bet new modules and APs will be released 2nd edition only. the game setting is actively dead for all purposes if no new content is written.

I'm sorry, but that's a huge deal breaker

They are not killing the 1.0 compatibility license. People can carry on making 1.0 stuff as long as people want to buy it.

I don't recall a previous edition bump from a company where they both continued selling the old version, and allowed third-parties to continue making stuff for it. Unprecedented!


4 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm going to pass on this and as of today I'm done buying and Pathfinder branded content. These edition changes are why I stopped D&D.


BOOM!

Wow, super excited and looking forward to it!

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Hythlodeus wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Hythlodeus wrote:

Have you learned NOTHING from WotC?

Don't piss off your costumers who are invested in the system that's already there
But more importantly, they're still going to be selling soft covers of Pathfinder 1st Edition. So your favourite game isn't going anywhere :)

It isn't? I bet new modules and APs will be released 2nd edition only. the game setting is actively dead for all purposes if no new content is written.

I'm sorry, but that's a huge deal breaker

The game "setting" is not in any way broken by this. We're going to be doing all kinds of cool stuff for Golarion that you'll be able to port over fairly easily, even if you stick with first edition.

We are not going to have rules for gunslingers and oracles and ninjas and ghorans on day 1 (or year 1, in some cases), but in the long run we hope that the entire game is tightened and easier to teach, which will make it easier for people to recruit new gamers and find new games.

The setting isn't going anywhere.

Dark Archive

6 people marked this as a favorite.

i wish you all the best of luck but come August of 2019 we will be parting ways. i have every single book for 1e in print and will not be starting over. Sorry. I will continue Starfinder however.

Silver Crusade

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

Man, this feels just like the TSR BBS when the 2nd of AD&D was announced. ThacO and all.

Except back then, people didn't put up videos of them burning their PDFs because bandwidth was kind of on the low side.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Noticed that it will only have 4 spells lists. I wonder what this will mean for 2/3 and 1/2 Casters.
Also, I hope archetypes are closer to 5e, "build in" the class.


The hype is real!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Believe me or not, inside of me I had the feeling that the time was come...I tried to push it back, but in the last few months it had become more like an awareness than a sensation. And now, it's here! Well, let's hope for the best!

We will be playtesting hard in Italy!

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

22 people marked this as a favorite.
brock, no the other one... wrote:


I don't recall a previous edition bump from a company where they both continued selling the old version, and allowed third-parties to continue making stuff for it. Unprecedented!

It must be the work of vicious traitors! :)

Dark Archive

how much is left on the 1e plate in terms of hardbacks? i imagine there wont be much.


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

Well. I've little interest in urinating on anyone's parade and this isn't a negotiable thing, so I'll keep things simple as upbeat as I can.

Congratulations, Paizo. And best luck to you.

I'll likely try the 2e playtest rules, because it's only fair to give artists I like the benefit of the doubt, even when they decide to go in the opposite direction of my personal preferences (ie. "yay, we're getting rid of all those pesky hard things like rich action systems and complex bonuses and time-consuming stuff like iterative attacks that require math.")

But hey. Maybe it won't be too hard to convert the future adventure material to run with the 3.x level ruleset. Dare to dream.

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