When we created the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game back in 2008, we'd already built up a decade of professional experience with the 3.0 and 3.5 rules and had a pretty good idea how they could be improved to make the game more fun, easier to teach, and better at telling the kinds of fantasy stories we like. Ten years later, we've had similar experiences with our own game, with a similarly long list of things we can improve upon.
Archetypes are a good example of what we mean. Introduced in the Advanced Player's Guide a full year after the release of the Core Rulebook, archetypes have gone on to become a much-loved and fundamental part of the Pathfinder experience. We generally assume that just about everyone uses them, yet they appear nowhere in the Core Rulebook. Now, we could have just opened the Core Rulebook files and added a chapter about archetypes sometime in the last decade, but we've always maintained that, basic errata aside, if we're going to "open the patient," we might as well perform surgery on as many problem areas as possible. Finally, our list of things we wanted to change (often inspired by our own games or feedback from fans at conventions and on our forums) grew to the point that it was worth opening up the patient and performing surgery. And we need your help to make sure we don't get too crazy with the scalpel!
By the time 2019 rolls around, the first edition of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game will have been in print for 10 years, a geologic age in RPG terms. We've published more than 40 hardcover books since 2009, and to be frank, we're much better at it now than we were back then. Compare the way information is presented in last year's Starfinder Core Rulebook to the way information is presented in 2009's Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook to get a good sense of what we mean. It's like the books weren't even from the same decade—because they weren't.
Paizo in 2008 was a very different company than Paizo in 2018. Almost every piece of interior art in the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook was already owned by Paizo in 2008, meaning the art budget of our most important and best-selling book of all time was literally less than we spend on a 32-page Player Companion these days. We've already put more budget into Wayne Reynolds sketches for the next edition than we did for the entire original Core Rulebook. So one reason is: We can do a much better job now than we did 10 years ago.
We've also seen how a more approachable Core Rulebook can serve as an easier entry point for the game and the hobby, both in our own Starfinder RPG, and in rulebooks made by other companies in the decade since we launched Pathfinder. We decided that we weren't satisfied with our least user-friendly book being the entry point to our game, so we started tinkering with a series of changes aimed at not just updating the game, but making it much, much better.
Didn't you say you would never do a Second Edition?
No, we never said that. One day in the future, there will probably be a third edition of Pathfinder. And if we're lucky, a fourth and a fifth. We enjoy playing Pathfinder just as much as you do, and want to be playing long, long into the future. As we develop the game over years and decades, we learn how we might improve it to make it easier to learn, more fun to play, and better able to tell the kinds of thrilling sword and sorcery adventures that brought us to hobby gaming in the first place. As time goes on, gamers become more sophisticated and tastes change, and new editions of the game are one way to answer those changing tastes in a way that ideally improves the game for everybody. That said, it's important that we don't hop on an edition treadmill, where a new version of Pathfinder pops out every couple of years. By the time Pathfinder Second Edition is released in 2019, it will have been 10 years since the release of Pathfinder First Edition. That's an eternity in game years, and a good example of how we have no intention to reinvent the game on a frequent basis.
But I don't want to change editions! I want to play Pathfinder First Edition forever and ever and ever!
That's awesome, and we're honestly proud to hear it. We've poured our hearts and souls into Pathfinder First Edition over the last decade, and we're thrilled that gamers are so loyal to that expression of the game. While we do not plan to release additional Pathfinder First Edition products after August 2019, we DO plan to keep paperback Pocket Editions of First Edition rulebooks in print as long as enough people are buying them, so even in the era of Pathfinder Second Edition, First Edition adherents should be able to find their preferred version of the game in print without too much trouble. Our First Edition PDF products will also remain available. We're not asking you to abandon First Edition if you don't want to, but we are asking you to help us make Second Edition a game that you want to play!
Is Paizo in trouble? Are you doing this because you HAVE to?
Nope! Paizo is healthier than it has ever been. We have a larger editorial staff than at any time in the past—more than double the size of the staff that produced the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook—and our sales in 2017 were substantially higher than our sales in 2016. We're doing this because it is time to do it, not because we have to.
Will Wayne Reynolds contribute art to the new edition?
Wayne's incredible character illustrations and gorgeous painted covers have been a staple of Pathfinder from the very beginning. We're proud to announce that Wayne Reynolds has been designing new concepts and characters for Pathfinder Second Edition for more than two years now, including updated art for the iconic characters from the Core Rulebook, detailed illustrations of all the key player races, and more (including a new goblin iconic!). The Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook features an all-new painted cover of our favorite heroes battling a white dragon (a throwback to 2008's "Beta Playtest Edition" cover). Wayne's interior illustrations appear throughout the Playtest Rulebook, with scores of never-before-seen takes on classic Pathfinder heroes, monsters, and treasures.
What products will be published for the Pathfinder Playtest?
The Pathfinder Playtest involves three major products, all releasing August 2: The Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, the Pathfinder Playtest Adventure, and the Pathfinder Playtest Flip-Mat Multi-Pack. We'll also have a free PDF-only playtest bestiary and other free game aids, such as character sheets and rules reference cards. And the Pathfinder Society Organized Play program will release quests and scenarios for use with the Playtest Rulebook—see the Pathfinder Society Organized Play FAQ for details.
Note that the Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, and Module lines will continue to release products for use with Pathfinder First Edition until August 2019.
The Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook is a 400-page rulebook that contains everything you need to create a character for the second edition of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, including rules for ancestries, backgrounds, classes, feats, skills, gear, spells, and archetypes. The book also includes rules and advice on how to play the game, as either a player or as the Game Master. And, of course, the book contains an entire chapter dedicated to the treasure your characters might find during their adventures. The print edition of the Playtest Rulebook is available in three editions: softcover, hardcover, and deluxe hardcover with foil-debossed faux-leather cover and ribbon bookmark.
The Pathfinder Playtest Adventure is a 96-page book that contains seven multi-adventure scenarios designed specifically to playtest the game at different levels of play. We will be guiding players through each of these adventures during different playtest periods starting August 6.
What is the Pathfinder Playtest Flip-Mat Multi-Pack?
The Pathfinder Playtest Flip-Mat Multi-Pack is a package of 2 double-sided 24"×30" miniatures-scale maps for use with the Playtest Adventure. As with all of our Flip-Mats, it has a wipe-off surface for use with wet-erase, dry-erase, and permanent markers, and folds to a convenient 8"×10". It's not required to play the adventure, but it does make it more immersive and fun!
When and where can I get Pathfinder Playtest products?
Pathfinder Playtest products will be released on August 2, 2018. PDF editions will be available exclusively at paizo.com. Print editions will be available from game stores and bookstores everywhere, as well as at the Paizo booth at Gen Con 2018 in Indianapolis on August 2–5.
Please note that Paizo will not reprint the rulebook or the adventure, so we strongly recommend you preorder them. We have created a preorder form you can print out and take to your local retailer, or you can preorder print editions from paizo.com between March 27 and May 1. Pathfinder Playtest products will not be part of any subscription.
How much will the Pathfinder Playtest products cost?
PDF editions of the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, the softcover Pathfinder Playtest Adventure, and the Pathfinder Playtest Flip-Mat Multi-Pack will be available for FREE right here on paizo.com starting August 2. The print edition of the Playtest Rulebook is available in softcover ($29.99), hardcover ($44.99), and deluxe hardcover ($59.99) editions. The print edition of the Playtest Adventure has a suggested retail price of $24.99, and the Flip-Mat Multi-Pack is priced at $24.99.
Is Pathfinder Second Edition compatible with the First Edition of the game?
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. If you'd like to witness conversion in action, our partners at the Glass Cannon podcast are releasing a multi-part session of designer Jason Bulmahn GMing the First Edition Pathfinder Module Crypt of the Everflame, converted for the Playtest Edition largely on the fly, with the aid of some pre-converted stat blocks.
At its core, the story of both games is essentially the same. You still build your own character, venturing off on daring adventures, risking your life for a chance at fame and glory, defeating deadly foes that threaten your friends, your family, and perhaps the very world itself. Beyond the narrative, there are many things that have changed, but mostly in the details of how the game works. You still pick a race, even though it is now called your ancestry. You still decide on your class—the rulebook includes all of the core classes from the First Edition Core Rulebook, plus the alchemist. You still select feats, but these now come from a greater variety of sources, such as your ancestry, your class, and your skills.
Where the changes really shine through is in how the game is played. 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. You no longer need to collect a specific set of magic items to be a balanced character, relying on specific magical statistic bonuses. Instead, you get all of the bonuses you need from your regular armor and weapons, allowing the rest of your items to be truly wondrous.
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!
You probably have a lot of questions about what was fixed or changed in the new version of the game and we are excited to tell you all about it! In the coming weeks we will be posting regular blogs and other content looking at the game and exploring its secrets. Make sure to visit this site often for all of the latest news and previews.
As with Pathfinder First Edition, miniatures are a big part of play, but they are not strictly required. Expect to see exciting miniatures to match the new look of Pathfinder from our miniatures manufacturing partners including WizKids and Reaper.
Not directly, though many of the most popular parts of those books will find their way into the new edition over time. The alchemist, for example, has been added to the group of classes in the Playtest Rulebook, while archetypes have been made a core part of the game. As the new edition of Pathfinder develops, most of your favorite classes, archetypes, feats, spells, and magic items will find a home somewhere in the game.
Will you republish or convert classic content? What about Rise of the Runelords or the oracle or ghorans or Kingmaker or the Emerald Spire or the gunslinger or...
We're starting with the core rules and will expand from there. We have thoughts about products beyond August 2019 and how we might "re-release" key content like classes or classic adventures, but right now our focus is on getting the core rules done correctly as a foundation, so we can move on to that other awesome old stuff. That said, we're not going to be satisfied simply by redoing old stuff, so you can expect plenty of brand-new options as we get further and further into Pathfinder Second Edition. Eager to see a new take on some beloved element of the classic game? Don't be shy! Let us know on our forums, and we may very well add something to an upcoming book simply because you demanded it!
For the upcoming Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, we will be offering a sort of cheat sheet to help you with some of the big changes in the game, but there will not be a detailed conversion guide. The focus here is to test the new edition of the game, not convert pieces of the old edition. That said, once we are done with the playtest and the game has been forged into its final form, we will provide guidance for using material from First Edition.
Starting August 2, with the release of the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook and the Pathfinder Playtest Adventure, we will be conducting an open playtest of the game that will last several months. The playtest will kick off in August with character creation and the first of the seven parts of the Pathfinder Playtest Adventure. We will take a few weeks to focus on each section, giving you a chance to play it with your friends and submit feedback in the form of detailed experience surveys. Make sure to visit this space as we get close to the launch of the playtest for more details.
Absolutely! We'll have a survey system in place that will collect feedback on a weekly basis. It will be categorized and easily sortable on our end. We'll make sure that voices are heard and tweaks can be made.
What kind of response will we see to our feedback during the playtest of the game?
The last time we did a playtest of this size, it was impossible to respond to every comment and thought about the game. This time, we are doing things a little bit differently so that you can get a better sense of how the playtest is proceeding and what we are learning and changing about the game. The design team will be talking to players and game masters on the forums here at paizo.com. You outnumber us by over 10,000 to 1, so we need a way to talk to all of you as a group. During each playtest window, we will be showcasing the section with a live stream of the game from the Paizo offices. After each window closes and we've had some time to look at the surveys we will also do a live steam recap of what we learned and what we are changing, and we'll answer popular questions from playtesters. This additional content will be live-streamed on the Paizo Twitch channel then archived on the Paizo YouTube channel.
How will the playtest version of the rules relate to the final version?
That depends entirely on you and the rest of the playtest community. We are going to be looking at a wide variety of rules and game systems as part of the playtest and the feedback from the community is going to help us decide what types of changes to make to the game. We expect that there will be a lot of alterations before the game takes its final form, but hopefully that will be similar in many ways to the game you will find in the Playtest Rulebook. (We already know the Second Edition rulebook will be a little longer than the Playtest Rulebook.)
It's an evolution—a journey we will take together to make a better game.
How does this affect the Pathfinder campaign setting?
The Pathfinder Playtest Adventure, entitled "Doomsday Dawn," takes players on a tour of the Inner Sea region of Pathfinder's world, bringing us back to several important locales from throughout the years we've published Pathfinder—the adventure title itself is tied to a campaign plot point that stretches all the way back to the 2008 module The Pact Stone Pyramid. You'll also find a bit more of the setting appearing in the rules themselves. We'll get to updating the campaign setting in a major way on the other side of the playtest, with many more details on this front to be released as the playtest continues and as we near the actual Pathfinder Second Edition release in 2019.
Will the timeline of the Pathfinder campaign setting be advanced?
Since the setting's earliest days, we have been advancing the in-game year with each real-world year. This isn't changing, so at the 2019 launch of Second Edition, the in-world year will be 4719 Absalom Reckoning.
Will world-shattering events change the basic assumptions of the setting?
People familiar with Andoran, Cheliax, Osirion, Qadira, Taldor, and all the rest will still recognize these nations in their Second Edition iterations. No global cataclysm will alter the fundamental assumptions of the setting, and we aren't planning on killing off your favorite deity. However, some plot points from past Adventure Paths will become part of the setting's core assumption, like new rulers in Korvosa and Taldor, and a shifting political landscape in northwestern Cheliax. The forthcoming Return of the Runelords Adventure Path and the as-yet-unannounced final First Edition Adventure Path will plant new seeds for the setting going forward; any significant changes to the setting will happen "on screen" so players can participate in them at the table.
All 11 of the iconic characters from the first edition Core Rulebook are present in the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, and we expect all of them will make the transition to the final version of the game in 2019. Although their faces are familiar, some of our old friends will be swapping out their gear to better work with their new class options. Valeros, for example, has a shield now, and Harsk will more often appear wielding two melee weapons instead of his trusty crossbow—but Val's extra short sword and Harsk's crossbow aren't going anywhere, and still appear on their illustrations and character sheets. And they'll be joined by a brand new iconic alchemist—our very first iconic goblin player character!
Pathfinder Society Organized Play will continue with all-new characters and scenarios designed using the new rules. The 2018–2019 season will tie up several long-running campaign storylines and set the Pathfinder Society on a new trajectory for the Second Edition version of the campaign, which will begin at Gen Con 2019.
Yes. We recognize that many of you have not yet finished all 250+ First Edition scenarios, and we're not taking them away! Players will be able to purchase, play, and report classic scenarios with their First Edition characters indefinitely. Even though we will stop creating new First Edition scenarios after July 2019, we expect to see them offered at conventions and enjoyed by Pathfinders for years to come.
How can Pathfinder Society players participate in the playtest?
Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild is releasing four products to provide the organized play community additional options to participate in the playtest experience. The first of these is a series of four 1st-level quests, each designed to take about 40–60 minutes to play. These quests will appear at several spotlight conventions between May 25 and August 5, 2018, after which they will be available to play worldwide. Two additional playtest scenarios (4–5 hours each) will debut at Gen Con 2018 on August 2 and be available for play worldwide after August 5, and one additional scenario will be available on paizo.com in late September. These adventures cover several levels and aspects of play. Participating in these playtest adventures earns players and GMs modest starting bonuses for a character in the new campaign in 2019.
What's happening to the ongoing Pathfinder Society story?
In many ways it's continuing, with many of the characters and organizations you know and love still appearing in stories. We are looking to wrap up several major plot threads from the current campaign in the course of Season 10. The story is constantly evolving, so there will be new people, places, and things to explore as well.
Will I be able to convert my character to the new edition's organized play program?
No—a new campaign represents a great opportunity to start fresh. There will be modest carry-over benefits (e.g. starting with a special boon or beginning with a 2nd-level character) that participants can earn by participating in the playtest process or by playing many of the upcoming adventures we're releasing between now and August 2019. We are also exploring additional organized play mechanics to more closely link the characters, stories, and lore between editions. Exact details will be available closer to the new campaign's launch.
Are you changing the Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Guide?
The organized play team has learned a great deal from 10 years of managing the Pathfinder Society campaign, including many lessons we applied in the creation of the Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild. We anticipate incorporating many of these changes into the next Pathfinder Society campaign, including boon slots, slightly smaller tier ranges, and serving multiple factions. However, we recognize that the community has a lot to contribute in shaping the campaign going forward. We invite you to suggest and discuss other changes you would want to see in the following forum threads:
Are you continuing the Retail Incentive Program and Regional Support Program?
Yes. Both of the programs have gone a long way in enhancing in-store play and building vibrant gaming communities. The programs will undergo minor changes to fit the new campaign's system and rules, but the core concepts will remain the same.
Will First Edition reroll items work in the new campaign?
It is likely that Pathfinder Society will use a boon slot system similar to the one in Starfinder Society, including a Promotional Boon slot for reroll items. If so, items tied to the previous campaign—particularly those that are out-of-print—would provide a certain benefit as legacy items, whereas newer items would provide a different benefit.
Will there be a Compatibility License allowing publishers to make compatible products for the Pathfinder Playtest or Second Edition?
We will not be offering a Compatibility License to allow publishers to indicate that products are compatible with the Pathfinder Playtest; we want to avoid complicating the playtest environment with third-party products. (Note that the existing Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatibility License requires that your products "are fully compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game as published in August, 2009," so that license does not apply to the Pathfinder Playtest.)
We will be offering a Compatibility License for Second Edition, including a new Compatibility Logo. Information on that will be announced in 2019, including details on how publishers can get early access to the finished rules. (Expect it to be very much like what we've done with the current Pathfinder and Starfinder Compatibility Licenses.)
Will publishers be able to continue making compatible products for First Edition?
Yes. The current Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatibility License, covering compatibility with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game as published in August, 2009, will continue to be offered for the foreseeable future.
Will virtual tabletops or Hero Lab be supporting the playtest?
Our virtual tabletop partners (d20 Pro, Fantasy Grounds, and Roll20) and Hero Lab are reviewing the playtest rules and determining their best steps forward. Some might be ready by launch on August 2, while others will provide basic services through the playtest and fully implement the rules for the official release in the future. Stay tuned for more updates.
Will there be a new edition of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game to go along with the new edition of the roleplaying game?
The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game isn't so closely tied to the RPG rules that it needs a new edition. But as it happens, we are working on a redesign of the Adventure Card Game, and the new edition of the RPG will certainly be reflected in that. See this Paizo blog for more about the redesign.
Will you be doing a new edition of Starfinder, too?
We have no plans to revise Starfinder at this time. Many of the rules innovations we debuted in last year's Starfinder Core Rulebook were born as changes to the in-development Pathfinder Second Edition game, so some of the "new" Pathfinder is already baked into the Starfinder system. It's possible that we'll learn things over the course of the Pathfinder Playtest that we're eager to apply to Starfinder, but that's putting the space horse considerably before the space cart.
Will the legacy conversion/notes chapter of Starfinder change?
There are no plans at this time to change the Pathfinder Legacy chapter of the Starfinder Core Rulebook. Pathfinder First Edition served as the foundation for many of Starfinder's rules and concepts, and the guidelines presented in that chapter will remain based on the same foundation.