Big news is a bit of an understatement – this week Paizo has come out saying that a new edition of their beloved Pathfinder will be out for test play by August 2. I had always wondered when this would come. Pathfinder has run first edition for a staggering teb years. I’m not 100 percent on this but I don’t know of another game company that has had an edition run that long. Many have asked why now? Is the company in trouble? Is fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons 5E rising to be too much of an RPG juggernaut?
In short Paizo has been a giant in RPGs for ten years, released Starfinder which is growing in love quickly, and they simply felt it was time to upgrade the system. In the world of RPGs, change is a constant necessity. You must change to stay on top, and Pathfinder has been playing king of the hill with D&D since 2008. With the launch of fifth edition D&D, a lot of fresh players have started playing RPGs and aren’t used to the crunchy mechanics of other games.
Let’s look at what we know. The Pathfinder playtest system will come with three parts: the core book, the flip mat pack, and finally the Doomsday Dawn adventure. Here’s what we know on each of these so far according to some digging on the internet and some FAQ information. Firstly, the core book weighs in at 400 pages of content, and will come in three editions: softcover ($29.99), hardcover ($44.99), and deluxe ($59.99). The soft and hard covers will of course be the same loo. The epic deluxe addition comes with a foil-debossed faux-leather cover and ribbon book mark.
Sold yet? No?
Let’s talk flip mats. The flip mats are a multipack, containing two double-sided maps. These will be available for $24.99.
Still not sold? Doomsday Dawn Adventure: $24.99 a 96-page intro adventure based in the re-sculpted Inner Seas region. Don’t worry – they haven’t leveled the Inner Sea and rebuilt it, just refined it and made it more up to date.
What’s new to the table (spoiler warning)
I can’t help it, but guys, goblins and alchemist! How awesome is that?! Very rarely you see new core classes or races. You usually see these tossed into some expansion book 4-8 months after the books are released. Not these guys, you cried for football headed goblins and you got them! Let the peasants rejoice! But don’t rejoice too much; that goblin just turned your cow into a newt. It’s okay I’m sure it will get better.
On a more serious side of things, the early reveals are quite considerable. The traditional initiative system is gone and replaced by skill checks related to what your character is doing at the time initiative is called for. To put into perspective, if your character is sneaking in the woods: stealth check. On guard for trouble: perception check.
“As Pathfinder has developed over the last ten years, we’ve continued to think about how to make the rules more fun, easier to learn, and better for telling our favorite fantasy stories. It’s time to take another step forward in the evolution of the game. First and foremost, the game has to be true to itself. We’re very excited about the new edition, but it won’t be perfect until you’ve had a chance to try out the new rules and let us know what you think.” – Erik Mona, Paizo’s publisher and chief creative officer
There are now tiers for skills, abilities and items. Skills are generally normal, expert, master levels of skill. Weapons and armor range from poor, normal, exceptional, master craft, and legendary. I like this, I’m sorry to say but it comes off as a throw back to second edition AD&D where you could specialize in skills and weapons. The veteran player in me is excited for this. Don’t worry, THAC0 isn’t coming back.
Critical hits and fumbles have been changed to a 10 up/down system. For those not familiar with that system, it breaks down to if you are over the difficulty class (DC) by 10 or more it becomes a critical hit. If it’s below the DC by more than 10 it’s a critical fumble. It’s unknown yet if a 20’s and 1’s play factors but I hope to have those answers in an upcoming article. However, this will now add critical hits and fumbles to spell saves. Scary and exciting news, right? You may finally be able to hit a critical with a fireball.
“With the new edition, we have a chance to revisit some decisions we made with the first edition of Pathfinder. We’re updating the game’s engine while also adding a bunch of fun new ways to play. There is a lot to discover, but you will never be far from the game you love—the game you helped us make.” – Jason Bulmahn, Paizo’s director of game design
Actions have changed as well. The rule of 7 from the old edition is gone, and replacing it is the rule of 3 +1R. No, I’m not doing math formulas. The action phase in combat has become straightforward. Every character gets three actions plus one reaction. All abilities have an action cost. Spells rang from 1-3 depending how strong you want it to be or what components it has.
For example, acid splash is two actions while shield is one action. Some abilities have different effects as well depending on how many actions you use. For example, channel divinity lets you use the ability on yourself for one action, or at a range of 30 ft. for two actions, or as a burst for three actions. In a general round of combat for a fighter, you can use a new ability called sudden charge for two actions that lets you move double your movement and attack, put your shield up for a bonus to defense, then block an attack with a shield as a reaction to reduce the incoming damage by the same amount as the shields hardness.
I would like to say that the information here is pulled from the announcement video on YouTube, the Glass Cannon podcast, the playtest FAQ, and a bit from Cody of at Taking20 that I had missed. This is still all subject to change as the system is tested further and prepped for the playtest in August.
Coming down the pipe for Pathfinder
At this stage there’s still a lot of questions which will hopefully come in upcoming interviews with Jason Bulmahn and Erik Mona. They have said that the new system for those curious will be OGL compliant. There will not be Pathfinder Second Edition compatible items during the playtest period. They have said that the playtest could come to virtual tabletops but it will be up to those programmers to do so. If you’re dying to know more you can get an early look at the playtest. It’s currently set to be reviewed at the following conventions:
- March 8–11: GaryCon—Lake Geneva, WI
- May 25–28: PaizoCon—Seattle, WA
- June 1–3: UK Games Expo—Birmingham, UK
- June 13–17: Origins Game Faire—Columbus, OH
- July 20–22: PaizoCon UK—Birmingham, UK
- August 2–5: Gen Con—Indianapolis, IN
You can find all kinds of information at the playtest site, and please check out their announcement from their YouTube site, or Twitch channel. You can see Cody’s bursting with excitement for Pathfinder Second Edition here at Taking20. I can’t wait to see where the playtest goes. I’m already reinforcing my bookshelves in anticipation. We at Nerdarchy will bring you as much information as we can during the upcoming flood of information. Stay tuned folks this will be big.
- The playtest begins August 2, 2018
- Digital editions of all three Pathfinder playtest products will be available for free at paizo.com starting August 2.
- A limited number of print editions will be available at game stores and bookstores all over the world, and at Paizo’s booth at Gen Con August 2–5.
- Preorders for print editions of all three playtest products are available now from local game stores now, or directly from paizo.com
- The 400-page Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook contains everything players need to create characters and run Pathfinder adventures from levels 1–20.
- The rulebook will be available in softcover, hardcover, and deluxe special editions in addition to the free PDF.
- The 96-page Pathfinder Playtest Adventure contains seven short multi-encounter scenarios designed to playtest the game at different levels of play.
- The Pathfinder Playtest Flip-Mat Multi-Pack includes 2 double-sided miniatures-scale maps for use with the playtest adventure.
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Long time RPG enthusiast, I first started with D&D back when I was 7, then jumped back into it again at 14 when I could understand what I was reading. I’ve tinkered as a story teller in many different game systems from Gurps, to Vampire, to most recently in Savage Worlds: Rippers Ressurected, though I’ve never forgotten my love for D&D.