Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
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Pathfinder Core Rulebook cover
|Publication date||August 2009|
|Random chance||Dice rolling|
The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (abbreviated as PFRPG) is a fantasy role-playing game (RPG) that was first published in 2009 by Paizo Publishing. It extends and modifies the Revised 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) game rules published by Wizards of the Coast under the Open Game License. The PFRPG is intended to be backward-compatible with D&D version 3.5, while addressing some of its issues.
The PFRPG supports Pathfinder adventure paths as well as other works set in the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting.
In August 2007, Wizards of the Coast announced the pending release of the 4th edition of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game system, effectively superseding version 3.5 of the game. The Paizo Publishing company seized this opportunity to release an improved version of the 3.5 edition rules, along with their own setting and adventures. Announced in March 2008, the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game was designed over the course of a year with the help of gamers who could download the playtest versions of the game, try the system and post their feedback on Paizo's website. The PFRPG's playtesting was the largest open roleplaying game playtest in the world at the time.
It was released in a number of steps, and anyone could contribute to the playtesting on Paizo Publishing's messageboards. The beta release won the 2008 gold ENnie award for "best free product or web enhancement". The initial release of the game became available in August 2009. The game system has proven successful in the market, effectively drawing away half of the gaming base from Dungeons & Dragons.
Added options 
Bulmahn felt that the basic classes of D&D version 3.5 were lackluster, and they did not provide incentive to stay with a single class for 20 levels of play. Pathfinder adds options to the classes and boosts their abilities in their core roles. A few of these changes are:
- There are around 50% more feats to choose from, all characters gain a feat (a feat is an additional special ability for a player character) every other level (at the odd numbered levels) instead of every 3rd, and classes with "bonus feats" have a wider selection of them.
- Core features of most classes have more uses, or are usable more often. For example, 0-level spells (arcane "cantrips" and divine "orisons") are not expended when cast; barbarians gain special abilities while raging; cleric domains gain a second power at 4th, 6th or 8th level; druids who do not select an animal companion are instead entitled to one nature or element based domain; the paladin's lay on hands can cure various conditions; the rogue's sneak attack works against constructs, plants and undead; and wizards gain abilities based on their specialization (including the universal "specialization").
- The cleric's turn or rebuke undead is replaced with the ability to channel positive or negative energy, which is used to heal creatures or harm living or undead creatures depending on a character's alignment. This reduces the need for spontaneous casting of heal or inflict spells, effectively giving clerics more spells per day. Turn and command undead are still available through feats. Bards, paladins and rangers also get more spells per day.
- Every character gains something at every level beyond base attack bonus and save progressions. For example, fighters get bravery and armor and weapon training, and rogues get "talents", like the D&D version 3.5 special rogue abilities but even before 10th level.
- Some classes have entirely new features. For example the ranger has favored terrains, and the sorcerer chooses a bloodline that grants bonus spells, feats, and abilities.
- Classes that get a creature cohort (such as a familiar or animal companion) can choose something else instead; for example druids can choose a nature-themed cleric domain, and wizards can have a focus object that allows them to cast a spell spontaneously.
- Most classes have a "capstone ability" at 20th level to encourage players to reach 20th level in one class, for example bards can kill with their performance and paladins' smite evil can act like a banishment spell.
PFRPG is intended to be compatible with the extensive body of expansion materials available for D&D version 3.5. In most cases this means adding rules instead of subtracting. This compatibility is not perfect: a 16-page guide (which can be downloaded from Paizo's website) is necessary to convert a D&D version 3.5 character into a Pathfinder character, and sometimes this goal was broken to meet other goals.
Modifications to the game 
The game is modified compared to D&D version 3.5 to clean up and streamline problematic parts of the game. New options were added. Changes were made to improve balance between different game elements. For example:
- The hit die for each class is tied to the base attack bonus progression (except for the barbarian's d12), meaning the bard, ranger, rogue, wizard and sorcerer all have bigger hit dice, improving the survivability of these classes, especially in low level games.
- The rules for non-damaging "combat maneuvers" such as trip, disarm and bull rush, which are slow and complex in D&D version 3.5, are simplified and unified. Characters simply have a Combat Maneuver Bonus (CMB) which they roll against the defender's Combat Maneuver Defense (CMD).
- Polymorph spells are greatly simplified, with new groups of spells such as beast shape N and elemental body N replacing the D&D version 3.5 wild shape rules. Shape changing characters are no longer effectively required to maintain separate character sheets for each of their different forms, nor frequently consult the Bestiary. The changes also counter the fact that, in D&D version 3.5, wild shape and other shape changing abilities became more useful with each new monster book.
- The skill system is simplified, as are the multi-classing rules. Characters simply get a +3 bonus for trained class skills; characters receive skill ranks instead of points, which they can invest equally in class and cross-class skills. Several groups of skills are merged, such as Listen, Search and Spot (now just Perception).
- Characters never lose experience. Crafting does not require XP, and XP costs for spells are replaced by suitably expensive material components; while level loss is replaced by permanent negative levels, which are expensive to cure. In addition, there is no XP penalty for multi-classing; this penalty for taking many classes is replaced with a benefit of extra skill ranks or hit points for taking one class.
- Characters die less easily: a character dies at a number of negative hit points equal to his Constitution; stabilization happens on a DC 10 Constitution check; and the threshold for death from massive damage is higher for characters with more hit points.
Rulebooks and expansions 
There are several rulebooks and expansions for the game:
- Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook: This 576-page hardback book serves as the basis for current and future Paizo Adventure Path publications and an OGL stand-alone replacement for the out of print D&D 3rd edition and D&D version 3.5 books published by Wizards of the Coast. Initial demand for the core rulebook significantly outstripped the publisher's expectations, and the first print run was sold out ten days before the release date.
- Advanced Player’s Guide: This 320-page book contains expanded rules, new classes, feats, spells, equipment and combat abilities. It was released in August 2010.
- GameMastery Guide: This 320-page hardcover book is a comprehensive guide to Game Mastering a Pathfinder game, as offering tips, guidelines, and additional rules. It was released in June 2010.
- Bestiary, Bestiary 2, and Bestiary 3: Pathfinder's version of the 3rd edition D&D and D&D version 3.5 Monster Manuals. The Pathfinder Bestiary includes over 350 monsters designed for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. The Pathfinder Bestiary 2 (December 2010) and Bestiary 3 (December 2011) each added a similar complement of additional monsters.
- Ultimate Magic: Released in mid-May, 2011. It added a new base magic-using class, the magus, to the existing 12 base magic-using classes. It also added over 100 new spells and new feats. It added more options for the basic spell using classes including new bloodlines, druid domains, new familiars, etc.
- Ultimate Combat: Released in August 2011. It added 3 new base classes and rage powers, cavalier orders, and combat-cleric archetypes. It also included a complete system covering vehicle combat, including wagons, boats, airships, and optional combat rules like called shots, armor as damage reduction, and new ways to track character health.
- Advanced Race Guide: Released in June 2012. It added new PC races, expanded alternate racial abilities for all of the core races and included racial archetypes, spells, equipment, feats and magic items. It also included a complete system for creating custom player races.
Additional material 
- Bonus Bestiary: This 16-page supplement was initially made available for Free RPG Day on 20 June 2009 and contains 13 different monsters.
- Pathfinder periodical products: In addition, the Pathfinder product lines, including the Adventure Paths, Companion, and Chronicles, began using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game rules in August 2009. The Pathfinder Modules line is entirely PFRPG-compatible since July 2009.
Media mentions 
The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game was mentioned in episode 11 of Atomic Array: Lead Designer Jason Bulmahn gave an update on the development of the Pathfinder RPG. In conjunction with the official release of the game at Gen Con Indy 2009, Paizo's editorial staff appeared on Atomic Array again, celebrating the longest open playtest in RPG history.
- "Pathfinder RPG Frequently Asked Question". Retrieved 2011-01-11.
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- "Paizo News: Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook Sold Out!".
- "Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player’s Guide (OGL) Hardcover". paizo.com. 2009-10-29. Retrieved 2010-06-03.
- "Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: GameMastery Guide (OGL) Hardcover". paizo.com. Retrieved 2010-06-03.
- "Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary (OGL) Hardcover". paizo.com. Retrieved 2011-01-20.
- "Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary 2 (OGL) Hardcover". paizo.com. Retrieved 2011-01-20.
- "Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary 3 (OGL) Hardcover". paizo.com. Retrieved 2011-01-20.
- Pathfinder (Atomic Array 011). Retrieved 3 December 2008.
- Pathfinder RPG (Atomic Array 029). Retrieved 14 August 2009.