Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook cover.jpeg
Pathfinder Core Rulebook 1st edition cover
Designer(s)Jason Bulmahn
Publisher(s)Paizo Publishing
Publication dateAugust 2009
Years active2008-present
Genre(s)Role-playing game
System(s)d20 system
Random chanceDice rolling

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is a fantasy role-playing game (RPG) that was published in 2009 by Paizo Publishing. It extends and modifies the System Reference Document (SRD) based on the revised 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) published by Wizards of the Coast under the Open Game License (OGL), and is intended to be backward-compatible with that edition. The first major revision of the ruleset, Pathfinder 2nd Edition, was released in August 2019.

Pathfinder is supported by the official Pathfinder periodicals and various third-party content created to be compatible with the game.


Beginning in 2002, Paizo took over publishing Dragon and Dungeon magazines, which were about the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) role-playing game, under contract to D&D publishers Wizards of the Coast. Wizards of the Coast chose not to renew the contract in early 2007, and Paizo began publishing the Pathfinder periodical line as a replacement.[1] In August 2007, Wizards of the Coast announced the pending release of the 4th edition of D&D, which replaced version 3.5. Many of the staff at Paizo were concerned about the more restrictive Game System License the 4th edition was being released under.[2]

Instead of continuing to support D&D, Paizo released the stand-alone Pathfinder Roleplaying Game as a modified version of the version 3.5 game, under the Open Game License used by the older version.[3][4] Announced in March 2008, Pathfinder was designed over the course of a year using an open playtest model, where players could try the system and post their feedback on Paizo's website.[5]

Paizo announced a second edition of Pathfinder in 2018. Like the first edition, it made use of an open playtest to refine various mechanics of gameplay.[6]


Informally nicknamed D&D version 3.75,[7] Pathfinder is a modification of version 3.5 of Dungeons & Dragons, and is intended to be compatible with the older game.[8] Lead Designer Jason Bulmahn felt that the basic classes of D&D version 3.5 were lackluster, as they did not provide incentive to stay with a single class for 20 levels of play. Pathfinder adds many options to the classes and boosts their abilities in their core roles.

The game has also been modified compared to D&D version 3.5.[8] Changes were made involving balance between different game elements. For example, less combat-oriented classes receive more hit points each level than their 3.5 counterparts. Additionally, several aspects of 3.5 have been changed in Pathfinder, including several spells, the skill system, and combat maneuvers such as tripping and grappling.

The material published by Paizo for the Pathfinder system has been set in a world called Golarion.[2]

Second edition[edit]

In May 2018, Paizo announced it was working on Pathfinder Second Edition to refine elements of the rule set to reflect feedback and clarification on the original system over the prior years; it was released on August 1, 2019.[9] The preliminary ruleset was published in August 2018 as Pathfinder Playtest so that players could test out and provide feedback.[10]

Among key changes include a modified action economy system to make it easier for players; previously, players were able to take a combat and a move action per turn, but various exceptions and conditions could modify this in a complicated manner. The second edition combat system is streamlined; each turn, each combatant can perform up to three actions. Most basic moves, such as moving across the ground, drawing a weapon, or making an attack cost a single action, while more complicated feats may require two or three actions, which are marked as appropriately in the game's manual. This allows players to have more flexibility in their turns to perform complicated combat maneuvers without excessive rules-mongering.[11][12] The rules around magic items have been changed to discourage players from hoarding too many items and instead encouraging them to seek out more powerful equipment.[10] Critical hits have also been changed – a critical success now occurs any time a combatant rolls 10 more than their opponent’s defense score. Combatants can also critically succeed when defending.[13]

Supplementary material[edit]

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook is a 576-page hardback book released under the Open Game License. It has been supplemented by expansions and accessory books which contain expanded rules, new classes, spells, equipment and other optional game features. The books in the Bestiary series contain statistics and descriptions of creatures that player characters may encounter. A related supplement, the Monster Codex (2014), offered a selection of more specialized monsters, such as a "goblin vulture rider."[14] The Advanced Player's Guide (2010) allowed Paizo to expand the game beyond its d20 System roots by adding six new base classes, including a Pathfinder version of the Dungeons & Dragons cavalier class. The Advanced Player's Guide also added the concept of class "archetypes"—themed variations of the 11 core classes—as well as other options.[15][16][17] The Advanced Class Guide (2014) expanded the options for character development further by adding ten more character classes, including the investigator, the swashbuckler, and the warpriest.[18][19] Pathfinder Unchained (2015) offered a variety of optional rules to streamline or otherwise customize gameplay, including new rules for skills and magic items, and alternative versions of classes like the summoner.[20][21] Further Pathfinder supplements include the Advanced Race Guide (2012), which extended the options for player character races; Mythic Adventures (2013), which provided options for "epic level" play beyond the core game's normal limits;[22] and Occult Adventures (2016), which introduced six supernatural classes like the kineticist, medium or psychic.[23][24]

Paizo also produced the Pathfinder Beginner Box, a basic version of the Pathfinder rules intended to introduce new gamers to the hobby.[25]


Paizo’s decision to create Pathfinder RPG in response to the extensive changes of Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition split the gaming community,[citation needed] with some showing more loyalty to the 3.5-compatible system and others showing more loyalty to the Dungeons & Dragons brand. Pathfinder was the top-selling role-playing game in spring 2011, fall 2012, spring 2013, fall 2013, and summer 2014.[26][27][28][29][30] During that four-year period, Pathfinder was able to outsell Dungeons & Dragons itself, which was the best-selling game through various editions between 1974 and 2010.[31] Upon the release of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, that game has regained the top spot since fall 2014, with Pathfinder consistently still ranking second to D&D in sales.[32][33][34][35][36][37]

Paizo has won ENnie Awards at Gen Con in a variety of categories including Best Publisher and Best Game.[38][39] The beta release of the game won the 2008 Silver ENnie award for "Best Free Product or Web-Enhancement".[40]

In August 2019, Charlie Hall, for Polygon, reported that "Pathfinder Second Edition feels unified and complete, rather than a hodgepodge of errata and exceptions that had accumulated for its previous iteration. As an exercise in graphic design, the Pathfinder Core Rulebook itself is extraordinary. Details that would be relegated to a sidebar or a tiny, bespoke graphic in other game systems get entire pages with elaborate diagrams and drawings. That kind of attention to detail, coupled with the repetition within the text itself, makes it a true reference document".[11]

Related products[edit]

Paizo publishes a line of novels, Pathfinder Tales, based in the Pathfinder setting. The first book, Prince of Wolves, was released in 2010 and was written by Dave Gross, former editor of Dragon Magazine.[41] Other titles in the series, which numbers over 30 books, include City of the Fallen Sky by Tim Pratt,[42] Winter Witch by Elaine Cunningham, The Wizard's Mask by Ed Greenwood, and Death's Heretic by line editor James L. Sutter.[43]

A line of gaming miniatures, Pathfinder Battles, is produced by Wizkids.[14]

A card game based on the role-playing game, the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, was released at Gen Con 2013. It was designed by Mike Selinker of Lone Shark Games.[44] The initial set for the game, Rise of the Runelords, was followed by the expansions Skull and Shackles and Wrath of the Righteous.[45]

Big Finish Productions has produced a series of audio dramas based on the Pathfinder setting.[46] Dynamite Entertainment has also produced a line of Pathfinder comic books,[25] including a spin-off title, Pathfinder: Goblins,[43][47] as well as Pathfinder: Worldscape, which also featured characters such as Red Sonja, Tarzan and John Carter.

Video games[edit]

A computer game adaptation of the Pathfinder universe, Pathfinder Online, was launched on November 27, 2012 by Goblin Works and Paizo and was successful in attracting Kickstarter crowdfunding[48][49] in 2013 to finance its development.[50] An official alpha test was announced in late June 2014.[51] Early enrollment was announced on July 29, 2015.[52]

On May 17, 2017, another video game, Pathfinder: Kingmaker, was announced by Paizo and developer Owlcat Games.[53][54] An accompanying Kickstarter campaign was launched in June 2017.[55] The game was released on September 25, 2018.[56]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "'Dragon' and 'Dungeon' Magazines to End Paizo Launching 'Pathfinder'". April 20, 2007. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  2. ^ a b Tito, Greg (December 28, 2011). "The State of D&D: Present". The Escapist. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  3. ^ LaSala, Jeff (March 25, 2008). "7 Role-Playing Games You Should Play on International TableTop Day". Geek O System. Geekosystem, LLC. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  4. ^ Baichtal, John (March 25, 2008). "No D&D 4E for Paizo?!?". Conde Nast. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  5. ^ "Welcome to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game!". April 11, 2014. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  6. ^ "Pathfinder Playtest".
  7. ^ Bonanno, Janelle (March 28, 2013). "Put More Pirates in Your Pathfinder With Freeport". The Escapist. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  8. ^ a b LaSala, Jeff (March 29, 2013), "7 Role-Playing Games You Should Play on International TableTop Day", Geek O System, Geekosystem, LLC, retrieved April 13, 2013.
  9. ^ Gavin Sheenan (March 6, 2019). "Paizo Officially Announces Pathfinder Second Edition Release Date". Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  10. ^ a b Hall, Charlie (May 10, 2018). "Pathfinder, with roots in a decades-old strain of D&D, is launching a second edition". Polygon. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Hall, Charlie (August 1, 2019). "Dungeons & Dragons' biggest competitor comes into its own with new release". Polygon. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
  12. ^ Ferguson, Sam (July 30, 2019). "How to follow-up Pathfinder? Improve the game, don't radically change its character". Ars Technica. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
  13. ^ Nelson, Samantha (June 24, 2019). "First Impressions of Pathfinder Second Edition". Escapist Magazine. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
  14. ^ a b "Pathfinder Roleplaying game: Here be monsters". Deseret News. May 8, 2015. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  15. ^ Appelcline, Shannon (2014). Designers & Dragons: The '00s. Evil Hat Productions. p. 224. ISBN 9781613170878.
  16. ^ "Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player's Guide (OGL)". Paizo Publishing. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
  17. ^ "D&D Knights Help Oklahoma Tornado Victims". io9. May 29, 2013. Retrieved July 14, 2015.
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  19. ^ "Pathfinder Advanced Class Guide: How the classes stack up (Part 1)". July 8, 2014. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
  20. ^ "Pathfinder Unchained Lets You Hack Your Tabletop Roleplaying Campaign". The Escapist. April 30, 2015. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  21. ^ "Pathfinder role-playing game: Unchained review". Deseret News. August 20, 2015. Retrieved August 24, 2015.
  22. ^ "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Pathfinder's Advanced Race Guide". June 21, 2012. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
  23. ^ "How Mythic Adventures Massively Raises the Stakes for Pathfinder". December 23, 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
  24. ^
  25. ^ a b Appelcline, Shannon (2014). Designers & Dragons: The '00s. Evil Hat Productions. p. 228. ISBN 9781613170878.
  26. ^ "Top 5 RPGs—Q2 2011". IcV2. August 4, 2011. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  27. ^ "Top 5 RPGs—Fall 2013". IcV2. March 13, 2014. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
  28. ^ "Top 5 RPGs—Fall 2012". IcV2. March 29, 2012. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  29. ^ "Top 5 RPGs—Spring 2013". IcV2. July 15, 2013. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  30. ^ Top 5 RPGs—Summer 2013, accessed February 9, 2018
  31. ^ Forbing, Jeremy (December 22, 2013). "Dungeons & Dragons Next Edition Out Summer 2014". Guardian Liberty Voice. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
  32. ^ Top 5 RPGs - Fall 2014, accessed February 9, 2018
  33. ^ Top 5 RPGs - Spring 2015, accessed February 9, 2018
  34. ^ Top 5 RPGs - Fall 2015, accessed February 9, 2018
  35. ^ Top 5 RPGs - Spring 2016, accessed February 9, 2018
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  37. ^ Top 5 RPGs - Spring 2017, accessed February 9, 2018
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  39. ^ "2010 nominees and winners". ENnies. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
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  41. ^ [1]
  42. ^ "Pathfinder Tales: City of the Fallen Sky". Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  43. ^ a b Reid, Calvin (November 29, 2013). "Paizo's Magical Realm of RPG Publishing". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  44. ^ Bolding, Jonathon (April 12, 2014). "Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Organized Play, Individual Decks Revealed". The Escapist. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
  45. ^ Morgenegg, Ryan (May 27, 2015). "Pathfinder Adventure card game review: Wrath of the Righteous". Deseret News. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  46. ^ "Pathfinder Legends".
  47. ^ "Best Shots Advance Reviews: SATELLITE SAM #2, PATHFINDER: GOBLINS! #1". Newsarama. August 6, 2013. Retrieved August 2, 2015.
  48. ^ Erik Kain (December 13, 2012). "A Brief Look At The 'Pathfinder Online' Sandbox MMO On Kickstarter". Forbes.
  49. ^ "Pathfinder Online: A Fantasy Sandbox MMO". Kickstarter. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  50. ^ Matt Daniel (January 14, 2013). "Pathfinder Online Kickstarter now successfully funded [Updated]". Massively.
  51. ^ Ryan Dancey (June 26, 2014). "Aaaaaaaaand Away We Go!". Goblin Works.
  52. ^ "Pathfinder Online: A Fantasy Sandbox MMO". Kickstarter. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
  53. ^ O'Connor, Alice (May 17, 2017). "Pathfinder: Kingmaker bringing tabletop RPG to PC". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  54. ^ Wilson, Jason (May 31, 2017). "Pathfinder: Kingmaker launches $500,000 Kickstarter for extra content, not the base game (update)". GamesBeat. VentureBeat. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  55. ^ "Kickstarter-Pathfinder: Kingmaker". Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  56. ^ "Pathfinder: Kingmaker on Steam". Retrieved December 19, 2018.

External links[edit]