For many years, Pathfinder has presented itself as an alternative to Dungeons & Dragons. People seeking out Pathfinder usually want more; more character options, more tactical choices in battle, and more equipment and spells to make their character cooler. Pathfinder provided this audience with a way to use much of their older material to offer a wide variety of things to play.
Pathfinder Second Edition came out in 2019. The new edition stripped the game down to the essentials and built it back up to ensure that every decision was meaningful both in play and building characters. With a lot of tables looking to expand their options, it seemed like a good time to talk about what makes Pathfinder Second Edition different.
Pathfinder Second Edition Core Rule Book
The Pathfinder Second Edition Core Rule Book contains everything needed to play the game. Pathfinder is set on the world of Golarion which has a little bit of everything you might want in a fantasy world. There are plenty of dragons, monsters and castles but also areas that lean into other genres like horror or science fiction.
Players build characters using ancestries, classes and background to tell character stories and put together unique mechanical options. Each level offers new feat choices for further customization that let players specialize or generalize in equal measure. Characters who want to explore abilities outside their class can use the archetype system to bring in abilities from other classes or add in elements from specialized feat trees.
Powers and abilities are clearly explained and templated without needing to account for years of legacy mechanics. The action economy feels open without being overly restrictive to new characters. Tables that have played previous editions of Dungeons & Dragons (or Pathfinder) will feel right at home.
Pathfinder Second Edition Beginner Box
For fans who don’t want to jump into the pool, Pathfinder Second Edition Beginner Box offers a sample of the experience built to play right out of the box. Players can rush into battle with one of a handful of pre-made characters or they can build their own with a cut down selection of options from the core book.
The included adventure comes with a flip-mat and pawns to use during combat. The box comes with plenty of tools to help explain the rules like cheat sheets, action cards and more. Once the players finish with this adventure there are storylines that continue into other books if players want to keep telling this story.
There are plenty of rules expansions, of course, but the best way to explore Pathfinder right away is through one of their adventure paths. These publications harken back to Paizo’s origins as the suppliers of Dungeon & Dragon magazine material. Each issue includes a serialized adventure, a bit of setting information, new creatures to fight and magic items to seek.
Abomination Vaults is a classic dungeon crawl series that details the levels full of monsters that need to be cleared out while also detailing the nearby town the players are helping. This story also comes directly off the Beginner Box to get players to level 10 for tables that finish that opening story. It also has advice for things to do for players who want to directly start delving into the Gauntlight, a cursed tower built directly on the titular structure.
Paizo also recently republished one of its classic First Edition adventure paths for the new rules set. Kingmaker offers more of an open world experience as players are given a parcel of land full of monsters to explore. They also build up their castle and gen involved in the intrigues of power back home.
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