According to many answers in the related question, D&D 3.5e FAQ has many content problems. Even though it is possible to make a mistake and think of it as an official ruling, it isn't one, so 3.5e FAQ is not a big problem.

However, Pathfinder FAQ is RAW. Does it have the same problems as 3.5e FAQ -- e.g. contradicting existing rules, giving untested solutions, etc.? Or is it actually a good and reliable thing to use?


3 Answers 3


It has some of the same problems, avoids other problems, and introduces some new problems. In short, because Paizo treats it as official, it takes more care with answers and so answers are less often problematic—but because they are official, the problematic answers that do happen can cause a lot of confusion and headaches that the 3.5 FAQ avoided.

What problems are the same

Answers are sometimes made off-the-cuff and without all the editorial oversight that one would hope for. FAQs have needed to be updated, sometimes repeatedly, themselves, and others should be but never have been. Serious problems with how flurry of blows work, with mounted charges, and with stealth all come to mind as places where FAQs attempting to clarify have only made matters worse.

What problems it avoids

Paizo gives its FAQ official rules status and authority, avoiding the “problem” in 3.5 where the FAQ was basically meaningless and worthless since any contradiction with the established rules should (under the rules) be ignored.

This also means that Pathfinder FAQ answers are often given more attention and thought than 3.5 FAQ answers were. While the Pathfinder FAQ doesn’t entirely avoid such problems (as above), the frequency of such problems is somewhat reduced.

What problems it creates

The problems with an FAQ-as-errata are many:

  1. It is frequently written in the form of an answer to a question, that is, it makes claims about what the rules are. But it sometimes contradicts those rules, which it (per the “official” status) has authority from Paizo to do. The problem with this is that it makes the rules very unclear: should rules similar to the rule addressed also be changed? Or was the ruling specific to that thing?

  2. It causes problems with awareness. The FAQs are very difficult to keep on top of; they are updated frequently and it is not always clear what has changed. That makes it very difficult to keep on top of the “official” rules, which makes it very hard to join a new Pathfinder group—you can’t be too sure that you know the rules, and even if you do, whether they know the rules. This is kind of always true for any RPG, but the confusion about what the base rules are makes it a lot harder to communicate about how a given group runs the game.

  3. Answers have sometimes caused serious “collateral damage.” One FAQ made mounted charges impossible for anyone who isn’t a druid, paladin, or ranger. In 3.5, this kind of damage would be flatly ignored, but anyone attempting to run Pathfinder “by the book” (say, in the Pathfinder Society) has serious problems with that kind of thing.

  4. The FAQ reduces the pressure to produce real errata, which are better suited for the purpose of fixing the rules. Because Paizo stands behind the FAQ as a way of introducing changes to the rules, there is less “need” for errata. But errata are more specific, more clear, and actually change the wording rather than applying an “explanation” of the wording that contradicts what the text actually says, as some FAQ answers do. Having the FAQ means Pathfinder gets less errata, and that is bad.

In general, we have to take the Pathfinder FAQ more seriously than the 3.5 FAQ: it is official, and cannot simply be ignored the way the 3.5 FAQ could (and should). That doesn’t automatically mean it is good, however, or that this avoids the problems. It actually makes some problems worse. But for better or worse, it is official and must be considered, e.g. in answers here. And Paizo treating it as official does mean that problems are less frequent, even if they’re more serious when they happen.


The following are some examples of problematic FAQ entries, for the sake of example. This list should not be considered exhaustive. Note also that it is not as though every ruling here is an especially bad idea for the game; the problem may be more to do with how that ruling came about and was promulgated than with the ruling itself.

  • Monk flurry of blows—An FAQ ruling being necessary to correct for prior rulings, after the whole “flurry is two-weapon fighting” fiasco.

  • Stacking ability modifiers—Nowhere in the rules is there even the slightest indication that these bonuses didn’t stack prior to this FAQ. Worse, the explanation for why things are this way is basically nonsense, and attempting to apply similar logic elsewhere is quite problematic. This change also significantly changed the relative value of various different options in ways that were very unlikely to have been evaluated by those making the ruling.

  • Mounted charges and action usage—Another outright rules change, this one completely breaks mounted combat. It says that the rider needs to use the charge action him-or-herself in order to charge while mounted—but that is a full-round action, and ordering a mount to do anything requires a move action. Very few characters can spend a move action and then still have a full-round action available. Realistically, the only way to charge here is to have a special bond to your mount (e.g. as with druids, paladins, and rangers), so that you don’t need to spend the move action to order the mount.

    Note also that this FAQ entry promises that future printings of the CRB will be updated to reflect it. That was four years ago, and it hasn’t happened yet. That means for four years the last word on the subject has broken the functionality completely for most characters, and there has been no update, reprinting, or errata to address it. A great example of how having an FAQ reduces errata and how that can be very bad.

    Finally, this chat room was created to discuss this issue, if you want more detail.

  • Tripping and trip weapons—Another example of the FAQ having to correct itself.

  • Armor spikes and offhand attacks—The explanation is complete and utter nonsense, and contradicts numerous prior FAQs. We even have a lengthy answer that addresses this confusion, and on top of that there was an even-lengthier chat about it.

(many thanks to @Forrestfire for helping me track down each of these.)

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @Baskakov_Dmitriy Added some examples there. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 19:15
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ O, my. I was unaware that Paizo had changed like that mounted combat from its original 3.5e wording. At least in 3.5e mounted combat's vagueness made it playable. Wow. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 19:55
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ produce real errata This. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wyrmwood
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 19:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 14:26

Most of the problems that have happened with Pathfinder FAQ are due to a FAQ being answered on a certain context and affecting another rule outside of that context. This has happened quite a few (noticeable) times, which also has reduced the number of FAQs produced by the developer team for that very same reason.

The way that questions are picked to be answered is vastly different, where the community vote for the questions, the developers sit around a table and discuss between them how to answer that question or solve that problem. When a problem has no easy answer, the developers do not answer it and go for the next question. Sometime later (maybe years) they will have an answer for it that will actually fix the problem. But there are questions that remain unclear for a long time.

But a great point that saves Pathfinder's FAQ from the same destiny of 3.5's FAQ is the fact that many of those rulings are actually printed on future editions of those books. Some have slipped through, so I won't say that they always do this, but when they see that they have to change a ruling, that is usually reflected in the next printing. This blog post actually describes the process of FAQ answering.

Until the PaizoCon of each year (usually May or July), they try to post weekly or biweekly updates on FAQs, which greatly motivates people to keep voting for questions to be answered. But from the weeks before PaizoCon and a little after, and once again until before and after the GenCon (usually August) of the same year, the FAQs slow down a lot due to all the events, planning for the next year releases and holidays. They practically return to (semi) normal schedule around October or November and pause again in December. So you could say that new FAQs are posted frequently for the first half of a year, and slowing down considerably for the remaining half.

If you want to keep track of new FAQs, you can always mark this thread as a favourite and you will be notified when they update the FAQ.

(Note: Starfinder has reduced this a lot this year, but I hope they pick up their pace again.)

For Society play, those same rulings are incorporated by the coordinators, regardless if they are in print or not, and the official document (in pdf and available for download) is often updated (every few months)

On the other hand, the developers are usually allowed to give their personal opinions on how certain rules should work. This either has caused problems or actually led them to take a look at certain questions that deserved an answer. Most notably, Mark Seifter (Designer) and James Jacobs (Creative Diretor), have known threads to ask all sort of questions there. Those are useful sources of rules as intended and also a door to point them to questions that could obtain an easy answer, like those from newly released books. Ironically, Jason Bulhman (Lead Designer) personal thread actually says to ask "non-rules questions" to avoid the problems I mentioned.


No, the Pathfinder FAQ does not share the same problems as the D&D 3.5 FAQ.

According to both the accepted and most-upvoted answers to your linked question regarding the 3.5 FAQ, the primary issues with the 3.5 FAQ were that it was

  1. unreliable and frequently incorrect,

  2. from second-party sources, who had authority only to explain the rules and not change them, and

  3. intended and treated by WotC as a quick-reference or short explanation rather than a primary source of knowledge, leading to not a lot of time being spent on any particular answer by the answerer in many cases (see #1).

The Pathfinder FAQ seems to be treated with more gravity both by writers and players than 3.5's, and functions more similarly to 3.5's errata. It is a source of first-party rules knowledge and changes, is explicitly accurate (to the point that, unlike 3.5's as mentioned, Pathfinder's FAQ officially changes or updates the rules in cases where they conflict, functioning as errata in those cases) and is generally helpful and takes the time to explain itself.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ It’s probably worth noting that the Pathfinder FAQ does have a lot of the same problems, content-wise, in that answers are frequently given off-the-cuff, and that has historically led to a lot of trouble and confusion. It is treated as official, but not always given the same editorial oversight and care that it should if it is going to be official. Attempts to shoehorn desired rulings into the existing wording rather than actually issue errata to fix the wording have caused a lot of confusion. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 16:08

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