The Second Edition of Pathfinder came out today. As a long-time player of Pathfinder, what changes should I expect to see when I play the second edition? What are the major points that have changed?

To clarify, I'm looking for high-level changes. Obviously, a large number of spells, class features, feats, and everything else will be changed. What I'm looking for is to know how the game feels for a player of Pathfinder 1e, and what mechanics are different enough to trip up an experienced player.

For example, the Ranger no longer has a Favored Enemy feature. I'm not really looking for the specifics on the class features that were changed, but I am interested in whether or not the Ranger feels totally different to play, and what an experienced Ranger player might be tripped up by.

A good example of what I'm looking for is KitsuneYMG's answer to a similar question about D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 2, 2019 at 1:02

2 Answers 2



  • Stat Generation: Pathfinder Second Edition (PF2e) has moved away from the methods of the past wherein you generated stats using a point buy or rolled them. Instead you receive various ability boosts (a +2 for a stat < 18 or a +1 if the stat is >= 18) from differing aspects of your character that you decide upon over a series of steps. Additionally, you receive 4 additional ability boosts at level 5, and then again at levels 10, 15, and 20; these boosts are applied to 4 different stats.
  • New XP System: Instead of having a table for the various XP needed to have and gain a level, you always require 1000 XP to go up a level. When you do so, you subtract that 1000 XP and need to gain 1000 XP to level up again.
  • Proficiency: Instead of just being proficient or non-proficient with something (or trained or untrained as was the case of skills), you now have varying degrees of proficiency: Untrained, Trained, Expert, Master, and Legendary. If you are untrained in a thing, you have a proficiency modifier of +0. For trained and above, you receive a modifier of your level + 2,4,6, and 8, respectively, depending on your degree of proficiency.
  • Keywords and Traits: Almost everything has a keyword, these keywords have specific definitions for what they mean, and how they apply. Additionally, almost everything has a trait; these traits extend from category markers, to affecting how a spell works.
  • Multiclassing: Multiclassing is now completely different. Instead of selecting a class level, you instead take an archetype dedication feat in place of a class feat (see below) and gain the ability to take other archetype feats with that dedication feat as a prerequisite.
  • Critical System: You now have 4 degrees of success on a check: Critical Failure, Failure, Success, Critical Success. If you roll 10 or more above the DC of a check, you critically succeed on that check. If you roll 10 or more below the DC of a check, you critically fail. A natural 20 on the die roll moves you up one degree of success, and a natural 1 moves you down 1 degree of success.
  • Modes of Play: Events in the game are now divided into 3 different modes of play, to represent the difference in situations, stakes, and their time scales. There are various abilities that may work differently (or not at all) depending on the mode.
    • Encounter: This is the mode of the gameplay that combat takes place in, and is thus the most structured one. Not much has changed aside from the action economy in relation.
    • Exploration: This is the mode used for wandering dungeons or the dark forest, where there may be dangers lurking, but none are immediate. This is typically spent in 10 minute increments for a round of actions.
    • Downtime: This is the mode used for crafting, earning money, treating diseases, etc. The smallest unit of time frame in this mode is 1 day, and should there be dangers or other things happening, Encounter or Exploration mode should be used instead.
  • Action Economy: In encounter mode (see above), you gain 3 actions and a reaction each round. Actions can be used on your turn, some abilities take a single action, while others may take more. Reactions can by used at anytime the trigger for them are met. Free actions still exist as well.
  • Perception: No longer a skill, it now also encompasses the various senses of a creature and how detected a thing is.
    • There are 4 different stages of detection: Unnoticed, Undetected, Hidden, Observed.
      • Unnoticed: If something is unnoticed by you, you have no idea it is present. Like the nanobots monitoring you.
      • Undetected: If something is undetected by you, you know it exists in your general area, but you don't know where. This is the set of car keys that you set down somewhere in the room, but don't remember where.

        They're in your hand!

      • Hidden: You know the space the thing is in, but you don't know where exactly it is in that space. This is the remote that fell into the couch that you can't find.
      • Observed: You see it, it may see you. This is the answer you're currently looking at and up-voting.
    • Senses fall into 3 different categories: Precise, Imprecise, and Vague.
      • Precise: Essentially, these senses allow you to make something Observed by you. For example, your eyes are observing this text.
      • Imprecise: These senses allow you to make something Hidden at best, but not Observed. For example, your hearing allows you to locate where that funky whirring sound is coming from, but not what it's coming from.
      • Vague: These senses allow you to make something Undetected at best. For example, your sense of smell makes you pretty sure your roommate exists and needs a shower, but you can't tell where he is nor do you want to get closer.
  • Bulk: Instead of using weight as the unit of measurement for carrying capacity, you now use bulk. Each item has a Bulk of a set number or "L" that dictates how much bulk it is. Every 10 "L" you carry adds 1 bulk; if you only carry 9 "L" that's still 0 Bulk, and 19 "L" would only be 1 Bulk.
  • There are no spell-like or supernatural abilities anymore, they are all considered spells now.
  • Rarity: Things are now divided into 4 categories of availability: Common, Uncommon, Rare, Unique. Uncommon and Rare things are not necessarily stronger, they are just less common. The difficulty of identifying something increases based on its rarity.
    • Common: These things are found everywhere, and pretty much universally used. Some examples, a longsword, the ant haul spell, or a Goblin Dog.
    • Uncommon: These things are the result of special training, or part of a particular culture or place. For example, a Dwarven Waraxe, a monk's ki strike spell, the Detect Poison Spell, or the Alghollthu Master monster.
    • Rare: These things are typically non-existant. Some examples, Orihalcum armor, the antimagic field spell, or the veiled master monster.
    • Unique: These things are one of a kind, like the monster Treerazer.
  • Initiative: Initiative is no longer a set thing, instead it's now a skill check that depends on the activity you were performing in exploration mode.
  • Hero Points: Hero points are now a part of the base game.


  • You gain at least one feat every level now, but the type of feat depends on the level.
  • There are 4 main different types of feats: Ancestry, General, Skill, and Class. There are other types of feats such as Archetype feats as well.
    • Ancestry: Ancestry feats represent things you've gotten from your ancestry.
    • Skill: Skill feats are feats that are directly related to your characters skills, and their proficiency in them, these may add additional actions you can take with that skill.
    • General: General feats include skill feats, but also other things such as armor and weapon training.
    • Class: Class feats unlock new abilities and powers for a character's class. Generally, Archetype Feats are taken instead of some Class Feats.


  • Race is now Ancestry.
  • Ancestries now give a flat amount of HP.
  • Ancestries give far less abilities at the start than they did previously, but open up different routes for ancestry feats later on.
  • Ancestries also give a choice of Heritage, for another choice of base-level abilities


  • Some skills have been consolidated.
  • Some skills have different actions available for them based on your degree of proficiency with them.


  • You now gain a flat amount of HP per level instead of an amount from a die roll.
  • Have a key ability Score, this is used with your class's proficiency modifier to determine the DC of class abilities.
  • Have less static class features, instead most of their class abilities are determined by class feats.
  • All classes besides Monks & Fighters also choose a subclass that determines a handful of features (such as a Barbarian's Instinct or a Sorcerer's Bloodline)


  • Economy is now in terms of silver pieces (sp) instead of gold pieces (gp).
  • Items vary in quality both physically and magically now, instead of just magically.
  • You have a set amount of magic items you can attune with.
  • Items have levels, and these levels let you know what's available for you to craft (and sometimes buy).
  • Poisons are actually relevant at all levels.


  • There are now only 4 spell lists: Arcane, Divine, Occult, Primal.
  • Spell Schools still exist.
  • Vancian casting still exists.
  • Heighten is no longer a metamagic, and is a thing you can do with any spell. Heightened spells vary in effect based on how much you heighten them.
  • Cantrips, like before, do not use spells slots up, and are automatically heightened to the highest level spell you can cast.
  • For spontaneous casters, you know spells of a particular spell level (ex: both fireball 3rd level, and fireball 5th level are different spells for a spontaneous caster to memorize).
  • There is no minimum casting stat for determining whether you can cast a spell, similarly you don't gain bonus spell slots for a higher casting stat.

GM Stuff

  • Monsters: The Gamemastery Guide (coming January 2020) is expected to have rules on monster creation, supposedly it's a departure from the monster creation methods of before. The new action economy allows for abilities to be created for monsters with different action costs based on their effects. For instance, a Hydra can spend 1 action to make a single attack, or it can spend 2 actions to attack with all of its heads. The stat blocks themselves are far more streamlined than before, and are just plain useful.
  • Traps: Traps have been thrown into the Hazards category along with Haunts, and have been broken down into two categories: Simple and Complex. They also have much more information listed in their stat blocks that before.
    • Simple: Simple Hazards are ones that go off once, and are done. They don't participate in the initiative order, and don't make their reaction again, unless reset. These range from the humble pit trap to the typical Fireball Rune and the mighty Armageddon Orb (which rains fiery death when its trigger is met).
    • Complex: Complex Hazards participate in the initiative order, and perform their actions in typically a listed automated routine. These range from the subtle Quicksand to the common Poison Dart Gallery and the malevolent Darkside Mirror (which swaps players out with evil duplicates each round as it sucks them into an alternate dimension).
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ There's one change that's pretty important that I think you missed here - the overall scaling. The degree to which pathfinder 2 has been aggressively balanced, and the way that certain abilities (like permanent flight) have been made dramatically harder to access is pretty important to understanding the difference in play between them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Mar 18, 2021 at 21:53

There are lots of changes, mostly major changes. I can only think about certain spells when thinking about "things that didn't change much", and even those have basic system changes behind them. I will try to keep this short, and list things I believe that are impactful to those who have played the first edition of the game, but keep in mind that this might prove impossible. So, my apologies in advance.

The general goal of this edition and its changes, in Jason Bulmahn's words on their twitch streams, Paizo's Lead Designer, was to make it easier to learn, fix problems inherent in the previous system, and to keep the complexity of character building that Pathfinder is known for.


Some terms may sound confusing at first, but will be explained later down the list, such as "what are proficiencies", "what are skill feats", and so on.

  • Character Creation: The characters are now created on what they call the "ABC System", standing for Ancestry, Background and Class. Each of those choices gives you a few stat Boosts, which is a +2 bonus to a stat during creation, and sometimes a penalty (a -2). They all start at 10 and you distribute those boosts on each choice you make, but if a stat is already at 18 or higher, each boost is only a +1 bonus. On each step of the creation (Ancestry, Background, and Class), you may apply the boosts granted by that choice on "fixed" abilities, so you have to apply the boost on that ability score, or "free" boosts, that can be applied on any ability you want. The caveat here is that you cannot apply the same boost on the same ability during a step (so you cant apply +2 to strength if that step already gave you a strength boost).
    • Ancestry is what we knew as "race" before, but now also includes subraces and nationality. Racial variants are all included in the same ancestry too. Thus, half-orc and half-elf are a variant of the Human ancestry and no longer a separate race on their own, but a Heritage of humans. There is a new playable race in the core rules, Goblins. Each ancestry gain a few abilities, but the list is much shorter than before, now gaining abilities that give you more choice and are more impactful (dwarves, for instance, may pick between drow, duergar, giant, or orc for their ancient hatred) which are called Ancestry Feats. Each character gets to pick a single Ancestry Feat and more will unlock at levels 5, 9 and 13. Finally, each ancestry also gives you base hit points, which are added to the hit points gained from your class at first level. With that, all characters begin the game with a lot more hit points than they had before. Example: dwarves get 10 hp, combined with a fighter's initial 10 hp, a dwarven fighter has 20 hp at first level. As for boosts, ancestries give you 2 fixed boosts and a free boost (that you can pick any ability you want), and an Ability Flaw, which is a penalty instead (dwarves get boosts on Constitution and Wisdom, and a flaw on Charisma, plus a free boost). Humans get two free boosts instead.
    • Background: Backgrounds define your mundane life before adventuring, you could be a blacksmith, a soldier, a scholar, etc. This grants you a Skill Feat, a fixed ability boost related to that background and a free boost, and also gain Trained proficiency in one of two skills you can pick from. Those skill feats are related to your "profession" and help you do better whatever is it that you do. A blacksmith (Artisan background) may repair armors much quicker than others as they gain a bonus to work on a specific type of item.
    • Class: The final choice will give you your last ability boost, in the primary stat related to that class (Strength to fighters, for example), and additional hp based on your class (which is the same as before). This choice also gives you several proficiencies, similar to what you got at 1st level before. More on classes later.
    • Free boosts: Finally, you also gain four additional free boosts to customize your character, still respecting the limit of a single boost per ability per step.
  • Proficiency: This mechanic is to replace the bonuses you got on various things before, and it is always level + proficiency degree + related ability score + bonuses and has five degrees: Untrained, Trained (+2), Expert (+4), Master (+6) and Legendary (+8). For Untrained, you do not add your character level though, making the fact of being trained in a skill far more important than before at later levels. While an untrained character may add their ability score to a check and still succeed with relative ease at early levels, the DCs will keep scaling as you level up and they no longer can pass those same checks with ease. When you pick your background you become trained in a skill, and when you pick your class you become either trained or expert in several things, such as with simple/martial weapons, fighting wearing armor, use of shields, perception (no longer a skill but a stat similar to AC), a few skills, your spellcasting ability for casters and your class DC, which defines what will be the DC of your class abilities. Each of those will increase in proficiency automatically as you level up, removing the need to pick feats to increase those stats or the need to get +1 to n magic items.

  • Classes: Classes changed a lot, many things that were "feats" before are now "class feats" (feats that only characters of that class can take), and abilities that you gained at fixed levels are now mostly optional, allowing you to build your character similar to hand-picking archetypes in the previous edition. But the core concept behind each class remains the same. With the exception of Paladins, now called Champions and less restricted in alignment, and Alchemists, now a core class and without any spellcasting ability. Finally, classes no longer have hit dice, but gain a fixed amount of hit points each level.

      • Alchemist: Are no longer spellcasters, they thinker with bombs, alchemical items, healing potions and may craft "free" alchemical items each day and even during combat. Their formula book now contains the formulae of alchemical items and they may learn more during their adventures. Each must pick a Research Field, basically defining your focus between bombs, mutagens or healing people.
      • Bard: Bards now have to pick a Muse, something that "inspires" them and defines what type of bard they are. That also defines if they are more of a supporting character or focused in combat. They are now Occult spellcasters, meaning that their spells are more related to mysteries and mind tricks.
      • Barbarian: The idea behind "totems" is now a core concept of the class, and you get to pick an Instinct at first level, defining what type of barbarian you are, and allowing things like getting bigger (as in Enlarge Person) when you rage, or breathing fire (similar to the classic Dragon Disciple). Rage changed mechanically, you rage for a full minute, gain +2 damage to weapon attacks, take -1 to AC and gain temporary hit points equal to your level and Constitution modifier (which are lost at the end of the rage), and you cannot rage again for another minute.
      • Champion: They have a Cause, which defines what is their goal in life. Paladins being Lawful Good champions, Redeemers being Neutral Good champions, and Liberators being Chaotic Good champions (that's right, Chaotic). Each champion must pick a deity related to their alignment, and must act accordingly to the Tenets of that god. So, while a champion of Iomedae may still act and behave like the classical paladin, a champion of Desna has different priorities altogether. These tenets also have an order of priority, meaning that a higher item in the list has priority over those lower. Champions of the other non-good alignments will show up in future books. They are no longer spellcasters.
      • Cleric: The biggest change in clerics is now that each god also has an Anathema, that clearly defines what your god doesn't want you to do, removing that responsibility partially from GM Fiat and being a core mechanic. They also pick a Doctrine, which defines if they are a battle cleric or focused on spellcasting. The class itself has far more abilities to pick from (as Class Feats), not relying solely on spells as their defining characteristic.
      • Druid: Animal companions are optional (though plant companions are now core), and so is wild shape. They are both 1st level class feats. But don't worry, druids also get to pick their Druidic Order, which helps them define the type of druid they want to be, but also granting one of those class feats as a free feat from your order, so an Animal druid will gain a companion, and may still pick Wild Shape as their 1st level class feat option. Animal companions got a rework and have special actions that are exclusive to each animal, instead of merely attacking in their turn. And wild shape will upgrade if you pick the class feats that enhance it or grant you more shape options, instead of scaling automatically. Storm druids will specialize in elemental effects, and druid spells are now called Primal spells, rather than being Divine spells.
      • Fighter: Fighters start the game being able to make Attacks of Opportunity, which is no longer a core mechanic and will impact combat, as characters no longer have to be worried about AoOs unless they are next to a fighter (of any level) or higher level barbarian or champion that choose to take that class feat. Fighters also start with Shield Block, being able to use their shield to reduce incoming damage (think damage reduction) based on the hardness of the shield used. Their class feats work in a way that you can make combos, using certain feats to start your attacks (Open) and others to use after the first (Press).
      • Monk: Stances are now a core part of the class, with feats to learn new stances and others that require a certain stance. Ki is optional and also has class feats related to using your ki pool. Flurry of Blows is a single action that allows you to make two attacks, but can only be used once per turn. The class feels more like a fighter using special attacks instead of weapons than a mystic combatant that can't fight properly. You may pick a class feat that allows you to treat weapons with the Monk trait as your unarmed attacks and gain all benefits from it (proficiency, flurry and feats that require unarmed attacks). Your fist damage is still 1d6, but won't increase in dice category, instead, you will get a flat bonus as you level up (+2, then +4, then +6, and finally +8, as your proficiency goes up), and you are allowed to use the handwraps to increase its damage just like if it was a weapon.
      • Ranger: Still get to pick between melee and ranged attacks as their focus. Instead of picking favourite enemies, they pick a Prey to hunt, which will allow them to use their other abilities against a selected enemy in combat. Their companions are also optional. And they get to pick a Hunter's Edge, which defines their style of combat (extra damage, multiple attacks, trick enemies and increase your AC against them). They may also focus on the creation of Snares (traps), which they may both create and deploy much quicker than before. They are no longer spellcasters. With these changes, they feel more like a guerrilla combatant than a fighter with green clothes. Pets are also cooler with their new mechanics.
      • Rogue: Rogues, unlike other character classes, will gain a Skill Feat every level, instead of every two levels. They also gain a Skill Increase every level starting at 2nd, meaning they get better at skills at a much faster rate than any other class. They get to pick their Racket, which defines how they fight, allowing things such as applying dex to damage with finesse weapons or allowing you to use medium armor and get better at intimidating foes, or even be a "social" rogue, that uses Charisma as the key ability score and is great at feinting in combat.
      • Sorcerer: They are still very similar to wizards, got spell knows and spell slots. They have a big drawback (and so do bards) that they have to know the spell on the level they want it to be heightened to. In other words, if you know Magic Missiles as a 1st level spell, using higher spell slots won't automatically increase it's damage unless you use a class ability to augment it, which has limited uses in combat. Except for Signature spells, which automatically heightened based on the spell slot used and you get one per spell level you can cast. Bloodlines also define what type of spells you may cast, arcane, divine, primal, etc.
      • Wizard: All wizards have an Arcane Bond now (which works the same way), with a familiar being optional using a class feat. They can heighten a spell by using a higher-level slot (and so do clerics and druids). And on top of their school of specialization, they now must pick a Thesis, which is literally the paperwork of your studies, and defines how you are different from other wizards, enhancing your familiar, giving metamagic feats, or mixing lower spell slots to gain higher spell slots.
  • Skills: On top of being proficient (Trained or Expert generally) in a bunch of skills during creation, you are also able to increase your proficiency every few levels (3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th and so on), improving the proficiency on that skill (Untrained > Trained > Expert > Master > Legendary), with the exception of Rogues, which do it every level. A few key changes in the skills:

      • Heal: Now called Medicine is a viable method of out-of-combat healing, taking 10 minutes to heal 2d8 hit points, scaling as you level up and pass the check by a higher DC. This is no longer restricted at once every 24 hours, but once an hour per character, with a skill feat to reduce this limit to 10 minutes instead of an hour, so you can alternate between healing two different people every 10 minutes.
      • Knowledge: Are now Arcana, Nature, Religion and Occultism, and all work similarly, allowing you to identify spells of that type, learn new spells for casters, decipher texts and recall knowledge related to that topic.
      • Profession: Is now Lore, and may be some physical profession or job, or simply knowledge of a certain mundane topic. When you practice your trade, you may gain a certain amount of money based on your level and proficiency in the skill. Since all characters have a background, they all also have a profession. Perform is still kind of useless mechanically, but may also be used to earn income like the Lore skill.
      • Bluff and Disguise: Are now Deception.
      • Swim and Climb: Are now Athletics, and also handles Disarm, Shove, and Trip maneuvers. It is also used instead of Strength checks to force open a door and similar.
      • Fly and Escape Artist: Are now part of Acrobatics.
      • Linguistics: Is part of a new skill, Society, which works similar to Survival, but in urban environments, and also to decipher writings of languages you don't know. May also be used to recall knowledge about civilized races, settlements, nobility, etc.
      • Sleight of Hand: Is now Thievery.
      • Handle Animal and Ride: Are now part of the Nature skill.
  • Feats: They have categories, General, Skill, Class and Ancestry. Characters still gain feats at every other level. Skill feats and gained at levels 2, 4, 6 and so on. They also gain Class feats normally at 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, and so on (same as skill feats for most classes). Ancestry feats are gained at 1st and then every 4 levels (5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th). And general feats are gained at 3rd level and then every 4 levels (7th, 11th, 15th, and 19th). All skill feats in the core book are also general feats, but there are general feats that are not related to skills, such as being good at the initiative or able to craft magical items (a single feat now). Skill feats usually have a requirement in proficiency in that skill (Trained or higher), with Legendary skill feats being available at later levels and allowing superhuman uses of those skills, such as literally scaring someone to death using Intimidate, or "hide in plain sight" as a legendary sneaker (so not exclusive to rogues and rangers anymore).

  • Combat: The game's action economy got simplified, and you have three types of actions, Actions, Activities, Free Actions and Reactions. What we knew as "move", "standard" and "full-action" are now a 3-action pool per character turn, and each ability or action you want to take will cost you 1, 2 or 3 Actions from this pool. Each character has a single Reaction they can use during a combat turn, and free actions are still free to use.

      • Maneuvers: Are now all tied to skills, some requiring you to be trained in that skill to be able to use them. As AoOs are no longer a thing, you may freely use them in combat.
      • Surprise: Is no longer a thing, the activity you were doing in combat defines what skill you may roll for initiative.
      • Touch AC: Is also gone, you have a single AC score, getting a penalty to your AC if you are flat-footed. Casters "touch" their spells using their primary ability score instead, which should usually be higher than their Dexterity modifier and have a higher proficiency bonus.
  • Degrees of Success: Checks now are a Critical Success if you beat the DC by 10 or more, and a Critical Failure if you fail the check by 10 or more. On attack rolls, a natural 20 is also a Critical Success if that is enough to hit the target's AC, and a natural 1 is a Critical Failure if you still can't beat the DC after applying the bonuses. And this rule applies to pretty much everything in the game, from spells to skill checks, with abilities improving your degree of success or making enemies downgrade their degree of success.

  • Spells: Spells now have four types: Occult, Divine, Arcane and Primal. And you no longer have spell lists based on your class but based on these types. So druids are primal casters, wizards are arcane casters, clerics are divine casters, bards are occult casters, and sorcerers get to pick based on their chosen bloodline. Each component (Auditory, Somatic, Material) on a spell will define how many actions you need to cast that spell. Most spells will cost two actions, some will take three rather than being a full-round to cast, and some will take a single action. Some spells may also be cast as a reaction (like Feather Fall). Some spells, like Resurrection and Create Undead, are now Rituals which may be performed by anyone who has certain skills (like 1e's Occult Rituals), rather than only by spellcasters. You don't learn them as spells, but separately from your class progression by researching and/or paying for them. Spells now have to be Heightened in order for their damage, duration and effect to scale (except cantrips, which scale automatically), so our classic Fireball will always deal 6d6 damage if used as a 3rd level slot, but will deal 18d6 damage if using a 9th level slot. This also removes the need of those "Lesser" and "Greater" spells, and spells that had multiple levels (Summon Monster).

  • Equipment: Mundane equipment is all in copper and silver pieces, with magical items in gold pieces. Items also have a level, which defines how hard they are to Craft and how long it will take (in general, you craft things much easier now). Weight is now handled by the Bulk system (same as Starfinder's), which is normally 5 + your Strength mod, with items costing either "no bulk", "light bulk" (1 bulk every 10 items of that type), or N bulk, and worn armor not counting towards that limit. If you are over your Bulk, then you are encumbered. Coins are now 1 Bulk for every 1,000 coins. Every item interaction is now an Action, such as drawing or stowing a weapon, opening a door, equipping a shield and so on. Shields no longer work like armor, and will only grant their AC bonus if you use the Raise Shield action. Weapons still have traits that grant them special abilities, but now also use traits to define certain properties, such as being able to use both hands to increase damage or how many actions it takes to reload it. Many weapons had their base damage increased, and many got new properties to make it different from another weapon that also deals the same damage. Weapons also have specialization critical effects, which are additional effects granted if you become specialized in them (via feats), such as sticking an enemy to a wall using an arrow or cleaving through enemies. All critical hits are now 2x damage.

  • Magic Items: These changed drastically, but still have their flavor. Long are gone the items of +1 to saves, +1 to AC and +2 to ability scores. You no longer have magic item slots, but can equip a total of 10 worn magic items (boots, capes, gloves, rings, etc).

      • The old gloves of strength and similar have the Apex trait, which increases the associated ability to 18 or by 2 (whichever is higher), but you may only wear a single Apex item.
      • Wands now are items with a single spell stored in them that may be used once per day, allowing you to risk overcharging and casting it one additional time (and possibly destroy it).
      • Staves are charged for free, without wasting spell slots, but you may also spend slots to increase the number of charges gained.
      • Runes are how weapons and armors are improved, which are separated into Potency runes (+1, +2, etc) and Property runes (ie: flaming), you can have one property rune for each potency rune in a weapon (so a +2 weapon can have two different properties), and you may also transfer runes between items. So, if you find a flaming halberd and nobody wants it, you can take its runes and etch onto your longsword instead. The biggest difference here is that Potency runes increase the damage by another weapon damage dice. So, a longsword's 1d8 becomes 2d8 with a +1 rune, 3d8 with a +2 rune, and 4d8 with a +3 rune, instead of a flat +1/+2/+3.
      • Finally, if you take the feat to craft magic items, you don't automatically know how to make every magic item in existence, but must obtain formulae of each item you want to be able to craft. Those use the same mechanics as crafting mundane items, which makes it simple to remember.
  • Multiclass: Are now obtained via Dedication feats, which grant you part of the abilities of another class, giving you the option to pick class feats of that class as you gain more feats in that dedication feat tree. You can no longer be a Fighter 3/Wizard 1 character, but you can be a Fighter that has a few Wizard feats and arcane spell slots to use.

  • Character Progression: Characters gain four additional ability boosts at levels 5th, 10th, 15th and 20th, making those levels the new "milestones" of character progression. XP got simplified so you always require 1,000 XP tp level up, but encounters XP calculation gives a fixed value based on the difference between the PCs level and the encounter level.

  • Bonuses: All those typed bonuses (profane, luck, deflection, etc) are now gone, replaced by Status Bonus, which comes from spells and special abilities, Circumstance Bonus, which involves the situation you are in, and Item Bonus, a bonus granted by an item. Those do not stack with bonus of the same type. Most things will grant you either status or circumstance bonus, with few untyped bonuses in the system. Penalties also have these same types, not stacking either.

  • Downtime: Is now a core mechanic, though much simpler than before. Retraining a feat or skill takes a week, but other class abilities should take at least a month. You may also use certain skills to earn money or craft things during downtime, measured in units of days.

  • Exploration: When characters are not in Encounters or Downtime, they are in Exploration Mode, which defines what they are doing while they travel from one encounter to the next, or from one town to the next. This is when your rogues declare "I'm looking for traps", the wizards that "I'm identifying magic items", "I'm praying to my god" and so on. This also may have a direct effect in upcoming combat encounters, as initiative is no longer locked to Dexterity, but either Perception (in general) or whatever activity you were doing in Exploration mode (at GM discretion). So, for example, a rogue that was scouting ahead using Stealth is able to use their Stealth skill to roll initiative, as he was able to spot enemies earlier due to the fact that he was hidden.

  • Gamemasters: Designing encounters should be easier, as you have a table of general DCs depending on the group's level, may structure your encounters now that those have a better definition, with an XP budget per encounter and an XP cost of creatures/hazards based on the level difference of the party.

      • GMs also will award Hero Points to each player at the start of each session, which may be used for things like re-roll a check or automatically stabilize if dying. These are also handed out at regular intervals (typically 1 hour of gameplay), depending on the player's roleplay, if they show bravery, come up with clever ideas, etc.
      • Traps and haunts are now a type of Hazard, but still work similarly (they have initiative, AC, attack rolls, etc).
      • Treasure should be easier to handle, as you not only have a monetary value per encounter, but also a suggestion of what level of magic items to reward in a given encounter of that level.
  • Setting: Golarion is now the official setting of the game and is introduced in the core rulebook, now called Lost Omens so the setting isn't named after the planet. This means we are introduced to the major deities, certain areas and we get a short explanation of what is the Pathfinder Society. The book doesn't go into many details about it, still allowing GMs to use the system in other settings if desired.


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