The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game by Paizo is a tabletop role-playing game system publicly tested in 2007 and 2008 and released in 2009. It is designed to be compatible with rules released under the Open Gaming License. On March 6, 2018, Paizo announced a second edition of the game expected to be released in August 2019, after an extensive playtest.
|“||The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (PFRPG) puts you in the role of a brave adventurer fighting to survive in a world beset by magic and evil. Will you cut your way through monster-filled ruins and cities rife with political intrigue to emerge as a famous hero laden with fabulous treasure, or will you fall victim to treacherous traps and fiendish monsters in a forgotten dungeon? Your fate is yours to decide with this giant Core Rulebook that provides everything a player needs to set out on a life of adventure and excitement!
This imaginative tabletop game builds upon more than 10 years of system development and an open playtest involving more than 50,000 gamers to create a cutting-edge RPG experience that brings the all-time best-selling set of fantasy rules into the new millennium.
Pathfinder Second Edition made several fundamental changes to the game's mechanics, and coincided with the release of the Pathfinder Lost Omens line to advance the campaign setting and tie the new mechanics more directly into the fiction of Golarion. Rulebooks in this product line also began incorporating the campaign setting rather than remaining completely system-neutral.
Paizo announced details about the official Second Edition release on March 6, 2019. The announcement included Core Rulebook, a module titled The Fall of Plaguestone, and the first Second Edition Adventure Path adventure Hellknight Hill, as well as the Character Sheet Pack, Pathfinder GM Screen, Pathfinder Combat Pad, and Condition Card Deck accessories, all of which were due to be released at Gen Con 2019.1
Design and playtest
The Pathfinder Playtest was a year-long playtest of the second edition of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game that began at Gen Con 2018. Announced on March 6, 2018, the playtest received a number of previews throughout the following months, the Doomsday Dawn adventures, accessories, and Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild scenarios. Players were asked to provide gameplay reports and respond to surveys and polls throughout the playtest. The most recent rollout of playtest materials was on November 5, 2018, though Paizo continued to accept feedback after that point.2
The release of Second Edition on August 1, 2019, at Gen Con 2019 coincided with special events on the convention's main stage, Twitch live streams of interviews and gameplay, and events focused on the design and content from the new edition.3
Remaster Project and the Open RPG Creative license
On April 26, 2023, Paizo announced the Pathfinder Second Edition Remaster Project, also known as the Pathfinder Remaster. Following concerns with the Open Gaming License (OGL) used since Pathfinder's inception, Paizo redesigned the Second Edition rules to remove or modify content and rules that could potentially conflict with OGL properties owned by other companies. Paizo also relicensed the Remaster content under the new Open RPG Creative (ORC) license, which gave Paizo more control over its own content without removing the ability of others to build on Pathfinder's rules.4
In the process, Paizo incorporated errata and updated rules, and redesigned the structure and formatting of the product line's core books. Instead of a single Core Rulebook, the line split content into separate Player Core and GM Core books released on November 15, 2023. Monster Core in March 2024 would provide creatures and related rules, and Player Core 2 in July 2024 would remaster additional classes, ancestries, and rules options. (The book Rage of Elements also incorporated some of the Remaster's changes but remained licensed under the OGL, and the supplemental Pathfinder Core Preview provided remastered rules for Rage of Elements.) The resulting rules remained compatible with past Pathfinder Second Edition rules.4
Supporting product lines
- Pathfinder Accessories
- Pathfinder Adventure
- Pathfinder Adventure Path
- Pathfinder Lost Omens
- Pathfinder Spell Cards
On March 18, 2008, Paizo Publishing made a monumental announcement. Amid the speculation and community division caused by the impending release of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition by Wizards of the Coast and the delayed announcement of the Game System License (GSL), Paizo took a stand and committed to continue publishing adventures under the existing Open Gaming License (OGL).5
Not only would Paizo be continuing in a path differing from that of Wizards of the Coast (and possibly the whole tabletop gaming industry), they would also revolutionize it. As part of the company's commitment to the 3.5 rules set, they unveiled the Pathfinder RPG, an updated, expanded core game to replace the official Dungeons & Dragons books after they have gone out of print upon the release of 4th Edition in June, 2008.5
Additionally, in the spirit of Open Gaming, the system would undergo the largest public playtest in RPG history, spanning over eighteen months and open to literally anyone who was willing to download the files from Paizo's website. The initial Alpha release, in PDF format is currently being released in three iterations (outlined below). Debuting at Gen Con 2008, the softcover Beta release will also be available as a free PDF download from Paizo, allowing anyone to contribute to the playtest with a complete set of the rules. August 2009 will see the official release of the final rules set for the Pathfinder RPG in a hardcover book. At this time, all Paizo products will be formatted for the new rules. All adventures and supplements until August 2009 will continue with the 3.5 rules.5
A further announcement was made on May 12, 2008, that famed RPG designer Monte Cook had joined the development team as a rules consultant.6 Cook, one of the co-designers of the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition rules, and author of the 3.5 DMG and PHB as well as the Ptolus™ campaign setting and the recent Book of Experimental Might, would not be an active member of the design team, but would act as an adviser for the design team. With his wealth of knowledge and experience with the original 3.5 system, Monte's involvement provides an unparalleled opportunity for Paizo, and re-excited the fans of the the Pathfinder RPG.
Design and playtest
Jason Bulmahn, Lead Designer for Paizo's Pathfinder brand, began work on the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game in October 2007. Because of the flaws in the 3.5 rules set were now being acknowledged by both fans and the developers at Wizards of the Coast, Jason set out to develop a revised version of the existing rules available under the OGL to fix these problems and improve play without starting from scratch and negating three decades of Dungeons & Dragons history.7 Bulmahn kept several goals in mind when creating the Pathfinder RPG to maintain a focus in the daunting task.
The final release of the Pathfinder RPG is a 576-page hardcover book released August 13, 2009, at Gen Con Indy. This volume is designed to support all future Paizo adventure paths and modules and can be used as a stand-alone replacement for the out-of-print core books by Wizards of the Coast, laying a foundation for OGL-based gaming for decades to come.
Prior to the release of the final rules, Paizo released two additional "previews" of the new rules system. Because no one can run the game with just the PC and GM rules, the Bonus Bestiary was released in June 2009. This would allow new players and GMs to start playing the game on day one after the rules were made available at Gen Con. July saw the release of some of the player-oriented material in the new rules set in Qadira, Gateway to the East, written by Brian Cortijo. This Companion marks the first Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting-specific material released to the general public. The core monster book, Bestiary, was released in October 2009.
After the monumental success of the Beta playtesting process, which included over 50,000 unique downloads from Paizo.com, it was no surprise that demand was high for the final rules. On August 3, 2009, a full ten days before the official release of the Core Rulebook at Gen Con, Paizo announced that all copies of the first printing of the book in the distribution channel were sold out. Impressive in its own right to have a book sell out in pre-order, the fact that this was the largest print run of any book in the company's seven year history by fivefold makes the accomplishment all the more stunning.8
The Pathfinder game rules are open content under the Open Gaming License, and an official PRD provides free resources to players and publishers using that open content in home games and commercial products. The Community Use Policy provides further access to Pathfinder product identity, such as the Pathfinder campaign setting and artwork, for non-commercial use.
|Bonus Bestiary||0906June 2009||BulmahnJason Bulmahn, F. Wesley Schneider|
|Core Rulebook||0908August 2009||BulmahnJason Bulmahn et al.|
|Bestiary||0910October 2009||BulmahnJason Bulmahn et al.|
|GM SCreen||0911November 2009||BulmahnJason Bulmahn, Wayne Reynolds|
|GameMastery Guide||1006June 2010||SchneiderF. Wesley Schneider et al.|
|Advanced Player's Guide||1008August 2010||BulmahnJason Bulmahn et al.|
|Bestiary 2||1012December 2010||BaurWolfgang Baur, Jason Bulmahn et al.|
|Ultimate Magic||1104April 2011||BulmahnJason Bulmahn et al.|
|Ultimate Combat||1108August 2011||BulmahnJason Bulmahn et al.|
|Beginner Box||1110October 2011||BulmahnJason Bulmahn, Sean K. Reynolds|
|Bestiary 3||1112December 2011||BulmahnJason Bulmahn et al.|
|Advanced Race Guide||1206 June 2012||JacobsJames Jacobs et al.|
|Player Character Folio||1207July 2012||StaffPaizo Staff|
|Ultimate Equipment||1208August 2012||BulmahnJason Bulmahn et al.|
|NPC Codex||1211November 2012||BulmahnJason Bulmahn et al.|
|Ultimate Campaign||1305May 2013||BulmahnJason Bulmahn et al.|
|Mythic Adventures||1308August 2013||BulmahnJason Bulmahn et al.|
|Bestiary 4||1309 October 2013||BulmahnJason Bulmahn et al.|
|Advanced Class Guide||1408 August 2014||BulmahnJason Bulmahn et al.|
|Monster Codex||1410 October 2014||BakerDennis Baker, Jesse Benner, Logan Bonner et al.|
|Strategy Guide||1503 March 25, 2015||BaurWolfgang Baur, Jason Bulmahn et al.|
|Pathfinder Unchained||150429 April 29, 2015||BulmahnJason Bulmahn et al.|
|Occult Adventures||150729 July 29, 2015||BonnerLogan Bonner, Jason Bulmahn et al.|
|Bestiary 5||151118 November 18, 2015||BulmahnJason Bulmahn et al.|
|Ultimate Intrigue||160330 March 30, 2016||Paizo Staff|
|Horror Adventures||160720 July 29, 2016||Paizo Staff|
|Villain Codex||161116 November 16, 2016||Paizo Staff|
|Bestiary 6||170426 April 26, 2017||Paizo Staff|
|Adventurer's Guide||170524 May 24, 2017||Paizo staff|
|Book of the Damned||1709 September 2017||Paizo staff|
|Ultimate Wilderness||1711 November 2017||Paizo staff|
|Planar Adventures||1806 June 2018||BrookesRobert Brookes, John Compton, Paris Crenshaw, et al.|
- Pathfinder Second Edition products on Paizo.com
- Pathfinder Second Edition Reference Document on aonprd.com
- Pathfinder First Edition products on Paizo.com
- Pathfinder First Edition Reference Document on aonprd.com
- Archived Pathfinder First Edition Reference Document
- Paizo Staff. (March 6, 2019). Pathfinder Second Edition Unveiled!, Paizo News.
- Jason Bulmahn. (November 12, 2018). Catching Our Breath, Paizo blog.
- Jim Butler. (July 31, 2019). Paizo at Gen Con, Paizo Blog.
- Paizo staff. (April 26, 2023). Pathfinder Second Edition Remaster Project!, Paizo Blog.
- Paizo Publications Press Release. (March 18, 2008). Paizo Publishing® Announces the Pathfinder RPG™, Paizo News.
- Paizo. (May 13, 2008). Monte Cook Joins the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game™ Team, Paizo News.
- Jason Bulmahn. (March 18, 2008). From the Lead Designer, Paizo.com.
- Paizo Publishing. (August 3, 2009). Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook Sold Out!, Paizo.com.