Hello, everyone! Welcome to Guidance. As you might have heard, last week I had the honor of hopping on the Know Direction podcast with Ryan and Perram to interview Logan Bonner and Erik Mona about Pathfinder’s upcoming Second Edition and its Playtest. You can check out that interview here. I’ve seen a lot of people talk about how the Pathfinder Playtest makes them feel, but not as many people say what they think will be in it, so that’s what I’m going to focus on today.
You might want to grab a tinfoil hat or two for this one, FYI.
1. Skill Challenges (Or Something Similar) Will Be Core
If you don’t know, “Skill Challenges” are basically the D&D concept of having a skill-focused encounter, where you complete the encounter using your skills and noncombat abilities rather than your combat abilities. Pathfinder 1E had been slowly adding dozens of Skill Challenge-style things for YEARS—research, verbal duels, chases, these are all specific examples of what a skill challenge system could be. Frankly, having meaningful “encounters” that use your noncombat abilities are an essential part of getting players to view skill-focused resolutions to problems as a thing they can do; the murder hobo minset is partially a product of the perceived inability to solve problems in the game without fighting.
So in PF 2E, I predict we’re going to see a unified, standardized skill challenge system much like I produced in Everyman Gaming’s Skill Challenge Handbook. Frankly it makes too much sense not to include, as a good foundation in the Core Rulebook could be easily expanded in future products and supplemented.
2. Year 1 Is Going to See a Lot of 1E Updates
One of the most important parts of a new edition is getting the players their favorite shinnies from older editions as quickly as possible. This removes the hanging net of, “I had this in the old edition and now its GONE,” from over the designers’ heads, so as a result I would expect to see most character concepts that you had (and loved) from 1E put back into the game during Year 1. I know what Erik Mona said about potentially having to wait a few years—I was there. But I would be very surprised if they made us wait too long before “putting their house back in order,” as it were.
3. The Core Rulebook is Going to Have a Basic Setting Info Section.
We know that the 2E Core Rulebook is going to have Golarion lore intertwined with it from Erik and Logan’s chatter and posts on the forums. I’m going to go one step further and say that like Starfinder, the Pathfinder 2E Core Rulebook is going to have a small section detailing the basics about Golarion in it. Doing so makes TOO MUCH SENSE. I mean, if the Core Rulebook is supposed to be a new player’s “gateway drug” into all things Paizo, why would you ignore the setting information? Plus while many 3.5 veterans don’t want the Golarion setting in their rules, a new player benefits from having context for all of these classes and feats and characters put into some kind of perspective. Brand new GMs especially need a world they can use before they’re comfortable with building their own, if they choose to ever do that.
4. Paizo Will Try to Keep Old Classes as Classes
There’s been a lot of buzz regarding whether Paizo will try to transform older classes, like the hybrid classes, into archetypes for their parents. My current thoughts on this are “No, they won’t,” but for a relatively weird reason. The Iconics. Paizo’s marketing is HEAVILY invested in their Iconic characters; they put them on merch, have them illustrated constantly, and more recently have them placed in comic book and RTS game stories. Those characters are a huge part of Paizo’s identity, and I’m not convinced that Paizo is going to want WAR Iconics for archetypes as well as classes. Maybe they will, but I find it doubtful. As a result, I think any class that has an Iconic character already (Hint: all of them) is safe from being transformed into an archetype. Yes, even the ninja and samurai, which sort of frustrates me.
5. Theoretical Launch Schedule
Based off of what we’ve heard both in posts and during our interview, this is my predicted “launch dossier” for Pathfinder 2E’s Core Rulebook line. Predicting the Campaign Setting and Player Companion lines is much, much harder because I imagine those topics will feature around the “world shake-ups” that Erik alluded to in our interview, but I think this is a pretty solid list for the Core Rulebook line.
- PFRPG Core Rulebook (August 2019)
- PFRPG “Bestiary” (August — October 2019; I don’t know if they’re actually going to stick with the term “Bestiary,” but its become such a huge part of the brand that I assume they will. Additionally, this book would ideally launch on the same day as the CRB, but it didn’t for 1E or Starfinder, so who knows? Still, gonna cross my finders.)
- PFCSG “Inner Sea World Guide” (Spring 2020 — August 2020; This is sort of a must-have. If what Erik said is true, the setting will need an update for 2E, and I’d imagine that this is the big project that the dev team is going to be working on in tangent to the CRB. Not to mention they can make this book a LOT nicer, a la Inner Sea Gods.)
- PFRPG “Advanced Ancestry Guide” (October 2019 — August 2020; this is a book title I threw at Erik during the interview, which was met with a very suave response. Basically, I envision this as a “big book of ancestries” that gives us CRB levels of information on a LOT of the fan-favorite ancestries from PF 1E. Getting as many of the established ancestries back into the game as soon as possible is important both from a “maintaining my 1E character” position and a “filling the world back in” position, so I’d expect that we’d get this pretty fast. While you might be able to simulate, say, the hybrid classes with class feats from the Core Classes, there’s no way you can use the existing ancestries to model classic things like “tengu” or “aasimar” or “wayang,” so getting this back into the game fast is definitely going to be on the creative teams’ minds.
- PFRPG “Advanced Player’s Guide” (August 2020; Having a big book of player options be released at the next GenCon makes WAY too much sense. I would be shocked if this isn’t the GenCon 2020 product, but the Advanced Ancestry Guide could fit there too, I guess. I simply feel that an APG is more appealing to con-goers then the Advanced Ancestry Guide, hence why the AAG would be better for a Spring Release and the APG, a Con release. This is also a good place to put back in a bunch of the “missing” classes, hence why I think it will happen early.)
- PFRPG “GameMastery Guide” (???; We basically got confirmation from Logan and Erik that this was a book that they’re actively thinking of, but when and where they’re going to put it is a huge question mark at this point. A GMG is an important tool for new GMs, and it will likely include a bunch of the 1E Pathfinder Rules Systems that didn’t fit into the Core Rulebook. I guess time will tell at this point, huh?)
Alright! And those are my “current” Pathfinder 2E predictions. I’d like to revisit this blog article once the playtest comes out in August, but for now I’m sticking with it. What do you guys think? Do you agree with any of my prediction? Disagree? What do you want to see in Pathfinder 2E’s future? Leave your comments below, and I’ll catch you next time.
Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long as 90% of his colleagues. Alexander is an active freelancer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is best known as the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series by Radiance House. Alex is the owner of Everyman Gaming, LLC and is often stylized as the Everyman Gamer in honor of Guidance’s original home. Alex also cohosts the Private Sanctuary Podcast, along with fellow blogger Anthony Li, and you can follow their exploits on Facebook in the 3.5 Private Sanctuary Group, or on Alex’s Twitter, @AlJAug.