Inspire Confidence – Pathfinder 2.0

On March 6th, Paizo through the words of Jason Bulmahn dropped a not so unexpected piece of news on our community – Pathfinder 2.0.  After the success of Starfinder’s streamlined rules system it was only a matter of time for Pathfinder to get a make over as well. The beginning of Paizo’s playtesting coincides with GenCon 2018, so if you’re on the fence about going to GenCon this year, this may be a decision maker for you.

Like so many other things in the gaming community, my thoughts on Pathfinder 2.0 don’t revolve around whether or not monsters will be easier to make (which it sounds like they will be) or why using “ancestry” is far superior to “race” (well, that is right up my alley but it’s a blog for a later date), my first thoughts were about how can I help my fellow gamers get through an edition change and the ever predictable edition war that will result. I’m already seeing the gnashing of teeth and angry comments, so clearly this blog comes to you not a moment too soon.

Pathfinder, 3.Paizo history

10 years ago Wizards of the Coast announced that they were going to release D&D 4.0 with little to no information about what 4.0 would look like or what their licensing would look like, so Paizo asked their fans what the fans wanted to do. They began playtesting and taking the feedback of the players to help craft a system that worked for everyone. The community came together and filled page after page of forums talking about the rules they liked, loved, and hated. Jason Bulmahn will tell you about how he started working from home to reduce his commute time to and from work to allow for more writing time if you buy him a drink at the next convention you find him. There are things in 3.Paizo – now known as Pathfinder – that are still rough and at least one mistake way in the back of the book that has carried down from D&D 1st ed to Pathfinder, I wonder if they’ll fix it or carry it on as a legacy now, but ultimately games grow and as they mature, they need to be revised, which means new editions.

Surviving the Edition change

The time between 3.5 and Pathfinder was rough, it was ugly, there were a lot of people who left D&D or Paizo, depending on their opinions of the rules. I have personally never played D&D 4th ed and I’m not embarrassed or ashamed to say that it is only because of the way that WotC treated their loyal fan base in favor of a new, younger, and shiner fan base that they hoped they would attract. It was a difficult time and I fear that this upcoming edition change could be unpleasant – not because of anything Paizo has done or said, but because I know gamers.

The most important thing I can tell you and you can tell people that are upset about this announcement is you don’t have to move to the new edition if you don’t like it. It’s that simple – you don’t like Starfinder and you think you won’t like Pathfinder 2.0? Don’t buy the books, keep using what you have, there will probably still be 3PP who will publish stuff in that system. Paizo hopes you will like it and they’re working on ways to ensure that, but this is something they feel they need to do and that’s their choice. It has been 10 years since they rolled out 1st edition, they have stayed with 1st ed. much longer than many of us ever expected, but if you feel you just can’t take it, please exit gracefully. Know that we’ll miss you at the PFS tables but we can still be friends, we can still play other games together, and I hope you’ll keep in touch, I know I love fan mail. Also, please don’t send Paizo hate mail, don’t attack their designers, developers, owners, warehouse crew, or anyone else at Paizo for that matter, they are a company doing business and attacking them for doing business that harms no one is in bad form from one person to another. Don’t do it.

Piggybacking on that last part – don’t be nasty to one another now, during the playtesting, or when 2.0 drops, everyone has an opinion and we don’t have to agree with one another 100%, but it does help to be polite for the sake of good communication. This is going to be a heated time, gamers are surprisingly emotional about their games. It’s not terribly surprising though, we invest a lot of time and money into our games. I personally spend anywhere from 4-40+ hours a week working on gaming, whether that’s at the table gaming, researching and writing, or something else ancillary to my hobby, I average at least 12 hours a week immersed in games. Characters aren’t just marks on a page or pixels on a screen, as we role play our characters, they become part of us, like a living Choose Your Own Adventure story. We are invested and protective of our investments, so remember that when someone is upset about a change in the rules that will close the door on a part of their life, it’s upsetting and we all need to be a little more empathetic and generous with one another in the months to come.

Participate in the playtesting, it will help you to see the new possibilities and also weigh in on the parts that you do and don’t like. This is an amazing opportunity to be part of the development of a game, seeing deeper into the pages and shown the working bits, to be allowed to ask why mechanics work this way instead of that. This level of transparency should excite anyone who wants to get into game design, because you’re going to see all the moving pieces at some point and someone who does this professionally is going to give you their insight into why they chose they way they did. But also, keeping an eye on all of this will help you to figure out how to modify something you aren’t excited about without breaking the game’s overall balance.

Last, but not least, have fun and let others have fun too. You’re playing a role playing game where you can be anything you want to be – an elf, a dwarf, a goblin, a ranger, a magic user, a gunslinger – no one is standing between you and your game. The gaming community has something to offer everyone, even people who don’t look like you, think like you, or even agree with you, but no one has to make it unpleasant for the other person. If you aren’t having fun, try to figure out how you can change that and if you see someone who should be having fun, try to figure out how you can help them to change that too. As always, if you have questions or suggestions, we’re always here at Know Direction, ready to offer advice and suggestions. We have no special access to the new rules, but we have gathered what we know so far, so we’ll all discover this at the same time. There is an FAQ at Paizo with a lot of information, I recommend you give it a read through. If you’d like to hear it in real play, check out Jason and Erik gaming with Glass Cannon.


Monica Marlowe

Monica Marlowe is the 2015 Paizo RPG Superstar. Winning the contest launched her freelance game designing career. Her winning adventure, "Down the Blighted Path" and PFS scenario "Captive in Crystal" are available through Paizo. She’s publishing additional gaming materials under Marlowe House and through 3rd party publishers. Monica is also active in the ongoing education in gender, sexual, and racial equality in the gaming community. Driven by a desire to see a more diverse gaming community, Monica has joined the Know Direction network to help and encourage all gamers, veteran and new, to find their voices. Monica lives in southwest Ohio with her husband, Andrew, and 2 children, Kate and Thomas.


  1. Quo

    2nd Edition has me torn. I have time and money invested in the current Pathfind and love everything about it. While I hope 2nd Edition tweaks those areas that need it, I’m probably not going to immediately switch. We have…4 games going on and expect to be involved in those for the next several years minimum. (We rotate GM responsibilities every two books of an AP, so we’re deep in Mummy’s Mask, Giant Slayer, Strange Aeons, and Runelords.) Plus we are already looking forward to running Shattered Star and Return of the Runelords plus a couple of 3PP APs.
    I expect 2nd Edition to be wonderful and a big hit but I and my small group of gamers are not expecting to get involved in it immediately.

    • We have had that same conversation at Marlowe House. Any AP we run from here on out that is in Pathfinder 1E will be played in P1E and anything written in P2E will be played in P2E because there are some pretty significant changes from what I’ve read and seen so far. That said, I have modified Pathfinder to Numenera and run it on the fly at conventions, so just knowing the story line can sometimes be enough to get you through a good game. Remember, the playtesting doesn’t even start until August, you have plenty of time to wrap up stuff and talk with your tables about what you want to do moving forward. The PDF will be free so everyone has access to it.

    • As more information becomes available it is worth noting that Paizo will continue to convert 1E hardbacks to the pocket paperback format and keep publishing them that way as long as there is a market for it. That could mean that if 1E remains popular and profitable Paizo may may continue to publish 1E indefinitely. This leads me to believe even more that there will be a market for 1E 3PP for the foreseeable future.

  2. DanielHolm

    This idea of “there’ll still be 3PP” is nonsense — the whole reason Pathfinder was published in the first place was to give Paizo a rules system that they could publish to that wasn’t, y’know, dead. Without a company to give it ongoing support, there won’t be third-party publishers.

    From what I’ve heard so far, it seems to me that PF 2E will be just Paizo’s version of 5E, which means I’m really not interested. 5E is fine, but I prefer 3E, and Pathfinder was a good enough compromise for me that I could play it when I couldn’t get a 3E game. I see no reason to jump to PF 2E over just playing 5E, if those are my options.

    This is not the right path to take. You’d think Paizo would realize that, since they took advantage of when Wizards did the exact same thing. But I guess that was more luck than savvy, if this is what they come up with.

    • So, first commenting that it “is nonsense” sounds you didn’t really absorb the article. While I can forgive that you are passionate about what you feel, you’re going to have a long 6-12 months and you’re going to burn yourself out at this rate. Take a deep breath, take a walk, open yourself up to the possibilities of what 3.Paizo.2 will look like.

      So, try not to take this announcement as a personal attack against you and your game. Paizo used to be the #1 D&D based game system until WotC dropped 4th ed and moved to 5th ed and now WotC’s back on top, Paizo has to do something to regain some lost ground. I think Paizo realizes exactly what they need to do and they are now doing it. The difference between what WotC did then and what Paizo is doing now (and then for that matter) is that Paizo has invited us once again to partner with them in creating the game the majority of us want. We aren’t all going to get exactly what we want, but we do get to see how we can modify what we end up to suit our needs.

      As for whether or not there will still be Pathfinder.1 support happens or not, can you really say definitively it won’t? Do you have a finger on the pulse of the dozens of 3PP who already publish for the 3.5 OGL content? Paizo is still technically publishing 3.5 OGL, because that’s what they have access to license wise. I am certain that there will be publishers out there who will cross platform because they aren’t going to like 2nd ed any more than some of the fans. But anyone who puts all their dice in one gaming basket is leaving money on the table. So many 3PP are now providing Pathfinder and 5E versions of the same adventure because there’s a market for both and WotC opened up their licensing more after they learned *their* lessons after 4E. This is capitalism at its finest – watching and learning from the successes and mistakes of others to improve your own product. Paizo’s leadership would be foolish to not take WotC’s improvements and not implement some of them, because paper may grow on trees, but money doesn’t and Paizo still has to pay the bills.

      I hope you’ll participate in the play testing and find things you like there and maybe help to steer the game in a better direction.

  3. Bruno Mares

    Just one question: will be needed an action to receive the shield AC bonus? It just look like combatants don’t know how to wield a shield and a weapon at same time… Also, it seems that they were more impaired in comparision to spellcasters…

    • Monica Marlowe

      While I am not an expert, I have had to edit this answer – I finally got to listen to the end of the actual play and yes, it does sound like using a shield does use an action but it also sounds like there might be other adjustments involved with the shield. Definitely need to relisten to both the actual play and the Know Direction Podcast coverage with Erik and Logan. We are going to do the best we can to help support through this process and bring you updated information as we receive it and as we are permitted to share. Do write your questions down and keep them somewhere to refer back to and don’t forget our very own Dovah Queen, who will definitely be busy in the coming months.

  4. GE

    My main concern is Golarion.

    I am imagining reprints of the 3.5 and PF lore books with minor but significant changes (to drive sales) which will invalidate my many, many books without really being worth shelling out an extra $20 each time.

    And how they’re going to bring goblins in.

    My Golarion is based on PF Golarion and hugely invested in (both time and money). I don’t want to lose it.

    • Changing to a new rules system does not mean you have to change your setting at all, if you don’t want playable goblins, don’t allow it. As I have said over and over again in this blog, you play what you want at your table and if there is a rule that you don’t like, don’t include it. I have never played in a game where anyone used psionics. Ever. We don’t use the Occult rules – we’d like to but it’s never fit with anything we’ve done since they published. I do not anticipate that we will have goblin PCs at our table but the “We Be Goblins” line is incredibly popular and Paizo would be kind of foolish to not put something popular in their books, right? That would be like leaving out the equipment section or magic. “Eh, we’re going to drop dragons from the bestiary since this is Pathfinder.” Not going to happen.

      Change is scary and it’s okay to have reservations, but don’t let your fear of the unknown prevent you from taking an opportunity to experience something awesome. I’ll probably never jump out of a perfectly good airplane with a parachute on my back, but I hear it’s a hell of an experience and I consider it from time to time. This is a controlled change that you will be able to see how it unfolds, take note of the things you don’t think you want to keep and just let the players at your table or your GM know your thoughts on how you want your gaming table to be run. This is still *your* game, Paizo has just drawn the map for you.