Know Direction 298 In Writing

[00:00:00] Esther: Hello and welcome to Know Direction, your number one source for Pathfinder news, reviews, and interviews. I’m Esther. 

[00:00:27] Navaar: And I’m Navaar. 

[00:00:29] Esther: And today, we are finally, at long last, I can’t believe this, sitting down to discuss the Pathfinder Remaster.

[00:00:39] Navaar: Yes, finally. Very excited. This remaster, for those who haven’t been keeping up with Pathfinder news, has been not necessarily a long time coming. I think talking to Luis, it was kind of like, there were things that they wanted to change as a group with Paizo, but the events that happened at the beginning of the year with the OGL, with Wizards of the Coast, like, really sort of set things on their path of like, “Okay, yeah, we need to move away.”

Paizo led the ORC license change and, took the opportunity to say, “let’s remaster our core books.” That being the Player Core is what it’s called now.;The GM Core; I believe we got a Monster Core coming… 

[00:01:24] Esther: Yes, we do. 

[00:01:24] Navaar: And forget what the fourth one is. But the two that are out, the two that we can talk about — and because it’s release day for the public, as well, because our lives are crazy and, and we weren’t able to record it until now — we can just talk about whatever we wan, I’m pretty sure. Because it’s 15th of November when we’re recording 

[00:01:41] Esther: We can talk about whatever we want.

[00:01:43] Navaar: Yeah. Take that, I forget the rules. I don’t know. Folks, we record these late, constantly.

[00:01:49] Esther: Embargo.

[00:01:49] Navaar: Yeah, the embargo. Yeah, take that, Embargo! So, yeah, before we get started though, it’s been a while. People are still listening to our voices because there have been other episodes that have come out that were prerecorded, but it has been a while since you and I have actually sat down to talk on the show, and I think it’s important — even though I told you this is where we should start at a different thing, I was thinking about this now — I think it’s important to tell everybody that Esther and I got to meet in person at Big Bad Con this year, and it was incredible.

We got to hug, we got to hang out. We didn’t get to do a panel together because I had a family emergency that required me to leave earlier, but, we still had, I still had a wonderful time seeing you, so. 

[00:02:28] Esther: I had a great time seeing you and it was, it was phenomenal. I feel like we could have a whole conversation about Big Bad Con and everything that happened there and our experiences. It was so good to get to hug you and meet you and just chill. And someday we will get to do a panel together, but like, you were being a really awesome dad and spouse and of your family, so like.

[00:02:51] Navaar: Thank you. Yeah, yeah. I mean, life comes at us fast. I think, especially like this year — I mean, for the past three years, realistically — but I think like, in this year for me personally has been like, the most where my schedule has been like, “Oh yeah, things aren’t going to just go the way you want them to go,” at almost any given week. So you just got to really learn how to like, go with it and, and move. I mean, I’ve told you this before, but I think like the way that you and I do this show, and the way that you’ve talked about like giving yourself sort of accessibility and the, and, and the capability to like, adjust as needed and be comfortable with that has changed that perspective for me a lot. And so I appreciate that. It was also great to meet a lot of the Paizo team and like, Paizo freelancers and stuff like that. It was, that was really cool. So it was — it really felt like all the things that we believed about the company in terms of — or the people in the company, I don’t want to like put the company on a pedestal.

But the people in the company, all the things that we believed about them in the way that they, the values that they held, it felt like that was visible while I was hanging out with them, which is really cool to see and get to experience. And so, yeah.

[00:04:06] Esther: It always feels really good to meet people and be like, “Oh, even though I’ve like talked to you over the internet, you are really awesome in person too.” And like, just get to hang out and like talk and, and chill. That is an experience that I treasure, with being in person at a con. And it was so great to meet Luis, and James, and Jess, and Ruvaid, and all of these other people, and to get to, like, actually sit down and play a little bit, because we had, a game that Luis GM’d, where we were all doing, like, Animist and Exemplar playtest classes. And that was, that was really, really fun for me. I so rarely get to play, and I forgot everything I ever knew about the game in that game, truly. I was like, I could not remember anything. But I had so much fun, and I guess this is all just to say, if you ever want to go to Big Bad Con, we highly recommend it. It was a really great supportive space.

[00:05:04] Navaar: Yeah, I mean, so long as they continue to keep, like, all of their safety protocols and things like that, like, I think that it made a huge difference. In comparison, like, other conventions — you can just, like, literally look at any other one that had, like multiple tens, dozens of people get COVID, versus the I think very small handful of people that either got it before or, or at least tested positive while they were there.

So, yeah, I mean, I think it’s, I can’t imagine they would make that change. I hope it stays the same because it — 

[00:05:35] Esther: I dotoo. 

[00:05:36] Navaar: It made me feel comfortable. My social anxiety made me feel uncomfortable at times, but that’s just me. Don’t, don’t blame that on the con. Yeah, I think it was really good.

So, I just wanted to add that in there because I think it, it’s, a special thing. Like you and I, I feel like we had a friendship before we became hosts together, but it was great to like, have the opportunity to actually go and meet that person that you, you know, spend time talking with and, and texting with and, and creating content with. And so, yeah. 

[00:06:01] Esther: Absolutely. Absolutely. There’s something about just getting to like meet in person that is really, really special and I’m glad got to.

[00:06:08] Navaar: It was our own version of the remaster. 

[00:06:12] Esther: Yes. [Esther and Navaar laugh]

[00:06:13] Navaar: And with that incredible segue, we’re gonna jump right into these books. As we talked about, the Player Core and the GM Core are the two main books. I think we’ll probably spend a little bit more time on the Player Core because that’s the one that most people are going to use.

But yeah, like just kind of from the beginning things get shaken up a little bit. They’ve changed some of the ancestries that are, like, the core ancestries, and they’ve also changed some of the classes that are the core classes. One of the most famous of Pathfinder’s ancestries is the leshy, and leshy has become core to the game. So, uh, that’s very fun to see. 

[00:06:52] Esther: I love that. So the, the new core ancestries are: dwarf, elf, gnome, goblin, halfling, human leshy, orc, and then, the versatile heritages, which are changeling, nephilim, which basically the nephilim is taking the place of tieflings and like extraplanar, like heritage entities like that.

And then the aiuvarin, which is the new term for half-elf, and dromaar, which is the new term for half-orc. And I love both of those changes. I really love them getting their own names and like cultural background. And that just thrilled me, that change. 

[00:07:29] Navaar: I do have a very, this is a Esther special question, because as, as our religious consultant for the podcast– that’s, I just made that up. But as a person who, you know, studies and deals with religion, as your like sort of day job, how do you feel about the name nephilim as a ancestry, or a heritage, I should say in the book? Because I think like that’s very specifically tied to religion, right? If I remember correctly. 

[00:07:59] Esther: Mmhmm. Yeah, oh, I love this question. I may have a little bit of a, an unexpected answer. Because I’ve read in a couple of discord servers strong feelings about this name. And I actually don’t have particularly strong feelings about the name nephilim. I believe it comes from a Hebrew, like, mythology is the wrong — but Hebrew tradition. And that like Nephilim are biblical angelic entities or like, demonic entities as it may be, entities that are non human, but supernatural in some way. And maybe like, blended with human blood or something like that. I could also be pulling all of this out of thin air.

So I, I’m fine with it. I think it does touch on some of what we were talking with Avi about when we recorded that episode, which is like the, the roots in traditions that don’t always get more fully expressed in the game. And I would love to know like kind of how some of those influences from that specific tradition might get flavored into like, new feats for these heritages or stuff like that.

Yeah, I guess I’m just like, I’m open to seeing what comes of it and how people enjoy it.

[00:09:17] Navaar: Yeah. I guess in the same way, there was already angels and devils, right? And so, to the extent that that’s like pulling from a, like that root, Christian, Muslim, Hebrew, all of that, like those — what do you call them when you’re grouping those three together?

Uh, but anyway, to the extent that like, it’s pulling from that same religious tradition, I think that there’s — it’s not as odd when you compare it to like, what’s already there. But it is like — I was seeing it and I was like, “Oh, that’s an AFI song!” But also that it was religious context.

So yeah, anyway, I’m glad that it’s not like a big thing for you specifically. I was just curious, like, because you have, you know, this experience looking at it from a religious perspective. So.

[00:10:00] Esther: Yeah. I think the other thing I would note is nephilim, I believe is used at least in Hebrew scripture to refer to like, large beings, like kind of like giant — 

[00:10:11] Navaar: That was the other thing the, yeah. I was like song! It’s a song, and it’s also giant people. 

[00:10:15] Esther: Yeah. Giant people. And I don’t know that giant-ness is reflected in these nephilim, but your mileage may vary.

[00:10:24] Navaar: Right. Yeah. But I think this also, this is also points us to another thing, another big change that came, with the remaster is that there’s no more alignment. 

[00:10:34] Esther: Mm hmm.

[00:10:35] Navaar: The alignment chart for Pathfinder 2e is gone. But now there are holy and unholy, I think is the two terms that they use. 

[00:10:43] Esther: Yes. And edict and anathema.

[00:10:45] Navaar: Yeah. So, I think it’s cool to be able to say, like, “however I want to play with this, whatever my aesthetic is, whether that’s horns or a halo, like, that doesn’t dictate in the rules what my characters morality is going to be, or how they will be looked at.” 

I think like that, that does a good job of like pulling away from a lot of that, those same tropes that like — in recent, recent pop media, Baldur’s Gate 3 had a big thing of people being like, “Hang on, like, I thought we… I thought we already talked about all this.” But that was like the TTGRPG space talked about, the video game space was like, “We’re making this game for however many years, this is how it’s gonna be.” But it really opened up the door again for people to have a discussion about like, “Hang on, why is my character being treated this way just because of the way that they look?” Which is a good discussion. Continue having that discussion. But I think like, when you can make a game where it’s like, “Now I don’t have to worry about that. I don’t have to even think about that, really. What I’m thinking about is, like, what is my player’s morality despite what they look like.” Which I think is, this is how it should be, especially in a game where you have as much character customization as you do with Pathfinder. Making that more seamless, I think, is really good. 

[00:11:58] Esther: The other thing I’ve thought about is like — and I want to preface this with, I’m not hating on alignment. If alignment works for you, you can still use it in your games, and that’s totally fine. But I think sometimes that like, you know, nine box grid can really box us in to very, very oversimplified and railroaded versions of what morality is, what ethics are, and like what it means to be a quote unquote good person or an evil person.

And I really like this new system of like, edict and anathema, and how it can be determined by your class, your background, your character’s backstory and their life, your worship of a deity. Like, there’s so many different influences that can come together to build your values system in this world, and I think that just contributes to richer worldbuilding and richer experience of gameplay. So I’m very, very excited about that change.

[00:12:55] Navaar: Yes. same, yeah. And let all your anathemas be no genocide. 

[00:13:00] Esther: Mhm.

[00:13:01] Navaar: Mm-Hmm. . Um, yeah. So after ancestries we have the new core classes, which most of these are gonna be the same. But my favorite that I haven’t played got in here. so the new ones now are Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Ranger, Rogue, Witch, and Wizard.

So notably, no Sorcerer. No Champion. which I imagine Champion being, “we gotta hold off on this as we figure out how this works now without alignments.” Which I think, I have confidence in the team that they’ll get it done, and I’m excited to see what they do with it. But yeah, I love Witch being a core.

[00:13:39] Esther: I love Witch being a core. That was the one I honestly went directly there and started through the Witch. 

I’ve, I’ve played a Witch multiclass, but I’ve never played a Witch as like, my primary class. And I’ll be honest, in part because I really loved the idea of the Witch, but the first iteration just didn’t quite pack enough of a punch in the way I wanted it to. And —

[00:14:07] Navaar: For, I’m sorry, for 2e or for first edition?

[00:14:09] Esther: For 2e, for 2e. Yeah. And I think they fixed a lot of what I was uncomfortable with in this, so I’m really excited to hear your thoughts on the Witch.

[00:14:22] Navaar: Yeah, I think like, I agree. I think that there are things that it, it makes it so that it’s smoother. Like if it, if it’s gonna be your core one and you’re gonna take something out like that is… I would say like a Sorcerer’s, pretty iconic, right? That’s like thing that, like, you have that innate ability and all this stuff.

You really have to give something that’s going to, that’s gonna like pop and gonna, and gonna feel good, so. I’m trying to like get to the page that I can find my thoughts, but yeah. What were some of like, the standout things for you? 

[00:14:53] Esther: So, on page 184, they get into the — 183 actually — we get into patrons. And this is where the Witch kind of wasn’t up to what I wanted it to be before. The patrons were like kind of one-word entries. And I’m gonna like pull something out of thin air, like, “shadow” or “darkness” or “light” or something like that. 

[00:15:18] Navaar: Or “fate,” yeah, yeah, yeah. 

[00:15:18] Esther: Yeah, or “fate.” And kind of barebones descriptions of like, what it got you. And they’ve really done a beautiful job of expanding patron descriptions and flavors. So the, the titles are now Faith’s Flamekeeper, The Inscribed One, The Resentment, Silence in Snow, Spinner of Threads, Starless Shadow, and Wilding Steward. And those names alone get me more excited than like, “snow,” or “shadow.” 

Um, and I’ll just, I’ll just pick one at random: Spinner of Threads, that’s the one I want to go with. So the description for this is: “You met your patron in a memory of an encounter yet to come, or a premonition of something long since past, as they untangled and respun the tapestry of time and fate. Was your patron a Norn? A herald of a deity like Pharasma, Alseta, or Grandmother Spider? Could it even be a single individual appearing at three or more points in its timeline, multiple versions of the same being, parallel threads converging on a single moment.” And so then it tells you your spell list is going to be Occult, and your patron skill that you get trained in is Occultism. And you get the lesson of Fate’s Vicissitudes.

Which is: “Your patron’s harsh lesson is that fate spares no one, rising and falling in turn for all. You gain the Nudge Fate hex cantrip and your familiar learns Sure Strike.” And then your familiar now gets a little boost as well based on what your patron gives you. This is the Familiar of Balanced Luck, which means: “Your familiar has a spot on its body that looks like a good luck charm or a bad omen, depending on the angle. When you cast or sustain a hex, one creature within 15 feet of your familiar gets your choice of either a +1 status bonus to its AC or a -1 status penalty to its AC until the start of your next turn.”

So that’s just a bit of an example for you of the updated, re-juiced patron descriptions and what you get.

And honestly, that was enough to take me, to being really excited about the idea of playing a Witch one day. Like, you know that I am all about flavor, and the flavor in these is beautiful, but it’s also really backed up with a lot of good mechanical stuff that I think really just gives the Witch that extra something that makes it a really solid option for a caster class. 

[00:17:46] Navaar: I agree. I also haven’t had a chance to play the Witch, but I’ve, I’ve GMed for one. There’s a Witch in An Unwavering Force, the show I’m in, and we… I love hexes. I think all of them are really cool. Once you understand, I think especially once you understand like, how much of a benefit a +1 or a -1 is to a character, and then you look at the other hexes outside of, like, the core hex, it’s like, “Oh yeah, this is, this is good.”

But I really love the nasty hexes. And I think, similar to what you were saying, I don’t think I have the words for it, but like, having patrons that feel like there’s now this sort of defined relationship, there’s now this sort of backstory that you can build off of. As opposed to just being like, “There’s a, there’s a deity out there who just gives you stuff, and you don’t ever acknowledge it. But you have this really cool familiar with you.”

Whereas this, like — now it’s like, for people who really enjoy having patron relationships, I think this is going to hit the spot. But all that to say, the one that I love is the Resentment one. “The Resentment is a single feeling radiated from your patron in the moment you met them, as palpable as heat from a fire. The desire to see every tall poppy felled and every proud nail hammered down, whether to righteously bring justice for small folk, or the base urge to see the powerful defeated. Your patron is likely far from the upper echelons of its kind, such as a hag ousted from its coven, or a quasi-divinity, or lower-ranking demon. This leaves it only subtler and weaker tools to see its end met: curses, hexes, and you.” 

And so you get the Lesson of Strength’s Impermanence. So: “Your patron has taught you that the power can be taken much more easily than it can be built. You gain the Evil Eye hex.” The best hex! “And your familiar learns Enfeeble. Which Enfeeble used to be Ray of Enfeeblement. And I believe that the spell itself got a little bit of a boost as well.

And: “Your familiar seems hostile to all creatures other than you, hissing at them if they get too near.”

So I think like just in terms of, again, like the flavor and the roleplay around that, like having this like angry little shit that’s just there with you constantly that helps you get spells, it’s such a fun thing, right? Because I think we’ve, we’ve all met somebody who has like that one cat that they’re just like, that cat is not gonna let you hold it. Don’t hold the cat. It’s not gonna be good. And yeah, we need more of that.

[00:20:06] Esther: We do. I’m looking up Enfeeble real quick, because wanted to see — yeah, so, Spell 1, it’s two actions, range 30 feet, targets one creature. You sap the target’s strength depending on its Fortitude save. Critical success: the target is unaffected. Success: the target is enfeebled one until the start of your next turn. Failure: the target is Enfeebled 2 for one minute. And critical failure, the target is Enfeebled 3 for one minute.

I honestly don’t remember how that compares to the previous version.

[00:20:37] Navaar: Right, yeah. I don’t either, but I’ll just say, like, just from that, I love that you don’t have to do an attack roll. 

[00:20:43] Esther: Mm hmm.

[00:20:44] Navaar: I love that it lasts a minute. I’d have to look at the rules, but like, if you land that successfully, especially at a lower level, and then there’s no like, additional save after that, that’s massive. 

[00:20:55] Esther: Yeah. 

[00:20:56] Navaar: But I mean, as I’m looking this up, the other thing is: magic has changed a little bit in this remaster. Instead of having to do like, different components and all this stuff, the spells are sort of laid out in ways that make it so that you can still be holding weapons or have things in your hand and still be able to do gestures.

I think it’s like, called Utterances now. So there’s like, these little changes that they’re making that are, are… one, it, it helps them get further away from OGL. But two, I think it helps make it a lot of this stuff easier for new players coming into this to be like, “Okay, I don’t have to like figure out what the spell components are for this, or learn what the word somatic means.”

Uh, you know! [laughs] Uh, we can just kind of move forward. 

[00:21:41] Esther: I straight up forgot that somatic and verbal components aren’t a thing anymore — or are not a thing in the same way anymore. And that’s really exciting.

[00:21:50] Navaar: Yeah, I’m looking at the spell… okay, I, think it actually, the spell might be the same. So it’s just the name that they changed. ‘Cause it’s still the same fortitude save, two action spell. But either way — so just like, some of the ways that they’ve changed some of the stuff is like, sometimes it’s a name change. Just to make things different, and also hopefully easier. 

[00:22:14] Esther: Yeah, I, I think a lot of, a lot of the material here feels either basically the same or incredibly similar. It’s still worth it to pick up both of these books to have the most current version of the game, but nothing felt like an earthshaking, game- system-altering change here. Like, it just feels like a refinement and a steady improvement on the past several years of this game. And that feels really good. 

[00:22:45] Navaar: Yes. I enjoy that. I think one of the things that, um, I wanted to talk to you about — because we’ve had a lot of discussions with Paizo staff that you listeners have heard now, where we’ve talked to them about, like, what’s it lie In iterms of accessibility in Paizo, and how we look at like accessibility and, and tools for accessibility when it comes to the game, things like that.

Opening up a rulebook is always sort of difficult. For you, do you feel like you felt that the book was easier to navigate and/or read as you’re going through it? 

[00:23:20] Esther: Absolutely. I love that you asked this question because honestly, one of the biggest barriers to getting people into this game thus far has been the size and in some ways, the layout, of the previous Core Rulebook. I know that’s not the case for everybody, and there’s folks who that all really, really worked for. But I actually recently lent my copy of the old Core Rulebook to someone who came over to my house for dinner and was really into learning about TTRPGs.

And I was like, “Just take this!” And they were like, “Wow, this is huge. This is a lot to get through.” And I was like, “Yeah, it’s easier than it seems.” But it’s been — a barrier of entry for multiple people was just like, the sheer size of this book and the amount of information and, and sometimes the way it was laid out.

So for me, actually — especially with the new Player Core — it did feel like a simpler layout. It does feel condensed and like it’s a bit more streamlined, and that the flow of information is maybe actually largely the same, but it makes just a little bit more sense to me. Yeah, I’m curious about your experience.

[00:24:32] Navaar: Yeah. Similarly, as I was going through it, I think like the thing that really stuck out is really like, the layout, right? In terms of like, just the graphic design of it, it seemed like things weren’t as cluttered or — it just seemed like it was a lot smoother to find stuff, to read stuff, to navigate even things on the page.

I just, I really love that because I think it, it is hard to go and give somebody a big book and be like, “Hey, like, learn this and make a character.” And it’s just not the most accessible way, regardless of how you make your book. But I think when you can do everything you can… Pathfinder is the kind of game that a big book, maybe it’s created its own necessity. But it like, it’s hard to think of like, Pathfinder without this.

And I’ve never even read the full original Core Rulebook. To be clear, I never intend to. Just that there’s so much, that’s so much stuff that I just don’t need. But it’s like when it’s, when I need it, it’s there. And, you know, finding out where it is. And so like, I think, yeah, just a lot of like the ways that they’ve changed — if you go and look at like the equipment, right, the weapons, as fun as it is to have like, weapons spread around on a page, it also breaks up the text, and that’s distracting.

And so like having the text it laid out in a way that’s — I can go look for the picture of this thing if it exists, but also now here’s all the descriptions that I need in order, without other things in the way visually, I think that makes a big difference. 

[00:26:03] Esther: It reminds me of Avi talking to us about sculpting the page appearance and how that’s like, editorial work. And so I, I want to just shout out the editorial team for — and the graphic design team — for these layout decisions. I think that sculpting of the page really does come through in the final product. And it seems more streamlined and easier to access. And that is a very, very good thing.

[00:26:31] Navaar: Yes. Yes, absolutely. Yeah, what other, what other things, uh, stood out to you? 

[00:26:37] Esther: I had one more thing about the Witch, and then the Wizard, actually. 

So, there’s a Witch feat at Level 18. This, I believe, replaces the former feat Hex Wellspring, which let you recover three Focus Points when you refocused if you’d spent at least three Focus Points since you last refocused, or something like that.

This is called Patron’s Claim and it is: “Your patron partially manifests itself through your familiar to claim a foe’s power for its own. Your familiar gains the following activity.” So this is a two action, once per hour effect, which is: “Your familiar’s mouth opens impossibly wide before your patron’s grasping limb stretches forth from it at a creature within 30 feet, dealing 10d10 spirit damage with a basic Fortitude save against your spell DC.

If the creature fails its save and takes damage, it is also Drained 2, or Drained 4 on a critical failure. And you regain one focus point, up to your usual maximum, as your patron grants you additional magic in exchange for your gift of your opponent’s spirit.” Wow. What a feat. I mean, you’ll have to get to Level 18 before you can take that, but I absolutely loved that. Just like —

[00:27:53] Navaar: That feels like a good Level 18 feat. You did touch on something though, that is another change that came to the game. So, Focus Points were sort of weird — I remember when I first started playing, honestly, it took me so long to figure out like, how they worked. When you got a new one, how did you recharge it?

And I had to like, keep going back and reading the rules. It’s been made a lot simpler now. So ignore — if you’ve never, like, if you’re still new or you don’t understand Focus Points, just ignore whatever the old rule was. Now you just, you have to spend 10 minutes to focus, then you can get your Focus Points back, or you can get a Focus Point back per 10 minutes that you spend refocusing, without the other conditions that were set upon, like you had to use one to get something back, and et cetera, et cetera. Which I think is, is really good because then it — if you’re a character who uses Focus Points a lot, for instance, I have a character that is a Ranger — and I use Gravity Weapon a lot. He’s also a psychic. And so I use — all of my psy cantrips use my focus points. It’s great to like, “Alright, cool, I did three really cool things. And now, after this battle’s done, in 30 minutes if I spend the time, I can do three more cool things in the next encounter.”

As opposed to like, “I can do one and then I have to wait a day or whatever.” So I still don’t understand the rules, for the old version of it. But I, I am, I’m excited that they made that change. I think it’s another thing that just like, this is how we get towards a more simpler concept. Because I don’t think that Pathfinder 2e is a difficult game to learn. But Focus Points, specifically, hung me up for a long time. 

[00:29:27] Esther: Same, same. I remember — so the first 2e character I ever created was a Champion, and she had a Focus Pool. And I was so confused about how it functioned differently than regular spells, how I had like, get it back up to the number of points. Like, it was, it was a process to learn and I’m lucky that my GM is just, has a great brain for like, remembering rules and systems, because I would have been really lost without him.

[00:29:56] Navaar: Yeah. It’s a, it was tough. Cool. So what was your, what was your Wizard thing? 

[00:30:01] Esther: So my Wizard thing! I was really curious how the Wizard was going to change, because they’ve gotten rid of the various magical schools: abjuration, conjuration, illusion, enchantment, all of those. And I think those were close, or too close to the OGL way of thinking about magic and arcane schools, and so they’ve been replaced. And yeah, now the arcane schools are: the School of Ars Grammatica, the School of Battle Magic, School of the Boundary, School of Civic Wizardry, School of Mentalism, School of Protean Form, and the School of Unified Magical Theory, which is basically like being a Universalist Wizard again. And I instantly really liked those for the ways that they sounded very straightforward and descriptive of like, what they are. The vaguest one I think is like, School of the Boundary — and we can look up what that means — but I just loved like, School of Battle Magic. Okay! School of Civic Wizardry. You kind of get the vibe of those things. 

They have somewhat changed Arcane Theses. So the Arcane Thesis options before were Improved Familiar, Attunement, Metamagical Experimentation, Spell Blending, Spell Substitution, and Staff Nexus, and now they are Experimental Spell Shaping, Improved Familiar Attunement, Spell Blending, Spell Substitution, and Staff Nexus.

So like, there’s some overlap there, but you’re also getting some new flavor for what’s possible for the Wizard. And basically, your Arcane Schools, you get the same number of spells and cantrips and extra spell splots that you would have gotten from like, picking a school to focus on in the old system. You get that from your new arcane schools. So basically works the exact same way. And yeah, I honestly… I have never really wanted to play a Wizard that badly. And that may be an unpopular opinion; it’s just, it’s just me. 

[00:32:04] Navaar: No, yeah. I agree. 

[00:32:06] Esther: Yeah. And so I was surprised when I read through the Arcane Schools and I was like, “Huh, you know, I can actually imagine like, building a character and having fun building a wizard now.”

I wasn’t necessarily expecting that from the remaster, but it really did it for me. So yeah, I just, I wanted to shout out the way the Wizard has been, not like majorly rethought, but like minorly tweaked. It works for me.

[00:32:37] Navaar: I think like when you… just having the vibe of like, here’s a thing. Because I think that’s what has always sort of stood out to me for other spellcasters, right? Is like, even with the Sorcerer, it’s like, the source of your power is, is this thing. And so that kind of draws you towards a direction.

And even though the Wizards have like schools of magic, it just always felt like you’re going to learn whatever spells you want to learn anyway. But like, when you tell me that my school of magic can just be Battle Magic, like that — to me, I’m like, “Oh, yeah, this is like playing Skyrim and being like, I just want to focus on destruction, right?”

You know, and so creating that vibe, I think, really does a lot to make it more appealing, really. Like there’s a reason that the Psychic appeals to me. Even if I wasn’t playing in a Star Wars game, there’s a reason that the Psychic appeals to me.

‘Cause it’s very, it narrows that down into like a very specific subset of like, here’s some really cool shit that you can do with these psychic abilities. Or a cleric even, right? You know, there’s a lot of stuff like that. So I think like having that Wizard I think helps, pull people in. I agree. 

[00:33:49] Esther: And I also, I like that they’re kind of removing the ” if you’re an illusionist, you really have to focus on learning illusion spells.” Like, that felt so limiting. I’ve built Wizard NPCs before, or like, major, major NPCs that the players would interact with, and it’s always felt very limiting to me to feel like I have like, a narrower range of options to choose from. And this, the way that magic has been rethought and reworked, it feels like you can do a lot more flavor-wise to, like, make whatever fit being Battle Magic, or Civic Wizardry, or Unified Magical Theory. Like, whichever one you want to pick. And I really like that.

I think Pathfinder is a game of customization for so many people. And this feels like one more way to get that customization. 

[00:34:44] Navaar: Absolutely. Yeah, let’s see. What other changes did they make? they just, they’ve done quite a bit of stuff with other things. I feel like I remember seeing they’ve made some changes to how you apply runes to shields, so in that you can now buff up shields and actually want to use them, as opposed to like worrying about them breaking, including magical shields as well. Because the runes uh, before didn’t allow for certain things or didn’t allow for as much versatility. That’s really good to see. I think as much as I feel like martial classes in Pathfinder 2E are already really badass, there are certain things that you’re inclined to do when you don’t have as many benefits to do them. 

[00:35:33] Esther: Yeah. The other thing I’d just shout out is that I think they’ve done a really good job laying out like the Playing The Game section, which Chapter Eight. And it’s, it’s just really good to have reminders of like what encounter mode is, what exploration mode is, what downtime is. To have the Pathfinder baseline, which is on page 397, layed out for like — the people who create this game have certain expectations of what will or will not be on the table in terms of play. And I think it’s really just useful to remember that those guidelines exist in the book, it’s helpful to point new players there. And that’s the kind of thing that, like, people have asked me before. Like, what’s on the table? Or how do you… how do you, like, live your life in this game? And it’s just great to have a place to easily point folks to. So, just another shout-out to the layout and the general thought and organization. I think that’s really well done.

[00:36:31] Navaar: Yeah. I think, so another interesting thing about the layout — because thing that is interesting to me, and I both are game designers. layout of how the rules are presented was something that when I was making my game I gave a lot of thought to, I reorganized before I like, it in to get to published.

Because how we look at it, I think says a lot about like, how the game gets approached, right? And so, like, for me, my game, was like “Here’s the rules that everybody needs to know. And then here’s a quick I think it’s like, two or three pages of like how to create your character. And then at the end is like, here’s how the GM can run the game.” What I think is interesting is that Pathfinder is set up in a way that’s like, “Here’s how to make your character for about three or four hundred pages.” Which, not gonna use all those pages, don’t let that intimidate you. I don’t think that’s bad when it comes to Pathfinder 2e because Pathfinder 2e is about the character customization aspect of it. You’re going to spend a lot of time working on getting your character right, or making tons and tons of characters, so it makes sense to have all of this stuff in here. And while is a lot of choice, and sometimes that can be intimidating, I think the choices are so that it, it allows you to really think about like, how do I want to approach the world. a new podcast out called Infectious Enthusiasm by my mentor Quinn Murphy. And uh, about Pathfinder 2E, and his friend Brian. And, and they, about a lot of things, but the way that like weapons work, for instance, is one of those things of like, weapon choices are even — it’s it might be just “I like the aesthetic of this.” But also it might be, “Well, I like the aesthetic of this, but I actually want to be able to Trip and Disarm with my weapon on an attack. So this might be a better option for me, you know?” And so I think it’s, cool that they put a lot of care into how that gets presented to somebody. I think it’s fun to like notice those things now and be like, “Oh, now I, get it. Now it makes sense that this is the way that it’s done.”

[00:38:46] Esther: What you said just reminded me of the intense respect I have for especially veteran game designers. Because as a designer, I feel like I became intensely aware of the need to serve like, the broadest possible audience: people who are going to like pick up the game and play it and not do a deep dive into the rules, and the people who are like, “I need to understand every aspect of this to be able to do all the complicated things.” And it’s really important to have a system that will function for both. For the person who’s like, “I want to be able to maximize my weapon damage and customize do all these extra things.”

And the person who’s like, “I would like to take my sword and rob the bank,” or whatever, or rob, rob from the rich and give to the poor, let’s say. And I think it’s really important to have a system that can do both, that can do like the very broadest, most blunt instrument way, and the really detailed, precise way, and a thing that I admire so much about Pathfinder 2e is I really think it does both.

I have players at my table who are both of those kind of players, and the system works equally well for all of them, which just speaks to its design. 

[00:40:03] Navaar: I mean, there is something to be said about, like, having the ability to go both directions of, of minmaxing and just like… I just want to be good at other stuff. love to be able to like, be good at all the things, but I think like a lot of the best moments are those ones where, where you do fail or you have such a low chance of succeeding that it’s like, ” All right! Well, here, here we go.” Because so agree. I think it’s, it’s great that Pathfinder has found a way to be both of those things.

So, I just remembered that I have a gripe about the GM Core. Uh, clear, it’s a beautiful book. I love it. I love all the options. love all the ways that it can help out GMs. But I don’t think that there’s Dual Classing anymore as a variant option, and um, will fight somebody. 

[00:40:56] Esther: Okay, Dual Classing or the Free Archetype? 

[00:40:58] Navaar: Dual Class. I don’t they’d ever of, like — Free Archetype, everybody loves. 

[00:41:01] Esther: The Free Archetype is so 

[00:41:03] Navaar: Yeah, Free Archetype feels like you’re getting something cool without it feeling like it’s overpowered. Dual Classing is not overpowered because you still only have three actions, so there’s only so much you can do, but is badass. a little bit overpowered, because you do get extra health, to be clear, I guess extra feats. But again, you can only do so I don’t think it’s a thing, and I’m gonna have to fight Luis about this. Logan. I’ll fight whomever. all that said, don’t think Dual Class is a widely used thing. very specific thing that I’ve used twice now. But I love it! I would use it every time. I think think it just adds more customization to your character. yeah, Free Archetype is, like the– feels almost like a pillar, like a benchmark of Pathfinder 2e to like, have Free Archetype. So I don’t, I can’t imagine they’d get rid of that. 

[00:41:47] Esther: I looked specifically for that one and I was like, it has be here. They, they have gotten rid of 

[00:41:51] Navaar: In the same way that I like, I opened and I was like, “Oh yeah, variant rules, Dual Class, um, Dual Class. I misspelling it? Nope. Okay. do I need to fight about this?”

But, think what’s interesting is that, like, the Player Core does a good job of, like, here are the rules, how to play the game, here are some of the things that, like, as a player, you won’t have to worry about adjudicating, but you should understand how they’re done. I really think you probably, you still could the game with just the Player Core. I do believe that, based on what I’ve seen.

What the GM Core does is include a lot of other really cool stuff to add in to make the game, more immersive and more cinematic, more narrative focus. And have like, all these other ways to do this stuff. And like, subsystems are one of those big things.

So yeah, Victory Points. That’s a big one that a lot of people use. It’s like ways to like, uh. have these events that aren’t just a fight , and figure out who’s who quote unquote wins in this.

Chases: have more chases in your games. 

[00:42:55] Esther: Duels. 

[00:42:56] Navaar: Yes. Yeah, the Duels one is fun. Subsystems aren’t the only thing in the game, but now I just want to talk about Duels. [laughs] So yeah, the way that they’ve done Duels is like, you basically like Princess Bride, because I can’t think of any other example, of like, you’re going to have this moment. Everything’s going to be set up. There’s the conditions of this thing. You can have limited tools. You can have a judge for it. There’s spellcasting tools in here as well. 

[00:43:20] Esther: Sweet. 

[00:43:20] Navaar: And additional reactions that you could take. 

[00:43:23] Esther: Yeah, so the old Gamemastery Guide, just to do a bit of comparison, I looked through all the different sections of it. And they were: Gamemastery Basics, Tools, Subsystems, Variant Rules, NPC Gallery, and then the Glossary and Index. And in the new one, it goes: Running The Game, Building Games, The Age of Lost Omens — which I believe got taken out of the Core Rulebook and put into the GM Core —

[00:43:48] Navaar: Yes. 

[00:43:49] Esther: — And then it goes Subsystems, Treasure Trove, Treasure Table, Glossary and Index. A lot of the material is still the same, but then you have like the Age of Lost Omens worldbuilding stuff put in there. Which, I like that change. In some ways, I feel like it flows more naturally in the GM guide, so that really worked for me.

But yeah, the subsystems, they go into all the cool, all the cool stuff.

[00:44:14] Navaar: Yeah, I mean, so this is something I think… okay, so, start with the lore, because I have another one, too. But so, when it comes to The Age of Lost Omens, for instance, and the regions and things like that, I think it’s good to have something brief, like the Player Core does have, of like, here’s a region, you know, for the player to read.

But I think like, what this does to have the broader systems laid out the GM core is that it then allows the GM and the player to go, “Let’s have a discussion about the kind of, like, place you want to grow up in, in this country, in this region,” and then build on that from there together. I think, like, game is about teamwork overcoming things together. And in that same way, like, it works best when the player and the GM are working together and having communication about this stuff.

So think in its own subtle way, this sort of reinforces that dynamic, to allow you to do that. think it makes sense for it to be here, but I can also see the argument for the other way is having all the items and the treasure be separate from the Player Core.

Do you like it more as a surprise for players, or do you like it more for players to be able to like, “This is a wishlist item or things I want to shop for?” 

[00:45:33] Esther: Hm. good question. 

[00:45:34] Navaar: I say as we are two people who have access to the treasure vault. And, uh, it’s so, so we might be biased and/or… what’s the word? we might But either way, I’ll let you finish.

[00:45:45] Esther: We might predisposed one or the other. 

[00:45:49] Navaar: Yeah. 

[00:45:49] Esther: That’s a really hard question for me, because I actually have players who like to do it both ways: who are like, “That’s too much for me to look through, surprise me.” And I’m like, “Okay, what would go well with your class, what would go well with your build, what can I gift you that’ll be really fun?”

And players who are like, “I want this item. I want to use it in this way. Please give it to me at this level.” And I’m like, “Okay!” I may have a slight preference for the latter because I really appreciate it when players take a lot of agency over their own character build and like, keep track of stuff like that, and keep track of items that they want to use and then use the items in really great ways that make the game come alive and are just really exciting. So I may have a slight preference for that. But I don’t think that having the treasure trove in the GM Core is going to keep players from being able to find the items that they want, I mean, Archives of Nethys exists, they can always buy the GM Core if they want to. 

[00:46:50] Navaar: Treasure Vault! 

[00:46:51] Esther: Or Treasure Vault, yeah, 

[00:46:53] Navaar: Yeah, I mean, I agree. I’ve been, there is like basic equipment as well in the thing. I think there’s really no right answer. I set it up like there was one, but there’s really not. Both of them have their place, and both of them are really fun.

I agree, like, having players not know, like, what’s gonna be in this chest or whatever, then find it, and then be like, “Oh, like, which player is this perfect for?” I think that’s really really cool. I am also a person who sent a wishlist of very like, four items to my GM and been like “Three of these are negotiable. One of these is not. And I just I’ll let you decide what I get.” So I get it. Yeah, I don’t know. To be fair, my item was a vehicle. So It’s not like it was a sword or anything, which I think is more reasonable. I’m an unreasonable player in the most reasonable way, so.

[00:47:40] Esther: You remind me — my spouse like, came to me one day and was like, “Can I get a gnome Clunkerjunker?” And I think it’s a goblin Clunkerjunker, but like, their character is a gnome. And I was like, “Okay, what’s a Clunkerjunker?” And went over it and I was like, “Hell yes, you can get one. I don’t know what you’re going to do with it, but yes, I’ll allow this!”

[00:48:00] Navaar: Yeah. I just recently became, like over the past year, like super invested in The High Republic. And because we’re playing in a Star Wars world, I was like, “I know that we’re like 200 years after when this thing existed, but like give me a dirty, rusted one and I will still be just as happy.” So, listeners of An Unwaving Force, find out if that ever happens.

But yeah, it is fun to like have both of those things. I think it’s — because we’ve talked about this a lot — if we’re looking at like, how the things are structured, I think it makes sense to have that page count and most of that information be here for GM. And then it gives them the space to be like, “Cool, some of you don’t care. Some of the players want to shop. I’ll just look at the book.” 

Cause it’s it’s not a secret, right? It’s not like playing a monster game and like, you don’t want to know what the monster is yet, you know what I mean? So I think it’s fun. Which is why the Monster Manual, to answer that. own thing, is like its own book. So, Yeah.

Any other things that,like, you want to touch on before we end? 

[00:49:01] Esther: I just wanted to note how I was really struck by the thought and thoroughness and care that went into the GM Core, just reading through all of the different likely scenarios that they lay out about what your players might encounter, the way they talk about safety tools. And the way they talk about adapting the game to fit the needs of your table, I just wanted to highlight for a moment, because I think a lot of times when rules change or systems change, feelings can run hot and high about that. And there can be like intense disagreements over whether a change is good or bad or whatever. And I think that the team behind this product in the first edition of Second Edition, and in the Remaster now, have done such a clear job of saying, like, adapt this to fit your needs.

If rule doesn’t work for you, change it. If you want to make a different call, do that. You’re empowered to do that. So I just want to encourage people, like, if you’re not feeling the changes, you don’t have to make them. Play the game in a way that works for you. Or if you really are feeling the changes, but there’s something that doesn’t work for you — I feel like sometimes people get stuck in like, “But the rules say it’s this way!” And I really don’t think the people who make this game want us to get stuck there. I think they want us to use it in a way that works for us to have fun. And that just really came through to me in the way that this book was written.

And I just wanted to like say, I really appreciate that. Shout-out to the team.

[00:50:40] Navaar: Yeah. I mean, I think if you’re new to running Pathfinder 2e, like reading these first few sections really is going to set you up on how to run a game, because it talks about a lot of stuff that like —

I think in so many ways, many folks who design games, we take for granted that we’re game designers, that we play TTRPGs consistently. And we don’t ever consider — or I don’t think a lot of people consider often enough — how your game might be the first game somebody plays. And I think I was just having a conversation with somebody about this recently, of just, like, “This is all great, but what’s the game loop? I want to know how you want, how you expected me to play the game. Because then I can feel like I can read this and understand like, okay, cool, I’m hitting on the things that this game was designed to do.” If you don’t have that in there, if there’s no like, “This is how the game runs, or traditionally runs, or we expect it, we wrote it to run,” right, then it’s like, “Okay, well, now I’m just taking all of this stuff and hopefully putting it together.”

Plenty of people got through decades of gaming that way, when there just wasn’t enough information, or the books weren’t as easily disseminated to people, right? You just kind of picked up whatever you could find at a thrift store or whatever the case was. I think taking the time to like, use page count for that specifically, and to go into safety, and to go into like, table comfort, and to go into improvisation, and to go into all these other things, it’s really good for people who this could be their first time. We did talk about this before, but so many people like switched over to Pathfinder 2e at the beginning of this year,;other people decided “I’m going to switch over, but there’s a remaster coming, and maybe I’ll wait until this is here.”

This might be your first time picking it up, and the people are just getting into this stuff younger and younger. So, I love it. Yeah, I agree. I think that’s a really good addition to the books.

[00:52:39] Esther: Yeah. I think it matters that they lay out some common ways that play unfolds so people can have an idea of like, what to follow or what to deviate from. That makes a huge difference in player comfort and GM comfort a lot of the time. And I think they’ve done a really, really good job with it.

[00:52:57] Navaar: I mean, they talk about, like, there’s a brief paragraph about the spotlight. And like, I think so many new GMs can struggle with like, spotlight and pacing and things like that. And to like have something that just kind of like, points it out to you of like, “This is what it means,” I think helps a lot.

Because again, people who do this consistently, we take this stuff for granted. We don’t understand the things that just come second nature. And that can be intimidating for people when it’s like, “I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong.” And it’s like, “Well, I don’t know. It’s easy. Just figure it out.” Like, that’s, that’s not a good approach. So yeah, I’m glad that that’s there. 

[00:53:36] Esther: Can I also just say, I really appreciate whoever wrote the passages about dealing with — I don’t know if they use the term problem players — but dealing with difficult players. I really a) appreciated that that was in this book because, I mean, I haven’t even GM’d that many games, and I’ve mostly GM’d for people I know. And I’ve had a couple of difficult players who maybe didn’t start out that way, but became that way. And I’ve had to have, like, adult conversations with them about why some of the things they were bringing to the table really, really weren’t working for the community of folks at the table, and it’s really heartening to see that that was very plainly addressed. And also, I just like, b) , figuring out how to basically write “This is how you have an adult conversation with someone…” A hard thing to do in a rulebook, is, is a lot, and so shout-out to whoever put the thought in to telling a bunch of folks how to have hard conversations and, and talk about ways that, we can learn to get along at the table or how to draw boundaries. Like, super important. And I just, shout-out for putting that in the book.

[00:54:46] Navaar: Yeah, I mean, I think like — the last thing on this, like, I think that the two most visible ways that we see Pathfinder 2e, right, are the AP space, actual play space, uh, whether that just be like standalone charity games or, or long running actual plays or whatever the case is. Like, a lot of these now, as that space continues to grow, are a cast of people who have been brought together, as opposed to like, a group of people creating a thing, sometimes.

I mean, that still does happen, to be clear, but being cast in a show is something that happens more frequently than I’m sure it used to. And the other aspect of it is Pathfinder Society, which is its own thing. But, from everything that I’ve heard is growing a lot this year. Like big, big numbers, um, in comparison to what it used to be. And in those two cases, like — it’s Pathfinder Society, same thing. Like, you’re gonna have people that you just don’t know. I think what It does is like, saying “We’ve created this thing, we’ve created this sort of community around this. We understand that there is this–” and like whether or not Paizo does have a responsibility, I think like it’s good to have a stance of like “Whatever responsibility we have, we’re going to use our platform to say, here’s, here’s our value system and how we hope we can help you with these specific situations.” So yeah, it’s good.

[00:56:16] Esther: I think that’s a really good note to wind down on is the clarity of Paizo’s value system through these two books. Which for me, it’s been so fun to host this show and get to know the people who both work for Paizo full time and freelance, and to, like, get a sense of the values that people are bringing to the work. And I feel like those values are very explicit in these books.

Like, I felt good about reading them. I didn’t feel any really yikes moments, which, I’m very, very happy to report that I didn’t. Um, and, and that feels good to be able to say to our listeners. Like, I, I can really solidly recommend these as great resources for people who are new to the game, and new to tabletop RPGs.

[00:57:06] Navaar: Yeah. Absolutely. Oh, cool. Well, that’s it folks. That’s us for the remasters. Very excited to see the new Monster Manual, when that comes out, the Core Monster book, and the other one that I cannot remember what it is. Number 4. But we do have more exciting books on the way. I don’t know when Tian Xia’s coming out, but I’m waiting impatiently. 

[00:57:28] Esther: Is it Player Core 2? 

[00:57:30] Navaar: Is it Player Core 2? 

[00:57:31] Esther: I think it’s Player Core 2. 

[00:57:33] Navaar: What used to be the Advanced Player’s Guide? Yeah. because it’s gonna add more classes and stuff. That makes sense. sense Don’t quote us on it.

[00:57:41] Esther: We’ll have our story straight next time.

[00:57:43] Navaar: We’re Pathfinder podcast, but we’re sleepy too. And yeah, and we have plans to bring on some actual play folks in the Pathfinder 2e space, so get excited for that as well for next time or sometime in the future. 


[00:58:00] Esther: Yes. Navaar, real quick, where can we find you online these days?

[00:58:03] Navaar: I am online these days at NavaarSNP, both on Twitter and on Bluesky. You can also find me over at An Unwavering Force, where we are still using the unremastered rules for now, for our Pathfinder 2E Star Wars game. And pay attention to Secret Nerd Podcast, because I just recorded something this past Sunday that everybody should be very excited about.

Secretnrdsocial for that, and UnwaveringForce on social media for An Unwavering Force. 

[00:58:38] Esther: Amazing. I’m so excited for the new Secret Nerd drops. This is going to be really, really good. And as your patron on Patreon, I got a little sneak peek of what is to come and it’s very, very exciting. As for me, you can find me at dungeonminister on Twitter and Bluesky. I’m also doing stuff slowly but surely at Chromythica on Twitter and Blueky and 

Most importantly, you can follow Know Direction on Twitter, Bluesky, Mastodon, YouTube at KnowDirection or at our website, You can follow us on Patreon, where if you so desire to chip in some money that goes towards the making of all our network shows and the maintenance of the network, you are very welcome to do that. And we’re very grateful, thank you to all of our patrons. And yeah, I think that’s it for my media close.

Thank you all so much for being here and tuning in. And until next time, this has been Know Direction, your number one source for Pathfinder news, reviews, and interviews. 

[00:59:42] Navaar: Bye! 

[00:59:44] Esther: Bye! 

Ryan Costello

What started as one gamer wanting to talk about his love of a game grew into a podcast network. Ryan founded what would become the Know Direction Podcast network with Jason "Jay" Dubsky, his friend and fellow 3.5 enthusiast. They and their game group moved on to Pathfinder, and the Know Direction podcast network was born. Now married and a father, Ryan continues to serve the network as the director of logistics and co-host of Upshift podcast, dedicated to the Essence20 RPG system he writes for and helped design. You can find out more about Ryan and the history of the network in this episode of Presenting: