Pathfinder Core Rulebook cover
|Publication date||August 2009|
|Random chance||Dice rolling|
The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is a fantasy role-playing game (RPG) that was published in 2009 by Paizo Publishing. It extends and modifies the Revised 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) game rules published by Wizards of the Coast under the Open Game License. Pathfinder RPG is intended to be backward-compatible with Dungeons & Dragons edition 3.5.
The Paizo Publishing company had been publishing Dungeon and Dragon magazines, which were about the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) role-playing game. Paizo was publishing under contract with Wizards of the Coast, who held the rights to D&D. Wizards of the Coast chose not to renew the contract in early 2007, and Paizo began publishing the Pathfinder periodical line as a replacement. In August 2007, Wizards of the Coast announced the pending release of the 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons, which replaced version 3.5. Many of the staff at Paizo were concerned about the more restrictive Game System License the 4th edition was being released under. (Note: In 2016, Wizards of the Coast reverted to the Open Game License when releasing the 5th edition SRD component.)
Instead of continuing to support D&D, Paizo released Pathfinder as a modified version of the 3.5 edition game, under the Open Game License used by the older version. Announced in March 2008, the Pathfinder RPG was designed over the course of a year using an open playtest model, where players could try the system and post their feedback on Paizo's website.
Paizo announced a second edition of Pathfinder in 2018. Like the first edition, there will be an open playtest.
Paizo's decision to create Pathfinder RPG in response to the extensive changes of Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition split the gaming community, with some showing more loyalty to the 3.5-compatible system and others showing more loyalty to the Dungeons & Dragons brand. Pathfinder was the top-selling role-playing game in spring 2011, fall 2012, spring 2013, fall 2013, and summer 2014. During that four-year period, Pathfinder was able to outsell Dungeons & Dragons itself, which was the best-selling game through various editions between 1974 and 2010. Upon the release of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, that game has regained the top spot since fall 2014, with Pathfinder consistently still ranking second to D&D in sales.
Paizo has won ENnie Awards at Gen Con in a variety of categories including Best Publisher and Best Game. The beta release of the game won the 2008 gold ENnie award for "best free product or web enhancement."
Informally nicknamed D&D version 3.75,Pathfinder is a modification of version 3.5 of Dungeons & Dragons, and is intended to be compatible with the older game. Lead Designer Jason Bulmahn felt that the basic classes of D&D version 3.5 were lackluster, as they did not provide incentive to stay with a single class for 20 levels of play. Pathfinder adds many options to the classes and boosts their abilities in their core roles.
The game has also been modified compared to D&D version 3.5. Changes were made involving balance between different game elements. For example, less combat-oriented classes receive more hit points each level than their 3.5 counterparts. Additionally, several aspects of 3.5 have been changed in Pathfinder, including several spells, the skill system, and combat maneuvers such as tripping and grappling.
The material published by Paizo for the Pathfinder system has been set in a world called Golarion.
In May 2018, Paizo announced it was working on Pathfinder Second Edition to refine elements of the rule set to reflect feedback and clarification on the original system over the prior years. Part of the changes planned is to simplify a player's turn during a round of combat to make it easier to allow more complex in-game actions to be taken. They also want to revise the rules around magic items to encourage players to seek more powerful items by limiting how many items they can carry. The preliminary ruleset will be published as Pathfinder Playtest so that players can test out and provide feedback, and with plans to publish the full Second Edition in 2019.
The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook is a 576-page hardback book released under the Open Game License. It has been supplemented by expansions and accessory books which contain expanded rules, new classes, spells, equipment and other optional game features. The books in the Bestiary series contain statistics and descriptions of creatures that player characters may encounter. A related supplement, the Monster Codex (2014), offered a selection of more specialized monsters, such as a "goblin vulture rider." The Advanced Player's Guide (2010) allowed Paizo to expand the game beyond its d20 System roots by adding six new base classes, including a Pathfinder version of the Dungeons & Dragons cavalier class. The Advanced Player's Guide also added the concept of class "archetypes"—themed variations of the 11 core classes—as well as other options. The Advanced Class Guide (2014) expanded the options for character development further by adding ten more character classes, including the investigator, the swashbuckler, and the warpriest.Pathfinder Unchained (2015) offered a variety of optional rules to streamline or otherwise customize gameplay, including new rules for skills and magic items, and alternative versions of classes like the summoner. Further Pathfinder supplements include the Advanced Race Guide (2012), which extended the options for player character races; Mythic Adventures (2013), which provided options for "epic level" play beyond the core game's normal limits; and Occult Adventures (2016), which introduced six supernatural classes like the kineticist, medium or psychic.
Paizo also produced the Pathfinder Beginner Box, a basic version of the Pathfinder rules intended to introduce new gamers to the hobby.
Paizo also publishes the Pathfinder periodical product lines. The Pathfinder Modules line has been compatible with the Pathfinder RPG since July 2009.
Paizo publishes a line of novels, Pathfinder Tales, based in the Pathfinder setting. The first book, Prince of Wolves, was released in 2010 and was written by Dave Gross, former editor of Dragon Magazine. Other titles in the series, which numbers over 30 books, include City of the Fallen Sky by Tim Pratt,Winter Witch by Elaine Cunningham, The Wizard's Mask by Ed Greenwood, and Death's Heretic by line editor James L. Sutter.
A card game based on the role-playing game, the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, was released at Gen Con 2013. It was designed by Mike Selinker of Lone Shark Games. The initial set for the game, Rise of the Runelords, was followed by the expansions Skull and Shackles and Wrath of the Righteous.
Big Finish Productions has produced a series of audio dramas based on the Pathfinder setting.Dynamite Entertainment has also produced a line of Pathfinder comic books, including a spin-off title, Pathfinder: Goblins, as well as Pathfinder: Worldscape, which also featured characters such as Red Sonja, Tarzan and John Carter.
A computer game adaptation of the Pathfinder universe, Pathfinder Online, was launched on November 27, 2012 by Goblin Works and Paizo and was successful in attracting Kickstarter crowdfunding in 2013 to finance its development. An official alpha test was announced in late June 2014. Early enrollment was announced on July 29, 2015.
On 17 May 2017, another video game, Pathfinder: Kingmaker, was announced by Paizo and developer Owlcat Games. The game includes writing from Chris Avellone, and its lead developer has compared its scope and quality to Pillars of Eternity. An accompanying Kickstarter campaign was lanched on June 2017; no release date has been announced as of yet.