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Pathfinder: Playtesting Combat in 2nd Edition

4 Minute Read
Mar 8 2018
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With 2nd Edition announced, Pathfinder provides a playtest and a preview.

Combat in Pathfinder is a huge part of the game. Revamped rules means revamped combat. From the look of things, Pathfinder 2.0 is going to be a little more streamlined, but there’s plenty to prove that it’s still Pathfinder. And that means all the granularity and crunchiness you might expect. Today we’ve got a look at how combat will play out, and a link where you can sign up for the August Playtest.

via Paizo

One of the most important aspects of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is combat. Monsters and villains are a very real threat that adventurers have to deal with on a daily basis, and quiet negotiation is rarely the answer. When talking fails, swords are drawn and combat is joined. In Pathfinder First Edition, combat could become rather bogged down just by the weight of options available. Time and time again, we heard new players talk about the complexity of the action system, how it made the game slow down as players looked to eke the most out of their turns.

This is true. Pathfinder Combat isn’t the most elegant thing. It’s got a lot of complexity, which you can see evidenced in the way it divides actions up. There are a lot of moving parts that intersect in interesting ways, but sometimes that intersection means slowing the flow of the game. Not so on 2.0:

The previous edition of Pathfinder featured seven distinct action types: free, full-round, immediate, move, standard, swift, and a nebulously defined “other” category. These helped to curb what a character could do and encouraged varied tactics to get the most out of your round. In particular, the immediate action was of interest because it was something you could do outside your turn.


It’s your turn. You get to take three actions. That’s it. You want to move three times? Done. Instead you want to move once, draw your sword, and attack? No problem. How about attack three times? Go ahead (but you’ll take an increasing penalty for each additional attack). With only a few notable exceptions, most things in the game now take one action to accomplish. Opening a door, drawing a weapon, reloading a crossbow, moving up to your speed, raising your shield, taking a guarded step, swinging your greataxe—all of these and much more take just one action to perform.

There is, of course, more to it than that. But the gist of it is there–most things take one action. And then of course there’s spellcasting, which takes two actions, for the most part. It’s possible some spells will take even more to cast. For the most part, though, it’ll come down to making the most out of your three actions. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some class features that allow you to tweak what you can do with an action too.

Finally there’s reactions, which you’ll get only one of per turn.

One aspect of Pathfinder First Edition that was important to us was the ability to occasionally, if the circumstances were right, act outside your turn. While this was most often a simple attack of opportunity, we saw this as a way to add a whole new dimension to the game.


So now, all characters get one reaction they can take when the conditions are right.

Reactions always come with a trigger that must occur before the reaction can be taken. Let’s say you’re playing a paladin with a shield and you have spent an action to defend yourself with that shield. Not only does this boost your Armor Class; it also allows you to take a special reaction if you are hit by an attack. This shield block reduces the damage taken by an amount up to the shield’s hardness!

This last part sounds pretty cool. It seems like Pathfinder is really gonna double down on their action/reaction options. Just in case you thought that streamlined meant simple–there’s special reactions based on equipment–all kinds of cool stuff awaits. We’ll find out more come August. In the meantime, be sure and sign up for the Playtest.

Sign Up to Playtest Pathfinder 2.0

What do you think of this new, streamlined Pathfinder?

Author: J.R. Zambrano
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