How to Get Started in Paizo’s Pathfinder 2E – Dungeon Crawling With Crunch
Looking to learn a new RPG for some reason? Why not learn how to play Pathfinder 2E. Add some crunch to your crawls.
One of the best things about roleplaying games is just how diverse they can be. Both in terms of forms and subject matter. There are games out there that cast you as children exploring the ruins of a battlefield that are meant for a single session. Others still are meant to be the bones of an epic story you tell for months or years to come. Like Pathfinder.
Currently in its 2nd Edition, Pathfinder is a great jumping-off point if you’re coming from only ever having played D&D. It’s got all the same stats. The same core mechanic of rolling a d20 and adding modifiers to try and beat a DC. It even has classes and levels and plays very much the same.
If you’ve played 5th Edition D&D, you have the same core competency. There’s just a lot more with 2E. No really, a lot more.
Part of what makes Pathfinder exciting is how crunchy you can get with your characters. Every character can be customized in a thousand different ways. From your ancestry and your background (which help determine your stats and give you special skill abilities) to your character class or their archetype.
Not only that, but the system also makes martial and magic characters feel on par with each other. The system is a lot more active than 5E. As a result, every character gets 3 actions they can do each turn. Any character can dual-wield. Skills have special actions that you can unlock as you become more proficient.
It’s a meaty, delicious system that offers you the same dungeon-crawling action of, say, D&D.
Getting Started With Pathfinder – Books & Apps
The best place to start with Pathfinder is with the core rules. Pathfinder 2E’s Core Rulebook is chunky. Seriously chunky. Because of this, you might want to have a secondary reference. This is not a mark against 2E, it’s easier to play if you have the book and are using a character builder app to remind you what you have and haven’t done.
But to make heads or tails of any of that, you’ll need the core rules.
This book is a behemoth. It’s a 640-page guide to everything you need to play Pathfinder 2E. If you want to dive right in? The Core Rulebook has it all in one place. Character creation, combat rules, everything both players and GMs need to know. You’ll find six ancestries, 30 backgrounds, and twelve character classes:
And that’s just the start. You also get a primer on the setting of Golarion. All the gods and monsters. Pretty much everything you need to fully learn the game.
Want to take a smaller bite before you dive in all the way? The Pathfinder Beginner Box is an all-in-one package with a streamlined player’s guide, GM book, and an introductory adventure, even with rules for building your own adventure and magic items.
If you want something you can take to your gaming group and start playing in a single night, this is the way to go. It takes time, even if you’re familiar with other fantasy RPGs, to get a handle on Pathfinder. So this isn’t a bad place to start.
If you are running Pathfinder 2E? We can’t recommend the Bestiary enough. This book is enormous. There are more than 400 monsters, NPCs, allies, and more in this book. From dragons and gorgons to all new monsters created just for Pathfinder like nilith and mukradi.
But that’s not the only reason we recommend this for GMs. This has all the universal monster rules you need. If you see things like special attacks or the ability to swallow whole, those rules are broken down for you clear as day here. It’s an indispensable aid.
Are you playing the game? You might want to expand your options from the core rulebook. In this 272-page expansion, you get more rules for making your character.
This book has a ton of new ancestries and heritages, as well as four new classes: the swashbuckler, oracle, investigator, and witch. And on top of all that, new backgrounds, feats, spells, magic items, archetypes, and ways to play your favorite class from the core book.
If you’ve played some Pathfinder before, or have been a long-suffering optimizer in 5th Edition? This book will blow the doors wide open for you.
It can be a lot to invest in a new game. But fortunately, there’s a great way to take Pathfinder 2E for a test drive. The Archives of Nethys is a complete online repository of all the rules.
It’s got a handy way to look through all the books. All the skills, feats, heritages, classes, and everything are easily indexed. We recommended a rules reference tool, and AoN is hands down the best one out there.
And it’s all free. So you can try Pathfinder 2E right now. There’s even a welcoming section for New Players.