Last Updated: September 27, 2023
This guide is intended to be a full, thorough introduction not only to the rules of Pathfinder 2nd Edition, but to the act of how to play the game. When you finish this guide, you will not only understand the rules, but you will be ready to build your first character, to join your first group, and to play your first game with full confidence that you know the rules well enough to enjoy the game. I still recommend reading the Core Rulebook to get the official text of the rules, but consider this guide a helpful companion, here to clarify and simplify the confusing parts of the official material.
This guide is a lot of text. I don’t expect you to read it all in one sitting any more than the Core Rulebook expects that you will read it cover-to-cover in one sitting. This guide is equal parts guided walkthrough and reference document, and while it’s organized in a specific order, I fully expect that many readers may skip around, revisit sections, or skip sections entirely.
This guide is intentionally presented in a different order from the Core Rulebook. This guide is ordered to teach you the important concepts of the game before walking you through the process of creating a character so that you can begin the process of character creation confident that you understand what each of your decisions means when you make them, then take that character directly into a game.
NOTE: The article series below is currently incomplete, but we are actively working on the article series. The text which is missing links is intentional for the moment. Thank you for your patience.
RPGBOT.Quickstart Podcast Episodes
In addition to the articles below, we’ve also released “how to play” episodes on the RPGBOT.Podcast.
- RPGBOT.Quickstart S3E6 – How to Play Pathfinder 2e – Part 1: Concepts and Themes
- RPGBOT.Quickstart S3E8 – How to Play Pathfinder 2e – Part 2: Character Creation
A brief introduction both for those who are totally unfamiliar with roleplaying games and for those who may have played TTRPGs before, but don’t know much about Pathfinder.
1. The Basics
The absolute basic rules of the game. This is the foundation upon which the rest of the game is built.
- Playing the Game
- Actions, Reactions, and Activities
- Hero Points
- The Tag System
2. Ability Scores, Skills, and Perception
Ability scores are among your character’s most defining numerical traits, impacting nearly every check that you will make in the game. Skills and Perception are both impacted by your ability scores, and understanding how they all relate to each other makes it easier to understand when and how an individual skill might apply.
- Ability Scores Fundamentals
- Skills Fundamentals
3. Exploration and Social Interaction
- The Environment
- Social Interactions
- Downtime Mode
- Combat Basics
- Movement and Position
- Space and Reach
- Actions in Combat
- Attack and Defense
- Damage, Healing, and Dying
- Mounted Combat
- Underwater Combat
5. Items and Equipment
Material items are an important part of any character. You’ll spend a lot of time collecting treasure and spending it on equipment and magic items for your character, as well as mundane things like food and housing.
- The Economy
- Adventuring Gear
- Mounts and Vehicles
- Magic Items
- Selling Treasure
- Crafting and Formulas
Magic is a defining feature of fantasy, and Pathfinder would be a very different game without it. Being a spellcaster opens up a lot of new options that aren’t available to characters who don’t cast spells, but it can also be complicated and intimidating for new players.
If you’re not ready to take on the challenge of spellcasting, I still encourage you to read Magic Basics so you at least understand the basics of what spells are and how they work. You’ll probably have spellcasters in your party, and it’s nice to understand what they’re talking about when they start throwing magic around.
- Magic Basics
- Innate Spellcasting
- Prepared Spellcasting
- Spell Repertoires
- Casting Spells
7. Creating a Character
8. Finding or Forming a Group
9. Pathfinder Society
Pathfinder Society is Paizo’s organized play program. Played worldwide, you can find and run games in game stores, at conventions, online, or in the comfort of your own home. Beyond the usual rules for playing Pathfinder 2e, there are some extra rules for building and managing characters for organized play. The resources and the process can be confusing, so we’ve laid out simplified guides to get you comfortable as quickly as possible.
These articles are presented alongside the official Pathfinder Society Organized Play Guide and link to the guide frequently. These articles are presented in more of a step-by-step format to get you comfortable with the workings of Pathfinder Society, but they are not a full duplication or replacement for the official rules. Where necessary, we’ll encourage you to read specific sections of the official guide.
- Pathfinder Society Community Standards and Expectations
- Getting Ready to Play Pathfinder Society
- Pathfinder Society Character Creation
- Pathfinder Society Factions
- Playing Pathfinder Society Scenarios
- Pathfinder Society Post-Game Record Keeping
- GMing for Pathfinder Society
Appendices and Supporting Articles
An examination of everything that has changed between 1st and 2nd edition, intended to highlight new and potentially unfamiliar mechanics.
An overview of the Pathfinder 2e Beginner Box with tips and suggestions on how to get started with Pathfinder 2e using the Beginner Box.