On January 3rd, Paizo announced via the Paizo Blog that they are reworking their errata process so that they could detach errata from the slow and often unpredictable reprinting process. This is an exciting and welcome change that I’m excited to see happen.
Alongside these changes, they also announced the 4th printing of the Core Rulebook and accompanying errata which include some impactful changes. I popped open my PDFs of the 3rd and 4th printings of the CRB to take a look. I’ll hit some of the highlights, but check the Pathfinder FAQ page for the full errata.
Table of Contents
- Alternate Ancestry Boosts
- Alchemist Updates (yes, again)
- Look How They Massacred My Boy Flickmace
Alternate Ancestry Boosts
Wizards of the Coast began moving away from racially fixed changes to ability scores starting with Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, and since that point all new race options have offered the same choice: +2/+1 or three +1s, with no preference or indication toward any “normal” for a given race.
PF2 launched with ancestry ability boosts/flaws in place, but every ancestry also got at least one “free boost” so there was always some amount of flexibility within your ancestry choice. In addition, the optional “additional flaws” rule allowed you to rework your ability scores to a limited degree. This allowed ancestries to deviate from the written stats, but the rule was frustrating and came at a cost.
For example: Say I want to play an elf barbarian. I need high strength and constitution, but elves get boosts two Dexterity and Intelligence, a flaw in Constitution, and a free boost. I can put the free boost in Strength, then look at the additional flaws rules if it’s allowed at my table. I get two free flaws (with some restrictions) and another free boost (also with restrictions). I use the two flaws on Dexterity and Intelligence and put the boost into Constitution. My final ancestry ability scores are one boost in Strength and nothing else. If I see that as unsatisfying, I could get access to elf feats via Adopted Ancestry or by being a half elf, and pretend that it was good enough.
That’s an intentionally frustrating example, of course, and I chose it to highlight the pain points. Both from an optimization perspective and from a storytelling perspective, the additional flaws rule is extremely frustrating. The wording is also confusing, so I have to remind myself exactly how it works every time I build a character.
Enter: Alternate Ancestry Boosts.
Instead of all of that mess, you can now use Alternate Ancestry Boosts and choose two free boosts. This simplifies the process a great deal, and makes it easier to play ancestries which deviate from the base line. At the same time, Paizo has left existing ancestry traits unchanged, so if you want a gnome with Con/Cha/Free boosts and a Str flaw, you’re good. But if you have a different idea for your gnome, you can go for two free boosts.
What about two-boost ancestries?
Several other ancestries, such as the Human, the Orc, and the Tengu, already have just two boosts and no flaws. This means that races which one fixed boost and one free boost now have two free boosts. This does make humans less unique in that capability, and it’s a strict upgrade for two-boost ancestries. It also means that these races are outright unable to get three ancestry boosts.
Does this affect game balance?
As I described above, players could already contort an ancestry into something closer to whatever they wanted, but it came at a cost. This limited some class/ancestry combos, and getting around those limitations for conceptually exciting or powerful ancestry feats meant either using the extra flaw rule or Adopted Ancestry, either of which could be a steep cost.
For two-boost ancestries, this is arguably a strict upgrade at the cost of the ability to get three ability boosts. You’re now more free to use orcs for something other than Strength-based builds, but if you wanted a Str/Con/Wis monk, you’re going to have more trouble than before. So it’s roughly a lateral move, in my opinion.
For three-boost ancestries (dwarves, etc.), this is definitely a lateral move. If you stick to the existing ability scores, you have the option of three boosts and a flaw which might line up perfectly for what you want. A gruff dwarf fighter still works great. If you instead want a Dexterity-based dwarf rogue, you can use the alternate ancestry boosts and get boosts in Dexterity and Charisma if that’s more to your taste. You get the flexibility without the cost of the additional flaw rule or Adopted Ancestry, but at the cost of not getting three boosts from your ancestry. There’s some fun nuance in that trade that I really like.
Perhaps the most notable loss is the ability to pick your dump stat. If your ancestry has a flaw, that’s your dump stat. Otherwise, you have no ability scores below 10. You can voluntarily take any number of addition flaws, but from an optimization perspective that’s obviously never going to happen.
Overall, the changes are fine but not perfect. I think every character should have an ability flaw, and I’d still like the ability to trade some extra flaws for an extra boost, but I don’t think losing those things is going to cause widespread issues.
Alchemist Updates (yes, again)
From the FAQ page:
The alchemist is getting multiple changes to allow for more choice and allow options from books outside the Core Rulebook. These boost all the fields in the books somewhat, with some additional spice for the chirurgeon.
The original version of the Alchemist had a lot of problems, so the Alchemist has seen a lot of updates. Because the class is built around using Advanced Alchemy, the evolving nature of alchemical items also means that the class was constantly growing even if the class itself wasn’t being directly modified. While Paizo’s design team anticipated several years of supplements (haunts were mentioned in the CRB, but didn’t see rules until last year in Dark Archive), they didn’t anticipate every idea they would come up with, so the Alchemist needs tweaks to keep everything working as intended.
Some of these changes are just wording fixes, but some of them are outright buffs. For example: Chirurgeons can now use elixirs with the Healing trait rather than just elixirs of life, making them massively more versatile.
Overall, the class has changed a lot over time. Looks like it’s time to update our alchemist handbook.
Paizo updated the text of the Horse’s Support Benefit to “work as intended”.
Your horse adds momentum to your charge. Until the start of your next turn, if you moved at least 10 feet on the action before your Strike, add a circumstance bonus to damage for that Strike equal to twice the number of damage dice. If your weapon already has the jousting weapon trait, increase the trait’s damage bonus by 2 per die instead.
New text, changes in bold:
Until the start of your next turn, if you’re mounted on your horse and moved 10 feet or more on the action before a melee Strike, add a circumstance bonus to damage for that Strike equal to twice the number of weapon damage dice. If your weapon already has the jousting weapon trait, increase the trait’s damage bonus by 2 per die instead.
RAW, you could use your horse to flank and make ranged strikes and still get the benefits, which wasn’t the intent.
You can still move laterally or even away from the target to get the damage bonus, and I’m not sure if that’s intended.
Look How They Massacred My
The Flickmace’s damage die was reduced from d8 to d6 and it gained the Sweep trait. Considering how great the flickmace is, it’s a justifiable change. I recommend the flickmace a lot, and it’s still really good.
I am really excited to have errata twice a year on a consistent, predictable schedule. Tying errata to reprints meant that books which were never reprinted never got errata, which made huge portions of the PF1 library were basically abandonware. I never covered options published in PF1 Player’s Companion supplements because so many of them had clear issues but never saw errata.
Paizo is showing us that they’re committed to keeping the game stable, fun, accessible, and inclusive long-term, and they’re not going to let the reprint process bog down that effort.
This does mean that physical copies will become out of date more often, but I don’t know anyone who buys a new copy of a book just to get the errata, so I don’t know how much this will bother people. I know it was a problem for 4e, but PF2’s rules content is much more accessible than 4e DnD thanks to the game being published under the Open Gaming License and thanks to the good work of sites like Archives of Nethys, so rules changes don’t create mass confusion like they did in 4e.
Now hopefully we’ll see some much-needed errata for the Magus. Secrets of Magic hasn’t gotten errata despite being published 9 months before Dark Archive.