What We Saw at the Pathfinder 2.0 Sneak-peek

I got a chance to sit down with Jason Bulmahn, Director of Game Design at Paizo, to talk about the upcoming Pathfinder 2.0. At the GAMA Trade Show, he GMed a demo game for us, walking us through a short adventure with pre-generated characters. What we saw looked very promising.

The big deal which everyone is talking about is the new action economy. Gone are all the distinct different action types, replaced by a flat three generic actions your character can take. Want to move three times to zoom across the table? You can do that. Want to attack three times? You can do that too, but each subsequent attack is rolled at a penalty. (We suspect that fighters and the like will remove those penalties as they level up, or maybe feats will do that.)

While a simplified action economy is neat, what really thrilled me was seeing how it interacted with spells. Many of the spells on our character sheets came in multiple options, depending on how many actions you wanted to spend to cast them. Lower action costs meant fewer components (vocal, somatic, and material) but were generally weaker than those that cost more. This allowed a single spell to come in multiple versions. For instance, our cleric’s healing spell could be cast as a one-action spell that had a range of touch, a two-action spell that had a range of something like 30 feet, and a three-action spell that created a burst of healing energy, healing everyone within 10 feet of him (and also hurting the undead monsters that surrounded us).

Races are gone, replaced with ancestry. The change is not just cosmetic; where races were fairly strictly defined, ancestry opens up a list of feats you can take or leave off as you prefer. And goblin will be an ancestry choice in the core book.

The changes do simplify the game but are a far cry from making it simplistic. If you enjoy introducing new players to the game, you’ll be thrilled at the changes but the game isn’t trying to be a clone of D&D. It’s still the go-to game if you like lots of mechanical bits and bobs you can choose to make your character unique.

The open playtest officially begins on August 2nd but, as Erik Mona is fond of saying, Paizo isn’t terribly good at predicting how many copies of their books to print. If you want a physical book to use in the playtest, you can preorder it today at your local Dragon’s Lair Comics and Fantasy®. Don’t delay on this; in order to guarantee delivery of their books in early August, they’ll almost certainly be placing their order in May, so you may have less than a month to get your order in.