When making changes to any game, there are always a lot of concerns about how it will be received. Even games like Magic, Catan, and Warhammer face backlash whenever they release a new expansion or change some rules. Fortunately, in Pathfinder 2.0 (or, more officially, in Pathfinder Playtest) fans will find the systematic changes Paizo has implemented to be both refreshing and rewarding.
Let’s first talk about the changes in character design. The system is now heavily based on feats, where the old system was based on assigning levels to different classes. In the old system, the assigned levels got you different advantages. The new system is wrapped around sticking closely to your Ancestry (race), Background, Skills, and Class. Feats are broken down into different types for each of these categories and you earn them at different levels. This provides an interesting opportunity for character builds that did not exist in 1.0. Previously, we could assign feats to different chains for high benefits, and while this still exists, the diversity in categories forces us to build characters that are wider in their skill set as opposed to maximizing bonuses for only a handful of actions.
Next up is the combat system. This has been completely revamped into an action-economy system. Each character gains 3 actions per turn and can spend them however they want. There are some restrictions, such as extra attacks, which add cumulative penalties to rolls. This gives a significant amount of freedom in combat, as opposed to the 1.0 rules set that required several different types of actions that may not work well in combination. Spellcasting changed significantly as well. Now, some spells gain benefits for dedicating more actions to them. One such example of this is healing. For one action it is single target with a touch range, but for 2 actions it becomes a ranged touch spell, and at 3 actions it becomes a burst (although for less healing to each individual). This is a lot like the 1.0 version of channel energy.
Multiclassing has changed. You now only advance in your primary class, but you can multiclass through feats. There are feats that allow you to open a class giving some advantages and gaining access to feats only for that class, such as Rogue or Fighter. Multiclass Wizard and Cleric allow you to cast level 0 spells and through more feats, gain better spells. For example, the Monk seems to like picking up Wizard traits for Mage Armor, and a few other low level buffs.
Advancement is streamlined. Each class has a chart that clearly explains what feats are gained. There are also clear level and prerequisite identifiers in each feat. Chains of feat types can still be built, just like in 1.0, so that you can build up to something fantastic and ascend to higher levels, but for the most part feats stand on their own as being beneficial. There does not seem to be many filler feats that just eat up a slot since it’s a prereq. for something higher.
Pathfinder 2.0 is an intuitive system that allows far more diversity in character builds than before. It has a fresh add on to the storytelling aspect by including backgrounds and ancestry into the character design. The learning curve is still higher than D&D 5th edition, but it is far easier than 1.0. I heavily recommend this for fans of Golarion. If you take the time to playtest Pathfinder 2.0, you’ll be diving into an adventure that promises a new depth in RPG fun.
~ Kevin Gaffuri
You can pick up a copy of the Pathfinder Playtest (2.0) Rulebook here!
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