Mastering the Basics: A Guide to Playing Pathfinder 2e

Mastering the Basics: A Guide to Playing Pathfinder 2e

Venturing into Pathfinder 2e might appear quite daunting at first, especially if you're new to the world of tabletop RPGs. This game can feel overwhelming, especially if you're just starting to explore the realm of tabletop roleplaying games.

You're not alone in this feeling - we've walked that path too! We discovered that with a sprinkle of guidance and the right tools at your disposal, the journey morphs into an exhilarating exploration! This blog post is designed to serve as your personal guide through every step - from character creation to getting a grip on gameplay mechanics in Pathfinder 2E.

Ready to embark on this thrilling adventure together? Dive right into all the juicy details below!

Key Takeaways

  • Learn the basics of the d20 system, character creation and development, classes, races, feats, spells, and spellcasting in Pathfinder 2e.
  • Discover combat rules like action economy and attacking with bonuses while exploring and interacting with other players.
  • Advance your gameplay with specializations, archetypes, new ancestries, skills, backgrounds, and general feats from the Advanced Player's Guide.

Understanding Pathfinder 2e Rules

In this section, we will explore the basics of the d20 System, character creation and development, classes, races, feats, spells and spellcasting in Pathfinder 2e.

Basics of the d20 System

The fundamental principles of the d20 System revolve around the use of a twenty-sided die (d20) to resolve various actions and outcomes in roleplaying games. Players roll the d20 and add appropriate modifiers to determine success or failure. This system emphasizes character attributes, skills, and modifiers, all of which influence the outcome of actions and interactions within the game world.

It provides a structured framework for resolving conflicts, determining the results of spells and abilities, and quantifying the success of character actions. The d20 System's simplicity and versatility make it a popular choice for numerous tabletop roleplaying games, offering a consistent mechanic for gameplay across different settings and genres.

Character Creation and Development

A diverse group of adventurers plan their next medieval quest.

Venturing into the world of Pathfinder 2e starts with crafting your own hero. Here's a quick step-by-step process to guide you:

  1. Begin by choosing your character's ancestry. This defines your character's race and gives unique traits, abilities, and stats.
  2. Select a heritage (Such as High Elf or Sea Elf) related to your chosen ancestry; this further refines the characteristics of your character.
  3. Decide on the class for your character. The classes in Pathfinder 2e range from formidable Fighters and spellcasting Wizards to sneaky Rogues and holy Clerics.
  4. Allocate ability scores (such as Strength or Wisdom) according to your desired strengths and weaknesses. Understanding these scores can make or break an effective character design.
  5. Choose your Background, Skills, and Feats. These give special capabilities that provide different combat options, skills, and other benefits.
  6. Design the appearance and backstory of your character for role-playing purposes.

Classes, Races, and Feats

In Pathfinder 2e, understanding classes, races, and feats is vital to efficiently building your character. Here's a breakdown to help you get started:


A class is like a character's profession or role, such as being a brave Fighter who excels in combat, a clever Rogue who's great at sneaking and tricks, or a wise Wizard who casts powerful spells. It defines what your character is good at and what special abilities they can use. 


Pathfinder 2e introduces a captivating array of ancestries, which serves as the race your character belongs to. Among the possibilities are stalwart Humans, enigmatic Elves, resilient Dwarves, and many other intriguing choices. Delving into your selected ancestry unveils a treasure trove of heritages and traits, imbuing your character with distinct qualities that can substantially impact their inherent abilities and characteristics.


Feats in Pathfinder 2e are a way to make your character even more unique and capable. They offer different benefits that can make your character stronger, more skilled, or even add interesting twists to their abilities. There are four main types of feats:

  • Class Feats: These feats are specific to your character's chosen class, giving them special powers and skills that match their role or profession.
  • Ancestry Feats: These feats are related to your character's race or heritage. They reflect traits passed down through generations and can enhance your character's racial abilities.
  • Skill Feats: These feats focus on your character's skills and offer new ways to use them. They allow your character to excel in specific areas, making them stand out in various situations.
  • General Feats: These are versatile feats that can be chosen by characters of any class. They provide a wide range of benefits, allowing you to customize your character's abilities based on your preferences.

Each type of feat adds depth and personalization to your character's journey, letting you tailor their development to match your play style and the game's story.


In Pathfinder 2e, exploration and interaction are as crucial as combat. These elements bring depth to the narrative, allowing players to engage with the game world in a meaningful way. Whether navigating through dark dungeons, negotiating with NPCs, or solving intricate puzzles, exploration and interaction offer a rich tapestry of opportunities for players to immerse themselves in the game. 

Let's look at some of the various activities you can undertake and the skills often employed in these scenarios.


  • Mapping the Terrain: Create maps to help navigate through dungeons, forests, and other landscapes.
    • Relevant Skills: Survival, Cartography Lore
  • Searching for Hidden Objects: Look for traps, hidden doors, or treasure.
    • Relevant Skills: Perception, Thievery
  • Scouting Ahead: Send a party member ahead to gather information without detection.
    • Relevant Skills: Stealth, Survival


  • Negotiating with NPCs: Engage in dialogue to gain information, form alliances, or negotiate deals.
    • Relevant Skills: Diplomacy, Intimidation
  • Gathering Information: Collect clues or information from locals or written sources.
    • Relevant Skills: Society, Diplomacy
  • Performing: Entertain an audience or distract foes through performance arts.
    • Relevant Skills: Performance, Deception


  • Deciphering Puzzles: Solve riddles, mechanical puzzles, or magical enigmas to progress.
    • Relevant Skills: Occultism, Arcana
  • Disabling Traps: Safely disarm mechanical or magical traps.
    • Relevant Skills: Thievery, Arcana
  • Identifying Magical Items: Determine the properties and functions of magical items.
    • Relevant Skills: Arcana, Religion

Quick summary of various skills and their use

  • Survival: Used for tracking, navigating, and foraging.
  • Perception: Essential for noticing hidden objects, traps, or environmental changes.
  • Stealth: Crucial for moving quietly and avoiding detection.
  • Diplomacy: Used for peaceful negotiations and gathering information.
  • Intimidation: Employed to coerce or frighten NPCs into cooperation.
  • Society: Helpful for understanding social norms, local laws, and gathering information.
  • Performance: Used for entertaining and influencing through artistic expression.
  • Deception: Useful for lying, disguising, and tricking others.
  • Occultism: Employed to understand and solve puzzles related to the occult.
  • Arcana: Used for understanding magical phenomena, including traps and magical items.
  • Religion: Helpful for understanding divine or spiritual aspects, including certain magical items.
  • Thievery: Used for picking locks, disarming traps, and sleight of hand.

By mastering skills and understanding their applications, you can enhance your exploration and interaction experiences in Pathfinder 2e, making each session a unique and enriching adventure.

Gameplay Mechanics

Diverse group intensely strategizing tabletop game in imaginative atmosphere.

Learn the ins and outs of combat, exploration, and role-playing in Pathfinder 2e to enhance your gaming experience.

Combat Rules

Pathfinder 2e has a unique action economy system in combat that determines what you can do on your turn. Here are some essential combat rules to keep in mind:

  1. Each character gets three actions during their turn and one reaction per round.
  2. Actions include attacking, moving, using skills or spells, raising a shield for defense, and many other options.
  3. Combat uses the d20 system, where you roll a twenty-sided die to determine the success of your actions.
  4. When attacking, you roll a d20 and add your attack bonus to see if you hit your target's Armor Class (AC).
  5. If your attack hits, you roll damage dice specific to the weapon or spell you used.
  6. Some creatures have special abilities or resistances that can affect combat outcomes.
  7. Flanking an enemy by positioning yourself opposite an ally grants you bonus damage on attacks.

Spells and Spellcasting

In Pathfinder 2e, casting spells is a fascinating tool that adventurers can wield. Spellcasting is a fundamental aspect of gameplay in Pathfinder 2e. It allows you to harness arcane or divine powers to shape reality according to your desires. Whether you want to heal wounds, conjure fireballs, or control minds, there's a wide variety of spells at your disposal.

Casting a spell typically takes two actions, indicating concentration and intention to produce magical effects. But spellcasting is incredibly diverse. Some spells are quick, taking just one action to cast. Others require more finesse and are cast using three actions, weaving complexity into their outcome to unleash potent and intricate effects.

As you explore your spell options, remember that each spell is unique. Choosing the right spell for the right moment requires strategy and insight. So, navigate the path of spellcasting with care and embrace each spell's possibilities.

Roleplaying Tips

To truly immerse yourself in the world of Pathfinder 2e, embracing the art of roleplaying is essential. By stepping into your character's shoes and making decisions based on their personality, motivations, and values, you bring them to life in a way that goes beyond mere numbers on a character sheet.

Don't be afraid to take risks and make bold choices that stay true to your character's essence. Engage with other players, ask questions, and let your imagination run wild as you navigate the vast landscapes of this incredible game.

Remember, having fun while creating unforgettable stories with your fellow adventurers is key.

Advanced Pathfinder 2e

This section will explore the advanced player options available in Pathfinder 2e. We'll discuss specializations and archetypes that allow players to further customize their characters and expand their abilities, as well as some rulebooks to help add more variety.

Specializations and Archetypes

In Pathfinder 2e, both "Specialization" and "Archetype" refer to ways in which characters can be customized, but they serve different functions and offer different kinds of benefits. Below is a breakdown of the differences between the two:



  • A Specialization is a focused area within a class that allows a character to excel in specific aspects or themes related to that class.


  • Specializations are often tied to a specific class and are sometimes called "subclasses."
  • They provide additional abilities, features, or spells that are thematic to the specialization.
  • Specializations usually come into play at a certain level, depending on the class.
  • They often offer a set progression of abilities that unlock as the character levels up.


  • A Fighter might specialize in two-handed weapons, gaining bonuses when wielding such weapons.
  • A Wizard with an Evocation specialization would be more proficient in dealing damage with spells.

Relevant Skills:

  • The skills relevant to specialization are generally the same as those for the base class but may have some unique additions or focuses.



  • An Archetype is a set of abilities and features that can be added to any class, allowing for cross-class customization and a broader range of skills and abilities.


  • Archetypes are not tied to a specific class; they can be taken by characters of any class.
  • They offer a more modular approach to character customization.
  • Archetypes usually require the character to give up certain class features in exchange for the new abilities provided by the archetype.
  • They allow for a wide range of multi-classing options without taking levels in multiple classes.


  • A Rogue could take the "Wizard Dedication" archetype to gain access to basic wizard spells.
  • A Cleric with the "Warrior" archetype might gain martial abilities usually reserved for Fighters.

Relevant Skills:

  • The skills relevant to an archetype can vary widely and are not tied to the character's base class.

Advanced Player's Guide

When you are ready to take your Pathfinder 2e gameplay to the next level, the Advanced Player's Guide is a must-have resource. It provides a range of exciting options for character creation and development. Here are some ways you can enhance your gameplay experience:

  1. Explore New Ancestries: The Advanced Player's Guide introduces new ancestries, allowing you to create characters with unique abilities and backgrounds. Try out the versatile versatility of the Catfolk or the power of a Half-Orc.
  2. Unleash Specializations: With the guide, you can choose advanced specializations for your character class, allowing them to excel in specific areas. Specializations like Dragon Disciple for Sorcerers or Dual-Weapon Warrior for Fighters add depth and customization to your character.
  3. Embrace Archetypes: Archetypes provide alternative class features, transforming your character into something truly unique. Become a Righteous Redeemer Paladin or a Shadow Dancer Rogue, unlocking new abilities and playstyles.
  4. Harness New Skills: Expand your character with additional skills from the Advanced Player's Guide. Whether it's mastering Alchemy as an Alchemist or becoming an expert in Animal Handling, these feats offer exciting opportunities for specialization.
  5. Discover Versatile Backgrounds: Choose from new backgrounds that provide additional skills, lore, and special abilities. Enhance your character's backstory with options like Noble Scion or Urban Underworld Dweller.
  6. Uncover General Feats: The guide also introduces new general feats from which any character can benefit. Whether gaining access to powerful spellcasting options or improving combat maneuvers, these feats allow further customization and flexibility.

Pathfinder Society and Organized Play

What is Pathfinder Society?

Pathfinder Society is a worldwide organized play campaign for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. It allows players to participate in a shared universe, taking on the role of agents of the Pathfinder Society, a legendary league of explorers, archaeologists, and adventurers. The campaign is managed by Paizo Inc., the company behind the Pathfinder RPG.

Key Features of Pathfinder Society

  • Shared Campaign: Players across the globe can participate in the same ongoing campaign, which is updated regularly with new scenarios, story arcs, and world-changing events.
  • Character Portability: Characters created for Pathfinder Society can be used in any Society-sanctioned event, regardless of location. You can take your character to different game stores, conventions, or even online games and continue their adventures.
  • Structured Gameplay: The campaign is highly structured, with specific rules and guidelines to ensure consistency and fairness. This makes it easy for new players to join and for existing players to know what to expect.
  • Tiered Scenarios: Scenarios are often designed for different levels of play, allowing players to join in regardless of their character's level.
  • Community Focused: The Society emphasizes teamwork, community, and shared storytelling, often involving large groups of players working together to achieve common goals.

What is Organized Play?

Organized Play refers to the structured, official format for playing tabletop RPGs like Pathfinder in a public setting. It's not limited to Pathfinder Society but includes it as one of its most prominent examples.

Key Features of Organized Play

  • Standardized Rules: Organized Play follows a set of standardized rules and guidelines to ensure everyone is on the same page, making it easier for players to join games at different locations.
  • Scheduled Events: Games are usually prepared in advance and occur at public venues like game stores, libraries, or gaming conventions.
  • Rankings and Rewards: Many Organized Play systems, including Pathfinder Society, offer ways to track your character's progress, earn rewards, and even gain special boons or items that carry over between different games and events.
  • Inclusive: Organized Play is designed to be inclusive and accessible, welcoming players of all skill levels, from complete beginners to seasoned veterans.

Both Pathfinder Society and Organized Play offer unique opportunities for social interaction, storytelling, and character development, making them popular choices for fans of the Pathfinder RPG.

Online Play Options

Playing Pathfinder 2e online offers newcomers to the game a convenient and accessible way to participate in the Pathfinder Society and organized play. Here are some online play options to consider:

  1. Virtual Tabletop Platforms: Online platforms like Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, or Foundry VTT provide virtual tabletop experiences where players can join games, create characters, and explore the world of Pathfinder 2e alongside other players.
  2. Play-by-Post: Play-by-post forums or websites offer a more relaxed pace of gameplay, allowing players to take their time with their turns and responses. This format is ideal for those who prefer a slower, text-based approach to playing.
  3. Discord Communities: Joining Pathfinder-focused Discord servers can connect you with fellow players looking for games. Many communities host regular sessions or one-shots that allow you to jump into existing campaigns or try out new adventures.
  4. Virtual Conventions and Events: Keep an eye out for online conventions or events specifically catered to Pathfinder 2e. These gatherings often feature organized play opportunities, panels, workshops, and guest speakers.
  5. Pathfinder Society Online: The Paizo Organized Play Foundation facilitates online play for Pathfinder Society (Second Edition) through their official website. They provide resources and guidelines for participating in organized play campaigns using virtual platforms.


In conclusion, "Mastering the Basics: A Guide to Playing Pathfinder 2e" is a comprehensive resource that will help newcomers navigate the intricacies of this tabletop RPG. By understanding the rules, character creation, and gameplay mechanics, players can confidently embark on exciting adventures.

Do you have any tips for folks just getting started? Let us know in the comments below!

Back to blog

Leave a comment