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Pathfinder 2.0 Playtest SRD

What is this site for?

This site is an online version of the Pathfinder 2.0 Playtest rules. This site does NOT include any Paizo/Pathfinder IP (things like the name of the campaign setting, the campaign setting gods, or NPCs or iconic characters.)

This site is NOT intended to replace the official core PDF or print book. You should download the PDF here! or grab the awesome actual BOOK here!

Here we go, here’s the goods!

If you’re new to Pathfinder, or to tabletop roleplaying games in general, we intend this site to bid you a hearty welcome into one of the greatest hobbies in the world. Using these playtest rules, you can build any kind of sword and sorcery story imaginable to explore with your friends, family, and acquaintances whose love for imagination and camaraderie matches your own. Pathfinder is a game for people of all backgrounds and life experiences to play and enjoy, and we can’t wait to share our game with you and learn from your feedback.

This site presents the rules for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game’s next evolution. For the past 10 years, we’ve worked hard to make Pathfinder a game that we could all call home, filled with robust options and supported by a rich setting. We’re proud that you came with us on that journey and that you’ve shared your insight into what worked and what we should strive to improve. Now, we hope that you’ll come with us on the next step of our adventure!

The game is typically played in a group of four to seven players, with one of those players serving as the group’s Game Master. The GM prepares, presents, and presides over the game’s world and its story, posing challenges and playing adversaries, allies, and bystanders alike. By responding to situations according to their player characters’ personalities and abilities, the players help to create the story’s plot as the outcome of each scene leads into the next. Die rolls combined with preassigned statistics add an element of chance and determine whether characters succeed or fail at the actions they attempt.

You can think of an RPG as theater: the players are the actors, while the Game Master is the director. Whether you choose to play a premade adventure, such as Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn, or an adventure of your own making is up to you!

The Game’s Flow

Each time your group gets together to play Pathfinder, that’s one game session. A complete game of Pathfinder can be as short as a single session, commonly referred to as a “one-shot,” or a game can stretch on for multiple sessions in a campaign that lasts for months or even years.

A game of Pathfinder can be played for as long as the Game Master has an ongoing story she enjoys exploring and advancing with her players. As you continue to play Pathfinder, the player characters will defeat vile beasts, escape fiendish traps, and complete heroic quests.

When they do, they accumulate Experience Points, often denoted as XP. Once a character reaches 1,000 XP, that character gains a level. The higher your character’s level, the greater the challenges they can face in the game!

The Players

Before the game begins, players typically invent their own characters’ backgrounds and personalities. While it’s possible to play multiple characters at once, it’s generally the most fun to have one character per player so that players can really get into their roles.

In the case of this playtest, Doomsday Dawn provides suggestions about the types of characters best suited to each of its parts. In some cases, the adventure requires players to create specific types of characters, though these requirements are strictly for the purposes of playtesting.

In general, Pathfinder limits character concepts only to the players’ imaginations and the GM’s parameters.

Players use the game’s rules to build their characters’ numerical statistics, which determine the characters’ abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. In-depth instructions for how to create a character, pointing you toward relevant rules in other chapters, appear in the Character Creation section.

During the game, the players describe the actions their characters take. Some players particularly enjoy acting (or roleplaying) the game’s events as if they were their characters, while others describe their characters’ actions as if narrating a story. Do whatever feels best!

Many in-game situations in Pathfinder have rules that govern how they’re resolved. Chapter 9, for example, provides detailed information about the different modes of play, how to use the rules to spend actions when a fight breaks out, and much more. All of the rules that players need to play Pathfinder are found in this book.

Keep in mind, though, that this is a playtest and that Pathfinder Second Edition’s final rules will be published in August 2019 after we have gathered and incorporated all of your feedback.

The Game Master

While the rest of the players create their characters for a Pathfinder game, the Game Master is in charge of the story and world. The Game Master is a player, but for the sake of simplicity, she is referred to in this book and other Pathfinder products as the Game Master or GM, whereas the other players are referred to simply as players. The Game Master must detail the situations she wants the players to experience as part of an overarching story, consider how the actions of the player characters might affect her plans, and understand the rules and statistics for the challenges they will face along the way. Game Masters who use Doomsday Dawn will find that much of this work is addressed in the adventure, though there’s nothing wrong with participating in the playtest using original adventures.

Gaming is For all

Whether you’re a player or a Game Master, participating in a tabletop roleplaying game involves an inherent social contract: everyone has gathered to have fun together, and the table is a safe space for everyone. Everyone has a right to play and enjoy Pathfinder regardless of their age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other identities and life experiences. Pathfinder is for everyone, and Pathfinder games should be as safe, inclusive, and fun as possible for all.

Players

As a player, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are not creating or contributing to an environment that makes any other players feel uncomfortable or unwelcome, particularly if those players are members of minority or marginalized communities that haven’t always been welcome or represented in the larger gaming population.

Thus, it’s important to consider your character concepts and roleplaying style and avoid any approach that could cause harm to another player. A character whose concept and mannerisms are racist tropes, for example, is exceptionally harmful and works against the goal of providing fun for all. A roleplaying style in which a player or character is constantly interrupting others or treating certain players or characters with condescension is similarly unacceptable.

Furthermore, standards of respect don’t vanish simply because you’re playing a character in a fantasy game.

For example, it’s never acceptable to refer to another person using an offensive term or a slur, and doing so “in character” is just as bad as doing so directly. If your character’s concept requires you act this way, that’s a good sign your concept is harmful, and you have a responsibility to change it. Sometimes, you might not realize that your character concept or roleplaying style is making others feel unwelcome at the gaming table. If another player tells you that your character concept or roleplaying style makes them uncomfortable, you shouldn’t argue about what they should or shouldn’t find offensive or say that what you’re doing is common (and therefore okay) among players or in other media. Instead, you should simply stop and make sure the game is a fun experience for everyone.

After all, that’s what gaming is about!

Game Masters

The role of Game Master comes with the responsibility of ensuring that none of your players violate the game’s social contract, especially when playing in a public space. Be on the lookout for behavior that’s inappropriate, whether intentional or inadvertent, and pay careful attention to players’ body language during gameplay. If you notice a player becoming uncomfortable, you are empowered to pause the game, take it in a new direction, privately check in with your players during or after the session, or take any other action you think is appropriate to move the game toward a fun experience for everyone. That said, you should never let players who are uncomfortable with different identities or experiences derail your game.

People of all identities and experiences have a right to be represented in the game, even if they’re not necessarily playing at your table.

Otherwise, if a player tells you they’re uncomfortable with something in the game, whether it’s content you’ve presented as the GM or another player’s actions, listen to them and take steps to ensure they can once again have fun during your game. If you’re preparing written material and you find the description of a character or a situation to be inappropriate, you are fully empowered to change any details as you see fit to best suit your players. Making sure the game is fun for everyone is your biggest job!

How Do I Play?

Playing Pathfinder often involves meeting in someone’s home or at a game store, but there are myriad virtual tabletop applications—special programs or web interfaces—that allow players to meet online to roll dice and move pieces virtually. Some groups even mix the two, meeting with some friends in person while having others participate virtually. There is no wrong method to play Pathfinder!

If you don’t have a local group, we encourage you to seek a play-by-post game in the forums on the Paizo website at paizo.com or a playtest at your local Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild lodge. More about Pathfinder Society can be found at paizo.com/pathfindersociety.

Playtesting Supplies

Each person participating in this playtest can bring their own set of the following supplies, but it’s common for members of a group to share some materials, like books, pencils, and dice.

  • This site (or the PDF or printed book!).
  • Pencils or other writing utensils.
  • Character sheets or blank paper.
  • A set of polyhedral dice.
  • Optionally, a miniature or pawn to represent your adventuring character.

Pathfinder is a rich game full of nuance, from both a mechanical and a storytelling perspective. Here are some basic concepts that are helpful to familiarize yourself with before running or playing a game of Pathfinder.

Throughout this site, you will see formatting standards that might look a bit unusual at first. These standards are in place to make this book easier to read.

Specifically, the game’s rules are set apart in this text using specialized capitalization or italicization.

The names of specific statistics, skills, feats, actions, activities, reactions, free actions, and some other mechanical elements in Pathfinder are capitalized. This way, when you see the statement “a Strike targets Armor Class,” you know that both Strike and Armor Class are used with their rules meanings. Pathfinder also uses many terms that are typically expressed as abbreviations.

If you’re ever confused about a capitalized term or an abbreviation, you can always turn to the glossary or index and look it up.

If a word or a phrase is italicized, it is describing a spell or a magic item. This way, when you see the statement “he is protected by shield,” you know that in this case the word denotes the shield spell, rather than a shield, the item.

This site is divided into chapters that contain information for creating a character, playing the game, and building the game’s world. Many of these chapters contain lengthy rules or stat blocks. Where appropriate, the explanation of the format of these rules or stat blocks appears before them.

For example, the Ancestry section contains rules entries for each of the game’s six core ancestries, and an explanation of these rules appears at the beginning of the section.

Modes of Play

There are three main modes of play in a Pathfinder game: encounter mode, exploration mode, and downtime mode.

The different modes of play are discussed in more detail later, but knowing the following basics before beginning a game is helpful.

Encounter mode is made up of rounds, during which each player in turn can spend actions to advance the group’s goals, whether the party wants to sneak past a crowd or defeat some enemies. This is the most mechanically rigorous mode of play and works best when running combat or when a situation changes from moment to moment.

Exploration mode happens when the characters travel significant distances, delve into mysterious new locations, interact with nonplayer characters outside of combat or simply watch for danger. In this mode, time moves at whatever pace the GM sees fit. Players still have opportunities to affect the game world, though in a much more free-form manner. Exploration mode takes place between encounters and often sets the stage for round-by-round play.

Downtime takes place when the characters aren’t facing any active threats. Downtime typically happens while the characters are within the safety and security of a settlement, and it allows them to train, employ a trade, and experience life beyond their perilous adventures.

These three modes are distinct, but the game’s flow between them isn’t always clear-cut. It’s possible that a day that starts with downtime will involve the exploration of the city’s sewage tunnels, leading the characters to the secret base of a depraved cult and then into an encounter with the cultists. The more you play the game, the more you’ll see that each mode features of its own play methods, but moving from mode to mode has few hard boundaries.

Acting and Effects

The main way that characters and their adversaries affect the world of Pathfinder is by spending actions and producing effects. This is especially the case in encounter play, where every action counts.

During encounter mode, each player character gains 3 actions and 1 reaction to use each round. Each player character can also take any number of free actions. Rules elements that describe actions, reactions, or free actions carry special symbols to indicate this, as described below.

Actions

You can use 3 actions on your turn, in any order you see fit. When you use an action, you generate an effect. Sometimes this effect is automatic. Other times, actions necessitate that you roll a die and generate an effect based on this roll. More information about die rolling and its importance to the game is found in the Die Rolls section.

Reactions

Reactions are similar to actions in their effects, but are used differently. You can spend only 1 reaction per round, and only when its specific trigger is fulfilled. You can use your reaction on your turn or another character’s turn, as long as the trigger is satisfied (often, the trigger is another creature’s action).

Free Actions

Free actions follow the same trigger rules as reactions, and like reactions, you can use them on your turn or on another character’s turn.

Unlike with actions or reactions, you can use as many free actions per round as you like, as long as their triggers occur. However, a specific trigger can trigger only one of a character’s free actions.

Activities

Activities are special tasks that you complete by spending 1 or more actions. Usually, they take 2 or more actions and let you do more than a single action would allow. All tasks that take longer than a turn are activities. Spellcasting is one of the most common activities, as most spells require you to spend several actions in a sequence to create their effects. Once you spend the last action required, your activity is complete and its effects occur. A few activities can be performed by spending a free action or a reaction, such as spells you can cast in an instant. Activities that use 2 actions start with this symbol: . Activities that use 3 actions start with this symbol: .

Format of Rules Elements

In Pathfinder, player characters use rules elements to act or in response to the situation. Many are feats, which are mechanical elements that characters can access through leveling up or making certain character creation choices.

Others are more basic elements of the game to which all characters have access from the beginning of play.

Regardless of the type of game mechanic, rules elements are always presented in the following format. Entries are omitted from the game’s rules text when they don’t apply, so not all rules elements have all of the entries given below.

Actions, reactions, and free actions have an appropriate icon next to them to indicate their type. An activity that can be completed in a single turn has a number of icons indicating how many actions are required to complete it; activities that take more than a single turn to perform omit these icons. When a certain level is required before the element can be accessed, that level is indicated to the right of the name. Rules also often have one or more traits associated with them.

Feat or Action Name Level

Prerequisite(s): Any minimum ability score, feats, proficiency rank, or other prerequisites you must have before you can access this element is listed here. The element’s level is always an additional prerequisite.

Frequency This is the limit on how many times you can use an ability within a certain length of time.

Cost Any extra cost of materials to use the ability (for instance, in spells that require special reagents) is listed here.

Trigger Reactions and free actions both have triggers that must be met in order to use them. The trigger is listed here.

Requirements Sometimes you must have a certain item or be in a certain circumstance to use an ability. If so, it’s listed in this section.

This section describes the effects or benefits of a rules element.

If the rule is an action, activity, reaction, or free action, it explains what the effect is or what you must roll to determine the effect.

If it’s a feat that modifies an existing action or grants a constant effect, the benefit is explained here.

Special Any special qualities of the rule are explained in this section. Usually the special section appears in a feat you can select more than once, and explains what happens when you do.

Traits

Die Rolls

Rolling dice to determine a character’s success or failure at a given task is a core element of the game. Pathfinder uses a set of polyhedral dice to accomplish this; most important is the 20-sided die, often abbreviated as d20. Many rolls in Pathfinder involve rolling a d20, adding bonuses or penalties, and telling the GM the result so she can compare it to the number representing the difficult of the task. This is called a check. More about rolls, checks, bonuses, penalties, and other key elements of the game is described, but the following basics are good to know:

  • Rolling high is good. You want your roll’s total to meet or exceed the threshold for success, which is called the Difficulty Class (or DC). The DC is a number chosen by the GM if you’re going up against a challenge in the environment. If you’re rolling against a creature, you’ll instead use a DC based on one of its statistics.
  • Rolling 20 is better! Rolling a 20 on the die means you critically succeed, which often has a greater effect than normal. You also gain a critical success if your total meets or exceeds the Difficulty Class by 10 or more.
  • Rolling 1 is bad. When you do, you critically fail your check. This is even worse than a regular failure. You also critically fail if your total is lower than the Difficulty Class by 10 or more.

Your Difficulty Class Often, you roll dice against a Difficulty Class determined by the GM. But when a creature or situation is testing your character’s ability, it attempts a check against a Difficulty Class based on the most relevant of your character’s statistics. The DC for any statistic is 10 plus all the same modifiers you’d add to a d20 roll using that statistic.

Modifiers, Bonuses, and Penalties

You can get the following types of modifiers, bonuses, and penalties on your rolls and DCs.

Ability Modifier

Almost all rolls are keyed to an ability score. Your ability modifiers are derived from your ability scores. For example, a Strength of 10 gives you a +0 Strength modifier, while a Charisma of 17 gives you a +3 Charisma modifier. You add only one ability modifier to a roll.

Proficiency Modifier

For most of your statistics, your class and other character choices will give you a proficiency rank. When you make a roll, you add a proficiency modifier that depends on your level and your proficiency rank in the statistic or item you are using. You add only one proficiency modifier to a roll.

You’re untrained if you have little or no knowledge in the statistic or item. Your proficiency modifier is equal to your level minus 2. Unless your class or another choice you’ve made gives you a different rank of proficiency, you’re untrained.

If you’ve been trained in the statistic or item, your proficiency modifier is equal to your level.

As an expert, you are highly trained in the statistic or item. Your proficiency modifier is equal to your level plus 1.

At a master rank, you’ve achieved world-class proficiency in the statistic or item. Your proficiency modifier is equal to your character level plus 2.

If you’re legendary, your statistic or familiarity with the item is so high that you’ll go down in history. Your proficiency modifier is equal to your level plus 3.

When you have a proficiency rank, you also have all lower ranks except for untrained. Thus, if you have master proficiency rank, you also have the expert and trained proficiency ranks (though you use only the highest modifier).

Bonuses and Penalties

Other bonuses and penalties come in several types. If you have more than one bonus or penalty of the same type, you use only the highest bonus or penalty.

Key Terms

As you navigate this book, it’s helpful to be familiar with the key basic terms found in this section.

Ability Score Each creature has six ability scores: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. These scores represent a creature’s raw potential and basic attributes. The higher the score, the greater the creature’s potential in that ability score.

Alignment Alignment represents a creature’s basic moral and ethical attitude.

Ancestry An ancestry is the broad family of people that a character or creature belongs to. Ancestry determines a character’s starting Hit Points, languages, Speed, and senses, and it grants access to a set of ancestry feats.

Armor Class (AC) All creatures in the game have an Armor Class. This score represents how hard it is to hit and damage a creature. It typically serves as the Difficulty Class for hitting a creature with an attack.

Attack When a creature tries to harm another creature, it makes an attack roll against the target’s Armor Class. Most attacks use the Strike action, but some spells and other abilities are also attacks.

Class A class represents the main adventuring profession chosen by a character. A character’s class determines most of their proficiencies, grants the character a certain number of Hit Points when they gain a new level, and gives access to a set of class feats. Classes appear in Chapter 3.

Condition An ongoing effect that changes how you can act or alters some of your statistics is called a condition. These often come from spells.

Feat A feat is an ability that a character gains from their ancestry, background, class, general training, or skill training. Some feats grant an action, activity, free action, or reaction.

Game Master (GM) The Game Master is the player who adjudicates the rules and controls the various elements of the Pathfinder story and world that the other players explore. A GM’s duty is to provide a fair and fun game—she wants the other players to ultimately succeed in their goals, but only after much danger and many heroic trials.

Hit Points (HP) Hit Points represent the amount of punishment a creature can take before it falls unconscious and begins dying. Damage decreases Hit Points on a 1-to-1 basis, while healing restores Hit Points at the same rate.

Initiative At the start of an encounter, all creatures involved roll for initiative to determine the order the participants act during combat. The higher the result of the roll, the earlier a creature gets to act. Usually you’ll use Perception for your initiative rolls, but you might roll some kind of skill check instead.

Level A level is a number that measures something’s overall power. A character has a character level, ranging from 1 to 20, representing their level of experience. Monsters, hazards, and afflictions have levels from 0 to 20 or higher that measure the danger they pose. An item’s level indicates its power and suitability as treasure, also from 0 to 20 or higher. Spells have levels ranging from 1 to 10, which measure their power and relate to a creature’s ability to cast them.

Nonplayer Character (NPC) A nonplayer character is controlled by the GM for the purpose of interacting with players and helping advance the story.

Perception Perception measures your character’s ability to notice hidden objects or unusual situations, and it usually determines how quickly you spring into action in combat.

Player Character (PC) This is a character created and controlled by a player.

Rarity Nearly all elements of the game are associated with a rarity—that is, how often they’re encountered in the game’s world. Rarity primarily applies to equipment and magic items, but spells, feats, and other mechanical aspects of the game also each have a specific rarity. The majority of such elements are commonly found within the world, which means that anyone can buy them, in the case of items, or access them, in the case of feats, without any trouble. The common rarity, marked in black, is the default. The uncommon rarity indicates an element available only to those who have been initiated into a special kind of training, grow up in a certain culture, or come from a particular part of the world. A character can’t take these options by default. Specific choices, such as class features or backgrounds, might give access to certain uncommon elements. The GM can grant any character access to uncommon options if she so chooses. The level (or type of element for those without levels) is marked in red. Elements that are rare are practically unknown or impossible to find in the game world. These elements appear in the game only if the GM chooses to include them. Rare elements are marked in orange. The unique rarity indicates an element that is one of a kind. This means that there’s only one in the game’s world. Artifacts, for example, are often unique. Unique elements are marked in blue (one appears in Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn).

Roleplaying Describing a character’s actions, often while acting from the perspective of the character, is called roleplaying. When a player speaks or describes action from the perspective of a character, they are “in character.”

Saving Throw (Save) When a creature is subject to dangerous effects it must attempt to avoid with its body or mind, it can often roll a saving throw to mitigate the effect. You roll a saving throw automatically—you don’t have to use an action or a reaction. Unlike most types of checks, the character who isn’t acting rolls the d20 for a saving throw and the creature who is acting generates the DC. There are three types of saving throws: Fortitude (to resist poisons, diseases, and physical effects), Reflex (to mitigate effects that you could quickly dodge), and Will (to resist effects that target the mind and personality).

Skill A skill represents a creature’s ability to perform certain tasks that require training to master. Skills typically list ways you can use them even if you’re untrained in the skill, followed by uses that require you to be trained in the skill.

Speed Speed is the number of feet that a character can move using the Stride action.

Spell Spells are magical effects generated by using an activity to cast them. Spells specify what they target, their effects, the actions needed to cast them, and how they can be resisted.

Stride You can move up to your Speed with the Stride action.

Strike You use the Strike action to make an attack.

Trait A trait is an indicator that a rules element obeys special rules or has certain features. Often, traits have rules attached that govern how something works. Other times, they are indicators of how other rules interact with an ability, creature, item, or other rules element that has that trait. An index of all the traits used in this book appears in Appendix A: Traits.

Turn During the course of a round, each creature takes a single turn. A creature can typically use up to 3 actions during its turn.

Dice Pathfinder requires a set of polyhedral dice. When these are mentioned in the text, they’ll have a “d” followed by the number of sides of the die you’re supposed to use. If you’re using multiple dice, a number at the start shows how many you should roll. For example, “4d6” means you’re rolling four six-sided dice. Pathfinder uses the following dice: 4-sided (d4), 6-sided (d6), 8-sided (d8), 10-sided (d10), 12-sided (d12), and 20-sided (d20).

Character Creation

When you sit down to play Pathfinder as a player, the first thing you need to do is create a character whose adventures you’ll explore in the game. It’s up to you to imagine your character’s past experiences, personality, and worldview, as these will set the stage for your roleplaying during the game. You’ll use the game’s mechanics to determine your character’s starting capabilities at various tasks and the special abilities she can use during the game.

This section provides a step-by-step guide for creating a character using the Pathfinder rules. These steps are presented in a suggested order, but you should feel free to complete them in the order you prefer. In some cases, where the rules systems involved in the following steps need more explanation, they refer to sections that appear later in this chapter.

Many of the steps below instruct you to fill out fields on your character sheet (see below), but note that the character sheet is arranged for ease of use during gameplay rather than the order of steps in character creation. Additionally, the fields that appear on character sheets are comprehensive, and not all characters necessarily have something to put in each field—all characters might not have access to a reaction at 1st level, for example. If a field on your character sheet is not applicable to your character, just leave that field blank. Each step of character creation is marked with a corresponding number on the sample character sheet below to show you where to fill in information in the appropriate field.

Fields that need to be filled in on the second or third page of the sheet are called out in the text.

If you’re creating a higher-level character, it’s a good idea to begin with these instructions before progressing to instructions on leveling up characters.

What sort of hero do you want to play? The answer to this question might be as simple as “a brave warrior,” or as complicated as “the child of Elven wanderers who raised this character in a majority-human city devoted to the goddess of the sun.” During this step, it’s a good idea to decide the general thrust of your character’s personality, sketching out a few details about her past and thinking about how and why she adventures. You’ll likely want to peruse Pathfinder’s available ancestries, backgrounds, and classes.

Below are a number of ways you could approach creating your character concept. Once you have a good idea of the type of character you’d like to play, move on to Step 2.

Ancestry, Background, Class, or Details

If one of Pathfinder’s character ancestries, backgrounds, or classes particularly intrigues you, it’s easy to build a character concept around one or more of these options. Table 1–1: Ancestries and Table 1–2: Classes give a brief overview of each option, with much more detail provided in Chapters 2 and 3, respectively. Additionally, the game has a large number of backgrounds to choose from that represent your character’s upbringing, her family’s livelihood, or her earliest profession.

Building a character around a specific ancestry, background, or class can be a fun exercise in interacting with the world’s lore. You might consider whether you’d like to build a typical member of your character’s ancestry or class, as described in the relevant entry, or whether you’d prefer to play a character who defies commonly held notions about her people. For example, you could play a dwarf with a wide-eyed sense of wondrous innocence and zest for change, or a performing rogue capable of amazing acrobatic feats but with little interest in sneaking about.

Of course, you can always build a concept from any aspect of a character’s details. You can use roleplaying to challenge not only the norms of Pathfinder’s fictional world, but also real-life societal norms. Your character might challenge binary gender notions, explore cultural identity, have a disability, have any sexual orientation, or any combination of these suggestions. Your character can live any life you see fit.

After you’ve figured out your character’s concept and background, you can have some fun coming up with an appropriate name for character!

Faith Perhaps you’d like to play a character who is a devout believer in the faith of a specific deity. Pathfinder is a rich world full of myriad deities whose faiths and philosophies span a wide range, from the Drunken Hero of good-hearted adventuring; to the goddess of dreaming and the stars; to the goddess of honor, justice, and rulership. Your character might be so drawn to a particular faith that you decide she should be a cleric or paladin of that deity, or your character might instead simply be the child of strongly devoted parishioners, or a lay worshiper who applies her faith’s teachings to daily life.

Your Allies Before a game begins, it’s always a good idea for the players to discuss how their characters might know each other and work together throughout the course of their adventures. You might even want to coordinate with the other players when forming your character concept, although you should never feel pressured into making and playing a character that doesn’t interest you.

Such coordination might involve your characters’ backstories, such as having them hail from the same village or creating characters who are relatives. It might also involve mechanical aspects, such as creating characters whose abilities in combat complement each other. In the latter case, it can be helpful for a party to include characters who deal damage, characters who can absorb damage, and characters who can provide healing.

However, Pathfinder’s classes include a lot of choices, and there are many options for building each type of character, so don’t let these broad categories restrain your decisions!

Ability Scores One of the simplest places to start your character concept is with their ability scores. Do you want your character to be the fastest, the smartest, or the most charming?

Then enhance your character’s Dexterity, Intelligence, or Charisma score accordingly! See the Ability Scores section for more about which ability scores are tied to which inherent qualities. When you build a character around having one or more strong ability scores, choose a class that has one of those as the key ability score. You may also want to choose an ancestry and a background that also boost that score, but you can always use your free ability boosts if they don’t line up. When it comes time to assign your skill proficiencies, pick skills tied to your best abilities.

Character Sheet Once you’ve developed your character’s concept, jot a few sentences summarizing it under the Notes section on the third page. Record any of the details you’ve already decided, such as your character’s name, on the appropriate lines on the first page, indicated on the sample character sheet by the number 1.

1 Determine Your Character’s Concept

Dwarf Dwarves are a short, stocky people who are often stubborn, fierce, and devoted. Constitution, Wisdom, Free Charisma

Table 1–1: Ancestries
Ancestry Description Ability Boosts Ability Flaw
Elf Elves are a tall, slender, long-lived people whose culture peaked long ago. Dexterity, Intelligence, Free Constitution
Gnome Gnomes are a short, slight, mercurial people who crave change and excitement. Constitution, Charisma, Free Strength
Goblin Goblins are a short, scrappy, energetic people who have spent millennia maligned and feared. Dexterity, Charisma, Free Wisdom
Halfling Halflings are a short, adaptable people who exhibit remarkable curiosity and humor. Dexterity, Wisdom, Free Strength
Human* Humans are incredibly diverse in terms of everything from their body size to their perspectives and personalities.

Free, Free

 

*Half-elf and half-orc ancestries are accessible through human ancestry feats.
Table 1–2: Classes
Class Description Key Ability Score* Secondary Ability Scores
Alchemist The alchemist throws alchemical bombs and drinks concoctions of his own making during combat. Intelligence

Constitution, Dexterity

Barbarian The barbarian flies into a rage on the battlefield, smashing foes with abandon. Strength Constitution, Dexterity
Bard Performance and secrets of the occult enable the bard to distract foes and inspire allies. Charisma Constitution, Dexterity
Cleric The cleric calls on the power of a deity to cast spells that can heal allies or harm foes. Wisdom Charisma, Constitution
Druid The druid uses the natural world’s magic to bolster her and her allies’ strength while calling pain down upon enemies. Wisdom Constitution, Dexterity
Fighter The fighter is a master of weapons, martial techniques, and powerful attack combinations. Dexterity or Strength Constitution
Monk The monk spins the secrets of martial arts into dazzling displays of battlefield prowess. Dexterity or Strength Constitution, Wisdom
Paladin The paladin is a champion of her deity who uses divine power to enhance her heroics and protect her allies. Strength Charisma, Constitution
Ranger The ranger is a master of using his surroundings, including traps and animal allies, to harry enemies. Dexterity or Strength Constitution, Wisdom
Rogue The rogue is a multitalented master of skullduggery who strikes when enemies least expect it. Dexterity Charisma, Constitution
Sorcerer The sorcerer’s magical might flows through her blood and manifests as fantastic spells and abilities. Charisma Dexterity, Constitution
Wizard The wizard is an eminent scholar whose reservoirs of arcane knowledge power his wondrous spells and abilities. Intelligence Dexterity, Constitution
* Characters each receive an ability boost in their class’s key ability score.

Ancestries and Classes

Each player takes a different approach to character creation; some focus on details that best fit the story, some look for combinations that synergize well mechanically, and others combine aspects of these approaches. There is no wrong way to build a character!

The following tables provide at-a-glance information for those looking to optimize their starting ability scores. For entries in Table 1–1: Ancestries that say “free,” you can choose which ability score receives the provided ability boost. This table also indicates any ability flaws that an ancestry might have.

Table 1–2: Classes lists each class’s key ability score—the ability score used to calculate the potency of many of their class abilities.

Characters receive an ability boost in that ability score when they choose their class. This table also lists one or more secondary ability scores that can be important to members of that class.

Keep in mind that a character’s background also affects her ability scores, though there’s more flexibility in the ability boosts that backgrounds provide than in those from classes.

2 Choose an Ancestry

Your character’s ancestry is one of her most important characteristics. Table 1–1: Ancestries provides an overview of Pathfinder’s core ancestry options, and each ancestry is fully detailed in Chapter 2. Ancestry affects your character’s ability scores, total Hit Points, size, Speed, languages, and much more. Additionally, at 1st level, your character receives an ancestry feat that represents an ability or quality she was born with or trained in at an early age.

Character Sheet Write your character’s ancestry on the appropriate line at the top of your character sheet. Next to your ability scores, note the ability boosts and any flaw your character gains from her ancestry (ability scores are finalized during Step 5). Note the number of Hit Points she gains from her ancestry. Finally, on the appropriate lines, note your character’s size, Speed, and languages. If your character’s ancestry provides her with special abilities, note them in the appropriate spaces, such as darkvision in the Senses section on the first page. Note the ancestry feat your character receives in the proper section on your character sheet’s second page.

3 Choose A Background

Your character’s background might represent a special aptitude she’s been honing since her youth, detail her upbringing, or illuminate some other aspect of her life before she became an adventurer.

Backgrounds typically provide benefits to your character in the form of two ability boosts (one that can be applied to either of two specific ability scores, and one that is free), training in a Lore skill, and a specific skill feat.

Character Sheet Record your character’s background on the appropriate line on your character sheet. Next to your ability scores, note the ability boosts the background provides (ability scores are finalized during Step 5). Record the skill feat the background provides in the proper section on your character sheet’s second page. On the first page, in the Skills section, note the Lore skill in which your character is trained by checking the “T” box next to that skill name and noting the type of Lore.

4 Choose A Class

At this point, you need to nail down your character’s class. This affords her access to a suite of heroic abilities, determines how well she can attack, and governs how easily she can shake off or avoid certain harmful effects. Chapter 3 details each of the classes available in Pathfinder, and Table 1–2: Classes provides an overview of each class and tells you which ability scores are important when playing that class, which can help guide your choice. You don’t need to note all of your character’s class features yet. You simply need to know which class you want to play, which determines the ability scores that will be most important for your character.

Character Sheet Write your character’s class at the top of your character sheet, then write “1” in the box after it to indicate that you’re 1st level. Next to your ability scores, note the class’s key ability score and the ability boost to it that the class provides. Don’t worry about recording the rest of your character’s class features and abilities yet—you’ll handle that in Step 6.

5 Finalize Your Ability Scores

Now that you’ve made the main mechanical choices about your character, it’s time to finalize her ability scores. These important statistics determine a wide array of your character’s capabilities and consist of six values: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. As noted in other steps, your character’s ancestry, background, and class all affect her ability scores.

Character Sheet Once you’ve used the Ability Scores section to calculate your character’s ability scores, record them in the Score boxes in the proper section on your character sheet’s first page. Using the ability modifiers table, write your character’s modifiers in this section, too.

6 Apply Your Class

Now, record all the benefits and class features that your character receives from the class you’ve chosen. Your character’s class determines her key ability score, affects her total Hit Points, outfits her with various initial proficiencies, provides her with signature skills, and grants her class features and feats.

To determine your character’s total starting Hit Points, add together the number of Hit Points she gains from her ancestry (noted in Step 2) and the number of Hit Points she gains from her class.

Now is a good time to note the “T,” “E,” “M,” and “L” fields that appear throughout your character sheet (standing for trained, expert, master, and legendary, respectively). These fields indicate your character’s proficiency and determine which modifier your character applies to rolls and DCs when using certain mechanics.

For example, if your character has a rank of trained in a given skill or ability, her modifier to rolls when using that skill or ability is equal to her level.

Once you’ve spent your character’s starting wealth, note the equipment she owns as well as any remaining gp, sp, or cp she might still have. Record your character’s weapons in the Melee Strikes and Ranged Strikes sections, depending on the weapon, and the rest of her equipment and her money in the appropriate section on your character sheet’s second page. You’ll calculate specific numbers for her melee Strikes, AC, and TAC in Step 9.

Note your character’s key ability score on your character sheet as well as her class DC, which is equal to 10 plus her key ability modifier plus her level (in this case, 1). Note her total starting Hit Points as well. Use the proficiency fields on your character sheet to note your character’s initial proficiencies, including your character’s proficiency ranks in Perception and saving throws. Record your character’s weapon proficiencies in the appropriate section on the first page, and her armor proficiencies in the Armor Proficiencies section. Don’t worry yet about finalizing any values for your character’s AC, TAC, or Strikes—you’ll handle that in Step 9.

Indicate which skills are your character’s signature skills and choose which skills your character is trained in, but don’t worry about finalizing the total modifiers for your skills, either. You’ll handle that in the next step.

7 Determine Skill Modifiers

Now that you’ve noted which skills are signature skills for your character and decided which skills she’s trained in, it’s time to calculate her skill modifiers. In the second box to the right of each skill name on your character sheet, there’s an abbreviation that reminds you of the ability score tied to that skill. When you attempt checks using a skill, add the indicated ability modifier to your proficiency modifier, if any, as well as any other applicable modifiers, bonuses, and penalties, to determine the modifier for your check. Many uses of certain skills require you to have at least a proficiency rank of trained in those skills, as further described in Chapter 4.

Fill the relevant ability modifier in the box to the right of each skill name. Then, for skills in which you are trained, add your proficiency modifier to your ability modifier to determine the modifier your character has for each skill roll. For the rest of your character’s skills, subtract the proficiency modifier for being untrained (your level – 2) from the relevant ability modifier, and record those totals on the lines below the respective skill names. If you have any modifiers, bonuses, or penalties from feats or abilities, add them to the totals if they always apply, or note them next to the total if they apply only in certain circumstances.

8 Buy Equipment

At 1st level, your character has 150 silver pieces (sp) to spend on armor, weapons, and other basic equipment.

Armor and weapons are often the most important.

Your character’s class lists the types of weapons and armor that she is proficient with. Her weapon determines how much damage she deals in combat, and her armor influences her Armor Class, but these calculations are covered in more detail in Step 9. Don’t neglect essentials such as food and traveling gear. For more on the equipment available and how much it costs, see Chapter 6.

9 Fill In The Finishing Details

Now add the following details to your character sheet on the appropriate lines.

Age

Note your character’s age. The description for your character’s ancestry in Chapter 2 gives some guidance on the age ranges of members of that ancestry. Beyond that, you can play a character of whatever age you like.

Your character’s age is a major factor that shapes how she interacts with the world. There aren’t any mechanical adjustments to your character for being particularly old, but you might want to take it into account when considering your starting ability scores and future advancement; for instance, an old and wise character might have a higher Wisdom score, so you might want to make sure to put one of your free ability boosts in Wisdom. Particularly young characters can change the tone of some of the game’s threats, so it’s recommended to play characters who are at least young adults.

Alignment

Your character’s alignment is an indicator of her current philosophy, behavior, or cosmic status with regard to her morality and personality tendencies. Her alignment can change in play as her beliefs change, and you realize that your character’s actions reflect a different alignment than the one recorded on your character sheet. In most cases, you can just change your character’s alignment to match your new discoveries about your character and continue playing. If you play a paladin, though, your character’s alignment must be lawful good, and if you play a cleric, her alignment must be one allowed for her deity; otherwise, your character loses some of her class abilities until she atones.

There are nine possible alignments in Pathfinder, as shown on the table. If your alignment has any components other than neutral, your character gains traits based on those alignment components. This might affect the way various spells, items, and creatures interact with your character.

Your character’s alignment is measured by two sets of opposed values: the axis of good and evil and the axis of law and chaos. A character who isn’t committed strongly to either side is neutral on that axis. Keep in mind that alignment is a complicated subject, and even acts that might be considered good can be used for nefarious purposes, and vice versa. The GM is the final arbiter of questions about how specific actions might affect your character’s alignment.

Law and Chaos

Your character has a lawful alignment if she values consistency, stability, and predictability over flexibility.

Lawful characters have a set system in life, whether it’s meticulously planning day-to-day activities, carefully following a set of official or unofficial laws, or strictly adhering to a code of honor.

On the other hand, if she values flexibility, creativity, and spontaneity over consistency, she has a chaotic alignment. That doesn’t mean she decides her life by choosing randomly with a roll of the dice, however.

Chaotic characters believe that lawful characters are too inflexible to judge each situation by its own merits or take advantage of opportunities, while lawful characters believe that chaotic characters are irresponsible and flighty.

Many characters are in the middle, generally obeying the law or following a code of conduct in many situations, but bending the rules when the situation requires it. If your character is in the middle, too, she is neutral on this axis.

Good and Evil

Your character has a good alignment if she considers the happiness of others above her own and works selflessly to assist others, even those who aren’t her friends and family. She is also good if she values protecting others from harm, even when it puts her in danger.

She has an evil alignment if she is willing to victimize others for her own selfish gain, and it’s even more likely that she’s evil if she enjoys inflicting harm or actively seeks to harm others.

If your character falls somewhere in the middle, she’s likely neutral on this axis.

Armor Class (AC and TAC)

Your character has two values to represent how difficult she is to strike in combat. These are her Armor Class (AC) and her Touch Armor Class (TAC). Most attacks will be made against your character’s AC, while those that need only to touch her to be effective are made against her TAC.

To calculate her AC, add 10 plus her Dexterity modifier (up to her armor’s Dexterity modifier cap), plus her proficiency modifier with her armor, plus her armor’s item bonus to AC and any other bonuses and penalties that always apply.

To calculate her TAC, add 10 plus her Dexterity modifier (up to her armor’s Dexterity modifier cap), plus her proficiency modifier with her armor, plus her armor’s item bonus to TAC and any other bonuses and penalties that always apply.

Spells or abilities that give your character a bonus or penalty to AC also give an equal bonus or penalty to TAC unless stated otherwise.

Bulk

Your character’s maximum Bulk determines how much weight she can comfortably carry. If she is carrying a total amount of Bulk that equals or exceeds 5 plus her Strength modifier, she is encumbered. She cannot carry a total amount of Bulk that exceeds 10 plus her Strength modifier. Your character’s current Bulk is equal to the sum of all of her items; keep in mind that every 10 light items make up 1 Bulk.

Deity

Note the deity your character worships, if any (clerics and paladins must worship a deity).

Gender

Note your character’s gender, if applicable. Characters of all genders are equally likely to become adventurers.

Hero Points

Your character usually begins each game session with 1 Hero Point, and can gain additional Hero Points throughout the course of the game for undertaking helpful tasks for the group or performing heroic deeds during her adventures. Your character can use Hero Points to gain certain benefits, such as staving off death, rerolling a d20, and the like.

Melee Strikes and Ranged Strikes Next where you’ve noted your character’s melee and ranged weapons, calculate her modifiers to Strikes with those weapons and how much damage her Strikes deal.

For modifiers to melee Strikes, add your character’s proficiency modifier with her weapon plus her Strength modifier (unless a weapon’s entry says otherwise) plus any item bonus from the weapon and any other bonuses and penalties that always apply. To the right of these lines, note how much damage her melee Strikes deal. This equals your character’s weapon damage dice plus her Strength modifier.

For modifiers to ranged Strikes, add your character’s proficiency modifier with her weapon plus her Dexterity modifier, plus any item bonus from her weapon and any other bonuses and penalties that always apply.

To the right of these lines, note how much damage her ranged Strikes deal. For most ranged weapons, this is equal to your character’s weapon damage dice. If the weapon has the thrown trait, also add her Strength modifier. If it has the propulsive trait, instead add half her Strength modifier.

Perception

Your character’s Perception modifier measures how alert she is. This number is equal to her proficiency modifier in Perception plus her Wisdom modifier.

Resonance Points

Your character has a number of Resonance Points, which allow her to use magic items. Your character’s total Resonance Points are equal to her Charisma modifier plus her level. On the second page, write your character’s Charisma modifier and level in the appropriate fields. Her Resonance Point total goes in the fields marked Maximum and Current.

Saving Throws From time to time, your character may need to determine whether she can avoid or shake off an effect or spell. When this happens, the GM will ask you to attempt a Fortitude, Reflex, or Will saving throw, depending on the situation. For each kind of saving throw, add your character’s Fortitude, Reflex, or Will proficiency modifier (as appropriate) plus the ability modifier associated with that kind of saving throw, plus add any modifiers, bonuses, or penalties from abilities, feats, or items that always apply, then record this number on the line for that saving throw. For Fortitude saving throws, use your character’s Constitution modifier.

For Reflex saving throws, use your character’s Dexterity modifier. For Will saving throws, use your character’s Wisdom modifier.

Ability Scores

Your character has six ability scores that represent her basic attributes and raw potential: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. These scores each influence different aspects of your character’s capabilities. As your character progresses through the game’s story and increases in level, she gains ability boosts that improve her ability scores, allowing you to decide how her experiences have developed her raw capabilities.

The Six Abilities

Your ability scores are split into two main types: physical and mental. Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution are physical ability scores and measure your character’s physical power, agility, and stamina. Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma are mental ability scores and measure your character’s learned prowess, reasoning, and force of personality.

Strength Strength measures your character’s physical power. Strength is important if your character plans to engage in the hand-to-hand fighting of melee combat. Fighters, monks, paladins, and rangers all benefit from having a high Strength score. Strength also determines how much Bulk your character can carry.

Dexterity Dexterity measures your character’s agility, balance, and reflexes. Dexterity is important if your character plans to use stealth to surprise foes or to make attacks with ranged weapons. Rogues in particular benefit from having a high Dexterity score, as do rangers and some fighters and monks. A high Dexterity score allows your character to reduce or avoid attacks and magical effects that can be dodged or outright evaded, such as dragon’s breath.

Constitution Constitution measures your character’s health and stamina. Constitution is an important statistic for all characters, especially those who fight in close combat. Fighters, monks, paladins, rangers, and rogues particularly benefit from a solid Constitution score. Additionally, Constitution grants characters extra Hit Points and makes them more resistant against poison and disease.

Intelligence Intelligence measures how well your character can learn and reason. Intelligence is a vital statistic if your character is an alchemist or a wizard, since these classes use complicated formulas or spell notations when using their abilities. A high Intelligence score allows your character to perceive and understand patterns, and to pick up skills that can serve her during her adventuring career.

Wisdom Wisdom measures your character’s common sense, awareness, and intuition. Wisdom helps you understand religion and nature, and is a crucial statistic for clerics and druids. A high Wisdom score can help your character shake off mental spells and effects. Additionally, Wisdom affects your character’s Perception modifier, which measures how well she observes and identifies threats or curiosities among her surroundings.

Charisma This score measures your character’s strength of personality, personal magnetism, and ability to influence the thoughts and moods of others. Charisma is an important statistic for bards and sorcerers, and it grants benefits to clerics and paladins. Charisma also determines your character’s Resonance Points.

Generating Ability Scores

When you’re ready to calculate your character’s ability scores, follow the steps below. Your character’s ability scores each start at 10, and then you’ll apply the ability boosts and flaw she receives from her ancestry, background, and class, plus four free ability boosts she receives at 1st level. This process allows you to customize your character.

Ability Boosts

An ability boost is a one-time increase to a single ability score. Typically, an ability boost increases an ability score’s value by 2. However, if the ability score to which you’re applying an ability boost is 18 or higher, its value increases by only 1. At 1st level, a character can never have any ability score that’s higher than 18.

When your character receives an ability boost, the rules indicate whether it must be applied to a specific ability score or one of two scores, or whether it is a “free” ability boost that can be applied to any ability score of your choice. When you gain multiple ability boosts at the same time, you must apply each one to a different score. So, for example, if your character is a dwarf, she receives an ability boost to her Constitution score, her Wisdom score, and one free ability boost, which can be applied to any score other than Constitution or Wisdom.

When your character advances to 5th, 10th, 15th, and 20th levels, she receives ability boosts in four different ability scores. These function similarly to the ability boosts she receives at 1st level, but she is free to use them to increase her ability scores above 18. Keep in mind that once an ability score is 18 or higher, an ability boost increases the value of that score by only 1.

Ability Flaws Ability flaws are not nearly as common in Pathfinder as are ability boosts. If your character has an ability flaw— likely from her ancestry—it means she decreases that ability score by 2 during Step 1.

Optional: Voluntary Flaws

Sometimes, it’s fun to play a character with a major flaw even if you’re not playing an ancestry that automatically starts with one.

If you want to reduce any ability scores for your character below what they would normally start at, that’s fine—playing a brutish barbarian with an Intelligence score of 6 or a sickly wizard with a Constitution score of 4 could allow for some fun roleplaying opportunities—but you don’t get any benefit from taking on these voluntary flaws. Beware of making your scores so low that your character can’t keep up with the party!

Step-By-Step Instructions

The following instructions will help you calculate your character’s ability scores at 1st level. You’ll start with a value of 10 in each ability score, then make adjustments for your character’s ancestry ability boosts and ability flaws. This is followed by adding two ability boosts from her background and four free ability boosts at 1st level.

Finally, she will receive one ability boost to her key ability score from her class. After determining all of her ability boosts, record the ability scores you’ve generated on your character sheet. For information about modifying your character’s ability scores as she gains levels, see Ability Boosts on the Ability Boosts sections of each class entry.

Step 1: Start With 10

On your character sheet or a piece of scratch paper, write down all six abilities—Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. Each ability starts with a score of 10.

Str 10, Dex 10, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 10

Step 2: Ancestry Ability Boosts and Flaws

Now apply the ability boosts that your character’s ancestry provides. Most ancestries provide ability boosts to two specific ability scores and another free ability boost. (Humans are an exception—they receive two free ability boosts instead.) When you apply these ability boosts, keep in mind that you must apply each one to a different score.

Then, apply the ability flaw your character’s ancestry requires, if any. An ability flaw reduces that ability score by 2. You can apply your free ability boost to that score to bring your score back to 10.

For example, let’s say you’re making a human character, and you want her to be a fighter. Human characters receive two free ability boosts, and you want to make a fighter who bashes skulls and can take a beating. For that, you’ll want a good Strength and Constitution. Remember that you can’t apply multiple ability boosts from the same source to a score at a time, so you couldn’t have a Strength score of 14 quite yet.

After the ancestry step, your ability scores might look like this:

Str 12, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 10

As a second example, if you were making a dwarven fighter, you’d receive ability boosts to Constitution and Wisdom, plus one free ability boost, but you’d have an ability flaw in Charisma. Your ability scores would start out like this:

Str 12, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8

Step 3: Two Background Ability Boosts

Once you’ve applied your character’s ability boosts and ability flaw, if any, from her ancestry, it’s time to apply her ability boosts from her background.

The background you choose gives your character two ability boosts. Usually, this consists of one free ability boost and one ability boost limited to certain choices by the background.

Let’s say you want your human fighter to have been a hardworking farmhand in her past. The farmhand background says your character gets an ability boost that must be applied to either Constitution or Wisdom. You want your fighter to be hardy, so you pick Constitution.

Next, for your character’s free ability boost, you decide to keep increasing her Strength. Now your ability scores are the following:

Str 14, Dex 10, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 10

If you were making the dwarven fighter we mentioned earlier into a farmhand, you’d instead have these scores:

Str 14, Dex 10, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8

Step 4: Four Free Ability Boosts

After you’ve chosen your character’s ancestry and background, you have four free ability boosts you can assign to her ability scores as you see fit. These represent your character’s variety of experiences growing up before she became an adventurer.

Let’s take the sample human fighter from above. We know you want your fighter to be strong, so you decide to spend one of this step’s free ability boosts on Strength.

Dexterity is important for defense, so you put one into Dexterity. You want to keep making your fighter tough, so you apply an ability boost to Constitution, too. Wisdom affects your defense against most mental magic, and since a strong, tough fighter is the last person you want controlled by some evil wizard, you decide to put your last ability boost into Wisdom. After the four ability boosts, your ability scores look like this:

Str 16, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 10

Let’s examine how this step might play out for the dwarven fighter mentioned above. You decide you’ll have fun roleplaying an uncharismatic character, so you stick with the 8 in Charisma. You apply the ability boosts to Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Wisdom, just like the human fighter. Your ability scores now look like this:

Str 16, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 8

Step 5: One Class Ability Boost

Finally, your choice of your character’s class will give you one ability boost in a score that’s important to your class’s abilities. This ability score is called your class’s key ability. Most of the class write-ups in Chapter 3 indicate a specific score you apply this ability boost to when you choose that class, but some let you select from one or two choices.

Because our sample character is a fighter, you get to choose Strength or Dexterity for your character’s class ability boost. Your character’s Dexterity isn’t doing so hot, and it might be a liability, but you don’t want to miss out on having a Strength score of 18, so that’s where you put your final ability boost. If you’re really worried about your Dexterity, you could go back and reassign an ancestry ability boost from Constitution to Dexterity, or change your background to one that allows Strength or Dexterity as a choice. Assuming you stick with your burly character, though, your ability scores look like this:

Str 18, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 10

Our dwarf picks Strength, too:

Str 18, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 8

Step 6: Record Ability Scores and Modifiers

Once you’ve determined your ability scores, write them down in the appropriate boxes on your character sheet. You’ll then want to reference Table 1–4: Ability Modifiers below to determine the ability modifier tied to each of your ability scores. Record this ability modifier in the box just to the left of each ability score.

If you ever need to calculate an ability modifier on the fly, it’s a fairly easy formula: simply subtract 10 from the ability score, then divide the result by two (rounding down).

Table 1–4: Ability Modifiers
Ability Score Modifier
1 –5
2-3 –4
4-5 –3
6-7 –2
8-9 –1
10-11 +0
12-13 +1
14-15 +2
16-17 +3
18-19 +4
20-21 +5
22-23 +6
24 +7

Optional: Rolling Ability Scores

The standard method of generating ability scores described earlier in this section works great if you want to create a perfectly customized, balanced character. But your GM may decide to inject a little randomness into character creation and elect to let dice decide what kind of character the players are going to play. In this case, you can use this alternative method to generate your ability scores.

Be warned—the same randomness that makes this system fun also allows it to sometimes create characters that are significantly more (or less) powerful than the standard ability score system does or other Pathfinder rules assume. If your GM opts for rolling ability scores, follow these alternative steps.

17s and 18s

If you reach a 17 or 18 in an ability score, you’re still limited to the cap of 18 in any ability score at level 1. This might mean a step will require you to put an ability boost into an ability that would raise it above the cap. When this happens, you can put the ability boost into another score instead, or you can put it into a 17 and lose the excess increase.

For instance, if you rolled a 17 for Constitution and were creating a dwarf, you could apply your dwarf’s racial Constitution ability boost to your Strength of 14 instead. You could still apply it to Constitution anyway, making it an 18, but you’d lose the long-term benefits you would have gained if you’d applied it to a lower score.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1: Roll Base Ability Scores

Roll four six-sided dice (4d6) and discard the lowest die result. Add the three remaining results together and record the sum on a piece of scratch paper. Repeat this process until you’ve generated six such values.

Step 2: Assign Values To Ability Scores

Pick which of these values will become each of your ability scores. For example, let’s again assume you are creating a fighter that’s both strong and tough, and you have received the following values from rolling:

17, 14, 13, 11, 9, 9

You assign them to your ability scores as follows. At this stage, the human and dwarven fighters would have the same scores.

Str 17, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 9, Wis 11, Cha 9

Step 3: Apply Ancestry Ability Boosts and Flaws

Next you apply the ability boosts your character gains from her ancestry, but she receives one fewer free ability boost than normal.

If your character’s ancestry has any ability flaws, you apply those at this point, as well. Our human fighter would have only one free ability boost using this method. After putting the ability boost into Dexterity, your ability scores would look like this:

Str 17, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 9, Wis 11, Cha 9

Our dwarf would get two ability boosts (instead of three), which must go into Constitution and Wisdom. She does not receive a free ability boost, but she must still reduce her Charisma by 2 because of her ability flaw. The adjusted scores would be as follows:

Str 17, Dex 13, Con 16, Int 9, Wis 13, Cha 7

Step 4: Apply Background Ability Boost

With the rolling method of ability score generation, your character loses the free ability boost from her background. You can still boost your human farmhand’s Constitution or Wisdom score. Selecting Constitution, the human farmhand would have these scores:

Str 17, Dex 15, Con 16, Int 9, Wis 11, Cha 9

The dwarven farmhand would have these scores:

Str 17, Dex 13, Con 18, Int 9, Wis 13, Cha 7

Step 5: Record Ability Scores

In the rolling method, you don’t get free ability boosts or an ability boost from your class. Write down your scores and modifiers, just as you would if you had used the standard method of generating ability scores described earlier in this section.