Rules Index


Chapter 1: Introduction / Playing the Game

Key Terms

Source Core Rulebook pg. 12
There are a number of important terms that you’ll need to know as you create your first character or adventure. Some of the most important terms mentioned on previous pages are also included here for reference.

Ability Scores

Source Core Rulebook pg. 12
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. Ability scores are described in full later in this chapter.

Alignment

Source Core Rulebook pg. 12
Alignment represents a creature’s fundamental moral and ethical attitude.

Ancestry

Source Core Rulebook pg. 12
An ancestry is the broad family of people that a character belongs to. Ancestry determines a character’s starting Hit Points, languages, senses, and Speed, and it grants access to ancestry feats. Ancestries can be found in Chapter 2.

Armor Class (AC)

Source Core Rulebook pg. 12
All creatures in the game have an Armor Class. This score represents how hard it is to hit and damage a creature. It serves as the Difficulty Class for hitting a creature with an attack.

Attack

Source Core Rulebook pg. 12
When a creature tries to harm another creature, it makes a Strike or uses some other attack action. Most attacks are Strikes made with a weapon, but a character might Strike with their fist, grapple or shove with their hands, or attack with a spell.

Background

Source Core Rulebook pg. 12
A background represents what a character experienced before they took up the life of an adventurer. Each background grants a feat and training in one or more skills. You can read more about backgrounds in Chapter 2.

Bonuses and Penalties

Source Core Rulebook pg. 12
Bonuses and penalties apply to checks and certain statistics. There are several types of bonuses and penalties. If you have more than one bonus of the same type, you use only the highest bonus. Likewise, you use only the worst penalty of each type.

Class

Source Core Rulebook pg. 12
A class represents the adventuring profession chosen by a character. A character’s class determines most of their proficiencies, grants the character Hit Points each time they gain a new level, and gives access to a set of class feats. Classes appear in Chapter 3.

Condition

Source Core Rulebook pg. 12
An ongoing effect that changes how a character can act, or that alters some of their statistics, is called a condition. The rules for the basic conditions used in the game can be found in the Conditions Appendix at the back of this book.

Currency

Source Core Rulebook pg. 12
The most common currencies in the game are gold pieces (gp) and silver pieces (sp). One gp is worth 10 sp. In addition, 1 sp is worth 10 copper pieces (cp), and 10 gp are worth 1 platinum piece (pp). Characters begin play with 15 gp (or 150 sp) to spend on equipment.

Feat

Source Core Rulebook pg. 12
A feat is an ability you can select for your character due to their ancestry, background, class, general training, or skill training. Some feats grant the ability to use special actions.

Game Master (GM)

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The Game Master is the player who adjudicates the rules and narrates the various elements of the Pathfinder story and world that the other players explore.

Golarion

Source Core Rulebook pg. 12
Pathfinder is set on the planet Golarion during the Age of Lost Omens. It is an ancient world with a rich diversity of people and cultures, exciting locations to explore, and deadly villains. More information on the Age of Lost Omens, the world of Golarion, and its deities can be found in Chapter 8.

Hit Points (HP)

Source Core Rulebook pg. 12
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

Source Core Rulebook pg. 13
At the start of an encounter, all creatures involved roll for initiative to determine the order in which they act. The higher the result of its roll, the earlier a creature gets to act. Initiative and combat are described in Chapter 9.

Level

Source Core Rulebook pg. 13
A level is a number that measures something’s overall power. Player characters have a level, ranging from 1st to 20th, representing their level of experience. Monsters, NPCs, hazards, diseases, and poisons have levels ranging from –1 to 30 that measure the danger they pose. An item’s level, usually within the range of 0 to 20 but sometimes higher, indicates its power and suitability as treasure.

Spells have levels ranging from 1st to 10th, which measure their power; characters and monsters can usually cast only a certain number of spells of any given level.

Nonplayer Character (NPC)

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A nonplayer character, controlled by the GM, interacts with players and helps advance the story.

Perception

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Perception measures your character’s ability to notice hidden objects or unusual situations, and it usually determines how quickly the character springs into action in combat. It is described in full in Chapter 9.

Player Character (PC)

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This is a character created and controlled by a player.

Proficiency

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Proficiency is a system that measures a character’s aptitude at a specific task or quality, and it has five ranks: untrained, trained, expert, master, and legendary. Proficiency gives you a bonus that’s added when determining the following modifiers and statistics: AC, attack rolls, Perception, saving throws, skills, and the effectiveness of spells. If you’re untrained, your proficiency bonus is +0. If you’re trained, expert, master, or legendary, your proficiency bonus equals your level plus 2, 4, 6, or 8, respectively.

Rarity

Source Core Rulebook pg. 13
Some elements of the game have a rarity to denote how often they’re encountered in the game world. Rarity primarily applies to equipment and magic items, but spells, feats, and other rules elements also have a rarity. If no rarity appears in the traits of an item, spell, or other game element, it is of common rarity. Uncommon items are available only to those who have special training, grew up in a certain culture, or come from a particular part of the world. Rare items are almost impossible to find and are usually given out only by the GM, while unique ones are literally one-of-a-kind in the game. The GM might alter the way rarity works or change the rarity of individual items to suit the story they want to tell.

Roleplaying

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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.”

Round

Source Core Rulebook pg. 13
A round is a period of time during an encounter in which all participants get a chance to act. A round represents approximately 6 seconds in game time.

Saving Throw (Save)

Source Core Rulebook pg. 13
When a creature is subject to a dangerous effect that must be avoided, it attempts a saving throw to mitigate the effect. You attempt a saving throw automatically—you don’t have to use an action or a reaction. Unlike for most checks, the character who isn’t acting rolls the d20 for a saving throw, and the creature who is acting provides the DC. There are three types of saving throws: Fortitude (to resist diseases, poisons, and physical effects), Reflex (to evade effects a character could quickly dodge), and Will (to resist effects that target the mind and personality).

Skill

Source Core Rulebook pg. 13
A skill represents a creature’s ability to perform certain tasks that require instruction or practice. Skills are fully described in Chapter 4. Each skill includes ways anyone can use that skill even if untrained, as well as uses that require a character to be trained in the skill.

Speed

Source Core Rulebook pg. 13
Speed is the distance a character can move using a single action, measured in feet.

Spell

Source Core Rulebook pg. 13
Spells are magical effects created by performing mystical incantations and gestures known only to those with special training or inborn abilities. Casting a spell is an activity that usually uses two actions. Each spell specifies what it targets, the actions needed to cast it, its effects, and how it can be resisted. If a class grants spells, the basics of that ability are provided in the class description in Chapter 3, while the spells themselves are detailed in Chapter 7.

Trait

Source Core Rulebook pg. 13
A trait is a keyword that conveys additional information about a rules element, such as a school of magic or rarity. Often, a trait indicates how other rules interact with an ability, creature, item, or another rules element that has that trait. All the traits used in this book are listed here.

Turn

Source Core Rulebook pg. 13
During the course of a round, each creature takes a single turn according to initiative. A creature can typically use up to three actions during its turn.