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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > August 2018 (#21) > Pathfinder 2

Pathfinder 2

After toppling Dungeons & Dragons from its throne a decade ago, Pathfinder finds itself faced by the might of Fifth Edition. As it prepares for its first major revision, can the fantasy RPG keep up?


As someone who spent his formative years in the 1980s playing Dungeons & Dragons, Jason Bulmahn could have never imagined he would himself go on to become a guiding light into roleplaying for a new generation of gamers just two decades later.

“That never gets not weird for me!” he laughs. “It’s always strange to run into folks who are like, ‘Yeah, I first played roleplaying games with Pathfinder!’ I’m like, ‘No, c’mon now…’”

It is Bulmahn who has been at the heart of Pathfinder since the fantasy RPG first appeared ten years ago; as director of game design at Paizo, he was lead designer for Pathfinder’s first edition and now leads the team working on its upcoming second incarnation, which launches into a playtest this month ahead of a planned full release next year.

“It is really exciting how that audience has grown over the years and how it’s kind of matured,” he says. “We’ve kind of reached a point now where there are people who consider themselves old-school Pathfinder players. They were there in the alpha playtests.”

As its creators and audience have expanded and evolved, so has Pathfinder itself, rapidly ballooning from an evolution of Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 created as a reaction to Wizards of the Coast’s restrictive fourth edition to a roleplaying giant in itself, with a singular universe – the capacious setting of Golarion – and gameplay systems that, while derivative, were distinctive enough to take it beyond being a simple act of preservation.

The significant modifications Pathfinder layered on top of D&D (the game was nicknamed ‘D&D 3.75’ during development) converted roleplaying diehards and newcomers alike. Within two years of the first edition’s launch in August 2009, Pathfinder had become the first roleplaying game to outsell D&D since the seminal title’s release almost four decades prior – a lead it went on to hold for over three years. Dungeons & Dragons’ fifth edition retook the crown in 2014, spurred in part by streamlined gameplay changes and a free rules taster. Pathfinder has continued to nip at D&D’s tail since, offsetting its aging systems with fresh injections of supplements and modules, but has remained outpaced by the bigger game’s more drastic iteration. Pathfinder: Second Edition presents the chance to bring together the RPG’s decade of many parts into a whole and finally take the leap forward.

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About Tabletop Gaming

Pathfinder: Second Edition: The fantasy RPG is taking its first big step forward with some big improvements, but can it keep up with Dungeons & Dragons? Lead designer Jason Bulmahn tells us more. Western Legends: Rewrite history and make yourself an icon of the Wild West in this massive open-world adventure. We saddle up with the game’s creators to go on a ride through its incredible sandbox. A Gamer’s Travel Guide: If you’re headed off on holiday this summer, don’t miss our essential tips on which games to pack and how to help your cardboard survive the baking heat or a dip in the pool. Red Alert: Legendary wargame designer Richard Borg blasts off with his sci-fi successor to the historical Commands & Colors strategy series. He reveals the space-age advancements in store for players and his plans for galactic domination. My Little Scythe: The father-daughter team behind this year’s most adorable game – a reimagining of strategy smash hit Scythe – show us around their magical world. Plastic Fantastic: It’s an indispensible part of almost every game, but plastic is also one of the biggest threats to an increasingly fragile environment. We explore eco-friendly alternatives to the wonder material and learn how game makers are doing what they can to ensure playing doesn’t come at a price. Reviewed: Warhammer: Age of Sigmar – Soul Wars Starship Samurai Call of Cthulhu: Masks of Nyarlathotep Lowlands Black Orchestra Gretchinz! Raids The Grimm Forest Princess Jing Endless Pass: A Viking Saga Banquet Royal Lucidity: Six-Sided Nightmares A Tale of Pirates Micropolis Hannibal & Hamilcar When in Rome Star Wars: Han Solo Card Game Genesys: Realms of Terrinoth Marvel Contest of Champions: Battlerealm Robit Riddle: Storybook Adventures Plus much more!