Review – Pathfinder 2e Gamemastery Guide & Advanced Players Guide

I’ve really fallen behind in reviews of the excellent Pathfinder 2e (P2e) products I’ve been buying. Here’s two brief reviews to make up for it:

Anyone who has bought the P2e Core Rulebook will know it’s a hefty tome, both in size and price. I know Paizo (the company that makes the game) was trying to put as much as possible into that first volume to ensure GMs and players had enough to work with for the product launch, but I couldn’t help feeling it was also an effort to further distinguish their system from D&D, Pathfinder’s precursor (which is currently the most popular RPG in the world). D&D has a separate Dungeon Master’s Guide, with their Players Handbook being much shorter as a result (and cheaper, which can make a difference in today’s oversaturated RPG marketplace).

P2e is just over a year old and Paizo is catching up quickly in terms of available content. They recently released two supplements for GMs and players.

Both the Gamemastery Guide and the Advanced Players Handbook are beautifully presented and laid out with awesome art, great content and nice indexes (essential as the number of rules sources grows). On top of that they have features that most GMs and players would consider essential.

Gamemastery Guide

Pros:

  • Good subsystems rules – these are almost like mini-games within the game e.g influencing, research, chases, infiltration, reputation, etc.
  • Fantastic section full of NPC stats – the book is worth the price for this alone
  • Monster, magic item and hazard/trap creation rules – ideal for those homebrewers or writers wanting to create for this system. Appears to be better balanced than D&D 5e.
  • Loads of optional rules with good advice as to how they affect the game and how they can be implemented successfully e.g. removing alignments, dual-classing, level 0 characters, magic item progression, non-level proficiency, skill points, stamina, etc.
  • Good introductory material for new GMs regarding running games, campaigns and adventure creation.
  • Great layout, easy to find what you need quickly.
  • Fantastic index.

Cons:

  • Would have preferred all the GM material all kept in one book, rather than split between here and the Core Rulebook. I get that Paizo wants to differentiate their book and system from the D&D DMG/Players Handbook set up though.

Advanced Players Guide

Pros:

  • 4 new classes – Investigator, Oracle, Swashbuckler, Witch – nicely varied from the core classes and with lots of new feats and abilities to choose from.
  • 5 new ancestries – Catfolk, Kobold, Orc, Ratfolk and Tengu – plus ‘versatile’ ancestries. Versatile ancestries allow you to combine ancestry feats from the versatile ancestry with your main ancestry. Versatile ancestries include Changeling, Dhampir, Aasimar, Duskwalker and Tieflings.
  • More feats for core ancestries and core classes, more archetypes, more backgrounds, more familiars, etc.
  • Loads of new spells and rituals.
  • More standard and magical items to buy and craft.
  • Great layout, easy to find what you need quickly.
  • Fantastic index.

Cons:

  • Soooooooo much information, making your life as a GM more complicated. Why isn’t there an official, regularly updated app to keep track all the feats and special abilities? It would be so good to have one to just look up a feat on the spot without having to look through multiple volumes of books or PDFs.

(NOTE: There is an excellent unofficial P2e spell app on the Apple Store, called Pathfinder 2e Spell List. It’s updated regularly and has all the official spells. If you don’t have it yet, get it. It will save you lots of time.)

I love these two books. Paizo produces and releases quality content at a furious pace, putting WOTC to shame. My continual underlying complaint is that the rules continue to grow in so many disparate places (rule books, Lost Omens guides, adventure paths, standalone adventures, etc.) that over time it becomes difficult to reference and keep track of. All P2e products have fantastic indexes, but the game really needs a D&D Beyond-style app (but without the double-charging for content you already own).

Great work, Paizo! Two thumbs up for these books!

Game on!

Steve 🙂

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Published by stevestillstanding

I’m a writer who loves tabletop role playing games, poetry, music, movies, comics, books and (you guessed it) writing. Occasionally I have something to say...

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