Laidback DM: Pathfinder 2e Reviews – Bestiary Battle Cards

The Pathfinder 2e Bestiary Battle Cards are a heavy box of 450 large-sized monster cards for GMs who run live games. Every monster in the P2e Bestiary book is included, the more powerful ones sometimes spanning two cards. Each card is 4 x 6 inches and has great artwork from the Bestiary.

As a DM who makes my own monster cards for games, I was relieved to see Paizo providing a great alternative for P2e. The convenience of having cards on hand means it’s easy to use stats for multiple monsters without taking up too much table space and without having to refer to cumbersome books all the time – just lean them against the inside of your screen. That’s the theory, anyway.

For most cards in this package it’s fine – they contain all of the necessary information you need to run a combat encounter with that monster. Some monsters, however, feature ‘standardized’ abilities/actions listed in the Bestiary in the back, no doubt to save space in the book’s main monster listings. The cards do NOT list these effects, just the name of the ability e.g. “Throw Rock (1 action)” with either minimal explanation or nothing at all detailing the effects. And there is often room on the card(s) to detail more. It’s the same with monsters that have abilities listed under an earlier type – Dragons, for instance. Instead of a complete listing for “Draconic Frenzy (2 actions)”, it adds “see Pathfinder Bestiary page xx”. The whole idea of having monster cards is to NOT have to reference the books, otherwise what’s the point. My home-made D&D 5e monster cards include all the abilities because I know I need to have them all on hand for combat; with some of these P2e cards I STILL have to refer to the Bestiary book. Not happy, Paizo, especially considering I paid $75 AU for this box, almost what I paid for the Bestiary book itself. I feel a bit ripped off.

P2e Bestiary Battle Cards is a decent product that could have had some elements implemented better.

Rating: 7.5/10

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Laidback DM: Pathfinder 2e Reviews – The Show Must Go On

Right on the heels of the Age of Ashes Adventure Path comes Extinction Curse. I’m very impressed at the way Paizo churns out adventures for their products every month, especially when they are all of such excellent quality. Each one is packed full of new monsters, spells, feats, magic items and lore, and the packaging is bright, colourful and consistently good. The Show Must Go On is no exception.

The Show Must Go On is the first in the Extinction Curse path, a story that once again ties closely into the history of Golarion, the Pathfinder 2e world. Looks like the Aeon orbs the dead god Aroden brought onto the islands of Kortos and Erran to make them fertile weren’t ‘liberated’ from the Darklands, and now the islands may just pay the price.

Extinction Curse1

This adventure features an unusual backdrop – the PCs are circus performers and by the end of the story they will be the de facto owners of a travelling circus. Some interesting rules are included that allow the party to develop their circus and put on regular shows to earn money and accolades. This is the first time I’ve ever seen this in a fantasy RPG, so thumbs up to whoever at Paizo came up with the idea. The idea of being circus performers may not appeal to all players, however, and throughout the adventure there is an underlying assumption they are going to do the right thing. If this doesn’t sound like your group, you should talk with them first prior to running it.

The four adventures contained in this book take players from 1st-4th level and involve a murder, town investigation and two dungeon crawls. They are well designed and serve as a strong beginning to the adventure path, which will eventually take PCs to 20th level. Along the way the party will learn more about the Aeon Orbs, the real villains and a ritual that threatens all life on the islands. They’ll also meet NPCs who contribute interesting new acts that can benefit their circus if recruited.

The Show Must Go On is a great adventure. Buy it and have some show-stopping fun.

Rating: 8.5/10

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Laidback DM: P2e Review – Bestiary Pawn Box

I love combat on a grid, but minis are too costly and take up too much space. I prefer to use pawns for this reason and Paizo makes some of the best.

I recently bought the new Pathfinder 2e Bestiary Pawn Box, which is absolutely huge. It contains 378 pawns featuring every single monster from the bestiary, with a few duplicates of the more common monsters. The artwork for each pawn is from the P2e Bestiary book and is excellent. There’s also an assortment of plastic bases included, in medium, large and huge size (convenient for both D&D 5e and Pathfinder 2e games).

The pawns are printed on thick card so they’re pretty durable. I’m already using them in my games and find they’re fairly convenient to stow and carry. I DM games away from home so I travel a lot (although the current Covid-19 crisis has me looking into online gaming). I don’t take the whole box with me – it’s fairly bulky – I tend to take a selection of pawns based on the adventure we’re playing and some extras just in case I need to improvise an encounter or two.

Even though many of the monsters are different from D&D, you’ll find something in here that will match what you’re looking for (although most of the giants are a size-class smaller in P2e).

I’m very happy with these and would recommend them to any GM/DM looking for a reasonably cheap and easy to transport replacement for minis.

Rating: 9/10

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Laidback DM: P2e Review – Broken Promises

Time I got back to reviewing some Pathfinder stuff! I’ve been buying literally everything, so here’s my opinion.

All good things come to an end, and this final adventure in the Age of Ashes Adventure Path pulls no punches. It’s for 18th-20th level characters and features some pretty hard challenges. An assault on the PC’s citadel (gained in the first adventure and built up over time) and home town, then it’s off to the idyllic city of Promise, where things are not all they seem. I’m not going to spoil this adventure, because this is a fantastic conclusion to this saga and should be experienced fresh.

Paizo have outdone themselves with their first Adventure Path for Pathfinder 2e. I’ve been most impressed by the attention to detail, impeccable production and the loads of additional content they present in every adventure. This book is no different, with a gazetteer of the island of Hermea and the city of Promise, 4 new backgrounds for the children of the heroes of this campaign, 3 new magic items, 12 new feats, 2 new focus spells, 8 new high-level monsters (including Pathfinder’s Tarrasque, which leaves the D&D version for dead) and detailed NPC stats.

Great work Paizo!

Rating: 9/10

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Laidback DM: Taking the Roll20 Plunge…

I’ve always played tabletop role playing games (TTRPGs) face-to-face, ever since I was knee-high to a tadpole, a loooooooooong time ago. Yes, I have a background in information technology; yes, at one point I could program…stuff; yes, everyone always came to me at work to fix their computer issues (“Have you tried switching it on and off?”). I use computers every day in my current job. Heck, I’ve played Zelda and Skyrim. So, I guess it’s a little surprising that I’ve never played a TTRPG online.

All that is about to change, however. Social distancing and social isolation are the new buzzwords, Covid-19 is the new bad guy (um, bad it?) and Skype and Facetime are the new hugs. And that makes virtual tabletop platforms like Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds the new ‘face-to-face’ for TTRPGs.

Why have I avoided online TTRPG’ing for so long? Is it the torrid tales of low bandwidth voice and video dropouts, the loss of tactile dice rolling replaced by button pushing apps, the thought of avatars rather than real faces? Or maybe it’s just that I’ve invested so much money in physical gaming aids (maps, pawns, books, etc.) that I’m reluctant to give up the face-to-face experience.

Well, with nothing but a computer in my room at the moment (yep, even my girlfriend is socially isolated from me), I’ve decided to take the plunge and not only play a Roll20 game, but also DM one as well. I got on the Roll20 platform the other day, muddled around and watched a few videos, did a test run with some players and now I’m reasonably confident we can run a game online. My players may not be so gung ho, however. Fear of technology? I don’t think so. Fear of embarrassing gaffs? Certainly not. Fear of my DMing? Well, they ARE a new group. Maybe your players are a bit reticent as well.

I’ve put together a VERY basic task card to help alleviate a few of the initial fears some people may have about the platform. I can’t guarantee it’s going to fix everything, but it’s a start. Possibly for a conversation with your die-hard, face-to-face-only, gaming group.

Laidback DM - Roll20 Task Card

You can download this A4-size Roll20 players task card by right clicking and selecting ‘save picture as’ on PC, or hold your finger on it on your phone or tablet until the device offers to save it.

So, here’s to the virtual near future. Not sure how long this pandemic is going to last, but at least I won’t get bored in the meantime. And here’s hoping you don’t either.

Game on!

Steve, Laidback DM 

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SHOTGLASS ADVENTURES 3: BLACK MERIDIAN HEART is now available in digital PDF and print from DrivethruRPG! 136 pages of awesome, mind bending adventures and campaign materials for 5e and OSR role playing games!

Published under the OGL, inside you’ll find:

· 10 one-shot adventures of all varieties – investigation, dungeon crawl, planar, puzzle, quest, role playing, sci-fi – complete with full color maps! The adventures are for PCs of 11th-15th level, designed for minimal preparation and flexible delivery. Each adventure can be run as a ‘one-shot’ for 2-3 gaming sessions (8-12 hours) or played as a mini-campaign. Over 100 hours of gaming content! High-level adventures mean greater challenges – these adventures are longer and feature more content than the previous books.

· Hand-drawn, full-color maps – old school style with new school flair!

·  31 New Monsters + 19 Monsters from Kobold’s Tome of Beasts/Creature Codex! 5e stats included! New monsters include life-drinking Covenantals, manastatically-mutated Meridian Wyrms, mania-inducing Shrooms and the planet-sized Great Old One Asgarte!

·  13 New Magic Items and Vehicles! New items include the mystical Plume Stones, spirit-controlling Ghost Collar, psionic Gerth’r Mentor Helm, legendary ForNev’r Shards and deck plan and stats for the Gerth’r Planar Assault Ship!

· All new city setting of Meridian’s End, complete with important NPCs, factions, backgrounds, rumors, adventure seeds and city map! A frontier town, bordering the wasteland of the Black Meridian, Meridian’s End stands frozen in time, a legacy to Invicia’s defeat of the old Kereshi Empire. There are dark secrets here, whispered behind closed doors in trembling voices as the Baron’s undead guardians glide overhead, always watching. Corruption and fear pervade this new magical frontier…

· New rules and tables for magic, travel and weather, background lore, random encounters and adventures seeds for the magical wasteland known as the Black Meridian! A vast desert created by a magical disaster centuries ago, the Black Meridian is the only source of the valuable but cursed mystical Plume Stones. There are ruins and treasures untold in that desert, trapped behind a magical barrier that only the most courageous – or most foolish – pass. Are you brave enough to face the rampant manastatic storms, bizarre temporal and spacial effects and mutated monsters of the ForNev’r wastes?

· Random Ruin Generation tables! Roll up a ruin – its size, type, features, inhabitants, manastatic effects and adventure seeds! Perfect for creating a ruin on the fly for sandbox play or preparing a dungeon ruin in advance.

· Expanded Verona Province – updated two-page map and extended lore for the region featured in SHOTGLASS ADVENTURES I and SHOTGLASS ADVENTURES II!

· Loads of new and revised lore for the Invician Empire – everything you need for campaign play!

· Full guide for OSR conversions!

· Two bonus Laidback DM articles: on running sandbox campaigns and how to handle split parties.  

· Includes bonus unkeyed maps to use in your own adventures!


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Laidback DM: P2e Review – Against the Scarlet Triad

Time I got back to reviewing some Pathfinder stuff! I’ve been buying literally everything, so here’s my opinion.

The 5th adventure in the Age of Ashes Adventure Path progresses characters from 15th-17th level. It’s time to face the Scarlet Triad in their home town of Katapesh, battling a Wendigo in the town of Flinderplain and networking and influencing the guilds of Katapesh to gain some credibility before an all-out assault on the Triad’s Red Pyramid base. Lots of mission variety in this adventure, including gladiatorial contests, animal hunting, infiltration, investigation, dungeon crawls and preventing assassination attempts!

My favourite adventure in this series so far. It includes lore about the Witchwyrds and Lost Aiudara gates, new items, feats, poisons, companions, a new archetype with 5 new feats and 12 new monsters. If you don’t play any of the others, play this one. Well designed and well worth the investment of money and time.

Rating 10/10

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Laidback DM: P2e Review – Fires of the Haunted City

Time I got back to reviewing some Pathfinder stuff! I’ve been buying literally everything, so here’s my (short) opinion.

The Age of Ashes Adventure Path continues with this adventure for 12th-14th level characters. The PCs use one of their portals to get to the underground Dwarven city of Kovlar and the nearby haunted city of Saggorak. They’re on the trail of the Scarlet Triad and have to influence the Court of Regents in Kovlar to help them out (a cool mini-game within a game), battle Accursed Forge-Spurned, explore the haunted city and face the Scarlet Triad and Veshumirix, a huge Magma Dragon!

Another exciting adventure with high production standards, wonderful art and maps, a gazetteer of Kovlar, 7 new magic items, a new archetype with 4 feats and a focus spell, 11 new monsters and detailed NPC stats.

Rating: 9/10

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Laidback DM: Pathfinder 2e Reviews – Lost Omens Character Guide

I’ve been buying most of the Pathfinder 2e products, so I may as well review them.

Paizo has a monthly release schedule for their products, which is great for those of us with collector mentalities that like to have everything (but terrible for our erstwhile budgets). I was pretty impressed with the Lost Omens World Guide, so it was a no brainer I would pick up the Lost Omens Character Guide.

A slim volume at 135 pages, the Character Guide manages to squeeze a lot of content in. There is expanded lore for all the Core Rulebook ancestries, new heritages and ancestry-specific feats. I was most interested in the new ancestries: the militaristic Hobgoblin; nature guardian Leshies (I love how Gourd Leshies can store physical objects inside their hollow heads); the patient and adaptable Lizardfolk. Each of these ancestries has multiple heritages with specific abilities, and ancestry feats. Want a Lizardfolk from the desert – try the Sandstrider. Or maybe an Unseen Lizardfolk which has chameleon abilities. How about an Elfbane Hobgoblin with resistance to elvish magic? Leaf Leshies are so light they can fall any distance and not be hurt.

One of my criticisms of the P2e Core Rulebook was the lack of new ancestries other than the Goblin, but these additional ones start to make up for that. They are all substantially different from the D&D takes on these races and there is the promise of more to come.

Next up is organisations, with detailed entries on the ostentatious Firebrands, the dogmatic Hellknights, stalwart Knights of Lastwall, the ancient magical Magaambya, and the adventurous Pathfinder Society. Not only is there a wealth of information on these organisations, how PCs join them and how each organisation relates to one other, there’s also loads of new items specific to each group, new abilities and archetypes, and feats galore. The Firebrands have access to an Insistent Door Knocker that whispers hints to you when you’re trying to unlock another door. Knights of Lastwall gain access to the new Sun Blade spell. Magaambyan attendants can gain Mask Familiars.

This book is a treasure trove of ideas for P2e players, especially those who like to get deep into their character’s background story and customise their skill sets appropriately. GMs will be happy, as well. Aside from all the lore available, the end of the book includes an NPC gallery with low and high level NPCs from each organisation, along with guidelines to apply themed templates to create organisation NPCs at differing levels and using other ancestries.

Paizo has impeccable production standards for their products, but it doesn’t make them perfect. I’ve mentioned before I’m not a fan of having rules and information spread out over multiple books. There are feats and archetypes in the Lost Omens World Guide that flow into some of the archetypes in this book. When you look at that book and this one, it seems like one book was split into two to ensure a regular flow of product. I have no problem with companies safeguarding their bottom line, especially when the products they produce are so good, but I usually like to have most things in one place. I’m not a fan of lugging my books around, so I use PDFs on a tablet for reference during games. Even jumping between PDFs can be a pain, but I am happy Paizo had the foresight to include page references when referring to feats or archetypes in other books. I guess I’ll just have to live with an annoyingly high number of rules sources.

Lost Omens Character Guide is a worthy addition to your P2e library (and believe me, with all the content being released, it becomes a library VERY quickly). There’s great content here for players and GMs, and it will definitely add some spice to your herb rack (a terrible analogy, but you know what I mean).

Rating: 9/10

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Laidback DM – Lost Omens World Guide (Pathfinder 2e) Review

I’ve been buying everything Pathfinder 2e related over the past few months, so I thought I’d do a few reviews.

Lost Omens World Guide is exactly what you think it is – a gazetteer of the world of Golarion, Pathfinder’s official setting. Okay, it’s actually the Inner Sea region, Golarion’s analogue of Europe, Africa and the Middle East, but there’s also some general info on the rest of the world.

Lost Omens World Guide and poster map

One thing that hit me about this book (aside from the surprising thinness of the tome) is the sheer volume of ideas thrown in. There are so many tropes at play in this fantasy setting it’s safe to say the authors used a ‘kitchen sink’ approach. In many ways this is good for GMs – there are so many different environments that you are likely to find a place you like that will suit the theme and style of your campaign. Like science fantasy? Try Numeria, where a spaceship crashed in ancient times and remnants of tech can be found across the land. Like Wild West fantasy? Alkenstar produces firearms. French Revolution? Galt is perpetually revolting and has a magical guillotine that traps souls. Post-Wars of the Roses Britain? Try Taldor. Ice age? Realm of the Mammoth Lords. Ancient Egypt? Osirion. All the analogues are here, but each has a creative spin that makes it fresh and original. And there are plenty of seeds for campaigns or stand alone adventures.

I especially like the fact that Lost Omens World Guide has direct mentions of previous Pathfinder Adventure Paths, and that the world’s history and various countries have been affected by them. It gives the world a “lived in” feel and shows that the official adventures have lasting consequences. If you have a group who played through those first edition campaigns, the players will feel like they truly changed the world. And who doesn’t want to feel that?

There are new PC backgrounds related to each country, new magic items, spells and feats. These are all usable in the game and help to personalise your PCs more. And all laid out in the consistent P2e style.

The artwork and maps are excellent, and the writing and editing is good (only a few typos). There is a double-sided poster map of the Inner Sea region in two styles, which is pretty awesome.

The book itself is a wee bit thin for my liking (130 pages) but then I found it much easier to read than a 350 page volume. The text is tightly packed – I think a larger font would have been easier on the eyes, but I realise they are keeping a consistent look and feel for P2e.

Another sore point: a number of the names are awful – Norgorber? Please, I can’t be scared of an evil god with such a dumb name. And regional consistency in naming doesn’t seem to exist in many places (I’m sure Tolkien is rolling in his grave). But it’s fantasy, after all, and I guess it could be worse.

There are other books coming out to support the Lost Omens World Guide, and I get the impression they all could have been combined into one. I’m going to forgive Paizo for this, as I know they’re not as big as WOTC and release a crap load of regular (and quality) product every month (while WOTC seems to release content at a dribble).

Good job Paizo, yet again.

Rating: 9/10

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Laidback DM: World Building

Have you ever spent far too much time drawing a map of your world, developing and designing societies, cultures and religions to fill it, creating reasons for its existence, only to find you didn’t need all that for your campaign or the players didn’t care anyway? I guess all burgeoning DMs have at some point or other. So, how can we go about world building for an ongoing campaign in a way that’s time efficient and campaign-friendly?

Here’s some options and tips:

Use an existing setting

There are a host of fantasy settings available commercially. You can buy one that matches the flavour you and your players like and drop your adventures into that world.


  • Most of the heavy lifting is done
  • Great maps, locations and adventure seeds just waiting to be used
  • Can be very immersive


  • It may not be exactly what you wanted
  • A lot of reading and familiarising to do

Modify an existing setting

Add to the existing setting. Make changes that work for your players and your campaign.


  • Most of the work is already done
  • Can use the maps, locations and adventure seeds available
  • Can make small or large changes as needed


  • Adding to an existing setting may change context of some areas or affect continuity of commercially made adventures from that setting
  • Keeping track of what you’ve changed might be a concern
  • Depending on how much you change, might be time consuming

Create your own setting

Create a world on your own or with your players.


  • An opportunity to flex those creative muscles
  • You get exactly what you and your players want (assuming they’re on board with the creative process)
  • It’s not too hard to modify commercial modules/adventures to fit your setting


  • Can end up being very time consuming
  • You may overdevelop, producing more content then is needed

Tips for world building

Here are some tips for world building, whether you create your own new world or add to an existing one.

  • Start small. Your characters are 1st-level? All you need is a village and the surrounding area. Expand on it with your players as they rise in level and explore.
  • Have a theme. Think about why you need a new setting for your adventures, and what sets it apart from other settings. The theme of your world should support the reason for its being and the internal logic behind your campaign. If it’s a standard high-fantasy setting, a la Forgotten Realms, Golarion, Glorantha, Midgard or Middle Earth, maybe you should just adopt one of those existing worlds. But maybe it’s run by evil Gnomish warlords who have outlawed magic, resulting in steam-powered machine technology and an underground resistance of illegal magic users. There’s no limit to your imagination, just the time it will take for you to develop your world.
  • Develop as needed. You don’t need to create multiple world-spanning pantheons of deities, or the social structure of the capital’s ruling elite (unless it’s essential to your ongoing story). Develop the bits you need as you need them.
  • Leave space for future developments. That timeline doesn’t need all the gaps filled in. Leaving space in your world means flexibility to add more later. Filling in every hole now can limit you later on, when you may come up with new or better ideas, and nobody is a fan of retroactive continuity changes.
  • Build naturally. Add things as part of the story. Another country is invading? Time to put together a culture/backstory for them. Leave any other surrounding countries until they play a part in the ongoing story.
  • Use your players. Your players are going to have interesting backgrounds for their characters. Make these backgrounds part of your world. Connect your players closely to the world—they will be more engaged with the setting and their personal stories will pay off big time. Use their imaginations to supplement your creative process. It doesn’t have to be all up to you.

I created my own setting for Shotglass Adventures 1 and 2, which I’ve significantly expanded on for Shotglass Adventures 3. I started off with a small province in a remote part of a large empire. The theme was high fantasy, so the adventures could be easily slotted into any existing world. As I created adventures I added locations to the setting, developed a province capital and a shady regional government that would cause some moral quandaries for my players. A small pantheon of gods, a little bit of history as the games progressed, but only as much as was needed for the fledgling campaign, leaving plenty of room to expand later. I added new races as they were needed, arch foes as they appeared. The next iteration expands the area of the province significantly, adding lots of new locations, intrigue and adventure seeds. Time will tell how large the setting gets, and I already have notions for the rest of the world. But I won’t develop any of it unless it plays a part in the ongoing campaign. My best advice: use your time wisely, and try not to overstep the mark (you will want to—we all do).

There’s nothing wrong with developing a world setting, even if you don’t end up using it. If you have the time to invest and the desire, then go for it. But time is a luxury for most people nowadays, so use it constructively (yep, that’s a pun).

Game on!

Steve 🙂

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Laidback DM – Pathfinder 2e Product Reviews

I went a bit crazy and bought all of the Pathfinder 2e products currently available. Here’s a short review of some of them.

Pathfinder 2e Gamemaster’s Screen

A strong, 4-panel GM screen with great art and useful tables and reminders: conditions, actions, DCs, death and dying, monster types, etc. P2 is a rules-heavy system, and every GM is going to need some sort of support aid to help them remember everything. I think this screen should have included a separate insert with armor, weapons and inventory items listed on it. I find I use these things with players all the time and so made my own, but including them as reference sheets with the GM screen would have been ideal.

Rating: 8.5/10

Pathfinder 2e Character Sheets

P2 has a pretty complex character sheet. The sheets in this pack have been individualised by class, with a breakdown of specific class feats on the back of the sheet, but they’re still very busy and you will need multiple sheets to keep track of everything (high level characters would be a bit of a nightmare, I imagine). There’s also a handy cheat chart attached to the folder with conditions and actions listed.

Rating: 9/10

Pathfinder 2e Adventure: The Fall of Plaguestone

A cool one-off adventure with a straightforward murder mystery, lots of role playing opportunities, and a few fairly linear dungeon crawls with a great villain and motive. A handy toolbox for GMs at the end of the adventure includes new backgrounds, magic items, monsters and side quests. A very good introductory adventure for beginners and those GMs considering investing in the P2 Adventure Path campaigns.

Rating: 9.5/10


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Laidback DM: Pathfinder 2e Review

I bought copies of the Pathfinder 2nd edition Core Rulebook and Bestiary the other week, and after a solid read (they are over 600 and 200 pages respectively) here are my thoughts on the game.

Laidback DM-
Pathfinder 2e is pretty awesome. But veeeeeeeeery time consuming.


  • Great layout and design – tabs and index make it easier to find stuff. The PDF is also fully indexed (and where are your official PDFs, WOTC?! And don’t say D&D Beyond, because I object to paying again for content I already own).
  • Superior character options and customisation – you can customise characters very deeply. Ancestry and backgrounds give specific skills and feats. Character creation is straightforward and easy to follow. HPs are standardised, ability boosts add or subtract from a standard ’10 for everything’ array. The Alchemist class is cool!
  • Consistent advancement for every level. Hero points awarded allowing players to re-roll a bad roll or save themselves from death.
  • Alignment is closely tied to some classes – when doing stuff considered anathema to their alignments, Champions and Clerics must atone.
  • Action Economy – everyone has three actions, every activity has an action cost. You can choose to use the actions any way you want, which makes for more tactically focussed combat (movement counts as a standard action, so you can choose to move three times if you want). Much better way of managing actions.
  • D20 rolls incorporate Critical Successes (10 or more above the DC) and Critical Failures (10 or more below the DC) which can modify the outcome based on the check performed. Not as intensive as the spell success and failure tables in the DCC RPG, but a nice touch.
  • Well laid out spells – take up less space and are less vague and open to interpretation. Spells can be heightened, and this is consistently applied (unlike higher-level casting in D&D 5e).
  • Specific spell schools and domains mean less spell lists (but roughly the same amount of spells) as D&D 5e. Rituals are done by groups and make much more sense.
  • Specific Crafting rules – The crafting system is second to none. Rules for general, alchemical and magic items. Specific formulas and costs. No more guess work like in D&D 5e.
  • Levels instead of CR – you can now tell the level a monster or magic item is at a glance, and they’re not as misleading as D&D 5e CRs can be.
  • A detailed story world (Golarion) is fundamentally part of the ruleset. The roles of the gods and their alignments work in directly with Cleric and Champion classes.
  • Very much focused on grid-based combat, for those who prefer this approach to RPGs.
  • Well designed monsters that are just different enough from D&D 5e to keep things interesting.


  • So much to read, so little time. The size and cost of the Core rule book may be a disincentive to new players.
  • Lots of ongoing record keeping needed during combat just for the condition effects alone, compared to D&D 5e.
  • Sometimes a rule that has been written to simplify is layered with additional rules to make it more complex, potentially defeating the initial purpose (e.g. Bulk replaces item weights for encumbrance).
  • Less core ancestries than D&D, with only the Goblin standing out as any different.
  • Don’t like Golarion? You’re going to be home brewing some things to fit the new system (e.g. as gods are closely matched to alignments and roles you will need to develop your own pantheon).
  • Don’t like playing on a grid? You can play ‘theatre of the mind’ but be aware it might get a bit tricky (see next point).
  • Big numbers involved in ability, skill checks and combat, especially at higher levels. If you’re not decent at maths you may balk at some of the numbers (e.g. one high level monster has an AC of 42). There is a high reliance on multiple bonuses (see the next point).
  • No Advantage/Disadvantage, one of the best new rules of D&D 5e. (Okay, so there is fortune and misfortune, which is the same thing, but it’s not used to the extent it is in 5e. In fact it’s a sidebar, more an afterthought).
  • Way too many conditions to remember. Luckily you can buy condition cards, if you want.
  • Even with that really well-designed character sheet, you may run out of room attempting to record all the information for feats and the like.


  • Pathfinder 2e is a great game for tactical players who love deep character customisation.
  • The rules have been simplified overall, but retain enough crunch to either excite of annoy, depending on your preference.
  • Numbers get really big, really fast.
  • Combat is more tactical but will take longer to run and involve more record keeping.
  • Lots to read and remember – detail and specificity are the middle names of this game. If you are a less is more person, this may not be the RPG for you.

I haven’t had the chance to run a game yet, but I can imagine my maths-deficient players getting their calculators out. Some of the systems are better designed than D&D 5e, while others just make things far more laborious. There is a level of specificity in the rules that eliminates a lot of uncertainty common in other RPGs. I imagine Pathfinder 2e games will take longer to run then D&D 5e. I like it, though!

Good on you, Paizo—a great update that finally sets Pathfinder apart from D&D, and in many good ways.

Game on!

Steve 😊

PS I’m not bagging D&D 5e – I love the game and play it every week. Heck, it’s how I make my living. Given Pathfinder 2e’s roots, though, it was easiest to compare.

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