Get limited edition Mythic Kingdoms fantasy-themed playing cards while supplies last.
Pathfinder: Core Rulebook - Board Game Box Shot

Pathfinder: Core Rulebook

| Published: 2009

Enter a fantastic world of adventure!

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game puts you in the role of a brave adventurer fighting to survive in a world beset by magic and evil. Will you cut your way through monster-filled ruins and cities rife with political intrigue to emerge as a famous hero laden with fabulous treasure, or will you fall victim to treacherous traps and fiendish monsters in a forgotten dungeon? Your fate is yours to decide with this giant Core Rulebook that provides everything a player needs to set out on a life of adventure and excitement!

This imaginative tabletop game builds upon more than 10 years of system development and an open playtest involving more than 50,000 gamers to create a cutting-edge RPG experience that brings the all-time best-selling set of fantasy rules into the new millennium.

pathfinder-artwork pathfinder-EquipmentSpread
images © Paizo Publishing

User Reviews (19)

Filter by: Order by:
Player Avatar
Advanced Reviewer
It's All About Me
I'm a Real Person
I'm Completely Obsessed
63 of 70 gamers found this helpful
“The Best Version of the Original RPG”

[DISCLAIMER: I’m a long-time role-player, and I can’t write this review without a nod to the history of the D&D Franchise. This game is about much more than just one company and one author. I really wish I could write a review that could do it justice, but I will certainly try! -Ark]

When Wizards of the Coast took over the D&D line in the late 90’s, they came out with version 3.0 under the new d20 system, a brand new rule set that was focused and easy to understand. It allowed for mountains of customization and choice in the game through the Open Game License, free rein for third party companies to publish material within the d20 system. After gaining an immense fanbase, they took it to the next level by publishing 3.5, an update to the core rules that was again wildly popular.

A few years later, WotC decided to move things in a new direction by releasing 4th Edition, a game that seemed to emulate the mechanics of MMO raid systems. Many players wanted to stick with version 3.5, and each of these players were very fortunate that Paizo Publishing decided to update the core classes and rules in a game called Pathfinder, sometimes called D&D Version 3.75 or 3.X.

It’s difficult to review a game that has been around for as long as D&D, so let’s look at what makes Pathfinder different from 3.5.

At it’s heart, Pathfinder is a game about telling stories. Players work together to journey through an adventure defined by the Gamemaster. In order to do so, Players create characters that act through dice rolling. Pathfinder uses the d20 system popularized by WotC, which boils down to rolling a d20 and adding bonuses to beat a difficulty rating.

Players have their choice of over fifteen character classes, each with a variety of archetypes that affect their strategies and abilities, and, unlike previous versions, every one of these is available as a character concept right from first level. More importantly, within the hundred of core ideas you can choose from, there are feats and skills and spells and abilities and companions that allow you to customize your character even further. Prestige Classes are still around, but there are far fewer of them, and they are much less important that the core classes, which have been updated and given many more options and abilities.

Pathfinder is a game that takes effort to master. There are so many options that the learning curve needed to get to a fun and interesting character concept sometimes requires careful study and reading. But there has never been a time when I didn’t think this work was worth it.

If I could only play one game, it would probably be Pathfinder. I have spent more worthwhile evenings wrapped up in a great story than playing any other game I can name. I’ve played warriors and archers and wizards and priests and swashbucklers and archivists and dark summoners and spies and so many characters I can hardly even list them all. The rules here are clear and allow me to play with people from across the city and the state, in home games or convention play through the Pathfinder Society.

Role-Playing Games aren’t for everyone, so I understand if this just isn’t your thing. However, if you are a fan, then you owe it to yourselves to try out this system. I just cannot recommend it highly enough.

Player Avatar
Cooperative Game Explorer
Amateur Advisor
Gamer - Level 6
65 of 73 gamers found this helpful
“Pathfinder: A refreshing reboot of role-play”

I’ve been debating for a while how I’d like to review this game. There are so many different ways to describe it, but at the same time, none of those descriptions are set in stone. Because while the Pathfinder Core Book is a wonderful guide, it is just that; a guide, and may or may not be used as desired.

Let me explain what I mean. The Pathfinder role playing game is based off of the rules and core design of Dungeons and Dragons, specifically the 3 and 3.5 rules set. You might be wondering how Paizo can do this without incurring a lawsuit; don’t worry, it’s cool, all the legalese has been resolved already. In fact, I’m glad Paizo was able to do so legally, as the final product they produced feels much more simple and streamlined than the Dungeons and Dragons version.

If you know anything about fantasy role-playing, you have probably come into contact with Pathfinder’s role-playing style at least once. Players roll attribute scores using six-sided dice (or distributing points through an alternate table method), and then assign the resulting scores to a series of attributes: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. Each of these scores affects how good a character can perform certain actions:

Strength: Affects how well a character can attack and hit enemies with melee attacks, how much damage they can inflict, and how well a character can accomplish tasks related to brute force.

Dexterity: Affects how a character attacks with ranged weapons, determines how hard they are to hit, and affects tasks requiring finesse or delicate movements.

Constitution: Affects a character’s health as a measure of how sturdy they are, and shows how resistant they are to sickness, poison, disease, and other physical maladies.

Intelligence: Affects a character’s ability to learn and improve skills by way of skill points, and can grand additional spells per day for some magic-users. Also affects skills requiring intellectual acumen.

Wisdom: Affects how a character is able to resist attacks or situations that affect the mind, and can grant additional spells per day to some magic-users. Also affects some skills related to instinct and general survival.

Charisma: Affects a character’s ability to lead, negotiate, and improve overall reactions, and is an indicator of overall attractiveness. Affects skills related to influencing others, and may grant additional spells per day to some magic-users.

After attributes are assigned, players will select a race for a character to be. There are a number of options (like humans, dwarves, elves, and even half-orcs), and each race offers certain benefits and disadvantages to consider. Players further customize their characters by selecting a class for that character to be; classes are a character’s chosen vocation, and largely determines what a character will be capable of during the course of an adventure. A Fighter, for example, is good at managing weapons and armor, and acquires a lot of natural physical talents in being able to fight enemies and protect the party. A Cleric is not as talented as a Fighter in combating enemies, but can wield divine magic, and possesses the ability to channel positive or negative energy, which can heal or harm creatures respectively. A Wizard possesses little in the way of combat skill, but can gain access to arcane magic, which can be both incredibly useful and massively destructive.

Once class has been selected, players select feat(s), which are special heroic talents that are difficult for the average person to learn, like being able to wield exotic weapons or fire two arrows at a time. Characters then get assigned equipment according to their starting gold values, catalog any spells they know (the core rulebook has a HUGE selection of spells), and then your character is good to go. Complicated? A little. Character creation in role-playing games is almost always a big deal, but it’s also kind of nice to be able to see what goodies you can get.

Pretty much everything you do when using your character in a game is determined by a roll of the dice. Numerous dice are used in the course of playing a game, but most often, players will be rolling a 20-sided die to determine success. A target number will usually be assigned to beat with that roll, and the roll itself is modified by whatever bonuses or penalties you have at the time. The result determines success or failure, and the Gamemaster (or dungeonmaster) will let you know what happens from that point; the Gamemaster is someone who sets the stage for the rest of the players to adventure in. In some situations (like combat), a roll of a natural 20 is considered and automatic success (with a chance to critical hit), and a roll of 1 is considered to be an automatic failure (with a chance to fumble for a bad result).

What I’ve just discussed is the basics for creating a character and general play, but tells little of the Core Rulebook itself. How does Pathfinder tie into all this? Well, the Core Rulebook contains everything you need to get started with the game, and much more; the book details everything from how certain skills work in certain situations, what is required to make spells work, tips on traps and how to create non-player characters to flesh out a campaign, and even weight encumberence tables to gauge how much your character can carry.

Does it seem like too much? Don’t worry. All good role-playing books (like this one) remind the players that these rules are GUIDELINES ONLY. You can choose which rules you want to use and which ones you want to skip. Want to ignore the need for spell components? Go right ahead. Toss encumberence rules out the window? Why not? Need to keep you party members fed? You can just imagine that players are able to fend for themselves. It’s as real as you want to make it (with some exceptions, of course), and if you want to apply weather effects or have a subterranean mission, all the rules are there if you want to use them. And that’s pretty nice.

The rulebook is large, but easy to understand, so you can bet that you will get good value for your money for what it offers. Paizo is also VERY good about offering supplements or additional information, so they’re not going to be going anywhere anytime soon. As a player who has played.multiple role-playing games, I say, give this a shot. I always look forward to my next gaming session, and I’ll be rolling the dice soon enough.

EDIT: This review doesn’t cover the other books in the series, like the Bestiary (contains all the monsters you might need to present the PCs with a challenge), the Advanced Players Guide (presents more options for classes and some variants to existing ones), or the Game Master’s Guide (extra info for anyone who wants to run an expansive campaign). But all are equally easy to read and contain a wealth of information that makes the Pathfinder series an enjoyable one to partake in.

Player Avatar
Gamer - Level 8
Expert Recruiter
Count / Countess Beta 1.0 Tester
66 of 75 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“The best D&D rules... aren't called D&D.”

I have played Dungeons & Dragons in its various incarnations for 23 years, and I must say that the Pathfinder RPG is the best implementation of its rules. For those not familiar, Pathfinder is an Open Gaming License (OGL) ruleset based on D&D version 3.5. The OGL allows the use of the base D&D mechanics to make compatible products. Most of these products have not diverged too far from the source material.

Pathfinder is amazing in that it takes everything that the core of Dungeons & Dragons was and makes it all new again. For starters, take the classes. The classes form the basis of the player experience. They are the archetypes from where the most basic of a character’s abilities are derived. In the PFRPG, they have (mostly) done away with “empty” levels (levels in which no new abilities are received). Without exception, levelling up feels like an accomplishment, and not just the stepping stone between you and the next point of interest. Additionally, players have more interesting choices for their characters built into the class (like Rogue Talents, Rage Powers, etc.). And further, the base classes are all playable well into high level (with less emphasis on prestige classes).

This book is a hefty tome, and well worth every cent. The Core Rulebook covers the ground that both the 3.5 Player’s Handbook and the 3. Dungeon Master’s Guide did. With this book, and the Bestiary, you are all set with everything you need to play. I highly recommend trying Pathfinder!

Player Avatar
Legend of the Five Rings Fan
Crane Clan - Legend of the Five Rings
Smash Up Fan
78 of 91 gamers found this helpful
“All the things you love about D&D 3.X WITHOUT the D&D...”

So Wizards of the Coast is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hasbro Ent., obviously a publicly traded company. One of their business models rely on scheduled obscelesence. SO it should be no wonder that they’d eventually decide that it was time to stop producing D&D 3.5 and move on.

Fortunately for the rest of us Paizo decided that that simply would not do. When WotC created the D20 Open Game License they gave any publisher carte-blanche to create any D&D 3.x material the wanted to so long as they acknowledged the source of the original rules. Paizo use this foundation to create their own updated and, in my opinion, improved D&D 3.+ rules set. Gone are “dead” levels where players don’t get some sort of bonus. All classes are beefed up a bit, and further more nearly every class receives a number of customizing tweaks to make one’s Wizard distinct from other Wizards.

Most importantly it took a rules set that might have otherwise slipped into obscurity gave it an invigorating shot in the arm. The franchise has grown to the point that Paizo has produced it’s own line of blind buy pre-painted miniatures as well as countless fantastic play aids and a monthly campaign that DMs can buy into and use as they see fit. The sort of support Paizo throws behind the Pathfinder franchise puts WotC support of D&D to shame, both in quality and usefulness.

For anyone wanting to get into roleplaying enough cannot be said about Pathfinder. The Pathfinder Beginner Box is enough for several players to start playing and go through several levels before committing further. The additional stands, cutouts, and tokens are just (very delicious) icing on the cake. If you want to try to scratch to RPG fix Pathfinder should be your first stop along the way.

Player Avatar
I play black
65 of 76 gamers found this helpful
“WOW. More fun than I've ever had with an RPG before.”

I am a boardgamer at heart, as I have made board games a serious hobby for the last 30 years, but have not played any RPG’s in almost 20 years. My experience with Pathfinder at a recent gaming convention is causing me to reconsider. I’ve tried D&D and many other role-playing games and never cared much for them after the first adventure. For several reasons, I found Pathfinder to be a much different experience. I wanted to try this game based on the glowing reviews I read on For me, this game lived up to the hype and I was not disappointed. I can’t wait to play Pathfinder again.

While the theme of the game is far from original, there are plenty of nuances in the game to set it apart – in a good way – from the competition. The player classes give you great options and it is easy to customize your character. You can choose to represent different factions (which each have their own agendas) which opens up the opportunity for bonus prestige points. The prestige point mechanism is a superior alternative to the clunky, number-crunching experience point mechanism found in other RPG’s.

Pathfinder in general makes the game about the story, the characters, and player interaction which has a strong appeal to a boardgamer like me. It’s not so heavy on the die-rolling and most die rolls are based on a d20 roll with one or two modifiers that are easy to keep track of. As a boardgamer, I have no interest in carrying around several tomes of rules, bestiaries and other nonsense in order to participate. I had the luxury of good GM’s and a couple of experienced Pathfinders to help remind me what dice to roll for my spells and damage. All you need to have fun with this game is a set of dice, pencil, paper and your imagination.

I can’t say enough good things about this game. I would strongly recommend it, even for people like me who normally steer clear of RPG’s.

Player Avatar
I'm a Player!
58 of 68 gamers found this helpful
“An interesting RPG”

Pathfinder is based off of the old, D&D 3.5 ruleset. As such, it does offer players a wide variety of customization options and such. The problem I have is that, compared to 4E D&D – the game is relatively confusing for new players in terms of character development. I had some difficulties putting together a character because the rule book itself is not terribly clear in some places, and the system is just not very intuitive. I found myself looking at different characters created online to try and reverse engineer the process a bit.

Furthermore, I find that although characters have plenty of customization options – I feel personally that most of the characters seem more or less the same, and kinda flat, at the beginning stages. In 4E, you could have two characters of the same class play very differently – whereas in 3.5, the mechanics are relatively the same and their is a lack of actual ability to be had.

With that said, the game does provide some interesting mechanics for the different classes they have, and truth be told I actually wish some of the class ideas from this game were in 4E D&D. The art work in the book is, in my opinion, gorgeous.

All in all, the game’s not bad – but if you’re newer to PnP RPGs like I am, then you definitely will want to have an experienced player around to help guide you in the process, something I just did not have. While I may favor 4E rules, the 3.5 rules do still provide some fantastic things for people who are wishing to try something different.

Player Avatar
Plaid Hat Games fan
AEG fan
Tasty Minstrel Games Fan
61 of 87 gamers found this helpful
“WotC ruined D&D w/4th ed. This makes it up their mess.”

Great RPG with tons of fun.
I’ve followed D&D since 1st edtion, playing 2nd, 3rd and 3.5 most. 4th edition was a mess for me making the game a pen and paper MMO-ish disaster.

This is what WotC should have done for 4th edition instead.

As a fantasy rpg Pathfinder gives you every posibility of playing your chosen (and customized) character exactly the way you want. You have the option for deep roleplaying, heavy tactics on the battlefield, powergaming, character optimization or a mix of all of these – chosen by players or the Game Master.

I’ve only played the Kingmaker campaign so far. We’re into the last book, of a total of 5, and have a party of 4 level 13 adventurers. That said, we have decided to only play with the 3 core books next adventure. Now we’re using core + advanced players guide (APG). Our GM has removed a few quite overpowered feats like Point Blank Master (APG) which alows you to fire bows in melee range.
This to make the game flow easier and make it a bit less complex. There are a lot of additional content which is fun to look into, but in our opinion a little to much to handle for both players and GM.

I love this game and will recommend it to anyone who like roleplaying, character planning and building, tactic and strategic fighting!

Player Avatar
61 of 88 gamers found this helpful
“Excellent System”

While this is not a storyteller’s type game, it has all the elements to make great stories and great characters. Very comprehensive core rulebook and is pretty much all anyone would need to play anything, including the game master, except for some monsters or additional storyline that can be found in a few other products. The development is deep and has it’s roots in Dungeons and Dragons, but has not taken the detour that Wizards pursued. Lots of detail if you are wanting it, but many things are easy to work in later for newer players.
If you like creating characters, this is a fantastic system for you, but be warned, you’ll create a lot and you’ll constantly have ideas for more. The map is awesome and I am lucky to be able to print mine out at 42″x68″! (Ok, so that is not included in the Core but it reminds me of the game constantly).
There could be more flavor in some of the text like some other systems provide, but you wouldn’t be able to pick up the book if it did. Overall an excellent investment. If you are lucky, you’ll be in a town where lots of other people play and you now have all you need to succeed!

Player Avatar
I Own a Game!
57 of 84 gamers found this helpful
“My First RPG - No Experience Neccessary!”

As someone who never played D&D, or any other pen and paper RPG, I found Pathfinder very easy to understand and play. I had the help of some folks that had played other RPGs, but their knowledge actually seems to hinder things.

With it’s great set of resources, outstanding society play, and intricate details, Pathfinder is a great gateway game into Pen and Paper RPGs. I bought my first copy as a PDF, and have never looked back. I play several times a month, usually with society play (strangers at the store) or with my core group of gaming friends.

I would recommend Pathfinder to anyone that wanted to try D&D as a kid but never got around to it, or wanted to see what the fun of Pen and Paper RPGs is all about. It was an easy step for me from MMROPGs like Warcraft and EverQuest.

Player Avatar
My First Favorite!
58 of 92 gamers found this helpful
“Best D20 system currently in production”

As a former 3.5player I will say this- (PF=3.75) It’s just like 3.5… but better.

PF cleans up a lot of the slop that 3.5 just couldn’t take on after the 3rd edition bomb went off. Let’s face it 3.5 was a fix to third edition…. Now Pathfinder is the beautification to 3.5. It’s easier to understand, looks better, just as adaptable to any kind of campaign, AND I DON’T HAVE TO FIND A GRAVE TO DIG IT OUT OF!!!

Sorry but you 3.5 guys sometimes kill me with your obsessive qualities to that game! PF also requires less work for most GM’s if you don’t mind paying a little to enhance gameplay. You don’t need the Game Master’s guide to play PF… but…. it’s too good not to buy it 😉

This game is a blast, currently being printed and updated. This is a great game for beginners and a nice shot for you grumpy old toots!

Player Avatar
Rated My First Game
57 of 91 gamers found this helpful
“Takes 3.5 further”

After playing a bit of D&D fourth edition, I was ready to go back to the previous version of the game. Luckily for me, a friend of mine recommended Pathfinder.

I’m so glad he did. Classes are expanded, some mechanics are made easier, and I really enjoy the Golarion setting. I would recommend this to any gamer that misses D&D 3.5

Player Avatar
The Gold Heart
I'm Completely Obsessed
62 of 101 gamers found this helpful
“My first adventure and everything was crystal clear”

As a brand-new RPG user, I must say PF brings an easy-to-learn mechanic to what it is.

I hardly had trouble filling out my character’s sheet with the stats and when the campaign started everything was crystal clear.

My group is fairly new to PF but we didn’t had any troubles with the rules.

If your GM is a seasoned player, I don’t think he will have troubles picking this one up and run a successful campaign.

Player Avatar
57 of 96 gamers found this helpful

A great game I can play with my kids. The game is easy to learn and there are tons of resources. If you shied away from D&D you gotta try Pathfinder. I started with the starter box and played with my son and a friend and now my son want to play all the time. The prices are reasonable. It is now easier to be a player or Game Master. I have signed up for more events at Gen Con and look forward to the Pathfinder get together. Its always a good sign of a game when a group puts together a get together to hang out with players the night before the con starts.

Player Avatar
57 of 100 gamers found this helpful

I just discovered pathfinder and i completely “changed my alignment” from D&D 2.0 to it!!

Player Avatar
Rated My First Game
58 of 102 gamers found this helpful
“Fantasy RPG the way it was meant to be!”

This is the go to fantasy rpg for my local gaming group. Lots of race and class options to customize your character and improve role playing. If you like fantasy rpg’s but were completely turned off by 4th edition/miniatures combat game (like a lot of people!) and have played out 3.5, Pathfinder is a great option. High quality artwork, very intuitive PHB and lots of supplements to compliment the core game. Almost perfect mechanics for both combat and role playing opportunities.

Player Avatar
58 of 104 gamers found this helpful
“Glimmer of hope for humanity”

I had thought for sure that the adoption of D&D 4th Edition was the final nail in the coffin of a once great gaming franchise. Thankfully Paizo has created a RPG to fill that void. Without embracing either the senseless complexity AD&D 2nd Edition or the simple stupidity of the current incarnation, Pathfinder manages to salvage the best of the D20 system and add a level of personalization that was sorely needed.

Player Avatar
Spider Clan - Legend of the Five Rings
57 of 104 gamers found this helpful
“my favorite rpg!”

this is my favorite rpg! if you loved D&D 3.5, you love pathfinder. all there products are great. i play pathfinder twice a week. my group uses all the books as they come out. i am playing as a gnome alchemist in one game, and a human druid in another.

one of the best things about this game is the adventure support. paizo puts out a monthly magazine that is about half adventure, and the are written as campaign arcs in 6 month blocks. we are currently playing in the carrion crown adventure path.

Player Avatar
I Am What I Am
57 of 104 gamers found this helpful
“Great system”

a fexible and enjoyable system.

The game offers massive scope and covers everything the GM and players can want.

Personally consider it as the D&D with out the ****. Plenty of expansions available, yet they do not mean that they are required. The syste allows for a take it or leave it attitude to the expansions.

Player Avatar
57 of 113 gamers found this helpful
“enjoying ”

i’ve play 2ed dnd before. this has been alot of fun for me to play and get into. for those that like the older dnd rules simply and nice this is the next rpg for you.


Add a Review for "Pathfinder: Core Rulebook"

You must be to add a review.

× Visit Your Profile