If there’s one thing Pathfinder 2 has, it’s options. Do you want to campaign to follow a team of detectives to track down a serial killer? There is a classroom for that. Are you looking forward to playing a goblin witch riding a rocking wooden horse? easy.
This variety is one of Pathfinder’s biggest selling points, but it’s also one of the game’s biggest downsides since the sheer amount of selection can cripple. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be your choice of books to buy as a new player. These reference books will give new players and GMs something to chew on, while easing you into one of the greatest TTRPGs ever.
8 dark archive
You’ll have to get some knowledge of Pathfinder before delving into the Dark Archive, but the mystical delights you’ll find there are well worth the investment. Perhaps the most exciting secrets you’ll reveal are the two book classes, Thaumaturge and Psychic, but it also contains over two hundred mystical works to make your characters as weird as possible.
Regardless of the character choices, Dark Archive will expand your game in mysterious directions you never dreamed of. Pick it up if you want to fight kryptides, lead a cult, become the vessel of a greater deity, or unleash the chains of causation that seem to hold all of humanity.
7 magic secrets
If you are new to Pathfinder and would like to learn more about this magical thing, Secrets of Magic is the logical choice. Contains the classic Paizo formula that includes two new classes, Magus and Summoner, along with hundreds of feats and spells for casting fun. You’ll also have access to a host of new magical items, including sick cats with names like Warding Tatoo and Rune of Sin.
But what makes Secrets of Magic a really great book is its flavor. You will learn the rules of magic, but also what is magic in Pathfinder. Once you understand these principles, your characters can branch out into other forms, such as perverse magic and geomancy.
6 Missing lineage guide
There’s never been a dearth of character races in Pathfinder, and Ancestry’s Guide renews Pazio’s continued commitment to letting you play nearly as you want. The big draw here are the new breeds included, but the original races get a lot of love too, and the book is full of exploits for everyone.
But the most interesting thing about these new races are the implications for your game. If all of a sudden the world is filled with normal people and androids, they have to come from somewhere, and that’s somewhere you have to find out. From magically modified Fleshwarp to literal fairies, the book expands not only the character’s choice, but the entire world.
5 Guide to the Lost World
The Lost Omens series adds more to your game than additional rules and feats. Instead, they introduce you to Pazio’s custom setting, a world called Golarion, where the apparent death of the god Aroden destroyed the political and religious balance.
The World Guide is an introduction to this world and a comprehensive history that you can use to flesh out your games. If you’re new to a Game Master, the book is a must-have if you don’t want to spend the time creating an entire setup out of an entire rag. For new players, the book provides fertile ground for your imagination, even if the GM decides to put your adventure elsewhere.
4 Advanced Player’s Guide
Don’t let the name fool you. The Advanced Player Guide is less for advanced players knowing how to use Pathfinder, and more for players who want to develop their games. And while other reference books may expand your choice of pedigree and class, the Advanced Player’s Guide gives you the most benefit for your money.
With four additional chapters and ten unfamiliar races, from Changelings to Ratfolk, the book gives you more personal options than you can rock the awesome club at. If that wasn’t enough, the Advanced Player’s Guide also contains over nine hundred feats to ensure your character becomes exactly the adventurer you envision.
Pathfinder without monsters is like making curry without spices. Sure, you could do that, but it wouldn’t be fun, and everyone would leave the table unsatisfied. Players need something to test their strength against, to create narrative tension, or just to experience their newfound strength against it. Combat isn’t everything, but Pathfinder’s rules put a heavy emphasis on it.
And while you can make up your opponents, Bestiary is your go-to guide for balanced monsters that will be challenging enough to test your players. If you are a new player, it is also fun to have and will help you to dream about upcoming battles.
2 Game mastery guide
Being a game master is hard work. Whether you’re new to tabletop RPGs or new to Pathfinder, you’ll find that it takes hours to flesh out a story and create compelling NPCs even before players roll their first dice. It’s a rewarding process, but sometimes you don’t have the will or the time.
Enter the Gamemastery directory. Filled with pre-built NPCs, details about the different planes, and hints to guide your players into a compelling storyline, the guide is an indispensable guide for anyone looking to GM. It may not be necessary for a new player, but you will be hard-pressed to find a better buy as a newcomer.
1 Basic rule book
They say clothes make the man, but on the other hand, if there’s no one to wear, all you have is a pile of accessories. This basic rulebook is a bit like this: it contains the ground rules required for every session of Pathfinder 2nd Edition, from saving a death to making money during downtime. Every other book is an expansion, unnecessary without these basics.
Sure, you can find some of this information online in the system’s reference documents, but Paizo’s initial foray into v2 is more than just a set of rules. It also serves as an introduction to the system itself, and role-playing at the table in general.
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