If there’s one thing the second edition of Pathfinder has, it’s options. Want to make a campaign following a team of investigators tracking down a serial murderer? There’s a class for that. Looking to play a Goblin Witch who rides around on a wooden rocking horse? Easy.
This variety is one of Pathfinder’s greatest selling points, but it’s also one of the game’s biggest downsides since the sheer amount of choice can be paralyzing. Fortunately, your choice of books to buy as a new player doesn’t have to be. These sourcebooks will give new players and GMs something to chew on, while easing you into one of the greatest TTRPGs of all time.
8 Dark Archives
You’ll have to have some knowledge of Pathfinder before delving into the Dark Archive, but the arcane delights you’ll find there are worth the investment. Perhaps the most exciting secrets you’ll uncover are the book’s two classes, Thaumaturge and Psychic, but it also contains over two hundred esoteric feats to make your characters as strange as possible.
Aside from character options, the Dark Archive will expand your game in occult directions you never dreamed of. Pick it up if you want to fight cryptids, lead a cult, become a vessel for an elder god, or burst the chains of causality that seem to hold all mortals.
7 Secrets Of Magic
If you’re new to Pathfinder and want to learn more about this magic thing, Secrets of Magic is the logical choice. It has the classic Paizo formula of including two new classes, the Magus and Summoner, along with hundreds of feats and spells for your casting pleasure. You’ll also gain access to a bunch of new magic items, including sick tats with names like Warding Tatoo and Rune of Sin.
What makes Secrets of Magic a truly great book, though, is its flavor. You’ll learn the rules of magic, but also what magic is in Pathfinder. Once you understand those principles, your characters can branch out into other forms, like perverse magic and geomancy.
6 Lost Omen’s Ancestry Guide
There’s never been a dearth of character races in Pathfinder, and the Ancestry guide renews Pazio’s continued commitment to letting you play as almost anything you want. The big draw here is the new ancestries included, but the original races get a lot of love as well, and the book is full of feats for everyone.
What’s most interesting about these new races, though, is the implications for your game. If the world is suddenly full of plain-touched people and androids, they have to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is for you to discover. From the magically altered Fleshwarp to literal fairies, the book not only expands character choice but the world at large.
5 Lost Omens World Guide
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 has destroyed the political and religious balance.
The World Guide serves as an introduction to that world and a comprehensive history that you can use to flesh out your games. If you’re a new Game Master, the book is indispensable if you don’t want to take the time to create an entire setting out of whole cloth. For new players, the book offers fertile ground for your imagination, even if your GM decides to set your adventure elsewhere.
4 Advanced Player’s Guide
Don’t let the name fool you. The Advanced Player’s Guide is less for players who are advanced in their Pathfinder know-how, and more for players who want to advance their games. And while other sourcebooks may expand your choice of ancestry and class, the Advanced Player’s Guide gives you the most bang for your buck.
With four additional classes and ten uncommon races, from Changelings to Ratfolk, the book gives you more character choices than you can shake a great 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 imagine them to be.
A game of Pathfinder without monsters is like making curry without spice. Sure, you can do it, but it’s not going to be fun, and everyone will just leave the table dissatisfied. Players need something to test their might against, to create tension in the narrative, or just to try their new powers against. Combat isn’t everything, but Pathfinder’s rules focus on it heavily.
And while you can make your own opponents, the Bestiary is your go-to guide for balanced monsters that will be just enough of a challenge to test your players. If you’re a new player, it’s also just fun to have and will help you dream of battles to come.
2 Gamemastery Guide
Being a Game Master is tough work. Whether you’re new to tabletop RPGs or just new to Pathfinder, you’ll find it takes hours to flesh out a narrative and create convincing NPCs even before your players roll the first die. It’s a rewarding process, but sometimes you just don’t have the will or the time.
Enter the Gamemastery Guide. Full of pre-built NPCs, details about the different planes, and hints to guide your players into a compelling narrative, the guide is indispensable for anyone looking to GM. It might not be necessary for a new player, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better purchase as a fledgling storyteller.
1 Core Rulebook
They say that clothes make the man, but, on the other hand, if there’s no one to wear the clothes, all you’ve got is a pile of accessories. The Core Rulebook is a little like that: it contains the basic rules required for every session of second edition Pathfinder, from death saves to making money during downtime. Every other book is an expansion, unnecessary without these fundamentals.
Sure, you can find some of this information online in system reference documents, but Paizo’s initial foray into the second edition is more than just a set of rules. It also serves as an introduction to the system itself, and to tabletop roleplaying in general.
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