As the design lead for the upcoming Advanced Player’s Guide, I’m excited to show you some of its secrets! We built the book specifically to expand the limits of what’s possible in Pathfinder, allowing you to play all sorts of new characters, learn new spells, and discover new magic items. When designing the new edition, we envisioned the core game experience as a table with four legs supporting it, with each leg representing one of our books. The Core Rulebook was the first and most important leg, and the Bestiary and Gamemastery Guide are the second and third, with the Advanced Player’s Guide rounding out the set. To serve in that foundational role, the Advanced Player’s Guide is packed from cover to cover with new options for your game, greatly expanding your range of possibilities at every step of a character’s journey and increasing the variety and depth of stories you can tell.
New classes always generate the most buzz, and the Advanced Player’s Guide has four: The investigator solves mysteries and uses their wits to predict attacks. With the investigator, you’ll gain abilities and options to help you emulate your favorite fictional detective that retain their usefulness whether you fancy yourself an amateur detective outside the game or are more interested in telling stories about your character’s feats of deduction. The oracle channels cosmic powers beyond their control, which grant both powerful benefits and a mysterious curse. As an oracle, you pick a theme like Flames or Storms rather than a deity, and as you continue to use your powers, you can strategically balance your increased benefits and drawbacks. The swashbuckler cares as much about doing something with style as they do about succeeding in the first place. The swashbuckler gains panache for stylish success, allowing them to perform powerful finishing moves. This allows you to play a daring character like The Three Musketeers, Zorro, or Inigo Montoya. Finally, the witch learns magical lessons from a magical familiar representing a mysterious patron. Drawing upon various witch mythologies, the witch can use any of the four traditions of magic in Pathfinder, depending on the nature of their patron. There are also creative new options for each existing class, including a new type of focus spell for rangers, the mastermind and eldritch trickster rackets for the rogue, and a superpowered ki form for monks whose spell level is over 9. Animal companions and familiars have a major expansion too, with new rules for specific familiars like imps and faerie dragons, as well as new animal (and non-animal) companions including the boar and the ape, but also the arboreal sapling and riding drake.
The new ancestries and versatile heritages in Advanced Player’s Guide are sure to make an impression, greatly expanding the available options for all characters. Fan favorite catfolk, dragon-scaled kobolds, orcs, ratfolk, and crowlike tengu nearly double the number of ancestry options from the Core Rulebook. Versatile heritages are a brand new concept introduced in the Advanced Player’s Guide for heritages that are shared across all ancestries. These are changelings, the children of hags, dhampirs, the spawn of vampires, and then three descendants of beings from beyond: aasimar, the scions of celestials like angels, tieflings, the scions of fiends like demons, and duskwalkers, scions of the mysterious psychopomps who ferry the souls of the dead to the afterlife. Each ancestry and versatile heritage has all the information you need to play one, with numerous options allowing you to customize your character within that ancestry and tell your story. Is your tengu “roosted,” hailing from the tengu homeland, or “migrating,” dispersed across the world. From there, are you jinxed or tossed by storms? Do you know how to squawk awkwardly to cover up social missteps? Even if you’re not playing one of the new ancestries or versatile heritages, there are options for your character, like the gnome’s sparkling Razzle-Dazzle or the goblin’s Extra Squishy.
Since we’re talking about customization, we can’t leave out archetypes, the key Pathfinder innovation allowing you to further customize how your character interacts with their class. While the Core Rulebook had archetypes for each class to help you build characters combining the concepts of multiple classes, the Advanced Player’s Guide expands the game’s archetypes in a huge way, with over 40 new archetypes. The cavalier and vigilante return from 1st edition as archetypes anyone can take to focus on a mount or don a mask and a new identity. You’ll find other old school archetypes like the shadowdancer and dragon disciple as well, plus the eldritch archer, which combines magic and archery for any type of magic, not just arcane. But there are also brand new archetypes to customize your character in dozens of directions. Archetypes like the archer and the armored sentinel help you focus on specific weapon and armor playstyles, even if you’re playing a class that normally isn’t known for using those sorts of armaments. Meanwhile, the beastmaster archetype grants anyone an animal companion, and the familiar master focuses on gaining and boosting a familiar with any class. Whatever your concept for a fantasy character, chances are good that one of the archetypes in the Advanced Player’s Guide has tools you can use to help imagine it.
This article has room for only a small preview of the entire 272-page tome, so I highlighted these three chapters to help show you the design philosophy for the book. Now that you have some of my Advanced Player’s Guide secrets, we’d like to know somethings from you: What Pathfinder character are you excited to build, and what stories do you want to tell? Learn more and share your stories at paizo.com.