What Are the Major Changes Between Pathfinder First and Second Editions?

There are two editions of Pathfinder: the first edition and the second edition. The Pathfinder 2e (second edition) has additional spells, class features, feats, and many new things. 

Apart from the aforementioned additional features in Pathfinder 2e, what other significant differences are there between Pathfinder 1e and Pathfinder 2e is a question of many long-time players of Pathfinder.

So, this article will discuss the major and high-level changes between Pathfinder 1st edition and 2nd edition and also discuss what mechanics differ between the two versions.

Pathfinder: What Are the Major Changes Between Pathfinder First and Second Editions?

There are multiple significant and high-level changes between Pathfinder first and second editions. These are changes related to Feats, Races, Skills, Classes, equipment, Spells, general changes, and stuff related to Gamemastery Guide (GM). Let us discuss all the changes in detail:

General Changes 

Stat Generation

The Pathfinder 2e (second edition) has left the methods of the past wherein a player used to generate stats using a point buy or rolled them. Instead, you receive various ability boosts (a +2 for a stat less than 18 or a +1 if your stat is more than or equal to 18) from differing aspects of your character, which you decide upon over a series of steps.

Additionally, you will receive four additional ability boosts at level 5 and then again at levels 10, 15, and 20. These boosts apply to 4 different stats. 

New XP System

The Pathfinder 1e (first edition) had a table for various XP needed to have a gain level. Now in the second edition, you always require 1000 XP to go up a level. When you do so, you subtract that 1000 XP and need to gain 1000 XP to level up again.


Instead of being proficient or non-proficient with something in the first edition, you now have varying degrees of proficiency: Untrained, Trained, Expert, Master, and Legendary in the second edition of Pathfinder. 

In Patfinder 2e, if you are untrained in a thing, you have a proficiency modifier of +0. For trained and above, you receive a modifier of your level +2, 4, 6, and 8, depending on your degree of proficiency. 

Keywords and Traits

In Pathfinder, almost everything has a keyword. These keywords have specific definitions for what they mean and how they apply. Further, almost everything has a trait; these traits extend from category makers to affecting how a spell works. 


Multiclassing is very different in Pathfinder 2e. Rather than selecting a class level, you can now take an archetype dedication feat in place of a class feat and gain the ability to take other archetype feats with that dedication feat as a prerequisite. 

Critical System

You can now have 4 degrees of success on a check: Critical Failure, Failure, Success, and Critical Success in Pathfinder 2e. If you roll a 10 or more above the DC of a check, you critically succeed on that check. 

On the other hand, if you roll 10 or below the DC of a check, you critically fail. A natural 20 on the die roll moves you up to one degree of success, and a natural 1 moves you down to 1 degree of success. 

Modes of Play

Now, the events in the game are divided into three different play modes, representing the difference in situations, stakes, and time scales. There are diverse abilities that may work differently (or not) depending on the mode. The modes are:

Encounter: The combat takes place in the Encounter mode. It is the most structured mode. It has not changed aside from the action economy in relation. 

Exploration: Exploration is the mode used for wandering dungeons or the dark forest, where dangers lurk, but none of them are immediate. 

Downtime: It is the mode used for crafting, earning money, treating diseases, etc. The smallest unit of the time frame in this mode is one day, and 

you should use Encounter or Exploration mode if there are dangers of other things happening. 

Action Economy

In Encounter mode, you gain three actions and one reaction in each round. You can use actions on your turn, but some abilities take a single action while others may take more. You can use your reactions anytime if the trigger for them meets. You can also use Free actions because they also exist in the game. 


Perception is no longer a skill in Pathfinder 2e. It now encompasses the various senses of a creature and how a thing is detected. There are four different stages of detection: Unnoticed, Undetected, Hidden, and Observed. Similarly, Senses fall into three categories: Precise, Imprecise, and Vague. 


Now, you can use bulk in the second edition rather than using weight as the unit of measurement for carrying capacity. Each item has a Bulk of a set number or “L” that dictates how much bulk it is.

Every 10 L you carry adds one bulk. So, if you carry 9 L, it will be 0 bulks, and if you carry 19 L, it would only be 1 Bulk.  

No spell-like or supernatural abilities are there in the second edition of Pathfinder. Now, they are all considered spells. 


Rarity is divided into four categories of availability: Common, Uncommon, Rare, and Unique in Pathfinder second edition. Uncommon and rare things are not necessarily more powerful. They are just less common. The difficulty of identifying something increases based on its rarity.

Common: Common things can be found anywhere and are pretty much universally used. Examples are a longsword, the ant haul spell, or a Goblin Dog. 

Uncommon:  These things result from special training or part of a particular culture or place. Examples are a Dwarven Waraxe, a monk’s ki strike spell, the Detect Poison Spell, or the Lghollthu Master Monster. 

Rare: These things are usually non-existent. Some examples are Orihalcum Armor, The antimagic field spell, or the veiled master monster. 

Unique: These are One-of-a-kind things, like the Monster Treerazer.  


The initiative is not a set thing in the second edition. Now, it is a skill check, which depends on the activity performed in Exploration mode. 

Hero Points

Hero points are now a part of the base game in Pathfinder 2e (second edition). 


In Pathfiner 2e (second edition): 

  • You gain at least one feat every level in Pathfinder 2e, but the type of feat depends on the current level. 
  • There are four primary feats of different types: Ancestry, General, Skill, and Class.
  • Ancestry: Ancestry feats represent things you have gotten from your ancestry. 
  • Skill: Skill feats are directly related to your character’s skills and proficiency. These skills may add additional actions, which can take with that skill.
  • General: General feats include skill feats along with other things such as armor and weapon training.
  • Class: Class feats unlock new abilities and powers for a character’s class. Usually, Archetype feats are taken instead of class feats. 


In Pathfinder 2e (second edition):

  • Race is now Ancestry.
  • Ancestries now give a flat amount of Health Points (HP). 
  • Ancestries give far fewer abilities at the start than they did previously. Now, it opens up different routes for ancestry feats later on. 
  • Ancestries also provide a choice of Heritage for another option of base-level abilities. 


The Pathfinder 2e (second edition) has the following changes related to skills:

  • Some skills got consolidated in the second edition. 
  • Some skills have different actions available for them based on your proficiency with them. 


The Pathfinder 2e (second edition) has the following changes in Classes:

  • Now, you will gain a flat amount of HP per level instead of an amount from a die roll.
  • The second edition provides a key ability score, which is used with your class’s proficiency modifier to determine the DC of class abilities. 
  • Classes now have fewer static class features because most of their class abilities are determined by class feats.
  •  All classes besides Monk and Fighters can choose a subclass that determines a handful of features, such as Barbarian’s Instinct or a Sorcerer’s Bloodline.


These are the following changes related to Equipment in Pathfinder 2e (second edition):

  • The economy is now in terms of Silver Pieces (SP) rather than Gold Pieces (GP) from the first edition.
  • Items vary in quality physically and magically rather than just magically (in the first edition).
  • Now, you have a set amount of magic items you can attune with. 
  • Items have levels, and these levels, allow you to know what is available for you to craft (and sometimes buy) in Pathfinder 2e. 
  • Poisons are truly relevant at all levels in the second edition.


These are the following changes related to Spells in Pathfinder 2e (second edition):

  • There are now only four spell lists: Arcane, Divine, Occult, and Primal in Pathfinder 2e.
  • Spell Schools still exist in the second edition.
  • Vacian Casting still exists in the second edition.
  • Heighten is no longer a metamagic. It is a thing you can do with any spell. Heightened spells vary in effect based on how much you heighten them. 
  • Cantrips, like before, do not use spells slots up and are automatically heightened to the highest level spell you can cast in the second edition.
  • There is no minimum casting stat to determine whether you cast a spell. Similarly, you do not gain bonus spell slots for a higher casting stat.

GM Stuff

These are the following changes related to GM Stuff in Pathfinder 2e (second edition):

  • Monsters: The Gamemastery Guide has rules on monster creation. It is a departure from the monster creation methods of before. The new action economy allows for abilities to be created for monsters with different action costs based on their effects. 
  • Traps: Traps now belong to the Hazards category along with Haunts in the second edition and are divided into two categories: Simple and Complex. 
  • Simple: Simple Hazards are the ones that go off once and are done. They do not participate in the initiative order and do not make their reaction again unless you reset them. These range from the humble pit trap to the typical Fireball Rune and the mighty Armageddon Orb.
  • Complex: The Complex Hazards participate in the initiative order and perform their actions in a listed automated routine. These range from the subtle Quicksand to the Common Poison Dart Gallery and the malevolent Darkside Mirror. 

Does Pathfinder 2nd Edition Make 1st Edition Materials Obsolete?

Nope, the release of Pathfinder 2nd edition does mean that Pathfinder 1st edition materials become obsolete. It only means that the Pathfinder 1e materials will no longer get official support and updates. You can still use Pathfinder 1st edition materials to run games. 

However, you may have to get new material or Pathfinder 2e material, at least for game mechanics. There is not much backward compatibility between the two editions. 

There is a change of races, classes, feats, and other things in the second edition of Pathfinder. Still, the Pathfinder 1e books and materials are still perfectly functional.