Key Terms

Hello adventurers of all shapes and sizes! Welcome to my guide and thank you so much for checking out the another episode of the pathfinder 2e introduction series. Today we’re looking at Key Terms it’s not super exciting granted but it is something we have to do.

Because moving forward we’re gonna be getting into a little bit more complicated stuff and i’d really have everyone especially the new players have at least a foundational understanding of a lot of these words i’m gonna be using.

Some of them are pretty self-explanatory, some of them we’ve talked about loosely before and others we will have full articles dedicated to in the future so you’ll win some, you lose some we’re just gonna go in alphabetical order because that’s the way the book has it laid out.

And in all honesty i thought of a ton of different ways of grouping these together where it makes sense. But then i ran into the issue of not being able to fit them on the same page and it was just turning into a pretty big headache. So let’s dive right in and get started.

Ability Score

So the first thing we’re gonna be talking about is ability score. Each creature has six ability scores namely: strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom and charisma. These scores represent a creature’s raw potential and basic attributes. The higher the score, the greater the creature’s ability potential in that ability.

Now this is a subject that we’re gonna actually have a series of articles on, so bear that mind all you need to know that ability scores directly impact how good you are certain things make sense…sweet! Talking about alignment now.

Alignment represents a creatures a fundamental moral and ethical attitude. Pretty cool! Something i do want to point out virtually every role-playing game has alignment and one former fashion. Boiled down it’s whether or not you’re good or bad or just kind of somewhere in the middle.

Once again this is another thing we’re gonna have an enitre article dedicated towards so just be aware that it’s a thing ancestry is something we’ve actually talked about before. Ancestry is the broad family of people that a character belongs to, that’s just your race right!

Ancestry determines a character starting hit points, languages, senses and speed and it grants access to ancestry feats. Which we will definitely be covering in a ton of future articles. So don’t stress out too much about those as we have. Now let’s check out some more.

Armor Class (AC):

Looking at armor class this isn’t something we’ve covered yet at least in this form but i’ll talk about that in a little bit. “All creatures in the game have an armor class. This score represents how hard it is to hit and damage a creature. It serves as the difficulty class for hitting a creature with an attack”.

Difficulty class or DC as we’ve covered it in previous articles is something we’ve already discussed we will be readdressing in this article just because it is one of those terms and i like this to kind of serve as a standalone kind of thing if it all possible.

Now a cool thing about armor class is then this is for your game masters out there. Don’t always describe it as a block. That’s something that gets boring after a while you mix it up a little bit you say stuff like the battle axe barely grazes you, but you remain unharmed stuff like that. Make it more descriptive, but that’s just a pro tip for you. Another term is attack.


“When a creature tries to harm another creature, it makes a strike or uses some other attack action.” Pretty standard stuff!


“Background is another thing that we’re gonna have a whole series of articles dedicated towards. But “a background represents what a character experienced before they took up the life of an adventure. Each background grants a feat and training in one or more skills.”

So there’s a ton of them we will be covering all of them, no need to stress. I really think that 2E Pathfinder did a really good job with them so i’m really looking forward to covering them with you guys. Now let’s move on….now we got some more complicated ones coming up here first the bonuses and penalties.

Bonuses And Penalties

This is one we’ve kind of addressed in previous articles but haven’t really delved into and there’s a good reason for that and that’s because once again we’re gonna be covering it in entire articles. But in terms of what you need to know….”Bonuses and penalties apply to checks and certain statistics. There are several types of bonuses and penalties. If you have more than one bonus of the same type, you only use the highest bonus. Likewise, you only use the worst penalty of each type.”

Which is pretty cool! I like that it makes the game make a ton more sense. So just bear that in mind should be fine. At least until we really get into them.


Now class is something that all of you are without a doubt aware of currently especially people who played any form of RPG. “A class represents the adventuring profession chosen by a character. A character’s class determines most of thier proficiencies, grants the character hit points each time they gain a new level. And gives access to a set of class feats.”

Pretty cool stuff honestly! Most of you already know that, so i’m not gonna spend too much time on it. It’s gonna be covered in a ton of articles. Now let’s move on.


Looking at condition now. A condition is “an ongoing effect that changes how a character can act, or that alters some of their statistics.”

Now pathfinder 2E has a ton of different conditions and they all make logical sense if you think them through but once again covering them in future articles don’t need to worry about it. Just need to know that there’s conditions out there and that they can affect your character in a variety of ways.

The next point is currency and i’m assuming that literally everyone on the planet should be aware of what a currency is, but you might not be aware of the exact exchange rates.


So “the most common currency is in the game are gold pieces or GP and silver pieces or SP. One GP is worth 10 SP so one to ten conversion. And 1 SP is worth 10 copper pieces or CP so one to ten conversion. And 10 gold piece are worth 1 platinum piece (PP)”.

So it goes platinum, gold, silver, copper much like most meddling right…so pretty easy it’s all one to ten conversion. So pretty easy to bear in mind and once again most people would already assume that but you know for the newer players make sense. Now let’s move on.


So when you’re talking about the feat…”A feat is an ability you can select for your character due to their ancestry, background, class, general training or skill training.” There’s a ton of them and i’m so excited to actually dive into them. They’re my favorite part of pathfinder 2E and i know a lot of you are gonna feel the same way. So i’m kind of got a little bit of an itchy trigger finger with them right now.

Game Master (GM):

Next point is Game master or GM we’ve definitely talked about this a lot. “The game master is the player who adjudicates the rules and narrates the various elements of the pathfinder story and world that the other players explore.”

Basically a pseudo deity at least a couple senses of the word but that’s all you need to know about them just a different way to play the game right. Then there’s golarion.


“Pathfidner is set on the planet golarion during the age of lost omesn.” So do a little bit of context…that’s not really a hard and fast rule you can play a little bit soft and loose so don’t worry about it. But i mean historical context does matter sometimes so i don’t up to the gamemaster…players don’t really need to worry about that stuff. Now let’s move on.

Hit Points (HP):

So hit points or HP once again pretty popular term in most role-playing games. “Hit points represent the amount of punishment a creature can take before it falls unconscious and begins dying.”


The initiative which is something we’ve touched on before “At the start of an encounter, all creatures involved a roll for initiative to determine the order in which they act. The higher the result of its roll, the earlier a creature gets to act.”

Typically it’s based off of your perception but that’s not always the case and that’s something that i really like about pathfinder 2E we’ll get into that in a much later article when you really dive into combat though but it’s really cool stuff. And the third term on this sheet is level.


“A level is a number that measures something’s overall power.”

Now virtually everything in pathfinder has a level assigned to it from PCs or players to monsters to spells there’s levels all over the place and different level ranges can mean different things but we’ll address those as they come up just to keep it fresh nip one’s head and so it can be a standalone article so don’t worry about it. All you need to know is higher the level more powerful it is…cool! Let’s move on.

Non Player Character(NPC):

Non player characters or NPCs. “A non player character, controlled by the GM, interacts with players and helps advance the story.”

Now this is not always the case you can have NPCs that are controlled by players. It’s not very common but it has been known to happen in quite a few games. Especially at those higher levels. But in general typically controlled by the game master.


“Perception measures your character’s ability to notice hidden objects or unusual situations. And it usually determines how quickly the character springs into action in combat.” Which is of course leads it to initiative right…coool!

Player Character(PC):

The next point is player characters or PCs you definitely know these are “This is a character created and controlled by a player.” Makes sense and yeah now let’s get into a complicated one proficiency.


Now this is not super complicated if you’ve played 5E for example but it is a little weird than pathfinder, so it makes sense once you get used to it but it is a little weird at first.

“Proficiency is a system that measures a character’s aptitude at a specific task or quality. And it has five ranks: Untrained being the first, trained, expert, master and legendary being the last. Proficiency gives you a bonus that’s added when determining the following modifiers and statistics: AC, Attack rolls, perception, saving throws, skills, and the effectiveness of spells. If you’re untrained, your proficiency bonus is plus zero, if you’re trained, expert, master or legendary, your proficiency bonus equals your level plus 2, 4, 6 or 8 respectively.”

It’s pretty cool! It’s a neat system! I really like what pathfinder did with it. The 5e version in case you’re curious is just literally tied to your level but it doesn’t equal your level. It’s a little strange but i really prefer the 2E system over the 5E. Just saying my personal opinion but whatever. Now let’s move on we’re talking about rarity now.


Now this is something i thought was absolutely genius but we’ll get into it. “Some elements of the game have a rarity to denote how often they’re encountered in the game world. If no rarity appears in the traits of an item, spell or other game element, it is of common rarity.

The uncommon items are available only to those who have special training, grew up in a certain culture, or come from a particular part of the world. Rare items are almost impossible to find and are usually given out only by the GM. While unique ones are literally one-of-a-kind in the game.”

Almost every role-playing game follows the system in one former fashion but something that i am so happy about in terms of what pathfinder 2E did is they made it so certain training is required for certain items above common. What i like about this is it makes logical sense.

In 5E you know it’s true there are prerequisites sometimes and you know attunements of thing so. That helps but i think this makes much more sense in a real world context. I like it, i think it plays really well and i think players appreciate it.

It does make things a little bit more difficult though in the way that the game master has to be aware of everyone’s build when they’re giving out magical items. just to make sure everyone else is fairly balanced relative to one another. Pretty cool! i like it, interesting mechanic. But let’s move on, the next point we’re gonna talk about is role-playing.


Describing a character’s actions often while acting from the perspective of the character is called roleplaying. When a player speaks or describes action from the perspective of a character. They are “In character.”

Role play is an incredibly important aspect of all these TT RPGs. But more so in the more fantasy ones and certainly in pathfinder and other variations of D&D because exploration is a huge part of the game and protip most game masters reward active role playing.

You don’t have to be great at it, you don’t have to do the special voices but if you think like your character and act as though they would act, it really does bring a certain life to the game and it’s a different kind of fun even if it’s counterintuitive and suboptimal. If anything i think that’s more fun but let’s move on. Looking at a round.


“A round is a preiod of time during an encounter in which all participants get a chance to act. A round represents approximately 6 seconds in game time.”

We’ve talked about rounds before they’re only relevant when you’re in combat. Basically you’re in a round everyone takes a turn and after that happens a new round begins and that continues until combat ends.

Saving Throw(Save):

“When a creature is subject to a dangerous effect that must be avoided, it attempts a saving throw to mitigate the effect.”

It doesn’t mean the effect gets completely nullified all the time but it might lead to reduce damage or something else but it’s just a term to be aware of so it’ll ask for a certain kind of save and then you’ll roll your d20, i don’t ever modifier based on whatever type of a save it is and then based on the result vs the DC something will happen or something won’t happen…cool! Now the next point is a skill.


“A skill represents a creature’s ability to perform certain tasks that require instruction or practice.”

Pretty cool stuff! that kind of feeds into what we’re talking about in relation to proficiencies. So pretty cool stuff. Now looking at speed.


“Speed is the distance a character can move using a single action, measured in feet.” Make sense.


“The spells are magical effects created by performing mystical incantations and gestures known only to those with special training on inborn abilities.”

Pretty cool stuff! Spells are a huge part of the fantasy genre of course. And pathfinder has quite a few of them for this just being the core rulebook. I’m really excited to see what other spells they come up with, but it looks really good so far and i’m of course excited to delve itno them later on. Now the final page here Trait.


“A trait is a keyword that conveys additional  information about a rules element, such as a school of magic or rarity. Often a trait indicates how other rules interact with an ability, creature, item, or another rules element that has a trait.”

Very cool! So traits are just like a catch-all term, we’ll be breaking down how to read certain blocks in the next couple articles here and that’s where i’ll delve into traits a lot more just so everyone’s on the same page when it comes to them. But it’s how you read like monster, stat blocks for example or even items stat blocks or spell stat blocks like.

The traits just mean every item listed on there. It’s kind of complicated to explain right now..but i promise i’ll do a future article on it and break all of it down for you. And then the last point is turn.


“During the course of a round, each creature takes a single turn according to initiative. A creature can typically use up to three actions during its turn.”

Pretty cool stuff! Once again we’ve kind of mentioned that earlier when we went over round and of course we mentioned it, when we did a very quick summary of combat in the previous article. So those are all the key terms you need to know starting out.

We will build on all of these as the articles progress and as complex it builds, so don’t worry too too much. If you don’t have all of them committed to heart you can always come back to this article and review if you have any questions or a little bit fuzzy on anything. But for the most part i think you’ll be okay.


If you have any questions though please put it down beneath in the comment section, i’ll be more than happy to talk you through it and that being said! i hope you guys all have a great day, thank you so much for what you reading till the end. I know this was probably our driest episode but i really do appreciate it. That being said, happy adventuring everyone and i hope you all have a great day.

Leave a Comment