Pathfinder 2e Books Best For Beginners (2024)

Pathfinder 2e has a wide appeal for TTRPG fans, but players considering picking it up for the first time may not be sure where to start. Like Dungeons & Dragons 5e, which offers Starter Sets to ease newcomers into simple adventures, Pathfinder provides an avenue to jump into a streamlined solo experience with its Beginner Box. However, getting into the full game requires newcomers to look for alternatives. Fortunately, Pathfinder 2e contains a variety of books that provide good entry points for players looking to start their first adventure.

Although Pathfinder 2e might seem overwhelming to players taking their first glance at its materials, picking out some starting books is much less formidable than with the game's first edition. Pathfinder 1e was compatible with the vast trove of material published for DnD 3.5e from the start, and amassed an enormous number of sourcebooks, modules, and adventures of its own over time. Its successor is by no means starved for content, but learning the Pathfinder 2e ruleset does present a less daunting library of possibilities. With a little knowledge and discernment, selecting the books that make for the best Pathfinder 2e starting material is a very doable task.

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The Pathfinder 2e Core Rulebook Is Essential

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Unsurprisingly, the Pathfinder Core Rulebook is a must for Pathfinder 2e newcomers. The Core Rulebook is a generous tome, covering over 600 pages of rules and material to learn and reference in the course of any campaign. Luckily, the book avoids dumping all information on the player at once, dedicating its first chapter to tutorializing newcomers in the basics that can let them comfortably prepare a level 1 character. This is the one book that no new players can skip out on, whether they plan to customize a Pathfinder 2e character to play or sit behind the Game Master's screen.

The Gamemastery Guide Is A Must For Pathfinder GMs

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DnD has established a trio of core rulebooks since DnD 3e, consisting of the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual. Although Pathfinder uses no such designation, it does fill out an equivalent set. The Gamemastery Guide works as the Pathfinder 2e counterpart to the Dungeon Master's Guide, providing a depth of resources to pull from when running the game. From rolling up custom monsters to designing worlds, the Gamemastery Guide offers resources for making content within the Pathfinder 2e system that can spice up the play at any table. GMs less interested in these aspects of creation can still benefit from its more general advice on running adventures.

The Pathfinder Bestiary Has All The Monsters A GM Needs

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The defining resource for the best Pathfinder 2e monsters comes in the form of the Bestiary. From low-level nuisances to fearsome foes that will test even the most experienced party, the Bestiary is packed with over 400 monsters to deploy. Enemy creatures are one of Pathfinder's strengths, frequently boasting personalized features that can make each fight memorable.

Like the Gamemastery Guide, this book should be a priority for GMs, but players might also find interest in scouring its text to prepare against foes or appreciating its rich illustrations. Two sequel volumes expand the creature roster, but the original tome is the most essential, covering staples like dragons, goblins, and bugbears.

Pathfinder 2e's Advanced Player's Guide Is For Newcomers Too

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Although the Pathfinder 2e Advanced Player's Guide is indeed an advanced guide, it isn't only for advanced players. One aspect that Pathfinder does better than DnD 5e is the crafting of enormously specialized custom characters, and the Advanced Player's Guide opens up even more options to those willing to dive in. New races, classes, and feats litter the pages of the book, and more spells, magic items, and equipment make it easier to deck out a character to a player's exact needs. Newcomers wanting to play an average human fighter shouldn't worry about getting the Advanced Player's Guide immediately, but those with niche ideas prepared might consider it a priority.

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The Lost Omens Ancestry Guide Expands Options Even Further

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As comprehensive as the Advanced Player's Guide may seem, it's only the tip of the iceberg for Pathfinder 2e character customization. One standout among other options is the Lost Omens Ancestry Guide, which expands upon ancestries and heritages from prior material and introduces a slew of new ones. These aspects serve as Pathfinder's alternative to DnD's changing use of character races, showcasing the wide, wacky, and wonderful possibilities of identity in a fantasy world. Some, like androids and fleshwarps, might not be for every campaign or table, but there's something in the Lost Omens Ancestry Guide for everyone.

The Lost Omens World Guide Is A Trove Of Pathfinder Lore

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The Lost Omens Ancestry Guide is far from the only Pathfinder 2e book to bear the Lost Omens titling, which designates a series of sourcebooks oriented around lore and options based on the game's setting. Any of these books could be intriguing to players interested in exploring Pathfinder, but the Lost Omens World Guide offers the most essential look at the world of the game. This provides a handy reference for GMs setting games on the official planet of Golarion, tackling each region one by one, and roleplay fans can use its information to better understand what kind of world their characters live in.

Abomination Vaults Makes A Good First Adventure

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Although no campaign is the right idea for every party, the Abomination Vaults adventure path for Pathfinder 2e is a good fit for many. Abomination Vaults leads players from 1st to 11th level, starting newcomers without overwhelming spell lists and covering a substantial story without getting too close to the level cap. It's essentially one big dungeon crawl, but enough characters, politics, and sidequests inhabit its depths to satisfy most players who prefer a focus on roleplay. Some beginning groups might want to opt for a small module or a homebrew campaign, but players looking to delve into a full adventure path could do much worse than Abomination Vaults.

Most players getting into Pathfinder 2e for the first time won't pick up every book mentioned here, and it's easy to have a robust roleplaying experience with only the most basic materials. This selection, however, provides a window into some great options to choose from, and none of these materials should prove too disorienting for someone getting started with Pathfinder's rules. No matter what path a beginner ultimately chooses to take, these books are a perfect introduction to the world of Pathfinder and all the fun within.

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Pathfinder 2e Books Best For Beginners (2024)
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