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Just as your character’s ancestry plays a key role in expressing their identity and worldview, their class indicates the training they have and will improve upon as an adventurer. Choosing your character’s class is perhaps the most important decision you will make for them. Groups of players often create characters whose skills and abilities complement each other mechanically — for example, ensuring your party includes a healer, a combat-oriented character, a stealthy character, and someone with command over magic — so you may wish to discuss options with your group before deciding.
The rules within each class allow you to bring a wealth of character concepts to life. Perhaps you want to create a brilliant but scatterbrained alchemist who can rattle off complex formulas for alchemical items but has trouble remembering his best friend’s birthday. Or perhaps you want your character to be a muscle-bound swordswoman who becomes as immovable as a mountain when she hoists a shield. Maybe they’ll be a hot-tempered sorcerer whose gesticulating fingers pulse with light from an angelic ancestor. The choices you make for your character within their class — such as a cleric’s choice of deity, a fighter’s choice of weapon, or a sorcerer’s bloodline — bring these visions to life within the context of the rules and the world.
The entries on the pages that follow describe the 12 core classes in Pathfinder. Each entry contains the information you need to play a character of that class, as well as to advance them from their humble beginnings at 1st level to the dizzying heights of power at 20th level. In addition to the class entries, you might need to reference the following sections, which detail additional character options and how to advance your character in level.
- Leveling Up on page 31 tells you how to make your character stronger when you get enough Experience Points to reach a new level.
- Animal Companions and Familiars on page 214 provides rules to create an animal companion or a familiar to share your adventures with. You must have a class feature or feat that grants you a companion or familiar to use these rules.
- Archetypes on page 219 gives you thematic options that allow you to further customize your character’s abilities. Though these rules are not recommended for beginners, the archetypes in this book allow you to gain abilities from other classes starting at 2nd level.
Reading Class Entries
Every class entry includes information about typical members of the class, plus suggestions for roleplaying characters of that class and playing these characters in the game’s various modes. Each class provides your character with an ability boost to a key ability score; a number of Hit Points they receive at each level; proficiency ranks for various abilities, equipment, and skills; special abilities from their class features; and more. Your character’s class entry also provides the information needed when they gain levels, so it will be a vital reference throughout the course of your campaign.
Playing the Class
The first section of each class describes the interests and tendencies typical of that class, as well as information on how others view them. This can help inspire you as you determine your character’s actions and define their personality, but you aren’t obligated to play your character as this section describes.
This is the ability score that a member of your class cares about the most. Many of your most useful and powerful abilities are tied to this ability in some way.
For instance, this is the ability score you’ll use to determine the Difficulty Class (DC) associated with your character’s class features and feats. This is called your class DC. If your character is a member of a spellcasting class, this key ability is used to calculate spell DCs and similar values.
Most classes are associated with one key ability score, but some allow you to choose from two options. For instance, if you’re a fighter, you can choose either Strength or Dexterity as your key ability. A fighter who chooses Strength will excel in hand-to-hand combat, while those who choose Dexterity prefer ranged or finesse weapons.
Additionally, when you choose your character’s class, they gain an ability boost to their key ability score, increasing that ability score by 2. For more about ability boosts, see page 20.
This section tells you how many Hit Points your character gains from their class at each level. To determine your character’s starting Hit Points, add together the Hit Points they got when you chose their ancestry and the amount listed in this entry, which equals your Constitution modifier plus a fixed number. Classes that intend for characters to rush into battle with weapons bared gain a higher number of Hit Points each level, while those for characters who cast spells or engage in trickery gain fewer.
Each time your character gains a level, they increase their maximum Hit Points by the amount listed in this entry. For more about calculating your character’s Constitution modifier and determining their Hit Points, see page 26.
When you choose your character's class, they gain a set of initial proficiencies. Proficiencies measure your character's ability to perform tasks, use abilities, and succeed at checks. Proficiency ranks range from trained to legendary. For instance, a character who is trained with a longbow can use it effectively, while a person who is legendary with the weapon might be able to split an arrow from 100 paces away!
Each class entry specifies your character's initial proficiency rank in Perception, saving throws, attacks, defenses, and either spells or class DC. You gain the trained proficiency rank in several skills—the exact number depends on your class, and some classes specify certain additional skills that you're trained in. If your class would make you trained in a skill you're already trained in (typically due to your background), you can select another skill to become trained in.
A proficiency rank can unlock various feats and class features, and it also helps determine the modifier for any check you roll or DC you calculate related to that statistic. If your character is trained in Perception, a saving throw, or another statistic, they gain a proficiency bonus equal to their level + 2, while if they have expert proficiency, they gain a proficiency bonus equal to their level + 4. For more about proficiency ranks, see Proficiency.
Spellcasting classes grant a proficiency rank for spell attacks and DCs, which are further detailed in each class's entry.
If something isn't listed in your character's class entry, their proficiency rank in that statistic is untrained unless they gain training from another source. If your character is untrained in something, you add a proficiency bonus of +0 when attempting a check or calculating a DC related to that statistic.
This table summarizes the feats, skill increases, ability boosts, and other benefits your character gains as they advance in level. The first column of the class table indicates a level, and the second column lists each feature your character receives when they reach that level. The 1st-level entry includes a reminder to select your ancestry and background.
This section presents all the abilities the class grants your character. An ability gained at a higher level lists the required level next to the ability’s name. All classes include the class features detailed below, and each class also gets special class features specific to it. Many class features require you to choose between options. Unless the specific ability states otherwise, such decisions can’t be changed without retraining (as explained on page 481).
- Class Feats
This section specifies the levels at which your character gains class feats—special feats that only members of that class can access. Class feats are granted beginning at 1st or 2nd level, depending on the class. Specific class feats are detailed at the end of each class entry.
- Skill Feats
This section specifies the levels at which your character gains feats with the skill trait, called skill feats. Skill feats can be found in Chapter 5: Feats, beginning on page 254. At 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter, most classes gain a skill feat, though rogues gain them earlier and more often. Your character must be trained in the corresponding skill to take a skill feat.
- General Feats
This section specifies the levels at which your character gains general feats. Most classes grant a general feat at 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter. At each of these levels, you can select any general feat (including skill feats) as long as your character qualifies for it. More information can be found in Chapter 5: Feats (page 254).
- Skill Increases
This section specifies the levels at which your character can increase their proficiency rank in a skill. At 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter, most classes grant a skill increase, though rogues gain them earlier and more often. Your character can use a skill increase to either become trained in one skill in which they’re untrained or become an expert in one skill in which they’re already trained.
If your character is at least 7th level, they can use a skill increase to become a master of a skill in which they’re already an expert. If they’re at least 15th level, they can use an increase to become legendary in a skill of which they’re already a master.
- Ability Boosts
At 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, your character boosts four different ability scores. Your character can use these ability boosts to increase their ability scores above 18. Boosting an ability score increases it by 1 if it’s already 18 or above, or by 2 if it starts out below 18. For more about ability boosts and applying them during character creation, see here.
- Ancestry Feats
This section serves as a reminder of the ancestry feats your character gains at 5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th levels. Ancestry feats are detailed in each ancestry entry in Chapter 2, which begins on page 32.
List of Classes
- From the Core Rulebook