Here are some terms that may come up in and around the hobby of RPGs and specifically Pathfinder.

Types of Games

RPG/Roleplaying game: The definition is finicky, but typically it is a game that combines elements of storytelling, acting, tactics and luck.

Tabletop/Tabletop RPG/TTRPG/Pen and Paper RPG: All of these are titles applied to RPGs that are not video games and often use dice and character sheets.

Live Action Role Playing/LARP: A type of RPG in which you act out the majority of your characters actions instead of describing them.

Dice: You probably know what a six sided die is, but in roleplaying game not only are more types of dice used but they are also often expressed in a typical way. A six sided die is called a d6. Eight sides are d8. etc. From top to bottom in this picture are d4s, d6s, d8s, d10s, d12s, and d20s. These are the most common die sizes in Pathfinder.

Character Sheet Terms

Attribute: There are six primary attributes that are given numeric values: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. Almost everything in Pathfinder is derived by some combination of a dice roll, your relevant attribute, and class/feat/skill/spell abilities.

Attribute value/AV: This is the number that indicates the level your character possesses a certain attribute quality. The human average for an adult is 10 and typically adventurers are better than average in a variety of attributes.

Attribute Modifier: Attributes (unlike everything else) do not simply take their face value when being used. Instead they use an attribute modifier which is calculated from the attribute value. The base value is 10. Positive modifiers start with an attribute value at 12 which is a +1 modifier and increases by 1 for every 2 beyond 12 AV. Negative modifiers start at 9 AV, which is a -1 modifier, and decrease for every 2 below 9 AV, with -5 modifier at 0 AV being the absolute minimum (and typically meaning you are in some sort of catatonic state or dead).

Modifier: Whenever you make a roll you will need to calculate all of the factors that make a statistical difference to the likelihood of your success (or level of success) before rolling. These are called modifiers and you need to find the net total of them to add to your rolled result.

BAB/Basic Attack Bonus: The bonus to attack rolls that comes from your class levels.

Attack Bonus: The total modifier to your attack roll that determines whether or not you hit. Typically BAB + Strength modifier for melee attacks and BAB + Dexterity for ranged attacks.

Damage: Typically expressed either as a die size or a die size and a modifier. If you attack with a weapon and it hits, you roll the appropriate die and modifiers to deal damage.

Armor Class/AC: Armor Class is the difficulty an opponent must overcome to hit you with a weapon. Armor you wear, your dexterity modifier, a shield, and some spells effect this ability. There are subsets of armor class that apply in different situations.

Touch AC: This is like your AC but applies to attacks that only need to touch you (instead of bypass armor) and so your armor and shield bonus do not typically apply.

Flatfoot/Flatfooted/FF AC: This is like your AC but applies to attacks that you are unable to respond to and so your dexterity bonus does not apply.

Speed/Base Speed: How many feet you can move in a move action. Every 5 feet = 1 square with diaganols counting as 7.5 feet round down.

Size: Your size relative to human adults. Bigger creatures tend to be faster, tougher, easier to spot and easier to hit. Smaller creatures tend to be slower, more nimbler, harder to spot and to hit. Your size therefore adds a modifier to your AC and stealth checks, (as well as affecting your speed, dexterity and strength but this is almost always already factored in).

Reach: This is how far you can reach out to strike someone in combat. 5 feet means that you can hit people in squares adjacent to your character. 0 Feet means you must be in the same square as someone. More than five feet means you can strike from farther away.

Skills: A list of many, though not all, things that your character can roll a check for to see if they can accomplish it. This covers things such as building a house, lying to someone unnoticed, sneaking past a guard, and much more.

Skill Ranks: This is how you know what your character focused on. Skills that have ranks in them get the rank value added to their skill modifier and are considered trained in that skill (some skills require you to be trained in order to reap the rewards of a high roll, and some skills you can’t even attempt unless you are trained).

Class Skill: Every class has a class skill list. When you put a single rank into a class skill you get a +3 bonus to your skill modifier when using that skill.


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