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After D&D’s missteps, Paizo’s Pathfinder and Starfinder enter 2023 stronger than ever

Groups looking for new options need look no further than Dungeons & Dragons’ biggest competitor

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Paizo enters 2023 in a prime position to make gains on its biggest competitor, Dungeons & Dragons. The publisher of the Pathfinder and Starfinder tabletop role-playing games came out swinging last week, committing itself to a legal battle to protect the rights of creators from the meddling of Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast. But the Redmond, Washington-based publisher also has a healthy pipeline of new products — including hardcover books and PDFs — that can help groups steer their play in entirely new directions.

Pathfinder Treasure Vault

First up is Pathfinder Treasure Vault, which will be available starting Feb. 22. With more than 600 new items and 50 new weapons, it’s an equipment book through and through — but with a twist. For maximum readability, this guide is written from the perspective of a lowly kobold charged with maintaining the hoard of a powerful dragon.

The big draw for dedicated Pathfinder fans is the updated rules for the alchemist class. The Alchemy Unleashed chapter will offer more than 100 new alchemical items, while also folding in a bunch of errata that makes the class more powerful than ever before.

Pathfinder Rage of Elements

This summer — August, during Gen Con, at the earliest — Paizo will launch Pathfinder Rage of Elements. Set in the East Asian-themed Tian Xia region of its universe, the 224-page book will include the all-new kineticist class. Players will be able to use the power of the elements — fire, air, earth, water, metal, and wood — to do battle.

Pathfinder Adventure Paths

Several new Pathfinder campaigns will drop this year as well. They include Gatewalkers Adventure Path, a paranormal experience for characters level 1-10, and the tarot-based Stolen Fate Adventure Path, which launches in April, that brings characters from levels 11-20. Paizo will also release Sky King’s Tomb in 2023, which will mean lots of new material for fans of all things dwarven.

Starfinder: Ports of Call

Starfinder’s Drift Crisis storyline continues to evolve with the adaptation of hyperspace highways — new and contested routes that allow for commerce and exploration across the universe. Starfinder Ports of Call gives players somewhere to go in their free time, bundling up many of the locations previously mentioned only in passing and expanding each of them out into much more vibrant and three-dimensional locations. Expect that book to be available starting in May.

Starfinder: Drift Hackers

Meanwhile, the Drift Crisis itself will come to a close in 2023. In the Starfinder Drift Hackers adventure path, players will finally get to the root of the cause that has disrupted interstellar travel. The outcomes will change the science fantasy universe forever.

Subscriptions are key

Paizo’s director of marketing, Aaron Shanks, tells Polygon that the biggest way that fans can support Paizo is through its unique subscription model. Subscriptions generally get materials out to players faster than brick-and-mortar retail stores, and they include free upgrades like PDFs as well as discounts on companion virtual tabletop products. More than anything, however, they help the publisher to manage its production costs by judging consumer interest in its new books before they launch.

Organized play

One of the biggest features of Paizo’s marquee brands are that they are living universes. A year in our world is the same as a year in Starfinder and Pathfinder, Shanks said, and players help to evolve the story in new directions through its global network of organized play events.

Shanks said that those interested in getting started with Pathfinder are encouraged to connect with their local Pathfinder Society groups, while fans of Starfinder will be able to hook up with the Starfinder Society. New player-focused adventures run throughout the year.

Expect new books, adventures, and accessories for both games to be announced throughout 2023.

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