Writing in the Style of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game


The following Style Guide is “adapted” from the internal Style Guide we give to our freelancers. At times it will refer to you possibly as writing for Fat Goblin Games. We attempted to adjust the language in most places, but this document in no way is a contract or obligation by yourselves or Fat Goblin Games to work with one another. It is offered as a public good to the RPG industry, especially to help small Third Party Publishers (3PP) of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game published by Paizo Publishing. 3PP should feel free to copy, then modify, and otherwise use this document as they see fit to create their own company-specific Style GuideA downloadable version of this document can be found via this link here.

A reference to a Line Developer (LD) would be a content editor that works on a specific line of books, making sure they are consistent from author to author (for more of a Lexicon for the Tabletop RPG Industry, see this blog post available in this link). This specific version is adapted from our former Goblin Army, and just know that when we refer to the Fat Goblin Hoarde, we are affectionately referring to our own freelancers.

An additional note: We use very specific formatting marks like [H1] for “Header 1,” in this document. That is a case of us trying to “show, don’t tell” how to properly format — at least as far as we (FGG) are concerned.

THE FIRST HALF OF THIS GUIDE -- Fat Goblin Game Style Guide for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game -- CAN BE FOUND HERE!

[H1]Writing in the Style of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game[/H1]

The following section includes rules and styles originally presented by Owen K.C. Stephens as they apply to writing material for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. The original version can be found at http://www.roguegeniusgames.com/Categories.aspx?Id=FGGStyleGuide

Our version differs somewhat, but assume what we have here is OUR Style Guide and correct if working with Fat Goblin Games. For your own company, you can create your own Style Guide, or if working for a different company, ask them for theirs.

If something is completely not covered by either our style guide (search the forums at Paizo.com) or any other for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game resource, you can occasionally rely on the Chicago Manual of Style (available online as the Purdue OWL  https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/717/01/).

[H1]General Comments[/H1]

These are issues that could come up any time, or have broad impact and implications.

[H2]Writing 101[/H2]

1. Passive Voice: Please pay CLOSE attention.

Using an active “voice” makes your writing more vibrant and exciting to read. A passive voice is often less direct and more hesitant-sounding, and is typified by excessive use of the word “will.” Authors tend to think of their adventures as happening in the future because it hasn’t been played yet. Don’t. Think of them as happening in the present. If you use the word “will,” you’re probably wrong.
Do a find/replace for the word “will” when you’re done. 99% of the time you should get rid of it.

<<This one can be tricky at times, because qualified language is often ‘passive’ but as this is a game, not a novel, it's more important to be clear. Also, new rules should emulate old rules, so when in doubt, use the “style” of voice that related rules use and don’t change it to be active just cuz>>

2. Repetitive word usage.

There should be no more than two uses of the same word in a paragraph unless it is completely unavoidable. Sometimes you have to be repetitive, we understand that. But when you can avoid it, do so.
3. Avoid the use of the word “very.”

There is almost always a descriptive word that will fit the bill better. For example: “She is very pretty” could be altered to read “She is known for her stunning beauty”.
4. “That and Who”

Try not to mix these two up. “The woman that saved my life” should be “The woman WHO saved my life.”
5. “Their, There, They’re”

Likewise, do a search for these and be sure the appropriate word is being used.
6. Indentations

Always indent the first line in a paragraph. Do not do this by using a tab. Instead, set your Body Text Style to give you an automatic, first line indentation (.03″ is good). This is done in the layout stage so don’t worry about it.
7. Punctuation

While we will include a few here, most style/grammar questions fall in line with Strunk & White, if you don’t own this we advise you to obtain a copy.
8. Commas

Use them sparingly, but know when to use them. Familiarize yourself with the Oxford comma, we expect to see it. Additionally, always use commas to set off whole sentences joined by a conjunction.
9. Dashes

Don’t put a standard hyphen in front of numbers (the minus sign on your keyboard). Instead, use an en-dash: –. So it’s –1, not -1. Also, don’t use the double hyphen for a break. Use an em-dash: —. When using an em-dash, don’t leave spaces around the dashes. Microsoft Word automatically changes a double hyphen to an em-dash. You can see more about this below
10. Parentheses

Keep punctuation outside of a parenthetical statement unless the entire sentence is in parentheses.
11. Spelling

Always use standard American English spellings. One common error is to add an s onto the end of a word like toward. Toward, forward, backward, and so on, do not end with an s. Gray, not grey. Color, not colour.
12. Numbers

For numbers one through nine, spell them out. For anything higher or lower, use digits instead. Never start a sentence with a digit. In that case, type it out. Always write “Zero” not “0”
13. Wordiness

Try to be succinct while still creating a good visual background. Technical sections should remain technical and story sections should tell a tale. Know the difference. You can often drop the word “that” from a sentence. Try it both ways. If it works without it, then drop it.

[H2]Serial Commas[/H2]

Also known as the “Oxford Comma” or “the right way to write,” the serial comma is the use of a comma after the second to last item in a list of items before the connecting word like “and”. So for instance saying, “First, second, and third place.”

This can matter greatly as the meaning of a phrase like, “Eats, shoots and leaves.” goes from being about pandas to gunslingers that like a fully tummy before they kill a man in, “Eats, shoots, and leaves.”


A lot of things are only abbreviated in specific places. Learn what, and where. A partial list is below.

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  • Hit points/hp: The only time you abbreviate hit points as hp is in a stat block. Everywhere else, it's spelled out, and is not capitalized.
  • Masterwork/mwk:This one is sometimes inconsistent. Mostly, the only time you don’t abbreviate masterwork as mwk is in running descriptive text in paragraph form. Everywhere else (including the Melee or Ranged attack line of a stat block) it’s abbreviated. Whether or not you abbreviate, is not capitalized or italicized.
  • Minutes/min.: For the "Duration" entry of spells in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook, minutes is abbreviated as "min." but round and hour are not abbreviated. In all other books since then, they’ve written it out. We want you to write it out in your new spells, and to change it if you copy a spell that is in the core book.
  • Empty lines and normal face/reach: You almost never create a blank entry — if a section standard to the type of rule you are creating would be blank, don’t add it at all. In a monster stat block, also omit "Space 5 ft. Reach 5 ft." because that's the default — only include the line of either space or reach is not 5 ft. Similarly the SQ line would also be omitted if the monster has no Special Qualities at all, and a feat with nothing special omits the Special entry (and one with no prerequisites omits the “Prerequisite” entry.)

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[H2]Check Hyphenated Terms[/H2]

If you are not 100% sure if the name of a class, ability, maneuver, or rule is hyphenated, check it! For example, it's "full-attack action," not "full attack action," Blind-Fight (not Blindfight, Blind-Fighting, or Blind Fight), Quick Draw, and Ride-By Attack (but, note, Flyby Attack).

Paizo Publishing also does not hyphenate the suffix "-like" unless it is added to a word that ends in 'l' or 'e,' or to a word that has 3 or more syllables. So it's "mudlike," not "mud-like." If in doubt, check to see if the word appears anywhere in the PRD in either form and use that version of the word.

[H3]Bonus Content: Dashes[/H3]

The following is taken from a forum post on Paizo.com by Sean K. Reynolds (http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2p4ke?How-to-properly-use-dashes-in-text) which comes from Paizo Publishing’s internal document Freelancer Advice and Punishment. If you are able to properly apply the various dashes to your writing, you will have Rick and the editor’s undying love. NOTE: The following is formatted as it appeared on the forum, not in our style.

There are three kinds of dashes commonly used in RPG books. I’m gonna line them up so you can tell them apart.

- I’m a hyphen. I’m little!

I’m an en-dash. I’m medium!

I’m an em-dash! I’m huge!

Learn the difference, learn which is appropriate in what context, and it’ll make your developer’s and editor’s lives easier.


The - character on your keyboard is a hyphen. It is the shortest kind of dash. We use a hyphen for:

  • Fractions, like 1-1/2
  • Separating ordinals, like 1st-level wizard.
  • Separating measurements, like 10-foot-cube or 5-foot-square.
  • Hyphenated words and phrases such as dog-faced.

The next larger dash is an en-dash, so named because it’s the same width as the letter “n” in whatever font you’re using.

On a Mac, you make an en-dash with option-hyphen. On a PC, you make an en-dash by holding down ALT and (on the number pad) typing 0150

If you can’t remember how to make an en-dash with the keyboard, you can just copy-paste an en-dash from this document and paste it into wherever you need it.

We use an en-dash for:

  • A minus sign, like a penalty, when doing a calculation, or a date.

Example: The spell gives the target a –4 penalty on saving throws.

Example: At 4th level and higher, a ranger’s caster level is equal to his ranger level – 3.

Example: King Snotflanks died in –423 AR.

  • Separating a range of numbers, like a dice rolling table or a critical threat range.


1–20 1d6 goblins

21–100 1d6 tarrasques

Example: Melee longsword +5 (1d8, 19–20)

Note: In theory, you’d use an en-dash for a variable number, such as “the alchemist has 1–4 1st-level potions available,” but obviously that’s supposed to be a random number, you really should just write 1d4 instead of 1–4. This also prevents 1st edition weirdness where you’d expect the reader to know that 2–7 is 1d6+1.


The biggest dash is an em-dash, so named because it’s the same width as the letter “m” in whatever font you’re using.

On a Mac, you make an em-dash with option-shift-hyphen. On a PC, you make an en-dash by holding down ALT and (on the number pad) typing 0151

If you can’t remember how to make an em-dash with the keyboard, you can just copy-paste an em-dash from this document and paste it into wherever you need it.

We an em-dash for:

  • An interruption in a sentence—like this one—where you jump to a side topic and then back to the main topic.
  • A blank entry in a table or stat block, such as the nonexistent weight entry for the unarmed strike listing on Core Rulebook page 142.
  • A separator for spells in a stat block, spell-like abilities in a stat block, poisons, and so on. Note that the stat block spreadsheet generally takes care of these for you.

Example: At will—charm person, teleport (self plus 50 lbs. of objects only)

Example: 1st—charm person, true strike

Example: Poison (Ex) Sting—injury; save Fort DC blah blah blah.

[H2]When to Italicize Names, When to Capitalize Names[/H2]

There is no special treatment of the names of classes, races, subtypes, descriptors, class features, combat maneuvers, monsters, or mundane gear. Treat them the way you were told to by your English teacher.

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  • The names of ability scores, feats, skills, and saving throw categories are always Capitalized.
  • The name of spells and magic items are italicized. (I guess magic leans to the right.)
  • Classes and race names are not capitalized, unless they are the first word in a sentence.
  • Languages should be capitalized when you are speaking directly about them. ie — Languages: Dwarves begin play speaking Common and Dwarven. It is, however, still lowercase for racial items, etc., so that is it is a dwarven urgrosh, not Dwarven urgrosh.
  • Example for the above rules. I might be a dwarf bard who speaks Dwarven, but I am not a dwarf Bard who speaks Dwarven. Do the first, not the second.

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[H2]Gender, Pronouns, and Inclusion[/H2]

The question of how to use gender-specific pronouns to be both clear and inclusive is a contentious one, and different publishers handle it differently. At least for Fat Goblin Games, no product or series of products should ever, by example, suggest that gender is entirely binary, or that it defines the most likely role for a character.

One thing to be conscientious of, when copy/pasting from multiple sources to combine and make a new class or archetype, etc., is that grabbing abilities written for one gender may differ from abilities written for another, etc. Default, in general, to the class icon if its an archetype, or discuss with Rick if the new class will have artwork, in which case, the gender of the artwork (as an iconic) may decide the pronoun to use.

That is the First Rule of Gender, though FGG also follows the guidelines below.

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  • The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook and related products use both "he" and “she” as the default gender of gendered entities with an unknown gender. Things that do not have an immediately obvious gender (often, but not always, including monsters) are generally referred to as "it" even if they technically would have a gender. Many sentences are carefully worded to avoid the necessity of mentioning a player or character's gender at all (often by using plurals, but never plural pronouns as singular nouns), but only when it can be done without creating awkwardness.
  • Specific classes (including prestige classes) are generally assumed to be the same gender as the iconic example of that class unless speaking about a specific character.
    • Thus in examples (and the class write-ups), the following classes are assumed to be female:
      • Arcane tricksters, arcanists, barbarians, battle heralds, brawlers, clerics, druids, duelists, gunslingers, inquisitors, kineticist, master chymists, master spies, nature wardens, oracles, paladins, pathfinder chroniclers, psychics, rogues, shadowdancers, shamans, sorcerers (who are, nevertheless, never referred to as the "sorceress class"), spiritualists, swashbucklers, and witches.
    • Similarly, in those circumstances, the following classes are assumed to be male:
      • Alchemists, arcane archers, assassins, bards, bloodragers, cavaliers, dragon disciples, eldritch knights, fighters, holy vindicators, horizon walkers, hunters, investigators, loremasters, magi, mediums, mesmerists, monks, mystic theurges, occultists, rangers, rage prophets, skalds, stalwart defenders, summoners, warpriests, and wizards.

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[H2]1st, 2nd, and 3rd person[/H2]

Not every section of rules is written with the same standard for being in second or third person. While you can write rules that are concise and balanced in any person, they may strike readers as "odd" (even if they don’t know why) if they aren’t using the same kind of pronouns. Also, your publisher may want to compile different sets of rules, and it looks sloppy if one feat is in 2nd person, and the next is in third person. First person is rarely if ever used unless a character is speaking in flavor text, etc.

So believe it or not, this matters!

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  • Class description use third-person language.
    • This grants her a +2 bonus on attacks against pies. Or: The baker can select any of his cakes to gain this bonus.
  • Skills and feats use second-person language.
    • You can use the appropriate Craft skill to make cakes and pies.
  • Spells and magic items use second person for the spellcaster ...
    • You create explosive pies.
  • ... and third person for other creatures.
    • The pie damages all foes within 30 feet, unless they make a Reflex save.

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One reason second-person is used so much is that it is gender-neutral, and extremely inclusive.

[H2]Exclude Unnecessarily Verbose Descriptions Like This One Is Right In This Header Up Here Specifically[/H2]

When writing any rule, re-read it to see if you have described it in the simplest possible way. You don’t need to add a whole sentence to the end of an ability that says "You can use this ability once per day," if you can just as easily begin it just by saying "Once per day, you can..." Also, if you say you gain a +2 bonus to saves against an effect, you don’t need to mention that you don’t get the bonus if you are a willing target (since willing targets are forgoing their saving throw anyway).

Also, be sure you aren’t suggesting limitations that don’t exist, or options you don’t intend. For example, if you have created a new metamagic feat, and at some point in the description you refer to it working on "arcane magic," you have immediately opened the question if it works on divine magic, or not. Similarly, if you say in the descriptive section of a spell it creates a "burning" flame, you open it to interpretation that people hit by the flame catch on fire.

Be very mindful of terminology in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Especially since words such as large, mythic, divine, companion, reach, size, movement, action, fighter, etc. all have a specific definition within the rules of the game, it's important to make sure you aren’t using them in ways the rules don’t support.


The spellchecker on your word processing program is NOT the same as reading back over your text to make sure it makes sense. Reread everything. If you can get it done a week or two before deadline, put it down for a few days, then go back and re-read it.

That said, do USE your spell-checker. If I see you've misspelled perhaps as prehaps, I wonder how mcuh efftort you've put into he whole manascript. (Looks sloppy and lazy, doesn’t it?)

Also, if you make up a word or name (like Argonax the Mad), when you are done with ALL other writing, do another spell check and make sure you spelled it right the FIRST time it comes up. Then, tell your program to skip it and/or add it to your dictionary. If an alternate spelling then shows up ("Argonex the Mad") fix it.

Find/Replace is your friend.

[H2]Word Choice[/H2]

Two hundred barbarians is a horde of foes. If you kill them all and take their stuff, you have a hoard of treasure. Also, two hundred barbarians is too many to expect PCs to kill them all, even if they’re all there for their amusement.

Books that give lists of trouble words and homonyms are common. Buy one, read it. Here’s an online resource to get you started (http://wsuonline.weber.edu/wrh/words.htm). Is it an affect or effect? Do you want to accept or except it? etc.

[H1]Specific Issues[/H1]

The following specific issues come up often enough they are worth calling out individually.


Things to check as you design and write feats.

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  • Name The name of a feat is Capitalized wherever it is used.
  • Check Your Feats Names Whenever you reference a feat (or any other rule, but feats get messed up most often) for heaven's sake, CHECK ITS NAME. I once sent in a feat with "Deceptive" as a prerequisite — which is great, except the feat I meant was "Deceitful."
  • Also, make sure you have the correct version of the names, looking for hyphens and compound words. It's Blind-Fight (not Blindfight, Blind-Fighting, or Blind Fight), Catch Off-Guard, Improved Bull Rush (not Improved Bull-Rush), Point-Blank Shot (NOT Pointblank Shot, or Point-Blank-Shot), Quick Draw, Ride-By Attack (but, note, Flyby Attack), Self-Sufficient, and Two-Weapon Fighting (not Two Weapon Fighting or Two-Weapon-Fighting). There are lots of other examples.
  • For each section of a feat the name of the section should be capitalized and bold ( Prerequisite: Str 13).
  • Prerequisites: The prerequisites for a feat are listed in a specific order, separated by commas. While I haven't combed through for a complete list of possibilities, in general the order is:
    • ability score minimum (which is listed as a flat number; "Str 13," not "Str 13+" or "Str 13 or greater"),
      • All ability score prerequisites are odd numbers. This is because the bonus for an ability score increases on the even numbers, so the real difference between a 12 Dex and a 13 Dex is the ability to qualify for Dodge and other feats with a Dex 13 prerequisite.
    • skill ranks (listed as "Ride 1 rank," not "Ride +1" or "Ride +1 or greater"),
    • other feats (in alphabetical order, and all the prerequisites of those feats should also be listed as prerequisites, shuffled in using this standardized order),
    • and then everything else in alphabetical order, including race (this is rare), racial trait (also rare, and listed as "gnome magic racial trait"), class feature (listed as "channel energy class feature" if you just need it, or as "channel energy 3d6" if you need some specific increment of it), extraordinary ability, spell-like ability, supernatural ability, any odd prerequisite not normally used (like "any two critical feats"), base attack bonus (listed as "base attack bonus +1," not "BAB +1," or "base attack bonus +1 or greater"), caster level (listed as "caster level 7th," not "7th level caster" or "caster 7+"), class level (listed as "14th-level fighter," not "fighter 14" or "fighter 14+"), character level *(which, perversely, IS listed as "character level 11th," and not "11th-level character").
  • If you are mentioning a spell or monster type, subtype, or descriptor in running text, you just use it. It's not capitalized, italicized, or put in [brackets].
  • Even though it isn’t a sentence (so this is dumb), there is a period at the end of the "Prerequisites" line of a feat.
  • So these are all minor things, but minor things add up. The less you make your developer and editor fix your minor mistakes, the happier we are (and the more time we have to deal with less-easily-avoided major mistakes).
  • In Paizo style, if a feat has one prerequisite the line is "Prerequisite:"
    • If it has two or more, it is "Prerequisites:"
    • It is never "Prerequisite(s):," and if I see that, I know you were looking at d20pfsrd.com for formatting questions, which is a mistake. I love that site, but it is not formatted the way Paizo material is. (And if you do it with spells, it's an even bigger red flag)
    • Also, the Prerequisite/Prerequisites line ends with a period, even though it's not a sentence.
    • And if a feat has no prerequisites, exclude this line entirely.
    • And no matter how many benefits a feat has, the line is "Benefit," not "Benefits."

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[H3]Second Person[/H3]

Feats use second-person language. ("You gain the ability to eat twice as much pie and cake.")


If it wouldn’t be immediately clear upon reading a feat why you would want to take it, list the way the relevant rules would normally function in the Normal section after the Benefit section. If no such entry is required, exclude it entirely.


If a feat can be taken more than once, or can be taken as a bonus feat by some class, or works differently for a specific class (see Stunning Fist), or has some other odd feature that isn't part of its benefit to a character that takes it, that should be noted after everything else in the Special line. If it has more than one unrelated special feature, each should have its own heading.

If no such entry is required, exclude it entirely.


I'm not going to go into it all but READ ALL OF CHAPTER 9: MAGIC IN THE CORE RULEBOOK before you write a spell. There's crucial information on how schools, subschools, descriptors, areas, duration, components, spell resistance and many more things work. Understand it all, or look it up every time you write a spell.

Spell balance is as much art as science, but some spells are benchmarks. While there is a range of power for spells within each level, you shout shoot for the middle. If you create a 1st level spell that is more powerful than charm person or magic missile, it's a problem.

Another great source that discusses this is Designing Spells from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Magic book.

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  • DON'T repeat information covered by the spell stat block. You don’t have to say the spell affects a creature if it fails its saving throw if you have "Save: Will negates"
  • Order: List spells in alphabetical order. Remember that a blank  space alphabetizes before any other letter (in other words fire seeds comes before fireball, even though b comes before s).
  • Stat Block: Spells do NOT have labeled Caster, Effect, and Description subheadings in their stat block in the standard Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook. Do not include these for FGG products, either. (This is a sign you are copying from d20pfsrd.com, their style is different and NOT OURS. If you book went into print, it would be a waste of page-space, is just one of many reasons it is different.
  • Entries for the spell stat block (school, duration, saving throw, and so on) are not sentences. The first word of each section are not capitalized, and they do not end with a period. The save categories are an exception ("Saving throw: Reflex half," for example) because the save categories are always capitalized.
    • For Fat Goblin Games, each section does not need a colon (such as "Duration 1 round/level"). This is the standard presentation from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook, and relies on the difference between bold and unbold to make it clear.
    • For the "Level" entry, list the classes that get the spell alphabetically, regardless of what level each class receives the spell. Sorcerer/wizard is a single entry. Oracles don’t get an entry, as they use the cleric spell list. If only one of those classes gets a spell, write either wizard (only), or cleric (oracle only) as appropriate for the spell.
    • There are now a lot of different spellcasting class spell lists.  When you list a spell’s level, check to make sure you cover all the classes it should belong to, and list the appropriate spell list. The following classes receive their own spell lists:
      • AlchemistAPG: Levels 1–6 (Not technically spells)
      • Antipaladin APG: Levels 1–4
      • Bard: Levels 0–6
      • BloodragerACG: Levels 1–4
      • Cleric: Levels 0–9
      • Druid: Levels 0–9
      • InquisitorAPG : Levels 0–6
      • MagusUM: Levels 0–6
      • Paladin: Levels 1–4
      • Ranger: Levels 1–4
      • ShamanACG: Levels 0–9
      • Sorcerer/Wizard*: Levels 0–9 (Listed as sorcerer/wizard except for single-class spells)
      • SummonerAPG: Levels 0–6
      • WitchAPG: Levels 0–9
    • These classes use the lists for other classes
      • ArcanistACG, uses sorcerer/wizard: Levels 0–9
      • HunterACG, uses both druid and ranger: Levels 0–6
      • Investigator ACG, uses alchemist: Levels 1–6 (Not technically spells)
      • OracleAPG*, uses cleric: Levels 0–9 (Listed only as cleric, unless it is oracle only)
      • SkaldACG, uses bard: Levels 0–6
      • WarpriestACG, uses cleric: Level 0–6
        • *Rare examples exist of a spell for only one of these classes, such as mnemonic enhancer for wizards and oracle’s burden for oracles. Such spells are almost always linked to a mechanic strongly tied to the class it is restricted to.
      • VigilanteUM, only archetypes and varies but magus most common: Levels 0-6
    • Don’t forget if psychic casters from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Occult Adventures should gain these spells too.
      • MediumOA: Levels 0–4
      • MesmeristOA: Levels 0–6
      • OccultistOA: Levels 0–6
      • PsychicOA: Levels 0–9
      • SpiritualistOA: Levels 0–6
    • For the "Duration" entry, do NOT abbreviate minutes, round, or hour.
      • The following symbol (a capital D in parentheses) included in a spell’s Duration means it is Dismissable, which has very specific mechanics — (D)
    • If a spell has "Range: personal" and "Target: you," don’t include the saving throw/spell resistance line.
  • Second person
    • Spells and magic items use second person for the spellcaster ...
      • You create explosive pies.
    • ... and third person for other creatures.
      • The pie damages all foes within 30 feet, unless they make a Reflex save.
    • One reason second-person is used so much is that it is gender-neutral, and extremely inclusive.

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ACG These classes can be found in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Class Guide.

APG These classes can be found in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player’s Guide.

OA These classes can be found in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Occult Adventures.

UM These classes can be found in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Magic.

[H2]Critical Hits[/H2]

The way to refer to “critical hits” changes depending upon context of the sentence you are writing.

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  • If you roll a natural 20 on an attack roll (or 19, 18, etc., depending on the weapon’s critical threat range), you “threaten a critical hit.”
  • If you hit on the roll to confirm the critical hit, you “confirm the critical hit.”
  • If an effect is contingent on confirming a critical hit, use the following wording: "On a confirmed critical hit, the sky falls."
  • If a critical hit is automatically confirmed, we say so using that wording: "That critical threat is automatically confirmed."

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[H2]Bonus On vs. Bonus To[/H2]

FGG doesn’t care about "Bonus On" vs "Bonus To," but some publishers do. For those that do, you gain a bonus ON variable values like saving throws, checks, and rolls. You gain a bonus TO static values like ability scores, Armor Class, or DCs.

[H2]Wording for Checks and Saves[/H2]

Avoid the word “make” when talking about checks and saves—instead use “attempt” or “succeed at” (depending on the context).

Examples in use:

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  • Anyone who opens the fridge must attempt a DC 20 Constitution save.
  • You must succeed at a DC 10 Reflex save or trip while walking up the stairs.
  • The PCs may want to let their biggest fan down lightly (Diplomacy DC 40 to improve the creature’s starting attitude).

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The character attempting the check should be the doer/agent when describing the outcome:

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  • If you succeed at the check…
  • With a successful DC 30 Climb check, a character scampers effortlessly up the side of the building.
  • You succeed AT checks, saves, etc.

[End Bulleted List]


In fiction or read aloud text, spell out numbers! Elsewhere, use numerals for 10+, and with measure units (feet, minutes, doses, charges, etc.). Swords aren’t measure units, so it should be “five swords” not “5 swords.” etc.

[H2]Collective Nouns[/H2]

“A pair” is singular, but “a dozen” is plural (The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition 5.220). Keep this in mind, and consider the words you are using.

[H2]Stat Block Formatting[/H2]

It can be tricky to know where everything in a stat block goes. For quick checks, look up the format of an ancient red dragon on the PRD, since ancient red dragons have one example of nearly every kind of power.


For most classes, you can find an NPC with the class (or class with similar power) and use that as a format.


Ancient Red Dragon CR 19

XP 204,800

CE Gargantuan dragon (fire)

Init +3; Senses dragon senses, smoke vision; Perception +33

Aura fire, frightful presence (300 ft., DC 27)


AC 38, touch 5, flat-footed 38 (–1 Dex, +33 natural, –4 size)

hp 362 (25d12+200)

Fort +22, Ref +13, Will +21

DR 15/magic; Immune fire, paralysis, sleep; SR 30

Weaknesses vulnerability to cold


Speed 40 ft., fly 250 ft. (clumsy)

Melee bite +35 (4d6+21/19–20), 2 claws +35 (2d8+14), 2 wings +33 (2d6+7), tail slap +33 (2d8+21)

Space 20 ft.; Reach 15 ft. (20 ft. with bite)

Special Attacks breath weapon (60-ft. cone, DC 30, 20d10 fire), crush, manipulate flames, melt stone, tail sweep

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 25th)

At will—detect magic, find the path, pyrotechnics (DC 17), suggestion (DC 18), wall of fire

Spells Known (CL 15th)

7th (4/day)—limited wish, spell turning

6th (6/day)—antimagic field, contingency, greater dispel magic

5th (7/day)—polymorph, telekinesis (DC 20), teleport, wall of force

4th (7/day)—fear (DC 19), fire shield, greater invisibility, stoneskin

3rd (7/day)—dispel magic, displacement, haste, tongues

2nd (7/day)—alter self, detect thoughts (DC 17), misdirection (DC 17), resist energy, see invisibility

1st (8/day)—alarm, grease (DC 16), magic missile, shield, true strike

0 (at will)—arcane mark, bleed, light, mage hand, mending, message, open/close, prestidigitation, read magic


Str 39, Dex 8, Con 27, Int 20, Wis 21, Cha 20

Base Atk +25; CMB +43; CMD 52 (56 vs. trip)

Feats Cleave, Critical Focus, Greater Vital Strike, Improved Critical (bite), Improved Initiative, Improved Iron Will, Improved Vital Strike, Iron Will, Multiattack, Power Attack, Quicken Spell, Staggering Critical, Vital Strike

Skills Appraise +33, Bluff +33, Diplomacy +33, Fly +11, Intimidate +33, Knowledge (arcana) +33, Knowledge (history) +33,Perception +33, Sense Motive +33, Spellcraft +33, Stealth +15

Languages Abyssal, Common, Draconic, Dwarven, Giant, Orc


Environment warm mountains

Organization solitary

Treasure triple


Fire Aura (Su) An ancient red dragon is surrounded by an aura of intense heat. All creatures within 10 feet take 2d6 points of fire damage at the beginning of the dragon's turn.

Manipulate Flames (Su) An ancient red dragon can control any fire spell within 100 feet as a standard action. This ability allows it to move any fire effect in the area, as if it were the caster. This ability also allows it to reposition a stationary fire effect, although the new placement must be one allowed by the spell. Finally, for 1 round following the use of this ability, the dragon can control any new fire spell cast within its area of control, as if it were the caster. It can make all decisions allowed to the caster, including canceling the spell if it so desires.

Melt Stone (Su) An ancient red dragon can use its breath weapon to melt rock at a range of 100 feet, affecting a 50-foot-radius area. The area becomes lava to a depth of 1 foot. Any creature in contact with the lava takes 20d6 points of fire damage on the first round, 10d6 on the second, and none thereafter as the lava hardens and cools. If used on a wall or ceiling, treat this ability as an avalanche that deals fire damage.

Smoke Vision (Ex) An ancient red dragon can see perfectly in smoky conditions (such as those created by pyrotechnics).

Few creatures are more cruel and fearsome than the mighty red dragon. King of the chromatics, this terrible beast brings ruin and death to the lands that fall under its shadow.

[H1]In Conclusion![/H1]

Write well! Yes, I know that's vague. If it was possible to give advice that assured the reader would write well, everyone would read it, and no books, games, or DVD programming guides would suck anymore. This guide can help you polish your "diamond in the rough," but you need to try hard to make the diamond first.

Read every game thing you can lay your hands on. Be creative. Be evocative. Playtest. Wow your publisher. We'll fix the order you list the bonus feats a class gets if the class is so awesome we want to play one immediately.

But don’t depend on that!

If you want to change the style of presentation away from these guidelines for something you plan to publish, or you know your publisher handles those differently, great! But for anything you write for Fat Goblin Games, you make your developer happier when you get these right.

We Three Bastards of Fat Goblin Games

THE FIRST HALF OF THIS GUIDE -- Fat Goblin Game Style Guide for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game -- CAN BE FOUND HERE!