I was introduced to Pathfinder many years ago, back when Dungeons & Dragons launched their fourth edition. It was not the tabletop roleplaying game people had come to know and love, but rather felt like a board game masquerading as a tabletop game. So for those of us who still enjoyed the rule system of D&D 3.5, there came along Pathfinder, whose rule system felt like the spiritual successor to that established rule set. At first I came to appreciate the rules, but soon after I fell in love with their setting, Golarion. I haven’t played D&D since.
Pathfinder’s second edition has, so far, impressed me to levels I didn’t think possible. They moved further away from the D&D 3.5 rule set and developed something more unique. But more than that, they’ve leaned very hard into being more inclusive, progressive, and queer-friendly.
They’ve done away with the term “races” and replaced it with “ancestries,” and they’re steadily moving away from the outdated fantasy idea of “an entire people who are born evil.” That may have worked for the orcs in Tolkien’s Mordor, but modern players (myself included) like the idea of traditionally monstrous characters being judged more on the content of their character.
Characters in the setting’s lore are listed as male, female, genderfluid, or nonbinary. Several illustrations include transgender folks, and the leader of Golarion’s knights-in-shining-armor, the Knights of Lastwall, is a transgender woman with a nonbinary child. There are several gods listed as being the ones people turn to when faced with gender identity questions or transitions.
Golarion is a kinda-sorta mirror of Earth, so the Inner Sea region (where the game is focused) has a kinda-sorta Europe (Avistan), north and central Africa (Garund & the Mwangi Expanse), and parts of India (Vudra) and Middle East (Katapesh). Not only are there humans in that mirror, but other fantasy ancestries as well. “African” elves are right there alongside “Indian” halflings and “Middle Eastern” dwarves. More often these days are human cultures represented in fantasy settings, but it’s been mostly human. Elves, dwarves, and so on have usually been represented as predominantly white. It’s a hugely refreshing breath of fresh air.
I could go on and on about how much I’ve loved Pathfinder over the years, and how its second edition is knocking it out of the park, but if you’re looking for a new tabletop game I highly, highly recommend this one. It’s better to see and judge for yourself, but I doubt you’ll be disappointed.