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For example, the keyword "Heavy" on some Armor types might as well be the word {{color|steelblue|"Blueberry,"}} or {{color|steelblue|"Keyword9T,"}} for all the difference it makes to the game{{sup|1}}.  
For example, the keyword "Heavy" on some Armor types might as well be the word {{color|steelblue|"Blueberry,"}} or {{color|steelblue|"Keyword9T,"}} for all the difference it makes to the game{{sup|1}}.  
What '''IS''' important, is that the word has a ''matching'' keyword in the [[Keywords#Where to Look|appropriate place]]. To find out if it does, we need to know where to look.
What '''IS''' important, then, with Keywords? The word '''must''' have a ''matching'' keyword in the [[Keywords#Where to Look|appropriate place]]. To find out if it does, we need to know where to look.
===Where to Look===
===Where to Look===

Revision as of 19:25, 18 November 2014

Keywords are an integral part of the Pathfinder Online game. Think of keywords as a type of Matching Game--like the ones you may have played when you were a child. This time, however, instead of matching triangles and colors, you are matching words. Matching keywords on Armor, Weapons, Implements, and other Gear can confer excellent bonuses to your Character, so having a clear understanding of the keyword system is crucial to your success and enjoyment of the game.

The Basics

The following is an overview of the basics of the Keyword system in Pathfinder Online.

The Word

The first thing to know about keywords is that the word itself is NOT important: the mechanics would work in the exact same way if the keywords were all replaced with completely different, randomly generated, words.

For example, the keyword "Heavy" on some Armor types might as well be the word "Blueberry," or "Keyword9T," for all the difference it makes to the game1 .

What IS important, then, with Keywords? The word must have a matching keyword in the appropriate place. To find out if it does, we need to know where to look.

Where to Look

The second step to understanding how the Keyword System works is knowing where to look to find keyword pairs.

Keywords on Gear match to their respective Slotted Feats; therefore, keywords on Armor match to keywords on your slotted Armor Feat, keywords on Weapons match to keywords on your slotted Attack Feats, and keywords on your Feet and Hands equipment match to keywords on your slotted Utility Feats.

Expendables are slightly different: The keywords do not exist on the Gear itself (the Implement, in this case). Instead, the keywords are found on the Expendable; therefore, the Expendable must first be found, then learned (like a Feat), and then equipped (slotted to the Implement, before the keywords that match from the Expendable pair with the keywords on your slotted Feature Feat.

Keywords from one 'group' cannot match to keywords of other groups, even if they are the same keyword. For example, the keyword "Heavy" can be seen on some Armor types as well as on some Weapon types, but having a weapon with "Heavy" will NOT confer Keyword Bonuses to your Armor Feat if it also requires "Heavy" (and vice versa). Similarly, the keyword "Precise" from Shortswords cannot match to the keyword "Precise" for a Longbow attack feat.

Below is the list of groups and their corresponding match, in table format. Again, Keywords cannot match across different groups.

Keyword Groups
Keyword on: Looks for a match on:
Armor Armor Feat
Weapons Attack Feat
Expendables Feature Feat
Feet, Hands Utility Feat

Spell it Out

So, what exactly do Keywords DO?

In many Role Playing Games, players progress through the game and 'Level Up' their characters by completing quests, defeating dungeons and bosses, and finding more powerful weapons and armor. Most weapons and armor in these games have level requirements; that is, the character cannot equip or use them until they reach a certain level.

In Pathfinder Online, players do not earn experience from completing quests or defeating dungeons and bosses, and any character can equip any level of weapon, armor, implement, or other gear that they want3 .

So what stops a player from creating a new character, buying the most powerful equipment, and then completely dominating the game and everyone in it?


As characters acquire more powerful Gear, they must train higher levels of the relevant Feats (see Keyword Groups, above) in order to use that Gear to its full potential. Expensive, powerful weapons, armor, and implements will be inefficient for a character unless they have spent the time and experience points to train the proper level of skill.

In other words, the most powerful wand in the game in the hands of a character with only a beginner's knowledge is no more powerful than the most basic, introductory wand.

Keyword Category

There are several types of keywords in PFO:

  1. Basic (AKA Minor2 )
  2. Advanced (AKA Major2 )
  3. Expendable
  4. Material/Cosmetic

All Armor, Weapons, Expendables, and other Gear possess at least one keyword, and gain additional keywords as they become more powerful (indicated by the Tier and Plus Value (+)). At specific intervals (Tiers) they also gain more powerful Keywords, called Advanced Keywords, like Masterwork and Eldritch (see Keyword Progression).

Expendables possess a 'Hybrid Keyword' that is slightly more powerful than a Basic Keyword but not as powerful as an Advanced Keyword (these hybrids apply ONLY to Expendables). These hybrid keywords are referred to as Expendable Keywords.

Material and Cosmetic Keywords have other game effects, and do not count toward Keyword matching (see below).

Finally, it is very important to note that many Keywords Groups have the same Keywords, but in different categories. For example, Crystal is a keyword on both Armor and Weapons, however, on Weapons, Crystal is a Material Keyword (i.e. no effect on Keyword Matching) whereas on Armor it is an Advanced Keyword (i.e. Tier 3 Keyword).

Category Hierarchy

In terms of strength, Advanced Keywords are four (4) times as strong as Basics, and the Expendable Keywords are one-point-four (1.4) times as strong as Basic Keywords.

Unless expressly implied, when an effect indicates "per number of matching Keywords," you should count each Advanced Keyword as 4 Basic Keywords, and each Expendable Keyword as 1.4 Basic Keywords.

Cosmetic and Material Keywords do not count towards Keyword Matching (see Material & Cosmetic Keywords, below).

Keyword Strength
Category Strength
Material/Cosmetic 0.0
Basic 1.0
Expendable 1.4
Advanced 4.0

Basic Keywords

The following is a list of all Basic keywords in PFO:

Armor Agile Dampened Enchanted Heat-Shielded Medium Shielded
Alkaline Death-Warded Flexible Heavy Military Stealthy
Attuned Dedicated Formidable Infused Organic Strengthened
Blessed Defiant Fortified Inscribed Quiet Supple
Camouflaged Dense Grounded Intricate Reinforced Traditional
Clothing Distributed Light Weatherproofed
Gear Athletic Lithe Provoking Sensitive Vehement Watchful
Fleet Mindful Resilient Stubborn Versatile
Impeding Ominous Unexpected Vigilant
Weapon Arcane Direct Heavy Occult Razored Vexing
Balanced Divine Impact Penetrating Sharp Volatile
Battle Elemental Invigorating Piercing Slashing War
Binding Energizing Irrevocable Planar Telepathic Weighted
Blessed Enigmatic Light Precise Tormenting
Bludgeoning Expansive Mental

Advanced Keywords

The following is a list of all Advanced keywords in PFO:

Expendables Keywords

The following is a list of all Expendables keywords in PFO:

Material & Cosmetic Keywords

Certain types of Weapons and Armors have 'Material,' or 'Cosmetic,' keywords that do not have matching words on their respective Feats. These Keywords have no, or limited, effect on the Keyword Matching system, and may either be completely cosmetic (ex: 'Spiked' Armor), or have other game-play effects (ex: 'Silver' Weapons causing extra damage versus Lycanthropes).

Note, however, that some Keywords have different status on different groups; for example, the Organic Keyword: On Weapons, this keyword is a Material Keyword, which has no effect on the Keyword Matching system, whereas, on Armor, Organic is a Basic Keyword (see Basic Keywords, above).

Below is a list of all Material and Cosmetic Keywords in PFO:

Material & Cosmetic Keywords
Keyword Type Category
Cold Iron Weapon Basic
Crystal Weapon Basic
Ghostwood Weapon Basic
Organic Weapon Basic
Silver Weapon Basic
Ghost-Touch Armor Basic
Secure Armor Basic
Slick Armor Basic
Spiked Armor Basic

Keyword Progression

Keyword Matching Examples

The tables below illustrate Keyword matching on several Weapons, Armors, and Expendables. It is important to note the Tier of the Weapon as well as its upgrade level (+0, +1, +3, etc.) when determining keyword matching. See Keyword Category for more information.


Weapon Name Tier Keyword(s) on Weapon Weapon Category Feat + Level Example Feat
Steel Dagger +2 1 Piercing, Precise, Light Light Knife Level 3 Rattle, Fan, Shiv
Hunter's Longbow +1 1 Piercing, Precise Longbow Level 2 Overdraw, Parting Shot
Silvered Steel Short Sword +2 2 Masterwork, Piercing, Precise, Balanced One-Handed Fencing Level 4 Parry, Thrust, Press
Adept's Psychic Staff +0 2 Masterwork, Arcane Mage Staff Level 4 Force Hail, Burning Flume
Apprentice's Charged Wand +3 1 Arcane, Volatile, Direct, Explosive Mage Wand Level 5 Frost Ray, Flare, Acid Dart
Disciple's Battle Focus +3 2 Masterwork, Divine, Battle, Blessed, War Focus Level 5 Agile Feet, Battle Rage

Caster Weapons

Special attention should be paid when matching caster-type weapons with appropriate attack feats. While all Physical Weapons (Daggers, Longbow, Longsword, etc.) have the exact same Keyword Progression, Caster Weapons (Focus, Staff, Wand) do not. Wizard Staffs could have the Diminishing or the Charged tags. Cleric Focuses could be Occult or Battle focused. These different classes will determine what keywords a particular weapon has.

Keyword Notes

  1. There are plans to eventually have some keywords (such as Cold Iron or Silvered, on weapons) have effects other than the normal Keyword Matching effect (such as Silvered doing extra damage to lycanthropes, etc.).
  2. You may see, and hear, other players and resources refer to the Keyword Categories as "Minor" and "Major", however, the PFO game system uses the terminology used in this article.
  3. In the case of Armor, heavier armors (Medium Armor and Heavy Armor) do require proficiency feats in order to be equipped.