Keywords are an integral part of the Pathfinder Online game. Keywords are basically a type of Matching Game, with the goal to match as many Keywords between Gear and Feats as possible.
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 following is an overview of the basics of the Keyword system in Pathfinder Online.
So, what exactly does a Keyword 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 (i.e. Weapons, Armor, Implements), they must attain more, and stronger, keywords in order to use that Gear to its full potential. Characters gain more keywords by training higher levels of the relevant Feats (see Keyword Groups). 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 skill with wands is no more powerful than the most basic, introductory wand.
The first thing to know about the Keyword Matching system 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, even 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
Keywords on Gear match to their respective Slotted Feats (i.e. equipped on your Paperdoll or Action Bar); 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 Gear itself (the Implement, in this case), does not have Keywords. Instead, the keywords are found on the Expendable (Spell or Maneuver), which must be Slotted in the Implement. Then, the Keywords on the Expendables (equipped in the Implement) match to the slotted Class 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 on Gear:||Looks for a match on:|
|Expendables (equipped on Implements)||Class Feature|
|Feet, Hands, other Gear||Utility Feat|
Here are two examples of where to look for Keyword matches, using screenshots from in-game to illustrate.
|Keywords on Sword|
|Match to Attack Feats|
|Keywords on Armor|
|Match to Armor Feats (Dragoon in this case)|
There are several categories of keywords in PFO:
|Basic (AKA Minor2 )|
|Advanced (AKA Major2 )|
All Armor, Weapons, Expendables, and other Gear possess at least one keyword, and gain additional keywords as they become more powerful. At specific intervals (called Tiers), they also gain more powerful Keywords, called Advanced Keywords, like Masterwork and Eldritch (see Keyword Progression for details).
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 Expendables Keywords.
Some weapons and armors have 'Material' or 'Cosmetic' keywords that do not have matching words on their respective Feats (see the Silvered Sword screenshot). These keywords have no effect on the keyword matching system, and may either be completely cosmetic (ex: 'Spiked' Armor), or have other game-play effects (ex: 'Silvered' weapons causing extra damage to Lycanthropes).
Finally, it is very important to note that many keywords groups have the same keywords, but they exist in different categories. For example, Crystal is a keyword in both the armor and weapons groups, however, on weapons, Crystal is a Material Keyword (i.e. no effect on keyword matching) where, on armor, it is an Advanced Keyword. Another example is the Organic Keyword: On Weapons, this keyword is a Material Keyword, whereas, on Armor, Organic is a Basic Keyword.
For the full list of keywords, organized by category, see the List of Keywords page.
When keywords match, the character receives certain benefits--as described by the Feat or Effect description--and some keyword categories provide a greater benefit than others. For example, Advanced keywords are four (4) times as beneficial as Basics, and the Expendable keywords are one-point-four (1.4) times as good as Basic keywords. Cosmetic and Material keywords do not count towards Keyword Matching, thus, provide no benefit1 .
Every Basic keyword matched adds 5 base damage to Attack Feats and 1.0 to EPow/EPro, each Advanced keyword matched adds 20 base damage to Attack Feats and 4.0 to EPow/EPro, and each Expendable keyword matched adds 7 base damage (if applicable) and 1.4 to EPow/EPro.
Below is a summary of the category power hierarchy.
To illustrate keyword matching benefits, the Armor Feat 'Dragoon' indicates "
effect per matched keyword: Hit Points +58..." (see Screenshot examples, above), therefore, if the character was matching 2 Basic keywords and 1 Advanced keyword, we would calculate the benefit as follows:
|#||x Strength||x Benefit||Equals|
See the List of Keywords for all keywords in the game.
Weapons and Armour start with one Basic keyword at the primary level of a Tier, and gain one more Basic keyword at the next three upgrade levels (+1, +2, and +3). At Tier 2, Gear gains an Advanced keyword in addition to its Basic keywords, and at Tier 3, they gain one more Advanced keyword.
Expendables always have the same number of Expendables Keywords as they have levels; for instance, the level 6 Rogue Maneuver Ripping Shears has 6 keywords. Expendables and Implements are not included in the following progression analysis.
Gear Progression Chart
Note: the above chart does not include Material or Cosmetic keywords because they are not applicable to the Keyword Matching system.
Feat Progression Chart
Use the following chart to determine what rank a feat gains a Keyword of a certain type.
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.
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|
- 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.).
- 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 "Basic" and "Advanced," respectively.
- In the case of Armor, heavier armors (Medium Armor and Heavy Armor) do require proficiency feats in order to be equipped.