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Revision as of 19:32, 22 November 2014 by Dazyk (talk | contribs) (Types: added Cosmetic to its own type)

Keywords are an integral part of the Pathfinder Online game. Keywords are basically a type of Matching Game, the goal being to match as many Keywords on 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 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 (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 to the Implement. Then, the Keywords on the Expendables (equipped in the Implement) match to the 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 Gear: Looks for a match on:
Armor Armor Feat
Weapons Attack Feat
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

Sword keywords.png

Match to Attack Feats

Slash keywords.png

Keywords on Armor

Armor keywords.png

Match to Armor Feats

Dragoon keywords.png

What does it Mean?

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 (i.e. Weapons, Armor, Implements), 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.


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, see Keyword Progression) they also gain more powerful Keywords, called Advanced Keywords, like Masterwork and Eldritch.

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, or limited, effect on the Keyword Matching system, and may either be completely cosmetic (ex: 'Spiked' Armor), or have other game-play effects (ex: 'Silvered' Weapons cause 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 Effects, 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 adds 5 base damage to Attack Feats and 1.0 to Effect Power and Effect Protection, each Advanced keyword adds 20 base damage to Attack Feats and 4.0 to Effect Power and Effect Protection, and each Expendable keyword adds 7 base damage (if applicable) and 1.4 Effect Pow/Prot.

Below is a summary of the Category power hierarchy.

Keyword Strength
Category Damage Effect
Material/Cosmetic 0 0.0
Basic 5 1.0
Expendable 7 1.4
Advanced 20 4.0


To illustrate, the Armor Feat 'Dragoon' indicates "effect per matched keyword: Hit Points +58...", therefore, if the character was matching 2 Basic keywords and 1 Advanced keyword, we would compute the benefit as follows:

# x Strength x Benefit Equals
Basic 2 1 58 116
Advanced 1 4 58 232
Total 348

See the List of Keywords for all keywords in the game.


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.

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


  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.