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Revision as of 22:28, 1 December 2014 by Dazyk (talk | contribs) (Combined Progression Chart)

Keywords are an integral part of the Pathfinder Online game. Keywords are basically a type of Matching Game, with the player's goal to match as many Keywords between equipped 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 Key

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 Word

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 "Keyword19," for all the difference it makes to the game (see Note 1).

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 longbow attack feats.


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:
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

Silvered Longsword +2

Match to Attack Feats


Keywords on Armor

Hide and Steel Banded

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 duplicate keywords, but that those keywords are sometimes 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, but 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 Types 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 .

There are two main benefits to matching keywords:

  1. Base Damage boost
  2. Effect multiplication

Every Basic keyword matched adds 5 base damage to Attack Feats and 1.0 multiplier to Effects, each Advanced keyword matched adds 20 base damage to Attack Feats and 4.0 multiplier to Effects, and each Expendable keyword matched adds 7 base damage (if applicable) and 1.4 multiplier to Effects.

Keyword Hierarchy

Below is a summary of the category power hierarchy.

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

Effect Match Example

Let's look at the following example to help illustrate the multiplicative effect of keyword matching:

  • 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
Basic 2 1.0 +58 HP 116
Advanced 1 4.0 +58 HP 232
Total +348 HP

Note in this example that it does not matter what the keywords actually are (see The Word for details). All that matters is what Type of keyword it is.

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


Different types of Gear attain Keywords at different intervals, as explained in this section.

Gear Progression

Weapons, Hand/Foot gear, and Armor start with one basic keyword at the primary level of a Tier (+0), and gain one more basic keyword at the next three upgrade levels (+1, +2, and +3). At tier 2, they gain an Advanced keyword in addition to their basic keywords, and at tier 3 they gain one more advanced keyword. Lastly, these types of gear can be Enchanted through the Crafting process, which can imbue the Gear with up to two additional keywords (see Enchanting for details).

Note: the chart below does not include Material or Cosmetic keywords: they are not applicable to the Keyword Matching system.

Tier Level (+) Keywords Basic Advanced Total
1 0 B 1 0 1
1 B B 2 0 2
2 B B B 3 0 3
3 B B B B 4 0 4
2 0 B A 1 1 2
1 B B A 2 1 3
2 B B B A 3 1 4
3 B B B B A 4 1 5
3 0 B A A 1 2 3
1 B B A A 2 2 4
2 B B B A A 3 2 5
3 B B B B A A 4 2 6

Implement Progression

Implement keyword progression is slightly different than other gear because the implement itself does not possess keywords: the Expendables do (see Where to Look).

An Expendable always has 1 Expendables Keyword per level. The tier and upgrade level of the Implement determine the highest level of expendable that can be slotted, as well as how many expendables can be slotted. Therefore, assuming that a character equips the highest level expendable possible to the Implement, Highest Level equals Number of Keywords to be matched.

For example, if a Holy Symbol reads: "holds expendables up to level 3; holds total levels up to 8," and we assume that the character equips the highest level of expendable allowed by the implement, the character must match 3 keywords to fully benefit from the level 3 expendable.

Note: Tier 0 are the "Introductory" Implements (i.e. Introductory Spellbook, Introductory Trophy Charm, etc.).

Tier Keywords Total
0 E 1
1 E E E 3
2 E E E E E E 6
3 E E E E E E E E E 9

Feat Progression

The following table illustrates the keyword progression for each of the Feat Groups. Feat Rank is sometimes referred to as Feat Level.

Attack Feats and Utility Feats share the same progression pattern and are therefore included in the same row.

Armor Feats have 14 Ranks total, however, the final keyword in their progression (Advanced #2) is unlocked at Rank 10--further ranks in the feat increase the static bonuses (see here for details).

Expendable Keywords and Class Feature Feats are, once again, slightly different than other keyword matching feats. The list below indicates the minimum and maximum number of keywords gained at the given levels--to find out specific progression, see the particular feat page.

Feat Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Attack / Utility B1 B2 B3 A1 B4 A2
Armor B1 B2 B3 A1 B4 A2
Class Feature E1-3 E2-4 E3-5 E4-7 E5-8 E6-10 E7-11 E8-12 E9-14 E10-15 E12-17

Combined Progression Chart

The following chart amalgamates the information on keyword progression for Gear and their associated Feats in to one table, for ease of reference.

Use this table to determine what feat rank your character will need to train in order to fully utilize the keywords on any given tier and upgrade level of gear.

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 "Basic" and "Advanced," respectively.
  3. In the case of Armor, heavier armors (Medium Armor and Heavy Armor) do require proficiency feats in order to be equipped.