Keywords are an integral part of the Pathfinder Online game. Keywords are basically a type of matching game, where the player's goal is to match as many Keywords between Equipment 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.
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.
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 equipment, they must attain more, and stronger, Keywords in order to use that equipment to its full potential. Characters gain more Keywords by training higher levels of the relevant Feats (see Keyword Groups). Expensive and powerful equipment will be inefficient and costly 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 "Keyword19," for all the difference it makes to the game2.
What IS important, then, with Keywords, is that the word has 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 equipment 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, Hands, and Other equipment match to Keywords on your slotted Utility Feats.
Expendables are slightly different: The equipment 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 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. See Duplicate Keywords for more.
Below is the list of groups and their corresponding matches, in table format. Again, Keywords cannot match across different groups.
|Keyword on Equipment:||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 Slash|
|Keywords on Armor|
|Match to Dragoon (Heavy Armor)|
There are several categories of Keywords in PFO, explained below.
Inherent or Upgrade
All Keywords belong to either the Inherent or Upgrade class: Inherent Keywords, as the name implies, are inherited by the entire Tier of the given equipment, regardless of Upgrade level; Upgrade keywords apply only to a specific Upgrade level (i.e. +0, +1, +2, +5, etc.).
The relationship between Inherent and Upgrade Keywords is graphically represented below.
|Energy / Enchantment|
|Inherent||Cosmetic / Material|
Basic and Advanced
All Armor, Weapons, and other Gear possess at least one Basic Keyword (sometimes referred to as Minor3 ), and gain additional Keywords as they become more powerful. At specific intervals (called Upgrades), they also gain more powerful Keywords, called Advanced Keywords (sometimes referred to as Major3 ), like Masterwork and Eldritch (see Keyword Progression for details).
Expendables (the Feats) 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 (confusing, right?).
Cosmetic and Material
Some weapons and armors have Material or Cosmetic Keywords--in addition to their Basic and Advanced Keywords. 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).
Energy and Enchantment
Keywords can also be added manually to Weapons or Armor through the crafting process, called Enchanting. These Keywords are similar to Material Keywords: they will not match to Feats, instead, they will imbue the equipped item with extra properties (ex.: Acid Resistance for armors or Undead Bane for weapons).
Finally, it is very important to note that many Keyword Groups have the same Keywords, but those words are often part of a different category.
For example, Crystal is a Keyword in both the armor and weapon 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.
Every Keyword matched by a character adds a multiplier to the relevant Effects, including Base Damage. Different types of Keywords have different weights, or strength. For example, Advanced Keywords weigh as much as four Basic keywords, and Expendables keywords count as one-point-four Basic keywords.
Cosmetic, Material, Energy, and Enchantment Keywords have other game effects, thus, do not count towards Keyword Matching.
Below is a summary of the multiplier for Keyword matching.
|Category||Effect Multiplier||Damage Result|
Match Effect 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:
See the List of Keywords for all Keywords in the game.
Different types of Equipment attain Keywords at different intervals, as explained in this section.
Weapon / Armor
Weapons 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.
*Note that Material, Cosmetic, Energy, and Enchanting Keywords DO NOT contribute to the Effect Multiplier (see Keyword Types, above).
|Tier||Inherent Keywords||Upgrade||Upgrade Keywords||Basic||Advanced|| Effect|
|Tier||Inherent Keywords||Upgrade||Upgrade Keywords||Basic||Advanced|| Effect|
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.
Hands / Feet
The following table illustrates the Keyword progression for each of the Feat Groups. Feat Rank is sometimes referred to as Feat Level.
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.
|Attack / Utility||B1||B2||B3||A1||B4||A2|
The following chart amalgamates the information on Keyword progression for Equipment and their associated Feats in to one table, for ease of reference. Remember that utilities and attacks have the same progression and are therefore included in the same row.
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 Equipment.
|Tier||Level (+)||Keywords||Feat Rank Needed||Multiplier||Base Damage|
|Basic||Advanced||Expendable||Attack||Armor||Feature||Att. / Arm.||Feature||Attack||Feature|
Time to apply the knowledge we've learned to some in-game examples.
- Longsword Example
|Equipment Name||Tier||Level (+)||Keywords|
|Dwarven Steel Longsword||2||0||Slashing||Masterwork|
|Longsword Feat: Hamstring|
|Attack Feat Rank||1||2||3||4||5||6|
- In the case of Armor, heavier armors (Medium Armor and Heavy Armor) do require Proficiency Feats in order to be equipped.
- 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.