Pathfinder Online Wiki
Log in


From Pathfinder Online Wiki
Revision as of 04:10, 6 December 2014 by Dazyk (talk | contribs) (Effect Power vs Protection)

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.

Jump here for the full list of Keywords, sorted by equipment type, in PFO.

The Basics

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

The Key

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 equipment that they want1.

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 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 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:
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 Slash


Keywords on Armor

Hide and Steel Banded

Match to Dragoon (Heavy Armor)


Jump here for the full list of Keywords, sorted by Equipment type, in PFO.


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.

Upgrade Basic
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).

Duplicate Keywords

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.

Effect Multiplier

Below is a summary of the multiplier for Keyword matching.

Category Effect Multiplier Damage Result
Material/Cosmetic/Energy/Enchantment 0.0 0
Basic 1.0 5
Expendable 1.4 7
Advanced 4.0 20

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:

# Multiplier Benefit Equals
Basic 2 1.0 +58 HP 116
Advanced 1 4.0 +58 HP 232
Total 3 5 +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.

Effect Power vs Protection

Many Feats have Effects that apply either penalties to your enemies or boons to you and your friends. The potency of these effects is determined by how many Keywords are matching on the relevant Keyword Groups between the Effecter and the Affected. This is referred to as Effect Power vs. Effect Protection (EPow:EPro).

The Effecter's attack Effect Multiplier, whether it be from an Attack Feat, Utility Feat, or an Expendable, is compared against the Effect Multiplier of the Affected's armor and Armor Feat. The Attack Effect is then modified up or down by 10% for every point of difference.

  • Note: this EPow vs. EPro contest also affects Self-Applied Buffs! That is, when applying a beneficial status effect to yourself (ex. Dodging or Riposting) your own armor and Armor Feat will be used to determine the potency of the effect.
EPOW EPRO Effect Result
1 3 80%
1 2 90%
1 1 100%
2 1 110%
3 1 120%

For example, the Wizard Cantrip Steal Speed has the Effect "Electric Damage, Slowed 20". Let's examine several possible scenarios

  1. The Wizard has 3 Basic Keywords and 1 Advanced Keyword matching between his Steal Speed Feat and his Wand. The defender (the Affected) is matching 4 Basic Keywords from his Armor Feat to his armor.
  2. The Wizard has 2 Basic Keywords and 1 Advanced Keyword matching between his Steal Speed Feat and his Wand. The defender is matching 1 Advanced and 4 Basic Keywords from his Armor Feat to his armor.
  3. The Wizard has 3 Basic Keywords and 2 Advanced Keyword matching between his Steal Speed Feat and his Wand. The defender is matching 2 Advanced and 3 Basic Keywords from his Armor Feat to his armor.
Scenario EPOW EPRO Effect Result
1 7 4 Slowed 26 (130%)
2 6 8 Slowed 16 (80%)
3 11 11 Slowed 20 (100%)


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
1 Material* 0 Basic 1 1
1 Basic Basic 2 2
2 Basic Basic Basic 3 3
3 Basic Basic Basic Basic 4 4
4 Basic Basic Basic Basic Enchant* 4 4
5 Basic Basic Basic Basic Enchant* Enchant* 4 4
2 Material* Advanced 0 Basic 1 1 5
1 Basic Basic 2 1 6
2 Basic Basic Basic 3 1 7
3 Basic Basic Basic Basic 4 1 8
4 Basic Basic Basic Basic Enchant* 4 1 8
5 Basic Basic Basic Basic Enchant* Enchant* 4 1 8
3 Material* Advanced Advanced 0 Basic 1 2 9
1 Basic Basic 2 2 10
2 Basic Basic Basic 3 2 11
3 Basic Basic Basic Basic 4 2 12
4 Basic Basic Basic Basic Enchant* 4 2 12
5 Basic Basic Basic Basic Enchant* Enchant* 4 2 12

Jump here for the full list of Keywords, sorted by Equipment type, in PFO.

Tier Inherent Keywords Upgrade Upgrade Keywords Basic Advanced Effect
1 Material* 0 Basic1 1 1
1 Basic1 Basic2 2 2
2 Basic1 Basic2 Basic3 3 3
3 Basic1 Basic2 Basic3 Basic4 4 4


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

Hands / Feet


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


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
0 All 0 0 1 - - 1 - 1.4 - 7
1 0 1 0 3 1 1 3 1 4.2 5 21
1 2 0 3 2 2 3 2 4.2 10 21
2 3 0 3 3 4 3 3 4.2 15 21
3 4 0 3 5 8 3 4 4.2 20 21
2 0 1 1 6 4 6 6 5 8.4 25 42
1 2 1 6 4 6 6 6 8.4 30 42
2 3 1 6 4 6 6 7 8.4 35 42
3 4 1 6 5 8 6 8 8.4 40 42
3 0 1 2 9 6 10 9 9 12.6 45 63
1 2 2 9 6 10 9 10 12.6 50 63
2 3 2 9 6 10 9 11 12.6 55 63
3 4 2 9 6 10 9 12 12.6 60 63

Practical Application

Time to apply the knowledge we've learned to some in-game examples.

So far we have referred to Keywords only by their types; now we will add some faces to the names. First, examine the following Equipment.

Longsword Example
Equipment Name Tier Level (+) Keywords
Steel Longsword 1 0 Slashing
1 Slashing Sharp
2 Slashing Sharp Balanced
3 Slashing Sharp Balanced Razored
Dwarven Steel Longsword 2 0 Slashing Masterwork
1 Slashing Sharp Masterwork
2 Slashing Sharp Balanced Masterwork
3 Slashing Sharp Balanced Razored Masterwork
Adamantine Longsword 3 0 Slashing Masterwork Vorpal
1 Slashing Sharp Masterwork Vorpal
2 Slashing Sharp Balanced Masterwork Vorpal
3 Slashing Sharp Balanced Razored Masterwork Vorpal
Longsword Feat: Hamstring
Attack Feat Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6
Keyword Gained Slashing Sharp Balanced Masterwork Razored Vorpal


  1. In the case of Armor, heavier armors (Medium Armor and Heavy Armor) do require Proficiency Feats in order to be equipped.
  2. 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.).
  3. 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.