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Keywords

From Pathfinder Online Wiki

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?

Keywords.

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.

Groups

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

Example

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

Slash

Keywords on Armor

Hide and Steel Banded

Match to Dragoon (Heavy Armor)

Dragoon

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

Types

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
Expendable
Energy / Enchantment
Inherent Cosmetic / Material
Advanced

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).

Expendable

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.

Benefits

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 4 Basic keywords, and Expendables keywords count as 1.4 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 Instigator and the Affected. This is referred to as Effect Power vs. Effect Protection (EPow:EPro).

The Instigator's 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 Effect result 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%
EPow vs. EPro Example

The Wizard Cantrip Steal Speed has the Effect "Electric Damage, Slowed 20". Let's examine several possible scenarios where the Wizard attempts to attack a Fighter with Steal Speed.

  1. The Wizard has 3 Basic Keywords and 1 Advanced Keyword matching between his Steal Speed Feat and his Wand. The Fighter 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 Fighter 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 Fighter 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%)

Progression

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).

**Note that the Effect Multiplier only applies if the character has the necessary Keywords matched!

Tier Inherent Keywords Upgrade (+) Upgrade Keywords Basic Advanced Effect
Multiplier
**
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.

Implement

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 that the Effect Multiplier only applies if the character has the necessary Keywords matched!

**Note that the difference in Item Name correlates to Item Quality (see Crafting for details). This means that progressively more powerful items are also higher quality, ergo higher cost.

Tier Max
Level
Expendable
Effect
Multiplier*
Implement Type Item Name
**
Upgrade (+)
(Holds total levels up to:)
0 1 2 3 4 5
1 1 1.4 All Introductory 2 3 4 5 6 7
1 3 4.2 Trophy Charm, Rogue Kit, Holdout Weapon, Toolkit Student 4 6 8 10 12 14
Expert 6 9 12 15 18 21
Holy Symbol/ Spellbook Novitiate/ Learner 5 7 9 11 13 15
Acolyte/ Apprentice 8 11 14 17 20 23
2 6 8.4 Trophy Charm, Rogue Kit, Holdout Weapon, Toolkit Journeyman 8 11 14 17 20 23
Professional 10 14 18 22 26 30
Holy Symbol/ Spellbook Initiate/ Adept 11 15 19 23 27 31
Disciple/ Magister 14 19 24 29 34 39
3 9 12.6 Trophy Charm, Rogue Kit, Holdout Weapon, Toolkit Master 12 16 20 24 28 32
Grandmaster 14 19 24 29 34 39
Holy Symbol/ Spellbook Priest/ Archmage 17 23 29 35 41 47
High Priest/ Transcendent 20 27 34 41 48 55

Navigate here for a full list of Implement Keywords.

Miscellaneous Gear

Miscellaneous Gear, that is, Head, Neck, Back, Waist, Fingers, Hands, and Feet have a different Keyword progression than other types of equipment, as shown in the table below.

As you can see, Upgrade levels beyond +0 do not provide the Gear with more Keywords; they are reserved for the Enchantment system.

Instead, most Basic Keywords are supplied by the Head, Neck, Back, Waist, and Fingers Gear, and the Advanced Keywords are supplied by the higher tiers, and higher Item Quality, of the Boots and Gloves equipment.

Therefore, unlike armor and weapons, multiple pieces of Miscellaneous Gear must be equipped in order to match as many Keywords as possible.

Tier Gear Slot Inherent
Keywords
Upgrade
Keywords
1 Head, Neck, Back, Waist, Finger Basic
Boots, Gloves Basic
2 Head, Neck, Back, Waist, Finger Basic
Boots, Gloves Advanced
High Quality Gloves Advanced Advanced
3 Head, Neck, Back, Waist, Finger Basic
Boots, Gloves Advanced Advanced

Click here to see a full list of Miscellaneous Gear Keywords.

Feat

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

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 number of Keywords gained at the given levels--to find out specific progression, see the particular Feat page.

Finally, note that this table does not include Enchantment, Energy, Material, or Cosmetic Keywords, as they do not have any Feat Rank requirements.

Feat Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Attack Basic Basic Basic Advanced Basic Advanced
Utility Basic Basic Basic Advanced Basic Advanced
Armor Basic Basic Basic Advanced Basic Advanced
Expendable Expendable Expendable Expendable Expendable Expendable Expendable Expendable Expendable Expendable

Summarized

Finally, the following chart amalgamates Feat progression and Equipment progression for quick reference.

Tier Upgrade (+) Feat Rank Required
Attack Utility Armor Expendable
1 Introductory - - - 1
0 1 1 1 3
1 2 2 2 3
2 3 3 4 3
3 5 5 8 3
2 0 4 4 6 6
1 4 4 6 6
2 4 4 6 6
3 5 5 8 6
3 0 6 6 10 9
1 6 6 10 9
2 6 6 10 9
3 6 6 10 9

Guides and Resources

Click here to see some practical examples of the Keyword Matching System.


Notes

  1. In some cases, Equipment will require the character to purchase 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.