The Pathfinder RPG, sometimes called "3.75E", has been called a Spiritual Successor to Edition 3.5 of Dungeons & Dragons. It is a tabletop game based upon the rules of Dungeons and Dragons' 3.5 Edition, but expands on them, making additional rules, rebalancing classes, and simplifying some aspects.In short, it's D&D for those who disliked the changes found in D&D's Fourth Edition (or who liked 3.5 and wished to remain compatible with its rules).Pathfinder was created by Paizo Publishing, a group that was split off from Wizards of the Coast in 2002 to publish Dragon and Dungeon Magazines. When WotC announced the fourth edition of D&D, they took back the publication rights to the magazines in order to create exclusively online versions. Paizo decided to publish a 3rd-edition-focused magazine of its own, Pathfinder, keeping up the "Adventure Path" tradition they'd established in the last three years of Dungeon while establishing a new in-house campaign setting. They subsequently decided that rather than transition into 4th Edition, they would create their own spin on 3rd, using the foundation of D&D to offer something new and fresh while allowing old players to build on what they already knew, created, and played. It also prides itself on being compatible with 3.5 (with a few rules alterations, of course.)Pathfinder products are set in the world of Golarion, which aims to be more like classic pulp fantasy than the more recent Dungeons and Dragons settings. Thousands of years ago, the Human empire of Azlant thrived on the world, It is said that when they turned against the Aboleths, the aquatic monsters that lifted them to greatness, the Aboleths sent a massive asteroid crashing onto their homeland. Azlant was destroyed, and most of the surface civilizations on the nearby continents of Arcadia and Avistan were devastated (as were the Aboleths). Meanwhile, the Elves, who had forseen the coming Earthfall, mostly fled to another planet, while the underground-dwelling Dwarves took the impact as a sign from their gods to make their way to the surface, driving their Orc rivals before them.Eventually, the living God Aroden, last of the Azlanti appeared. He helped bring Humanity from the Age of Darkness, helping to establish the vast Empire of Taldor. As Taldor grew vast and decadent, the frontier colonies broke away and formed their own Empire of Cheliax. As Cheliax rose in power, the Church of Aroden moved its seat of power there.Recently however, the prophesied return of Aroden instead brought weeks of natural disasters, including a massive storm that continues to blow to this day. The priests of Aroden suddenly lost their powers, and by all accounts, including from the Goddess of Death herself, Aroden was dead. Thus began the Age of Lost Omens.The game has nothing to do with the movie of the same name.Now has a Character Sheet.There is now a line of novels and other fiction; this is under Pathfinder Tales. If you're looking for the book by Orson Scott Card, see Literature/Pathfinder. A massive online index of rule information - almost everything Paizo published, plus some third-party materials - can be found here.
Acid Trip Dimension: Limbo, a holdover from D&D is a chaotic realm where the terrain and even the physics changes randomly. Also, The First World, the home of the Fey and the original blueprint for the material plane.
Action Girl: While always an option in any role-playing game, it's notable that the "iconic" characters featured in Pathfinder's artwork have either been an even balance of the sexes, or slightly favoring women (as opposed to many games in which the fluff is male-dominant while the rules don't discriminate). This extends to teams of pre-generated characters for adventures, frequently featuring three women with a lone man, or the full four-woman party of the Carrion Crown campaign. (This may be a Mythology Gag, since Carrion Crown was an adventure series devoted to horror tropes.)
Adult Fear: While there's plenty of overt adult fears, there's also the incredibly subtle, like the one line that simply states Folca is the Daemon Harbinger of abduction, strangers, and sweets.
Alchemy Is Magic: The alchemist is a base class introduced in the Advanced Player's Guide. It focuses on infusing chemical reagents with magical energy, creating potions, poisons, mutagens, and incendiaries. Its ultimate (20th-level) ability is the "grand discovery", which can take numerous forms, including immortality or the creation of a philosopher's stone. The Ultimate Magic splatbook adds more Discoveries, many with a Body Horror and Mad Scientist vibe. Also lots of Herbert West shout-outs.
Always Chaotic Evil: While there are always exceptions at the GM's discretion, supplementary materials would kindly remind you that aside from those singular individuals, the savage humanoids of Golarion are gleefully evil, if not insanely so. Part of the motivation behind the "Second Darkness" adventure path was to rewind back to the days when the Drow were unrepentantly, unforgivably evil, before the creation of a certain heroic dark elf ranger.
Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance: The forms of the various types of demons are determined by the sins of the souls they were formed from (i.e. Succubi are formed from lustful souls), whereas the forms of the various types of daemons are determined by the manner of death of the souls they were formed from (i.e. Hydrodaemons are formed from evil souls who died from drowning).
Awesome yet Practical: The 9th Level Cleric/Oracle Spell known as Miracle. Its main use is, in a nutshell, LETTING YOU CAST ANY LEVEL 7 OR LOWER SPELL IN THE GAME WHILE TREATING THEM LIKE 9TH LEVEL SPELLS. This essentially gives you every Bard, Magus, Inquisitor, and Summoner spell in existence, and a majority of Wizard/Sorceror Spell List at you finger tips, with the exceptions of spells that require having certain class skills to cast (like several Bard spells that require you to have the ability to use Bardic Preformance). As an added bonus, if the materials components cost 100 Gold or less, the Spell is FREE.
It gets better, since this is only ONE of the things this Spell can do. It can also remove the effects of harmful spells like Insanity or Feeblemind, or, to quote the official description on the official Pathfinder website, "Have any effect whose power level is in line with the above effects." WOW.
Note that this is also the optimal outcome of the spell, i.e. how it will work until the DM gets tired of a player using it for everything. The actual spell effect is that your character asks a God, aka a DM-controlled NPC, for one of the listed effects. At the DM's discretion, your deity may disagree with your purpose and give you nothing, be unavailable for some reason, actively work against you instead if it has its own goals that contradict yours, or at worst... try to help on its own initiative. Any attempt to smite unbelievers with miracle, especially, is considered inadvisable if any of your party-mates are among said nonbelievers, as the area and number of targets of Miracle tends to be helpfully expanded by an appreciative god after the hundredth time a character replicates a sorcerer spell not normally on their list to cheap-shot an obstacle.
Badass Normal: Before he rose to godhood, this was Cayden Cailean in a nutshell. Extremely powerful, wandering, womanizing mercenary. Oh, and usually drunk. Became a god on a dare. While blackout drunk. Even as a god he doesn't remember how he managed to reach the Starstone, or what exactly was going on at the time. He basically woke up the next day with a terrifying hangover and godhood.
Well, he still can't remember because he became the god of, among other things, alcohol. By definition, he still hasn't sobered up.
Of course, any non-magic-user character that survives long enough can be considered this.
Bag of Holding: A staple magic Item and elaborated on in "Classic Treasures Revisited".
Blade on a Stick: The Ancient Runelords of Thassilon all had a favored pole arm. In addition the weapon rules still have a fair amount of pole arms on their own.
Blind Seer: The Oracle character class can select this as their Curse, severely limiting their normal eyesight but gaining the Darkvision special ability to compensate.
Blob Monster: Of course, since "ooze" is kept as a creature type.
Blue and Orange Morality: Many neutral outsiders, particularly the Aeons (enigmatic True Neutral entities that are guardians of various aspects of reality), as well as beings from the First World such as many Fey (gnomes, being refugees from the place, have shades of this as well).
Special mention to Lawful/Chaotic Neutral outsiders who basically tend to have Blue and Orange Morality, but Black and White Ethics. For instance, a LN outsider would punish slavers in areas where slavery is illegal, but in places where it is legal their targets become escaped slaves.
Body Horror: Some of the Alchemist's Discoveries are pure self-inflicted body horror, ranging from standard Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-style transformations to carrying a helpless conjoined twin (allowing for extra limbs) or a sentient tumor in your body. There's plenty to be found elsewhere, and most of it isn't voluntary.
A fair amount of this turns up in Wake of the Watcher, part four of the Carrion Crown Adventure Path. It's also the one with the most Lovecraftian influence and the Body Horror is not limited just to the descriptions - at least two pieces of artwork showed it quite clearly.
And then there are the tortures the Drow indulge in whenever one of their surface cousins falls in their clutches.
Partially averted by the goddess Calistria, who isn't particularly good or evil.
Brain in a Jar: The Carrion Crown adventure module Wake of the Watcher features a "brain archive" that contains several of these.
Break the Cutie: Ameiko Kaijitsu's story arc in Pathfinder #1: Burnt Offerings has shades of this trope. Her beloved but estranged younger half-brother, Tsuto, comes back to her home town after a five-year absence, intending to burn it to the ground and kill everyone in it. When she refuses to join him in this endeavor, he has his goblin minions beat her within an inch of her life (literally, she has a negative hit point total if the PCs manage to rescue her), and leaves her tied up, gagged, and blindfolded on a cold stone floor for a few hours. He also murders her father, and puts his body on display in the workshop of the family's glass-making business, covering it in sheets of cooled molten glass. And then there's the possible revelation, depending on how things play out, that her father murdered her mother five years earlier, as a long-delayed revenge for the adultery that produced Tsuto. Also, if the PCs don't rescue her very quickly after her capture, she'll end up being burned to death by Tsuto's psychotic girlfriend as a sacrifice to the demon goddess Lamashtu.
Whether it gets better or worse in Jade Regent depends on your point of view. Ameiko has the opportunity to become the Empress of Minkai—if she can make an exceedingly perilous journey there with the aid of the PCs and deal with the scheming powerful Oni who drove her noble family into exile and slaughtered her grandfather. Not to mention, her backstory is expanded upon, revealing that she quit her teenage adventuring career after seeing her lover get dragged to his death by cannibals.
Zon-Kuthon was a god of love and beauty like his sister Shelyn before going on a journey outside reality, meeting something, and coming back as the broken and twisted god of pain, darkness, and loss.
His father was a boisterous, life-loving wolf spirit/god who was more than happy to see his errant son come home. Now it is the Prince in Chains, a skinless, eternally tormented "hateful creature of broken flesh, pain and chains", and Zon-Kuthon's herald. Even its flesh isn't its own - in his tortures, his son stripped it all away, using it to create his own monsters, and chains, leather, and necrotic flesh from other victims. As a deity who holds torture to be the highest form of art, Zon-Kuthon is believed to consider the Prince-in-Chains his masterpiece.
To a greater or lesser extent, every single one of the Iconics.
Seytiel, the iconic Magus, is a bastard child who was repeatedly beaten by his "father" and who when he finally met his real father, a bandit leader, was left to die after he was captured in the hopes that he would be mistaken for his father.
Lini, the iconic Druid, was left to die by the friends she had repeatedly protected from wild animals when a snow leopard jumped on her.
Amiri, the iconic Barbarian was a typical tomboy, before her people, embarrassed by her skills at killing things, tried to get her killed. She murdered the group sent to cause her death in a blood rage and now she's forever exiled from her homeland.
Sajan, the iconic Monk, was separated from his beloved twin sister by politics and in searching for her has basically banished himself from his country and all his friends.
Lem, the iconic Bard, was a slave who overheard his masters planning to sacrifice the other slaves of the house to devils, so he arranged for the slaves to all be away while he burned down the house full of his masters. The Slaves all rushed into the fire to save them and died.
Seelah, the iconic Paladin, stole a paladin's helm, which led to the paladin's death when a killing blow was struck upon her unarmored head. Seelah didn't take that well, planning to burn herself to death on the paladin's own funeral pyre to atone.
Harsk, the iconic Ranger, lost his brother to giants and vowed to kill them all.
Ezren, the iconic Wizard, spent decades of his life trying to clear his father of false charges of heresy against the church of Abadar, only to prove his father's guilt.
Kyra, the iconic Cleric, lost her beloved peasant village when it was burned around her.
Alahazra, the iconic Oracle, was thrown out of her house into the desert to die of starvation and exposure by her own father because she could cast divine magic.
Feiya, the iconic Witch, was raised by Hags. Wolves would have been kinder.
Captain Ersatz: The boggards, a race of frog-people, are really just D&D's bullywugs renamed due to copyright issues.
The serpentfolk are similar to D&D's yuan-ti in function (ancient evil snake folk living in ruins) but different in appearance, powers, and culture. In a way, they're more of a return to form—yuan-ti were ersatzes of Robert E. Howard's serpentfolk. Pathfinder's serpentfolk are for all practical purposes identical to the archenemies of King Kull.
Intellect devourers, though a preexisting D&D monster, have become the default stand-in for mind flayers in the "psionic brain-themed underground aberration" department. Another preexisting monster tied to mind flayers, neothelids, also picked up a part of their role, in this case the "immensely powerful psionic horrors worshipping worse beings and plotting to destroy/enslave everything else" part. Finally, Psionics Unleashed, a third-party Sourcebook from Dreamscarred Press, features a direct Captain Ersatz for the illithid — the phrenic slayer. It looks like a tentacle-faced humanoid like a mind flayer, but beneath its cloak it's actually a squirming mass of worm-like tendrils.
Rovagug, the god of destruction, is the replacement for Obox-ob, the demon lord who was the Big Bad of lead designer James Jacobs's campaign which eventually became Golarion. Jacobs "sold" Obox-ob to Wizards of the Coast when he included the demon in their Fiendish Codex book (fair enough as he took the name from the 1E Monster Manual II).note Rovagug did exist in Jacobs's original campaign but was a more generic god of the underworld.
A weird case: In D&D 3E, there were two "underground fish-people" races: kuo-toa (the more popular and better-known) and skum. The skum were open-source under the Open Gaming License; the kuo-toa were not. So Paizo took the skum and made them thematically more like the kuo-toa (and H.P. Lovecraft's Deep Ones), turning them into a Captain Ersatz of the other fish-folk.
The graveknight is inspired by D&D's death knight, with some subtle differences—the death knight's soul inhabits its dead body like most undead, while the graveknight's soul possesses its armor, much like a lich's phylactery.
Likewise, the ravener is strongly based on D&D's dracolich.
The urdefhans are meant to evoke the image of D&D's githyanki — evil, otherworldly humanoids with a skeletal appearance who wield distinctive swords — but have a completely different campaign role.
The Starstone also turned out to be very powerful on its own right, including the ability to elevate mortals to GODHOOD, four times actually. Though the Aboleth were not aware of its real nature, so this was not intentional...at least from the point of view of the Deep Masters.
Combo Platter Powers: The Tane all fall into this. The Jabberwock's abilities are the same as what's hinted at in the poem (eyes of flame, burbling, and whiffling), and the other two were created to mimic the Jabberwock. It's a major contributor to how odd they are.
Cool but Stupid: Solid gold weapons! They cost 10 times as much as normal, weigh half again as much, take a penalty on damage rolls, fall aparton an attack roll of 1... but hey, they sure do look pretty! They have NO real bonuses to counteract these penalties. Except a possible circumstance bonus to Diplomacy. The flavor text says that they are only used as ceremonial weapons.
Well, no use until some clever wizard or rogue works out that the weight of the gold in a solid gold weapon sometimes comes out to 20 times the cost or more, and whips out the linguistics(forgery) skill or the fabricate spell...
Complete Immortality: After the release of Mythic Adventures, Tier 10 mythic characters can gain something very close to this. Take the Mythic Longevity path ability that renders them immune to aging, and their natural mythic ability Immortal means that unless they receive a Coup-de-Grace or critical hit with an artifact that kills them, they will immediately "respawn" 24 hours later.
Some CR 26-30 creatures also have this. The statted versions of the Great Old Ones are immortal and can only be delayed, not killed. Bokrug is reduced to dormancy if "killed" and returns to the Dimension of Dreams to slumber for hundreds of years, Cthulhu must be "killed" twice and returns to R'lyeh until awakened again once this is done, and Hastur is returned to life if somebody dons his robes after "killing" him while otherwise he simply can't manifest a physical body again until the conditions are right.
Baba Yaga possesses complete immortality. With the base mythic ability, she then removed her Death from herself. She returns after 24 hours no matter what kills her unless her Death is released back into her body first. She keeps her Death in a hidden demiplane within her Dancing Hut. A demiplane that can normally only be accessed from within the Hut and with her permission.
Creative Sterility: The titans were jealous of gods' ability to create mortals, so they tried to create a race of their own to worship them. What they got were the demodands, a race of twisted, fiendish mockeries.
Firearms misfire on a low attack roll. A misfire results in the weapon gaining the broken condition, which means that the weapon will more easily misfire again, and the weapon will explode on a second misfire.
Fragile weapons also become broken on a natural 1 and are destroyed on a second natural 1.
Any attack roll resulting in a natural 1 near a temerdaemon will hit the attacker or an ally of the attacker if a second attack roll succeeds.
Cthulhu Mythos: The dev team said that they wouldn't use elements of the Mythos tied directly to Earth (such as the great race of Yith, the elder things, and Cthulhu himself), but elements of a more cosmic scope (such as the Outer Gods and the Dreamlands) are fair game. They lied. The very first Bestiary included stats for the shoggoths, and it just kept going from there, with stats for numerous Mythos monsters (Yithians, Elder Things, Flying Polyps, Star-Spawn of Cthulhu, Nightgaunts, Denizens and Spiders of Leng, bholes, colors out of space, spawn of Yog-sothoth, shantaks, and more). Things came to a head in Bestiary 4, which included a template for Great Old Ones and statistics for three of them; the iconic Cthulhu himself and Hastur (via his most famous incarnation, "The King in Yellow"), plus the much more obscure Bokrug.
Part 4 of the Carrion Crown adventure path details cults and monsters dedicated to these entities.
Cursed with Awesome: The sorcerer Class now has Bloodlines which can stem from anything from dragons to demons to undead to Lovecraftian horrors lurking between the stars. They all give the Sorcerer awesome powers, new spells, and access to more feats. In a more literal sense, the Oracle base class is given something called an "Oracle's Curse".
Oh no! You are babbling in a demonic tongue while in battle! But when you reach level 15, you can understand and speak any language!
Oh no! You can't see beyond 30 feet in front of you, but you can see in the infrared spectrum and at level 15 who cares about having difficulty seeing, you can see in a fashion that's better than regular sight.
Oh no! I'm a bit lame, but at level 15 I literally cannot get tired.
Female Lashunta. While all Lashunta are reasonably human-looking apart from the antennae, the men tend to be short, hairy, and unprepossessing, while the women are beautiful Green Skinned Space Babes.
Female driders have the torsos of beautiful drow women, and their arachnid lower halves have a certain black widowish sleekness and grace. Male driders have obvious spider mandibles and less streamlined lower bodies.
Many of the fiendish races (with the prominent exception of the utterlyinhuman qlippoths) have a "pretty humanoid" variant: Erinyes for the devils, Succubi for demons, Erodaemons for daemons, and Pairakas for divs. Ostiarus kytons are Cute Monster Boys.
Harpies seesaw on this trope; on the one hand, they are physically attractive, but on the other hand, they're very unhygienic and so tend to be filthy, foul-smelling, and with crooked teeth.
Sirens (who look like giant birds with the heads of very attractive human women) are a bit on the monstrous side, but count. They're one of the few species that require humanoid men to breed who treat them decently — their entry in the Bestiary 2 actually mentions sirens dying of heartbreak, or committing suicide, if they are spurned by men they wish to mate with.
Thriae are a race of bee-girls who follow this trope quite well.
Let's save time and state that many "nymph" type fey (rusalkas, nereids, dryads, nymphs) fit this archetype.
Dark Is Evil: Present everywhere, but nowhere is it more prominent than with the Nightshades. The most powerful race of undead, nightshades are never smaller than Huge size, and their most powerful member (the nightwave) is a Colossalshadow shark.That can FLY.
Dark Is Not Evil: On the other hand, the plane right next door to the nightshades, the Plane of Shadow, is home to beings like the fetchlings and wayangs, that mostly want to be left to themselves. The Movanic Deva angel is VERY evil-looking. Svirfneblin, at first glance, seem to be gnome versions of duergar or drow, but they're usually neutral. Pseudodragons are tiny dragons that look somewhat freaky, but are Neutral Good and have catlike personalities. And, obviously, we have tieflings, the mortal descendants of fiends that can choose to embrace their heritage or completely denounce it.
Darker and Edgier: Sometimes just in the sense of having a more "mature" feel, sometimes considerably less subtle (one module has hillbilly rapist ogres). Said module is the censored version. The original will likely never be published.
The "Carnival of Tears" module gives the heroes an early opportunity to stop a violent rape, and that's before any evil fey get involved. From there it becomes a parade of gore, misery, and horror that puts the Saw movies to shame. If the adventure ends with a body count of less than one hundred villagers, it's considered a smashing success for the heroes.
Harpies, being a One-Gender Race comprised solely of women, need to mate with humanoid males to propagate their race (as well as just for fun). However, they usually eat their lovers once they're done with them — indeed, it's noted that it's actually considered bad luck in standard harpy culture to not eat the father of their daughter, unless he is powerful enough that it is worthwhile not to consume him once the harpy has been fertilized.
Lamias (or at least the regular, matriarch and harridan versions) are much the same, though the way it's worded implies that partners dying from exhaustion, murderous flares of temper, drug overdose or sadism taken too far is roughly as common as the lamia eating her lover when she grows bored with them.
Hags, again, need humanoid males to reproduce. They don't always kill their partner, though. It depends on how they feel. Especially if they think it'd be more "fun" to leave the resultant neonate hag-daughter in her daddy's care, they may well spare their unwitting mate.
Jorogumos are spider-woman who, again, need humanoid mates to father their offspring. They then act like wasps, in that they implant the fertilized egg(s) into the father and paralyse him with their venom; when the egg hatches, the daughter fatally eats her father for nourishment.
Thriae, again, are a Cute Monster Girl race prone to eating their mates. They differ to all of the above in that it's implied that only the Qeens treat their consorts this way (the other castes develop more emotional bonds with their mates), they only do so when a lover has grown too old and feeble to reliably fertilize the Queen anymore, and they always use an anaesthetizing venom to render their former lover unconscious and devoid of pain before they begin.
Ogres are a male example of this; it's been stated that they tend to "rape humanoids (especially women) to death. Ogres, we'll remind you, are 10ft tall, 500 or so pound, horrifically strong, dim-witted sadists. You can put the pieces together as to what the general cause of death is.
The players can actually cause this in a monster; a member of the siren race is noted in the Bestiary 2 for her tendency to commit suicide, or literally die of heartbreak, if a male she has her heart set on escapes from her whilst she's courting him.
Demon Lords and Archdevils: Most "races" of fiends have a class of powerful rulers, who are classified as demigods and capable of channeling spells to cultists.
Most of the standard 1st-through-3rd edition archdevils made the transfer to Golarion, albeit altered. The ones who came along in 2E or 3E (Bel, Fierna, Levistus, Malagard, and Glasya) were dropped in favor of their 1E public domain predecessors (Geryon and Moloch), with a new one, Barbatos, rounding out the line-up. Asmodeus is still their ruler, but he is now a full deity.
Sadly, most of the demon lords had to be left behind and replaced by a new batch due to copyright reasons. On the other hand, most of the really important ones were Public Domain Characters (Orcus, Demogorgonnote though his depiction as a two-headed monkey/serpent remains copyrighted by Wizards, so he receives only off-hand mentions, Pazuzu, Dagon, Kostchtchie, Baphomet...). The biggest losses lore-wise were Graz'zt, Fraz-Urb'luunote who is open source thanks to creeping into the 3.5 3rd-party Tome of Horrors, but Paizo deliberately doesn't use him because he's so closely tied to Greyhawk, Pale Night, Yeenoghu, and Zuggtmoy. Many replacements will be familiar to those with knowledge of real-world demonology.
The daemons (who have reclaimed their proper name after being known as yugoloths for two and a half editions) now have the Four Horsemen leading them instead of the solitary Oinodaemon (whom they ganged up on and imprisoned).
The asuras (original to PF and based on Indian myth) have a caste of godlike "ranas".
The qlippothnote Expys of D&D's Obyriths are the original inhabitants of the Abyss, and were driven to the lower depths when the demons appeared. They have horrific, primeval shapes in contrast to the humanoid structure of demons, and wish to destroy the demons by destroying all mortal life (from which demons are formed). They have lords of their own, but most of them are unknown to mortals.
The kytons (originally a single subtype of devil in D&D, now a whole distinct race of fiends) are ruled by the demagogues, who, like Zon-Kuthon, are basically Cenobites.
The oni and rakshasas (evil spirits incarnate in mortal bodies) are ruled by demigods called daimyo and immortals respectively.
The divs (corrupted genies from Persian myth) have one demigod ruler, Ahriman.
The only race of fiends without godlike rulers are the demodands, who are instead ruled over by the thanatotictitans... who are nearly a race of demigods unto themselves.
Depending on the Artist: Catfolk have three primary sources for their visual representation and none of them look remotely similar. When they first showed up in one of the Bestiaries, there was only a picture of a female catfolk who looked like a Cat Girl. Then came the Advanced Race Guide, which had images of both a male and female catfolk that were very similar to khajiit. And finally, one adventure path showed catfolk that looked like something out of ThunderCats.
Some items are "fragile" and will break when either critically hit (in the case of armor) or when you critically fail an attack (in the case of weapons). Some spells like shatter allow items to give applicable saving throws to avoid being destroyed. And of course, if you want to take a smack at someone's sword, shield, or armour, you can.
As of "Ultimate Combat" Items can now be made out of fragile materials like Bone which can break on a critical failure. Even before these rules Goblin-Made weapons like dogslicers were liable to break on their first critical failure.
Death World: Of all the places with sentient life, perhaps the most dangerous to Human life would be Golarion's Sun.
Dhampyr: By name, balanced as a playable race by watering down the strengths and weaknesses full blooded vampires would have.
Bonus points for including a racial archetype that lets you basically play as Blade.
Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: As of Beastiary 4, you can! And Hastur and Bokrug, too! True, they're just knocked unconscious and sent back into their cans, and Hastur and Cthulhu have nasty tricks that allow them to revive instantly if you're not cautious (the former tries to trick you into putting on his robes so he can use you as a last-minute gateway back, and the latter reforms, though badly dazed and you can only prevent him from coming at you again if you get him again while he's dazed), but "knocking out" when you don't actually lose anything to them inherently is definitely this trope.
Elves VS Dwarves: Consciously averted. Elves actually are really good neighbors with Dwarfs in this setting due to both being fairly isolationist. According to one sourcebook this is because "good fences make good neighbors". Lead designer James Jacobs explained that it's because Elves VS Dwarves is a prominent trope in Forgotten Realms, and Paizo wanted to avoid comparisons between the two settings.
Apparently played straight as of the Advanced Race Guide, which includes character options for both elves and dwarves which divide up their favored enemy bonuses between the standard orcs...and each other, thanks to the usual ancient grudge.
The Empire: Cheliax, in all its dark devil-worshipping glory. Fortunately still recovering from its stint as a Vestigial Empire, though.
Empty Levels: Pathfinder has taken steps to avert this trope with a vengeance. Unlike 3.5, where most of the martial classes would end up having most their levels granting nothing but an attack bonus, practically every non-spellcaster class gets a class feature every level. Spellcasters, of course, get spells instead.
Even spellcasters get their own unique stuff. Clerics' domains give increasing bonuses and abilities as levels go up (as opposed to D&D, where, aside from spells, the domains gave their full payout at level 1), sorcerers have their Bloodlines that keep getting better, wizards get either increasing bonuses from being specialists, or from being a balanced generalist, and Summoners gain "Evolution Points" that they can use to tweak their Bond Creature.
An additional counter to the empty level issue: every level in a favored class grants one extra skill point, one extra health point, or one incremental bonus dependent on race and class (including, in some cases, extra spells or bonuses to combat maneuvers).
Entropy and Chaos Magic: Primal Magic. This exists in areas where The First World invades upon the material plane or in places like the mana wastes between the war-torn arcane countries of Geb and Nex.
Even Evil Has Standards: Demons and devils regularly team up with each other and angels against the suicidally nihilistic daemons.
Everyone Is Bi: One of the developers has stated that unless otherwise explicitly noted, all of the mascot "iconic" characters should simply be considered bisexual. Golarion in general is pretty LGBT-friendly.
The Jade Regent AP one-ups this; there are rules for romancing each and every core NPC. Gender is not mentioned once in all of those rules.
King Mogaru, a kaiju detailed in Bestiary 4, is Godzilla.
The Blind Angels of Opara, a wing of gargoyles with angelic appearances that cannot move while being watched, are the Weeping Angels
Familiar: Wizards, witches, and sorcerers have the option of gaining one of these. Wizards can choose to establish an "arcane bond" with either a living familiar or an inanimate object, such as a magic amulet, weapon, or wand. Only one type of sorcerer gets this bonding ability. Witches, however, MUST have a familiar, which acts as a link to the mysterious patrons that grant witches their magical power.
Fanservice: Paizo puts a lot of effort into artwork. And makes a point of featuring a lot of female NPCs and characters. Which also leads to...
The fanservice isn't just of the sexual variety. A foreword to one of the Jade Regent adventures notes several great things about a story that combines ninjas with vikings, such as having a good excuse to paint a cover featuring ninjas fighting on a burning longboat.
Fantastic Fragility: Artifacts can be destroyed only in very specific ways, for example, The Axe of Dwarvish Lords can only be destroyed if a Goblin uses it to behead a Dwarven king.
Of the states: Absalom is Jerusalem. Almhult is Iceland. Amanandar is Hong Kong. Andoran is the early United States. The Arcadians are Native Americans, and so are the Shoantinote though the Shoanti are also influenced by Robert E. Howard's Picts. Bachuan is, of all places in a fantasy setting, a fusion of communist China and North Korea. Brevoy and Iobaria are medieval Russia. Cheliax can be seen as some weird form of Satan-worshipping Nazi Germany if you look at it the right (wrong) way. Dtang Ma is Thailand. The Erutaki are Inuit. The Forest of Spirits is ancient Japan, by way of Princess Mononoke. Galt is revolutionary France. Hongal is Mongolia. Hwanggot is Korea. Iblydos is ancient Greece. Irrisen is the fairy tale version of Russia (complete with Baba Yaga!). Kaladay is the medieval European conception of China. Katapesh is Arabia. Kelesh is Persia. The Lands of the Linnorm Kings are Scandinavia. Lung Wa and its many Successor States are China. Minata is Indonesia and the Philippines. Minkai is Japan and so is Shokuro, with the difference being that Minkai is a bit more fantastic and Shokuro a bit more feudal. The Mwangi Expanse is Darkest Africa. Ninshabur is Babylon. Osirion is Egypt. Qadira is also Arabia (with some Persian influences). Sarusan is Australia. The Shackles are the Caribbean. Taldor is the Byzantine Empire. Ustalav is fantasy Transylvania. Valenhall is Vinland. The Varisians are the Romani (Gypsies). The Varki are Sàmi (Lapland natives). Vudra is India. The Wall of Heaven is Nepal. Xa Hoi is Vietnam. Zi Ha is Tibet.
Of the deities: The faith of Iomedae comes closest to Christianity. Asmodeus is a take on Satan as depicted in Paradise Lost and the Divine Comedynote note that Asmodeus is a real-world devil, but very different from the Pathfinder version. Shizuru and Susumu are Amaterasu and Susanoo. Sangpotshi is Buddhism. The Vudran faith is Hinduism.
It even extends to the solar system. Aballon the Horse is Mercury. Castrovel the Green is Venus. Akiton the Red is Mars. The Diaspora is the Asteroid Belt. Liavara is Jupiter and Saturn. Bretheda is Uranus and Neptune.
Fantasy Gun Control: Averted in Alkenstar, a city-state located in a region where magic doesn't function, which has encouraged the inhabitants to develop non-magical weapons and technology, including firearms. Played straight most everywhere else, as most people don't see the use for loud, unreliable and hard to maintain weapons when magic can do the job.
As of the Ultimate Combat supplement, there is a Gunslinger base class that specializes in them. There are also paladin, cavalier (musketeer), inquisitor, and wizard variants that use guns, as well as pair of rogue talents that lets you nab the ability to use one.
Rasputin Must Die, the fifth part of the "Reign of Winter" adventure path, adds stats for real World War One Russian guns, even mustard gas. It also includes the Trench Fighter archetype for the Gunslinger class.
Likewise, half-orcs are more often than not described as dim and brutish, with those who aren't being exceptions to the rule. By the rules, a half-orc takes no negatives to stats, and takes a +2 bonus to any stat of the player's choosing. So it's entirely possible to have a half-orc with 20 intelligence or charisma right off the bat.
A rather odd example is the Termagant Kyton, whose horrifically pregnant-looking appearance and description as a "coddling, cooing mother of nails and aberrant life", which "seeks to make all living creatures adopted members of her malformed brood" implies a role as some kind of Mook Maker and/or Monster Lord. Instead, her abilities and attacks focus on poisoning victims, being a poisonous Action Bomb, and having victims of her poison be poisonous Action Bombs in turn.
Genie in a Bottle: Represented by the magical items efreeti bottle and the ring of djinn summoning.
Genius Loci: The Kami, introduced in Bestiary 3, are native outsiders that are literally the spirits of specific locations, like mountains and islands.
Genre Shift: Occurs at the start of the second Kingmaker module. You go from being typical adventurers to becoming the rulers of a new kingdom. Adventuring still takes up most of gameplay, but you will spend a lot of time running your kingdom.
Glass Cannon: The Monk class fits this. Monks get the fast movement ability, which increases their speed, and can deliver a Flurry of Blows, which allows them to make several additional attacks whenever they make a full attack action. However, as a cost, they are forbidden from wearing any armor or using shields, which means that it's fairly easy to hit them. Further, they are easily incapacitated after a few blows.
Queen Ileosa of Korvosa in Curse of the Crimson Throne.
The current queen of Cheliax is a teenage Royal Brat whose advisers include a pit fiend devil. You do the math. The worst part? He's there to reign in her darker impulses.
Gorgeous Garment Generation: The rod of splendor garbs its wielder in magical noble's clothing - the finest fabrics, plus adornments of furs and jewels, worth 7,000-10,000 gold pieces. Of course this was a DnD 3.5 item.
Green-Eyed Monster: The archdevil Baalzebul believes himself the only deserving son of Asmodeus and loathes the other archdevils for, in his mind, usurping his proper place in Hell.
Green-Skinned Space Babe: Lashunta women. The Lashunta are a species of psychic humanoids from a neighboring planet in Golarion's solar system, and female Lashunta resemble tall, beautiful human or elven women with antennae.
Hellfire: Made by Devils, it's evil fire and can even burn those immune to fire.
Hell Seeker: There are a lot. Pretty much anyone who makes a Deal with the Devil for instance. Oddly enough Subverted to a degree with the country of Cheliax, who see Hell's Infernal Hierarchy more as a model for government than as a place they want to be.
Heel-Face Turn: Champions of Purity has a short chapter and rules for redeeming Evil people and creatures. To drive the point home, the page displays the Tiefling shown fighting Seelah on the cover of Blood of Fiends now proudly wearing a symbol of Iomedae.
A Half-Orc Paladin subset, "Redeemer", focuses on doing this with monstrous creatures through various tweaks to regular Paladin abilitiesnote They can even FORCE a (temporary) Face-turn through "Pact of Peace", a level 8 Ability that acts as a lesser geas - except for the Undead and evil-aligned Dragons and Outsiders.
Heroic Sacrifice: What caused the aboleths' plans to use the Starstone as a Colony Drop to backfire spectacularly-two, in fact. Acavna, Aztlan goddess of the moon and war, saw the incoming Starstone and attempted to stop it, killing her in the process...and then her lover Amaznen, god of magic, decided he would be Together in Death and used his life force to empower a spell that broke the aboleth control over the Starstone, making it much less lethal and inclined to fall where they wanted.
Hillbilly Horrors: The Hook Mountain Massacre, with the bonus that some of the inbred rapist homicidal degenerates are ten feet tall.
Ogres and ogrekin in general borrow a lot from this trope.
Marsh giants as well, with added elements of Lovecraftian cults, courtesy to their worship of Dagon.
Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Just like in D&D, several species in Pathfinder are quite capable of breeding with just about anything. Aside from the typical half-orcs, half-elves, aasimar and tieflings, there's also the matter of sorcerers whose bloodlines can include devils, demons, angels, undead, plants, and shadows.
Of course this is often a case of Lamarck Was Right with the example for the undead bloodline suggesting that your ancestor became a lich or the infernal bloodline suggesting that the power is actually a lingering effect of an ancestor's Deal with the Devil.
Indeed, their entries in the Bestiaries mention that creatures such as half dragons and half fiends are mostly the result of magical rituals, and only very rarely the result of actual sexual relations between different species.
Human Sacrifice: A tradition among the evil religions, though the particulars can vary. The Demonic Obedience for Lamashtu for instance involves sacrificing a life that is younger than 4 weeks old.
Humans Are Special: Subverted. The rise to power of the first human civilization, Azlant, was covertly backed by aboleths, and one can argue that humanity wouldn't have the status it now does without that start and its consequences.
In Legacy of Fire, a harpy named Undrella unabashedly hits on the male player character with the highest Charisma score, and though it's hidden behind euphemisms, it's quite clear that reciprocating could be very helpful to helping her make a Heel-Face Turn, especially when she shows back up in the final adventure of the path.
In Skull & Shackle, an important non-player character in the last adventure is the half-orc son of a human sailor who befriended the female orc slave-to-be being transported on the ship he had been pressganged to serving on, helped her escape, and eventually fell in love with her and settled down happily.
Half-orc paladin, Irabeth Tirablade, of Wrath of the Righteous has a similar backstory, having been born to a male orc who genuinely fell in love with a human woman and abandoned his brutal culture to be with her.
Arguably she's a component in one herself, since her "lesbian" note (a transsexual male who used a potion she bought him to assume her true female form lover is a pure-blooded human.
In the second adventure for Reign of Winter, a potential non-player character ally is Greta, who is a female winter wolf note a race of intelligent, evil, talking white-furred wolves with frost-breath attacks and cold immunity currently transformed into a human form by the magic of her city of residence. Unlike Undrella, it's quite explicit that she's looking for romance, but a player character could eventually use this to help her to make a Heel-Face Turn. It's easier to get her interested if the PC is using a certain magic item that makes her assume they're also a transformed winter wolf, but it's possible to do so without it, and even if she is misled in the first place, she doesn't care when she finds out that her lover isn't a winter wolf. That said, it does make her especially interested in finding some way of maintaining a human form if she leaves the city.
Impossibly Cool Clothes: How do some of those outfits even stay in place at all without double-sided tape, much less stand up to the strain of adventuring?
Kaiju: Achaekek the Mantis God (one of the few gods with stats) qualifies, as do the Spawn of Rovagug — unique gigantic monstrosities that are the spawn of the Rough Beast Rovagug, god of destroying the world. The Tarrasque is just the most famous of the Spawn.
Other gigantic, high-power monsters can be considered this, like Mu spores, behemoths, krakens...
An actual kaiju template, inspired by high-powered Japanese movie monsters like Godzilla and Gamera, was scheduled for appearance in Bestiary 3, but it was cut because it would have been eight pages long. Paizo held off on releasing it until they got mythic rules (ie, rules for playing near-demigods) ironed out, so it didn't appear until Bestiary 4.
Actual Kaiju coming with the template? First, there's Agrya the Forever Storm, a massive two-headed that can spit lightning bolts from each head, create a hurricane, and produces sonic booms when she flies and top speed. Bezravnis, known as the Inferno Below, resembles a monstrous, distorted three-tailed scorpion whose powers include throwing webbing that constricts on its prey until it's crushed to death and firing heat rays from each stinger. Finally, Mogaru the Final King is a twin-tailed, energy-absorbing, Breath Weapon-wielding saurian creature.
Katanas Are Just Better: Ultimate Combat introduces the katana and wakizashi. They're mostly identical to longswords (bastard swords before errata) and shortswords respectively, but with a very minor additional cost note 35 gold more when a 2nd level Player Character is expected to have 2000, a greater critical threat range, and an additional special property "deadly" that makes them better at executing helpless foes, and wakizashi can deal piercing or slashing damage while shortswords are only effective at piercing. Note that this is more about Power Creep than katana fanboyism, since they're also exotic weapons which require special and specific training to use properly - western exotic weapons have a similar level of power.
Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The adventure "The Witchwar Legacy" has a big one. One of Baba Yaga's witch-queen daughters, Tashanna, was exiled to another reality both as punishment for staging a coup against her mother and as a means to encourage her to grow into a great witch and demon-binder in her own right. The infamous Greyhawk villain Iggwilv, who received a lot of attention in Paizo's Dragon and Dungeon runs, was a member of the Circle of Eight under the alias "Tasha".
"The Dead Eyes worship a one-eyed orcdeity whose name is long since forgotten[...]"
Left-Justified Fantasy Map: Partially averted, the areas that have been detailed so far are Avistan - a rough Europe analogue, Garund - an equally wild and varied Africa analogue, and the western region of Casmaron - roughly equivalent to the Middle East. More Recently, Tian-Xia, an analogue of eastern Asia, has been detailed as well. Arcadia (an American analogue) has been mentioned, but not detailed yet. Ditto for Vudra, the southeastern part of Casmaron, which is basically the Indian subcontinent.
Level Drain: Averted. Undead can still inflict negative levels, but you no longer have to earn those levels back the hard way.
Light Is Not Good: Shining Children (creepy borderline-Eldritch Abomination evil outsiders with light and fire themed powers) and Lurkers in Light (creepy extraplanar evil fey with abilities that make them most dangerous in well-illuminated areas) from the second Bestiary. There is also the demon lord Nurgal, representing the merciless, destructive power of the sun, and has a portfolio of pointless conflict.
It should be noted that it's still significantly better about this than 3.5. Most significantly, fighters have been given unique feats that give them extremely powerful combat maneuvers and the duration of game-breaking battle spells is generally measured in rounds and had their numerical advantages severely decreased. Casters also have the option of taking the additional hit-points from their favored class.
Living Shadow: The spell shadow projection allows you to make your own shadow into this.
Load-Bearing Boss: Once during Council of Thieves: The chain reaction that leads to the destruction of the mayors villa and the release of the Pit Fiend starts with one single, murdered Kyton (although sad Kyton is killed by an NPC before the heroes arrive).
Lost World: The Vaults of Orv in the lowest levels of the Darklands are these.
Love Dodecahedron: The villains of Rise of the Runelords. And a squicky dodecahedron at that. Orik likes Lyrie who loves Tsuto who loves Nualia who is having sex with Tsuto but doesn't actually love him because she's angry about her former lover Delek. The goblin chief is also infatuated with Nualia, and neglects his wives so that they're all sleeping with Bruthazmus.
Lovecraft Country: The description of the Lost Coast from Burnt Offerings, the first chapter of Rise of the Runelords (the first published adventure path), reads like a description of the Dunwich area.
Lovecraft Lite: Turns up everywhere, when you scratch under the surface. Nasty elder gods, ancient non-humanoid civilizations, weird and inimical aliens, and direct references to the Mythos. The guys at Paizo love H.P. Lovecraft. The game as a whole also does not actually care about these except as thematic elements or when they are direct antagonists, and most Mythos creatures are just more monsters, no Sanity Meter to speak of.
Mad Doctor: Many of the alchemist archetypes from Ultimate Magic are based around knowledge of anatomy (and how to severely damage it).
Made of Indestructium: Major artifacts need to be destroyed by fantastic means. A different, and always difficult, method is needed for each one. No conventional attempts can harm them.
Mad Scientist: The alchemist class is based on a fantasy application of mad chemistry, with incendiary bombs, Psycho Serums, and spells in potion form. The Ultimate Magic sourcebook adds various alternate alchemist archetypes like the vivisectionist, reanimator, and clone master that allow for a wider range of Mad Scientist types.
Magic from Technology / Magitek: The planet Verces is the most technologically advanced in Golarion's solar system, using equal parts Star Trek level technology and arcane magic to keep their spacefaring society running. Neither is seen as conflicting with the other.
Magic Knight: The magus base class blends arcane magic and swordplay from level 1, channeling spells through weapon attacks, and gaining the formidable ability to cast a spell and make a full attack routine in the same round.
Magic Music: The Bard character class is built upon this.
The Magocracy: The two most prominent examples are the nations of Nex and Geb. The former nation focuses on standard magic (like evocation and transmutation), while the latter is a necrocracy focusing almost exclusively on necromantic magic.
Massive Race Selection: The Advanced Race Guide details a total of 37 races, starting with the "core" races: dwarves, elves, gnomes, half-elves, half-orcs, halflings, and humansnote It should be noted that "Humans" also come in almost as many ethnicities as we do on Earth. It then continues on to the "featured" races: aasimarsnote Blood of Angels provides and additional six aasimar heritages, catfolk, dhampirsnote Blood of the Night provides four additional dhampir heritages, drow, fetchlings, goblins, hobgoblins, ifrits, kobolds, orcs, oreads, ratfolk, sylphs, tengus, tieflingsnote Blood of Fiends provides ten additional tiefling heritages, and undines. Finally, it details the "uncommon" races, who receive the least support: the changelings, duergar, gillmen, gripplis, kitsune, merfolk, nagaji, samsarans, strix, sulis, svirfneblin, vanaras, vishkanyas, and wayangs. The original Bestiary also adds the Drow noble. In addition, the Inner Sea Bestiary introduces five more races - the android, ghoran, lashunta, monkey goblin and syrinx, Blood of the Moon introduces the werewolf-like skinwalkers note with a total of eight heritages, Reign of Winter: Frozen Stars introduces the triaxians, and Bestiary 4, along with recounting several from Advanced Players Guide that didn't get in previous bestiaries, introduces the gathlain, kasatha, trox, wyrwood, and wyvaran bringing the grand total up to 50. The Advanced Race Guide also includes rules for creating a new race, which races from the Inner Sea Bestiary conform to.
Master Poisoner: A number of classes such as rogues, assassins and ninjas are proficient poisoners, but it's the Alchemist, which can not only make poisons, but becomes completely immune to them, can refine them into a more deadly, harder to resist form, make them last longer on the weapon and make them in a fraction of the time with reduced material costs.
Medieval European Fantasy: Played straight with the continent of Avistan, and averted overall. Pathfinder draws heavily from many pulp sources, so while Avistan has a lot of medieval Europe in it, other continents and time periods are equally well represented.
Mind Rape: The supplement Ultimate Magic introduces a whole raft of spells that can inflict this upon others. They range from murderous command (you order someone to kill the person closest to them) to malicious spite (make someone hate another person for days and work to harm them constantly) to the granddaddy of them all, prediction of failure (force someone to experience the pain and grief of every single failure and mistake they will ever make in their life, all at once, FOREVER).
The Minion Master: The Thrallherd prestige class from 3.5 returns in Psionics Unleashed.
Mithril: A Holdover from D&D (and to an extent Lord of the Rings), mithril is still shiny, still light, and still expensive.
Mons: Type 3 with Familliars, type 2 with Summoners/Eidolons.
All three of these guys crank the fanservice up a bit more in their Mythic Adventures redesigns - Sajan and Seltyiel have both done away with every stitch of clothing on their upper bodies while Valeros has ditched his armour for a gladiator-esque shoulder-guard, leaving his scarred, muscled chest visible to all. Apparently becoming a Mythic Hero does away with the need for conventional armour.
Mystical Plague: The spell cursed earth can infect a one mile radius area with any disease of the caster's choice.
Nay-Theist: A whole nation of them; after a devastating religious Civil War, the people of Rahadoum decided to outlaw religion, destroy the temples and throw out the priests as being more trouble than they're worth. The overall stance seems to be rather balanced, as while they have to deal with many hardships that could be handled more easily with divine aid and/or magic on their side, a lot of the problems in other lands actually are caused by gods and religions.
National Weapon: Many races, such as Elves and Gnomes and Dwarves have Weapon Proficiency or Familiarity with a small group of weapons. Also, each god has their own favored weapon like Sarenrae's love of scimitars.
Nerf: And buffs too. A nearly-comprehensive list of each can be found on GiantITP, or you can ask around Brilliant Gameologists. Just be prepared for some backlash.
Most noteworthy is prestige classes, which seem to pale in comparison to the alternate class options of current era. Assassin was particularly badly hit, losing its small repertoire of useful spells and gaining only abilities used in conjunction with its hideously impractical death attack mechanic, making the class a really subpar rogue at best and a stripped down vivisectionist alchemist at worst and like the Magus replaced the eldritch knight, so too did the ninja replace the assassin, gaining an easier to use, more effective version of death attack as an advanced talent.
Another notable nerf is towards dragons. Not counting undead or templates, the strongest dragons in the pathfinder bestiaries are the ancient gold dragons, with a CR of 20, compared to D&D 3.5 monster manual, were an ancient gold dragon clocked in at CR 24, and still had two age categories to go above that, maxing out at CR 27 as a great wyrmnote A CR 26 red dragon and a CR 27 gold dragon were added with the Dragons Revisited supplement, however.. On the other hand, the Tarrasque receives a significant buff, going from CR 20 in the Monster Manual to CR 25 in the Bestiary, the highest CR of any monster in any of the three volumes.
It's worth noting that the CR of just about everything was reduced compared to 3.5, considering how much more powerful Pathfinder PCs tend to be.
Ninja: Introduced in Ultimate Combat as an alternative version of the rogue class (which had the potential to be pretty ninjariffic already). The "proper" ninja is focused more on stealth and less on general trickery, and uses ki energy to fuel supernatural powers.
Noble Savage: The Kellid and Shoanti human ethnic groups. The Shoanti are more noble, the Kellids more savage.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Like all fantasy settings Golarion has its fair share of these, but the names of the Spawn of Rovagug REALLY take the cake with names like "Festering Ulunat, the Unholy First", "Great Doom Chemnosit, the Monarch Worm", "The Tarrasque, Armageddon Engine", "Unyielding Kothogaz, the Dance of Disharmony", "Wrath-Blazing Xoanti, the Firebleeder", and "Volnagur the End-Singer".
Obvious Rule Patch: Many, but most notably, Energy Drain is now no longer permanent (generally). Thus, energy draining undead are no longer massively broken relative to their challenge rating. While the drowning rules lost their infamous ability to heal subjects at negative HP, there is still no rules to stop drowning.
Omnicidal Maniac: Rovagug, who wants the end of the entire universe. Then there's the daemons who certainly look this way to anyone on the outside.
Our Monsters are Different
Our Monsters Are Different: The classic "savage humanoid" races are all revisited, keeping fairly close to their original D&D themes while making it clear that they are all monsters, who do not work and play well with other races.
Our Demons Are Different: Evil spirit creatures, collectively called fiends, are grouped into several different categories depending on alignment and/or plane of origin. Each aligned plane has a race of "true" fiends as well as at least one secondary race of lesser fiends.
invoked Hell, the Lawful Evil plane, is ruled by the devils. It is also inhabited by the asuras. A third Lawful Evil race of fiends, the kytons, lives on the Plane of Shadow but has embassies in Hell.
Devils are formed from the souls of evildoers, who are slowly and carefully tortured over eons until nothing remains except pain, obedience, and hate, at which point they become of the least of devils. Asuras are the twisted result of gods making mistakes, and very angry about it. Kytons are mad, twisted beings obsessed with pain, who create more of themselves by torturing people until they can't tell the difference between pain and pleasure.
invoked Abaddon, the Neutral Evil plane, is ruled by the daemons. It is also the home of the divs.
Daemons want to kill everything, everywhere—they came into existence from different types of deaths mortals can experience, and want to destroy every soul in existence. Divs ALSO want to destroy everyone—but more, they want to destroy everything, returning everything to oblivion in service of their lord Ahriman.
invoked The Abyss, the Chaotic Evil plane, is ruled by the demons. The qlippoth and demodands also dwell there.
Demons are born from the sins of evil souls—and a single soul can spawn hundreds or thousands of them. Qlippoth existed before everything, were evil before evil existed, and have a loathing hatred for the souls of mortals, which created the demons that now outnumber them. Demodands are the flawed creations of the thanatotic titans, who were sealed in the Abyss after a failed attempt to defeat the gods; the titans tried to create their own life to surpass the gods, but only wound up with misshapen, but powerful, monsters.
Finally, Golarion itself is home to two minor races of fiends: the rakshasas and the oni.
Rakshasas are eternally reincarnating fiends with bestial aspects and bodies with one aspect reversed, which establish twisted caste systems. Oni are evil spirits whose burning hatred of humanoids causes them to incarnate as monstrously powerful examples of various races.
Our Dragons Are Different: In addition to the classic D&D evil chromatics and good metallics, there are the elemental primordial dragons, the savage linnorms, the twisted azi, and a whole bunch of draconic critters. There are also the Imperial Dragons, based on Asian mythology. Now there are also Outer Dragons, who are rather alien and shimmery looking. There are also the much weaker, lesser drakes, which can largely be summed up as want-to-be-dragons.
Our Dwarves Are All the Same: They originated underground, tunneled their way to the surface during the Age of Darkness, and pulled humanity out of the dark ages. Otherwise pretty standard.
Our Elves Are Better: They have Monochromatic Eyes, and their primary goddess is one of lust, trickery, and revenge. Otherwise also pretty standard. They bailed on the planet during the Age of Darkness, only returning en masse within the past few millennia when a demon took over part of their ancestral homeland. Their "ruling class" apparently lives off-world through special "Elfgates" of which few truly still function, and the species as a whole originates from this otherworldly homeland. Also, they're Aliens, hailing from an isolated continent on the lush jungle covered planet of Castrovel.
Those elves who are raised outside "proper" elven society are called Forlorn, "maladjusted" souls who live their lives as hard as humans and tend to be more somber than most of their kin on account of always outliving their friends.
Elves who fall too far into wickedness become drow.
Our Gargoyles Rock: They barely need to eat or sleep, and honestly only kill things (slowly and tortuously) because it's fun. They're also almost literally made out of rock, will last as long as a statue will (although they usually end up killing one another before that), and occasionally come in gemstones. Oh, and some of them are Weeping Angels.
Our Gnomes Are Weirder: Gnomes are fey creatures exiled from the First World in the wake of a disaster of uncertain nature; they can't quite adjust to Golarion, and spend a lot of time obsessing over minutiae and seeking out new experiences in order to avoid going mad(der) or going through a lethal process called Bleaching, which slowly reduces them to a pile of dust and bones. It's darkly hinted by the developers that the story of the disaster may be a fabrication, and gnomes are really humanoid interface devices through which vastly more powerful beings can study the material world.
Our Goblins Are Different: The goblins of Golarion are dangerously stupid pyromaniacs who loathe dogs and horses (the feeling is mutual), are terrified of writing (it can steal your soul!), and sing horrible merry songs about eating babies. Hobgoblins are as militaristic as the Dungeons & Dragons norm but are so universally ambitious that they can't hold an army together for long, being an entire race of Starscreams. Bugbears are psychopathic serial killers who live for the smell of fear and are unnervingly good at hiding in places nothing that huge should be able to fit—like behind your door, or under your bed.
High Goblins, a Third-Party playable race, are baseline goblins who are wiser and braver than their fellows. Though generally scorned by other races, High Goblins tend to be extremely loyal to anyone who shows them respect. Have been known to make Heel Face Turns.
Monkey Goblins are an offshoot of regular goblins evolved for life in the jungle; they're mostly the same, but have prehensile tails.
The Jade Regent adventure path introduces the Tian-regional variant known as the Kijimunas, who are much more human-looking, red-headed, and much nicer than goblins. They basically live only to play pranks and to fish, and are very generous with sharing their catches, being well-known for spontaneously donating huge loads of fish to coastal villages suffering from famines. Also, they absolutely hate octopi, murdering them with the same zeal as regular goblins murder dogs and horses.
The Grindylows are aquatic goblins who are half-octopus from the waist down. They love octopi, but hate squids.
It's worth noting that Goblins (the baseline "comically evil" pyromaniac version) actually are statted to have the same range of intellect and skill as humans and are templated for use with player classes. So not only is it possible for them to be just as powerful as the P Cs, mechanically they're set up to be a race where powerful, competent members would have no problem using other goblins suicidally (say, as flanking minions or to grapple P Cs and hold them still for a fireball)... and the goblins being used wouldn't have a problem with it either even if you explained it. So they're not quite as harmless as the blurb implies, they're actually some of the more dangerous encounters around if a DM is inclined toward tactical play.
Our Gods Are Greater: Unlike some other D&D settings, most gods of Golarion have no stat blocks and are explicitly immune to mortal adventurers.
To drive the point home, there have been a few examples in the fiction where a mortal being has defeated a god or god-like being, but was unable to truly end them, just remove them as a threat for the present. Ydersius, the god of the Serpent Folk literally had his head cut off and thrown in lava, and it didn't actually kill him, instead rendering his body mindless and wandering the Darklands and leaving his head....well, entombed in a pit of lava.
Our Mermaids Are Different: In addition to the standard variety, there are ningyo — nasty little mer-monkey creatures which, if killed, automatically rise as undead that are active only at night and indistinguishable from corpses during the day — and the selkies — shape-shifting seal-people who like to lure people close by acting friendly, then eat them.
Our Titans Are Different: The Titans tried to wage war upon the gods. Some, the Chaotic Good Elysian Titans, turned upon their kin and assisted in their defeat. The Chaotic Evil Thanatotic Titans were imprisoned in the deep layers of the Abyss, where they created the flawed demodands as servants. Both are hideously powerful, and described as very near divine.
Then there are the Hekatonkheires, who were the first to take up arms against the gods, and rather than be banished to the Abyss with the Thanatotic Titans, they were cast out of reality because they were too powerful for the Abyss to contain.
All Trolls Are Different: The savage aspect of the common D&D troll is played up; they're feral wilderness creatures who see everything as food, have no fear of death, and have odd intergender relations. The trope name also holds true within the setting, as art depicting trolls can be wildly inconsistent without even taking into account troll subraces (ice trolls, water trolls, etc.). The Jotund Trolls are notable for being strange even by troll standards, having nine arguing heads.
Perky Goth: Laori, an NPC in Curse of the Crimson Throne, who is really quite incongruously cheerful for a cleric of the god of darkness and suffering.
Pirate Girl: Besmara, the goddess of pirates, strife, and sea monsters.
Plague Doctor: A module features the "Queen's Physicians," who dress like this.
Planetary Romance: The other worlds in Golarion's star system are designed to facilitate this.
Politically Incorrect Villain: Asmodeus, among other things, is noted several times to be a rampant misogynist. Makes sense, given that he represents the bad things that can come from order (tyranny, imperialistic militarism, ruthless enforcement of class divisions, institutionalised use of torture, etc.).
Precision-Guided Boomerang: Specifically, Weapons with the returning properties. Even Melee weapons (if they also have the throwing property).
Prestige Class: Pathfinder does offer a decent selectionnote 78, not counting third party supplements.. Unlike the game from which it sprang, however, there are also generous rewards for players who abstain from a Prestige Class and set out to attain high levels in a base class.
Psychopathic Man Child: Goblins and some ogrekin. Goblins' childish traits are usually depicted humorously, whereas everything about ogrekin is played for horror or Squick.
Public Domain Character: A number of monsters pulled from Victorian and pulp literature are featured in the setting.
Several gods are taken from real-world mythology, including Asmodeus, Lamashtu, Sun Wukong, Camazotz, Ahriman, Apsu, and Dahak.
Retcon: Seltyiel was originally a fighter/wizard/eldritch knight. As of the release of Ultimate Magic, he's now a (presumably single-class) magus.
In the first edition of the campaign setting guidebook, the world map showed Golarion's polar ice cap bordering the entire northern expanse. Later on, the dev team realized that unless Golarion was in an ice age, the ice cap was way too far south, and changed it so that the only large bit of ice on Avistan's northern border was a single large glacier.
Likewise, the Five Kings Mountains (the dwarven homeland) were originally listed as belonging to the human nation of Druma until the third edition of the campaign setting book gave it a separate entry as a sovereign land.
Romani: Varisians are the Fantasy Counterpart Culture version. They've been luckier than their Real Life counterparts, though, as they tend to be fairly easily accepted (usually), and there are quite a few settled lands where they're an important minority or even the majority human group.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: The kingdom campaign rules in the Ultimate Campaign book allow player characters to rule territory. The time scale of "kingdom turns" runs to a month, but a character's attention is only required for seven days, allowing regular adventuring between the action of government; the book suggests that such adventures could concern directly confronting threats to the characters' lands.
The Kingmaker adventure path was this trope for five books, and could be seen as the beta version of the Ultimate Campaign kingdom ruleset.
Curse of the Crimson Throne could be subtitled God Save Us from the Queen! Ileosa. Queen Galfrey of Mendev is The Paladin and a Lady of War who has a large role to play in Wrath of the Righteous. Additionally, in Wrath of the Righteous, the players will meet the non-human rulers of whole other dimensions, with active encounters with the Demon Lords Nocticula, Baphomet, and Deskari.
Sacrificial Revival Spell: There is a monk archetype that focuses on using one's own ki energy to fuel healing magics, harming oneself in the process. At 20th level, said monk can sacrifice his own life to revive all his allies as per the True Resurrection spell. And no, it is not a resurrectable death: the monk is so Deader than Dead even his name is obliterated.
Samurai: Introduced in Ultimate Combat, the samurai is a cavalier sub-class. Rather than forcing the player to play a Dual WieldingScreaming Warrior like the 3.5 samurai, the Pathfinder samurai can choose its focus (mounted combat, archery, or, yes, katana).
The economy of Numeria revolves entirely around plunder extracted from mountain-sized chunks of a crashed starship.
One issue of the Pathfinder Adventure Path gave brief descriptions of the other planets in Golarion's solar system. Out of the three most heavily-populated worlds, Castrovel is pure fantasy-themed (but with Psychic Powers instead of magic), Akiton has a "science fantasy" Planetary Romance theme, and Verces is futuristic sci-fi (though presumably still aware of magic).
The Alkenstar/Mana Wastes region, due to its inherent magic-screwing properties, meanwhile, has developped the first firearms to compensate. They're mostly seen as noisy, impractical and onerous curios elsewhere.
Sealed Evil in a Can: All over the place. The biggest evil, in the biggest can, is the apocalypse god Rovagug the Rough Beast, sealed into the molten core of Golarion by all the gods who survived his initial rampage.
Seven Deadly Sins: Originated as the seven virtues (rewards) of rulership, formulated by an ancient emperor. His seven subordinates promptly twisted them into the more familiar sins.
Some (but not all) of the sins are represented in the archdevils. Mammon embodies greed; Belial is extremely lustful; Moloch is a being of seething wrath; Baalzebul represents envy; Mephistopheles is famous for his great pride.
Furthermore, there is a corresponding species of demon for each of the seven deadly sins: Dretches (sloth), shadow demons (envy), succubi (lust), nabasus as well as vrolikai (gluttony), vrocks (wrath), nalfeshnees (greed), and mariliths (pride).
Standard Fantasy Setting: The core rulebooks present the setting like this. People can design their own campaigns however they wish, so a basic template is handy. The world of Golarion however diverges from this and moves more into the realm of a blend of standard fantasy and pulp novels.
Start My Own: Pathfinder got started when a group of big-name D&D 3.5 fans and writers, disgusted by the drastic changes made to D&D in 4th Edition, got together and decided to keep the old game going under a new name.
Not with D&D itself nearly so much as the much more restrictive licensing that came with D&D 4th Edition, versus the highly open 3rd Edition, as well as Wizards of the Coast's extremely dilatory distribution of the license information.
Steampunk: Not in Golarion by default, but details for it are included in the Gamemastery Guide along with a lot of other, more unusual aspects for DMs to use in their campaigns if they want.
Sticky Situation Aside from the webs of giant spiders, the Adherants are covered in extremely sticky fibers that can potentially trap any melee weapon used on it, and any barehanded attack risks leaving the attacker stuck to the monster. The Flail Snail can also leave a trail of glue-like mucus behind it.
Though in fairness, the cleric, druid, inquisitor, rogue, and paladin wear the sort of outfits you'd expect somebody who regularly fights to the death for a living to wear.
And sorcerer is a charisma class whose abilities are incompatible with armor. For reference, even reinforced cloth (e.g. a denim jacket and some heavy blue jeans) counts as armor and creates a risk of spell failure. So it's more that the setting is innately stripperific in certain cases than that the individual characters are offensive.
Stuck Items: Cursed magical items in general are examples of these, as they will return to you and in some cases, like the Rod of Arson, will force you to use them even if they have been physically destroyed. It takes specific spells or combinations of spells to get rid of them.
Stuff Blowing Up: The Goblin Fire Bomber archetype for alchemists specializes in unleashing the wrath of Michael Bay on the battlefields of Golarion.
Summon Magic: Conjurers are a school of Wizards who specialize in conjuration, magic that creates matter from nothing or summons creatures. The Summoner is a base class that forgoes all magic but conjuration. Summoners also summon "Eidolons" from the realms beyond the material plane in arcane rituals lasting a minute or so, a'la Final Fantasy.
Summoning Ritual: Represented by the Planar Binding spells. Summoners must usually give the summoned creature rare or valuable offerings in order to gain its services.
Transplant: Baba Yaga and the Great Old Ones are imported straight from their original settings. Even Cthulhu himself is mentioned as "slumbering on a distant planet".
Trick Bomb: One of the Alchemist's trademark abilities.
Vestigial Empire: Taldor once controlled the entire northern coast of the Inner Sea, but following the civil war that broke off Cheliax, centuries of declining fortunes, war with Kelesh, and an increasingly decadent culture, it is now a shadow of its former glory. Unsurprisingly, it was inspired by the real-world Byzantine Empire.
Cheliax itself has fallen on hard times. After Aroden's death, the empire was taken over by devil-worshippers, prompting massive revolts that led several nations to split off from it.
The dwarven Five Kings Mountains have been in a state of slow but steady decay for centuries, splintering into several city-states.
Osirion has recently managed to start turning its fortunes around, but it's still a very long way from its heyday millenia ago.
Weapons-Grade Vocabulary: The blistering invective spell can give your rants the ability to actually set people on fire!
We Are as Mayflies: Goblins, and compared to the Elves, Dragons (and possibly the Gnomes depending on how entertained they are); almost everyone else.
To be fair, while some of that's natural lifespan some of it's that the goblins in the default setting love to play with fire and explosives and never heard of this "dee" fence thing you're always going on about.
Wendigo: Very powerful evil spirits in the setting, straight from the most terrifying native myths.
What Did I Do Last Night?: Cayden Cailean, an adventurer who woke up after a drunken binge in Absalom to discover that he had taken the Test of the Starstone and BECOME A GOD.
World of Snark: Going by the flavor text alone, one could be forgiven for concluding that almost every single iconic character is a borderline Heroic Comedic Sociopath who speaks entirely in snarky one-liners. With the possible exceptions of Seelah and Sajan, they're sarcastic, bloodthirsty, indifferent to one another's injuries and casually consider either leaving their companions behind or actively killing them out of annoyance.
Wretched Hive: Kaer Maga. And Riddleport. And Bloodcove. And Ilizmagorti. And Daggermark. And Zirnakaynin. And almost every settlement in the Shackles. And... let's just say there's a lot of scum and villainy in Golarion.
Writing Around Trademarks: Go ahead, try and find Paizo using the phrase "Dungeons and Dragons" anywhere in their marketing materials. They'll be glad to tell you "The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is an evolution of the 3.5 rules set of the world's oldest fantasy roleplaying game," but somehow this "world's oldest fantasy roleplaying game" never gets named.
Lini, the Iconic Druid, does as well though it's hard to notice depending on the artist (Night of Frozen Shadows, the second part of the Jade Regent Adventure Path, has the best example of this on page 6).