The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Reference Document, also known as the Pathfinder RPG Reference Document or PRD, is a compilation of all the Open Game Content (OGC) contained within the core rules of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. It originally contained OGC from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook, but has since been updated to incorporate open content from many of the hardcover Pathfinder RPG books.
Unlike other parts of the Pathfinder RPG core rules, the Pathfinder RPG Reference Document is free and can be accessed on the Archives of Nethys website.
Reasons for creating the PRD
With all Pathfinder products released under the Open Game Licence (OGL), Paizo has already opened up a lot of their rules to third parties. The Pathfinder RPG Reference Document creates two advantages over Paizo's obligations under the OGL.
Ease of use
One of the restrictions of the OGL is that Product Identity (PI) must not be used by anyone reusing content published under the OGL. Reusing PI, even accidentally, is a breach of the conditions of the OGL and can cause legal problems for anyone who does this commercially. With the PI clause broken, a product loses the protection of the Open Game Licence and may need to be recalled or destroyed.
The Pathfinder Reference Document simplifies OGC reuse because it consists entirely of Open Game Content and has none of Paizo's Product Identity within it. This means that, like the 3.0 and 3.5 versions of the System Resource Document from Wizards of the Coast, the PRD is able to function as an easily reusable game engine.
As long as a copy of the Open Game Licence is attached to their products, publishers and private individuals can use the Pathfinder Reference Document for any purpose they wish. It is even legal to publish the entire content of the PRD, in the same form, or in a modified form.
Encouraging further support for the Third Edition rules
With Wizards of the Coast abandoning use of both the System Reference Document and the Open Game Licence, some publishers turned away from supporting third edition and moved towards totally different rules. Many of these rules systems were closed systems (meaning that compatible products could not be sold by different companies). Some systems were open, but where published under different licences that were incompatible with existing third edition material.
In contrast, the PRD picks up from where the last version of the SRD left off. Publishers can use the new reference document to make Pathfinder-compatible products.
The ease of use is combined with compatibility with other OGL documents to allow people to mix and match rules from the 3.0 SRD, the 3.5 SRD and the PRD. It is even possible for the PRD to be combined with non-fantasy reference documents like the Modern SRD.
Updates to the PRD
- For a list of updates to the PRD, see the Archives of Nethys home page.
Where to Find the PRD
Archives of Nethys
The Archives of Nethys website (https://aonprd.com) hosts the official Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Reference Document as a searchable, hyperlinked section of its reference site. It also catalogs open content from Pathfinder accessories containing Pathfinder PI, such as the Pathfinder Modules, Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Adventure Path, and Pathfinder Campaign Setting product lines in addition to the core RPG content. It is licensed under the non-commercial Community Use Policy.
The d20pfsrd.com website is a wiki that aims to create a hyperlinked version of the Pathfinder RPG Reference Document. It also contains open content from Pathfinder-compatible third-party publishers.
Other Open Game Content resources
Pathfindercommunity.net provides downloadable and browseable databases of open Pathfinder game content, including content containing PI, under the Community Use Policy.