Chapter 1 - Pathfinder Society Basics
Pathfinder Society Organized Play is a worldwide fantasy roleplaying campaign that puts you in the role of an agent of the Pathfinder Society, a legendary league of explorers, archaeologists, and adventurers dedicated to discovering and chronicling the greatest mysteries and wonders of an ancient world beset by magic and evil. The campaign’s home base is sprawling Absalom, the so-called City at the Center of the World that stands astride the great Inner Sea on the mountain-capped Isle of Kortos. A Pathfinder’s adventures explore the dark alleys and political intrigues of Absalom between far-flung travels to the most interesting and exotic locales in the world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
This guide presents everything you need to know to participate in this exciting, dynamic campaign. But you will not be alone! Thousands of other gamers gather in their homes, in game stores, at conventions, and even online to play, report on their adventures, and influence the fate of the Pathfinder world.
Pathfinder Society Organized Play is powered by the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, an evolution of the 3.5 edition of the world’s oldest roleplaying game. While similar in many respects to 3.5, the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is a new system with enhanced base classes, new feats, redesigned spells, clarified and expanded combat rules, and many other improvements. The Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook is available at game stores and bookstores, and online at paizo.com. In addition to being published in a traditional hardcover format, the Core Rulebook is also available as an affordable and fully searchable bookmarked PDF ($9.99), and all the rules from the Core Rulebook can also be found online for free as part of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Reference Document at paizo.com/prd.
In an organized play campaign, your character exists in a common setting shared by thousands of other gamers from around the world. In each Pathfinder Society game, your character experiences a short, one-sitting adventure (or “scenario”) that is a single episode in a continuing story. You can take your character to any public Pathfinder Society event anywhere in the world, and while the Game Master and your companions might change every time you play, your character advances as normal. Over time, campaigning in an organized play environment offers a uniquely immersive experience, as your diverse companions add depth and character to the campaign world. It’s also a great way to get in touch with other local gamers, meet new people, and play regularly without all the prep work and scheduling of a traditional campaign. Alternatively, some players prefer to keep their Pathfinder Society experience limited to a familiar group of friends, using the Pathfinder Society character creation rules, adventure scenarios, and reward structure as the framework for a private campaign. Either approach is a valid way to experience the campaign, and many players enjoy a combination of public and private adventuring. Because an organized play campaign takes place in a shared-world environment, a few additional rules are required to ensure that all players at all tables share a similar experience, no matter who is running the game. This guide outlines these special rules, ensuring a level playing field for all. Please read over the contents of this guide carefully.
The Core Assumption
The leadership of this campaign assumes that you will use common sense in your interpretation of the rules. This includes being courteous and encouraging a mutual interest in playing, not engaging in endless rules discussions. While you are enjoying the game, be considerate of the others at the table and don’t let your actions keep them from having a good time too. In short, don’t be a jerk. Pathfinder Society Organized Play assumes that every player has the following resources.
- Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook
- Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play (this document)
Additionally, a GM should have access to all books in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game line of hardcover rulebooks, whether a physical or electronic copy. The rules content of these books can be found online for free as part of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Reference Document located at paizo.com/prd. Unless noted otherwise in this guide, everything contained in the Core Rulebook (except artifacts, evil items, and intelligent items) and Pathfinder Society Field Guide is legal for Pathfinder Society play. Players whose characters utilize creatures from an approved Additional Resource as companions or familiars are required to have that reference at the table.
In addition to having these materials, players and Game Masters are expected to be familiar with the official Pathfinder Society Organized Play FAQ at paizo.com/pathfindersociety/faq. If a clarification on the FAQ pertains to your character, you are expected to bring a copy of the relevant sections to any Pathfinder Society Organized Play game.
Paizo Publishing produces a wide range of sourcebooks that further explore the game rules and world of Pathfinder. These volumes contain a huge variety of options to help you customize your character. You can view a frequently updated list of all campaign-legal Additional Resources online at paizo.com/pathfindersociety/resources. In order to utilize content from an Additional Resource, a player must have a physical copy of the Additional Resource in question, a name-watermarked Paizo PDF of it, or a printout of the relevant pages from it, as well as a copy of the current version of the Additional Resources list. You must inform the Game Master that you plan to use Additional Resource material before play begins, so he has a chance to familiarize himself with the new material.
The Pathfinder Society Community
You may not simply ignore rules clarifications made by the campaign leadership, including the campaign coordinator and campaign developer, on the paizo.com messageboards. GMs are not required to read every post on the messageboards, but GMs familiar with rules clarifications made by the campaign leadership (which have not been superseded by the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play or FAQ) must abide by these clarifications or rulings. If it is a significant clarification, it will be updated in the FAQ, and later in the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play if necessary.
All Pathfinder Society players must register themselves and their characters online at paizo.com/pathfindersociety. When you register, you’ll receive an official Pathfinder Society Number. Keep your Pathfinder Society Number handy and bring it with you to every Pathfinder Society event you attend. Paizo uses this number to record the adventures your character has completed and the prestige she has gained. Each character you create has a unique number appended to your Pathfinder Society Number, so if your number is 6734, the second character you create will be 6734–2. If you’re beginning your Pathfinder Society experience at a public convention or game store event, your event coordinator will provide a temporary card with a Pathfinder Society Number and confirmation code on it. You can use this card until you get a chance to register your character. When you register your character at paizo.com/pathfindersociety, enter this number and the confirmation code, and your early adventures will be automatically linked to your new official record.
If you don’t have time to create a new character or simply wish to try out a new character class, you may choose to use one of several level-appropriate pregenerated characters available at paizo.com/pathfindersociety or from your local event coordinator. If you play a 1st-level pregenerated character, you can apply the credit for her first adventure to a newly created character of your very own. If you play a non-1st-level pregenerated character, you can apply the credit to your character as soon as she reaches the level of the pregenerated character played. You may also opt instead to apply the credit from the non- 1st-level pregenerated character played to a newly created character with the gp gained reduced to 500 gp (or 250 for characters using the slow advancement track). You do not lose access to Prestige Points, boons, and items listed on the Chronicle sheet that were earned during the adventure. Equipment listed on the pregenerated character sheet may only be sold to clear conditions such as death or during the play of a sanctioned event, and any remaining gold does not carry over at the end of the adventure.
Creating a Character
Chapter 2 of the present guidebook contains step-by-step instructions to help you create your official Pathfinder Society character. Unless you plan to select an official pregenerated character, read these rules carefully, as they contain a few adaptations to ensure that characters are suitable for the organized play environment. Chapters 3 and 4 provide information on the Pathfinder Society organization, the city of Absalom, and the scheming factions that seek to control it. Knowing this material and incorporating it into the way you play your character help to increase the immersive nature of the campaign, and should inform the mechanical choices you make when creating your character. After you have created your character, you must register it with your Pathfinder Society Number online at paizo.com/pathfindersociety.
Finding a Game
Once you’ve got a Pathfinder Society Number and have created your character, you’re ready to play your first Pathfinder Society Scenario! The easiest way to find a local game is to visit paizo.com/pathfindersociety and click on “Get Involved!” From there, go to the Events page where you can search by zip code and radius of travel to find events that have been registered in your area. You can also visit local game stores. Gaming, comic book, and science fiction conventions often attract gamers. Many conventions have specific gaming programming that might include Pathfinder Society. You can also find local gamers on the paizo.com Pathfinder Society Grand Lodge and Gamer Connection messageboards.
Another place to play Pathfinder Society events is online. Allowed formats include play-by-post, chat-based games, digital tabletops, and webcam-enhanced “face-to-face” gaming. So long as the Game Master has a way of distributing all of the appropriate paperwork (by fax, scan, or otherwise), any form of legitimate online play is allowed and encouraged.