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my characters are al just hired mercs!
Am I the only one who feels this way?
Some people felt that way in the past and scenarios in season 4+ have certainly been a lot more heroic. Having said that, PFS is a neutral campaign.
Pathfinder society has us running around the fantasy world, paid on commission for the work we do.
Ummm... actually most of the time we're not paid, this is volunteer work. lol. We just sell our enemies loot.
So yeah, your character should really want to be part of the Pathfinder organization considering you're working for free. Or else you'd be doing something else (in which case you should roll up a new PC that actually wants to be a Pathfinder).
Take it... the adventures rarely ever start "Ok everyone, your in a tavern and a mysterious woman comes to your table! What do you do?"
Sometimes this does happen but this tends to make the game start slowly, PFS wants faster introductions because games need to fit into a 4 hour time slot. What you're looking for is an old fashioned campaign.
Not sure why anyone would compare PFS to a campaign. If you want a campaign, play a campaign.
how many times has anyone finished a scenario or module feeling victorious!
Lots. In recent scenarios, rescued elves from being incubated with demons, rescued humanoids from being sacrificed and bleeding out, stopped pirates who robbed locals, brought a murderer to justice, destroyed a lich who killed others to attain immortality, stopped cultists from awakening a powerful evil wizard, destroyed a vampire who was killing and feeding off villagers. That's in less than 8 scenarios.
PFS is plenty heroic. Maybe your GM is not informing you. Maybe it's a state of mind. Maybe you see the gold and XP on the character sheet and don't see the big picture. Or your GM doesn't say "Congratulations heroes!".
Too many times do I sit as a player and watch a group of players play these op character builds, where all they can do is spit out damage rolls but couldn't diplomacy themselves out of a card board box.
The need for Diplomacy (the skill) is extremely common in PFS scenarios, not sure which scenarios you're playing.
I've played lots of PFS at conventions, and my enjoyment at the table has nothing to do with how optimized a PC is. When all PCs are horrible and you're carrying a table, that's more of a problem.
players power through these scenarios with ease
Not some of the scenarios I've been playing. When someone finds something really easy, most of the time they didn't make the PC within the rules, or the GM doesn't know the rules.
There are a few broken common builds and some rare ones, but they are exceptions. Most people optimize enough to be effective, not broken. Maybe your local situation is different, in which case you can talk to your coordinator or maybe the other players.
Where does the line get drawn on a table of six who no longer worry about having a healer or rogue, they all just run melee fighting classes.
You seem to want to see old school parties with fighter / rogue / wizard / cleric. I'm personally ready to move on from that. Why not just let people play what they want to play and be happy?
Just an FYI, ranged classes are much more effective than melee classes. The melee classes get messed up at higher levels, they will wish they were playing archers.
Back to topic, as a GM, I see some players who take their time in the character build and mold them into something great and other players who just put a notch into their level.
Not everyone plays the game the same way. Not everyone wants to play the game the same way, but it doesn't mean you can't.
As a players, I just feel like we play to level up a character. There is no end reward, there is no " wow I hit level 12 and saved all these cities and people from the wrath of evil... there is no "I am a hero in this town"....
It's a state of mind. Or you're playing season 0-3 scenarios? Maybe you're just not seeing it. My characters have done lots of good things.