Hello there. I've been reading about Pathfinder for about 4 months, and I still do not fully understand the game. I know how to create a character (I have already done this), but I don't know how to play the game.
Can someone help me?
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Generally speaking, you and your character get into a group with other characters and a GM, and the GM tells you what is happening in the game world and you respond with how your character reacts. For example, when your group is formed and the game starts, your GM might say:
"You have all gathered in in this town for your own various reasons. It is around noon. What are you all doing in town?"
At which point you and the other players would respond with... whatever you wish. Perhaps you're aimlessly wandering around, bored. Perhaps you're browsing at the Weaponsmith. Or perhaps you're having lunch at the tavern. You can basically do whatever the GM allows. It's definitely an imaginative game.
"You hear a woman scream for help at the edge of town. What do you do?"
Perhaps you rush as fast as you can to the woman's aid. Perhaps you ignore it and continue your lunch. Or perhaps you try and gather some of the townspeople to come and help. How you respond is completely up to you. Your responses (and the other plyayers') to the GM's commentary progresses the game.
Along the way you may end up trying to climb on top of a building, swimming across a river, or trying to make sense of some strange writing on a stone tablet you pick up. Things like these call for skill checks, which is part of your character. When your GM tells you, you roll a skill check to see if you succeed or fail in your task. Every character is good at different things, and it's always good for characters in a party to have varied skill investments.
When you get into a fight, it's called an encounter. That's where your attack, Armor Class, Saving throws, and other class abilities come into play. At the beginning of an encounter, everyone involved rolls Initiative. Each participant takes a turn from highest to lowest on the initiative results. When it's your turn, you decide what you want to do during your turn. You have a standard action, a move action, a swift action, and unlimited free actions you can do. You might choose to move up to an enemy (as a move action) and attack it (as a standard action), and then simply end your turn. Or perhaps you take a 5-foot step (a free action) and make a full-attack action as a full-round action. Full-round actions use up both your standard and move actions during your turn.
After everyone has had their turn, the end of Round 1 is complete, and Round 2 begins, starting with the highest Initiative again. An encounter usually lasts until one side defeats the other (usually the party defeats the enemies). However, since the game is dynamic, everything isn't always straight forward... 2 of your enemies may decide to run away from you. Some of your own party members may fall in battle, and YOU may decide to try and run away. Or perhaps some DIFFERENT creatures join in the middle of the battle to try and break it up. In this game, anything can happen. Each time you join the other characters to experience a completely new, unique experience.
Instead of thinking in terms of "what can my character do?" It's usually best to think "what would my character do in this situation?" Tell you GM what you want your character to do, and he/she will tell you how to do it. Climbing on the roof of the house may call for a Climb check, and not getting caught may call for a Stealth check. Your GM will tell you. Then jumping to another roof might be an Acrobatics check. Just remember that if your dice roll is bad, you may end up falling off the roof and taking some damage.
In short, you play a game with other characters, using your own character, to do things (usually whatever you want) and to accomplish goals, based on what your GM tells you about your surroundings.
I like to think of it as reading a book you wish to create yourself (if you do that), or acting a movie that you want to plan yourself (if you prefer over books).
You've got character creation down, and there's your main actor/protagonist.
But a cool lookin guy standing in a world of white isn't exactly your idea of the man right? This is where the fun is.
As someone mentioned, the BB has a solo guide that will get you accustomed to the rules. You can even take it a little futher I'm sure and throw some of your own elements into it to see if you enjoy the changes.
Or maybe you don't want to go it alone? The batman movies have him solo, but the comics like to throw in his side-kick for entertainment.
So give your character a buddy! Make it one that you somewhat control but don't actually play, or - and this is where the game takes it up a notch - Invite someone else to ALSO experience the fun of having their own personal dudr. Now you have two creatives minds, in a world where literally anything can happen, just because you want it to. The only restriction is "within reason", which is the point of all the rules. But even these can be bent/warped/broken/avoided if you so desire.
And that is just the beginning...
... prepare to die a few times :)
At the very least, you can go on YouTube andwatch other people play. This is what I did and when I first heard of pen and paper. Then I shortly picked up dming without ever having been a player. I don't recommend being a dm until you've been a player for a few months, though lol. Unless there is no one else.
At the very least you can go to your local GM and ask him to explain it, or just sit and watch
Probably the easiest way to explain it is this:
Did you ever play pretend with your friends as a kid? It's like that, but with more rules so you avoid the "I hit you!" "Nuh-uh!" problem, and you have a GM to select the scenario.
He paints a picture of where you are, you act on it as your made up character would act.
DawnforgedCast has a good video tutorial for Pathfinder on Youtube called "Pathfinder Basics". 10 webisodes so far:
Pathfinder Basics - Part 1: Stats, Races, Classes.
Pathfinder Basics - Part 2: Skills, Feats and Equipment.
Pathfinder Basics - Part 3: Combat
Pathfinder Basics - Part 4: The Mini-Session
Pathfinder Basics - Part 5: Spells, How do they Work?
Pathfinder Basics - Part 6: LEVEL UP!
Pathfinder Basics - Part 7: MORE Combat
Pathfinder Basics: Part 8 - Magic Items
Pathfinder Basics: Part 9 - Rapid Character Creation
Pathfinder Basics: Part 10 - Point Buy, Traits and Character Creation