Everyone Has a Past

Friday, May 11, 2018

While we all live moment-by-moment, we are also shaped by our past. This is especially true for adventurers. After all, very few elves at the ripe age of 14 think to themselves, "Hey, I think I'm going to become a barbarian." There is a path that leads the character to their class. It might synergize obviously with the class's discipline, or at first blush it might seem a non sequitur, but the path is there.

In the Pathfinder Playtest, your ancestry talks a bit about your past, but it also speaks to your present and the promise of the future, by virtue of the fact that you continue to gain ancestry feats through the course of your adventuring career. But to help you dig deeper into your past, you'll choose a background.

Generally, backgrounds allow you to select a bit of backstory that mechanically affects the current state of your character. The first thing it does is grants you a pair of ability boosts (with some limitations on one of those ability boosts), and then it grants a skill feat tied to the theme of your background and proficiency in a Lore skill that also ties into the background. For instance, here is an old chestnut:

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Blacksmith (Background)

You were a blacksmith or a blacksmith's apprentice, and during countless hours toiling at the forge, you learned how to smith armor and weapons. Perhaps you worked hard each day and dreamed of adventure each night, or perhaps the adventuring life was thrust upon you by a pivotal event.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Strength or Intelligence, and one is a free ability boost.

You gain the Specialty Crafting skill feat for blacksmithing, and you're trained in the Smithing Lore skill.

Sure, it's a bit cliche, but it's a fun cliche. Before becoming a fighter, you were a blacksmith's apprentice. Maybe you crafted your sword or suit of armor and decided to protect home and hearth from monsters. But take a closer look at the background. It's more flexible than that. It's also an excellent background for an alchemist or another character who wants to specialize in crafting. Since you can boost Intelligence via this background, and Intelligence is the key ability score for both Crafting skill and the alchemist class, you can refocus this background into that of an intelligent tinkerer who uses innovation rather than toil to create metal objects. And who knows? Maybe later on in your career, you can fuse your background with other skill feats to invent a new form of alchemical armor or some kind of metal construct.

Not all backgrounds have to do with gainful employment; others deal with the circumstances of your upbringing that you can parlay into useful skills. Here is another example of a classic fantasy trope:

Street Urchin (Background)

You eked out a living by picking pockets on the streets of a major city, never knowing where you'd find your next meal. While some folk adventure for the glory, you adventure as a means of survival.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Dexterity or Intelligence, and one is a free ability boost.

You gain the Pickpocket skill feat, and you're trained in the Underworld Lore skill.

While a classic rogue background, this background also has enough flexibility to serve as a perfectly fine background for a wizard or alchemist, and that's only if you dwell on the limited ability boost. Remember, one of the ability boosts if free, so you can play against type and still make a perfectly reasonable character. Imagine a paladin with this background, which isn't so hard if you know anything about a certain iconic paladin...

Not all backgrounds are so all-encompassing, though. After all, your background not only deals with activity but also your personal focus. You may have been an apprentice blacksmith, even for a long while, but retained none of its benefits because you were too busy dreaming about being a Pathfinder.

Pathfinder Hopeful (Background)

You've long wanted to join the adventurous Pathfinder Society, a world-spanning organization of relic hunters. This aspiration has led you to take up the dangerous life of an adventurer eager to make a name for yourself and gain the attention of the Pathfinder Society.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Strength or Intelligence, and one is a free ability boost.

You gain the Additional Lore feat, and you're trained in the Pathfinder Society Lore skill.

While the boosts are similar to that of the blacksmith background, the skill selection is, of course, different. I can easily picture this background as that of a young dreamer, toiling away when she must but finding whatever time she can to read various Pathfinder Chronicles (both real and forged) and honing her body and mind for the chance to join the Pathfinder Society.

Incidentally, this is not a background you will find in the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook. While that weighty tome provides 19 backgrounds, you'll find six more backgrounds in the Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn. Those six are tailor-made for the adventure, granting the opportunity for small, sometimes incidental perks during play for those who take them and allowing you to tailor your character to the story. This is one of the chief benefits of the background system—it can be used to make very general backgrounds or to tailor specific backgrounds to an adventure or a campaign.

And so there you have it; that's the skinny on backgrounds. What kind of backgrounds can you imagine?

Stephen Radney-MacFarland
Senior Designer

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blog wrote:
Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Strength or Intelligence, and one is a free ability boost.

I notice it doesn't say that the boosts aren't stackable, are we able to stack them and double down, or like ancestry it needs to be a different ability score?


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

I'm going to miss traits, some of the traits from PF1 were really evocative of a backstory, particularly via juxtaposition with another trait, in a way that a singular option isn't. Like it's one thing to have been a penniless urchin, and it's another thing to be a penniless orphan who traveled with the Witchmarket and learned how to talk to doorknobs.

So I hope there's an additional dimension added to backgrounds eventually.

I think the "traveling with the Witchmarket" may fold more into Ancestry feats.

I feel like that is getting lose in the shuffle a little here by folks that preferred the variety of traits. Most evidence suggests that the average character won't have less meaningful choices than a PF1 character, but those choices have been shifted around in different ways. Lumping all the different feat categories together, you've got... what, 31 feats by the time you hit level 20? Maybe more, since we know the rogue gets an additional 10 skill feats. That feels like a lot of room to make your character unique. I

n PF1, you'd have like... 10 feats, 10 rage powers/talents/discoveries, 2 traits, and like an average of 5 racial traits you can swap around with other stuff. 27 isn't too far behind, but you have some additional granularity for things like skill points and odd ability scores, but that stuff isn't particularly exciting IMO.


Also looking back I notice the choice of using ability boost rather than +2, is this intentional, and saying it functions like how starfinder boosts work?


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Nothing super exciting about this one, but it's very solid. With the choice between two stats plus a floating bonus, any [mechanical] background can really work with any given class at any time. I expected it would work that way when it first started becoming clear how the stats were going to be generated, and am happy to see that's the case. I expect that there will be two schools of thought when picking a background: 1) I wanted to be 'X' so I'm going to pick 'X' or 2) I want bonus feat 'Y' so I'm going to pick 'X'! In both cases character generation works smoothly, and so this aspect of generation should flow smoothly regardless of whether they personally prioritize flavor or crunch.

I really like this character generation system as a whole. I also like the built-in Velcro strap whose matching strip is applied to campaign players' guides.


The Unfortunate Pumpkin wrote:
I'm of the school of thought that you should find ways to incorporate characters backstory into a campaign no matter how crazy it seems, as long as it's done well. this way players always feel like their character has story significance, I mean they are the heroes after all. I had the same issue with traits being forgotten after being picked, because players only wanted to take the good ones and didn't care too much for the flavor of them so they just wrote their backstory completely ignoring the traits they took. This lead to me not really using traits too often.

Well, it is not already possible to easilly integrate stories of the players in the world, even more if they dont know it all to well before they create them, often players simply dont think to ask this kind of information, but the traits point them to it.

Examples from the last game were a native trait, that gave the player a best friend who was also an INN keeper in the main used city, a world explorer which led the player to be well know in certain circles that were very relevant to the game , a favored of god X, which literally made stuff react to a player who didnt even follow the god, but had the trait, differently... so on and on.

This made the players feel a direct impact in the traits they got, instead of some generic +2 to whatever for reasons nobody will remember and so on.

This is what im hoping this system will point to. Even more in APs and other such stories. You start invested, you start set to that world, to that story.


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I normally hate background mechanics, but these look minimal enough and templated enough that it should be easy for me to make new ones. Though I expect I'd still hate it in PFS/homegames that were restricted to the officially released ones

The Exchange

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Nox Aeterna wrote:
MMCJawa wrote:
about what I expected. I like that they have the potential to be really closely tied into an AP, although I agree with folks that it's going to be pretty rough until enough AP's and splats come out to allow a full range of character concepts.

Honestly worthy it for me.

Issue i had with some home games and traits is that they were just forgotten after you pick them, no in world value outside the mechanical side.

Im not blaming any GM for this either, they just didnt stop to create their on traits since the system was often side lined. Im hoping by this being in core, more people will think about making their own gist for their stories, so when you pick one, you can better integrate with the story about to be told.

The few campaigns i played, outside APs which have their own, that had a GM prepare their traits ahead of time were trully awesome from the get go, since you often started with all players already integrated with the story and its NPCs, with motivations...

Had moments were traits had real story significance and a real inworld impact, like completely changing how certain events went because that one guy was there and that one guy had the trait for the situation we got ourselves in...

I would not pin too many hopes to a background system as bare as this one to do much to turn people without much interest in roleplaying into people who are suddenly mega roleplayers. As often as not you'll see the "well I eventually want to craft my own legendary armor, so I am a blacksmith" optimization with just as little mind payed to the character implications. As it should be really. Roleplaying should be about playing the character you want to, not the character you mechanically need to.

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Captain Morgan wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

I'm going to miss traits, some of the traits from PF1 were really evocative of a backstory, particularly via juxtaposition with another trait, in a way that a singular option isn't. Like it's one thing to have been a penniless urchin, and it's another thing to be a penniless orphan who traveled with the Witchmarket and learned how to talk to doorknobs.

So I hope there's an additional dimension added to backgrounds eventually.

I think the "traveling with the Witchmarket" may fold more into Ancestry feats.

I feel like that is getting lose in the shuffle a little here by folks that preferred the variety of traits. Most evidence suggests that the average character won't have less meaningful choices than a PF1 character, but those choices have been shifted around in different ways. Lumping all the different feat categories together, you've got... what, 31 feats by the time you hit level 20? Maybe more, since we know the rogue gets an additional 10 skill feats. That feels like a lot of room to make your character unique. I

n PF1, you'd have like... 10 feats, 10 rage powers/talents/discoveries, 2 traits, and like an average of 5 racial traits you can swap around with other stuff. 27 isn't too far behind, but you have some additional granularity for things like skill points and odd ability scores, but that stuff isn't particularly exciting IMO.

But you start with just ONE Ancestry/Heritage feat. There is now a very real opportunity cost to having a background to have had a background traveling with the Witchmarket. Where a trait allowed that with only a very minor opportunity cost.

Lantern Lodge

I think/hope these are just the examples. And we will have a generic “themeless “ background.

That will still leave open the option for some backgrounds that break out of the mold, and give unusual benefits, such as the earlier mention bonus to a grapple, or trait like things in terms if a bonus to init, or +1 damage with an acid spell etc

One of the advantages to the cookie cutter approach, at least initially is that some traits were “more equal” than others, and how things interact might nit be fully obvious early on.

Certainly Paizo look to have learned some of these lessons with sf where virtually all skill bonuses are typed as insight to avoid massive skill stacking.


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This is what I was afraid of. This is a very 5e/Starfinder style of background.

Comparatively speaking they're actually on par with the halfling race + one of these backgrounds. But the enforced flavour of the background and lack of modularity isn't exactly screaming out at me. I expect we'll have rules that let us cherry pick our own backgrounds (1 skill feat + training in a lore skill, +2 to two ability scores of your choice) but that just feels even less flavourful. Given the stripped down nature of races with really only a single racial feat I was hoping the backgrounds would have more. Instead race + background essentially becomes 2 feats, training in 1 lore skill and we're done. That's not exactly inspiring.

They're certainly balanced though. Just a bit boring IMO. And this is coming from someone who largely plays humans who have the least amount of flavour possible. I simply prefer PF1e's system of race + alternate racial feats + background traits. That is much more interesting then 2 feats + training in a lore skill.


james014Aura wrote:
This is giving me flashbacks to my brief attempt to play 5e.

To be fair, though, this is nothing like 5e, other than you get a couple of skills, and it shares the name “background”. I kinda wish 5e gave an ability bonus or other more mechanically distinct perk from its backgrounds than what it does give.


To be honest, assuming the system as presented doesn't change drastically between playtest and final CRB, I wouldn't be surprised if eventually we started getting backgrounds with less straight-forwards effects. The skill feat slot in particular seems like it would be easy to insert other things there, as long as they're on par with a level 1 (or level 0) skill feat. And maybe some backgrounds might give training in non-Lore skills. But for Core it's probably best to keep it simple, especially if a build-your-own option is going to be in Core.


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I will like to remind people suggesting +2 to two abilities, pick a feat, and a skill that such approach is not very friendly to new players, is easier to pick a prepackaged background with some flavour, and also goes along the lines of having classes.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Who is enforcing the flavor? The RP police?

While the title says Blacksmith, the Lore is just Smithing, which could apply just as easily to a tinsmith, or "tinker". There is room in these backgrounds to move around a little and get comfortable.

Grand Lodge

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Backgrounds Blog wrote:
After all, very few elves at the ripe age of 14 think to themselves, "Hey, I think I'm going to become a barbarian."

Am I the only one who thought... Well, that’s because they’d still be in diapers then?

Hmm


I am liking the choice options. It reduces the risk of picking backgrounds because of, well...

...though I am really curious to see how this will play, an' all that.

Agree 'Apprentice' would work pretty well!

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edduardco wrote:
I will like to remind people suggesting +2 to two abilities, pick a feat, and a skill that such approach is not very friendly to new players, is easier to pick a prepackaged background with some flavour, and also goes along the lines of having classes.

Catering to new players is fine, but I don't want to be back here in 2023 talking about Pathfinder 3rd edition because 2nd didn't have staying power due to the lack of options for players who aren't brand new.


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I for one am happy to get a blog that won’t threaten to burn the barn down this weekend. ;)

As for backgrounds, nothing dramatically awesome, since the concept’s been around a while, but it’s a very solid piece of design, and good work all around. All it’s doing, though, is making me realize that the next 12 weeks are going to flipping CRAWL BY FOR ME!!! :-)

Dark Archive

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KingOfAnything wrote:

Who is enforcing the flavor? The RP police?

While the title says Blacksmith, the Lore is just Smithing, which could apply just as easily to a tinsmith, or "tinker". There is room in these backgrounds to move around a little and get comfortable.

OrgPlay.

I have had the *misfortune* of sitting at tables with GMs that were very... specific on what things were and very adamant about no flavor/reskinning.

I do not play with said GMs any longer, but if it's baked in, that is going to be a standard that GMs will fall back on.

Personally, I'd prefer loose and flexible and not such pedantry, but...


This seems good to me at first look. But there are some concerns in this thread that seem to be very valid. Another thing to take a good hard look at during the test to see how well it works in practice.

I did find it odd that they didn't explicitly mention not being able to double up your free stat boost with the set one like they did in the other parts of CG. But as others said, it might just be a general rule that simply wasn't repeated.


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Hmm wrote:
Backgrounds Blog wrote:
After all, very few elves at the ripe age of 14 think to themselves, "Hey, I think I'm going to become a barbarian."

Am I the only one who thought... Well, that’s because they’d still be in diapers then?

Hmm

No.


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eddv wrote:
edduardco wrote:
I will like to remind people suggesting +2 to two abilities, pick a feat, and a skill that such approach is not very friendly to new players, is easier to pick a prepackaged background with some flavour, and also goes along the lines of having classes.
Catering to new players is fine, but I don't want to be back here in 2023 talking about Pathfinder 3rd edition because 2nd didn't have staying power due to the lack of options for players who aren't brand new.

Realistically, that is NOT going to be a problem.


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Joe M. wrote:

We have:

Ancestry: 3 ability boosts (2 set, 1 free), 1 ability flaw**
Background: 2 ability boosts (1 set, 1 free)
Class: 1 ability boost (set)

So in PF2, creating a character will be as "easy as A, B, C".

Terrible pun, I know (actually arguably not a pun at all). That said, I do find it hard to believe that its a coincidence that the building blocks for a character can be abbreviated as such.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Maps Subscriber
Backgrounds Blog wrote:

Pathfinder Hopeful (Background)

You've long wanted to join the adventurous Pathfinder Society, a world-spanning organization of relic hunters. This aspiration has led you to take up the dangerous life of an adventurer eager to make a name for yourself and gain the attention of the Pathfinder Society.

Choose two ability boosts. One must be to Strength or Intelligence, and one is a free ability boost.

You gain the Additional Lore feat, and you're trained in the Pathfinder Society Lore skill.

I know that others have expressed their lack of enthusiasm for ‘Pathfinder Society Lore’ but this excites me more than anything else in the blog. There have been so many scenarios where we’ve had for PFS that have involved rescue missions for Pathfinders or their allies, or knowing the Pathfinder Society’s history in a given area.

Now the big question is... How specific is this ‘Pathfinder Society Lore’ skill? Is this going to be a case where to find out information you might have to roll on three possible skills (aka History, Local or Pathfinder Society Lore) and the Pathfinder Lore will be the lower DC because of the specificity? Or is it like Alexander Agunas suggested, where the skill is general Lore, but you have a bonus in anything that involves the Pathfinder Society?

Since Pathfinder Society Lore is quite specialized, one of the thoughts going through my head is that it would be even cooler if Pathfinder Hopeful did not train you in a specific skill called Pathfinder Society Lore, but allowed you to treat yourself as trained in any Lore Skill or Knowledge Check that happened to involve the Pathfinder Society — kind of like doing a bardic knowledge roll without training in that specific knowledge — but only for information about the society.

We really need a skills blog to explain how this all works!

Hmm


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Cyouni wrote:
BENSLAYER wrote:


Honestly I would be much happier with this suggestion; if Backgrounds stay as is, I will definitely not be playing Pathfinder v2.0. For all of the commentary that has been provided by others about previously revealed aspects of the game, for me nothing stands close to Character creation. A singly defined, enforced successful/skillful Character that has little reason to adventure, (unless that is the specific Background picked/they have a tragic, upending backstory TM), that can really only be useful following your own Character concept if the Ancestry/Background aligns with the Class is ... greatly off-putting. I will take a look at the Playtest because I would like to contribute to the game, however since this modular design is all-encompassing, (leaving it unlikely to change), that is where my participation will end.* *Sigh*

So that this post is not wholly negative, I will say that I do appreciate...

You know that every single piece that's been shown has a floating stat component, right? So if you invest everything in your chosen stat (Wisdom, for example), then at worst it looks like you're looking at a 16 - Ancestry: Goblin for -2 Wis, negated by the floating +2, Background for a floating +2, Cleric for the standard +2, and the last +2 from 1st level.

So even a Goblin can be a decently respectable Cleric. They're never going to be the best, but they can be decent at it.

It is not about being the best at all, nor is it about being singularly focused - in fact, that is was I was worried about being tied down to. For example, I want my Character to have a blacksmithing family who have pushed me to have a "stable career" in the trade - it is a defined part of my Character, which I hope to reference throughout my adventuring. However, this is in relation to the Character hating blacksmithing, not really listening, "escaping" by going missing during the day and being awful at it when dragged over. They are a "dreamer" who wanted to be a performer or Monk - whilst they had some aptitude, (which is developed on-off adventuring), there are few opportunities to learn where they are. What gives them an opportunity to move away from the family trade, the reason for adventuring is the call of Arcane Magic, something that is a means to an end (but ditched relatively early).

Under this modular approach, if I want to have blacksmithing as a strong Background "fluff" that shows, (inherent to my Character concept), I *have* to be above average in the blacksmithing Ability Score and related Lore Skill. Otherwise, to get a useful Ability boost/Lore Skill to my actual Character concept, (say Dexterity/Theatrics), or to simply avoid these "beneficial" boosts to aspects actively countering my concept, I have to pick something else for my Background. My example is not great as there is likely to be a performance-type option for Background, yet what about concepts that are not covered by those in the Core Rulebook? Having to wait for add-ons to simply design the basic parts of my Character ... Also, now by choosing the acrobatic part of my character for the Background, I cannot show anything about my reluctant blacksmithing background - unless I switch to the "right" Heritage/give up my "floating" increase and just point to that Ability Score boost, (which is unwanted). With Traits I could mix and match to have my background fit my concepts; here I have to focus on one aspect and develop things later, or only use Ability Scores to reflect another. Perhaps I have a Trait that says I take longer to be affected by hot weather conditions, (time spent near the forge); this could be coupled with having Low-Light Vision not traditionally representative of my Heritage, (Dragon eyesight, later discovered to be part of my Arcane leanings), or a +1 Bonus to drawing attention, (my childhood spent entertaining peers with escapades). My blacksmithing concept is shown without it being too mechanically impactful, whilst my Arcane/acrobatics side can be subtle yet come to into its own in an adventuring setting. I can have nods to multiple aspects of my Background without having to pick one to be fairly defining at the start, nor have an aspect suddenly become relevant when I hit X Level and can take a Feat to start representing something that was already meant to be established from childhood.

Hopefully that makes some sense, (at least for a 2:30am+ post), ha, ha.

P.S.: Sorry for the long post to explain such a short point! Being concise is not always my thing ...


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AnimatedPaper wrote:
BENSLAYER wrote:
For all of the commentary that has been provided by others about previously revealed aspects of the game, for me nothing stands close to Character creation. A singly defined, enforced successful/skillful Character that has little reason to adventure, (unless that is the specific Background picked/they have a tragic, upending backstory TM), that can really only be useful following your own Character concept if the Ancestry/Background aligns with the Class is ... greatly off-putting.

Would you care to expand on this? I'm not sure I understand your position, but I am sure that you're speaking for more than yourself.

Are you saying that backgrounds, as they stand, miss the mark in actually explaining why you chose to adventure? Like I said, I don't think I understand you fully.

It is that they are too defining, too baked in with mechanics. My previous reply to @Cyouni hopefully clarifies things a bit. If not, in summary : I view these "pregen" Backgrounds as too limiting for Character concepts right from the get-go. I enjoy creating multi-faceted Characters, willingly taking "fluff" Traits that may or may not be particularly helpful. With the current setup I see my Character as having to pick only part of my concept, with a possibility of it even misrepresenting what part of the "fluff" I want. My take is this system is more geared towards picking a Primary (and possibly Secondary) Ability Score, with concepts sometimes losing out - it all depends on your concept.

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ENHenry wrote:
eddv wrote:
edduardco wrote:
I will like to remind people suggesting +2 to two abilities, pick a feat, and a skill that such approach is not very friendly to new players, is easier to pick a prepackaged background with some flavour, and also goes along the lines of having classes.
Catering to new players is fine, but I don't want to be back here in 2023 talking about Pathfinder 3rd edition because 2nd didn't have staying power due to the lack of options for players who aren't brand new.
Realistically, that is NOT going to be a problem.

You're right, a mechanically uninteresting gaming system has never folded faster than expected in the history of tabletop gaming anywhere.


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Alexander Augunas wrote:
1of1 wrote:
Ectar wrote:
Am I the only one bothered that Pathfinder Society Lore is a skill?

It's a bit weird, and it kind of makes me worried that lore skills are just kind of made up as you go along and rely on GM interpretation to do anything.

"I don't know, let me check."

Lore (which you can already read about in Chapter 2 of Pathfinder Unchained)

Oh yeah, unchained. Sorry, I wasn't really feeling the magic when I flipped through it at a book store, so I didn't buy it. I don't* have as much disposable income for hobbies as I'd like. I guess I could just ask the internet what it's rules are, but again, I wasn't really into them. Glad people liked it, but I'm also glad it was optional.

I think that I'll just stay ignorant, so I can look at PF2 with fresh eyes. That is part of the spirit of the playtest, yeah?

*Typo edit; Don't drink and text, kids. And on an important but unrelated note, don't do either while you're driving. Certainly don't do all three at the same time. That would be bad...


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XBow Enthusiast wrote:

I think this is a brilliant system. If only because it helps address perhaps the most frustrating problem I had when I was a player and DM for a School Pathfinder Club, that problem being players would only min/max and take traits and classes purely for mechanical advantage and in doing so create no background or worse yet, poorly justified over dramatic tragedies that for some reason culminated in their characters being some sort of superpowered murder machine.

I think this helps players focus on a more grounded and plausible Character, one that had a past, has a present, and if they play right, will have a future.

Another note is that outside of adventure paths, most of these backgrounds are generic enough to be slotted into pretty much any setting. I've certainly never heard of a fantasy setting that didn't have Blacksmiths, Urchins and the like.

Hmm really? My min maxers didn't even TRY to give a reason.

The only issue here for players that don't min max and just want to make an actual character is "What to do if an Existing background doesn't fit my idea". I had that for 5e often with their backgrounds and was told 3 times "No you can't make your own" at their organized games.

And if some Backgrounds do a bit more, the min maxers will flock to those anyway. So at this rate we're stuck with pretty average picks. They don't feel like I'm picking a back ground. They just feel, meh.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm liking what I'm seeing here. I'm also really appreciating how generous PF2 is going to allow players to tailor their stats to the character they want to be. The extra stats, feats, and skill proficiencies from backgrounds, on top of ancestries and class all feel like bonuses to me, and that makes me a happy camper.

Backgrounds are mechanically pretty straightforward that as a GM, I can invent them on the fly, and players can easily propose their own that I don't think it'll break anything.


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Really hoping for an Adopted background to allow a character to be adopted by another race (aka a human infant being adopted by dwarven parents).


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edduardco wrote:
I will like to remind people suggesting +2 to two abilities, pick a feat, and a skill that such approach is not very friendly to new players, is easier to pick a prepackaged background with some flavour, and also goes along the lines of having classes.

it won't be the default. But it will be possible (either as a standard choice or as a suggested house rule for GMs with experienced players).


I really like that the Pathfinder Hopeful was pushed into the adventure module rather than being put in the core playtest book. Although there are some organizations in my home Greyhawk world, like the Seekers of the Arcane, to which I could adapt this background I really prefer not to and have only more general backgrounds in the core books.


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1of1 wrote:

Oh yeah, unchained. Sorry, I wasn't really feeling the magic when I flipped through it at a book store, so I didn't buy it. I don't* have as much disposable income for hobbies as I'd like. I guess I could just ask the internet what it's rules are, but again, I wasn't really into them. Glad people liked it, but I'm also glad it was optional.

I think that I'll just stay ignorant, so I can look at PF2 with fresh eyes. That is part of the spirit of the playtest, yeah?

Well, Paizo made it freely available on the Paizo website. Have you checked out the PRD?

If you check out "Pathfinder Unchained" there, you'll find everything you need to know about "Lore". Freely available, right here on this website.

Paizo is incredibly generous in allowing so much of their material be available for those who don't have much disposable income.


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KingOfAnything wrote:
Who is enforcing the flavor? The RP police?

Yes, exactly this.

The same people that blew the forums up because someone reflavored her riding dog into a riding pig at convention (without changing stats) or tried to tell me what by synthesist could, and could not, look like based on the word translucent in the eidolon description. People don't even know what the word means, and they kept telling me what my character had to look like.

Grand Lodge

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kaid wrote:
Rob Godfrey wrote:
So traits combined with set ability boosts..does this confirm the removal of point buy? Either way, kind of interesting and maybe has possibilities.
Yup it looks like this is the logical expansion of how starfinder was working so basically as you make your character you do the points as you go so pretty fast and easy to get your stats and still have enough room for flexibility. I am just curious if the plus 1 point bumps are more useful than they wind up being in starfinder.

Unfortunately this is what I dislike about Starfinder. I don't want to be pigeon-holed into picking a background I'm not interested in. Not choosing a background is an option, yes, but in Starfinder you don't get bonuses. I hope PF2 doesn't go this route.


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CrystalSeas wrote:
Paizo is incredibly generous in allowing so much of their material be available for those who don't have much disposable income.

Indeed they are, little... seahorse... thing...

...
Anyways!
It's why they're one of my favorite companies.
Thank you for sharing, but I think that I'll stick by the last two sentances of my last post before my mostly nonsequitorial edit.

Silver Crusade

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coyotegospel wrote:
Joe M. wrote:

We have:

Ancestry: 3 ability boosts (2 set, 1 free), 1 ability flaw**
Background: 2 ability boosts (1 set, 1 free)
Class: 1 ability boost (set)

So in PF2, creating a character will be as "easy as A, B, C".

Terrible pun, I know (actually arguably not a pun at all). That said, I do find it hard to believe that its a coincidence that the building blocks for a character can be abbreviated as such.

In an interview, Jason mentioned this as unintentional at first but a happy coincidence. I think it was the interview I linked in the first few posts of this thread.


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Joe M. wrote:

FWIW, Jason and Stephen discuss PF2 Backgrounds in this presentation, starting at 43:00. It's a good overview. Some highlights.

Jason wrote:
Building your characters is following your ABCs: Pick your Ancestry, your Background, and your Class ... You pick your Ancestry, that's where you came from, that's how you were born; you pick your Background, which is how you grew up; and then you pick your Class, which is what you've trained to be.

Now we know the real reason race was replaced with ancestry. RBC just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Silver Crusade

Berselius wrote:
Really hoping for an Adopted background to allow a character to be adopted by another race (aka a human infant being adopted by dwarven parents).

I forget where one of the designers discussed this, but I believe there was some mention of handling this under Ancestries. Something like, it won't be 'just pick anything's, there will be a mechanical cost, but that they were exploring something around this kind of option. I'd need to dig back through my past posts to see if I posted about this when I saw it.


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eddv wrote:
ENHenry wrote:
eddv wrote:
edduardco wrote:
I will like to remind people suggesting +2 to two abilities, pick a feat, and a skill that such approach is not very friendly to new players, is easier to pick a prepackaged background with some flavour, and also goes along the lines of having classes.
Catering to new players is fine, but I don't want to be back here in 2023 talking about Pathfinder 3rd edition because 2nd didn't have staying power due to the lack of options for players who aren't brand new.
Realistically, that is NOT going to be a problem.
You're right, a mechanically uninteresting gaming system has never folded faster than expected in the history of tabletop gaming anywhere.

Except that you’re not talking about Random RPG Company, you’re talking about Paizo, a company that by practice DROWNS it’s customers in desired options, and about an iteration of Pathfinder, who is without doubt going to have a dozen supplement books inside of a year with all-new interesting options and mechanics.

Even further, contrast it to D&D5, a game line with all of a DOZEN total significant rulebooks over the past 5 years, about as “option-skimpy” as you can get compared to PF and PF2, which just released numbers that its own player base has grown to 15 million players in North America. And you think lack of options for Paizo’s experienced players is an honest concern?

So I reiterate: PF2 being rebooted in 4 years due to lack of interesting options for its players? Realistically, NOT a problem.


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I see each race has a floating ability boost and now backgrounds each have a floating ability boost.

Is there a reason why those two floating ability boosts aren't just removed from their respective homes and placed in a final customization: choose two abilities of your choice to boost?


edduardco wrote:
I will like to remind people suggesting +2 to two abilities, pick a feat, and a skill that such approach is not very friendly to new players, is easier to pick a prepackaged background with some flavour, and also goes along the lines of having classes.

And? nothing stops you from having background suggestions not tied to mechanics and/or giving some suggestions with mechanics. Training wheels should be made so you can take them off.

KingOfAnything wrote:

Who is enforcing the flavor? The RP police?

While the title says Blacksmith, the Lore is just Smithing, which could apply just as easily to a tinsmith, or "tinker". There is room in these backgrounds to move around a little and get comfortable.

Well even if you change the fluff, you're stuck with the mechanics like craft [blacksmith].


Blake's Tiger wrote:

I see each race has a floating ability boost and now backgrounds each have a floating ability boost.

Is there a reason why those two floating ability boosts aren't just removed from their respective homes and placed in a final customization: choose two abilities of your choice to boost?

It's because you can stack each step, but you can't put the same boost in the same place for an individual step. If the floating boosts were all put together it wouldn't be as clear that you can't use your second floating boost for strength because it lines up with your choice to be a blacksmith, for example.

The Exchange

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I like the stat bumps, especially the one that is miscellaneous. I wish there were more choices in skills. For example I would prefer a choice of pick pocket, bluff, stealth or perception as valid choices for a street urchin. More options the better.

Silver Crusade

Blake's Tiger wrote:

I see each race has a floating ability boost and now backgrounds each have a floating ability boost.

Is there a reason why those two floating ability boosts aren't just removed from their respective homes and placed in a final customization: choose two abilities of your choice to boost?

What Arachnofiend said. But also—there is a fourth stage of character creation where you get several free ability boosts. So all together:

Ancestry: 3 ability boosts (2 set, 1 free); 1 ability flaw

Background: 2 ability boosts (1 set, 1 free)

Class: 1 set ability boost

Level: 4 free ability boosts


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Joe M. wrote:
coyotegospel wrote:
Joe M. wrote:

We have:

Ancestry: 3 ability boosts (2 set, 1 free), 1 ability flaw**
Background: 2 ability boosts (1 set, 1 free)
Class: 1 ability boost (set)

So in PF2, creating a character will be as "easy as A, B, C".

Terrible pun, I know (actually arguably not a pun at all). That said, I do find it hard to believe that its a coincidence that the building blocks for a character can be abbreviated as such.

In an interview, Jason mentioned this as unintentional at first but a happy coincidence. I think it was the interview I linked in the first few posts of this thread.

That’s what I get for not paying more attention. I’ll have to check that out. Thanks for the info!


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eddv wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

I'm going to miss traits, some of the traits from PF1 were really evocative of a backstory, particularly via juxtaposition with another trait, in a way that a singular option isn't. Like it's one thing to have been a penniless urchin, and it's another thing to be a penniless orphan who traveled with the Witchmarket and learned how to talk to doorknobs.

So I hope there's an additional dimension added to backgrounds eventually.

I think the "traveling with the Witchmarket" may fold more into Ancestry feats.

I feel like that is getting lose in the shuffle a little here by folks that preferred the variety of traits. Most evidence suggests that the average character won't have less meaningful choices than a PF1 character, but those choices have been shifted around in different ways. Lumping all the different feat categories together, you've got... what, 31 feats by the time you hit level 20? Maybe more, since we know the rogue gets an additional 10 skill feats. That feels like a lot of room to make your character unique. I

n PF1, you'd have like... 10 feats, 10 rage powers/talents/discoveries, 2 traits, and like an average of 5 racial traits you can swap around with other stuff. 27 isn't too far behind, but you have some additional granularity for things like skill points and odd ability scores, but that stuff isn't particularly exciting IMO.

But you start with just ONE Ancestry/Heritage feat. There is now a very real opportunity cost to having a background to have had a background traveling with the Witchmarket. Where a trait allowed that with only a very minor opportunity cost.

But you gain more feats over time, even if you have less at level 1. (Frankly, I'm not sure we WILL have less at level 1. The "Level Up!" table showed us level 2 and 3, but level 1 was conspicuously absent.)

Also, this isn't a new problem. Quite often these flavorful decision in PF1 meant giving up direct mechanical benefits. You know how hard it is for a dwarf fighter to spare skill ranks for profession black-smithing at level 1? Unless you are using the Unchained Background skills, it freaking hurts. How many times have we found a trait whose flavor perfectly matches our character but provided nothing useful mechanically? Hard to justify taking it when crazy OP stuff like Magic Lineage exists.

I grant you that it can be weird if you are "unlocking" traits you should have had at level 1. And I'm also really hoping 5 ancestry feats doesn't come out to the same impact as the 5 starting racial abilities in PF1. But a lot of that will come down to just how good the Ancestry feats and various other things are. I don't want the same amount of butter spread over even more toast, I want the same butter and toast AND ALSO JELLY.


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I can't believe how many crumbs are in the butter, and how many buttery crumbs in the jam!

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