When we announced Pathfinder Second Edition, the organized play team began gathering feedback from our player base and volunteer organizers as to what they liked about Pathfinder Society and what they would like carried over to Second Edition campaign. We continued this outreach in person and across a variety of digital platforms and the end of 2018 saw several rounds of blog posts collated from forum threads and surveys associated with the blog topics.
Your feedback and input were leading factors as we assessed what worked well that we wanted to keep, and how to incorporate your choices for a player-influenced campaign. Throughout our conversations, we regularly referred back to your responses to ensure that new rules addressed the community's concerns wherever possible. The process has taken some time, and more than a year has passed between the new edition's announcement and today's blog. Now that the Core Rulebook is at the printer, we can start announcing what Pathfinder Society will look like when it launches at Gen Con 2019.
It's worth noting that some of these decisions were contentious, often including survey data with mixed results that pushed us to deliberate how best to deliver a quality organized play experience while doing what we can to address opposing concerns. That said, these include changes. It's our goal that these changes strengthen the new campaign while maintaining the spirit of the Pathfinder Society, and we ask that you see them in action before judging their ultimate merit. We'll be listening especially closely for feedback from players and volunteers alike in the campaign's early months, and if something isn't working correctly, we'll be looking for ways to adjust and fine tune.
Also, there's far more for us to announce that can be reasonably fit in a single blog, so we'll be posting more updates over the next several months. You'll see a variety of organized play team members introducing organized play nuances of character building, running adventures, and factions. And even if a team member doesn't appear as a blog's author, know what we've all had a hand in creating these new policies and features. All told, a lot is coming between now and Gen Con.
For this week, we want to focus on what you earn—both as a player and as a PC.
Let's introduce some terms, many familiar and a few new or slightly changed. In the First Edition campaign, you had four values that you might track: Experience Points (XP), Gold Pieces (GP), Fame, and Prestige Points (PP). In Starfinder Society, we renamed a few of these, but mostly just added a fifth value: Infamy. In Pathfinder Society's second edition campaign, there's a little more to track, but you'll see a lot you recognize from Starfinder Society in particular.
- Experience Points (XP): These track a character's level.
- Infamy: This tracks how notorious a PC is for having performed evil or highly disreputable actions. Most PCs are unlikely to earn this.
- Reputation: This tracks how much influence a PC has in a faction.
- Achievement Points (AcP): These are a player-based currency earned by playing and GMing Pathfinder Society games. These are used to access special character options and to gain special benefits tied to the campaign's rules.
- Downtime: At the end of each adventure, a PC earns Downtime measured in days (3 days per 1 XP) that should be spent by the start of the next adventure. Downtime allows a PC to earn additional money through a profession, craft gear, retrain character options, and more.
- Fame: This represents the PC's social capital, which they can spend on purchasing boons and services.
- Gold Pieces (GP): These represent the PC's wealth, used to buy gear and services.
Seven fields are a decent amount to manage. Fortunately, three of these are tracking numbers (XP, Infamy, and Reputation) that will go up slowly over time. Three of these are currencies (Downtime, Fame, and GP) that your character uses to acquire gear and other edges. And one is a currency for you as a player.
We imagine you have questions! Let's look at these more closely.
Experience Points (XP)
When working out the XP system for Second Edition, we looked at several different models, including both the model that Pathfinder Society currently uses (3 XP = 1 Level) and a true XP system (such as how the Core Rulebook requires 1,000 XP to gain a level). In the end, we chose a system where there are 12 XP within each level. A scenario grants 4 XP, while a quest gives 1 XP. The chapters of longer, sanctioned adventures grant the full 12 XP needed to gain a level. One way to think about it is that each XP represents roughly 1 hour of play.
You may have seen us talking about quests in previous blogs, but in case you haven't, we're going to be releasing more of them going forward. We're adding one quest to each month's releases starting with the launch of the Second Edition campaign, in addition to two Pathfinder Society scenarios. Having more quests allows us to explore more locations and stories, and it gives more content for times and places where people can't sit down to play for hours at a time.
However, quests in First Edition were a little challenging to handle because there were two forms those quests took: either a bundle of 4–6 quests that required players to play the whole series to earn the full rewards, or stand-alone quests that granted no XP, GP, or Fame. In Second Edition, we're building the campaign so that quests are a rewards-granting entity from the very beginning, even for stand-alone quests. With each being worth 1 XP, it should be easier to track their rewards—including no need for fractional XP.
There's one other matter to discuss about Fractional XP: the Slow Advancement Track. The slow track is an option where players can choose at the beginning of an adventure to earn fewer rewards to slow their character's advancement. We will be retaining slow track in Second Edition. A slow track scenario will grant 2 XP. The only players who will see fractional XP are those who choose to use slow advancement track while playing a quest, earning 1/2 XP per quest.
Oh, but we love Infamy. In the First Edition campaign, performing evil deeds could lead to a warning or a PC's possible expulsion from the campaign (barring atonement), but it was difficult to track. Instituting a quantitative tracking system mid-campaign proved surprisingly tricky, so when we were creating Starfinder Society, we built in Infamy from the beginning.
The concept's reasonably straightforward. When your PC does something utterly notorious, uncaring, or outright evil, they can earn a point of Infamy (many scenarios also include special notes about a particular circumstance that might grant Infamy). Before you follow through, the GM's supposed to warn you about the likely consequences, and it's your call whether to do it anyway. Infamy gets tracked between adventures, and if you end an adventure with 3 or more Infamy, the Society determines your PC is too significant a threat to the Society's reputation and interests to keep around; that PC's removed from play. You can spend a notable amount of Fame to remove Infamy, and each point of Infamy you have makes it a little harder to purchase gear. From what we've seen and heard in Starfinder Society is that Infamy gain is relatively rare, and it's pretty easy to predict and avoid.
Expect to see Infamy largely unchanged in the upcoming Pathfinder Society campaign.
Reputation and Fame
We're also pretty happy with how factions operate in Starfinder Society, and this model is strongly inspiring the Second Edition campaign. To catch you up to speed, Starfinder Society allows each PC to represent numerous factions, and each faction represents less an outside interest and more of a subculture within the Society with unique goals. As you adventure, you can choose to focus on one faction or more evenly spread out your influence in each one (i.e., Reputation). The higher your Reputation with a faction, the more faction-oriented goodies you can access. So in practice, Reputation is like XP for a faction. You earn it slowly, and it only goes up over time.
Essentially, fame is what we know as Prestige Points in Pathfinder Society's first edition. You can spend Fame to purchase various services, such as securing spellcasting and paying off any Infamy. It's also used to buy many of those faction-oriented benefits mentioned above.
Pathfinder Society and Starfinder Society both have a basic Downtime mechanic already, for which the default benefit is the Day Job check—roll a skill check and earn some extract gold or credits. However, Downtime's also very direct, with each PC earning a unit of Downtime with no fractions or the like. There's some room for improvement.
Second Edition's core rules have Downtime mechanics built into the game, which makes it pretty darn easy for the Pathfinder Society experience to match how everyone else is playing the game. Downtime's used for a variety of tasks, from Earn Income to make some money, to Crafting to make your own gear (at a nicely balanced discount), to retraining class features, to any number of special outlets for Downtime that adventures might open up.
In the Second Edition campaign, expect to see Downtime and earn it after each adventure. The number of days of Downtime earned depend on the XP you earned, so barring any custom “gain bonus Downtime” rewards we might include in adventures, you can predict about how much you'll make at each level. Unlike other resources, you can't stockpile Downtime; you'll get some Downtime at the end of the adventure, and it's up to you to use it before the next adventure.
Gold Pieces (GP)
At face value, there might not seem to be anything to say here. Gold—and silver at earlier levels—lets you buy gear. You might have heard about Pathfinder Section Edition using a rarity system, though, so there's a little more involved when it comes to acquiring Uncommon or Rare equipment than throwing a bag of coins at the problem. For now, know that we're addressing rarities in a future blog, and every week we explore additional possibilities for opening up a portion of the Uncommon options in fun and accessible ways.
Achievement Points (AcP)
Okay, so gold, Downtime, Fame. These are things our organized play community has handled in some form or another before. Achievement Points may be more familiar than you think, but it's easy to overlook because their predecessor (Playtest Points) hasn't entirely wrapped up yet.
At their core, Achievement Points are about equality. As best I recall, Paizo introduced convention boons at Gen Con 2011, giving attendees a chance to win the first of many much-desired race boons. It took a little while, but slowly race boons became fairly common convention rewards beyond Gen Con, and they've been a staple of incentivizing convention play and celebrating attendees at Paizo-sponsored events since. Ah, but for as long as there have been convention boons, there have been concerns about those who can't make it to conventions (or in the case of some rarer rewards, those who can't make it to the “right” conventions). For every valid concern about missing content by not reaching conventions, there's an equally valid concern as to how the program can help keep the convention scene vibrant without great GM rewards (i.e., “If not race boons, then what?”).
Our answer is Achievement Points. Whenever you participate in—and report—a Pathfinder Society adventure, you earn Achievement Points. You'll receive a base amount for playing, earn more for GMing, and even more for GMing at Paizo-sponsored conventions like PaizoCon and Gen Con. No matter where you are or how you play, you'll be earning Achievement Points. We haven't finalized the exact numbers, as we are looking at how the Regional Support Program and Event Support for conventions interact and how we can incorporate both into the Achievement Point system. The chart of what activity earns what is one of those announcements for future blogs.
What does one do with these AcP (we're using that abbreviation to not confuse everyone about Adventure Paths)? You can redeem them on the Paizo website for different rewards that you might typically associate with convention boons or GM boons. No doubt that will include access to uncommon ancestries from upcoming products, but it could also include somewhat “meta” benefits like opening up replay options, providing a more comprehensive character rebuild, or starting a new PC at a higher level. Purchase the boon, print off a copy, and keep it with that PC. Or go digital and keep track of your AcP purchases on your My Organized Play page at Paizo.com The system we've requested and are testing auto-fills your organized play number and other key fields, limiting the potential to print off a hundred copies for all of your friends.
All told, it means that someone who plays a lot but never GMs could still save up to grab the reward of their choice, and someone who passionately GMs at numerous shows each year can accumulate and spend AcP more quickly. But everyone has access to the same rewards, with a few exceptions. We expect that there will be occasional limited-access options (like the charity boons Paizo's created for the past several years) but anticipate there to be far less Gen Con-exclusives. We also expect we'll shake up some of the options that AcP can access, but there will be an announcement period so participants can make the most informed decisions for their characters.
At this time, we are only planning AcP for Pathfinder Society and will provide physical boons for Starfinder Society and Pathfinder Adventure Card Society. If the AcP system works well, we will look at how we could incorporate it into the other Paizo organized play programs.
For someone familiar with our other organized play programs, there are some changes to the process. For someone new to Paizo organized play programs, it can be a lot to digest. We revisited what many of these scores to explain them more simply. Here's the TL,DR:
- Experience Points (XP): This tells me my character level.
- Infamy: This is rare and tracks how much of a jerk my PC has been.
- Reputation: This is how much a faction likes me.
- Achievement Points (AcP): I spend these on any of my PCs to access unusual character options and opportunities.
- Downtime: This is my character's free time for training, earning money, or making things.
- Fame: I spend this on buying boons and favors.
- Gold Pieces(GP): I spend this on gear and services.
Organized Play Lead Developer
Organized Play Manager