The new Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Core Set is almost here! Paizo and the designers at Lone Shark built upon years of fan feedback and experience to improve the game. If you're curious about what the Core Set has to offer and the design principles that went into the revision, you're in luck. The designers have been publishing a series of great blogs on the topic: overall principles, adding more story, varying the challenge, reducing complexity, encouraging teamwork, rewarding heroism, and embracing chance.
Much like the card game itself, the card game branch of Organized Play is looking to build on feedback to make a better program, without throwing out the content that we had before. We renamed the Pathfinder Adventure Card Guild to the Pathfinder Adventure Card Society (PACS). This establishes our card game as the third branch of our organized play programs, with me as the dedicated developer. We will have year themes different from the Pathfinder Society, though there may still be crossover events from time to time, and are looking at what kind of special events we may be able to do besides the annual Open tournament.
In the PACS, there will be a lot of features that you are already used to. Players use class decks to play Adventures made up of several scenarios. As they play, characters upgrade their deck and gain Feats, which let them improve their skills, learn new powers, and add more cards to their deck. Every few scenarios, players can increase their character's Tier, allowing them to play more challenging scenarios.
The Fangwood Thieves
The Fangwood Thieves is the first PACS adventure to use the Core Set. The first two scenarios debut at PaizoCon, and the second two debut at Origins (June 11-15). This collection of 4 scenarios is designed as an introduction to the Core Set and is well-suited as a demo for the game usable anywhere, particularly game stores and conventions. It can also help new players catch up to other players who are playing an ongoing Adventure Path.
The plot's fairly straightforward, taking place in the Fangwood and involving a group of thieving kobolds. If you are steeped in Golarion lore, you may notice a few nods to existing canon, such as references to the aftermath of the Ironfang Invasion Adventure Path, but you don't need this knowledge to enjoy the adventure.
The Shape of Year 6
We're saving the name and symbol for Year 6 to be revealed at the PaizoCon Banquet, but I can talk about the season's overall structure. Over the years, we've received feedback that a season with a single large Adventure Path doesn't fit the schedules of everyone in the community. To help address this concern, we shortened the overarching Adventure Path story, including four scenarios per adventure instead of five or six. Not only does this fit more naturally with the new Hero Point model, but it also gives us more space in the season to experiment with other scenario and adventure formats.
Speaking of other formats. For Year 6, we'll be adding two new self-contained adventures. The first of these adventures will release in early 2020, and the second in the summer of 2020. These stand-alone adventures will be written for multiple Tiers to make them as versatile as possible. To differentiate what is part of the meta-plot and what is not, we are adopting a new title structure borrowed from the RPG adventure paths.
Even though Season 6 itself won't start until Gen Con, we'll be releasing an update to the Pathfinder Adventure Card Society Guide at PaizoCon 2019 (May 24-27), to coincide with the release of the Core Set. Here is a sneak peek of the three primary adjustments and one clarification appearing in the updated guide.
Using the Core Set Rules
Card Game Organized Play traditionally used the rulebook from the most recently released boxed set (with help from the boxed set that the adventure uses for card-specific rules). We'll be making this update again. Once the new guide releases, the revised rules from the Core Set will become the new default for Organized Play. As with previous rulebooks, the Core Set Rulebook will be available for free at paizo.com/pacg. With the new model of production, in which products like the Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path are presented as expansions on the Core Set rather than stand-alone games, the Core Set's rules will be the baseline rules for PACS for the foreseeable future.
So how should groups transition to the Core Set rules? The Core Set Rulebook includes a one-page transition guide that neatly summarizes the revision's changes and gives instructions for handling these changes when playing older sets. There are also a few specific cards that will be receiving changes. These changes will be available at paizo.com/pacg.
Hero Points and Tiering Up
In the Core Set, instead of gaining specific power, card, and skill feats, characters earn hero points. They can use these hero points to buy feats, reroll a die, or come back from the dead. Going forward, hero points will be the new standard for organized play. In PACS, a character can have several feats of each type equal to their Tier, but they can take these feats in whatever order they like. Hero Points also allow for more flexibility in how many scenarios a character can play before bumping up to the next Tier of play. A character could rush their advancement and increase their Tier after only 3 scenarios, or they could stick around for up to 6 scenarios to continue to improve their deck.
The Core Set includes options for making the game harder, introducing Heroic and Legendary difficulty. We are looking into how we can incorporate these difficulty levels into organized play and will have more information soon.
This isn't a change, but it's a clarification of an ambiguous rule. The rules about replay (namely, that characters that replay don't receive rewards) refer only to that specific character. In Pathfinder Adventure Card Society, playing a scenario with a different character does not count as “Replay.” This means that when you play a scenario again with a different character, that character earns the scenario's full rewards.
As always, we'll be keeping an eye out for community feedback, from rules changes to the new adventure model, so let us know what you think!