Pathfinder Society Preview: Legacy Backgrounds

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Very early on in developing the Second Edition campaign for Pathfinder Society, the team agreed that transferring large portions of the First Edition PCs' accomplishments would be disruptive. We wanted to present a level playing field for everyone, beginners and veterans alike. Instead, we looked for ways to provide fun and meaningful ways to recognize your accomplishments from the past 11 years as you're creating characters for the new campaign. We're doing so in a big way through backgrounds.

If you checked out the playtest, you'd see that backgrounds in the new edition are quite familiar. Each helps define part of your character's upbringing or past, granting you two ability boosts, training in a specific skill, training in a bonus lore skill, and a skill feat. With few and minor exceptions, all backgrounds grant exactly these benefits, and each PC gains exactly one background, so no one background is necessarily stronger than another. Instead, the differences are in the combination of benefits and storytelling potential.

And what potential we have! In 11 years, the Society's accomplished so much, and there's a unique background for each season. All of the backgrounds reflect the Society's accomplishments that year, while also acknowledging the ways that those accomplishments might have inspired and trained new agents. So long as you have earned credit for 5 or more scenarios from a particular season (as a player or GM), you're free to use the associated background for any of your PCs. And if there's a season for which you haven't met that target, don't worry; you're welcome to play some more First Edition scenarios at any time to qualify later.

Let's look at a few of these to see what's in store. Keep in mind that there are broad, basic, and slightly ambiguous spoilers for events in Seasons 1, 3, 4, and 9 ahead.

Shadow War Survivor Background

Countless factions have fought for influence in Absalom for millennia, and for decades these groups worked through the Pathfinder Society to better control the City at the Center of the World. Perhaps you were ones of these agents who clashed with other operatives during the so-called Shadow War. Or you might have been an unintended victim of these clandestine clashes, inspiring you to join the Society and stop the conflict from within. Whatever the reason, navigating the Shadow War has left you politically savvy and informed.

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

You're trained in the Society skill and the Absalom Lore skill. You gain the Streetwise skill feat.

Special: You can select this background only if you have earned credit for at least 5 First Edition scenarios from Season 1 of the Pathfinder Society organized play campaign.

Ruby Phoenix Enthusiast Background

Named for the legendary sorcerer Hao Jin, the Ruby Phoenix Tournament occurs once every 10 years in Goka and attracts extraordinary talent from across the world. You might have begun training for the tournament but never participated, or perhaps you entered the tournament only to be defeated by (and inspired to join) the Pathfinder Society. Either way, your dedicated training prepares you for the rigors of the adventuring lifestyle.

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

You're trained in the Athletics skill and the Gladiatorial Lore skill. You gain the Combat Climber skill feat. In addition, you gain access to one of the following uncommon monk weapons: kama, nunchaku, sai, shuriken, or temple sword.

Special: You can select this background only if you have earned credit for at least 5 First Edition scenarios from Season 3 of the Pathfinder Society organized play campaign.

Thassilonian Delver Background

As archaeologists uncovered and explored ever-larger numbers of Thassilonian ruins, you were among the eager explorers who sought out the Runelords' ancient secrets. You may have been the apprentice to another Pathfinder who perished on an expedition, leaving you their discoveries and notes. Or perhaps you explored several of these sites yourself, quickly learning to parse the arcane secrets before lest the eldritch magic extinguish your life.

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

You're trained in the Arcana skill and the Thassilonian History Lore skill. You gain the Arcane Sense skill feat. Add Thassilonian to the list of additional languages you can learn for having a high Intelligence modifier.

Special: You can select this background only if you have earned credit for at least 5 First Edition scenarios from Season 4 of the Pathfinder Society organized play campaign.

Faction Opportunist Background

As the Pathfinder Society's influence has grown, so too did many of its factions become wealthier and more powerful. These factions relied on a host of Pathfinders and independent operatives alike to establish trade networks, shape national politics, and more, and you were among the specialists who helped one of these factions realize its goal. These events provided you countless opportunities to develop your own contacts and negotiating skills.

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

You're trained in the Diplomacy skill, plus either Guild Lore, Heraldry Lore, or Mercantile Lore. You gain the Hobnobber skill feat.

Special: You can select this background only if you have earned credit for at least 5 First Edition scenarios from Season 9 of the Pathfinder Society organized play campaign.

So as advertised, these are all granting ability boosts, a skill, a Lore, and a skill feat. There are also a few flavorful perks that don't noticeably increase the power level but do help a PC better reflect the background experiences. In this way, Ruby Phoenix Enthusiast gets to walk away with a kama souvenir, the Thassilonian can pick Thassilonion as one of their bonus languages, and the Faction Opportunist gets to choose one of three Lore skills to better reflect the full range of faction-related deeds from Season 9.

We hope to see these backgrounds in action, continuing the memorable First Edition stories into the exciting future of Second Edition gaming!

John Compton
Organized Play Lead Developer

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Tags: Organized Play Pathfinder Second Edition Pathfinder Society
Silver Crusade 3/5

Ohhh, this will be nice for people not wanting to switch. Throw backs to old factions and events as backgrounds is a wonderful idea.

Grand Lodge 3/5 ⦵⦵

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Wow! Awesome, flavorful way for those people who want to connect their new characters to their old characters - I love this!

Scarab Sages 5/5 Venture-Captain, Netherlands aka Woran

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Wow! I like them a lot!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

These look very fun and flavorful! Can't wait to see what will be available for the rest of the seasons!

The Exchange 1/5

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

This is pretty cool! I can see several of my new characters telling tales of there Dads and Uncles and what not in PFS2. Really like this idea, you guys ROCK!

Sovereign Court 4/5 ⦵⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Georgia—Atlanta aka The Masked Ferret

certainly interesting. I guess these backgrounds will be in the guild guide, or downloadable from out Paizo accounts?

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Huzzah! I can see a couple of my 1E characters converting over with at least one of these backgrounds.

Dark Archive

2 people marked this as a favorite.

This is great, but I don’t understand why not to add this for, for example, fractional scenarios. Okay, suppose you put them in the dustbin of history, but don't they deserve that we can proudly say: “I was a member of the Exchange!”?

1/5

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

This is neat. As someone that's just playing the odd 1E PFS scenario here and there while waiting for 2E PFS to drop at GenCon, this gives me incentive to look through my play in earlier seasons and play scenarios I might have otherwise skipped.

Sovereign Court 5/5 Venture-Captain, California—Los Angeles aka Neume

I love this. I would second the concept of loving to see this applied to the 1ed factions as well, with similar requirements.

Scarab Sages 5/5 Venture-Captain, Washington—Spokane

1 person marked this as a favorite.

This is awesome!! As someone who likes to connect his characters together in some fashion, I am liking the fact that I will be able to connect my 1E and 2E characters. Thank you!!

Scarab Sages 3/5 Venture-Agent, Nebraska—Bellevue aka JohannVonUlm

4 people marked this as a favorite.
John Compton wrote:
You can select this background only if you have earned credit for at least 5 First Edition scenarios from ...

I appreciate the wording here as it appears earning GM credit is an acceptable alternative to earning player credit. Thanks!

Liberty's Edge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Missouri—Cape Girardeau aka Arnim Thayer

I appreciate these, embracing what has come before with what is yet to come. I do have a few questions though.

1) Shouldn't Shadow War Survivor be tied to Season 2? The Shadow Lodge storyline begins with 2-00 Year of the Shadow Lodge, the first instance of a Seasonal meta-plot of Pathfinder Society.

2) Will there be others tied to the major story arcs from previous Seasons? I know this is only a preview, but it would be remiss to not look to ALL the meta-plots for inspiration. It seems like there should be one related to the Worldwound conflict for Season, one tied to the search for the Sky Key in Season 6, for surviving the concerted assault of the Aspis Consortium in Season 7, or for the exploration of the Elemental Planes in Season 8. I look forward to seeing what can be developed for providing backgrounds related to all the Seasons.

3) Is there a chance that we will see a Background specifically designed as a reward to those who have played in scenarios that form a cross-Season story arc? I'd love to see one related to the Blakros Museum!

Things like this give me hope for Pathfinder Society with Second Edition, and show respect and continued support for the PF1 campaign as well. Huzzah!

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

3 people marked this as a favorite.

The Shadow War refers to the initial struggle between the five nation factions for control of Absalom, not the Shadow Lodge. By Season 2, that plot idea was being cast aside given its antagonistic nature pitting player versus player.

Liberty's Edge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Missouri—Cape Girardeau aka Arnim Thayer

Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
The Shadow War refers to the initial struggle between the five nation factions for control of Absalom, not the Shadow Lodge. By Season 2, that plot idea was being cast aside given its antagonistic nature pitting player versus player.

I can see that inference now. We really should get a Season 2 based Background then that covers the internal "civil war" of the Pathfinder Society. It is unfortunate that the (IMO) perfect name for it has already been applied elsewhere.

Grand Lodge 3/5 Venture-Agent, Australia—QLD—Gold Coast aka DanielB

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I believe as per the blog there is one per season "In 11 years, the Society's accomplished so much, and there's a unique background for each season" This is probably just a small taster of what is to come for Society upon release

Michael VonHasseln wrote:


2) Will there be others tied to the major story arcs from previous Seasons? I know this is only a preview, but it would be remiss to not look to ALL the meta-plots for inspiration. It seems like there should be one related to the Worldwound conflict for Season, one tied to the search for the Sky Key in Season 6, for surviving the concerted assault of the Aspis Consortium in Season 7, or for the exploration of the Elemental Planes in Season 8. I look forward to seeing what can be developed for providing backgrounds related to all the Seasons.

Grand Lodge 4/5

I like the way this works. It is going to give players a reason to go back and play some of the PFS1 content to give them some boost to their PFS2 characters. Good reinforcement of existing material here!

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

This just immediately gave me a warm fuzzy feeling :)

2/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

5 unique scenarios? No double credit for playing and GMing a scenario? No credit for multiple runs of Evergreens?

Or 5 credits, any credits, doesn't matter how you got them?

1/5

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Blake's Tiger wrote:

5 unique scenarios? No double credit for playing and GMing a scenario? No credit for multiple runs of Evergreens?

Or 5 credits, any credits, doesn't matter how you got them?
PFS blogpost wrote:
Special: You can select this background only if you have earned credit for at least 5 First Edition scenarios..

My reading is credit from 5 unique scenarios per season. Which, if the goal is to have broad exposure to the season, you wouldn't really get by playing the same evergreen / GMming the same scenario multiple times. That said, 5 per season seems quite accessible to PFS players. My playtime has gone up and down over the years, but looking at my records, I am good for six seasons, and have another 3 seasons where I am only 1 short...

2/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

I don't disagree with that rationale or interpretation, just looking for clarity before those who might have interpretted it differently start showing up at my tables in August (not that I'll have any way to verify).

Grand Lodge 4/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

In the case of an audit, is the player expected to keep copies of the original chronicle sheets with their current player records to show they qualify for the legacy background they selected or are we going strictly on the honor system?

Sovereign Court 4/5 ⦵⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Georgia—Atlanta aka The Masked Ferret

or will they be granted based on games reported?

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Bob Jonquet wrote:
In the case of an audit, is the player expected to keep copies of the original chronicle sheets with their current player records to show they qualify for the legacy background they selected or are we going strictly on the honor system?

Given that there is not a mechanical advantage being given by these, and that we don't think it's a reasonable expectation of the program's volunteers to sift through someone's reporting data looking for 5 unique scenarios from a specific season, these are something that we consider to be honor system material. We're giving these as a way for you to tie the stories from each of your campaigns together, and we're going to trust you all to use them as intended.

Liberty's Edge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Indiana—Martinsville aka thaX

So, these backgrounds are additional choices for the character in addition to those that will be in the core rulebook?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Fantastic idea!

1/5

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Hillis Mallory III wrote:

So, these backgrounds are additional choices for the character in addition to those that will be in the core rulebook?

The core rulebook will have background choices, as well as (I believe) the Lost Omens Campaign Setting book, and even the Kingmaker crowdfunding effort, as a level-up (stretch goal). Much like how both the Playtest book and the Doomsday Dawn playtest adventure had backgrounds.

The Exchange 3/5 Venture-Lieutenant, California—Sacramento

Where is a list of the final versions?

Liberty's Edge 4/5 Venture-Agent, Illinois—Bourbonnais aka GM_MG

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Here you go.

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