We're only a few short weeks away from Gen Con, the release of Pathfinder's Second Edition opening books, and the launch of the new Pathfinder Society campaign! Phew! In the coming weeks we'll be previewing scenarios, pregenerated characters, the Guide, but today we're going to talk about one of the final character creation elements. Character creation works in basically the same way as is described in the soon-to-be-released Pathfinder Core Rulebook: choose your ancestry, select a background, pick your class, and you're well on your way. These are the A(ncestry), B(ackground), C(lass)s of character design, and my colleagues Mark Seifter and Linda Zayas-Palmer will be on Know Direction at 9 pm EST/6 pm PST tonight to go through the character creation process.
But there are two special considerations in building your Pathfinder Society character. One of them is factions, which we've described in numerous earlier blogs (check out the three faction previews from May and June). Just as in Starfinder Society, adventuring earns your PC Reputation (which unlocks potential rewards) and Fame (which lets you purchase those rewards). Collectively, these grant your PC an extra edge.
And today we're going to address the other feature: training.
Published well before I started work at Paizo, Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Seekers of Secrets has always served as one of the foundational lore resources for the team, from understanding the in-world Society's role to getting a sense of where there are Pathfinder lodges. It also introduces the three deans of the Pathfinder Society—Kreighton Shaine, the Master of Scrolls; Aram Zey, the Master of Spells (since replaced by Sorrina Westyr); and Marcos Farabellus, the Master of Swords—each of who play a role in training initiates for the rigors of the adventuring world. Seekers of Secrets helpfully explains how the Scrolls lessons feature translation and insight, the Spells focus on understanding and surviving magical threats, and the Swords involves a mix of athleticism, combat fundamentals, and spelunking basics. However, we've just never been terribly clear about what's involved in the deans' oversight, what role the three “schools” play in an established field agent's exploits, or whether any of that reflects on the gameplay experience. In designing the Second Edition organized play experience, we wanted to change that.
When you build a player character in the Second Edition Pathfinder Society campaign, you'll have three points to distribute between the three schools, representing how much your PC focused on those school's curricula while training as an initiate. Each point you invest in a school gives a small benefit that's relevant throughout your character's entire career, representing not only the lessons you learned but also the life-long professional contacts you made during that time.
If you'd like to assign one point to each school, you'll receive fairly balanced benefits. This choice opens access to a bunch of options and represents having a Pathfinder with a well-rounded education. If you relish the idea of a more focused character, even mixing unlikely class-school combinations like a barbarian with 3 points in Spells, consider spending your points on just one or two schools. You can easily assign two points to Scrolls and one to Spells, or you could pile all three into Swords. It's your call!
Just what does your Pathfinder training provide? The core mechanic is access to consumable items. These represent colleagues' experimental draughts, tools provided by the Grand Lodge, or additional gear loaned out by a venture-captain from their own inventories. Just after the mission briefing, you'll be able to requisition one consumable item for use during the adventure. If you don't use it by the end of the adventure, your character returns it. As to what consumable items can you acquire - that depends on your school.
1 Point: By investing 1 point in a school, you have access to that school's item list, and at every odd-numbered level, more options become available for each school. In addition, everyone has access to a list of basic healing and bomb options (a bomb refers to the classic “splash” weapons like alchemist's fire and acid flasks). The starting options for these appear later in this blog.
2 Points: By investing a second point in a school, the PC begins with a bonus Lore skill from a list tied to the school. At 5th level, the PC also gains a bonus skill feat from a list tied to that school, representing the PC's ongoing training.
3 Points: By investing all three points in a school, the PC gains a second consumable item at the start of the adventure, though the bonus item's level must be half the PC's level or lower.
Let's take a look at what consumable items are available at 1st level for each school.
All Schools (1): holy water, lesser [bomb], lesser antidote, lesser antiplague,
Scrolls (1): feather token (ladder), lesser eagle-eye charm, owlbear charm, sunrod, wolf fang
Spells (1): a scroll with one of the following 1st-level spells: burning hands, charm, fear, harm, heal, mage armor, magic fang, magic missile, magic weapon, or soothe.
Swords (1): lesser leaper's elixir, potency crystal, shining ammunition
When in doubt, you can always choose a healing potion, but having some extra school support means you're more likely to have access to the perfect tool for the job. In return, it's assumed that your PC spends some of their downtime assisting their colleagues in a similar way, whether that's mixing up alchemical elixirs, helping repair a lodge, assisting an old friend from back when you were both initiates together, or mentoring the next generation of explorers. Pay it forward.
What about if you don't care about the training system? No problem—we asked ourselves the same question when first brainstorming this system, and we realized that we could also address one of the other less-explored aspects of the Pathfinder Society: field-commissioned agents. These are the explorers who have already made a name for themselves by the time they cross paths with the Society and for whom a venture-captain chooses to waive the traditional three years of training before sponsoring that adventurer to join the Pathfinders. A field-commissioned agent (i.e. a PC who invests none of those three points in any schools) lacks the deep collegial relationships that a formally trained Pathfinder enjoys, and that's represented as restricted access to those free consumable items. On the other hand, those agents don't have nearly the same obligations as the other Pathfinders, and that means field-commissioned agents earn more Downtime per level than other PCs.
And if being a field-commissioned agent really fits your backstory, but you'd like to use the training points (or maybe your agent was classically trained but eschews assisting colleagues and ignores the training system), that's cool, too. The training system's a bonus to provide your character tools to survive whatever the adventuring life throws their way, not to tie your hands as to the stories you can tell. We're looking forward to seeing it in action, and we're looking forward to seeing many of you at Gen Con!
And again, check out Know Direction's live stream tonight for all the character creation insights!
Organized Play Lead Developer
Pathfinder Society Preview: Scrolls, Spells, and Swords
Wednesday, July 17, 2019