Pathfinder & Starfinder Home Gaming Guide

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Hi everyone! I’m Payton, your Social Media Producer. Just like us here at Paizo, you are probably stuck at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meaning your weekly game sessions with friends around the table might have stopped. So I wanted to help people find ways to help your friends continue the adventure.

This Pathfinder & Starfinder Home Gaming Guide is built to help introduce you to various tools and tips to smoothly get your campaign back on track. Since I have generally played tabletop RPGs online, I want to share what I’ve learned with all of you.

If you have any tips and tricks you’d like to add to this guide, please leave a comment down below this blog, or help out another fellow player on social media!

Virtual Tabletop Options

Astral currently only supports just the Pathfinder Second Edition Core Rulebook, but it has a lot of amazing tools and features to manage your campaign. Features like animated maps, weather effects, line of sight, an intuitive interface to help keep up with the game’s rules, and so much more! I have been using Astral to run demos of Pathfinder Second Edition, and I love it more and more every session. With its easy drag and drop interface, I find myself being able to Game Master fairly efficiently with my improv style storytelling.

Astral as of this time is opening up their paid features for free until the end of April, so for newbies and veterans of virtual tabletop, now is the time to give Astral a try.

For those needing help learning how to use Astral, I highly recommend checking out Astral’s tutorials provided here to help you get started.

Astral looks absolutely stellar!

Roll20 is a popular option for many players. If you want to quickly pick up a Starfinder or Pathfinder Adventure and play, you will find that Roll20 supports a large number of Pathfinder & Starfinder products. Several of our adventures are ready for you and your group to play right now!

Roll20 has a lot of easy to use features!

For those wishing to set up homebrewed campaigns, Roll 20 has various features to help keep your games organized. Along with a large assortment of tools to build your maps in-game, such as line-of-sight, lighting, support for animated images, 3d dice rolling, turn orders, character sheets, and so on. The list is vast, making many campaigns I’ve run so much easier thanks to Roll20.

You can find Starfinder and Pathfinder Second Edition content prepped and ready for you within Roll20’s marketplace.
Pathfinder Second Edition:

Fantasy Grounds is an incredible virtual tabletop system. The amount of tools and features it supports is too vast to list in the blog, but let me link you to their feature list for you to browse yourself here.

Fantasy Grounds makes it easy to share character art and information between players.

One of my favorite things about Fantasy Grounds is that nearly every Adventure Path Paizo has put out is fully converted and prepared in Fantasy Grounds. So for those wanting to play through Pathfinder Second Edition’s Extinction Curse Adventure Path or any other Adventure Path you can do so fully prepared for your Game Master and players in Fantasy Grounds. The support for Starfinder & Pathfinder is huge on this platform, and we highly recommend it for those looking to get set up with a premade adventure as quickly as possible.

Having the map and monsters already set up for really helps shorten prep time for your GM!

D20PRO is a fantastic platform that helps automate a lot of Starfinder’s systems to help you focus on the role-playing aspect of your campaign. Along with saving you time during your play sessions. You can find a list of their features here.

They currently only support Starfinder at the time of writing this blog, in which you can start your star-fairing adventures here.

These are the majority of the virtual tabletop platforms that have support for Pathfinder or Starfinder. We encourage you to pick and choose whichever one of these best fits your group.

Voice Chat Options

Discord is a popular communication platform that hosts tons of servers dedicated to various topics. Also, shout out to all the Pathfinder & Starfinder fan-made discords out there (I’m lurking in a few of them). Discord allows you to host private chats & calls to help organize your tabletop RPG campaigns. And the best part is that the entire service is free! One of the significant advantages of Discord is the ability to find games within various servers. Check your favorite fan websites or fan groups, and see if they have a Discord server. Then ask if anyone is up for playing a game! Discord is a great platform to find like-minded communities, gaming sessions, and friends!

Additional Resources

You can add a bit of flair to your gaming sessions with dramatic sounds, use additional tools to make character creation easier, or use tools to make looking up rules and details a breeze. Here is a collection of resources that can help improve your gaming experience.

Syrinscape is a fantastic source for music and sounds to help enhance your Starfinder and Pathfinder gaming sessions. You can take a look at their collection for Pathfinder here, along with Starfinder here.

Now you can be your very own DJ for your campaign!

Hero Lab Online is a great tool to help create your Pathfinder and Starfinder characters. I use all the time when drafting characters and when playing our in-office Extinction Curse Adventure Path campaign. Hero Lab also has support for player-content from our books such as backgrounds, classes, and options found in Pathfinder Lost Omens Gods & Magic or Starfinder’s Character Operations Manual.

Hero Lab keeps track of what is correct or incorrect for your character, helping those new to character creation.

Archives of Nethys is our official system reference document (SRD) for all your rules needs. If you are looking to look up a rule, affliction, or effect quickly, this is one of the most useful tools in your arsenal.

For Pathfinder:
For Starfinder:

Whew! That’s a lot of resources to take in, but once you utilize and practice with all of these tools in your gaming workshop, you’ll wonder how you ever gamed without them.

Of course, the community itself has made a lot of amazing tools that make your gaming sessions a lot easier. There are just too many to list in this blog, and we’d hate to play favorites. So I encourage you to post your preferences in the comments down below! We’d love to hear about your favorite tools.

Please be safe out there, and please prioritize your health and safety.

May you forever continue being a critical success!

Payton Smith
Social Media Producer

This is a first in a series of blogs on online gaming. Next up, two blogs on using these resources and finding games from Organized Play on Thursday!

Adventures Ahead!

Aaron Shanks
Marketing and Media Manager

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Online Play Paizo
Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

This will help many gamers. Thanks!!!

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Maps, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

At last something good out of all this bad!
Thank you all very much!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.

MapTool is also a great VTT with almost a decade of support and it's free.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

I’ve been trying Astral and it is really cool.

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Very basic roll 20 intro

Make a roll 20 table

For organized play

Intro to PFS

Intro to SFS

Cosmic crittermanders discord For cosmic crit podcast, and a bunch of starfinder society stuff.

Use Foxit to fill out a chronicle sheet

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
Elorebaen wrote:
I’ve been trying Astral and it is really cool.

I have found it easy to learn...not as intimidating as others...and a good price (we are all free atm)

Phenomenal work, this'll help loads of people.

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Astral is pretty cool, but it is also requires a pretty decent machine to run. I tried running a session on it and once we got to a map with shadows, one of my players couldn't do or see anything. We went through the steps of turning on hardware acceleration in chrome and it still wasn't enough for him to use it. Kind of a bummer since my other players thought the system was wonderful. Back to roll20 we went.


We used Roll20 Sunday and it went well, learning the new system slowed us down, but it was a lot of fun. Definitely try out one of these systems.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Glad to see these online tools described AND people's experiences with them.

I have used MapTool + Discord (for audio) for months and found it to be excellent. It's free and in some ways better than Roll20.

What are people’s opinions on the best choice for someone who is extremely bad at computers?

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Steve: I'd use Roll20 - MapTools is great (I use it for my own games) but I think it has a much steeper learning curve than Roll20.

Cheers. I think I have a subscription to that already from a PBP game, so that’ll be a good option, perhaps.

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Astral v2 is pretty neat.

Was trying it on launch and wasn't good compared to current state.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Due to only meeting once a week, some of us are still playing Pathfinder 1 Adventure Paths.
How about some links to those Virtual Tabletops?
Also, which would be best for those of us who have never done anything like that?

The blog has a link to each one - generally, the first time the product is named, it’s done via link to the respective homepage.

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Sorry, I misread. I thought those were all Second Edition.

We've never played online. I think we're not going to be using the dicerolling, chat functions, character sheets or anything else, so (I'm hoping anyhow) the system it's for doesn't matter.

All I want is for players to be able to see the map - then we're all going to skype and play just as if we were sitting around the table (I don't audit character sheets or dice rolls anyhow, so it's not really any different).

Silver Crusade

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Is my Atari 800 XE going to run this or will I need one of those newfangled "floppy disc readers"?

This whole gaming-via-computers is scary for me. I’d love the comfort of a few 5”’ floppy disks.

^I remember those things -- try to put one in the drive in a hurry, and you'd kink it.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

From EN World: Playing Virtually? Don't Miss These Deals

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

So far every link I have tried is for Pathfinder Second Edition. And none of them have a First Edition option.
It is like nobody wants to acknowledge the existence of First Edition.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Charles Scholz wrote:

So far every link I have tried is for Pathfinder Second Edition. And none of them have a First Edition option.

It is like nobody wants to acknowledge the existence of First Edition.

The Fantasy Grounds entry above says 'nearly every Adventure Path Paizo has put out is fully converted and prepared in Fantasy Grounds.'

Yes, the link takes you directly to a page where the search options were set to only show Pathfinder 2nd Edition content. If you change the search options, you can find Pathfinder 1st Edition as well. There's a massive amount of PF1 available.

I didn't bother checking the others, but I'm sure that Roll20 has PF1 content as well, as a friend told me he'd been running Strange Aeons on it.

2 people marked this as a favorite.

So after looking around, I decided to go for Fantasy Grounds. It's a little over-specced for me, but given that anything is a massive learning curve, I figured I'd go for the one with huge functionality (and it does look really easy to bring up a map from an AP, populate an encounter, track hit points, initiative, etcetera etcetera...) I'm really impressed at how it looks and feel like I'm going to be able to grow into it.

What I wanted to pass on is the response when I encountered some technical difficulties. I can run fine using the FG server, but struggled to get my computer setup to enable PCs to log in to my computer directly and run it from there.

Posting about it on the forums, one of the IT/software gurus there spent a good hour or so going back and forth with me on the forums. He directed me to a bunch of good resources and I spent today trying out the various fixes (but unfortunately to no avail). Tonight (Saturday night our time). He remoted in to my computer and spent another decent hour and a half checking my work and then trying a whole bunch more clever things.

It was far, far beyond the technical help I expected and really reaffirmed my decision to go with Fantasy Grounds. I chose the Fantasy Grounds Unity (which is in beta) so the occasional technical glitch is not unexpected.

I was really thrilled by the technical response and am very optimistic about how it will all look once I've sorted these things out and learned how to use it properly. I might even keep using it here and there once we resume face-to-face gaming. The ability to quickly call up Equipment stats, maps, images and so forth is something I could see using even if we were all in the same room.

Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

That's great! Good luck and happy gaming!

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Well disappointing first experience. Players kept getting disconnected and couldn’t see the maps/pictures. :(

Skype was a bit stuttery too..

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.

FG does seem to have a steep learning curve. If you can game with someone who knows it, that's the best. I'm a big fan of Roll20 myself. I've been using it since 2012 and I have over 700 hours of gaming in it. It really is only as complicated as you want to make it.

Roll20 has never worked for me. I’ve never understood why it’s so popular (presumably there’s some glitch or incompatibility with my computer).

I can get FG to do what I want (and the functionality as DM is awesome). The problem was people kept getting disconnected.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32

Steve Geddes wrote:
Roll20 has never worked for me. I’ve never understood why it’s so popular (presumably there’s some glitch or incompatibility with my computer).

I have seen Roll20 work on old tablets, so I can't help but wonder what the glitch is or what could be causing it. It's a very stable platform, so maybe you're just being punished by some obscure gremlin?

I don't know (I'm very ignorant with computers). I shouldn't have used such strong language though - I've hardly used it, just for a PBP over the last six months and once a few years back. I couldn't get the zoom to work, it regularly hung. *shrug*

I can understand it though. Other people don't report those problems and it's pretty cheap (even the expensive license).

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32

No worries, man. First impressions are everything!

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

Fantasy Grounds sales this week, all 20% off:

Pathfinder RPG - The Tyrant's Grasp AP 6: Midwives to Death
Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Asylum
Starfinder RPG - Starfinder Armory
Starfinder RPG - Signal of Screams AP 3: Heart of Night

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Just in case anyone does stumble across this, I thought I'd post my final follow up. I've just cancelled my subscription to Fantasy Ground Unity. If you do with with FG (which looks amazing) I'd strongly recommend going with the classic version not unity.

They describe it as a beta release, but in my opinion it's not at that level yet. There are one or two updates each week and I've been finding they are quite likely to result in a loss of functionality (or to stop you from connecting altogether). It also doesn't work to just not update - a previously stable version became unstable for me this week.

There are lots of people who report success with it, but they all know much more about computers than I do - it's not an easy, plug-and-play bit of software with occasional beta-level bugs. It needs a certain degree of technical knowledge just to get the basic connection up and running.

I believe that FG Classic doesn't have the same problems.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32

I've been playing on FG Classic and it seems a lot more stable than what you're describing. I guess a pandemic where tons of people are suddenly accessing your beta is not the best time to be developing software?


I guess so. It might not be an issue for many but for me it was too much. Personally, I don’t think it’s at beta stage yet, but I’m not particularly experienced at using software in development - maybe I’ve just been lucky previously.

Liberty's Edge

D20Pro only supports Starfinder?


D20Pro has supported Pathfinder 1 for almost nine years.

It is true that its PF2 support is still in development and is expected later this summer; however, it has supported PF1 longer than any other VTT that you reviewed. It is an officially licensed by Paizo, too!

It is fully compatible with Herolab Classic for PF1 and is routinely used in conjunction with that software for encounter and character import.

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