With PaizoCon Online coming up and Year 3 on the horizon, we thought we’d take a moment to talk about how to create a Pathfinder Society character and show you the different options available to players. I’ve got my friends “Zonya” and “Minda” here to help me out; any resemblance to actual persons with whom I work is purely coincidental, I assure you.
For this blog, we’ll be following the steps outlined in the Pathfinder Core Rulebook as well as the Character Creation section of the Guide to Organized Play.
Available Character Options
Pathfinder uses a system of rarity to describe how widespread its rules options are in the game world. When building your character, be sure to check the Pathfinder Society Character Options page, which describes how this rarity system applies in Pathfinder Society. This page lists all of the books that have rules you can use for your character, and details which rules are available to you. It also provides some rules clarifications and other useful information.
The Character Options page also lists the rules for owning copies of the books. Generally, in order to use options from a book outside the Core Sources (the Core Rulebook, Pathfinder Bestiary and the Lost Omens World Guide), you must own the book where the option is published. However, playing some adventures grants boons that let you use the options from that adventure without owning the book.
Many Uncommon or Rare options require a boon which can either be earned as a result of playing a particular adventure or purchasing the boon with Achievement Points. Players/GMs earn Achievement Points every time they play/run a game; if you’re looking for a quick way to boost your AcP, join games at conventions, which grant bonus AcP. Games run at a local game store or other event may also grant this bonus; check with the event’s organizer to see if they qualify.
Creating a Concept
Each of our three players have arrived at their concepts differently. You can start wherever you like to find a concept: pick a class or ancestry you’d like to try, a spell or ability you want to build around, or just find inspiration in another fictional character!
Zonya is a seasoned Pathfinder Society (first edition) player, and wants to make the jump to second edition to play with her friends. She knows she wants to play a typical Pathfinder who upholds the core tenets of the Society: Explore, Report and Cooperate.
Alex recently picked up the Advanced Player’s Guide and is enamored by the Oracle options. He thinks they’re fun and full of flavor and looks forward to playing up the curse drawbacks. He also has a ton of Achievement Points, which he earned from playing and GMing Pathfinder Society games, so he’s looking to spend some of them on some options.
The ABCs of Character Building
Next, our players are going to select their ABCs: Ancestry, Background and Class. These are the basic building blocks of any character; more information can be found in Chapter 1 of the Pathfinder Core Rulebook.
Zonya had an orc character she loved to play in Pathfinder Society (First Edition), so she’s going to build his daughter using the half-orc heritage. To build for exploration, she decides this character is a ranger with an animal companion, with an eye to taking the Ferocious Beasts feat later. She’s also considering the Pathfinder Agent Archetype for second level, to signify the character’s devotion to the Pathfinder Society. It is an Uncommon archetype, but she sees it’s legal for all characters on the Character Options page. For the background, she considers Herbalist, but eventually settles on Scout, deciding that as a Strength-based ranger, she wants to spend more time ahead of the group in case of an ambush.
Alex is looking through the Boons section of his My Organized Play page, and decides that the time has come to purchase his Catfolk Ancestry boon. He registers the new character and purchases the boon, downloading a copy to save for his records. As a Flames Mystery Oracle, this character is looking to have excellent Reflex saves and Acrobatics, so he decides to lean into that, taking the Catfolk Dance feat and the Flexible Catfolk Heritage. For Background, he goes with the Acrobat background, flavoring this character as a former performer who blended their flames and acrobatic prowess to entertain the crowds.
Minda is very familiar with the process to purchase the Leshy Ancestry boon from her Boons page, and can practically do it in her sleep. Because fruit leshys produce fruit which heals, she decides to make them a Cleric to focus on healing. She’d love to worship a Green Man, but unfortunately Bestiary 3 isn’t available yet on the Character Options page. Instead, she decides her deity is Gozreh. A character can be fully rebuilt until they’re played at level 2, so if Bestiary 3 is sanctioned soon, she might switch! As a Cloistered Cleric, she gains the Domain Initiate Feat so she can get Vibrant Thorns from the Nature domain; it’s an Uncommon Spell, but the Feat grants her access.
The three players finish filling out their character sheets and purchase equipment following the steps in the Core Rulebook. At this point, they have complete Pathfinder characters, but Pathfinder Society adds a couple of extra choices to make prior to your first game.
Society Training and Factions
To represent a character’s involvement with the Society, each character selects a Pathfinder Training option. These options provide additional consumables at the beginning of each scenario, or in the case of a Field Commissioned agent, additional Downtime after each scenario.
Zonya’s half-orc ranger heard about the Society in stories from her parents growing up. As a result, Zonya decides to reflect this by taking the Scrolls training, which grants Pathfinder Society Lore. She also plans to get some good use out of the eagle-eye elixir she’ll get for free each scenario.
Alex goes back and forth, but eventually elects to make his catfolk oracle a Field Commissioned agent. This will give him more Downtime to Earn Income with his Circus Lore, and he takes the Mercantile Lore as his bonus.
Minda trains her leshy cleric with the Spells school, figuring that there’s never a wrong time to have an extra scroll of heal on hand, just in case. She takes the Herbalism Lore the school offers as well.
Factions represent special interests within the Pathfinder Society. Characters don’t have to choose just one faction; at the beginning of each session, you’ll choose what faction to champion and earn reputation for at that table. Still, it’s good to look over the factions and pick the one you’ll likely spend the most time representing.
For our three sample characters, Zonya chooses the Horizon Hunters for her ranger and Minda naturally chooses the Verdant Wheel for her leshy. Alex is unsure, as none of the Factions feel perfectly correct, so he’ll take the opportunity to let his character meet the faction leaders in PFS #1-01: The Absalom Initiation or the upcoming PFS Intro #2: United in Purpose. Until then, he’ll take the default option of the Horizon Hunters.
And that’s it! Our three players now have new Pathfinder Society characters, in no time at all! Have any other tips for character building in PFS, or do you have a cool new build you’re looking forward to fleshing out? Share them below!
If you’re looking for more information on how to get involved with the Pathfinder Society, contact your local Regional Venture Coordinator, who can get you connected with the local lodge in your area.
Come back next week for some Starfinder Society news. Until then, don’t forget to Explore! Report! Cooperate! And roll up some new characters!
Organized Play Associate
Organized Play Managing Developer
Creating an Organized Play Character
Thursday, April 22, 2021