Painless way to transition from Beginner box to PF core rules?


Beginner Box


OK, here's my dilemma. Myself and a few friends have been playing the beginner box now for a few months. I recently went ahead and purchased the core rulebook and beastiary with full hopes of moving away from the beginner box and into the full core rules. The trouble i had last weekend when i tried to transition is that it's feeling very overwhelming trying to remember so many of the little things that are in the core rules, that the beginner box didnt use. I know myself and a few others are struggling with things like FLAT FOOTED for example. Just trying to wrap our head around stuff like that just hasn't been easy for a few of us in our group.

So i guess i was curious what others experiences have been at this transitional point. I for one am really looking forward to delving into the more complex stuff, but to be honest, a few people in our group are not feeling all that excited with the prospect of trying to remember all this new stuff.
Are there any good ideas or ways to easing into this? Tricks, tips and suggestions would be MOST welcome and i look forward to hearing back from the community :)

PS: Paizo, you guys have done a fantastic job with the beginner box and i truly appreciate the effort that went into it! Thanks alot for making such a great product that has pulled an old retired AD&D gamer back into the love of role playing :)


The game will take time to learn. If you have anyone in the area who is playing the core version of the game it is a lot easier to pick it up that way. Other than that post here and ask questions.

Sovereign Court

Agreed - if possible, have at least one person play a few rounds with the full game. A few months ago I jumped into PF as my first RPG ever, with a few people that had been playing it for a few months before me. By now I feel more than ready to explain the system to someone who's been doing Beginner's Box.

I think the easiest way to transition would be to just cover the main points, then explain the other things as they come up.

Shadow Lodge

morphine

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I've been playing for years and there's still some stuff I don't understand perfectly or as well as some other stuff. If you have the time and patience for it, teach each member of your group individually. That way they can ask questions freely without the risk of looking dumb and it will give you a better understanding of the rules as you explain them to everyone. And like Wraith said, post here and ask questions.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

That's what I've feared about beginners' boxes. Whatever you learn first will seem "right" to you and shifting to full rules will seem unnatural.

About all I can offer is that the biggest attraction to PFRPG is the richness of the rules. Half of the Core is the spells section, where each individual one changes the game in a unique way. That alone is a huge undertaking to become familiar with.

The best way to learn the full system is to have someone who's reasonably familiar with it play with you. They can point out the sections of the book that aren't obvious and explain why the rules are what they are. It's too easy to not realize you should be learning about attacks of opportunity because when you learned the beginners' box you didn't have them. Someone needs to stick out a finger and stop the game, saying "um, we need to talk about a new rule."

Barring that, someone needs to seriously sit down with the core and read it. Quite the undertaking.

Liberty's Edge

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Try introducing new rules elements piecemeal rather than all right away.

For example, allow a couple of the more confident players to try some different classes, and use the CRB versions of the classes you already have (i.e., without some options preselected). Grab a bestiary and use some new monsters from it, doing a lot of preparation to make sure you know about any rules elements you don't know. After you're fine with these 2 things, move on to something else, like combat maneuvers or attacks of opportunity. Maybe every couple of sessions, decide that you'll introduce another element (with discussion with the players).

The game isn't going to break if you leave out things you don't understand or don't like, nor will you get ninjas sent to your house by Paizo if you forget a rule or make something up. Just have fun with it!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Alice Margatroid wrote:

Try introducing new rules elements piecemeal rather than all right away.

For example, allow a couple of the more confident players to try some different classes, and use the CRB versions of the classes you already have (i.e., without some options preselected). Grab a bestiary and use some new monsters from it, doing a lot of preparation to make sure you know about any rules elements you don't know. After you're fine with these 2 things, move on to something else, like combat maneuvers or attacks of opportunity. Maybe every couple of sessions, decide that you'll introduce another element (with discussion with the players).

The game isn't going to break if you leave out things you don't understand or don't like, nor will you get ninjas sent to your house by Paizo if you forget a rule or make something up. Just have fun with it!

I had thought of this too after my first post and was just about to say it. Slowly add new rules in. Like for flat footed (since you mentioned it earlier), it'd be easy to say during a box game "Alright, the goblin attacks you fighter. Since it's the first round of combat and you haven't gone yet, he catches you off guard. What's your AC without your dex modifier?"

Combat maneuvers can be pretty damn tricky, so I would save those for later. Or you could work them into teaching about attacks of opportunity.

Most importantly, like Alice also said, have fun. The ninjas only show up when people stop having fun.

Shadow Lodge

Most importantly, when you make the initial jump, only make it to the Core Rules. Just that is gonna take some time to get used to...save the APG for when they are comfortable with the Core Rules, and UC / UM for when they are comfortable with the APG.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The key thing to remember is its OK TO NOT REMEMBER THOSE THINGS. Really the second page of the core rulebook should be 'you will make mistakes, no one is grading you, dont worry about it' in Giant letters. You will get things wrong. You will find out monsts/years later that you have had one thing compeletely wrong when you were sure you had read it right. You will learn, and you will look things up sometimes. Thats ok. You dont have to memorize the core rulebook, certainly not at the start of the game. I have been playing this game or something like it for almost 2 decades. I get things wrong. I forget rules. I still have to look up a condition or a spell. Everyone does, everyone did, dont worry about it. Just try and have fun with your group.

I would say that start with low level characters, if you could get through the begginner box 1st level core characters shouldnt be too difficult. And like I said dont be afraid to make mistakes or have to look things up. (also note you might want to pick up the dm screen, it has lots of useful little tidbits on it readily available.

Paizo Employee CEO

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Kolokotroni wrote:
The key thing to remember is its OK TO NOT REMEMBER THOSE THINGS. Really the second page of the core rulebook should be 'you will make mistakes, no one is grading you, dont worry about it' in Giant letters. You will get things wrong. You will find out monsts/years later that you have had one thing compeletely wrong when you were sure you had read it right. You will learn, and you will look things up sometimes. Thats ok. You dont have to memorize the core rulebook, certainly not at the start of the game. I have been playing this game or something like it for almost 2 decades. I get things wrong. I forget rules. I still have to look up a condition or a spell. Everyone does, everyone did, dont worry about it. Just try and have fun with your group.

This! And don't worry about the rules too much. Have fun. If you mess them up, no worries. I like the idea above about adding new rules piecemeal. The game works just fine if you don't use all of it at once. And if you don't like a certain piece of rules, then leave it out. The Beginner Box did and you had a great time with it. The full rules set is great once you have experience playing the game, but even I, who have been playing these games since 1981, forget rules or get them wrong all of the time. I just don't stress about it. Have fun!

-Lisa


Wow, what a wonderful community response!! I appreciate everyones comments and feedback! I definitely think the "chunking" method would be best. Just introduce pieces at a time.
Personally, i don't feel it was bad at all to have a beginner box. It d doesn't feel unnatural at all. Although it may seem like, to a more advanced and experienced player, that doing the beginner box and then moving to the more advance stuff might be counter productive, i feel it's actually a pretty big advantage over just being thrown into the hard core stuff from the get go. For one, the BB lets you get some experience into the real nature of the game, that being role playing and get familiar with the basic mechanics, then as most have said here, introduce more as time goes on. A few of us have had experience with older versions of d&d but there are about 3 total who have zero experience. So this BB has been a real treat for them. Doesn't overwhelm them and lets us old timers get our footsies wet again :)

Also i really liked the idea of finding a pathfinder session to sit in on. I live in the fort wayne indiana area, so if anyone here is experienced and lives around that area, let me know if you would be willing to let me check it out :)

Thanks again everyone!


WHat D&D really needs is a proper rule book. The D&D rules are a nightmare to understand to be honest.

They are spread out all over the place in different chapters.

Best thing to do though is just sit down and read them. Make notes. Don't get bogged down in tiny stuff.

You don't need to know the spells or the feats. You can look those up when people take them.

You need a good understanding of the character creation, combat and skill rules.

Scarab Sages

Lightbulb wrote:

WHat D&D really needs is a proper rule book. The D&D rules are a nightmare to understand to be honest.

I assume you mean Pathfinder.


I suggest getting some character creation software. Hero Lab is pretty good but there are others that people like as well. Hero Lab will cost you some money (you only need the Core Package right now and the Bestiary).

This will allow you to make sure your calculations are correct. It will separate your different armor class values. It will calculate your combat maneuver bonus (CMB) and your combat maneuver defense (CMD).

It will calculate your skills correctly based on your armor check penalty.

Little things that you may forget often are automatically taken care of for you.

There are also some combat manager programs that allow you to put the characters and opponents into them and it will keep track of initiative and help you with attacks and damage for the GM. If you do use these, I would allow the players to roll their own initiatives, attacks, and damage.


I actually did buy the hero labs program for pathfinder and i love it! We started out using the beginner box one and found that simply awesome to use to! I would highly recommend using it for anyone looking for a great character creator.

@lightbulb, i have no idea what you're talking about with d&d lol we're talking about pathfinder here lolol


For my own curiosity, what are some of the rules left out of the Beginner Box? Not necessarily character options like the excluded classes, spells or equipment (which can be added easily piecemeal as a PC or DM shows interest in it), but actual game mechanics all players should eventually become familiar with.

* Flat-footed rules, apparently.

* Combat Maneuvers

* Attacks of Opportunity (and casting defensively along with it)

Anything else I'm missing?

It seems like most of the new stuff is only important if somebody decides they want to try playing a small character or a druid or something. Or when they spot a cool spell they want to add to their list or wonder how they can make their own armor.


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I'll lend my support to the idea of taking it chunks at a time. I was introduced to role-playing (briefly) when I was 5, and begged for the D&D Red Box when I was 6. Being young and impatient, I only learned enough rules to get playing. Over the years, I would regularly re-read a rule and realize I had been using it wrong or not using it at all. But I still had fun!

Hmm, maybe the adult me should listen more to the child me - I often get so concerned with using the rules right these days that it's stressful for me. :o)

- Niilo


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I'm getting ready to play with my kids. I've been playing the full game for a while now, and my plan is to transition them into the full rules slowly. The thing to remember is that the BB rules and the full rules aren't two separate games. They're the same game, just with a few pieces trimmed here and there. You don't need to jump fully from one to the other. Make it a transition.

My plan, as it stands now:

1 - Play an adventure or two with the pregens to let them learn the basics without fighting with all the details.

2 - Play a short campaign with custom made characters. Since they will already know the basics, character generation will actually make sense to them. They'll understand why an 18 is good and a 4 is bad, or what skill points actually mean. I don't plan to change much of anything on this first campaign. The point is to make them as comfortable with the basic rules as possible. The only thing I'll likely do is that somewhere around level 3 or 4 (when they seem ready), I'll switch them to the full character sheets I use in my regular games. I won't be adding any extra info (CMB, etc), I'll just be having them get used to finding the basic rules stats on the full sheet.

3 - Start a new campaign. Characters will be generated with the Core Rulebook this time. I'll start them with the full list of available skills/weapons/feats but we'll start only using the basic rules. Leveling up will be via the full rules.

4 - Every couple of adventures/every level I'll introduce one new thing. I will only introduce a new rule when the previous one has been seamlessly integrated into our games. I'll likely introduce flat footed first, as it is easy to understand and doesn't involve a huge load of procedures (hint: Note your flat footed AC on your character sheet so you aren't trying to calculate it each time.)

5 - Next will be combat maneuvers. I will NOT attempt to teach them these. It'll just confuse them. Instead, I'll give them a written list and say, "From now on you can try these things if you want to." We'll tackle them as they come up. Heck, most experienced regular players don't know how to do a combat maneuver steal off the top of their head, either.

6 - Attacks of Opportunity will be next, as they affect a lot of other activities, from casting to moving to drinking a potion.

My goal is that we'll be implementing the last of these rules about the time they hit level 5 and officially 'graduate' to the full game. Of course, if anything starts to be a problem and 'jams the gears', I'll move it back to the bottom of the list and reintroduce it later.

Another huge hint: Spend five bucks and buy the Sord-PF. Print it out. Punch some holes and keep it on hand. It summarizes the rules in such a way that you can look them up in seconds instead of minutes. You'll still need to read the full version in the core rulebook, but afterwards you can use this as a handy reference to the whole thing.

Silver Crusade

Greybird's advice pretty much exactly what I came here to say. Every rule in pathfinder is optional. You can make it a campaign of introducing one thing at a time.


I too would approach this from a PC/NPC angle.

If one of your players gets a new power or you encounter an unfamiliar Monster/NPC in an Adventure then is the time to read the rules of the spells/abilities/tactics that are unclear to you.

Apart from this you should simply read the section about combat (p.178-192) without delving too much into things that strike you as niche (like throwing another character).

And, as has been said, don't worry too much. If you don't know a rule then improvise (and tell your players) and look it up afterwards to not overly hamper the flow of the Adventure.


I live in the Fort Wayne area. You can private message me about sitting in sometime.


Bob_Loblaw wrote:

I suggest getting some character creation software. Hero Lab is pretty good but there are others that people like as well. Hero Lab will cost you some money (you only need the Core Package right now and the Bestiary).

This will allow you to make sure your calculations are correct. It will separate your different armor class values. It will calculate your combat maneuver bonus (CMB) and your combat maneuver defense (CMD).

It will calculate your skills correctly based on your armor check penalty.

Little things that you may forget often are automatically taken care of for you.

Agreed 125%. It's definitely one of the better purchases I've made for Pathfinder.


I was in the same boat, sort of. I played D&D way back in the early 80s. Played Marvel Super Heroes, Gamma World, Twilight:2000, and a bunch of other "old school" games. Moved, lost my group and didn't play again until I bought the Beginners Box a couple months back. I messed around with it and still play it with students of mine after school but I was so enthralled by the Pathfinder Universe I went out and bought the Core book and a bunch of others!

I decided to not sweat what I didn't yet know and to simply play as I understood things to be. You have gotten this advice from several people but I'll say it again: It's YOUR game! Embrace that idea. You spent the $$$, play in a way that's fun to you. Add rules as you learn them but don't worry that "maybe I'm not supposed to use Magic Missile that way".

Once you've got a little extra cash I HIGHLY suggest Hero Lab. It makes character creation a BLAST and saves a ton of time for us noobs.


karkon wrote:

Greybird's advice pretty much exactly what I came here to say. Every rule in pathfinder is optional. You can make it a campaign of introducing one thing at a time.

This! Too many people don't remember the best thing about RPGs is that it they are your sandbox. Unlike video games and other media you can make any game system whatever you want.

I ignore encumbrance and just use common sense. All casters are spontaneous casters, they are simply limited to their spells per day. I have a small group (3) so the heroes are a little more overpowered so they can survive great combats/challenges. And many more....


Except for those with Uncanny Dodge, like Rogue, Monk or Ranger, all PCs/NPCs are Flatfooted at the start of any combat. Because you aren't ready to engage combat yet - you are Flatfooted. Once a PC/NPC begins his actual attack, then he is no longer Flatfooted.

If a PC/NPC starts combat before you (before your Initiative), he isn't flatfooted, but you still are (unless you have Uncanny Dodge and cannot be Flatfooted.)

Attacks of Opportunity are complicated, but the easiest way to explain is when an opponent is within reach of you (1 square with normal weapon for a medium creature) or more for larger creatures, AoO do not occur. It's only when an opponent (or you to an opponent) moves away that Attacks of Opportunity show up.

If an opponent has been engaging you in combat and now decides to move away (save another NPC, runaway, whatever), he grants you an Attack of Opportunity on him.

Unless you have the feat, Combat Reflexes, which grant you an additional Attack of Opportunity, per Dexterity bonus, you would only get one Attack of Opportunity per round, even if more conditions for AoO occur.

Also if an opponent is passing by - to attack someone behind you, when they pass from being within range of your attack and tries to move past you, you are granted an Attack of Opportunity.

On many actions that involve Combat Maneuvers like Trip, Overrun, etc, unless that person has an Improved version (ie: Improved Trip), they grant you an Attack of Opportunity, following their Combat Maneuver attempt.

The rules on Attacks of Opportunity are more complicated than that, but the above is a decent, overview of how it works.

Scarab Sages

gamer-printer wrote:

Except for those with Uncanny Dodge, like Rogue, Monk or Ranger, all PCs/NPCs are Flatfooted at the start of any combat. Because you aren't ready to engage combat yet - you are Flatfooted. Once a PC/NPC begins his actual attack, then he is no longer Flatfooted.

If a PC/NPC starts combat before you (before your Initiative), he isn't flatfooted, but you still are (unless you have Uncanny Dodge and cannot be Flatfooted.)

Just to clarify, a character is flat-footed before they have had a chance to act, whether it be moving or attacking. Gamer-printer is correct, I am just being specific on defining "engaging in combat" and "starting combat".

Liberty's Edge

I just want to add one thing as you transition to the Core rules:

If a player wants to do something cool, and you're not sure if or how the rules allow it, then let them. Don't give it to them for free, but pick a DC for them to beat, figure out what skill or bonus they have that is most applicable to what they want to do, and let them roll (PROTIP: character level, +3 if they're good at it, -3 if they're bad at it - this works much of the time).

Later, you can look up the actual rule, and bring it up next session - you may even find that your improvised ruling seems more entertaining and balanced then the Core Rulebook - congratulations! You've created your first house rule!


Or be like me and insure there are no house rules whatsoever - until you learn the game. House rules can work once you know the system, making changes to better fit your home game. However, doing so arbitrarily without understanding the system may cause you to break the system. I've been in too many games where house rules were introduced that turned out to be quite broken compared to the basic system.

Learn the rules first. Avoid creating house rules until you know what you're doing.

Liberty's Edge

gamer-printer wrote:
Learn the rules first. Avoid creating house rules until you know what you're doing.

This to the max.


I'm still prepping to play my first BB game and trying to find some time when both children are asleep (or deciding whether the 3yr old is ready to play, probably not).

In the meantime I've bought the first Skulls & Shackles AP and the CRB to read and start to understand the full set of rules. I haven't got to the combat section yet which I think will be the most complicated. I like the idea of introducing new rules one at a time, but I think some of them will need to be introduced and understood at the character creation stage.

(One of the reasons I bought the BB box was because of the community feel here at Paizo. I like the fact that a beginner can ask a question on the forums and get a reply from the CEO of the company.)


I've been gaming since '85 and picked up the BB to introduce my son to the world of RPG without a video screen. Once my old gaming buddies found out about it they all wanted on the band wagon too.
I've picked up the CRB and APG. I'd really like a module and perhaps a game setting to get things rolling with them. Can some one suggest a good starting point for me? Much appreciated.
I'd also like to express my appreciation for everyone's input above. Great support for people new to Pathfinder


There are some free modules to cut your teeth on.

Look for the Free RPG day modules (free PDFs):

Master of the Fallen Fortress
We Be Goblins

Also the Pathfinder Society First Steps series 1-3 (also free PDF).

All of the above start at level 1, so they probably don't reference any non-BB rules very much.

The Pathfinder Society Scenarios are intended for organized play - but at $3.99 for a PDF are a good deal for budget modules. I enjoyed running No Plunder, No Pay for my home group. It is for 7th level characters, though. PFS (Pathfinder Society) modules come in a variety of levels.

I also enjoyed Carrion Hill but have not played any other modules. It's Lovecraftian, and may not be your style. Also, it's for 5th level characters and may be a rough transition.

I'm more of an Adventure Path guy when I play modules.


I got a game starting January 7th in Fort Wayne. Hit me up if you want details.


Best way to learn the game is to play the game. You will stumble, you will fail, you will bombard this board with questions. It's all part of the learning experience.

Don't sweat the small stuff.

I've played all versions of D&D (except 4th. Just reading it left a bad taste in my mouth so I refrained) and have even participated in 5th (I like the beta so far).

Pathfinder is much like it, but there's still stuff that I stumble with daily because there's too much to memorize or understand it all.

Going strong since 1984...

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