Strategy Articles and Player Aid Downloads for PFS

Pathfinder Society

Sovereign Court

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In my local Pathfinder Society community I found that we were getting a healthy influx of players who were new to Pathfinder, or even new to roleplaying games in general. The knowledge gap between experienced players and new players would often be vast.

While everyone in our community has been very helpful to new players, a lot of play strategies and options would often take months for new players to become aware of them, or get them spelled out in a clear fashion.

Because of that I began writing essays to our local PFS email list to help people get jump started into the game, providing advice along with play aids that could help accelerate players into the finer nuances of PFS.

Another factor in this influx of new players is that a lot of our sessions have been low level, and so I also focused on primers that would help low level characters be able to have a broader range of tools at hand to be able to provide solutions to challenges in modules.

While I've mentioned some of these resources I created on the boards before, for some reason I never thought to just devote a thread to them with everything laid out in a single post. Since Paizocon is just about to start, perhaps some of these articles and downloads would be of help to people now and in the future.


Good & Cheap Equipment, Part 1 and Part 2 – I really enjoy having characters that can provide “lateral” solutions to problems. While having a lot of gold can buy a character lots of options, even low level characters can have a broad utility box of inexpensive widgets to solve problems. Both of these essays provide packages of inexpensive and lightweight items that expand play beyond waiting for initiative to begin.

Action Economy: Time Savers – This article examines a core but rather unstated layer of the system, the action economy, and how you can help make your character more efficient in that economy.

Linear Fighters & Quadratic Wizards – For new players with dreams of replicating some fictional hero of theirs, the system can often throw at them results they were not expecting. This primer on some of the more fundamental power scales in the game can help them make more informed decisions on the kinds of characters they want to create and how they will perform in play.

Animal Companion Comparisons – The druid, ranger and other pet classes are very popular with new players. It's natural to want to have a furry buddy at your side when adventuring. While some players jumped for whatever flavor of animal they liked, others kept asking me what was the best. I'd say, “it depends...” It ends up that laying out a numerical scale at least gives better information for players to pick an animal that suits their concept and performance in play.

A look at cheap Ioun Stones – In the first handful of levels you end up crashing into the reality of how expensive magic items can be. This article highlights a slew of inexpensive Ioun Stones that anyone can get a use out of.

Don't Forget the Use Magic Device Skill – The UMD skill is one of the more complicated subsystems in the game, at least conceptually, and so getting it highlighted and demonstrating that any character can make real practical use out of the skill can broaden the options of any character in the game.

Wands for Everyone! - In light of the UMD skill being useable by anyone, it makes sense to highlight one of the most inexpensive yet potent magic items in the game, wands. In PFS it's really good sportsmanship to buy your own Wand of Cure Light Wounds to take care of your own injuries, but anyone can push beyond that and become a much more adaptable character with a few utility wands.

Point Buy Arrays – With this article I went through scores of iterations of point buy arrays, trying to figure out which distributions give the broadest value for the bonuses and penalties that one can get for your character. Rather than re-inventing the wheel each time a character is made, you can zero in on a set of arrays that provide the most economical set of bonuses depending on the amount of penalties you want for your character.

DOWNLOADS (Found Here)

Organized Play Character Build Sheet – This sheet is there to help you map out character concepts. I've been using sheets like this for years and have found it very useful to find figure out how different builds function over time, or whether something is mechanically possible. Not everyone wants or needs to map out their character in advance, but these sheets can be useful for those who either want that advanced planning, or simply like a quick way to level up when the time comes.

Mundane Mounts and Work Animals – While plenty of players want pet classes, not everyone wants to follow that specific track in character development. Nonetheless people still want a pet. I decided to just make premade sheets of mundane mounts and work animals so that if a player just wanted to purchase a horse or dog, they could and then have all of the information on the animal ready to go immediately. I know I have sold some new players on the game by having these sheets already printed out an in a folder. “I want to buy a dog!” and I would present them with the dog sheet and the player was ecstatic at “getting” their dog like that.

Good, Cheap and Essential Item Checklist – It can be a real drag having to go through all the equipment lists to buy the standard fare of items, or even the suggested ones in the articles above. To save time and make it easy to organize and reference, I just made checklists to make it easy to purchase a whole set of items at once that will prove indispensable on adventures.

Discount Adventuring Kits – Just as with the checklists in the above download, there are also the Discount Adventuring Kits from the Pathfinder Field Guide. Getting these into a simple one sheet checklist really helps to speed up acquiring them and not having to re-write all of that information down again.

Arrow Packs – I enjoy playing archers and there are a few other players that also really enjoy it. As you gain levels and can afford more exotic arrows it the recordkeeping on these items becomes rather elaborate, especially when you can reclaim them 50% of the time. Once you get up to mid-levels and are outputing several shots per round it really helps to have all of this information pre-organized for you.

The Handy Haversack Pack – This is something that people with plenty of GM credit will find useful. Starting a new character at a higher level means needing to spend a lot of gold. While picking up all of those expensive items, it's worth getting a lightweight Handy Haversack filled with essentials for those just in case moments. The problem is all of that tedious calculating and writing down the same information you've written down again and again. This sheet lets you grab a pack and go without any fuss.

That's it for now, but I'll be doing further revisions to articles when needed and I'm really looking forward to the new Equipment Guide that will be out soon. I'm quite sure that will provide a wealth of really cool mundane equipment to add to the existing lists.


Shadow Lodge 4/5 *** Venture-Captain, Michigan—Mt. Pleasant

I've read your Good Cheap series, and thought it was pretty darn good. I look forward to reading your other articles.

Liberty's Edge 1/5

Good stuff. Note that in your wands section, you recommend several wands of personal range with tactical advice regarding use on multiple party members. Wands with personal range are only usable on the person using the wand. To use on multiple party members, you'd have to pass it around. Shield and disguise self were a couple that I noticed.

Sovereign Court

Howie23 wrote:
Good stuff. Note that in your wands section, you recommend several wands of personal range with tactical advice regarding use on multiple party members. Wands with personal range are only usable on the person using the wand. To use on multiple party members, you'd have to pass it around. Shield and disguise self were a couple that I noticed.

Thanks. I'll get that clarified.

Dark Archive 5/5

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

Well, there IS the level 1 capable ioun rock...

Grand Lodge 4/5

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First, let me say, "Good show!" And follow that up with some comments, errata and suggestions.

Part 2 - you might want to specify that the rod is a rod of Quicken Spell, Lesser.

Another metamagic rod you might consider recommending is the rod of Extend Spell, Lesser, for only 3,000 gp. It doubles the duration of the three 1st to 3rd level spells it is used with. Mage Armor for 2 hours per level, just for one, fairly useful, use of the rod.

And, also, don't forget the Pearls of Power. So, you've used up your last Magic Missile? Use a Pearl and you have the spell back available...

Handy Haversacks can actually hold a total of 120 pounds of gear, not just 80 pounds. They have three pockets, the main one which holds the 80 pounds, and two side pockets which hold 20 pounds apiece.

And, for archers, the essential Efficient Quiver is never a bad thing. Even for non-archers, the ability to have multiple spears and javelins available is not a bad thing to think about.

For time savers, don't forget things that may not give you extra actions, but that burn your enemies actions, and possibly even give you and your allies extra attacks.
A tripped enemy is prone, so he either takes a -4 to attacks, some weapons are not usable while prone, and provokes AoOs when he stands.
Equally, a disarmed enemy has to either pull out his backup weapon, which is usually not as good as his primary weapon, or provoke an AoO by picking the weapon lying at his feet back up.
Sunder is a fine tactic for PFS, although it usually is not recommended for home games. Again, the target is potentially taking a penalty to hit & damage, or has no weapon/armor/spell component pouch available anymore.
Other combat maneuvers can also have useful functions.

Seeker of Secrets is no longer part of the core assumption, unfortunately. Although a lot of folks still have it from when it was. The Pathfinder Society Field Guide is the replacement core assumption book.
Which also brings up the flexible fighter archetype from that book, the Lore Warden. Along with still being, more or less, a fighter, he has more class skills and more skill points to spend on them.

On Ioun Stones, you might want to mention the wayfinder, even if the inferior stones don't get resonance in PFS, they can still be put in a wayfinder for security, and the wayfinder can still cast light. And remember, the standard wayfinder only costs the PFS PC 250 gp, and adds a +2 bonus to Survival checks to avoid getting lost.

UMD: Dangerously Curious gives you not just a +1 Trait bonus to UMD, but it also makes UMD a class skill for you, so you don't have to take a level in a class that gives you UMD as a class skill.
Wands: Your first level UMDer has a75% chance, since he needs a 5 or higher. Assuming no other magic items that provide a benefit, like the Circlet of Persuasion or a Headband that adds to Charisma, at 4th level your hypothetical UMDer has a 100% chance of success.
Remember that skills do not have automatic failure or automatic success, so even a 1 can succeed, if your bonus is high enough and the DC is low enough, and a 20 is not an automatic success, if your bonus plus 20 is not high enough to meet the DC for the test.
Again, for UMD, you will frequently have a choice for which stat to use for casting. If a spell is on the Wizard/Sorcerer spell list, you can choose to use either Int or Cha as the casting stat. Indeed, given the Empyreal Sorcerer archetype/bloodline, you might even be able to convince your GM to allow Wis as the casting stat...

Wands: No wand of Wish, since wands can only be made for spells up to 4th level. Sorry.
Also, if a spell has a range of Personal, like Gravity Bow and Lead Blades, you can only get the spell on you if you can use the wand, one way or another, yourself.
You might want to add Abundant Ammunition to the list, though. Not personal, and your ranged character will love you for it, especially if the combat needs them to use some of their more expensive ammunition...

Mundane mounts & work animals: Remove the elephant, it is not legal for purchase in PFS.

The links for the Discount Adventuring Kits, Arrow Packs, and the Handy Haversack Pack lead back to the same page, instead of the PDFs.

Shadow Lodge 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 ****

*Very* nicely written pieces and lists (and the new-to-RPG-and-PFS players I'm currently mentoring already love your OP Character Build Sheets!)

Other than saying Thank You! for posting these links, I caught one tiny tiny tiny thing:

The spring-loaded wrist sheath is a swift-action to utilize rather than an immediate (errata'd).

Not trying to nitpick, just noticed that offhandedly as I was reading. Again, thanks for posting this!

Sovereign Court


A lot of this stuff is a bit older now. I'll need to go back through and do some revisions just for the "living document" effect that comes from the evolution of PFS.

And thanks for finding some of the more niggly details. Many of my powergamer friends were readers on these and so that helped to find wayward details, but the power of crowds is potent!

Links are fixed, that is bizarre. Some people have been able to download them, but when I checked they were just bouncing back.

Grand Lodge 4/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thanks for fixing the links.

I hadn't looked at the animal companion link before, since I only have one PC with a companion, and that one is a halfling Cavalier, so his choices are fairly limited, and he is only 1st or 2nd level.

However, on looking, it is fairly obvious that the companion article is fairly old, and there are several changes and updates that should be made to it.

Bestiary 2 & 3 ACs are now legal, IIRC.

Training needs to be updated, since it is no longer one training attempt per Chronicle, but ranks in Handle Animal attempts per chronicle. You probably also want to note that the PC's first animal companion comes fully trained when it is first acquired. Only when you replace your AC do you need to worry about the training situation. Hopefully, by then, the PC should be able to come close to taking 10 to succeed at the training attempt. Also note that you can train an AC for a purpose, if you have enough training attempts to cover all the tricks for the purpose.

Oh, and it is double "Attack" trick, not combat training. Combat training might come across as the combat purpose, rather than just the Attack trick.

Also mention that your AC gets 3 tricks per point of Intelligence it has, so that can help, at some point, since you sometimes want more than 6 or 7 tricks...

On companions becoming large, as another thread showed, you can choose, instead, to take a slight power loss, and give it +2 Dex and +2 Con instead of having it become large.

For riding a flying companion/mount, you might want to include a caveat that encumbrance is insanely important, since natural fliers can only fly, IIRC, with a light load.

For a land mount, you need to keep track of total encumbrance and armor effects, since that affects their speed, and therefore how far they can charge.


In the No Dump Stat Arrays, you misses one of my favorites, 14,14,14,13,12,10 = 8 net, and can easily become 9 net at level 4.

Sovereign Court 3/5 5/5

Great list. I will note that the Mundane Mounts and Work Animals document on that page you linked has a couple of errors with the Heavy Horse page(s). I emailed the creator about it a few months ago. He said he'd correct that, but I haven't seen it updated.

Liberty's Edge

Thanks for doing this!
Things like this are a great help to those of us trying to guide a new player.

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