Paizo strategy for new players?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


I'm quite confused by Paizo strategy to attract new players. This is not a direct criticism because I would never dare to teach them how to lead the company, but pure curiosity. I was thinking about it few days ago. When I started playing Pathfinder everything I needed was just one book, opposed to 3.5e: the Core Rulebook — a revolution! Now new players (and GMs) face a more complicated path. They will have to buy the core rulebook, for sure. Maybe they will be pushed to buy the strategy guide, it will help a lot to understand core rules. But, probably, many groups will soon be converted to Unchained rules (they are so exciting) as soon as they can, so here is another rulebook to buy/read that may invalidate a big portion of the previous books already bought.

So — again, not provoking —, as a new player or — this is probably more substantial since we spread the game — as a GM who wants to introduce a game to a new group, I realized it would be easier to have something similar to 5e: just one book, at least for players — see any analogy?

If you should introduce new players to RPG, what would you do? Would you just stick to Core rules? Or you would risk to scare new players with multi-rulebooks, no matter what?


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

D20pfsrd. Figure out what they want, tell them which classes do that, and help them with their first character. Books can come later on.

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Galeazzo wrote:
When I started playing Pathfinder everything I needed was just one book

That one book still exists. Any players/GMs for whom the CRB would have been "enough" when it first came out, the CRB is still "enough" now. The fact that other books exist has no more bearing on whether or not the CRB is sufficient than does the fact that other RPGs exist.


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If I have a mixed bag I allow everything but remind newer players to stick with the Core Rulebook.

If a good chunk of the people are new then it's Core Rulebook all around and lending out the recent Strategy Guide.

If almost everyone is new to RPGs in general then it's straight to the Beginner Box and either Crypt of the Everflame or The Dragon's Demand until we can ease into 'Core Rulebook only'.

If everyone is just plain derped or new and have no intention of getting on the learning curve then I'll just break out Fate or 5th edition.

For the most part I think new players should ideally stick with either the Beginner Box or Core Rulebook until they're more comfortable. The Strategy Guide can bridge the difference between the Beginner Box and Core Rulebook.


Jiggy wrote:
Any players/GMs for whom the CRB would have been "enough" when it first came out, the CRB is still "enough" now.

Except when you are introduced in a formed group playing with stratified rules. I'm not talking about UM or UC which build "horizontally", but "vertical" building.

Jiggy wrote:
The fact that other books exist has no more bearing on whether or not the CRB is sufficient than does the fact that other RPGs exist.

True.

Apart from 5e, Unchained is not only a book of options but something many many players (and developers) waited to upgrade some dull (in my opinion, at least) aspects of the game. I don't know if more similar books will be published, but it can't be negated that a new group who wants to play a new "unchained" and more streamlined Pathfinder has to work harder than a group who started years ago. I'm a bit worried by the gap that may be created between "old" players and "new" players, but… I hope my concerns are unfounded.

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The Beginner's Box, the Strategy Guide, and the PFS 'Core campaign' all exist to help new players join the hobby.

You don't have to immediately play an Investigator with spells/extracts and items from 8 books.


Galeazzo wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
Any players/GMs for whom the CRB would have been "enough" when it first came out, the CRB is still "enough" now.

Except when you are introduced in a formed group playing with stratified rules. I'm not talking about UM or UC which build "horizontally", but "vertical" building.

Jiggy wrote:
The fact that other books exist has no more bearing on whether or not the CRB is sufficient than does the fact that other RPGs exist.

True.

Apart from 5e, Unchained is not only a book of options but something many many players (and developers) waited to upgrade some dull (in my opinion, at least) aspects of the game. I don't know if more similar books will be published, but it can't be negated that a new group who wants to play a new "unchained" and more streamlined Pathfinder has to work harder than a group who started years ago. I'm a bit worried by the gap that may be created between "old" players and "new" players, but… I hope my concerns are unfounded.

Its somewhat unfounded. Unchained isn't a book of options that just presents upgrades, some of those optional rules contradict each other's intentions. For example; There are three ways to deal with skills. One gets gives more skill ranks and adds two new skills. One cuts down the number of skills and gives less ranks. One eliminates ranks altogether. They are also all under the assumption of 'take it or leave it' because it may not be good for the game a whole but great at individual tables.

Some of Unchained actually makes the game more complicated or complex, like the Wound Threshold rules that make you have to track four degrees of damage based on percentage and cause other numbers to shift constantly.

Technically the Players don't have to try harder to use Unchained, the GM does.

If you want to play 'streamlined Pathfinder' the Beginner Box exists. There is a gap where some experienced players will act butthurt about playing with the Beginner Box so there is somewhat of a gap but I've run it with experienced players that weren't butthurt about less options and it went along fine.

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Frankly, if introducing a player who's new to RPGs (or even just new to the level-based swords/magic sub-genre), I'd just skip Pathfinder and get into 5E. Waaaay easier to learn. In fact, I'd only teach someone Pathfinder if they struck me as a hardcore nerd who just loves having lots of variables to manipulate and knobs to turn to get their character juuuuust right. For just about any other type of gamer (newbie, prefers less math, likes reusing traditional character tropes repeatedly, etc) I would instead recommend 5E.


Jiggy wrote:
Frankly, if introducing a player who's new to RPGs (or even just new to the level-based swords/magic sub-genre), I'd just skip Pathfinder and get into 5E. Waaaay easier to learn. In fact, I'd only teach someone Pathfinder if they struck me as a hardcore nerd who just loves having lots of variables to manipulate and knobs to turn to get their character juuuuust right. For just about any other type of gamer (newbie, prefers less math, likes reusing traditional character tropes repeatedly, etc) I would instead recommend 5E.

I would agree but there's a level of 'Crazytown' that Pathfinder has that makes me not want to shut that door. I keep having the fear that if I have more 5e going on than I do now I'd be surrounded by mostly medieval stasis and generic options rather than the pulp that Pathfinder usually finds itself in. I have and will run 5e for the people that stay in that comfort zone but I personally am more comfortable with the Beginner Box to Crazytown progression.


Malwing wrote:
there's a level of 'Crazytown' that Pathfinder has that makes me not want to shut that door.

Sometimes I look back and I ask myself «how did I get here?». Repeating the same steps seem impossible now, so I really hope to keep the group I've grown with because I fear it would be such a pain to go back teaching everything. It would be so cool if every GM could build his own modular rulebook to give to the players.


As a relatively new GM whose had some success teaching new players, and plans to teach a lot more, I consider this topic extremely important.

As previously stated, Beginner Box is a great way to start. It's a gateway drug to get new players hooked. I also think that it's important to teach and entice every new player on a case-to-case basis. I'm lucky that my current group I'm running are nerds who wanted to switch to Core after one session of BB. On the other hand, I'm planning to run an even more simplified version of BB with my gf soon to teach her.

In the end of the day, Paizo gives us a huge set of tools to work with, and it's up to you how you want to approach the game. I'm personally a rules lawyer type with my current min-max optimizing power gamer group, but I'm totally fine with throwing out most of the complicated rules to help teach new players. Remember the golden rule, as long as your players are having fun, you're doing it correct.


Galeazzo wrote:
Malwing wrote:
there's a level of 'Crazytown' that Pathfinder has that makes me not want to shut that door.
Sometimes I look back and I ask myself «how did I get here?». Repeating the same steps seem impossible now, so I really hope to keep the group I've grown with because I fear it would be such a pain to go back teaching everything. It would be so cool if every GM could build his own modular rulebook to give to the players.

Starting over with the Beginner Box is actually has actually been one of the most successful things I've ever done in terms of new players. I've played 3.5 before but never understood it. The Beginner Box is where I learned how to play.

Building your own modular rulebook is called making your own Player's Guide and printing it out. Unfortunately I don't know how successful this is. I'm often cursed with players that don't read the rules at all let alone anything I hand to them. I miss my beginner box group who grew into the game with me.


Jiggy wrote:
Galeazzo wrote:
When I started playing Pathfinder everything I needed was just one book
That one book still exists. Any players/GMs for whom the CRB would have been "enough" when it first came out, the CRB is still "enough" now. The fact that other books exist has no more bearing on whether or not the CRB is sufficient than does the fact that other RPGs exist.

It certainly removes the need for all the various PrC splat books. Because really, going with a PrC is usually a poor optimization decision- you get rewarded more for sticking with the one class.

Some classes of course suffer being restricted to CRB (I shutter at the thought of non archetyped monks), but you can make enough of the typical '4 man party' without any problems.

And the APG and ACG classes of course bring a lot to the game- but again, if you just wanted to play the core classes, it won't cripple you to go without the others since they are all base classes- they can all, to a greater or lesser extent, make a fine build without going to a different class.

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