What would y'all say are the essential books for a mobile FLGS / Convention PFS GM?


GM Discussion


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

I'm a HUGE advocate of the PDF's, which works great on a private, view only wireless hard drive library for my biweekly group. However, I'm starting to find that even with search features, trying to keep my entire collection on my iPad for PFS at my flgs is just a nightmare.

Sooo, with that, besides (obviously) the core rulebook, what else do other experienced GM's recommend to carry around to each session?

While we're at it, as I'm discovering there are some significant logistical differences between being a mobile gm for pfs & having everything on hand for a homebrew game, what other things do you recommend for a "GM kit" so to speak.

I'm really trying to use pfs as a way to hone my skills & become a better gm overall since it puts me out there rubbing shoulders with people outside my group & discover what other players & masters have learned over the years. Thanks all!

Scarab Sages 5/5 5/5 *** Venture-Captain, Washington—Spokane

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As a PDF loving GM myself, I like to have the following available:

All Bestiary Books
NPC and Monster Codex books
Pathfinder Society Field Guide and Primer
Inner Sea Gods
Any Campaign Setting or Player Companion containing more related to what I will be running.
Ultimate Equipment

This gives me access to a lot of information needed for reference to cover most questions I receive during a session. Hope this helps.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

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Must haves:

-Core Rulebook, obviously.
-Bestiary I, helps with unexpected monsters showing up via for example Summon Monster, and contains templates and universal monster rules.
-Guide to Organized Play, for campaign stuff.

Everything else is the responsibility of players to provide (Additional Resources).

More resources is nice but not strictly necessary, and often enough carrying capacity (maps, minis, paperwork) is an issue. A laptop with lots of PDFs can help.

Grand Lodge 3/5

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My standard GM kit contains:

Core rule book
Any Bestiaries I might need for the scenario
monster and NPC minis or pawns
GM screen
Combat pad
3 sets of dice
dry erase markers
pens and pencils
some iconic miniatures
water bottle

If the scenario I am running features classes that would require additional resources to play then I will usually bring that book, or print off the pages I need from my PDFs

I used to bring the APG, ISWG and a bunch of other books. I found that they were rarely brought out so I trimmed them from my GM standard books. I still often need to bring them when I play, but then I can leave the bestiaries behind.

Grand Lodge 4/5

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On the electronic side: Organize!

Keep books in "logical" groups on your iPad, so you can drill down to find the right book quickly.

I use my Google Drive, and a Pathfinder folder, with various subfolders in it, like Rulebooks, Companions (player companions), Campaign (campaign settings), PFS, etc.

My PFS folder contains CharGen (character generation stuff), Scenarios (subsfolders by season, the a folder per scenario), Modules (Subfolder per module,possible subfolders for tokens and such for online); Quests, etc.

Makes life quicker for me. "Where do I find info on Varisia? In my Campaign folder, in the Varisia subfolder, or maybe in the Magnimar subfolder, if that is where the PCs are."


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
WeekendWarriors wrote:

I'm a HUGE advocate of the PDF's, which works great on a private, view only wireless hard drive library for my biweekly group. However, I'm starting to find that even with search features, trying to keep my entire collection on my iPad for PFS at my flgs is just a nightmare.

Sooo, with that, besides (obviously) the core rulebook, what else do other experienced GM's recommend to carry around to each session?

While we're at it, as I'm discovering there are some significant logistical differences between being a mobile gm for pfs & having everything on hand for a homebrew game, what other things do you recommend for a "GM kit" so to speak.

I'm really trying to use pfs as a way to hone my skills & become a better gm overall since it puts me out there rubbing shoulders with people outside my group & discover what other players & masters have learned over the years. Thanks all!

Thanks all for the advice! To clarify, I plan on keeping most of my collection on my iPad, what I'm really looking for are which hard copies of books should I pick up & carry around in a milk crate or something? Wasn't sure that came across in my original post. Was late & I was extremely tired lol!

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Agent, Texas—Houston

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Season 4 - early season 6 have a habit of assuming you have the following:

Core Rulebook
Bestiary 1
Bestiary 2
Bestiary 3
Bestiary 4
Gamemastery Guide
NPC Codex

I consider that too much to haul personally, so I carry only B1 and CRB. Once I know that I'm running next week, I'll go over the PDFs for the others and print the relevant pages for my scenario. This keeps my hardback book load within reason.

Scarab Sages 5/5 5/5 *** Venture-Captain, Netherlands

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Due to GMing mostly after work, I dont have room for books. My pack is full with scenario, maps, minis, dice, ect.

That's why in my prep I usually include spells for casters, and I tend to paste the text of certain feats under the statblocks.

If I do need to look up something real quick, I have masterwork tools app on my phone.
If that's not enough I have a laptop.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **** Venture-Captain, Minnesota

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I have Archives of Nethys bookmarked on my phone when I need to do a very quick lookup of a spell or item.

5/5 5/55/55/5

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Core.

If something comes up during the game its much faster to search for it on someone's phone.

Dark Archive 1/5

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BigNorseWolf wrote:

Core.

If something comes up during the game its much faster to search for it on someone's phone.

Not an option for me. Local store where PFS stuff is held at has a free wifi connection. The store owner can't remember what the password is. He THINKS he knows the password, but I've tried every single variation of what he claims it is... including L33t Sp33k. Still no dice. As such I either need the PDF on hand, or a physical copy on hand.

But yeah, other then CRB you shouldn't need too much with you. Maybe the Ultimate Equipment Guide and a Bestiary or three. GM Guide is a good one to keep on hand too. Otherwise it's up to your players to provide a copy of any Additional Resource content they're using. They can't be bothered to supply that to you, or can't verify they have a PFS Legal copy of the book (IE either physical copy or watermarked PDF) then it's within your rights to say "no". And if they don't have a PFS Legal copy of the book in question, it's your duty to say "Hell no".

Well, maybe phrase it more politely. But same sentiment.

Grand Lodge 4/5

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Daniel Myhre wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:

Core.

If something comes up during the game its much faster to search for it on someone's phone.

Not an option for me. Local store where PFS stuff is held at has a free wifi connection. The store owner can't remember what the password is. He THINKS he knows the password, but I've tried every single variation of what he claims it is... including L33t Sp33k. Still no dice. As such I either need the PDF on hand, or a physical copy on hand.

But yeah, other then CRB you shouldn't need too much with you. Maybe the Ultimate Equipment Guide and a Bestiary or three. GM Guide is a good one to keep on hand too. Otherwise it's up to your players to provide a copy of any Additional Resource content they're using. They can't be bothered to supply that to you, or can't verify they have a PFS Legal copy of the book (IE either physical copy or watermarked PDF) then it's within your rights to say "no". And if they don't have a PFS Legal copy of the book in question, it's your duty to say "Hell no".

Well, maybe phrase it more politely. But same sentiment.

Just an FYI:

Smartphones typically don't need access to WiFi to access things like Google Drives or such. They need it to download applications and application updates. And, indeed, if someone has a typical smartphone, they can also use it as a hotspot for someone else to be able to use WiFi to connect.

At the store I typically play at, none of the WiFi networks visible are unsecured, none of them are accessible to the players or GMs, so...

I used to have a Hot Spot device, but my carrier sold out, and the new carrier is discontinuing that network. :( I recently upgraded my cheap flip phone to an actual smartphone with 4G, and use it as a hotspot, when I need to, for my tablet.

And someone with the PRD, Archives of Nethys, and the D20PFSRD bookmarked can get to them quickly, if needed.

Grand Lodge 4/5

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Additional note: He should be able to get into his wireless router using an Ethernet connection, log in as admin, and check or even change the wireless password. Bring a LAN cable and your laptop, and offer to fix it yourself, for him. ;)

Dark Archive 1/5

kinevon wrote:
Daniel Myhre wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:

Core.

If something comes up during the game its much faster to search for it on someone's phone.

Not an option for me. Local store where PFS stuff is held at has a free wifi connection. The store owner can't remember what the password is. He THINKS he knows the password, but I've tried every single variation of what he claims it is... including L33t Sp33k. Still no dice. As such I either need the PDF on hand, or a physical copy on hand.

But yeah, other then CRB you shouldn't need too much with you. Maybe the Ultimate Equipment Guide and a Bestiary or three. GM Guide is a good one to keep on hand too. Otherwise it's up to your players to provide a copy of any Additional Resource content they're using. They can't be bothered to supply that to you, or can't verify they have a PFS Legal copy of the book (IE either physical copy or watermarked PDF) then it's within your rights to say "no". And if they don't have a PFS Legal copy of the book in question, it's your duty to say "Hell no".

Well, maybe phrase it more politely. But same sentiment.

Just an FYI:

Smartphones typically don't need access to WiFi to access things like Google Drives or such. They need it to download applications and application updates. And, indeed, if someone has a typical smartphone, they can also use it as a hotspot for someone else to be able to use WiFi to connect.

Great! Except I don't have a smart phone. I have an android tablet. My phone is a tracphone clamshell. It supposedly can search the web, but I wouldn't do so even if I knew how. It can sent text messages (at .5 minutes of time per message). And it can send/receive phone calls. I literally had the following conversation with a cousin the year I got it.

"I see you finally joined the 21st century. What's it do?"
"It makes phone calls."
"Got any apps? Play any games on it?"
"It's a phone, it makes phone calls."
"... Can you post in forums at least?"
"It's a phone, it makes phone calls."
"Oh my god, you bought another dinosaur."

Ironically enough this cousin has a smart phone that they don't know how to make phone calls with, so they always email and text message people.

And yeah, the store owner could change the password. Except he doesn't know the current password. And he refuses to admit he might have forgotten it. He insists I'm typing it wrong.... Even though I tried every possible variation.


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You could also add in the Inner Sea World Guide, being that it has most of the relevant default Campaign Setting info that you may need at some point. Plus it is relatively inexpensive as far as pdfs go.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

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Isn't it one of the most expensive PDFs from Paizo? The non-Core line setting hardcovers tend to be the dearest of them all.

That said, at least the map of the Inner Sea region is worth having to show where the adventure is taking place.


Ascalaphus wrote:

Isn't it one of the most expensive PDFs from Paizo? The non-Core line setting hardcovers tend to be the dearest of them all.

That said, at least the map of the Inner Sea region is worth having to show where the adventure is taking place.

Heh, surprisingly enough, the pdf of it is a mere bargain at $ 9.99. Of course, it being part of the non-core line setting hardcovers... it does mean that this is an aberration (tentacled?) of sorts.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

Huh, never noticed that. I must've been blinded by Inner Sea Gods & Combat.

Grand Lodge 5/5

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My suggestion, learned from Preston, Is a Hard copy printout of the current Additional Resources, Guide to Organized Play, and at least core pregens. (I personally dislike the non core pregens for the complexity of rules that cannot be effiencently conveyed on such a limited area.)

Personally, as a GM, my big two books (aside from CRB) are:

Inner Sea World Guide (Players want to make a knowledge local about the area they are in, but scenario doesn't have any info on it other that city/nation name? Here ya go. Also great for helping newer players get a feel for the setting.)

Inner Sea Gods (As above for religon checks instead of region checks, also great for background info.)

While I am pretty reasonable as a GM (or so I like to think,) I require players to show me how their stanky cheese works, not the other way around.

Dark Archive 1/5

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Here4daFreeSwag wrote:
it does mean that this is an aberration (tentacled?) of sorts.

CUrse you danish! That was disturbing and cute, and disturbingly cute.


Daniel Myhre wrote:
Here4daFreeSwag wrote:
it does mean that this is an aberration (tentacled?) of sorts.
CUrse you danish! That was disturbing and cute, and disturbingly cute.

So my work here is done? ;)

Getting back on topic, the physical book of the Inner Sea World Guide Hardcover does weigh less than the Core Rulebook too.

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