First PFS Character Advice?


Any advice for a first PFS character (for PF2)? I know PFS (in PF1) kind of expected a certain level of optimisation is that still the case with the more squashed power diffrence.

Hoping to play PFS for the first time with some folks on FG or Roll20 (would also be first time playing and RPG, very familiar with Pathfinder 1 and 2 [and Starfinder]) and want to make a character that isn't terrible.

What are the key points to hit in a build for PFS, damage output? Healing? Diplomacy? Skill Monkey-itude? Spell casting?

Any advice would be welcome.

Should note I like all classes other than Barbarians (could be convinced to like them but they're on the bottom of the list at the moment) and Alchemist (atm, waiting on latter books to build my alchemist)

-Medicine and crafting are important skills.

-get a 18 in your main Stat.

-when you go for multiclassing you are very limited on class feats. So, plan ahead.

-get your ac as high as possible

-dmg output is obviously great but not as important as in dnd 5e or pf1

What class do you want to play?

Have fun with it! Genuinely. The thing that got me a bit excited about second edition was all the flavor I found. Your not just a gnome or barbarian your a particular kind of gnome and manifest your barbarian abilities in different ways. Particularly at character generation everything seems to be pretty well ballanced so thin through slowly and see what combo Sparks your imagination the most!

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Optimize your character to work in combat (not just damage go broader on your bonsues), exploration (again broad in bonuses for skills) and downtime. Give them a generic CRB background. You never know what the adventure is going to be so you want to be well rounded.

The ABCD method of PC creation is basically combining point buy and standard array while making the bonuses mechanically viable but as well as give RP potential to the bonuses. Even with a random ancestry and background you can still make a viable character that is fun to play.

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Don't stress over mechanics. It's hard to make a bad character unless you try, and min-maxing offers little reward. This frees you up to make most any PC you want. Your table smarts are actually more important than your book smarts (though the latter can inform the former) due to the variety of actions available and differences in monsters you'll face.

Change your expectations. PF1 results were black & white, while the critical system in PF2 allows for degrees of success. Hit points fluctuate more now, w/ in-combat healing being quite important. What seem like minor effects can actually have significant impact on the game. Minor debuffing, for example, is common, and can snowball into a victory before much damage has even landed. Buffing & magic accumulation are secondary instead of primary.

Your class is primary. Most of your growth and gated abilities are baked in w/ multiclassing only being able to access a few. Proficiencies (beyond Trained, which is easy to get) play a major role in this, being much more important than feats (usually).

Rule of thumb: A +3 difference on the d20 roll is a +50% difference in effectiveness if there are potential crit success & crit failure results. One ramification of this is that bosses even a few levels ahead of the party truly are bosses that no single PC can tank. On the flip side, you get to dominate minions though recognize they will land hits (just seldom critical ones) and those hits will accumulate if you and your party don't use sound tactics.

If you want to build a warrior who focuses on one family of weapons (i.e. archer) then make a Fighter because they get to excel at weapons, then excel more at a chosen set of weapons. Fighters have feats supporting all styles of fighting (that don't use magic that is). Their feats focus on efficiency of actions via combining actions.
Fighters are also the most straightforward build and have lots of other advantages too (i.e. Saves & Perception) even if using weapons from several weapon groups.

If you prefer defense or mobility, go w/ Monk. It gets both while the other defense guy (Champion) and the other mobility guy (Barbarian) get only that. Plus Stunning Fist is great. Just make sure to get Athletics & jump skill feats so you have a ranged attack...yourself.

If you want skills, Rogue of course, though recognize they're also a legitimate martial threat in PF2. Their only flaw is defense/h.p. so be cunning in battle. Skills & skill feats are tremendous in PF2! It's kind of hard for me not to make Rogues because they can do so much. The bonus skills/skill feats is almost like having a second class concurrently. A Thief Rogue also gets Dex to damage, freeing up stats from Strength.

If you want to build a caster, naturally think about what you want to cast. I'd recommend Bard or Druid since they come w/ armor without sacrificing casting proficiency like a Cleric Warpriest does.
If a Bard, you'll likely spend one action w/ a buffing Composition and two actions casting a spell or attacking & putting up a Shield Cantrip.
Take Magic Missile for bosses.
If a Druid, avoid an animal companion or wild shaping until you get a better grasp of gameplay (and the costs/benefits involved). Druids have excellent offensive spells as well as Heal, which is a game-changer.

These choices are more relevant than in PF1, like having another class due to the feats involved. Your PF1 sensibilities about which ancestries support which classes should be accurate enough, though Human as usual supports them all and has a good set of feats w/ universal value.
Avoid an ancestry w/ a deficiency in your main stat so you can get to 18 and maybe those with an extraneous bonus, though that's not a big deal unless playing against type or experimenting.

Lastly, and firstly, have fun since the burden of scrounging out every little bonus one can find has been removed. The bonuses are straightforward, not found in some esoteric feats or combos.
Take a class that naturally increases in Proficiency in the things you wish your PC to do and you'll be fine.


Thanks for the advice people.

Two other questions.

Does PFS still have a level cap like in PF1?

Is it worth bumping strength to avoid armor check penalty and speed reduction on a Halfling (Theif) Rogue or a Gnome Druid or Similar? Or is better to bump CON and WIS and other stats to improve defences?

There Might Be Chemists wrote:

Thanks for the advice people.

Two other questions.

Does PFS still have a level cap like in PF1?

Is it worth bumping strength to avoid armor check penalty and speed reduction on a Halfling (Theif) Rogue or a Gnome Druid or Similar? Or is better to bump CON and WIS and other stats to improve defences?

PFS stated months ago (so it may have changed) that they would like to go up to 20th. It'll remain bottom heavy though.

The second question depends on intent, right?
A big question with builds is "Which four stats do I boost?" which is often the same answer as "Which four stats will I boost every 5th level?"

With the Rogue, 18 Dex is somewhat mandatory. After that 14 Con if you plan to be up front and 14 Wis (partly because you're a Halfling). So those will use 3 out of 4 of those boosts.
I'd say it's worth it for a 10 Str knowing Leather will be the best armor through at least 10th level. Though if you're wanting to focus on Int skills or Cha skills more than physical, take the -1 to get the +1 over there.

With the Druid, 18 Wis is somewhat mandatory (assuming you want to cast offensive spells). Then 12 Dex, 14 Con, & 12 Cha (due to Gnome)
So where does that 4th bonus go? Str, Int, or Cha?
You only need that Cha for innate spells (which Gnomes have plenty of feats for), but then really only if they're offensive. You can take the offensive ones with your class and utility ones with your ancestry so you don't need that much.
And you don't need Dex for ranged attacks w/ spells any more.

There are a few sets of choices.
-Going for 14 Str because of Hide Armor. Then you don't need so much Dex to be at max AC and you'll avoid the -5' movement -2 to skills.
Problem of course being that's a lot of Str to boost and you'll likely not make it there until 5th.
-Going 8 or 10 Str in Leather Armor. Boost the Dex to 14 and recognize you'll have subpar AC until 10th when you can finally get Dex to 18.
If you're a backrow caster, this isn't so bad an option plus if you're the one with Heal, you can bail yourself out. Plus you have as much mobility as many in your party.
-Going 8 or 10 Str in Hide Armor. With Dex 14, you'll start at max AC, but you're taking a hit on mobility. Assurance (Athletics) and the Fleet feat (and/or Longstrider) can alleviate much of that. You can boost Str as you level and keep the Hide or Dex and switch to Leather later. The hidden problem here is Bulk. 8 Str w/ armor that weighs 2 Bulk puts you in a pinch for other gear. Maybe. Check to see what else you want to carry. Likely not much actually since you don't need a melee weapon and you can use Cantrips for your ranged.
This last option frees up stats for Cha, meaning your could be a decent secondary face (which if you're playing PFS you know is necessary for when lacking a dedicated face). Int works too, but is only worthwhile if aiming for Int-based skills.

Personally I'd go Str 8, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 18, Cha 14. But I'm a major fan of Con, so Dex 14/Con 14 would likely be more popular out there.

Don't forget that in 2nd ed you get to ad +2 to four stats in pretty short order. every 5 levels. So in four levels from starts of the game you get to add +2 to most of your attributes. Knowing that is so close can take the sing out of some of your low stats.

There Might Be Chemists wrote:

Does PFS still have a level cap like in PF1?

I'm not sure what you mean by that question. PFS1 hasn't been capped at level 12 since 2012.

PS: Do let us know how your game goes!

There Might Be Chemists wrote:

very familiar with Pathfinder 1 and 2 [and Starfinder]) and want to make a character that isn't terrible.

What are the key points to hit in a build for PFS, damage output? Healing? Diplomacy? Skill Monkey-itude? Spell casting?

This is my opinion, but one of the real selling points about PFS is that it's hard to make a character that's terrible.

In a homebrew campaign, you can end up in a dungeon for the whole campaign and have a nature themed character be terrible. But in PFS, it's kind of hard to be terrible for more than 4 hours because the scenarios are all over the place.

PFS kind of nerfs the combat encounters so it's pretty hard to TPK. Optimized characters really stomp even the end battles, so you can get away with some pretty mediocre combat characters.

Because in PFS a character's party changes every 4 hours, I've tended to make very versatile characters. All my characters can melee, range, use magic, and heal to some degree.

You never know when your alchemist's 10 strength is going to be the party high!

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