What is the order of operations for stuff at the start of the session?

Pathfinder Society

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

In which order can/should the following be done?

- Calculating challenge points & applying level bumps
- Choosing faction boons
- Choosing mentor boons
- Doing the Recall Knowledge and other skill checks in the mission briefing
- Choosing all other boons
- Choosing which items to bring for School Training

The [url]http://www.organizedplayfoundation.org/encyclopedia/pfs2edplayer-basics/#bo ons-boon-slots]Guide[/url] states that "The GM will tell the players when to slot boons. Usually this will happen after the GM has given the players their initial briefing or introduction".

Looking through scenarios, I don't find a lot of explicit mention of when to slot boons.
* In Escaping the Grave it's mentioned PCs should slot boons as the mission briefing concludes, and then the next section contains knowledge checks; but arguably that next section is still part of the briefing.
* Bandits of Immenwood says the PCs should slot their boons well after the briefing, after the PCs have already had to roll a saving throw.
* Bandits of Immenwood has an addendum to the briefing if someone is a member of a certain faction, but that would imply faction boons have already been slotted.

A mentor boon can increase a PC's saving throws or skills, so slotting those before people have to make those checks could be helpful. On the other hand, you might want to wait for the result of knowledge checks to decide which boons would be useful.

Slotting boons in between the VC speech/Q&A and making knowledge checks seems rather disruptive to the natural flow of the scene; I generally assume the knowledge checks are made inside the briefing room and might cause extra questions for the VC.


And then the School Training items: obviously people can make more informed choices after the briefing, so what exactly does it mean when it says: "At the beginning of each adventure, your character receives a consumable item of their level or lower from a list of options"?

Is the start of the adventure the moment people sit down at the table to play, or when they wrap up the mission briefing and actually set out into the world?


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Here's what I've been doing:

1) As people arrive, get their level, ask a few questions about their character and any boons they usually slot that they think I should know about. I mention its useful to have your PF Training items and boons pre-loaded, but they'll be a chance to switch out after the briefing (unless a scenarios specifically forbids that, haven't seen on yet, but I think SFS had one).

2) Finish CP calculation when either everyone who pre-signed up is present, or we're ~5min past start with no updates from missing folks.

3) Apply level bumps as needed (including mentor boost).

4) Initial Briefing (often with the initial summons).

5) Knowledge checks

6) I ask them to finalize their boons and PF Training items. If they used a 'pre-slotted' boon for a ability/bonus/etc that one is locked and they can't shuffle it around. I've told people that my plan for PF Training items is as long as their briefing happens in a lodge or even a medium size city, I'm fine with them swapping items post briefing. If the briefing happens by letter in the wilderness (haven't seen an example yet), I'd be inclined for people to use their stock load-out.


I feel level bumps (and mentor boosts associated) should be applied before any check is rolled, so boons must be available (if not finalized) before the knowledge checks. I feel that hirelings used for skill should likewise be available for the post-briefing knowledge checks, which also implies boons must be slotted to some degree.

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

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So to summarize your approach:
- It's both permitted and encouraged for people to provisionally choose boons/hirelings/school items.
- If you use any during the briefing, you're locked into them.
- Otherwise, you can still switch them out but must make a final choice at the end of the briefing.

That seems both practical and fair to me :)


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Yeah that's a good summary of my current approach.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Nielsen's method is functionally how I deal with it, also.

Following the practice in Starfinder, the 'after the mission briefing' note is a reminder to me as a GM to make sure you've slotted boons and is your last opportunity to slot boons (i.e. tell me what boons you've slotted), not that you're boonless until that point.

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