Pathfinder Society Core Campaign
There is a huge gap in power between new and experienced players of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. This disparity is due, in part, to the wisdom one gains through experiencing adventure after adventure within the game’s system. That said, the factor that contributes most to this difference in power, in my opinion, is the amount of source material a new player has read compared to an experienced player.
To understand the basic mechanics of the game, a new player must read a significant chunk of the Core Rulebook, a nearly 600-page book that details the entirety of the base Pathfinder Roleplayaing Game. By my estimates, a new player that wishes to master the basics of the game (not including magic) must read through the first 8 chapters of the Core Rulebook. That’s about 200 pages. Those players who wish to dabble in magic must read an additional chapter from the Core Rulebook and sift through a large index of spells. That’s an additional 20 or so pages of reading and 150 or so pages of skimming. Needless to say, the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game has a fairly high barrier to mastery of the basics.
Don’t let this discourage you from playing, however. A person need not have mastery of the basics to play the game. In fact, many players simply learn by doing with the aid of kind Game Masters.
Nevertheless, experienced players likely have both mastered the basics of the game mechanics and read material from additional sourcebooks. At this point in time, the library of official source material for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is staggeringly large. If you also consider 3rd-party material and 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons books as fair game for your Pathfinder sessions, the number of character options available to the enterprising player becomes absurdly large. If the options presented in these books were comparable in usefulness to the options presented in the Core Rulebook, there would likely be less of a gap in power between new and experienced players, but they often aren’t. In fact, min-maxers tend to mine these source books for the most game-changing options they can find and succeed with great frequency. When armed with this extra knowledge, an experienced player can easily overshadow a new player in any given role-playing session.
As a player, are you tired of all these options that give certain players overwhelming advantages at the gaming table? As a Game Master, are you sick of having to learn and consider all these additional mechanics? Well, my friend, you’re in luck. There’s a very popular solution to this problem. You can join the ranks of gaming groups that use only the Core Rulebook during their games! It’s not a perfect solution, but it mitigates a number of complex issues. Even Paizo is getting in on the action!
This past week, in response to community feedback, Paizo Publishing unveiled the Pathfinder Society Core Campaign: a version of Pathfinder Society Organized Play in which players are limited to using the Core Rulebook, the Character Traits Web Enhancement, and the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play source material to create their characters. Additional character options will only be available to players as they complete scenarios. By doing this, Paizo is hoping to, among other things, lower the barrier of entry to Pathfinder Society Organized Play and narrow the gap between new players and highly-optimized, experienced players. In my opinion, this move makes Pathfinder Society Organized Play a much more appealing way for a new player without a dedicated gaming group to try the game and, possibly, make new friends in the process. To find out more, read the original blog post on the official Paizo Blog here.