Pawns, Miniatures, Tokens, etc.
You may place no more than two “pawns” during encounter mode, including the one representing your character. This limit prevents individual players from taking over the map and bogging down the game by bringing a crowd of minions, but you could still have one minion on the map like an animal companion, a familiar, or a pet skeleton.
Temporary creatures (such as summoned creatures) and creatures which don’t leave your square (such as a mount) don’t count against this limit.
Remember that you must have a pawn to represent your character during encounters. It doesn’t need to be a fancy miniature, but you do need something. A piece from a random board game, a lego figure, whatever.
There are several types of Pathfinder Society games explained across the Player Basics page and the Additional Adventures page. With the exception of Scenarios and Quests, each type of game is run in “Adventure Mode”, which offers the GM more flexibility to run the game. Scenarios/quests are expected to be run “as-written” to provide a consistent experience.
- PFS Scenarios: These are your typical Pathfinder Society game, especially if you’re playing at a convention. They usually run 3-4 hours. Typically award 4 achievement points. Scenarios are organized by season on the paizo site. As of this writing, the current season is Season 4.
- PFS Quests: 1-hour adventures. Typically award 1 achievement point.
- Pathfinder Bounties: Short 1-hour adventures aimed at introducing new players to the game or representing what characters do between Pathfinder missions.
- Pathfinder Adventures: Stand-alone adventure books that take one or more sessions to complete. Many (but notably not all) Adventures are sanctioned for use in the Pathfinder Society campaign.
- Pathfinder Adventure Paths: Multi-volume campaigns that take dozens of game sessions to complete. Many Adventure Paths (but notably not all) are sanctioned for use in the Pathfinder Society campaign. APs which are sanctioned will have an available “Sanctioning Document” on their product page. For example: the Strength of Thousands AP has sanctioning documents, and can therefore be played as a Pathfinder Society game.
- Games in other rulesets: This is an odd one. If Paizo has released official conversion materials, you can run a Pathfinder Society game using rulesets other than Pathfinder 2e, such as using DnD 5e to run Abomination Vaults or Kingmaker.
Note that while a character is playing a multi-session adventure, they’re considered “busy” and can’t be used in other games. This means that Pathfinder Adventures and Adventure Paths may mean comitting that character to one experience long-term. If you want characters free to participate at conventions or pick-up games, remember that you can have multiple PFS characters at once.
Tables are expeced to have one GM and 4-6 players. Groups as small as 3 can work, especially at levels 5 and below, but above level 5 small parties will find the game unusually difficult. Groups of 7 or more should split and ask one player to GM a second game.
The GM will adjust the difficulty of the adventure based on the number and level of player characters in order to provide an adequate challenge.
Select your character. You may use one of your own characters or a pregenerated character if there is one available of an appopriate level (1 to 5, generally). If you use a pregenerated character, you will still need the id number for one of your characters. That caracter recieves the “chronicle” which provides benefits like experience points at the end of the session.
Sign in. The GM will provide a sign-in sheet to collect your organized play number and your character’s id number, level, and faction. The GM needs this information to balance the adventure to the group and to report the session upon completion.
At this stage, you can choose to play the adventure at the normal progression rate or at the “slow” advancement rate. If you play at the “slow” rate, you gain half the rewards (xp and gold). This is helpful if you are waiting for your friends to advance their characters and catch up to you.
If you have previously played the adventure being played, be sure to inform the GM. You generally can’t play the same adventure for rewards more than once.
During the Session
At the beinning of the session, every PC begins with one hero point. If one the players is a Pathfinder Society GM and they’ve earned glyphs, they may be able to distribute additional Hero Points.
Player characters recieve some free consumables (healing potions) depending on their level. If not used by the end of the session, these item or items are returned. The free consumable items for Pregens are already included in their character sheets and they do not gain additional consumables at this step.
Be sure to purchase any last-minute equipment that you might need after the GM has read the adventure’s introduction, but before play has begun. Remember to check the Purchasing Guidelines.
Scenarioes tyically award 8-10 treasure bundles. These bundles take the place fo specific treasure like “114 gold pieces and an old shoe.”
Characters may also find named items of treasure or consumable magic items. These items are available for use during the adventure and often appear as purchasable items on Chronicles. You do not get to keep them for free. This means that if you find a +1 longsword, you can use it for the rest of the session, but it turns into generic treasure when the session ends and you can buy it again using your share of the treasure.
As discussed in our article on Pathfinder Society Community Standards and Expectations, certain acts can incur Infamy, which is a near-permanent black mark on your character. The GM must warn you that an act will incur Infamy before you take the action.
In general, if the GM warns you that an act will incur Infamy, that’s a good sign that you’re doing something that’s not okay. Don’t take it as hostile or confrontational. Take is a moment to check in with yourself, consider the situation, and either find another way to appoach things or step back and catch your breath while other players do somet things. Everyone is here to have a good time, and the Infamy rules are there to make sure that no one is hurting other players’ fun by doing something awful.
After the Session
At the end of the session, the GM will help you complete some record keeping and a few other tasks which we’ll explore in the next article.