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Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild

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The subject of this article exists in or is relevant to the real world. This article contains spoilers for the following products: Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild scenarios
See also: Pathfinder Society Organized Play

Similar to other shared-world campaigns such as Wizards of the Coast's Living Greyhawk, the Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild features two to three modules a month run simultaneously throughout the world. The Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild centers on the sprawling city of Absalom, where several factions engage in a shadow war for control of the city's politics and economy. As participants play, the outcome of their adventures, actions, and deeds affect events on a global scale, turning the tide of secret wars between some of Golarion's most powerful factions.

On July 27, 2015, the Pathfinder Society team announced the formation of the Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, which effectively renamed the Pathfinder RPG organized play program previously known as Pathfinder Society Organized Play.[1]

Organization

Announced in March 2008, Pathfinder Society Organized Play was originally led by veteran designer Nicolas Logue, who accepted a full-time position on the Paizo staff to spearhead the operation working in close conjunction with Joshua J. Frost, Paizo's Director of Sales and Marketing. Logue left the position in September 2008 to pursue a teaching career in England, and Frost took the helm of the campaign. After Frost left the campaign, Mark Moreland took the reins in the interim while Paizo searched for a new Organized Play director. Paizo chose Mike Brock, then venture-captain of Georgia, to be the new Pathfinder Society Organized Play Campaign Manager. However, because of such growth worldwide, Brock's title has changed to Pathfinder Society Global Campaign Coordinator. In 2013, Paizo hired former Atlanta, GA, venture-lieutenant John Compton as a developer on the Pathfinder Society campaign. The Society also employs a vast array of volunteers throughout the world to market and run games in their local areas and at industry conventions.[2]

Like other shared-world campaigns, the Roleplaying Guild provides the opportunity to game at conventions and at local gaming stores, but also presents a third, unique option for those wishing to get involved. Home games are a vital part of the Society, allowing a much wider range of players throughout the world to participate regardless of their proximity to conventions and retail stores.

Factions

Factions are a unique element to the Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild system. Every faction has its own unique history, culture, style, and specialty. Each has its own modus operandi in the ongoing struggle for control of Absalom, and each offers different boons to the Pathfinders in their service. A player's choice of factions is as important as her choice of character class or race, defining the character in the campaign and tying the Pathfinder to one particular faction's destiny.[3]

The Society tracks and rewards the success or failure of a faction over the course of a season through a system of faction prestige points. A Pathfinder's renown determines the value of items available for purchase and the amount of free services or assistance their faction will offer.

Factions initially available to players were Andoran, Cheliax, Osirion, Qadira, and Taldor, the five most powerful nations in the Inner Sea region.

At the beginning of Season 3, five additional factions were added: the Silver Crusade, the Shadow Lodge, the Grand Lodge, the Lantern Lodge, and the Sczarni.

During Season 4, it was announced that there was a chance that the least active factions available to players in Pathfinder Society would be eliminated from play. At the end of Season 4, Lantern Lodge and Shadow Lodge were eliminated from play.

In Season 6 and the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play v6.0, Paizo retired the regional factions in favor of conceptual ones, with Cheliax retired in favor of the Dark Archive, Qadira (with Sczarni elements) for The Exchange, Andoran for Liberty's Edge, Osirion for the Scarab Sages, and Taldor for the Sovereign Court. The Grand Lodge and Silver Crusade factions were the only existing factions directly carried over from Season 5.[4]

Season 6 also introduced faction cards, which provide boons to players who accomplish broader goals aligned with their faction.[5]

Seasons

Season 0

Season 0, which debuted at Gen Con 2008, ran under the SRD 3.5 ruleset and officially ended on the eve of Gen Con 2009. Pathfinder Society Organized Play converted to the Pathfinder RPG ruleset on August 13, 2009, at the start of Season 1.[2] Season 0 was advertised from its announcement as being the Society's "playtest season" and a number of rules and concepts of the Organized Play system were tested and subsequently altered during the transition to Season 1. Most notable among these was the idea of faction competition, which was abandoned for fear of creating a sense of losing in four fifths of the society's members.

In addition to the first four Pathfinder Society Scenarios, Gen Con 2008 also featured a special preview of the third Pathfinder Adventure Path, Second Darkness, called Ascension of the Drow. In this massive kickoff event, over a hundred players vied for their noble house to gain control of the drow city of Deraktinus.[6]

Season 0 contained a single interactive, held at PaizoCon 2009, called Grand Convocation. This event consisted of faction-specific encounters, individual challenges, site-based encounters, and a grand melee round-robin tournament. As with all interactives, however, the contents of this event are not considered canon in the Pathfinder campaign setting.

Season 1

Season 1 began on August 13, 2009, with the launch of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game at Gen Con. All Season 0 characters were permitted a one-time conversion to the new rules based on guidelines in the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play, which released version 2.0 several weeks earlier. Notable changes to the system of play included the addition of GM rewards for "eating" scenarios, less competition between factions, and the inclusion of numerous non-core, setting-specific mechanics for legal use in PFS. Season 1 also made legal the running and playing of PFS games online, either via play-by-post games or tabletop emulators.

Scenarios released over the course of Season 1 included the first linked adventures in the form of series such as The Devil We Know, telling a complete story arc over the course of several scenarios. Additionally, PCs which had reached level cap at 12th level were given their first chance to play in special capped scenarios.

Gen Con 2009 saw not only the launch of the new season with the first four PFRPG scenarios, but a two-night interactive entitled Betrayal in Absalom organized by Tim Hitchcock and Adam Daigle. The event, also designed by Tim, sent teams of Pathfinders throughout the convention center to remote encounters as they attempted to piece together a shattered relic before a malevolent spirit used it to assassinate a member of the Decemvirate. The remote encounters were designed by members of the Werecabbages including Liz Courts, John Ling, Rob Manning, and Joshua Stevens.

Season 2: Year of the Shadow Lodge

Season 2 of Pathfinder Society play started at Gen Con 2010 on August 5, 2010, with the release of the first Pathfinder Special, 2-00: Year of the Shadow Lodge. This season saw the Pathfinder Society work to figure out who and what the Shadow Lodge was, what their objectives were and how to bring them back into the fold of the Pathfinders.

Season 2 was the first season to release a Pathfinder Society Exclusive scenario. For the first year after the release of an Exclusive scenario, only 4- and 5-star GM's, venture officers, and Paizo staff can run it for players. After the first year, the scenario is made into a public scenario for the new season. Season 2 offered 2-EX: The Midnight Mauler, released in January 2011.

Finally, Season 2 brought a new mechanic to Pathfinder Society Organized Play: chase scenes. These interactives rely on skill, combat, and attribute checks to overcome challenges presented to players to advance them further into the scenario.

Season 3: Year of the Ruby Phoenix

Season 3, the Year of the Ruby Phoenix, began at Gen Con 2011 on August 4, 2011. For Gen Con, Paizo released two different interactives that gave players the ability to participate in the Ruby Phoenix Tournament. The first interactive was the Season 3 special, 3-00: Blood Under Absalom, where the Pathfinder Society attempted to earn its invitation to the Tournament. Players who performed exceptionally well in this special had the privilege of playing in the first tables to run The Ruby Phoenix Tournament. After great challenges and tests, the Pathfinders won the tournament. The events in the module play a pivotal role in the metaplot of the campaign's third season.

Throughout Season 3, Pathfinders worked together to ensure that their hard-earned prize from the tournament didn't fall into the clutches of a rival organization. Eventually, The Pathfinder Society found out a terrible secret that could change Golarion forever.

Season 4: Year of the Risen Rune

Season 4 began at Gen Con 2012 on August 16, 2012. Taking a note from Gen Con 2011, Paizo released two interactives that offered the players the chance to gain entrance to a secret auction for a powerful Thassilonian artifact. In 4-00: Race for the Runecarved Key, first of the two interactives, the Pathfinders work their way to become the highest bidder for the artifact. However, factions from across Golarion attempted to prevent the Pathfinder Society from obtaining it by creating a portal that brought chaos into Magnimar. A small set of extraordinary Pathfinders who performed well in the auction then travelled into the portal and prevented the chaos from spreading further into Magnimar and Golarion in 4-SP: Race for the Runecarved Key, Part 2. This auction sparked actions by a secret cult that plagues the Pathfinder Society throughout Season 4.

The Pathfinder Society encounters this cult multiple times and eventually learns that if not stopped, their plans will shake Golarion to its core. A very prominent faction head also disappeared from existence, and Pathfinders had follow clues to uncover the leader's fate.

During this season, all the factions working with the Pathfinder Society were threatened with being eliminated from the campaign. At the end of Season 4, Lantern Lodge and Shadow Lodge were eliminated from play.

Season 5: Year of the Demon

Season 5 began at Gen Con 2013 on August 15, 2013. This year, Paizo offered three different special scenarios for Season 5, two of them making their debut at Gen Con 2013. The first special scenario offered was Ruins of Bonekeep Level 1: The Silent Grave. This scenario was first debuted at Winter Fantasy 2012 and was then offered at select conventions around the world that offered 50 or more tables of Pathfinder Society scenarios. The second special was the Season 5 special, 5-00: Siege of the Diamond City. At the time, this special broke the record for the largest number of tables in a special. This special required the Pathfinder Society to help defend the city from a surprise onslaught of demons from The Worldwound and allowed characters up to level 15 to participate. The third and final special scenario offered was Ruins of Bonekeep Level 2: Maze to the Mind Slave, which follows the same guidelines as its predecessor.

Season 5 has fewer scenarios released as the Bonekeep series replaced those.

Throughout Season 5, the Pathfinder Society launches a three-pronged offensive: locate safe passage to the hidden dwarven citadel of Jormurdun, complete its contractual requirements to the city of Nerosyan, and locate a defected official from inside the Pathfinder Society.

During this season, the Osirion and Sczarni factions are faced with a tremendous revelation.

Season 6: Year of the Sky Key

Season 6 debuted at Gen Con 2014 on August 14-17, 2014. Paizo offered three unique scenarios to Pathfinder Society players on top of the newly released season 6 scenarios. The first was the Season 5 special, 5-99: The Paths We Choose, for characters levels 3-7. This special allows players to see how the actions of Season 5 affected their faction and their respective future prospects. The second was the Season 6 special, 6-00: Legacy of the Stonelords, for characters levels 1-11. This scenario led Pathfinders into the lost Sky Citadel, Jormurdun. The final special scenario, Ruins of Bonekeep Level 3: The Wakening Tomb, was the finale of the Bonekeep trilogy and took players deeper into the ruins of Bonekeep in the hopes of finding what was hiding in its depths. Bonekeep Level 3 was designed for Pathfinders levels 5-9, a higher tier than the series's previous entries.

Throughout Season 6, the Pathfinder Society collected missing pieces of an artifact they located at the beginning of Season 6. However, as their efforts continued throughout the season, the Society garnered the attention of a dangerous enemy.

Season 7: Year of the Serpent

Season 7 debuted at Gen Con 2015 from July 30th to August 2, 2015. Paizo offered a plethora of unique scenarios as well as the first three scenarios of Season 7. The first three specials offered were scenarios to bring the events of Season 6 to a close and reign in Season 7: 6-97: Siege of Serpents, 6-98: Serpents Rise, and 6-99: True Dragons of Absalom. Unlike in the Year of the Demon, Season 6's season closer, 6-97: Siege of Serpents, was a level 1-11 special scenario that allows players to help defend Absalom against a sudden attack.6-98: Serpents Rise, put the players in the attackers' role of 6-97 as they attack Absalom and complete their mission for a mysterious leader. 6-99: True Dragons of Absalom allowed players to play the role of kobolds deep in the Sewers of Absalom who happen to find themselves in quite a predicament. Season 7 opened with 7-00: The Sky Key Solution, allows the players to see what the artifact they worked through Season 6 to complete does.

Throughout Season 7, the Pathfinder Society track down information and critical operatives involved in the attack on the Grand Lodge at the beginning of Season 7. However, as their efforts continue throughout the season, the Society realizes their enemy is more tenacious than once thought.

The Scarab Sage faction work throughout the season to track down more members of it's council.

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Season 8: Year of the Stolen Storm

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Season 9: Year of Factions' Favor

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Scenarios

Through Season 4, each season consisted of 28 scenarios, released on a schedule of two per month, with four released both in June for Origins/PaizoCon and August for Gen Con. On October 2, 2008, Joshua J. Frost announced that some scenarios would be developed as part of an open call, in which members of the Paizo community would have the opportunity to write a scenario for official release. Since this time, a number of scenarios have been written as part of this ongoing process.[7]

With the start of Season 5 at Gen Con 2013, Paizo announced that Season 5 would only contain 25 scenarios as the Bonekeep trilogy was being released as unique exclusives that would take up much of the remaining available scenario development time. As well, The Paths We Choose, the Season 5 faction closer, also took development time out of the regular scenario creation schedule.

With The Paths We Choose being such a great success at closing Season 5, Paizo released 3 closing scenarios for Season 6, dropping the regular season scenario count from 25 to 23.

Scenarios by season

Season 0
Full article: Season 0 scenarios
Season 1
Full article: Season 1 scenarios
Season 2
Full article: Season 2 scenarios
Season 3
Full article: Season 3 scenarios
Season 4
Full article: Season 4 scenarios
Season 5
Full article: Season 5 scenarios
Season 6
Full article: Season 6 scenarios
Season 7
Full article: Season 7 scenarios
Season 8
Full article: Season 8 scenarios
Season 9
Full article: Season 9 scenarios

Pathfinder Quests

Beginning in 2011, Paizo began publishing Pathfinder Quests: short, Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild-legal adventures designed to be played in about one hour and introduce new players to the organized play campaign. It continued publishing a new quest about once a year thereafter, expanding the format in 2014 with The Silverhex Chronicles to include four one-hour adventures that when played by the same player character are equivalent to a standard scenario. These quests are standalone adventures tied thematically to a season's metaplot, but were not integrated into the scenario numbering system. This changed in 2017 with the release of House of Harmonious Wisdom, the first quest to be given a spot in the normal PSRPG publication order.

Pathfinder Quests by season

Season 3
Ambush in Absalom
Season 6
The Silverhex Chronicles, Fane of Fangs
Season 7
Phantom Phenomena
Season 8
Honor's Echo, House of Harmonious Wisdom

Boons

During conventions, special events, or certain holidays, players have an opportunity to earn boons that can be applied to a character of their choice. These boons can range from unlocking new races to play, a permanent bonus to a character, or a one-time-use bonus.

References

  1. The Pathfinder Society Team. (July 27, 2015). Guide to the New Season, Paizo Blog.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Paizo Publishing, LLC. (March 18, 2008). Pathfinder Society, Paizo.com.
  3. Joshua J. Frost & Nicolas Logue. (June 3, 2008). Exploring Paizo's Pathfinder Society Organized Play, Part 1, Paizo Blog.
  4. Joshua J. Frost et al. (2009-2014). Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play, p. 13 (v6.0). Paizo Inc.
  5. John Compton. (April 13, 2015). Faction Journal Cards, Paizo Blog.
  6. Gen Con, LLC/Alan De Smet. (March 12, 2008). Gen Con Indy Event Catalogs, Gen Con Event Listings.
  7. Joshua J. Frost. (October 2, 2008). Coming Soon: Open Call for Pathfinder Society Scenarios, Paizo Blog.