Player Core and Gamemaster Core Remastered Review

Paizo announced earlier this year that it will be putting out Remaster editions of its Player Core and Gamemaster Core. This was to take out any final bits of legacy content from the Open Game License and to bring the core rules up to date. This also allowed them to organize the content that was scattered over many books and put it in one place so players and GMs alike could easily access the rules and lore needed to play Pathfinder. Please Note: I was given preview copies of the new Pathfinder Player Core and Gamemaster Core books from Paizo so I could review them before they hit the shelves on November 15th.

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Clean and Organized​

My first impression was how clean and organized these books were. As much as I like the parchment look of the previous edition, I love the simple off-white background with the green and brown borders. It makes for an easier reading experience. This extends to the character sheets in the back of the book.

The other thing that I immediately enjoyed was the references to where to find things in the book. While the books are set up to chronologically take you through character creation, being told what page to jump to when I know what I want to make is amazing.

Looking over the character sheet, there is a very big change that threw me for a loop: ability scores are gone. In their place are Attributes. All Attributes start at zero and get boosts and flaws during character creation depending on ancestry and class.

This doesn’t mean that every Elf Witch will look the same because a lot of boosts can be placed in whatever Attribute you want. When you get to level 5 (and every five levels afterward), you’ll get 4 boosts to your Attributes that can be placed however you see fit. Once an Attribute gets to +4, it takes two boosts to raise it by one.

The other big change is doing away with alignment. I won’t lie, I’m actually happy about this one. It allows for more nuanced characters and does away with a lot of arguing at the table when a player argues that they shouldn’t have their alignment changed due to their actions. Instead, edicts and anathema show the code of ethics a character lives by. This allows the character to live, breathe, and change as the game progresses.

There are also a lot of name changes throughout the books to move away from OGL names. The Abyssal language is now Diabolic, Sylvan to Fey, etc. The same goes with spells: Acid Splash is now Caustic Blast. Little things that will take a minute to get used to.

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Ancestries, Backgrounds, and Classes

They’ve added Leshy and Orc as ancestries and now I want to make a tree person. In place of the standard half-elf and half-orc are versatile heritages. If you don’t want to pick just one ancestry, you can now take the mixed ancestry heritage and get the best of both worlds. Can anyone say Halfling with Leshy branches?

The big thing for me is the amount of classes being cut back to eight: bard, cleric, druid, fighter, ranger, rogue, witch, and wizard. Paizo has been teasing us for weeks on some of the changes they’ve made and I’m excited to finally see them up close and personal.

One of the things I noticed was that some feats were moved around or renamed. Witch’s Armaments now houses Eldritch Nails, Iron Teeth, and Living Hair as a first level Feat (you can only pick one of the attacks, but you can take the feat more than once to gain the other attacks). Witch’s familiars also gain abilities when the Witch casts or sustains a hex.

The thing I was most interested in seeing was how the lack of school types for the spells and the different wizard schools play into building a Wizard. Not only do Wizards learn certain spells based on the curriculum of their school, but they also have an Arcane Thesis which grants them benefits based on their research.

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Feats and Equipment

As much as I love Familiars and Animal Companions, the addition of a Pet Feat tickles my fancy. I love the idea of having a tiny animal that my character can train to follow her everywhere.

If you don’t feel like doing a ton of shopping when you make your character, they did move the quick equipment packages to the beginning of the equipment section instead of the end. One thing they did add was assistive items where your character can now get things like hearing aids and wheelchairs, making it so players can have characters who are more like them.

Spells

As I said earlier, spells schools for arcane casters went away. For a lot of players, this won’t make a huge difference because the spell list for each rank is now just completely alphabetized. Another change is in the Spell Traits: Auditory and Visual Traits have been combined into the Illusions Trait.
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GM Core

As a player, I love that they took out GM things from the Player Core. This keeps players from metagaming and looking at things like hazards and monsters for stats. The downside of splitting the GM Core from the Player Core is the loss of treasures and alchemical items from the book the players are using. This isn’t the worst thing in the world as Alchemists are not one of the classes in the Player Core, but it is something to keep in mind.

That being said, if you are running a game for the first time or want to brush up on how to build a game, this is the perfect book. It walks you through how to plan a session, running encounters, doing exploration, dealing with downtime, and rewarding players.

Just like the Player Core, everything is clean and easy to read and they tell you where to go in the book for more information as they talk about things.

If you are building an adventure of your own, they walk you through the eight steps: styles, threats, motivations, story arc, NPCs and Organizations, locations, encounters, and treasure (my favorite). They even break the styles of adventures down into their basic elements so you can figure out what you need for a dungeon crawl that is challenging, but not too challenging.

The Treasure Trove is overflowing with all sorts of items from runes to poisons to relics and cursed items (anyone want a Bag of Weasels?). I’m looking forward to reading through the items at a later date to see what I can work toward for my characters.

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Final Thoughts

Overall, I really like the way these books look. They are a great jumping on point for new players and GMs with their easy to read pages and organized step-by-step walk through of character creation and game building. There is enough that is the same from 2nd Edition that the switchover to Remaster shouldn’t be too difficult while still having a lot of new and different ways to enjoy the game.
 

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Dawn Dalton

Dawn Dalton

The-Magic-Sword

Small Ball Archmage
I'm definitely picking these up. I've been in a weird "burnout" space for a while, due to a variety of issues but one I quietly have to concede is that I am just not excited by 5E and anything being produced for it anymore (digging out my old 3rd edition stuff to pour through is more fun and inspiring), and while my Pathfinder 2E game collapsed due to a couple players who really hated it, I have a current group that I think would be all for it. As such....these books are arriving at a good time. I really like how PF2E made it fun to GM, easy even....though my experience as a player was a lot less fun. So if the new Player Core makes that experience more fun/accessible I'll be happy (if I ever play it again, anyway).

I'd love to hear about if the new book clearly outlines all the various healing/treat wounds rules in a more comprehensive manner. Also, crafting. Both of these rules were rather scattered in PF2EV1.

I'm presuming the new Cores will work with the existing Bestiary.....given we have several months before the revised Monster Core arrives. Right?
Welcome to the party, the new core works more or less perfectly with the existing monsters, Treat Wounds is laid out as a skill action for Medicine, Battle Medicine is a Skill Feat, and Spells are spells-- so that part might not have changed unless there's something different. Crafting is streamlined and a bit buffed.
 

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Looks well made but not for me. Just tired of regularly buying new expensive books before fully enjoying existing ones bought.

However, if we can mix and match 2nd Edition and this one at the table, and that option is presented in the new GM Remaster, I may purchase it for that.
The Remaster is fully compatible with 2e, its more 2.1e to move Pathfinder away from the OGL to the ORC, incorporate errata, and the like. No spell, feat, etc from 2e is negated unless it has the exact same name as a spell, feat, etc. in the remaster. All of the current 2e books are still fully legal, this is not a replacement just more of a update. So for example spells not in the Remaster from the original books are still leagal. There are four new spells that essentially updates of spells like Remove Curse, Restoration, etc. but the the Remaster allows you still use Restoration because none of the new spells us that name. So those 2e books are being made obsolete.
 

Reynard

Legend
A question for folks that have had time to dive in to Remaster: is there anything that might make it difficult to grab any particular module to run, even a relatively early PF2 module? I am leaning hard toward diving in with Remaster and I am probably go to run a standalone module or just the first part of an AP to get my bearings before making my own stuff.

And on the subject in general: what is your favorite stand alone PF2 adventure, and why. (Feel free to consider a discrete portion of an AP as a "stand alone adventure" as long as it does, in fact, stand alone.)
 

A question for folks that have had time to dive in to Remaster: is there anything that might make it difficult to grab any particular module to run, even a relatively early PF2 module? I am leaning hard toward diving in with Remaster and I am probably go to run a standalone module or just the first part of an AP to get my bearings before making my own stuff.

And on the subject in general: what is your favorite stand alone PF2 adventure, and why. (Feel free to consider a discrete portion of an AP as a "stand alone adventure" as long as it does, in fact, stand alone.)
I haven't seen anything in my reading that would cause problems with the Abomination Vaults AP I'm running now or the first part of Stolen Fate that I've read through. We briefly talked about it as a group yesterday before we played and will likely give it a few weeks to let AoN and Pathbuilder catchup before we make the swap so I guess we'll see when that happens.

I will say I really like the books. The layout is really clean and a huge improvement over the old books IMO. I haven't been a PC in a PF2e game yet, so I don't really have many thoughts on the class changes just yet. My group has a Champion, Bard, Cleric, Barbarian, Summoner, and Magus so most of those classes aren't in Player Core and some (Magus, Summoner) aren't in PC2 either. My wife is playing the summoner so I'm more familiar with it and don't see any problems there with the updated rules causing problems.
 

The only potential weird part for Abomination Vaults has to do with the lore of Lost Omens rather than mechanics:
my understanding is there is an encounter with Drow in Abomination Vaults - but drow are now explicitly non-canon, since Paizo could realistically only use their Drow due to the OGL; they share way too many elements with D&D 3e / Forgotten Realms Drow.

It isn't really worth worrying about however, from my understanding; it's not a significant part of the AP.
 

Lojaan

Hero
As a GM, I have never attacked a downed player for 2 reasons.

1. Kicking a player when they’re down just feels bad.
2. I figure most creatures will move on to the immediate threat, so continuing to attack a downed player while another player is up and fighting doesn’t make sense to me. I might know the player is alive and could recover, but the monster doesn’t.
Same. Closest Id get is have a monster try to drag off a downed character to devour at its leisure.
 

Reynard

Legend
Same. Closest Id get is have a monster try to drag off a downed character to devour at its leisure.
I have had NPCs target downed PCs because of the specific relationship between them. Like, if that NPC really hates or fears that PC, they will take their shot. But sometimes the opposite is true and an NPC will make a dramatic allegiance reversal.

NPCs should do the things that they would do.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I have had NPCs target downed PCs because of the specific relationship between them. Like, if that NPC really hates or fears that PC, they will take their shot. But sometimes the opposite is true and an NPC will make a dramatic allegiance reversal.

NPCs should do the things that they would do.

The often-unstated elephant in the room is how often downed PCs are executed (or not) for reasons that are fundamentally metagame.
By all evidence, there's a large number of people who don't do so for game-dynamic reasons, or on the other end, think you should do so for reasons that essentially reify NPCs and monsters understanding of game mechanics.
 

Reynard

Legend
The often-unstated elephant in the room is how often downed PCs are executed (or not) for reasons that are fundamentally metagame.
By all evidence, there's a large number of people who don't do so for game-dynamic reasons, or on the other end, think you should do so for reasons that essentially reify NPCs and monsters understanding of game mechanics.
Sure. I have seen GMs target PCs because of their relationship with player, and I have been accused of doing so even when I was just running the monster as I thought it should be run (this was a "drag off the downed PC" scenario). Ultimately, if the players were like "don't attack us when we are downed, it feels bad" I would not have a problem with that, but usually we session 0 stuff like that and I try and be clear about when such things might occur.
 

Reynard

Legend
I bought the Player COre PDF this morning. I look forward to exploring it. I will probably pick up the GM Core PDF on payday and then (assuming I like PF2ER) I will grab the Fantasy grounds modules as soon as they are available. The trick will be convincing 4 people to actually give it a try...
 

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