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

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.
Agreed and me stating my view of it shouldn’t be read as a “badwrongfun” statement either. It’s definitely something your group should discuss so at a minimum players know it’s on the table as something that could happen. If everyone is comfortable with it, there’s no issue.
 

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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...
I wish I had the books already since that’s my preferred way of reading an entire book, but apparently the UPS person who picked up Paizo’s shipment that day wanted my books more than me and Paizo is sending out another order to me.

(I joke, but the situation is they sent me a shipment confirmation email and the tracking number never updated as being picked up. Paizo customer support said it happens sometimes that a box gets missed for the pickup scan and usually the package arrives anyhow but after 2 weeks, they offered me either a refund or a new shipment. No big deal since I’ve had the PDFs since the 1st.)
 



My preference would be to keep the traditional score and make each point more meaningful.

I'm not sure how you do that without making the game very different than it currently is, and I'm not actually sure how much value there is to that. Like, what extra bonuses do you attach between pluses that feel meaningful? Not sure how much you can really fit in that space, and I think moving away from what's started to really show itself as a vestigial feature is probably for the best.
 

Reynard

Legend
Scanning through the Player Core tonight, there is a lot to like. I, for one, am happy with the "modifier only" ability score rules.

I am going to try and figure out a way to "play solo" a bit and get a handle on the rules before I try and rope in players. I need to find a good adventure.
 

I'm not sure how you do that without making the game very different than it currently is, and I'm not actually sure how much value there is to that. Like, what extra bonuses do you attach between pluses that feel meaningful? Not sure how much you can really fit in that space, and I think moving away from what's started to really show itself as a vestigial feature is probably for the best.
First, I wasn’t suggesting it for the remaster. Just my preference.

2nd, I absolutely think you could do it. Now I am not sure how it is done in PF2, but in 5e your carrying capacity changes with your score, not your modifier. You could extend that concept to all ability scores. Situational benefits for every score.

Edit: I need to clarify that I have no idea how that would work in PF2 as I am not very familiar with the system (looked at it when it came out).
 

Reynard

Legend
First, I wasn’t suggesting it for the remaster. Just my preference.

2nd, I absolutely think you could do it. Now I am not sure how it is done in PF2, but in 5e your carrying capacity changes with your score, not your modifier. You could extend that concept to all ability scores. Situational benefits for every score.

Edit: I need to clarify that I have no idea how that would work in PF2 as I am not very familiar with the system (looked at it when it came out).
Then you are basically back to the old AD&D charts for each ability score -- which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but does run counter to the design ethos of both 5E and PF2.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
To make individual scores matter in PF2 you would also need to dramatically alter how ability scores / attributes are generated. In baseline PF2 the only time you will ever see an odd ability score is a 19 from boosting an 18. That will not even potentially come into play until 5th level.
 


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