Today’s Trip To The Game Store
Today, a fellow gamer and I made a trip to our favorite game/hobby store, Armored Gopher Games. I purchased a new supplement book and she bought her very first game book, the Pathfinder Core Rulebook. I was so proud of her – tears may or may not have been shed. She plans on moving in the next few months, and though we still plan on gaming together via video-messaging and the like, she has already been making plans to start up her own campaign. It is a lot of work, being a gamemaster, but I have full confidence in her abilities. As she lovingly held her new book in her hands, as a mother might her first-born child, she looks at me and asks “How will I know what other books I need?”
That is a really good question, and one that is going to differ based on which game you choose to play. Because of its relevance to her specific question, I will focus on Pathfinder for the purposes of this article. Pathfinder is a very expansive game with a plethora of source-books and additional material available for it. So which books are “required” to play? In truth, not many. Unlike its predecessor, Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, which had three core rulebooks (Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and the Monster Manuel), Pathfinder only has one (the Core Rulebook) needed to run a full game, including many of the iconic monsters of the genre; I would also recommend the Bestiary. The Core Rulebook has all the rules needed to play the game, all the information needed to create your characters, and enough traps and magical items to make both the gamemaster and players happy for some time.
So then, what about all of those other books? Well, that will depend on what you and your players will want. If you are looking for additional material on character building, including new classes and feats, you will want books such as the Advanced Player’s Guide, Ultimate Combat, and Ultimate Magic. If you want more monsters or things to fight, pick up the other Bestiary supplements or the NPC Codex. More races? The Advanced Races Guide. Pathfinder does an incredible job of making the content of the books obvious based on little more than title alone.
The difficult part will be choosing if you want to make use of the campaign specific material that Paizo – the company behind Pathfinder – has made for the game, including books like the Inner Sea World Guide and their various soft-cover titles. Personally, I use this material sparingly, since I choose to create my own campaign settings for Pathfinder (a rare case for me), but I still use a good deal of the content these “world-books” provide. Additionally, there are a number of per-generated adventures published by Paizo, many of which are absolutely incredible to play. These can be useful tools for a first-time gamemaster, though there is something said for jumping into the deep end of the pool first. That’s how I learned, both how to run games and to swim.
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