We had the opportunity to finally play a session of the Pathfinder Second Edition Beginner Box at the weekly Gryffyn Flight game night at Game Arena in Hannibal Thursday. I thoroughly enjoyed running the session with the players. One player was a seasoned Pathfinder veteran of both editions and the other two players were in their second and first sessions for any edition of Pathfinder play. All were long time RPG players and GMs though. The game play was inspired and the contents of the box were put to the test. I am happy to report that the contents passed muster and exceeded expectations.
In looking at the contents of the box, we run into a flyer at the very top that says, “Read This First!” The flyer explains what Pathfinder is and how to start using the contents of the box. The opposite side shows us what is in the box. You could watch this YouTube video, Pathfinder 2e Beginner Box | Review and Page Through over the 2e Beginner Box by The Gaming Group and learn more about the box. I still want to go over the box’s contents with you a bit though.
As you can see from the above photograph, the box includes a set of die which are color coded. This is a nice feature for players new to RPGs. Over on the right you see Ezren the Wizard which is the first of four NPC character folders. The box has four of the iconic Pathfinder characters, Ezren the Wizard, Merisel the Rogue, Valeros the Fighter, and Kyra the Cleric. The front page of each folder explains what the character is. We begin to see through these folders the concept behind the Beginner Box. The folders contains the information on what the character is and can do rather than the choices and possibilities it could be. This is helpful in avoiding confusing new players with extraneous information which will not impact game play. Instead, choices that a player can use to level each NPC to 3rd level are found in the Hero’s Handbook.
This Hero’s Handbook is 72 pages long and the Game Master’s Guide is 88 pages. Collectively, the two books pale in comparison to the 640 page tome that makes up the Pathfinder Second Edition Core Rulebook, but this is a good thing. The Beginner Box is meant to be an introduction to Pathfinder Second Edition. It accomplishes this mission quite adroitly by limiting the information to a manageable flow of information and not an overwhelming flood which has been commented on by potential players as a barrier to playing the game. These two books have the information needed by the players of the four NPCs and the GM to run the adventure that is contained here in the box.
Actually, the GM has a little bit more information to develop several more combat encounters. A small section covers the village of Otari in which the adventure is set with some adventure hooks for the GM to begin planning their own adventure for the players. This is good because Paizo thought this through a bit more than usual and built additional adventures, Troubles in Otari, which can be purchased and used with the contents of the Beginner Box to take the players through level 4 play. Player character sheets come with the Beginner Box as well. Note that the NPC folders and the character sheets are marked so players can look up what each section is in the folder. That was commented on by the new players as being helpful in getting them into the game play much quicker.
I think one of the best player aids is in the form of a 3×5 index card of which there are six total in the box. One side is a Player Reference Card while the other side explains the Conditions a player might encounter. The Player Reference side explains Critical Hits and Misses, DCs, and basic player actions while also have a space for each action and reaction a player could take in their round. Token markers to use with these cards are found on the four sheets of NPC and Monster pawns in the box, 100 monster pawns in all. Pawn bases and a map to use them on are also in the box. The map is to be used with the adventure in the box. There is enough content in the adventure for two game session of 3-4 hours each in this box alone.
Finally, there are two more flyers in the box which I think are valuable in their own right. The first is a flyer for Pathfinder Society, of which I am unabashedly enthusiastic about, and the second is a postcard advertisement and 30-day free trial for Syrinscape. You can find audio playlists for all of the Beginner Box encounters there. We used some during our session and they added another dimension to the session.
As with anything for Pathfinder, Paizo has sanctioned the Beginner Box adventures along with Troubles in Otari. You can find and download both sanctioning documents on their respective product pages with the links I have provided here in this article. The adventures in the Beginner Box are the equivalent of playing a regular Pathfinder Society scenario and players earn 4 XP, 14 GP, and 4 Reputation for their characters for each one of the adventures they complete. The box has two adventures. Troubles in Otari works a bit differently in that it results in 12 XP, 30 Treasure Bundles (for the appropriate level of the character the Chronicle Sheet is applied to), and 12 Reputation. These Chronicle Sheets can be applied to any character the players wishes.
Another great reason to play the Beginner Box even if you are a jaded and well-seasoned Pathfinder is that both players and GMs earn double Achievement Points (AcP) for each Chronicle Sheet they receive for playing or running either of the two adventures found in the Beginner Box. They are also repeatable. I earned 16 AcP for running the first adventure last night and the players each received 8.
Finally, the Beginner Box makes for a great introduction to an Adventure Path which is also set in the village of Otari. The Abomination Vaults Adventure Path uses the full set of PF2 rules. Players start at 1st level and adventure through the three book set and reach 11th level by the end of it. When used together, these tools really take novice players and GMs and schools them in the basics of Pathfinder to the point where everyone is eager to play more adventures on Golarion as members of the Pathfinder Society.
We will be showcasing the Beginner Box June 26th at the PFS Smackdown in Columbia, Missouri as well as July 24th at the Great River Gaming Guild in Quincy, Illinois. Those events will be great opportunities to introduce your family and friends to Pathfinder Society as well as earning double AcP for yourself.