The Book of the Dead

How Access to Options in PFS2 Works

Väl mött, äventyrare! I hope all of you are well on this fine evening as I compose this post. Tomorrow, April 27th is the release of the newest Pathfinder Second Edition rulebook, Book of the Dead or BoD for short. Those of you who attended the Absalom Lodge’s monthly Conclave this past Saturday heard what I knew about the upcoming sanctioning for the book. For those of you who did not attend, I will explain the sanctioning for this book. Afterward, I will explain how access works in Pathfinder Society 2e. We’ve had quite a few new players join us over the last three months via our New Player Experience, so this is a great time to discuss all of this and Achievement Points as well.

Well, let’s get the fun stuff out of the way first. As I said on Saturday, playing an undead character is not going to be legal in Society play. That was made plain with this ruling on the Access website: The rules for Starting Out as Undead and Becoming Undead (page 45) are not used in Organized Play. We do know that the Skeleton Ancestry will eventually become PFS-legal at some point in Season 4 which begins in August as per this statement made on the Paizo Blog by Alex (the High Lord of Organized Play) last Thursday: All that being said, we’ve got a plan to integrate the skeleton ancestry early in PFS Year 4, so start saving your Achievement Points and stay tuned for that information. It’s also possible that some of the less-problematic undead archetypes might see play as the result of actions in a scenario, or as a charity boon sent out to conventions.

Basically, playable undead don’t fit with the lore of Golarion right this minute, especially when the Whispering Tyrant, undead lich that it is, just tried to wipe out life in the Inner Sea a couple of years ago, utterly devastated the nation of Lastwall, and is still disrupting things in the Eye of Dread region (see Lost Omens: World Guide for more information). However, the future of Golarion is always nebulous and ever changing. Those that look to the future see things that were, things that are, and some things that have not yet come to pass.

Now, let’s learn how to tell what is allowed and that which is not allowed. All you have to do is go to the Additional Resources: Character Options webpage which I conveniently linked for you. I strongly suggest bookmarking this page. Here you will find an explanation of Access. For the moment, just scroll down until you get past the two columns of rulebooks and Lost Omens. Those entries with the black arrows next to them point to the right are clickable. When you click on the Book of the Dead, it opens up and has the following headings in bold: Standard, Limited, and Restricted. The Standard option for BoD says this: All options are of standard availability unless specifically noted otherwise. If you scroll up a bit on that page, you will see this:

Standard: These options follow the standard rules as printed in their respective sourcebooks. If a character wants to take this option, they must meet all its prerequisites as usual. If the option is uncommon or rarer, they must also have access to the option. 

I need to stress this point which say: Players may use any Paizo published books or supplements they own during character creation, provided the options are valid per the Character Options document, Players residing in the same household may share owned resources. Options in the Core Rulebook,  the Pathfinder Bestiary (Second Edition), and Lost Omens: World Guide are considered always available resources regardless of ownership. You can read this rule at the Organized Play Foundation’s PFS2 guide which I conveniently linked for you. This is another resource you should bookmark.

The Limited heading does just that. It limits the use of the things listed under it. In this case, the Reanimator archetype is listed under that heading. This means a player may not use that option for one of their characters unless they have Access to it somehow. Again, if you scroll up a bit you will find this explanation:

Limited: A limited option is rarer in Society play, but not unheard of. A limited option can be selected only if specifically allowed by a boon—whether from the Achievement Points system, a Chronicle Sheet, or another other option from a Pathfinder Society source—even if the option is common or if the character meets the normal prerequisites or access requirements printed in the option’s source.

I checked the page on boons and the Reanimator is not listed on it. That means it might come later for AcP or via a chronicle sheet down the road.

Now we come to the Restricted heading. Let me explain this heading which you can read as well if you scroll up a bit on the page where the other two heading explanations are:

Restricted: A restricted option is one that is not generally appropriate for all tables or conducive to the Pathfinder Society’s shared campaign setting, such as a one-of-a-kind weapon, a horrific spell used by only the most evil magic-users, or player options that require high degrees of GM adjudication. Such options will generally be made available for Society Play in only a very few special cases, such as via boons given out as part of charity events, if at all.

In looking at the Restricted heading for Book of the Dead, we see the Undead Master archetype is restricted along with some monsters, several evil deities, the Deathless Deity adjustments, and finally, the parts about Staring Out as Undead or Becoming Undead. There is a reason for this and again, Alex took the time to explain this in the Paizo blog last week. I will paste it here:

First of all, evil characters are prohibited in the campaign. This extends beyond alignment; your characters should be willing and capable of working together with a group to complete your mission. Your characters should not disrupt play by randomly attacking other characters or NPCs, performing evil actions, or otherwise causing chaos unless such chaos is both warranted within the scenario and enjoyed by all at the table, including the GM. As options with eviler flavor come into the campaign, such as undead companions and eidolons, players should maintain the same level of respect and decorum. “But it’s what my character would do!” is not justification for mayhem and disrespect.

Second of all, a character never violates their anathema simply by joining a mission. This has come up before with superstition instinct barbarians, but once again, the undead threaten to disrupt this. Characters that follow Pharasma or other deities that abhor undead are not obligated to immediately smite a skeleton PC or a ghostly animal companion. The gods will not bring down righteous fury simply because you were unlucky enough to sit at the wrong table. (Now, if you encounter different skeletons in a tomb and don’t smite them, then Pharasma will be very displeased.)

Yes, the Undead are quite evil.

Well, that’s all I have for the Book of the Dead sanctioning other than my role in it. As a Venture-Officer for the Organized Play campaign, we are tasked with serving on committees and taking on additional duties. One of those duties I took on was serving as a member of the Additional Resources (AR) team which reviews rulebooks and Lost Omens setting books for Pathfinder 2e. We do the same for Starfinder materials, but I work only on the Pathfinder side. We go through the books looking at what will be problematic for the Organized Play campaign. Truthfully, 2e is pretty well balanced and not that much is a problem. The campaign overseers will select some stuff to be unlocked via Achievement Points which I will explain in another post as this one has gone pretty long. You earn those simply by playing and GMing games.

For this particular product, we had some long discussions on what should not be allowed. Personally, I am happy with the final sanctioning results. I am very aware others will not be happy, but remember that there is a path forward to incorporating the Skeleton Ancestry into the campaign later in the season. Depending on how that goes, we may see some of the Undead Archetypes incorporated as well. That will depend on you and your fellow players over time. Remember, actions have consequences.

You think I don’t want to play a lich?

Okay, that covers Access pretty well for Book of the Dead. If you take the time to look at the other books, you will see what ancestries are legal for play and which ones are Limited (meaning they require the spending of some Achievement Points). I will quickly state that all ancestries and heritages in the CRB are Standard access, as well as the Leshy from the Lost Omens: Character Guide, and the Kobold from the Advanced Players Guide. Look at the books to see which ones are which. To learn how many AcP (Achievement Points) the Limited ancestries and heritages are, go to the My Organized Play tab on the Paizo site, sign in, and click on the Boons tab. That will also tell you have many AcP you have. Keep in mind that your AcP only show if you have registered your character on the site. Again, I will cover more of this in a blog post later. I may make a short video to walk people through this. I will also cover the new sanctioned adventure for Undead pregens – March of the Dead later!

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