I've played D&D in the past (including 3.5) and have been looking at Pathfinder because it seemed familiar and popular. I've been thinking of joining a Pathfinder event game at a store (might be Pathfinder Society rules, might not be), but I am concerned about creating a character that an unknown GM will allow. There are just so many books now that character creation is extremely time consuming as you have to consider feats/spells from five different books.
For a home game the obvious answer is "Ask the GM about his rules", but for joining a Pathfinder group at a game store, asking the GM is not possible because I don't know the GM until I show up for my first session.
I don't want to show up without a character created, but I don't want to wait a week before I can join up either. (Doing this once isn't a big deal but doing it every time you join a new group is unpleasant.) In less complicated RPGs I could just roll a character on the spot, but Pathfinder is a great deal more complicated.
Time for a little example of what I'm concerned about happening. Suppose I want to make a punch/kick monk (as opposed to the Qinggong monk or Zen Archer monk) that doesn't feel like a under-powered character when compared to others' characters at a table of Pathfinder enthusiasts. I find out that to do that I need to really plan out my feats, pulling them from the core rulebook, advanced player's guide, ultimate combat, and others. I also use the Unchained monk archetype because it is supposed to bring the monk up to par with other powerful classes. I spend numerous hours creating this guy only to get to my first Pathfinder game and the GM says, "Sorry, but I don't allow Unchained Pathfinder in my game." I would have to re-roll a character (even another monk) from scratch.
How do I make an optimized character for a store's Pathfinder event game with an unknown GM, while dealing with each GM's rules of which books are allowed and which are not?
I feel like if I show up with a CRB character then it will probably be accepted by the GM, but I am likely to feel weak if the rest of the party has optimized characters with feats/spells from numerous books, but if I show up with an optimized character that is more likely to feel relevant in combat, then I risk having my character rejected by the GM.