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The Pathfinder Society organization is introduced in the Character Guide handbook, and it says the following on page 108:

Membership Requirements present oneself at the Grand Lodge in Absalom, prove one’s aptitude in physical and mental challenges, undergo arduous training under the Masters, and pass the test of Confirmation; alternatively, earn a field commission through outstanding efforts

If you're creating a new character, do you just have to say "I did that" to gain access to game elements that require you to be a member of the Pathfinder Society? For example a Pathfinder's Pouch.

According to the same handbook, on page 106:

Once approved, a Pathfinder initiate undergoes an individually tailored test called the Confirmation. In many ways, this test acts as the initiate’s first mission as a Pathfinder, and afterward the initiate becomes a field agent—a true Pathfinder, with equal status to all other agents.

So, in order to become a member you must pass the Confirmation. And after passing the Confirmation you become an agent. Ergo, every member of the Pathfinder Society is a Pathfinder Agent then?

Then why does the Pathfinder Agent dedication feat require you to be a member of the Pathfinder Society?

Do you need the Pathfinder Agent archetype in order to access things that require you to be a member of the Pathfinder Society?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you looking at organized play or home play? Are you asking for a specific campaign or just in general? \$\endgroup\$ May 26, 2021 at 15:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso Home play, the question is about the in-game organization called Pathfinder Society on the world of Golarion in the Lost Omens setting, not the real world organized play thing. And, well, I'm asking for my campaign, but I use the system and lore as written in the books so there's no relevance, it may as well be "in general". \$\endgroup\$
    – Yopi Lapi
    May 26, 2021 at 15:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't own the Character Guide, and it's not fully on Archive of Nethys. @YopiLapi, is it safe to assume the Character Guide doesn't provide further guidance on this (since you seem to have it)? I can answer, but if the Character Guide has the answer that'd be better than me pulling together a wide variety of things from multiple places. \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    May 26, 2021 at 16:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ESCE Well, I can't be 100% sure that the Character Guide doesn't have the answer, but I haven't found one in there so far. \$\endgroup\$
    – Yopi Lapi
    May 26, 2021 at 16:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah I wasn't mixing up real-world PFS vs the in-game Pathfinder Society, but the answer might change. Specifically, I'd have to check the documentation, but I believe everybody is considered to be part of the Pathfinder Society (archetype or no) in PFS play whereas it will be a little different in home games (where its not assumed that your character is involved with the Pathfinders at all) \$\endgroup\$ May 26, 2021 at 18:24

2 Answers 2

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@Ifusaso answers correctly, but here are direct answers to all your specific questions (hopefully):

How to gain access to things that require you to be a member of the Pathfinder Society?

You aren't far off. You merely need to say "My character did that", and have the GM agree with you. Unfortunately the Character Guide isn't fully on Archive of Nethys, but if we pull this excerpt from the Advanced Player's Guide on Access Entries, we see:

Sometimes, a stat block for an uncommon rules element includes an Access entry that lists specific criteria. A character who meets the criteria listed in the Access entry, such as hailing from a particular locale or being a member of a particular organization, gains access to the rules element. For instance, a draconic bloodline sorcerer gains access to the dragon disciple archetype, even though the archetype is uncommon.

As always, the GM has the final say on who can access uncommon or rarer options, or whether specific options are allowed in the game at all. They may decide that a character's upbringing or abilities make sense for a specific rules option and grant them access even if the character doesn't automatically qualify, or they may decide that same option can't be taken by anyone at all.

While the archetype lists being a member of the Pathfinder Society as a "prerequisite" and not under Access, the same rule of thumb applies. A GM could homebrew a general feat

Does every member of the Pathfinder Society (the Golarion organization, not the IRL one) have the Pathfinder Agent archetype?

No. There is nothing that says a member (aka agent) of the Pathfinder Society must take the Pathfinder Agent dedication. Just like not everyone dedicated to the bow must take the Archer dedication (which references "those dedicated to the bow"), nor must everyone who is a student of martial one-on-one combat a Duelist (which references "students in martial academies practice with their blades to master one-on-one combat"). So we cannot assume that a feat's description text mandates that a character that meets said description must take that feat.

Why does Pathfinder Agent require you to be a member of the Pathfinder Society?

This is a confusion of prerequisite and mandate. There is no text mandating that a character, even an agent of the Pathfinders, take the Pathfinder Agent dedication. The dedication simply allows characters who meet the prerequisite to take it. To gain these skills, you need the kind of training the Pathfinder Society provides; you don't not need the training to be a member of the Pathfinder Society.

Do you need the Pathfinder Agent archetype to access things that require being a member of the Pathfinder Society?

Per my earlier statements, no, since you don't need the archetype to be a member of the organization. Feats like this (such as Fane's Fourberie) specify that to access it:

Access: Member of the Pathfinder Society.

It does not say:

Access: Pathfinder Agent Dedication

nor:

Prerequisite: Pathfinder Agent Dedication

TL;DR:

GM can allow access to all of these things, and the Pathfinder Agent archetype isn't needed to be considered a member of the Pathfinders.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I guess my confusion came from believing that a pathfinder agent must have the Pathfinder Agent dedication (which seemed logical), but it makes sense that that isn't necessarily true. \$\endgroup\$
    – Yopi Lapi
    May 27, 2021 at 5:46
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Pathfinder Access is easy to come by, but up to the GM/narrative

The Access for being a Pathfinder Agent (per the archetype) is

You are from Absolom

That's all a character needs to justify taking the archetype that states you're literally a Pathfinder Agent. Additionally, GM's are given full latitude in allowing access to Uncommon (and Rare, if they so choose) options if they feel its appropriate or just want to let players have it.

You've already noted the formal methods of joining the Society.

present oneself at the Grand Lodge in Absalom [or] earn a field commission through outstanding efforts

It is up to the GM (and potentially player) if the relevant aptitude is worth 'screen time' to run an adventure around of it its enough to say your character does them, perhaps in Downtime. In most of my home games, when a player wanted their character to join the Society (usually for access to a Wayfinder), the GM has simply stated that word of the party's adventuring had already been heard by the Venture-Captain and they're given a Field Commission on the spot.

Generally speaking, Access should only be restricted if it serves a purpose. In my opinion, characters probably shouldn't be expected to take the Archetype; there's no "reason" you can't be a member of an organization but not have it define your character. However, there isn't a formal method of doing so, so it is up to the GM again.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this archetype the only way to be a member of the PFS? Do all members have this archetype? \$\endgroup\$ May 26, 2021 at 19:59

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