I am considering GMing a few Pathfinder Society (PFS) modules (probably home games at first), and I was wondering where a good place to start would be. I am not new to GMing in general, just to organized play in PFS.

I have read the Guide to the Pathfinder Society, and am familiarizing myself with the various factions related to PFS play, but I still feel a little lost. What module should I run for my first adventure? How much do I need to know about the homelands for the PFS factions? What happens if I mess up a record sheet? These are all examples of the questions I've been asking myself.

What other reading should I do to prepare myself for GMing for PFS, and what are good modules to start with?

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 Great question, especially since I, too, am interested in DMing PFS. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 1:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm a new player and I've never GM'd so I'll add this as a comment. My GM is currently running us through "Silent Tide" He's GM'd before, but never PF, and most of us players have never played before. It seems fairly straight forward so far, and we're all enjoying it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Arkive
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 21:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Arkive Do you know if he had to do any conversions? I think the Season 0 stuff requires a couple of updates before they can be run now. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cthos
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 22:01

3 Answers 3


I've been a GMing games since the days of D&D 3.0, and I have to say that GMing PFS scenarios is pretty easy to jump into doing. You can get by quite readily without knowing much about the setting. If you would like to get a good introduction to the campaign at the same time as you start GMing, I have a few comments.

First, there are some scenarios that are more typical Pathfinder Society (the in-game organization, not the organized play organization). Starting with low level scenarios will make your job much easier.

  • 5: Mists of Mwangi and 2-11: Penumbral Accords (set in the same museum)
  • 29, 30: Devil We Know series
  • 35: Voice in the void (in the basement of the museum of 5 and 2-11)
  • 37: Beggar's Pearl
  • 39: Citadel of Flame

These are all fun and stereotypical Pathfinder adventures, and they will give some some information about Absolom. At the end of July, Paizo will start releasing a new series of scenarios intended to introduce players to PFS and the factions - The First Steps series.

Second is that preparing to run PFS is not as difficult as preparing for your own custom game. My first step is to read the scenario and highlight important things via highlighter (if printed) or in the PDF itself. Important things include Skill check DC's, faction mission details, and how NPC's act or react. Once I've done a good read-through, I then focus in on the combats likely to happen. Each NPC or monster that has a stat block includes strategies for what they will do in combat or prior to combat. If there are abilities or spells I don't understand, I look those up. If you do not know what levels of characters you have, you will have to study 2 or 3 sub-tiers in preparation. That's the on part that can be difficult to do since you have to remember some differences on occasion.

For paperwork and reporting, I always print one set of faction missions, one copy of any player handouts, and eight copies of the chronicle sheet for the scenario. Once you've filled out a few scenario sheets, you'll get the hang of it, but don't be afraid to compare what you've filled out with an already completed sheet of your own or someone else's.

The most important thing is to have fun though, don't worry too much about knowing every single rule or every single class/spell/feat/etc. Almost every table has someone who knows a lot of the rules, and they can help you out on things you don't know. To keep the game from slowing down, sometimes you have to just make a ruling with what makes sense and then take note to read up on it afterwards.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! This is very useful. Do you happen to know if there have to be conversions done on the season 0 scenarios, aside from substituting appropriate skill checks (Perception for Spot/Listen, etc.)? \$\endgroup\$
    – Cthos
    Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 13:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Some of them have been converted, and they should be listed as PFRPG instead of OGL. Only Season 0 scenarios have this distinction. Scenario 5 Mists of Mwangi is one of those that has been converted. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mike B
    Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 23:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Excellent, I'd forgotten to look for PFRPG on them. Though I assume since some of the OGL ones are still listed as playable, I can just make any necessary conversions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cthos
    Commented Jul 13, 2011 at 13:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ just speaking as a player (I haven't yet DMed for the Pathfinder society, still familiarizing myself with the rules) the first two scenarios suggested - Mists of Mwangi and Penumbral Accords have some elements which are pretty brutal and nasty (and in parts risk TPKs) so I don't know if I would suggest either as your first PFS module to DM. I think the current First Steps are far better introductions. Mists of Mwangi in particular has a first encounter which involves an element I personally think shouldn't be in PFS play (and mostly isn't) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 17:30

If you're prepared to wait until 28 July 2011, Paizo will be releasing a series of three introductory Pathfinder Society scenarios called First Steps, designed to take starting PCs to 2nd level, and to give a primer on the Pathfinder Society and each of the factions. The three scenarios are In Service to Lore, To Delve the Dungeon Deep, and A Vision of Betrayal, and all will be free to download. There is a post about them on the Paizo blog.

If factions in particular are causing concern, then it's worth noting that the downloadable PFS rules for the Pathfinder Modules (Godsmouth Heresy, etc.) don't include faction missions. All of the prestige points come from completing the module itself.


If you are a bit timid of running PFS modules then i’d recommend taking at look at some of Paizo’s normal modules which they have sanctioned for organised play. (There is a section on their website).

‘The Godsmouth Heresy’ would be a starting point. It’s a first level adventure which is 3 times the length of a PFS module. It’s also doesn’t mention factions at all.

For info on the factions itself I’d recommend reading the articles on http://www.pathfinderwiki.com. I would imagine that the Inner-Sea guide would have similar background info, but I do not own it yet so I can’t confirm that.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Inner-Sea World guide does have information on the homelands of the various factions, but not their goals as to dealing with/conquering/whatever Absalom. As a side note, the book is awesome in other ways, and I recommend it highly if you like reading about the campaign setting. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cthos
    Commented Jul 11, 2011 at 13:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ But enough of that tangent, all of the sanctioned normal modules also have PDFs that go with them to make them suitable for PFS, which means adding faction missions as well. It's not so much that I'm timid about running the module, I'm just looking for guidance as to the order in which to run them. (Though I am considering starting with We Be Goblins because it's just awesome). \$\endgroup\$
    – Cthos
    Commented Jul 11, 2011 at 13:27

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