Is it feasible to run a Pathfinder game where the players don't know the rules?
I have a group that's interested in the setting of Pathfinder, but are put off by PF's reputation for character design and combat being math/optimisation problems. It's just not something they're interested in. My goal is to reduce crunch for them.
What I have in mind to avoid the character design issue is making their characters in a sort of interview, where I roll the relevant dice, ask questions and make a character that matches what they say.
GM: It's a dangerous world. How do you survive? Strength of arms, magical power, or the protection of your allies?
GM: How did you receive your magical abilities? Divine favour for devoted service, extended study at the side of a master, or innate power?
Player: Innate power.
GM: Your power comes from some ancient mingling of a powerful being with humankind. What was that being?
Whatever they answer at this point, use the rules for a thematically appropriate sorcerer bloodline that has simple rules.
GM: Your power comes from your ancestry, but is unlocked by — and reflects — your will. The powers you gain reflect this. What drives you? Offensive might, defence and escape, or a variety of useful tricks?
Choose starting spells according to the answer.
To avoid combat feeling like a math problem for them, I intend to run sessions in a similar way: they will know what weaponry, skills and spells they have in a non-mechanical sense; they will also develop a general idea of how effective different options are with experience. Rolls will be behind the screen and difficult mechanics will have the edges filed off in favour of speed: if a character takes a fairly normal combat action ("I shoot it with my crossbow") I should have started to describe the result within 5 seconds. Something slightly more complex ("I throw a fireball at the middle of the pack of orcs") within 10 seconds.
I'd aim to mostly follow the combat rules, with frequent use of "Eh, close enough" to simplify unnecessarily complex situations. I'd use turn order openly: combat starts and they say what they want to do, initiative would to decide who struck first or moved into position fastest. I'm unsure about minis on a map: they're good for illustration but slow things down and encourage worrying about the details.
Is it feasible to handle all the rules as the GM, with the players not knowing or handling them? If it's feasible, what does experience playing this way reveal about how well it works or where it fails?
I'm not dead-set on Pathfinder, but I do have a strong preference for it as it's the system I know best and I have a ton of sourcebooks for it. That said, I'm open to the possibility that PF isn't a viable system for this plan.