How to Start PFS Play at a New Location

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get started.

1) Choose a coordinator
The coordinator is the person who will be advertising the games, organizing GMs, booking space at the store, and reporting the results at Paizo.com.  If there is an interest through the store in organizing it, this can be someone who works for the store, but it doesn’t have to be.  The coordinator’s job, once things are up and running, takes about 30-45 minutes for each game day and is largely administrative.  They don’t have to be a player or a GM at the game (though they can be).

2) Register on Paizo.com and download the Guide to Organized Play (Coordinator)

The Guide to Organized Play is a free download located here, and it contains all the campaign rules, including things on character creation, organizing events and so on.  It’s most relevant for GMs and Players, but it’s helpful for the coordinator to read it as well, especially the sections that pertain to reporting the games to the Paizo website.

3) Post the game information online (Coordinator)

Advertising is helpful within the store, but it’s also necessary to post the game on the Paizo website to get an event number.  To do so, log in to the Paizo site, click on the Pathfinder Society link at the top left of the page, and look for the “My Pathfinder Society” link within the grey navbar at the top.  From that page, look for the “GM/Event Coordinator” tab, and in there they can create the event.  Once finished, record the Event Number – the GMs will need this at the event.  (The event coordinator can always come back and find it again later, too.)

4) Find a GM and a Scenario (Coordinator)

All you need is someone who’s willing to GM who has a basic understanding of the rules.  If the players also have a basic understanding, so much the better, but generally we find that a lot of stores start out with a basic understanding and learn together.  As to scenarios, there are a few free ones that are good places to get started.  Generally, for a new location, we suggest the following as the first three adventures:

These three adventures put together make for a nice story arc that ends with the characters at second level, and with a basic understanding of the world of the Pathfinder Society.  The GM should also download the guide to organized play and be familiar with its contents before the game day.

5) Advertise and Offer a signup (Coordinator)

Advertise at the venue, and also online.   If there are local gaming groups, Facebook groups, or mailing lists of gamers who might be interested try to get the word out to them.  You can also use a blog post on the Ontario Pathfinders Society in order to have an internet homebase to send interested gamers to.

In-store is good place to do signup, but we also have a signup system at the Ontario Pathfinders Society website that you’re welcome to use – get in touch with Jeff and he can get you set up with the permissions you need and some quick instruction on how to do it.  Drop-ins are nice, but there’s nothing more frustrating for a GM and a Coordinator to put in all the work of preparing for a game and then having no one show up.  We find that online signup is really helpful because it allows for people to sign up from far away and still know that they’ve got a seat at the table.

6) Encourage people to sign up for a Pathfinder Society Number (Coordinator)

Players can register by creating an account on Paizo.com, going to the “My Account” page and looking for the Pathfinder Society options.  If they don’t get a number ahead of time, it’s not a big deal as the Coordinator should be reserving some numbers to hand out to new players in the next step.

7) Prepare for the game day (Coordinator and GM)

The GM will need a copy of the adventure, preferably ahead of time so that they can prepare it, be familiar with the monsters involved and the plotline, and so on.  The coordinator will also need a signup sheet (usually can be found in the 3rd or 4th-last page of the scenario, but not always) and some extra PFS numbers to hand out to players who don’t have any.  The numbers can be found on the event-planning page at Paizo – there’s a button labelled “Reserve 10 PFS numbers” where you can get them.  You’ll also need copies of the chronicles (adventure records, usually the last page in a scenario file.), one for each player, plus one that the GM can apply to their own character.

8) Run the game (GM)

Before the GM runs the game they should get players to record their player number on the recording page to allow for reporting later.  At the end of the game, the GM should fill out the chronicles using the guidelines in the guide to organized play.  At the end of the game, make sure to hand the reporting sheet to the coordinator

9) Report the game on Paizo.com (Coordinator)

To do this, go to the event planning page, and click on “Report” beside the event name.  Fill out the form using the information on the reporting sheet.

10) Decide on long-term plans (Anyone who wants to be involved!)

Questions to think about and answer:

  • How often do we play?

Some options: monthly, bi-weekly, 1st and 3rd <weekday> of the month, weekly.  We recommend starting slow – every other week, for example, and seeing how it’s received before expanding to weekly.  Weekly can be hard to sustain with a small community, but as it grows and you get more willing GMs, it’s a good way to go.

  • Who pays for the scenarios?

Some options: GMs pay, store pays, players kick in $1 to the GM to cover the cost, store charges a small fee to pay for scenarios, and so on.  If the store is actively involved in planning the event, often they look at the cost of scenarios as a minor fee to draw in customers regularly, and some charge a fee that the customers get back in store credit.

  • How do we entice people to GM?

Some options: Goodwill, request to GM for regular players, provide scenarios for free, store rewards (some stores charge players $1 and give GMs a $5 store credit, for example)