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GameMastery Guide

Source GameMastery Guide pg. 4
You might already know what a Game Master is. The likely definition, if you’re holding this book, is “you.” But if you don’t know, a Game Master (or GM) is the Pathfinder RPG player who arbitrates the rules of the game and controls the actions of every game element that isn’t explicitly controlled by the other players. But as any experienced Game Master knows, being a GM is also much, much more.

Host: Game Masters are the unifying force behind most of the game, not just organizing a social event but providing excitement and entertainment for those who participate. Chapter 1: Getting Started focuses on the GM’s role as a host, presenting considerations on how to start a game, how to prepare for a session, and how to select a tone and rules that players will be eager to explore.

Mastermind: GMs work to keep a game’s momentum moving in directions that entertain all the players while exploring the stories and settings they desire. To such ends, a GM manipulates dozens of elements, from how narrative components unfold to what rules are used and how they function in every situation. Chapter 2: Running a Game addresses a variety of topics that help GMs handle some of the most complicated aspects of their duties, from the details of how a GM actually performs in-game and frames a story to ways to create adventures and juggle the myriad aspects of a campaign.

Mediator: Just as GMs make sure all of a game’s plots and rules work together to entertain, they must also ensure that the players themselves mesh and cooperate. From tips on handling unusual characters and common PC problems to the delicate tasks of introducing new players and addressing the needs of several gamer archetypes, Chapter 3: Player Characters offers GMs a host of suggestions to help them avoid, ease, and handle the wide variety of challenges that arise from both in-game characters and their real-world players.

Actor: Through the GM, the cast of entire fantasy worlds takes the stage. In a given session, a Game Master might play a generous peasant or a conniving king, a rampaging dragon or an enigmatic deity. Whatever the persona, the GM’s characters are only as convincing, endearing, despicable, or memorable as the person who portrays them. Chapter 4: Nonplayer Characters deals with designing and depicting nonplayer characters, encouraging players to take a vested interest in NPCs, creating sinister villains, and many more suggestions to bring even the smallest role to life.

Patron: While GMs constantly confront their players with all sorts of dangers, they also serve as the source of every reward the PCs ever gain, from each experience point to treasures of legend. Chapter 5: Rewards aids GMs in creating and managing a wide variety of rewards, and includes ways to handle common challenges presented by character wealth and bring new life and adventure to old treasures.

World Builder: Whether running games on Golarion, home of the official Pathfinder campaign setting, or on a world of their own creation, GMs control nearly every aspect of an entire fantasy reality. With not just one world, but perhaps even multiple planets, planes, or even stranger settings under the GM’s direction, the more insight and forethought invested into the ways and workings of locations, the more believable these become. Details on these elements, along with considerations on societies, time, technology, and more fill Chapter 6: Creating a World.

Storyteller: Among a GM’s most important tasks is imagining and telling engaging stories. To aid in this task, Chapter 7: Adventures presents expansive discussions on several of the settings most common in the Pathfinder RPG, focusing on considerations and helpful rules GMs can employ wherever their tales might take them. In addition, numerous idea-generating charts and random encounter tables assure that GMs never lack for details or excitement once their stories reach their destinations.

Game Designer: Even with the vast range of options presented in the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, only GMs know what threats their players might face or powers they might come to control. Just as GMs arbitrate the rules within their games, so can they manipulate, repurpose, and wholly invent new rules to improve their games. Chapter 8: Advanced Topics not only offers GMs a variety of new rule subsystems and considerations for running challenging types of adventures, but also expands upon several existing rules elements and demonstrates how GMs can customize the rules they already know to perfectly fit the types of adventures they want to run.

Director: Over the course of a campaign, Game Masters have need of dozens of characters and hundreds of encounters, choosing and customizing each and presenting them however best aids the overarching plot. Yet creating these elements can prove a repetitive and time-consuming task. To aid in this process, Chapter 9: NPC Gallery unveils a gallery of dozens of stat blocks for the types of NPCs most commonly encountered in the Pathfinder RPG. These characters can be used however the GM wishes, allowing him to focus on other, more exciting aspects of his campaigns.

Regardless of skill or experience as a Game Master, it’s likely that every GM can identify one of these roles as an area in which she lacks experience or confidence. This GameMastery Guide seeks to address such needs, counseling on challenging aspects of campaigns, contributing new options and inspirations, and refreshing the game’s classic elements. Most importantly, the countless tools herein are designed not to change games or tell GMs how they should play, but rather to inspire new stories and save effort, leaving GMs with more time to run exactly the adventures they and their groups want to play—or have been playing for years.

Getting Started

Source GameMastery Guide pg. 6
Chapter 1

Running a Game

Source GameMastery Guide pg. 22
Chapter 2

Player Characters

Source GameMastery Guide pg. 56
Chapter 3

Nonplayer Characters

Source GameMastery Guide pg. 78
Chapter 4


Source GameMastery Guide pg. 100
Chapter 5

Creating a World

Source GameMastery Guide pg. 138
Chapter 6


Source GameMastery Guide pg. 170
Chapter 7

Advanced Topics

Source GameMastery Guide pg. 228
Chapter 8

NPC Gallery

Source GameMastery Guide pg. 254
For every player character adventuring through a fantasy world, there exist dozens if not hundreds of nonplayer characters, each existing to provide vital services to characters, progress important story lines, or just add f lavor between sagas. From the local farmer to the tavern storyteller and from the highest king to the poorest urchin, these characters are the residents of the worlds and stories all GMs craft. They are the allies and hindrances, the employers and victims, the cheering throngs and the booing crowds. Whenever the PCs need aid, have business, or venture off the beaten path, these are the characters ready to come to life.

Yet, for all the importance of the lords of the land, the business owners, and the ever-imperiled common folk, the meat of most adventures focuses on the monsters, villains, and dangers beyond familiar streets. Thus, when something inevitably goes awry at the local tavern, diplomacy breaks down at the royal court, or any of countless other unanticipated events arise, most GMs find themselves faking dice rolls or leafing through pages for statistics to adapt to the moment’s needs. This chapter exists to serve GMs in those times, when they need statistics they didn’t anticipate, one more encounter is required on the fly, or players zig when they were expected to zag.

The following pages present more than 80 NPCs common to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. The majority are not meant to be challenges in direct combat against groups of seasoned adventurers, but rather represent generic statistics to serve in any of a party’s myriad less adventurous interactions. Should the GM need to know what the Appraise skill is of an average shopkeep or just how capable a sailor actually is at the wheel of a ship, these statistics offer a baseline for a wide variety of everyday characters. That’s not to say that a host of dangerous encounters can’t arise from these characters. Just as a group of monster-fighting gladiators or military troops prove lethal, so too could a torch-bearing mob of farmers and craftsmen turn deadly. Many of these NPCs also hold the potential to take on far greater roles in a campaign, as there’s nothing stopping a GM from making a lethal bounty hunter or a notorious pirate captain the main villain of an entire series of adventures. Alternatively, this chapter might also serve as a shopping list of NPCs characters might employ as hirelings, henchmen, even temporary PCs should they find themselves in a pinch. Ultimately, these characters provide GMs with increased tools and options, remove the need for ad hoc statistics generation and many other game interruptions, and free GMs to focus their time and creativity on the most exciting parts of their games: their own adventures.