Groundbreaking – Edition Changes

Hello, Randal here. Like many people that pre-ordered their Pathfinder 2e Core Rulebook and Bestiary, I have my books sitting on my desk next to me but have a full day of work ahead of me, followed by an evening of wrestling the little ones to dinner and bed. There are going to be a lot of reviews of the material over the next days, weeks, and months … I don’t want this discussion to be about the changes or my thoughts on the changes. I want to talk about how I think edition changes do (or need to) effect world building, and how I plan to implement that here in Groundbreaking.

Ancestries. Starting small, let’s take a look at races ancestries. We are going from dozens of playable options to 6 core options, each with 4 or 5 variants. What does this mean for our world? Nothing. The other creatures still exist, we just don’t have the specific rules information to build a new character using them, but that doesn’t mean we will be removing them from the world. If you have a PC playing one, then it should be a simple matter to use the new core options to cobble together something acceptable (until a time that it becomes “legal” if you even care about that). We haven’t done a census of Marathis’ Cradle, but thus far the majority of the inhabitants fall into the core playable options anyway. After we finish our current tour around the Cradle, I will start to layout more of the makeup of the inhabitants.

Backgrounds. Moving on in (the new ABCs of) character building, we have backgrounds. In 1st edition, this was sort of a hodgepodge of various minor mechanics that included traits, flaws, backgrounds (that unlocked traits/flaws), and the background skills variant. Shifting to 2nd edition, this mishmash has been codified as a single Background and I don’t see this as a very big change to the game, in fact, I think it will simplify things. I am looking forward to creating backgrounds for various aspects that have already become Groundbreaking canon as well as plans for the future. Keep in mind, that you may not even need to create your own, as there are quite a few in there already. I immediately thought “I should totally create backgrounds like ‘Berry Bustler’!” but then realized that an existing one like Farmhand would work just fine. Admittedly, the long list of existing options should provide fertile ground for mixing and matching ideas and options to customize them to your campaign and/or world. In a future episode I will take a look at the list of options and where I think they would be best utilized in the Cradle.

C. C is for Classes. (What can I say, I have 3 little kids.) This is going to be one of the largest sticking points for players and GMs with edition changes. “Man, now I can’t play my gunslinging arcanist slayer!” I personally subscribe to the following philosophy: Characters in the games I play can call themselves whatever they want. I have a fighter/wizard that spends his entire life breaking into homes because he is a thief. The lack of a witch in the new rules doesn’t mean we no longer have witches. It simply means that we need to get creative if we actually need to actually resolve the actions of a witch. If you simply go consult with a witch in her glade, then who cares if she is a fey blooded sorcerer (or even has a class at all)? If you loved the theme of the 1e witch, then simply find the right casting option for you and reskin it! Without looking at the rules, I think a bard (already an occult caster) would make a simple reskin as we can take the party boosting and enemy hindering abilities and call them hexes. It might be bubble gum and duct tape, but it should hold for now.

Equipment/Magic Items. Going forward, things are going to be different. Potions, scrolls, rods, staves, wands … they are all going to function differently (likely the bulk of magic items). I personally feel like this only becomes a problem if you let it. As the entirety of the rules about them changed, instead of simply not including one or the other (as with ancestries/classes) then using the new rules and moving on with life should be the path of least resistance (not to be confused with a Ring of Resistance, Least). I only see issues if you have plot items or random NPCs with neat items that fleshed out a character but now become items well beyond their means or power (or possibly NPCs that were powerful because of an item that now no longer functions). In these cases, I would simply hand wave the issue, finding the closest parallel that fits the need that I have for the NPC/item.

Bestiary/Ecologies. Regardless of how or why you placed creatures where they are, or how or why they are allied with one another, an edition change should have no effect on that. The information in a bestiary is there to be equal parts inspiration and explanation for why you are likely to find them as encounters in printed materials. It provides cohesion across the many many products (Paizo and 3PP), but it is not meant to force your hand at telling your story your way. You should not feel like you have to change anything about your aquatic kobolds hanging out and befriending some locals. Do, however, keep in mind that they are meant to be inspiration and look at any changes to them as there are likely to be new changes or additions that will inspire you to create more unique stories in your world!

Groundbreaking 2e. How is second edition going to change Groundbreaking? It isn’t. I already implemented a (mostly) edition neutral ranking for things like encounters and checks that I use (when I remember to include them in, that is). I am personally moving on to 2e and not looking back (as a GM), but I will continue to try to keep the core of Groundbreaking on the more neutral side, and will try to point out where things I include (such as ancestries, backgrounds, classes) could be altered to fit better in 1e.

Randal Meyer

As a lover of crunch (rules and numbers), Randal is always tinkering with rules options. His love of magic users has led him to always fuss with the mechanics of magic and magic items. Years of GMing on the fly have given him endless ideas and content from which to draw on for adventures (ideas, plots, NPCs). When not working, gaming, or playing with his kids, Randal is likely working on improving Sage (his Discord bot for immersive play-by-post gaming that you can see in action on Know Direction's Discord in the Know Direction Societous PFS channels) over at!