What books are essential and what ones are not?

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What books are essential and what ones are not?

Post by Dragonhelm » Fri Dec 15, 2017 4:47 pm

I am considering getting rid of some of my Pathfinder collection. Just curious what books you think are essential, what ones you guys really like, and what ones you think are not necessary.

Coming from the standpoint of a 5E fan who occasionally plays Pathfinder.
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Re: What books are essential and what ones are not?

Post by maddog » Fri Dec 15, 2017 5:22 pm

Think about the books that you actually use first. Keep those. Then think about what's leftover and decide what looks good sitting on a shelf (if you have the room) and keep those for pretty. Anything else... let them go. Besides, if you make a mistake, Pathfinder is still new enough that you can just repurchase something.

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Re: What books are essential and what ones are not?

Post by Havard » Fri Dec 15, 2017 5:35 pm

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Are you thinking you might want to return to Pathfinder later or are you looking to keep books that might be useful for your 5E games?

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Re: What books are essential and what ones are not?

Post by Dragonhelm » Fri Dec 15, 2017 7:47 pm

Havard wrote: Are you thinking you might want to return to Pathfinder later or are you looking to keep books that might be useful for your 5E games?
I had been playing in a monthly PF game, but we ended that and are now playing Starfinder. Yay!

I'm much more of a 5e fan. I will play Pathfinder if the game is good, but I have no interest in running it. I like the idea of using PF as inspiration for 5e. Plus, I love PF's art.

I'm doing a bit of self-examination lately. I'm discovering that my inner geek collector gene has been running out of control. I also have boxes and boxes of gaming stuff, a good portion of which I don't use or have interest in any more. Plus, it'd be great to take some funds from selling those and apply it to paying off some bills.
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Re: What books are essential and what ones are not?

Post by timemrick » Fri Dec 15, 2017 8:46 pm

This is coming from the perspective of someone who runs Pathfinder as his primary game, does PFS (organized play) fairly regularly, and fits in 5E when I can (which is not nearly as much as I'd like). :ugeek:

I consider the absolute essentials to be the Core Rulebook, Advanced Player's Guide, and the first Bestiary. This constitutes the core rules, with the APG added for certain concepts (like archetypes and background traits) that are pretty universally used among PF players.

The next tier would add the Advanced Race Guide and Bestiary 2 and 3. I think the ARG was the first non-core book I acquired, and it's definitely one of the ones I use most--but a big part of that is my desire to tweak races for world-building purposes. (It's also very useful in PFS.) B2 and B3 fill in the most essential creatures that didn't make it into B1; if you don't GM, then they're much less necessary.

The third group consists of books that I like a great deal but just haven't had time to make heavy use of yet in either PFS or my home game: Ultimate Campaign, Ultimate Combat, Ultimate Magic, and Ultimate Equipment. Of these, UE is probably the most generally useful, because it serves as a single integrated reference for gear from the CRB, APG, ARG, and UC, with a sprinkling of new stuff added in. I'd probably put Bestiary 4 and 5 at this level, too--they contain a lot of interesting stuff, but are not remotely essential.

I find that the GameMastery Guide is much harder to prioritize. Depending on your needs, you might make heavy use of it (second tier) or only occasionally consult it (third tier). I've been GMing for a very long time by now (and PF for 4+ years), so for me, the GM advice parts of the book are less essential for me. On the other hand, the NPC Gallery and a few other bits of crunch will remain useful no matter how familiar you are with GMing and PF. (And obviously, if you don't GM, it's not necessary at all.)

I also own the following hardcovers, none of which I consider essential:
  • NPC Codex and Monster Codex: Premade NPCs to save GMs time building encounters. I mostly end up building my own anyway.
  • Advanced Class Guide and Occult Adventures: I find the hybrid and occult classes to be overly complicated (and far, far too wordy) for my taste. I'm just starting to experiment with them in PFS, but won't be using them in my home games anytime soon, if ever.
  • Mythic Adventures: The mythic rules are complicated, and need to be employed carefully--they are definitely not for all campaigns or all groups! I will probably introduce them into my "Time of the Tarrasque" campaign at some point, because it's a long-term, suitably epic sort of campaign.
  • Inner Sea World Guide: Essential for running a campaign in the default setting of Golarion, but of very limited use in homebrew campaigns. (I only own this in PDF, as part of a Humble Bundle, and have yet to read any significant fraction of it.)
  • Advanced Bestiary (Green Ronin): I'm only mentioning this one 3PP book because it's a real gift for GMs. It's a huge, setting-agnostic collection of templates that can be used with any other monster collection to create a great variety of interesting new creatures.
  • Pathfinder Unchained: I just got this one a few days ago, so am still reading it. It's a collection of tools to tinker with the system, so not designed for the casual gamer. The unchained classes are popular in PFS (and are the only part that's legal for organized play).
Note that I haven't mentioned any softcover splatbooks or adventures. The splatbooks tend to be pretty niche, so are only useful if you're especially interested in that specific part of the rules or the Golarion setting. (I own only a dozen or so out of the 150-plus out there.) And naturally, adventures are only useful if you plan to run them, or mine them for ideas, or study how they're structured. I tend to run my own adventures, so only own Part 1 of two Adventure Paths, and a handful of Free RPG Day scenarios.
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Re: What books are essential and what ones are not?

Post by Tim Baker » Fri Dec 15, 2017 9:56 pm

timemrick wrote:This is coming from the perspective of someone who runs Pathfinder as his primary game, does PFS (organized play) fairly regularly, and fits in 5E when I can (which is not nearly as much as I'd like).
This is a great post, timemrick. Thanks for taking the time to write that up. It was clear to me, and I don't even run/play Pathfinder. :)
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Re: What books are essential and what ones are not?

Post by Dragonhelm » Sat Dec 16, 2017 5:32 am

Tim, thank you. That's super helpful.

I've got most of the ones you mentioned. I think, really, the only ones I may consider giving up are the Ultimate series of books. I'll have to think about that. I do have some adventures, adventure paths, and other similar books I may part with, though.

I have the intro boxed set, the PF core book and Game Mastery Guide, Bestiary #s 1-4, the Advanced Player, Class, and Race Guides,the Inner Sea World Guide, Occult Adventures, NPC Codex, Rise of the Runelords compiled book. Probably forgetting a few.

I got rid of Mythic Adventures a while back. Just seemed to me to be mostly the core rules with a kick to it.

Cutting down on books, clearing out space, etc. is hard.
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Re: What books are essential and what ones are not?

Post by timemrick » Sat Dec 16, 2017 9:18 pm

Tim Baker wrote:This is a great post, timemrick. Thanks for taking the time to write that up. It was clear to me, and I don't even run/play Pathfinder. :)
Dragonhelm wrote:Tim, thank you. That's super helpful.
As they say here in Kentucky, y'all are welcome!

It did help a great deal that I had written up something similar for my blog earlier this year. That post dealt specifically with what books I consider primary, secondary, and other sources for my "Time of the Tarrasque" campaign.
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Re: What books are essential and what ones are not?

Post by Angel Tarragon » Thu Dec 21, 2017 6:52 pm

Must Owns

Core Rulebook
Game Mastery Guide (as good as the 1E DMG)

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Re: What books are essential and what ones are not?

Post by pawsplay » Sun Jan 21, 2018 7:30 am

Time after time, to me it really comes down to:
The core rulebook
Bestiary I
Advanced Player's Guide
Ultimate Combat

The latter two supply a number of feats which I consider very beneficial to character-building. They also introduce the bulk of the useful archetypes.

Beyond that, I would say nothing is truly essential, unless you are looking for a specific resource. As a personal preference, I prefer the unchained rogue vastly over the core rogue.

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