It is an acronym to denote Pathfinder Society, which is an organized play system that I have been playing a lot recently at various gaming stores. The system uses a uniform set of rules for character building, experience, and wealth/loot accumulation. I encourage you all to read the Guide to PFS Organized Play which is a free PDF you can DL after registering a paizo account, which is also a thing you should do.
- Easier for the GM. There are $4 pdf’s that I can download from paizo detailing exactly how to run a 4 hour adventure written by an accomplished gm. Speaking from personal experience, the quality of these adventures are high with a good balance of roleplaying and hack/slash at level appropriate difficulty.
- Easy character maintenance. At the conclusion of successful adventures I will have chronicle sheets to hand out to all of the players. That sheet represents some amount of gold based on the difficulty played, 1XP(3XP = level up), and 1 or 2 prestige points which can be used for certain perks in society play. These chronicle sheets along with an inventory tracking sheet and character sheet(both available on the guide to organized play pdf) are a full representation of your character.
- Easier scheduling. If I schedule a session at Wednesday from 6-10 and you need to stay home to clip your toenails, its not a big deal. If anywhere between three and six other players can make that session, it can still go on as planned. Those players will get a chronicle sheet, those that don’t make it won’t. The adventures for the most part are independent of each other(though there are some chains or modules) so nobody will be missing any key plot developments for future sessions they attend.
- Minimal expense and wider implications. The content only costs $4/session for the group, all I really need is the pdf. I have maps, rule books, PC and monster miniatures etc but I’m always looking for additional GMing gear. Also, the characters you create will be able to play “pick up games” at any of the local game store PFS events if you want.
- Less creative control for the GM. I enjoyed the writing process of our last campaign, having a long overarching story come to fruition months after we first sat at the table. I still need to read and reread the content to prepare for a seamless session, but ultimately all I can really add to the story is fluff in most instances. By GMing for organized play, there is an agreement in place that I will run the adventure as the author wrote it.
- Loot uniformity, which is also a good thing in other ways. Everyone who completes a session gets the same rewards, I can’t reward a player who pulls more than their weight with extra xp or writing in class appropriate gear for them. All adventures have a certain amount of loot based on difficulty, there is no rolling for loot with a small chance of finding a super powerful item.
- PFS exclusivity. All characters played in PFS must be built and maintained based on a set of standards. This means that there aren’t any side quests to play(with any hope of tangible reward I mean), all that character can play is sanctioned PFS content.
There is kind of a lot of information to absorb, most of which is superfluous. The main goal for me forming this group is that we can get together, drink some beers, eat some pizza, and have fun geeking out utilizing a very awesome RPG and organized play system.