Rules Index | GM Screen | Player's Guide

Chapter 1: Gamemastery Basics / Campaign Structure


Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 38
The Core Rulebook explains (Rewards) three types of concrete rewards covered by the rules: Hero Points, Experience Points, and treasure. Experience Points and treasure are the bedrock of progress in a campaign, since attaining a higher level and acquiring magic items let PCs take on more challenging adventures.

Experience Points

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 38
In a standard game, Experience Points come from encounters of low threat or higher, and from accomplishments. Try to be consistent about what is worth accomplishment XP and what isn’t, and give out at least some accomplishment XP every session. If two PCs pull off the same magnitude of task, they should get an equal amount of accomplishment XP. That doesn’t mean you should allow XP “farming,” however. Part of the assumption of accomplishment XP is that the accomplishment is novel and the result of something challenging. If someone got accomplishment XP for snatching a dragon’s egg from a lair, someone collecting another egg wouldn’t necessarily get accomplishment XP.

You might find that accomplishment XP doesn’t work well for your game, especially if you’re running a dungeon crawl or other game with less interaction with NPCs or fewer quests. In this case, you can remove accomplishment XP and use fast advancement speed (800 XP to level up) to move at the standard advancement speed.


Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 38
The game’s math is based on PCs looking to find, buy, or craft items that are the same level as them—this includes weapons and armor with fundamental runes, and items that help with the PC’s favorite skills or tactics. A PC who gets the item at that level will typically be ahead of the monsters, hazards, and skill DCs briefly, before their challenges start to catch back up. The guidelines for awarding treasure, meanwhile, have you give the party items 1 level higher than the PCs. This means the items found on adventures are more powerful than those a PC could make (which are capped at the PC’s level). The treasure assignment is measured across a level instead of per encounter because some encounters won’t have treasure, some will have extra treasure, and some treasure hoards or rewards might be found outside encounters entirely. If your campaign structure works better by giving out treasure for individual encounters—such as some dungeon crawls or sandbox games—see Treasure by Encounter.

As you choose treasure, look at the flow of treasure in the campaign, and see which PCs are ahead and which are behind. It’s usually best to mix “core items,” treasure linked to a PC’s main abilities, with treasure that has unusual, less broadly applicable powers. For instance, a champion might not purchase plate armor of the deep, but they will likely wear it if they find it. These items should always be useful—a party without a primal spellcaster won’t have much use for an animal staff. The number of core items to give out depends partly on how much the campaign allows for crafting and buying items.
  • If there are few limits on buying items and there’s plenty of time to craft, make about half the permanent items you give out core items. The PCs have plenty of ways to obtain the items they want.
  • If purchasing items and obtaining formulas is somewhat difficult, make about three-fourths of the permanent items core items. If a PC really wants an item, they might have to do extra work to get it.
  • If there are no magic item shops or other ways to purchase items and formulas, make all the permanent items core items. In this case, it might work better for your game to use Automatic Bonus Progression to eliminate the need for core items.

Selling Items

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 38
The PCs’ ability to sell items plays a big part in their ability to equip themselves how they want. It’s expected that a Pathfinder campaign strives for some amount of verisimilitude—that PCs can’t find a buyer for every item, especially if they’re selling multiple copies of the same thing. Players should not have the expectation that they can sell whatever they want whenever they want. They might be unable to sell items that wouldn’t be in demand, have to take a lower percentage, or have trouble selling items in places without massive wealth.

If you don’t want to deal with that level of detail, you can choose to make selling items more abstract, allowing the PCs to sell anything for half Price essentially at any time. Since this makes it far easier for PCs to outfit themselves how they want, they might be more powerful.