Number 5: Ability Score Boosts
There is something fun about rolling for stats in a table top RPG such as Pathfinder, but let’s be honest, if we roll poorly.. we all ignore it and roll again. No one wants a weak barbarian or a simple wizard. We have a character concept in our head, and we want that hero to come alive in game. In addition, we want our choices as players to have meaning, and here in lies the beauty in the new ability boost system in Pathfinder 2nd Edition.
When creating a character in Pathfinder 2e, you select an Ancestry (Race), Background, and Class. All core ability scores start at 10 and each choice you make adds additional boosts to those ability scores. So, if you choose a Dwarf, you get a boost to you Constitution to signify the stout hardiness of the Dwarven people. Similarly, if you choose that your character was a talented performer before the adventuring life called, you can take a boost to Charisma to play up the showmen ship that one would learn in that field of work. This allows each choice to have an impact, but also gives the sense that your abilities were shaped by your life experiences. You are also allowed a number of free boosts to place in any ability score you like to further customize your hero. So, you will not feel required to make choices you don’t want to simply reach a certain number. There is also an option to take a “flaw” in order to receive an additional boost. This is an optional rule, but it just re-enforces the idea that you can still play with the numbers a bit to customize your character. While playing with the numbers are all well and fun, what I hope this system brings to players is a sense of why they are good at a thing. Your paladin may have a higher charisma score, but is that because you rolled high? Or because before joining the order, he was a traveling merchant still in good standing with various merchant guilds? Which one do you think is more engaging at the table?
I am very much a “role-play first” kind of player, so creating the character concept and having the abilities reflect that concept is far more important to me than getting a +4 to any stat. If this style is not for you, fear not, because Pathfinder 2e includes optional rules to roll for stats, but I recommend giving this new system a try first as I feel it offers a fresh approach when creating characters.