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READ ME FIRST: What you should know before your first login

I. PFO is still in a very immature state of development. At this writing, we're two months into what most other developers would call beta. From one patch to the next, game balance may shift dramatically along any number of different dimensions: between different roles (classes), between different weapon types or spell families, between ranged and melee, between aggressive and defensive play, between PVP and PVE oriented playstyles, between different parts of the map with different resource distributions, and many more. There is definitely fun to be had but it is not reliably going to be the same kind of fun week after week: after each new patch you'll need to re-evaluate whether the things you found interesting and productive last week are still possible, practical, and engaging, and if not you'll need to figure out what your new fun is going to be this patch cycle.

II. By the same token, the social/political landscape is equally young and equally dynamic. Your allies now may be your enemies in a month, and may be irrelevant a month later. PFO is very much a game of relationships, and those relationships are definitely in flux and will continue to be for some time. Don't assume that just because you always have been at peace with Eastasia that you always will be.

III. PFO has quite a few "wait, WHAT?!" design features. The first time you read that strength doesn't increase your melee damage, or that better armor "protects" you from your own buffs, or that you can lose access to some of your personal training if your settlement infrastructure is damaged, you may be tempted to think unkind things about the developers. Please don't. All of these systems have been carefully thought out and interlock with each other in ways that are carefully designed to promote the kind of gaming that PFO is oriented towards. It all makes sense and there are players who will be happy to explain at length if you ask; take the time to really understand the design intention before throwing around words like "idiotic".

IV. The game systems in PFO will not keep you safe, by themselves. You must cultivate a security-conscious mindset and take responsibility for managing your own safety, if you want to be safe. IF you do that, you can indeed play with relatively little danger of unpleasantness, but it's up to you to make sure that you've done what you need to do in order to properly minimize your risk. Before you set foot outside your settlement, you should be on voice chat or other out-of-game communications with your allied players. Always assume that public chat channels like Hex or Global are full of enemy spies. Inform yourself in detail about your settlement's friends and foes (remaining mindful of point II above). Actually read the text of any alliances, treaties, or non-aggression pacts that affect you. Know what you're going to do if you encounter hostilities- have a plan to run, fight, or parley as appropriate to your own capabilities and the situations you may be confronted with, and always always share what's going on with your alliancemates. Ask for help and advice from more experienced players in developing your own security plan. Do not, whatever you do, simply trust that the game's inbuilt protection systems should be sufficient to protect a naive ingenue: the game helps those who help themselves.

V. There's a lot to learn about PFO's mechanical systems. You don't have to know it all on Day 1. As your character develops, you'll need to learn about equipment keywords and how stacking effects work in combat and lot of other details; there are guides to all of this and plenty of people who will explain if you ask. One of the details that will be immediately useful is that your trained attacks should be upgraded in parallel with your equipment: There's no point in training an attack to Rank 2 until you have a +1 weapon, and there's no point in training an attack to Rank 3 until you have a +2 weapon. Similarly, you shouldn't train your armor feat to rank 2 until you have a +1 suit of armor, and when you have a +2 suit of armor you should train your feat up from rank 2 to rank 4. You definitely want to read the official new player guide which is linked in the launch window (patcher), and there are a great many player-made guides which will also be useful.

VI. PFO is designed to make your social connections an important part of your character power. Which settlement or company you choose to join will be the single decision which makes the most difference in how you experience the game. Take the time to get to know some different groups in the game, read the boards and watch the conversations, talk to people. Find a group who has similar ideas to yours about what is fun and how you'd like to play the game. Don't rush this decision; you have a few weeks before you exceed the training capabilities of the NPC towns, and even past then there's no hurry to make a choice: your XP isn't going to expire if you don't spend it right away.
^This is Dak (Charlie George). RIP <Guurzak>
Lisa Stevens
Great advice! Couldn't agree more!

Two thumbs up.
Very well said, Guurzak.
Where's that Like button?
Corollary to Article IV - There is no "PVP Free Zone", including NPC settlements. There no 'Kiddy Pool' to learn the game in. Plan and act accordingly.

Corollary to Article VI - the game is about building social groups around settlements. Part of the game mechanics support that. If you are a lone wolf type of player or just want participate with a small group of friends, you can. Just be aware that your play experience may be more frustrating as a result. Settlements is where the real interaction and the real power occurs. If you don't participate in that part, you are missing out in some of the richness of the game and will find that the game mechanics and the social environment will curtail full enjoyment of what Pathfinder Online will offer if you choose to remain in a small group by yourself or want to be a loner.
Well done as usual Guurzak
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Very well done indeed, it should be included in the main list of guides/sticky.

I would like to suggest section "VII. Crowdforging", what is is and isn't, how it works, setting expectations, Ideascale, and the EE release note mentions.
First Elder Durin Steelforge; Leader of Forgeholm; Founder of Steelforge Engineering Company

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Well-written, Guurzak.
..and if you don't know this before your first login, we'll do our best to inform you ASAP.

+1 to list this in the guide thread.
Foxglove - of Pathfinder University (PFU/Riverbank)
Silkworm - of Phoenix Industries (TEO/Brighthaven)
On these boards I never speak for TEO, only for myself or PFU. Contact me if you want to hold a guest lecture for PFU
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