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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook Hardcover – August 19, 2009
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Legal DisclaimerBook is worn with corner dings, Still a great reading copy, From a private collection. All orders ship with postal tracking, In Stock Now!
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The Pathfinder Core Rulebook as well as the Pathfinder Bestiary, hardcover editions, have sewn bindings. Why is this important? It means the books will still be intact after years of use. In short, if you're in to Pathfinder, the hardcover Pathfinder series seems to be a good investment in terms of longevity.
Regarding the book's contents:
In theory, any player's handbook contains enough information for both players and GM, simply because it lays out the core mechanics necessary for the players to interact with the game world - Fleshing out the world and interactions is up to the GM. In other words, you don't need a monster manual, a spell manual, a specific GM guide, a campaign setting, etc. - just the core handbook.
However, those accessory books are helpful in giving you starting points as you try to bring your world to life - pre-made creatures and spells that have been play-tested and balanced to work well within the rule system. If players or GM are uncomfortable with bending rules as a method for balancing gameplay or with creating new monsters/spells/items/etc., these accessory books become essential...and the game becomes very expensive, too.
The Pathfinder Core Rulebook offers plenty of info on race, class, items, skills, spells, and even devotes a decent chunk specifically to game-mastery. The only thing it really lacks is monsters and monster creation, so I would recommend purchasing the Pathfinder Bestiary I if you've purchased the Core Rulebook and decided you like the system. Bestiary I includes many, many, monsters as well as info on creating your own.
Basically, the Core Rulebook gives you the structure of the rule system and enough info to get the ball rolling, and then it guides you in using your own imagination to build on that system...if you're comfortable designing your own creatures without a specific guide to do so.
So...to come up with your own stuff, or to rely on accessory material? The cost of additional books aside, this is essentially a question of confidence and competence. If the players are willing to trust the GM to bend rules as necessary to balance customized gameplay AND the GM is competent enough to do it, there is no problem. But many players feel it is essential to rely on pre-made material that has been play-tested, and that's where the other books come in (along with endless arguments over little details). Thankfully, with Pathfinder you need only the Core Rulebook and Bestiary I for a basically fully-defined, 90% fudge-free campaign. If you're willing to fudge as necessary, all you need is the Core Rulebook.
If you're new to tabletop RPGs, expect some rule-bending or you'll get so bogged down that it will lose its fun. If you're a new GM, expect to HAVE to bend rules once in a while because no matter how many accessory books you purchase you're going to run into situations that aren't adequately covered by existing material.
The #1 thing to keep in mind: The Core Rulebook is a GUIDEbook. It's ok to modify the rules - nobody's going to get hurt. Hopefully.