A long time ago in a galaxy far away…
* 11 Years ago (about) I joined RPGA and played in Living Greyhawk games. The organizers were very inviting but play (for me) was very flat. The modules supported no room for character growth or change, and caring about each other, the story, or even making your character feel real in the world was not rewarded. End result was a table that (from my perspective) only cared about advancing their own character’s XP, gold, and personal glory (in the form of “oh shit, let me tell you about what my character did” stories)
* 10 Years ago I got into some Living Spycraft games. I can’t remember if that was part of RPGA or not, but since Spycraft was from AEG my guess is it was another organization. I played three games over the course of the con, all with the same GM and generally the same players. We were all making our characters from scratch and I had a blast. Player investment in the story and in each other was high. The next time I looked for it though, Living Spycraft had fallen off the face of the planet.
* Next 9 years or so. I haven’t played any d20 games and so my interest in RPGA and PFS was negligible. Every so often I would see the players at the table and I didn’t recognize a single one. I hadn’t played in PFS or RPGA and I didn’t see anyone at those tables who I had gamed with in other games.
The not so distant past…
* A year ago. A group of like minded, small press, story gamer hippies stated talking about Pathfinder as a DCC game we were in looked like it was on the decline. We opted to give Pathfinder (specifically Kingmaker) a shot. I fucking loved it. Not only were the people excited about the world we played in and the relationships we established, but it also scratched my deck-building, combo-making, character-statting itch that I’ve satisfied in the past playing M:tG, WoW, and deck building card games. I got to do it all at once. I got to have my cake and eat it too.
* Over the last year I’ve gotten more and more interested in Pathfnider, and the more I read the more I like about what Paizo is doing. James Jacobs, the creative directors is one stand up dude. He’s been on the forums several times explaining (and in some cases) defending the choices that Paizo has made about making very diverse characters. People of color, women, men, transgender, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, normative, and non-normative characters, that populate ALL OF GOLARION. I started listening to the Pathfinder Chronicles podcast, and bit by bit I got more excited about the idea of engaging with Pathfinder gamers in organized play (PFS).
* A few weeks ago I went to the pathfinder society site (http://paizo.com/pathfinderSociety) and registered. I used Hero Labs (which is already configured for making PFS characters) to make a society-compliant character and then posted all of her information on the site.
* Just before the con I printed out my character along with a character tent that had her name, a picture of her, and three things you could tell about her within moments of meeting her (a format I stole from Todd Furler).
* At the con I talked to the organizers a lot. They were (all five that I talked to) friendly, patient and enthusiastic. They were glad that I as trying out PFS and showed me how to sign up for games. Very nice people.
* The first game I played in was called “Confirmation”. It is a standard module for first time players to make their characters confirmed “Pathfinders”. Everyone at the table was new. There were two young men (I believe 10 and 11) who didn’t know how to play pathfinder at all, a young woman (probably 14-15) who was familiar with the game but new to pathfinder society, and a couple who had played in PFS once before a long time ago but lost their registration information and so they were starting over from scratch. The GM was also new. An experienced PFS player, but this was his first time GMing. The game itself was silly. Several combat encounters, and a puzzle of sorts with no particular purpose in the story except that we had been sent out to explore, so doing our job meant solving it. I had a blast though. The table wasn’t efficient, but we didn’t need to be. I walked out feeling good and smiled, waved, and/or talked to all of the other players at least once or twice later in the con.
Thoughts on the game
I asked if people played in other non-PFS games and all of them had and/or normally did except the two young gentlemen who were pretty new to the con environment.
What the PFS did very well:
- Dedicated greeters/hosts and enough of them to have real conversations. Folks that were courteous, inviting, and inclusive.
- Gorgeous pre-made characters with beautiful that you want to pick up and play.
- Introductory adventures designed to teach players about the game and characters about the setting.
What I’d like to see:
- Reward players for highlighting other characters or developing relationships in game. This could be as simple as a giant sheet of butcher paper that lists all the characters relationships developed over the course of the con.
- Tracking world changes. AEG did this well with the L5R trading card game. Winning with one faction would improve their standing. Organized play could do this as well by advancing the player’s faction/interest through play.
See the following posts for how my PFS weekend continued Master of the Fallen Fortress and Destiny of the Sands, Part 2: Race to Seeker’s Folly.