Actual Play – My First Pathfinder (4/27/2013)

PathfinderCoreCoverGM: Aiden Miller
Players: Sean Nittner, the bigger of my two littles, Alex Miller, and Meghan Miller.
System: Pathfinder

I was really excited about this game. Aiden, who is 12, has just started running games. His system of choice: Pathfinder.

Both families (Miller and Nittner) were hanging out together and half of them went to Whole Earth day in Fort Bragg, while my little one, Aiden, and I headed to the Miller stead and burned up some characters. I did a lot of the grunt work because I was curious about how the system compared to 3.5. Using only  the core rules, I was pleasantly surprised. The races and classes all had cool abilities that were significant without being too fiddly. There were a few new stats I wasn’t familiar with like CMB/CMD but it was obvious how they worked, so I felt pretty comfortable diving right in.

My daughter picked all the races and cl asses, and rolled the dice, I recorded everything and added up bonuses and such.

The play is the thing

Aiden started us off in a tavern, in fact being kicked out of a tavern (which I thought was a fun twist) and approached by an old man selling a treasure map to adventurers who were hearty enough to make use of it.

We quickly agreed to go but not before my bard Caleb had already started what would be running gag for the night, which was singing little one verse riffs about everything we did to the tune of “The Fox”.  Somehow that seemed appropriate.

One thing Aiden did, which I really liked, was to reincorporated player ideas into the game. Early on I said “oh yeah, I’ve heard of that place, it’s between the mountain of St. George and the Zephyr Aerie. It was a throw away comment but Aiden brought it back up several times as we were talking the “old man” and during the travels.

The Dungeon

The heart of the play was in a dungeon, which Aiden gleefully drew out as we traversed it. He recognized  with some amusement, that the whole thing was ridiculously full of meaninglessly winding corridors, but kept drawing it out just the same. It was full of fairly week monsters (generally kobolds accompanied by something larger, like a gnoll or hobgoblin, which we dispatched pretty easily.

There was also traps. Lots of pit traps that didn’t do any damaged but forced us to spend a lot of time figuring out ways to avoid and/or get out of them. They were also pretty comical in nature, just one trap after another lined up in a row.

The Übermensch

At the end of our foray we found a Half-Dragon Minotaur with a double bladed vampiric sword. Yeah, there is no good reason in hell that we should have survived that battle, except perhaps that we had two healers (a bard and a cleric) the were healing away while the others fought. Some lucky rolls, and possibly some fudged roles, and the victory was ours…

Only to find the “old man” run in the back entrance and ask his (now deceased) friend if he killed the adventurers sent this way. Classic (very classic) bait and switch.  We fought him as well, but because we used the vampiric sword when doing so (I mean, why not use that bad ass blade) he was risen as an uber-zombie that tried to murder us all.

Three fight later, victory was finally ours… and we watched the corpse of the Half-Dragon Minotaur form into a Doppelganger. Hmmm.

The spoils

For all the gold we hauled out of there it didn’t do us much good. All of it had to be spent on curing those who were injured by the blade (lest they become zombies too) and the blade itself was just a menace.

We clapped our hands and ended our night of dungeon delving.

Thoughts on this game

Pathfinder, or any crunchy game for that matter, is not normally my cup of tea, but I had some good times with the Millers.

My little one laughed a lot and had fun playing the dwarven ranger with twin crossbows. She got to use some of her skills (like knowledge: dungeoneering) and wasted some baddies. This was the first time I played with her (instead of running for her) and I really enjoyed it.

There were some very liberal interpretations of the rules at times. Aiden had accidentally given us all “small” weapons, even the medium size characters, so we just said that’s all we had until we found better ones. Some feats didn’t even make sense (the cleric had “Improved Rage”, a barbarian feat) so they were changed in game. At first level a ranger should have two weapon fighting, let alone have it work with crossbows, but Aiden liked the idea so we let if fly. Kobolds got free attacks of opportunity from any range on me when I started singing. Attacks which always did 1 point of damage as a “stop singing” kind of punishment… and so on.  None of these really affected the game play materially thought. We trudged along telling bad jokes with bad accents, killing monsters and taking there stuff!

Gaming with kids is a whole different beast. The focus for me is more on giving them opportunities to try stuff. You know the game is going to go off the rails, that we’re going to hand wave any rule we don’t want to deal with, and that ridiculous puns will be abound (my weapon was a Mace + Banjo = Manjo), but that’s all just part of the fun for them.

I was kind of snarky during the game and I regret that. I tired to keep it limited to eye rolls and occasional groans, but I wasn’t the beset sport (in the moment) about playing a game that didn’t match with my normal gaming preferences. I’m going to work on being more positive next time I’m gaming in a new/unfamiliar mode.

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