Actual Play – Destiny of the Sands, Part 2: Race to Seeker’s Folly (5/24/2014)

PathfinderCoreCoverGM: PFS GM
Characters: Murder Hobos for Hire
System: Pathfinder
Module: Destiny of the Sands, Part 2: Race to Seeker’s Folly

This post continues from the discussion started in Confirmation and Master of the Fallen Fortress.

Game three, in which I lost faith

My third and final game felt like it was the exact same experience I had from 11 years ago. The players were experienced (2nd-5th level characters so they had played at least 3-15 games in the past, but probably many more) and invested primarily in their own characters.

In a couple cases, I was got upset at the bullshit happening at the table. There were gratuitous descriptions of consuming everything we killed including just foul depictions of the undead “meat”. When I finally protested at cannibalism (for which there was absolutely no need for, food was never an issue) the GM turned to me and asked if I was a vegetarian. When I said no he didn’t understand the difference between eating meat and eating human remains. I was flabbergasted.  I spent pretty much the rest of the game feeling frustrated with my fellow players and GM.

The module itself had some interesting elements and three potentially cool social encounters. One with a bound elemental, another with a spirit, and the last one with a group of other not-so-like-minded grave robbers. In play though, each of them was kind of a call and response situation. We had to figure out the right thing to say before we accidentally said or did the wrong thing. Success meant going about our lives peacefully and or gaining information, I presume failure would have meant (it didn’t happen so I’m not sure) being attacked. It cements the idea that the worst thing that could happen to us would be to lose our characters.

Thoughts on this Game

I’m so frustrated. I want to like Pathfinder Society, but the more experienced the player at the table, the more I felt they were there to do awesome things with their character instead of play a game with six other people.

When I asked the table if anyone plays non-PFS games at the con there was no response. Weird really, maybe they didn’t hear me. I didn’t want to push it.

Later in the con I had the time available to sign up for a 4th game. I would be 2nd level with a +1 Base Attack Bonus and another spell! But that all felt pretty hollow, like I’d just be showing off.

Unrelated to my game experience, one thing I really do love about the PFS modules is how much they call for knowledge checks. I gives the wizards and the bards a lot of opportunities to be awesome.

I won another boon in this game. A Moment of Glory. I was excited at the time (start of the game) but feel a little bad now that someone else didn’t get it.  PFS players, are these transferable (it doesn’t have any society numbers written on it)? If so, I’d be happy to donate to the cause.

Actual Play – Master of the Fallen Fortress (5/24/2014)

PathfinderCoreCoverGM: PFS GM
Characters: Fasa, Kain, Mountain, Amari, Friznix, and Kalkara (me)
System: Pathfinder
Module: Master of the Fallen Fortress

This post continues from the discussion started in Confirmation.

Game two of the weekend, let’s get stabby!

This game was similar in tone to Coronation (the previous night). Mostly new players and characters, but clearly folks that had more game mastery. There was one 10 year old young man who was the son of a friend of mine that I got along great with. Another player at the table had a really strongly themed character, so our interactions were fun.

Kain was a cleric of a crazy god, and himself totally insane himself. The comical, lovable, apocalypse-seeking, fictional insane. Not the suffering from a mental illness, unable to function in society, insane.

The focus of the game was much more on killing the monsters and taking their stuff than coronation had been. In the final scene as we were fighting on a ledge, I had a hard time convincing anyone that even though attacking the baddie was easier, it would be awesome if someone bull rushed him (I tried and failed myself) and pushed him off the 80′ ledge. C’mon that’s what heroic fantasy is all about!

Thoughts on this game

Much the same as in Coronation, though the vibe changed a little with more experienced players. I was already seeing a lot of character-centric play. Don’t get me wrong, I like my characters. I want other people to like their characters too. What drives me batty though is when characters that could be cool become caricatures because they have no meaningful interactions with anyone else.

I won a boon in this game (by rolling the lowest on a d20). It was a Mendevian Weapon Training, training for those who dedicated themselves with the Fifth Crusade. I think these kind of perks give players a reason to further invest in the setting of the game (I have no idea who Queen Galfrey of Mendev is but now I’d like to know) as well as giving further incentive to play a lot of PFS games in general (each one comes with a chance of a special reward).

Discussion continued in Destiny of the Sands, Part 2: Race to Seeker’s Folly.

Actual Play – Confirmation (5/23/2014)

PathfinderCoreCoverGM: Shaun Greer
Players: Riley, Jennifer, myself and a few others whose names I’ve lost.
System: Pathfinder
Module: Confirmation

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 ( 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.