Sunday, 20 September 2015

Finding a Path: Week 1

I wouldn't describe myself as a natural choice to run a game - I tend not to be quick on my (mental) feet when put on the spot, and I always have issues coming up with character or location names.

So it came as a bit of a surprise when I found myself volunteering to run a Pathfinder game for our small group on a Saturday, so our regular GM - Dave - could have a break.
Pathfinder - or D&D v3.75, as I like to think of it
While I'd initially been talking about putting a dungeon together to run the other two through, the level of interest being shown by them demanded that we do something a bit bigger than that. As I reread the rules, we gained a third player - Kenny - and a plan began to come together.

Of course, when you're trying to plan a campaign, it makes sense to discuss with your players what they're wanting to play. There's no point laying out an undead-laden buffet if it turns out that the group doesn't involve a Cleric or a Paladin, for instance, or the Kobold-dungeon-of-trap-laden-death if the group forgot to fetch a Rogue to the party.

By this stage, Pathfinder has an epic quantity of additional material available - but the only books I owned when we started talking about running the game were the Core Rulebook and the original Bestiary1. As I don't want to be having "Gotcha!" moments with class abilities, I requested that the players just look at the Core Rulebook when thinking about characters, unless they were considering a PC race from the Bestiary, such as an Aasimar.

Unsurprisingly, and despite this clear instruction, two of my players turned up to the first chat we had about characters thinking they could incorporate things from the Advanced Player's Guide, and other supplements - and, despite setting my position out again, when we actually rolled characters up, one of them was still trying to lobby to use other material...

Still, once that had been resolved, I had the following characters (and players) to work around, all starting at 2nd level:

  • Alasdair - playing Queck, a fey-blooded Gnome Sorceror
  • Dave - playing Sir Ash, a human Paladin of Iomedae
  • Kenny - playing Darius2, a human Rogue
Needing to get the band together, I planned a fairly simple first half-session - leave a large town as part of a merchant caravan, and fend off an ambush by Goblins. A Paladin is fairly easy to lead by the nose - your Order or God says to go somewhere, so you do - and it is simple to get a Rogue to move on by insinuating that the town guard are closing in after a busy winter. Queck was trickier to deal with, but with the somewhat capricious and flighty nature of Gnomes in Pathfinder, suggesting that there could be interesting magical stuff going on further north was enough to entice her to leave.

Thanks to the magical information spirit Go'o'gle, I was quickly able to find a decent map of the Pathfinder setting, and quickly decided that Andoren had the right mix of terrain of some of the ideas percolating through my brain. Looking at the map a little closer, I decided that Olfden would do as a starting point, with the idea being to get the party to Falcon's Hollow.

It wasn't until just before I was planning to leave for the session that I thought to run a search to see if there was a map of Falcon's Hollow, in case we got further than I thought - and found information on the likes of the PathfinderWiki that there was quite a lot of stuff produced by Paizo that centered on Falcon's Hollow and Darkmoon Vale.

Handily, when I got to my local game shop, I found three of the four smaller sourcebooks I was looking for happened to be in stock, so picked them up before our gaming session. Dave ran half a session of his LEGION game, tying up some threads from the previous week, then I took over for the introductory session.

As it turned out, what I'd prepared filled the time nicely - the construct of the characters travelling with the merchant caravan (with Kenny's character hired on as a guard) gave a reasonable reason for the group to meet each other, and the ambush got us all used to the basics of the combat system again. I'd hoped the half dozen Goblins would prove slightly more of a challenge than they were, but was able to include some small details and a potential plot hook that I could develop later.

We finished the session with the caravan a day's travel outside Falcon's Hollow, and I had some reading to do...

1 - As reading about monsters is cool. For a given value of cool.
2 - Very nearly The Rogue With No Name...