For those of you who don’t know me I am an avid role-player. Well… more like a role-playing junkie. People who know me will tell you I can get a little antsy and grumpy if I’ve not had my daily role-playing fix. It’s a stress reliever for me. Now, when I say role-playing I am talking about post by post written role-playing. If I want to sound less geeky to someone I’ll tell them I’m doing collaborative creative writing – clever right?
So it makes sense that the first game to review be a role playing game – the hands on, dice rolling, dungeoneering, sort that could get you accused of devil worship back in the day. Excited? Me too.
Let me introduce to you:
Pathfinder is a fantasy role-playing game. It is based off the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons and intended to be compatible with Dungeons & Dragons 3.5. A little bit of history as to why Pathfinder came into existence: it’s lead designer Jason Bulhamn felt that Dungeons & Dragons 3/3.5 was lackluster, especially in its classes – and provided no real incentive for anyone to really stay with their character in that class for the next 20 levels. A number of other changes were made as well to various aspects of the game.
Now I have played both Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragons and honestly I am not deep enough into it to really have a preference. For our game night though we played Pathfinder, as I own the beginner’s box set and a number of books and PDFs for it. So out of convenience Pathfinder was our game for the night. Knowing that I had players who’d never played before I worked with our willing GM (game master) to pick a one-shot adventure that we could do in the span of a few hours one evening. The PDF was free online and recommended on several forums (thank you boardgamegeek.com) I skimmed when searching for something that was a good introduction to the game.
If you’re interested you can find a free version of the PDF through paizo.com here: Master of the Fallen Fortress
Master of the Fallen Fortress is a one-shot, meaning you can do it in one sitting (though it took us about 5hrs). It is also for level 1 characters aka beginners! The PDF itself offers six ready-made characters, these six also happen to be an advertisement for their new classes so they weren’t your usual wizard, rogue, etc. I prefer playing role-playing games like this with a smaller group then six, my go to number is 4 players and 1 GM. This keeps things nice and small and lets us all get a fair amount of playing time without stepping on each other’s toes.
I own a beginner’s box which also gave us ready-made characters, along with a dry-erase grid map, dice, and character tokens. Our group took those characters and tweaked them to become our own so we got to experience a bit of character creation. For my own character I used a character from previous D&D games, as I enjoy playing her very much.
As a group of four players we took on the roles of: Fighter, Sorceress, Cleric and Rogue. After an hour or so of character creation we dove into the game.
As mentioned before our game play took about 5 hours. We wished we had ordered pizza (next time). The adventure was heavy on the fighting rather than the role-play, which I choose on purpose as we also had the option to pick a one-shot that was more role-play heavy. However for people playing the game for the first time who might not be comfortable with the role-playing side entirely something that’s heavy on fighting allows you to really figure out the mechanics. Yes you roll your dice but what dice do you roll when, and what numbers to you add for this or that – it’s a lot to figure out and takes time. Luckily our GM was very helpful and very patient! He was also great at adding opportunity for a bit more role-play.
Our story involved entering the ruined siege castles outside of Absalom. A recent earthquake cracked open one of these fabled ruins and we had been sent after the last adventurer who had failed to return. The adventure consisted of exploring the tower, fighting the monsters, keeping the treasure and rescuing the last adventurer.
Though it was very close, much to our GM’s chagrin, we successfully all made it out alive!
In order to have an enjoyable experience with any role-playing game like this you really need to find a good GM. Which can be difficult as many would rather play than GM. Our GM was one of the best I’ve had. He was patient and he made sure to explain things as we went along – which wasn’t the case in my first ever D&D game.
Jumping into something like this can be a bit overwhelming and difficult as there is a lot to know – various classes, races, monsters, as well as the lore and stories surrounding the world you’ve stepped into. Not to mention culture and politics and various religions. On top of all that you need to understand the dice-rolling and the bit of math involved to determine your success when doing anything from perception checks, to casting spells and throwing knives. If you’ve never played you can feel a bit lost at first especially if you’re used to a turn based game – this one has turns during a fight but outside of fights you’re all just at a free for all and whoever speaks up the loudest and the quickest gets to go ahead.
Don’t let this deter you though! The game is really fun, especially if people really get into their characters. My character Kal had a knack for rushing ahead and forgetting to check for traps, at the same time she and Kyra had a lot of ‘friendly’ competition going on and it really came out in our game play, creating a lot of laughter for the group.
My advice: find a good and patient GM, a group you’re comfortable with, a one-shot to start with, lots of snacks, a couple of hours set aside and you’ll find yourself having a really enjoyable time!
Until next time!
Pathfinder on D20 – this website contains a lot of vocabulary such as races, classes, ability etc. and allows you to explore through links what everything is
Paizo – Pathfinder – Pathfinder’s homepage/store
BoardgameGeek – Pathfinder Rise of the Runelords – traditional role-playing not your style? You can find a Pathfinder board game if you would prefer to give that a go!
Critical Role – Geek and Sundry – Curious to watch a role-playing game? You can find many on YouTube but Critical Role offers a great cast of voice actors playing through D&D. You can also watch it on YouTube here.