Me as Player: So, I had my second Pathfinder session this weekend (you can read about my first session here). And suffice to say I had a lot of the wind knocked out of my sails, and found myself enjoying things much less than I did in my first session. I think during my first session I was just so happy to be gaming at all, after a long hiatus.
So, what happened to make my interest flag so dramatically? Well, there were several things that conspired to sap my enthusiasm:
- I had no experience whatsoever with Pathfinder going into the game
- My character started at 8th level, probably not a good idea for a Pathfinder newb like me
- The Council of Thieves adventure path is for high-level characters and fairly complex with all its intrigues, complex plots, and high-level/difficult opponents
Now, I know that given more time I could probably over come all these obstacles. But I think I should have probably started out at first level, or maybe I am just too steeped in the old D&D/1st Edition AD&D editions that the more recent rules don't compute. And throw into the fact that I am 34, almost 35. Not to say that an old guy can learn new rules, but I have so little time to study up in the midst of all my adult life junk.But I don't think I will stick around long enough to overcome my rules deficiency.
Now, I want to tread carefully from here on out. I haven't addressed a big factor yet: the people in the group themselves. Now, I've read the recent Gamer vs Gamer post at Mr. Raggi's LotFP blog. And I read the Catpissmen? post over at Underdark Gazette. And I don't think I can be categorized as the "diva-like" players described in these posts.
I just want to say that I don't judge gamers harshly when I don't mesh with them (unless they are being blatant dicks that are attacking me/someone else personally or just being purposefully disruptive during a game), nor do I cry out and beat my chest and claim that there are no good gamers out in the world. I feel that if you don't mesh with a group, that's OK, no harm no foul. Just go find another group. And there are plenty of other games and gamers out there, both at physical table-tops and on the Internet.
So with that disclaimer in mind, let me discuss the people. I feel that the GM has a lot on his plate, because he runs three campaigns and plays several times a week. I think he has a lot to juggle, and therefore some things slip through the cracks. I think that due to the load he carries (voluntarily, of course) he, inadvertently or not, dropped me into a high-level game with a high-level character and didn't see the need for mentoring me a bit more. Nor did he relay to his other players that, while I have experience roleplaying, it's been years since I played at a table-top and I am used to much older rules. I think there was some miscommunication between me, the GM, and the group with regard to how to merge me/my character with the game.
There were several players in the group that seemed to get exasperated with my lack of facility with the Pathfinder rules. Again, I think they weren't warned beforehand that I didn't know the rules very well. There were some other players who were very helpful, however.
As for the GMs style and the theme of his campaign, I think that I just don't sync up with either. The GM seems to be a somewhat "killer GM." I don't really judge someone for running their games that way, I just don't like to be in those types of games. For instance, I've played in two sessions now and in both I nearly died (dropped to negative hit points and just barely saved by a cleric). In the most recent game, I was disintegrated and the cleric had to gather up my ashes and resurrect me. I just don't feel that I want to be in a game where characters are dying every game, and where the resurrection is done in a very mechanical way with no drama. Death is just a blip, where you are raised easily and just sort of shrug it off. There's no tension. Death is too cheap that way. But the GM seemed to be very gleeful when he mutilates the characters.
I also felt that the game is too combat-intensive for my tastes. I prefer some more interaction with NPCs, intrigues, puzzle solving, etc. In addition, combats are very time consuming in this game, apparently, with all sorts of player feats and powers and skill checks and all that rigamarole. I thought I would be able to get over the learning curve of Pathfinder and at least be a player, but perhaps this isn't the case. There are just so many rules that I don't feel comfortable with. I like fast combats, the type you have with older D&D rules sets.
For instance, I despise attacks of opportunity. I think it's just another way for more "striking" in a game. Every time I tried to move past the major creature we fought during the session, for some reason it got an attack of opportunity against me. I know it has multiple arms, but come on!
(Tangent: I was in a gaming store this weekend and overheard some guys talking about a table-top game they were going to that day, and I kept hearing characters described as "striker," etc. Makes me cringe...)
And don't get me started on magic resistance. You have to bypass the creature's magic resistance and then it also gets a saving throw? Why not just make the creature's saving throws really good? Why have this double layer of protection against magic?!
Also, I felt like I tried to do what I thought was creative thinking during the session's big combat with the giant, multi-armed creature, rather than just try to cast offensive spells and fireball it to death. At one point, the monster was walking on air and I decided to use dispel magic on it and make it plummet to the ground. Instead of throwing me a bone (like I would have done if I were GM) for doing something creative, the GM had someone check the rules and determined that when the airwalk spell is dispelled, the creature gently floats to the ground. Maybe he didn't think I was that creative (maybe it wasn't, I don't know). And of course, the creature turned on me and kicked my ass. But if it had been me GMing, I would have ignored the rules of the spell and let the character's action succeed, because he was trying to do something other than "strike" the opponent.
I felt that the players were constantly being barraged with dangers and most of the time our ideas were to no avail. It was a constant stream of thwarted plans and failed attempts. You have to let the players have some accomplishments, or the game becomes stagnant and the players demoralized. Or that's just me, I guess.
Bottom line: at about two-thirds of the way through the session, I was no longer having fun. And the point is to have fun, right? I mean, this is supposed to be an enjoyable pastime, right?
Suffice to say that I want to talk to the GM and let him know my misgivings. I think it's likely that I won't continue in the game. I just don't mesh with that they are doing with their game, and that's perfectly OK. It happens. I just have a different style and different tastes, and you can only learn what you don't like by playing. I just hope that the GM will agree to disagree and we can have an amicable parting. Wish me luck.
Me as Gamemaster: I recently got my copy of Lamentations of the Flame Princess roleplaying game from James Raggi, and I am delving into that now! I will put up a review sometime in the near future (I hope!). What I've seen in the box and what I've read so far is very entertaining, and I like Mr. Raggi's style. I think I will definitely use these rules (with some house rules included) for my return to GMing. I think it will be a good idea to start with something more straightforward with regard to rules sets. Once I get a campaign using LotFP under my belt, I may then move onto the other game system that I seem to have an affinity for: Castles & Crusades. I wonder how Mr. Raggi would react if he knew his game has supplanted that of Troll Lord Games in my gaming world?!
That's all for now. As always, have a good one, and happy gaming!