Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pathfinder Session: 7/25/10

So, I sat at my first table-top game in many many years on Saturday. I'm a new player in a group playing the Pathfinder Council of Thieves Adventure Path.

We played for about five hours, from about 1 PM to 6 PM. I haven't roleplayed at a table-top game in the early-to-late afternoon time period on a Saturday for about a decade! It's weird, and sort of depressing, each time something like that occurs to me.

For starters, it's a good group of people that I met! They accepted me very readily to the table for the most part. Of course there was some awkwardness, but that's to be expected in any kind of first-time human interaction, right? Most of them, I think, are around my age (30s). We didn't do too much sharing of our personal information, but I think more of that will happen as time goes on. There was a total of seven of us, six players and the GM. That's a bit of a bigger group than I have ever gamed with. My gaming groups in the past usually consisted of a GM and four players (though we often had only three players).

I never really played a game using the D&D 3.0-3.5 rules, even though I bought the three core books for that edition a few years after they came out (mostly out of curiosity). Now, Pathfinder is considered "3.75" because it sort of continues on with the 3.5 rules, with some tweaks. I find the rules a bit overwhelming, and I know I would never want to run a game using them. But I am willing to learn enough to be a player in such a game.

But it's going to take some time to become a bit more familiar with the rules. There's definitely a lot more going on than I like. I think there's too many esoteric rules during combat, for instance (I think this is where I have my biggest problem with 3.5/Pathfinder). Stuff like attacks of opportunity, Combat Maneuver Bonus and Combat Maneuver Defense, etc. Don't ask me to explain any of this least not yet. But my gut reaction is that things seem needlessly complicated. Again, if I were to run a game, I would never go near this stuff. Give me old D&D combat any day!

Everyone seemed very willing to be patient with my lack of understanding of the mechanics. They were willing to guide me and give me suggestions for the most part. But my inexperience with the rules definitely detracted from my effectiveness in the one big combat we had during the game (in which I was reduced to negative hit points and barely saved from death by the party cleric).

Plus, due to the general busy-ness of life recently (on the part of myself and the GM), and the fact that I don't own the Pathfinder core rule book, my character Arvandos was only partially complete on my character sheet. I was missing many of my stats, and only had a partial list of equipment. In addition, my character started at 8th level, so I was also overwhelmed with all of the skills, spells, and feats that he has. I don't know quite yet what they all do, and I don't know when and how to use them!

I think my roleplaying skills were not as rusty as I thought they would be. My character is a sorcerer named Arvandos who has an infernal bloodline (sorcerers basically derive their power from a bloodline in Pathfinder, and these bloodlines include infernal, abyssal, celestial, etc). One of the group plays a dwarven cleric, and he plays his character as something of a lawful good zealot! I've decided that my character aspires to be Chaotic Good, so he and I sort of bumped heads. I tried to play Arvandos as something of a witty, handsome rogue (Charisma of 18!) and I seemed to manage to charm the group with my repartee...except for the dwarf, who only got more and more frustrated with my verbal fencing. But I guess we eventually got over most of our squabbling, since he's the cleric that saved me from dying!

The GM had us meet in a tavern (go figure!) where the group was looking to hook up with some more help in their endeavors. They definitely were looking for an arcane caster to add to the group. Their last sorcerer was turned into a vampire, they informed me. Hey, well, sign me up!

Of course, I joined them, and we went on our merry way about the city of Westcrown (the setting for Council of Thieves), seeking to...well, I'm not quite sure what we were seeking to accomplish! I have to admit, the plotline that I have jumped into is pretty complicated, and I don't know the world of Golarion (the default setting for Pathfinder) very well, and that goes double for the city of Westcrown. There's really a lot going on. All in all, the GM seems to be content with throwing me into the mix with minimal guidance, and I think I'm OK with that for the most part!

All I know is, toward the end of the session the group was trying to get into a certain well-guarded location that was protected by a large "force field." We bought a scroll with a teleport spell with the intention of using it to teleport through the force field. And of course, being the only arcane spellcaster, it was up to me to use the damned thing. I cast the spell, and due to the nature of the barrier we were trying to bypass, I had to role percentage dice in order to determine if we wound up where we want to be. I rolled too high, and the scroll teleported us to HELL! Needless to say, I really heard it after that!

In the end, I'm really just happy to be gaming at all, so at the moment I'm willing to put up with complex mechanics, a convoluted plot that the rest of the party is already well into, etc. I had fun, I like the people I met, and I am definitely willing to go back and see how things progress.

The group lent me one of their copies of the massive core rulebook, and I'm determined to have my character whipped into tip-top shape before the next session. On top of that, I'll be studying the mechanics and the setting as much as I can to improve there as well.

Sorry if this post is really long and redundant. I wrote this up pretty quickly (I started writing this post on Sunday but I'm finishing it up on a typical busy Monday at work), so I am sure I missed a lot of detail. Let me know if any of you out there have any specific questions. I'll also take hints and advice if anyone is willing to offer!

P.S. The sessions are every other week between 12 PM and 6 PM, and that should be fine even for a "30-something husband/father of two with mortgage" kind of guy like me ;-)

P.P.S. Just for giggles, I asked everyone if they knew about the OSR and retro-clones and the like...and they stared at me like I had two heads! No one had any idea what I was talking about! Only a couple of them knew what Castles & Crusades was. We on the blogosphere spend so much time talking about the OSR that sometimes we start to think everyone in the RPG world knows about the "movement." But it seems we are mistaken...


  1. Glad to hear you had fun. Maybe the OSR is for the budget minded roleplayer 'cause I know I'm not gonna spent $50 to $60 bucks for an rpg book i.e. Pathfinder. I do have the Beta pdf of Pathfinder though and my group is playing Spycraft which is based on d30/3.5 so I certainly can't knock 3.5. I was involved in 3.5 games for a few years as well.

  2. I recently got into a Pathfinder game myself. I thought it would be a little easier jumping in if I played a fighter, so I made a bow-user. So far it has been pretty fun, though I find the group spends an inordinate amount of time discussing various esoteric rules, the kind of stuff that would just be quickly house-ruled in an old school game. I do like the individual customization that things like Feats provide, even if they do make the game vastly more complicated than OD&D. The group knows I prefer such games, but since they haven't shown much interest in ODD, I haven't tried to push it with them.

    Ed Green

  3. Sounds like fun, even if a little convoluted.
    There is the D20pfsrd ( that will help with making a character, it has all of the information and it is free. This is how I got my players interested.

  4. Actually I know about the D20 Online Reference as well as the Pathfinder Online Reference! But maybe I just need a good old fashioned paper book in front of me in order to really wrap up a character. Just an update: using the book I borrowed from the group, I have pretty much finished my character, and I'm ready to kick some serious infernal a$$ at the next session! FIGHT ON!

  5. SCRATCH THAT LAST COMMENT OF MINE! I thought you were talking about the reference document located on the Paizo website (, which I didn't find helpful at all! But the one you provided above ( would have been much more useful, if I had known about it! THANKS!

  6. No problem, Drance.
    I too, find the fan document to be much more useful for character creation (and monster creation) than the official Paizo version. Nut then, I also rather read the ENWorld Pathfinder section than Paizo's forum.

    And since GMail and Blogspot are screwed up, this is Steve from Ancient Vaults.