As part of following through on my plan to get into the biweekly Pathfinder Society game at Quarterstaff, I delayed and delayed making a character until that very afternoon. I’d known since flipping through the book back in early January that I wanted my character to be a bard, because I hadn’t played that class yet and it seemed like Pathfinder had given them some interesting tricks. Fortunately, one of the regular GMs, Neil, had gone so far as to put together a character building worksheet, including possible attribute spreads using Pathfinder Society’s point-buy system, so most of my work was done for me.
I had some points of confusion, in places you would expect: where Pathfinder differs from Dungeons & Dragons, I second-guessed a bit, trying to find the spot in the text where it would explicitly say how something worked. This particularly tripped me up with skills, since in Pathfinder, there are significantly fewer skill points to spread around. Until Annick pointed out that +3 bonus a character gets for putting a rank in a class skill filled in the “gap” left by only being able to put one point in a skill, compared to Dungeons & Dragons‘ method of giving you lots of skill points and a higher rank cap than character level, I didn’t get how that worked out at all.
By the time players gathered in the store’s gamer lounge — conveniently located around the corner from the store and above Junior’s Pizza — and were ready to play, I was still filling in the last parts of my character sheet. When I chose Comedy and Singing as his two Perform skills — keeping my eye on that Versatile Performance ability that kicks in at second level — I realized I had a singing comedian on my hands. So I named him Kay. It’s a nice visual image and I have a face to put to my character now — plus a guide on how to paint him, if I decide to do up a miniature especially.
Comedy was the genre for the evening, happily. Everyone at the table was ready and willing to engage in snappy repartee. It was a relief for me, because I’ve seen some very “grr argh,” po-faced players at organized play tables in the past. Not so with this group, which worked nicely for my plan to play up the comedian aspect of Kay.
When inspiring courage in his fellow party members, Kay told jokes — not at all bawdy, since it’s a public game, but I might play with inventing suggestive lead-ins that never get completed. When his bardic performance ended, it was because Kay had used up all his A material. As a conceit, I dug it.
One of the greatest boons and hindrances to a role playing game is the brain trust around the table. As helpful as it is for three sets of eyes to look up a particular rule, speeding the process, it becomes a drag when a debate over what that rule means goes on much longer than it should. That happened once or twice Wednesday night. While, in the grand course of things, it wasn’t much time, sitting there, listening to a discussion about how horses attack, felt like a much longer period of time than it was.
I’m coming to appreciate the strengths of organized play like Pathfinder Society provides. The adventures are self-contained, fitting in an evening of play. It’s catch as catch can, so there’s no push to be there every week, beyond the desire to level up and get better loot. Both of those factors, in combination with the temperaments of the players and GM, contribute to a loose, friendly atmosphere of rolling dice and killing monsters.
I’ve said all this before, from the first time I went to a Pathfinder game, but it bears repeating. It’s nice to have some regular, reliable, low stress role playing available. Adventures like Skeleton Moon are the meat and potatoes of this flavor of role playing. They fill a night and give plenty of opportunity for memorable moments. Here are a couple lines I scrawled down as we played:
“If you put it right here, it’ll get everyone.” — The paladin advises the rogue on the high ground how to lob his alchemist’s fire into the melee, catching monsters and party members equally.
“I’m not going to die — oh god!” — Same paladin recovers from unconsciousness just in time for another flask of alchemist’s fire to hit him square in the chest.
(SFX of the spell color spray)
“I know that [sound]!” — the French-accented sorcerer/monk just recovering from his own encounter with color spray.