Friday, August 29, 2014

A Game Master is Me!

I've talked in the past about my desire to return to a form of RPG play, especially after having fallen in love with Hero Quest and  how much I really enjoyed the Marvel RPG my husband tried to start last summer. Feeling sick and tired of having to wait on other people to offer up to run something or organize something, I purchased the Pathfinder Beginner Box and was eager to learn to play from the beginning.

What I didn't plan for was my husband telling me he wasn't going to GM and that in order to learn the game, I needed to be the GM. Holy crap! Can you say intimidating? I already have a million different commitments, so to commit to GMing was a huge deal to me. Granted, it was only for my husband and our friend Jim. That has its own set of drawbacks. The foremost being that friend Jim. . . lives 1,000 miles away.

See. . . I'm one to always fail forward. I will try and retool and try and retool and try. With everything I've been through in life, it'd be insane to not be one of those types of people. Sure, I get discouraged. Sure, I drop into bouts of depression, but I find a way to pull myself back to a place of productivity.

My first goal was to find a way to bridge the distance. My EUREKA moment was google+ hangout. Brilliant! The next was uploading pictures of the maps into google drive and make tiny paste-ables that could be moved around on the map. I shared this with my husband and friend Jim and tah-dah; we had a way to interact over the distance. Friend Jim ordered himself a new microphone and headset and we were set.

Then it was up to me to start getting organized. I uploaded their character sheets and player's guides and everything they needed to make their characters and prepare. I started to review the introductory adventure that came with the Beginner's Box.

We slated the 4-Day-Labor-Day-Weekend as our first weekend of campaigning. It was kind of a chance to do a Last Hurrah before I started back at school. Late nights... Dice rolling... Adventure!

The Beginner Box Adventure was Black Fang's Dunegon. If you play the card game, you might know who Black Fang is. This is a younger version of the same. He's been killing people and you are asked by the mayor to kill him.

I started the adventure at the entrance and stuck to the "script" as much as possible. Sadly, the initial adventure is a horrible thing to have when you're gaming with veteran RPG and DnD guys. They were pulling things out left and right (uh... get your mind out of the gutter) that I was like "wth! What is that and what are we rolling?" There was a great deal of looking up while playing. One of the big things that the Beginners Book did NOT present to me (please note I am speaking exclusively of the Game Masters Guide) was leveling up with XP. We had to look up a chart on Paizo's website.
Other issues involved not having enough information on monsters or the characters themselves. I get that I'm supposed to "know everything," but this is such a huge world and I'm new and the Beginner Box left me needing to ask so many questions. Revealed through playing with Veterans, but that's kind of frustrating if you're playing with all new people, because you don't realize how much you're missing out on. I had ordered the Core Rulebook and was overwhelmed with how massive it was and, really, note quite the tome of information I was hoping for. It lacked user-friendliness. So we a good deal of time using the Pathfinder Reference Document through Paizo.

We also, afterwards, realized we were rolling some things wrong or a certain skill didn't work a certain way or we read something wrong. It's not like you can stop the game and spend 2 hours reading up on all sorts of stuff. As it was, we started at 8PM and played until about 1:45AM.

There wasn't a whole lot of side story or history. I was a bit creative with sounds and voices. It was strange how much my husband and friend missed. They were, of course, also getting used to RPGing again. They weren't being brave enough with their investigation. They were playing too timid and missed some interesting things that I would have loved to try out (like the fountain). They weren't using Knowledge Skills or Perception checks to scout rooms. On the other hand, my husband was trying to tell me that I need to tell them when they should do a Perception Check or Knowledge Skill. I don't agree, because I think it gives things away. For example, they are terrible at looking for traps. I'm not going to announce that every time they walk into a room "hey, you need to do a perception check!" They SHOULD be doing that and if they're not, they have to deal with the consequences.

The first night went well enough, except when I didn't allow for the mayor to pay them their full fee after completing the quest. Instead of 1,000gp they were only paid 750gp with the final 250gp coming after a week of no deaths inflicted by dragons. Oh boy did that sour Jim and his character. Super bitter. What they didn't know is that it would play into something else I had brewing.

It was kind of like executing a lesson plan for school and it was pretty fun, but just like being a teacher... you have to know EVERYTHING!

Now where to go? The modules seem to require me to still do a lot of work, unlike the Beginner Box adventure, so I guess I'm going to have to add in some creativity of my own to write a test scenario adventure. We'll see what I come up with.

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