When Kris Cartwright and I first talked about the idea of starting a Pathfinder night, we weren’t sure if we’d manage to get enough interest to sustain a regular gathering. Our traditional board/video gaming nights typically draw large crowds, the tip of the iceberg when it comes to evening activities such as curry night, bowling, badminton, 5-a-side football, squash, theatre visits, movie night…
There’s a lot going on, basically, and we didn’t want to fall through the cracks. Pathfinder is a tabletop role-playing game, where the participants determine their characters’ actions and responses based on characterisation. It differs from board gaming or video gaming in that the action is largely described and imagined rather than visually evident. Kris once described it as “spontaneous storytelling – though I’m not sure that’s quite right.”
We started off on a Friday night – deciding to run a taster session based on a beginner campaign mission that shouldn’t take more than a couple of sessions to complete. So we sat down with obligatory pizza, a bag of assorted dice and some blank character sheets and prepared to take a stab at the mission prepared by Craig Foden. We didn’t do so badly; for beginners, we managed to make it through with only 2 or 3 near brushes with annihilation, including one giant spider attack, and a near miss with a trap that caused a wall of fire to engulf Craig D. entirely. Oops.
Combat sequences can be balanced entirely on the roll of a die, and (especially in my case) we get it wrong as often as we do right. This gives the game a challenging atmosphere, even in the safest of situations such as a 5-on-1 fight. Usually, the Game Master – Kris – is kind enough to stop bad luck from costing you your life, but ruthlessly punishes stupidity, such as charging head-on into a force that outweighs your own.
One thing that makes Pathfinder more dynamic than the average game is that, unlike many games, it doesn’t use combat sequences as a crutch. Sessions have included hilarious and complex events taking place within the game’s main city, Baldur’s Gate. Last time out involved a Snatch-esque scenario, where a bag of loot changed hands several times as the party were split up and otherwise hassled by a group of wizards, inexplicably trying to kidnap Brodie’s character, Elias. That was rather strange.
We’ve had a core group of 6 who keep coming back for more, so we must be doing something right, even if we bend the rules more than we should sometimes. If nothing else, it promotes the skills that make us good at our jobs. Playing Pathfinder encourages creativity, strategic/critical thought and problem-solving.
Interested in getting involved? Well, owing to the fact that we keep getting washed out in fights, we need helping hands. Let me know!