This week I had an entirely new and exciting experience. While I have some experience exploring castles and fighting giant spiders in other (read: digital) worlds, I can now say I’ve done it in the Dungeons & Dragons world, or, to be specific, the Pathfinder world. After a recent lecture on RPG’s in our Analog Gaming class sparked some interest in the genre, some classmates and I, all of varying levels of experience with Pathfinder, managed to put together an interesting cast of characters for a one-shot campaign.
In case you’re not familiar with RPG’s, Pathfinder is an adaptation of the Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 system. This system defines a variety of rules and thematic elements for role-playing, such as the abilities and culture of each race (eg. Elf, Orc) and class (eg. Wizard, Rogue), statistics of creatures you might encounter, basic rules for how to roll dice to perform actions, and much more. Each player creates a character with a variety of skills and stats (eg. Strength, Wisdom), as well as personality, and then the team sets of on a campaign. A campaign is a story of sorts that is mediated by a Game Master, or GM. The GM narrates a scenario, throughout which the players can make choices about which actions they take, usually accompanied by a dice roll to determine how successful the action is. This entire scenario can take place in the minds of the players and with notes on paper, but in the Pathfinder set we were using there was a grid to draw maps and player statuettes to track movement, which I found really helped visualize the story.
Since each player had either no or little experience with Pathfinder, and since we wanted to save a little time, we decided to work with pre-set characters and modify them slightly (eg. rolling our own stats, choosing alignments). We settled on playing the 4 core classes, fighter, wizard, rogue, and cleric, so that we’d have a well balanced team, which was especially important in our combat heavy campaign. Since we didn’t spend much time with the character creation process, the nuances of our characters emerged as we battled through our mission.
I was completely enthralled with the whole experience, and took photographic note of the whole story in order to preserve it here. If you’re more interested in my opinion of the game and reflection on the experience than the story, you can keep scrolling to the last section (titled The Experience).