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So, I'm heading to Connecticon next month; a multi-genre convention about 30 minutes from home.  While there I plan on getting some gaming in, most likely some Pathfinder Society and some of the 5th edition Adventure League.

 

I have never actually played either one of these games in a con setting.  I've downloaded and read the player guides for each and have a general grasp of the rules:  Make a character, join a level appropriate game and have fun.  Beyond that I'm not sure. 

 

Does anyone have any advice for a first timer?  Anything in particular to avoid?  Recommended classes, factions, and so forth?

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I haven't played recently, but a few years back swarms and other tough resistances made frequent appearances in low-level PFS adventures. Grab an alchemist's fire or two if you can spare the cash. And once your character's established, I think it's still the expectation to buy your own cure wand, which you then loan to the party's divine caster for the duration of the scenario.

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I'm a regional coordinator for Pathfinder Society and I play Adventure League pretty frequently. If you have any questions I should be able to help. Just email me at [email protected]

 

Both campaigns have characters start at 1 and work up from there. PFS has Pregen characters at level 1,4 or 7 of many of the available classes. AL only has 8 level 1 pregens to pick from. PFS allows you to pretty much change 99% of your character and their gear before you play at level 2. AL allows you to change your character anytime between levels 1-4, but you're stuck with your starting gear.

 

All adventures have a level range. PFS scenarios breakdown into 1-2, 1-5, 3-7, 5-9 and 7-11. AL Expeditions range from 1-4 and 5-10 currently. You can only play a character that is within the range offered by the adventure. Look at the convention schedule or their Warhorn page if they have one, and try to sign up for games that allow a level 1.

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I usually ran across Two types of players: min-maxers who take the game very seriously, spend a lot of time crafting their characters toward combat, and can leverage the rules to their advantage in most situations. If you do something they think is sub-optimal or for the sake of role-playing, they'll let you hear about it.

 

The second group was role players who just wanted to be a part of the experience, and usually picked more esoteric classes, races, or gear.

 

Both groups can be fun or challenging to be grouped with.

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I've played a bunch of Pathfinder Society over the last year or so (about 3 scenarios a month), so here is some advice for it.

 

Death is permanent unless you can afford raise dead. So my advice is to save us the prestige points (PP) you get from scenarios to have enough for a raise dead spell. (You will probably want to get a wand of cure light with your first two PP, though.) If you don't get too attached to your characters and don't mind them dying too much, there are some fun things you can do with PP.
 
A level 1-5 scenario divides into a level 1-2 challenge and a level 4-5 challenge based on the levels of the players. It isn't a lot of fun to play a level 4-5 challenge with a level 1/2 melee character (playing up), but ranged and casters can still be fun despite the high risk of dying (you get more gold though!) Playing a level 1-2 challenge with a 4-5 level character (playing down) can be pretty easy, though you can still die especially as caster. You get less gold, so I usually try to match my level with the difficulty. Level 3's get the right amount of gold for their level playing up or down.
 
Remember to use anything you find in the scenerio. You don't get to keep the items you find, so it is great chance to have fun with them.
 

Swarms are still a popular choice to toss in low level adventures, so prepare for those. (Alchemist's Fire, Burning Hands (or other AoE))

 

Most scenarios feature 3-4 battles. The pacing often doesn't leave time for rest. When it does, you need to tell the GM (and party) that you think it would be a great time to rest so you can regain spells (and other daily use abilities). Because you often base 3-4 battles in a row, casters won't have enough spells for all the battles at low levels. If you are playing a caster, make sure to give them something to do in battle. Using a crossbow is better than standing there. Wands can be useful. A wand of magic missile is nice for sorc/wiz. Some domains, schools, etc can give you fun things to do at level 1.

 

Melee people should have to ways to deal with damage resistance. Season 5 (The Year of the Demon) has lots of demons. Season 6 (Year of the Sky Key) has constructs with hardness, but often they are weak to electric. Undead are pretty common.

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I will tel you if you bring a painted mini bring a Bones, many DMs are use to preprinted plastic and tend to be very abusive with models.

 

Try to build a character who is a team player so if you can buff the party or heal you will be golden. Creating a small placard of your character with name level, and a small portrait is not mandatory but adds to the game.

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The one time I played PFS it was very combat/encounter driven with little to no chances for role playing or deviances from the written adventure.  For example, we were in a town and were supposed to get some clues from a merchant. A couple players tried to be subtle and just look around, or ask questions, and when we didn't outright attack the merchant the GM dropped a bunch of thugs on us and forced the combat.  Then it was like *bam* we're outside town on a road and he's asking us to roll initiative... with no story or RP in between. 

 

Maybe it was just the GM's style of play, but we felt pretty railroaded.  Maybe he was rushing us because of the timed event slot. Personally I prefer a more casual game with more open ended options and chances for side-line adventures. 

 

There was also a jerk at the table who screwed about half the players out of rewards at the end of the game. In character, of course. 

 

YMMV. 

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There are good and bad GMs as well as good and bad players. Misbehavior can be reported to the local venture captain or Paizo for PFS games. I've been lucky and so far and have mostly had decent or good GMs and my bad GMs have just been boring.

 

There are a lot of Pathfinder Society scenarios that are light on the RP aspect. There are also skill heavy scenarios were social skills, tracking, etc. are really key to not bumbling through. It is not unusual to be able to bypass a combat or two with social skills and good RP. I've also played several scenarios where most of the scenario was spent RPing (and skill checks) with only a couple combats. If you want a certain type of scenarios, you will want to look them up on Paizo's site. They are usually spoil-light reviews to help you decide it you want to play that specific scenario.

 

As for a mini, it doesn't have to actually match your character, you just need to be able to know which is yours. Using bones or prepaints is a good idea if you are worried about potential mistreatment of your minis. While most of GMs I've had treat the minis with the respect they deserve, I've had a few that will sweep them off the map into a pile.

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Many of the adventures for organized play are written to a formula with 2 small combats and one boss combat, or one small combat+one RP skill challenge+boss combat. This usually fits into the standard 3-4 hour time slot.

 

This is why most scenarios come across railroaded. The rewards depend on what you complete, so DMs can feel some pressure to move things along, especially at busy cons, so the players can get applicable rewards for their characters.

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