06 September 2011

The Pathfinder Character

The group got together last Thursday to roll characters and talk about backgrounds.  I was all about playing a fighter-type, with a straight up fighter as my preference and a ranger as backup.

I am now playing a bard.  So you see what planning does for you.

As we went around the table talking about preferences, it became clear that most folks were sticking pretty close to their comfort zone with character choice -- a fighter and a wizard were chosen almost immediately.  I had no desire to play a cleric, as my last Pathfinder character was a cleric.  I loved that character, but wanted something different.  Someone else picked a paladin (an odd choice for this player), giving us two melee characters.  Another player said he really did NOT want to play a rogue, so he took the cleric.  Every party needs a cleric.  Now, I was character-less and the party was rogue-less.  And I've always been a stickler for a balanced party, unless we all decided to play the same class in a game designed around that concept (which I've always thought would be cool, but have never done).  So I said I'd play a rogue.

We then worked out a pretty nice group backstory that both unites (most of) us and creates some intra-party tension.  I'll talk about this in another post.  That story got me sold on the character, but not on the class.  The Pathfinder rogue is as much about sneaky, backstabbing combat as he is stealing things and disarming traps.  My concept fit the later well, but not the former.  So I went home with an empty character sheet.

I thought for a couple of days about my character's role in the party and my role in the group.  Having played a lot of Pathfinder, I know the rules and the setting better than the other players, so likely I was going to take a leadership and support role both in and out of character.  I hadn't thought of a bard at all, but then I stumbled across the archaeologist -- a bard archetype that's apparently in Pathfinder Ultimate Combat.  Fortunately, it's also in the Pathfinder SRD (hooray for the OGL and Paizo's willingness to make so much of it's stuff available for free!).  The archaeologist swaps the bard's music abilities for some rogue abilities like trap-finding.  He also gets some extra luck in the form of a bonus to all rolls that lasts for a few rounds per day.  This sounded a lot more like my concept!  He'll know a lot about the world, have motivation to explore it, be competent at ranged combat, be good at tracking and trap finding, and have some spells as a reserve/support character.

I still haven't crunched the numbers or come up with a name, but I feel a lot better about this half-elf than I did at the table last Thursday.

02 September 2011

Here's some more!

I've read with great interest three recent blog posts about old school gaming and blogging.  Two from ckutalik at Hill Cantons and one from Mythmere.  The theme that connects them, if I read them right, is that the OSR blogsphere has reached something of a turning point, moving away from the production (or reproduction) of old school content and to something else.  What that "else" is is still vague, but it could be more about the practice of gaming itself rather than producing content for gaming.

To perhaps put it another way: the blogsphere has produced a lot of content, but it's also produced a community, and that community is now pretty busy playing games.  Google + facilitates games across the miles, and the ties built via the internet has also resulted in a fair amount of face to face gaming via mini-cons and the like.

I'll freely admit to being both a tiny speck of the community and fairly late to the OSR party.  I'll also admit to frequent navel-gazing about my blog, my own gaming, and what they mean to my overall life and work.  I've been anxious about my own lack of, well, creative output (particularly physical creative output).  I've gone for long stretches without posting and felt bad about it.

But at one level -- the level, I think my blog sits at most of the time, it's pretty simple:

1.  I like to talk about gaming.
2.  I like to make things related to gaming.
3.  I like to game.

I admit I am not so great at #2 (random cupcake table aside), but would like to get better.  I'd certainly like to do a lot more of #3, but job and family and the like keep me from doing much more than the every other week thing with the local folks.  That leaves #1.  I don't get to do as much of that as I'd like, but the blog lets me do more of it than I would otherwise.

Fundamentally, I think all three of those things are important for the creation and maintenance of a community.

(To be all philosophical about it for a minute, you could call them criticism, production, and practice).

Golarion Love

The upcoming Pathfinder game has rekindled my love of the developed setting for the game -- Golarion.  I bought the Gazetteer ages ago and dug it out for last night's character creation session.  It's marvelous; I don't think I've really liked a published setting this much since I bought the Forgotten Realms grey box in 9th grade.

The setting is such a glorious pastiche of history, fantasy tropes, and gaming homages.  Anything and everything is there -- decadent devil empires (Cheliax), pirate fleets (The Shackles and the Hurricane King), Norse-ish Barbarians (Lands of the Linnorm Kings), and tons of other stuff (gothic horror, proto-democracy, pharaohs, ape-kings, etc).  Listing it like that, it almost looks silly.  There's no way all this can be crammed into one game setting and not result in a terrible, terrible mess.

But it all works!  At least for me.  Adventure possibilities leap off of every page of the Gazetteer, as does potential socio-political conflict (if one chooses to include that in a game).  As sketched out, Golarion can accommodate almost every conceivable character background, drive for adventure, and adventure setting.

I know there are 478 published supplements that further detail areas of Golarion, including a larger hardback overview of the entire world, but I'm going to try and resist them.  The Gazetteer is just so fun!

Plus "Gazetteer" is a cool word in and of itself.