Words of Wisdom for new Pathfinder Society GMs

This was sparked from a question on the VL boards.

Some things for a new GM:
1. Be prepared. Read the scenario a few times.
2. Miniatures help, but are not necessary. The Bestiary Box is a great substitute for plastic minis.
3. You don’t have to know all of the rules. You have to know where to find the rules.
4. Voices are fun, but story drives the plot.
5. Pre-draw maps if possible. This speeds things up.
6. If the games goes off book, enjoy it. Players are very creative.
7. Ask for help if you need it.
8. Make eye contact and speak succinctly to players.
9. Enjoy yourself.
10. There is no winning or losing in PFS, only playing.


Review: PFS 1-39 Citadel of Flame

A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for 1st to 5th level characters (Tiers: 1–2 and 4–5).

Once the home to a cult preaching self-sacrifice by immolation in order to achieve paradise, the Citadel of Flame in Qadira’s Meraz Desert was presumably wiped out decades ago after Sarenrae dervishes led a crusade to end its morbid message. An enormous sandstorm swallowed both the citadel and the army attacking it, burying both beneath hundreds of feet of sand. Thought lost forever, the citadel’s rediscovery prompts the Pathfinder Society to send you deep in the unforgiving Meraz to finally close the book on Qadira’s most mysterious cult.

Written by Steven Robert

I have run this a few times, and most recently, it was my first attempt at a play-by-post game. This is a bit of a dungeon crawl, but there are a few tricky areas. The boss at the end is fun, and the room is pretty dangerous. However, once you get to the Citadel, it’s pretty RP free. The exception is the NPC you meet which seemed to confuse players more than help them. The faction missions were simple, as most didn’t require any rolls. Just do X, and you succeed. Much different than faction missions nowadays.

I give it 4 stars.

Ode to the Yellow Dice

Step up players. Welcome to my table.

Before we begin, I must tell you a fable.

When I start this scenario behind my GM screen.

I will roll open and honestly, and not be mean.

With an arrow pluck or great axe slice,

You will meet my devastating yellow dice.

Translucent dice, each box contained six.

I purchased 3 boxes from the great Chessex.

As a player, the dice roll pretty normal.

Behind the screen, the activity gets paranormal.

Crit. Crit. Crit. Twenty.

Baddies keep dealing damage a plenty.

Baddy got a cutlass with a better crit range?

I kill more wizards than Bellatrix Lestrange!

When the battle is over, I hope you have had your fun.

In 10 rounds of combat, 15 crits and only 1 one.

I retire these yellow dice, so you don’t end up dead.

Next game, be careful, because the next set is RED!


Review: Master of the Fallen Fortress (module)

A dungeon-based adventure for 1st-level characters.

The ruined siege castles outside Absalom have long beckoned adventurers looking to make a name for themselves. Now an earthquake has cracked open one of these fabled ruins, and its lost mysteries and fantastic treasures lie exposed for the first time in centuries. But the tower’s empty halls once more echo with living footfalls, and a new master has claimed the Fallen Fortress as his own. Can the PCs find a way to get inside its shattered walls? What ancient dangers and fresh threats will they encounter inside its crumbling chambers? And will the PCs be able to defeat the current Master of the Fallen Fortress?

Master of the Fallen Fortress is a dungeon-based adventure for 1st-level chararacters, written for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and compatible with the 3.5 edition of the world’s oldest RPG. It also serves as an introduction to Pathfinder Society Organized Play (Paizo’s constantly evolving, world-wide megacampaign). The adventure involves exploring an ancient, ruined tower and rescuing the captured Pathfinder held within.

This adventure is set outside the great city of Absalom in the Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting, but can be easily adapted for any game world. It also contains a preview of the six new iconic characters from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Advanced Player’s Guide.

Written by Rob McCreary.

No plot. No story. No problem. What can be said about this dungeon crawl? I ran this for a group of 6 level 1 characters. Half of which are noobs. I did this according to Pathfinder Society rules (for credit), so I wasn’t allowed to go ‘off book’. This is a fun intro to Pathfinder. You learn a lot about different low CR baddies. However, there is no real story. Just go here and explore it.

This is a good intermediate step for bringing new people in to Pathfinder. You don’t have to deal with faction missions or hearing a long schpeel at the Lodge. My biggest complaint about this beginner mod is that there are a lot of combats, probably twice as many as a normal scenario. This made our pregen cleric Kyra work overtime. She could have ran out of spells and channels really quickly. It would have been nice to have some potions of cure light wounds to make an appearance a little more frequently. Also, some of the rooms (like the stupid bat swarm*) was just a room with something to fight, and no treasure to reward the PCs.

Still, a nice noobie mod, and everyone had a good time.

4 stars

* I hate swarms

Review: PFS 4-05: The Sanos Abduction

A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 3–7.

The Pathfinders are sent to the Sanos Forest in central Varisia to assist an agent researching the fey who inhabit the remote wood. But like many seemingly routine tasks in a Pathfinder’s adventuring career, the simple support mission quickly turns into an adventure the PCs aren’t soon to forget—presuming they survive.

Written by Jerome Virnich.

I ran this at 6-7. This was good and entertaining, but not great. How many times have we heard a Venture-Captain tell the PCs that they are going to be doing something mundane and shouldn’t expect any problems? There should be a better intro schpeel.  I absolutely love Riddywhipple (or Ready Whip as my party called him). The RP with him is fun, and the boon is really awesome. My players had more trouble at the pond than at the end. (2 deaths) In fact, the players thought there was another encounter after the end because they cake walked through it.

4 stars

Skull & Shackles update

Sometimes ghouls > PCs. The players got to the stockade where Arron Ivy (renamed to Sharron Ivy) was living. Instead of having Ivy attack the PCs, she was the last living survivor of the ship Infernus. The PCs needed a healer, boom, instant healer. Well, they stayed there overnight, and all of the ghouls that I didn’t use came to visit. It was a scene from The Walking Dead. Ghouls broke through the walls from all over. Crazy ghoul attack! Unfortunately, this lead to the first PC death. I regret to inform  you that Rob’s character, Chumley Roughknuckles (bard), was left to handle the ghouls alone, and he ended up being dinner.

There have been other ‘almost deaths’. But I am softballing when things happen. For now. One of the things I am telling players is to have a backup character ready to go. So I can kill a character, and they can just grab a new one and keep going.

The party got all the way through Riptide Cove, and fought the Brineblood Queen. That was a fun combat, but fighting a shark underwater was more dangerous.

Next up, return to The Man’s Promise and deal with Master Scourge and Mr Plugg. Muhahahah

Skull & Shackles AP

During PaizoCon this year, I decided to try my hand at running one of Paizo’s Adventure Paths. The Rise of the Runelord AP that I’m in is going a little slowly, so I have AP time available. I decided to pick Skull & Shackles, which is the pirate themed AP. I bought the first module, The Wormwood Mutiny, and started reading on the way home.

After reviewing schedules, enthusiasm, and gaming skillz, the current party is:

  • Lyle – Vanaran rogue/gunslinger
  • Rob – Halfling bard
  • Aaron  – Human storm druid
  • Mike – Human witch
  • Garrett – Ulfen Human barbarian

Interesting party no?

Because I don’t want the momentum for the AP to fade, and so everyone can remember stuff, I am using www.windycitypathfinder.com to host a forum that have all sorts of IC threads, including a party thread, IC journal, and rule clarifications. I am using a good ole google doc to keep track of the NPCs on the Wormwood, including their current attitude.

Before the first game, I wanted everyone to roll up their characters and create a backstory. We spent about a 2 weeks RPing how each of the PCs got to Port Peril, and I gave them a little ‘quest’ just to get the ball rolling. I even rewarded them with skill point in some profession or knowledge skill. Small, but fun. One of my other rules is that they need to keep an IC journal, updated before each session.

The first game went exactly as I suspected. The party woke up and got about 12 days in to working the Wormwood. Their hatred for Plugg & Scourge increased each day. With the exception of the bard, this party has a really tough time making friends. They also stunk a lot of their daily duties. The monkey vanaran crushed it though. It was hard for them to scheme on stuff since there are always other people milling around the boat. Mike said it best when he said “We suck. This is awesome!”

Since I didn’t want to fill the next few sessions with doing chores and the encounters, I went back to the forums to finish all of the boat stuff. The ambush in the basement almost killed 2 PCs. Hard to fight with a broom handle. After the 20ish days at sea, they had 11 friends on the boat. Most people don’t like them. This could setup a hard mutiny. During the battle with Man’s Promise, I rolled a for random deaths (there were 6), then who got killed from the crew. Unfortunately for the PCs, the battle claimed Rosie Cusswell & Sandara Quinn, 2 of the NPCs that actually have stat blocks and such. At least that damn Maheem is gone!

Now, the party is sitting in Bonewreck Isle, and 2 of them have ghoul fever. It’s not looking good, and honestly, I have screwed up a few times. Instead of a swarm of bees OR 3 ghouls, I did both. I think the party has a need for a cleric of some sort. There are a lot of helper classes, but they are missing healing pretty bad. Druid works, but not great. I have a solution to this.

Personally, I have gone totally dorkout on this. I have purchased pirate flags (both big to hang on the wall, and small to represent how much infamy the party has accumulated), gold coins, loot cards (of course), and even printed the shackles map on canvas.

Review: PFS3-18 God’s Market Gamble

A Pathfinder Society Scenario designed for levels 1–5.

Valuable relics of religious natures have been disappearing on their way into Absalom and the Pathfinder Society stands to lose countless irreplaceable artifacts if the cause isn’t found. Amid the bustling markets of the God’s Market in the shadow of the Starstone Cathedral, the Society sets a plan in motion to ensure the parties responsible for the recent thefts are caught and brought to justice.

Written by Dennis Baker.

Exciting. Dangerous. Sneaky. Those are words that can describe this wonderful scenario. This has a lot of everything in it. The BBEG is pretty tough, and for each of the 3 times I have ran it, the players were able to win, but just barely. They also used completely different tactics. The ambush is fun to run, and wishes there are smarter NPCs in other scenarios.
The other encounters here are not typical. A few different thing happen, which some PCs are completely unable to prepare for. The warehouse is cool. The interviews with NPCs are fun, and lead to great RP opportunities. The BBEG can be deadly.
Take the gamble. Its worth it.
5 stars.

GenCon 2012

My cousin TJ and I went to GenCon a few weeks ago. Lots of Pathfinder. I would even go as far as saying too much Pathfinder. With the inclusion of Scotty’s Brewhouse, I GMed 8 games. I played none. I even got drafted into running the special without reading it. Man, I don’t like specials. Just not my preference.

I ran Cyphermage Dilemma once, God’s Market Gamble twice, Race for Runecarved Key once, and Goblinblood Dead four times. Ugh.  I do like God’s Market Gamble (review coming soon).

I felt like a King surrounded by loyal subjects, or a dad taking the girls out for ice cream.

The good part about going to Indy was that I got to play ComedySportz Indianapolis along with Alan Metoskie. I had a great  time playing.

Other updates:

  • Going SCUBA diving with Jaime on Thursday. Vancouver Island. We will dive with the giant pacific octopus. Thank goodness we go dry suited.
  • I started biking to work. That shit is tiring. I added a Bike to Work category.
  • ComedySportz auditions take place next month. You should go.

Love you,


2012 ComedySportz World Championship

So much fun, and so many people. Here is the song we performed (to the tune of Total Eclipse of the Heart)

…every now and then, We get a little bit lonely for our friends from the other towns…

…every now and then, We get a little bit tired of just playin’ with the people we know

…every now and then, We get a little bit nervous that we don’t know all the new games we could

…every now and then, We feel a little bit isolated, so we’re-gonna’-throw-ourselves-a…

Tournament… starts now.
Every now and then we do the bits!

Tournament… starts now.
Every now and then we do the bits!


And we are so glad you came.
And you’re probably … hungover.
It’s cool, ’cause we feel the same.
But each night we will start over.
And that feeling will only get worse.
‘Cause we have our own bar!
Together we will bring it through these four crazy nights.
If the Athenaeum’s shakin’ then we’re doin’ it right
We all play to win! We don’t care if we lose!
But it’s ComedySportz, you better / wear nice shoes!

Oh yeah, we’re doin’ in right!
But call it Championship tonight.
Please call it Championship tonight!

Once upon a time, all we could say was “no.”
Now we’ve learned how to agree.
We are not a cult.
Just a family called C-S-Z.

Once upon a time, being here was a dream.
Now it’s a reality.
We are not a cult.
Just a family called C-S-Z.

…Tournament starts now!

Other fun pictures

Freestyling at the afterparty. Represent baby BABY!


Check out how street people are after they took MadSkillz

Jamie Campbell, Chris DeRose, Jay Olson, & I are ready to take on Philly!

We all have emotions!

Playing a Word Up From Our Sponsor

Nice kitty…typewriter. Oh Dristas