After not gaming in quite a while, I just finished up a weekend with three Pathfinder games all in a row.
Saturday found me running a heavily modified version of Paizo’s City of Golden Death with Nick, Julie, and Sarah. Because I wanted a scene with the city collapsing around the PCs, I changed the ending so the villain Iriamine was about to snag the jewel of everlasting gold, an artifact which would give her infinite wealth but which, in my version of the adventure, would cause a devil imprisoned beneath the city to awaken and attack while the city itself flooded with molten gold. Iriamine had an escape plan prepared that would have left the PCs to fend for themselves. However, Sarah stopped the plans by throwing a bead of force at the jewel, trapping it away from Iriamine. What followed was the most epic beatdown I’ve ever seen in an RPG session, with two cavaliers, a pair of summoned fire elementals, a spell-slinging sorcerer, and an enlarged ranger and alchemist all pummeling a wizard who failed every single defensive casting check she attempted. I guess I should have been frustrated at the anticlimax, but it was too funny to be angry at.
Today I ran Beth and Sarah through Temple of Blood, a part of Goodman Games’ “Wicked Fantasy Factory” line. And it was…just okay, unfortunately. It was a lot of fun mostly because of the players, but the adventure itself was just a straightforward dungeon crawl with almost no real twists. I do give some bonus for a fun kobold encounter that provided a lot of room to use the environment – and which would have ended with the PCs retreating had Beth’s half-orc barbarian not overheard the kobolds’ cries of victory, prompting her to return in a rage and kick ass. Also, the adventure has a variant of the awesome Worm That Walks (pictured above), which is one of my favorite 3.5 monsters.
Following Temple of Blood, Beth still wasn’t done gaming, so she brought out an old Hackmaster module called Quest for the Unknown, which is a Hackmaster remake of the old D&D module In Search of the Unknown. The adventure is saved somewhat by the Hackmaster-style humor, but overall it just reminds me of why I no longer play pre-3rd edition D&D – I like to role-play heroes, not cartographers. We only made it through most of the first level, with the lower level still to be completed, but it’s mostly full of empty rooms and a lot of mapping. Old D&D games gave experience points for gold pieces earned, no matter how you got them. On the one hand, it awarded clever play – if you could get your hands on a dragon’s hoard without fighting the dragon, you deserved to level up. (I think a lot of this attitude came from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, where the hero gains the spoils of a dragon’s hoard without ever actually fighting the dragon.) On the other hand, it also encourages the players to play appraisers rather than adventurers, snatching tapestries and smashing up pieces of furniture rather than fighting evil and performing heroic deeds. But again, the humor was well appreciated, and the fact that Beth and I drank a ton of beer and were in a dungeon-crawling mood helped. (Poor Sarah, being pregnant, got no beer.)
Despite the “meh” quality of the latter two modules, all in all it has been a fun weekend filled with gaming. Role-playing games need to be judged by the quality of the people you play with, not the module or system you use.