Pathfinder Fantasy Role-Playing, Day Four

The gold dragon left everybody in awe.Further and further along we go. I found out after the class was done today that my Friday session will be shortened, so I need to wrap things up quickly and with a bang.

I’ve been giving 500 XP per session so far and using the fast XP track, so today everybody hit level 2. Leveling up was pretty easy to handle, since I assumed that everybody just boosted the skills they already had and then assigned new feats, spells, and rogue talents as appropriate.

To be more accurate, Group Two leveled up today. Group One didn’t get their XP until the end of the day, so I’ll be dealing with their level up tomorrow. Group One is now way behind, thanks to the fact that they didn’t make it through a single room today.

Before the kids arrived, somebody from one of the other sessions gave me the Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures Handbook. It turns out that she used to get a lot of free product from Wizards of the Coast, and after sitting in on some of the session last time she realized how similar Pathfinder and D&D are. As such, she figured I could use it for something. In my personal game, I can probably mine the mass combat rules. In the class itself, Sarah and I showed the catfolk art from the Miniatures Handbook and compared it to the art from Pathfinder‘s Bestiary 3. The consensus was that the Pathfinder catfolk looked cooler, but both were pretty nice pieces of work and the display helped us to emphasize that there are many takes on the same creatures in fantasy role-playing. In other words, the only restrictions as to how something looks is the limits of the imagination.

After assigning skills and feats, I went back to dealing with Group One’s competition for treasure. My little meta-gamer went and blabbed about what had been in the chests when Group Two went through the same room, but I had already decided to change things up anyway. The centaur kicked open one of the chests without giving a rogue the chance to check for traps, and as a result the room filled with poison gas. I ruled that everybody who had failed their saving throw was sickened rather than get into ability damage.

The elf opened up one chest and found some potions of cat’s grace and a pair of spell scrolls. She kept them for herself, leading the centaur to attack her for it. The centaur kicked her in the stomach and then took one of the scrolls, opening it up to read, “This scroll contains some explosive runes.” The scroll exploded, dealing 2d4 damage to the centaur.

“That’s what he gets for kicking a girl,” said the player of the elf.

Oddly enough, the group still doesn’t get that I’m trying to teach them a bit of karma here. The player of the centaur refused to acknowledge that he could have avoided the damage, stating, “Everything happens for a reason.” Yes, it does. And that reason is because you didn’t give one of the wizards a chance to identify that scroll.

The rogue/wizard bought the other scroll off of the elf and found that it contained the darkness spell. The rest of the session was spent with the group picking weapons and treasure out of the room, which means they spent the whole hour in one room without continuing the adventure. However, they all seemed to have fun, so I guess there’s no harm done. It does mean that this is the last room of the dungeon for them – next session, I’m going to have Zanzer Tem kick the door in and attack them, leading to the final battle.

Group Two had already made it outside and faced off against a pair of wood golems. Or rather, cheap knockoffs of wood golems. See, I had thought that wood golems were CR 2 creatures. I think that comes from Crypt of the Everflame, where there is a construct made of wood that is only around a CR 2. But no, wood golems are actually CR 6 creatures. Luckily, the Pathfinder Bestiary has its nifty monster design appendix, so I just turned to that and used the average stats for a CR 2 monster as a guideline. Because we hadn’t used much beyond a d20, I tried to get more variance on the dice by having fire damage deal double the dice size in damage rather than use vulnerabilities in a more traditional sense. So a torch did 1d12 damage to the golems, while a burning hands spell did a whopping 2d8.

The golems got in a good couple of hits, taking the rogue/wizard down to 5 hp before going down. The goblin companion wasn’t very useful in this fight. First, he got distracted by testing the effect of fire on grass. Then when one of the golems was burning, he tried to grapple it. I mimed out the goblin writhing on the ground in pain, which drew some laughs. It also drew some concern from my son, who has been attending the sessions with us. Thinking I had hurt myself, he wanted to be held by me and wouldn’t let me put him down until he was sure I was okay.

Once the golems had been incinerated, the group found a cage in the clearing. Looking inside, they found a gold dragon (yeah…average party level is just a number to me). I had been determined to include a dragon in this adventure, and I was going to use a white dragon as a fight – a nod to Kamro from Stonefast, which was the dungeon linked to Zanzer Tem’s prison in the original adventure. Instead, Sarah convinced me to go with a friendlier dragon. Our son happens to have a plush gold dragon, so we went with that. I’m glad I did, because the moment the group saw the dragon, nobody wanted to fight it. We showed both the plush dragon and the gold dragon image from the Bestiary, and everybody was suitably awed.

“That’s so beautiful,” said the player of the catfolk. See kids – adventuring doesn’t all have to involve bad smells and wart-covered goblins!

The dragon had been captured by Zanzer Tem as a baby and bound to serve him. The cage was enchanted, with the person who unlocks it gaining the service of the dragon for a time. Only the key could open the lock, and the wizard had the key. Except the group kinda figured out a way around that. They managed to bypass the magical traps on the cage and break the lock, freeing the dragon. So next session will be Zanzer Tem facing off against four adventurers, Axel, a fire-damaged goblin, and a gold dragon.

Tomorrow marks the end of this class, although it’s been very popular and will hopefully be back in the future. Sarah and I make a good team, and everybody has had a lot of fun. While we were walking the kids out to the bus, one of the quieter ones said to me, “Pathfinder is a pretty fun game.” Yes. Yes it is.

Before the sessions end tomorrow, I’m planning on giving all the kids a handout of recommended reading as well as products that they can use to get started if they want to play Pathfinder themselves. The recommended reading will come partly from the GameMastery Guide, but will include Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain, which is my favorite fantasy series ever and never gets the credit it deserves. The recommended products will definitely include the Beginner Box and might have some adventures in there too, such as Crypt of the Everflame and We Be Goblins!. The main goal here is education, but if there are eight future gamers ready to jump into the hobby after tomorrow, that’s a bonus.

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