Let me start this piece off with a quick disclaimer. I am in no way a Pathfinder expert and I may get some terms and words mixed up, or just plain wrong. My memory isn’t what it used to be so I tend to forget things. This is a shortened tale of my first Pathfinder experience.
Now that that is out of the way, I have always been shy. From an early age I tended to keep to myself (although once I get to know someone I never stop talking). I have always been into gaming but, one thing we were told from a young age was to stay away from the evil called Dungeons and Dragons. Now for those who don’t know what D&D is (are there any people?) I will try my best to explain. At its core D&D is a table top role-playing game. You create a character from different fantasy races and classes, equip that character and go on adventures. Now how pray tell does one go on adventures while sitting around a dining room table? Easy, you use something that kids now a days lack… imagination.
Well, like I mentioned, as kids we were cautioned by the community to stay away from the evils that is D&D (although my parents were fine with it as they tended to be quite open minded). For this reason I never grew up playing D&D. I never had the chance, as I couldn’t find anyone ‘brave’ enough to play with me. This was also before the geek renaissance that we are experiencing these days. As I understand D&D was said to be evil because ‘studies ‘ (and I use the term loosely) showed that kids would get so involved with their D&D characters that they would withdraw and shun the real world.
So having grown up in a world without D&D I only learned, like so many other kids about it through PC games (like Baldur’s gate). These games were awesome and they piqued my interest in D&D. I always wondered what playing D&D table top games would be like.
Fast forward to many years later and I find myself watching videos on Youtube of table top RPGs and for some reason I am fascinated by them. I guess it has to do with the fact that we grew up using our imaginations. Hell, I started to realize that we were already half way there. By just imaging ourselves as knights and mages fighting off dragons and all manner of beasts as kids we were in fact role playing. All that was missing were the rules and a few dice (and of course the table).
I decided that even though I might be a shy introvert I would join a table top RPG group even if it kills me (has anyone ever died of shyness?). Regret nothing was the phrase going through my head as I logged into Meetup and started looking for table top RPG groups in my area. After a quick search I found a small group playing Pathfinder (a RPG based on D&D rules) in my area. The group was quick to respond to my emails and before I knew it I was invited to join them on an adventure that weekend. That Saturday on my way to the meetup I had a lot of thoughts running through my head. Will I be the only thirty something in a group of kids? Will these guys be dressed up as their characters? If so how do I get myself out of this? How will they react to a total newbie?
Yeah, so by the time I got to the comic store where we would play I was totally paranoid. Strange thoughts were running through my overactive mind. The owner of the store was very friendly and ushered me into the back room, or as I would like to call it the storage room. So, between all the boxes, me and four other guys (not dressed up as fantasy characters) sat around a table and began our quest.
First off, every one introduced themselves and their characters. We had a human gunsmith, a mage and a human cleric. Finally it was my time to choose a character. The guy who was the mage (and the leader of the party I would later discover) kindly informed me that the party would require the services of a rogue (thief) character. This was because the party was sorely lacking in the backstabby, lock picky and sneaky department.
This meant that Lothar the warrior character I had in my head, had in a matter of seconds become an Illian the rogue. Another suggestion was sprung on as I was ready to go on the quest. The leader also informed me that they were short on female characters. My excitement vanished as I realised what he was suggesting (remember here was a shy introverted guy asked to role play a female character in front of total strangers).
Sooo… after changing from a male warrior to a male rogue to a female rogue, Merisel was created. At last we were sent on our quest to find three missing dwarven ambassadors.
Our first encounter happened while travelling on a boat up a river. Now I was the lowest level character of the four of us, and only wearing leather armour. This made me think it best to be the lookout. I decided to situate (hide) myself in the crows nest. It seemed like the safest place as I was sure we would be attacked by some kind of aquatic lizards or a river monster. Boy was I wrong as the DM (Dungeon master) informed us that our characters heard the flapping of wings. WINGS!? We quickly realized that our first fight would be against a water drake (a dragon living near rivers). Keeping this in mind it seemed that being in the crows nest was no longer the safest place.
Immediately the mage summoned his familiar which if I remember correct was a centaur. The gunsmith tried to fire a few shots off but all of them missed. Well, I thought this was my chance to show these guys what I can do. I drew my bow and let an arrow fly. It hit its mark but did little damage. I was so happy that I didn’t notice the dragon who was at first oblivious to me, turning around and readying to fire its acid breath straight at me. Again did I mention not only was this a flying monster but one with acid breath. So now I was frantically trying to get down from the crows nest to where at least the cleric could heal me. Meanwhile the drake was spewing acid everywhere. Luckily it missed me on numerous occasions.
The centaur having no ranged weapons decided to start galloping at full speed towards the flying drake. He launched himself of the boat towards it, flailing his weapon madly, hoping for the best. He hit it and did a fair amount of damage. Unfortunately the moment of excitement was disrupted by a large splash. The centaur had fallen into the river. This took him out of battle as he had to slowly but surely swim back to the boat.
So after a lot of running, hiding, bullets missing, spells being flung and arrows being shot (al while the cleric frantically ran around healing us) we at last killed the beast. It is at this stage that I forgot that we were five guys, sitting around a table in a dusty dark store room rolling dice. We had become a group of adventurers.
After travelling quite a distance and encountering a few more beasts we finally came to a dungeon. We had heard rumours that the dwaven ambassadors were being kept there. And this is where I quickly understood why the leader of the party suggested I be a rogue. You see this particular dungeon was filled with locked doors. O yes creaky locked steel doors. This meant that my character spend her time sneaking through the dark, oiling the hinges of the doors with lamp oil (as to not alert any monsters when opening them) and trying be successful at lock picking. This was tedious and slow. In the end our patience (mostly my patience) paid of as we were in and out with little resistance. We had rescued the dwarven ambassadors.
But, (Strange how there always seems to be a but somewhere, and usually it is followed by bad news) as we were about to exit the dungeon we heard the mage whom was responsible for the kidnapping of the dwarves shouting. We were informed that we were surrounded by archers. He also mentioned that we needed to drop our weapons and come out quietly. After a quick discussion of what to do, the centaur charged through the door and stormed the mage. The gunsmith and I ran out firing at the archers and catching them off guard. Our shots hit their marks and we took out a few of them. Our mage started blasting the evil mage with spells as he was distracted by the four legged, screaming shape charging him.
For the first time we were truly fighting like a team. Soon I realised that the rest of the archers would do a lot of damage to us if they weren’t taken out quickly. Being a rogue I sneaked up on two of them and used my back stab ability to take them out quickly (sneakiness 1 /enemy archers 0). After the dust settled we stood in the middle of the open space where we came out off the dungeon. We were badly hurt but alive. Around us lay the bodies of our aggressors including the mage. We had done it!
This concluded our adventure and a whole day had passed without me realising it. I bid my fellow adventures goodbye and returned to my home. As I was driving back I realised that I had learnt a lot from my first Pathfinder play session. I learnt to always try things for myself, and not to listen to people telling me that I would not like something. I might just actually enjoy it.
I learnt not to let my shyness stand in the way of a good time with good people. I learnt that table top RPG guys weren’t as scary as I was lead to believe. That day I found out they are some of the most accepting and friendliest people I have ever met (well at least the guys I played with). They never got irritated if I rolled the wrong dice or asked the same question over and over (believe me I did this a lot). And you know what I really enjoyed myself.
Now the question remains, will I play a table top RPG again? The answer is a bit more complicated than just yes or no. You see I also learnt that playing a table top RPG required commitment. You can’t just expect to play once in a while and think you could keep up with the guys who are committed to the adventure. Some of the scenarios can take up to a year. To level up your character sufficiently requires commitment and takes time. Because of this I probably won’t be able to play again as time is not on my side. Does this mean that I would not join a group if asked and I had the time, of course I would!
I would like to think that Merisel the rogue who had hung up her bow got married had two kids (girl and a boy) and of course a dog named Justice. Would when evil once again threatened the lands, pick up her bow kiss her husband and kids goodbye and continue the good fight.
I truly enjoyed the experience and I recommend it to anyone who has an imagination and who could find a group to join. To those four adventurers who helped me discover and understand the joys of table to RPG gaming. Thank you.