Pathfinder: Got the Mojo Back

I have recently been a little disappointed with my Pathfinder games.  I have treated them a little like a chore that I have to do but do not enjoy and it has clouded my view of the game.  This is a major problem as I run two current games of Pathfinder and the players deserve better.

One of my games is on hiatus at the moment whilst we run the D&D starter set adventure, which is going really well.  In fact I have not had a game of Pathfinder for two weeks and it seems as though it was a lot longer than that.  I had a good deal of time to prepare for the game last night as I had to stay home from work to look after my young one.  After completing a University assignment I got stuck into the Frozen Stars module for the Reign of Winter adventure path.

Cover of Frozen Stars
Cover of the Frozen Stars module

I was fully aware of my attitude toward the game and I decided that I wanted to take a fresh approach to the game.  I went in with the attitude to let the game flow and have fun!

Of course though it is not that simple and when I started the game I realized that I had gotten my planning all wrong and I had missed an encounter for the game!  Luckily the players were keen to share out the loot that they had come across so I quickly managed to assemble what I needed to do on the roll 20 virtual tabletop and the encounter ran pretty well!

I made sure that I approached the game making decisions quickly and focusing on each character in turn.  There were six players last night and it ran pretty well.  In fact it ran so well I was smiling broadly after the game.

So why was last night so different and how did the game turn me around?  There are probably three main points that I realized that have helped me adapt and adjust my own focus to make this game much more enjoyable for me.

  1. I have been focusing way too much on the minute detail in the game and lost the main focus of having fun.  I am an impartial (I can hear my players laughing after reading that) referee but I need to remember what the focus of the game is.  Have fun.  That is the main focus.  Keep your eye on that prize then you will make quick decisions and keep the focus on the players story
  2. Be a supporter of the players.  I had really lost this focus.  I have some players that are new to Pathfinder with this game and I have had to almost run their characters at times.  I had begin to lose patience with this for some time but last night I realized that they joined the game because of the story and that I need to turn my control into learning opportunities.  I have also not given these players the credit for what they have in fact already picked up over the three and a half modules that they have already gone through.
  3. Finally, I have been looking too closely at games and since starting this blog I have trained myself as a reviewer of RPG’s.  That is I look for the faults in a game and focus on them at times.  I have done this with Pathfinder and I have pointed my finger strongly at a fault of Pathfinder, that is not exactly a fault.  In fact it is a fault that some would see as a strength in the game providing character customization at the expense of complexity for the GM.  I just had to realize that I do not need to know everything, all of the time.

So last night I put those three major points in the fore front of my mind and I found my love of Pathfinder again.  I also realized that with the new direction of D&D that the systems are no longer competing forces and have not been for some time.  Both games have their own identity.  They have their own strengths and weaknesses and it is OK to like both of them.

Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook cover
Pathfinder Core Rules. I can remember picking this up for the first time and loving it from the start

Admittedly, a lot of these realizations have come together because of the work that I am putting in here designing Pathfinder Encounters and also behind the scenes where I am working on a large module and a mini module.  In that design process I have been able to take a step back and look at the game and realize what I have been missing for a while, and that is the fun of my games.  It is always good to take a step back every now and again and reevaluate the “why” of things.  That is why do I play Pathfinder and is it worthwhile.  I am happy to say that the answer to this is a resounding yes!

I hope that this discussion may help some of you out there thinking about your own RPG conundrums.  If you are feeling like the game is a chore, think of your “why” and see if it is worth it.  The Games are designed to be fun so let go of what you do not like and enjoy them.  Smile, laugh, play.  For me it is Design, Play and Love the game, just like my blogs title.  Until next time, keep rolling!

2 Comments


  1. I am glad you had a good time. From my perspective as a player I have not particularly noticed any lack of mojo in recent weeks. Though last night you were on fire.

    I am astounded at, and grateful for, the amount of work you put in so that I can participate in a hobby I love but in all likelihood would not play with the same regularity if you did not offer your game.

    I think as players it is all too easy for us to turn up to a game session, in person or online, with out doing anything other than marking out some time in our calendar, printing out a character sheet and picking up some munchies.

    Sometimes players are not as focussed as we should be and that I am sure is very frustrating for a GM who has worked hard to deliver a game.

    Roleplaying games are a group activity and the enjoyment of the whole group, including the GM, depends upon indivdual effort. Players have particular roles, jobs and duties and should prepare them as seriously as the GM.

    We are all part of the same game and players should not be trying to “defeat the GameMonster” they should be working to help them run a fun game. In my experience most GMs do not go out of their way to defeat players.

    If this is done your GM will not be overburderned by number crunching, movement measuring, rule searching, condition tracking your PC as well as the half dozen NPC’s they have to control.

    It is pretty easy to count rounds of an effect, incorporate buffs or negs, call out when your group buff ends and remind the GM of that minus to hit you have (you would be quick to remind them of the NPC’s debuff.)

    I accept that the GM should facilitate players new to the game but experienced players should be able to assist in this regard as well. Take time to have some rules handy, help the new player with their record keeping. In short set the standard and they will rise to meet it.

    I am as guilty as anyone of not being prepared some days. (Last night I had lost my notes from the last session which drove me nuts.) We are only human and I am sure the GM will forgive us if some days we are not on song as we should forgive them if somedays they are off.

    Just remember the reason I play is to have fun and if you look around your table next game I bet you that is the one thing you all have in common. Even the “Game Monster”.

    Mark on a personal note you run an awesome game and, like many who strive for excellence, perhaps focus on the shortcomings rather than on the successess.

    Reply

    1. Wow, thanks for the in depth look at it James. And for making me look totally awesome!

      I may sometimes be in a slump but I try to hide that detail by working hard in game to appear normal so it is good to hear that you had not noticed. Here is to some more great Pathfinder games in the future!

      Reply

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