Versus the World

Yeah, that title has nothing at all to do with the topic of this post. Hell of a song, though.

The games I’m running or playing in at the moment (linked when there’s something to link to, although the pages are in Finnish) are as follows:

Second Darkness

My main home game at the moment. Pathfinder RPG with some house rules. The Second Darkness Adventure Path from Paizo. Five players. We’ve played 15 game sessions so far on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule. The campaign is on its last leg, with only around five to seven game sessions to go. Will probably wrap it up around the start of December. Light on crunch, although a bit heavy on combat. Some elbow room for character development, although not nearly enough, since the Adventure Path relies heavily (as do all the other Paizo Adventure Paths) on railroading to get the story to move forwards.

Pathfinder Society

Paizo’s global Pathfinder RPG organized play campaign. Somewhat similar to Living Greyhawk, although I’ve been told LG was a superior campaign by far. We’ve had about 20-30 people playing at one time or another, but as I write this, the Finnish Pathfinder Society is pretty much dead in the water. There are several reasons for this, the main one being the modules themselves, which, on average, aren’t very good. The standard module is a four hour slug-fest with about a page of backstory,  a simple dungeon or similar five-location railroad track, with five or six encounters, out of which four or five are specifically combat encounters. In addition to the emphasis on combat, the main stumbling block of the Society is the fact that there’s virtually no continuity from module to module. A lot of people have dropped out because of these reasons. The enthusiasm for the modules is at an all-time low at the moment, so I don’t really see a future for this campaign in Finland. A pity, really.

Expedition to Castle Ravenloft

A D&D 3.5 campaign run by Otso, a friend of mine. The campaign started out in the Forgotten Realms, but around the time when the characters reached level six, the GM put on a wide grin and pulled out WotC’s Expedition to Castle Ravenloft. This campaign is a rarity for me, since I’m actually playing in it, and not GMing it. This is also the first game I’ve participated in with this particular group of players. The gaming style is similar to some other games I’ve played, but the whole attitude is a whole lot more laid back and easy going. None of the players are die-hard power gamers. The sessions have been great fun, with lots of hard and fast combat, zombies, vargouilles, dire wolves, and ghosts. The campaign has one other element I’ve missed greatly since I came back to gaming at an adult age: Good character deaths. So far I’ve lost two characters in five game sessions. The first one got eaten by zombies, the second one by dire wolves. I don’t know why, but I just love it. Must have something to do with my background of playing Storyteller games, where it is virtually impossible to kill a character, since so much time has been spent building the character’s and the whole campaign’s story arc.

Star Wars: Dawn of Defiance

Another campaign in which I’m just a player. This one using the Star Wars Saga Edition rules. I love Star Wars. It’s the quintessential Space Fantasy.

However, the gaming style of this group is a tad too crunchy for my tastes. There isn’t really much character development (except mechanically, that is), and the storyline is extremely railroady. A typical game session might go somewhat along these lines: The characters run into an NPC. A fight against Storm Troopers to escape with the NPC. The NPC knows about the McGuffin, the exact whereabouts of which is known by some smugglers. Fight with the smugglers. The McGuffin is in an Imperialist warehouse. Go there. Fight the imperials. Run like hell with the McGuffin. Also, the scheduling for this game has been Hell, and since one of the players now lives in Tampere I don’t really see a future for this one either.

That pretty much wraps it up for my current roster of games. Four games, all of them D20-based systems, three of them being pretty much the same D20-system. Small wonder, really, I’ve started getting burned out on 3.5.

A while back Sami Koponen asked me why I’m playing these games, even though they seem to generate so many problems. A very good question. I’ve tried answering it to the best of my abilities, but I’ve also come to at least one decision. Come December, there’s going to be a house-cleaning of sorts, as I expect at least three of these campaigns to end, or just plain die out.

Next up: something completely different.


4 responses to “Versus the World

  1. Disappointing to hear about the local take on the PFS scenarios. We are doing many things to address these specific concerns, but it takes a while to right the ship. I am personally writing a two-round high-level adventure right now that is loaded with campaign continuity.

  2. Whether or not the Finnish Pathfinder Society scene will survive remains to be seen. At the moment, the Society modules aren’t providing what the Finnish players are after, but were the modules to take a drastic turn for the better, the situation might change.

    Another problem is the quantity of modules. If Pathfinder Society had, say, double or triple the amount of modules available, there would be something for everyone, and probably the average quality would go up as well. And yes, I am aware the amount of work going into this would double or triple as well.

    Many of the problems stem from the low page count. It seems very difficult to create a more open-ended scenario with only around 14 pages of material. Obviously, were the modules more open-ended and “sandboxy”, the individual skills of game masters would become a factor.

  3. True about the society, that’s pretty much the reason for why we did not start it here in vaasa.

    Wow, that’s alot of d20 games you are playing/running. No wonder why you are getting bored, and how you even have time for all that? 🙂
    But i hope you get over it, it’s a good system.
    Perhaps you should play something else, something not so rules heavy. That helped me, as currently im running pathfinder/3.5 and playing Trail of Cthulhu.

    • Indeed, on paper at least, that’s a lot of games. At the moment an ordinary week for me is one or two game sessions, with one being my Monday evening home game Second Darkness, and the other one being Ravenloft, Pathfinder Society or Star Wars. Granted, its been four weeks since I ran a Society game, and about eight weeks since I played in one; and about six weeks since I played Star Wars. Ravenloft is bi-weekly at the moment.

      Once I manage to wrap up Second Darkness, and (as I suspect will happen) Star Wars gets canceled, I’ll have to find other games to fill my time slots. Currently in the works are a new home game, a Trail of Cthulhu game GM’d by Sope (which will probably have a schedule of about 1-2 times a month at best), and Jim Raggi’s Insect Shrine playtest, which should start this very week. More on that later, as I promised a friend I’d write a sort of report on it from a player’s perspective.

      Another project in the works is a casual game of sorts, with the stated goal of reinvigorating interest in the fantasy genre. This game will consist of one-shots run by different GM’s using an older game system. I’ll probably run Mentzer’s D&D and Expedition to Caldwell Castle or some such, another GM will run Runequest or Ankh, and third one might take a stab at some other “old school” game with an old module of his choosing.

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