Reign of Winter – GM Perspective.

So, I fucked it.

Well, I wouldn’t go that far, but certainly, running a Pathfinder game was far more work than I expected, and it makes me appreciate the sheer amount of extra effort Keegan puts in above what the adventure path gives him.

Firstly, I haven’t run a rules heavy system since I was 14, where I mangled d20 Modern to represent school. It trainwrecked horribly, but it at least made some people laugh for a session. After that, I entered my WoD phase, being one of those oft-cursed eternal players demanding to be entertained. After some time I began writing Bard: The Crescendo (a WoD template, like Vampire, Geist and Changeling) with some friends. Eventually it fell to me to test the system. It went okay.

When Keegan wanted a turn playing Pathfinder, he thought I could do a decent job (uhh?) of running an adventure path, and gently pressured me into taking the job. What can I say, I can be an entitled jerk. He set me up with the core, our copy of Hero Lab and The Snows of Summer to bone up on.

Much like a Puritan high school, there was less boning up than would be healthy for everyone involved.

I read the preamble, the setting, a little of the first part of the adventure and some of the pertinent forum’s opinions of Reign of Winter. That was about it. Unfamiliar with how Adventure Path books are set up, I didn’t check the back for the beastiary, notes on towns for important people… All of the important stuff. This was a mistake.

I’m going to state it plain and clear. If I didn’t have experience in improvisation and a long history of watching brilliant storytellers wing answers to incredibly complex and random plans (Looking at you, Michael) then I would have ran a session that no-one would want to continue.

They adventured, they quested, they fly kicked carriages and questioned why moose were talking like frat boys (Note from the Editor: I think you’ll find it was an elk Jim… Jeez, get it right 😛 ). I flubbed, failed to read up on Atomies (nice concept) and generally blew past most of any resistance in their way.

I’m especially pleased with how the characters are resolving issues democratically, and sticking to their personal motivations and characterizations. Xargin is unreadable, Marty punishes the arrogant, Pytor has a brutal sense of honour, and Brunhilda likes shiny things.

I’m looking forward to the next session, where the Russian Folklore actually starts coming into play pretty hardcore. That’ll be the best part, and hopefully I can do it justice.

Editor’s Note: I didn’t mean to make Jimbles feel he did so badly during the first session. In terms of running the game itself, he had a good handle on the rules and so on. My main concerns were a lack of prep for the adventure specific information and that the first session was run mostly for laughs, with jokes related to MMOs (which were probably hilarious, except that I don’t play MMOs. At all. Ever. So most of it went right over my head), a village full of country bumpkins and, as mentioned before, an elk that talked like a drunken frat boy. Honestly, part of this was down to me as well, I should have had a sit down with Jim beforehand to make sure that we both were on the same page with what we were expecting out of the game, especially given that Jim normally runs games like World of Darkness. After we had a chat in between the first and second session, and sorted out some of that, I found the second session much more enjoyable, and I’m really looking forward to continuing the campaign once Jim stops dying from whatever horrible disease he’s picked up.

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Listening to: Myself, coughing up a god damned lung.

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