What Pathfinder Society Means to Me

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Hi All! With Thanksgiving just around the corner for us in the Paizo office, I wanted to do a blog that was more personal. I'm a pretty private person by nature, so this isn't easy for me to write, but it's worthwhile.

To say one more thing up front: anxiety and depression affect a lot of people, and for those of us who deal with them, society sometimes gives us a sense that they are something that needs to be hidden away, or that they are something we should "just get over". Or, the real kicker for me, that because there are people out there who have a harder life than we do, that our feelings are somehow not valid. These ideas are preposterous and unfair. They are not something that people can "just get over", and I hope that by talking about my experiences, I can help someone else know that they are far from alone, and that there is hope. If you are struggling alone, please reach out and talk to someone you trust. People want to help a lot more than your mind might let you realize.

This blog is primarily about my experience with Pathfinder Society and the way it has benefitted my life, so it doesn't go much into the other ways that I've sought help over the years. It's not the whole story by a long shot, but it's an important piece.

When I first started off with Pathfinder Society, it was a fun activity I did at Gen Con with a group of friends. Then, when my home gaming group started scattering to the winds, we turned to Pathfinder Society to recruit new people with something way less daunting than our typical multi-year campaigns.

It was around this time that our local and freshly minted Centure-Captain Don Walker put a request on the messageboards for people to join him in an inaugural game at Pandemonium Books and Games. To be honest, I wasn't really that sure about the idea of playing in a group of mostly strangers. I was worried about whether they would accept me, and if I could open up around them. But I wanted to give it a try, so I went to that game, and I had a great time. And I kept going to games at Pandy, week after week. Over time, my confidence grew to the point where I took up the GMing mantle and became the store's organizer.

After graduating from college, I really struggled. I'd had an idea of what I would be doing with my life, but nothing was coming together the way I'd expected it. Anxiety and depression, which I'd been dealing with on and off since my early teens, hit me hard. There were a lot of weeks where the only thing that was able to draw me out of my apartment was my Sunday Pathfinder Society game. I kept signing up to GM week after week, even though I would spend every morning before the game filled with dread that, even though my last 10 games or so had gone well, this one, THIS one I would definitely botch. Once the game started going, though, I fell into a familiar groove. For those few hours, no matter what else was going on, I could laugh and have a good time with familiar and new players alike. After the games, I sometimes confided in the people I trusted most about what was going on inside my mind, and their supportive words helped push me to get the help I needed to claw back onto a better path in life.  I don't know if I ever really told them how much that support meant to me. So, to all of my friends in the Boston Lodge, thank you.

Eventually, I became a Venture-Lieutenant, taking on more responsibilities like organizing conventions and overseeing interactive specials. I also started GMing at conventions, and getting to know a lot more people in the community. And I have to say, you guys are pretty great. I know I only know a handful of you, but I look forward to meeting more of you each time I make it to a convention. I went from thinking that I would just GM at stores sometimes to plotting out my path to the 10 specials needed for my 5th star.

When the job posting for Paizo came up, I wasn't going to apply. My anxiety told me that it would be a waste of Paizo's time, and that there was no way they would hire me. But I was convinced to at least try. And, as you all know, Paizo hired me. I knew I wanted to work with Organized Play, and I was fortunate enough to get placed doing exactly that. Thank you, everyone at Paizo, and especially John Compton, for showing me the ropes. Thank you for making this a truly amazing place to work.

I don't want to give the impression that everything is always sunny, or that I have somehow erased my tendencies toward anxiety and depression from my mind.  But when they flare up, just as before, the Pathfinder Society community helps me get back on my feet. About a year ago, when I was walking home from work, I got hit by a car. I had a concussion, and a few things in my head got knocked out of whack. Among other things, I became intensely fearful, particularly of being any significant distance from my house. Fortunately, the Paizo offices aren't that far from home, so I was able to transition back to work after the holidays. In February, though, I had committed to fly out to TotalCon, and I was not going to cancel on that unless I absolutely had to. So, I went. Lisa and David Neilson hosted me in their home before the convention started, and helped me cope with the storm inside my head. I didn't want to color the convention experience of the new people I met with my anxieties, so I did what I had learned to do back after college. I put on my game face and I let my experience as a GM take over until I could push the fear back. And I confided in my friends from the community. That cross-country flight was the first thing to pull me more than 3 miles from my apartment in 4 months, and many of the experiences I had at TotalCon were immensely helpful in pulling myself back together. So, to those I spoke with and gamed with at TotalCon, and to Lisa and David in particular, thank you.

One of the best things about wearing the "blue shirt" is being able to dedicate much of my time to the Pathfinder Society community. It's sitting with John and Thursty and cackling with glee as we come up with new and exciting plots to throw at your characters. It's working together with freelancers to make the best scenarios we can for you. It's learning from experience, and especially from your feedback, how to make things better for the future. And it's getting to meet so many more of you in person. So, to all of you, thank you for being awesome.

What are you grateful for in our community? What has Pathfinder Society brought to your life? Are there any particular community members you would like to call out for their positive influence?

Linda Zayas-Palmer
Developer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Organized Play Paizo Pathfinder Society
Dark Archive *

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

..was going to do a 'quick' response and it rapidly turned into three pages and meandered all over the place. So we're trying again, with something a bit simpler.

The number of folks within this community that have welcomed me into this community, with no judgement of who I am, where I am from, or how I play (despite no small number of discussions on the forums about playstyles) has been an insanely refreshing breath of fresh air from the previous half-dozen organized campaigns I was affiliated with.

There are far, far too many positive impacts from people to mention specifically.

The most important thing Society has brought back to my life?

Gaming.

I was looking at GenCon 2014 and I'd pretty much burnt out on everything.

It was looking like it might even be my *last* GenCon, because my heart wasn't even in it, really.

I was kind of going through the motions because it's what I'd done for twenty years of convention attendance and thirty years of gaming, a dried-up husk of a GM and player from the last of many exhaustive organized play runs in other campaigns.

But even when I've had rough times, there's always been someone there to talk to, whether to commiserate about the horrid play experience I had in one scenario or about the awesome scene that a table I was at made happen.

And that's the most important part.

We are stronger together as a community, beyond the Boons, beyond the conventions, the contests, the hundred different quality of life issues that have appeared in the past three years, we are a community.

Sure, it's also our weakness, because we remember our pasts and we let them color our futures.

These shared experiences, though?

...may we all find wisdom in our way, and grow both as a family and as kin within it.

*

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I had never heard of PFS where I lived for the longest time. It wasn't until a bad break-up and an unwanted move that I saw a local game shop advertising their weekly Pathfinder games.

I didn't have friends in my new home, and I loved Pathfinder. So I tried it out. After a rocky start, it's become the thing I look forward to the most every week.

PFS helped my creativity by having adventures set in Golarion. I had only done the homebrew games, and only vaguely knew of the Golarion setting. The players seemed to be familiar with all the names being thrown around, so I sat down with the Inner Sea World Guide and started reading. It was amazing! Golarion is so big with so much thought and creativity in it, and now I could make characters that were tied to it.

I love that my characters have their own unique stories as they are sent on missions that they probably had no business surviving in. Meeting groups of people that my characters were both revolted by and attracted to, made every mission thrilling.

Getting to spend prestige on things like ships, land, and titles made my characters have a chance for a life outside of adventuring, which my home games didn't always lend themselves to.

It's also made me want to do PFS wherever I go, so that other people can have the chance to jump in and have fun like I did.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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Linda, thank you for this beautiful, heartfelt piece. What a lovely Thanksgiving gift. I am honored that you shared so much of yourself with us.

★ --- ★ --- ★ --- ★

PFS came at a time when I was ready to give up on gaming. I was tired of dysfunctional gaming groups where everyone was out for their own thing and there was no real plot except killing creatures and taking their stuff.

Then my boyfriend, Bret, tried out a game of PFS at Convergence. He liked it. He started telling me about the Pathfinder Society with their missions, and their tenets of ‘Don’t be a jerk’ and ‘Explore, Cooperate, Report!’ After a month or so, he asked me if I would like to try it. So I read the Season Six PFS guide cover to cover, and joined him in our first paired build. We came up with Omar and Zahra Senay, a Keleshite couple from Katapesh that just wants to travel everywhere and help everyone. We played Trial by Machine, a deadly scenario for a bunch of first timers just starting out... Still, the group we were in showed teamwork and perseverance, and we all came out alive and with the mission accomplished. I was hooked.

Soon, I was GMing my own games... Not just in person, but also through a new medium that I had never tried before, Play-by-Post. I became a regular on these boards, where I started to get to know the folks who were organizing games like I was. To my surprise, I loved just about everyone I met through PFS, so I started reaching out more and more to the community that had brought me joy.

I am thankful to the Minnesota crew who welcomed me with open arms. I am thankful for Jesse Davis, for wanting me to become a co-conspirator with him online. I am thankful for the wonderful international group of PFS GMs and players, for becoming my friends and colleagues. I am grateful to Paizo employees who showed me that our voices matter to them, and who listened to what I had to say.

PFS has brought me a community of friends that I love and respect, and given me a chance to know people from all over the globe, as well as those from my favorite store, Dreamers. With you guys, I like to dream big and become bold. You’ve brought me laughter and happiness.

You should know, Linda, that one of the people that I am grateful for is YOU. Thanks for being my fellow gnome, and for indulging a GM with talking apple trees. You are awesome!

Hmm

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Eastern Eurasia-Africa

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<3

Shadow Lodge *****

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Seems like a good place to put this

Myself and a lot of people I'm talking to have been very grateful for season 9. The plots have been amazing, the balance of fights have been a lot better, and the scenarios mechanical challenges have been integrated into the plotline

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Massachusetts—Boston Metro

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Somehow I missed this until now...

First of all, we love you Linda, and Boston will always be here for you when you need us, and I'm always available to talk whenever. Ever since I became VL, I knew I had some big shoes to fill based on the past holders of the position; hopefully I've been doing the lodge proud!

Honestly I would never have made it this far if it hadn't been for the community, and Linda in particular, making me feel welcome when I started playing PFS, and helping me get over my shyness of new people and unfamiliar situations. Thanks to her and others, I've taken the lessons learned from my PFS experiences, and become a more confident person in all aspects of my life!

I'm thankful for all the community has done for me over the years, and so:
If you're in the Boston Lodge and want to talk, I'm here for you. If I meet you at a convention and you need to talk to someone, I'm here for you. If you want to reach out to me here via PM, I'm here for you. :)

<3

*

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PFS has actually drawn me back into pathfinder even though I was just reading the books and buying them for a long time. I went on a long hiatus trying to find a job after college and my play by post games died out. Well in person was my second attempt at pfs.

I tried once with virtual tabletops did not work out because my parents were being noisy in the background and a pan to cook enchiladas was broken.

It has been just under a year since I have been playing in person almost every week.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Agent, France—Paris

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For me it's simply the ability to play with almost every kind of player and not staying in my own cocoon. Meeting people of other countries and seeing how differently they play is insightful. And hey, virtual tables !

The Exchange *

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I am thankful for PFS because it helped bring our blended family together! I have played D&D since the Red Box edition and every itineration since except 4th. I had quit playing at 3.5 and focused on other things. I met a wonderful woman with three boys. I had a boy and a girl from my previous marriage living with me full time. So five kids, ages 13 to 7, how could I get us to interact and spend time together? What to do, what to do? They all loved Harry Potter and fantasy stuff in general so I decided to introduce them to D&D. However, 4th edition was in full swing. (which No just NO!) It seemed that 3.5 had been dropped like a hot rock! But had it?

I found out about Pathfinder from a friend and was intrigued. I got on the Paizo website and found FREE adventures to download! Hollows Last Hope, Crown of the Kobold King, ect. Started our with the FREE beginners box and then those adventures and the kids were hooked!
So was I. We played all those then moved on to Kingmaker Adventure path! We made it half way through the 3rd book when life intervened. The kids started driving and working you know teenage stuff and it was harder and harder to get together. Then college happened. The three left at home with my Wife and I continued to try and play but it was hard with out the others.

Then a little over a year ago we discovered Pathfinder Society when we attended our first Con together. We had a very knowledgeable, fun, and patient GM who made us feel very welcome and we were hooked all over again! The four hour games were awesome, had a continuing storyline and we could play with each other again! I didn't have to GM for a change! YAY!
We all attended our first GenCon this year for the 50th and it was amazing! Playing in a ballroom with over 1300 fellow Pathfinders is an experience we will never forget! I GM'd four games, some with my kids and some without and it was awesome! I was so blessed to have my whole family with me at a place I had wanted to be since I started playing. We still try and get our family game on when the kids all come home for the Holidays, but its nice to be able to play and make memories together whenever and with whoever is available in Society play.

Thank you Linda for sharing and allowing me to share how PFS has bought our blended family together and thanks Paizo for making PFS possible and as rich and engrossing as it is!

**** Venture-Lieutenant, Online aka Magabeus

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Thank you for sharing. I love that I am a part of this great community!

Liberty's Edge *** ⦵⦵

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My thanks that is above all other is to the one who is known here as Ilmakis.
And to the PFS community.

The terror attack in Paris, France, mid-November 2 years ago: 130 people were murdered in the cafés, streets, concert hall.

The first French PFS Convention was scheduled to start the next day.
The venue was closed, most people had to cancel their travel plans.
The Con' was off.

Then Ilmakis organized a game in his living room early the next morning.
With people arriving late for having gone to donate blood.
It was a game of sanity. A game where we simply were among friends. A moment of warmth in this sad craziness.

Then the community organized the day, meeting in game shops, people's homes, and running the multi-table special via text messaging.
The Con' was on.
_________________

As Linda said: If you are struggling alone, please reach out and talk to someone you trust. Maybe you feel you will be showing weakness, and be shameful. In reality, most often, others will be proud of you, and probably see you as strong for opening up. Besides, you might just find out this person you trusted also has struggles of their own...

To finish on a lighter note, on seeing Philippe Lam's post here-above, I'd like to thank him for the wonderful joy he often brings us... in death.
Virtual deaths that is.
He is, by far, our local record-holder in PC deaths!

*** RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4 aka Matt Duval

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I'm endlessly grateful to this community for believing in me enough to get me to the final round of RPG Superstar and give me the chance to write for Pathfinder Society. I'm grateful to Paizo for creating that opportunity that provided a way for me to share my ideas and take a shot which I don't know if I could have convinced myself to do without the structure of the contest. And I can never give enough thanks to John and Linda who continued to give me opportunities to write after that first scenario. It's changed my life and what I thought might be possible.

Thank you!

Scarab Sages ***** Venture-Captain, Netherlands aka Woran

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Damn ninja's. Cutting onions.

Thank you very much Linda, for sharing with us.
Thank you all the others, for sharing your experiences.

I am happy to be a part of this all with you.

**

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My specific thanks are much simpler. PFS has given me a chance to get to D&D-style gaming which I last did the in the early 1990s, which I've greatly enjoyed and during which I've met some very nice folks. I'm very grateful to all who've made this possible.

Liberty's Edge **** Venture-Lieutenant, Indiana—Indianapolis

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I had never played any sort of organized play until LFR for 4e. It was okay, and I met some cool people.

In September of 2010, I got divorced and was trying to find a way to game (my friends played, but I couldn’t commit to a regular, long-term campaign). In June of 2011, I played my first PFS game, and it was awesome. In the time since then, I have met some great people, became a VL and ultimately a VC, and really found my gaming joy again.

I spend more time GMing than I do playing, and that’s okay - I like that part of the game. I like organizing events.

PFS really helped keep me grounded as I was trying to rebuild my life. I’ll always be thankful for that.

*****

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Late to this party, but wanted to add my thanks, Linda, for sharing some of the deep reasons PFS is such a great community. I've met some great friends through PFS that I likely would not have met otherwise. Some of my personal heroes are members of the PFS community. It's been an amazing, life-changing group to be a part of. Thanks to everyone at Paizo, on the forums, at at the tables who helps make it such a great community.

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

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Those that have played at my tables know that I have a very low PFS number. Some have even heard the story behind it. When Season 0 kicked off, I was still stationed in Savannah, GA, and had only recently gotten into attending conventions. That year, I was at DragonCon, taking in the sights and not really having much clue what to do. We heard that there was organized play going on and dropped in. We were seated at a table of Murder on the Silken Caravan, I will my plucky halfling slave and Cyzzane with her druid. Being brand new 1st level characters, we were fairly terrible, and I'm pretty sure the rest of the party had to carry us.

After that, I stuck the character and chronicle sheets into my GM binder and forgot about them. Fast-forward 4 years later, I've skipped the rest of Season 0, all of 1, 2, and finally during 3, I stop in at the FLGS outside of Fort Hood's gate. I check in with the Pathfinder crew there and ask if they have room. They say absolutely, but it is PFS, do you need a character? I did through my bag and lo and behold, there's my chronicle and character. I end up updating him on the fly as we take our First Steps together.

Now, the interesting thing at the time was, I was kind of getting out of Pathfinder at the time. I was just going to be a 3.5 holdout. And then I went to PaizoCon and had a grand old time chillin' with the crew. I leveled my -1 to 2nd level. I got my first GM credit at the Grand Convocation. (Don't try that at home kids.) I stayed up way too late closing out the con with We Be Goblins.

So I decided I should start grabbing the updated printings of the hardcovers, of course. (I mean, I was junior enlisted, with all the surplus of discretionary income and deficit of financial responsibility that implies.)

There wasn't really a PFS presence around the base, so I had to build my own group. I coordinated with the two comic shops nearby to host some games. It never really grew beyond a small group, which was both good and bad, since we never had more players than spots at the table, but the lodge was pretty much my house. I hope things have continued since I mustered out and left.

I got to tour quite a few conventions from there, Comicpalooza, Origins, PaizoCon, before coming to Phoenix and finding my first vibrant community. It was the first time I experienced a multi-table special outside of a convention setting. (It wouldn't be the last.) I got to live in the PFS ballroom at PCC, because who needed the rest of the con when there was gaming to be had?

From there, PFS has been my main hobby. I made 5 stars in two years. I signed on to the VO team. I've been to PaizoCon and GenCon to live out of their respective ballrooms for the weekend. Organized play has taught me more about leadership than the military at this point, because I stepped forward and wanted to take that role rather than be required to.

Now, I've graduated from college and moved into professional life. I've backed off and worked to give other GMs a chance to contribute while working behind the scenes to support the Phoenix lodge. I'm thankful for the opportunities to grow and learn from the community and the VO corps. And if I had to leave it all tomorrow, I'd consider it time well spent.

Shadow Lodge *****

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A few years back I'd had a really bad month. My back had been messed up for a while, but it started hitting a nerve that contracted my entire leg. In short, I had a charlie horse. For a month.

Not nearly enough bottles of pain pills later it started to get better. (Not GOOD. But better) I got into the car with the intent of getting pizza. Once there, it was surprisingly not painful. So i said to heck with it, drove to jersey for a convention. Showed up out of the blue, told em I hadn't signed up because well, didn't know I'd be walking today. They got me into some games anyway, and I greatly enjoyed a day when I'd started to wonder if that was possible again.

When I got home I started to look at another convention. I'd have to take a bus and walk from the station, and then to the hotel.(convention hotels are always $$$) So I started practice walks of that distance. It wasn't the only reason to get up and get moving, but it was a much needed extra reason.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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I think that Tineke’s onions are catching, because that made me cry. Oh, Wolf! I am so glad you showed in Organized Play. We may have given you a reason to keep walking, but in return you have given us all so very much.

Hmm

Scarab Sages ***** Venture-Captain, Washington—Spokane

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Linda, thank you for sharing your experiences bringing you to where you are today!! To this day, I still have not forgotten my first PaizoCon (2013) during the GM201 Seminar where you and Mark were the players in a scenario where you tried to recruit an NPC with an insane diplomacy check. My nerves were going so crazy during that encounter I was almost overwhelmed. I was glad that it was stopped because I was in a panic and did not know what the right thing to do was during that encounter. It was during that seminar I received the biggest piece of advice I had ever received as a (at that time) starting GM...to say Yes, but instead of a straight up No. This is something I have passed on to every PFS GM that has come after me and always added when I give a GM101/201 seminar locally.

Rewind back to my first PFS game. My entry in to PFS was initially thanks to my son Nathan. I had taken a 20 year hiatus from tabletop games all together and found out I had lost my creative spark (I used to write short stories and even some poetry, something not many know). I had been a player for a short time before another local store, other than the one I had been playing at, approached someone who didn't think he would ever be ready GM let alone become an event coordinator to do just that. August 31, 2012 was when I had stepped into the shoes of an event coordinator. The more games under my belt, the more confidence I gained in both departments.

In December 2012, I had played my first game and multi table special outside of my local area (Pullman, WA). I had no idea what to expect, how people would be towards my playing style, or me in general. On top of that, I was meeting Walter Sheppard and Kyle Elliot for the first time adding to the nerves. It turned out to be a completely welcoming environment and I had a great time playing with a different group of people.

Back to PaizoCon 2013, I had a great time there playing with different players and under different GMs. The banquet was a whole other experience. During the banquet, Mike Brock (OPM at the time) had recognized all of the volunteer GMs and saw how many stood up to be recognized. It was at that moment, I found I needed to give back to the Global PFS community and to give more to my local community. There started the preparations to become a Venture-Lieutenant and became one that September.

November 2015, we ran our first Extra-Life event in Spokane. By that time, I had a few events under my belt where I was responsible for the PFS portion but this was my first where I had to set up the entire event. On top of getting the event set up, I had been informed that Tonya would be available to attend the event and run a game or two in addition. My confidence was starting to drop as nerves had set in due to the fact that we had never been visited by an OPM, it was Tonya's first event as OPM, and we had almost the entire Eastern Washington Venture-Officer corp planning to attend. Little did I know that would be the event where I would become Venture-Captain for Northeastern Washington and Northern Idaho after Walter had convinced me months before that the area could support a second Venture-Captain and I should put my hat in the ring.

I know I have left out things in this history (my first time running at a convention, PaizoCon volunteer since 2014, and others I have probably forgotten), but I am sharing this because as someone with low confidence, low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression; PFS has given me the confidence (although sometimes shaky) to get to where I am today and this I am thankful!!

To all Venture-Officers past and present as well as those who have helped me either on the messageboards or in person, you have my sincerest gratitude. If you have taken the time to read all of this, thank you for your patience.

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Illinois—Chicago aka thunderspirit

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This was awesome to read, Linda. Thank you for your story!

I joined the Paizo community during the inaugural RPG Superstar, which led me to Season 0 at a local convention I'd attended for years. I was a mainstay in the old Living Greyhawk days; several LG players were at a Pathfinder game, so I sat down at three separate tables that weekend. Real Life [tm] intervened and it was nearly a year later before I played again. But I was hooked.

So here I am — three PaizoCons, 250+ player tables, 190+ GM tables, five GM stars, and three and a half years as a VL volunteer later — reflecting on the impact PFS has had on my life. I've met more good people than any one person has a right to know, and have more good friends than I could possibly list here, including (through online play) one of the best friends I've had in my life.

For all of these things, each of which I can trace directly back to PFS, I'm immensely grateful.

**

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(Wow! This is really long! But, whatever, let's just roll with it.)
I was introduced to Pathfinder by a group of friends who ended up being murder hobos who didn't know the rules (Exactly meeting AC was a miss, immediate actions not using up your next swift action, etc.), thankfully I'm done with that group.
I decided, at the last few hours of the Salt Lake Comic Con a year ago, that I would see if there was any Pathfinder stuff going on, and that is when I ran into the Society. There was not an available Guild Guide, but I was able to make my character just by knowing that there was a 20 point-buy and so I built my first character (it was a 20 Wis. core monk; when I found out about the free retraining before second level, I jumped right on it). I played The Confirmation and I found myself feeling that it was appropriate. I played with a guy playing a sylph magus, his wife, and a new player that really did not seem to care (the fighter decided to jump the river. The FIGHTER!). I had to leave early because the rest of my family was leaving and they were my ride.
Flash-forward six months and I still had the Society and how cool it was on my mind, so I decided to try to find them at that next convention. I ran into the sylph magus player, who turned out to be a VA (I think a VL), as well as the Venture-Captain's wife, and they officially introduced me to the game.
I had only really gone once a week, but when my anxiety started kicking into overdrive, an addiction (that shall remain nameless) started to develop, and a favorite game of mine went off the deep end, there was suddenly a void in my life that I felt that PFS could fill. I finally stood up against my dread and decided to do it more.
So here I am, a 1-star GM who is currently also running Mummy's Mask in campaign mode and proudly have a level 9 (going on 10) half-elf empiricist investigator that I plan on taking through Eyes of the Ten, and I've only been playing for a little over a year. I am a proud player of the game and I sport my faction pins almost everywhere that I go. I will admit that I do sometimes look at the chronicle sheet of a scenario beforehand (so I'm curious, sue me), I am still a proud player of the game and have met many people who have become more than just friends that I play with; they've become my family.
Thank you. Thank you guys in the Wasatch Front Pathfinder Society for letting me feel included in a world that never seemed to care. And thank you, Paizo, for allowing me to be a Pathfinder and to find a place where I never thought there'd be.

*****

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Dearest darling Linda, you are one of very many wonderful people I have met and spent happy hours with through PFS. I had the good fortune to be a VO for close to 4 years, and I've been playing PFS since January in year zero. I don't want this ever to end.

My situation has changed somewhat, and I don't get to as many cons as before, but when I do I still encounter friendly people throughout the room - it's a joyous occasion! I've met Auke, Karim and Florent from Europe. I've undoubtedly been at tables with several others from the international lodges and hundreds here in the US. They are all important to me.

But one of my favorite memories is the trivia game at PaizoCon a couple of years ago with a certain bright-eyed, dark haired young lady leading our table. Jorsal of Lauterbury for the win!

Thank you for sharing with us, your extended family of thousands...

Liberty's Edge ***** Venture-Captain, Maryland— Baltimore aka Qstor

Thanks for the post Linda! Hope you had a great holiday. I just saw this post. I've been a VO on and off, more on than off since 2012. I'm glad that I've been a part of the campaign since 2008 at GenCon when I played with Doug Miles. It's brought me fun times with many friends.

Some positive influences I'd like to point out are Doug Miles, Dan Simons, and Qwerty aka Frank!

Liberty's Edge ***** Venture-Captain, Missouri—St. Louis aka Joshua N Hancock

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I was dragged into PFS kicking and screaming by two friends of mine in January 2012. I was playing every week 3 months later and have been ever since. Two and a half years ago I became a Venture Lieutenant, then Venture Captain six months later.

I can find a game just about anywhere with people who will welcome me with open arms.

PFS is acceptance.

Liberty's Edge ***** Venture-Captain, Missouri—Cape Girardeau aka Arnim Thayer

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I had GMed for years, but only for an exclusive group: family and friends I had known for years that were of like mind that I knew would work with me to tell the best story I could put out. I ran first 2E, then 3E games centered in the Cormyr and Dalelands regions of the Forgotten Realms.Through all of that though, I remained a private person, sharing very little of the real me outside of my own head space. Like yourself, I allowed myself to be crippled by anxiety and depression, keeping it well hidden from even those closest to me with an artificial smile in public.

When Pathfinder Society started, my friend (who owned the FLGS in my home town) asked me if I would run a game for him and his friends. I had planned to abandon GMing following the rise of 4E and what I looked at as the betrayal of my beloved campaign setting. The scenarios were easily followed and well-written, offering just enough campaign content to make me want to learn more. After running a few times, he asked if I would like to help him spearhead Pathfinder Society in his store. I was nervous; it meant leaving my comfort zone and running games for people I likely didn't know... but I volunteered anyways. I GMed Pathfinder Society games every Saturday, sometimes twice a day for 6 months following that, emboldened by the acceptance I found within the local gaming community. This led to my first gaming convention experience, which eventually led into organizing PFS for local conventions. It was at one of these that I met Jason Roeder, who saw something in me that I didn't even know I had: potential. When the Venture Lieutenant program first started, he called me to recruit me further into the ranks.

Now several (like, what... 10?) years later, I am a Venture Captain with multiple GenCons under my belt, and a contributor to Pathfinder Academy - all of which led to me pursuing my degree in English and re-sparked a love of writing. I hope one day to become a freelancer on par with some of the amazing people I have through this organization, notables such as Nathan King and Andrew Hoskins who have encouraged me along the way. Without Pathfinder Society, I doubt I would have ever stepped outside of a home game... and I am grateful for all of those who I have met along the way!

Paizo Employee Starfinder Design Lead

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I missed this blog post when it first went up.
It is amazingly well written, but also one of the bravest things I have ever seen. I don't read nearly enough of her work, but when I do Linda consistently proves she's one of the best writers (game-material and otherwise) I know.
It also speaks to me, very strongly. RPGs saved my life and because the framework for nearly all my friendships, and even the basis for meeting my wife. I am impacted by this post, on a visceral level.
Thanks for having the courage to write this, Linda.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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First, thank you for all your hard work Linda. As you say, you are the “quiet one” of the OP development team. While John and Thirsty might get more fan-fare, I am sure they would be lost without you. You are a joy to be around.

Thank you for starting this blog as it gives us all a chance to get to know our community. I hope more people come in here and tell their always interesting, often inspiring stories.

For myself, my biggest thanks go out to Doug Miles, for without his influence and never-failing enthusiasm for OP, I would never have gotten as involved as I have. Sure I was already a player and GM, organizing games at my FLGS, but it was an unexpected trip to Origins and a meeting with the one and only Mr Miles that launched my career as a community leader all those years ago. He encouraged us to go out and run events. He showed us how to run conventions. How to prioritize the needs of the GMs and players. What needed to be done before, during, and after an event to make it successful. Nearly every organizer in our community can trace their organizational efforts back to Doug’s blueprint. He was our first five star GM, and our first volunteer of the year, and an original Venture-Captain. His hand-drawn maps are legendary. Real life has conspired to take him away from us, but his legacy will forever be a part of this community. Thank you Doug Miles!

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