Like many of the Pathfinder Society player base, most of my experiences and understanding of Pathfinder Society Organized Play is based on what I have seen, experienced and organized in the United States. However, the campaign and player base is a worldwide network. What I have learned since stepping into the Campaign Coordinator role is that Pathfinder Society experiences can be varying and different in other parts of the world, including Canada. This includes the way game days and conventions are organized, the expectations of the campaign’s past, current, and future scenarios, and the direction the campaign should move toward.
I think one of the most important responsibilities of a Campaign Coordinator is trying to understand the make-up of the entire fan base, not just the largest percentage of the players. I also think the campaign can be better served if all of us have a better understanding of how our fellow gamers participate, promote, and try to grow Pathfinder Society in their own regions of the world.
With that in mind, I plan to devote one blog a month to a different region where there is an active Pathfinder Society presence. I have tasked my international Venture-Captains with sending me a write-up of what Pathfinder Society is like in their part of the world. Most of what you will read is in their own words. There may be some slight editing changes, but by and large, what you will be reading is the Venture-Captain’s perspective on what Pathfinder Society is like under their guidance in their region.
I hope all of you will find the articles as interesting and informative as I do. First up is the United Kingdom under the direction of Venture-Captain Dave Harrison and Venture-Lieutenant Rob Silk. I plan to attend Paizo Con UK this year, and am excited to get an insight into what I can expect when I arrive in mid-July (and no, I do not fear the curse). Without further ado, I present Dave Harrison’s report on Pathfinder Society in the United Kingdom.
The Pathfinder Society is global, not just on Golarion but also in our world! While it has its origins in the United States, it has been active in the UK since its inception. And so, I’ve been asked to introduce you all to Pathfinder Society play in the UK.
Who am I to talk about this? My name is Dave Harrison, also known online as Wintergreen, and after being a GM and playing roleplaying games for far too long, I’m a self-confessed Paizo addict who has somehow become the UK Venture-Captain. Of course, it’s not just me over here. I’ve lost count of the many players and GMs we’ve recruited over the last few years. Oh, that’s not a royal “we” by the way. I’m also including my co-conspirator and Venture-Lieutenant, Rob Silk, in all of this. (Make sure you pronounce Lieutenant the British way too!)
Pathfinder and Paizo itself have always been popular here in the UK. When Paizo staff members have come over from the US, we have made sure they have felt very welcome despite any differences in the roleplaying cultures—two countries separated by a common hobby?
The Pathfinder Society was officially launched in the UK at Gen Con UK 2008 with a contingent of Paizo staff and that was an immediate success. Pathfinder Society games were sold out and everybody was talking about the quality of the scenarios. From that, I managed to talk my way into helping organize GMs and games at several conventions. Flush with success, I did something that might be called foolish, and has certainly influenced my life! I asked, on the Paizo messageboards, if there was any interest in a UK-based Pathfinder Society convention—our very own version of PaizoCon. The answer was positive and, somehow, one of the most disorganized of roleplayers found himself setting up a new convention. Thankfully, with the help of a lucky Bluff roll, I managed to talk a few other people into helping me!
So the first PaizoCon UK ran in July 2009 at Aston University’s Business School & Conference Centre. I’ll admit, even on that Saturday morning, I was worrying that nobody would turn up and I’d be sitting alone in a large room for the whole weekend.
Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. Over fifty people attended, including special guests such as our PaizoCon UK regular Richard Pett, some awesome GMs, and a fantastically keen group of players. Our only missing element was that Nick Logue, then Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator, couldn’t attend. Even so, by the end of the Sunday, people were already talking about how it would go next year! Even before I finished asking about doing another one, I heard a resounding “YES!”
The next year we had over 70 people attending, including Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator Joshua Frost, and we were given the opportunity to playtest the Year of the Shadow Lodge event. We also have a tradition of a Friday Night Balti meal to get everybody socializing at the start of the convention. Thankfully the waiters don’t bat an eyelid when we ask for a table for everybody.
By 2011, we had grown to over 100 people gaming across three different rooms in the conference center. Although one special guest, Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator Hyrum Savage, had to drop out at the last minute, we still held the Grand Melee where our high-level team “Szallus’ Mighty Taldan Beard” won through with a world-beating score. We concluded the convention with Shadow’s Last Stand, bringing the Year of the Shadow Lodge to a satisfactory conclusion.
This year, we will once again be at Aston University on the 21st and 22nd of July, with a host of almost 150 delegates and special guests, including Richard Pett, Eva Widermann, and many European Venture-Captains and Venture-Lieutenants, and Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator Mike Brock is braving the rumored curse to help us with an Olympic Class PaizoCon UK. Full details can be found on our website at www.paizocon.co.uk.
PaizoCon UK is our flagship, the Pathfinder Society convention for the UK, but it is far from the only event we attend (some might say dominate when the Pathfinders are noisily adventuring) in the UK. I have made efforts to ensure Pathfinder Society is represented at other major UK conventions, particularly Conception, the UK Games Expo, Oddcon, and Dragonmeet. Pathfinders turn up at many smaller conventions, fan-organized events, and regular games held at clubs, societies, and players’ homes.
So what do we have planned for Pathfinder Society in the UK?
Certainly we continue to grow—particularly into other parts of the UK besides England. Plans are in motion for a PaizoCon Wales, and Scotland and Ireland have growing numbers of Pathfinders. I am constantly recruiting GMs, more people willing to do my job for me by running and organizing games at conventions. We have more and more special events planned as well. Details will be disclosed at a future date.
While the UK lacks the US tradition of games being run in stores, such events are something I am working on. A few such events have already taken place and, inspired by the Beginner Box Bash event, we are planning a “Learn to Play Pathfinder” day at the Sheffield store Patriot Games on March 31st.
Convention organizers and store owners who wish to have Pathfinder Society events in the UK should contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org or through our website at http://paizocon.co.uk/ for support.
I am very proud to say that here in the UK the Pathfinder Society has established an excellent reputation for roleplaying, quality adventures, and skilled GMs. Convention organizers invite us to their events where we are consistently over-subscribed. Most of all, I am happy to report that when players are talking, I hear descriptions of heroic deeds, intriguing personalities, and thrilling adventures—exactly what gets reported in the Pathfinder Chronicles!
And there you have it, our first international Pathfinder Society blog. If you are in another country and do not have a Venture-Captain, but think you can do as good a job as Dave did above, please do not hesitate to send me a write-up about Pathfinder Society play in your area of the world and include some photos.