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Pathfinder Society in Croatia, Bosnia, and Slovenia (or South Eastern Europe Calling)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Last month, we highlighted Denmark and Venture-Captain Diego Winterborg's efforts to grow Pathfinder Society there. We now shift our focus to southeast Europe. Venture-Captain Zrinka Znidarcic's report on Pathfinder Society in Croatia, Bosnia, and Slovenia was a very interesting read for me and I hope all of you find it interesting as well.

It is interesting being a Venture-Captain of the only multinational region that encompasses three different countries (one of them being in the European Union). But, here we are, after barely 9 months of Pathfinder Society presence and it's already been a wild ride. From what I can tell, this presence promises to continue and grow.

Geographically speaking, Croatia is a small sliver of a country squished between Slovenia to the northwest and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the southeast. The capital of Croatia is Zagreb and this is the home base for Pathfinder Society in the tri-country region.

It all started like anywhere else—with a home group and an overeager GM. I started gaming in 1996. After many years of playing, graduating from the university, moving back home, and trying to find somebody to GM fantasy roleplaying games, I learned that the only way to make anything happen game-wise was to go ahead and do it (contrary to my usual disposition). I started my GMing career in 2003, and as soon as Pathfinder Roleplaying Game appeared, we switched all the characters and never looked back, going on to play Pathfinder Adventure Paths (which we still do to this day).

At the time, Croatian fantasy fandom had just two significant gaming conventions—Sferakon (the oldest Croatian convention established in 1979) and Istrakon (established in 2000). At some point, Sferakon had organized RPG events, but none since 2002. Most people were quite happy with having home groups and there was little organized public play.

With only two gaming stores that didn't do so well—one closing its business and the other changing owners a few times and giving up on ordering RPG books—there was no local support for RPGs.

The region didn't fare well either. Our northern neighbor, Slovenia, organized several gaming conventions that didn't really take root and the fandom had retreated mostly into individual home groups. Bosnia and Herzegovina is still an unconquered land with almost no RPG players I am aware of (please email me if you live there and are interested in organizing Pathfinder Society).

But, several things happened. A lecture on the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game at Istrakon 2010, followed by two tables of demo scenarios, gained traction and interest and we had a fair number of interested players at Istrakon 2011. At the end of August, my Venture-Lieutenant, Maja Skvorc, and I announced the first PFS event in the only friendly local gaming store, Carta Magica. We just wanted to see what would happen. With over 20 people showing it for that first game day, it was clear there was a real interest for the Pathfinder RPG and Pathfinder Society in Zagreb.

Currently using Carta Magica as the base for regular weekly sessions, we now count on three tables (generally 12–16 players) on regular basis. Higher-level characters are still a small minority so we've just started scheduling one table for them. With the fluctuation of players, we already have more than 70 people signed up on Warhorn.net for our scheduled events. It is also interesting to note that most players are in their mid-twenties and younger, and among the GMs, we have both experienced and new ones. In fact, several of the most active GMs started playing tabletop roleplaying games initially with Pathfinder Society.

Meanwhile, in Zagreb, a group formed in 2011 called SRP (Section for Roleplay) founded by Ana Rajner and Bozo Spoljaric. This was the first such group dedicated to roleplaying games of all kinds (tabletop and LARPs) with the goal of promoting and enabling play. Besides regular lecture-a-week (Pathfinder RPG was their first), they also started organizing Game Days every 2 to 3 months. This is where Croatian Pathfinder Society attracts the largest numbers of players. So far, we have hosted three such events and we see promise of even greater growth.

Another association is being established as we speak at Igranje.org. They not only have tabletop games as primary interest, but will also be able to provide completely free venue for Pathfinder Society Organized Play.

It is really amazing to watch how tabletop gaming has emerged in Croatia during the last year, and hopefully this is just the beginning.

Istrakon 2012 featured the first multiplayer session, Year of the Shadow Lodge, and was the first big convention with a strong organized play presence. With 12 tables in 2 days, it was a great success.

This year, Sferakon was the host of Eurocon 2012 on April 26–29. Being mostly a literary convention, never known for any significant gaming program, it was a great start for Pathfinder Society at the oldest Croatian convention. Most importantly, a group of Slovenian players were present all 3 days. They are more than willing to start growing Pathfinder Society in Slovenia and we're already making plans for the first Pathfinder Society event there.

The future looks bright and interest in the game keeps growing as more people are coming back to the hobby. Two new regional conventions have been announced, one in Sarajevo this summer and one in Slovenia this November, and that will be an excellent chance to start increasing Pathfinder Society outside our home base.

In the end I want to send a huge thank you to all the GMs for their hard work, to all the players who are the lifeblood of Pathfinder Society, and all the organizers who give us the support to share the hobby we all love. I want to especially thank Mike for having the faith in us and giving this weird little region a chance.

If you are in another country and do not have a Venture-Captain, but think you can do as good a job as Zrinka 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.

Mike Brock
Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Pathfinder Society
Paizo Employee ** Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

These pics are great! I love the overhead shot and the one with the minis in the foreground. Great job Zrinka, both for some non-standard gamer pictures and for all your hard work.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This is what I love about Pathfinder Society organized play. It's a universal language. I can go almost anywhere in the world and find a game and be guaranteed a good time.

Great pictures, awesome post! Thanks Zrinka!

Silver Crusade ****

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

It's so great to see Pathdfinder go International! It's good to know that in possbily 10 years or so, I'll be able to go to almost any region in the world and find a Pathfinder Society table! And with Pathfinder being published in Italian, I am looking forward to playing with gamers on Lake Como in Italy sipping expresso instead of Starbucks. :D

Grand Lodge ****

The GM in the overhead shot is our VL, and she's the author of the blurry one ;)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Some day I shall mount my polar bear, don my winged hussar wings, grab a bottle of vodka and ravage the southern lands...

Grand Lodge ****

well thank you guys and all of you are more than welcome to visit! :D

Its quite nice now that the weather is better and the sea is getting warmer ;)

Silver Crusade ****

I noticed all of your books in the photos were in English. Do you play in English, or read it and then translate on the fly or some other arrangement?

What is the native language for that region?

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Daniel Luckett wrote:
What is the native language for that region?

Pathfinder

Osirion **

2 people marked this as a favorite.

"Give praise where praise is due."

Zrinka does an amazing job and gives her best at keeping everything running, people interested and getting new players. I'm taking a guess here but I'd say two or three people each week show up interested in Pathfinder, ones who never played anything before or just experienced players looking for fun. Even if I'm sort of off here, conventions and other events she's devotedly attending make up for that. Oftentimes I think she's trying too hard and should slow down a bit. ;) At this tempo we're probably gonna need more GMs to host games than we currently have available or willing to take that role. They'll come in time I suppose.

Besides being a good Venture-Captain, she's also a great GM at whose table it's always a pleasure to play. She usually starts off new players with First Steps I, which she knows by heart at this point, and no one ever leaves disappointed (even when they end up beaten, bleeding and robbed in some shady street).

Anyway, the player base is growing and that's what counts. Players are varied and generally nice, games are fun and overall we have a good time. There's still much to learn and explore though, for all of us, in order to improve the Society, but let's have faith and see where she'll take us next. :)

Cheliax

Daniel Luckett wrote:

I noticed all of your books in the photos were in English. Do you play in English, or read it and then translate on the fly or some other arrangement?

What is the native language for that region?

Somebody (Tito, maybe) said (of Yugoslavia) something along the lines of - one country with two alphabets, three languages, four nations and five religions.

I believe that the Serbo-Croat languages are more-or-less mutually intelligible, so I suspect they do as a lot of non-native-English-speakign groups do and play in their native tongue.

More generally - almost everyone in Europe speaks English far better than most Brits/Americans speak any other language; it's very depressing! :) Pretty much if someone's under 50 and from a big city there's a good chance they speak decent English. German's probably the next most common second language in most of West & Central Europe.

Paizo Employee ***** Global Organized Play Coordinator

Lady Ophelia wrote:
It's so great to see Pathdfinder go International! It's good to know that in possbily 10 years or so, I'll be able to go to almost any region in the world and find a Pathfinder Society table! And with Pathfinder being published in Italian, I am looking forward to playing with gamers on Lake Como in Italy sipping expresso instead of Starbucks. :D

I'm actually working towards establishing a PFS presence at one of the remote military bases in Antartica. Now, if we can all just convince Dragnmoon to hurry up with that PDS transfer to Greenland, the above would be an accurate statement.

Andoran *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Michael Brock wrote:
I'm actually working towards establishing a PFS presence at one of the remote military bases in Antartica. Now, if we can all just convince Dragnmoon to hurry up with that PDS transfer to Greenland, the above would be an accurate statement.

I am trying, I am trying... The wife does not seem to like the idea...;)

Paizo Employee ***** Global Organized Play Coordinator

Dragnmoon wrote:


I am trying, I am trying... The wife does not seem to like the idea...;)

*sigh* Priorities man......priorities. Come on, do I need to FAQ it or something? Tell her there are great ocean front views.

Sczarni ***

Daniel Luckett wrote:

I noticed all of your books in the photos were in English. Do you play in English, or read it and then translate on the fly or some other arrangement?

What is the native language for that region?

Same as the name of countries, Croatian, Bosnian, Slovenian, altho if you speak them you might notice that they are similar to some degree.

We are hosting games on English sometimes if needed, esspecially since some people have different accent but most of time we translate.


No Pathfinder Society here in Italy, gne. Disappointing.

Taldor

A big thumbs up for Zrinka who single-handedly introduced Pathfinder Organized Play in our city. I only played twice in her games but both times it was great fun. Her energy, optimism and dedication to the game are amazing.

Taldor

Daniel Luckett wrote:
I noticed all of your books in the photos were in English. Do you play in English, or read it and then translate on the fly or some other arrangement?

Because none of the RPG books are available on any of local languages, you have to know English to even be able to play them properly. Thirty years ago that might've been a problem, but nowadays most of younger people speak English at least passably because of the American computer games and movies.

We play on Croatian but use English terms for most of the stuff in books: spells, classes, abilities, etc. I can honestly say to know more foreign expressions for medieval armor and weapons than domestic ones.

Quote:
What is the native language for that region?

Croatian, Serbian or Bosnian are in reality same language called differently out of political reasons. It's like differentiating American and UK English. Slovenian is bit different but comprehensible. Macedonian is a different language you have to learn to understand it.

Grand Lodge ****

Thank you guys! :D you are the players who make all this worthwhile

I'm happy to see others enthusiastic about bringing tabletop gaming out of our little home-groups and its amazing when we get new players who didn't have any p&p experience.
I don't know how it is in places where gaming culture has much longer (and public) history but here it feels like we've just started, even tho I know some people played d&d since early editions.

Anyway, yes, we play mostly in Croatian and most of us are trying to paraphrase/translate as much flavor text as possible (reading box text in English is usually the best way to make everyone *not* pay attention).

But when playing with our Slovenian group, it was easier for GM and the players to use English - Tenkazu can say more about that as he was the GM in question :)

Sczarni ***

zrinka znidarcic wrote:

Thank you guys! :D you are the players who make all this worthwhile

I'm happy to see others enthusiastic about bringing tabletop gaming out of our little home-groups and its amazing when we get new players who didn't have any p&p experience.
I don't know how it is in places where gaming culture has much longer (and public) history but here it feels like we've just started, even tho I know some people played d&d since early editions.

Anyway, yes, we play mostly in Croatian and most of us are trying to paraphrase/translate as much flavor text as possible (reading box text in English is usually the best way to make everyone *not* pay attention).

But when playing with our Slovenian group, it was easier for GM and the players to use English - Tenkazu can say more about that as he was the GM in question :)

Since I have Croatian ancestry (I believe my last name was Americanized from Pemric or something similar), the Croatian language is among those on my "to learn" list. Maybe after that I'll come visit and GM and/or play a slot. :)

Paizo Employee ***** Global Organized Play Coordinator

Shirokitsune wrote:
No Pathfinder Society here in Italy, gne. Disappointing.

All it takes is someone to step up and take the reigns. I've had Italy on my list of locations I've been seeking a Venture-Captain since I took this job.

Grand Lodge ****

Matthew Pemrich wrote:


Since I have Croatian ancestry (I believe my last name was Americanized from Pemric or something similar), the Croatian language is among those on my "to learn" list. Maybe after that I'll come visit and GM and/or play a slot. :)

I heard stories of what was happening with foreign surnames when immigrating to the US, a long time ago.

But I agree, sounds kinda Croatian, definitely with the '-ich' at the end.

And by all means, if you plan on visiting, let us know!


Michael Brock wrote:
Shirokitsune wrote:
No Pathfinder Society here in Italy, gne. Disappointing.
All it takes is someone to step up and take the reigns. I've had Italy on my list of locations I've been seeking a Venture-Captain since I took this job.

Hmmm..

Paizo Employee ***** Global Organized Play Coordinator

Shirokitsune wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
Shirokitsune wrote:
No Pathfinder Society here in Italy, gne. Disappointing.
All it takes is someone to step up and take the reigns. I've had Italy on my list of locations I've been seeking a Venture-Captain since I took this job.
Hmmm..

To get started, point our browser to Regional Coordinator Process.


Michael Brock wrote:
Shirokitsune wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
Shirokitsune wrote:
No Pathfinder Society here in Italy, gne. Disappointing.
All it takes is someone to step up and take the reigns. I've had Italy on my list of locations I've been seeking a Venture-Captain since I took this job.
Hmmm..
To get started, point our browser to Regional Coordinator Process.

Sounds like an adventure. I'll think on it.

Grand Lodge ****

Shirokitsune, where in Italy are you?


zrinka znidarcic wrote:
Shirokitsune, where in Italy are you?

Emilia-Romagna, Forlì.

Grand Lodge ****

You're a bit out of my reach :/

but yeah, what Mike said ;)


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'll try to organize some sessions of PFS Organized Play here at a local store to gain some experience. I've read a lot about it, but never had the opportunity to actually play..

Thanks for the encouragement, anyway. Maybe I'll ask some tips on the Pathfinder Society General Discussion Forum to start.

Grand Lodge ****

That's the best way to start and see what the interest is.

If I can help in any way, let me know

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Congratulations on your success Zrinka!

Andoran *****

Congratulations! Hope to get to play at a table with you or some of your players some day.

Osirion **

zrinka znidarcic wrote:
But when playing with our Slovenian group, it was easier for GM and the players to use English - Tenkazu can say more about that as he was the GM in question :)

Most people from my generation started learning English in kindergarten. I don't know how it was with previous generations, but today, it is sort of expected anyone knows English basics at least. People who drop English in favor of German or other language, through their kindergarten or elementary school, usually have problems later at catching up with others, finding the right literature or have some other problems because of their choice. Most jobs nowadays require of each applicant to know English, and sometimes more than one language is required.

As far as the games go, they're alright. I had the opportunity to play at English-only table hosted by our guest from USA for Slovenian visitors and me, and to run one myself just two weeks ago for the same Slovenian visitors. I can say both games went perfectly well. Save the guest from USA, we were all using our second language and everyone had plenty of patience and didn't mind the obvious mistakes because the basic idea was transmitted and fun was had either way.

Playing in English actually helps a bit with expressing certain things that would otherwise sound awkward in Croatian or can't be translated properly. Sometimes we throw English quotes at each other or express ourselves in English, even if the game is in Croatian, because we want to make a statement, for better immersion, because of the moment, etc. Main reason is that English sometimes sounds so much better or is more appropriate to the situation. Also, we're all quite tolerant so any communication problems eventually get worked out and if someone is having trouble finding a right word, others are here to help.

I don't have many opportunities to practice my English skills in general, lest so the vocal part but I tend to think I'm doing fine and the game with our Slovenian guests kinda confirms that (because I did most of the talking). Written English and passive understanding are other matters that we're basically good at, it's just the vocal part that gets us bogged down sometimes.

Taldor **

Hi

Just want to give my thanks to Zrinka & her Oracle of Life for saving our butts at the PaizoCOn UK special on saturday night.

And to Mike & the others who made the weekend so special.
(Thanks Mike for GM'ing the Shadow Lodge Special on Sunday)

Paul H
(The Guy with the walking stick)

Cheliax

And as someone who has had Zrinka GM, I can verify her skill at the game. A very lively, and fun, GM to have! All the best on your future Pathfinder endeavours!

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