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.