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I'm a bloody Newbie


Beginner Box


Hi everyone!

I got my Beginners Box yesterday and read most of the stuff in the Heroes Guide and the GM Guide as I am planning to GM. I have been searching an easy intruction set for a long time and I'm so glad I found Pathfinder!

I convinced a few friends to try it, and i'm looking forward to play Black Fangs Dungeon on saturday :D

My friends and I have never played a RPG, as it's not that common here in switzerland. Although its a beginners set it was still difficult to read all the handbooks, as a lot of questions popped up during reading. I want to be a good prepared GM and it would be great if experienced players could help me answering my questions:

1. Free Exploring: As far as I understand, players only take turns (Free Action, Moving A., Standard A.) only during Combat. How do I know the locations of players if they are not in combat? They can do whatever they want right? Or what am I supposed to do if they decide to return to town while midst in dungeon? Do they find things like before they left or does the dungeon "reset"?

2. Time: How do I keep track of time? Some of the spells have durations like 10 min. or like the glowing Well which resets after a few hours? What am I supposed to do with this kind of Information?

3. Can the players lose the game? Or aren't they supposed to ever lose? I've understood what happens if a players hp drops to 0 or below, but what happens if all PC get killed? They don't have the option of fleeing from a battle, do they? Is a dead character left behind and the other PC continue without him if they don't know any resurrection options?

4. Experience: For Example the Room with the well. How much Exp is given if they only discover parts of the well e.g. Drinking from the well without putting in a coin first? Is it either you get full EXP or 0?

Thanks for your help!


1: Yeah, you only need to worry about actions in some sort of combat situation, otherwise it is generally not time-sensitive so much.

2: Again, in combat you know how much time has progressed (1 full round = 6 seconds/10 rounds = 1 minute) outside of combat you can basically estimate how long it has been. How accurate you make it is how accurate you/the players want it, obviously it doesn't have to be real time :)

3: If everybody dies you basically have to start over. If you are in high levels there are options for raising people from the dead, but even then there is usually very little you can do if everyone all dies at once (known as TPK- total party kill)
If not everyone dies but you don't have access to some way to resurrect them you can have that player make a new character to join in.

4: As far as experience, that is largely up to the GM to decide.
Do you feel they got some benefit for drinking from the well? Or do you think that putting in the coin was crucial and without there is no real benefit?
Just a matter of opinion on that type of thing generally.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hi Qinobi,

Welcome to Pathfinder.

1. Free Exploring

You don't have to keep track of every movement outside of combat, a lot of situations are adequately dealt with via storytelling, particularly social encounters, overland travel, etc. However in some situations, even outside of combat, when you know there's a trap, or a chance to be seen by an unknown enemy etc, you might want to ask players to move their pawns to indicate where they're searching on the map. Sometimes you do this, even when there's no trap, just to keep players from second-guessing these things.

2. Time

Many effects such as spells, barbarian rage etc, have duration in rounds, so once one of these is in effect, it can be important to keep count of combat rounds, so you know when these expire. Spells and effects with longer durations, such as minutes or hours, are usually pretty easy for the GM to guestimate. For example, a spell that lasts minutes will probably last for an entire combat without having to keep track of it - whether it lasts into the next combat may depend on how long the characters spend searching the current room, but generally the GM makes a judgement call on these.

3. TPK ?

Depending on the situation, if the characters are all unconscious but not dead, the GM can manipulate the situation to keep the adventure going. For example, maybe the characters are imprisoned instead of killed, or maybe they're rescued by an NPC they were friendly to earlier. A GM probably shouldn't use this "get out of jail free" card too often, as the players may become lazy and rely upon it, or you may lose credibility, but if it makes sense to do so, it can be an option, and it may leave the characters a debt or favour to repay, which may lead to even further adventures.

If a group is killed outright, don't worry, simply create a new group of adventurers who wander in searching for their lost townsfolk, and then they become the heroes.

I hope you enjoy and your players enjoy the game, and that it will be the first of many!

Cheers,
Stephen (DarkWhite)
Venture-Captain, Melbourne Australia


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

People have given some pretty good answers, I'd just like to address one specific subpoint of question 3:

"They don't have the option of fleeing from a battle, do they?"

Essentially, they have the option to try anything they want to. If someone wants to spend their action in combat doing a little dance, you might look at them funny and ask if they're sure, but they can do it. =)

So if the party thinks they're in over their heads in a combat, they definitely have the option to attempt to flee. If they want to take their fallen comrade(s) with them, they'll have to specifically do that (as in, get to the body and pick it up or drag it with them). Also, depending on what they are fighting, they might well be pursued.

It's all really quite free-form. The players can attempt anything, and you as the GM just have to figure out if it seems possible. As you gain more experience and confidence as a GM (It's really scary when just starting out, as any GM can tell you =) ), you'll get better at this. But basically remember that you're all there to have fun, and try to get into the minds of your monsters.

For example - if they get into a fight with the goblin king and his minions, things go south (but no one drops) and they decide to run, you might decide that the goblins go back to bickering among themselves, and the king is happy enough having shown how big and scary he is by chasing the big armed people away.

If that happens, just remember that this isn't a video game. If that happens, and the characters then come back to the same place, in virtually all cases if whatever monster is still there, they'll remember what happened last time. And if the players take time off to rest, so can the monsters in the same time. It's one of those things where you just have to improvise "what seems right".


Wow thank you guys for the great answers! :)

Like OneSoulLegion said it's a bit overwhelming with all the possibilities (which is amazing imho), but I really do look forward to GM'ing! Can't Wait to play :D

I'll share my experience on saturday :)


That's awesome, I am looking forward to reading your post on it!


Hi Qinobi!

I feel like giving GM advice:

Qinobi wrote:
1. Free Exploring: As far as I understand, players only take turns (Free Action, Moving A., Standard A.) only during Combat. How do I know the locations of players if they are not in combat? They can do whatever they want right? Or what am I supposed to do if they decide to return to town while midst in dungeon? Do they find things like before they left or does the dungeon "reset"?

You decide the initial state of the players, although you may use their suggestions if you like. They can do whatever they like, but you can switch to a combat round when it seems appropriate... some situations like traps or just dangerous areas might be helpful to use combat rounds, even if it isn't combat.

I also tend to take "turns" like combat even if the players are just exploring... I like to give everyone a chance to contribute, and without any turns at all, the most vocal player ends up getting all the attention.

If they decide to return to town in the middle of a dungeon, that's their choice. As a GM, you should try to introduce "timers" in order to stop this from happening too much (if it bothers you).

Maybe, if they don't retrieve the magical macguffin in time everyone in the town will die of plague... that ought to keep them from heading back to rest after each fight.

You should take liberties with the way the adventure is written, too. If they defeat an encounter and then go home, and other monsters find the evidence of a battle, will that change their tactics? Did anyone see the earlier fight, and maybe learn the players weaknesses? Be creative but fair when playing NPCs. Try to think about all the reasons you wouldn't leave the dungeon to rest in a real dungeon crawl. Then make those things happen! That's the GM's job. It is actually really fun.

Qinobi wrote:
2. Time: How do I keep track of time? Some of the spells have durations like 10 min. or like the glowing Well which resets after a few hours? What am I supposed to do with this kind of Information?

You decide when time passes. There are rules that govern how fast PCs move while they explore in the big rulebook (not the Beginner Box) but even those are more of a guideline. Time passes when the GM says time passes. Sometimes this can mean "hollywood time"... like you know how the last few seconds on the bomb timer always tick by a little slower?

Don't even bother using effect durations to hurt the PCs. If you really want to beat the PCs, you can. You're the GM, all-powerful by definition. You're not there to thwart the players, you're there to make them work for victory and give them a dramatic chance of failure.

Generally, anything that has x10 minutes duration should last through a few consecutive encounters. Things with minutes duration last through about one encounter, unless the caster is very high level. Things with rounds duration only ever last one encounter.

Qinobi wrote:
3. Can the players lose the game? Or aren't they supposed to ever lose? I've understood what happens if a players hp drops to 0 or below, but what happens if all PC get killed? They don't have the option of fleeing from a battle, do they? Is a dead character left behind and the other PC continue without him if they don't know any resurrection options?

If all the PCs die, you can roll up new PCs, maybe hired to find out what happened to the old PCs. Or you can start a new game entirely.

It's tough to understand at first, but sometimes a TPK (total party kill) is the best way to end a game. I had one campaign that ended when the entire party was eaten by cannibals. It was really memorable and we still talk about it to this day. That's a good ending!

Not every party lives to the end to thwart the evil overlord. That's what makes the party that does so awesome!

Qinobi wrote:
4. Experience: For Example the Room with the well. How much Exp is given if they only discover parts of the well e.g. Drinking from the well without putting in a coin first? Is it either you get full EXP or 0?

The GM has a lot of leverage when awarding XP. I'm not sure how it is phrased in the Beginner Box, but unlike a video game, Pathfinder XP is not murder-based... you can get XP by cleverly avoiding enemies that might have killed you, or by befriending hostile NPCs and turning things around that way. As GM, decide what kind of game you want to reward, and give XP based on that. Be consistent and fair, and the players will love it.

I hope this was helpful.


Qinobi wrote:

Wow thank you guys for the great answers! :)

Like OneSoulLegion said it's a bit overwhelming with all the possibilities (which is amazing imho), but I really do look forward to GM'ing! Can't Wait to play :D

I'll share my experience on saturday :)

Awesome, and welcome to pathfinder. And more so, welcome to the DM's club. Its not an easy job you have chosen, and the task seems great at first, just remember, improvisation is your friend. Be creative, and dont worry about making mistakes or getting stuck. You will make them, we ALL did, and we all still do. Dont be afraid to just ask the group for a 5 minute 'time out' to get your bearings, particularly if they do something you or the module you are using wasnt prepared for. Many of us have been playing some form of this game for a length of time measured in decades as opposed to years or months and we still all still get tripped up by our players from time to time. So dont worry too much if you have trouble at first. Just make sure to follow the most important rule of pathfinder or any rpg, HAVE FUN!

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Qinobi wrote:

Hi everyone!

I got my Beginners Box yesterday and read most of the stuff in the Heroes Guide and the GM Guide as I am planning to GM. I have been searching an easy intruction set for a long time and I'm so glad I found Pathfinder!

I'm in generally the same boat as you except I've played a few games before GMing. I might suggest trying to find a Pathfinder Society or even DnD Encounters meetup in your area and at least watching, just to get a feel for the flow of things... It is intimidating, but I guess the more you do it the more natural it becomes. like archery.

Tons of fun to be had at any rate.

EDIT: Ah yes Switzerland, hmm how close are you to Milan? :)

Andoran

I second and third what everyone has said so far.

Your situation is uncommon although not unique. Most gamers learn by joining in the games of more experienced players. It is unusual in this age for an entire group to form where no one has played a tabletop RPG (This was relatively common in the late 70's and early 80's). What you really need is to see another group in action. You say there isn't much gaming in Switzerland, but I know there are quite a few German-speaking players frequenting the Paizo board these days. There is a thread under Curse of the Crimson Throne where someone is working on translating a song from one of the published adventures to German, you could reach lots of German speakers there and they might be able to point you to some game shops in your area. (Not sure how many are Swiss vs. German or Austrian).

Game shops are always a great place to find a group to play with for a few sessions to learn the ropes. There are many online sites that connect players as well including here, Wizards of the Coast, and penandpapergames.com.

Finally, if you can't find a group to sit in on, there are a number of podcast where you can listen to a group's sessions. This will give you a great feel of the improvised nature of dming. There are also podcasts that give advice to fledgling dms.

Good luck

Osirion

I went to YouTube and watched sessions of Dark Heresy (another rpg) to get a feel for it. There are lots of resources out there nowadays.

Qadira

Welcome aboard. Being the GM is more work than just playing, but it is more rewarding in some ways. Try playing as well as GMing once or twice to see which role you prefer.

A note on tracking time: it can be a good idea to track hours that have passed in the day (and/or rounds that have passed in a fight). Although tally marks do this well, you can also add markers (or spare dice) to an empty bowl to give some sense of the passing time. If you go on to create a longer campaign, it's a good idea to build a calendar. At first you might just use "Day 4 since they started adventuring," but once you have a full-fledged campaign world you can start to have outside events occur based on the calendar date - some of which have no effect on the PCs' adventures other than hearing about it at the bar, while others might have drastic effects.


Hi Qinobi,

Where are you in Switzerland?
Just asking 'cause I'm in Lausanne. If not too far, let's see if my group and I could help you! ;-)

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