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Hi - I just introduced my kids to Pathfinder thru the BB and they love it. They are almost 8 and they can't seem to get enough. We worked through the BB adventure, and then I stumbled through creating my own adventure for them. As someone new to this world - it was hard work! And now my kids want to take turns being Game master. I am going to buy some modules, because I fear that we might destroy the fun by creating sloppy adventures.
What I really need is to be able to witness a low-level game first-hand. Does anyone know if there are any videos on youtube or elsewhere that show a game being played? I fear that I am missing huge parts of the gameplay experience..And even though the BB materials are well-written, I still found myself studying the books in order to try to run the game smoothly.
We are about to recruit some more third-graders into our game, but I want to make sure that I am up to snuff as a GM..
Any suggestions or resources would be greatly appreciated.
If you have any active gaming groups that meet in local game stores, that's an excellent way to view the game being played. Most games I've seen at game stores have been lower level games.
Good luck doing a search on D&D videos on Youtube. I think the vast majority of them are parodies, and some of the ones I've seen that are genuine are sometimes pretty cringe-inducing, especially those where the GM thinks he's auditioning for some acting role.
I would say "don't overthink it". Consider the gaming experience to be the opportunity for you, as the GM, to create a stage for your players to play out their character's goals and desires. One mistake I see a lot of GMs make is that they put so much effort into a game session that they tend to force the players to do what the GM wants to do. That's known as "railroading" in the genre (in the sense that the plot can't go anywhere the tracks aren't already set to take it).
Make sure you have copies of, or access to, your players' character sheets and read up on all of the class features, spells and feats they can use in the game. Set up at least one kick-ass encounter where the PCs get to mow down a dangerous looking but not seriously challenging bunch of monsters. Until you get some experience under your belt (and your players do too) you should probably stick to encounters that are designed as easy for your PC's average level.
Perhaps try this. Grab a piece of paper and draw the home town of the players in the centre. Around the town put adventure locations like "Wizard's Tower" and "Ancient Graveyard". Rather than making up adventures for each site at once ask your players where they want to go next and then develop that, you could also ask what the player's expect to find there and build on their expectations.
The stories don't have to be complicated to begin with, you can keep them simple and fun and then add more detail as the game develops.
I recall the OD&D adventure quest for the silver sword, it was broken down into essentially the following.
1. A town has an unnatural winter.
It doesn't have to be more complicated than that.
A few recommendations from years of GMing:
- Make sure the game involves all the characters, that way everyone at the table has fun. Have a handy sheet with the characters basic details and work the characters into the story.
- start with basic classes, races, feats, ect.., if you keep everything character based to the core book to start them it'll be easier to work within the rule set and to look stuff up when needed. As you gain experience with the system, then branch out to the extra books
- start with short adventures, rather than full adventure paths or long modules. The Wayfinder magazine has some great short adventures and can be downloaded for free.
- know the entire adventure before you start, really understand the course of events, that way when things get off track, as they inevitably do, you can steer them back in the right direction.
At some point, finding a local game convention and sitting in on a few games would provide valuable experience and expose you to tons of styles and information. Seeing the mistakes will help as much as seeing things done right and people there will be more than happy to tell you about their favorite hobby of Gaming :)
Remember to describe stuff to them. At their age, school has a focus on math and english, and very little on history. They might not have much of a picture of what life was like during that era. Given in small doses, they will likely love it.
Everything is 'new' for them, including old stuff like: the group meets at a tavern etc. Old cliches for you are new for them, so don't be afraid to use tried and true stuff.
Let them make their own adventures, it might be fun to see what their imaginations can come up with at that age.
You don't have to have all the rules memorized, just keep the game moving to keep it smooth. Use the +2/-2 rule, or make quick rulings to keep it going. Have initiative run in a direct line around the table, instead of hopping according to roll. Keep it simple, and have fun.
GMing is both art and science. As people have said, preparation is important.
But the intangibles of keeping people engaged and excited are priceless. You've got to find a balance -- don't worry TOO much about preparation the rules so much that stuff overwhelms you and don't get too bogged down into trying to get every rule right all the time.
Here is adventure writer Nicolas Logue GMing at a convention -- I always like to watch this to remind myself what it's like to be on the players' end of the table. If the kids are having fun, then it's a success!!
>> I stumbled through creating my own adventure for them. As someone new to this world - it was hard work! And now my kids want to take turns being Game master. I am going to buy some modules, because I fear that we might destroy the fun by creating sloppy adventures.<<
I suggest very short adventures, such as the one-page dungeon entries. It's very easy to get bogged down in the longer published adventures, especially when just starting out.
Remember that the PBB gives you a lot of support in leading you into creating your own adventures. Look at the one-page one with a map and plot for you to develop. Look at the page of sample adventure plots. Look over the Sandpoint setting & wilderness material.
If stuck, remember you (and your kids if they GM) can use the random encounter tables, including the Dungeon table, and the treasure tables, to stock your adventure. The PBB tables are extremely well done and easy to use, IMO. You can also use random dungeon generators free online - usually best for creating simple maps that you then stock yourself, IME.
Edit: The PBB monster section includes a nice selection of sample NPCs who can easily be 'reskinned' - the orc boss may become a Barbarian Chief; the Evil Fighter can become a Goodly Knight; the Evil Wizard & Cleric can be used for friendly NPCs, and so on.
I also recommend to create a number of interesting places in a dungeon, but don't necessarily draw the complete map with indications as to which room is which plan.
This way they will always find the goblin king, the trapped prisoner, the riddle wall, the old shrine, the sleeping dragon, etc no matter which way they wander through the tunnels. You will also not have to worry about having content (room descriptions, fights, puzzles, clues, etc) written and then skipped by the players because they went left instead of right.
Also, if the game is going on too long or the players are getting bored, you can easily set the next room to be the final stop (or a safe haven) and end that way.
As for being a GM, it is a whole lot of quick thinking and loose outlines.
Thanks to all - this is all very helpful!
What other simple tips can you guys give?
I just purchased crypt of the everflame. And I plan to do that with my gang..
What else does it make sense to have? more maps, more figurines? There is just so much to wade through - so much information, so many products...I saw one of the core rulebooks at the bookstore yesterday and was a little scared off..it's like a bible! It seems like such a leap from the relatively easy-to-read booklets from the BB.
Are there other game master tools that it would make sense for a beginner like myself to use? What are the cards for?
again - thanks to all for the advice!
ok the first thing to realize is the big book was realsed in the thought thats all you needed to play.. so it kinda like taking your 2 smaller books and putting them together plus all the extra you might need for play and it extend level to 20... i would say it great to have the core rulebook but not nesssary till after level 5.... the avanced player guide offers more classe, beastarys are will more monsters but if you playing a mod with the all the stats you should be good there... and the flip matts are great but again depend on you adventures... if you group is still using the same charcter the beginner box minis are great as are any of their minis... hope this helps a little...
I saw this on General Rules forum, somewhat controversial post... but the videos are great. He guides you through all you need to play with the core rules... I am on video 3 "combat"
The books I bought where: core rules, Rise of runelords aniversary edition, bestiary book 1, gamemastery combat pad, a brick of miniatures, the iconic heroes miniature package, PDF of GM screen (but is better if you buy the real product because it cost me the same and my time to assamble).
But i am still playing with the begginer box... Just buy all that because I saw a opportunity to bring the stuff to Mexico with 0 shipping cost.
You can get the pawns instead of regular minis, a nice cost-effective option. If you dont want to buy any maps or tiles, get a piece of cardstock type cardboard from a craft store, mark off and draw the whole thing into 1 inch squares.(creating a grid) My group used one for years.
For a new GM, most cost effective investment is: another blank flipmat, a flipmat with generic wilderness/forest scenes, and some Pawns eg the Rise of the Runelords set or the Bestiary Box. Or you can look for cheap minis; em-4 sells Orcs and Dwarves at 21p a go for instance - http://www.em4miniatures.com/acatalog/Copy_of_Fantasy.html
I am the father of a 2 year boy and i'm very glad to read how you are introducing them to the game! The other two fellows I play with just have bring children so in a few years we can play all together!
Now, I came up with a method for not having to do sums when checking skills and attacks. Maybe it could be useful for you, as it is easier for kids:
My best advice for new DMs is the next one:
Insist your players to develope their characters background and personality.
This has a lot of beneficial influences on a game:
How to achieve it. Creating a whole new life can be overwhelming, so it is fine to do it slowly. I usually ask my players to begin with a broad description of the Pc story, and then I ask them to bring each session a bit (a paragraph or so) of new information. I state which information should it be and also stablish a reward (1-2% of the pc level xp). So for example this is what I asked:
I try to mix the questions, one week personality, one week story.
First advice -- Take it easy, and move at your own pace. There are a lot of rules in the core book, but trust me, you will never need all of that info at once, and with such small kids the majority of it will not be that important.
Keep things in perspective. Don't let your eyes glaze when you see all of a class' abilities -- in all likelihood a great many of the powers are so far in a characters progression that they needn't be given much, or any thought at this point.
If the kids want to GM as well, you can make a bunch of simple little scenarios that establish a framework for them, but they can act the parts of the bad-guys.
Here's what *I* would do:
1) Browse the web for as many random fantasy RPG generators you can -- these will give you ideas to rapidly whip up random bits into effective one-off stories or scenarios. a good place to start is http://donjon.bin.sh/fantasy/adventure/. That link is to an adventure generator, you can click it all day and come up with random (but still cool) permutations for adventures. Take the bits that you like, and put them on index cards. (Some of these generators are VERY complex, just take what you like and oversimplify -- that's a good idea with the rules too, though tell the kids that as they and their characters get more developed, so do the rules... so things you glazed over can be re-introduced when they are ready.
The link I gave you above has generators for encounters, NPC names, even treasure... just lean on that stuff for ideas, and get a bunch of suitable set-ups, locations, NPCs, Encounters, and treasure on various cards. That way, instead of having to invent everything or read a whole campaign setup all at once, you can give him a small collection of cards and say: "Here are a couple of set-ups for an adventure... pick the one you like and run with it... here is a small deck of encounter cards, these are all the bad guys in the nasty place or in the service of the bad guy -- Oh? We won the battle? Lets draw a treasure card... you describe what's on it and feel free to tell us something different or extra in there instead. The game never gets bogged down with more than a few lines of text (the next place they are going, the details of a random or particular NPC they are talking to, etc.) ... having "Secrets" cards for different adventures like (The NPC helping the party out is a servant of the bad guy! Have him trick the PCs or betray them in the last battle!) or (The evil wizard's power is tied to a special treasure in his tower... but what that object is, is for you to decide!) ... things like that... that way, the most creative or assertive kids can make it all up themselves, but they all have a framework and a short list of ideas and monsters to work with. If the party explores all the areas, beats all the monsters, and gets all the treasure for the number of cards you give a particular kid, you can advise them it's time for the final battle or the encounter/puzzle that ends the scenario. By controlling the larger or fewer number of cards, you can help control how long each kid is GM -- and hopefully get more than one kid to GM in a single sitting.
2) the forum is your friend. Ask questions here constantly. A lot of people here will show you the way and you needn't re-invent the wheel. Most of the best advice you can get is already gleanable by searching the forums.
3) Making pre-generated characters that YOU understand the abilities of that the kids can choose from would be a really good idea. You can prune out classes, class features and concepts that are just above their heads for the time being... and you'll better be able to guide them if they are confused. There are pre-generated characters on the paizo website accessable via the pathfinder society pages. If you cannot find them yourself, I am sure asking here will yield better directions (don't have the exact link handy)
Miniatures and tile-mats are nice -- but I think it's best to center emphasis, at least in the beginning, on the make-believe, non-represented aspect of the game -- You can use dice to represent models and a simple grid-board to do the tactical combat and encourage kids via illustrations (Google images!) and the text descriptions provided to help them see the monsters. Making the game about little toys at this point is counter-productive. Toys/miniatures can come later... unless you think it's a vital hook to the game.
Feel free to make a note of my forum ID and send me a message if you need particular ideas or would like an additional voice to chime in on a thread you make, I'd love to try and help you out.
If I think of anything else, I'll let you know and keep an eye on the thread.
To get the kids into controlling monsters as a GM you might want to have a kind of practice "arena battle" where each kid gets a level 1 and a level 2 monster and they actually have a bunch of free-for-alls with the data-slates for the particular monsters.
Or, you could form them into teams -- like a skeleton and zombie team vs. a goblin and kobold team -- the combat would start the session on an exciting note, and the 'reward' for the outcome of the fight would be that the adventure would be based on the type of monsters that won the battle -- so the kids AND the GM would be familiar with the monsters in the upcoming scenario and their capabilities.
Jon Nealon wrote:
Welcome to Pathfinder, and welcome to your children! To be honest (and paizo will hate me for saying this...) all you really need is the Core rule book, some paper, pencils and dice. Your imagination will supply the rest! As a GM, I've found it easiest to keep a summary copy of each character sheet with me. Just in case I need to make a Perception or Stealth roll or something like that.
In the mean time, see if you can locate a friendly local game store near you. See if they have an area for gaming where you can watch players. Talk to other players and the game store folks and get their opinions on supplemental products and gaming techniques.
If your children want to run a game, let them. It can be sloppy, but it's more important that it is fun.
Thanks again to everyone!! I just thought I'd share something I did on our first game..As the summer wore on, and we got further away from doing any sort of schoolwork. I thought that I should try to use Pathfinder to help us out in that realm..Obviously there is the simple math which is right around a 3rd grade level..But I also made the goblin boss in Black Fang's dungeon deaf. And in order to communicate they had to write him notes back and forth. At first they just scribbled something down. But when I said that their sloppiness was getting him mad they kicked right in. I've never seen such perfect handwriting.
They were so in tune with the game - they were more than happy to oblige!
Question: What is the rule regarding the amount of stuff that a PC can have. When I reach the end of an adventure, the kids get their gold and they immediately want to go shopping! At first I was trying to limit it..but wasn't sure of the rules..Are PC's supposed to have a certain amount of gold at any time? Or can they just spend it all and collect a huge pile of weapons?
Also: is there some sort of protocol for keeping time? If it takes a day to travel through a forest, how am I supposed to keep track of that?
Hit Points: If someone loses some hit points, do they regain them with some rest? (I know that is probably an easy question, but I actually have trouble finding the answers to the what seem like very basic questions)
My kids insist on marking up their Character sheets whenever they lose a hit point or gain some gold..but the sheets are getting trashed. Is that par for the course or is that information best kept track of somewhere else? And the Character sheet only to be modified after a complete session?
As a general rule, I allow the players to do whatever they want if that would be possible in the "real" world ... with the "real" world consecuences. If you spend all your gold you can't buy food or shelter, but for this you don't need much gold. You can "teach" them how to save introducing a new cool magic item that a local wizard made. Then you can say "If you had saved your money you could buy now this item, but you just only have a lot of weapons".
Keeping time: I use a word document to keep the passing of time or some other information about the campaign. I recommend just buy a (paper) notebook so you write everyting you need to remember or track.
Character sheets: you use them as you want; usually, you learn to keep a blank sheet along your character sheet to write down information as pnc names, gold and hp, so you don't have to rewrite the whole information in a new sheet (and/or buy a new one)
Jon Nealon wrote:
Games are a great tool for teaching, and not just rpgs but most games. If they are thinking they are learning. Kudos on coming up with a creative way to make learning fun. And just remember if they really enjoy this and continue as they get older, it will lead to ALOT of reading. Seriously, gamers read like no one's business. That giant bible you saw called the core rules? Thats the tip of the iceberg. I am pretty sure teachers everywhere would drool at the opportunity for children to read that much. Especially since it also involves critical thinking.
I am not sure about the begginer box, but the core rules has something called 'carrying capacity' basically a weight limit on how much you can carry. It might be good practice at basic math for them to have to track the weight of their gear and manage that inventory. Otherwise, let them buy what they want.
Just guestimate it. It isnt really important to track every step. When planning an adventure just think generally how long it takes to get from one location to another. A few minutes, a few hours, x days. Dont worry about it more then that.
Remember you are using the begginner box, which has some simplified rules (intentionally so). The core rules has this answer, not sure about the begginner box.
Definately par for the course. Be prepared to make copies, or print out new versions of the character sheets. If they are using pregens, you can get the pdf for the begginner box here at paizo. Either way, expect to have to reproduce the character sheet every 10 sessions or so as things get marked up, erased, and marked up again (always use pencil)
Welcome to the gaming world, I hope you and your kids continue to have fun!
Have you thought in writing down the deeds of the campaign? In this forums there are multiple examples of this. Your kids could and should help, of course. Then, after they end an adventure, you can print the whole thing adding drawings, maps, images of the npcs and locations, all with a nice "fantasy" font. They just wrote a book!
I'm doing this and you can see it here:
I've been a gamer forever and I have been wondering at what age I could start to introduce my son to the hobby. I think the Beginner Box says it's for ages 12/13+, so I thought I had to wait a few more years.
My son is 9 years old, and now that I hear you've already introduced your kids at a younger age I cannot wait to get the Beginner Box and start working with my son.
____________You have inspired me, sir! Thank you!
Best adventures for third graders -
Can you tell I grew up on Aliens, Predator and Terminator? =p
Jon Nealon wrote:
Hi Jon, glad you're having fun :)You could have a look at the play-by-post games conducted here on the paizo forums; lots of creative energy going on there. check both the In-character(game thread) and the out-of-character(discussion thread) so you can see both sides of the story. I've been running games for years and this still servers as a great source of ideas. Also - if you're running an adventure, it helps to find a PbP to see how other GM's are handling that particular adventure.
as a suggestion for a module, how about 'we be goblins' - that one never fails to set up everybody for roaring laughter.
Jon, getting some gaming / D&D / Pathfinder related magazines might be helpful for you and your kids. Here are some good magazines (some unfortunately no longer published) that might be useful, if you can find them for a good price. If you live near a Half Price Bookstore, or any other good used bookstore that has gaming books, that would be a god place to look for out of print gam magazines.
Kobold Quarterly home page:
The paper versions typically have 3 or more adventures (dungeon, city, wilderness), and the later issues published by Paizo are where their Adventure Path series of adventures got their start. Not all adventures in Dungeon are part of a series, though - many are stand alone adventures. Staring at issue 82, the content switched over to D&D 3rd edition, which is pretty close to Pathfinder RPG. These might be easier to convert with regards to rules content, since some / most of it will be pretty close to Pathfinder RPG.
Not all of the Dungeon adventures will be suitable for your kids to run at first, since some adventures will be higher level that the PF Beginners Box and some will reference monsters or character abilities that aren't in the PF Beginners Box. However, these adventures can be mined for maps and ides for easier adventures for you group. Also, many of the issues have one page maps will no related adventure that are great for an adventure that you or your kids can create.
Finally, also starting around issue 82 Dungeon Magazine has a number of one - two page regular columns that have short ideas that can be used in an adventure (non players characters, locations, campaign and adventure advice, etcetera). Some of the columns, especially those specifically related to a character class (fighter, rogue, druid, and so on) have content that is specific to D&D 3rd edition and 3.5 edition, so that may be less useful.
This is a companion to Dungeon Magazine, and is/was one o the oldest magazines related to D&D (although early issues had articles on other games).
You won't find nearly as many adventures as in Dungeon Magazine. Dragon is more rules related, but there are good articles containing new monsters, advice on game mastering and playing, reviews of books and games, and other RPG related content. I forget the issue number where they switched over mainly to D&D 3rd edition content, but it should be around late 2000 (Dungeon 82 was the September / October 2000 issue).
This magazine has al Pathfinder content and has received very good reviews from Pathfinder RPG fans. Plus, anyone can submit content to Wayfinder.
Link to get Wayfinder:
There are probably more magazines, print and electronic, that also have good content. Hopefully these will b a good start, especially if you can find inexpensive copies at a local used book store - I typically find copies of Dungeon and Dragon for 50 cents at Half Price Books.
Forgot about this free Pathfinder PDF magazine:
This also looks to be Pathfinder RPG specific. t has a number of ads, but they are gaming related, so you may find out about interesting products that you and your kids can use in the Pathfinder games.
Link to get Pathways:
I think that the minimum age on the box is appropriate for a group of kids who are running the game themselves.
But if you are running and mentoring, I don't really see age being a problem unless we're talking about the very youngest kids. (My 3-year-old nephew is still at that stage when it's more fun to play-battle with the game pieces than to stop and deal with some fussy old rules.)
You will get a sense of the level of complexity that is beyond the kids' attention span. I'm guessing your 9 year old is good enough at arithmetic so that he can add the attack rolls himself.
Announce the AC he has to beat, remind him what his modifier is, and have him add up the numbers! He'll be so stoked when he lands a hit! :D
Just a quick note that may be useful: we use post-it notes on our char sheets to track hp, ammo, and other such things that change a lot. It keeps the main sheet a lot neater and they can be replaced as needed.
I started my daughters gaming when they were 7 and 8, so WELL DONE.
You're going to find that many scenarios and much of the material online would be better suited for teens or adults: Be patient when sorting and choosing what to run.
I strongly recommend some of Paizo's scenarios: Hollow's Last Hope and Crown of the Kobold King were written for the 3.5 edition of Dungeons & Dragons, but can easily be converted to the Pathfinder Basic Box rules.
As noted by Coridan, a few of the Paizo scenarios are definitely not what you want: They're intended for a mature audience. The reviews and comments on Paizo's boards should serve to advise you.
The Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands by Raging Swan Press has received very positive reviews and might work well for your players. You will need to softball a few encounters.
Although the task of converting old Dungeons and Dragons adventures from previous editions may seem daunting at first, some of these old adventures are so much fun, you'll find the results well worth the effort. The Keep on the Borderland is the most famous introductory scenario ever. Written for Basic Dungeons and Dragons over 33 years ago, it is an excellent adventure for beginners. I started my daughters out with The Lost City, which gives enough ideas for an entire campaign. They still remember their hungry characters munching on fried lizard and stirge-ka-bob when the party's food ran low. These old scenarios are still common on Ebay or in used bookstores and the notes needed for converting them to Pathfinder can be found online.
We seriously need a stick thread with advice , available 3PP adventures and supplemental material for the beginner box....
There's been plenty of threads with advice for BB GMing and adapting adventures.
Someone definately has "Beginnerized" some more class and race options from Core. Can't find the thread atm.
Liz Courts wrote:
Recent threads in Beginner Box