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Best scenario(s) for aspiring GM

GM Discussion

Shadow Lodge ***

1 person marked this as a favorite.

So, I just started playing PFS a couple months ago. I used to play AD&D back when I was a teen and young adult (I am 34 now). Back then I had DM'd a couple adventures with friends but that was it. I play in New Orleans, LA and was interested in trying my hand at GMing for a couple reasons: 1) our PFS group is growing and it would help us with organizing on game nights, 2) I think GMing would help me gain knowledge of lore and game mechanics and 3) I think I'd really like it.

My main question is what scenarios do you think are easiest to run for new GMs? I downloaded the First Steps scenarios already but I am willing to buy any others that may be suggested. Another question I have is what books do you recommend I read or skim through for additional knowledge that would really benifit a GM, other than the obvious ones? I've read the GM 101 guide already.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Silver Crusade ***

First Steps is the obvious choice for easiest scenarios to run.

After that, I'd say stick to low level adventures. As you get to higher levels, the monsters and NPCs have a wider variety of abilities, spells, etc that you'll need to research in order to play them correctly.

Of those I've GMed so far, I'd say Assault on the Kingdom of the Impossible and The Infernal Vault were probably the easiest to prep for and run. Assault was a fun adventure, with an interesting RP aspect at the start. Infernal Vault is a straightforward dungeon crawl.

Sovereign Court ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Silent Tide, Frozen Fingers of Midnight, Mists of Mwangi, Black Waters, The Pallid Plague, both City of Strangers scenarios, The Penumbral Accords, Quest for Perfection Pts 1 and 2, and The Goblinblood Dead are, I think, excellent choices as well. All are relatively easy to prep, are pretty good for low level PCs, don't have any overly complicated mechanics or bad guys (with the possible exception of Penumbral Accords), and have a nice, easily followed line of play and story that is not hard for a GM to get across to the players.

And they're all very fun, which is important (-:

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Agent, Nevada—Las Vegas aka kinevon

We Be Goblins! is always a fun game, especially if both the GM anbd players get into the charcaters.

3-01 The Frostfur Captives is a mix of combat and RP that can be amusing, especially when juxtaposed with We Be Goblins!

Drogon listed soem excellent choices, although I would add Voice in the Void to the list, since he mentioned every other Blackros Museum scenario in his list. ;)

Sovereign Court ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

kinevon wrote:

We Be Goblins! is always a fun game, especially if both the GM anbd players get into the charcaters.

3-01 The Frostfur Captives is a mix of combat and RP that can be amusing, especially when juxtaposed with We Be Goblins!

Drogon listed soem excellent choices, although I would add Voice in the Void to the list, since he mentioned every other Blackros Museum scenario in his list. ;)

All good choices. My only quibble would be Frostfur's "get the goblins to like us" mechanics. Those can be hard to pull of for some GMs, as role playing goblins is the crux of it; very easy for some, but really difficult for others.

For some reason I thought Fromper had listed Voice in the Void, so I didn't bother to put it down. My eyesight must be failing me in my old age...

Add to the list: Master of the Fallen Fortress. A very solid choice that works really well for introducing players to the Pathfinder Society.

Shadow Lodge ***

Thanks for the suggestions. I've played all 3 QFPs so I'll likely put those near the top of my list.


Anthony, folks above have listed some good choices. I would also say to run something you are very interested in. The more you like it, the better you are likely to run it. Another good idea is to run something you have already played. It will make prepping your first scenario(s) much easier since you already know the story.

Have you tried talking to Michael Dalrymple, your local Venture-Captain? He might have some insight into your local scene and some advice on getting started as a PFS GM.

Good luck. GMing can be very rewarding and fun. It's a lot of work, but definitely worth it!

Sovereign Court **** Venture-Captain, New Mexico—Roswell aka Rob Duncan

First Steps is an obvious good choice.

Some easy ones are:

Goblinblood Dead
Temple of Empyreal Enlightenment
Shades of Ice
Icebound Outpost

A little harder (because of the maps):

God's Market Gamble
Sewer Dragons

Honestly, I would go to the scenario purchase page, sort by star rating, and go from there. ^_^


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

another point I would add is whenever possible run scenarios that you had fun playing (and which were in a style you enjoy playing and running when you played them)

it can be tricky to run a scenario you haven't played through - though you will also learn that every DM reads a module slightly differently - and every party plays through the scenario somewhat differently so the experiences will vary a great deal - but having played the scenario at least once is definitely a help when you prep - helps you figure out what you may need to do ahead of time and it helps you have a feeling for how the parts of the scenario may come together.

How much prep you do is a matter of personal style but at a minimum have the handouts for the scenario printed and read, have chronicle sheets and a sign in sheet printed and ready and go through the map and scenario to make sure you have the right size map(s) and enough minis. It is fantastic when you have the exact Gamemastery products used by a scenario and/or printed out color maps to scale - but if you don't just make sure you know what are the key features and have a map you can draw out. Same with minis - while having all the right minis is amazing - when you don't at least make sure you have enough minis to make combats smooth (i.e. you can track which mini is which monster and the scale is correct (i.e. you have large figures in particular - few PFS scenarios have bigger than large monsters)

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Georgia—Atlanta aka Yiroep

For prepping, I find the GM threads here on the boards are incredibly useful for almost any scenario, and tip you off to some of the "odd" or "finer" parts of the scenario.

As far as learning rules and lore, I find I learn a lot about rules running the scenarios and not very much about lore (something I'm still not good with, but I come from a background of making my own lore for my home games). I think if you want to learn lore, you're gonna have to do some reading or get someone more knowledgeable to tell you the basics.

Shadow Lodge ***

Yeah Craig, I've talked to Mike and other GMs at my local games. Just thought I could get a wider dissemination of responses from the forums.

I think that my first couple of GMs are going to be with scenarios I have played. It is definitely easier having seen it play out once already. The GMs I've had have also explained some of the alternate routes that could have been taken on some of the scenarios so I have that info going into it too prior to reading it myself.

Once I get my feet wet I plan on checking into these forums from time to time also to help learn more "tips and tricks" so to speak.


One of the greatest things about being a new PFS GM is that you are not alone. The players want the session to succeed just as much as you do and will help you if you run into problems.

Good luck. I hope you come back after your first game and let us know how it went.

Shadow Lodge ***

So, I GM'd my first game last night. It ended up being First Steps Part II. I missed a few minor things:

Like the group activated the water trap and I forgot the Blindhelm responded to that. So they explored the beetle room first and then when they went to go into the room with the Blindhelm I placed him right on the other side of the door as if they caught him just as he was heading out, which turned out to me more beneficial to the party in terms of combat and the blind effect since 2 of them were still in the beetle room when the door was opened. I also missed the explanation for area 6 where the party can acquire the earth elemental (one of the players had played this one before and knew about it and brought it up after the game).

All in all everyone had a good time which was my main goal. I enjoy props so I made a physical invitation to the party using someone's writing from another forum post. I had some slip-ups and corrections and had to look some things up but I expected all of that. It should lessen as I get more experience.

The Exchange *****

Congratulations Anthony, the first one is always the hardest. Now you have that under your belt and as you observed, you will improve with experience. The most important thing was the players enjoyed themselves. Well done!


Anthony, we're in similar boats. I'm 36 and played AD&D as a kid. Recently I started PFS since most of my old gaming buddies either lost interest or moved on to MMORPGs or moved away. I helped open a new venue for PFS Baltimore and, since I took on a leadership role of sorts, thought it would be appropriate to step up my involvement, as well. So I recently GMed my third table- First Steps III. Moving forward, I'm going to GM scenarios that I've played in, starting with Icebound Outpost and Temple of Empyreal Enlightenment- both seem relatively easy to run.

Good luck and good on you for stepping up; if the New Orleans PFS scene is growing, it needs guys like you to don the GM mantle and help make it happen.

Silver Crusade ***

Don't worry about the occasional minor slip up. I find that there's always something I forget during the game whenever I GM a scenario for the first time.

As Doug said, the important thing is that everyone had fun.

Grand Lodge *****

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Just adding support that you are not alone. Same similar story. I'm 38, read and played when I was younger, never GM'd. Live in southern Indiana where PFS is basically nonexistent on am organized level. So I'm trying out GMing for the first time on a PBP ( figured it would give me more lag time to direct the game and catch mistakes). So I too am taking the initiative to get something going where I am. Good Luck to you.

Scarab Sages ***** Venture-Captain, Washington—Spokane

I am going to add my 2 cents worth to this as well. You are not alone by any means and, as you can see, this community is great for support. The last time I played was DnD 2.0 back in 1991 at 21. Started playing again at 43 when my teenage son rekindled my interest. Decided to get behind the screen at the end of August last year. I learn something each and every time I either play or get behind the screen.

As some have brought up and I have recently experienced, running something you have already played is always a great idea (especially when you end up with an emergency change of plans and have to run cold). I recently ran Severing Ties as a result of a plan change from my originally prepped scenario. I was so glad I had played in it before so it was not too bad to run with little prep time.

First one is always the hardest and gets better from there as you learn more. Next month I get to run at my first convention so if anyone has any advice on that one, I would welcome it gladly.

Dark Archive ****

Some things I do to make GMing a scenario easier:

A) I write out stat blocks, especially the tricky ones. If you've written out the stats and attacks in a format you understand, you've usually had the chance to check out stuff of which you were unsure.

2) Ask on the forums. You're ahead on this already, but if you've picked a scenario, make sure to look up the GM Discussion for the specific scenario. The GMs who have run it before you can give you some new ideas on how to run certain aspects. They will also report problems they ran into, allowing you to avoid the same issues.

C) Tell my players to be patient if I'm having trouble. A lot of players will have no problem helping you out if you're not 100% sure on something, or if you need a bit more time to figure something out. The players who aren't willing to be patient with a new GM aren't worth GMing for, in my opinion.


To piggyback on what Mergy already mentioned- in addition to having stat blocks handy, I like to print relevant associated rules. For instance, if a scenario included- let's say a Krenshar who wants to hide in a tree, I would sharpen up my knowledge on the Stealth skill and print the rules for demoralize (Intimidate) and fear effects for when he inevitably used his Skullface ability. Similarly, if there was a Giant Amoeba, I would print the ooze traits.

Hope this helps.

Shadow Lodge ***

Thanks for all of the comments and suggestions. I did end up making printouts of statblocks for creatures that they didn't have in the scenario text. I need to invest in a physical copy of the Bestiary.


Glad to help. What scenario did you end up running?

Shadow Lodge ***

My first GM'd scenario ended up being First Steps II. My second was The Darkest Vengeance last weekend...which was a pretty fun one to run.

Scarab Sages ***** Venture-Captain, South Carolina aka DarthGoob

One thing that I have done that really helps is to make sure players bring the appropriate (and required) materials to the games; especially at a convention or an organized event where you really have to stick to the 5 hour session time.

If they are playing some obscure archtype or using an ability/feat/casting a spell that you have never heard of, ask to see the source for it. And get them to explain it. Same thing goes for summoning spells; if they dont have the stats ready, make them get the book. (I have actually heard of GMs being a little hardcore on this and especially in con-scenarios, have the summon spell automatically fail the casting if they could not produce their own resources for the summoned critter's stats.) They made the choice to get those spells and they need to have their own sources for stats.

Players of PFS have been told that they need to have access to the rules and expansions for what they are playing. This is for them as well as the GM.

And a huge ditto on making your own stat blocks for scenarios. It's so much nicer with a few "cheat-sheet/quick reference" pages in vinyl sleeves rather than several books on your lap.

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