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I love to GM. I particularly love the prep work of being a GM. It is a significant reason I continue to game on paper.

I am now at the start of creating a new campaign, which is why I am new Pathfinder fan, (having only just purchased the Core Rules about a week ago).

So as I assemble notes and sketch out concepts for the campaign, I wanted to see which of these concepts you like or hate. Many of these ideas are tried and true (or perhaps tired and used), some are weirder and some are clearly derivative.

Feel free to rip these concepts apart, I want the feedback, if you need more info on them, please ask. And thank you greatly in advance, any feedback is greatly appreciated!


1. A growing empire. One that is new to power, but is quickly emerging as a skilled and dangerous threat to neighboring nations. One nation quickly forms an alliance to spare it from harm, but this has only made the other nations all the more nervous. Nothing earth shattering here, but have any of you put politics in your campaign and have it work? At first the war is just a backdrop, but later of course, it will become an integral part of the player's plight.

2. A Sorcerer who is also Pharaoh. Nothing new here! But I did want to explore an Egyptian culture that begins to rise in power in the late middle ages, rather than in ancient roots of the Bronze Age. The Egyptian cultural references will be loose (its really just a hint of flavor rather than anything) and there will be a heavy dose of Sorcery with this Pharaoh. I'll toy with magic here too, chariots that are pulled by winged Pegasi stuff like that. Does a hackneyed villain nation like this work, or does it just spoil the flavor?

3. Almost every culture in my campaign will be a nod to an ancient Earth culture in some way. Many of the mythological gods and culture of ancient times, will have mirrors on my world. The world is not Earth, but the Greek, Egyptian, Celtic and Norse gods thrive on it. This isn't a bold concept at all, but I wonder if any of you have feedback on how much you like (or dislike) worlds built this way.

4. Elves are not aloof, in fact they are very integrated with human society. With some exceptions the Elves in my world aren't aloof. In many nations in my world, Elves are largely integrated as a race, the mixture of the races is fairly prolific too. There are Elves who just a trace of human ancestry and vice-versa.

5. Wild Elves also exist. The idea of the "Wild Elf" the barbarian Elf will exist, nothing new here either, but in your experience is this an option players like to explore?

6. Gnomes have two distinct flavors. I am taking both the "fey" interpretation of Gnomes and the "gadget freak" interpretation of Gnomes. You can play either, although both Gnomes originate from different parts of the world and both Gnome derivatives are highly suspicious of the other.

7. Orcs are playable as a race. In fact, in one of the older empires, Orcs are a mainstream race. Those Orcs formed their own nation but made peace with a coalition of other nations that form the core of an old empire. Those Orcs speak common, are quite civilized and are even okay with Dwarves (although the civility doesn't always work the other way around). Orcs here have interbred with humans a fair bit, but not to the same degree as the Elves. Orc religion is shamanistic in nature and worships ancestors and animal spirits.

8. Gnolls as a playable race. Gnolls are not very civilized in my world, but they are highly intelligent. They tend to be nomadic, focused on the acquisition of wealth, not very well organized, but able to speak common and therefore playable as a race.

9. In one nation, women are completely subservient to men. So much so that it is illegal to teach them how to read. I like this as a plot device mostly, to expose the evils of sexism and to give a heroic cause for the heroes to fight against.

10. Terrorism. I think its an underplayed card in D&D campaigns, I intend to have terrorists, particularly radical religious groups in some of the large cities.

11. Slavery. It will exist and its cruelties will be part of the plot. Bad idea?

12. Dragons are considered holy by some and are connected to Druidism in my world. Nothing new here either, but would be curious to see thought on this idea.

13. Native American culture. I want a playable creed to be based on Native American culture, particularly the Salish culture. I'll throw in a bit of mysticism and shamanism for good measure. But the long houses, art, style and culture of the Salish fascinate me, so a small sliver of the western coast will host a rain forest where a Salish-themed race will live. This culture will be less technically advanced than its neighbors, but perhaps makeup for it with increased magical powers.

14. I am going to rip off the concept of "Ghost Rock" from Deadlands. Essentially the "inventor" Gnome race uses a form of coal, that the Salish-themed culture claims is haunted or cursed. The thing is, it is bringing great prosperity to the Gnomes. I am going to keep the steam-punk objects to a bare minimum, I'll do this by making the fuel source very rare and highly expensive. The focus here isn't the devices it can make, but rather the value (and dangers) of the arcane fuel source. Just how awful is that idea?

15. Miniature-based combat. No surprise here and these days it is rare people do NOT use miniatures. I am going to setup some maps BEFORE play begins on the table though. This allows me to tap into the Dwarven Forge pieces I have, (which really have to be setup before hand to work). Anyone have experience with this working well? Or not working well?

16. Start with nothing, but rise fast. This is standard MO for me, but I start all campaigns at level 1 with almost diddly in terms of armor, equipment or money (and in this case it will LITERALLY be nothing but loin cloths and a ragged shirt). But you rise quickly. I want to get the players to 2nd level in one session and to 3rd level in two and to 5th level in just a few sessions after that. After 5th, I ease the XP gain down and level it out to normal progression. Any advice here?

17. Spies...everywhere, secrets everywhere and knowledge and technology (and resources that fuel it) are highly valuable. I didn't like Eberron much at all, but one thing I did like was the nods to "Casablanca" scattered throughout. I want that kind of intrigue in one my central cities (which is at the aorta of the growing political strife). Does this kind of thing work? Or does it suck?

Sorry for the wall of text, but even if you just read a few and have feedback I'd love to hear what you think.

I am old. That's not unique when it comes to "paper and pen" role players. Anyone who is in the business of selling RPGs can tell you the demographic skews old and it gets older all the time.

Kind of like PBS, paper RPGs are always desperate to attract younger players, but also must continue to service their older, established clients.

It's not as easy a balancing act as you would think.

So, I thought I'd create a thread about the generations of gamers that are now out there.

Although Chainmail and the like was around in the 70's, it was really the 80's that launched paper & pen RPGs into a multimillion dollar business. It is no coincidence (in my opinion) that this was also the rise of home video gaming as well. Modern gaming culture truly took root with games like D&D, Zork, Wizardry, Traveler and the like.

What that means is, the generation that grew up with video games and RPGs are now having their own children and so we really have the first wave of second-generation gamers on our other words gamers who also have parents who game.

The old stereotype of the 20-something, frustrated academic, pursuing a hobby of relative obscurity is gone. Mega-brands like Warcraft are now mainstream, so mainstream they are used to advertise pickup trucks during NFL games, so mainstream they have more concurrent users during prime time than most television shows can only dream of.

Fantasy is bigger than ever. The amount of movies based on gamer culture or gamer-related property rises each year. Fantasy books, fantasy TV shows are everywhere, and even the vampire has become as mainstream as Wal-Mart. Comic books, which has always enjoyed a slice of the gaming demographic (and vice-versa) are so entirely mainstream, that it is often hard to find a blockbuster NOT based on a comic book.

Despite this, paper RPGs struggle (or at least have the potential to make far more money than they do). WOTC is no doubt losing sleep over how to maintain their D&D brand, if they aren't, they should be, for they have faltered of late. Paizo probably thinks of new tactics and strategies to capture more younger gamers.

That's not to say young paper gamers don't exist. Of course they do, I've been to gaming conventions, I see them. It's just that the proportion of younger gamers is far less than before. In the 80's, it was rare to see a gamer in their 40's and 50's. They existed, but they were always the exception and now they seem everywhere.

I also recently read a great article on Daily Beast about the growing number of women gaming on Facebook. Cityville boasts one of the largest and active gaming communities in the history of gaming and the majority of the players are women. The article attempted to dissect what it was that was attracting these women to play and Sid Meier offered his thoughts and was using his analysis to sculpt how Civilization would function on Facebook.

Are there lessons in his analysis for paper games as well?

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Our hobby needs fresh blood. It isn't in mortal peril, it isn't looking at extinction, but it has all the tell-tale signs of a business that needs younger customers in order to ensure a prosperous future. The time to cultivate the next generation of fans is now. They are out there, in fact they are out there in greater number than ever before. I wager Paizo and WOTC know this, I wager both fret over this issue weekly, so maybe our discussion here can help them?

I say this also, because this obsession with winning over younger players can create bad decisions if you are not careful. D&D 4th Edition was a poorly conceived product. It was, I am almost certain, an artifact of the Bill Slavisceks of this world reaching too quickly and clumsily for the MMO-playing youth out there. Now Bill is a very smart man, 30 points of IQ greater than me, easily, but WOTC did not succeed with 4th Edition.

Yes, I argue 4th Edition failed. That's an argument I doubt even WOTC has fully resolved (I wager many in WOTC blame the economy rather than their branding decisions for the poor sales). Now we can argue whether paper gaming is thriving or not, but it would be speculative. Neither you, nor I, likely have access to real data on this. But let's all agree that whatever the state of the paper gaming business, there is significant opportunity to grow and one of the keys to that growth is attracting more women and more younger players to the hobby.

If 4th Edition was a bad miscalculation to capture younger players (and I believe it was) and if we all agree younger players are needed to ensure the hobby thrives, what is the solution?

And what, if anything can paper gaming do to capture the growing number of women who are gaming? Yes of course, women gamers exist. I not only do not deny that, I live in a family that not breaks the gender gap, but also the generational one. My entire family games, that includes my wife and two daughters. Heck, my daughter practically runs the small gaming club at her high school.

But the hobby needs more, I don't think that can be denied.

And perhaps, just perhaps this thread can come up with viable solutions to this issue. I know I'll be very curious to read people's thoughts on this...

(Skip to the question if my background doesn't interest you)

I am a brand new Pathfinder player. I've played D&D since 1980. These days, I play far more video games than paper games, but I've recently I've had the urge to develop a small campaign to teach my kids how to play. My kids have expressed interest in learning and my eldest met some friends at school that wanted to learn as well.

So, I sampled 4th Edition, but was turned off by it. I think the system has strengths, but it was too deep a cut into some of the mechanisms of 3.5 that I like. In other words, 4th Edition seems too radical and I'd lose a lot of the work and material I've collected in my time playing 3.0 and 3.5.

I recently purchased the Pathfinder Core Rules and I'm very happy with it. It appears to convert very easily and it has refined many of the rules, while keeping the core mechanics intact. It also embraces the OGL, which I think we fans should also support and applaud.

So, Pathfinder is the system I am going to teach my kids (and their friends) how to play. I am literally passing the game on to a new generation, so this is a project I am looking forward to!


I am looking for a Pathfinder style guide. What I mean by that is tips on fonts, coloring, layout of Pathfinder material and books.

The idea is, I want my home brew stuff to look as much like official material as possible. I only want this for vanity's sake, I have no intention of selling the material or distributing beyond my family and friends.

Still, I'd like it to look as consistent to real Pathfinder material as possible. It's part of my enjoyment of the hobby to create my own material and print it out and store it as my own "volume". I am also hoping that if it looks cool enough, it will inspire my kids to write their own material. I feel creative writing like this, is a useful skill and interest to develop in your kids.

I have access to Acrobat and Word, so I can setup templates in either, and I can even share the templates (if they are of interest) to help others give their home brew material a professional sheen.

Does such a style guide exist? Has anyone ever assessed what fonts most Pathfinder publications use and what general margins, coloring and style they use?

My apologies my request is obscure, but I was hoping someone here could point me in the right direction.