May be starting a Pathfinder game at a local shop, any advice?


Hi All:

If things work out, I may be starting a new Pathfinder game at a local gaming store. I've always GM'd for my friends, but never a bunch of strangers before. Is there anything I should be aware of? Should I lay certain ground rules? Anything I should watch out for? Any advice or helpful tips would be appreciated. Things are still coming together so nothing set in stone. Could be various ages and various experience levels from newbies to experts.

The Exchange

There's probably a rule against quoting myself, but here's something I brought up during another recent thread regarding gaming with strangers:

Lincoln Hills wrote:

...Danger signs:

* Wants to run a character of a custom race or class, or one with significantly higher stats or character level. Such experiments have their place for a long-running player who has established trust at the table; a newcomer who wants to start out with this sort of thing is liable to keep pushing for such privileges indefinitely.
* Ogling and/or blatant sexism. Not just "awkward around girls" - I'm talking "You are bringing shame to my entire gender."
* Repeated and emphatic recommendations of course of action, spells to memorize, or character builds to the other players.
* Inability to shut up when the GM is providing valuable in-game information. Well, actually, inability to shut up in general.
* Know-it-all about the rules system, or setting. (Total ignorance, on the other hand, is quite all right - provided the player shows signs of wanting to learn.)
* Signs of dice shenanigans, such as illegible dice, dice rolled in an area of limited visibility, bringing the hands close to the dice after they've come to rest and before the result is announced, or a mysterious reading disorder that causes the player to misinterpret a roll of '6' as '18'.

About all I can add is that when you run a game-store game, you're going to get a mix of (A) people totally unfamiliar with the game - so be willing to teach; (B) good players who've been desperately seeking a GM - so try hard to make your game attractive enough to keep them coming; and (C) terrible players who've been kicked out of all the local established groups - who tend to cling like limpets and scare off categories A and B. I regard running a game-store game as a public service that sometimes borders on masochism... but it's got to be done sometimes. ;)

The only thing I would add to Lincoln Hills excellent list is I would add anyone to my danger list who seemed interested in PvP type conflict. I would also give some thought to how you will handle things if/when some of these signs pop up.

And yes have some idea of what limits you have for what you will allow (what books, classes, spells, abilities, alignments etc.) for your campaign.

Silver Crusade

So I assume this is not a PFS game. If not lay out the rules beforehand in a clear concise manner and be wary of lincoln hills warnings!

If possible have a couple of your regular guys show up for sessions to give you an extra boost of confidence.

You are doing a great service sir! If you are in the SF bay area I would happily game with you

I might recommend PFS, actually.

If you can see it, plan on 2-3 tables per week eventually, promoting some of the other regulars to GM's as you go along. Once it's going you can step back and play sometimes or even be absent and it keeps going without you. You'll see regulars, and players who only come once every month or two. You'll bring new players into the game, and connect with long time gamers coming out of the woodwork to finally play PFS.

Let me know if you need any help with recruiting/organizing, I started my project to get a game night started about 2 months ago, and we're now going into our third consecutive week of seating tables. Took a while to get everybody together.

One piece of advice either way. If you're the organizer, pick a time that works best for you and recruit people who can play regularly at that time. Don't leave the time and day of week up in the air when you start talking to people about playing with you.

Thanks everyone for the great advice and so quick too! You've all kind of confirmed what I had ideas about all along. I have a separate email account just for anyone interested in joining the game. I have this posted at the store. I'm planning on playing every two weeks, for a few hours each session. I work retail so I'm off ever other weekend and Wednesday, so that's going to be the choices for play. Plus every two weeks will give me more prep time, etc. I have a list of ground rules prepared and I'll send them out in the email replies I send to potential players. I'm expecting to teach the game. So I'm going to start with 0-level characters and go from there. I feel if you limit the player's choices, at least in the beginning until they get a handle on things, it will be easier to teach. I'll let regular players know they'll have to go slow and help teach newbies, or they can wait and join later sessions. I'm also going to limit rules to the Core Rule book only. I will add supplements later as I see fit. And instead of tackling an AP, I'm going to stick to the modules relating to Andoran and the Dark Moon Vale area and do a kind of sandbox with those modules and some of the early PFS from Seasons 0 and 1 that are in the area. I've also stated that I'm very laid back, and so are my games. "Rules Lawyers" need not apply. I think it will be fun for all. There's some 3.5 players there who've never tried Pathfinder, but seem willing. So we'll see what happens. But thank you all again.

Scenarios can be a lot of fun, and using PFS content without using PFS can be a lot of fun. Modules are fun, but I tend to find Pathfinder modules either too hard or too easy for my players.

That said, the First Steps trio of scenarios are fantastic for starting off new players.
I am playing through Second Darkness right now and so far nothing in this first part is too bad, and it seems well balanced.

Enable templates but at the cost of a heroic class (must choose NPC). But--don't allow anything that is +2 or higher.

For the 3.5 players sell them with this: Psyonics are gone, there is no book of the nine-swords, save-or-suck is heavily reduced, and grapple is no longer ridiculously complex.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Advice / May be starting a Pathfinder game at a local shop, any advice? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.