Pathfinder Society - 1000xp and 9 years later; One Pirate's retrospective.

Pathfinder Society

5/5 *** Venture-Agent, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East

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I been closing in on 1000xp earned in Pathfinder Society for a bit now and have been feeling reflective.

So here's my long rambling story about my personal history with Pathfinder Society. I've tried to break it up into spoiled chunks to help with readability.

Warning: I'm sure there are some spoilers littered about, shouldn't be anything too bad.

Personal Background:
Let's start with some organized play background: Prior to getting involved in Pathfinder Society I had played a lot of D&D 4e's Living Forgotten Realms as well as a handful of adventures in Xendrik Expeditions (3.5 Eberron). I'm also an avid boardgamer and once qualified for the Magic:The Gathering Pro Tour way back in 2002

I helped judge Monte Cook's Plotus/Arcana Evolved Crossover Tournament at GenCon, but had never played Living Greyhawk, like many of the people I was meeting in the early days of Pathfinder Society.

Back when I started in April of 2010 I was going to community college, having recently quit my job as a game store manager. Since then I've gotten a bachelor's degree, started a new job, started my own business, gotten married, had a kid, moved across the country to Iowa and eventually back to the SF Bay Area.

Somewhere along the line I went from new kid to old salt.

My first session of PFS was all the way back in April of 2010, part way through season 1. During season 0 I had played Living Forgotten Realms, vaguely curious about 3.75 having played a decade of 3rd edition.

The end of my LFR play, warning replay discussion:
I loved LFR, I played multiple times most weeks, driving to whatever store was hosting an event first. I loved being able to replay adventures, trying out new characters. I even bought an expensive GenCon boon from ebay so that I could play a Gnome.

I had realized though that I didn't mind playing with other people who were replaying as long as I had played it before, but I hated playing an adventure that I hadn't played before with somebody who had. They always ruined the excitment, the sense of wonder of the unknown, so I doubled down on getting to whatever local venue was hosting any given scenario first.

Then it was finals time for my AA degree, and my father was ill with Cancer, so I missed several months of LFR releases. And I realized I had missed my chance to play those first. Every time afterwards they'd be filled with replayers and I'd never see the magic again.

I think I only played LFR once after that, a special interactive release at a Convention.

I played PFS with friends at their houses, I played PFS at two local venues, Endgame and Black Diamond Games. For awhile I was frequently playing/GMing 2-4 games a week. Back then you got xp/gp for GMing but no boon access and could play and receive credit for a scenario once per faction.

I still remember my first game... 0-11 The Third Riddle (A now retired Clinton Boomer scenario)

First Play:
I loved it, things were crazy, Painlord was GMing and crit me 3 times with shortbows in the first encounter. It's full of other crazy Clinton Boomer goodness. It's not balanced, it's full of potentially deadly encounters that were overcomable through shrewd play and clever solutions.

Towards the end of Season 2 I was so hooked that when I heard PaizoCon was going to be hosting an exclusive Grand Convocation scenario I had to go.

Story Time Grand Convocation:
I got in a van with Azmyth, 3EyedSloth, Josh Archer, Cherry Pie, and one more and we drove for some 14+ hours to get to PaizoCon in Redmond Seattle.

That was a cool location, there was a nice 2 story pedestrian mall nearby. A farmer's market in the parking lot.

I had a really good time, the convocation was super special and had awesome plot implications...

Check out below for pictures (I think if you change pages you get to pictures from my unrelated China trip)

Pictures! (Scroll down)

Highlights include: Project Swallowtail Playtest (Adventure Card Game)
Thursty as Nigel Aldain
Awesome costumes!
pbp legend GM Lamplighter in the flesh.

After that I got engaged and moved to Iowa with my then fiance.

PFS in Iowa:
PFS was a lot more sparse in Iowa. I could drive almost an hour into Des Moines or 2 hours for another monthly game day.

Over the course of the year in Iowa I realized there were a lot of small midwestern cons I could visit and get my PFS fix that way. Sure it took 3 hours to drive to one, but I was in the middle of Iowa, it took 3 hours to drive anywhere.

I remember being worried about finding roommates at far away cons where I didn't know anybody, then I found out the con hotel rate was $34.95 a night, and just "splurged" and got myself a room.

I think I GMed Siege of the Diamond City 5 times that first year... It was a blast every time, although I've still never run the middle tier.

I went to PaizoCon again at the end of next season and had one of my most memorable experiences playing Waking Rune on hard mode.

Waking Rune Spoilers:
Facing down Krune while wildshaped into a large earth elemental to ignore his poisonous clouds and push through the stony walls of his chamber led to a desperate Krune unleashing his big guns and hitting us with a maximized, empowered horrid wilting. Failing my save left me precariously low, only held up by the extra HP from my Sihedreon. Krune stares me down as a swift, dropping me into the negatives. Ready to be done with my shenanigans his spear takes the coup de'gras action and finishes me off. A suitably brutal turn from a Runelord on hard mode.

I attended Paizo con for one more year before it was moved to Memorial Day weekend, conflicting with our local flagship convention KublaCon.

the VC years:
Some time after that I stepped up and took over the mantle of Venture Captain of the SF Bay Area for about 2.5 years. In that time I got more involved with pbps including running the first ever ACG pbp. (I ran that literally by hand with a box set up on my desk typing up cards as they came up and shuffling real piles etc.) I went to GenCon twice and got to see old PFS friends and meet some new ones and say goodbye to Mike Brock who had brokwn the curse of the PFS org play coordinator that had shifted something like 5 times in the first couple PFS

After starting my own tax business and having an awesome daughter I needed to step down from my position and missed out on lots of seasons 7 & 8

As I started getting back into things, mostly finding times to play pbps I unexpected received a campaign coin. A true honor and perhaps my possession I am most proud of.

I've gotten back into things in the last couple years although there's still a few adventures I'm missing from recent years. I got a second job as a Game Guru at a board game cafe (I recommend and teach boardgames)

I've made great new friends, both locally and online and even made it to PaizoCon somewhat recently.

Just this weekend at DundraCon came the big 1000th XP for me in PFS, and I got to have a memorable experience with it.

Greg Vaughan Bio:
Greg A. Vaughan had a cover-credit adventure in each of Paizo's first thirteen Adventure Paths, an honor he alone holds. He is also one of the Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting's most prolific contributors outside the Paizo editorial staff themselves.

Greg Vaughan GMing the module he wrote 'The Witchwar Legacy.'

He wasn't going to give anything away. He didn't hint an inch, making us figure out every bit of Baba Yaga's treacherous plan on our own, no matter how long it took, and long it took. (9am to 2am)

I got to play Farak, the Most Powerful Mage in *All* Absalom. A character who's largely defined by what they aren't. (An arcane caster)

Farak's background:
Farak is a tribute to Rand(Painlord) who GMed my first PFS game. One of his characters Thorne, the Most Powerful *Mage* in all Absalom (who is not an arcane caster) taught me the difference between character mechanics and character presentation. A lesson that's resonated with me for years. With other characters like Chun Hei, Paladin of Yaezhing. (LE deity of horribly murdering minor criminals)

Farak's like an old school rogue but without any sneak attack/backstab. He's full of weird powers, magic items and consumables to get him and his allies out of unexpected trouble, all while declaring himself to be something else entirely. He's been one of the characters I've most enjoyed playing in PFS, even or perhaps especially since he's largely useless when compared to the power of other high level characters.

That brings me to today. I'm anxious about the future with with upcoming changes but am looking forward to making new friends, playing with old ones and shenanigans, lots of shenanigans.

So here's to the friends we meet along the and the indelible memories forged upon my soul by the ever wondrous PFS community.


4/5 *

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Thanks, Rob, for one of the most inspiring things I’ve read in a while. I remember PaizoCon 2012 well - a quest for the Grand Convocation was my first freelance assignment ever. I ever appear in your pics as “Golden Serpent GM”, getting to run that complex scenario cold for your table when my prepped game didn’t fire. (No pressure!)

Thanks for refocusing the conversation on the non-mechanical benefits of this crazy ol’ Campaign. I needed the reminder.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Thanks for writing this up, Pirate Rob. Great stuff and lots of fun memories.

Ah, the PaizoCon Grand Convocation. I miss doing those.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Phoenix

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My first PaizoCon! My first PFS GM session! Such fun.

Scarab Sages 5/5 5/5 * Venture-Captain, Netherlands

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That was amazing to read. Thank you for sharing that with us.

And it was amazing to meet you and game with you at paizocon in 2017.

Grand Lodge 4/5 ***** Venture-Captain, Missouri—Columbia

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Great read, Rob! Everybody has a story to tell of their adventures in PFS. Some of us can go back in time and share stories of the Golden Age of RPGs and that makes our experiences living all these years that much more rewarding. Your story is that way too!

Dataphiles 3/5 Venture-Agent, California—Manhattan Beach

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Thanks for sharing Rob. As much as I love Pathfinder as a game the community has always been what makes PFS special so it's really cool to hear about the experiences/stories other members have accumulated over the years.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

That was a lovely read, Rob. Thank you so much for posting it!


3/5 5/55/5 *** Venture-Agent, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East

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Thank you so much for sharing your stories, Rob. You have been a huge part of my own Society experience, from making me feel safe and comfortable early on, to getting to play with you on a weekly basis now. Your kindness, humor, and thorough system mastery make any game I play with you, regardless of who’s on which side of the screen, an absolute joy.

I won’t pretend to know exactly what PFS2 has in store for us, but coming out of an amazing DundraCon, I know that our community will continue to be awesome.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 5/55/5 *** Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East

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And in the middle of those VC years, he made me his VL for the east bay!

And now I'm just shy of 800xp myself.

4/5 Venture-Agent, Tennessee—Chattanooga

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Nice read, nice presentation. Thank you.

Shadow Lodge 4/5 5/5 RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8

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ALL THE MEMORIES!! Reading through that, I can't help feeling the same way with all the people we meet online and then in person doing the convention circuit. PaizoCon 2019 here we go again!

(That's my table of Portal of the Sacred Rune in your photos, I recognize my old D&D vampire anywhere!)

Dark Archive 4/5 Venture-Captain, Special Projects

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That Waking Rune table was insane. The GM brought the pain, put us on the brink of tpk... One of my favorite games played to this day.

The Exchange 3/5

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What a read. +1 to all of this.

It’s been good to know you for so long, Pirate.

Scarab Sages

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Thank you so much for sharing your story, Pirate Rob! I definitely remember your Waking Rune game, probably the most memorable game I ever GM'd at PaizoCon. Glad you all had a good time.

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