Aug 082011
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Me and fantasy go way back. In the mid-80s, Mindy (my best friend at the time) and I discovered the genre and a lifelong love was formed. Together we read Elfquest and Dragonlance and MythAdventures and a series by David Eddings whose title eludes me but I can still picture the covers. We played Bard’s Tale and King’s Quest on our brand new Tandy computers. If it was fantasy, we were interested. It seemed inevitable that we’d eventually learn about Dungeons & Dragons (which we did) and want to try it (which we did).

We each bought our starter box–

The D&D Red Box. Yeah this is my original. I throw away nothing.

Now I'm iconic!

–and got modules, and then came together for several weekends and played. It went well! Except in how neither of us really wanted to read the Dungeon Master instructions, it was only the two of us, we were both far more interested in making characters than actually playing them, and were all of about ten years old with the corresponding attention span.

And so D&D came and went, and although the attraction to the concept never died, it was mostly fed by the Lone Wolf series and so many computer games. Still, I’d keep flirting with the idea of tabletop roleplaying, occasionally checking out different books or giving in to my deep attraction to polyhedral dice.

When Mike and I hooked up, it wasn’t long before we found another common interest in RPGs. Mike had played much more extensively than I back in the day with a group of his friends, and even had his own old books to add to our burgeoning, outdated collection. We toyed with the idea of playing, but this was about the time we got heavily into Magic and in the wake of the destruction it left behind (a story for another time) and deep involvement in our MUD of choice, the idea faded. We considered it again with the release of 3rd Edition, even going so far as to buy a couple of the core books, but never even got to the stage of creating characters.

Fast-forward to PAX. (If you don’t know of PAX, I invite you to read my write-up of last year’s visit, starting here.) PAX is, of course, a celebration of all manner of gaming, so while video games were largely what attracted us, it’s impossible to not be caught up in all the love and excitement for every genre including, of course, pen-and-paper. After PAX 2010 the interest was sparked anew but the field had opened dramatically. Totally burned by just about anything with the Wizards of the Coast stamp (thus excluding Dungeons & Dragons, as TSR had long since been swallowed up by WotC), Mike did his research and settled on Pathfinder. I picked up the core rulebook with some birthday Amazon gift cards, and … then the book sat there for months.

Oh, we read it (okay, Mike read it) and were impressed and excited. I even got him the Advanced Player’s Guide for Christmas. We’d say to each other, “We really need to try Pathfinder!” And the other would agree heartily, and then we’d do nothing. We even got up to the point of rolling me some characters, but we only got part-way through one and then something else came up, our attention shifted, and we never returned.

Then something changed. I’m not sure what. But a few months ago we seemed to mutually decide that This Was It. Characters wanted to be created, monsters wanted to be killed, loot wanted to be found. We went out, bought ourselves some awesome new dice (because if there’s one thing I’ve known since my first Red Box, you can never have too many dice), and next thing I knew I had myself a party of four new characters. A few days after that and Mike had picked out an Adventure Path for me to run, we’d found a fantastic game store super close to our house, and we had the first book in-hand.

We even moved our little dining table to the center of our big-but-not-used-for-anything living room.

Our original Pathfinder setup

Tiny table (tiny Mike not included).

And when we learned that this table was wholly insufficient, we upgraded.

Really the Sailor Moon picture in the background of these two pictures has been sitting on the floor there for two years, don't expect it to go up any time soon.

Pathfinder: The Sprawl

Then there was the playing. We’ve probably been about two months going through this first book of “Kingmaker” – though we did have a few weekends we didn’t play and that included a break where we flipped sides; Mike created a party and I ran him through an adventure (my first time DMing since like 1987! and I liked it!). I’ve been having just a crazy amount of fun, flexing my on-the-fly creativity while I juggle four distinct personalities against whatever crap flies in our face.

It all came to a head on Saturday as we reached the climax of the campaign, locating the evil Stag Lord holed up in his bandit-ladden fortress. The conflict took something like five hours from discovery to victory, and we were up playing until gone 3am. It was some of the most fun I’ve had in ages.

Tomorrow, you shall hear all about it.

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