Last month I introduced Pop (my Dad) to Tabletop RPGs by running Pathfinder’s Master of the Fallen Fortress for him. It must have been a success because we’re out to visit this weekend and he asked me to run a follow up session. I decided to switch over to the Pathfinder Second Edition Playtest for this session – one of my hopes for the system is that it will be more friendly to new/casual players and who better to test that with than Pop?
Converting Hamfred Wazo, Pop’s Halfling Monk, from Pathfinder 1e to the Playtest was burdensome. Most of this was due to learning new conventions (indeed, each subsequent character was exponentially easier to create) but some of it was due to the rulebook’s layout. I think the character sheet also needs some work.
The Rose Street Revenge is a Pathfinder Society Scenario. Modules are new to me, Master of the Fallen Fortress was the first that I ran, but these Pathfinder Scenarios seem perfect for playing with Pop. The overarching story was split into four segments that could easily be run as 40-60 minute sessions. This is wonderful for getting in some Pathfinder with Pop without staying up to 1AM and for keeping track of where we are in the story with long gaps between sessions.
Intially, Nana was going to give Pathfinder a try but she wasn’t feeling well and sat out. So we only had three characters for this session.
- Hamfred Wazo the Halfling Monk, played by Pop
- Jenna the Human Fighter, played by my wife
- Damien Pisces the Dwarf Half Elf Cleric, played by me.
As noted in my initial review, one of the first houserules I’ll make is to open up Half Orc and Half Elf to more ancestries than just human. Damien Pisces was otherwise a stereotypical DMPC healbot. I build him with 4 CHA (love the rulebook noting intentionally dumbing stats) and almost no offensive combat ability. I was concerned that this wouldn’t be enough support for the two real players after Nana decided not to play…but they ended up dominating the Snippets scenario.
The session started with the group – all members of the Pathfinder Society – being briefed on their mission by Venture Captain Ambrus Valsin. Pop took an immediate disliking to the Venture Captain but was quick to take on the assignment.
The initial investigation had great roleplaying moments for Hamfred (as an established citizen of Absalom) and was nicely constructed behind the scenes. It was rewarding to see the players take notes and try to solve the mystery.
On paper, the skill modifiers seemed dreadfully low as compared to Pathfinder 1e but in game it works as the DCs have clearly been adjusted as well. The two players only a few skills totals of 1 or higher, most were -1 or 0. Still, they were extremely successful. Hamfred headed back to The Golden Mug, his tavern in the coins district, to gather information. We had a cameo from Deb the Half Orc from Master of the Fallen Fortress here. Pop rolled a 4 on his Diplomacy. He was going to take advantage of the Hobnobber feat to try again but Jenna the Fighter rolled a 17. On their own initiative, they also succeeded on the Religion Recall Knowledge route – it surprised me that the scenario had that option mapped out – and decided to canvas the Docks for clues. Point to Joe Pasini, the author of the scenario, for making the Docks an obvious starting point as they picked up on their on their own.
Locating the Smiling Cut, they instantly focused on Snips and wanted nothing to do with Valette. Pop walked right into Snips’ “trap” despite succeeding on his Perception rolls. He did, however, succeed on a Diplomacy roll to parley with the barbers before fighting broke out. Hamfred revealed that he was the owner of The Golden Mug and a member of the Player Society. He made it clear that he had no money on him but explained that he wanted to clear their name of suspicion and promised to bring plenty of silver to reward them for help if they cooperated. I’m not really sure how much the Game Master should deviate from written material in a scenario but I decided to postpone combat. The Barbers agreed to help him if he brought the silver back in the afternoon.
Of course the Barbers double crossed Hamfred on his return. He tried to roll Diplomacy again and wasn’t too happy when I told him it didn’t work once hostilities had broken out (at least not by default). He ended up rolling Intimidation instead but the Barbers were not convinced.
I threw in an extra thug – despite the group only having three characters – due to the ambush. This ended up being lucky decision as the Jenna proceeded to dervish around the battlefield easily cutting down thugs (it helped that she rolled several 15s and 17s. She also had our only critical success of the night but it was just double damage on a target she would have downed anyway.
The new action economy and restriction on AoOs has completely changed combat! All of the characters were much more mobile. It was also much more fun than any low level combat in Pathfinder 1e that I’ve seen. The thugs were far more tactically – darting in and out – and Hamfred should have been a whirlwind (except Pop kept on rolling low). As noted, Jenna the Fighter was a terror!
One fun moment towards the end of the encounter – Hamfred knocked out one of the last two thugs and the final thug made a run for it. This resulted in an honest to goodness improvised chase scene. The thug got away because Jenna had a series of terrible rolls (making up for her earlier luck) but it was an unexpected and fun moment.
Hamfred and Jenna interrogated the captured Barber successfully, again taking careful notes on the details. They thought about continuing on with Dragons but decided to hold that for next visit. Pop joked here that Hamfred’s tavern was frequented by orcs and half orcs so the Barbers would cause any trouble there at their own risk (since the other two player characters in Master of the Fallen Fortress were Half Orc, which Pop thought very odd).
Oh, and Damien Pisces essentially contributed nothing to the session aside from taking 4 damage. So much for them needing a DMPC for support!
All in all, a very successful playtest. Also, a fun scenario that gave Pop a nice glimpse of the breadth of the system. It’s not all dungeon crawls.