The last time my wife and I played AD&D was shortly after we got married. Our Dungeon Master, Chris, was an incredible game runner. We only played a few sessions before the busyness of work and married life ended our gaming opportunities, but our adventure was as incredible as it was short. Chris is a master storyteller; his narrative is cinematic. My wife and I still recall the opening of the campaign as if we'd seen it on the big screen instead of through spoken word around the kitchen table in our tiny apartment. My mind's eye can still see the stars in the night sky over our caravan as we journeyed to our destination.

With the bar having been set so high, I've always questioned whether I'd ever have the ability to run an even moderately enjoyable game myself. In fact, that's probably one of the reasons I waited more than 20 years to even try.

This is also why I wanted to be fully and completely prepared before setting out on a new campaign with my family. But my resolve wavered in the first paragraph of the Pathfinder Game Master's Guide.

If you're the Game Master and you want to run an adventure right now with your friends, you can start with this adventure--it walks you through 10 encounters to help you get the hang of being a GM.

No, as I sat on the couch on Saturday afternoon reading, having just gone through the Hero's Handbook and rolling up three characters all ready to play, I had to go for it. So I read through the intro material, skimmed through the adventure, and we sat down to play.

So off went Nosrac, the dwarf fighter, Arwin, the elvish rogue, and Raeythgil, the human wizard. Thinking we could use a healer, I also added the pregenerated character, Kyra the cleric, to the party as an NPC.

I was almost immediately disappointed with myself. Nothing I did was smooth or polished. I fully expected to spend a lot of time consulting the books, but wasn't prepared for how hard it would be to finds stuff I knew I'd just read. (It's especially maddening to miss what you were looking for while consulting the correct paragraph, and then spending several minutes looking everywhere else in the book for it. Kind of like searching for your car keys when they're already in your hand.) It also doesn't help that I need new bifocals, so I have to take my glasses off to read, then put them back on for everything else.

Finally, I relaxed a bit after being reminded of what I'd already quoted from the books, that the important thing is that everyone, including the GM, is having a good time. (Finally? I think we were still in the second room!)

All in all, our first session went pretty well. We played through a couple of encounters, then wrapped things up for the evening. We had about an hour to play on Sunday afternoon, which was enough time for the players to explore a little more and get through a couple more encounters.

I have a long way to go as a Game Master. I'm not even sure I'll pursue it long enough to get there. But we've already had some good family time with this, and everyone has had fun so far, even the GM.