Technical blog and writings by Micah Webner.

Blogrimage 2014 Day 22: Well, THAT Escalated Quickly!

We had our first epic marathon session of Pathfinder RPG tonight. A friend from work and his wife came out to play this afternoon, and our session lasted about seven hours. Almost two hours of that were taken up with generating characters. It was the first time I'd created characters using the full ruleset, and I was unfamiliar with one of the races (halfling) and both of the classes (alchemist and bard). That's not unusual; I've had sessions of AD&D in the past where all we did in the first session was create characters.

Once we got into the dungeon, it didn't take long to realize we weren't going to finish it all in one session. I had intentionally placed one encounter in an awkward, hard to move space, but as it turned out, we ran in to more situations where the combat unexpectedly got all jammed up in the doorways.

In roleplaying games like Pathfinder, combat occurs in rounds. Each player and non-player character get a turn in each round. Combat starts by everyone rolling a 20-sided die (with adjustments based on abilities) to determine order, which remains in effect for the entire encounter. A round represents 6 seconds in game time, but can take several minutes of real time to complete. I'm not sure what time we started the final encounter of the night, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone told me it took roughly two hours to complete, even though it was over in under three minutes of game time.

One of the biggest challenges to Game Masters is that you never quite know what the player characters will do. The game went a little sideways tonight when the wizard cast a Cause Fear spell on one of the orcs they were fighting. This caused the orc to run away for a certain number of rounds. Before the orc was even out of the room, the rest of the battle was over, so we basically had to stay in turns-based play until the orc was done being scared and decided to come back to where he knew he'd find a fight. The fighter was down, and half the party decided to run off chasing the orc while the cleric stayed to throw healing spells on the fighter and herself. Meanwhile, the thief had been standing next to a secret door, and I'd been rolling perception checks for her every round, and she finally discovered the door.

Before I knew it, the party had split. Three had given up chasing the orc and discovered a big treasure hoard. The other three (now that the fighter was back on his feet) went exploring through the secret door. Meanwhile. that orc was still running scared, and the PCs speculated that he might not return alone. Since he had run to where other orcs were waiting, I let the die decide, and when he came back, he brought two friends with him.

It all worked out in the end, but it did mean that we were stuck in turns-based play for a very long time. Once things settled down, and the treasure had been divided, the party decided to head back to town to rest and recuperate before heading back to finish the other half of the adventure. We set a date for two weeks from today, so we won't have to wait indefinitely to wrap this up.

So I'm really tired right now, and almost as sore as if I'd been in actual combat, but it was totally worth it. This was definitely our most fun session so far. I can't wait to come back and finish this adventure.