Technical blog and writings by Micah Webner.

Blogrimage 2014 Day 25: Adventure Path

"For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?" Luke 14:28-31 NKJV

In this passage of scripture, Jesus is talking about counting the cost of leaving all and following Him. I understand this. However, there's also a huge bit of practical, sensible wisdom in this passage as well. I try to think about this before starting any endeavor.

As previously mentioned, we had some friends come to play Pathfinder with us last weekend. And they want to come back, at least to finish the adventure they've started, and it looks like for other sessions as well. This gets into one of the more interesting parts of tabletop roleplaying games. It is possible to sit down and play individual adventures, usually with pre-generated characters, but that's not usually how things work. Typically you put a lot of time into just creating characters, so it's not something where you play for a couple of hours then you're done. Instead, you play these characters through many encounters and adventures, advancing through an entire career before retiring them, if they survive. These characters usually go through their entire career with the same party of companions, and they all tend to increase in experience and level at more or less the same pace.

These friends live quite a distance from us. It's not likely that they'll be able to come visit us every time we want to play our characters. So the more logical approach would be to create new characters and run a different set of adventures when we play with others than when it's just the family. That can be fun for the players, because they get to explore different sets of options for each campaign, but it also means the GM has to run multiple campaigns.

That's where running existing modules starts to make a little more sense than doing everything as a homebrew system. Even before Pathfinder was created, Paizo, was creating long-running adventures for Dungeons & Dragons, and now have several Pathfinder Adventure Paths from which to choose. This sounds rather attractive, until you start counting the cost, both in money and time. For starters, you're looking at around $120 for the six books in an Adventure Path. Then, with weekly gaming sessions, you're looking at 1 to 2 years or more to complete the adventure, which typically takes your characters from first level to somewhere in the late teens. I've listened to a couple episodes of the Know Direction podcast where they talk about Adventure Paths. One of the hosts, Ryan, has been playing and GM-ing for at least 10 years, and he's just now preparing to GM his first Adventure Path.

I've been a GM for 25 days.

So maybe that's not the best route for us to take. I do see a couple of options. One route is to download from the many older modules that are available on the Internet and adapt them for Pathfinder. Another is to look at some of the older Paizo series for 3.5 that are shorter than an Adventure Path but should make a good campaign. One of these starts off with Hollow's Last Hope, a free download that I've already grabbed. If we like that one, there are two more in the series that can be downloaded for less than $10 each.

Obviously we don't have to decide anything right now, but it's nice to know we have options going forward.