Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Coming Attractions: Wrath of the Righteous

I've been reading a lot of Pathfinder lately. What sparked the resurgence of interest there just as we're digging into Next? Well, this:

Here's the blurb:
For more than a hundred years, the demon-infested Worldwound has warred against humanity, its Abyssal armies clashing with crusaders, barbarians, mercenaries, and heroes along the border of lost Sarkoris. But when one of the magical wardstones that helps hedge the demons into their savage realm is sabotaged, the crusader city of Kenabres is attacked and devastated by the demonic hordes. Can a small band of heroes destined for mythic greatness survive long enough to hold back the forces of chaos and evil until help arrives, or will they become the latest in a long line of victims slaughtered by Deskari, the demon lord of the Locust Host?

This is the new adventure path that just kicked off last month. I'm on the Paizo email list and when I saw the description I realized I was probably going to need to look into it. I have a player that typically plays a paladin and has mostly played paladins in the 25 years (wow that's a bigger number than I realized before) that I have known him. He likes being the heavily armored stand-up good guy fighting the good fight. He goes off in another direction occasionally but if I'm starting a new fantasy campaign I can pretty much count on him to play a knight/paladin type character, regardless of system. This new AP is pretty much "Knights and Paladins Throw Down With Demons to Save the World!" and it has him written all over it. Because this exists, I must run it for him.

Seeing that this was coming I went ahead and dove into Pathfinder, both the rules and the Inner Sea setting. I already was familiar with the rules having had the core book for a while and having run the Apprentices through the Beginner Box a while back. I picked up the Advanced Players Guide which adds some classes and feats and stuff because it looked like the most generally useful addition to the core game. My main focus though was the setting.

I really have not paid much attention to the setting for Pathfinder. I need another fantasy game setting like I need another set of fantasy roleplaying rules, so my general rule has been to ignore new settings and focus on the ones I already have. In the last month I've added Numenera and the Inner Sea World Guide and various other supplements so clearly I'm not paying attention to my own rules about these things either.

I haven't finished the big book yet but so far, wow, it is very good. It's very much made to game in, not just read about, and much like the Rome book I posted about yesterday it strikes a great balance between detail and brevity. Two of Paizo's founders were long time fans of Greyhawk and there are a lot of touches in this world that I recognize. Also, "Realm of the Mammoth Lords" - damn I'm ready to throw dice just reading that. So I do like the world, more than I expected to.

Yep, there's a smaller setting book on the Worldwound too and I went ahead and read it as well. It's somewhere between post-apocalyptic and "let's invade hell" turned backwards - the Abyss has invaded the world instead. There's some similarity to the Chaos Wastes in Warhammer Fantasy too. I plan to use quite a bit of that kind of flavoring.

So at this point I've refreshed myself on the rules, read most of the general setting, read the regional setting book, gotten to play a little bit, and read the first adventure. Am I still keen on doing this? Oh yeah, it's happening. This is very much the "crusade" adventure path where the good guys take on un-debatable Big Evil for the fate of the world - there's a lot of black and white with just a little gray.

They're also using the rules from the new "Mythic Campaigns" book which I have not read. Apparently it is comparable to the stuff from epic level play but instead of having to wait until you hit level 20 to start down that track, you can add in "mythic" abilities alongside the normal leveling path, representing divine will, fate, destiny, whatever. It is a power increase of some kind but it does seem appropriate for this set of adventures so I'm willing to give it a try as there are mythic monsters too.

Oh, also, on top of all that, this is the first AP that is specifically planned to take characters all the way from 1 to 20. Most of the others end up somewhere in the teens - this one is the full ride. Add in the mythic stuff and this should be a pretty good test of how Pathfinder circa 2013 handles high powered play.

Practical Considerations:

  • We still have the scheduling issue. Finding a day where people can play regularly has been a problem. I've tried to solve this by setting two goals: I want Steve (the player this is meant for) to be able to play, so I'm working around his schedule first. Second, I want the Apprentices to be able to play in this one with the grown-ups. I typically run separate games for the kids and the adults - this is the crossover game. So it's looking like this will be a weekend game, on the weekends we don't play our ongoing 4E campaign.
  • Players: Well I have the one, and at least one of the Apprentices should be available. Now I have to see if the rest of the grown-up crew can make it or if I can find some new players. I'm also willing to allow them to run multiple characters to make this happen. So we're probably looking at 3-6 players to make this work. 
  • Juggling other campaigns: It's a challenge. I finally had to set a schedule for the 4E game to give us a reasonable chance to stay on track. - more on that in another post. Having that predictability does mean that I can set some times for other games and not worry about favoring one over another . Assuming we carry on with 4E Next, and Pathfinder that means I'm running three campaigns just for D&D type fantasy! I've often said I'd like to have 3 campaigns going most of the time: one fantasy, one sci-fi and one supers, and I have it half right! One plan was to run next on a weeknight when the kids are here but so far homework has interfered with that and kept it to weekends only. That may just have to do for now. It's going to be hard to squeeze in any supers time for a while though. If I can do some Marvel or M&M also on an alternating schedule then that means I'm only running twice a week and that should be manageable.
  • I had also talked at one point about starting a game up at the LGS because I feel like I could manage a weeknight game and it would be a nice way to find more local players. One of my players asked me about burnout and that's a consideration but if I'm running in different systems with different groups of players I don't think that's as much of an issue.  

So while I'm still solving those problems I don't see anything insurmountable and the campaign binder (and cover) is under construction and I'm looking at what I can do with HeroLab and PCGen and other online tools. Schedule-wise I think it's going to boil down to four regularly-running games: 
  • 4E Impiltur - twice a month
  • Pathfinder Wrath of the Righteous - twice a month 
  • D&D Next - a few times a month on different days (easier since everyone involved lives here)
  • Super-something once or twice a month, because I want to.
Anyway this Pathfinder thing should kick off fairly soon. More to come on that. 

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