Local Scene

More Thoughts on Paid GMing


Okay, so over the past few weeks, I’ve had a chance to run two paid sessions already. One was for Call of Cthulhu, where I ran, “The Haunting” Scenario, and the other was for a custom Legend of the Five Rings session.


So far, players of both groups have been happy with their experiences, and I’ve not encountered a situation where they were not keen on paying the fee I was charging. For full disclosure, my fee was a Php 300 ($6 USD) charge per person, with a discount down to Php 250 ($5 USD) if the group size hits at least 4 players. This is for a 4 hour session.

Financially, it’s definitely a boon on my end, as I’m able to use what I’ve earned to offset the usual household expenses. Furthermore, a portion of what I earn here goes into savings that go directly into the purchase of games in support of the Industry.


Part of my success in the pay-to-play format can probably be attributed to the fact that I’ve already a healthy reputation in the hobby community. This blog has been around for a long time, and the Let’s Study series of reviews have been useful resources for fans of all sorts of different games.

Many new hobbyists that discovered RPGs in the country have run into my blog simply due to the name, which admittedly lends itself well to search engine results for “Roleplaying Games Philippines”

Value in Scarcity

The Philippines has a small hobby community, one that’s just begun to grow thanks to the efforts of such groups as the Philippine Adventurer’s League. But with this growth comes a new wave of gamers that are looking to do more than just D&D. They do their research, hear about other games, but can’t find anyone to run it for them.

That’s where I come in. Having reviewed so many RPGs, I’ve got a working understanding of a whole boatload of them!

Advocacy & Quality

Part of the reason why I wanted to do a paid gig was that I wanted to introduce new games into public awareness though with the added insurance of knowing that you’ve paid to have a good time.

From my perspective, if someone offers to run a game for you for free, it’s a zero-risk operation from the point of view of the person running it. There’s no transaction beyond the investment of an afternoon or evening spent at a location. As such if the game is terrible, then there’s no significant loss of face for the person who offered to run it.

However, the moment a person charges for a game, then it becomes a material transaction and that places a real burden on the person running to deliver a quality experience. Whether or not it is “worth” the price of admission is a separate discussion, but the point is that once you’re paid to do something, you’d better do your best.

Art & Patronage

I’ve no illusions that running a game for money is a form of performance art. Much in the way you’d pay a musician to perform at an event, paying a GM means that they (upon acceptance of payment) are obligated to perform a service to your satisfaction. If the performer does a good enough job, then they may earn the patronage of a loyal customer.

Patronage is important, because it has to be earned. And one of the few ways you can really measure your worth and skill in a performance is by the size of your take.

The Future

Right now, I’m booked all the way to August. With games of Call of Cthulhu, Symbaroum, Dark Heresy, Mage: the Awakening and possibly more on the way. Things are looking good from where I’m standing, and if I play my cards right and do well in my games, I can make this work for a good, long time.

The GM for hire experiment

For the past month I’ve been experimenting with offering paid games to the general gaming public.

While this sounds near-heretical to some people, I’ve actually discovered that it has a few interesting elements

  1. More effort from the GM

    While I’m not certain if this will be the case in all the games, I found myself with much more motivation to go over the usual preparation that I do in my games. This meant adding stuff like a soundtrack, better looking handouts, and improving quality across the game in general.

  2. More effort from the players

    Now that they’re actually spending for it, Players are more on the ball when playing. They don’t dither around with their phones or waste time in idle chatter or side stories. They’re on the clock and they know it.

  3. Less likelihood of piracy

    Let’s face it, here in the Philippines, most gaming groups rely on the GM to have the books. By running paid games, a GM has more disposable income to actually buy legitimate PDFs or physical books and bolstering the industry.

  4. A different kind of market

    Another interesting discovery is that offering paid games caters to a different audience. These are the lapsed or busy gamers who are only able to commit a small amount of time to gaming, and would rather pay than spend hours poring over rulebooks.

    They’re also a godsend to people who can’t get a gaming group up and running. A paid game ensures that everyone shows up (barring uncontrollable circumstances.)

  5. Rare games are easier to sell

    In a community where everyone and their second cousin can play D&D, people put a premium on GMs that can run games that simply don’t have enough GMs. I wasn’t entirely sure what kind of reaction I would get when I offered Call of Cthulhu, but it turned out to be a quite the sleeper hit.



This isn’t to say that paid games are the only way to go. I still reserve my Saturdays to run games for my close friends for free. If anything this serves as a good alternative to address the need for games by busy people in a manner that incentivizes everyone.

I’m a rather introverted sort, but I do like running games. Paid games helps me get out there to offer what I can do to others, and we all have fun doing so!

[Local News] Interview with Local Pathfinder Society Venture Agent CJ


Today we’re talking to the local Venture Agent of the Pathfinder Society, CJ Masungsong!

For the uninitiated, the Pathfinder Society is the Pathfinder RPG’s Organized Play initiative! Here’s a quick in-character look at their lore:

We are the Pathfinder Society, a legendary league of explorers, archaeologists, and adventurers dedicated to discovering and chronicling the greatest mysteries and wonders of an ancient world beset by magic and evil.

The society’s home base is sprawling Absalom, the so-called City at the Center of the World that stands astride the great Inner Sea on the mountain-capped Isle of Kortos.

A Pathfinder explores the dark alleys and political intrigues of Absalom between far-flung travels to the most interesting and exotic locales in the world.

It’s no secret that Pathfinder was a huge deal when it came out, and I’m a little suprised that it took us this long to get our very own Venture Agent for the Philippines.  But hey, I’m just glad we finally do! Organized Play organizations are a great way to push the hobby, so having more can only be a good thing to the hobby.

But enough talk about PFS, let’s have a quick interview with CJ.

1) So, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into the hobby in general.

Sure thing! I’ve always been a hardcore video game geek growing up. The moment I figured out how to operate our 486 PC back in 92′, I already saw my future as a RPG fanatic.

It wasn’t long until I came across Baldur’s gate and Neverwinter Nights, that introduced me to the D20 system. I started getting curious about the so called table top franchise that these games originated from. I have to tell you, it wasn’t easy. Up where I was, Novaliches, to be exact, tabletop RPGs were not really readily available at the time, even in the 2000s.  I never gave up though.     I was able to get my hands on old D&D scans and started briefing my gaming group about it. It was met with utter disapproval at first, mainly because we were coming from a long line of PC games, and yeah WoW was awesome then lol.
I was able convince majority of them though which led to a couple of 3.5 games that lasted for about a couple of months. Then we stopped because we didn’t see the value. It was too much work at the time, for so small a return we thought.
After a year or so, I saw the D&D episode of the “community”. It was so much fun that I decided to give it another shot. But this time, I told a friend at work that I knew was running small private events. It turned out, they were using the Pathfinder system, and I was exposed to the main differences between the two, like power attack reducing your attack rolls instead of your AC. And for me that made a lot of sense.
I challenged myself to run an adventure path with my guys of about 10 – 11 players. Took us two and a half years to finish, but gave us a front row seat of character development from level 1 to 20. And the rest is history.

2) How did you get into Pathfinder, and why did you pick the Pathfinder Society over the Dungeons & Dragons Adventurer’s League?

PF came from D&D 3.5, which to me is a classic. Some might say that the math is not noob-friendly, but everybody starts at level 1. And at level 1, the math isn’t that difficult. You just need to understand the logic behind the computations and your all set. More importantly though, it’s the customizations that got me. They are limitless… You see a character you like in a TV show? You can probably recreate a PF version.
I haven’t really tried AL, but I’ve read enough to have an idea how it goes. I think it’s pretty awesome too, I just prefer to play games in hard mode. :p

3) What are the requirements to join the Pathfinder Society?’

Well, pen and paper and a whole lot of imagination lol. But seriously though, you need the core rule book to to start. If you want customizations, you need to get the specific book where the feature is. A PDF costs about $9.99, so pretty manageable.

4) What kind of adventures and experiences does the PFS offer to players? Do they have any sort of reward system in place?

To give you a brief background of who the Pathfinders are, think about them like a guild of Lara Crofts. Archaeologists, Adventurers, Scholars, who stumble on different legends/artifacts, and end up making the world a safer place to live in. A scenario can run from 4 – 6 hours depends on the performance of players. Just right for any casual or hardcore player to enjoy.
In terms of rewards, players are awarded prestige points and boons by their specific factions which they can use to purchase equipment or to train their characters.

5) You mentioned that you were very impressed with the Factions of the Pathfinder Society, can you tell us a bit about them, and how they operate? Do they often have opposing agendas?

Indeed! I think the factions are what makes every game interesting. Each player is given a sub-quest by their respective faction. If you fulfill it along with the main quest, you get additional prestige points. And yes they sometimes end-up opposing each other, so it’s up to the players how they can find a compromise.
Explore. Report. Cooperate. These are the pillars of the society. If anybody goes against it, you become the enemy.

6) What other activities do you have in store for the community?

Since our launch, we’re planning on running bi-monthly events on either North and South locations to cater to all players. We’ve also asked Paizo.com, the publishers for support programs so we can give out freebies to faithful members.
Also, they’ve recently released multi-table campaigns which I find really interesting. They are scenarios that have to run with a minimum of 6 tables. There are DMs per table, but there’s one head DM to rule them all. It’ll be awesome to try that!

7) Is there anything else you’d like to say to the readers to get them to join the Pathfinder Society?

Absalom is the great city at the center of the world. For centuries, different nations have tried conquer it only to find themselves falling victim to it’s strategic position and stalwart defenders. A few more years pass, and there’s relative peace. Little does the city know that there’s an armada of ancient, forgotten invaders, just waiting for the signal to strike. And this time, they will not be stopped.
So that’s a sample of what a single scenario awaits you. PFS has combined the roleplaying magic of the classic D&D 3.5 classic modules with superior story-telling.
Lastly, I’m a firm believer that bi-monthly creative conflict resolution exercises are essential to one’s experience and career growth. So tabletop roleplaying games are a must.
You don’t believe me? Then try dropping by any of our upcoming events, and I’ll show you 🙂
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, CJ! Next up I’ll put up a few answers fro the point of view of a player of the PFS games!

Introducing: The Workshop!

Hello, and welcome to the Philippine Gamer Workshop! Over the past years, Life and Times of a Philippine Gamer has grown from a hobby blog to dispensing GMing advice and most recently a home for the extensive Let’s Study series of game reviews.

With my current state as a parent and the inherent additional financial strain of providing for my son, I’m looking for new ways to earn though my enjoyment of the hobby.

Today, we’re looking at a new angle of growth for the Philippine Gamer, where I’ll be putting up small tabletop RPG games with a minimal development budget. These projects will will grow and evolve with the inputs and suggestions of the people who play them.

At the end of each year, the Workshop’s outputs will be collected, edited and polished up as a collection of mini games available for purchase. Crowdfunding might be an option to be able to afford artwork and layout to spruce up each volume further.

It’s a crazy idea, but I’m looking forward to giving it a shot.

I’ve got a small handful of ideas bouncing around in my head, and I’ve been meaning to resurrect some old concepts that have never seen completion. I guess it’s time to put them to work!

Nice! How can I help?

I’ve had a Patreon account for a while, but it was initially keyed to charge whenever I put out a complete Let’s Study review series. You can place you pledge there, and I’ll charge whenever I finish an RPG game for public consumption.

Don’t worry, each game will be complete and playable, no half-baked projects here!

[Son of BADASS] Getting Ready For Launch


After five years of chipping away at BADASS! I’m finally approaching the point where I can actually publish the game in a new and awesome form.

Son of BADASS is a direct sequel that keeps everything that made the original fun, but tweaks and improves on it further without adding complexity.

BADASS has always been an exercise in efficient small game design. It’s not meant to be a sprawling game with vast mechanics that cover every single possible thing that can happen in a game, but it does have to feel punchy enough that people will keep wanting to play.

I’ve had the good fortune to be able to playtest it a few times as well, and the feedback from play has been very helpful

Cover Art

Part of my budget to self-publish the game has gone in commissioning a splendid cover by the extremely talented Hinchel Or, who is bringing the awesome to life with his spectacular work. I’ve only got a fraction of it to show you for now, but you’ll start seeing more as I get it.



Which bring us to this. If I’m going to be able to afford a professional-quality product, I’m going to need a bit of capital to afford the talent to make it so. I’m looking to launch a crowdfunding effort over at Indiegogo (Philippines can’t open a Kickstater Account, sadly) and see if I can drum up the funds I need.

This isn’t just all for BADASS! though, the funds raised by this effort will also go a long way to padding the necessary art budgets for Fight Class, and a new project that I’m very excited about but it’s too early to talk about.

[August D&D RPG Mini-Convention Recap] Dungeon Delverz Extreme!


That’s me standing over to the right. Image courtesy of Rocky Sunico.

Last weekend was when me and a few other volunteer GMs kicked off our biggest attempt at a local mini-convention for tabletop roleplaying games in Manila. We try to run an event every month, and last month was our most ambitious event in the form of the August D&D mini-convention.

While the story behind the conventions and how it turned out is pretty cool, I’ll see if I can dedicate another blog post to talk about that. Today I wanted to share a little about the game I ran for the convention, which I called “Dungeon Delverz Extreme!”

Um, what?

Exactly. Here’s the pitch I gave:

In the near future, the most popular spectator sport to grace the holo-screens of every household is none other than Dungeon Delvers Extreme! Cyber athletes from around the world compete in virtual reality dungeon crawls against other teams, engaging in bloody spectacles of might and sorcery.

You and your team have made it as far as the qualifiers, and this match could mean the difference between moving on to the finals or going home as losers. Which will you be tonight?

As you can tell, there’s a fair amount of recursion here, with Players taking the role of Athletes, who basically take on the role of their virtual reality Avatars. I had initially opened the game up for 4 Players, but by the time the convention rolled around, I had 7.

Given that it was meant to simulate a holo-vid reality show, the experience wouldn’t be complete without a bit of audience participation. So I figured it would be a good idea to have a live audience.

Audience Participation

To get the audience more involved, I also added a small rule to the game.

Once per Encounter, a member of the Audience may request for a specific action to be taken by the party. If a player character is able to execute the action successfully during the encounter, they gain a Favor Token.

On their turn, a player may spend a Favor Token to gain any of the following:

  • Reroll a failed check or save
  • Stabilize and restore to 1 HP
  • Heal 1 Hit Die worth of damage

This let the Audience throw in some interesting curveballs towards the players in each Encounter. This ranged from random product plugs “Quick do an in-character testimonial of how awesome this Hand Santizier is!” to specific actions, “Take the Lizardman’s head off!” and even a few of the more bizarre ones like, “Seduce the dragon!”

That said, despite losing my voice towards the last encounter, the team had a great time, and the audience was getting way into it, thinking of more crazy ideas of what to get the players to do to earn those Favor Tokens.

Son of BADASS! now 80% complete!


Hey guys,

I’ve got some good news today for fans of BADASS!, the sequel, Son of BADASS! is done with it’s first draft! In an effort to try and get feedback from the general public, I’ve gone ahead and opened the document for public comments over in this Google Drive LINK.

So what’s left for S.O.B? Well, for one thing, I’m going to have to get it go through a layout fix and I’ve already been sourcing artwork from some artists I’ve had the pleasure of being introduced to. BADASS artist Dax Tee will still be in the roster of course, but he’ll be joined by other names as soon as I can sign them up!

Given the amount of work on this version, I’m looking to put up a crowdfunding campaign for the book, but with a twist: if we can hit a certain funding threshold, I’ll release Son of BADASS! as a Pay What You Want PDF on DriveThruRPG!

The funds will go a long way to supporting my family since we’ve just recovered from a series of medical difficulties. Funds will also go to paying the artists for more artwork, and bumping their pay by a percentage if we hit certain milestones. I don’t have a lot of artist contacts yet, but I’ve been lucky enough to be able to book the incredibly talented Hinchel Or for a full-color cover.

So, please, if you’ve got the time, do check out the link and leave your comments below! I’m happy to hear of your impressions, as well as any suggestions or feedback on the tone.

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