[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, 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!

Pathfinder RPG – Play Report Two by Rvelasco

There was much delay on the second session, and most of it is because of real-life reasons.  First, we changed sites.  Since the original site was rather noisy, a player suggested to game on his own house.  While I am very thankful for the change of venue, our exodus did take away some from our game time, so we had less finished during this session.  Second complication was that I was suddenly flooded by so many players.  When originally, we only had four players (which is the best number of players for a DND/PF module-run game) that number suddenly doubled… in one day!  Yup, 8 players, so I answered character creation questions, and was forced to make sudden changes out-of-module, to introduce these new characters, and to make their appearance as logical as possible.

The session seems like a success, but it was taking too long.   This was supposedly a pre-adventure, an introductory “tutorial” game to let the guys get a grasp at their characters before the game’s actual start.  Thus, I’m allowing them to tweak their characters throughout this pre-adventure.  But I was expecting this pre-adventure/tutorial game to only be one-session long.  But now, it’s lasted more than two.  So saying I’m delayed is an understatement of sorts.  I’ve finally decided to finish this introductory adventure next session, by hook or crook.

Something of note was that most of the guys weren’t too happy about being duped by an impersonating villain.  (That, or disappointed that the cute loli character they were eagerly protecting turned out to be a backstabbing villain in disguise)  I know there’s a GM guide/text around that says “duping” characters isn’t a nice practice, but alas, the “duping” was originally in the module, but I may have tweaked it a little too much to be more deceptive and potentially dangerous.  Also, that’s an important lesson about the price to be paid for not purchasing ranks in Sense Motive.    Their highest ranking “Cal Lightman” character was the elf cleric, who had an even +7 to his Sense Motive roll.  This was Blake, however, who was constantly plagued with bad rolls – sense motive rolls included.  The villain had high bluff and disguise ranks, so they never saw it coming.

Another thing of note is Arj’s character, the halfling merchant, who has echoes of Pointyman’s Roscoe (his Gnome character) albeit much, much less helpful to the party — though the guys don’t seem to mind and treats him like a comic relief character, or a sidebar character like Bodahn Feddic from Dragon Age.   Being genuinely hilarious, I was torn between giving him a hero point for roleplaying his character well, but doing so would seem like rewarding inaction during a dangerous situation.  I just ran with my gut and rewarded roleplaying over tactical decisions.  I’m still wondering if I made the right move rewarding him.

There was also a lengthy rules-lawyering discussion about Blindness and Ranged Attacks, and whether Ranged attacks was visually dependent.  One of the players got somewhat irked at the fact that he can’t do anything when blinded.  He was, of course, a ranged attacker.  By text, ranged attacks had a 100% fail rate while blinded, (the operative word being ranged attacks requiring “line of sight” thus, is a visually based check).  But we simply resolved it with a compromise of sorts – instead of a 100% fail rate to all ranged attacks, we made Blindness a less crippling condition for ranged attackers and gave every enemy of a Blind character full concealment. (James Jacobs said in a post that any ability that completely shuts down an entire class’s abilities is of bad design, so I decided to adopt that line of thinking with regard to this decision.)

Whew.  Now, perhaps the biggest challenge I have left is to readjust the modules I have lined up.  Especially since most of these adventures were made for four players only.  And now that I’m running for double that number – Eight Players! – the loots, XP, and much of the module’s mechanical boons, must be rebalanced for the player’s character progression.  I fear for my free time.

Anyway, that’s it in a nutshell.  Details on the narrative and story (or the absence thereof… but hey, its a dungeon crawl) are written down below, but it’s VERY LONG, so…
Continue reading

[Pathfinder Campaign] Session One by Rvelasco

A bit of a long post.  Sorries for that.  I also included some notes for those curious on the details on some NPCs and mechanics.

The game begins in a flashback.  (The intention of this mini adventure is to have everyone get used to their character before actual play happens.  Also, its to add some storytelling flavor on a strict old school dungeon crawl, and also to make the characters shine with their own strengths. A prologue of sorts.)  The characters begin in the city of EGORIAN, CHELIAX (a Lawful Evil metropolis under the oppressive martial law of diabolists;  think Nazi Germany during WW2) with a mission to escort their “client,” the BARONESS CERRIS and her charming daughter ILLY out of the city to avoid a ‘distasteful’ arranged marriage with a hellspawned nobleman.  The baroness is one of the few Cheliax citizens who still has a good alignment, and such a match disgusts her.  She has thus hired the PCs to escort them out of the country into the northern provinces of Varisia, where a relative will keep them safe.  Only three of the starting player characters wanted to be RED BRANCH members.  The fourth, the rogue druid, THIAMASHIELLE, wanted to play an outsider.  So we agreed on making Thia play as the mercenary guide for the party, to lead them through the dangerous forests and mountain ranges that surround the country.

Continue reading

A Pathfinder Campaign (Play Report – Intro) by Rvelasco

Okay, so I decided to run Pathfinder last saturday, and Pointyman asked me to provide a play report.  I haven’t run a “DND” game for a long time (I think my last game was the 4e game set in the custom setting of Illyria… which burnt me out lol).  So I was a bit rusty with some of the rules, but overall, I’m glad Paizo repaired most of the imbalances of the game, and the players were relatively creative in dealing with the encounters.   Anyway, I’ll start with an introduction, then go into the play report details later on.

The game is set in the world of Golarion.  It tells the tale of the Red Branch, an adventuring company under the charismatic leadership of a man named Red Vayle, who is known as a local hero in the continent.     Unfortunately, they are betrayed, and Vayle and his cohorts were killed through the treachery of one of their lieutenants, an aged yet respected rogue, Saedrin, who burnt their home, killed their friends, and stole everything that they had.  The Player Characters are the survivors of this tragedy.  Another two (NPCs) survived, but they sought their fortunes elsewhere, abandoning the group altogether.  Now, from a formerly successful adventuring group, the PCs fall into dark times.  Without money nor prospects, they are forced to live under the good graces of the dwarven barkeep, Berta the One-eyed, who runs the tavern called the Skanky Wench with her human son and daughter, of whom she refuses to expound on the matter.  The PCs at first does odd jobs, most of them from low paying patrons, and they’re forced to live through the talents that they used to ignore when they were adventuring.  (Profession skills and the like)  This is the current state of the once powerful heroic group called the Red Branch.  And this campaign is the chronicle on its fall, and inevitable rise back as an adventuring company of heroes, or even something more.

The game starts at level 3, and like most adventure path series, will end sometime at level 15.  It’s module driven, true, but it won’t be a strict dungeon crawl.  I’m modifying a lot of NPCs from the modules as well, giving them, even the antagonists, three dimensional characteristics and motivations.  So let me introduce the player characters first, and i’ll go into detail of the play report some other time:

  1.  Maximillien Renauld – NG Human Sorcerer (Draconic) – An Andoran nobleman who only spent his time on parties and women, finds himself trapped when his parents arranged a marriage for him to “grow up”.  He was born among a family with a rich sorcerous bloodline that traced its blood back to an ancient dragon, so much was expected from him, and the wife chosen also had some draconic blood.  This is to preserve their blood’s putiry.  He fled under the explanation that he’s saving the girl from a “bad marriage” and has, since then, seeking his adventure elsewhere.  He still keeps his wedding ring.  Played by Niccomawf.
  2.  Rastaban – CN Half-orc Titan Mauler Barbarian/Magus (Augmented Humanoid, Polymorphed) – Hailing form the savage barbarian lands of the Hold of Belkzen, Rastaban always had a desire to choose his own path.  Unlike other orcs, he desired power and justice.  This constant desire made him pursue the arcane arts, and also, the same drive which made him read a Cursed Scroll.  Despite the warnings of others, he read every word, and was, since then, transformed into the form of a monster: an Owlbear.  Played by Alvin.
  3.  Bones – TN Elf Cleric of Nethys – Ever the practical elf, Bones was so named because unlike his other elf-kin, he had pursued his magical studies into less desireable areas, including necromancy.  He was formerly a military surgeon stationed among the Mierani, in the city of Celwyvnian, where he fought drow in a losing battle to reclaim their homeland.  Desiring to pursue more powerful magicks, he petitioned his captain to explore the lands outside for anything that can aid their battle with the Darkland races, and since then, has explored the human lands in hopes for the one great magick that would defeat their enemies.  Played by Blake.
  4.  Thiamashielle – NG Half-elf Poisoner Rogue/ Serpent Druid.  Born in the small village of Serpent’s Bluff, near the forest of Fangwood, Thia was born cursed with the tongue of serpents, the Aklo language, instinctively able to speak with the snakes.  This made the villagers fear her, and this ostracization at a very young age, made her decide to run away to the forbidden forest.  Deep inside, however, she found a family, as she is raised by a sentient gigantic constrictor snake, raising her as her own daughter, and teaching her the druidic ways.  Since reaching age, she has left Fangwood to explore the land and nature around her.  Played by Panm.

We have several other players, but as of yet, haven’t joined the game.  One is Viktor, who, last I heard planned to play a Halfling Dragon Disciple.  The other is Vicente, whom I remember wanted to play a Gunslinger-Magus.  And there’s also Arj, who wanted to play A Half-orc Bard.  No details yet from among them, so I’ll add them in when they do join.

%d bloggers like this: