Posts Tagged ‘Local Scene’

The GM for hire experiment

Posted: May 20, 2017 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Local Scene, Roleplaying Games

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!


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!

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!


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.

Remember when I posted about a pet project in the works? The one for my son?

Well, I’ve finally gotten a start on it. With Son of BADASS entering a slower phase in it’s development (Art and Layout) and Fight Class undergoing playtesting, I was able to sit down and really work out what I wanted to do.


They say that when you’re in trouble
Look to the stars and make a wish
That the Lady of Love and Mercy should hear you
and send a Falling Star to grant it.

Heroes of the Falling Star is an introductory role-playing game of magic and adventure in the land of Jianghu, a setting inspired by Wuxia films and literature. Players take on the role of Heroes bestowed with magical items by The Lady of Love and Mercy to help those in need.

Heroes of the Falling Star is designed to be easy to teach and fun to play for both kids and the adults that will be running the game for them.

  • Simple mechanics, no complicated rules that get in the way of telling a good story
  • Set in a magical world inspired by Wuxia, a land of honorable Heroes and exotic creatures
  • Mechanics that reinforce core values of Kindness, Loyalty, Courage, Respect and Honesty

A few early sketches for look and feel

IMG_1992  IMG_1991

What I want out of this Project

I’m no expert in child psychology, but I’m trying to approach this project with two primary objectives:

  1. It has to be able to talk a reader through the process of running the game for children, and give helpful advice and suggestions on how to do so. I’m expecting parents, guardians and older siblings to be the ones to read the manual, so the game has to work as an introduction to the activity that gives them the tools and confidence they need to run adventures for the kids.
  2. The game has to focus on Values Formation, while still being fun. I don’t want the game to be preachy, but I do want to reinforce lessons beyond the obvious benefits of role-playing as a recreational activity.

So where are we now?

Well, I’ve already put together a very rough beta on Google Drive and shared it with a few friends. I’ll be opening it up HERE for comments as well, so you guys can take a peek now and then and see what I’ve been doing with it. The plan is to get this up and running this year as well (along with Son of BADASS! and Fight Class) so I’ve got a busy year ahead of me when it comes to games.

But what about production costs?

That’s the big issue that I’m struggling with right now. I’ve not recovered from the expenses of our family’s medical misfortunes early this year, and so capital has been hard to come by. I was hoping to be able to get some notable artists to help bring this vision to life but so far the costs have been pretty daunting.

I’m seriously considering going with the Crowdfunding route, maybe bundling together Heroes of the Falling Star with Son of BADASS and Fight Class? 3 Games in one campaign, perhaps?

Another option is to bring this up using a ransom model. If we can hit a certain amount of funding, I’ll release all 3 games for free using DriveThruRPG’s Pay What You Want feature. Will that get people to invest?

So that’s what I’m working on right now, and the status of most of my projects.