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Pathfinder - How to Play 9 - Example of Play

The following is an entirely fictional example of play. All names, characters, and events are completely falsified. Any resemblance to any real persons or groups is both unintentional and surprising.

  • The players and Game Master sit at a table. The Game Master sits at the head of the table behind his laptop and a GM screen. He has a pile of notes, papers, pencils, and a bag of dice behind the screen. His laptop is open to the Pathfinder SRD, more adventure notes, and a bunch of browser tabs with monster stat blocks for quick reference.
  • GM: "Alright everyone, let's get started. Since this is a new campaign, let's start by going around the table introducing your characters. Tell us your name, race, class, alignment, and a very brief description of your character's appearance and personality."
  • F: "I'm playing Effette, Dwarf Fighter. He's Lawful Good. He has long sandy blond hair, and a beard to match. He's pale from living underground his whole life, and he has a small scar on his left cheek. He looks like a gruff warrior, and tries to dress the part, but he's kind of a softy at heart. He likes music, painting, and he's very close to his siblings even though he travels a lot."
  • R: "I'm playing Red, the Halfling Rogue. I'm Chaotic Good. I have died red hair, and a waxed mustache. I wear fine clothes, and I take personal grooming very seriously. I'm very self-assured, and I carry myself with a clear sense of self-importance. I look like a gentleman, but I have problems with societal rigors, and I have issues with authority. I'm a nice guy with good intentions, but I don't like to be told what to do."
  • W: "I'm playing Wendy, the Elf Wizard. She's Lawful Neutral. She has black hair pulled into a tight bun, and wears a well-worn traveling robe. She has resting bitch face, so she always looks like she's in a bad mood, even when she's relaxing. She really likes books, she loves to write, and she stops to document the things she's seen whenever something interesting happens. She's very neat and orderly, but she can be kind of mean when she doesn't get her way."
  • C: "I'm playing C, the Human Cleric. He's--"
  • GM: "Did you name your character after yourself?"
  • C: "Yeah? Why, is that not allowed? C makes sense as a name for a Human in this setting. Why shouldn't I be allowed to use me own name?"
  • GM: "Fair enough. You were saying?"
  • C: "C is Neutral Good. He's tall, with brown hair and green eyes, and a clean-shaven face. He worships the god of life, and wears a holy symbol around his neck which portrays a horn of plenty. He's a super nice guy, and everyone likes him as soon as they meet him."
  • GM: "You're literally playing yourself with divine powers."
  • C: "Yeah, pretty much."
  • W: "And what was that bit about everyone liking you?"
  • C: "What? Everyone loves me. I'm great."
  • GM: "I'm going to let that one go. How do you all know each other?"
  • F: "Wait, we're supposed to know each other?"
  • GM: "Of course! You're about to go face the dangers of the world together, fighting and potentially dying at each others' sides. Don't you think you should do that with someone you know and trust?"
  • C: "That makes sense. Maybe we went to school or something?"
  • W: "Wendy is 200 years old. Her wizard studies took more years than you are old."
  • R: "It's okay Wendy, Red is a slow reader too."
  • W glares at R. The rest of the table laughs.
  • R: "Maybe we all worked together somehow? Halflings travel in trade caravans in this world, so maybe the rest of you tagged along or something and we all became friends."
  • F: "I like that. That would be a good way for Effette to leave home on his own, and it makes sense for a proud dwarf warrior to work as a caravan guard."
  • W: "I guess Wendy could be tagging along with caravan on the way to somewhere important, but she sort of forgot to leave."
  • C: "Hey man, everyone needs a Cleric. I probably joined up to heal the sick or something."
  • GM: "I can work with that."
  • GM: "Okay, you all find yourselves sitting in a public house of a small city named Rickit's Hollow. The pub, named "Hollow's Hole", is a local watering hole (see what I did there) for all of the hunters, travelers, and adventurers passing through the city. The bar is packed with other members of your caravan, who are rubbing elbows with the local color, exchanging stories and drinks. The waitress sets four mugs of beer on the table, and holds her hand out for payment."
  • F: "How much does a beer cost, like $6?"
  • R: "The core rulebook says a mug of ale costs 4 copper. I hand the waitress two silvers, wink, and tell her to keep the change."
  • C: "Wait, "Waitress"? Are we not calling them "Wench" anymore?"
  • W: "Dude, sexist. Not cool."
  • C: "Hey, I call 'em as I see 'em."
  • W: "And you instantly see a wench when you see a woman serving drinks in a bar?"
  • C: C looks to the GM "I raise my hand and shout "Wench!"."
  • GM: "The waitress turns from the table she is tending and looks at you."
  • C: "Called it."
  • W: Mutters something impolite
  • R: "So how long are we in town? I assume if we're stopping in a bar, the caravan is here to do some trading, so we'll be here for a few days at least."
  • GM: "Absolutely correct. The Caravan has just arrived in Rickit's Hollow, so it'll be here for several days trading goods, collecting supplies, and putting on shows for the locals. The caravan usually stays in one place for a week or two, if the coin is good, so you have some time to explore. Since you're not traders or performers, you need to find some kind of work."
  • F: "I've never played before. Do we just find someone with an exclamation point above their heads? Or is there like an adventurer's craigslist?"
  • The game is derailed for several minutes as the party makes jokes about what sorts of things you could find on an adventurer's craiglist. It turns out that is has just as much crime and prostitution, but the job postings involve a lot more violence and mortal danger.
  • C: "What about the church? We're all good-aligned, so maybe the church will have something that would help the community and earn us a bit of coin."
  • R: "That's a good idea. GM, is there a church of the god of life here?"
  • GM: "Sure. The god of life is a popular god with a lot of followers, so even small cities have a presence of some kind."
  • C: "Cool. Let's go check it out."
  • F: "Do we need to roll anything?"
  • GM: "Not just yet. You haven't done anything particularly challenging yet, so there's not need to roll."
  • F: "Okay."
  • GM: "Finding the local church of life is pretty easy. The spire on the top of church sticks up over the single-story buildings so that you can find if from anywhere in the city. Atop the spire a brass symbol of a horn of plenty shines in the sunlight, slightly green from lack of polishing. The building is stone and wood, and the front doors are propped open to release some of the summer heat. The interior is lit by some stained glass windows of no particular quality. The windows appear to depict objects associate with food and life, common symbols among the god of life's followers. A man in clerical robes scrubs at a spot on the floor between the pews, but sets his brush down and stands to greet you. "Well met, friends! How can the god of life aid you today?""
  • C: "What? Sorry, I wasn't listening. Who's this guy?"
  • F: "I think he's a priest. Do you guys have a secret hand shake or something?"
  • C: "Just because he's a priest doesn't mean we worship the same deity."
  • W: "But we're in a church of the god of life. GM, does he have the same holy symbol as C?"
  • GM: "Yes, he does. He's wearing one around his neck, just like C. He's an older man, probably early 50's, but he's in pretty good shape for a man his age."
  • C: "Cool. Does he have any work for us?"
  • GM: "Maybe you should ask him."
  • R: "I've got this. I walk up to the priest. "Greetings, good sir! My associates and I are traveling through the area, and we are presently looking for employment. Is there any way that we could assist you and your church?"
  • GM: "The priest seems a little shocked by your bright red hair, but he smiles. "Why, yes! I'm getting on in years, and I'm getting a bit too old to wield a weapon, but you lot look handy in a fight. Some local brigands have taken my silver goblet and candelabra. They're essential items in the weekly life offerings, and it will take several months to send away for new ones. If you could retrieve them, I could spare some coin from the church's tithes to reward you."
  • F: "This kind of sounds like a job for the police. Shouldn't they handle this?"
  • W: "It's a fantasy setting. The guards can do a lot, but some guy with a badge and a pointy stick isn't as good as an adventurer. The guards might not be able to find the brigands."
  • C: "If they know about them, maybe they'll offer a reward. Maybe we should go ask."
  • R: "I'm not super happy about working with the city guards, but coin is coin. Alright, I thank the cleric and tell him we'll be back with his stuff. Let's go talk to the city guard and see if we can get some clues."
  • GM: "You arrive at the local guard's barracks. A guard standing at the door greets you, and waves you into a small front office. An older man in a guard's uniform sits behind a desk. On the wall behind him are posted several large broadsheets, some including drawings of missing items or wanted criminals. Two wooden stools sit in front of the desk. Red, you'll have some trouble seeing over the desk at your height."
  • R: "That's fine. I stand on one of the stools. "Well met, captain!""
  • GM: "The guard looks at you strangely for a moment. "Sergeant. Sergeant Tills. What can I do for you?""
  • R: "The priest at the church of life asked us to look into some local brigands, and we were hoping that you might be able to help us."
  • GM: "The sergeant looks at you thoughtfully for a moment. "Yeah, alright. We don't know much, but they were spotted retreating into the forest on the west side of town. Those lands are royal hunting grounds, so no one really has any legal reason to be there, so they can operate in the open. If you can find them, there's a 100 gold reward for the death or capture of their leader."
  • F: "100 gold? That's chump change!"
  • GM: "You could try convincing him to pay you more. Would you like to try a Diplomacy check?"
  • F: "Yeah, okay." F rolls a d20 "Okay, I don't have any ranks in Diplomacy, so I just use my Charisma modifer, which is... -2. That's really bad. I got a 0."
  • W: "Like, an actual 0? That's almost impressive."
  • R: "Maybe we should just go."
  • GM: "The sergeant agrees. Off to the woods?"
  • R: "Off to the woods!"
  • GM: "The woods west of Rickit's Hollow are wild and untouched. The air is filled with the songs of birds and-"
  • C: "We get it, we're in the woods. Let's find those bandits."
  • GM: "...Fine. How would you like to find them?"
  • W: "It's too bad we don't have a Ranger or a Druid. If we had someone with Survival we could look for tracks."
  • F: "I have Survival."
  • W: "You what?"
  • F: "I have Survival. I thought it would be important because I didn't want to die."
  • C: "I never realized how poorly named that skill is."
  • R: "Roll it, man."
  • F: "Okay, I roll survival to find the bandits." F rolls a d20 "Okay, I got a 14, and I add +5 for my survival modifier, so I got a 19.
  • GM: "Great! You do a bit of searching around, and you find some clear indications that people have been through here: broken branches, indentations in the ground about the size of human feet, and some areas where the brush has been cleared and the ground is stamped down a bit. The trail is pretty easy to find, but you figure the bandits didn't expect anyone to be tracking them."
  • W: "Good job, F."
  • F: "Thanks!"
  • R: "Okay, let's follow the trail and see where it leads."
  • GM: "The trail leads to a small clearing set into a small dip in the landscape. A few tree stumps mark cleared trees, and a trio of small tents encircle a small fire pit. From any distance you wouldn't be able to spot these tents, but up close they're completely obvious."
  • C: "Do we see any of these guys?"
  • GM: "How about some perception checks?"
  • The party rolls, and everyone reports their results.
  • GM: "You can't see the brigands from where you're standing, but you notice that their camp fire hasn't been extinguished. It's likely that they are either in their tents or close by."
  • F: "I look behind us." F rolls another Perception check "13."
  • GM: "Behind you, you see three men sneaking up behind you with swords in their hands. Everyone roll initiative."

The party then engages in combat. After defeating the brigands, they search their tents and find the church's missing items, as well as some gold and weaponry which the party takes to sell in town. Having completed their adventure, they return to town to sell their treasures and collect their rewards.