Friday, March 11, 2011

BASHCon XXVI - Day 2 Saturday Morning

Pathfinder Oracle, Al-Haresh
Character sheet and mini
Saturday morning started bright and early. I grabbed a hot mocha at The Flying Joe and headed north to the University of Toledo's Student Union. There was very little traffic on the road and I made it to the convention hall with plenty of time to spare. My tickets already in hand, I waited patiently by the doors to the hall as the early morning registration dance got under way. Once the doors opened I looked up the table for my event and made way there to sit down for my first play of the day: Pathfinder Society Organized Play (PSOP).

I should take a moment to note that PSOP was the de facto game at BASHCon this year. Easily 60+% of all RPG events offered at the con were PSOP (this is my best estimate, I did not count all the events in the catalog, but I feel that I'm close). The strong showing was the result of a very well organized group out of Detroit, MI (about an hour north from Toledo).

Our GM was Douglas Miles, Venture-Captain for Detroit, MI, and he was running the introductory adventure Master of the Fallen Fortress. Before getting too deep into this, I am not reviewing the module, nor relating the specific aspects of the game. Rather, I'm focusing on my impressions, reactions and personal experiences of this event. This module was to serve as an entryway into PSOP.

I had no character to play as I do not own any of the Pathfinder books; I spoke with Doug about pregen options. He gave me several choices from all the different types of characters. Since no one else had checked in yet for me to see what roles were not covered I opted for the more support-oriented Oracle (I never mind playing Cleric-types, my first AD&D character was a Cleric).

Doug handed me the pre-printed character sheet and I looked it over. I immediately fell in love with the concept of the character: an Oracle of flame whose clouded vision only allowed her to see clearly up to 30 ft. I envisioned her staring into the flames to enter a trance-like state, hearing whispered wisdom in the crackle, hiss and pop of the fire; vibrant images dancing in the flames. I dubbed her Al-Haresh and was set to go.

The character sheet had almost everything I needed to play. I borrowed the core rule book to verify and note spell effect and ranges. I was pleased to see that there was not a lot a difference from the divine spells I was familiar with in D&D 3.5. What I did find surprising was that all 0 level spells were at-will; no limit on the number of times they could be cast. How sweet was that?

For those that may not know, the Oracle is to the Cleric what the Sorcerer is to the Wizard (can you tell I'm getting ready to take the GRE?). Meaning, I did not have to prepare my spells for the day, but instead chose what to cast dynamically during play from a short list of known spells. Sweet. Plus one of my patron deities of the flame was Asmodeus. Wicked!

The other players started showing up. There was a husband & wife, a mother & son, as well as another adult male besides myself. We had a nice mix of fighting, spell casting, support and specialty classes, in other words, a balanced party. The reason for our characters to be adventuring together? We all happened to show up at the base of the fallen fortress on the same day at the same time. That worked for this con game.

The fortress was a vertical dungeon that had to be navigated (what is it with me and vertical dungeons lately?). Tactically speaking, the party worked well together as they moved from room to room, floor to floor. Resources were used wisely to reach the final encounter at the top (the Master). Nothing was particularly surprising or terribly challenging. The group knew when to run and when to fight. Plans were made and executed as much as a little impromptu action/reaction. But the tactical stuff wasn't all that was going on.

Everybody at the table brought the role-play. While there was no rewards for RP, no real mechanical incentive for this to be anything more than a tactical exercise, everybody stepped it up. There was a chivalrous and chauvinistic male cavalier trying to impress and protect the female members of the party, most of whom were openly annoyed. Al-Haresh stayed closed to the rogue and let him lead her through the fortress. What it boils down to is that it was really fun.

The party survived the adventure and were able to free a Pathfinder Society member who sponsored each character's application to the society. This is where the organized play stuff kicked in. Each character had to choose a faction (I chose Osirian) and fill out the paperwork for the adventure. I've yet to go online and create my account, but I will probably do so soon. It'd be nice to take this character with me to GenCon.

I was once a member of the RPGA, but never played in tournaments or conventions; it always seemed like too much work. PSOP seems different, easier. My boys still like playing D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder and its organized play may give us access to a wider venue of play.

All in all, a great start to the day! Next time, I grab lunch and kill some time until Dogs in the Vineyard.

Follow your bliss,

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Master of the Fallen Fortress
Map by Doug Miles
PS. The homemade maps Doug used for this adventure were top notch and really added to the experience. See the included photo.


  1. Pathfinder is tops on my list of games to buy, and now I'm even more eager to pick it up. With luck, I might be able to convince my 3.5 DM to convert our game to Pathfinder.

  2. There isn't that much that's changed. I have not read one page of the Core Rules book and I was able to hit the ground running. There seems to be a lot of opportunity to play in the Toledo area too. It might be worth investing in.