Striking a Balance
I played Pathfinder last night. I’m a Ranger called Nial. I haven’t played the game before nor had I played with this group before, so I had a completely new experience and, in general, I enjoyed myself.
I have to say, the adventure – an official one aimed at the 1st level character – did little to prepare the newcomer for what roleplaying should be about. Or, at least, what I think it should be about. It should be about ‘everything’. Too much focus on one thing and you’re not really roleplaying.
If the whole adventure involves rolling from one combat to another, you might as well be wargaming. Shift 4 inches, attack, attack again, loot, shift 5 inches, fire bow, charge, attack, loot, shift 4 inches…
If on the other hand the whole adventure revolves around diplomacy, banter and interactions with folk, may a career in theatre might be a better idea?
Nothing but brain-bending puzzles, traps and anagrams… Maybe you could just throw everyone a pamphlet of sudoku, kick back your feet and enjoy a cup of coffee?
No… I feel that the first adventure to try to strike a middle ground. By all means have a fight, but have a room with a complex trap in it that the characters can’t avoid and must pass through, and later engage them in a plea bargain situation with an ethereal entity who has robbed the breath from a colleague and won’t return it unless the party promise to retrieve something. All standard fair, but, most importantly, a mix of activity that better represents the scope of what roleplaying can be about.
Only by running an adventure like this can you, as Gamemaster, assess what floats your player’s boat. Maybe you have a role-player and a couple of battlers; or, you have a whole group of puzzlers with a stray rule-crunching combat buff. You will have extracted valuable information and formed a view of how to conduct all future adventures. Yes, you wouldn’t make them all the same, but you’d know that having something to engage the warrior while the puzzles ponder will make that player a happy one.
Looking forwards to the next session…