Pathfinder: The Thoughts of a Sibling

I would prefer to play Pathfinder I think.  Thrilling Tales is an exciting game but Pathfinder has the potential for much more extensive development of the characters long-term, the same as Star Wars.  I think that is a benefit to most level-based systems against non-level based.  Thrilling Tales is better for shorter stories and long one-shots as the drama is very intense and a slower development slope would harm the sense of heroics that it generates.

Players play for different reasons and to run a long-term story, you need to identify what the players are looking for and provide that.  I like/want to have a character that survives and develops and not feel confused about what I should be doing to proceed with the story.  I am unhappiest with a game when I don’t know what I should be doing next or when every action I try is blocked.  I am not saying that players should be spoon-fed the next step of the story and certainly not rail-roaded but neither should they be left with no idea what to do next.

Being a GM is a hard balance; fights must be dramatic but shouldn’t be TPK (‘total party killed’); storylines should be interesting and have twists but not so convoluted that the players get frustrated trying to work out what to do.  Character leveling up should be frequent enough that there is always something new your character can do but not so frequent that you spend more time leveling up that you do playing (I aim for every 4-6 weeks; 4 for an epic-style game like 4e, 6 for a more low-key game like my saturday Pathfinder game).

And you should give players a lucky break once in a while! Ask Roger about Jimmy the Guard outside the Empire State Building; I love that guy and that encounter absolutely defined my Thrilling Tales character!

Try to included every player in the scenes if possible but don’t force players into situations that they don’t like.  For example, if one player doesn’t feel comfortable role-playing conversations in the first person, then let them just describe what their character would say instead of having to put on a funny voice.  I feel uncomfortable role-playing romantic scenes so I would much prefer just to describe in vague terms how my character responds.

These tips are all just advice but are based off how I run games and seem to work for me.

Written by Carl, my Bro

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