I’ve become pretty excited about Pathfinder and D&D like games recently after finding a really great group to play with, but it took me years of searching before I found one. I’m going to talk about my first two attempts to find a good group to play with, because every time I look back at them I’m a bit surprised I ever tried again.
My first trainwreck.
I had been wanting to try a pen and paper game for a while, but had no friends who were playing and had no way of meeting new players. I was also somewhat disinterested with playing with people that I didn’t know because I had never roleplayed before and felt self conscious about that. After some time some friends (whom I’ve never met) of a friend invited him to a game and I ended up getting invited as well. I arrived without any understanding of game mechanics or how to make a character. We sat down and everyone started sharing their charactersheets of characters they had already created, oops. I had not made a character yet, thinking that character creation would be done as a group. They were already itching to start so while the GM was explaining the world and players were making in-character introductions, I was still pouring over long winded paizo and D20PFSRD pages trying valiantly to create a character without any prior understanding of the game. Even worse, every time I’d ask how a mechanic works or if taking some skill or feat was a good idea the other players would get more and more angry with me, so I was eventually stuck with a human gunslinger, I didnt roll ability scores correctly so half my scores were below 10, I didnt take the +2 to any ability because I didnt know about that. I took no skills at all, no feats, traits, or abilities. Gunslingers are supposed to start with a gun, GP, and clothing worth less than 10GP. The GM said I get no gold and no weapon and had to go to the blacksmith to get a weapon. He didnt care that I was without any money. I walk into the blacksmith feeling very self conscious because this is my first time roleplaying, and everyone is less than happy about my not having a character ready ahead of time. I ask the GM if i can role diplomacy instead of roleplaying, he says no. I push back, he begrudgingly allows it. I roll something spectacularly mediocre like a 12. The GM immediatly says those cursed words ever player hates- “okay roleplay to keep it.” Keep in mind, I was supposed to start with a weapon and GP, but have neither. I have no money or valuables. I walk into the shop, spend a good 5 minutes staring at a table of weapons on D20PFSRD looking for what I want, then after deciding on a gun knife I say “Gee these weapons sure are expensive do you think you could drop the price a bit like to 0 so that I can actually afford it?” The GM deadpans at me and responds “I made all of these, you’re insulting my work.” I immediately skitter out and someone else had to buy my weapon. I came to one more session which was just as bad before quitting for years until I found a second session.
My second attempt.
I found another game, once again run by friends of a friend. This one was online and over text, making the roleplay much easier. I get into the first game with an excessively boring human character. It was the party’s second session and they were finishing up a quest so thankfully I didn’t get introduced. In the one session I did sit in for, it was obvious that one of the other players existed only to derail everything the GM came up with, and the GM was using all kinds of weird homebrew rules. The only specific thing I remember was an enemy rolling a crit fail on an attack roll and the GM used a crit fail chart to roll that the guy suddenly becomes explosive to the tune of 1d12 attack. I didnt stick come around for the second session.
My third attempt, finally coming out with something good.
Some online friends that I already knew got together for a campaign and I got tons of help in making a character. I rolled up and very cool Tengu rogue, and have had lots of fun with these guys using roll20.net. The GM sticks to the rules and is great at coming up with colorful story lines instead of generic murderhobo fetchquests. The GM knows my horror story from my first game and knows i’m serious about making sure that new players have a good experience, so hes made it my job to help new players build up a character that will be fun while also teaching them core mechanics before the game starts so that they are not left floundering in combat with no understanding of what is and is not a good idea to attempt.