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RPG» Forums » General Discussion » General Role-Playing

Subject: Going to GM Pathfinder, what do I need? rss

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Alejandro Diaz
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So I'm running my first rpg ever, so I need to know, what books and supplies do you recommend to play and do this well. Cost is not a factor. Not a factor at all.
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MSV Burns
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Cost not a factor, you say? Hmmm... Well I could really go on and on here, but... I'll be conservatively generous (with your money.) Here's my 2

For books you'll need the Core Rulebook and the Bestiary.

Probably it'd be nice to start with a published adventure to get things going, so one idea would be to start out with one of the Adventure Paths. Why not start at the very beginning and get Rise of the Runelords? The first volume of the Path will get you at least half a dozen sessions of gaming, I'd say.

Alternatively, you could start with a shorter adventure. Crypt of the Everflame was (theoretically, at least) written as a sort of teaching adventure, a way to get people from D&D to Pathfinder. I think it's a pretty good introduction to the system, even though the adventure itself is fairly generic.

Now, as to accessories. Well then... the whole money-is-no-object idea could really let you run wild here. But I'd think you'd want to get some kind of easy-erase vinyl "Battle Mat" with a 1-inch square grid. Probably should toss in some plastic minis along with it.

If it was me, I'd get just enough minis to represent a good cross-section of heroes and then use extra dice to represent monsters. (You do have plenty o' dice right? If not, better buy some.) But let your credit card run wild -- there's lots of minis out there and they can be obtained in pretty big lots on eBay.

May as well buy the official GM's screen, since you're on a shopping spree. It's got enough useful info on it that it seems worth it, since I'm spending your dough.

If you've never run an RPG before, the Game Master's Guide might be useful, but not strictly necessary.

Oh, one more thing. If cost is really no object at all, please, please, please join our RPGG Secret Santa gift exchange and BE MY SANTA!!
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Dave Bernazzani
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Marquos nailed it with Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook (pretty much ALL you need actually if you are creative with making your own monsters) but the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary is a close 2nd.

As it will be your first RPG - a good general purpose book on DM-ing is worth looking at. Fortunately Paizo has recently released a Pathfinder Roleplaying Game GameMastery Guide which is really not much in the way of rules (the Core Rulebook will give you all you need to actually play) but helps a new DM get their bearings when running a game, creating a world and generally handling things at the table (it's also a fine refresher for us older DMs!).

-Dave
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At least two sets of dice, and probably some extra d20s.
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William Hostman
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Essential: Core rules, 2 sets of polyhedral dice. Paper and pencils.

Strongly Recommended, but not essential:
The bestiary.
A square-grid mat, preferably suitable for use with overhead pen, and pens to go with.
Miniatures or pog-style tokens, take your pick.
Table with comfy chairs.

Useful, but not "Needed": a couple of D&D 3.0 or 3.5 adventures or Pathfinder adventures.
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In addition to the Core Rulebook and Bestiary, I would highly recommend the Gamemastery Guide. It is a great resource for new GMs especially; there's lots of hints on practical matters like keeping players happy, organizing sessions, and stuff like that.

I would recommend against adventures written for 3.5e D&D; although conversion is not particularly difficult, it's something else to worry about for a new GM. I'd also recommend against an adventure path unless you are feeling very ambitious; that's a huge commitment for a first time group. For shorter adventures, Crypt of the Everflame is one option that has garnered some praise as an introductory adventure. Alternatively, there are lots of Pathfinder Society Scenarios that work great as single session adventures, if you want to just make some characters and take them out for a spin. There's no need to join the actual organized play system to play the scenarios.
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Alejandro Diaz
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Can someone explain to me how Minis and a grid come into play regarding this game. I was under the impression that everything could be run verbally and solved with dice rolls, and no need for minis ala Star Wars Minis or Dungeons and Dragons minis
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Dave Bernazzani
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javiofranks wrote:
Can someone explain to me how Minis and a grid come into play regarding this game. I was under the impression that everything could be run verbally and solved with dice rolls, and no need for minis ala Star Wars Minis or Dungeons and Dragons minis

You do not need minis to play. The combat system is somewhat tactical (characters move X squares per turn, can attack ranged with line-of-sight, flanking grants a combat advantage, etc) and putting miniatures on a grid helps keep that nice and clean. However, there is nothing that requires using a grid of any sort - you can simply make a ruling as a GM based on what the players say they will do so long as they respect your final authority to make judgments on line of sight, flanking positions, etc. Combat will run faster if you're not bogged down in the minutia of moving on a grid.

Having said that, I personally enjoy pushing little minis around on the board and working through combat this way when playing D&D 3.5 / Pathfinder (for older D&D editions I mostly didn't use minis nor a grid). You don't need traditional miniatures - you can use colored blocks of wood or tokens from some boardgame - and StarBurst candies for the baddies so when they are defeated they can be eaten

-Dave
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MSV Burns
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It is true that you don't strictly *need* a grid 'n minis to play, I'd argue that you'd be better off using at least some kind of play-mat style physical representation for the fighting. Some reasons:

1. The rules (examples, graphics, etc.) are completely geared towards this playstyle. It's much easier to use the rules (am I in range or out?) when you can just count squares. It makes it easy to settle (at least one set of) arguments.

2. Without it, you'll miss a lot of what Pathfinder has to offer. One of the things the system does well (IMO) is that you can have all the role-playing and problem-solving and skill-checking that you want, and then follow it up with a sort of boardgameish tactical fight on the tabletop. I really love that aspect of the game. You can spin the story with awesome in-character stuff, and then get a chance to stick a sword in something with a fun combat system.

3. Drawing it out can be really helpful and evocative. Seeing the whole tableau of the crypt we're looting and the zombies that are shambling in from the side chamber makes the encounter come alive (for me, anyhow.)

4. Dave's right above. I can think of no better representation of classic D&D-style "Loot the bodies!" than picking them up off the mat, unwrapping them and eating them...
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William Hostman
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javiofranks wrote:
Can someone explain to me how Minis and a grid come into play regarding this game. I was under the impression that everything could be run verbally and solved with dice rolls, and no need for minis ala Star Wars Minis or Dungeons and Dragons minis


If you are running D&D 3.X or 4.0, the combat mechanics presume that
you should be running combats as a boardgame. Many older games do this: GURPS, DragonQuest, FASA Trek...

It is, generally, easier to go from boardgame mode combat to narrative only, than from narrative mode combat systems to boardgame mode.

That said, the map and minis approach is very good for novice players and GMs. But minis are not needed; any kind of token, even simply numbered chits, really helps visualize combat.


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Paizo also has some free adventures for download from their site. Three, I think...they're from this year's and year's past Free RPG Days.
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javiofranks wrote:
Can someone explain to me how Minis and a grid come into play regarding this game. I was under the impression that everything could be run verbally and solved with dice rolls, and no need for minis ala Star Wars Minis or Dungeons and Dragons minis

You can definitely run it without minis. Just say that 1 square = 2 metres and it will work out fine. Occasionally you might want to draw a map or use bottlecaps or dice to show the position of monsters, but it's not strictly necessary.
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It may be helpful to listen to some podcasts of actual play to get a feel for the back-and-forth between players and the GM, as well as the general flow of a session -- can anyone recommend a good one?
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paz AKA Matt Lewis
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I'll give my thoughts, even though some of it will mirror what's been written above...

In terms of rulebooks, you need the Core Rulebook and (almost certainly) the Bestiary. If you're new to being a GM, I'd highly recommend the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game GameMastery Guide too as it contains lots of useful time-saving information and great advice on running the game.

If you want to GM a pre-written adventure, I'd shy away from the Pathfinder Adventure Paths at first. They're long, and quite complex in parts for a first-timer. There are a couple of (IMHO) better options:

As Wind Lane mentions, Paizo have released some free adventures over the past few years. The most recent, Master of the Fallen Fortress, is probably the most suitable as it's written for the Pathfinder RPG and is for 1st level characters. The other one you could try is D0: Hollow's Last Hope, which is also for a 1st level party, but it's written for D&D v.3.5 so would need some conversion (not ideal for a novice GM).

The other option I'd recommend is starting with Crypt of the Everflame. It's a 1st level Pathfinder RPG adventure which includes sidebars with tips for new GMs. Although it works fine as a stand-alone adventure, it is also the first part of the Price of Immortality trilogy, so if you and your players are getting into it, you get a good lead-in to the other two parts.

I almost always use a 'battle mat' for running combat encounters. If I was buying one now, I'd go for Paizo's Basic Flip-Mat. If money is indeed no object, you could get some of the more specific ones; the Dungeon Flip-Mat is designed for use with Crypt of the Everflame, for example. My miniatures are mostly cannibalised from old box sets or are cardboard counters that I've printed out, so I can't help much there.
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paz AKA Matt Lewis
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HiveGod wrote:
It may be helpful to listen to some podcasts of actual play to get a feel for the back-and-forth between players and the GM, as well as the general flow of a session -- can anyone recommend a good one?


The ones that spring to mind are the RPGMP3 EPICS Podcast and the RPGMP3 Community Podcast. These tend to be 'warts & all' recordings of entire gaming sessions, so they vary in quality, but would probably be helpful to someone who wants to know how an RPG session tends to run.
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