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So I'm running the first IRL game I've run in years

So I'm running the first IRL game I've run in years

** SUMMARY - Below I talk about my experiences running an IRL game for the first time in a while. It's just my personal experience so If you get bored reading it please accept my apologies and feel free to abandon the thread.

I broke a long hiatus from gaming back in 2012 when I started running PbP games first on The Tangled Wed and then here on The Weave. Prior to that, I hadn't really run a game in like... five years.

I ended up choosing Pathfinder as a system as I wasn't as excited by 4E and it remains my primary system today. 5E looks cool and everything but at the end of the day I'm a Paizo fanboy and that and their APs keep me as a customer.

I've been pretty minimalist about buying Pathfinder though. I've got the core books and a couple of pawn boxes for a brief table top game I ran for my kids a couple of years back but it had been a long, long time since I'd run an IRL game for a group of experienced gamers.

I ended up with a pretty well-rounded group. Four guys including one of my sons (the game was his idea) and two women. All of the players had RPG experience save one of the ladies.

The campaign had some particulars. Since it was to be held during a one-month summer visit with my son we were limited to four, weekly, three-hour sessions. I decided to maximize game time by creating a balanced group of pre-gen characters beforehand.

I'm a big fan of Paizo's published adventures but I couldn't find one of the right length, or at least one I was confident would be the right length. I decided to use the Golarion setting but to create an original story... another thing I hadn't done in a very long time.

I was determined to do it right. I spent a few days thinking up and rejecting ideas, thinking about encounters, thinking about possible locales for the game, etc. Once I'd settled on a basic plot line I started designing the encounters following the guidelines in the Gamemastery Guide to the letter. I worked backward, thinking up the final boss encounter first and then using that as inspiration for the earlier encounters. I wanted to have at least three major encounters per game, with at least one being a non-combat but still challenging encounter.

We're now two games into the campaign and I have to say I'm having a blast. I've really enjoyed writing up each session during the week, usually getting the last paragraphs written a few hours before play starts. I've enjoyed the heck out of interacting with my players directly, seeing their faces as I drop plot twists or nail an NPC action. Getting to hear them cheer as they overcome a big challenge... man, it reminds me of why I liked these games so much in the first place.

Now, don't get me wrong, I've developed a deep appreciation for PbP as a medium.I think I make a pretty decent PbP GM. I think it is a deeper and more immersive experience than playing at a table but it is hard to beat the table top experience just for sheer fun. Our three-hour sessions go by in what seems like thirty minutes.

Another side effect of these IRL games is that is has re-kindled my interest in buying Pathfinder stuff. I've picked up the NPC and Monster Codices and I quickly realized how invaluable those stat blocks are when preparing a game. It's made me want to buy up the Bestiary collection. In PbP I rely heavily on the PRD and on online images but that doesn't work well on the table.

I've also picked up a few new, highly reviewed modules. I've gotten into this original story idea and I think I might want to do more of that in the future. I really enjoy the process of creating a good, interactive story. I'm using the modules as examples of how to build an adventure right (though obviously mine won't be as polished.)

Last night my new group asked me to continue on running Pathfinder games after my son returns to his mom's house. Man... it's tempting. I'd probably drop down to every other week for play frequency but even that would suck up a lot of my time. I only have so much. I told them I'd think about it.

Anyway, that's my experience jumping back into live-GMing waters. Anyone else want to share their thoughts on PbP vs IRL games? Anyone else doing both?

I have been on a long hiatus from IRL games after the end of college, when everyone moved away and started getting on with their lives. I did too, and tried to get back in at various times my last attempt was rather awkward. I sent out various messages and invites to people on gaming MeetUps and got a few responses. My husband and I eventually met up with a couple across town and games with them a few times. Dresden and Pathfinder. I think some more adult beverages would have helped everyone loosen up more, but they were also 20 years older than us and then in our mid 20s, we were not used to interacting with people we had rebelled against and seen as authority figures just a few short years ago. The group dissolved shortly, we went our own ways. A few years on, I tried to get my then 7 year old daughter into role-playing through a simplified version of pathfinder. I had fun but she found it often frustrating when she took a hit in combat. Two years have passed and I might try it again, maybe include my sister who is 14 and living with us now. Then again, I just learned a big gaming store opened up down the street from us and I might stop by to see what's going on there cause I would love to do some real world role-playing again.

I keep running and playing offline, though I strongly prefer to play for now.

PbP is a welcome distraction for the days when there's no live game. However, by my estimates, in one regular offline session a group can run through the same amount of material that you need at least a month of everyday play online, if the group is posting everyday.
And that's a regular session, the last session I ran was just a one-shot which was just south of 9 hours long, which means about 50% additional content.

That said, I'm one of those no-prep GMs who just turn the players loose in the setting, so my prep time is not a concern, as long as I want to run the game. My hat is off to Cailano for the amount of time he spent preparing the game for his group, I'm not sure whether I could do the same!

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