I’m officially done with my first Pathfinder campaign after just three sessions. I would have liked to have continued playing, but other things interfered.
The big one is that my wife’s health has not been good, and she just needs me around more. I have to cut back on gaming time, and since this was my newest campaign it was the obvious choice to cut first. I’ve also cut way back on Living Forgotten Realms games, but with the awesome DM Andy having moved to New Mexico, I wasn’t as motivated to show up to LFR as a player anyway.
I ended up missing this past Monday’s Pathfinder game because I had to take my wife to the emergency room Sunday night, and she still needed me Monday evening.
Then, one of the other three players ended Monday’s session by bowing out of the campaign. He decided that he really preferred playing 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons and was getting out of Pathfinder and d20 System games entirely. With only three players left, the game was looking shaky; when I bowed out, too, that was the end of the game.
I met with Phil, the incredible GM running the game, tonight at our local game store for coffee and a post-mortem. Why did this campaign fail?
- Obviously in my case, it was my wife’s health (although I wasn’t passionate about this particular game)
- One of the players decided that he just didn’t like Pathfinder
- One of the players was a bit socially awkward and didn’t really fit in with the group
- We only had four players to begin with, meaning that the game was almost impossible to run if anyone was absent (or dropped out of the campaign)
- Phil observed that a game like Pathfinder really needs a rules wizard at the table, and we didn’t have one
Some reasons that I would have expected the campaign to make it:
- We had a fantastic GM
- The story was engaging
- Three of the four players really clicked with one another
So, there are some lessons to be learned here for future campaigns.
- If you’re not playing with an already close-knit group of friends or family, make sure you have at least one more player than you need in order to run a fun session (if you need four, have a party of five or six)
- Screen players up front; if someone isn’t going to click with the rest of the group, it’s hard to fix that problem down the line
- Make sure you have enough system mastery at the table – if not from the GM, then from one of the players (this isn’t a concern with a rules-light game, of course)
I feel bad for Phil, as he’s a great guy and a great GM, and I know that he poured a ton of energy into this campaign. The biggest change to make for the future is to make sure you have enough good players lined up before starting the campaign. It may stink to delay the start of the campaign by a few weeks in order to recruit another person or two, but it’s the right choice in some instances.
RIP Father Beren, my first Pathfinder character.