Of Pathfinder and Venture Captains

If you follow me on Twitter (@renaissancedork, you’ll love it, trust me) you know that I’ve been hinting at some amazing geek news I couldn’t talk about yet.  Well, Paizo made the official announcement yesterday so now I can (metaphorically) shout it from the rooftops!

I am the newly minted Venture Captain for Pathfinder Organized Play here in Edmonton.

Okay, so a handful of readers will know what that means, but some explanation is required for the rest of you.  Settle in with your hot cocoa, as I tell you a story…

In-game, the Pathfinder Society is a group of explorers and adventurers united only by a common purpose: to gain knowledge about Golarion’s (that’s the game world) past.  Their members number anyone willing to work towards that goal, regardless of personal ideologies.  So the Society has “evil” Pathfinders as well as “good” Pathfinders, and all flavours in between.  Technically the Society is a neutral organization, but sometimes the side-affect of their exploratory meddling is an averted crisis, so they do some good.  But that good is not the goal, and sometimes they inadvertently cause harm.  So while the organization is generally well liked, there are areas in Golarion which range from indifferent to wildly hostile towards Pathfinders.  Add in some competing groups with different agendas, and things are never boring in the Pathfinder Society.

Back here in the real world, when Paizo started the organized play program for their popular Pathfinder RPG, using the Pathfinder Society as the framework for both the in-game scenarios as well as the real-world structure of the OP model made a lot of sense.  After all, organized play brings together a wide variety of players focused on a common goal, completing the scenario.  What better way to simulate a group of Pathfinders who may never have met, coming together to complete a task?  And the fans would seem to share that opinion; now in its fourth year Pathfinder Society Organized Play is enjoyed by thousands world-wide.

But back to Venture Captains. In-game, VCs are responsible for assigning tasks to Pathfinders, arranging for materials and artifacts to get shipped, negotiating with sometimes hostile locals for access and generally keeping the Pathfinder Society in motion.  They are the organizers, the behind-the-scenes people that make things happen inside the Society.  Here in the real world, VCs perform much the same function.  We help organize Pathfinder game days, act as the local point of contact for anyone interested in Pathfinder, help out GMs and players as needed and generally keep PFS Organized Play running smoothly.  Think of us as Head Volunteers.

It will require a lot of work and planning, but I’m excited to get started on broadening the PFS fan-base here in Edmonton, and possibly the rest of Alberta as well.  My first move is to get PFS running in some new stores here in the city.  So if you are a comic book or gaming store that has in-store gaming, and you’d like to add Pathfinder to that list, please contact me here or through email at: pfsedmontonvc@gmail.com.  I love just about everything about the Pathfinder RPG, and PFS Organized Play is a great way to introduce new people to the game.  It has a structure that lends itself to action, so new players can jump right in and have fun.  Organized play also allows you as a player to take your fun on the road; you can play in any PFS game anywhere with your character, and still get a great experience.

So you will likely see me posting a bit more about Pathfinder in the future.  And hey, if you want to try out PFS just drop me a line.  I’m sure I can scrounge up some Pathfinders that aren’t busy…

Random Acts of Publicity: Amber E. Scott

Continuing with Random Acts of Publicity, I want to tell you all a little bit about my pal, Amber E. Scott.

As has happened with many of my writing friends, I read Amber well before I met Amber.  Her work graced the pages of Dragon magazine back before its fall, and as a happy coincidence it turns out that she wrote one of my favourite articles, “The Story So Far”, featured in Dragon #329.  And as usually happens, once her name was in my attention I couldn’t help but see it almost everywhere; in Dragon magazines, on the Giant in the Playground Games site, and eventually in book after book of my beloved Pathfinder RPG.

Of course Pathfinder is where I find Amber the most these days.  Not only has she contributed to many Adventure Paths and Pathfinder sourcebooks, but she co-wrote one of my new favourites, “Halflings of Golarion“.  You must understand, I’ve had zero interest in playing a halfling character since I was thirteen.  But “Halflings of Golarion” turned me around and made the little buggers cool again!  How cool?  Cool enough for me to play a halfling sorcerer in an upcoming Pathfinder campaign (That the campaign is GMed by Amber had nothing to do with my choice, I’m shocked you would even suggest such a thing).  We’ll see who the “shorty” is when he is raining lightning down on all those other punks…but I digress.

That leads me to what I enjoy about Amber the most: she is a gamer just like me.  She loves this hobby and is enthusiastic about running and playing RPGs, but at the same time has been able to discipline that enthusiasm, which allows her the opportunity to write exciting and interesting material for the hobby she loves.  Not many gamers achieve that, and yet if you met Amber you might never know she was one of them, as understated as she is about her work.  For me, finding out Amber has written something usually goes something like this: pick up new Pathfinder book; notice Amber’s name in the writer credits; call Amber on her new work, to which she will reply with some variation of, “Oh, yeah, well I worked on that a while ago, now.”

So if Amber is reticent to trumpet her own achievements, well, I am more than happy to take up that slack.  She is an amazing writer of gaming material, with an ability to simultaneously excite and inform players and game masters.  She is also an accomplished fiction writer, which anyone who has read The Duke’s Wolf can attest.  So accomplished in fact, she has a new serialized story, The Seventh Execution, which has just begun on the Paizo site.  I can’t recommend it enough, and I will be hard pressed not to pester her for a sneak peak at the second chapter at tomorrow night’s Pathfinder game.

Beyond her writing ability, Amber is all-around one of the nicest people I have encountered in the crazy, mixed-up world of RPGs (her husband Jason is right up there, too).  Not only is she fun to talk to and game with, but she has been enthusiastically supportive of my own freelance game-writing intentions (even though those intentions haven’t yet borne fruit).  If you have a chance to talk to her, do it.  If you luck into a seat at her gaming table, get ready for fun!  And hey, gaming companies, if you need a super-talented writer, she is your gal; check her out at Medesha Freelancing (and if she is busy, well, why not take a chance on a newcomer…).

Comments? You know the drill…