Rise of the Runelords is one of the first adventure paths produced by Paizo for the Pathfinder RPG, and one of the most popular. My players voted on several options and they decided that they wanted to play this classic beauty. I got ahold of the Anniversary Edition and gave it a read.
Then, we gave it a play. You can find our Session One summary over on our World Anvil campaign page by clicking HERE!
I’ll go into the evolution of this campaign as we go along. Most of the campaign has been played over Roll20, and there have been issues with that as well. This session happened several months ago, but I’m posting it anyway for a) content, and b) continuity. I posted my last campaign, and there really isn’t alot of Pathfinder content online so I’m doing my part to spread the Good Word.
- This session revolved around getting the PC’s together and introducing some of the NPC’s from around town. They also met some characters who were not from the adventure path, but were actually from the previous Second Darkness campaign. They didn’t recall the characters until I mentioned it after the session.
- It was a good session in that it let everyone stretch their legs and roll some dice. The players had fun, and so did I… mostly.
- Right from the first session I knew I was going to have issues. I prepped for this session (overprepped actually – see my Party Time post) in record time. I thought I would like the fact that I didn’t need to do much of the heavy lifting with Rise of the Runelords. Unlike Second Darkness, Rise of the Runelords did not need any converting or fleshing out. It was fine to run right out of the box. It turns out I have a problem with this. That, coupled with COVID lockdowns and very little to do, got me twitching. I’d have to put my own spin on things because apparently I can’t help myself. But for Session One, I just briefly included a couple of NPC’s that were a nod to the previous campaign.
It appeared that the Guardians of Golarion had achieved a victory of sorts by destroying the remaining dragon shard of Zalatas. However, while they did alter the visions shown by the Readers of Minas Amer, the disaster seemed to now be focused on a single city – Iadara, the elven capital of Kyonin.
What will the Guardians do? Find out in Second Darkness Episode 58 – Dire Warnings!
Well, I did it. Not like I had much of a choice.
Due to the plague sweeping the world, I, like many other tabletop RPG’ers, had to take my game from the tabletop to one a little more virtual. Luckily I had started using Roll20 with our tabletop games to project maps. I had a television that I would set down on some foam blocks, put a piece of plexiglass over it, and use the game’s “Fog of War” to reveal the map while my players moved their physical miniatures across the gridscape.
But now everyone was in lockdown. And since my players were also family members of mine, I really didn’t want to drop the game. So, over the course of a couple of weeks, everyone made their own Roll20 accounts. Once they were set up, we would log in at various times and troubleshoot the sound aspect of the system. I had a decent Razer headset with a mic, so my setup was pretty solid. Everyone else would be using the built-in mics and speakers from their laptops.
As far as bare-bones went, this would be fine. We did our soundchecks and things worked well enough to try a session. Everyone would be able to attend and participate. Still, I wasn’t expecting miracles. I wasn’t even expecting good. I was expecting a rough session with bugs.
I was not disappointed.
- We had sound issues. When we did sound checks during the week, we never had them with everyone on at once. Three people played in the same room, and with everyone having their own mics and speakers on their laptops, we spent the first hour of the session with them trying to figure out a combination of who could have what on, or who could sit how far from the other, without causing screaming feedback.
- Mics were a bit of an issue as well. I had trouble making out what some players were saying because they were sitting at different distances from the mics on their laptops. RP moments were lost when I’d ask them to repeat that stellar line again.
- Awkwardness. This was not a technical issue, but a personal one on my end. All of my players were sitting together – two at one house, three at another. I was sitting alone in my basement, talking to a wall. To make matters worse, we started the session with the players discussing what they were going to do next. What they decided was completely out of left field and I had not prepped for at all. That just increased the amount of awkwardness I felt as I scrambled to come up with something while players mumbled over feedback loops. At least they couldn’t see how flustered I was.
- Dice. I had asked if people wanted to roll dice. One of my players said he wanted to use Roll20’s dice rolling. No one else said anything. So we went with virtual rolls. The player who suggested the dice rolling had macros set up so he was comfortable with it. At the end of our session, we all sat around and played with macros in hopes that we could come up with something that the experienced and the novice could get something out of.
However, in the end we had a successful session. There’s things to work on during downtime (including me fighting the urge to buy headsets for all of my players), but all in all, we were able to get together in the only way we could escape the real world for awhile.
And these days, that counts for alot.
With the world beset with sickness and a virus that has a body count to go along with it, many have taken the “social distancing” to heart. Sadly, this has meant to cancellation of many tabletop RPG sessions. My local Pathfinder Society lodge has canceled games for the rest of the month. For many choosing to self-isolate, losing out on a big source of enjoyment during these stressful times can be… uh… more stressful? (Editor’s Note – Well said, genius.)
But all is not lost! It is possible to continue to slay dragons and explore dungeons with your groupmates and not have to worry about catching any filthy diseases they may have! In the most recent Todd Talk, Todd Kenreck talks with Lauren “Oboe” Urban and William Boxx about how to play D&D online (which also applies to most TTRPG’s), what software to use, how to handle combat and much more.
Give it look, won’t you? After all, there’s probably not much else to do except ration your toilet paper.
(Image by Paizo.)