I have always been one to want a lot out of gaming. I love to roleplay. One of my favorite parts about the whole thing is getting to pretend to be someone else for a while and forget about my own life and its problems for a few hours. For the last seven or so years I have been stuck behind the GM screen. Now, don’t get me wrong I enjoy running games, I really do. It just doesn’t give me the same feeling as playing does though. I wanted a chance to play again, but I couldn’t find a game that could suit my needs. Either I couldn’t find another game to join, or they were playing something I wasn’t interested in, met at the wrong time on the wrong day, whatever it might be… it just didn’t seem like it was going to happen. Then I lost my job. Suddenly I had a bunch of new available gaming hours that I could use, but still couldn’t find a reliable game.
I decided to look around in some strange places and found out that people were roleplaying online using something called a Virtual Tabletop. This intrigued me so I looked into it some more. The first thing I found was a group organizing games at all times of the day, which was right up my alley. What’s this though? Organized play? Nevermind, I heard that stuff sucks. Let’s move on. Nothing else came my way though, so eventually I wandered back. I waffled over the decision for a while, but eventually decided to give it a try. It was very different from what I expected.
Let me get one thing clear before I continue. I had never played even one minute of an organized play game before this, and I only have experience playing Pathfinder Society at this point. So, keep that in mind while reading further and finding that your experiences differ from mine.
My first character was very much like a normal character for me. He had lots of flavor and interest. A dwarven fighter with a Charisma score of six. Wait? That’s lots of flavor and interest? Well yes, because he didn’t have a Charisma of six because he was abrasive and surly, he had the six because he refused to bathe, groom, or otherwise care about his person. He smelled horribly, had bits of food in his tangled and unruly beard and hair, and his armor was dinged up, rusted, and otherwise in disrepair. Heck even the minor wounds he got here and there went uncared for and festered until a cleric was forced to magically heal him to get rid of the stench of putrid infection. This guy was the life of the party though. He laughed, he joked, poked fun at the other PCs, and otherwise enjoyed life. And Happy Jacks listeners will be happy to know that I took every opportunity to make burping and farting noises into my microphone to really push across the message that this guy was just flat out gross.
I ran into a decent amount of others who had similar characters with rich backgrounds and decent roleplay involved in their creation. The scenarios themselves had lots of ways to achieve the objective that didn’t involve all out combat, so it was less combat intensive than I expected. Hell, I played one scenario where roleplaying was not just encouraged it was required to complete the goal. After a few months of enjoying myself in this way, I started to wonder if it were just these players. Maybe most people don’t play this way, and these guys and girls are different than the norm. That had to be why people maligned organized play so badly.
A few months ago a new gaming store opened in my area and I quickly became friends with the owners of the store. They wanted to get Pathfinder Society into their store since it was becoming the best selling rpg on the market. The local Venture Captain came into the store and started running games, but for whatever reason it just didn’t work well for either side of the exchange. That’s when I stepped in and took over organization for the store. I’ve been putting the games together now for about six weeks, and we’ve had as many as eighteen people in the store at one time looking to play at one of our tables. In that time I have had the chance to play with almost all of our players and have realized that no, the online players aren’t different. These players are like that too. With a few notable exceptions, and munchkins can be found everywhere these days, most of the characters are well developed and interesting characters. Without a doubt, these are roleplayers and not just number crunchers.
So, in closing I just want to say that even though organized play gets a bad rap(and maybe in some cases it deserves it) it may not be as bad as you think it is and maybe you should give it a chance. I did, and I’m happy that I did. Otherwise I doubt I’d be getting in as much gaming as I do now, nor having as much fun as I’ve been having. My normal game group has all but fallen apart because everyone seems to have something better to do, but my Society players are ready at the table every Friday drooling for another adventure. That says something about their dedication to the hobby if you ask me, but then again… I guess you didn’t.
Filed under: Misc