Running the Starter Set

Last Wednesday I put my usual Pathfinder campaign on hold for a brief tour of the Starter Set. We will be playing through the Lost Mine of Phandelver for at least a month (until Gen Con).

I suspect we won’t carry the adventure to its final conclusion, mostly because of how limited the Basic Rules characters felt to the players. I have a seasoned group and they’re fond of creating their own PCs, so handing over pre-gens was a disappointing way to start. Some of them did tailor the PCs (like making the Folk Hero archer an elf), but I could see the eagerness to do more than the rules were allowing.

I think my group also needs time to warm up to the open flexibility of the new edition. Pathfinder is so prescribed; there’s a rule and a dice roll laid out for everything along with the chance to dig for more modifiers for success. Thus the idea of “If you want to do it, say it out loud and we’ll see if it can be done” wasn’t very evident this first week. Instead, it kind of got mocked — “Can I shoot him with an arrow and make him magically explode? What’s the roll for that?” and most combats were just exchanged hits. I chalk it up to unfamiliar rules (for now).

Play itself went okay, though again rules unfamiliarity and the expectations set by Pathfinder seemed to get in the way. For example, the players were caught off-guard by how tough goblins were! That 7 hp turned out to be quite an issue for the players, who always seemed to do 6 damage on a hit; and on a good roll a goblin could do 8 damage, enough to nearly take down a PC. I also got some pushback on the [SPOILER ALERT!] water trap in the goblin cave. The argument was that the PCs should have been able to hear the water coming the round before it swept over them and therefore should have been warned before it got there. There was debate about how fast the water was moving per round, etc. There’s that Pathfinder prescription again. Sigh 

All in all, not the most triumphant first week with the Starter Set. I think people had fun overall though, and once they get used to things I’m hoping they’ll embrace the rules more completely.

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