The Set-Up

I’ve been neglecting my blog recently, it seems. Part of that is probably because I’ve been busy but that’s a poor excuse. Part of it is certainly because if I’ve had a thought to express there are places for me to do that quicker and easier than wordpress. Twitter seems to have been winning. Thankfully I’ve got something to write about that I just can’t fit in 140 characters so here I am again.

I played Pathfinder last weekend. In itself this isn’t a shocking revelation, I’m pretty sure lots of people played Pathfinder over the course of last week and many of them played on the weekend. People who know me, though, know that there are two arguments against my playing Pathfinder. One is that I typically don’t enjoy high fantasy and the other is that I don’t typically enjoy D&D.

My interest was inspired by a video linked to from a gaming group I follow on Facebook. Specifically, this video:

Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t have bothered, what with the aforementioned apathy towards all things D&D but I was curious for two reasons. One being Ian Livingstone and the other being Louise, who I had happened to meet at a BBQ the weekend before I was linked to the video. The combination of a personal hero and a recently met acquaintance playing D&D together was enough to intrigue me.

The reason I have traditionally disliked D&D isn’t exactly the fault of D&D, exactly. It doesn’t help that I’ve had some bad game experiences playing D&D but that’s not it either. I’ve loved pen & paper role playing games for years but I’ve always opted more for White Wolf’s World of Darkness and similar games. Games that emphasise storytelling. D&D has always felt like overly concerned with the minutiae of combat over role playing.

Whilst watching that video I stopped thinking of D&D as an RPG and that’s what changed things. It’s clearly a miniatures game and when you see it played with miniatures it all becomes clear. Your characters level and learn skills, there’s some in-character banter involved but it’s largely a miniatures-driven combat and puzzle solving game. This is, to borrow a phrase often used in video games, a game with ‘roleplaying elements’. That sounds like something I can get behind.

So I posted those thoughts on the facebook group and a friend who was running a Pathfinder game invited me. That’s how I ended up playing Pathfinder.

Erik the Very Confused Wizard

We already had a rogue. That’s my answer to the inevitable question my friends will ask, namely ‘why are you playing a wizard?’ Rogue is my go-to class so with that off the table I was stuck. Of the other options wizard had some interest. I hadn’t really played a caster class in D&D before. Arguably, given the way the game went, I still haven’t. That’s where the character’s confusion comes in.

Our party was comprised of an elven rogue, a murderous dwarven warrior and me, the ‘wizard’ with a crossbow. At early levels in D&D being a Wizard means that your hostile spells will be as dangerous or even slightly less dangerous than your average hefty stick. As a result I was mostly shooting things with my crossbow then turning my wizardly abilities to detecting secret doors, appraising magical items and threatening to reduce the elf in size so he could talk to the dwarf eye to eye. Or make the dwarf bigger. Mostly just futzing with people. In one fight I did work out that I was so ineffective that I used mage hand (a spell that lets you lift objects telekinetically) to hold a spider dangling and wiggling in the air whilst we killed its’ friend before dealing with it. I was not a dangerous wizard.

I came into my own in providing complicated solutions to fairly simple problems, solutions that could only work because of my magic. I did this to convince the rest of the party I was useful.

Further into the dungeon we found a font of enchanted water which, because we wanted to experiment, accidentally produced a +5 enchanted club of justice. For those who aren’t well-versed in D&D that is as stupid a weapon as it sounds. That said I didn’t have a melee weapon and the +5 made it by far the best weapon I could wield from the selection available to us. As my strength was so low I decided I needed to use the Bull Strength spells to make myself stronger.

By the time we confronted the litch that was the end-game boss of this particular dungeon I used my magic to:

  • hide from the litch
  • sneak up on the litch
  • enchant myself so I couldn’t miss
  • enchant myself so I would hit HARD

I did not use my magic to:

  • directly attack the litch, at all

Nope. I used my +5 club of justice and you know what? It worked. Which is why I am cross-classing Erik, if we play with these characters again, into a Wizard-Barbarian. For those who aren’t well-versed in D&D that is as stupid an idea as it sounds.

I’m looking forward to it.