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Pathfinder Society Organized Play
Posted On 6/5/2012
Pathfinder Society Organized Play is a mega Pathfinder RPG campaign run by Pathfinder's publisher, Paizo. I played the Voice in the Void, a Pathfinder Society Scenario by Rob McCreary, at the last Strategicon tabletop game convention.
Pathfinder Society Organized Play (PSOP) is designed with game conventions in mind. The Pathfinder Society Scenarios are short, designed to fit the 3-4 hour slots that game conventions use. Pathfinder Society is a global order of heroes run by secret and mysterious people. They are like aggressive database admins who hire heroes to populate their magical database and publish select discoveries as a members' journal, Pathfinder Chronicles.
Players get a an ID number with Paizo's Pathfinder Society, used to create and maintain characters online. Each character also belongs to one of various factions with their own agendas. After completing a Pathfinder Society Scenario, the player receives a registered game master (GM) signed paper that has the event, experience points, prestige, and loot received in the adventure. By tightly controlling the wealth and magic items that characters can get, PSOP ensures the game balance is not disturbed in future Pathfinder Society Scenarios that character may be in.
Voice in the Void is a low-level scenario that takes place in the Pathfinder's Golarian world. A former Pathfinder and Venture-Captain, Adril Hestram, recruits you to investigate a missing daughter, Imrizade Blakros, a successful adventurer of the powerful Blakros family. She came back with an artifact from the Osirian desert a few days ago then disappeared in the basement of the Blakros private museum. Adril Hestram want you find Imrizade Blakros while the Pathfinder Society wants the artifact that Imrizade Blakros found or at least information on it.
The scenario is a short, seven room dungeon that takes 3-4 hours depending on the number of players. My game took 4 hours because we had six players. Each character also receives a faction mission. The faction mission in the Voice in the Void is a simple mission that involves finding hidden items for various factions. Completing a faction mission gives one Prestige Award, sort of faction "street cred," a game currency that gives access to better equipment or benefits.
Realize that what take 30 minutes in a CRPG like Skyrim will take three hours because of out-of-character table talk, dice rolling, rule look-ups, stat keeping and such. Being a good storyteller is an art and to maintain a uniform level of storytelling, the quest and room descriptions are printed in red, to be read out loud by the GM verbatim. The scenario book comes with maps; as players enter each room the GM roughly reproduces the room on large grid paper like the ones in the Pathfinder Beginner Box. You have some control over which room you visit, but really the Voice in the Void is a linear story with a boss battle climax. Finishing a scenario gives one experience point. Two experience points are required to level up a character.
In sum PSOP, is an enormous campaign with players around the world. Each Pathfinder Society Scenario is like multiple instances of an adventure in the Pathfinder Society campaign. You can bring any level character to a PSOP and play the various Pathfinder Society Scenarios. Achievements of the players, like wining a war, affect the Pathfinder story and the effects are written into future scenarios. You can play PSOP at most tabletop game conventions, or at hobby game shops, taverns, restaurants and other curious places for free.