Monday, November 7, 2011

Beginner Box!

We had the opportunity to get together with some people and try out the new Pathfinder Beginner Box over at Dungeon's End in West Duluth.

Pictured clockwise above, our group consisted of two people with very limited experience with the Pathfinder RPG (Miranda and Addam), one player with none whatsoever but a goodly amount of 3.5 experience (Max), and one that hasn't touched any sort of RPG in about ten years (Greg). I'm the yeti standing in the back by the dragon mural.

So nope, couldn't get any TOTAL newbies, but that will change when I use this bad boy to teach my in-laws how to play sometime this winter!

Once everyone was assembled, we decided it would be better to get going as quickly as possible, and so we used the pregenerated characters right out of the box. A cursory glance over the sheets was enough for most of the players, though Greg needed the occasional reminder of how skill checks worked. It took us about two and a half hours to play through the premade scenario, though that was due at least in part to us doing a fair amount of goofing off.

This mini-module managed to show off -
Three puzzles
Skill checks for swimming and climbing
The benefits of using Diplomacy instead of violence (or at least it would have if the players hadn't decided to launch an ambush...)
and the importance of strategy!

                                                  (Not pictured: strategy)

There was a lot of magical loot for a level 1 adventure, but there was also a lot of peril in the form of creative encounters that didn't have much patience for sloppy tactics. Sending the wizard into an unexplored area first triggered a chain reaction that brought the party within a single hit point of a TPK...but then the cleric got to test out the "channel energy" mechanic, and it made her a big damn hero!

All of this was a good time, but what I find most impressive about this box is that the premade adventure and characters are a tiny part of its worth. The (glossy and full color) books contained inside of it are actually all you'd need to run a campaign up to level 5.

They include several dozen premade monsters, random encounter tables for just about every kind of environment, and a skin and bones version of the town of Sandpoint. Add to that the concise and neat blank character sheets and the simple grid on the other side of the dry-erase flip map, and you're set for several months of quality games.

I expected this to be pretty good as a way to introduce people to the game, and it turned out to be a lot more. The hard cardboard "pawns" seem to be made of the same adamantine-infused paper as the Pathfinder GM screen, and they are a terrific midpoint between 2-D pogs and plastic miniatures. They also keep the cost down to a trim 35.00, and allow for a lot more critters to be stored away!

Our demonstration has Dungeon's End looking at getting a store copy of the boxed set for free use, so be sure to stop in and ask about it if you'd like to give it a whirl yourself. This is an absolutely terrific addition to our collection, and something we'll be bringing with us whenever we travel with friends!


  1. I had the chance to play this too and I was very impressed with it. The components alone are well worth the price tag.