Friday night last week was the culmination of my brief Pathfinder game, in which the PCs venture further down the valley, beat up some gnomes, and discover that yes, even in the idyllic Steam Mountains treachery abounds. This week’s session was played not at the ringtail store, as it was last time, but at the family business of one of the players, Era san, who has an 8 month old baby called Mizuho. This family business is on the main road in our steamy town, and is a tax business sprawled across 3 floors of a large building facing the sea. The ground floor (first, as they say rather sensibly over here) was all car park; the second floor the business; and the third floor was a small apartment and bbq area, which seems to double as Era san’s home but is used for entertaining. It has a spare room with an automated mah jong machine in it (complete with little ash-tray holders sticking out from each corner), a draught beer machine, a kitchen, a huge cooler, and a fine view of Beppu Tower and the sea. In summer, it was suggested, we should play some games on the balcony. Era san cooked food for us all, depicted below.

Somewhere in this are two dita-milk cocktails

The food consisted of hot dogs, fried chicken, fruit salad, stir fried noodles, fried chicken wings, and some sausage salad (!). There is also the ubiquitous 2 litre bottle of oolong tea, and a couple of other fancy drinks. I was plied with beer all night, which is much more like my western role-playing experiences. Era san drank non-alcoholic beer (she is still breast feeding) and kept saying “It’s beer! Really it is!” Furudera san seemed to have left her endless supply of food at home but did drink two dita-milk cocktails; apparently she’s a strong drinker. No-one else could drink due to driving or poor drinking skills, and Era san’s husband drifted in and out with the baby, who was very well-behaved and very shy. My contribution to the food was a bag of crisps and a packet of Koala March biscuits[1] (it seemed fitting), pictured in action here:

Drop-bear does 3d6 damage, then drops as a free action...

It took us a while to get started due to dithering, delays, food and chatter, but eventually we started, and we didn’t finish until nearly 1am. This was because the only battle just kept going on and on and on. Pathfinder battles take a long time! I’ve done some comparisons and been thinking about this, and I’ll be getting back to this in more detail later, but I think some of the game mechanics we commonly use are designed to get boring in battle. I think Kuma-san certainly thought so – he started playing with the baby while he waited for the battle to finish. I wanted to join him, actually, and the same thing happened on Sunday at my warhammer game actually – battle stopped early by DM fiat due to lack of interest in continuation by all involved. This is not a stunning recommendation for a rule system.

Everything else went along much the same lines as before. Players now used to being expected to give descriptions and make decisions about how things played out, they were much quicker to do this. One doozy was Myuta the ranger shooting a gnome through the neck, and pinning him to the music box so that he stopped it playing. This session involved some planning for a big assault, and here, folks, is my conclusion about that:

MY PLAYERS DID NOT DITHER!

I’m a little stunned by this. Players who don’t dither?! Who would have thought. Decisions were made, a cunning plan tried, and then another plan come up with in short order and enacted. Sadly, Myuta cocked the plan up by fumbling his stealth check (and setting off the music box). Also, although the players don’t dither in planning, some of them dithered in execution, spending a lot of time wondering what spell to cast while the battle raged. I move this stuff on pretty quickly though, with the time-honoured GM five-count. Dithering in action is vastly superior to dithering in anticipation.

All-in-all a successful game, with demands to continue; but we may be moving on to Warhammer 3rd edition first. We shall see…

fn1: This website has a blog by the Koalas from the box. I strongly recommend this site.

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