The House Rules of a first time GM

As a few of you know, I’m beginning my very first run at storytelling for a pathfinder campaign this Friday evening. It’s a not-so-happy little world that I’ve been creating for the past few months, and I’m super excited to meet the player characters as they join us!

I’ve listened to many people, read articles, and played countless more hours of tabletop games in order to get a feel for what I think will be a good set of non-restrictive house rules for playing at my table.

If anyone’s interested, I’ve typed them up here! It’s very likely that more will get added to this list as time goes on. I’m very much a greenhorn when it comes to this sort of thing.

  1. I won’t make my players pay for basic rations on a standard dungeon crawl. They WILL have to prepare food and water for cross ocean/desert/forest treks though.
  2. If they choose to pay for food at an inn, it may or may not offer them some in-story benefits. Who knows.
  3. Custom items and weapons will be gifted to each player as the campaign goes on, based on their character backstory that they’ve given me.
  4. If the players can make an argument something (feat, skill, weapon, etc. WITHIN REASON) using story lore or pre-established background lore (read: from the story they’ve given me before today) then I will consider it at an away from table discussion.
  5. This is a very roleplay heavy game, I will reward good story telling.
  6. I’m using Inspiration. I like it.
  7. Show up in costume and you get a free point of inspiration to use during that night’s game.
  8. You also get a point of inspiration if you use a consistent character voice.
  9. Once you kill it, you can eat it. Basic enemies will be represented Hershey kisses and Reese’s cups. Mini boss monsters will be fun-size candy bars. Big story bosses will be full sized candy bars.

Like I said. I’ll likely think of more. I just thought these were fun.

Custom Continent Maps!

I started mapping out some more things! Literally! I’ll have to do more detailed city and cave maps as I go into more of the specifics, but I’m really happy with how this has ended up so far.


I’ll update a bit later once I finalize some things placement wise and add them into my digital file.

World Map Creation

This is my absolute first time running a pathfinder campaign, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve been spending the past month mapping out plot lines (accounting for party derailment) and general themes. And now…

I got my world map finalized! This version isn’t to scale fully, even though there’s a scale in the corner. I enlarged a few things just for this picture so that in case my players find it, they’re not seeing a fully accurate map before the 23rd.

pathfinder map

Paileus is a world rife with political and social turmoil. At the turn of the century, many citizens are not too thrilled with how the world is run; broken up into separate conflicting factions that have little regard for the fallout of their actions.

Most common folk see themselves as just casual players in the long game, and few are willing to step up to do what is right.

The late King Taeron had begun amassing mystical artifacts capable of dealing great harm to his foes in a last-ditch effort to sway the turning war in his direction. And much like others before him, his sudden passing left his dream unfulfilled. The whereabouts of these artifacts are unknown to even the royal family.

There have also been rumors circulating of a second rebellion rising from the south led by a surprising force.

It is your job to navigate this world. Discover its secrets, and all it has to offer you.

Perhaps you wish to discover who truly murdered the King. Or maybe you’re more interested in hunting down the artifacts that Taeron had scattered to the corners of the earth. At the end of the day, you may just want to roam around the continents seeing how many notches you can put in your proverbial belt at each of the cities’ finest brothels.

Whatever you choose, make it worthwhile. Begin your journey in Scorpion Bay, and let the adventure unfold.

I’ve begun world creation on a new tabletop campaign

Not many of the details are hammered out enough for me to want to post them just yet, but it will be pulling heavily from a wide variety of seafaring adventures. I’m starting with a map, and working my way down. Hopefully I’ll have something solid for you to see within the next few weeks!

This will be my first time running a full campaign, and I’m not sure if I’m using D&D 5e or Pathfinder just yet. I have both of the rule books, I just have to look more into the mechanics of some of the monster creation so I can figure out which will be easier to run.

Adventurer’s Log: Session 1

This is just a small portion of how I write my campaign notes.


Adventurer’s Log
Session #1: 11/19/2016


Character Details Player
Jack Aves Lvl.6 Human Gunslinger Eric S
Liara Lvl.6 Half-Elf Ranger Jean H
Aramis of Cintra Lvl.6 Human Ranger Chris M
Lyra Gant Lvl.6 Elf Rogue Korynn W


  • The scene opens with Jack and Aramis, travelling along the path to the meeting of the Adventurers’ Association to accept some new contract or whatever. They banter back and forth, insulting Aramis for his pompous name.
  • They eventually arrive at the equivalent of a plantation, buttled by what appears to be Tim Curry
  • The two meet the gloriously mustachioed Mr. Whittlesworth, who is clearly the most important person known to man.

Jack: Now THAT’S a name.
Aramis: That’s a hell of a name.

  • Liara is introduced more or less casually, but with some pomp
  • Group is told that they “must” return the relics to Mr. Mustachio but that’s really to be seen.
  • [Sean passes out deus ex machina notes here because reasons]
  • Group is kicked out and told to get a move on and find the lost temple of Naharah
  • They travel for an uneventful week (that feels like it only took about 30 seconds) and arrive at the port, where they meet with their hired ship.
  • The Quopead
    • Captain Baha, the man with the wooden arm
  • Three days into the journey, Captain Baha asks the three (mainly Liara lbr here, she’s the only one who knows this shit) what all they know about Al Karuk
    • Walled city
    • Over 1,000 ships docking daily
    • City of the Free Drow
    • Unsafe to dock at night because ghosties
    • Green lights on the water – scary shit, man
  • Another week passes, and a ship comes into view
    • Several crew members seem to be happier when they hear that
    • No resistance is shown, in fact all defenses are taken down fully
    • Captain Baha seems very…interested…in this Pirate Captain
  • Aramis and Jack draw weapons on the boarding pirates who immediately start apologizing and act very confused
    • Nobody really ever draws down on them
    • Most people actually look forward to them coming on board
  • Pirate ship White Abalon
    • Captained by the Dread Pirate Philbert
      • The understatedly handsome
    • Second in command: Hugo

Liara: No man that handsome deserves to be called Philbert

  • Fully explains the purpose of Piracy Guilds
    • Considered a form of taxation (involuntary)
    • Monthly/quarterly quotas for pillaging, murdering, and whatnot
      • This leads to half of the Quopead crew being VERY disappointed
    • The Adventurers do not fall under the jurisdiction of the pillaging, their stuff is safe.

Philbert: And what is your business crossing the sea?
Jack: …Stuff?
Liara: Things?
Jack: To get to the other side?

  • Captain Philbert pushes for one of his riggers to join the expedition
    • Claims that it will be better for her than piracy
  • Party is introduced to Lyra Gant
  • Some time later, the party arrives in Al Karuk
    • Arrive at night and stay docked off the coast a ways
    • Observe the lights up close-ish
  • On shore, the party makes their way to the inn/house where they’ll be staying
    • Set up previously by Mr. Whittlesworth
    • Managed by a man named Raphael

Jack: So you recognized us because of the camel, right?
Raphael: I recognized you because you are foreigners.

  • More details on the adventure for the lost temple of Naharah
    • Self-funding the expedition on a local basis (food, travel through desert)
    • Basically we were told “GLHFDD” (good luck, have fun, don’t die)

Why I gave D&D/Pathfinder a second chance. And why maybe you should too.

Those of you who may know me personally are very well aware of how big of a nerd I actually am. I’ve collected comics, played video games, cosplayed, and even roleplayed as some of my favorite characters for years now. But one of the things I was never all that into during the prime ‘nerd discovery’ years of my life (read: high school and college) was Dungeons and Dragons. My entire college circle of friends played every single Friday night. They would gather up their sheets, dice, and snacks from the dining hall and take up one of the free common rooms in the dorm for anywhere from five to ten hours a session.

Nobody ever seemed to mind. They kept it relatively quiet, and people rarely used the room on the fourth floor anyway. It was like clockwork though. And I would always find myself sitting alone back in my room surfing Tumblr and binge-watching crappy anime on Netflix instead of being with them during their sessions. Why? Because it wasn’t my thing.

Or so I had been led to believe.

When the idea of me testing out the game was brought up, the group’s DM was very enthusiastic. And I mean very enthusiastic. I thought that was a great sign! Right away, he threw a bag of dice and the rulebook at me and we sat down and got to work. He helped me roll out a character sheet in a few hours, and was helping me hammer away at a backstory, but it wasn’t sitting right with me.

He kept pushing the math and calculations part of the game, playing up the intense combat and dungeon crawling. His story was only half fleshed out and not that original, so it took me a while to get into character. I gave it a good first shot, and tried to learn the rules as fast as a novice could. And by that, I mean slowly. There was a lot of “Wait what?” and “Could you explain that again?” happening that night, and he just had zero patience for it. He lost his temper with me and a few other players about questioning some simple roll, and that was the end of it for me. I realized that he was far more interested in the strict rules and the technical side than the story of it.

So I did what any rational player would do. I killed off my character in her debut session by having her swan-dive off the top of a pirate ship into a raging whirlpool and proclaimed that I would never play the game again. All in all, it was pretty beautiful despite the circumstances.

Fast forward six years. I remained friends with these folks past college and we are all mostly doing the adult thing. The original DM no longer lives in the area, so they were trying to get a group back up and running with one of our other friends at the helm. Knowing my love of story-telling and high fantasy, he came to me and asked if I wanted to be a part of his new campaign. Reluctantly, I told him I would give it a shot. After all, he knew my frustrations with the game.

This friend was an absolute saint to start with. He sat me down and did what a good DM should to help me make a character. As we went, he explained why each choice was a good or bad one. He asked why and where I wanted to put certain stats and bonuses. This DM broke it down in a way that was easy for someone new to the genre to understand. It took a few hours since we were making two new characters, so I had him over for dinner with me and my boyfriend and we spent the rest of the night essentially play-testing things.

The story was original and well-planned, with a nice mix of combat and roleplay rather than a full on dungeon crawl. From what I’ve seen, he has an easy way for us to slide into the campaign and is willing to actually walk us through the first few combat sessions when we get there without rushing us.

Our first campaign session was in December of 2016, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of this ragtag troupe.

It took me six years, but I finally realized that I never had an issue with the game as a whole. The mix of chance and story provides a good improv opportunity for people who like to be creatively challenged, and the battle planning lets the more strategic friends get their kicks in the same way. No, I did not hate the type of game or the lore. I hated the DM. And because of that, I missed out on the past six years of game nights and potential good times, all because I thought that was the only way to run a game.

So if you’re contemplating it, I say do it. Go on Roll20 or facebook or wherever and just look for a group near you that is open and willing to teach newbies. And if your first group doesn’t work out? Try again later with a new one.

It will be well worth it. I promise.