I recently started GMing a new Pathfinder campaign. The players are mostly new to roleplaying tabletop games. I wanted to make the first session as easy as possible by avoiding a few of the things I dread the most: character creation, party introduction and learning the basic roll-play rules.
The group is 5 players and myself. Three adults, two teens and one preteen. Character creation can be a long session of rulebook flipping and boundary pushing (can I use this class template from Reddit?) even with experienced players. For beginners it can be a tedious series of explanations about the ability scores and indecision. To avoid all of that, my son and I generated 6 character classes, but didn’t chose a race. The idea is for an icy, nordic world loosely using the Adventyr Campaign Setting for a seed. For that reason, we rolled up a Druid, a Ranger, a Barbarian, a Rogue and a Cleric and my son made a Sorcerer. The environment and wild animals are usually unimportant in campaign, but I plan to put the characters in situations where the cold and terrain will affect them. I gave each character gear, armor and weapons suitable for the setting (Hide armor, Light Shield and a Short Spear? Of course!)
“Made it a snub-nose.” – Year One.
When everyone got together, they each chose the race of their character. I discouraged Elves and Half-elves. But we still ended up with a Dwarf Druid, Half-orc Ranger, Human Barbarian, Human Rogue and Half-elf Sorcerer. Also two dogs and a hawk.
At this point, I introduced the setting, gave some back story and had each player tell the player to their right how their characters met. This was unexpectedly great. The stories were fun, there was no Inn or Tavern at all. And better, yet…each story meant something to the players. It was a really nice trick. I asked a few questions, like, “how did your character react when they met that way?” to get both players involved.
Then I asked everyone who lived in the town I described and who was from away. I had them explain what they did in town, if they hadn’t already done that as part of the introduction and then taxed everyone who wasn’t from the town for lodging and food. Ha!
At that point I created a scenario to introduce combat. It was like the fighting tutorial in video games, to the kids. As per the story, the military from the ruling kingdom was seeking adventuring types to take a boat ride North to protect the newly conquered fishing village. To prove their might, the party was asked to fight a cadre of guards. The players were able to learn how combat rounds work, make some saving throws, flank and risk shooting each other with missile weapons. There was a magic missile, an acid splash and a whole lotta biting and clawing.
All in all, it took about an hour and a half or so on a Saturday. Everyone seemed in good spirits.