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Move aside Monopoly: Role-playing games are popular

26 roleplaying game 01

Ryan Steele, center, rolls a 20-sided dice as Gary Byle, left, watches at Forgotten Path Games in Vacaville Wednesday. The group were playing the Pathfinder role playing game. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

By
From page C1 | January 26, 2014 |

VACAVILLE — Kuya Bernardo was a little anxious to get started. He had four hours and six men to lead on a mission. Included were two new players ready to join in the Pathfinder Society Organized Play.

Each Wednesday, Bernardo and as many 16 players gather at Forgotten Path Games in Vacaville for the role-playing game. Bernardo is the game master and sets the evening’s tone with a scenario from the Pathfinder Society.

“It’s really like a really elaborate ‘choose your adventure’ book that uses the theater of the mind and sometimes a map and miniatures . . . and lots of dice,” Bernardo shared in an email with the Daily Republic.

Player Ryan Steele sees it as an “incredibly more complicated version of chess.” He started playing similar games about seven years ago.

The appeal of Pathfinder lies in the fact that players are called on to do a mission, often seeking and gathering lost artifacts and treasures, Steele said. He also likes the fact that players create their own characters, within guidelines established by the Pathfinder Society. On Wednesday, he played Ike, a 3-foot-tall creature who likes to steal things and is very flexible.

It’s Steele’s eighth character in the game. Some have died. Others are reserved for missions that require more skills.

Gary Byles was looking for a Dungeons & Dragons group when he came across the Pathfinder Society. He had dropped by in August to check out the game. Then, his work schedule got in the way.

He worked frantically Wednesday night to create a character before the start of the game. Bernardo suggested in the interest of time, Byles use a pre-generated character.

All the players introduced their characters before beginning the mission. Among the characters were Memitim, who joined the Pathfinders to travel the world and get drunk. The dwarf likes to party and make his own beer, too. Also on the mission was the character of Aurora Bright Eyes, with silver eyes and gold hair.

Bernardo gave detailed descriptions of the scene, down to the snow on the roof of the small cabin. Using a much softer voice, he spoke for one of the female characters inside the cabin.

Shortly after, he put a map on the table so the players could place their miniatures and get an idea of where they were in the forest.

The players work as a team. No one wins the game.

Next to Bernardo and his players was Will Purdew doing a Pathfinder campaign. He’s got more than 30 years of experience in role-playing games, he said.

With a finite number of scenarios in the organized play version, Purdew was looking for more adventures in the fantasy realm. Enter the Pathfinder Campaign Setting.

When he and his fellow players gather, their game picks up where they left off the previous time. The players remain the same for the entire campaign.

Purdew estimated it will take him and his group another year to finish their current campaign. They’ve already been working on it for about four months. They try to gather a couple of times a month.

Role-playing games bring together people from all walks of life, he said. Purdew works in construction. Bernardo is a mental health counselor; Byles a cook; Steele a student.

“These are people who normally aren’t together but are still a community,” Purdew said.

A tight-knit community. A Pathfinder player recently had his books stolen from his car. Within two days, his fellow gamers had managed to replace them all, Purdew said.

Purdew’s take on the Pathfinder games: ”It’s like a modern-day poker game,” he said.

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or amaginnis@dailyrepublic.net. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages.
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