My school just started a Pathfinder club at the school after I got a petition to the principal. Because it is in the voluntary "activity block" of our schedules, it will mean that some people unfamiliar to Pathfinder will be there. As I am one of only 2 people in my school who has a good enough grip on the rules to actually DM, that will mean that I will have to get everybody there to "loosen up" to Pathfinder, and to ease them into playing it. How can I do that? The other DM and I will have to teach everybody there Pathfinder, and not scare them away, all in 3 45-minute sessions. There will be about 20 other people in the group. So how can I do that effectively?


4 Answers 4


Strip down most of Pathfinder

Only introduce a handful of classes and mechanics. You can then introduce them at a later date, but for a first session, if you simply prepare a handful of fighters, rogues, sorcerers and clerics - or something with that sort of spread - you can give people an idea of the 'flavour' of Pathfinder and Fantasy RPGs in general.

More complicated concepts like Vancian casting or less vital parts like skills can be avoided for now, or mentioned in passing then glossed over. It's easiest when teaching a new system to a new player to cover the basics ("This is how you attack", "You've taken damage - subtract 5 from your hp", "You cast a fire spell and kill a goblin") that the players can understand quite easily from video games, then focus on the strengths of PnP RPGs - the interactivity and roleplaying aspects.

Later on, if your players come back for more, you can introduce more classes, add skills, flesh out other subsystems you've mostly ignored, and generally expand the game over time until it's 'proper' Pathfinder, assuming you want to! The group (or you) might enjoy the easier version as much as, or more than, the full version, in which case it's easiest to just leave it as is.

I have had personal experience with running a (lunchtime) RPG club at school. We used 2nd edition D&D, with the only experienced player being a cleric, and then adding a Ranger, Thief, Paladin and Invoker. We only played from level 1 to level 2, but it worked well. We ignored non-weapon proficiencies, I made all the characters beforehand with the other veteran helping me, and a good time was had by all. We never needed to add more of the system later on, because the stripped-down version was quicker (very important with shorter play sessions), and I learned a lot about keeping play moving for a group with players that don't all get on well.


Throw out almost all of the rules.

If you have 45 minutes to teach 20 people how to play pathfinder, you need to show the very basics of the rules, mainly "This is what roleplaying is" and "here's how to see if you succeeded."

Given that ender's game is out and with the success of Harry Potter, I would frame it in HPMOR's army styles. There are groups of 6 "wizards" each (with the extra 2 being... "mercenaries"), set up very much like the story suggests. Instead of "character sheets" they have just the most basic stats. AC, personality, "special abilities", "fire a spell", etc. Have rough approximations of the classes. Make sure there's room for roleplaying (mainly urge them to describe what happens for a bonus to their roll), and move quickly.

This way, there's little actual violence, it's in a setting (magical high school) that they almost certainly can relate to, and there are very few rules getting in the way. If you want, use the basic mechanics of pathfinder to calculate out the numbers.

  • \$\begingroup\$ -1 A wizard army skirmish seems like a poor introduction. It's not especially representative of D&D-style exploratory play, nor a great vehicle for in-character interaction. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex P
    Commented Dec 15, 2013 at 5:33

IF you have the funds available, I would suggest you get a copy of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Beginner Box. This is exactly made for beginners, using a simplified subset of the rules.

Have Fun!

  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, but even though it is simplified it isn't the REAL Pathfinder, so comparing it to the Core Rulebook is like comparing Basic D&D with AD&D \$\endgroup\$
    – h313
    Commented Dec 15, 2013 at 18:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @h313 While it doesn't include all the rules, it's very much "real" Pathfinder. The core rulebook states that you can change rules to meet your needs. It's appropriate for beginners to start with a reduced set of rules, so it's appropriate to use the beginner box's rules. The rules that are there are identical, and it's designed to introduce them at a reasonable rate. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 17:57

Jump Right In!

Split them into two groups. Have 10 minions, each with one HP, AC 11, touch 9, and saves at +0. Skeletons or Goblins, whatever. Fight's on! Allow everyone to roll initiative, and work clockwise from the highest. Make sure each of the players have a chance to hit at least one minion (so maybe 11 minions).

Later, make a boss with 25 HP. Everyone on the team will have to hit this guy at least once. AC is 13, saves are all +1. Roll initiative the same as last time. Have two minions with the boss. Let them fight the monsters and at the end, everyone gains enough XP to make it to level 2!

And they're all hooked.

GM Preparation and Conduct of the Session

  • Allow room for roleplay and not too much detective work ("Is this the cave/ building with the skeletons?" ).
  • Make the mission straightforward, and if they are descriptive with what they do give them an additional +1 to hit.

Done within 45 minutes.

What questions can you expect?

Most of the time will be spent fielding questions on

  • What is a cleric?

  • what is a sorcerer?

  • What is a rogue?

  • I guess a fighter fights?)


Provide generic descriptions of what the characters do/have: the sorc gets mage armor and magic missile, fighters get a long sword and a great axe, the Rogue a dagger, and the cleric a mace and shield. Go SUPER generic on all of this.

Sorcerer named Merlin, Rogue named Jack, Cleric named Joan of Arc, and The Fighter named Ah-nuld, or let players name whatever they want. Let them pick out a quick name for their character, and take down the notes and sprinkle in chances for them to do something or solve a problem (my favorite is taking a leak in the corner of a round room).

Allow for unfavored metagaming, they'll learn. If they end up killing everything super easy, good.

Now that the intro battle is over, and they have characters, make up another encounter as they escape the cave / building / field. Nominate two leaders to take polls from the group to see how they should proceed when you give them their next task/mission. This helps team work.

Let people switch their characters as they notice something else they like. (Oh the rogue gets a sneak attack? That's way better than this clerics channel energy!)

PC's health should be great, and don't have ability scores on the pages. Just put down the weapons bonus to hit (the fighter has a +4, Rogue a +3, sorc +1 vs touch, Cleric +3).

Keep it simple. Good luck!

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE. I edited your answer to try and organize it into related elements. Please review the edit to make sure your message was retained. Please edit whatever may have changed that does not fit what you intended to say, so that it is clear. Thanks for the answer. Please take the tour and visit the help center to see how this site is different from a lot of other internet sites. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 17:21

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