Moving to a new area and leaving your old group can be really tough. Fortunately, Society play makes it easier to get back into the adventure. Today, we look at some of the most important things to consider when scouting your new party.
Dear DovahQueen: I’m moving to a new PFS region where there are dozens of new venues, and I’m wondering what are the most important things to look for when evaluating each potential group. (Other than my standard mental checklist of: “Roleplay/Roleplay balance? How much do they expect me to GM and/or play? How clean are the bathrooms? What food venues are nearby? What’s the commute time? Do I have to pay monthly to be a ‘member’ of the game store, etc..”)—Kitsune Warlock
Dear Kitsune Warlock: Moving somewhere where you can’t play, in person, with your friends is almost always a huge suck. The way in which PFS and Adventurer’s League gives you an avenue for finding games in a new place is one of my favorite things about them. The fact that you have a mental checklist means you’re already thinking about things in the most productive manner possible. I only have a few caveats that I would encourage you to think about.
For starters, one of the most important things for you could (should?) come from your existing list. You have to look at those topics and rank them as which are most important to you. I have a weird hatred of commute times and will do everything in my power to reduce them as much as possible, so that would be near the top of my list hands down. If someone doesn’t have a reliable income, maybe dues are their number one, and if you’re chiefly concerned with bathrooms, that’s ok too. For most of the things you could be worrying about, I’d recommend scouting out some of the local game shops in person. This is gonna do a few things for you since you’ll be able to A) see the bathrooms, B) chat up the game store employees/owners, and C) check out those local food venues. Personally, I ALWAYS recommend going to the local store and speaking with the folks who run it when you move to a new area; they’re likely happy to point you to the folks that play there, and they’re often a great source of information about the people who play there too.
While I do think that your list is a top-shelf way of figuring out where you wanna play, I also think that maybe the most important thing to consider might be missing from your list. No matter how great the food is, the roleplaying is, or how clean the bathrooms are, you’re gonna straight up not have fun if you don’t get along with the people who play there. I think that scouting out potential groups to just chat with them and see how well the personalities mesh is critical. I recently joined a new PFS lodge too and the first thing I did was reach out on social media to talk to some the regional organizers for this very purpose. (I’m told constantly that I need to be in more places than just Facebook, but I’m stubborn, old, and ill-informed, so that’s all I got.) On FB, you can search for “<insert your area here> Paizo Organized Play” and you’ll probably find some kind of group or page for contacting potential GMs and party members. Folks in these spaces can tell you all about the places they like to play and the places they like to avoid. Take what they have to say and update the rankings in your list.
Here’s what I would do if I had a bunch of options. I’d sign up for maybe one game at each potential location just to get a feel for it. Start with places and groups at the top of your list and just play. There’s no reason you can’t evaluate each potential group after you’ve sat down with them once or twice. In the *worst-case* scenario, you can always contact some of your formerly-local friends and see if they’d like to play via roll20 with you. Ok, one more; worst-worst-case scenario, being forced to find a regular PF home-group that isn’t Society isn’t the worst fate either. For a while, I was running a game for a group of people who’d literally never thrown a 20-sided die in their life. Building a group from scratch with new players can be very rewarding too.
I don’t know if I’ve ever fully unpacked after a move so good luck being unpacked in under a decade, and good luck finding your new group in the new year!
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