Pathfinder Socialite – Russell Akred

Meet Russell Akred, 5-star GM and Venture Captain in Ohio. 

Pathfinder Socialite is a twice monthly series on the Private Companion blog in which we speak with people of interest in the Pathfinder Society Organized Play community, the Venture Officers and 5-star Game Masters whose tireless volunteer efforts make Pathfinder Society possible.















Private Companion (PC): What is your gaming background, and how did you come to be so invested in the Pathfinder RPG?

Russell Akred: Been gaming since the mid 80’s, with a brief break after my sons were born, and have played several platforms including AD&D, 3.0, 3.5, Shadowrun, Toons, Paranoia and Runequest. I became involved with organized play with Living Greyhawk and moved to Pathfinder with the change over to 4E. I was happy to move into Pathfinder Society and was an early adopter of the organized play aspect. I gravitated toward Pathfinder because of their willingness and desire to listen to their fans.

PC: What does Pathfinder Society mean to you?

It is a group of friends that love to game with each other and love to share their passion of cooperative play.

PC: How did you come to be a Venture Captain?

In 2010 I had been organizing games in a couple of shops in Cincinnati and working with others I knew from my LG days to fill the void left by LG’s ending. I would think my strong desire to give to the hobby was what allowed me to become one of the early Venture Captains.

PC: What are some of your responsibilities as a Venture Captain?

The duties beyond being an organizer are promoting the hobby, acting as ruling official, communicating with Mike Brock and coordinating with other Venture Officers. There is also the expectation that you will come to and GM a lot at one of the major gaming conventions.

PC: What is your area like? What are some of the PFS-friendly FLGSes of note?

Cincinnati is a fragmented city. Not only are we divided by a river and a state boundary but there are strong social and economic factors insulating the different neighborhoods.

The event locations of note are…

Gateway Games, organized by the passionate supporters of that shop including “Sir Guido” Mike Richards. Yottaquest, which is where we started but now is struggling to have regular games.

Eastside Games and Cards, Art of War, Rockin’ Rooster Comics, are some of the other shops we still game in. The stores for the most part play nice together and feel like they are a community.

PC: What are some of the advantages and other differences PFS play has over play at home?

As a player the advantages are playing with new people, finding new home games to play in, and feeling a part of something bigger than your normal home game.

The advantages for a GM is not being the sole supplier of benefits the player is working toward in a campaign. You would not believe how liberating it feels when a player wants something for his character and he is not begging for it from you.

PC: How often do you run PFS games, and how often do you get to play in them?

Lately the area has been in the doldrums on events and tables have had to be cancelled. This has taken me to running a couple of games a month. For a while there I was running more than one a week with some weeks packed with tables to run.

I lately get to play one out of every three but for a long time there I rarely saw the other side of the GM screen. In fact I just got through noticing that one of my ten PFS PCs had levelled four times since I last played him. Feels very strange sometimes.

PC: What lessons have you learned from the PFS community?

That most of the gaming hobby really is a bunch of white guys. Seriously though, gamers come in all shapes and sizes and most are judged on their ability to play well with others. Except the most oblivious players, most will notice the pier pressure and either become better for it or leave. Also you learn to play a more self reliant character because you never know what other roles will be at the table. You also learn there are many ways to play the same game.

PC: You have a background in art and graphic design. How have you used these skills to enhance the PFS experience?

Russell’s GenCon PFS floor plan

It is great to be able to use your talents to help a community. I use my skills to enhance many levels of the hobby. From miniature painting, maps and redrawn handouts to laying out last year’s floor plan for Pathfinder Society at GenCon. Players love visuals because they put everyone on the same page. That way everyone is not depending on their interpretation of the box text.

PC: If you could change one thing about PFS, what would it be?

I have to pick one? I guess it would be a regional system as part of the organized play core, where different world regions would be given a part of Golarion that they would produce regional scenarios for that could only be played in their region or at joint conventions.

PC: What is a highlight of your PFS experience?

Gaming with my two sons who are now in college. Though they play less now than they used to it is wonderful to have had that positive shared experience with them. It is great to game with people you love.


Check out more of Russell’s Pathfinder creative here.

Jefferson Thacker

Before Perram joined Know Direction as the show’s first full time co-host, the podcast could have best been describe as a bunch of Pathfinder RPG stuff. Perram brings a knowledge of and love for Golarion to Know Direction, something any Pathfinder podcast is lacking without. On top of being a man on the pulse of the Pathfinder campaign setting, Perram is the founder of the superlative site for Pathfinder spellcasters, Perram’s Spellbook, a free web application that creates customized spell cards.

The flagship of the 3.5 Private Sanctuary gaming shelf of podcasts

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