With Venture-Captain Mike away, I’m taking it upon myself to review the year. Our first State of the Lodge address.
And what a year it’s been. Twelve months ago there was no UAE lodge. Now we have up to 20 regular players , with others dropping in now and again. We’ve got at least half a dozen rock-solid GMs ready to run at the drop of a hat. We’ve introduced people to roleplaying, we’ve even had people take their first seat behind the GM screen.
With rare exceptions at certain high feasts and holy days, we’ve run at least one table a week since May, often more. We’ve learnt summer is our rush time, when most home campaigns are on hiatus for the holidays and stray gamers look to us for their fix.
More than that, we’ve become friends. This first year of the UAE lodge, I’ve not only gamed more than I have in many years, I’ve met people who have enriched my life. I’ve become closer to people I knew a little before, and I’ve met some wonderful new people.
That spirit of friendship shines through at our tables. It has touched me deeply when I’ve had players sell their character’s goods to help collect the fee to raise a fallen colleague. Explore, report, co-operate – and it brings a little warmth to my ice-cold GM’s heart to see the level of co-operation common in this lodge. I feel proud to be a part of it – even if my part is often the merciless bit.
We started fairly slowly. I recall Mike running the first PFS game, at Change Initiative on January 16. Three players – myself, Jo and a visitor passing through the Emirates – made a legal table with an NPC. Mike ran the Confirmation so well that I’ve stolen his ideas every time I’ve run that scenario.
We had occasional sessions in February, March and April , but it wasn’t really until June that things picked up in Dubai. By that time we’d moved out of people’s living rooms and made our home at the Bean Machine coffee shop. That opened tables up as people who’d perhaps been a little reluctant to take on the role of GM in other people’s houses willingly – and ably – stepped up to the plate.
And then Ramadan. There seemed to be a game every other night. No one could get enough.
If I can pinpoint a point at which the Dubai PFS community became a living, breathing entity that could sustain itself without constant nurture from the VOs, it was the move to Bean Machine, which coincided with several stalwarts volunteering to GM. We haven’t looked back since (except now, because a review of the year without looking back would be very short).
Gaming in public, alongside the Geeky Lizard Card and wargamers gave us visibility as well. People walking past asked what we were doing. Card and wargamers decided to give it a try; some of them have become regulars.
We haven’t looked back. There have been games at GRC minicons, in 5-star hotels, occasional games at people’s houses, but most weekends there’s at least one table at Bean Machine – usually more.
We’ve even gained some notoriety in the global PFS community for running a couple of games in the desert.
There are ways we can improve. I need to contact Kinokuniya to see about running games there. We’ve yet to find the formula to generate in Abu Dhabi the vibrancy that infuses the Dubai community. We need to get the Adventure Card Game up and running. These are tasks for the coming year.
But the vibrancy is certainly there in Dubai. We have the GMs, we have the players, we have the venues.
And now, it seems, we have the arsenal. Over the months we’ve been running PFS, Kinokuniya’s stock has gone from a Core Rulebook or two and a Bestiary to a stack of Core Rulebooks, every hardback you can shake a stick at, Map-Packs, Flip-Mats, softcovers: Adventure Paths, Player Companions and Campaign Settings. They have both versions of the Adventure Card Game, and a stack of boosters as well. Have they noticed people have been buying Pathfinder product as soon as it appears on the shelves? I can’t help but feel we are in large part responsible for that.
Head up to Comicave at Dubai Outlet Mall, and you’ll even find Pathfinder Battles minis. Sadly, despite a lot of promise before their opening, they ended up with no RPG rules on their shelves, or gaming tables. Perhaps that will come.
I’m not going to name names for fear I’d miss someone out, but to our GMs, thank you. Without your efforts prepping, printing , presenting and running damn good games, we wouldn’t have a lodge to speak of. To our players, thank you: you are a joy to run games for, and to play with.
Pathfinders, the state of the lodge is strong.