Category Archives: For Parents

GREAT Deal on Pathfinder 2nd Edition bundle!

THIS IS AN AMAZING DEAL if you’re interested in PF2. It expires on August 4, 2020.

(7/25 Update: The physical Core Rulebook has sold out!)

$30 + shipping gets you:
Physical version of Core Rulebook (total $20 if not getting the book)
PDFs of Core Rulebook, Bestiary, Lost Omens World Guide, Lost Omens Character Guide
PDFs of many Pathfinder Society adventures (short published adventures)
PDFs of “flip mats” that can be used in online RPG gaming


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Posted by on July 15, 2020 in Announcements, For Parents


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Shopping Suggestions for Parents, Part 4

(Previous installments in this series were focused on Pathfinder 1st Edition, which has now been replaced by 2nd Edition as of Fall 2019. If you are interested you can see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.)

Note that nearly all these things can be found at Games of Berkeley and at Eudemonia in Berkeley. 


Firefly Dice Orange RedNothing quite makes a kid prouder at the gaming table than a shiny set of his or her own dice. Games of Berkeley has a wide selection that you and your child can browse. Do not choose a set for them — let them adopt their own aesthetic! ūüėÄ A complete set of 7 polyhedral dice costs between $5 and $15.

Dungeons & Dragons (the predominant game on Mondays)


These are great if your kid wants to run their own D&D adventures with family and friends right away! They are inexpensive and they come with all the essentials: dice, basic rules, and a starting adventure that goes from Levels 1 to 5.

The D&D Starter Set (with pregenerated characters and an excellent starter adventure) and the D&D Essentials Set (with character generation rules) are excellent. The Stranger Things D&D Game Starter Set is great if your child and their friends like the hit television show.


The Player’s Handbook is where your child should start if they want the complete rules for D&D. It includes 9 races, 12 character classes, and hundreds of magic spells!


There is little that excites RPG kids more than monsters, monsters, and monsters! The Monster Manual has monsters great and small, from the lowly caterpillar up to dragons and the invincible tarrasque.

Pathfinder RPG 2nd Edition (the predominant game on Wednesdays)


Pathfinder RPG 2nd Edition Core Rulebook brings the options and customization that Pathfinder fans love and brings some of the innovations from D&D 5e to create an advanced, rich, tactical experience. The Core Rulebook has all the main rules of the game, including rules for game masters (including magic items). It comes with 6 ancestries (each of them has 3-5 options), 12 character classes (each of them has 3 options, with dozens and dozens of custom feats!), and the ability to make every single character utterly unique!


No game is complete without monsters, kids love these books! This is the Bestiary for Pathfinder 2nd Edition.

Starfinder RPG

The makers of Pathfinder RPG brought their talent and imagination to science fantasy, where elves and dwarves commingle with alien races in fantastical realms that span the stars. Spaceships duel, laser guns fire. Think Star Wars meets D&D.

Sixth graders are not learning Starfinder RPG by default this year (Fall 2019), but kids who are interested can tell me if they want to try the game and I will make it happen!


Although your child might not be able to play Starfinder RPG right away, if what I said sounds interesting to them then by all means buy them the excellent Starfinder RPG Beginner Box. It comes with dice, a full color map, thick full-color “pawns” to represent characters and monsters, a player book, a GM book, a starter adventure, and a basic version of the rules for players (with alien races and 6 classes).

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Posted by on September 16, 2019 in Announcements, For Parents, Resources


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“‘Dungeons & Dragons Books Are Ridiculously Cheap Right Now”

$17.74 for the Player’s Handbook!? Now’s a great time to check out D&D!

More info at the link


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Posted by on December 18, 2018 in For Parents


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Earn a Level in the Guild! (By Playing a Great Game)


(Parents: This is a thinking tactical game that won Game of the Year on the respected Kotaku website, is made by the same developers who made the reward-winning strategy games Civilization 4 and Civilization 5, and is currently on sale for $1! Here is Kotaku’s full review.)

There’s this game I’m playing called XCOM, and you can earn a level in the Guild if you can beat it.

The game is TOTES AMAZEBALLS AND THERE’S A SUPER-CHEAP $1 SALE UNTIL FEBRUARY 2, 2016 . However, I HIGHLY recommend the $10 package on that site that includes all the game’s expansions including XCOM: Enemy Within (cybersuits, gene mods, and more missions!), plus the EXCELLENT strategy games Civilization 4 and Civilization 5 and other games! The game can be found for many platforms, including Android.

(By the way, if I had time I would write another post about Civilization, where you can redo world history, rule a nation, and conquer the world! And for Civilization 4 (my favorite), there is a total-conversion mod called Fall from Heaven II that lets you found and control an empire in a FANTASY world, complete with magic spells, kingdoms of invisible elves, vampires and more, dragons, and an Armageddon Counter!)

xcom-postWhy am I giving XP for playing XCOM? Let me count the ways:

  1. It’s about protecting the Earth from an alien invasion. They are far more technologically advanced than you, and you have to research their tech to protect your troops with better armor and weapons and abilities.¬†You can research cyber suits that punch alien robots, and learn how to attack aliens with your minds. Tr√©s cool.
  2. It plays exactly like Pathfinder. I had a post here about older games based on D&D/Pathfinder, and I would add XCOM to that article in a hot minute. You outfit a squad (party) with gear and send them out on tactical battles against aliens. It is turn-based, and each soldier on their turn can move (move action) and make 1 attack (standard action). You use stealth and take advantage of the terrain to gain the jump on your enemies. You can bait enemies to charge into your squad’s overwatch (readied actions), and agonize over whether you want to play conservative, or dash (double move) out of cover to do a critical hit. As your soldiers gain experience and earn promotions, they get perks (feats) that allow them to do more and better things on their turn. There are specializations (classes), including the Assault (close-range fighter), the Support (healer/divine caster), the Heavy (caster blaster), and Sniper (archer). And you get VERY attached to your soldiers (characters) and scream when they die! (See #3.)
  3. It is notoriously hard. As such, XCOM is a great exercise in learning tactics and coordinating the abilities and actions of your entire party: very important and transferable tabletop RPG skills! You will SCREAM and CRY tears of anguish when that veteran soldier of yours who you had from the beginning is impregnated by a Chryssalid, or head-shotted by a super-accurate Thin Man. The stakes are high, especially when you play in Ironman mode (no reloading). It’s just very exciting, and IT MAKES VICTORY, WHEN YOU FINALLY RIP IT OUT OF THE ALIENS’ COLD DEAD HANDS, SO MUCH SWEETER. Name your soldiers after your friends — I dare you.
  4. There’s a strategy layer where you expand your base, manage resources, spread satellite coverage over the world, and choose your research paths.
  5. The game is AMAZING AND OMG I WANT OTHER PEOPLE TO PLAY IT SO WE CAN ALL TALK ABOUT IT OMGGGGGGGG (And the sequel is coming out February 5 and I can’t wait! Squeeeeeeeee!)

xcom-post2Finally, here is a gameplay video that gives a sense of how it plays.

So how to gain XP in the Guild? You need to PROVE to me that you beat the game. (If you who know me well, then you know I have ways to find out the truth!) XP rewards are as follows:

  • Beat the game on Easy difficulty = 25XP (55XP if on Ironman)
  • Beat the game on Normal difficulty = 40XP (70XP if on Ironman)
  • Beat the game on Classic difficulty = 60XP (100XP if on Ironman)
  • You can earn only ONE reward from the game. So if you beat the game on Easy and on Normal difficulty, you still just earn the 40XP reward for Normal difficulty.

-Your Breathless and Anticipating Grandmaster


Posted by on January 21, 2016 in Announcements, For Parents


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Shopping Suggestions for Parents, Part 3

It’s getting to be that time of year in America¬†to reflect upon what we have, spend time with family, and of course to SHOP!

Here is another list of shopping ideas for people who are just CUH-RAZY about Pathfinder RPG! This supplements the previous lists:

Shopping Suggestions for Parents, Part 1

Shopping Suggestions for Parents, Part 2

Here goes…

Bestiary Box

bestiaryThere are few better ways to make a GM¬†feel like they’re “all set” than a menagerie of deadly monsters!¬†


This box has more than 300 creature pawns from the Pathfinder Bestiary, the first Pathfinder RPG monster book. Each pawn is printed on sturdy cardstock and slots into the plastic bases that come with the set. Included are Small, Medium, Large, and Huge(!) monsters from the Bestiary.

One should not have this without first having the Pathfinder Bestiary, however, to have stats that go with these monsters.

Because the box is heavy, it is probably cheaper to go to your FLGS (Friendly Local Gaming Store) to get one. In Berkeley, there are Games of Berkeley and Eudemonia.

GM Screen

pathfinder-gm-screenLet’s be honest: some kids like the Game Master role because they get to be in a position of authority with their friends. They have the privilege of handing down game rulings and determining whether their friends live or die. Well, nothing helps¬†cement¬†the enigmatic status¬†of the Game Master than a GM Screen!

Secondarily (for the kids!), it also has its USEFUL¬†functions: preventing¬†prevents players from seeing the GM’s adventure notes and monster stats; serving¬†as¬†a stand for placing¬†initiative cards; providing many useful charts from the Core Rulebook such as skill tables, condition descriptions, and stats for¬†environmental features (e.g., an answer to “I try to break down the door!”).

Kids will also be targets of envy if they nab one of the uncommon versions that have alternate covers: GM Screen.

Technology Guide

technology-guideThe Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook from Shopping Suggestions, Part 2 provides all the core rules and options to run a full Pathfinder RPG game. The book Ultimate Equipment provides an expansion of fantastical gear and magic items to supplement those core rules. However, those books stay within the established tropes of fantasy and swords & sorcery (Lord of the Rings, Conan the Barbarian, etc.).

That is because Paizo reserved SUPER-SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY for the Technology Guide! It is a softcover book containing TONS of technological options: including laser guns, hologram generators, cybernetic implants, remote controls for robots, powered armor, and extinction wave devices! There are also archetypes for some classes, and a new prestige class, the Technomancer, which uses magic to command robots and power technology.

Sure, this is heresy for fantasy purists. But for others this is the chocolate to their peanut butter. This supplement suits fantasy/sci-fi themed campaigns, and was published to support the Iron Gods Adventure Path. This is not at all required, however, to be a player in Iron Gods.

Hero Lab

HeroLabImageThis is on the pricier end of the spectrum, but for those students for whom CREATING A CHARACTER is a large part of their Pathfinder fun, it is a godsend.

Making a character in Pathfinder RPG, especially a high-level one, can be complicated. For some young people it is a genuine¬†stumbling block — a black box hiding¬†away part of the fun, which is a shame because Pathfinder RPG¬†supports a wide range of character concepts, from druids with animal companions to gunslingers to mad scientists with detachable tumors that fight for them to mind-controlling mesmerists to world-shaping wizards. As a result, many students find themselves dependent on me or other more experienced players to selectively feed¬†recommendations to them from the sea of options (there are over 2,000 feats!). The numerous¬†classes, archetypes, spells, and equipment are scattered over several books, making this process even more difficult.

Hero Lab empowers some students to do the building on their own, and can open up another world within the world of the game.

Hero Lab computerizes the process and consolidates the options in navigable menus. And because Pathfinder RPG has many numerical interactions, it automates the math. So for example, if you put on that Belt of Giant Strength in Hero Lab, it adjusts all your attack and damage rolls and skill bonuses for you. If you transmogrify into a rhinoceros, it calculates your new stats!

Also, Hero Lab¬†warns you that you cannot take that Feat because you need to meet one of its requirements first. While some might see this as a crutch that replaces¬†actual¬†studying of the game rules, for others it can be positive by serving as “training wheels” because it shows you specifically what went¬†wrong: one can’t¬†learn without knowing something is wrong first, and understanding¬†why.

Chandra Nalaar (Guild) 10_Page_1Finally, you can add a PICTURE to your character sheet! For many kids, this is the icing on the awesome cake, and they can wave it in front of their friends and say, “SEE! Look how awesome I am!”

The downside of Hero Lab is its price – $30 for the software that supports the Core Rulebook,¬†and $10 to support each supplemental book. So, to be in sync with the class options we use in the afterschool program that is $50 (which uses Advanced Player’s Guide, Ultimate Magic, Ultimate Combat, Advanced Class Guide, and¬†Occult Adventures). The¬†Ultimate Equipment¬†options we use in the class are another $10. And we use the¬†improved versions of the rogue and summoner in¬†Pathfinder Unchained¬†($10).

However, there are MANY¬†upsides. One is that each supplement is an alternative way to get the mechanical options from that book (which is usually $40, or $30 on Amazon). If taken¬†with the PDF download of that book available on Paizo’s website (even the Core Rulebook is only $10) which, if you want to, you can¬†print off and bind at a copy store (which I actually do not recommend for the Core Rulebook because it is too big to bind!), you have the entire content of that book as well.¬†Alternatively, one could simply get the¬†core Hero Lab package and get¬†the many benefits that come with it. (Though I guarantee that once one sees how easy and fun it is to make a character in it, one will WANT¬†the supplements!)

Also, this is a gift that keeps on giving: Lone Wolf Development, which develops the software, provides ongoing updates to improve its usability and to patch changes to the rulesets even after the printing of a book is superseded by errata.

There are some free interactive Excel spreadsheets and other options out there, but they pale next to Hero Lab and they don’t constantly update.

Lastly, there are is an online community of people who create their own fan-created packages for Hero Lab, including a package that includes the options from the excellent third-party Ultimate Psionics book that I personally use.


Posted by on December 16, 2015 in For Parents, Resources


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Another Awesome Story

Yet another example of how tabletop roleplaying games can help kids with school. (This is now one of a series of parent-focused posts.) This story is from the Paizo forums:

Well, I’m not real good at the esoteric things. But I do have examples of learning concrete real world skills.

Some years back, both of my boys were having trouble in school. Though they are both reasonably intelligent, they were at the bottom of their respective classes in reading, spelling, and mathematics. One has an actual learning disability that makes reading very difficult and slow. The other just really didn’t try. I think because he was reading as well as his older brother who obviously wasn’t getting in trouble for it.

I got them interested in Magic The Gathering card game (including a computer version that let them play against the AI all they wanted). Well, to play that game you have to read and understand the card then add and subtract all those numbers. Then decide what will well work together in a deck.

In one game there is more reading and basic math than in any 2 school lessons that we would have to fight all night to get them to complete. Yes, eventually they would get the cards memorized. But that is also a good skill. Didn’t bother me at all. Every so often I’d get them a new booster back that they would have to understand then figure out how to incorporate in their decks.

After a couple months when they had that well in hand. I introduced them to DnD 3.0 books I still had lying around (I wasn’t in a gaming group at that time). They loved it. There’s tons more crap to read, understand, consider, add, subtract, multiply, divide, etc… than in any card game.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on November 23, 2014 in For Parents


Shopping Suggestions for Parents, Part 2

The holiday season is an excellent time to post Part Two of my shopping suggestions for parents of kids who like Pathfinder RPG!

See Part 1 if you missed it.

Here goes…

Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook

core-rulebookThis is the mother of all Pathfinder RPG books, my friends, and in more ways than one. First of all, it is MASSIVE at 576 pages, and the reading level is pretty advanced for middle schoolers. But on the other hand, it goes beyond the Beginner Box and has 7 races, 11 character classes that go up to 20TH LEVEL (and 10 prestige classes), and hundreds of spells! Kids will want to digest much of this book because of the sheer number of new options it presents.

Second, all the other Pathfinder RPG rulebooks “sprout” from and expand on this set of rules.¬†So this also is an extremely well-organized reference — other rulebooks expand on player options or give game masters more monsters to throw at players, but this book is where a player will find 90 percent of the rules used during a typical gaming session that uses the full rules.

Still, I highly recommend that younger players start with the Beginner Box to learn the basics of the rules first. (Also, it isn’t required for kids to have the Core Rulebook to be able to keep up in The Guild.)

The Pathfinder Bestiary

bestiaryThis has over 300 monsters that will awaken the imagination and give kids the creatures they need to think up their own adventures or even just improvise battles with friends. The monsters range from crawling vermin to the world-ending tarrasque. Many of the creatures can be used easily even if someone has just the Beginner Box.

 Ultimate Equipment

ultimate-equipmentKids love to imagine their characters getting more powerful or want to “craft” their own items. This has hundreds of pages of magic items, many of them illustrated, that kids’ characters in The Guild can (eventually!) find, buy, or craft. The items range from waffle irons to unique artifacts to items that stop time or allow travel across dimensions. If they decide to “game master” their own adventures, they can use some of the items from this book.

Inner Sea World Guide

inner-sea-world-guidePaizo, the company that makes Pathfinder RPG, was known first for writing great fantasy material, first in Dungeon and Dragon magazines, then later in their fully-realized fantasy campaign setting of Golarion. The Inner Sea World Guide is a gazetteer of the world of Golarion, with maps and entries describing a wide variety of nations that includes urban metropolises, vast jungles, magical wastelands, and even the demonic worldwound. It also has cultural information on the religions, the Golarion calendar, and other stuff. All the pre-made adventures that Paizo publishes for game masters to run take place in Golarion. This is great for those who like to immerse themselves in fantasy worlds.

Move on to Part 3


Posted by on December 8, 2013 in For Parents, Resources


Shopping Suggestions for Parents, Part 1

This fall has brought in a new generation of students to The Guild at King Middle School! The classroom is loud; the mood is jovial; the learning is fast; the pace is furious!

As is clear, tabletop roleplaying games (RPG) are an excellent way for kids to “learn by doing,” to learn creativity, mathematics, and cooperation in a social atmosphere — all while having a whole lot of fun in the process!

To support your kids’ new interest in the hobby, consider making a few purchases. The first is something that will foster your child’s ability to learn and play the game at his or her own leisure at home, and the second is more of a “perk.” ūüėÄ

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Beginner Box

In class, we mainly use the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game because (1) it’s currently the most popular tabletop RPG and (2) it is flexible enough to bring to life kids’ many character concepts. Ninjas, gunslingers, wizards, shape-changing druids with animal companions — they’re all covered. This flexibility also makes it one of the most complex tabletop RPGs. (The main Core Rulebook presumes an advanced reading level and is 576 pages; still, the students at King have jumped in and learned the basics of the game with aplomb!)

The Beginner Box is great because it is geared toward a younger audience, and it provides nearly everything your kids need to create and run their own adventures. It comes with a player’s book (of which I have already given your child a black-and-white copy), a “game master’s” book, character sheets, dice, 80 cardboard pawns portraying heroes and monsters, and an erasable double-sided foldout playing mat. The only other thing you would want are wet-erase markers to draw on the mat. I know at least two students from last year who have been running the game with their younger siblings.

The Beginner Box has some limitations, however. It only presents 3 character races (elf, dwarf, human) and 4 character classes (cleric, fighter, rogue, wizard). However, it is easy to use the full range of races and classes we use in the class, using the Beginner Box. (They are on this website under “Character Creation, Game Rules.”) Also, the Beginner Box does not cover some rules in the full Pathfinder RPG. But this is by necessity, and it does not make it any harder to learn the full Pathfinder rules piece-by-piece later.

Supplies of the Beginner Box are very limited right now. (As of time of this writing Sept. 2013… this is no longer the case. -GM) (I expect the company, Paizo, to make another print run soon.) So you would have to do some searching online, or call local hobby game stores (such as Games of Berkeley or Eudemonia). Paizo itself has it on their website, but the weight of the box might make it pricey to ship.


Firefly Dice Orange RedNothing quite makes a kid prouder at the gaming table than a shiny set of his or her own dice. Games of Berkeley has a wide selection that you and your child can browse. Do not choose a set for them — let them adopt their own aesthetic! ūüėÄ I believe that a complete set of 7 polyhedral dice costs between $5 and $15.

See Part 2


Posted by on September 30, 2013 in For Parents, Resources


Tabletop Roleplaying Games and Education

Tabletop roleplaying games (RPGs), in addition to being insanely fun, are an excellent way for students to develop their creativity and to channel their interest in fantasy, sci-fi and/or RPGs into a social game where they learn problem-solving and cooperation with their new friends and peers. In my weekend RPG program (separate from King Middle School), students also do creative writing about their adventures!

Here is a PBS video on the benefits of tabletop RPGs. It says “Dungeons & Dragons” as a way to refer to all tabletop RPGs, including the system I mainly use, the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

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Posted by on September 29, 2013 in Announcements, For Parents, Resources