Pathfinder has increasingly become my roleplaying game of choice; there is also a growing division between those players who prefer its Adventure Paths (geared toward smaller groups in a home-setting) to its ‘Society’ games (designed for the typical one-shot run at a gaming convention). Breaking it down, Adventure Paths are written to tell a coherent storyline over the effective lifetime of your characters — which, for most Adventure Paths, is level 1 to around 12 or 14. Society games tend toward a similar character lifetime (levels 1-12), but are instead a series of adventures which return the character to an episodic stasis at the end of each adventure. Not surprising, these adventures tend to lack the expected niceties of an overarching plot, or even recurring NPCs, though, you’re often playing these adventures with a different assortment of players from one Society game to another.
I begun hosting Pathfinder Society games at my home in order to meet new Pathfinder players, the ultimate goal being to find those who would be interested in engaging in a more regular Adventure Path game. Surprisingly, to me anyway, I came across some exclusively interested in Society games. It seemed the main appeal there was the official nature of the Society game: requiring the GM to register each section online plus filling out a Chronicle sheet for each player that specifically documents their progress over that adventure. This allows the player to attend a convention and play an officially sanctioned character (which he or she has played before) that has been built up over the course of several adventures. For some players, it would seem this engenders a sense of accomplishment; if the Pathfinder session in which they’re currently playing (read: Adventure Path) isn’t furthering this official standing of their character — they just aren’t interested.