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RPG Superstar 2015

Magnimar Special Investigations Unit One (Inactive)

Game Master Nazard

A serial police drama set in Magnimar - unit One.


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M Human Wizard (Divination School Specialist)/2

You know me too well!


Expert 3/Slacker 4/Layabout 2

How about muffin welfare?


Expert 3/Slacker 4/Layabout 2

Thought I'd do better to ask here.

In game Heward's going to ask for opinions as to our next steps.

I thought I'd ask here what you want your characters to do (not what your characters might want) so that the players are happy even if the PCs might not be.

Heward may nominally be boss, petty tyrant or jack-booted thug, but therealthom doesn't want to be one.


M Human Wizard (Divination School Specialist)/2

Calatin probably wants to start herb-hunting... chatting to gardeners and a poke around the local "arcanist's mall" sounds preferable to roaming the streets looking for stray vargouilles. But he's doing his best to be a team player and the varguilles are the more time-critical threat right now.


Male Halfling Inquisitor of Calistria (Heretic archetype)

Phil will make his point in thread, but I'd say swarm Rag's End with as many men as we can muster and try active containment.


Sgt. Vic Wizzo wrote:
"Oh no, Wallas. I might be working for you on the vargouilles thing, but those Mage attacks were my case first, and I'll be damned if the freak squad is going to take it from me."

Auriel kept trying to tell you people the Watch are all jerks on power trips. How many Watchmen have to keep treating us like crap before you admit she's right? ;)

therealthom wrote:
I thought I'd ask here what you want your characters to do (not what your characters might want) so that the players are happy even if the PCs might not be.

Whatever we do, let's not split the party again, especially when some of us are rolling a d20 and waiting 1d4 hours while others get to act in real time. It worked out okay in the first case when we were all Gathering Information for 1d4 hours in different parts of town, but it's no fun when one group gets to do something relevant and everyone else has to sit around for a month. At this point, I don't even care that it's both the most efficient and realistic tactic and true to the genre; when the main characters 'just happen to' stumble onto the real trail while the secondary characters are chasing red herrings, the supporting actors don't have to stand around all day and watch the stars filming. :P

It would both be useful and make sense for Calatin to go find out more about the herbs, but that puts him back in the position of rolling a d20 and waiting on everyone else. In addition, gathering information is a Diplomacy check, and he has no ranks in Diplomacy so someone would have to go along with him to handle the actual dice rolling, so even if Megan didn't mind sitting out the action, someone else is sitting it out with her. Also, Calatin can't go off by himself without a bodyguard due to Gray-Robe still being at large; again, someone else stuck doing nothing. And, finally, Calatin would get yelled at by Captain Percival for not having the proper team spirit. Or does that only happen when Awgin suggests leaving the spellcasters out of a dangerous situation? ;)

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015

Actually, the Watch is not filled with people like that, but there do have to be a few for the impression to take hold. Also, Auriel met some quite nice and pleasant Watchmen, but even pleasant folk can start to act like jerks when the people they are dealing with are acting like jerks to them.

But Wizzo is kind of a jerk, though really only in regards to criminals, and those unprovens in the Watch who get special treatment for whatever reason (like yourselves). Notice that in regards to the vargouilles, he has never once been a huge jerk, and has followed every order Heward's given him, despite being higher-enough ranked that he could choose to create all sorts of stinks if he wanted to.

But I say too much. And now we resume our regularly-scheduled mutual loathing and rushes to judgment, already in progress.


She met Timmery Chader, helped him disperse an angry mob without violence, and got scolded and called a freak for her troubles. Apart from Wizzo and his men who mocked the team in public, he's the only other Watchman we've interacted with. You keep telling me these kind, friendly Watchmen are out there; maybe one day we'll meet one. :)

EDIT: Ironically, Timmery Chader was actually very nice when he thought she was a civilian. It was only when she identified herself as MSI (and, technically, his superior, right, so where the heck does he come off lecturing her like that?) that he got all combative. So joining MSI actually gets a person less respect than just being a random citizen.

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015

Oh, did I mention that there's a good deal of resentment within the ranks of the Watch concerning the establishment of MSI? Silly how that slipped my mind somehow.

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015

And in Timmery's defense, he only got snippy once Auriel promised a mob of people that he would buy all of them a round of drinks, about two days' pay for him, instead of doing the sensible thing (in his mind) of identifying herself as a member of the Watch unit that helped save all of them from the building and telling them straight out that she and her squad had secured the building so it wouldn't fall and that this evacuation was just a precaution. She could also have used her unique position to vouch for the Watch in genal and these Watchmen in particular, gained MSI two prestige points in Lowcleft, and established really good relations with a seemingly random NPC who will be reappearing at a crucial time down the road. Instead, she lied to him from the beginning and cost him two days' pay with her little revenge stunt afterwards. I'm not sure why he's supposed to be all warm and fuzzy for her.


She didn't lie 'to him'; she lied to the crowd. As soon as the mob dispersed, she filled him in on who she really was and told him he wasn't really going to have to pay for the drinks. I thought it was a clever way to get the job done with Auriel's skill set, in which Bluff is her best roll. I wasn't aware there was a "right" and "wrong" way to do it; I was just pleased she accomplished what she set out to.

I mean, you realize she's Chaotic, right?

Quote:
Chaos implies freedom, adaptability, and flexibility. On the downside, chaos can include recklessness, resentment toward legitimate authority, arbitrary actions, and irresponsibility. Those who promote chaotic behavior say that only unfettered personal freedom allows people to express themselves fully and lets society benefit from the potential that its individuals have within them.

It's one thing for the NPCs to react badly to my character because they don't like chaos, but I feel like you disapprove of her for not being Lawful. I don't mind a PC vs. PC personality conflict with Heward, but it's a bit unfair when the DM who controls the entire world takes sides. If Auriel can't be part of the game without a personality change, there's no point in bringing her back.

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015

Joana wrote:

She didn't lie 'to him'; she lied to the crowd. As soon as the mob dispersed, she filled him in on who she really was and told him he wasn't really going to have to pay for the drinks. I thought it was a clever way to get the job done with Auriel's skill set, in which Bluff is her best roll. I wasn't aware there was a "right" and "wrong" way to do it; I was just pleased she accomplished what she set out to.

I mean, you realize she's Chaotic, right?

Quote:
Chaos implies freedom, adaptability, and flexibility. On the downside, chaos can include recklessness, resentment toward legitimate authority, arbitrary actions, and irresponsibility. Those who promote chaotic behavior say that only unfettered personal freedom allows people to express themselves fully and lets society benefit from the potential that its individuals have within them.
It's one thing for the NPCs to react badly to my character because they don't like chaos, but I feel like you disapprove of her for not being Lawful. I don't mind a PC vs. PC personality conflict with Heward, but it's a bit unfair when the DM who controls the entire world takes sides. If Auriel can't be part of the game without a personality change, there's no point in bringing her back.

I'm pretty sure I included the words "(in his mind)" to clarify that that was not my position, but the character's. I merely gave you a glimpse of how one approach would have played out down the road. Your approach will play out differently. I don't know where this right and wrong language comes from.

I have never said that Auriel needs a personality shift, but a certain amount of flexibility for the smooth-functioning of the campaign would help, similar to how you came up with an excellent write-in to get Corinna on board with the caravan. I've suggested a few ideas, and have easily nailed down motivation for how to work our eventual approach in to our villain's plans.

I don't disapprove of Auriel for being lawful. I think what you're sensing is that our two play styles are completely at odds and that we could probably never sit down at a face to face game without starting an international incident. That being said, Gilfroy and Corinna are having a great stretch of interactions and the Jade Regent game is going smoothly now, so clearly things are not hopeless. If you're not feeling the fun here at MSI, though, I'm not going to take it personally. Life's too short to hack away at games we don't enjoy.


Expert 3/Slacker 4/Layabout 2

So the consensus is keep the group together, except maybe Calatin? Megan if you really want him to go herb hunting it's cool, but like Joana I think you'll end up sidelined again. (I also see your point about Calatin being more interested in that than vargouille hunting. It also makes sense for in-game reasons. Question is balancing role-playing v. fun. Your choice.

Mark, I agree Rag's End is the best place to look. Other ideas anyone?

Grand Lodge

Awgin would actually be more into herb hunting as well. He would not only be able to continue to poke fun at Calatin while looking into something he's interested in, but he also gets to keep away from the varguilles who freak him out a bit.


Forgot about Awgin's inner garden gnome. That would give Calatin a bodyguard but not a Diplomacy bonus. Assume you guys would just spend the 4 hours until dark at that; once the sun goes down, the herb shops would close down, and you wouldn't have a good excuse to avoid hitting the streets with the rest of us. (Honestly, if you guys run into actual knowledgeable people to talk to, it could end up being the vargouille-hunters that are sitting around doing nothing while you have conversations, if our attempts at tracking down Mig come to naught.)

Nazard, not saying I'm not having fun, just that there's no point in reintroducing a character if she's going to end up walking out again. Auriel can try to bond with the group -- she was actually in the middle of doing so when Heward got promoted and laid down the law -- but she's highly unlikely ever to respect authority, let any of her civilian peers know she's with MSI, or have a good opinion of the Watch in general (excluding the immediate team of MSI in particular, of course). If any of that is a dealbreaker for this game, we ought to get it out in the open now before putting the whole group through the frustration of a character not fitting in all over again.


Nazard wrote:
Oh, did I mention that there's a good deal of resentment within the ranks of the Watch concerning the establishment of MSI? Silly how that slipped my mind somehow.

A thought (Because while I know you were being mostly facetious, quite honestly, no, you didn't, and until you typed that I had no clue that the Watch in general had "reason" to dislike us. You told us about Lord Willis and his faction, but I don't recall ever being warned that the rest of the Watch also disliked Captain Percival and his ideas. I've been as blindsided to the reaction of the Watchmen we've met as Auriel was.):

I believe that, as of this post, we left it that you would consider us as taking 10 on Diplomacy talking to NPCs unless we rolled a specific check. Auriel (and I) didn't roll a Diplomacy check with Chader, because she (and I) honestly thought her badge was all she'd need to show they were both on the same side. If you'd considered her as taking 10 on Diplomacy, resulting in a 16, would that have made a difference to his reaction to her? Unlike Khismia, who only turns it on when she thinks the other person is important, Auriel generally leads with her charm until she gets it thrown back in her face. She certainly had no intent to antagonize Chader; she was actually intending to flirt with him!

I have to say it's been a bit disconcerting to be playing the highest-Cha PC (at least after Scipion left and until Mark joined) and get unfriendly reactions without knowing why.

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015

High Charisma doesn't mean automatically like able no matter what actions you undertake, at least not to me. I view Charisma more as a measure of force of personality than likeability.

Auriel has a strong personality, and when she brings it to bear in a manner contrary to the preferences of a given NPC, the reaction isn't going to be positive, no matter the result of a Diplomacy take 10. The simple fact is that Auriel is a s&$@-disturber; sometimes you get some on you. Chader is a career soldier who has been trying to understand this strange people he's assigned to protect, trying to use honesty and diplomacy to earn their trust, to make in roads, finding the same kind of resistance that Auriel exhibits. Now Auriel swoops in, puts him in a position to either fork out money he can't afford or lose his established credibility, and undoes everything he's been trying to do for the past half hour. Then, to make it worse, she succeeds in seconds, so yeah, he's a little irked. I don't think it's an unreasonable reaction, despite Auriel's charisma score.

As for being disconcerted about the reactions you get, it helps if you trust the GM, and not assume he's either screwing up or out to get you.


I believe it's safe to say, then, that if that's the way Auriel comes across to you, there's no point to bringing her back. Because that is not at all the character I intended to play or thought I was playing. The only time she intentionally set out to cause trouble for anyone was with the "Lady Philippa's wine mix-up" at Lord Willis' party to get back at him for cheating on his wife. The rest of the time, she, and I, were honestly trying to be helpful, albeit in a non-Lawful and irreverent manner, and it's frustrating to be told the DM just sees my character as "a s&$@-disturber" who acts like a jerk to people.*

*:
Ironically, that's exactly what Khismia is, in my opinion, but you seem to like her, whereas I despise everything about her.


M Human Wizard (Divination School Specialist)/2

Please note I have a job interview tomorrow (Wednesday), not sure when/if I will get to post...

Calatin will potter off to investigate herb shops and gardeners. And, knowing him, the odd pie shop.


So while we're waiting for Heward to wrap up the meeting and hand out orders, anyone see the season finale of Castle last night?

spoilers, if you haven't and intend to:
Is it wrong that I'm far more concerned about the break-up of Ryan and Esposito than about any of the Kate/Castle brouhahas that have left us hanging on a cliff the last couple of seasons?


Expert 3/Slacker 4/Layabout 2

I was anticipating Khismia's snarky remark about taking Robal. :-)

Mark, if Phillip really objects to shackles he could push it.

Sorry, Joana, don't watch Castle.


Male Halfling Inquisitor of Calistria (Heretic archetype)

Phil more objects to the concept... he understands the potential need.

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015

Castle:
Given that it looked like they were setting Havier up to get shot at that hotel, I'm happy with the outcome. They'll have a whole season to get the bromance back on.

Now that we have a plan, I'll get things going. Need my notes on the computer though.


Hate to bring it up, since Khismia has no clue about it in the first place, but MSI is supposed to meet Councillor Pellerin tonight at 7 PM, er 19 00 h.

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015

Yep, you are! Fortunately, that meeting place happens to be a dive in Rag's End!


Expert 3/Slacker 4/Layabout 2

Glad you remembered, 'cause in the all the excitement, I'd forgotten myself.

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015

Hey folks,

therealthom and I have had a chat about how well it's working having Heward in charge, and I'm curious about your thoughts. The goal of putting Heward in charge had been to create an in-game reason to smooth over some of the bickering and in-fighting between the characters, and help create the sense of cohesion that was lacking, and it has worked to some extent. As per the Law of Unintended Consequences, however, what we now have is a slowing down of the game as each player is almost waiting for Heward's player's permission before doing stuff. I've suggested that we could fix things with a bit of tiny meta-gaming, having Heward grant more autonomy and discretion to the other PCs, and therealthom is not against this plan, though suggested I bring it here to discuss openly, so I am doing so.

Obviously, the intent here was not to make this game the "therealthom Show" with supporting cast of players. I don't think we've gotten that far, and I just want to make sure we never do (even with as fabulous of a job he's doing with Heward).

Thoughts?


Male Halfling Inquisitor of Calistria (Heretic archetype)

It's a difficult question to answer, as there are a few issues at play. More discretion and autonomy to players may just result in a more fractured gameplay thread where everyone is off doing their own thing all of the time.

I'm thinking whether a similar approach to the first part of the S&S AP might be appropriate. In that, rather than freeplay interactions you end up with being able to take Daytime Actions that represent an abstract amount of time spent trying to achieve something. So rather than tracking the exact amount of time spent researching - it instead becomes a Morning action to do so.

Without some degree of contrivance on the part of plot points - it will be very difficult to avoid the situation we just had with everyone but two of the group having to sit on their hands for a long period of time because they weren't around for the critical NPC discourse.

Personally I don't have an issue with a central point of command - as Phil is likely to have a lot of fun perverting and subverting his orders to suit his own approach.


Putting Heward in charge didn't really have anything to do with reducing bickering and in-fighting, imo, except insofar as it caused Auriel to quit the game. Without her polarizing presence, there wouldn't be any bickering even without one PC getting promoted over all the others' heads.

I do feel a bit like part of a team of Heward's NPC cohorts: he tells us where to go and what dice to roll for 1d4 hours and then Nazard tells him what we learned. The only way any of the rest of us get to do anything autonomously is to split the party. As long as we're all trailing around behind Heward, he's going to be the one having all the conversations: with Captain Percival, with Councillor Pellerin, with Sergeant Wizzo, with anyone else we encounter. Why talk to an underling when you can go straight to the man with authority? If I were an NPC, I certainly wouldn't pay much attention to the rest of us, except maybe to say, "Hey, I have some information, and I need to talk to your superior."

I'm not sure what "Heward granting us autonomy and discretion" would look like, especially as the team doesn't actually have areas of expertise. Sounds like what we discussed earlier and rejected as sidelining too many PCs for too much time as all specialties aren't created equal in screen time:

December 2011:
Joana wrote:
(In the spirit of a procedural, though, I wonder if the team wouldn't benefit from some specialization of labor: the lead investigator, the back-up, the muscle, the good cop, the bad cop, the technical wizard who never leaves his desk, the sassy black coroner, etc., instead of everyone being involved in every stake-out and shoot-out. We did a little of that early on in our splitting up in pairs and investigating, but that was more a function of covering ground than of recognizing areas of expertise.
Nazard wrote:
It could be interesting to split the group up into those roles (if only to see Calatin playing the role of the sassy black coroner {go Castle!!}), but then we run the risk of some players having nothing to do while a combat drags on somewhere else, and the difficulty for me of not knowing how to plan an encounter because I won't know which characters will be present. Besides, I thought the opening bit where everybody split off into pairs worked really well (that was just before you arrived, though).

Wouldn't apply to Khismia, anyway, as she's not an actual part of the team and is only there to take orders.

Aside to Mark: I don't see any difference in practice between a Morning action and 1d4 hours. If three of the "morning actions" involve rolling a d20 and being done and the fourth involves a long, drawn-out conversation, it's still going to resolve the same way in-thread. The problem arises when one group's action, whether 'morning' or 1d4 hours, takes more real time than the others'.


Male Halfling Inquisitor of Calistria (Heretic archetype)

Joana - yep, I agree on the aside. Essentially to keep everyone engaged there needs to be that contrivance on behalf of Nazard to make important stuff happen when everyone is within earshot.

The abstraction of actions was more to avoid some of the timeline related stretching - as regardless what you set out to achieve, it still took the whole morning and everyone has a chance to be back in one spot after it's done.


M Human Wizard (Divination School Specialist)/2

I am quite content to be the 'technical wizard who rarely leaves his desk' - provided pastries arrive at regular intervals! Calatin isn't built for combat, either physically or game mechanically.

On another note, I've just been hired and start next week. Posting may be erratic until I get the hang of things!


Male Halfling Inquisitor of Calistria (Heretic archetype)

Congratulations on the job Calatin!


Expert 3/Slacker 4/Layabout 2

Excellent, Megan! I hope the new job works out well!

Liberty's Edge

Female Depemds on the game system (human in the real world)

Thank you.

Just been to see them... IT lecturer at a college 45 miles from here, motorway (aka freeway) most of the way, very easy drive.

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015

Sorry all. Crazy busy week-end. Posting updates in a little bit...


Expert 3/Slacker 4/Layabout 2

I'll be taking a short vacation Thursday-Monday. Please DMPC Heward as needed.

Also props to Nazard and you all for making this game so enjoyable.


Have a good time, therealthom!

Oh, and...

Heward delegates authority ;)


Expert 3/Slacker 4/Layabout 2

Nice.

Liberty's Edge

Female Depemds on the game system (human in the real world)

One week at my previous college, they had a 'training week' whilst the students were sitting examinations. This coincided with a rather tight deadline for the next adventure for the 'Living Spycraft' campaign...

... so I sat quietly in each session, tapping away on my laptop, making contributions to whatver was going on...

... and writing the scenario at the same time!


Expert 3/Slacker 4/Layabout 2

I can barely watch Jeopardy and post at the same time. Hat's off to you, Megan!

PS ANd that whole bubblegum and walking thing ..... forget it!

Liberty's Edge

Female Depemds on the game system (human in the real world)

Just practice... always winds students up, that I can continue typing whilst having a conversation with them - about something else entirely!

Cannot manage to walk and talk on a cellphone, though. This may be due to poor balance since the stroke.

Grand Lodge

I am so sorry for not being very active. My time is being used up by family health issues. I don't want to drop out, but my posting will be sparse for the foreseable future.

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015

I'm sorry to hear that, Dax. Thoughts and prayers are with you, and hopefully all will be well.


Expert 3/Slacker 4/Layabout 2

Best of luck, Dax. I hope recoveries are swift and complete.


Expert 3/Slacker 4/Layabout 2
therealthom wrote:

I'll be taking a short vacation Thursday-Monday. Please DMPC Heward as needed.

...

When I make this post, it is entirely all right to DMPC Heward for the duration, even if I manage to squeeze a post in. Really it doesn't have to be Nazard either. If the players want to move things along and post in Heward's spirit, I'm fine with it. I'd rather the game move while I expect to have trouble posting.

That said, I should have checked in sooner.

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015

So is it safe to assume that the PCs have either forgotten about the meeting with the Councillor, or else have decided that their current objectives are more important? Heward and Co have just about run out of time to make the meeting, but Awgin and Calatin are earlier in the day at this point, and could just make it, if they wanted to. Of course, they could also come to look for the group in Rag's End, or go plant tomatoes at MSI (though it's a bit late in the year for that). Alternately, Calatin could head back to MSI to begin preparing the herbal innoculant.


Male Halfling Inquisitor of Calistria (Heretic archetype)

Phil has no idea there is a meeting...

Liberty's Edge

Female Depemds on the game system (human in the real world)

If Calatin ever knew about the meeting, he wasn't particularly interested. Knowing him, he'd much rather go home and concoct away....


Khismia not only doesn't know about it but isn't invited. Heward and Laya ought to have a chance to remember it in character. Laya was the one who was actually given the note, and Heward's all Lawful and ought to be organized. ;P

Wherever Auriel is, she's probably wondering what's going on at the meeting. She thought the Councillor was cute and wouldn't forget a date with him. Shame about the stutter, though. ;)

Marathon Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014, Dedicated Voter 2015

I don't need a roll for it. If Laya and Heward want to remember it, they are welcome to do so, or forget it, or ignore it, as they wish. Same for Awgin, though I know Dax's posting will be a bit sparse for awhile.

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