The Flaxseed Pathfinder Lodge: Explore, Report, Cooperate!

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The Flaxseed Pathfinder Lodge is a place where agents hang out and await their next mission.

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How to adopt an orphaned game
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GM spreadsheet links:

Here are the GM sign-up sheets:
[url=https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1pqbBwJlFVKPIM4SiXozeRFk34r0Li24sqg03A2cTDT4/edit#gid=0]GM Fuzzfoot's sign up sheet
GM Sfounder's sign up sheet
GM Derek's sign up sheet
GM Dr Evil's sign up sheet
GM Evil's sign up sheet
GM Thunderspirit's sign up sheet
GM Eddv's sign up sheet
GM Aerondor's sign up sheet
GM Nightdeath's sign up sheet
GM DevilDoc's sign up sheet

The Flaxseed Pathfinder Lodge serves as a centralized hub for ongoing PFS recruitment from several GMs. The GMs' spreadsheets are linked above. Making a post in the Gameplay thread will add the Flaxseed Lodge to your Campaigns tab along with your other ongoing games, making it easier for you to keep a watch on new upcoming games.

Gameplay: The gameplay thread is primarily for in-character chatter and should be kept in-character as much as possible. GMs who recruit through the gameplay are encouraged to do so in-character, but it is also recommended that Gms post in the recruitment thread as well, as some players do not like to wade through the in-character chatter to find recruitments (this is just a suggestion though).

Discussion: The discussion thread is for out-of-character chatter of any sort, be it rules discussions, advice, or even chatter unrelated to Pathfinder.

Recruitment: The recruitment thread is for GMs to find players for their games. This can be done in-character as in the gameplay thread but the chatter should be kept to a minimum, as some people will watch this thread only for the game announcements and do not want to sift through in-character chatter to find the announcement; that is what the gameplay thread is for.

All threads: When a GM links a signup on a spreadsheet, it is not necessary to respond with a post saying "I signed up!" This only clutters the threads and makes it hard for others to find the announcement. Furthermore, all discussion (in any of the threads, in-character or out-of-character) should be kept civil, respectful, and appropriate.

As usual, I will not strictly moderate any of the threads and no one will be punished for posting outside the guidelines (that's why they are guidelines and not rules). Just keep posting and have fun!

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The Flaxseed Lodge: A History:
The Flaxseed Pathfinder Lodge was founded on the fifth of Aroden in the year 4713 by Pathfinder agent Trotter Flaxseed. On the eighth of Gozran in 4714 Trotter was promoted to the position of Venture-Captain in Cassomir.

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In the city of Cassomir in the land of Taldor lives a haughty family of halflings of ancient nobility. The Flaxseeds are as respected and respectable in their community as could possibly be. But a great diaspora separated Scranton and his wife and sent their sons Horatio and Henry off to fight in Andoran, with their youngest son Bartholomew remaining in Cassomir but turning to his own reclusive ways.

That is, until Henry's ever-studius son Trotter joined the Pathfinder Society and convinced the entire Flaxseed clan to follow in his suit. Now the Flaxseed clan has turned into a fierce group of adventurers, although not all Flaxseeds shared Trotter's love of history and artifacts. Diverse motives and uncanny circumstances have reunited the Flaxseeds once more.

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The Flaxseed clan:

The First Generation
Scranton Englebert "Scruffy" Flaxseed (deceased)
Edana "Eadie" Flaxseed

Their Kids
Horatio Flaxseed, adoptive father of Hotor
Henry Flaxseed, father of Trotter and Lilian
Bartholomew Roberts "Black Bart" Flaxseed, father of Silh (illegitimate)

The Grandkids
Venture-Captain Trotter Flaxseed, father of Skip and Melody
Lilian Flaxseed
Hotor Flaxseed
Silh Flaxseed

The Great-Grandkids
Skip Flaxseed
Melody Flaxseed

And their trusty chef:
Omn Vore

And, of course, the diaspora Flaxseeds:
Aldur Flaxseed
Gharib Flaxseed
Svlad Flaxseed
Aspen Flaxseed
Sinbad Flaxseed
Falco Flaxseed
Lod Flaxseed
Friar Huck Flaxseed
Gwydion Flaxseed
Hakotep Flaxseed
Farmer Weathersky Flaxseed
Enkiddu Flaxseed
(At some point in 2014 EF decided that all future characters of his would be halflings belonging to the Flaxseed clan, hence the explosion of Flaxseed characters.)

Other people have made Flaxseeds as well:
Jonah Flaxseed
Pandoor Flaxseed
Titian Flaxseed

And Bold Strider has started the rival halfling clan the Linseeds:
Thomas Linseed
Paeter Linseed

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How to Play Play-by-Post

Below are some basics on playing in a PbP game. Mastering the basics is just the first step though! Once you’ve got the basics down, start trying to improve your play-by-post gaming to make your characters stand out and make your posts effective and efficient. For that I point you to Painlord’s Advanced PbP guide. If you are just getting started, I suggest you read the following basics on play-by-post play. But always remember, the key to all play-by-post gaming is to be consistent!

The Basics #1: Formatting and Basic Posting:
The first thing you’ll need to learn is how to properly format your posts. Everyone has their own little quirks but in general these are the agreed-upon formats:

”Use bold text and quotes when your character is speaking,” then use normal text to describe their actions.

Italics is often used to denote what your character is thinking or when creatures/characters are speaking telepathically to each other.

Out-of-character text is for making mechanical notes or saying things not directly related to in-character gameplay. Longer out-of-character questions should put in spoilers or asked in the Discussion thread of the game rather than the Gameplay thread.

Quote:
Quotes are used less often but are mostly useful in replying to something said earlier or to highlight something important that the other players might have missed from earlier.

An example post might look like this:

Quote:

@Desmond: Lol! I don’t think that’ll get them on our side!

Trotter leaps in front of the gruff ranger and tries to remedy the situation with some quick words. He should have let me do the talking! Now he’s gone and offended the villagers! ”My dear people, I think my friend misspoke. You might have heard ‘get out of my way!’ but what he actually said was ‘have a nice day!’”

[dice=Diplomacy]1d20 + 10[/dice]

The Basics #2: What to do in Combat:

Combat can be a bit more complicated than simple back-and-forth roleplaying. To make things less complicated for everyone, make sure it is clear to the GM and the other players what you are doing. Spell out each action if necessary.

And I can’t stress this enough: when using spells or abilities (especially if they require the GM to make a saving throw for one of the bad guys), please post the name of the spell or ability you are using and-most importantly-post the DC and type of save. It is also considered good etiquette to post a link to your spell or at least summarize what it does if it is a less common spell (or something more complicated than, say, fireball) so that they do not have to look it up each time.

The GM is taking a lot of time out of their day (more time than you are to play, most likely) so be respectful of them and save them time and hassle by posting all of the relevant information in your post. If the GM has to stop and look at your profile to find the spell, its DC, and maybe look up the spell’s details if he is unfamiliar with it, the GM ends up spending a lot of their valuable time analyzing your post instead of writing their own update to the game.

A bad combat post might look like this:

Quote:
Trotter casts a spell at the creature! murderous command

Also note how sparse and bare that post is. It’s boring. Sometimes necessity and lack of time don’t allow for a lot of description, and that is fine. But if you have time, take advantage of the medium and add a little flare to your post to make it stand out. A better way to write that post would be like this:

Quote:

Trotter grimaces as he watches his friend fall to the blows of the evil Aspis agent. ”Have a taste of your own medicine!” he screams as he casts a spell at the baddie!

Casting murderous command: DC 18 Will save or he has the urge to kill his nearest ally, attacking that person on their next turn with a melee weapon or natural weapon. (lasts 1 round.)

Notice that in this second example the GM has all the information they need right there in the post. The GM can roll the save for the bad guy and keep moving without having to look up the spell or check your profile to find the DC buried somewhere (or even calculate it themselves, yuck!).

If the actions you are taking are particularly complicated, it might also be a good idea to break down what you are doing so the GM understands each action individually. Here’s an extreme example but note how much easier it is to understand the mechanics of each action:

Quote:

Trotter calls upon his luck (activated archaeologist’s luck as swift action), draws his pistol (free action with quick draw), fires his gun (standard action), quickly reloads it (free action with Rapid Reload and alchemical cartridge) and then places it back in its holster (move action).

The Basics #3: Your Responsibilities as a Player:
The most important rule: be consistent!

Playing in a game via play-by-post can in some ways be more flexible than planning out a night-long gaming session with your friends, as it allows everyone to post at their own convenience. However, it is also quite a bit of work on a daily basis to keep up with the game. And yes, I said daily basis. In the play-by-post arena it is considered standard to post at least once a day. And posting multiple times a day is quite common with some groups who prefer faster-paced games.

Everyone has occasions where they are unable to post for a day, but when you sign up for a game you should plan to post at least once a day. If you are unable to do this for whatever reason, it would be courteous to let your GM know ahead of time. Similarly, if you are going to be gone for more than a day-say, if you will be out camping for a weekend and won’t have internet access-make sure to alert the GM. Most GMs will offer to ‘bot’ your character (also called GMPCing); if your character needs to do or roll something while you are away, they will roll it for you.

Basically, play-by-post is an inherently slow medium. Combats can take days or maybe even a week or two. It is your responsibility as a player to work with your fellow players and GM to keep things moving forward and to be consistent enough to finish the game in a timely manner.

How to GM Play-by-Post

So you’ve decided to take the next step and run your very own PbP game! Congrats! GMing a PbP game is a lot of work but can also be a rewarding experience. Just as with being a player, the best advice to a budding PbP GM is to be consistent! You will likely have 4-6 players, but you are only one GM. It is your job to lead them through the game in a timely manner and have fun along the way. But if you are consistent and stay organized, the bookkeeping will seem easier and you’ll be able to have more fun while you GM.

Below I’ve posted some basic tips on play-by-post GMing that I have learned over the years through trial-and-error. If you want more detailed and advanced advice, I will point your to Painlord’s Guide to PbP GMing.

The Basics #1: Start Small:
These boards are riddled with dead games. The GM starts a campaign without realizing how much work it will take or perhaps without the experience to run a game efficiently and soon enough the GM gets burned out and the campaign dissolves. It’s a sad sight and happens all too often.

But you don’t want to be like those other GMs! You’re committed to running (and finishing) a game! Good! But before you bite off more than you can chew, start small.

The Flaxseed Lodge is primarily used for PFS recruitment so most of you reading this likely play PFS. Incidentally, PFS is a perfect bite-sized starter for the new PbP GM. Most PFS scenarios can be completed in 4-6 weeks via PbP, which is a perfect time window to test your skills as a GM. When the scenario is over, you might even ask your players how it went. Ask them if the pacing was fine (do you need to update more often?) and if combats were confusing or easy to understand (do you need to work on your organization?). There are many veteran PbPers who will be willing to play in your game and give tips along the way.

Most importantly: expect to make a few mistakes and have a few hiccups when you first start. It will happen. That’s why you’re starting small. Combat was confusing for the players during your first scenario? Try something different for the next scenario. The players felt it moved too slow? Think of ways to move the action along faster.

Keep trying and you’ll get into a groove that works for you. Once you’ve become efficient, comfortable, and confident, then you can think about running a longer game such as a module or even an adventure path. Just realize that whereas PFS scenarios take 4-6 weeks, modules can take several months (or maybe even up to a year for longer ones like Dragon’s Demand), and an adventure path will likely take a few years.

The Basics #2: Stay Organized:
One of the hardest things to do as a GM is to run a combat in such a way that the players know what is going on. Trust me, the players will get confused if you do not spell things out for them. In my experience, the best way to keep things organized is to post some sort of initiative tracker with each combat post or, at the very least, indicate who’s turn it is with each update. You can format these in any way that you like, but make sure that the players can understand what is going on.

Here’s the format I use:

Quote:

The thug spits on the ground and says, ”I’m having none of this!” He reaches for his dagger.

(roll initiative for everyone-see “The Basics #3” for details)

Initiative:

1. Trotter, Desmond, Karn
2. Thugs
3. Weiman, Basalte

Trotter, Desmond, and Karn are up!

After the players have posted their actions, it’s a good idea to repeat what just happened. This is a way to let the players know that you processed their action and also just another way to keep things organized.

Quote:

Trotter fires his gun and puts a bullet in one of the thugs (#1)! Desmond then fires his bow, sticking an arrow in the other man (#2). Karn begins summoning an eagle.

The thugs move up, drawing their daggers, and stab at the party!

[dice=dagger on Trotter]1d20 + 3[/dice]
[dice=damage]1d4 + 3[/dice]

[dice=dagger on Weiman]1d20 + 3[/dice]
[dice=damage]1d4 + 3[/dice]

Initiative:

1. Trotter, Desmond, Karn
2. Thugs
3. Weiman, Basalte

#1: 4 dmg
#2: 3 dmg

You guys are up!

Note that I track the damage of the bad guys below the initiative tracker. This is an easy way for me to reference what is going on and I can add additional things like statuses there too (such as prone, dazed for 2 rounds, blinded, etc). Keeping it out in the open helps the players understand which thug is injured or which one is blinded, etc, but some GMs like to keep this information behind a spoiler or even on a scrap paper or a text doc. Decide what works for you and stick with it.

Here’s another format I’ve seen:

Quote:

Trotter and Desmond work together to take out the leader (#1) Karn finishes his spell but the eagle misses its attacks. Weiman withdraws to the hallway and Basalte moves in to flank around the remaining thug, who stabs at Basalte!

[dice=dagger on Basalte]1d20 + 3[/dice]
[dice=damage]1d4 + 3[/dice]

Round 1
Trotter: fire gun
Desmond: fire bow
Karn: start summon
Thug #1: attack
Thug #2: attack
Weiman: withdraw
Basalte: move to flank

Round 2
Trotter: attack
Desmond: attack
Karn: finish summon, move
Thug #1: attack
Thug #2: down (-3, bleeding)
Weiman: ->GO
Basalte: ->GO

Round 3
Trotter: ->GO
Desmond: ->GO
Karn: ->GO
Thug #1:
Thug #2: down (-3, bleeding)
Weiman:
Basalte:

In my opinion this method of tracking can get a little messy and you might consider putting it behind a spoiler or trimming off Round 1 now that you are done with it, but it is still an organized way of tracking turns and making sure everyone is on the same page.

The Basics #3: Being Efficient:
You are already putting a lot of work into GMing a game, don’t make things harder on yourself by being inefficient. As you GM more, you will find little tricks that make the game go faster and smoother and which will make your job easier. I’ve been GMing for a few years now, so let me teach you a few tricks I’ve learned along the way.

Tip #1: Initiative Rolling

This tip is twofold: 1) You should roll initiative for your players. 2) Copy-paste is your friend.

First of all, don’t ever ask your players to roll initiative. Play-by-post is already an inherently slow medium so don’t make it slower by waiting for the players to roll their own initiative before starting combat. You will waste at least a day doing it that way. Just roll everyone’s initiative for them and then post the initiative tracker (see above) so combat can start right away.

Second of all, since you’re going to be rolling initiative (and maybe even Perception or Sense Motive) for your players more than once, don’t waste time retyping it before each combat. Type out an initiative block once and then copy-paste it somewhere you can access. Some people save it on the Campaign Info tab, others save it in a text doc. This will save you a lot of wasted keystrokes retyping it each time (not to mention the time it takes to look it up each time).

Tip #2: Knowledge Rolls

I’ve never been a fan of the question-answer method of knowledge rolling. First of all, that’s sort of a common convention but it’s never actually mentioned in the CRB. But more importantly, that sort of back-and-forth can slow down gameplay. Instead, post knowledge spoilers ahead of time, like so (the spoilers won’t work inside another spoiler):

Quote:

You walk in on a towering monstrosity with four arms, eyes shining with a mix of intelligence and cruelty.

{spoiler=DC 23 KN (planes) }Whereas the succubus is a demon that works her wiles by exploiting the physical lusts and needs of her prey, the glabrezu is a tempter of a different sort. Ferocious and bestial in form, the glabrezu is in fact a master of trickery and lies. With its ability to cloak its true form in pleasant illusions, the glabrezu uses it magic to grant wishes to mortal humanoids as a method of rewarding those who succumb to its guile and deceit…..

Glabrezus are demons with DR/good; immunity to electricity and poison; resistance to acid, cold and fire; and spell resistance.{/spoiler}

{spoiler=DC 28 KN (planes)}A wish granted by a glabrezu always fulfills the wisher’s need in the most destructive way possible-although such methods might not be immediately apparent.

Glabrezus have true seeing and can rend with their pincers. They have a number of spell-like abilities, including greater teleport, wish, power word stun, and reverse gravity.{/spoiler}

Tip #3: Haunts

Haunts are a pain in the ass. When you encounter them, first of all read and reread how they work to make sure you understand it because they can be confusing. Furthermore, they can be tricky to do over PbP. After trying several methods, here is what I consider the best (again, the spoilers won’t work inside another spoiler):

Quote:

{spoiler=DC 20 Perception}You hear a moaning from the chair in the corner of the room.

[ooc]DC 15 KN (religion) to recognize this as a haunt. If you then beat a 10 initiative check, you can take a surprise round action (standard or move) before it manifests.{/spoiler}

Alternatively you could roll the Perception checks for your party and do it this way:

Quote:

{spoiler=Trotter and Sad Rock}You hear a moaning from the chair in the corner of the room.

DC 15 KN (religion) to recognize this as a haunt. If you then beat a 10 initiative check, you can take a surprise round action (standard or move) before it manifests.{/spoiler}

The second method is probably faster as it doesn’t require you to wait for everyone to roll their own Perception checks.

Tip #4: Doors

Don’t let your party stand outside a door for too long. If they are having trouble moving from room to room, ask them (in the Discussion thread) to create SDOP (Standard Door Opening Procedure). For some groups this might involve the rogue taking 20 to check for traps before letting the paladin lead the way in. For others it might involve everyone else standing back while the barbarian and fighter smash the door down regardless of traps or locks. From then on you can move them from room to room and assume they do roughly the same thing each time without having to state it explicitly.

If the door is locked but well within the skill of the party’s disabler to open, just assume they get it open and move on. Don’t waste a day waiting for them to roll a Disable Device or say they are taking 10 to open it. In my opinion, doors are not really the most interest part of the dungeon or the story and unless they have a trap they shouldn’t be a big discussion point in your play-by-post campaign.

Tip #5: Empty Rooms

Sometimes dungeons will have rooms with nothing or little in them; maybe just a quick Knowledge or Perception check or a small pile of coins. Don’t be afraid to open those doors for the players and just post the quick description and Perception/Knowledge spoiler. You could spend a few days opening each door individually, but that will be boring and not a whole lot of fun. Or you can be an efficient GM and assume they would open those doors anyways so just go ahead and move them through the boring rooms and get to the more interesting stuff.

The Basics #4: Being Consistent:
Wait, didn’t I mention this already? Well, it’s that important. You’ve taken on the responsibility to run a game, now it is your job to keep it moving through to the end and finish it. You’ll need to keep your posting up so that your players aren’t waiting on you. For most groups of players posting once/day, this will mean that you are updating the game about twice a day. And you also have all the extra work of preparing maps, reading the adventure, and interpreting monster/NPC stats, abilities, and spells. It’s a lot of work but if you develop a routine it will be much easier. I update all of my games every morning when I wake up. I check in on them throughout the day if I have time and maybe make an update if necessary. If I have time, I check in on them again at night when I get home from work. Find a schedule that works for you and try to be consistent so that your players know what to expect and can learn to rely on you.