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Dark Elf wrote:
The Devil We Know, Part 1 is very linear and simple.
Don't worry about it. I've run it over 20 times.
Mists of Mwangi:I didn't penalize either group for their atypical solution. The author can't cover every angle. If your players head right for the final encounter and you want to use your locked door idea, I think that's an appropriate solution if you feel that the game experience will suffer as a result of an early ending. The players in the sessions I mentioned above were proud they did something outside of the norm and remember the session fondly.
One time the players never entered the museum, destroying the idols from the windows. One other time the players did it the way you anticipated.
I think most players will stay on the rails. I should say, rather, I know most players stay on the rails in this one. I've put over a hundred of them through Mists. The more experienced ones will meta-game and fool themselves into believing they need to explore the closer rooms first because there's probably a handy tool or helpful bit of info that's vital to the mission's success in there.
Congratulations on the 5th Star and welcome to The Island! Alex is one of those GMs who is so smooth when he improvises he fools the players into believing it's all part of the author's script. Only when you read the scenario afterward do you realize that side track your party went on was never covered, but Alex was able to get you back on the tracks without anyone being the wiser. He truly belongs in the ranks of the 5-Stars.
Alex is also a great organizer, managing one of our showcase PFS locations for over 30 months now. Twice this year he has organized the multi-table Specials on a Wednesday night no less. In 2014 he has organized exactly 150 tables at Mainstreet Billiards (they average 3 tables a week) and he's GMed 41 out of 50 weeks (the last two Wednesdays of the year were waived due to the holidays). That's the amount of dedication he has as a GM and as an organizer. What a guy!
I think you have the right idea; explain that curing the Pallid Plague requires a specific treatment and anti-plague won't alone suffice. Without the threat of the disease, this scenario becomes pointless. You have raised a good question. I bet that some GMs have come up with more inventive solutions that simply saying anti-plague won't work. I hope they share their ideas. Antiplague is relatively expensive at low levels, but giving that the title of the scenario is The Pallid Plague you are wise to expect it to show up.
In Metro Detroit we have 8 venues that run PFS games on weekly, bi-weekly or monthly schedule. We organize via a Warhorn page and communicate via a Yahoo! Group. 2014 YTD we have passed 600 tables run locally, so we need a tool like Warhorn to keep things managed. Each venue has a dedicated organizer who selects the scenarios. How this is influenced is different from venue to venue. Most organizers are diligent about posting the schedule well in advance, but sometimes, usually at the beginning of the month, there’s some anxiety as the game date approaches and there’s nothing posted.
I think that Detroit is an outlier in that most (90%) of our games are scheduled on a weeknight. This means that sometimes people arrive late, or the game is scheduled later in the evening. We have a relaxed, roll-with-the-punches stance. Mustering is pretty simple. There’s almost always multiple scenarios offered when we have more than a single table going off. Walk-ins are accommodated the first time, but are strongly encouraged to join the Warhorn page and sign up in advance in the future. Players who sign up on the waitlist understand they may not be accommodated. If we know in advance that a scenario has greater interest than can be handled, we’ll request an additional GM via the Yahoo! Group. If we get a volunteer, great. If not, waitlisted players find something else to do.
Only one of the eight venues charges for the PFS games. I’ve never run there since they began this policy—not out of any type of protest, it’s just way out of my area. There’s another venue that is actually a billiards hall/night club. On Wednesday nights business is slow so our PFS group & the venue have a mutually beneficial arrangement. The expectation is you’ll order a few drinks or an entrée over the course of the game. The food is excellent.
We executed a scorched earth plan after the failure of Operation: Dragnslayer about a year ago. There's nothing left up there except the tennis courts and Kolossal Ego's "whine cellar" of aging gamer tears (he waaay overpacked and we had to draw the line).
If you want to stay up on The Mountain, the extraction team will have to pick you up after sundown. There's almost no cover from You-Know-Who's prying eyes. If 5-Star Island is compromised, then our fall-back is 5-Star Time Share Condominium :( We are still way behind production of 5-Star Space Station despite the approval of our 501(c) application.
Paul Maplesden via the Asheville Lodge provides these character background sheets on their website. Pass these out to your group and tell them to complete them for the next game. I think many players have an idea about what their character looks and acts like, but they go with the flow at the table. I agree with blackbloodtroll; in most cases when I sit down with players his statement is the status quo. I find it very frustrating, but I also believe that Pathfinder Society scenarios foster this behavior. There is no reward for role-playing, so why are we put out when it doesn't happen? There is a ray of hope. When one player at the table begins to role-play well, it can inspire and elevate the rest of the players to follow suit. Kind of like when a player is talking with a French accent it begins to infect the speech of other people at the table.
You don't need to input the session, but you do need to register for the Pathfinder Society and get a membership number if you haven't already. You'll want to download and read the first few chapters of the Guide to PFS Organized Play. That will clear up a lot of your questions. Email me email@example.com and I can send you some helpful documents and links tomorrow.
No disrespect to Horseman, but it doesn't matter if the death was reported or if he received a Chronicle. We play under the honor system. Just because there may have been a bureaucratic mistake doesn't mean he gets a do-over. Carlos knows he played the scenario. Splitting hairs about how much he actually absorbed from 2.5 rounds of participation is a distraction. Fortunately he's earned a GM Star (thanks for your service, Carlos!) and can burn it to play it again for credit.
Scenarios are typically released at the end of the work day on the West Coast. Don't even bother checking until 9PM EDT. It is risky to plan to run new releases on the weekend following their date of availability. We usually don't know if there is going to be a delay until the day of release. Products have to pass through an editing pipeline at Paizo, so often delays are out of the hands of our campaign staff.
After being put through the wringer running The Beacon Below, it was a pleasant ride to run Slave Ships this weekend. The players' every move was predicted and covered by Mr. Garringer's fine authorship. We were done in 3 hours. The longest fight was on the main deck, which took over 10 rounds. During that time, the dwarvern investigator managed to fail every Climb check to get up the rope ladder and onto the deck. He came close, but couldn't make two checks in a row before failing one by more than 5. He was repeated dunked in the drink. If not for Zigil, the dwarvern pilot, taking a shine to him he would have drowned. Despite the risk, she stuck around and hauled him out of the water time and time again. The investigator's player went through a number of d20s...
You can refuse all except for XP.
Edit: Damanta, he could waste the PP the same way he wasted the Gold. The Fame he would be stuck with, I'm thinking.
The reason you can't defer XP is because it could skew the wealth-by-level curve intended for PFS. Let's say you accept the Gold but not the XP when you play. You could end up as a 1st level character playing in Tier 1-5 scenarios wearing the gear of a 10th level PC. Taken to the extreme, it would be unbalanced.
Please join me in congratulating William “Xath” Jones, Venture-Captain of the Detroit Lodge, in earning his 5th Star! A veteran of ‘the world’s oldest fantasy role-playing game’, Xath discovered Pathfinder Society a mere two years ago. Like many of us, he caught a fever and the only prescription was “moar Pathfindr!”. He served a brief stint as a Venture-Lieutenant before the opportunity arose last year for the VC position. He has reinvigorated the Detroit Metro area and made bringing together Pathfinders from across the state his priority. Xath is a great GM, able to make adjustments on the fly and never misses a beat at the table. He’s passionate about this game we play and never shy about sharing his position on hot-button issues in the campaign. He earned his 10th Special this past weekend at TavernCon in Ithaca, MI running Blood Under Absalom. Congratulations Xath, and welcome to The Island!
You are correct, and those other people are wrong.
The Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play, page 32 wrote:
Tiers are a level restriction for play. If a PC’s level does not fall within the level range of a scenario’s tier, that character can not legally play in that scenario. For example, a 5th-level PC is legal for play in scenarios of Tiers 1–5, 3–7, and 5–9; a 1st-level PC can only legally play in a Tier 1 or Tier 1–5 scenario.
They may be confused because some Season 0 - 2 scenarios covered Tier 1-7, so level 1s could play in sub-tier 3-4 with level 7s. It does make sense when you read the Guide, but I can see where the misunderstandings arise.
Read 'Tiers and Sub-Tiers' on page 32 of the Guide, then come back here if you still think it's not enough to convince those 'other people' :)
I have run it seven times, and it's much ado about nothing most of those times*. On occasions that the PC succeeds on the Perform check the diva stands on top of the organ crooning along with the instrument until the song is over. Then I have her reminisce about the 'good ole days' at the opera and, if treated politely, eventually lose interest in the PCs. It doesn't need to be a combat encounter unless the PCs trigger it.
When the scenario doesn't cover those corner cases, use your judgment as the GM to improvise something. You can create some unique memories for players in these situations. Imagine if the bard and the diva hit it off and make a deal to take the act on the road after the mission is over.
*I did slap an inflict serious on a 1st level PC once and he failed his save against pretty hefty damage--dead right there. I was able to pull a Faction shirt out of my bag and he succeeded, sparing me from a lot of guilt! The other six times the diva doesn't have much firepower after delivering the inflict.
The suggestion was to play a somber dirge on the organ. If the PC fails the save, he or she attempts to play a 'dirge'. The diva gets upset and attacks if the PC performs poorly. The suggestion has been fulfilled. The diva doesn't designate how long the dirge must be. After the suggested action is complete, the target may act freely. Roll initiative :)
I suggest that you don't use the organized play system. Run it how you feel comfortable, just don't present it as Pathfinder Society sanctioned. If these kids don't plan on playing with other organized players at PFS sanctioned gamedays or conventions, then there's no need to make them adhere to the PFS rules. Put on the kid gloves and let 'em have fun. When they are ready for the next level of difficulty, introduce them to PFS.
No. That's taking it too far. There's an unspoken contract between you and the players when you all sit down to play. Part of that is they have to trust that you are being fair and not just making stuff up. If they don't trust you, they need to find a different kind of game to play. If you don't trust them, give them more credit.
It's your job as the Game Master to use your imagination to describe the environment, the grotesque monster, the chaotic thrill of battle. Instead of saying to the player "I'm sorry, an attack roll of 12 misses the goblin warrior. You needed a 15 to hit his armor class.", you could say "The nimble goblin ducks under your whistling greatsword, not even needing to raise his shield to avoid your attack."
You're not going to find rules like you're looking for in a written format. Trying to do that would cause confusion because there are so many variables and exceptions involved. Use your best judgment, err on the side of the players, and try to have fun. Everyone is different. New players need more hand-holding and advice, while experienced players may want more challenge.
For example, if a new player has a pre-gen rogue and the fighter finds a chest he wants to open, I might look at the rogue's player and ask "Is there anything you'd like to do before he opens it?" I am less generous with established players. This weekend I had a player with a 6th level character meticulously search every door and object for traps through 4 encounters. Finally she forgot to search a locked door and I gleefully sprung a stinking cloud trap on her character. Everyone realized that was the first time she hadn't stated she was searching for traps and had a laugh. I could have gone the other way and said, "I'm going to let you make a Perception check for the trap since your character has an established pattern. Your character's memory is better than your own." It helped that it wasn't a lethal trap...
Another example; if a player is discussing which character they are going to play in a scenario and I know that there's something useful on the Chronicle for one of their available PCs, I'll make a recommendation. I don't say "There's a boon for a griffin animal companion on the Chronicle, so you should play your cavalier!". It's OK to be subtle.
Here's my answer (expect table variation):
2. & 3.) I'm going to disregard the scenario instructions because they don't make sense. I'll present it organically, meaning I'll try and present the situation as it might have developed rather than putting minis down in illogical positions:
The author probably had either a different map or different creatures when the scenario was turned over. I don't much like how cramped the fight is in A2.
Gregory, on these messageboards you will find that if there's a way that something can be blown out of proportion, we will find it :) The campaign leadership understands this, so don't worry about anyone getting in trouble.
Your feelings are valid. The best way to make sure that this GM doesn't make the same mistakes over again is to first talk to them after the slot is over. That's not a time that we are always at our best. At that point we are frustrated and want to be anywhere else. The next best way is to contact the organizer of the event. If you still are not satisfied, then contact the local Venture-Officers.
Bringing a negative experience to these messageboards has unintended consequences, as you have seen. You can't turn back time though. I hope you play again. If you keep at it you will meet some pretty awesome people that you'd never run into in a home group.
GM Lamplighter wrote:
I assumed he was being sarcastic :)
Being sick of bad GMs in organized play inspired me to volunteer for the first time. I started LG in January 2006 and by March I was GMing at conventions. Gregory Connolly, you have the experience and you know what it feels like to be let down. Would you rather this happen to another table, or will you pick up the gauntlet that has been laid before you?
U-Con returns to the Marriott Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest again this year! Pre-registration is now open on the U-Con website. We have scheduled over 100 exciting PFS events. Naturally we'll be running this Season's Special "Legacy of the Stonelords". Our aim is to fill 15 tables! We're also offering all three levels of The Ruins of Bonekeep.
GM spots have been filling up fast, but if you would like to get a complimentary weekend badge you only need to volunteer for two slots. If you volunteer for five or more slots, your games for the rest of the con are all free. To volunteer, visit our GM mustering page.
Pre-registration rates for badges are good until October 31. A weekend badge is $25. Or free if you volunteer for two slots :)
Hotel rooms at the Marriott have been blocked off with a convention special rate of $89/night. More details here.
I would feel comfortable adjusting weather to enhance the scenario, especially if there's a PC at the table who has a class feature or spell selection that takes advantage of the environment. Or if I need to present the table with an obstacle to make an encounter more than a speed bump. Mike has commented about this adjustment before.
So you are asking if it is OK to allow the party to play up to the 4-5 subtier despite the fact that their average level would not already allow them to do this? Or are they in between tiers and have the choice to play up or down?
Two issues here. Can they play up legally, and should they play up. Let's actually start with should they play up. You are correct that this adventure is pretty tame. The spot where I would feel leery is when the spriggans get large sized. They hit harder, have 10' reach and combat reflexes. It could go south quickly with a non-optimized party who get mixed up in melee. You know your players better than anyone, but personally I have a horrible track record when it comes to assessing the risk of playing up. "You guys should be fine" are the famous last words for many adventures where I encouraged the players to go for it.
I'm going to quote the Guide to PFS Organized Play just to make sure you understand the rules. "Determining Subtiers In order to determine which subtier a mixed-level group of PCs must play in, calculate the group’s average party level (APL). Divide the total number of character levels by the number of characters in the party. You should always round to the nearest whole number. If you are exactly at 0.5, let the group decide which subtier they wish to play.
"For scenarios written in Seasons 0 to 3, when the APL is in between subtiers, a party of six or seven characters must play the higher subtier. Parties with four or five characters must play the lower subtier. In the fringe case where there are no players that are high enough to have reached the subtier level (such as a party of six 3rd level characters), the group may decide to play down to the lower subtier."
Now can they play up despite the rules for Determining Subtiers explaining they cannot? I would say there's one exception. I would allow the party to play up under these conditions:
I hope that helps you make a decision.