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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.
Mike's on vacation until September 23. I'm not sure if he has to give the web monkeys direct instructions to award the 5th Star, but it is not automatically done in the system. We learned that after SessionGate earlier this year. Has Auke sent in the DNA sample to make sure that you aren't Dragnmoon in disguise? That could be the holdup ;)
Here's the key text from the Community Use Policy: "You may not use artwork, including maps, that have not been published in the blog, although you may create your own interpretations of material presented in our artwork and maps, provided that your interpretations don't look substantially similar to our materials."
So 'substantially similar' is the key phrase. It is also subjective, so Paizo has the final say. I think you are OK since you created the map from scratch instead of simply cutting and pasting it before adding digital enhancement. You can add whatever credits you want, but in the end if Paizo says take it down, we take it down.
I ran this last night for the first time. Knowing how confusing all the NPCs are with foreign names & motives, I made handouts with some portraits from the scenario and other images from Google. There are 8 key NPCs to keep track of. I wish we were allowed to share work like this, but it is not covered by the Community Use Policy.
I fortunately had a table of 4 players. Having more face-time to share with the GM helped to keep them engaged. It was 3.5 hours of role-play before we ever rolled init. They enjoyed themselves but it is tiresome to think on your feet that long.
When I played this scenario, we straight-up murdered Shirin outside of the tomb. We were convinced that she was behind it all and would have ended it sooner had the GM not stopped us and explained how the plot was supposed to go. We were so frustrated by the time we got to the graveyard, we didn't give her a chance to talk. We ran up and started hacking her to pieces. We laughed about it afterward--what if she turned out to be innocent?
It made me think about how to avoid a replay of this when I ran it last night. First, don't put down a flipmat and place minis on it. That is like ringing the bell for Pavlov's dog. Players are going to go right into tactical mode. Just keep the atmosphere casual like the graveyard is a red herring and you're going to read them boxed text to lead them to the next clue. Describe "Umut" dragging herself away from the opened tomb looking like death warmed over. Let the players accuse her or make threats, but don't tip your hand. Have a good story rehearsed so it sounds smooth and natural. Every good lie contains a kernel of truth.
Umut: [moans] "Don't come closer! .... You have to get away, warn the others .... she's in there!"
In my game there were two inquisitors and a cleric of Sarenrae. Thanks to some favorable rolls, the encounter worked like the author intended. They did consider she was setting them up, but there was enough doubt in their minds they ended up getting hit from behind after they went down to fight "the necromancer in the tomb".
First encounter: "In the higher subtier, a pair of skeletal hodags also emerges from the woods as the zombie owlbears turn to attack the PCs." A suggestion: since the hodags have a burrow speed I start them underground and out of sight. After the melee types have engaged, I have the hodags approach the back ranks of the party like the gopher in "Caddyshack", leaving a channel of disturbed earth in their wake. It makes for a suspenseful encounter when the PCs don't know what's coming until it bursts from the ground.
Dave Setty wrote:
EDIT: @Doug Miles: the circle suppresses her spell resistance.
Thank you for correcting me Dave. I was looking at the ghaele stat block and not reading the scenario text. I stand corrected.
Steeldraco, if you GM long enough these situations can arise. You made a snap decision. You are not alone. I don't expect we'll have a group therapy session here, but I think every GM has decisions they look back on and cringe. Did the players have a good time, or was there mistrust created as a result? That is how I would reflect on the episode. Learn from it, and move onward.
I think you made a mistake, but you recovered from it in an acceptable fashion. You could of had the ghaele ready an action to defend herself against anyone who tried to hurt her, while asking who the PCs are and what are their intentions. If you want to get technical, ghaele have no ranks in Knowledge (Religion) so she could not have recognized a cleric of Asmodeus. Back up further and consider she's got SR 25 vs infernal healing affecting her. I think you over-reacted, but once you commit it is not easy to back down. The scenario speaks of her being too weak to help the PCs, save for a heroic effort to banish the demon if it has been freed. All you can do is reflect on what you would do different if the same situation happens again.
The call for volunteers went out on March 3rd. The Tier 1 and 2 GM berths fill up fast, usually within a week of the announcement. With so many volunteers scrambling for a limited amount of positions, Mike Brock (the Global Campaign Coordinator) can be picky if he wants to. One way to stand out from the herd is to earn some GM Stars by running PFS events locally. If I were Mike, I would be leery of giving an at-first-glance green GM a Tier 1 or 2 slot.
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Man, that was a lot of typing!
Kyle never asked for a goblin boon, but he couldn't let something so precious go to waste. He loved Garble like only a father could (despite Kolossal Ego's inexhaustible jealousy), and in his heart he knew that this was going to be Garble's fate. He just had to come across the right GM armed with the right opponent. An epic death should be celebrated. [cue slow-motion montage of Garble Facechomper chewing on various foes scored to Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better".]
What were Garble's last words, Harold?
If it makes sense to you to disregard the tactics because they are illogical or ineffective, that's your prerogative. You're also responsible for the consequences, good or bad. If you're looking for a green light, that's as much of one as you'll get. You're the GM & it's up to you to bring the fun. Historically, Paizo doesn't go back and correct errors or omissions in scenarios. You have to make the decision.