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Something that's also very important is to *ensure communication between all parties' and 'make sure as GM you're not giving unconscious tics or tells that the players are mis-reading'.
What may feel like exasperation on your part, any sarcastic comment, any comment that's made off-the-cuff could be misconstrued as NOT being what is intended as GM.
I've had my fair share of GMs who *thought* they were telling a tale of one thing, but when we as players encountered the situation immediately went 'Oh, right, this is all a conspiracy and here are the data-points to prove our case'.
As a GM I've been running tables and suddenly the players go 'We're burning down the orphanage even though half of us came from there and we had positive experiences our entire life. It's obviously a nest of evil.'
...and in completely guile-less manner.
Ensure that the communication that is attempting to be made from all parties is understood *first* before doing anything drastic to the campaign.
Otherwise it becomes a 'death spiral' as the players slide their scale of morality to what they perceive as proper as influenced by the GM, and the GM continues to push the spiral not realizing they are doing so.
It's a tough job, but that's why not everyone is cut out to GM, and even the best ones sometimes need to take some time to regroup.
The concern, of course, is how many *other* GMs may be having this issue, and have since given up because they don't have alternate means to ensure a quality run they feel confident for?
It's not like there won't be *other* purchases related to the dropped scenario, and in the case of convention GMs, there's also lodging and transportation to said convention.
These are not cheap expenditures in this day and age.
More importantly, what is the 'end goal' of having the encounter there as a GM?
Does it serve the narrative of the party/campaign to kill off half the party (or more) and have a few straggling survivors that will struggle to rebuild an adventuring team?
Does it keep the campaign more cohesive or less?
Could this encounter be hinted at (perhaps with some sort of antechamber or the like) to give strong enough hints to the party to leave well enough alone?
Example: In a campaign, our 3rd level party found a necromantic laboratory in an abandoned keep. We found the antechamber with all the information on 'how to make a lich' as well as two score of well-armored skeletal knights in repose. We booked it, because no matter what was in there, even an empty room, there was a good chance there was... going to be a lich which was WAY above our pay grade.
This is not aimed at anything in particular, but is there an issue with scenarios being dropped for some accounts?
Over the past year, I've volunteered to run a few tables.
Nearly every time the support request was put in well prior to the event, we've had to resort to alternate means to ensure that the scenarios went off in a quality fashion.
In one case, the scenario ended up in my downloads the week after the convention it was supposed to be prepped for.
There is no accusation here, there's only a concern to ensure the highest level of quality play.
Some GMs do work jobs that preclude sitting at a computer 24/7 but still want to contribute.
Trying to manage the prep time becomes difficult if the material is not made available to prepare and the alternate means becomes the norm.
Thank you very much for your time in advance.
Recently played this, and will be running at convention at the end of the month. I'm skeerd.
On our play-through, the rule was 'you free the Sage, you get the Sage' for mechanical purposes, with the only outlier being someone who had freed two Sages handing one off to the player whose character was deaded by the the last fight... and they used the NPC (who would have been ineffective against the BBEG) to remove said dead character from the area of further death/necromancy effects.
Even as it was, this thing looks to take a lot of time, and the idea of using the Sages to regulate said time use seems an appropriate means of resource.
What other pitfalls have other folks seen running this?
Dominick Trascritti wrote:
These are great ways for Organized Play to help players, however, the following are concerns:
-- Game stores close with appalling regularity in this area. Some of the stores that local players have bought from haven't existed for five years.
-- Game stores do 'pop-up' tables at regional conventions and have either a cash-only or email-only method of doing business (though admittedly becoming rarer -- would an email receipt count?)
I like the idea of 'some form of customization' on a given book being a good indication of ownership -- it is highly unlikely that for example Fred Stein is going to own a book with the name Olivia Wells written on it, barring a very good an interesting tale behind the transaction
For years, everyone knew my CORE hardcover because I'd bought it damaged (unknowingly at the time, thought it was a design feature) from a local store and the marking was... distinctive, for example.
I'm very surprised the Lady of Pain didn't just shunt the offending party off Sigil into GTFOMP Get The F* Off My Plane and it being conveniently the plane of the Abyss that Orcus chills out at.
Not for anything necessarily torture related to happen to the character, that's just tacky, but for the player to try and figure out for the next few years what really happened there.
From an out of the box perspective though, probably better that didn't happen, because someone who is wrapped around their character can act in unpredictable and worrisome fashions.
Events You Are Running
Sun G (Sunday Afternoon) : PFS 8-22 Wrath of the Fleshwarped Queen (1-5)
Fri - B (Friday Evening) PFS 9-10 Signs in Senghor (1-5)
I'm signed up to be one of the GMs for this, we're currently at 19 of 36 spaces filled, so figured to bring it a bit of attention and love.
Apologies if this is above my paygrade or out of line, would love to see folks show up so we have enough tables... it'd be my 10th PFS table if we get enough people for mine to fire!
Ran this a couple of weeks ago and forgot to post here.
In addition to the prep that Hilary helpfully provided, I also came up with a chart for the books on a huge sheet of paper, with nine stages charted out. After each hour I would mark an 'x' for the books that were acquired, and a 'o' for the ones that hadn't been acquired in that hour.
I'd have the character minis on the books they were trying for, which really helped the team see what they were doing and who was where, etc.
It helped visualize what books were which, and since they got the books within four hours(and got Kitarlo's book on the 5th), I was able to use some of the remaining boxes to chart what mortification the characters were doing.
I did strongly emphasize an appropriate sacrifice at the T1-2 subtier, and still had a party member dump 150 gold on it (they were L4). At that point I simply washed my hands and called it good, then nearly did a spit-take when someone else did the money sacrifice and dumped 25 gold -- fortunately, I am an experienced GM so it didn't erupt.
L4 player didn't seem angry about it, took it easily in stride.
Because any player that attacks me gets bounced from my table and possibly removed from the campaign.
*removes egg from face, edits*
I personally *welcome* the chance for full melee attacks from the characters playing in the scenario I am running.
Melee doesn't get a chance to shine very often, and being able to have them pull it off without a lot of shenanigans brings a warmth to my heart.
It'd be easy to fall to this one, but...
Lack Of Terrific Tengu Options
is not the reason.
The Real Reason For This Avatar:
I had a character in a shared universe fiction that was based around an obsessive cleaning/work ethic. Their superhero 'callsign' was 'Wageslave'. This avatar is the closest I can find to Jay Donohue's appearance. Jay Versus the Fungi
...basically, the butt-kicker that keeps me working on prepping my scenarios in a neat and timely obsessive fashion.
This is easy to do in PbP or pre-determined groups in a non-convention venue.
It's a bit more difficult to implement at a convention venue, though the idea and intent is well-meaning.
...it's often hard just to get the PFS sign-in sheet around the table, getting an additional piece through is an order of magnitude more difficult. Most players come to play Pathfinder, not World of Bureaucrat...
That being thought, I did try the sign-in sheet for a recent scenario, Hilary, and it did help, though it took nearly as long to get people to fill it out as it did to get them all seated to play. Late-running first slot plus need for players to eat backing into second slot blues...
Party spends an hour and a half trying to cross a pit, another hour and a half figuring out glyphs, forty seconds to take down big final opponent.
"Thought that last fight was going to be rough given all the stuff we were struggling with!"
Note: Party was not bombing skill checks. They kept refining their plans and ideas...
So I am considering during the Laktharis encounter of emphasizing to the players that they are playing for children, who have notoriously short attention spans, and if things get too 'boring' the kids will 'tune out'.
Does that sound like a reasonable way of conveying the message that they need to try different things without giving all away? Thoughts?
Sometimes GMs vanish because of RL issues.
Sometimes they vanish because they see the group they're dealing with, and realize that even if they came straight out and told their table that they were having issues the table would try ANYTHING to keep them... not realizing that they may be part of the issues the GM is having.
This particularly becomes pertinent when one is trying to build a table for the 'long haul' of an AP, and either personalities, characters, or RL impacting posting rates factors in.
Running Lyrics of Extinction at the pre-GenCon slot, I pulled a real quick 'What sort of wonky things do you have' audit on my players, and was able to use a rarely-used class feature on one of the characters to impart information that they would otherwise have had no way of knowing, and do it seamlessly to preserve immersion.
If I had not done the quick spot-check, I never would have seen that option available.
I would *much prefer* to have a table that may not have 'the best of knowledges' have a crack at some information by Cooperating with each other as indicated by the Society mantra than withholding said information because they didn't make it a priority to put all their skill points into one knowledge skill, and praying they sit down at a table with others that can 'cover the difference'.
After all, if I have to prep and reread the information blocks a dozen times, I want my players to have access to them if it is reasonably feasible -- and not have most of the party looking at their smartphones for the most recent play in the local sportsball game because they've tuned out feeling they cannot contribute. This has happened to me once, local team was in the playoffs, and getting the party to engage was... a challenge.
3: Even a designated hotel room or something close where *Volunteers* AND GMs could go would be exceptionally handy.
Problem I kept running into was I'd try to go to break/lunch and then realize "Oh, crap, there's a thing that needs doing and I don't think anyone else knows about it gotta head back before I forget!"
Having a dedicated spot somewhere close where no phones/text/whatnot were allowed, a purely quiet area to regain focus and recharge (not sleep the entire convention away) would be ginormous.
James Risner wrote:
I'll see if any from my meagre 'available' stash (less than half-dozen) are worthwhile for when I run on Wednesday.
I haven't GM'd a lot for PFS.
Part of the reason was due to a previous campaign having a level of power-creep that makes PFS look downright tame in comparison, even with all of the options available. Much like Tallow mentions here, it's not a lot of fun if one has players that 'attempt to shoot the block text', and then grumble because they have to 'sit through a waste of time'.
On the other side of the token, part of the 'arms race' has come from increasingly difficult encounters and scenarios, and even a person that holds closely to the ideal of 'character development' over 'mechanical development' will be able to point to points in their character's career where 'this' thing or 'that' thing became important to know and have.
As a GM, if a player has a means to shut down an encounter shortly after it is introduced, I'm glad to see it, because it makes up for all the other combats that last for hours on end with things like Obscuring Mist, Stinking Cloud, Mirror Image, Blur, etc, that usually get dropped in the *last fight* after three to four hours of play.
One of the benchmarks I've used, particularly in GMing PFS, is 'is the party working as a unit' as per 'Cooperate'.
If everyone is working together, and the TripMaster 3000 is holding one flank and the blaster is taking care of the right, the healing support is keeping everyone standing and the martials have made themselves either into a wall or a solid harassing force to handle opponent casters (for example), even if I barely get to do anything as a GM, that's a table that 'gets it'.
What is also good to see as a GM is when the 'tried and true' tactics *don't* work, and what players and their characters do to make up for that.
When it's just one 'superstar' that's doing 'everything', well, it's pretty easy as a GM to adjust generic tactics to 'All Firepower on That Target', and it's a legitimate GM tool, as the PCs have brought creative means to the encounter and that opens things up a little.
This also takes the heat off the other PCs in some circumstances to give them a chance to shine, and perhaps excel.
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