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Cut-Throat Grok

Greasitty's page

Goblin Squad Member. Pathfinder Society Member. 40 posts (42 including aliases). 7 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 3 Pathfinder Society characters.


Cheliax

5 people marked this as a favorite.

PFS has been a great boon to my home gaming group. It showcases well a style of gaming where people game as they have time to, within the framework of a continuing campaign, without their lack of time holding up their friends from being able to play. It also shows how swapping GM's around can work well. Its organized play logistics are fantastic, and we have learned a lot from it.

It has inspired a home campaign that could be summed up as "organized play for less than 20 people", with that home game freedom of setting everything up to work well in character and maintain verisimilitude in the world. That campaign, and the style of setting it up that we have developed, is indebted to PFS for the inspiration, guidance, and warning of pits already fell in by earlier travelers. It has gone on for more than a year so far, and without PFS it would not exist.

I think it is easy for gaming groups to become ingrown. Even if they are successful and stick together for the long term, they lose sight of the broader perspective. "Gaming" becomes synonymous with "how we play". Playing PFS locally and at conventions grants the opportunity to see other people's approach to gaming, their assumptions, their point of view on the hobby. In that occasional conflict of styles we have at the PFS table is the opportunity to learn how other people see the game as being played, and then incorporate better appreciation and support for their type of gamer in your own play wherever you go next.

Cheliax

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Selling them back at full price does the least damage to the campaign. The illegal items are gone, no one feels personally attacked out of character, and in character they can complain about aggressive merchants sending out messengers forcing full refunds.

This isn't a normal campaign, where the difference can be worked out with the character. (Although it has inspired a mini-adventure where the party is caught up with by a merchant's messenger offering a full refund or to collect the difference. If that party is helpful, they gain a merchant NPC ally and a good reputation. If they ignore it, they gain a bad reputation in the weapon merchant community, which slowly overcharges them enough that they make up the money. If they kill the messenger, the guild of weapon merchants suddenly becomes a recurrent opponent, with agents spread throughout the gameworld!)

No, in this situation it is the player who bears the loss if there is one, and it is more than just money for their character to spend. The loss could include trust in the fairness of the leadership, morale, enthusiasm about their character, etc. That isn't worth doing just because someone thought the examples from Ultimate Equipment were doing it correctly!

Cheliax

1 person marked this as a favorite.

This might be a crazy idea, and I could see where it would have some legal issues that need to be ironed out, but here goes:

There could be a subscription option for the PRD. For some dollar figure each month, you could be a financial contributor to the PRD. Something as simple as paper car insurance cards could be distributed by email to those who request them: name, #, and what the start and end date of your paid for subscription is. These would be mere vanity items for those who don't play PFS, but for PFS they could authorize you in that time period to use the PRD on your phone, photocopies of hardcopy books the PRD includes, or direct PRD print outs. The player would be responsible for having the material ready to access, but it would be considered a legal source. When Paizo decides on an end date for the PRD, when they are taking down, they stop selling subscriptions for anything after that date. Like an MMORPG, the license agreement would have normal provisos about server maintenance and downtime and whatnot.

This would give interested people the ability to pay Paizo for the great service the PRD is. Even those of us who own many of the books in the PRD in some form still reference the PRD often. I own 7/12 of those books, but they are not hyperlinked, and when doing my gaming homework it is much faster to bop around the PRD than through my 7 books. This would let people in that position put defray the cost of Paizo's that it is costing Paizo. People who prefer physical books could have the convenience of electronic print outs without guilt, and those in the PRD represent most of the really heavy ones. Those with little income could have a way of contributing to Paizo when they can.

The physical books, the PRD, and PDFs have very different strengths and weaknesses.

The PDFs let you own a Paizo book for a very affordable sum, they give you that "ctrl-F" ability, but otherwise are less readable, and you rarely discover new things by flipping the way you do with a book. They are very light to carry, and don't require internet access. PDF versions of books have extra info that doesn't make the PRD, such as which god grants which subdomains in the APG. Many more books are available in PDF than the PRD or physical books. PDF's have some copyright issues that make them less than ideal for a gaming group that buys its books together.

The PRD requires and app or internet access, but allows you to search all 12 books currently included in a single search box. The hyperlinking is great, as is the fact that it is always up to date. You can't own the PRD, so it doesn't help long term game collectors in that way, but in the present it is a fantastic resource. The PRD doesn't have some of the world-specific details, but those tend to be much more important when building your character at home than running it at the table. It is much more accessible to screen readers and easier to make visible via other software for the visually impaired. You can't forget to bring it, lose it, or have it stolen from you. It is also not heavy.

Physical books don't require batteries, and have a very different reading experience for some folks. You can sell or lend them, or even physically modify them to your needs. They are a lot easier to pass around a table without fear of breaking your device. You can keep them for posterity without worrying about backwards compatible software. They are heavy, and they don't have the convenience of electronic searching.

In my mind, the perfect price point would be $5/month. That would leave you the option of either buying a PDF every 2-3 months or subscribing, whichever was better for you. Individually it would be very affordable, but if it turned out to be popular it could add a nice monthly income for Paizo. Permanent book ownership matters to most people enough that I don't think it would just replace purchasing the hardcover line.

In terms of "is it worth it for Paizo", I think that comes down to how much it costs to run a program like this, send out the little insurance cards, and deal with billing and complaints. I know it costs something, but how much is outside my experience.

Cheliax

7 people marked this as a favorite.

Pathfinder Society is an organized international community with unifying goals. One primary goal is promoting the existence of pathfinder gaming sessions outside of closed home group gaming, with the ability to progress the same characters in many different real life settings. In order for an voluntary organized community to exist, there must be a mutually understood language, at least a begrudging commitment of its members, and common practices. This post is primarily aimed at discussing how we best maintain our common practices.

The juridical approach is one of creating rules and enforcing them often enough to at least scare most of the members of the community into abiding by enough of them to keep things working. It is the approach used by most governments. Indeed, communities that aren't strictly voluntary are somewhat forced into this approach. The members of these communities are often part of it by chance, and don't always have the practical ability to leave.

In a way, the juridical path is actually the easier one for members as well as leaders. It facilitates the members' considerations to be things like: "What am I required to do?" or "How far can I push it before I hit enforcement?" or "How can I avoid getting caught?". It makes it easier to for someone whose natural inclination would be absolve themselves of responsibility to follow up on that temptation.

It makes it easy to see one's personal conflict as being against the system of rules and enforcement itself. The result of this conflict is that the people creating the rules start to adjust them to be more stringent than what they actually desire, aiming at the point at which member's willingness to push against the rules will land them at the desired action. (For instance, see the many jurisdictions that set their speed limits to 5 mph under the average speed the road was designed to carry traffic at.) Equilibrium comes, but at the price of some people feeling arbitrarily singled out for following the common practice on the occasions that the letter of the law is strictly enforced.

On the messageboard and in the guide, PFS feels like a very juridical culture. It is felt most the very rules lawyering threads, discussions of possible loopholes, but also in the posts of people seeking advice on how and when to enforce the rules. This messageboard section of PFS's culture seems to have forced Mike Brock and the rest of the leadership into strict language and endless clarifications, sometimes with great cost to common sense rulings.

With little to no enforcement powers, however, PFS on the ground is generally not run in a juridical manner. Making bad notes on chronicle sheets can be instantly "rectified" by throwing the chronicle in the trash bin, a practice that would never be found out by the next GM unless the perpetrator tried to replay it. The most permanent effect a GM can have is to ban a player from their table, something that doesn't change their life at their next venue at all.

In reality, the approach that is keeping practices common from one region and group to another isn't juridical at all, it is ascetical. The community is kept functional by thousands of individuals putting aside their personal preferences in order to stay in step with the campaign as a whole. As with any ascetical community, which sacrifices hurt the most varies from member to member, but it is those sacrifices being made by all that makes PFS exist. The success of the society as a whole is advanced by the integrity and willing rigor of its members to police themselves.

Some of these choices are made just by electing to participate in PFS at all. Compared to a home game situation, we instantly give up any palpable feeling of affecting the game world's future. We put aside character building options from unapproved sources, as well as the ability to build a character who is immediately going to be able to play with our friends' favorite characters. We relinquish the ability to replay an adventure with rewards, no matter how badly it was run or how little of it we saw the first time. We surrender the full roleplaying of our characters, limiting them to fit within the rules of the campaign (no evil actions, no being a jerk, no direct confrontation) and the constraints of the scenario.

There are a lot of less automatic sacrifices, and this is really where self-discipline comes into it. To support the campaign financially, we need to spend more money on Paizo materials than pure pragmatism requires. To maintain our interoperability and accountability, we need to keep clear and accurate documentation. To keep the community healthy and growing, we need to make choices as we play with the fun of all the other players in mind. We also need to be willing to teach new players in a winsome manner. Instead of cheating the details that would seem to make the session less fun, we should play them honestly and then report the problem so it can be fixed for everyone. We need to do whatever is in our ability to keep our GMs from burning out, whether that be taking our turn or buying them tasty snacks. Ultimately, we should make decisions with more than ourselves in mind, considering the impact on our gaming group, our local gaming store, our GMs, and the campaign as a whole.

Intentional asceticism is a very different throught process than just following the rules. Instead of saying, "What am I required to do?" we ask ourselves "How could I/we be doing better?", and that is a huge difference. We look at our personal situation and abilities and then see how we can best contribute and align ourselves to the society's ways.

A huge swath of PFS is already in practice run this way, or it wouldn't be functioning at all. My challenge to us all is to encourage this part of PFS culture. If you're still here, PFS must have some value to you, something worth working for. If we all stepped up our self-enforcement, if we encouraged those around us to be responsible society players, there would be a strong social pressure in that direction. Instead of wielding the rules as weapons in debate, our rules debates could center on what would work best for the society as a whole, not how to evade the current rule. In the end, it could make much more room for common sense and dispensations for those who need them.

On the leadership side, this is greatly aided whenever you guys let us know what the spirit of the law really is. Those times when you post about where you want to go with the campaign are fantastic, especially when you seek feedback. I think those sorts of things really add morale to those trying to follow the rules as best as they can, which is at least a plurality of PFS members.

Cheliax

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Hi, Jon, I'm Brian's wheelchair using friend. I ran disability access for a convention for several years, so I understand how hard this part of conventions is.

Access isn't all about physically making a path to where someone wants to go. As Jon said, the tables in the middle of the pile are never going to be accessible. That's completely ok, it's life. Chairs around tables isn't naturally a very friendly wheelchair situation. PFS's setup this year was actually more accessible in that regard than a family party I was invited to once - at least they weren't blocking off the only bathrooms in the place!

The most important part of access is actually information. If there is no way to make an event doable by someone with some kind of disability, the best kind of access you are going to get is communicating that to them in advance. (Not being able to participate in something rankles a lot less if you didn't spend time waiting around for the thing you can't do.) If it is doable, but has obstacles, or requires some pre-setup, communicate that. The better the communication, the better the accessibility, even if the physical situation isn't great.

As an example, we had a building we ran programming in where the elevator was broken before the con started. We obviously couldn't fix that, but we could make sure that as each person with a visible disability picked up their badge or anyone visited our disability desk they got a list of what rooms this elevator served and a description of what made it hard to get to them without it. In this case it was 5 really broad, shallow stairs. Both those for whom that was insurmountable and those for whom that was not a big deal due to curb hopping skills or well trained friends expressed gratitude for the information.

This was my first Gencon playing PFS. I didn't know what an "HQ" was, or that shouting up at this really tall black mountain was the way you were supposed to go about getting help. Even just know that approaching HQ was the first step would have been great, and accomplishable with just a blue wheelchair sign tacked on it somewhere. That would at least lead someone in my position to mill around below it where we could be noticed. A poster with information on what we needed to do to get a table we could get to would have been even better. (By this poster, I don't mean like the "how to muster" posters that were entirely blocked from view by the standing people, but up by HQ itself.) Even better would have been a post on these boards here setting up a point of contact, instructions about how early someone with a disability should show up, etc.

You guys have talked about how hard finding the musterers was. Now imagine that if you're only 4' tall! Brian's wife forged through to a few, but until we were right there, I had no idea that a musterer existed in that spot. I'm staring at leg level, t-shirts and clipboards don't particularly help someone in my situation.

Finally, if your own HQ staff is all on the same page regarding access, that shows. I got a little token with a table assignment. No one collected it ultimately, so I tried to send it back to HQ with a runner who was grabbing tickets and things, and he had no idea what it was or that it belonged to you all. I hope the musterer (if I'd found one) would have known?

Cheliax

3 people marked this as a favorite.

You are all missing the obvious answer: Snilloc has the ear of the higher ups at Paizo. ;)


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