I think that Ravenloft was an amazing gaming experience. It broke new D&D ground and offered a spooky vampire atmosphere. I recall liking the Swords & Sorcery third edition books, though I never played them.
I did spend a little time in Prisoners of the Mist, a Neverwinter Nights persistent world with a Ravenloft theme. Fun stuff.
Paizo did a nice job with Ustalov, which is pretty different from Ravenloft but fills that vampire region niche.
I remember playing Ravenloft and the GM did a great Strahd. Of course, he went on to be a professional improv performer who is on track to break it nationally. So, no suprise there. The rest of us just played, not acted. That worked out fine for everybody.
Totally unrelated: If you are looking for a fun present for Christmas that won't break the budget (under $20 on Amazon), I highly recommend Munchkin (including the new Pathfinder version). We started playing it during lunch at work this year (average game is 30 minutes to an hour) and it is an absolute BLAST. It's very funny and it's also kid friendly (they might not understand everything..). It works for two players, but because of the help someone/shaft someone element, it really shines with three or more. Alliances shift constantly based on self-interest. While I am a big fan of the PFACG, I think Munchkin is probably the all around most fun game that I play.
He also said this, which reflects your comment on more experience resulting in being able to handle more difficult character challenges:
Do you really have the proper mind-set to play the particular game persona at this time? While it isn’t possible to perform at peak level at all times, an uninteresting or a distasteful PC is sure to lower your performance drastically over a long period of time. This might be acceptable in a casual episode in which experimentation and aberration are of no import, but it is quite destructive in an ongoing campaign. You will not gain enjoyment, the others in the group will have theirs hindered because of your imprudent choice, and the whole level of the campaign could suffer. Until you are a master-an individual capable of accepting any challenge and dealing with it willingly to the extent of its limits-it is always best to let your enthusiasm direct your selection when in doubt.
@MendedWall - a comment from Gygax sorta related to the second part of your post:
These nonparticipants had no intention of taking part because they were fearful that the process would reveal too much about their actual personalities. What these people don’t realize is that players generally prefer to choose and develop a character type that is not similar to one’s true personality, and most games are designed so as to encourage this sort of selection.
A master gamer will understand that one of the most intriguing aspects of RPGs is the opportunity to portray a character that bears no resemblance to his actual persona. In some cases, depending on the particular game or the result the player desires from the activity, it may be appropriate or even necessary to reflect one’strue self in the choice of a PC, but the general statement still holds.
Bob's Character Building
Mechanics - the skeleton of the character
Background - the flesh of the character
Equipment/Goods - The clothes of the character.
The insubstantial concept becomes substantive with the selection of class and race. Gender is less important in most cases. Alignment is a reflection of personality and could be included in this step or the next: I lean towards the latter.
The character is basically a golem at this point, a construct. It exists but is inanimate. Life is breathed into the character with a story. Background, history, personality traits: Now it's a living being with depth.
But it's naked as far as being an adventuring character goes. The skeleton and the flesh are essentially permanent. They can be enhanced, but not simply removed as if they never were. Now, the character is equipped and outfitted at ye old general store. It's clothed. Those clothes will change. New and better stuff will be obtained through adventuring. But frame, flesh and clothes: we have a player character.
Humble fellow that I am, I kinda like this analogy.
There are some who would reverse one and two: if the build works, hey, it's not a perfect analogy. But for my character build, this works.
Pax Veritas wrote:
Sounds like my approach to being a dad :-)
That quote immediately reminded me of the subheading at the start of The Master GM chapter: THE CREATOR, ORGANIZER, AND ARBITER OF ALL
It is also a strong indicator that Gygax wasn't a devotee of RAW (rules as written).
I'll probably drop a few more concepts from The Master GM chapter along the way.
Welcome to the thread.
Since we've epanded upon playing the character and touched a bit on player creation, Gygax says, "For instance, the AD&D game uses a character system based on profession, or “class.” In that game, the direct, highly physical approach is embodied in the fighter and cavalier classes. The magic-user class offers the indirect, possibly intellectual approach- a sort of mixture of artillery and superscience. Between these two extremes lies the cleric class, with its mixture of direct and indirect action (being able to use both heavy weapons and heavy magic).
Finally, the thief class presents a manner of approach that is basically individualistic and unobserved (as differing from indirect). Of course, other PC types and the nonhuman races add to the mix. If the AD&D game has a single obvious shortcoming, it is the attempt to present so many facets of the whole world to itsparticipants that players lose sight of the reason for all these classes of PCs. Because the game is so extensively detailed and reflects a fantasy milieu in world-scale terms, there is no meaningful level of character success that is achievable with respect to the world community. That is, no matter how powerful a PC becomes, the choices for the player are but two: Continue to ue the character as an adventurer, or retire the character from active play and have the figure become a tool for use by the Game Master (GM).
He added, In addition to delineating a field of endeavor for a PC, some game systems allow for selection of a race, or species, other than human for the PC. This can be a so-called demi-human, such as a dwarf or an elf, in a fantasy setting; or it can be some alien creature type in a science fiction milieu.
Whatever the selection of races or species presented, the choice facing the player is quite similar tothat of profession or skill grouping. There will be advantages and drawbacks to each potential selection. The rules must be understood, and all the decisions that pertain to profession or skill area should be made prior to selecting a PC’s race. If you simply must play a magic-user in the AD&D game campaign being developed, then your character cannot also be a dwarf, because the rules of the game prohibit dwarves from being magic-users, and vice
And, Knowing the whole of the system, and studying carefully that portion of the rules that deals with the creation and advancement of player characters, gives the participant a great advantage when choosing and developing a PC. Since the game persona is created to serve in a lengthy series of play sessions (the campaign), care must be used in selection of profession or skills, race or species, gender, and alignment of the new PC. Above all, the player must be enthusiastic about long-term participation in the game with the chosen PC.
John Woodford wrote:
Properly done you'd build the mechanics of the character around its personality and history, but it's not surprising how much of it goes the other way. In practice I tend to do them both together. The other consideration is that no set of game mechanics is going to be all-inclusive, so there are personalities and concepts that just won't be supported. And when you and the GM make something up, it can be hard when Paizo comes out with the official version and you're left scrambling.
Thinking about it, I build around the mechanics. I look at the game I'm going to play in (an Urban Ranger in the deserts of Osirion would be dumb), pick the class and race I want, then do the build. I try to tie in background, personality, etc (fluff) to the adventure (I find GMs really do appreciate that effort), but they are definitely the clothes over the skeleton (hopefully there's some flesh in between..).
In relation to the OP, I still try to RP my character the "right" way, but as far as constructing the character, I'm definitely mechanics driven.
Folks probably saw the Paizo blog post, but just thought I'd mention the Pathfinder Dice Game kickstarter going on. I backed it because I like board games and I'm interested to see how this rather odd looking game comes out; hard to know what to make of it.
I consider most of Paizo's PF RPG stuff to be of very good quality; the PFACG is fantastic and the Wizkids minis I've gotten have been good. On the other hand, I think PF Online is going to be a disaster.
But generally, I think Paizo officially aligns itself with quality product. We'll see which side of the line this game falls on.
Back to normal discussion....
I should probably know this, but are touranment modules still in vogue with Pathinder and D&D today? I remember seeing notes in TSR and Judges Guild modules that talked about they were for tournaments. And there was something about tournament scoring associated with them.
Obviously, I'm aware of PFS.
I think Ghost Tower of Inverness was one such (maybe the whole C-series was?). And I'm pretty sure Operation Ogre (I loved those paper-thin Judges Guild modules) was also one. Just wondering if the 'disposability of characters' concept was some aspect of tournament vs 'regular' modules.
And story could be optional. I loved Tegel Manor, but that was about as plotless as a SciFi channel movie. Frog God Games' The Black Monastery is very much a Tegel Manor module (and quite cool), but it's about exploring and fighting: you make up your own story line. Characters are center, not story.
When first get a reward like "Each character draws a random weapon from the box.", should it increase the total size of my character deck to 16?
No. Your deck size does not increase. It's similar to when you acquire boons from location decks. You'll have to pick and choose what to keep to make up your 15 cards, with the extras either going to other group members or back into the box.
John Woodford wrote:
The thing is (returning to the OT), disposable PCs are part of the history of the game, dating back to before I started playing. Rememb... Crawled into the Sphere of Annihilation in Tomb of Horrors? Ah, well. The next one won't do that. And given the fragility of low-level characters, why put the effort into a detailed personality and backstory? Expected mortality rates for some OD&D games I was in ran somewhere north of 50% before reaching 2nd level. Granted, very few people play that way any more, but the style has a long (if not honorable) history in RPGs.
And as I waffle back and forth: I get that point. Tomb of Abysthor (Necromancer/Frog God Games) is just about my favorite module. Rappan Athuk, same company and campaign setting, is just a pure meat grinder. It prides itself on how many characters die exploring it. I think one person ever survived the whole thing. So it's death on the hoof. And getting attached to your character is probably a bad idea.
I do agree that playstyle isn't in vogue anymore. So the disposable character thing still seems to be more of an MMO mentality than an RPG.
I've never had a backup character ready to go, but it does sound like a smart idea. Sitting around a table not getting to play isn't fun.
I'm playing a cleric in the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game and several times I've had to heal characters near death(basically, out of cards in your deck). If your character dies, you have to sit out the rest of the scenario (which the party might still win, but you won't get the reward).
I guess the distinction in this discussion is whether you see each character as valuable and something you want to develop, or just a space filler that you can get killed and replace with the next iteration. Both approaches would seem to result in very different play styles.
I'm blocked from the WotC site at work, but she also has some histories of various D&D things posted there....
While I'm sure I've made no shortage of errors in this thread, I just realized I referred to Shannon Appelcline as "she". Shannon is in fact, a "he." My mistake.
And to make this a moderately useful post, here's one of my favorite PF reviewers on Designers and Dragons .
@Mendedwall - Something I find myself more and more curious about lately is what I perceive are likely the different approaches to in game death between MMO/videogamers (I'll use 'MMO' for both categories here) and tabletop RPG/PbPers (RPGers).Death is easy in MMOs. It's barely a penalty in Age of Conan (AoC). And I would just reload a saved game in Neverwinter Nights.
To a tabletop RPGer, death is to be avoided and (hopefully) is rare. Dare I say, it is tramautic. That character is, in most instances, gone. In AoC, after completing the bat demon quest, and wishing to avoid the five minutes it takes to retrace my route and get back to town (including load times), I have lept to my death from the ruins and respawned closer to the exit. The death penalty didn't really matter.
I cannot imagine voluntarily killing myself in an RPG without REALLY good cause. And quite possibly not even then (sacrifice myself? Hey, you got into this mess, why should I die?).
As your example indicated, the MMO-raised player is going to understand rather quickly that dead means DEAD. But it's a fundamentally different orientation towards the concept. Most 'RPGers first' know that an MMO/videogame is a very different experience than tabletop/PlayByPost and there's not really a shock in the transition. But I think the MMOer coming to RPG is moving into a new realm and there needs to be a change in how they approach the game.
I've played both forms long enough that I understand the intrinsic differences and play both easily. An MMOer might not see it quite the same way.
PS, Garret PI is Nero Wolfe. The Dead Man is Nero, Garret is Archie, etc....
Oh yeah, Garrett PI is strongly influenced by the Wolfe books. I wrote an article for Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine on the Wolfe Corpus and mentioned the Garrett books.
If folks here are looking for a good mystery series, The Nero Wolfe books by Rex Stout, which ran from about 1932 to 1974, hold up EXTREMELY well. They are among the best mystery books in the history of the genre. And A&E did a superb tv series starring Timothy Hutton that is out on DVD.
Robert Goldbsborough has written some additional Wolfe books as well, including a prequel that tells when Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin met.
I'm a member of the Nero Wolfe fan club. Seriously....
@Alzrius - Welcome.
I mentioned in a later post that I have softened somewhat on my stance, moving more towards a "even if does seem cheap, so what?" take.
But I think one valid demarcation line is how much the GM wants to have to learn. If put up a PbP recruitment post and say everything on the PRD is fair game, that's my decision. But to be fair to applicants, I'm going to have to learn a lot about the witch, the gunslinger, the samaurai and the magus if those are classes that people submit. And that may be more than I want to do.
Now, if I say in my original post, only classes from the Core Rulebook (and maybe the Advanced Players Guide), I've set parameters. Somebody who doesn't like that, or wants to play a class from other sourcebooks, can simply not play in my game.
For a closed group meeting in person, I think you probably have to be a bit more open to different classes because someone might have a significantly reduced amount of fun with the limitations. With PbP, there are usually a slew of applicants and the party selected won't feel 'deprived' by the restrictions.
I suppose this could be asserted to be 'lazy GMing,' but I think GMing takes a LOT of work (for a hobby) and I'd rather take on a load I think I can handle and do well. And that might mean some or all of what Paizo deems official. And thematically, I may think gunpowder is fine in a Razor Coast game, but not in Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands (one of my favorites).
As for balance, that's certainly a debatable topic. Being a half-asimar gives several paladin-like qualities to another class, which I found over-powered in a game I played in. I'm sure there are other examples.
I like to read a lot of third party product, but I often wonder how balanced they are. Including third party stuff in a game probably requires a more thorough review than Paizo stuff.
That was a pretty thoughtful post you wrote: hope you stick around.
Welcome to all the new posters, and I'm glad to see mendedwall back.
I think that archetypes are one of the best aspects of Pathfinder. They really add a lot to the player options without "going gonzo." My first choice for a character is usally an Urban Ranger, so I've bought into them. I think they've been more of an asset than entirely new classes.
Regarding roleplaying fully and correctly, I think a distinction can be made between the background given the character and the 'mechanical' choices.
Mechanical Race/Class/Archetype result in a certain range of characteristics. They are broader than they used to be: as mendedwall referenced, the Cleric can be a lot of different things (I'm still trying to adapt to them using swords). And a half-asimar is certainly different than a gnome. But there are rules aspects of races, classes and archetypes: guidelines that the game itself sets. Let's think of these categories as the skeleton for the character.
Background But the 'fluff' background can be virtually anything. Emotions, experiences, lineage: things from outside the rulebook form a set of clothes for the character, fitting over the skeleton.
To RP the character as Gygax is talking about, the player should factor in both the mechanics and the background. Doing one but not the other would seem a variation from the character and not properly fulfilling this Step. Now, it's a game, and if it's more fun that way and doesn't ubalance/'ruin' things, maybe so what? But to play properly and fully, both the skeleton and the clothes need to be considered.
Gygax has a section on character creation, which we'll get to outside of the 17 Steps.
I really need to get The Ultimate Campaign book. I had to pick between that and Mythic Adventures, going with the latter. I found Mythic to be rather disappointing and not of much use to me at all.
As for fantasy books, I'm re-reading Glen Cook's Black Company series. I think it stands out as rather original (albeit, certainly a bit dark). It's also COMPLETELY different from his marvelous hardboiled fantasy series, Garret PI. That Cook could write two completely different series' so well is a testament to his ability.
John Woodford wrote:
Could be. But he's so "group" driven that I don't tend to think of his approach as being oriented towards expendable NPCs. But again, we're only talking about a couple sentences in one of the stages. It's not a major matter.
That is kind of funny though: sometimes I think it's hard to find players for a game. Imagine what it was like for Gygax!
Yes, him. I think he spoke twice in the Avengers. I meant that he was Ealy's partner on Common Law. It really was a decent show.
Yes, I have that one too. If we get all the way through this book, I will probably also do a thread on that on
I found a facebook page for Designers and Dragons . There are a slew of links to product histories that Shannon Appelcline (the author) has written. There's some neat info in them. Find a product you were interested in and have at it.
Here's a sample
I'm blocked from the WotC site at work, but she also has some histories of various D&D things posted there. Find some topics that interest you and see what they say. And please post some useful stuff here in the thread.
Mark Hoover wrote:
These are awesome. I just got done with Of Dice and Men and I'm a total sucker for all things Gygax. Thank you very much for these posts H&dub!
Glad you like the thread. Hope you'll contribute. I haven't read Ewalt's book yet, though it's on my list. Jon Peterson's 'Playing at the World' looks interesting as well.
And it's nearly impossible to find, but Designers and Dragons was a MASSIVE look at RPG history. I read somewhere it's being re-released in more reasonably sized (and priced) pieces.
I wish they would make a Neverwinter Nights like game for Pathfinder where we had a builders client so we could make our own game worlds/servers. I would make a number of places based in Golarion. We did this with the original NWN for Faerun. Over at a roleplaying group called A Land Far Away.
They're too busy backing a Player vs. Player death feast in Pathfinder Online....
Making a buddy cop show with a sci-fi slant shouldn't be something out of the ordinary, but it is. Because of that, they've hit an under-used niche (and the buddy-cop thing is all over the place). This show feels kinda fresh because it's moving in the sci-fi field.
Michael Ealy was costar of Common Law, a buddy cop show on USA Network that was undeservedly cancelled after its debut season. It was solid and should have gotten another year.
His partner had a small part as a radar operator (or something like that) on the battleship in The Avengers.
Gary Gygax’s 17 Steps to Role Playing Mastery
Step Nine - Role-play your character fully and correctly.
Note: Italics are quotes by Gygax, contained in the book, Role Playing Mastery.
Make sure that your actions, decisions, and behavior as a player are faithful to the role of the PC you are representing. When you have a trait or a tendency your PC does not possess, do your best to keep that aspect of your personal makeup from surfacing during play.
This topic has been discussed earlier in the thread. We've also talked about both the PC knowing something the player shouldn't and the more common occurrence of the player knowing something the PC shouldn't.
I think there's large scale agreement that you are supposed to play your character, not yourself. And if you're playing a wizard, you aren't supposed to leap into melee at every opportunity (hello, Magus).
If I played a Sherlock Holmes RPG, and we were going through an adventure based on one of Doyle's original stories, it's 100% certain I would know more than my PC. But I should not be using that knowledge to make choices my character couldn't reasonably expect to make himself.
Likewise, if your character was an orphan who is uncomfortable around people, they wouldn't be speaking for the group at every opportunity. The character background, skills and feats (and alignment) provide a framework for how the character would act. There's both playing the character as it's been created and also playing it not as you.
Gygax says, Whatever path you select for your PC to follow, you must then begin thinking like that persona. Whether the game is patterned after a real or an imaginary activity, you need to make your mind-set such that you can role-play your character realistically within the game milieu. If you are to be an interstellar explorer, don’t think in terms of becoming rich through trade and commerce. Piety becomes a cleric, caution and alertness a spy or a thief. You should be bold and aggressive as a knight, while as a worker of magic, you will tend toward reclusiveness and mystery. The rules and spirit of the game tell you what you can and cannot do in general and somewhat concrete terms, but it is very much up to the individual to take on the role of the PC and play it well.
Those lines and distinctions have certainly become blurred over the years. The new classes in the Advanced Class Guide are specifically combinations of two classes. The 'types' of characters (really, classes) don't quite fit Pathfinder in 2013.
Not what Gygax intended, but I think somewhat related is that the group makeup can alter your PC's role. I like to play rangers and sometimes find myself up front with swords because we are 'melee light.' That's usually not my goal nor how I build my rangers. But the group's needs dictate that's how he helps out. I could push to stay as a ranged specialist, but that's not what the group needs. I would be remaining faithful to my vision of the character, but I would not really be playing that ranger very well in regards to the actual game we were in.
And of course, some players are simply jerks. They will play however they want, with no regard to their actual PC or the group. They are focused on themselves, not on the character. They usually make the game unenjoyable for the other players and aren't interested in role playing as Gygax defines it in this Step. I think that type of player is going to kill Pathfinder Online for PvE oriented players like myself who would be willing to give it a try.
Pretty solid advice throughout this thread. I would definitely start with something small and easy, get comfortable quickly, then tackle something more complex.
Master of the Fallen Fortress is a good starter module (and it's free). Just use the Core Rulebook stuff (which your players can access through the PRD and I'd bet you'll all be ready to expand your options (i.e., Advanced Player Guide) and run through a module/AP before you know it.
Vic Wertz wrote:
We are willing to hear proposals from established publishers with excellent reputations.
You've mentioned that a couple of times here on the forums, Vic. I don't know anything about this process for private firms, but I do deal with RFPs and contract awards for public sector construction projects.
Would Paizo put together some type of guidelines or scope of project document then make it known they are interested in a PFACG digital project? Then perhaps companies like Playdek would look at those guidelines and approach Paizo about possibly doing a project?
Or, at present, has the offer been considered "tossed out" through your forum comments and if somebody comes in with some ideas, you'd respond as appropriate?
Just wondering. I'd love to play a good version of PFACG on the ipad, either solo or with others.
I remember an AD&D Ravenloft campaign we played in high school. The party wizard kept casting 'Grease.' It got to where we made fun of him every combat, and he'd say something like, "It's all I've got." Running around the castle, casting Grease on undead.
I was going to run Raging Swan Press' Retribution (GREAT read) as a one-off 1st level PbP that takes place in a day or two. Somebody asked if I was going to run a second adventure and when I said no, they replied back that they didn't want to play a wizard then, because a short adventure that was only first level didn't offer much to a wizard. I hadn't thought of that. I ended up running a different adventure as part of a campaign. There certainly seem to be some limitations on memorized spellcasters at starting levels. Though I don't think that's necessarily bad. Life skills start out low and work your way up.
I've never played a Sorceror, but I was reading about the class in the Core Rulebook over the weekend. I don't think Gygax would have approved of the class, as it is similar to the spell points concept he discussed in Role Playing Mastery:
In both the D&D and AD&D games, the spell-using power of PCs is controlled through the use of a system that requires study and memorization of magic spells before they can be cast. Then, once a spell is used, the ability to cast it is erased from the character’s mind until that character again takes time to study and memorize the particular spell. Well, some years back, there arose a line of thinking that asserted that magic in a fantasy game was best expressed in terms of spell points-characters should be able to cast a certain spell often and repeatedly, with each usage simply costing the caster a specified number of “points” from his magical ability.
The D&D and AD&D games were criticized harshly by advocates of this approach for being behind the times. The fad lasted for a time, with spell-casters spewing forth streams of sorcerous stuff as if they were magical Gatling guns. Everyone wanted to be a magic-user of that sort-but what could stand before such a character? How much fun is a game in which any challenge or problem can be overcome by calling up yet another
I like 'magical gatling gun.'
Re: Group success. Three of us were playing the PFACG (Pathfinder Adventure Card Game) last night. That means five locations. As the other two characters were getting one card out of a location deck each turn, my cleric closed THREE locations rather quickly. She then temporarily closed a fourth when the villain was encountered. The ranger defeated the villain and the game was won.
Now, the PFACG is a cooperative game and clearly group success is the goal. Though a character can die and the group can go on to win the scenario, resulting in successful completion, but the dead character doesn't get that reward.
But while we won the scenario (wrapping up the Adventure and allowing us to start the next one), the cleric CLEARLY was the star (in fact, her back is sore this morning from carrying the other two on her back the whole game...). So, within group success, individual success can causes a character to shine brighter than the others.
It really is a fun game to play.
yeah, but the first two steps are individual focused, while the next three are group-oriented successes.
I know this is a little deal (and I think you can have non-group success anyways..), but it just stuck out in looking at the five steps.
Now, off to drive in the snow...
Well, that certainly makes sense. The more invested the group is, the more they should like the game. And a reasonable reading is logical.
But the way Gygax presents it seems awfully focused on one individual, as he specifically speaks in the singular. He didn't elaborate at all on this step: what I quoted was the entirety of what he wrote, so nothing to fluff it out some.
I dropped some quotes from the book over on this thread:.
If the link doesn't come up, it's near the bottom of the thread.
I don't particularly like gunslingers or firearms (I'm softening in pirate-themed games), but I'd hate to have this guy GM for me or a friend at a PFS game. I'd quit before I decided I had to kill the character before we even started. I know that's option three, but he really seems to be hostile towards anybody wanting to play the class.
Matt Thomason wrote:
Ah. I didn't see it that way. That seems more reasonable.
Your OP certainly fits Gary Gygax' comments regarding problem GMs. You're taking the wrong approach:
Players and GMs alike, take heed: Despite misguided perceptions to the contrary, the game master is not the enemy of the player characters! At least, he shouldn’t be. Those unenlightened or unscrupulous would-be GMs who take this stance of hostility toward PCs (or worse yet, toward players) won’t be around long anyway, for their players will desert them in short order.
The game master should derive his satisfaction from entertaining the associated group, from testing them and seeing them succeed, and from the approbation they give him in return. But it is possible that through lack of maturity or because of some personal insecurity, the game master might view the player group as hostile and/or as a vehicle for his personal attainment of self enhancement through denigration of the player group’s worth. Such circumstances are extremely difficult to overcome, and the individual who evidences these traits is probably not ready to tackle the job of being a GM.
Because you don't like a valid class, you would ruin a players' experience? The guy who invented the game wouldn't let you sit behind a GM screen. Don't you think you might want to re-examine your three listed options? Gygax is putting forth an early version of, "don't be a jerk."
(italicized quotes are from Gary Gygax, 'Role Playing Mastery')
BTW, Gygax himself was opposed to guns in AD&D and he held firm. But as he explains, D&D was medieval fantasy, not technology. Pathfinder is designed as both, thus gunpowder is approriate. If it's allowed, allow it: or play outside of the PFS system and you won't have to allow it.
Players have tried to convince me to allow the use of gunpowder in my AD&D game campaign. From one standpoint, the thought is tempting. Just imagine kobolds, the most inconsequential of humanoid monsters, armed with Uzi submachine guns-now there’s a monster that would strike terror in the heart of even the most powerful PC! Likewise, regenerating trolls plying bayonetted rifles might be a pure joy to the harassed Dungeon Master looking for a way to put self-important PCs in their place. But the game is medieval fantasy, and the spirit is magic, not technology. Despite my (unexpected by the players) temptation to allow its use just to show them, the idea had to be rejected. The time spent in dealing with it and then having them reject it would be wasted.
Ah, I've left you all speechless. Or 'typeless'. Thought I'd toss this in from my reading the other night on Group Success.
The Five Stages of Group Success
As several of the posts above indicate, it was all about the group for Gygax. So he finishes up chapter four with some determinations of what constitutes group success.
It is not easy to attach values or labels to success in an RPG activity, since there is no scorekeeping as such and no universal, totally quantifiable standards by which success can be measured.
However, success in a group context can be defined, and the best place to begin with the definition is by delineating what does not constitute success. As was alluded to in Chapter 2, some persons erroneously believe success to be indicated by the high status of their player characters. In a similar vein, some game masters think that if their campaigns have a large number of such inflated characters, this is a mark of their own success. By and large, neither standard is correct. Success is defined in the following ways:
Stage One - Individual Recognition
When the group gives recognition to the player or one or more of that player’s PCs through reliance upon him during play sessions, at first, and then through the telling and retelling of tales relating to play sessions that featured the individual’s PC(s).
This occurs because one PC will realize some level of success before others do. He gets ahead of the pack, as it were. And naturally, he becomes more important to the group. I find the second part amusing. Telling stories about what a character did, then retelling them, doesn't seem too modern.
Stage Two - The GM Relies Upon the Player
...the PC’s accomplishments are so noteworthy that the GM also exhibits reliance upon the player and engages in the storytelling activity.
So, the PC not only became central to the functioning of the group, but the GM is now utilizing that PC beyond the other members. I suppose that can make sense (he says tentatively), but it seems odd to me. Sort of like dealing with the alpha wolf in a pack; for an RPG session?
Stage Three - Several Outstanding Players are Developed
We can recognize this because they are all objects of reliance and the subjects of tales and stories about their exploits and achievements. I'm picturing that knight that followed along singing about 'brave Sir Robin' in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Apparently groups met quite frequently in Gygax's day, recounting prior sessions.
He also adds that ...the limelight spreads out to encompass the GM; if not for his ability and patience, the players would not have been able to achieve what they have. Thus the third stage of player and playergroup success is also the first definable stage of success for the GM and the playing group.
I do agree that a good GM facilitates good gameplay for the players, so it being a good game is to some degree the GM's doing. Though individual PCs doing well being a tribute to the GM seems a bit odd.
Stage Four - Success Outside the Local Game
This is taking the show on the road, as it were. Players and the GM play outside of the group and do well. Tournament success can be determined by measuring performance against other tournament players. But don't worry if you start out slowly: Unsuccessful participation in a tournament is not a disgrace; few players or GMs achieve top results in their first exposure to such activity.
But it's important, as Gygax says that this Stage of success can only be achieved when at least most of the group memebrs place well consistently in tournaments.
I don't think you need a macro level of success to make your local group a success; that's a micro issue.
He also mentions being published in amateur and professional periodicals. With the proliferation of third party publishers, kickstarters, contests and the like, publication in something "official" is more doable these days and does seem to provide potential stepping stones into the RPG industry. And would likely indicate some type of expertise in the field.
Stage Five - Official Recognition
No matter how good you think you are, it doesn't match up to respect from your peers. Now, I do think it's cool if someone from your group (say I played with Creighton Broadhurst) got recognized for his work on a module, or being a champion player (Gold: an RPG comes to mind). But that doesn't reflect on me: I'm not a parasite and going along for the ride.
For me, this section absolutely feels dated and not very relevant today. But having read the whole book (twice now), it does bolster Gygax's firm belief that RPG success is about the group, not the individual.
I'd like to see some One Night Stands, of varying levels, that incorporate a couple of things from other RGG products. the BBEG is from Mythic Menagerie, or a Kobold King. Some items from the other guides. I like Felgar the Goblin King. More easy to run adventures that point to another RGG product would be fun and feel like it's part of something bigger while still being a stand alone.
(And...we're really back!)
Gary Gygax’s 17 Steps to Role Playing Mastery
Step Eight - Understand the role of the game master and assist its fulfillment.
Note: Italics are quotes by Gygax, contained in the book, Role Playing Mastery.
More about this will be given in the text to come. For now, suffice it to say these two things: The GM is the sole arbiter of all that goes on in the campaign world, but all-powerful in this case does not mean all knowing; no game master can succeed without the willing assistance of all the players.
Gygax doesn’t really talk about this step as it’s written. He does talk extensively about GMing in chapter three (titled, The Master GM). But we can look at this step from our perspective as players. You’ve got two kinds of participants in an RPG: the player (we already made the distinction between player and character) and the GM. Since the GM is in charge of and “frames” the game for the player, it’s logical that the player should understand the GM’s role and play in a way that helps the GM make the game a better experience. I’ve heard stories of jerk GMs: there have been comments about some in this thread. I’ve had nothing but good GMs, so I’ve been lucky. Assuming a good GM, here are two comments from Gygax:
“The dedicated GM is not only an impartial judge of events, but at the same time he is an active force championing the cause of both the preservation of PCs not bent on self destruction and the continued satisfaction of players who do not seek to see the campaign ruined.”
Also, “To reiterate, the Game Master is not an enemy; neither is he by nature adversarial. He desires successful play by the participants when their play is kept within the specified limits and as long as it promotes the ongoing nature of the campaign.”
So, I’m not out to make life hard for my GM. How do I meet the concept of Step 8? Mendedwall talked in depth in an earlier post about players, when they sit down at the table, knowing their characters and the relevant mechanics. He mentioned the idea of not letting a player use a spell that they didn’t know how to play properly. First and foremost, being able to play your character well and correctly should help the GM do his job properly. New players will learn, just as new GMs do: this isn’t about experience level. It’s not uncommon for me to catch myself making sure I don’t have a one hand and a two hand item in play during a game of Munchkin. That’s knowing the rule and playing correctly (I don’t do it all the time). As a player, I shouldn’t try to dual wield if my character can’t do that. And I probably should know how much damage my fireball spell does.
‘Rules lawyer’ is a pejorative term. Role Playing Mastery should involve assisting the GM in making the right decisions and rulings per the rulebook and the Spirit of the Game (see Step 3). It should NOT lead someone to challenge every point. There’s a reason nobody else likes the rules lawyer. A player should help the GM run the game according to the system being used, but should not take every opportunity to stop the flow of the game to nitpick the rules. Based on my experiences, it’s usually pretty clear who is trying to help and who is just being a pain.
Other little things: be on time (or post timely), say ‘thank you,’ be clear in your actions; anything that makes the GM’s experience an enjoyable one. GMing takes a lot of effort. If running the game feels like pulling hen’s teeth (who has actually done that to really understand the comparison?), the GM may not fulfill his role as well as he could. And as we’ve seen in PbPs, the GM may simply let the game die. A well-intentioned GM is going to do their best: you can help them enjoy their experience, which should result in them running a ‘better’ game.
Next up: Step 9 - Role Play Your Character Correctly and Fully