|Jussi Leinonen Venture-Lieutenant, Finland—Helsinki|
Chris Mortika wrote:
Change them from potions to elixirs.
I'd be hesitant to do this as there are (as far as I know) no rules for creating custom elixirs (which are wondrous items) in PFS. Also, spells with a "personal" range are not allowed as potions for game balance reasons, so an equivalent elixir should at least cost more to compensate - but how much would that be?
I am given to understand that items can exist on a chronicle sheet that are not otherwise available.
Yes, but usually these are items that are legal by Pathfinder rules but not generally available for PFS: for example, poisons outside the usual list or magic items with a higher-than-usual caster level. This is slightly different as the listed item would be illegal to create under Pathfinder rules.
The chronicle sheet for the Pathfinder Module The Harrowing lists a potion of see invisibility as a found item. As far as I understand, it should not be possible to create this item, as the corresponding spell has a range of "personal". I don't suppose that the purpose of the chronicle is to allow the purchase of an otherwise illegal item, so should I just cross this item out from the chronicle sheet?
Also, since these items are found as treasure during the module, should I allow the PCs to use them during the module itself?
For a melee, I agree on Fighter. As for casters, I would recommend Sorcerer or Oracle, as they have limited spell lists, so you only need to know those spells that you chose for yourself. With a Cleric, you can pick any spells from the Cleric list for a given day, so should have a decent knowledge of what's available for you.
As a physicist, I can tell you that computers are generally able to generate random numbers that are far more random than a roll of a plastic die.
With plastic dice, we're neatly in the realm of classical mechanics where things work deterministically. If you know the position, speed, rotation etc. of the die right after it's rolled, as well as the properties of the surfaces it bounces off, you can, in principle, compute exactly the results of the roll beforehand.
Computers are often able to use thermal noise as a source of randomness. This is true randomness of nature, with its origin in the weirdness of quantum mechanics. In practice, what they tend to do is use a "true" random number to initialize a pseudorandom number generator, then use numbers from that generator (the randomness properties of the generators themselves are a subject of hundreds of scientific papers; the long story short is that the modern ones are very good).
In practice, though, randomness comes down to unpredictability, and both methods are quite unpredictable enough. So it's a matter of which tend to be fairer and how verifiable the fairness is. Unless a die is so grossly miscast that you can actually see it's not symmetric, you would have to resort to roll testing to figure out if the die is fair. Detecting subtle bias (such as rolling 20 10% more than usual) would require way too much rolling and statistical work to fit in a gaming session. The same goes for a computer, except it might be able to give you a million rolls in a second or so, so you could actually do the analysis if you're so inclined. Furthermore, because dice are mechanical things, I would expect them to have unintentional biases far more often than computers.
tl;dr: If you really, really want properly random numbers, use a computer instead of a die. Dice are a nice tradition and social convention, though, because nothing quite excites roll-players like the sound of them rolling around and coming up as 1/20...
From my experience, not GMing is often a matter of not being confident in one's own competence to run a game. The concept of organized play may seem to raise the bar there, as GMs are expected to know the rules and not just to improvise when they don't. But for such prospetive GMs, there's actually a key thing about PFS that makes it quite approachable compared to most RPG GM jobs: PFS is run one session at a time. If someone realizes that GMing is not for them or it's something they would rather do only every few months or so, they can (unlike in a campaign/AP) make that decision without failing a social obligation to their gaming group. Telling your players that they can try GMing without committing themselves in the long term makes it socially easier to step up as a GM.
New GMs will generally encounter the most significant gaps in their rules knowledge during the first few games they run. You should use those games to build their confidence. If possible, have them run their first games to familiar players who will enjoy the game even with a few mistakes made, and whose comments the new GM won't take too hard. If the GM trusts you, play in his/her table yourself if you can. Give them easy scenarios to run, too: the First Steps series is a safe choice, but anything that's Tier 1-2 without highly complicated plots should work.
The above assumes that you don't take any exotic options that replace the default class/race bonuses, but as you seem to be new to Pathfinder, you probably shouldn't do that anyway.
I'm surprised to see experienced GMs advocating fudging, given that the Guide clearly discourages it:
While we do not advocate fudging die rolls, consider the experience of the player when deciding whether to use especially lethal tactics or if a character is in extreme danger of death, especially when such a player is new to the game.
I never fudge die rolls, and while on the short term that might lead to a lame PC death, on the long term it builds player confidence on getting a fair treatment, and the existence of real risk adds suspense to the game. I also would feel cheated to have the GM in my table fudging, even if it was to save my own PC. I do adjust tactics to player experience and tactics, though, and that seems to me like a much fairer way to give new players a good experience.
I stopped using a screen some time ago when I realized it made the players hear me worse and made it harder for me to see the middle of the table. I now keep it opened on the table in front of me, text side up, to be able to see the reference. I would appreciate a handy way to keep some material out of sight of the players while visible to me, though - any hints on how to do that with something less massive than the GM screen?
Then Jussi brought up another that is even more applicable, and it is exactly what my argument is - one is not supposed to look up loot lists and choose scenarios based on that. But the current system will lead players to do that, and there isn't really anything we can do to prevent them from doing it. If they knew they could safely replay it, they would not care about the loot or boons, and would focus on the roleplaying experience. It's true there is a downside to knowing where you are going, but honestly - how much do you remember about a scenario after a year, especially if you play tabletop RPGs relatively often? I would simply enjoy it much more if i could just choose to play a scenario with any character i think would be fun to play in it, instead of having to do all of this metagame planning.
(For what it's worth, I can remember story outlines and the most interesting encounters from scenarios I haven't touched in over a year. But that is beside the rest of the point.)
You seem to be saying "will lead players to do that" with an awful lot of certainty, but there is no need for that to happen. I certainly haven't seen that among the players in our lodge. They come to a PFS sessions and generally don't seem to give a damn about the loot and boons beforehand. They pick a character that is tier appropriate, balanced with others in the party and (if they still have more than one choice) perhaps sounds compatible with the scenario description, and enjoy the ride.
So this seems more like a matter with the culture in the local lodge than with campaign rules, though I do realize that it's hard to bring a change if people are set in their ways.
My previous post was an opinion from a design/VO perspective. Let me give you another from my GM perspective. When I run games, I don't just want to play "against" them in encounters. I want to surprise them, awe them, to give them drama. I want to see them react and make decisions based on incomplete (sometimes false) information. Hell, I even want to see their faces when they realize they are screwed. If I knew that players come to my table knowing beforehand what's going to happen, GMing would lose its charm for me.
Pathfinder Society is not designed to be the sort of game where you look up loot lists and design your character advancement around them. It's supposed to be a game where you have a character who ventures into the unknown, and you, as a player, are not supposed to know what is going to happen. Meta-knowledge should be limited to reading the scenario descriptions on the web page (I prefer not to read even them, if I have the chance). The story aspect of the game is eliminated if you have played the scenario previously, and the game is reduced to mindless running from encounter to encounter. Also, many encounters are partially designed around the element of surprise.
Having a limited number of scenarios to play is an unfortunate side-effect of this design decision, but you can do some planning for your character by finding the tiers of scenarios without spoiling the plot for yourself.
While you can't outright stop players from using metagame information, you can discourage it. If I remember correctly, there have been discussions on the GM board as to what to do if players get caught using knowledge from reading the scenario. The usual suggestions ranged from clever GM tricks to counter their cheating (or turn it against them) to booting them from the table.
As for GMs being allowed to play a scenario after they run it, this is a pragmatic exception to the rule that exists so that GMs are not punished for running a scenario. GMs overall are hard to find, and GMs who are willing to read and run a scenario without the experience of playing it first are even harder to get. In those (in my experience, fairly uncommon) occasions where there is are players on the table who have previously run the scenario, they are supposed to show discretion and not use their knowledge to get unfair advantage.
As far as I know, you can't register a new character under the same number as a deleted one, at least not without help from Paizo staff. If you can somehow reach your GM, or whoever is responsible for reporting the scenario, the easiest thing would be just tell them what happened. They can just edit the scenario report and swap in the new number.
Scott Young wrote:
If you want to match the campaign background, then make a character that reflects the training the Pathfinders gave you. If you don't, don't complain that you should get such benefits for free.
I agree with you to a degree, but the problem is the way knowledge checks are currently implemented. The core problem, I suppose, is that there are so many Knowledge skills and they are all trained-only.
Let's say your character wants to have some basic knowledge about monsters, without going to the specifics. For example:
Now, that kind of basic information is something most people would learn in a day or two, and strikes me as maybe one skill rank worth of knowledge. But the way the knowledge skills are now implemented, you would have to invest at least one rank in each of 10 knowledge skills to learn that, which doesn't make any sense.
If I was running Pathfinders as characters in a home game, I would probably implement a skill Knowledge (pathfinding) or something to make up for this.
As the grapple rules in the official material seem to be inconsistent, this is an area where GMs have to make their own interpretation. A forum post by Paizo staff other than PFS leadership is not technically binding as such.
That said, I'd consider it extremely inappropriate behavior from a GM to just ignore the expressed intent of the game designers just because of a technicality in the campaign rules. Especially if said GM uses that to give the PCs a considerable disadvantage.
It looks like we can celebrate the independence day of Finland by announcing the winners of our little "race" to three GM stars.
VC Jukka Särkijärvi and a GM known as Deussu on these boards, both PFS actives who have been around since Season 0, are the first in Finland to have reached 3-star status. Apparently, Jukka beat Deussu to it by the tiny margin of a single day.
I, alas, am trailing them by some ten scenarios, so my runner-up's prize is to be able to congratulate them for the achievement. Keep it up - next stop: four stars! :)
Jeff Mahood wrote:
Also worth noting that Jussi has been to play/GM Pathfinder Society in Toronto twice in the past year. Talk about dedication! :)
My work brought me to Toronto twice this year and both times, and I was lucky enough to find time to make it to a gaming night of the Southern Ontario Lodge. I think that one of the best things about organized play campaigns is that you can be in any place in the world with a local lodge and go to play with them - the campaign rules set common standards, so the rules are the same and you get credit for playing as normal.
You have a very enthusiastic and friendly group of Pathfinders in Toronto. I felt welcome and had plenty of fun on both occasions.
Most alcoholic drinks, I believe, got started as a way to preserve drinking water. Stronger drinks like wine are just easier to store as you get more alcohol in the same volume. The wine would typically then be diluted with plenty of water to make stuff that was just strong enough to kill off the germs. In fact, I recall hearing of an ancient Greek text complaining about the terrible habits of the "barbarians" who drink wine undiluted in the harbor.
Not that I run many games for kids, but if this ever occurred to me, I'd explain the above and, if that doesn't work, give the players a strong hint that they might be in need of reevaluating their moral standards if they're offended about their characters receiving some alcohol while on the way to kill some people.
One of the players in my area routinely threatens to just quit the scenario before the last encounter, boasting that he will get all the same credit as everyone else.
If there ever was a violation of the "don't be a jerk" rule, it's here. Tell him that if he quits for that reason, he's not welcome to play in your table ever again. Also inform your local Venture Officer and he will likely pass on the information to other GMs in the area.
Unless it's an obvious misprint or an logical inconsistency that cannot be resolved, if a number in a stat block is inconsistent with the rest of the stats, I use that number regardless. In my opinion, if a scenario author believes that a monster needs (say) +2 AC, he has full right to add that bonus even if it doesn't come from "anywhere". As long as it results in a more balanced encounter, it's all fine.
That said, how about re-listing the unavailable resources from the Core Rulebook on the Additional Resources page, for the convenience of finding everything in the same place? This sounds like a one-time addition that doesn't require much maintenance later, so it wouldn't take too much work, either.
I had some reservations while reading this... but I ran this tonight and have to admit: Jim Groves scores again!
I usually give them after the briefing, but if there are spoilers or there is some roleplaying reason to give them later, I do that. For example, in
those PCs who have a faction representative present get their missions directly from them.
I've had some hilarious roleplaying ensue from the GM forgetting to give the faction missions, though. For example, there was one scenario where we were investigating an abandoned house, and when we were about to enter, the GM remembered that he hadn't given out the missions yet. He described something visible in the mailbox of the house. We went to investigate, and found a named letter for each of us.
I haven't yet read it, but I've heard that The Citadel of Flame has a great Cheliax faction mission.
The downside of the strong storyline in the new season is that we'll see less of the classic Pathfinder locations (other than Varisia, that is). Having played Council of Thieves, I'd love a scenario in Westcrown.
Any recommendations on a character sheet app or method of electronically storing and still be editable?
I use an editable Google Drive spreadsheet template. It's based on this template, and I make a fresh copy for each new character. I like a spreadsheet because it updates most things automatically (e.g. raising your Cha automatically increases your Diplomacy bonus accordingly), but it's also very easy to replace/modify the formulas whenever you have class features that change the standard behavior. I also added a Log tab to keep track of XP, Gold, PP and Fame. Here is an example of an (admittedly cheesy) Society character built using that template.
I also play and run Society games mostly digitally, printing only the faction missions and chronicles for my games. The chronicles are the only thing I keep on paper for my own characters (I have character sheets online and only print copies if I know I'll be without connection for a session). As a GM, I wish I could just give the chronicles digitally, too, so I could get rid of the logistical hassle of printing.
Yes, electronic devices have their shortcomings, but so does paper. Connectivity issues can be fixed by having offline digital copies available, battery life is predictable if you have a familiar device, and if somebody brings adamantine d20s to the table, I'll politely ask them to roll them some other way.
I know boon companion works with paladin mounts, so I assume it would work with cavalier mounts.
I'll agree that if it works with Paladin mounts, the wording of the abilities is similar enough that it should work with Cavalier mounts as well. But I can't see any wording in RAW or an official FAQ supporting that it does, in fact, work with Paladin mounts.
For what it's worth, I always assumed that Boon Companion does not work with mounts and waited until 6th level with my multiclassed cavalier. If Boon Companion does work, it limits the usefulness of Horse Master to those edge cases where you want 4-5 levels of Cavalier (no more, no less). But I could be wrong about this.
Some notes from re-running this scenario in a convention last weekend.
My party, this time with five players, ran the encounters in the same order as last time (Fog, Dagagal, Skeletons, Minasako). This seems to be more by accident as they could have just as well gone upstairs first. How would the rest of the scenario unfold if they went to Minasako as the first thing of all?
The Hungry Fog was even more creepy this time, passing under doors followed by a sound of an opening door.
Dagagal gave the party a good beating, but the party had good ranged capacity and brought him down quite fast. If the PCs get to interrogate Dagagal, it might spoil the atmosphere and the idea of figuring the story from the visions.
The skeletons don't add much to the adventure. While I don't advocate changing adventures, they do seem like the more natural choice for the optional encounter than the excellent creepy fog.
This time, the PCs decided to retreat to Nagura after going through the first floor, as they were out of healing. Minasako's tactics specify that if she's aware of the PCs, she casts Mage Armor beforehand. This is a good way to balance the encounter for the additional power of the rested PCs. Like last time, this played out with one melee PC facing off with Minasako with the rest of the party taking some time getting out of the tentacles before being able to help (except for Kyra, who was channeling just fine while grappled for the entire encounter). They made it at the end, with the poor tank ending up in the second-to-worst shape I've ever seen: 11 Con damage, 7 Dex damage, 5 Cha damage, one negative level and filth fever.
This would depend on the type of person. If he doesn't mind being corrected by someone who knows the rules better than him, then by all means let him GM, sit down and play in his table, and let him learn on the job. This way you can also mitigate possible conflicts between him and the players. But some people will lose confidence and feel very uncomfortable if second-guessed by the players; with that type of GM you should probably ask them to get more familiar with the rules before GMing.
The Necklace of Fireballs description says:
If the necklace is being worn or carried by a character who fails her saving throw against a magical fire attack, the item must make a saving throw as well (with a save bonus of +7). If the necklace fails to save, all its remaining spheres detonate simultaneously, often with regrettable consequences for the wearer.
Do alchemist's bombs count as magical fire attacks for this purpose?
There are many I haven't played or run, but here's a shot.
Yes, as the above poster said, most PFS GMs seem to understand the rule such that any harmful effect is fine as long as it's with the permission of those who could potentially be harmed. The no-PvP rule is in place to give players veto rights against jerks who might harm them with reckless behavior.
In no circumstances should it happen that an effect otherwise takes place but PCs are excluded from it due to the no-PvP rule. That would give a huge boost for characters using effects with possible collateral damage. Trying to keep your allies out of your fireballs is part of the life of a blaster wizard, and PFS shouldn't change that. If the no-PvP rule is invoked, the whole action is prevented.
- He is supposed to target casters with silence; however, without any ranks in Spellcraft, he's going to have trouble deciding who the most dangerous caster is.
It's the guy/gal in robes, no armor and possibly a funny hat. I'd say that method has about 80% success rate in identifying the most dangerous caster. :)
Although it's intriguing to think about a "fake wizard" character concept with all of the above, AND a lot of AC, HP and great saves.
I got the feeling that the difficulty level of the last encounter is critically dependent on how well the GM adheres to the tactics. The BBEG would be a lot worse if he bursted two channels per round with Quick Channel for the first two rounds, for a total of 12d6 (Will save for half) at Tier 3-4, and then charged to melee. If he keeps casting mind-affecting spells instead, it should be a lot easier.
Anyone else with the same thoughts? This might be a problem if you happen to have one of those GMs who are playing to "win" against the players.
I run whatever tactics fit the encounter or monsters. The great majority of time it's a bad move to waste an action on finishing off a downed character. Exceptions include those mentioned by Dragnmoon, although I don't think that even a hungry animal would finish off an unconscious person if there are clear and presents threats still up. A channeling healer in the opposing party can make it incredibly difficult to keep opponents down, and this could provoke intelligent monsters to finish off foes.
Coup de grace is sometimes a valid tactic, too, but mostly a waste of time. I've used it sometimes, for example in Quest for Perfection pt. 1
the creatures paralyzed by the yeti will be back in action after one round, so they must be finished off if the boss can do so without provoking an AoO.
I admit that I tend to be merciful to first-timers in particular, though.
I've run haunts many times, and it's almost always been a tense, spooky encounter. There is the perception check (which someone usually makes) to notice the haunt, and that can be used to create a lot of tension (for example the knife moving on its own in Temple).
The weak point, like the OP said, is that metagamers tend to run for it when initiative is rolled without immediate reason, which is not something that happens often without a haunt. Invisible opponents and ambushes might be a valid reason to have players roll initiative early.
The haunt in this scenario is one of the more fun and memorable encounters I've GM'd in Season 3. It makes for great RP and is very dramatic even though there is a fairly low chance of PC death. A PC needs (at least the way I ran this) a move action to pick up the knife, so they cannot coup de grace (a full-round action) themselves on that turn. The other PCs have a round to intervene (and be stabbed for the small amount of damage). Even if the other PCs don't go for the knife right away, as long as they are suspicious the GM could even rule that the PC attempting a coup de grace on himself provokes attacks of opportunity from his adjacent teammates. I wish the scenario text had been more explicit about how to run this, though.
I generally don't couldn't care less if the encounters are PFS legal or even Pathfinder legal, as long as they have a proper statblock. If the text says that the encounter is a pink orc with Int 32, then it's a pink orc with Int 32. In fact, as long as the encounters are playtested to ensure they're balanced, I'd be happy to see more of completely made-up monsters, traps, haunts and such.
As far as I (as a GM) am concerned, PCs harming other PCs is fine if all players involved (i.e. potentially suffering harmful effects) give their permission. These actions are often perfectly sensible tactics for the PCs, there's no need to regulate them with a magic hand. Of course, in the OP's case, the player at the receiving end should be informed of the possible effects, and also be told that it's perfectly fine to say "no, I won't allow you to do that".
In short, if it's with the consent of the players, it's not player-to-player conflict.