I’m currently in the middle of getting a bunch of stuff organized so that we can field some tables of PFS around Lexington. Right now we have tables being ran every Tuesday at Amazing Wonders, and I am in the middle of getting sessions set up there one Saturday every month, and another Saturday at another game store.
I should finally have my website up and running here within the next couple of days, and I will be using that as a vehicle to help get everything organized in one place.
Thanks for all the information Chad! That really helps me a bit as I get through all the stuff I need to get PFS launched in Lexington.
I regularly help out with the Tuesday gamedays at Amazing Wonders (I primarily use a Facebook page to help organize at that store at the moment as a short term thing), and I hope to launch Lexington PFS from that player base.
I think I might look into Lokkak as one of the stores we run regular games out of. I’ve been trying to get a pulse with my local player base to see where they would like to have regular gamedays at.
Unfortunately I already have plans for meeting with family on Sunday, so I’m afraid I cannot attend you barbecue. Hopefully I will be able to come one of your regular gamedays just to check out what you guys are up to. It is about a hour and half drive to Somerset for me. So I would not be able to make a regular thing out of it, but we can see how we can play with the cards we have been given.
Once I finally get my website up you guys will be more then free to use it to help organize gamedays.
Best of luck to you.
Sounds great. We play Tuesdays at 6pm.
I'll do my best to be there next Tuesday then.
That's part of the reason I'm becoming Lexington's VC. To get the ball rolling so everyone can get a shot at playing PFS here.
Hello everyone! My name is Nicholas Gray, but everyone can call me Nick for short. As Mike has already pointed out, I am the new Venture-Captain of Lexington, KY, and I hope to turn this into a successful and thriving region for PFS. I have been actively GMing and playing in PFS for the last two years within the Atlanta, GA region, and where I acted as a store liaison and non-official Venture-Lieutenant. I have just moved to Lexington from Georgia this May for a new job, and as a result I’m still a bit new to the region and the local gaming scene. But I’m working to jump right into this role as Lexington’s new VC, and get some great PFS gaming going.
I am currently working with someone a little more tech savvy then myself to set up a website for Lexington PFS, and I hope to have it up within the next few days. Once that is set up, and I get the ok from some local gaming and comic book stores, I will start to schedule some PFS game days. I also hope to have a Facebook up this weekend.
I am new to the local gaming scene, so any help with the local cons, general information about the region, and anything else that anyone might think is helpful would be greatly appreciated!
I don't think I would be particuarly heartbroken either way this goes considering it doesn't strike me as a major issue, though after reading this discussion I'm inclinded to lean towards #2. In my experience it is only a very small minority of players/GMs who actually Ever buy anything off a Chronical sheet. GMs especially considering they typically get max PP anyways. Buying outside of your what your Fame grants you is usually rediculously expensive for the level you are at, and would likely cripple your character to try purchacing for a period of time. How many items off a Chronicle sheet would even imbalance a character anyways?
As previously stated, there is no mechnical way for a PC to belong to two factions. That said, I don't see why a specific PC of a certain faction would not be inclined to help other factions if their missions align with that PCs personal morals, beliefs, and other factors. Andoran and Silver Crusaders are often going to have similar goals, and I would rarely have a problem as a GM if they are inclined to work together and assist each other on faction missions (but I would discourage them from openly handing each other their written faction missions). Though I would question why either of those factions would assist a known agent of Cheliax. I would judge this on a case by case basis to see how legitament it is.
Generally as a GM I prefer PCs to keep their factions secret (a famous spy is a bit of an oxymoron). Though I am flexible on that point on a case by case basis. As long as the player is consistent on who they do and don't help, the player has fluff to back his decisions up, and the players aren't abusing the system as intended, I don't see why certain PCs shouldn't be allowed to assist other specific factions for roleplaying reasons.
I hate to see that this had to be stated, but the rules are the rules. Whether you agree with them or not. They should not be broken just because someone disagrees with them.
Paizo has a great system here where you can discuss, agree, or disagree with the rules as they are with timely responses from the Paizo staff, and I would fully encourage anyone to take that avenue. Rules have been changed because of discussions on this forum.
I have the following schedule. Looks like I am in for handing out some mid-tier fun.
Thursday, August 16
Friday, August 17
Saturday, August 18
Sunday, August 19
I'm looking forward to running some tables at GenCon again. I definently like the shift to GMs only having to run the same scenario repeatedly instead of having to prepare a different scenario for each table. It allows GMs such as myself to be super prepared for a couple scenarios and making them the best they can be rather then being all over the place, and trying to remember potentially dozens of encounters and other bits of information that comes with running a scenario.
Joseph Caubo wrote:
Strange, for some reason my paranoid sense is tingling again. How much diamond dust do you think we are going to need this time Joe?
In any event, Georgia 12+ party is a-go for GenCon!
I would only limit the number of contestant for the regular round only if the players were ok with it, and understood my desire for doing so. If any of the players did not really want to sit out at any point, then I would run it normally with everyone participating at all times. This would also only be for the regular rounds, no reason all of them can't participate in the test, and some of the exhibitions are more then challenging enough for a full party.
I also recently just ran this recently at ConNooga. While it was an exhausting 12 hour session at the convention, the players and I had a lot of fun with the module. There was a ton going on, lots of very good roleplaying opportunities, and interesting battles.
For my party I had :
Spoiler Warning for Ruby Phoenix Tournament
I had the PCs given their mission by the Society at the Grand Lodge. They were then teleported to Goka, and were then transported to the island for the tournament. On the boat ride I managed to get the party to talk more about their abilities and accomplishments to Risha then may have been wise.
At the Noodle House the party met with Marthysan and Kiang Zhen, and got to be familiar with them. I used Kiang as their regular contact on where they were supposed to go, and someone who in general liked to taunt the party.
The party monk accepted Chung Po’s challenge for a nonlethal exhibition bout before the tournament within the Noodle House. But the PC monk soon found himself in over his head against his opponent and found himself surrendering before he was grinded into a pulp.
The party quickly beat down the Monks of the Enduring Spirit. Fun, but not a whole lot of meat to the affair.
The Headless One
The party decided to investigate the matter. The party spotted the group of Aspis Consortium mercenaries at the Noodle House. Who I described as being the same group of Aspis mercenaries in Blood Under Absalom due to their very similar stats, and to form a bit of continuity in the story. The PCs noticed that were not eating or drinking anything from the restaurant, and believed they were the culprits. A Detect Thoughts spells confirmed they knew about the poisoning, but it was the Golden League behind it. After some spiteful insults, bickering, and chest thumping, the PCs decided to back down for now due to not having any proof of the Aspis’s wrong doing and not wanting to get disqualified for attacking another team outside of a match.
Due to none of the PCs being particularly good at archery, they declined the invitation for this contest.
The PCs were invited to watch a match with Nashota Bloodhoof from Kortos Envoy in it. She was then crushed to death by a falling sabotaged tower. Much to the surprise, anger, and frustration of my players who had played that scenario. They were not happy with those responsible to say the least.
The PCs did not have too much trouble with this battle. They succeeded on most of their saves against Hok Fung’s spells, and the PC Monk simply flew up to him, and beat him into submission. The leech swarms only took a little more time to deal with.
What followed was a pretty brutal slugfest. Having isolated himself from the party, the Druid was killed by Huyanwo when he tried to get away from him. The rest of the party was getting pretty badly beat up by Huyanwo, and it was quickly turning into a TPK situation. But the Sorcerer managed to turn things around when he successfully Feebleminded Huyanwo, and then scared him off with an illusion of a gargantuan red dragon. Though they did fail to kill the Huyanwo, they did managed to defeat him by chasing him away.
I’m sorry to say that this round was basically a waste of time and word count for the module. I predicted this fight wouldn’t last more than two rounds. It didn’t last one. The Sorcerer hit the NPC with a Persistent Hideous Laughter, and the party mauled the NPC to death in quick order without him ever standing a chance.
Statblock Error: I rechecked this after the fact, but I’m pretty sure that orc double axe should have a X3 to its critical instead of 19-20.
The Twins Revenge
The PCs spent a great deal of time trying to pin down and then close their opponents while getting bombarded with spells. They first spotted Dizhen in the audience, got up to her, and killed her. It took a bit longer, and they took quite a bit of damage before a mixture of See Invisibility, Invisibility Purge, and Glitterdust allowed them to pin down Jufeng. The Sorcerer hit her with a Feeblemind, and they then chased her down and killed her when she fled in a confused panic. This fight by far took the longest, and that had a lot to do with me using every trick I could come up with to keep the PCs on their toes, and use the environment and spells available to maximum effect to make this a worthy challenge.
Conclusion and Opinions on the Ruby Phoenix Tournament
That said, there were some problems I found. First off, I just do not think Performance Combat works within the context of Pathfinder Society. Most PCs simply do not have the skills necessary to do remotely well in Performance Combat. On average my PCs were getting +2-3 on DC 14-30 checks. Fighter type of characters will simply not have the bonuses they need to make the audience more favorable to them, and by the end of round two of the first combat the PCs had already made the audience hostile to them, and had no virtually no chance of improving the audience’s attitude towards them. After that we pretty much gave up on Performance Combat for the night, and I had to shake my head in disappointment in how virtually no player in PFS play will ever get the related boon on their Chronicle sheet.
The combats in the module have a range of challenge to them. Some were embarrassingly easy like the fight with Seishuku (which was just embarrassingly easy in my opinion). While some could easily get a PC or even an entire party killed. One of the problems I ran into was that most of the regular rounds of the tournament just got overwhelmed by a full six PC party. These encounters were clearly designed for four PC parties, and it showed. Six PCs vs. one NPC rarely provides a challenge unless there is a major level discrepancy (which there wasn’t in this module), they have very good tactics (depends on the encounter here), and/or there are significant environmental factors (most of the battles are the strait up slugfests that PCs excel at) I think if I ran this in the future I would do what Dragnmoon did, and restrict the normal rounds to four man teams to keep it a challenge. Most of the more challenging encounters in the book were exhibition matches, and the final fight. Not the actual normal round which I figure you can get away with four PCs pretty easily.
I also want to warn other GMs that this module will require significant prep time to be ready. This is not pick up and play friendly. Ruby Phoenix Tournament is about on par with Eyes of the Ten for the amount of preparation, notes, and time it will take to be ready for play. I had to read through the module about three times, study five or more books for classes, feats, spells, and other stuff such as fluff, and take down multiple notes in order to make sure I to be prepared to run this. And even then I sometimes forgot about buffs I had up, some class features, and other minor things as I ran this over the course of 12 hours at a convention. This was such an exhausting adventure I had one player fall asleep at the table and another who just needed to step away from the table for an hour or two in addition to all the other 15-30 minute breaks we had to take. Also if you can, I would recomend try to see if you can review your player’s character sheets so that you are familiar with their abilities and you don’t get surprised at the table with something you have never seen before. I had a couple incidents where players were not familiar with how their abilities work.
I'm really looking forward to my first PaizoCon, and helping to vonlunteer! Sounds like there is a lot of exciting stuff going on this year with things like the Grand Convocation.
We had a lot of fun, and helped a lot of new GMs get their legs under them with the GM 101 we ran down in Georgia, and we hope to do that same at PaizoCon and GenCon. We had a blast with it last time, and hope to do so again!
Awesome! This is definently something I wanted to see for PFS play. I know from personal experience that running modules can take significantly more work to run then your typical scenario. So getting more credit for stars certainly makes me feel more appreciated running them. And now that all of those new modules have been approved for PFS play...
I’m hoping we can offer more modules in the Georgia region now that there are enough modules to run one each month and have no overlap. I try and present the modules as at least a somewhat special event for players to look forward to. It helps that we can get players to sign up for the modules well ahead of time.
One idea I have picked up is to take care of the character introductions and the handing out of the mission through play-by-post. I have found this to really help players get into character, get to know each other’s characters, and save time for the table. Considering all that introduction stuff like answering all the players’ questions about the mission is taken care of ahead of time you can just right into the mission. It really helps if you have a means by which players can sign up ahead of time, and some means by which to contact all the players. Such as through a message board or potentially email.
I’ll second John on the use of retired characters. Sometimes the players will have actually seen those characters while they were still “active agents” and I have seen positive responses by players towards those characters. Of course there is no reason why you cannot use the traditional Venture-Captains. But given we effectively have some creative freedom in this; it can be nice to just have some fun while keeping with the spirit of PFS. There is also the personal appeal of getting a little more use out of that retired character you can no longer play.
I also have a PFS style introduction ready for each of the modules. I find it quite easy to come up for reasons for Pathfinders to get involved in each of these scenarios. They are either after some artifact, piece of lore, rescuing another Pathfinder or ally, or trying to improve their relations with a government by doing that government a personal favor by taking care of some problem that they would have trouble dealing with for whatever reason. It is all about how doing the mission will help the Pathfinder Society and further its goals.
I had a very positive experience with Feast At Ravenmoor. A very solid and fun module in my opinion, and I would run it again. Granted, it can go in some pretty unpredictable directions, but I like modules like that.
One thing I have started doing with modules is to do character introductions, and the handing out of the mission through play-by-post. This has resulted in the party really getting to know each other (which is good considering the amount of time the will be spending together), and saved time at the actual table considering all the introductions and what their mission is and their questions have already been handled. This is something I have really liked considering it has lead to some great roleplaying, and has saved time for the actual module.
I think you will see more variety in characters in good time. When we were getting everything started up in Atlanta a year ago, something like 2/3-3/4 of the tables were made up of fighter type classes. That has since melloed out as players have picked out a greater variety of classes. Either because they wanted to play something different, or bought more books and got new ideas. If anything, there seems to be a lack of front line characters running around right now in Atlanta.
As has already been said, running around killing everything they come across will only get them so far. Sooner or later they are going to start to botch faction missions, fight unnecessary encounters, and make missions more difficult than they have to be. Especially when they hit the 7-11 tier stuff they are going to be hurting for a variety of classes and skills.
I’m really happy to see all these modules released for PFS play. It is definently a big thing I wanted to see done for PFS. This is basically the equivalent of 21 scenarios being released if each module counts as three scenarios. So lots of potential play for those of us who are having trouble finding stuff to run for our experienced players, or have played virtually everything already. I approve!
All the new factions are of a more ideological bent compared to the nationally based factions we started out with. The first five factions were dedicated towards gaining an advantage in Absalom for their nation. Though there might have been a drift away from that with the last two seasons, and their goals have move more towards just trying to improve the situation for their factions. But it is hard to say given faction missions do not really change the campaign world. The five new factions are definitely more motivated towards using the Society towards achieving their faction’s ideological goals. Whatever those might be.
I would highly recommend playing/running Mantis’ Prey. That scenario will really help you sort things out for you. That scenario along with Shadow’s Last Stand will get you from where we were in Season 2 to where we are now in Season 3. I can explain exactly what happens for the Year of the Shadow Lodge arc. But it would be very spoilerish, and I would first recommend playing the previously mentioned scenarios. If you still have questions after playing Mantis’ Prey, then you can come back, and get things outlined a bit more if need be considering there are a number of things going on that can be tricky to link together.
In my experience there have not been a ton of switches in factions. I switched a number of my PCs around to better fit their personalities, but from what I have seen most players were content to stick to the factions they already had. Either out of loyalty to their faction, not knowing they could switch factions, or just apathy about the whole faction thing. I see more of the new factions with new characters that have been made since the start of Season 3. At least in the Atlanta area I have seen a lot of Lantern Lodgers as well as a smattering of the other new factions. Though there are still plenty of PCs of the older factions running around. I expected the Shadow Lodge to out due the Andoran faction as the most popular faction due to a number of factors, but this has not taken place.
I have studied the Year of the Shadow Lodge arc a bit. It would seem to me that a lot of the scenarios took place in the order they came out. Though only loosely in a lot of cases as many are interchangeable order wise without diluting the metaplot. Especially with a lot of the middle parts. Unfortunately, as Mark already said, the scenarios were not designed to be played by the same PC all the way through. It would be very clunky without the GM doing some potentially signifiant handwaves, revisions, or changes. If you try and play them all strait through based on tier then a lot of events in the metaplot get convoluted. For instance…
Shadow’s Last Stand, along with Mantis’ Prey, finishes up the Year of the Shadow War with the PCs dealing with the rogue Shadow Lodge’s leadership. If you knock that leadership off by level 7, then you pretty much have to go with the explanation that your PCs are playing wackamole with a bunch of independent Shadow Lodge cells still lashing out at the Pathfinder Society either out of spite or because they do not know about the events of Shadow’s Last Stand yet. Also playing Shadow’s Last Stand before Heresy of Man will really screw up some events in Heresy of Man due to some of the things that happened in Shadow’s Last Stand.
One idea I would like to recommend is for you to have two party’s of PCs playing concurrently with one another. One in the 1-7 range, and another in the 7-11. Ideally you would also have a level 12 group to also fit into the Shadow War timeline. But I’m under the impression that you are playing this group for credit, and not really a homebrew type of deal where you can finagle around with things. So you would have to wait for them all to retire before playing those scenarios.
So here is my recommendation on which scenarios to play in which order without taking things like scenario tiers into account or other scenarios you might want to fit in. Unfortunately for Drogon, City of Strangers does not seem like an option. Though I would highly recommend trying to fit these two scenarios in if possible. Warning: this can be potentially spoilerish.
City of Strangers I & II
Eyes of the Ten I
Year of the Shadow Lodge
-These scenarios introduce the Shadow Lodge, and their initial plots. At the start of this the Shadow Lodge has not been acknowledged by the Society at large, and has been dismissed as a rumor by the Decemvirate. But by the end of Year of the Shadow Lodge the cat is pretty much out of the bag.
Eyes of Ten II
Shades of Ice I-III
Wrath of the Accursed
Eyes of Ten III
This can be less than ideal for a lot of people. For starters it would require three different party’s. One in the 1-7 range, another at 7-11, and a retirement party at 12. Which can be difficult to arrange if you are playing for credit. You can do just fine without the 12 party in my opinion, though the GM running that will have to handwave a few things. But that would far from ruin the retirement arc and the events that happen in it.
Here is my suggestion on how you could handle Grandmaster Torch for First Steps.
You can still have him in charge of the Shadow Lodge. You just have him present it as being loyal to the Society and wanting what is best of the individual Pathfinder agents. Going with the general fluff you find in the Field Guide.
You can present the Shadow Lodge agents the PCs have to deal with in Season 1 & 2 as rogue and rebel agents as well as outsiders trying to corrupt Torch’s vision and mission for the Shadow Lodge. They seem, at least initially, intent on changing the vision of the Society, and bringing that change about through force, and are blatantly trying to launch of a coup against the Society. Naturally Torch is not wild about this separatist faction of Shadow Lodge agents destroying everything he had built over the years, and wants to try and repair the situation. Depending on the phase of the conflict, this will either be to try and diplomacize with the rogue agents, have them killed or captured, collect information on the rogue Shadow Lodge and its leaders, and try and keep Shadow agents still loyal to him and the Society safe during this time of turmoil and suspicion in the Society.
I know in my own experience players have wanted to play a wide variety of classes with the pregens. I have had a lot of dissapointed new players because they could not pick up a pregen of something like a bard or barbarian. Plus APG pregens will let players play around with the classes of those books, and encourage them to buy that book. Which is a good marketing strategy for Paizo.
My guess why the NPC/monster stat block is used is because it is fairly easy to pick up and find everything you need. With the traditional character sheet, things like special abilities are not explained, but are with the NPC stat block. It might be a bit cumbersome for a player who has never GMed or given the Bestiary a good look over. But I do not think it is that hard to figure out, especially if someone at the table can tell them where the things they need to find are.
I agree with Joe Cabou and Caepio Alazio that I would prefer to have a good 6 player table where everyone is having fun verse the 7 player table where things are just worse off on average. It just further divides the GMs attention, causes issues with combat, and reduces the amount of roleplaying each player can get. It only gets worse if you have one or more new players, and the GM has to bring the game to a grinding halt at every juncture because he needs to sit down and explain the rules to the player/s. I’m sure there have been plenty of experiences where players and GMs have had good seven player tables, but on average in my experience it has not been enjoyable for everyone at the table. And this is what I have heard across the board with the GMs I regularly talk to and work with.
As has already been mentioned. Even if there is a rule in the books that a GM can reject that seventh player, there will be backlash against the GM who does not want 6 player tables sooner or later unfortunately. Either from the players, a coordinator, or someone organizing a convention. This compromise to let GMs turn down a 7 players table can make things very awkward for the GM. There is typically a lot of pressure on GMs to take that seventh player at conventions. Those GMs who refuse the 7th player will get a reputation of being a spoilsport and a poor team player with some if not a majority. I don’t see me having issues with the VCs of my region, but I cannot be guaranteed that with every coordinator I meet.
I can understand where those who want to keep the 7 player table are coming from. No one wants to turn a player away, and as a general rule all PFS judges want to be inclusive. But I think compromising the fun of the game to be slightly more inclusive just does not work for me in this situation.
One problem I see that might come up if the 7 player table is kept on the books, and if there is a core of GMs who want to refuse to seat more than 6 people is that there might be a nasty backlash against those GMs who want to have 6 player tables. There would be demands that those GMs should HAVE to take that seventh player. “Because it says in the rules you can.” Potentially to the point players might threaten to go to regional coordinator or higher with their complaints. And there is no guarantee a GM and a regional coordinator are going to see eye to eye on this matter. It will be used as an arm wringing tool against the GM who wants the 6 player table by those players who want to get that seventh player at the table.
I love having reoccurring NPCs, items, enemies, and story elements. It makes everything feel more connected and important. I know a lot of players complain that nothing seems connected or important, but I think adding continuity and links like these will really help with that. I also like to be able to created themed game days at my stores. Such as a night where we have a bunch of Grandmaster Torch adventures, or a Blackros Museum night, or so on. Plus it really helps as a GM when I can run a consistent circle of NPCs (for the most party anyways). I think players like being able to react with Drendle Dreng, who they know a lot better and who GMs can develop a personality for, then random VC of someplace the PCs will never be again. There will always be some of that, but it is nice when we can consistently see the same VCs at the same places.
I am in favor of this rule. I think keeping a list of the available animals is a good idea. Though I would like to see an expanded list with Bestiary 2 & 3. With all the Bestiary’s, a character would have plenty of choices for animal companions.
I think reskinning can be prone to abuses unfortunately, and I think that is a case of if one person cannot have nice things, then no one can. Reskinning is just way too subjective on what would and would not be acceptable. You can easily get into a situation where at every table a GM has to decide if something is an acceptable case of reskinning, and all the arguments that could cause. Plus reskinning can actually affect how an encounter goes in certain scenarios, and so has a mechanical effect on the game.
I would prefer to have 6 player tables, and I would like to see this rule implemented. In my experience you lose a lot when you go with 7 players for all the reasons already stated. Encounters designed for four players are overpowered, it’s harder for the GM to concentrate on the players and make an enjoyable experience, and many other reasons just make me vote in favor of capping this at 6 player tables. I would rather have an enjoyable experience with 6 players and leave one player out in the cold rather than have eight miserable people at one table and have no one excluded.
Oh I see how it is! Now that you have a nice new title like Campaign Coordinator you can’t be bothered with the little people who helped get you to where you are now! And after all that work I put into keep the party alive with my cleric Novinnia in your campaign to prevent a TPK and ending an epic campaign! The ingratitude!
But really, congratulations, and I look forward to continuing to work as your minion! I am sorry to lose you, but I look forward to what you will do with PFS in Seattle. Pimpin new avatar by the way.
I’ll go ahead and throw some of my cents into the discussion. I for one am in agreement with Mike’s ruling.
The main complaints against Mike’s ruling seem to have been over a few of issues. 1. Players will not get credit for playing a scenario. 2. The inability for GMs to create legal tables. And 3. Not being able to sit players who came to a game day. I think there are a number of ways to address and minimize these problems, and create an environment where it is less likely pregens will be needed in non-1st level situations...
In my experience players Hate to run pregens. Especially at higher level games. Where in my experience from events like Gen Con, pregens just got chewed up and spit out by higher tier scenarios. They want to play their own PCs and see running a pregen as a last resort option to play. Generally for players who do not have a PC at the correct level or for entirely new players. I honestly do not think players get a fulfilling and complete experience if they are running an expendable pregen, and players with PCs who have earned their way to higher level games are not exactly thrilled to have those pregens at their table for a variety of reasons. Namely there are players who are reckless with their expendable pregens.
As a serious question, I am also curious how often other GMs need players running pregens in order to have a legal table? In my own experience it has not been anything like a significant problem. If this is a frequent and repeated problem, then I think there might be scheduling and/or registration issues in that store/region. Granted, there are many factors and variants that could go into this. But if this is a consistent problem then I think some issues need to be considered.
If a GM is consistently finding themselves running 7-11 scenarios and only having 1-3 players show up, and desperately need players running pregens to flesh out the party, then there is a scenario scheduling problem. A player base and their PCs need to be developed over time. It takes 18 scenarios to get your first PC to level 7 (or four and a half months if you are playing a PC four times a month), and that’s assuming something bad does not happen to the PC in question during those first 18 scenarios. A VC/Store Liason/GM needs to gauge what their player base looks like level wise. If there is not that base of 7-11 PCs in the store/region, then that GM should probably not run 7-11 scenarios. At the store I run in the Atlanta region I have consistently had to run lower tier scenarios because the player base has simply not been there at the store for 7-11 scenarios to be run successfully.
The 1-3 players who have 7-11 character might be a bit disappointed to learn that they may not be able to play their higher level characters and get to those juicy scenarios. A GM may very well need to sit down with those players and explain that there is little point in scheduling higher tier games if the player base is not there. That more players need to be brought up to that level, and that they can still have fun with lower tier scenarios. It can also be prudent to try and convince players to become GMs to help expand the variety and number of scenarios being ran, and possibly expand on the player base.
Something I think is vital for any store/region to set up a registration system for game days. This has been a major deal in the Atlanta region where we have a great website where GMs can schedule game days, GMs can coordinate with each other, and players can sign up for games. This can really help you gauge where your player base is, and where you need GMs to run scenarios. If players are consistently posting/messaging that they do not have enough levels to run the scenarios you are running, then that is a good indicator that a GM needs to run some more lower tier scenarios or recruit another GM to help run some games for those players being left out in the cold, and would otherwise have to run pregens.
Something I highly recommend to every GM in PFS. Try and recruit, train, prepare, and have on hand backup GMs for your game days if at all possible! Backup GMs are your friends! One of the main strengths we have in the Atlanta region is that we have a solid pool of GMs to draw upon when we have more players then we originally planned for. I do not want to sound like I am bragging, but having this great pool of GMs on hand to help out where need has allowed us to expand and explode over the last year. In my experience we have had virtually no trouble with players having to run pregens for higher tier scenarios in our stores because we do have a good scheduling, registration, and GM system set up. I have only had to seat a pregen for a 5-9 scenario once in the last year, and that was a last minute walk in player who just happened to come upon us playing and wanted to join. All other pregens I have had to deal with outside of convention settings have been completely new players who needed a pregen because they did not have a character yet. I have never once had to use the 7-11 pregens I have printed out.
To address the one issue some have had with GMs still being able to get credit for a scenario even if they do not have a character at the right level. Paizo is purposely trying to encourage more GMs to run PFS games. This only makes sense. GMs make the skeleton of PFS and without GMs the whole system would not even work. The people at Paizo, the Venture-Captains, and others GMs should always work to encourage new GMs to steps up and run a few scenarios where needed. Remember, you can never have too many GMs on hand. Because GMs can always be players. But players are not always GMs. That is why I think that GMs being able to earn experience even if they do not have a character in the right tier should stay as it is. Yea, it favors GMs in comparison to players. But GMs are essential to running and expanding PFS, and letting players play in the first place.
Another thing that might help is to always tell your players that when their PC is reaching level 5 they need to start planning for their next 1st level characters right away. I always do this where I run scenarios. It is good to explain to players, especially new ones, that when their PCs reaches level 6 it is not going to be able to continue playing the lower tier scenarios, and you don’t want them to get into a situation where they do not have a character ready for the 1-5, 1-7 tier scenarios. What I try to do and advise my players to do is to try and have a PC in each of the major tier ranges. Namely 1-5, 5-9, and 7-11 if and when possible. That way they can play in nearly any scenario they have not already played that comes up.
I can sympathize with those GMs who do not want to disappoint players because they will not be able to earn experience because they are running a pregen. Unfortunately there are those who do abuse the system if given the opportunity. Even those who are responsible face temptations to do things to maximizes their chances success. I know when I am playing in a scenario I have already GMed I am tempted to do things to keep the scenario on the rails when I see players about to go off the rails, and it can be hard not to pick out spells that are favorable towards the nature of the scenario.
I think a GM should at least try and explain why the 1:1/4 and 7 pregen rule is the way it is. Even if it is disappointing to the player that they will not be able to earn experience for it. I do think trying to explain the situation, especially if they are a walk in player, and tell them that you will try and make arrangements for them in the future goes a long way. You want to try and engender a long term loyalty to PFS, and try and build a good relationship with the player. So it is a good thing to try and stress that scenarios they can earn experience with are available, and in the future you can arrange it so that those scenarios are available (assuming such arrangements can be made). Especially if s/he registers for scheduled game days, and a GM can make plans for such players.
To address the convention issue, I can see where more problems might develop. There are simply more variables, and ones individual GMs cannot easily address. As has been pointed out, there are a Ton of new players at conventions like Gen Con. And A Lot of them ended up at tier 5-9 and 7-11 tables with their pregens. In large part because that was all they could sign up for. I do not think any GM at Gen Con enjoyed running mostly or all pregens through the 5-9 and 7-11 scenarios. It typically just resulted in horrific meat grinders. Which is NOT the impression we should give to new players about PFS! I think it is safe to say we want player’s PCs to stand a good chance of surviving their first couple of scenarios in PFS.
But I think there are perfectly good ways to deal with this problem. As Mike has already noted, he is planning on running significantly more lower tier scenarios at Gen Con. Making the available scenarios lean towards lower level play will do a lot to deal with the new and inexperienced player issue we had at Gen Con in my opinion. A couple ideas I would like to throw into the hat is to perhaps have a couple of GMs on hand to just run First Steps for new players who show up and have no experience with PFS. We now have a great resource in the First Step series for introducing new players. Also if a significant pool of new players show up for a slot needing 4th and 7th level pregens we can advice and direct them to join the much more new player friendly First Steps tables verse going to tables with scenarios like Wrath of the Accursed or You Only Die Twice. Or perhaps have some other lower level scenarios ready in the event the players do have some experience, and want to play something they can run their characters in.
Perhaps for major conventions it would also be a good idea to make sure every GM has at least one of the First Step’s scenarios prepped and ready to go if need be. That way there is that pool of GMs ready and able to introduce new players to PFS in a way that will positive, friendly, and encourage them to come back again and again. I am willing to bet that by next Gen Con there will be a very good pool of GMs experienced at running First Steps, and ready to give more new players a great first taste of PFS play.
*Whew!* Hope these thoughts help some of you a bit!
Dream Daemon wrote:
Has Osprey ever been confirmed as a Venture-Captain? In the two scenarios I played where he was the one giving orders, he was never specifically called a venture-captain. It was more like, "you met this guy in a bar, he works for the Pathfinder Society, his name is Osprey." I'm paraphrasing, of course.
He has never been specifically stated to be a Venture-Captain, no. His exact status within the Society has been left purposely vague near as I can tell. He seems to at least indicate that he is working directly for the Decemvirate. But that is just about all we know about the guy.
I personally like the special boons system. As a GM at both Gen Con and Dragon Con I thought they got people interested, and offered something different to players. I was one of those naysayers who had major reservations about expanding the number of races. But seeing the racial boons in action a lot of my reservations have been lifted. They offer player more options, and I do not think they harm other players at the table in any way.
I think a lot of the disagreement here is over many players and GMs not having access to those boons. Perhaps to bring boons to a local level a system could be set up where Regional Coordinators could pass out a limited number of boons. One per table a GM will be running that month to give a number. The GMs could then hand out those boons at their table by whatever method they prefer. Such as selecting the best roleplayer out of the table, a VIP, or rolling a d20 to pick someone. I would worry about this system being abused though.
Another possibility is for GMs to record everyone’s PFS number when they run a table, and then pass those on to their regional coordinators, or similar person if one is not available in that region yet. This can be done through the usual reporting system. At the end of the month the regional coordinator could draw a number/s out of a hat (or whatever the preferred method would be), and give the selected player the special boon. This could possibly encourage GMs and players to report. Which is a good thing for PFS. And also give some of the thus far convention only boons to local players. Granted, this system could be a bit clunky and more work on regional coordinators. But it’s idea I am offering to mill over for those that want to give players and GMs who cannot attend conventions the opportunity to win some boons.
I definitely think there has been an increase in quality in scenarios. I agree I think a lot of it has been from lessons learned from previous seasons. Especially from season 0 and then season 1. I think a lot of those lessons were applied to season 2 and now season 3 where they have had great success. There has been a lot more roleplaying in scenarios, challenging combat, interesting non-combat challenges, and more interesting characters. That and there is now a full, season long story going on each year. Which helps to add some emphasis to what the players are doing in the Society.
There are certainly far less complete duds then there were in the past. There also seems to be a bit more polish then there was in the past. Faction missions seem to be much more thematic according to the faction then they were in Season 0, and less random in their content.
City of Strangers makes for a couple of my favorite scenarios. Especially Part I where you get some excellent roleplaying opportunities. I think one of the appeals of scenarios like that, like Bloodcove Disguise, Sewer Dragons of Absalom, and Murder on the Throaty Mermaid is that I never do know how the PCs will react when I GM those scenarios. Players get choices in how they approach problems, and I get to roll with their actions. And they really are a ton of fun to run and play through.