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Emkrah

Painlord's page

RPG Superstar 6 Season Star Voter, 7 Season Dedicated Voter. FullStarFullStarFullStar Pathfinder Society GM. 1,679 posts (29,606 including aliases). 1 review. 1 list. No wishlists. 9 Pathfinder Society characters. 22 aliases.



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The Exchange

Hey All--

As usual, I want to encourage all y'all to add to the 2017 PaizoCon Bloggery thread, so that not only will our deeds and meeting be recorded for all time, but also so that gamer friends who could not make it might enjoy what happens here.

You're all welcome to contribute. Even W. Kristoph Nolen.

-Pain

The Exchange ***

7 people marked this as a favorite.

Hey All You Magnificent PFS Piddlespotters--

As most of you know, I believe PFS's core is a social community and so whether you can make it to Paizocon or not, I hope that you will participate.

In the past, we've detailed our games, our meets, our greets, and our beerings. There are some good memories stored up in the threads of yesterPFS:

2011 PFS PaizoCon Bloggery
2012 PFS PaizoCon Bloggery (w/Grand Convocation and massive Banquet spoilers)
2013 PFS PaizoCon Bloggery (w/GenCon Special Run)
2014 PFS PaizoCon Bloggery
2015 PFS PaizoCon Bloggery
2016 PFS PaizoCon Bloggery (w/Starfinder announcement)

And this year, we get Starfinder and that could be really cool. I hope that some of our attendees will offer some notes from whatever experiences and seminars they attend.

For you attendees:

  • Post about whom you've met and where they are from.
  • Post about the games you're playing in, with whom, and fun details. (Avoid spoilers...and use spoiler tags if you're going to spoil!)
  • Post about extraPFSular activities.
  • Get others to share their feedback from PaizoCon.
  • Post links to pictures and media.
  • Post about neat characters you've played with.
  • Post any cool 'tricks' you've learned.
  • Post about the sessions and talks you've attended.
  • Post about how awesome your judges have been and what things they did well. Heck, even thank them.

For you non-attendees:

  • Tell us what sessions you want reports from;
  • Questions you want us to ask and to whom;
  • Things you want to know about;
  • Give lip/guff/sass/snark to PFS board personalities you know (or don't...either way, sass is encouraged).

I, like usual, promise nothing...except that I'll be twisting some arms of people here to join me in describing their experience playing PFS and Starfinder, and the ACG this weekend and the people that make it happen.

-Pain

The Exchange

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Greetings Mortals-

I don't like you and you don't like me, but that doesn't mean that we can't raise a dram of the sweet, sweet nectar together. I've been scotching for a short while, but doing a lot of 'research' in that time. It's been a fun (as you can imagine) process. After about a year, I don't know much but I know much more than I did when I started.

Lemme point you to two tools have have helped me learn: first, map <MAP>. We Pathfinders know maps and this map is pretty good. See them distilleries from different regions? See that? And, in general, different regions have a different spins and flavors. No, it's not perfect, but you know if you get stuff from a distillery on Islay, you're going to taste a lot of peat. And if you go to Speyside, you're getting a more classic scotch flavor...with a bit of spice.

Secondly, get thee to Distiller.com, aka the ClassGuide of Booze. You can create an account, list your collection, and learn a bit. Heck, you can even find me (user: Painlord) and add me as a friend. You'll see my collection and whatnot. Mostly, you can use Distiller to read and shop for things of interest. I don't do ratings or comments because I don't know what I'm talking about (yet).

Note about Distiller Ratings:
I have mixed feelings about the ratings. The 0-100 score is done by an expert which is subject to all sorts of personal preferences/mood swings/what they just ate, etc. I go by it, but also put a lot of credence into the 0-5 star rating, given by the distiller community. The wisdom of crowds thing. I kind of mesh the two in determining what to try/buy...and sometimes my preferences are affected by price/value. I can tell you that I *love* Johnnie Walker Blue, but at $150+ per bottle, it's not something I'm drinking every day. But I like JW Black, just fine and it's cheap enough for sipping at home while I play Pathfinder, you know?

Also, please don't think that the more $$$ the scotch the better it is. It might be more true, in general, but there are lots of times where I've paid a lot for a bottle but found it wasn't for me or I didn't get it. While the $200 bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue is amazeballs, it's also possible that some $$$ scotches are crap. The only way to know for sure is research and trying them out.

Thirdly, I'm just talking about scotch. I appreciate some of you might like a nice bourbon or irish whiskey, but that ain't scotch. For those of you that are confused about the difference, lemme try to explain.

Scotch? Whiskey? Huh?:
Uh, yeah it's confusing. And we can't do Venn diagrams on this site. But maybe this will help.

Category:subcategory
All drinks: milk, water, booze, sodas, etc.
All booze: beer, wine, vodka, whiskey, gin, tequila, etc.
All whiskey: whisky, irish whiskey, japanese whiskey, bourbon, american whiskey, scotch, canadian whiskey, etc.
All scotch: just scotch, from Scotland. If it comes from a distillery on the <MAP>., then it's probably scotch.

Scotch is a particular whiskey that only comes from Scotland.

Scotch is actually a lot of variety within a relatively small area. But you can buy a few different scotches from a few areas and use that to develop a taste and understanding of things. Most of the bottles below are relatively cheap and nice introductions. Here are some good, inexpensive scotches that you can use to learn about the range of flavors available to you.

How to Drink Scotch Part 1: Water? Ice? Food?:
I know there are lots of varied feelings about this issue. For me, I'm mostly neat (which means no ice). I will, occasionally, splash some water into a scotch. But mostly, no water unless the scotch seems to want it (like a spicy Abelour or CompassBox). I don't eat while I drink. Period. I don't want the food I'm eating to cloud or distort the scotch. Others feel differently about this, but for me, as I try to learn: I don't eat while drinking. Also, I don't do ice...cold kills/hides too many of the flavors, however I know that's how others like it. My feeling is that if you need ice to make some scotch palatable, then you might have the wrong scotch for you.

How to Drink Scotch Part 2: Meta:
Suppose you run about and buy 3 bottles of scotch. How should you drink them? In what order? Well, good question. I like comparisons. I like take a splash of one and sip it gone, then try a different scotch and take a splash of that. Sometimes I might go with one scotch for the night, trying to get a feel for it. I don't think it's right or wrong to switch between two or three bottles, sipping splashes away. But comparison will allow you to start picking out peaty or floral flavors more easily. You'll see which scotches are more sweet or spicy through comparison and tasting.

How to Drink Scotch Part 3: Glass? Paper cup? Shoe?:
The pros will tell you to sip through a scotch sniffery glass, however, that's for sticking your nose in and trying inhale the scents. I'm happy with just a regular glass. I tend to avoid ceramics, papers, ivory horns, & plastics when drinking scotch.

List of Painlord Recommended Starter Scotches:

Glenlivet 12 (about $30 at Trader Joes) - It took me an entire bottle before I *'got'* this scotch. Yes, it can take a while to learn how to drink or enjoy a particular scotch. This scotch taught me that. I'm happy to drink it now. It's a baseline, cheap scotch that I can use for comparisons. It's not amazing, but cheap and good.

Laphroaig 10 (about $40 at Trader Joes) - This scotch here will teach you about peat. This here is the peaty peat peatiest stuff of your dreams/nightmares. Mrs. Painlord considers it to taste like wet dog; to me, it's magic. It's rough to be sure, but it's also good, very good. Peat is boggy swampy hag magic brewed into a drink. It's great once you get into it.

Old Pulteney 12 - (about $40) OP is OP. That is, Old Pulteney is overpowered for the cost. It's good. A bit sweet and has good flavor. Don't believe me, watch this old Scottish bastard talking about it: informative OP discussion. This guy knows things and he's hilarious. It's a good listen for when you get your own OP. He also talks about adding water to scotch, which is interesting.

Isle of Skye 12 (about $42) Similar to OP, Isle of Skye 12 is cheap and good and just a nice scotch.

Johnnie Walker Black (about $40 at Trader Joes) - Ah yeah, my favorite cheap blend. It's just a solid, slightly-peaty scotch. Don't get JW Red, and if you can't afford Blue (Platinum isn't worth it), then treat-yo-self to some Black. Compare this to the Glenlivet or Laphroaig. You'll begin to taste the differences.

Glenfiddich 14 (about $50) - Nope, not a glamorous bottle, but I love this. Not too expensive and just good.

Aberfeldy 12 (about $55) - This is the first 'expensive' scotch that I ever fell in love with. That was over a year ago and now I know better. It's just good and always makes me happy. Also, it's not that expensive (now that I've seen others) but still a staple of my cabinet.

Lagavulin 16 (about $80 at CostCo) - The mack daddy of the peated scotches, this one blends peat with smoothness to equal happiness. Yes, it's the one Ron Swanson drinks on Parks & Rec...and for good reason. Sipping this while watching your favorite sportsball game is why scotch (and probably all sports) exists.

Benromach Organic (about $90) - I can't tell you how much I love this one. So good. Not even sure it's organic, but it's magic.

So yeah...where should you start?

I started by making a lot of mistakes (and them drinking them away). I tried lots of stuff I liked, and a bunch of stuff I didn't. I explored and created my own maxim: "Always Second Sip".

That means I never, ever trust myself on my first sip to judge a scotch. Try a second, third, or fourth sip. Heck, try a bottle, but be slow to make up your mind. First sips are lies. Dirty rotten lies. First sips are just wrong...unless you hit that one scotch that hits you just right. It's rare...but mostly, like especially when you are trying a peaty or spicy scotch, it may take a few sips for your 'buds to adapt to the flavors.

Buy yeah...how should I start?

Uh...depending on how much you want to learn and explore, you might buy three bottles either immediately or over a period of weeks. You might buy 'Old Pulteney 12 or Isle of Skye 12', and Glenlivet 12, and laphroaig 10. That's about $110 or so...but is many many good nights of drinking scotch. From there, you might have a splash of Glenlivet and then a splash of Laphroaig, then try comparing that to OP.

From there, after you understand those scotches, you might feel free to explore the map, explore Distiller, and find other interesting scotches to drink. I've had a lot of bottles that I drank, but didn't love. At the same time, some random purchases I've made have ended up being pretty good. I'm still learning and don't know much...but I do have a map and I've found some things that I've liked.

-Pain

p.s. My favorite scotch: Oban 14. It's not beloved on Distiller (Distiller is just wrong on that, IMO), but is the best bottle at the price ($80). It's just solid and good.

p.p.s. Yes, Lagavulin 16 is really, really good. That's for special occasions. It may take you a while to get it, but once you do...ah...yeah.

p.p.p.s. If you have any thoughts, opinions, or questions about my Distiller Collection, I'm happy to discuss. I seek to learn.

p.p.p.p.s. For more on other scotch stuff, this thread is full of fun and recommendations.

The Exchange ***

10 people marked this as a favorite.

Hey All You Magnificent PFS Piddlespotters--

As most of you know, I believe PFS's core is a social community and so whether you can make it to Paizocon or not, I hope that you will participate. Those that are blessed enough too be able to attend, please contribute. To those who have questions, please ask them and we'll see what we can do to answer.

This is Tonya's first one as Paizo's Organzied Play Coordinator. I can't wait to see what she does.

In the past, we've detailed our games, our meets, our greets, and our beerings. There are some good memories stored up in the threads of yesterPFS:

2011 PFS PaizoCon Bloggery
2012 PFS PaizoCon Bloggery (w/Grand Convocation and massive Banquet spoilers)
2013 PFS PaizoCon Bloggery (w/GenCon Special Run)
2014 PFS PaizoCon Bloggery
2015 PFS PaizoCon Bloggery

For you attendees:

  • Post about whom you've met and where they are from.
  • Post about the games you're playing in, with whom, and fun details. (Avoid spoilers...and use spoiler tags if you're going to spoil!)
  • Post about extraPFSular activities.
  • Get others to share their feedback from PaizoCon.
  • Post links to pictures and media.
  • Post about neat characters you've played with.
  • Post any cool 'tricks' you've learned.
  • Post about the sessions and talks you've attended.
  • Post about how awesome your judges have been and what things they did well. Heck, even thank them.

For you non-attendees:

  • Tell us what sessions you want reports from;
  • Questions you want us to ask and to whom;
  • Things you want to know about;
  • Give lip/guff/sass/snark to PFS board personalities you know (or don't...either way, sass is encouraged).

I, like usual, promise nothing...except that I'll be twisting some arms of people here to join me in describing their experience playing PFS this weekend and the people that make it happen.

-Pain

The Exchange ***

45 people marked this as a favorite.

Yo Mortals--

I don't like you and you don't like me but that doesn't mean that we can't celebrate the fact that I made it to my first GenCon *and* that Kyle Baird didn't.

Unimportant Stuff:
I decided in January to attend GenCon when Mrs. Painlord gave me a unopposed 'meh' when I asked if we could work it out. I hadn't planned on doing any Bloggery here, mostly because I do the PaizoCon bloggeries and have no idea how they go over and if people like them. However, more than a few people have said that they enjoy reading the bloggery and wanted me to do one for GenCon.

If you like and read this or my bloggeries, please like the post so me and other contributors know what they are doing matters. Thanks.

Obligatory Warning:
As usual, I don't guarantee of the facts or ideas in this post, much less the spelling of names nor that these actual events happened. Beer happens and so consider all my posts as quasi-delusional pompous fiction (so not unlike a Thursty scenario).

I came to meet people (especially those board yahoos whose posts I've been reading for years), play some of the Adventure Card Game, and hack my way into the Specials. There are 4 specials this GenCon. Two I already played at PaizoCon, but two new ones.

In short, I've already met a piddlespot load of new people: redward, VOs Jeremy Chapman, Seth & Kristen Gibson, Mark Stratton, Jacque Woods, David Frahm (super nice guy), Alison Ooms, Kevin Ingle (Sniggevert), Lucas Servideo, Joshua North, Texan Stephen Ross, Andrew Shumate (Netopalis), James McTeague (Iammars), and Dan Simons.

Of course, I reengaged the usual compliment of scum and villainy: Todd Morgan & TwiLiBobJonquet, Jason Roeder, Jon Cary, Chris Mortika, Jonathan Choi, PirateRob, DragnMoon, Andrew Christain (I love this guy more every time I meet him), and Jon Dehning.

I still have yet to meet Del Collins, Dan Cornett, Mike Bramnik, Joe Ducey, James Martin (who I play in two PbPs with...and have yet to meet), Joseph Kellogg, and many more.

Piddlespot...there are more people that I'm forgetting to mention than I am naming. I believe the core of the Society is the people therein and the common social bond we forge as we play this silly roleplaying game and enjoy a common pastime.

* * *
I get a chance to shake Brock's hand. I am sorry to see him leave. *sigh*

* * *
Wednesday PFS @ Scotty's bar happened. I got there late (5pmish) as they were just wrapping up. They started play at 8am and ran about 25 tables. VC Mark Stratton rocked the organization and the special menu for the event (yes, the brewpub had a *fantastic* special Pathfinder themed menu) was and is amazing.

(More on Scotty's later.)

* * *
I finally got to meet Seth Gibson, aka Disturbed1, aka GodsDMit, VC of someplace after interacting on the boards with him for years. He and his wife Kristen are co-venture officers for their region and are two the nicest, mostly easily approachable and likable people I've met. (They wear the orange Pathfinder shirts indicating they are front desk for the Con.)

As it turns out, I've been using a dice bag his wife made for years. However, I have no recollection of how I got the dice bag. It's a small world.
* * *

As some of you know, I love Play-by-Post. I'll play entire campaigns via PbP without ever meeting the other players in person. There is also a lively PFS PbP community. Why do I bring this up? Not just because you should be playing Play by Post, but because sometimes I run into other PbPers and it's nice to meet them in person.

I've met Silbeg (aka VL Jack Brown from Minn) for years via his participation in PbP. On Wednesday, we finally met. A couple of notes: the entire Minneapolis/St.Paul/Cloud PFS group is pretty freakin' spectacular. From Ryan B, to the other Ryan B, to Jon D, to Ray and Keith, Mark, and Aaron, and AChristain...they are a piddlespot ton of fun. And man do they drink. My liver can only take so much of these guys, but I love them to death.

So Silbeg introduces me to his crew and we hang out most of Wednesday night. There are plenty of bars close by and eventually end up at Scottys at midnight for more beer and food. Jack, Mark, & I polish off 101 oz of Scotty's Ghost Goblin Brew (an IPA). Damn...that finished me off for the night....

...Until I met Auke and Thursty and Tonya Woldridge (VC Ontario) and got pulled into chatting with the Paizo staff for a bit. Tonya is pretty amazing, nice and friendly, open and talkative. I like people who can socialize well.

More to come...I'm going to dinner with Auke (an old friend and VC of Netherlands).

The Exchange ***

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Hey All You Magnificent PFS Piddlespotters--

In the past, we've detailed our games, our meets, our greets, and our beerings. There are some good memories stored up in the threads of yesterPFS:

2011 PFS PaizoCon Bloggery
2012 PFS PaizoCon Bloggery (w/Grand Convocation and massive Banquet spoilers
2013 PFS PaizoCon Bloggery (w/GenCon Special)
2014 PFS PaizoCon Bloggery

This year is going to be different than past years. This year, PaizoCon is this weekend, on Memorial Day...the same date as many other PFS Conventions around the country (including my beloved Kublacon). As a result, there will be many new faces who can make it now (rather than around the July 4th weekend) and some familiar faces will be unable to attend. I already miss the Canadian contingent who won't be there. We were are merrier when they were there.

As most of you know, I believe PFS's core is a social community and so whether you can make it to Paizocon or not, I hope that you will participate.

For you attendees:

  • Post about whom you've met and where they are from.
  • Post about the games you're playing in, with whom, and fun details. (Avoid spoilers...and use spoiler tags if you're going to spoil!)
  • Post about extraPFSular activities.
  • Get others to share their feedback from PaizoCon.
  • Post links to pictures and media.
  • Post about neat characters you've played with.
  • Post any cool 'tricks' you've learned.
  • Post about the sessions and talks you've attended.
  • Post about how awesome your judges have been and what things they did well. Heck, even thank them.

For you non-attendees:

  • Tell us what sessions you want reports from;
  • Questions you want us to ask and to whom;
  • Things you want to know about;
  • Give lip/guff/sass/snark to PFS board personalities you know (or don't...either way, sass is encouraged).

I, like usual, promise nothing...except that I'll be twisting some arms of people here to join me in describing their experience playing PFS this weekend and the people that make it happen.

-Pain

p.s. Ah man did I miss Kyle Baird last year. I can't wait to see who I will meet who is new this year.

The Exchange

158 people marked this as a favorite.

Author's Notes:

PbP is *the* best Pathfinder format there is. No game you will ever run will have the depth of story and character that you will have in PbP.

I can't apologize for the length of this post as I recognize that in tackling this I could never have written all that could be said about Play-by-Post (PbP) GMing. There is just too much...and I could never say enough and do a complete job. However, there should be some things below to help you find the mindset to run a great game. I hope other posters will fill in the blanks with their own suggestions and ideas.

I did not work alone on this. Other active contributors include:

GM Angry Ankheg
DM Evilan
GM Rat Sass

Others have contributed to this post by running me in their games. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from them.

I freely welcome open discussion, your contributions, and disagreement in this thread...only through the sharing of ideas and collaboration can we push this format to be better.

It's Tough, So Tough:

It's tough to be a GM, twice as hard to be a good PbP GM. I have had several some many oh-god-no-more games crash and burn because of GMs not understanding how difficult it can be to GM PbP. Why is it so different than Face-to-Face(F2F)?

  • No immediate feedback from players. When there is a problem or a mistake, it can take hours/days to find and fix.
  • You cannot read facial expression of players. It's easier to spot areas of confusion in real life.
  • Difficult to know when to push; finding your timing is harder. This is the single hardest thing for a new GM to figure out. It's hard to know when to let RP flow and when to push sagging action. A GM will occasionally 'herd cats' to get the party back on task...it happens in every group.
  • Getting maps to work for a diverse online group is harder than drawing on a map pack. Figuring out how *you* are going to present fun and fair mapped combats. Sure, Rolld20, Googledocs, pic hosting all work, but what best fits your skillset? Which one are you trained in and feel comfortable with?
  • Having to read and respond to everything. A real life GM (usually) gets questions one at a time and can focus and prioritize how and what to answer. In PbP, it requires reading every post and seeing each post for what needs a response. It's very frustrating as a player to have to ask the same question, post after post. It's easy for a GM to miss things in PbP that normally wouldn't be missed in F2F.
  • Sometimes your players have infrequent check-ins...creating a difficulty in assessing what they meant when they posted. You want to avoid going back and forth, over days, to clarify so you’ll likely need to guess their desires and do what’s best.
  • Difficulty in describing your story/action/environment. Hand gestures, intonation, inflection all matter in communication...but are much more difficult in PbP. A map with two or three dimensions is a lot of PbP work...a clarification on a map might be two quick pen strokes to fix and explain in real life, but take a lot of map time to fix in PbP. You need to be able to explain story and setting via the written word. That can be much harder in PbP for some people (some people are not strong writers, or English is not their first language). Some people are better storytellers via the spoken word.
  • Focus. The good GM must be more focused than the players, more on top of the game, more energetic - every day for years. If the GM falters, the whole game falters - much more severely than when a single player drifts.

However, these are not insurmountable problems. A PbP game has many, clear advantages to 'Real' Life, Face-to-Face and can be an infinitely more rewarding experience for you and your players.

0. Prime PbP GM Commandment:

Coffee is for closers. I repeat: Coffee is for closers.

Don't set out to start a PbP. *SET OUT TO CLOSE A PBP* Finish what you're going to start...whether it's one book of an AP, a PFS scenario, or your own home brew.

These boards are full of dead games...started by GMs with the best intentions. But they have failed before the first 1000 posts. Failed before they even got to the good stuff. Mostly, it's because the GM lost heart, didn't realize what it would take to create a good game. They were unprepared for the daily effort that is necessary to *complete* a PbP.

In their wake, they have left player after player wondering why the game died. It’s because their beginnings were ill-conceived, poorly formed, and/or lacked the momentum to properly start in the first place.

So...*Don't start a PbP unless you can finish it.*

Being a PbP GM is hard (and also infinitely rewarding) and this guide is going to help you out. However, please, for the love of whatever gods you might pray to: try a PFS mod before starting a full AP. Finish something small first, get it done, get your feet wet and understand what it takes.

The good GMs aren't the ones who start PbPs...they are the ones that close them.

In short, this is the one and only Commandment for GMs: Finish what you start. There is no greater crime on these boards than a GM getting a party of players together, getting their hopes up, having them work on characters and backstory and their dreams...only to have them dashed when the GM disappears.

With that said, we can get to the good stuff. We can talk about how you can run an awesome game by setting good expectations of your players, keeping the pacing, running good combats, and setting the social tone for your game. The overarching tone of these suggestions is the following: train your players to make things easier on you. If you can do that, you can avoid or minimize some of the tough parts of being a PbP GM.

*************************

1. Setting the Tone and Training:
This is your game. The best way to make it the way you want it to be is to lead the way...and train your players to make it easier on you. Take it away, Motte:

GM Motteditor wrote:
Running a PBP game is a LOT of work. You have to keep track of everyone more than you would in a tabletop game, and for me at least, I'm switching windows all the time to see what modifiers are in play, etc. etc. Even with some dice strings saved, every dice roll involved some typing that takes longer than simply tossing a d20. It's simply time-consuming to do each round of combat in a way that it isn't at the tabletop.

So do things to make things easier on yourself.

1.1 Set Clear Player Expectations:

The biggest thing I have learned is to set clear expectations for players before they get involved so that they know what is expected before they join. When you are clear about what you expect, your players will respond. Look at this beautiful(link) campaign info tab by GM Damo. You can see how much time and effort he went into planning his game. I would want to play in that game because I know what is expected. This GM's post was a great example of how to answer a player's questions about what is expected.

Set your expectations. Posting. Roleplaying. Formatting. Interactions. House rules. Community. Everything that you can make clear up front, will make your job easier later. Be clear!

1.2 Promote Community:

Pathfinder is a social game. Pathfinder involves interactive social skills and, as GM, it's your job to promote good social interaction. Your ability to work with others, create trust, and thank others will go a long way towards making your game better...and easier for you to run.

Acknowledge & Thank Awesomeness: When one of your players does something awesome, acknowledge it. Great roleplaying? Say so. Something make you laugh? You blew coffee all over your keyboard? Put in an LOL! or LOL@<name> into your next post. Use the "favorite this post" to show your appreciation. It matters. Soon, your players will start liking your posts and those of your other players.

React: Good stuff happens when people react to things that are happening. As GM, you have more opportunities to react than your players...while you should give your players priority in reacting, you should definitely have your say in promoting roleplay by reacting. Reacting properly gives the players hooks and creates interest. Interaction is part of the social nature of this game.

Socialize: Remember that you and your fellow players are people that have come together to play. Find ways to talk to others outside the IC and OOC threads. In most of my current games, I have connection with players via GoogleChat (via Trillian) or a Facebook Private Group through which we can chat about in-game and out-of-game stuff. Getting to know the other players has only enhanced my connections to their characters and to the roleplaying. My best games are ones that I can chat with the GMs about both in-game and out-of-game stuff. We're friends...having fun together playing PbP.

Trust: Building trust is essential, both between you and your players and for the other players to have so that they can roleplay honestly without worrying about mistakes. Some of the best RP and memories comes from players acting in character to results that didn't turn out as intended. However, players need trust to take those risks, to act and make mistakes.
Create trust by:

  • Being reliable and responding in a timely manner.
  • Doing what you say...and holding your players accountable as well.
  • Take your own risks, even making mistakes, so that your players can see how you take responsibility and fix it and carry on.
  • Be open for private (PM) discussion as necessary. And care for the secrets of your players. Not everything needs to be on an alias...work with players to create secrets that you will trust them to play out as they see fit.
  • Be objective and fair: RAW or RAI, explain fairly and make fair resolutions.

Be a friend, a confidant, a human. We aren't playing PbP because we want to play with robots...we aren't playing WoW. This is a roleplaying *and* social game.

1.3 Be Collaborative, not Combative Storytelling:

Play by post is a crafting process. The GM and the players can either collaborate and create a work of art... or combat each other over the design, details, and direction. The latter is likely to leave a battered and broken heap that no one enjoys. It's a choice; make the right one, and make sure your players are ready to join you in making a work of art.

1.4 Training, Bad Players, and Trimming Deadweight:

Dirty little secret: Bad PbP players are easy to find. There are lots of them on these boards. Good GMs are rare. There are a lot more players than GMs...which gives the GM a leveraged position. It does not give you the right to abuse players, but you don't have to put up with bad players...nor those who don't seem to be contributing.

Train your players using positive reinforcement: When you call out a great roleplaying post or clear combat action, you highlight what you value and your players will strive to do more.

The game, our time, this PbP format, is too valuable to let it be ruined by bad players...and I've seen plenty of bad players in PbP. What sorts of things?

  • Long, unexplained posting absences
  • Posts that have no roleplaying, hooks, or pushes
  • Argumentative or metagaming actions
  • Not reading the others’ posts
  • Not following campaign rules and expectations.

(Note: Knowledge of Pathfinder rules is a not an issue...nor is quality of build. As GM, you can place as much priority on those aspects as you deem appropriate...and you can work with rules-light players almost easier than you can with rules lawyers. It's a matter of preference and your ability to train your players on what you prefer.)

Remember, you outline the type of campaign you want, and then help the players live up to it.

You have the *responsibility* to your players to not let bad players slow down or ruin your game. It's *your* job to take action to protect *your* game from bad players. Sorry/NotSorry, it's one of the privileges/duties/honors of leadership.

Some behaviors are correctable and simple nudges and PMs should clarify what is expected. A few polite personal messages should clear it up.

Always give your players chances to improve...if you are positive with what you expect, it should be easy to fix. And remember this trick: Praise in Public, Criticize in Personal Message/Private.

Now, here is the biggest point of all this: Don't be afraid to cut bad players. You can replace them easily enough...but if a player is not contributing, or is sucking the soul from you or other players, it is your duty to cut them before they do too much damage. As one Venture Captain once told me: “You got to scrape the barnacles off the boat if you want to sail quickly."

Bad players are a drag on you and on your players. Give them a chance to improve...and GET RID OF THEM if they don't improve.

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2. Setting things Up:

2.1 Creating the World:
For some, the most daunting aspect of running a play by post is simply setting up the various threads. While it is not entirely straight forward, Paizo has made some changes that smooth out the process considerably.

Step 1: Create the Recruitment Thread:Go to the Play-by-Post Recruitment area of the Paizo Boards; use the "add new thread" link. This requires a title. The most important information to have in this title is whether or not it is an "open" or "closed" recruitment. If it is a closed recruitment, the post does not have to say much, but can be used to begin the setting the tone for the story. If it is an open recruitment, this is where the rules and expectations previously chosen will be relayed to prospective players.

Step 2: Create the Campaign Page: When creating the Recruitment page, there will be a small box at the top with a link to set up the campaign thread. The page it creates is a good place for a list of important things: rules, important NPCs, quests, links to maps and/or treasure sheets. A good campaign page makes the game easier for both the GM and the players. Paizo has set it up so that immediately upon creation, a campaign page will have links to create the other threads, including the one you will use the most, The Gameplay thread.

Step 3: Create the Gameplay Thread: When the other threads are used appropriately, the Gameplay Thread is allowed to stand as an almost entirely in-character space. Done well, they can be read near enough as a story. To this end, the first post for your Gameplay thread should be after your party has been chosen, after they have crafted their characters, and after they have had a little bit of time to get to know each other in the recruitment thread.

2.2 Choosing the Campaign -- Length, Levels, Laws:

Before you run a campaign, and before it can even be offered up to players, it is best to have some sort of sketch of what sort of campaign it will be. How long will it likely run? What levels will it cover? What ruleset and what sort of house rules will be in place? Each of these questions opens several others, but by asking yourself these questions, you will be able to be more upfront with prospective players and likely end up with a more compatible group in the long run.

How long will it likely run?
Hidden in this question are several other sub-questions. How many posts are you willing to make daily, and how many will you expect players to make? What happens *when* someone can’t post at some point? What is the preferred sandbox/rails ratio and will there be opportunity for personal stories for the players? All of these things can impact how long it takes to run the exact same scenario/module/or adventure path. There are no RIGHT answers to this, as long as the members of the group all have the same expectations.

What levels will it cover?
“Level” can apply to many things that are important to consider. The number of character levels the campaign will cover will impact the answers to the question above, but there are other “levels” to consider. What sort of experience level are you looking for? What age group? Will it be G, PG, or something more adult? How much humor and how much gore? What are your expectations regarding the Metagame and it’s in-game consequence? You may or may not voice all of these in the recruitment thread, but by asking yourself the questions, you’ll know what you are looking for and why as you search for players.

What ruleset and what sort of house rules will be in place?
While most of the Play-by-Posts on the Paizo boards tend to be Pathfinder, not all of them are, and of those, they could still be Core Only, Pathfinder Society, or a no-books-barred Pathfinder+3.x, or anywhere in between. Again, knowing the answers to these questions will help pull together people who will hopefully enjoy the same ruleset and house rules.

Just as important as the rules for the game are often “unwritten” rules that make for a good game. How deeply are you looking for the characters to be developed prior beginning? How much character friction (vs player friction) is allowable? How much, and what sort of metagaming is allowed? Being upfront about these things with your players makes sure that they have considered these things as well. It's not that any given answer is "Right" but that it is Right for the game and group in question.

Rules: made to be broken, or bent?
It can be very easy to lay things out just the way you would like them. That's fine and promotes good communication so that you end up with like-minded players and a game you can not just live with, but truly enjoy. Human beings are imperfect. Therefore, you and your players are likely to be imperfect as well. Knowing how much room you are willing to give people before making permanent changes can help stave off hurt feelings and leave future game possibilities intact. Even if you never play with a person again, leaving things well versus badly affects not just you, and not just that person, but the hobby as a whole, as every person goes out into the world and interacts with new players.

The Only Rule that Matters
Different rules will work for different groups, and though we all have our favorites, there is one that is important for every group: Communicate! Communicate problems early. Communicate often, both in the Gameplay thread, and in the Discussion thread. Build communication lines beyond the Play-by-Post threads, such as email, Facebook, or chat. Communication between player and GM is important; they need to be able to ask those questions that might pop up at the gaming table prior to posting. Communication between players is just as important. A GM should facilitate this if at all possible. This is a social game, and people need to be able to socialize directly, not just through the GM. Most little problems can be solved between players well before the GM needs to step in.

2.3 Recruitment:
I have such mixed feelings about recruitment threads. There is usually so much competition for a few threads that it seems impossible for competing players to find a spot. On the other hand, I love the challenge of the contest and how it spurs me to create a good, complete character.

What kind of game do you want? One that focuses on the technical parts of Pathfinder (builds, combat effectiveness) or one that is focused on roleplaying and character? You should create the recruitment thread to highlight what you want.

I will make no secret that I place roleplaying and character development over builds in every case. If your game is going to succeed, story and motivation are what matter...not how much damage someone can do. In my experience, combat and balance always work themselves out...roleplaying and story do not.

Get Players who read/follow directions: A Recruitment thread is a great place to quickly see who is going to annoy you and other players with their lack of attention. For instance, if you mention in your build requirements 'core races only' for a low fantasy game and some yahoo offers a Dhampir Half Dragon, maybe they aren't going to be an easy fit. I guarantee if that if they aren't paying attention in a recruitment thread, then they are going to be players who frequently miss things in-game.

Attrition: Unless you are incredibly lucky/unlucky, you will face some attrition from your starting game until the end. Players move on, get new jobs, lives change...things happen. You can either prepare to re-recruit when that happens, or recruit large (6 players for your average AP)...then not replace them as they leave.

Referrals vs. Open Auditions: There are some GMs who only open up to players they know or are referred to them. That can be good...you know the players you are getting have the potential to be good (or, at least, have a social pressure to contribute). On the other hand, we need to make the game open and inviting for new players. A referral might have a long, strong posting history and be a great player...on the other hand, playing with new and different players is how we improve as roleplayers.

Suggestion if you are taking referrals: Find a spot or two for new players. We always need to find ways to include new (to PbP) players into our games...they are our game's lifeblood and can be trained to be good players. This post (PFS) talks about what we want from new Pathfinder players. It applies nicely to PbP and the PbP community as well.

We can learn a lot from new players: both things we've never thought of...and things we know are wrong. Sometimes learning what not to do is as good as knowing what works. New players see and react in new ways...helping us flesh out possibilities within the PbP metagame.

2.4 Timezones:

In the past, a fellow player/GM that I respect insisted that getting players from similar time zones was essential to a good game. I'm not so sure. While I prefer the quick posts from people who are local to you, I’m not sure it is more or less important than other factors. Good players will contribute regardless of where they are. However, if you prefer to chitchat via GChat/AIM or other, having more overlap on the play/sleep schedules is important. And if you're seeking a very quick game, insisting that players are GMT+/- 2 hours from you can help you and your players have more time overlap.

2.5 Mapping the Adventure:

For many GMs, mapping may be the single most intimidating part of running a Play-by-Post. It doesn’t have to be. Anyone with the skills to reach Paizo to read and write a thread has the skills to do at least minimal mapping. HOW to map, however, remains a personal preference...you need a find a way that works for you.

Maps don't need to be amazing, they just need to get the job done. Questions you might ask yourself:

  • Can I learn to make it work?
  • Is it easy to update? *very* important
  • Do I want my players to move their own tokens or should I create a labeled grid and set positions?
  • Can I (and my players) access the map from work?
  • How important is mobile mapping, i.e. access from phones and tablets?
  • How much detail is important to me?

Google Drive: has 4 different formats that can be used to map: Googledraw, Google presentation, Google spreadsheets, and Google Document. That’s right, with nothing more than basic office productivity software, you can map for a Play-by-Post.

Rolld20: After trying basic office productivity software, most people decide to look for something stronger. Roll20 has a base subscription for free. It has everything that any of the Google Drive formats have, plus more. Like any community-supported resource, it is hoped that those who see the benefit will donate or subscribe at a higher rate to help keep it alive and growing.

RPG Virtual Tabletop: Several websites have lists and/or reviews of various options, one of which can be found at RPG Virtual Tabletop.

Ditzie: Some GMs like Ditzie, which is easily updated from any computer. You can create recursive maps easily.

In the end, this is a lackluster explanation because there are lots of options depending on what you want to do and how you want to do it. The most important factor in mapping is getting one that works for you BEFORE you start a game. Working maps is a high stress factor in PbP games. Get it right before you start.

2.6 Initiative:

Running initiatives can sometimes seem complicated, even at a Face-to-Face table. I suggest you use PROOP.

Prepare your initiatives (and common things like perception checks) ahead of time. Set up a macro or copy and paste it from your Campaign Info (example link) tab.

Roll initiatives for your players. Usually in a spoiler.

Organize your monsters/bad guys into meaningful groups. You don't necessarily want all your monsters in one group, but also, each additional group/individual you have will slow down combats. If you have yahoos that should be acting alone, have them act alone. If your party is facing 15 kobolds, then maybe do 3 groups of 5.

Order the initiatives from first to last, using highest init modifier in the event of a tie.

Post the initiative in a way that you can copy/paste later in your rounds.

In this, the GM rolls for everyone and then each person responds either in order, in subgroups, or as they can. At the end of the round, the GM summarizes, taking each person’s response into consideration as he lays out how the round played out. This can be a little or a lot more complicated, depending on which variation is chosen. In general, a little more work for the GM can speed the game up considerably. As with most things, communication is the key to success.

Here is a champion GM's Initiative Post

2.7 Treasure Tracking:
Some people *like* the detail of treasure tracking and game resources. Some players do not. If you want to track all the stuff with your players, please do...but be aware of the time involved.

You can also work with your players to track loot and gold, helping them keep lists and reviewing purchases and sales.

GM Treasure Tracker: GM Evilan's CotCT (spoilers) Treasure sheet. This was keen as he used WBL to level us, managing the treasure for when he wanted us to level.

Player Treasure Tracker: This one is run by Mal from our Reign of Winter campaign.

Personal Treasure Tracking: When there is no group tracking, I would at least encourage you have your players track their monies and purchases in the OOC, keeping a running total of gold.

Spasi's First Cashing
Spasi's Second Cashing - not the link back to the first cashing
Spasi bought stuff
And #4 cashing - you get the idea

If it is important to you (or your players), you are encouraged as ask your players to post their total Wealth in the OOC so you can see where they are as opposed to where you could be. If you notice a player who is significantly under WBL, you can manage a treasure drop for them.

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3. Random Things about GMing PbP that are Tough to Categorize

3.1 Consistency (aka The GM Evilan God skill):
If I had a second commandment, it would be this: Be Consistent. One of my greatest PbP GMs had a singular 18 stat: consistency. Every morning he would wake up and post...the next round of combat or the next interplay. EVERY FREAKIN' MORNING...it...was...awesome.

Why? We, as humans, respond to consistency and expectations. It gets us all on a regular schedule. And nothing is better for a PbP game than consistency: when players know the game is always going to move forward, they stay engaged, they stay in-character.

On the other side of the coin, random and fragmented posting is a killer. Unexplained absences, slow posts, and gaps make for a poor game. Your story falters when the details fade from memory. We players lose our connection to the game and our characters when we do not post.

Keep your momentum. Post everyday...and at a set time if you can.

3.2 Posts per Day:
It's fashionable to insist on a post a day from your players. Many players and GMs do not hold to that well. However, that rule doesn't really work for GMs. Here's one that applies: Post at a rate that you can sustain; post as needed to keep momentum. There is only *one* person completely responsible for the game: you.

My GM PbP requirements might look like this: "I'm going to hold you to the same standard as I hold myself: I expect you to post as often as is needed, adjusting to the pace of the group, as set by me. I plan to post at least once per day. When you do post, I expect you to push the action/story/RP or leave/pick up RP hooks. If our pacing changes to the point of negatively impacting your ability to keep up, I hope and expect that you will talk to me earlier rather than later. I promise to do the same if our positions are reversed."

3.3 Corral and Redirect:
Let's be honest: players are yahoos...goofy, silly yahoos (if you are lucky). However, even the best players get lost, lose focus, forget the 'mission', go astray. It's your job to corral them and get them back on track. For me, GM Chris was a master at getting our PbP group back on track or refocused. Look at these posts....

Example #1: OOC Corral Post #1 (Shackled City spoilers) – Party was lost on leads and story. Fixed in one post...

Example #2: ...until we needed more months later. (Shacked City spoilers).

Example #3: Not to mention combat confusion, a good corral post can fix those too...

Example #4: ...until it happens again. It happens. The best person to get things back on track is *you*, the GM. Players will get lost as they deal in the campaign and through the lens of busy lives. It's easy to fix.

Another great example comes from GM Brew:
Example #5: GM Brew answers a bunch of questions in this post. Well done, GM Brew.


3.4 Player Resources:
A good GM uses all of the resources at the table. This sounds obvious, but many games die because things become overwhelming to a GM who tries to do everything himself. If a game has six players, then a GM has not one person, but seven who can help do the work to make it a thriving campaign. If one of the players is an Excel god, relying on him to help with a treasure spread sheet just makes sense. If another has excellent focus, the GM might ask them to give a nudge if it seems like things are bogging down. Every person in the game has an vested interest in making sure it goes well, so don’t be afraid to let them *invest*!

By the same token, invite players over to the OOC to research rules questions. Have a question about how XYZ works? Ask your players to figure things out with you in the OOC. Quoting rules sources or linking to rules pages makes things work. Remember, you can play RAW or RAI or 'WhateverIWant' as long as you're fair, clear, and consistent in your rulings.

Here is another example (link) from the amazing GM Chris. Was the ruling right or wrong? Answer: It doesn't matter...the GM ruled and explained. We players were happy and moved on. Another example.

Players can also help with rules by researching things for you: Check out Atol (here).

Think they are wrong? Take it to the OOC: A powergaming yahoo gets slapped by the GM (next post).

3.5 XP and Leveling:
Assigning XP for encounters is an old and outdated system. If it makes you happy to track such things, then go ahead and do it. For me, the better system is Whenever-I-Feel-Like-It. If you're a GM playing an AP or running your own content, you pretty much know where you want your players to be.

GM Evilan used GP vs. WBL to decide when it was time to level. GM Evilan's Treasure & XP sheet. See the first tab? He used loot to approximate when we would be leveling. As GM you can adjust the loot.

Secondly, when characters level, in addition to having them update any alias information, ask them to either send you their new character sheets or post their new levels in the OOC, pointing out feats, spells, skills, and things of interest.

Hektir Lvl 2
Hektir Lvl 3
Hektir Lvl 4 etc.

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4. In-Game Management Stuff In short, do what works for you and your players. Here is what some fine GMs taught me in the past that worked well.

4.1 Know Monster Checks:

As we mentioned above, we want to both train our players to be good ones and support those characters who have chosen to put ranks into knowledge skills. For me, I love in-character knowledge rolls so that I can participate fully and use my character's skills.

There are two ways to handle them:

  • Put the information in scaling spoilers so that players can roll their knowledges and then read the appropriate spoiler for them. There is a great example from DM Are, here. As a player, I love this approach. However, it doesn't always give the player the chance to ask a specific question. Nonetheless, that is a fine trade off in PbP and you, as GM, can begin to include those answers in the spoilers.

  • The second method is poking your players with a reminder to roll if they want. Example:

    The big blob rushes at you with pseudopods extended! Knowledge (Dungeoneering), DC 18 for 1 question.

Or this example from GM Lithrac.

It's sometimes hard to remember what creature goes with what knowledge. There are plenty of links around to help you remember, including this one:

  • Arcana: constructs, dragons, magical beasts
  • Dungeoneering: aberrations, oozes
  • Local: humanoids (elves, dwarves, goblins, etc.)
  • Nature: animals, fey, monstrous humanoids, plants vermin
  • Planes: elementals, outsiders (demons, devils, angels, archons)
  • Religion: undead

The basic check 10 + the monster's CR. 15 + CR if you feel the monster is rarer. Players can usually get additional information for each 5 that they beat the check. But, as always, this is your game and GM for the most enjoyment for you and your group.

4.2 How to Push:

A good GM prompts, pushing when appropriate. And you will need to learn when to push and when to let things lie. It may take time for you and your group to coalesce. It may take you a while to know when to push and when to wait. Luckily, as you are GM, you can easily ret-con (go back on) actions and fix things if you go too quickly. As I believe there is a greater danger in going slow than quick, I always encourage pushing. Going too fast can be fixed, going too slow makes things harder.

4.2.1 What would you do?:

Check out this perfect push post by GM CC (link). It beautifully describes the actions and prompts the players to react. Granted, you should not need to prompt your players to react, but this sort of push is very effective. What would you do?

4.2.2 Stepping:

GM Cyrioul showed me this neat trick...'Stepping'. And another stepping post. These are great ways to give players a chance to interject or respond as you post a bit of dialogue. It allows for a bigger post AND for responses to them. It reduces the slowness brought on by the give-and-take that long dialogues can have in PbP.

4.2.3 Active Pushing:
It takes a while to learn when you should push and when you should wait. Every group is different and you'll soon learn your players' tendencies. Early on, I would push often, knowing that things can be slowed and retconned. Even after the game is going, at the end of every substantive GM post, you should include a push, usually in OOC text.

Example active pushes:

  • You guys are up.
  • Your options are: explore the kobold lair, go to town, or surprise me.
  • Waiting to hear from Jimbo Von Flumphpants and Sister Heddy Tartar. (Calling out your player's names is better than not. Don't be afraid to emphasize what you need from your players.)
  • You guys need a solution to the weregummybear. It's eaten half the town so far...and the other half is mostly orphanages and brothels.

4.2.4 Reward Your Pushers/Hookers:

You're going to have players that work to include others, move the action forward, and take responsibility for the game. Reward them somehow. Give them praise, highlight their actions, thank them for what they are doing. After all, you want to encourage it.

GM Evilan warns wrote:
”Track how often people post, and caution your heaviest poster just as much as you encourage your weakest poster. The GM should be the heaviest overall poster. If not, consider who is driving the campaign.”

4.2.5 GM PC:
If you have created trust with your players, then it should be easy to liberally use GM PC when appropriate. (GM PC=Having the GM post actions for a player...if they are missing, busy, a requested absence, or just-because-they-feel-like-it.) Knowing when to GM PC depends entirely on your game, your players, and what they are doing.

The best part about GM PCing? You, as GM, can take things back or fix things if they are wrong. The second best part is that it can help you keep momentum and story focus.

4.3 Beware of Doors:

From Oceanshieldwolf:

OSWolf wrote:
”Beware of doors: For some reason, placing a door in front of the PCs will make the game grind to a halt while they prepare to open it. Don't ask me why this happens, it just does.”

In a PbP game, you want to avoid 'doors', that is, unnecessary delays in the game where your players are spending days wondering who is going to open the door. Hopefully, you are training them to push and act, but...just be aware that doors/columns/funky blue lights/NPCs can all be 'doors', that is, barriers to pushing forward.

When you recognize that your players are afraid of a 'door', give them a push.

4.4 Fixing Errors:
Embrace the idea that you are going to make mistakes, do things wrong, miss things, misread, and screw up in a piddlespotting myriad of ways.

What's great about being GM is that you get to deal with them in any way you choose. You can either ignore them or, even better: fix them as best you can, learn from the experience, and move on.

As GM, you can go back in time pretty easily...or issue a story override pretty easily.

Example #1: ”Oops, I screwed up. The pegleg gnome you met back in town? He was actually a 'jittery eskimo firefighter' carrying two harpoons. He also told you that the secret to opening the Tomb of the Tattooed Turnips was weasel grease. You guys need weasel grease.”

Example #2: ”You're totally right, Kast. I missed the deflection bonus from your combat toupee. Take off 6 damage.”

Example #3: ”Oooh...oops! The DC for that Hold Person was supposed to be 14, not 34. Let's go back before the coup de grace, back to Round 2. My bad.”

Example #4: ”Uh...yeah, I made a mistake there. No one has died, but yeah, you all got screwed, but found your way out of the Tavern of the Tepid Teawater. Let's play on.”

4.5 Keeping the Story:

Aubrey the Malformed wrote:

The trick in a campaign for a DM is to keep reasonable fidelity with the overarching plot while allowing the PCs scope to do stuff. It's primarily about decent hooks, and also about rolling with what the PCs do while gently nudging them in the direction of the "good stuff".


PbP, of course, gives a DM plenty of time to think. That actually makes running a plotted campaign that meaningfully includes player actions easier because the DM doesn't have to make immediate decisions if they are surprised by what the players do. It also, of course, makes for good roleplaying, too, but that can be a bit dependent on the writing ability of the players and DM.

Aubrey says it better than I ever could. Have your story and get your players to collaboratively write it.

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5. Running Combats:
Combats (especially the fun ones) can be a confusing mix of actions, delays and readies, spell effects, battlefield control and other good stuff. There are good ways to track them in PbP, but without protocol, they can get confusing. Some combats are easy, simple and can be even mapless (you don't need full detail in every fight). However, especially as you move up in level and skill, you'll want a posting and combat protocol to keep things clear (and even then things will get screwed up).

The key is being clean and ordered so that you and your players can easily see what round it is, what initiative it is, and who is coming up next. In short, it's about clear, communicative posts. Train your players how you want them to post actions and keep clear actions in combat so that you, as GM, can follow what they are doing and adjudicate the combat efficiently. You want to finish one round clearly so you can recap and move to the next.

Combat Things to Do:

  • 5.1 Have your players: Every post, every turn, put up a header with the round and their initiative. In PbP, there is no reason why you should not expect your players to keep track of things as well. Example: Round 1, Init 14.

  • 5.2 GM: When resolving actions or commenting or running a monster, makes a note about who is up next. Example: Amren, then the bad guys, then Garridan and Kast!

  • 5.3 Have new players? Playing with new players to Pathfinder? Or to PbP? Or just making too many mistakes? Ask your players to define their actions each round with OOC text for swift, move, and standard/full round actions. Training your players to think this way will make them better players.

    Exmple #1: Zilch drops his longspear (free), draws his morningstar (move), and swings at the donutbeast! (standard)

    Example #2: Appario draws his bastard sword (free as a part of a move action), Extortion, taking a 5' step (move), smites evil @ donutdevil (swift), and attacks! (standard)

  • 5.4 Tracking: Your players are responsible for tracking conditions gained and spell rounds. Yes, PLAYERS are responsible for accurately keeping track of spells and effects, counting rounds and ability damage and all that. Don't assume all the responsibility...have them clearly track and note both good and bad effects. This is about making your job easier. Then again, if you want track such things, go for it. Just make sure whatever you do, you do it consistently.

    Similarly, your players are responsible for communicating the effects and spells they are casting and making sure other players are using the bonus. When I GM, I don't go back too often to correct for player mistakes...I would rather teach them to play with precision. However, you might have a soul and will be nice enough to allow a late reminder bonus from a Bless spell. I don’t have the patience for being nice when I can train players to be better. It’s hard enough in PbP without going back to fix thing that your players screwed up.

  • 5.5 Stat Blocks: There are two kinds of stat blocks: those that appear under a character's name as a part of their alias, and those that characters can use to include information about their combat modifiers. You should ask your characters to build them to fit what you want to see.

    Alias Stat blocks: Here are some samples I've seen and used over time:
    {spoiler=Stats}F HalfOrc Barrister 2 (HP 15/15 | AC:15 | T:12 | FF:13 | CMB: +1 | CMD:16 | Fort:+4 | Ref:+2 | Will:+3 | Init:+2| Perc: +5 | Speed: 30 ft.{/spoiler}

    {spoiler=Taldan Magicky Guy}AC 16/12/14 (+4 w/Mage Armor) /HP: 30 / F +2 R +3 W +5 / Init. +4 / Perc. +15/ Sense Motive +1 {/spoiler}

    An End of Combat Post stat block might include very different information, including current spell effects, abilities, class features, and whatever else might be important to the active situation.

    In the past, I've used some like this:

    {spoiler=Dyrant Status}
    AC: 19 (+5 Dex, +4 MageArmor)
    HP: 120/120
    Weapon Equipped = AngelRelic
    Blessing of St. Cuthbert (+3 AC/Saves) = Cog/Atol
    Healing Touched Today =
    Favor of St. Cuthbert =
    Connection Hex = Finneas
    Fly: 1 of 14 minutes used
    Fly, current iteration: 3 of 10 rounds used
    Metamagic Rod Extend (1/3 used)
    Metamagic Rod Acid (0/3 used)
    Metamagic Rod Silent (0/3 used)
    AngelRelic (Staff of Fire) 9/10
    Wand of Displacement 4/12 charges
    Wand of Fly 20/28 charges
    Scarab of Protection: 20 SR & 5/12 charges
    Heroism, Extended
    Mage Armor
    Fly {/spoiler}

    Or, for a spellcaster: {spoiler=Spazzes} Force Missile (0/7 used), Lvl 1 (0/8 used), Lvl 2 (1/5 used){/spoiler}

    And an example of an in-combat status block:
    HP 23/35. AC 22 (total defense)
    Active Spell Effects:
    Divine Favor: 3/10 rounds used
    Longstider: 4 hours
    Barkskin: 40 minutes
    Smite: 0/1 left today.

    5.6 Combat Modifiers: Ensure that players clearly show their combat modifiers when they attack, calling out common (and uncommon) bonii that they are applying. Train them to show things like cover and firing-into-combat penalties clearly. Don't let them make your job harder. Train them to do it right.

    Example #1:
    Kast stabs at the kobold:
    1d20 + 8 + 1 - 1 + 2 ⇒ (8) + 8 + 1 - 1 + 2 = 18 to hit; (+bless, -power attack, +flank)
    1d8 + 4 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 4 + 2 = 9 piercing damage. (+power attack)

    Example #2: See here how a complicated combat post can be cleaned up.

    5.7 GM Spells: When one of your goons casts a spell (and the party can both see and hear it), the pro move is to describe the effect (in open text), and put a spoiler for your players who might want to spellcraft it.

    Example:
    The donutbeast chants words of arcane power, wiggling its sprinkles deliciously. The chocolate glazing seems fuller, sweeter, more delicious.
    {spoiler=Spellcraft DC 17}The donutbeast casts Chocolatify on himself.{/spoiler}

    5.8 Player Spells: Insist that when your players cast a (less well known) spell, that they write out the name of the spell, a link to a source, and give the DC clearly.
    Example: Kast casts Cause Fear on the goblin! DC 14 Will save vs frightened.

    5.9 Adjudicating Actions Players are going to post confusing and often contradictory actions...it is a part of the PbP game. Thankfully, you have the ability to adjudicate as you see fit: you can either correct or amend actions to fit or ask for an action to be redone. If you've built good trust with your players, your changes will be quicker for the game and the overall health of your group.

    Train your players to communicate with you about your adjudications. Players have to be willing to let go control for minor things e.g. You can't move that far, I'll put you here instead. or Player 1 killed that kobold, you moved here to attack kobold #2. Be careful you don't control too much - the players are in control of their characters. Keep the changes you make in-character.

    5.10 Round Recap: The GM types up a quick note about what happened in the last round. This is incredibly valuable to your players. This creates a great amount of trust and certainty in your game as players know you've read their posts and responded to them. The combat recap is the best combat tool you have for ensuring a clear and fun game.

    DM_Euan wrote:

    Briar manages to miss all his shots, but one of his hidden allies manages a successful swing - though it does only a little damage after reduction. Charlie moves up into position and summons a water elemental to flank with Nikolay. Barael flails about with his bow a moment before settling into a rhythm and hitting once. His precision damage seems to have worked which is good as less damage is done than he feels there should be. Fondo digs down and finds Barael’s blade resting in a puddle in the rock. He then pulls out a potion. Nikolay continues to dig deeply into the creature though the pain shooting through his limbs is hindering him visibly as he connects once, but does not confirm the critical. All the fire damage seems to go through and the smell of burning flesh fills the air, mingling with the bile of the breath weapon and the sweat and fear of combat. Dandilion moves up behind some rocks and rips a new hand out of the ether for her use.

    Kleestad continues to press his advantage on the most troubling opponent in the room so far - Nikolay!

    [dice=KL Claw]1d20+21 to hit; 3d6+24 damage;
    [dice=KL Claw]1d20+21 to hit; 3d6+24 damage;
    [dice=KL Bite]1d20+18 to hit; 3d6+24 damage;

    -Round 4-
    Briar - 20 (10’ up)
    IS1 - 20 (10’ up)
    IS2 - 20 (10’ up)
    Charlie - 18
    Air Elemental - 18 (5’ up)(-36hp)(-1str)(in pain)
    Water Elemental - 18
    Barael - 16 (-13hp)(greater invisibility)
    Fondo - 14 (invisible)
    Nikolay - 12 (15’ up)
    ...

  • Bottom line: Run the combats as you see fit. My long standing games have developed these systems to reduce the strain on GMs for adjudicating the chaos of combat. You should run the system that works for you...just make it clear to the players what you expect.

    * * * * *

    In the end, the only way we’re going to have better PbP games is if you GMs train better players. And when we have better players, we’ll have better GMs and better games.

    Let’s create a great PbP Community full of good players and GMs that welcomes new players.

    -Pain

    TL:DR:

    Finish what you start.
    Don't start a PbP unless you can finish it.

    Set your game up right.
    Set clear expectations.
    Promote communication and community.
    Use all of your resources; share the load.
    Get your maps set *BEFORE* you start.

    Train your players.
    Praise in Public, Criticize in Personal Message/Private.
    Don't be afraid to cut bad players.
    Hold players to your standards.

    Post Everyday. Be Consistent.
    Post at a rate that you can sustain; post as needed to keep momentum.

    Learn to Push your players and your posts.
    Keep up your momentum.

    Run good combats that make things easy on you.
    Train your players to make things easy on you.

    The Exchange ***

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    Hey All You Magnificent PFS Piddlespotters--

    In the past, we've detailed our games, our meets, our greets, and our beerings. There are some good memories stored up in the threads of yesterPFS:

    2011 PFS PaizoCon Bloggery
    2012 PFS PaizoCon Bloggery (w/Grand Convocation and massive Banquet spoilers)
    2013 PFS PaizoCon Bloggery (w/GenCon Special Run)

    You really should have your names/thoughts/games immortalized in this new thread...whether you're attending or not.

    As most of you know, I believe PFS's core is a social community and so whether you can make it to Paizocon or not, I hope that you will participate.

    For you attendees:

    • Post about whom you've met and where they are from.
    • Post about the games you're playing in, with whom, and fun details. (Avoid spoilers...and use spoiler tags if you're going to spoil!)
    • Post about extraPFSular activities.
    • Get others to share their feedback from PaizoCon.
    • Post links to pictures and media.
    • Post about neat characters you've played with.
    • Post any cool 'tricks' you've learned.
    • Post about the sessions and talks you've attended.
    • Post about how awesome your judges have been and what things they did well. Heck, even thank them.

    For you non-attendees:

    • Tell us what sessions you want reports from;
    • Questions you want us to ask and to whom;
    • Things you want to know about;
    • Give lip/guff/sass/snark to PFS board personalities you know (or don't...either way, sass is encouraged).

    I, like usual, promise nothing...except that I'll be twisting some arms of people here to join me in describing their experience playing PFS this weekend and the people that make it happen.

    This might be the last Bloggery for me for a while. Rumor has it that PaizoCon will be moving to Memorial Day weekend, which means many PFSers will be supporting their local conventions (like Kublacon). However, that doesn't mean this PaizoCon won't rock.

    -Pain

    The Exchange

    5 people marked this as a favorite.

    Greetings Mortals--

    You don't like me and I don't like you, but that doesn't mean that we can't rock PbP.

    My latest guide: How to Play-by-Post.

    Not all is perfectly applicable to PFS, but much will help make you a better player.

    Your thoughts and opinions are appreciated.

    -Pain

    p.s. Love it up, Caubo. Someday, you and I are going to meet.

    The Exchange

    169 people marked this as a favorite.

    Greetings Mortals--

    For those of you who are new to PbP, the format is *THE* best pure Pathfinder experience there is. It allows for a depth in roleplaying and character development that is not possible in a F2F (face to face, aka tabletop) game. In fact, I prefer PbP to my regular games: for the quality of character development and totality of roleplaying combined with the pure strategic/combat geekery that a good, updated map can provide.

    This entire post builds on concepts established by Doomed Hero in his epic post: DHs Guide to Play By Post Gaming. Doomed does a great job of outlining conventions and common styles that carry through to most of my PbPs.

    I've played in some awfully bad PbPs. Thankfully, I've also been blessed with some *amazing* PbPs. The two biggest factors involved are the strength of the GM and the skill of players. It's tough being a good GM...even tougher to be a good PbP GM.

    Pathfinder, like life, is a skill, and you can become better at playing. As we become better players, it allows our GMs to present a better game. Good Pathfinder play is a series of skills and the more you play, the more opportunities you have to improve those skills. Some of these skills are shared with F2F and tabletop, but others are unique to PbP. In order, consider the following when you're trying to be the best PbPer you can be:

    #1: Become a Master of the Push and of the Hook:

    Always Be Pushing. (ABP!) A, Always. B, Be. P, Pushing. Always be pushing. This is the most important thing you can do as a PbP player. It's not about posting often or quickly, it's about doing stuff when you post. It's about pushing your character's involvement in the story forward. Whenever you can, push the action, push the direction, push the party along. PbP is already a slow format, so try to make it better by pushing while giving others a chance to respond, of course. To reiterate: it's not the frequency of your posts, but what actions you take through them.

    Examples of good push posts:

    Good push post #1.

    Good push post #2.

    Good players push...rarely leaving a post that doesn't move things along or offer a hook. That momentum will make it easier for the GM and other players to act and react as necessary. It's easier for a GM to slow things down if necessary, rather than create something from nothing. Do this because it can make your GM's job easier.

    Embrace hooks: leave them everywhere. In PbP terms, a hook is a call to action, a point of interest, a *something* that someone else can react. It's hard to react in a vacuum, much easier to react to what others are doing and what else is happening. So try to have a hook in every post!

    Compare the following two posts and pretend you're next to post:

    Post #1: Hektir enters the room and looks around. 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (12) + 4 = 16 Perception

    Post #2: Hektir enters the room, spits, and looks around. "Smells like goblin farts in here," Hektir says, sniffing the air. 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (7) + 4 = 11 Perception

    Which post would you rather respond to? The second sets up a few more opportunities, if ever so slight. You might react to the spit on the ground, noticing it only when you make (or fail) your perception check. Or you might ask how Hektir knows what goblin farts smell like. Or comment on Hektir sniffing. When you reply, you should try to leave a hook (or 2) of your own.

    Always look for other people's hooks when you're setting up your own. Try to respond to them in a way that can both encourage their character to elaborate while expounding on yours. An excellent Play-by-Post isn't simply the combats, with each characters' stories bordering it like a frame- it is a rich tapestry of a thousand threads, woven together to create the beautiful whole.

    Embrace the Important Soft Push/Hook: There are times when you are just waiting for the GM or the other players to post, but 24 hours have passed. That's the time for the Soft Push/Hook- a post that doesn't do anything but bump your interest in the thread and what's happening. They are important to show that you're still alive, engaged and helping others stay engaged by giving them something to react.

    Good soft push/hook post #1.

    Good soft push/hook post #2.

    #2: Social Skills: Acknowledge & React:

    Pathfinder is a social game. Pathfinder involves interactive social skills whether it's around a table or over the Intratoobz. Your ability to work with others, create trust, and thank others will go a long way towards making your game better. These skills apply in real life, but tend to show up differently in PbP.

    Acknowledge & Thank Awesomeness: When someone does something awesome, acknowledge it. Great roleplaying? Say so. Something make you laugh? You blew coffee all over your keyboard? Put in an LOL! or LOL@<name> into your next post. Use the "favorite this post" to show your appreciation. It matters. You'll know when you start getting them, and you'll feel inspired to create better posts. Start today, by thanking and acknowledging good posts in your PbPs. Others will feel it too...and reciprocate.

    React: There is a static and boring trope about being stonyfaced and unreacting when things happen. Well, it's boring in PbP. Good stuff happens when people react to things that are happening. Reacting gives others hooks and creates interest. Reacting ties your character to other characters. Find ways to react. Find ways to interact. Interaction is part of the social nature of this game.

    Socialize, dammit!: Remember that you and your fellow players are people that have come together to play. Find ways to talk to others outside the IC and OOC threads. In most of my current games, I have connection with players via GoogleChat (via Trillian) or a Facebook Private Group that we can about in-game and out-of-game stuff. Getting to know the other players has only enhanced my connections to their characters and to the roleplaying.

    #3: Roleplay with no limits:

    Character Tips:

    • Embrace the depth of your backstory even if no one else will read it: In F2F, it can be hard and time consuming to explain how one's childhood and upbringing lead to the creation of the character before you. In PbP, you can explore those experiences and expound on them, drawing upon them when needed. Some of your players will read it, some won't...but that's neither here nor there. What matters is how much background and color you want to add. Stick your long history in spoiler or on your alias.
    • Be 'humanly' wrong sometimes: Be humanly imperfect (even if you're not playing a human). Imperfect characters draw in the reader and create a connection that is common amongst us all. Imperfection is relate-able and you can use those imperfections in your roleplaying. Be an elf chauvinist pig. Or a deeply narrow-minded religious yahoo. Or a salty sea elf. Take the gloves off and be something.
    • People aren't perfectly static: Neither are good characters. The PbP format is a perfect chance to establish a narrative that shows change over time. (You can go from good to bad or bad to good, but do something!)
    • Find motivation: Having 'real' motivation for your character is extremely important- the answer to the question: "Why are you here risking your life?" I want to play with characters who truly believe that they need to save the Princess/World/McGuffin based on strong motivations for wanting to do so...and they should be interesting and relevant.

    Play Tips:

    • Painlord's PbP First Rule: Post something everyday (unless it's a known hiatus). Even if it's a null post, put something up. Remind others that someone is waiting on someone. Keep your momentum going and your thoughts on what's happening. I sometimes fail at this, but I try. Everyday.
    • Painlord's PbP Rule of Two: Designed to reduce dithering, this rule suggests that after one character has suggested an action (or course of action) and it is seconded, that's what the party does and the GM should go along those lines. The other players are still welcome to post other actions, but the GM may assume that the seconded action is where/what the party is going/doing. This helps keep momentum moving AND reduces the stress on the GM on knowing when to proceed.
    • RAW vs. RAI (hat tip: GM Evilan): My GM has this statement and it's a wonderful one: "As a rule I play the rules as intended rather than strictly as written. There will be exceptions of course and we can’t always tell what RAI is supposed to be. More importantly I may change a rule now and again for the story. The story is what is important - the story the players and I are writing together. If that story conflicts with a rule now and then, I’m likely to ignore or modify the rule for that instance. However, the rules are there so we all know what to expect out of the environment, so it will not happen with any frequency.""
    • Give detailed actions when you post in combat: Don't make the GM (or your fellow players) guess at what your are doing. When attacking, you should have your location marked and both your standard and move actions accounted for. Your attack strings should have all the modifiers laid out so that it's clear how you are getting your conditional modifiers.

      Two good combats posts in a row.
      Good combat post.

      The point is that you want to make this easy on your GM. You want to be great at PbP? Make it easy for others to play with you.

    Create trust by giving trust:
    Trust is like the rope bridge across the chasm; it really doesn't matter all that much who goes first, but if no one does, the group doesn't get anywhere. Someone HAS to go first, so it might as well be you. The other players, including the GM, are most likely there for the same reason you are- to have a good time! Just like you, they're going to do their best, and just like you, they're going to screw up once in awhile. And all of that is OK because the real secret to Play-by-Post fun is that the story is more important than the rules!

    A Play-by-Post will survive bad rolls, bad calls, and bad builds, but mistrust can suck the life right out of the game. Most GMs are open to questions, but extended arguing slows an already slow process and shuts down trust. Trust the GM to listen to what you have to say, then let them make the decision. Trust the other players to play honestly. Trust yourself to be able to roll or role with whatever comes out of it.

    Roleplaying doesn't work if your fellow players don't trust you...and if you don't trust your fellow players. A *huge* part of roleplaying is trusting your fellow players to respond in kind, not take in-character things too seriously, and understand that this is a game.

    Part of me believes that overcoming fear of failure is essential to roleplaying. Personally, I would rather fail in my task/mission than fail to act in-character. I have to trust that things will work out in the end...and if my character would do X (within reason), he should probably do it and rejoice the earned outcome rather than metagame towards what will earn his 'reward'.

    PbP-The Bug is a Feature:

    Of course, there are some "negatives" to PbP play, but how you handle them is more a function of you as a person than anything else. Some players see the slow play as a negative: always waiting for someone else to post. I see slow play as opportunity to craft a better response or focus on next actions. Down times and slow periods are opportunities rather than problems. Use downtime to ponder your responses or open up other avenues of RP. Or just be patient. PbP isn't an immediate gratification game...it's a long con that you're writing with others.

    As always, your thoughts and thoughtful disagreements are welcome.

    -Pain

    p.s. Thanks to GM Angry Ankheg and GM Evilan for their help with this. Also, thanks to The Rat for his chitterings.

    The Exchange ***

    6 people marked this as a favorite.

    Dear All You Magnificent PFS Piddlespotters--

    I don't like you and you don't like me, but that doesn't mean that we can't have another awesome PaizoCon thread of Bloggery. In the past, we've detailed our games, our meets, our greets, and our beerings. There are some good memories stored up in the threads of yesterPFS:

    2011 PFS PaizoCon Bloggery
    2012 PFS PaizoCon Bloggery (w/Grand Convocation and massive Banquet spoilers)

    You really should have your names/thoughts/games immortalized in this new thread...whether you're attending or not.

    As most of you know, I believe PFS's core is a social community and so whether you can make it to Paizocon or not, I hope that you will participate.

    For you attendees:

    • Post about whom you've met and where they are from.
    • Post about the games you're playing in, with whom, and fun details. (Avoid spoilers...and use spoiler tags if you're going to spoil!)
    • Post about extraPFSular activities.
    • Get others to share their feedback from PaizoCon.
    • Post links to pictures and media.
    • Post about neat characters you've played with.
    • Post any cool 'tricks' you've learned.
    • Post about the sessions and talks you've attended.
    • Post about how awesome your judges have been and what things they did well. Heck, even thank them.

    For you non-attendees:

    • Tell us what sessions you want reports from;
    • Questions you want us to ask and to whom;
    • Things you want to know about;
    • Give lip/guff/sass to PFS board personalities you know (or don't...either way, sass is encouraged).

    I, like usual, promise nothing...except that I'll be twisting some arms of people here to join me in describing their experience playing PFS this weekend and the people that make it happen.

    -Pain

    p.s.:
    No Baird? No DougDoug (namedrop)? Maybe no DMoon? In a way, I'll miss them because they're like family.

    In another more accurate way, they're yahoos that maybe I really don't need to see every year.


    Hmmm...

    Let's pretend I have a Saurian Shaman druid.

    I just want to confirm what I think is true before I screw it up.

    Wild Shape, Saurian style:

    At 6th level, a saurian shaman’s wild shape ability functions at her druid level –2. If she takes on the form of a reptile or a dinosaur, she instead uses her druid level +2.

    Not counting Totem Transformation (which I think is pretty darn clear), at what level can this Saurian Shaman begin using wild shape?

    Eh?) At level 2, but for dinosaur forms only as a level 4 druid would.

    Bee!) At level 4, but dinosaur forms only and as a level 6 druid would.

    See?) At level 6, as a level 4 druid for most forms, as a level 8 druid for dinosaur forms.

    Dí) Something else.

    What say you?

    -Briar

    Edited for clarity.

    The Exchange ***

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    I'm not sure all of you follow Brock on the Facebook, but this here points to all sorts of zaniness at PaizoCon UK, the Grand Convocation: Goblin Songs & Olaf.

    After seeing that video, I:
    a) fear for the very sanity of our dear Brock;
    b) understand that he must be under tremendous Goblin strain;
    c) wish I was there too.

    I hope to get more updates on the chaos over the next few days.

    -Pain

    Edit: Goblin Frostfur Song.

    Anyone know the board aliases of the PFS leaders of them there goblins?

    The Exchange ***

    3 people marked this as a favorite.

    Dear All You Magnificent Piddlespotters--

    I don't like you and you don't like me, but that doesn't mean that we can't have another awesome PaizoCon thread of Bloggery. Last year, we 'blogged' the heck of Paizocon. This year, I'd like to do better and do more.

    As most of you know, I believe PFS's core is a social community and so whether you can make it to Paizocon or not, I hope that you will participate. I hope that you'll share your experience, comments, and funny PFS-related stories and whatnot with others.

    I'm inviting both you attendees and non-attendees to help 'blog' the events at Paizocon in this thread.

    For you attendees:

    • Post about whom you've met and where they are from.
    • Post about the games you're playing in, with whom, and fun details. (Avoid spoilers...and use spoiler tags if you're going to spoil!)
    • Post about extraPFSular activities.
    • Get others to share their feedback from PaizoCon.
    • Post links to pictures and media.
    • Post about neat characters you've played with.
    • Post any cool 'tricks' you've learned.
    • Post about the sessions and talks you've attended.
    • Post about how awesome your judges have been and what things they did well. Heck, even to thank them.

    For you non-attendees: Tell us who you want us to talk to, questions you want us to ask, and things you want to know about so we can try to find those answers for you.

    I, like usual, promise nothing...except that I'll be twisting some arms of people here to join me in describing their experience playing PFS this weekend and the people that make it happen.

    -Pain

    The Exchange

    Hey All--

    With pleasure I announce that the Warhorn for Pacificon 2012 is open for sign-ups.

    We have a heck of a schedule this year:

    • The 2012 GenCon Special: Race for the Runecarved Key
    • Blood Under Absalom (last year's special over two slots)
    • 1 (if not two) sessions of Eyes of the Ten
    • Greg Vaughn as our Celebrity Guest

    We also have some of the best GMs in country in the Bay Area and will be offering the following for PFS play:

    Pacificon Schedule:

    Fri: 2-6:
    #3-00 Intro 1, 2, or 3 (level 1)
    #3-23 The Goblinoid Dead (1-5)
    #3-EX: The Cyphermage Dilemma (1-5)
    Mod: We Be Goblins (special)
    #3-16 The Midnight Mauler (3-7)
    Mod: No Response from Deepmar: Part 1 (7-9)
    #3-20 The Rats of Round Mountain Part I: The Sundered Path (7-11)
    #1-46 Eyes of the Ten Part I: Requiem for the Red Raven (level 12)

    Fri: 7-11:
    #3-00 Intro 1, 2, or 3 (level 1)
    #3-18 The God's Market Gamble (1-5)
    #3-21 The Temple of Empyreal Enlightenment (1-5)
    Mod: Dawn of the Scarlett Sun (4-6)
    #3-25 Storming the Diamond Gate (3-7)
    Mod: No Response from Deepmar: Part 2 (7-9)
    #3-24 The Golden Serpent (5-9)
    #3-22 The Rats of Round Mountain Part II: Pagoda of the Rat (7-11)
    #2-04 Shadows Fall on Absalom (7-11)
    #3-17 Red Harvest (7-11)
    #1-46 Eyes of the Ten Part I: Requiem for the Red Raven (cont.)

    Sat: 9-1:
    #3-00 Intro 1, 2, or 3 (level 1)
    #4-01 Rise of the Goblin Guild (1-5)
    #3-23 The Goblinoid Dead (1-5)
    #4-02 In Wrath's Shadow (3-7)
    Mod: No Response from Deepmar: Part 3 (7-9)
    #4-03 The Golemworks Incident (5-9)
    #4-04 King of the Storval Stairs (7-11)
    #2-10 Fury of the Fiend (7-11)
    #1-54 Eyes of the Ten - Part II: The Twofold Demise (level 12)

    Sat: 2-6:
    Gen Con Special - Part I

    Sat: 7-11:
    Gen Con Special - Part II

    Sun: 9-1:
    #3-00 Intro 1, 2, or 3 (level 1)
    #3-19 The Icebound Outpost (1-5)
    #3-09 The Quest for Perfection Part I: the Edge of Heaven (1-5)
    #2-15 Shades of Ice Part I: Written in Blood (1-5)
    Mod: The Midnight Mirror: Part I (3-5)
    #3-25 Storming the Diamond Gate (3-7)
    #3-12 Wonders in the Weave Part I: The Dog Pharaoh's Tomb (5-9)
    Mod: The Ruby Phoenix Tournament: Part I (10-12)
    #4-04 King of the Storval Stairs (7-11)
    #2-12 Below the Silver Tarn (7-11)
    #1-46 Eyes of the Ten Part I: Requiem for the Red Raven (Level 12)
    #2-05 Eyes of the Ten - Part III: Red Revolution (level 12)

    Sun: 2-6:
    #3-00 Intro 1, 2, or 3 (level 1)
    #4-01 Rise of the Goblin Guild (1-5)
    #3-11 The Quest for Perfection Part II: On Hostile Waters (1-5)
    #2-17 Shades of Ice Part II: Exiles of Winter (1-5)
    #3-18 The God's Market Gamble (1-5)
    Mod: The Midnight Mirror: Part II (3-5)
    #4-02 In Wrath's Shadow (3-7)
    #3-24 The Golden Serpent (5-9)
    #3-14 Wonders in the Weave Part II: Snakes in the Fold (5-9)
    Mod: The Ruby Phoenix Tournament: Part II (10-12)
    #3-20 The Rats of Round Mountain Part I: The Sundered Path (7-11)
    #2-08 The Sarkosian Prophesy (7-11)
    #2-22 Eyes of the Ten - Part IV: Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained (level 12)
    #1-46 Eyes of the Ten Part I: Requiem for the Red Raven (cont.) (Level 12)

    Sun: 7-11:
    #3-00 Intro 1, 2, or 3 (level 1)
    #3-EX: The Cyphermage Dilemma (1-5)
    #3-13 The Quest for Perfection Part III: Defenders of Nesting Swallow (1-5)
    #2-19 Shades of Ice Part III: Keep of the Huscarl King (1-5)
    #3-21 The Temple of Empyreal Enlightenment (1-5)
    #4-01 Rise of the Goblin Guild (1-5)
    Mod: The Midnight Mirror: Part III (3-5)
    #3-25 Storming the Diamond Gate (3-7)
    #3-15 The Haunting of Hinojai (5-9)
    #4-03 The Golemworks Incident (5-9)
    Mod: The Ruby Phoenix Tournament: Part III (10-12)
    #3-22 The Rats of Round Mountain Part II: Pagoda of the Rat (7-11)
    #3-26 Portal of the Sacred Rune (7-11)
    #1-54 Eyes of the Ten - Part II: The Twofold Demise (Level 12)

    Mon: 9-1:
    #3-00 Intro 1, 2, or 3 (level 1)
    Blood Under Absalom Part I (1-11)
    Mod: We Be Goblins (special)
    #0-03 Murder on the Silken Caravan (1-5)
    #4-02 In Wrath's Shadow (3-7)
    #0-20 King Xeros of Old Azlant (7-11)
    #4-04 King of the Storval Stairs (7-11)
    #2-05 Eyes of the Ten - Part III: Red Revolution (level 12)

    Mon: 2-6:
    #3-00 Intro 1, 2, or 3 (level 1)
    Blood Under Absalom Part II (1-11)
    #0-03 Murder on the Silken Caravan (1-5)
    Mod: Dawn of the Scarlett Sun (4-6)
    #2-22 Eyes of the Ten - Part IV: Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained (level 12)

    Located at the Santa Clara Marriott Hotel. You can buy Con badges and get hotel info here: Pacificon 2012.

    Let the awesome continue.

    -Pain

    p.s. Please don't confuse this with our production thread where we are codifying our convention planning process for others. This thread here is for rocking this convention.

    The Exchange

    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    Greetings Mortals-

    I love Organized Play conventions. I started going to them during my Living Greyhawk days (Theocracy of the the Pale), then moreso during my run in LFR, and when I started the Bay Area Pathfinder Society...it turns out that I started to run local PFS play at our local conventions.

    I believe conventions are really important to building a local PFS community. In the Bay Area, we have PFS play in 10 different locations and those players get to come and melt and play together each and every convention. For me, I love seeing the same yahoos every convention and catching up and playing games. It's a part of building community.

    In the Bay Area, we are blessed to have 4 great local conventions: DunDraCon (February), Conquest Sacramento (March), Kublacon (Memorial Day), and now Pacificon (Labor Day). We are about 10 weeks out from Pacificon and our Bay Area team has begun planning...and we're going to do it openly.

    Pacificon 2012 (August 31 to Sept 3, SF Area, CA) is going to rock this year. The "Cincorate" (the 5 yahoos of the planning team) started planning with the following goals:

    • Have a well-run, great fun Con.
    • Run 150 tables of PFS.
    • Train a few people on how to do things so that we have the next generation of Convention Coordinators ready.
    • Have a broad base of GM support from all our different local Lodges, including many new GMs.
    • Run the GenCon Special.
    • Run 1 or 2 tables of Eyes of the Ten.
    • Run a few tables of the Ruby Phoenix Tournament.
    • Run a few more adapted scenarios.
    • Run a slew of the newest PFS scenarios as long as old favorites

    The point of this thread will be to discuss our planning process for Pacificon. We have 10 weeks until Pacificon.

    The Cincorate and I will be posting to this thread all the stuff we're doing to plan and prepare for Pacificon. I know that we don't have the best convention practices (yet), but I hope that all y'all will share your experiences as well and so that the ability to run a good PFS convention becomes less of a mystery and more certain.

    -Pain

    p.s. The "Cincorate" (the planning team for Pacificon):

    Verdigris, aka the Amazing Walking Wondrous Item
    VL Brent H. (Sacramento)
    VL Jerry C. (South Bay)
    Lady Ophelia
    A Yahoo

    p.p.s. If any of you want to be invited to our next planning meeting or be more involved in this, please drop me a PM or email. See my alias for contact info.

    The Exchange

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Holy Piddlespot!

    Check out this Video of Awesome. It's our judge rewards for Kublacon. I'm really excited for this Con and I want more of you all to be there.

    (Coin Designer link: Markusdark Alias link: Markusdark)

    Two years ago, PFS started play at Kublacon with 19 tables over 10 slots. Last year, we over tripled that to 77 tables over 10 slots.

    This year, we are up to 150+ tables of PFS goodness, 4 VCs, 4 VLs, the PFS Campaign Coordinator, a real Pirate, sweet ass judge rewards, a Shivok, a sloth, and one of my favorite players on the planet.

    Our Bay Area judge pool has really stepped up. We have over 30+ local judges who are judging 3 slots. Only one judge is doing more than 5...because he prefers to judge. Everyone else is stepping up to do a bit and contribute back to the Society.

    Though a combination of sweet rewards and asking appropriately, we already have 140+ of the 150+ tables filled with judges.

    And there is still room for you. Memorial Day Weekend - May 25-28.

    KUBLACON 2012.
    Burlingame, CA (San Francisco Airport) Btw, it's free airport shuttle from SFO Airport to the hotel...it's easy transportation.
    Scenario list.

    There is still time for you to get there.

    -Pain

    The Exchange ***

    24 people marked this as a favorite.

    Hey All--

    As you might know, I love finding ways to promote better play. I want to play with good players...and I hope by playing with better players that I might eventually become a good player myself. (Someday.)

    As such, I love this thread on roleplay mastery by HolmesandWatson. I'm not sure I really understand it all, but love to chew off a piece to think about once in a while.

    In addition, them Canadians up in Ontario have a local player named Mergy who has been writing some local blogs to his gaming community. With his permission, I've linked them below. I love them. They are really good introductions to better play.

    Mergy’s Methods: Excellent Equipage Episode I
    Mergy’s Methods: Stable Statistics
    Mergy’s Methods: Excellent Equipage II
    Mergy’s Methods: Excellent Equipage III
    Mergy’s Methods: Tangible Tactics
    Mergy’s Methods: Tangible Tactics Two
    Mergy’s Methods: A Rogue By Any Other Name
    Mergy’s Methods: A Multitude of Maneuvers

    So...anyone else have a thread that might be good for this thread?

    -Pain

    The Exchange

    6 people marked this as a favorite.

    Title: Why I am leaving the Pathfinder Society, by Thorne, the Most Powerful Mage in *All* Absalom

    4712-03-14
    TODAY is my last day at the Society.

    After almost 12 levels, first as a summer recruit, then in the Grand Lodge, and now in working in Sothis, I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people, and its global quest for artifact hording. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.

    To put the problem in the simplest terms: the interests of the Decemvirate continue to be focused solely on the acquisition of artifacts and knowledge not destined for the good of Golarion. This is achieved at the expense of humanoid-kind, the natural environment, tombs of long-dead Osirian monarchs, and various Azlanti ruins. The Pathfinder Society is one of the world’s largest and most important artifact and historical heritage collectors and it is too integral to global procurement to continue to act this way. The Society has veered so far from the place I joined right out of the lodge that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.

    The Society is one of the Golarion's largest and most important adventuring organizations and has too much potential as a peacekeeper and global sheriff to continue to act this way. The Society has veered so far from the place I joined right out of Grand Lodge that I can no longer in good conscience point menacingly (with words of arcane power on my lips) and say that I identify with what it stands for.

    For more than two years, I trained and adventured with my fellow pathfinders, some of whom were unworthy copycats, through our grueling adventuring process (Explore. Report. Cooperate.) In 4710, I managed the summer expedition to recover in strange artifacts in Osirion with the 4 to 5 other recruits who made the cut.

    I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer explain to my fellow Pathfinders about what was happening to our returned artifacts with any certainty nor what the Decemvirate intended to do with them.

    What happens to them after the Decemvirate gets the returned and acquired knowledge and artifacts? The Society changed the way it thought about acquisition of knowledge and power. Knowledge used to be about ideas, setting an example, and using that knowledge to the betterment of Golarion. Today, if you make enough prestige you will be promoted into a position of influence, even if you have no idea about the true motives of the Society.

    What are four quick ways to become a leader in the Society? a) Execute numerous successful missions in which you risk your life. b) 'Hunt Oliphants'. In Common: - manipulate a massive Society-wide shadow conspiracy against the Society itself then leverage that shadow war into a seat as a Faction Head. c) Orchestrate numerous assassinations against the Decemvirate while working from the inside (Note: might end badly). d) Betray one's own chosen faction by assisting other factions and seeking their assistance in return, all in the pursuit of fame.

    When I was a first-year recruit I didn't know what a wayfinder was, or how to tie my wrist sheathes with magic, or what wand I should purchase with my first 2 PA. I was taught to be concerned with learning to draw a weapon while moving, finding out what a Meteor Hammer was, and memorizing the correct spells so I could incinerate my foes with a single spell.

    My proudest moments in life - when the Shadow Lodge attacked Absalom, fighting through the streets of Absalom then avoiding acidification at the hands of a ancient lizard - have all come through hard work, with no shortcuts.

    The Society today has become too much about shortcuts to artifacts and knowledge and not enough about making Golarion better for anyone. It just doesn’t feel right to me anymore.

    I hope this can be a wake-up call. I hope that the knowledge that the Society has gained over the last two years can be used to make Golarion great again: what is the point of uncovering lost knowledge if not to use it to remake the mistakes of the past? We need to weed out the morally bankrupt people, no matter how many dinosaurs they can summon, how many assassinations they execute based on orders from their Faction Heads, or how many weapons they use to flurry. And get the culture right again, so people want to join the Society for something more than the nihilistic pursue of knowledge for the pursuit's sake. People who care only about knowledge will not sustain this Society — or the trust of its Pathfinders — for very much longer.

    Knowledge (Current Reality) DC 20:

    The Exchange ***

    3 people marked this as a favorite.

    Greetings Mortals--

    Who's ready to crunch some data?!!!?! w00t!! Data!! w00t!!

    ::crickets::

    I said: Who's ready to crunch some data?!!!?!

    ::crickets::

    *sigh*

    Anyhoot, here you go: Survey Data and Quick Stats

    Note:
    This data has been order-randomized. IP addresses, date information, & comments have been removed to ensure anonymity of the responders.

    The two tabs of stats are the 501 PFS players who said they played PFS and the 32 people who are not PFS players yet took the survey anyway.

    As far as surveys go, that was a pretty good response rate. The raw data might not tell us much, but we've have some amazing PFS Community members working on cool data analysis right now.

    That link should be to a easily downloadable GoogleDoc wherein you can take the data and perform what rituals that you must.

    Here's what I ask of you:
    1) Feel free to play with the dataset and identify neat things that we have in common (or striking comparisons).
    2) Describe what data set you're using (all submissions, GMs only, those who play more than once a week, etc.).
    3) Post your statistical conclusions.
    4) Post how you've massaged and managed the data openly and clearly.
    5) Post statistical reference, as necessary.
    6) (Optional): Post what conclusions you think can be reached.

    Here are the *comparisons of groups* that I'd like to see and invite youse guys to help make it happen (in addition to whatever interests you):

    1) Judge vs. Not Judge
    2) Frequent PFS Board reader vs. Does-Not-Read the PFS Boards
    3) 'Hardcore' GM (judged 30+ scenarios) vs. Medium Judge (judged 1-29 times) vs. New-Player/Non-Judge
    4) New player (About 1 year and less) vs. Crusty ol' grognard (2 years+)

    The Most Important Part of Pathfinder Society Play Fix:

    I would appreciate a 'fix' of the "The most important part of Pathfinder Society play" question, however it makes sense to do so.

    Not everyone did it backwards and it should be easy to identify those entries who probably did it backwards. I know this might require a line by line review, but I think we can clean up this question by looking at the responses and seeing who both liked "Organizing Pathfinder Society" (answers = 1 or 2) and hated "Hanging out with friends playing Pathfinder" (answers = 4 or 5).

    Check out the data and see what you think works. If you want to ignore this question altogether, please do. I know we have Community member tackling this issue right now. And he's good.

    As usual, I respect and appreciate constructive debate and thoughts...both for me and other respondents in this thread.

    So...any questions? Thoughts?

    Show me your data/conclusions!

    -Pain

    * * *
    Below are the commentary threads from the survey, by question. They have been anonymitized and grouped by answer. You can find their corresponding questions on the Survey Data Link, Results Pages.

    If you play Pathfinder, why don't you play in the Pathfinder Society?:

    Areas where offered are too far to be regularly played.
    I only have time for my regular group.
    I used to be very active, the OP got much more restrictive and elitist as changes were made
    Looking to join online play
    no place near me that i know of plays it.
    Played but got tired of rules changes and too many factions.
    The continual rules changes without opportunity to rebuild characters reminded me too much of the worst GM's I've ever played with

    What would get you to play in the Pathfinder Society?:

    Campaign management that didn't come off as arbitrary and capricious. (Not for following question "would I recommend", you do not allow an answer of "No, from my experiences in the society, I would not recommend it to others.")
    Getting rid of GM star rankings and changing venture captains from VC "leaders" to "organizers" would help
    I only play at conventions.
    If i could find a place near me that played it.
    More free time
    Quit adding extra rules and pare down the factions.

    Where do you usually play Pathfinder Society?:

    all of the above
    All of the above
    both Cons and Gamestore
    Cafe
    Close split between my home and conventions
    combination of homes, game stores, and conventions.
    Fantasy Grounds Virtual Tabletop
    Gamestores, conventions and gaming clubs
    Good mix of FLGS & conventions
    I play at homes, gamestores, Conventions, and local businesses and public locations.
    Local RPG club

    What got you involved in Pathfinder Society play?:

    4th Edition Refugee
    Am deployed, and wished to give it a try via PbP
    boyfriend introduced me
    Business reasons (marketing PFRPG). Very quickly, I became passionate about the game, itself, and have stuck with PFS since.
    Con goer trying something new
    Couldn't convince my gaming group to switch from D&D 3
    Desperate need to escape my horrible job.
    found my VC via paizo's site
    Free RPG day's We Be Goblins module
    Got bored with LFR so I switched to PFS
    Heard about it on a podcast.
    I am a public play organizer at a local game store and offered pathfinder about 6 months ago.
    I had played AD&D way back when... I wanted to play again and I learned about PFS at the local store.
    I hate D&D 4.0, but miss playing D&D
    I saw a post about it on the Fantasy Grounds Forum and liked the idea of playing pickup games with different GMs that linked together into a progression system that was independent of a consistent game. It suits my schedule.
    I used to play D&D and wanted to get back into an RPG
    I wanted to increase traffic to my friend's game store and loved playing Pathfinder.
    I wanted to try a living campaign.
    Internet advertised public location monthly gaming
    It offered online play
    It was a natural thing to follow after Living Greyhawk ended
    Learned about it when D&D 4.0 came out but wanted to continue using 3.5 rules.
    learned from forums
    Living Greyhawk died along with D&D
    Looking for something better than D&D 4.0 and this was what our gamestore was running.
    Mark Garringer introduced me
    my boyfriend brought me
    My husband owns <<redacted>>. He plays PFS and asked me to join him every now and then. I play in his home games, so thought it would be fun.
    Needed my gaming fix and family etc does not allow for a regular gaming group
    Paizocon 2009
    PFS good for uncommited monthly play
    Played all possible computer RPGs, pathfinder was something new
    Promised I wouldn't buy 4e and Pathfinder wasn't 4E so I was able to buy its products
    Rand dragged me in.
    Read about it on Paizo's forums.
    Started in 2009 to support Pathfinder
    The onset of 4th edition.
    volunteering to GM at GenCon
    Want to play more; looking for gamers to play with outside of PFS; played in previous living campaign (4E FR) and liked the idea but not the implementation
    Wanted a chance to play Pathfinder, no local games.
    Wanted to go back to a 3.5-ish structure and leave 4e
    Wanted to meet more players and thought this was the way to do it!
    Wanted to start playing PF (transition from 3.5), but had no group to play with.
    Was a full time home game GM...wanted to be able to play
    We're a relatively large group of friends that make consistent players for a particular campaign a bit difficult. Having Pathfinder Society allows for easy combinations of players where it doesn't matter if a particular person cannot make it on a given day
    Your fault Yep. Totally my fault.

    In general, do you wish Pathfinder Society scenarios included:

    A Balance of combat and roleplaying
    a challenge that scales to the table size
    a good mix, with multiple paths towards achieving goals
    A little less DR, or more gold to spend on DR penetrating weapons
    Additional sidebars regarding how violence might creatively be avoided
    As a GM I see the summary, It would be nice to be able to convey it to the players in someway so they understand the full scope of what they are doing.
    Be more descriptive in mods
    Combats should have an effect, either in terms of story or making players spend resources. Easy combats only waste time.
    depends on the class of character i am playing
    Detail and knowledge about the advenure, Details!
    Encounters to be unique, interesting, and thought provoking. Moral dilemas.
    fewer but harder fights
    Hard to generalize this - every scenario is different. A balance is desirable to me.
    hard to say. Many senerios are great and some are just crap but its all relative to the characters played. A lot of games were made prior to books like the Ultimate(s) and need to be updated. Otherwise, those senerios are quite weak against better characters. Modules also need to be left alone and not based off of a character if forcing players to use pregens.
    i like high rp incounters but also would like more complex problem solving
    I like it when different scenarios have different combat/RP ratios, so I don't know what I'm going to get each week.
    I would like more "intensity" less formulaic encounters
    It depends - at cons in loud rooms it of often hard for good roleplay. Good roleplay takes time and when it takes 45 min to muster it is hard for good roleplay. since there isnt loud con mods and other mods I guess they are good as is
    less "save or die/suck" mechanics
    Less logical flaws and plotholes
    Less of both, due to the 4 hour slot time at most cons.
    More *tactical* combat, with tough RP choices
    more agency (or at least the illusion )
    More challenging combat
    More challenging options within subTiers: for example, asking the table if everyone want to play without kid gloves.
    More Combat and More Roleplaying
    More combat. Less time on roleplaying, plot, story, & immersion... the stories are God awful, with zero stakes and zero edge...
    More contiguous plotlines, double / triple sessions
    More drama.
    More Heroic Theme
    More optional encounters so GMs can speed up the game when needed
    More over-arching plots.
    More puzzles. and riddles :)
    more roleplaying that allows players to take alternate routes to achieve the plot goals
    more time
    More time to complete Scenarios
    More variety encounters and styles. Horror, Intrigue, and less Bard and Rogue specific focused stuff. One other major aspect I think PF really fils at is not advncing a world storyline. Not having the world change. That gets very annoying, and honestly, boring, very fast.
    More year of the shadow lodge and larp eventsa
    Ok as is, but would be nice to have some more RP every once in awhile
    Real Life Strippers
    Regional play as with LG
    Simple Clear Stories
    Some scenarios are good, but then there are the bad ones. A good scenario is balanced between roleplaying, plot, story and believable combat opportunities.
    Stat blocks even for core assumption monsters
    Totally depends on the GM I'm afraid. That said, tough battles are consistently fun across different judges.
    Variety is good. Scenarios that can go either way depending on the group of adventurers.

    What is the one thing you would change with the Pathfinder Society?:

    "active" communities cross communication and involvement in scenarios( like 'pen pals')possibly culminating in convention scenario team-ups
    1st A guide that states which scenarios in the season directly contribute to the story arc. 2nd not sure how to add anything, but unless you play or Gm all of the scenarios in a season you miss much of the story.
    A continuous story line is not a priority for me. I'm more interested in achievements for my character, and some way to achive more than simply leveling up.
    A little more connection with results of other scenarios would be good as well as more potential for negative consequences of actions.
    A longer term storyline would allow me more time to get truly interested in what is going on. At the same time, a *single* multi-year plot could be boring to many. I'd suggest two main storylines, one on-going (unknown duration), one "Year of..."
    A recognizable, long term, serious adversary - Aspis Consortium
    Although I would like to see more role-playing/storyline focus, I also like the amount of combat in the average scenario, so, for now, I'm fine with the way things are. Although I haven't really played too many Season 3 scenarios, so I don't really know how the mix is currently.
    An ability to gain and earn more boons through an arching story set. (part 1-3 ect.)
    Basically more options for those that play many characters for the flavor. One of the problems is the inability to replay a scenario with another character you play. With more short stories it would give more play options. Or create scenarios that CAN be replayed.
    Better GM most of the GMS are not very experienced or they don't know their material for the mod very well.
    Better tie ins. Often the story line connection is not noticeable.
    Boon awards
    Can't say yet.
    Can't think of anything right now
    Continuity between scenarios is very rare, sometimes we will meet characters we have before but it's unlikely unless they are a faction leader. Boons that say "+2 bonus to X when you encounter this type of person in this place" always cause groans with players they know it's unlikely to ever be back
    Crafting Rules. Lack of those makes it extremely hard for me to play the pure casters that I like.
    Create a unique interactive of some sort for PaizoCon that has direct impacts on the end of the previous storyline in addition to the new storyline "kick off" interactive done each year at multiple conventions.
    Create more recurring and very special NPC's that personify the storyline. These NPC's should BREAK the rules, setting them apart from usual monster and usual PCs
    Don't know enough yet to comment
    Don't revolve the storyline around a module. It may seem like a good idea but between Living Grayhawk's Castle Greyhawk, and the Ruby Phoenix, neither came off well. Also, we can't expect the same PFSOP coordinator for more than 9 months.
    Easier to mesh new characters' backstory with known lore
    Encounters are too easy and because its PFS people want/expect to play as written. It can be boring.
    encounters need to be adjusted for table size, combats should be a challenge for 4 players and 6 players alike, not shy of impossible for 4 and a cakewalk for 6
    Faction interactions and classification of information and membership. Internal Faction relations and interactions.
    Faction missions are sometimes unclear or misleading (not that they are hard, but rather unsure how to apply, DM "misses" where it fits during course of play, etc.).
    Faction rewards being tracked and counting towards something global.
    Feed in from DM reporting on line playing a part.
    fine as is.
    focus on something the players want to see
    For me as a foreigner, the English language is not so easy to follow. The vocabulary is very rich which makes it hard to follow, especially when the story is told and could not be read as well. Some changes in that would be great.
    For the Blackros museum to not be so caught up in terrible occurrences
    For the most part PCs were outside looking In instead of being part of the action
    Frankly, I just can't wait to get out of Asia theme season.
    Frequent updating and editing of scenarios. All scenarios be PFRPG. The free intro scenarios - they are really bad in my opinion.
    Get real storylines built upon NPCs that we care about rather than marketing/product forced storylines. Find ways for players to actually care about the Pathfinder Society. (the Golarion one.)
    Get rid of factions! They fragment groups and make the PFS's goals meaningless as everyone runs around doing side quests for prestige.
    Harder combats, or more wiggle room for the GM to increase the difficulty of the combat due to more players without getting into a higher tier. The difference between 4 average characters and 6 optimized ones in combat turns things from a struggle into a breeze.
    Have different ramifications in different parts of the world! FI if in some areas, under some venture captains, the Shadow Lodge remained separate and rival.
    Have impacts from previous modules carry over into new ones and get more direct feed back on story from players.
    Have it be more interesting and epic (like an Adventure Path), and make our PC decisions more meaningful (and harder to make). There's nothing wrong with one-shot missions that have nothing to do with an overall storyline!
    Have more multipart scenarios with rewards for completing all parts (but not completing them directly one-directly-after-the-other).
    Have some unattainable goals. You can't win all the time unless preparation and forethought: ie A McGuyver tax: carrying certain equipment (a 10'pole or non-cleric PC with holy item).
    Have something devoted to Azlantians or Runelords, a season plotline wrapped around either of those would turn out VERY well in my mind.
    have the faction make a bigger difference in the current world.
    Have the results from early season scenarios impact the stories of later season scenarios. For instance, the question could be asked: "Was XX NPC saved from the rabid monkeys?" If more than 50% of reporting tables said no, then that would impact what happened in a future scenario.
    Having regions like Living Greyhawk!!!!
    I came in during the middle of Season 2. I feel like I can't find out how the plot went unless I find and play very specific scenarios. I'd like that to not be the case.
    I can't say due to the fact that I have not played much society, I like the amount of combat and conflict in the story, I just wish there was more emphasis on RP at the game table.
    I don't know enough to make suggestions. And furthermore, as a player and not an employee of Paizo, I cannot possibly make any kind of suggestion as I am by definition missing overarching information and planning that Paizo has done for the story.
    I don't like to meet kobolds who are opera fans.
    I don't love the Runelords Storyline with all the 'sins' and whatnot. I'd like to see more to do with the Gnome history and the magical worlds.
    I enjoy the story, but I understand that I can't influence it. I far prefer scenarios that relate to previous scenarios but don't require me to have played the previous one. Just little Easter eggs for the lucky ones who have.
    I have only played 15 or so games, but I haven't seen any interaction with groups like the green faith or red mantis. This might help tie the games to the setting better. While I think that adding the festivals as boons is ok, I'd rather have games centered around one or more.
    I know almost nothing of the over arching storyline, and don't particularly care one way or the other. I never remember recurring characters names, cities, locations, etc. I'm not interested in the world or it's storyline, other than how it affects each specific game session.
    I know this would not work for society play and will not happen but I would love to see the rebel scum crushed once and for all. Cheliax needs to put their boot down the necks of the so called Andorans. find out more about the Decemvirate & y they deserve loyalty. Secret agenda to make own nation?
    I like how the scenarios have an overarching story, but I wish Paizo would give us a reference for how and when all the scenarios interconnect.
    I like story, but not metaplot. I'd prefer individual scenarios to have stories which are mostly self-contained. Storyless dungeon crawls bore me.
    I like the current system that the players do not impact the campaign setting. That being said, I would like to see more immersive storylines like a year (not a mod) about the upcoming change in power of Irrisen. I mean Baba Yaga FTW!
    I really like those aspects of Greyhawk and Living Arcanis, where clues to Big Things are dropped in small obscure places, and there's a lot of Easter Eggs for people who know what to look for. For example, it would be nice if the errands a faction leader requires all add up to a secret.
    I saw in Legend of Five Rings that sometimes they introduce a big event that influences the whole world. Something akin to that would be cool but I do realize its a huge pile of compications for the developers and writers..
    I think a little more cuase and effect for players would be nice. Both good and bad.
    I visit the Paizo website daily but I seem to miss the big story arcs. Making it more obvious would be nice unles of course the idea is that the plot is only revealed to he/she who buys every relevant scenario.
    I want interactives. I am aware we are not hoing to recreate past living campaigns, but one shot con specific interactives give PC's the chance to immerse in the game world. They also draw players from farther away to cons for the one shot experience and story line.
    I wish there was more quality control on encounters. We have played in several adventures now that were WAY to easy and did not challenge us at all. Like really simple fights followed by a day(s) to rest (after every encounter in Quest for Perfection II) I enjoy the combat and want it to matter.
    I would be excited to visit Numeria, Nex/Geb, Jalmeray, Tian Xia, Vudra, Sarusan, Arcadia, and Lost Azlant. Oh yeah, I just really like exploring and adventuring.
    I would change it so that there was a coherent, overarching story that ran through the majority of the scenarios. I would also like the Society to engage in less mercenary/more heroic deeds.
    I would discourage or eliminate the evil-aligned factions.
    I would encourage more two-part scenarios. They allow a story to be developed much further within the context of one day's sessions.
    I would Ike to see more direct interaction of the players affecting the outcomes of the storyline ... More like the old LG model making it more "living".
    I would increase the page count of PFS scenarios to a point where the modules have all the room they need to tell a solid story. It's a PDF; page count does not need to be a constraint.
    I would like a better guide to which scenarios contribute to the metaplot, as well as more standalone (not multi-part) scenarios that tie in.
    I would like faction quests where not everyone could succeed (i.e. Taldor wants to reclaim the artifact, Cheliax wants it destroyed. This leads to party infighting, but it also makes for great roleplay opportunities. There are too many "pick this flower" faction missions.
    I would like for some character options that are not allowed for more limited 4 to 5 hour game play allowed in less limiting online play. Also, maybe we should be allowed to do house rules. My group had a few ideas.
    I would like it to be more engaging and involved in the scenarios. At the moment, it seems like The scenarios have nothing to do with the "outside" world (the living game world) and the actions of characters have no consequences at all.
    I would like more faction choices and storylines or paths more centered on factions
    I would like the storyline to lead to access to other planets in Golarion's system. Oh, and Numeria....
    I would like to cause and effect. What I mean is the results from earlier mods shoud play into later mods. Thanks Painlord this is useful you should pass the results to Mike Brock
    I would like to see a subset (or alternate campaign) where the focus was on heroic deeds, making the world a better place, etc. Doing things like affecting the Worldwound, changing the government of Cheliax, smashing the guillotines of Galt, etc.
    I would like to see both Mwangi and Thassilon featured more. I also love traditional monsters like orcs and giants and think they have been underrepressented for the entire extent of the campaign.
    I would like to see more cooperative secret missions, like the Andoran/Osirion mission in #49 (Among the Dead)
    I would like to see more done with the relationships between factions and faction leaders!
    I would like to see the society come into direct conflict with the Aspis Consortium.
    I would like to see your faction choices be able to effect your character more, Aka more traits or feats or special boons granted as you gain levels. Those boons or such would be different for each faction.
    I would like to stop going to the sewers of Absalom (or almost any city). I want interesting story arcs, the current ones are all old hat and getting tiresome. I would like the mid to high mods to be MORE challenging!
    I would make sure that the storylines are obvious to various characters. I would also run the different scenario parts back to back, so that all players can enjoy the scenario.
    I would make them more personal to the individual players. Less focus on what the PFS is accomplishing and more on the impact to the PC
    I would most like to reduce the number of faction missions to 1/scenario. I enjoy having an extra side quest for flavor, but I feel like they tend to intrude upon and distract from the overall story when everyone has 2 that they have to follow up on.
    I would put in more dilemmas. This way the pc's would get in more roleplay as they talk amongst themselves to resolve the situation.
    I would remember Pathfinders roots and add more stories involving the monsters of the game system. Most of the campaign has been a political story, it needs a good Orc invasion every once in a while.
    I would remove/modify prestige award - they feel (at times) 'dropped' into the scenario without any real benefit to the story
    I'd like it more interactive, less convention based. If possible, have an option where all games played by X date count as "votes" to what happens, so even non-convention goers can feel like they change things. And have the occassional LARP "gathering" to have guilds talk.
    I'd like to see faction points affect the next year's story.
    I'd like to see fewer cliche' cookie cutter style adventures being released to the community.
    I'd like to see more connection between the various scenarios and less in the way of one off games. I've played and GMed 12-15 scenarios and see little if any continuity. I hate the faction McGuffin side quests; they are pointless.
    I'd like to see more thematic sequels rather than part 1-3 stories, like Tide of Twilight/Morning and Among the living/dead/gods
    I'd like to see somewhere on Paizo's website a spoiler section for Pathfinder Society scenario plot outlines, so those of us that missed certain adventures can get a clue as to what's going on. Also a basic synopsis/history of what each faction does and has done, and what the Pathfinders do.
    I'd like to see the option to link characters together. Have them be related to each other.
    I'd like to see true interactives. Where the actions of one table impact all other tables. In this way, everyone recognizes and celebrates the successes of each table. I'd also like to see more done to flesh out hostile organizations, like the Aspis. They seem like generic, cardboard villains.
    If I could, I would expand upon the enmity between the Aspis Consortium and Pathfinder Society, making them a more commonly recurring thematic villain in future adventures.
    If you are not going to make a deep RP campaign, at least add more puzzles, more attention to details and skill DC's to compensate for the excessive combat. Or heck, the more open sandbox/roleplay adventures the better.
    If you don't play the Mods regularly and not involved with a group you don't really know what's going on in the story.
    In the near future I'd like to clash with the Aspis as mortal foes more. Later I'd like to see Inner Sea World War.
    In the previous living campaign, there were scenarios which gave the table options of playing "bare-knuckled". If everyone at the table agreed (unanimous), instructions to the GM for encounters were different - "bare knuckles" meant the encounter pulled out all the stops - better tactics, etc.
    Inclusion of Aspis Consortium, et. al., in organized play to allow me to play evil-aligned characters. I'm NOT an homicidal arsonist/torture-friendly rapist. I just prefer the option to kill [NPC] people who thwart my goal of world domination. :)
    Inclusion of the Shadow Lodge as a faction and the spoiling of that Season 2 story arc within the Field Guide.
    Insert SHORT blurbs into each event for casual players that summarize the current plot line so far. People who play multiple games or only once per month may need refreshers to draw their PC into the plot.
    It is a tie between more scenarios and region play (like Living Greyhawk).
    It needs to be more interactive. Also, in the future, do not dumb down a story concept to make a faction playable for characters.
    It was, perhaps, an error to make a level 11 sanctioned module the centre, not the ending, of the Year 3 storyline.
    It would be nice if characters were more capable of affecting the storyline. Example: If people could choose between one or two paths in a scenario and GM's reported which one they took... then the one people chose most had an effect on the game world.
    It would be nice if instead of randome stories and "missions", there could be more continuity within the scenarios ... the blackrose scenarios is a good example of this ... we've gotten to go into the museum proper twice, seen the basement and now the attack. Everyone is familar with the story :)
    its all good so far.
    It's not that interesting to me if there's story that's all just background (and PCs aren't actually impacting things as they unfold). I'd prefer well written individual modules that allow me to roleplay my character and build her/his idiosyncratic story along with my regular group.
    Its pretty hard to follow. Maybe have a free players guide for each season, like you do for adventure paths?
    It's really easy to miss information due to the different tiers throughout the season. So my character who found out really important info about the Shadow Lodge in one scenario couldn't play in the next. I'd try to make it mores seamless for character.
    Keep embracing the "fun" and "people of the campaign. Keep doing what you are doing.
    Keep recurring characters like Grandmaster Torch, the Blackros family, etc. More about the Aspis Consortium.
    Later scenarios having summaries of the events in prior scenarios that are necessary for storyline continuity.
    Less bureaucracy and better online tools please.
    Less but more interesting (and do-able) faction missions. Each scenario needs 10 faction missions of which 50% of them are interesting while the rest are humdrum or impossible for a given PC. Clumping different factions missions together might solve this.
    Let the players have a way to find out more info from the scenario's backstory and place in the story arc (if it's related). As a GM I see a great history that players never learn.
    Lose the Asian influence. Make it a set of sourcebooks (a la Oriental Adventures) for home games.
    Make boons meaningful to further parts of the storyline. Granting +1 on diplomacy rolls against eels encountered in the dark on Tuesdays after you've made an attack of opportunity the previous round while flanked is not a boon. It's a bureaucratic nightmare.
    Make it an integral part of the up-to-date Pathfinder Society character creation guide.
    Make it easier to engage with even if scenarios are played out of order (for example have more scenarios set in the same place so boons etc are actually usable)
    Make it less contrived.
    Make it more transparent o players who do not play scenarios in order.
    Make it something the average adventurer would be interested in.
    Make the game more skill focused and roleplay oriented, and de-emphasize combat a bit and some of it's game mechanics.
    Make the NPC names a little easier to pronounce
    Mission successes in a season affect the game world or next season. So if Taldor has the most completions maybe they rise up. Paizo might be reluctant to do timelines in the official campaign world setting, but I think PFS could fill that void. Advance the world and its story based on PFS missions
    More access to lower level characters to the final event.
    more ancient history
    More and varied prestige awards. Almost everyone buys a title, or squire, or property,etc.
    More diverse chronicle/storyline locations, i.e nordic lands, desert lands, eastern lands.
    More faction interaction involving alliances with possible grouped factions missions.
    More focused on the problem of Golarion. World Wound, etc...
    More influence on the campaign world as a whole, make a significant difference to the world.
    More linked stories. So far my favorites have been the scenarios set in the Mwangi area, honestly, or in the museum.
    More local control.
    More open endedness to the outcome of the scenario to give us more of a reason to role play the characters.
    More opportunities for higher-level play. A lot of people I know would rather not retire their PCs at level 12.
    More optional solutions, more "gray area" morality
    More recurring characters amongst multiple story lines. Very few or no mods would be "stand alone" but all would contribute to a couple of story arcs
    More recurring NPCs other than Venture Captains.
    More scenarios linked together, but released close enough together that one character can play the entire story arc. Maybe a story arc covering all the level bands. Recurring bad guys, too. The certs should unlock access to something special, not items already available.
    More should be included with the player material. There tends to be more for the Judge than the players and that background is often quite interesting and should be shared.
    More story. More "Oh ****!" moments, like, "Holy smokes! They killed Eddard Stark!" Could be narrative, combat, or interactive RP. Less mundane escort caravan or recover Macguffin.
    More ties to the Adventure Paths that come out... give as feel that the various Pathfinder lines (APs, Modules, and Scenarios) are interconnected.
    More world-changing scenarios, like The Dalsine Affair.
    Most of my concerns were addressed in the latest update to the PFS rules (as of 02/02/12).
    My opinions of the storylines so far, is that while they are getting better, they are still not very good at all. I've been playing for quite a while now, hoping they get better but the improvements I've seen aren't enough. At this point, my enthusiasm for pathfinder is nil and nearly dead.
    no swarms. they are dumb
    Not having the key module be for 11th level characters, and therefore unplayable by most PFS players.
    Not much, the story arc doesn't get too much air in our games. We have a range of new players for whom many are playing out of order. But it's nice for the guys/gals who expect it (I like the deeper storyline).
    Notes on chronicle sheets regarding storyline
    Nothing
    Nothing
    Nothing off the top of my head, I'm quite happy with things as they are now!
    Nothing so far, I like it well enough.
    Nothing, really. I just wish I had time to play more so I could understand what's going on. I didn't find out about the Shadow Lodge until it was over.
    Nothing. I think it is going quite well.
    Pathfinder Society is about acquisition of Rare objects and being a secret society. Sometimes secret societies do off activities. It's these odd activities that interest people. I wouldn't change the nature of things.
    PC's actions need to matter more & influence the story. PCs, as it is, mostly feel like they are just along for the ride in any given story arc. PCs actions in one mod should in theory alter another mod significantly.
    Perhaps introduce the idea of opening a lodge back up in Cheliax or have a few missions where pathfinders are trying to impress cheliax to the point where they would want a lodge.
    Player's actions have little or no effect on Golarion. Little danger of character death/resurrection is too easy. Power creep needs to be diminished.
    Players should be able to contribute to the story, (as I believe the intent was in the early days?).
    Please put in BOLD letters a section encouraging DMs to depart from the story however they feel they need to to make it fun for the players. The wordiness of the scripts these DMs end up reading is pretty terrible...
    Probably nothing. I really like the idea of having a year-long meta-plot and a number of adventures that don't involve said meta-plot.
    Provide more opportunities for characters at different tiers to have a meaningful contribution to the story. Maybe low tier and high tier sub-stories. Find more ways for the background information within scenarios to make it to the players. GM's often get more of the storyline than the players.
    Rather than writing something vague, I'll just decline to provide anything useful here.
    Reduce the Fame/GP limits, so that the items that you gain access to during scenarios is more meaningful - and so that people cannot make weird optimized builds because that rely on extremely rare gear. Nerf the Eidolon - it is overpowered with the power and action economy of the summoner/eidolon.
    Retcon back the original idea of the Society metaplot changing the face of the Inner Sea politics. Have people interested to see their faction win, again. It was a huge disappointment for me to see that none of the faction interplay really had an effect. In word, it turned me off the campaign.
    Some of the repetitive skill/saving throw checks are just annoying. I can see wanting to involve the players more but most of the situations are not from the rules.
    Somehow having the year's theme clearer. i.e. How exactly did the Shadow Lodge and the other new factions come to be. Maybe a memo or something from the lodge which goes out to all pathfinders regarding the state of things at the close of the year.
    Sometimes I think the faction goals are silly. Why not make them optional, or have generic goals?
    Stop adding Factions.
    Story arcs should be able to be played sequentially from low-level characters through high-level. Release order and tiers currently seem a bit haphazard.
    Story arc's should be short enough so that a starting PC will not level out of the system before it is finished.
    Story arcs that cover a wide range of tiers so that I can play the same character throughout the entire arc. And, since characters play in multiple arcs its easy to 'level out' fairly quickly before all the arcs are completed.
    The Aspis Consortium should be more involved as rivals and enemies.
    The concept of a community nominated and voted Hall of Fame for Retired Characters where HOF characters could have a scenario written for them is something I've been talking about with a few people for a while.It would help create a real "Living World" for PFS
    The fact that PFS doesn't give any recognition nor special access to organizers of large events (ie Cons) and seems to want to centralize all that in VCs and not in people that have done it for years.
    The faction missions. I find that the missions we get seem rarely to coincide with the goals of the faction (for example, one mission had me fetching tea for the para-countess, another had me trying to have my half orc barbarian negotiate with an official.) Maybe a choice of faction missions?
    The focus needs to return to an over-arching plot. We have heard that the Andoran faction are ruling the Society but this has had no effect on Golarion. The Ruby Phoenix plot line is interesting but is a distraction from the more realistic threats that the PFS would be concerned about.
    The lodges should have rivals, and opposing quests.
    The modules I have played in were all well done, and provided a wide array of locales and "themes," so I'd say Paizo is doing a pretty good job so far. That being said, I've played in less than a dozen modules, so my sample size is lacking.
    The plot feels too "set in stone". Living Greyhawk plots progressed depending what most adventure groups decided to do when given important choices. In Pathfinder all those choices are missing, players are just listening to the story instead of writing it.
    The storyline is too naive make it more realistic! Also if i'm playing as a Taldan high noble i want GM-s to roleplay according to my choice which they don't :( ...
    The storyline unfolds for a GM much clearer than for a common hero. The scenario's contain much more information about the storyline than is given to the players.
    The tie-in with Tian Xia seems artificial to me.
    The yearly storyline should have an overall reward for playing all scenarios/mods(perhaps 2pts for each scenario) within that storyline and only able to be awarded during that storyline year.
    The YotSL was sad. The entire time the SL was a member of the Society, just with a different goals and idea. Then they became about healthcare.
    There is (so far as I have played) insufficient opportunity for clear-cut conflict between nations. Tensions are... un-tense. Hydra's Fang seems the best sort of status-quo-ante adventure that I've seen, and it's scenario 0-02...
    There is a storyline? Are you confussing AP's, PFS, and non-PFS Golarion, or maybe talking about 3 part adventures? I would ditch it, and start one that evolves the world. Besides that, I would start stepping outside of the box with the basic game elements? Variatons n, <out of space already. . .>
    There needs to be an overview of the overarching plot line for each season on the website.
    There should be more story arcs.
    There's a story line? I stopped playing PF because every event that I played felt disconnected from everything else. It was sooo generic it just got to be too boring.
    They storyline and scenario background needs to be worked into the story more. At times players don't know the back story and it would be more fun (IMO) if they did know more.
    Think of some ways to expand the sandbox a bit and remove the optional (or 1 additional) encounter. For the most part I am very satisfied with PFS and wish I had the time to play more!
    Three combat encounters, and two role playing encounters seems like a good mix for a scenario. Possible changes: 1) 2-3 hr scenarios offered and 2) unique magical items / spells / feats you gain access to by playing a particular scenario
    tie faction missions to the Season arc story
    Tier the metaplot scenarios so that they form a natural 1-12 exp progression when played in story order.
    To have a clearer idea of how my characters involvment affects the meta-story.
    Too many DM's with barely enough knowledge about DM'ing, story telling, and competency to run the game. In my experience they have flaked, been late, come ill prepared only skimming through the adventure, no insight to improvise when stumped by the game. And lack of equipment like mini's and such.
    use critical event summaries for new modules run during the 1st two weeks of availability like in Living Greyhawk kinda
    When Players making those choices they do changes the outcome.
    While I like the scenarios, I'm not a big fan of the overarching treasure-hunting theme. It puts a lot of limitations on character motivation and play. I wouldn't mind seeing a series of war-driven stories (Orc invasion, civil war, etc.) but that's probably too big of a change.
    Would like to see the impact that factions have affecting the storyline.

    Why do you GM for the Pathfinder Society?:

    A combination of giving back to BAPs, trying to improve the gaming runs as best I can with more detailed RP of the NPC characters with the players and the enjoyment of telling a story.
    beacuse i'm good at it
    because i like running adaptibeles
    Because newer players refuse to judge scenarios
    Because no one else will
    Become a better GM
    Conned into it by local store owner :)
    Free GenCon badge & Paizo Stuff
    I am the regular GM for our group
    I enjoy teaching the game, seeing how other will react, and honestly, it is hard to find someone that will both each and GM. I am mostly in PbP games due to deployment, and wih limited resorces, I just stepped up and do it. I enjoy playing and GMing, but honestly have never gotten to actually play a PFS character, yet.
    I enjoy the challenge of trying to present a scenario's backstory to a group of players and make it matter.
    I have been lucky when I have DMed at cons that I have had good tables(my best table was with 7 and it was a good time all around-PaizoCon 2011), I have sat at bad tables as a player and I wouldnt want to be the DM there.
    I have to so we can play.
    I know what it's like to never get to play, and I want to give the GM a break.
    I love teaching brand new players
    I own a gamestore and use PFS to promote the products.
    If I don't gm we have a whole less games and as a results less players
    If I don't run, there is very little PFS in my area
    It helps me learn the rules.better.
    It helps me work on my role playing
    Love GMing, not enough availability on Home campaigns
    No one else will GM
    Nobody else will GM
    Not enough experienced players to GM yet.
    Often, if I don't run, nobody will
    our gaming store has too many players
    roleplay
    rotate gms so people can play too
    So bad at keeping my characters up to date, DMing is less work to be prepared for.
    So impart my love of the world and passion for the game on my players.
    Someone has to do it
    Sometimes a GM is needed, but another player isn't.
    Sometimes no one else can/will do it.
    Spurs ideas for NON-Fantasy campaigns I GM
    Support Pathfinder at my FLGS
    Suspect I like being the centre of attention
    Take my turn in our regular table
    Take some of the GMing load
    the event needed another GM
    to give my normal GM a break.
    To give others GMs a chance to play
    To harvest better players
    To help my venture captain
    To Help PFS grow
    To keep the games going when others aren't running. I like that I have the opportunity to earn xp while running.
    to lead by example
    To make sure the scenario is run correctly, with the proper amount of danger and full knowledge of the rules so that things are played fairly. I honestly use the opportunity to edit my fellow players and catch them in character creation mistakes, or booking keeping errors. I don't know how many people have been "surprised" to find out that they are actually carrying a heavy load.
    To take my turn
    Too few new mods.
    Wanted to be guiding principle in the region - giving a different voice to the community than the one that has been presented for several years

    Does your regular Pathfinder Society playgroup offer GM rewards outside of GM chronicle credit? If so, what do it offer?:

    10 dollar gift card every one pitchs in
    10% discount day of judging
    A pat on the back from my players
    Free convention entry
    Gamestore gives us play passes for GMing
    GM boons - I only GM at cons
    GM rewards apon reaching new star by our Venture capitan
    GM star certs, binders, compass, shot glass
    I am the local home game and can't offer benefits myself
    I don't know
    I have spent lots of my own money buying mini's and props for my players and GM's for games that I don't run.
    Liaison Shirts
    Like, what??
    My friends sometimes gives me cake if I gm :P
    My VC is working on a reward program.
    No
    No
    No Game store but when we had one it gave GM rewards
    No regular group
    No Regular Group
    No rewards, we play at home.
    No, and I'm ok with it
    No, I do wish that there where something special (more pertinent) to deployed PFS players/GMs as well as better rules for that style of play.
    No. We run a home and PbP game.
    nope just help the group
    Nothing organized, just some occasional perks
    Occassional free bottle of soda
    occassionally
    one of the players usually buy's me lunch
    Our region offers some Pathfinder swag (shirts, mugs) for earning stars
    Reduced con fee/ free food
    Sodas and play passes
    Some offer a djscount, most dont
    Special discounts the day of, and free snacks.
    The players by my drinks on occasion
    There are rewards but I am not familiar with them
    trinkets
    VC scenario gifts of scenarios to be judged.
    We are considering it
    we get fed
    We normaly play at someone's home and everyone brings something to eat/drink

    Why don't you GM Pathfinder Society?:

    Annoying paperwork
    combination of lack of time and lack of experience
    Dont have the Gear and No one has asked me yet.
    Group doesn't need another GM.
    How do I even start - 4E makes it more clear on website how to start/join
    I hate gunpowder, and don't want to GM a gunslinger
    I play. I will never GM, as that is a time allotment I cannot make in my life.
    I'll GM sooner or later - currently I'm GMing an Adventure Path for my friends, while they GM Pathfinder Society
    I'm just not a very good GM. I'd like to be better.
    Im let's say reserve GM :)
    Just getting started and my FLGS is just getting started ramping up doing PFS so the player count doesn't warrant multiple GMs per session
    Not creative in that way
    not my strong suit
    Our PFS randomly assigns players to GM's. Some of our local players are people I would never want to GM for.
    Rules are too complicated to learn to GM
    Running multiple other RPG campaigns. PFS is a way for me to get to play instead of run.
    Still learning the rules, need more experience, don't have necessary items, and unsure how to start
    Stopped playing the campaign.
    There are enough GMs in my area.
    Time constraints, I rarely play much less GM
    to much thinking and keeping track of things.
    Was going to put no time, but that's not quite right. I would enjoy doing so but with work I have limited free time and to do a good job GM'ing is just too much time to invest (and I would hate to do a half-assed job and ruin it for all the players).

    Would more (or different) GM rewards induce you to GM?:

    "GM ONLY" port on web to discuss with game designer, OP incentives (patches, pins, t-shirts, registration/advertisement materials) public not
    A free Pathfinder-friendly gametable online
    Didn't even know there were rewards. Tempt me.
    extra PC options? Funky races and class options?
    I have no knowledge about the rewards. I'd do it for the game once I was able to. I'm more familiar with 3.5 D&D than PF.
    I think rewards should be there ...minor rewards that can be applied when playing as opposed to GMing
    maps and minis
    Society modules discount
    Some prep materials
    The GM has more to do, but I'm not sure what you could give them as additional compensation. Maybe you have to GM so many games in order to have more than one character. Also limit the XP any one character can have from GMing.
    This is just to emphatically state the rewards now are great, I mean, an engraved stein, you people are awesome!
    To even know what the rewards are (see previous answer)
    to learn what rewards there are first
    u tell me
    Would need a group current group GM's meet the current need.

    The Exchange ***

    Greetings Mortals--

    So the Pathfinder Society Community Survey is now closed. I appreciate everyone's responses and everyone who pushed the survey to their local gaming groups.

    I should have the data available for Community download shortly. At this time, I believe I will be able to put it into a google document with open access.

    As usual, I respect thoughtful and constructive comments and suggestions on this survey. I have never claimed to be a wizard with school focus: marketing or two-hand wielding keyboard fighter with the survey archetype. At best, I'm a level two goon with the Dilettante feat and a few ranks of making-stuff-up and not-being-afraid-to-fail. As a philosophy for this survey, my motto was: "Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good." At a certain point, I had to say "Piddlespot it!" in regards to the survey and just go with it.

    I avoided discussing the survey in detail while it was still open to keep focus on the survey itself. I'm going to open with answering a few posts that I sadly ignored, but feel is important to acknowledge:

    Beckett wrote:

    One thing that really annoyed me is that, like a few people mentioned, there are a lot of times either none of the answers really applied, but no answer wasnt the right way either, or that i really flt I should clarify something. Can I suggest that all questions have a way to type something in?

    I am both deployed, and play primarily PFS PbP, so that influenced a lot of my answers, but there wasn't a way to mention that.

    One of the things that I struggled with is how to balance length with getting the depth and breadth of topics that I wanted information on. If you've read my other posts of note, you know that I'm not shy about talking way too much.

    But with a survey, it's a different animal altogether: if I had been able to ask all the questions I wanted with all the detail I wanted, the survey might have been 300 questions and taken 2 hours to complete.

    Beckett, you make a good point. I chose to exclude, perhaps unfairly, PbP play from this survey. There just wasn't room.

    As far as having more spots for open-ended questions, that too, leads to problems. The strength of a survey is getting useful numbers rather than dialogue and then being able to do some statistical analysis on that. Too much open-ended and all we really have is a bunch of stuff that doesn't tell us much statistically.

    Don Walker wrote:
    There were a few editing glitches, and I found some of the questions leading, with answers that did not allow a full range of responses. In some cases a simple yes or no rather than "yes, because ..." would be better. But it is what it is and should generate some interesting feedback.

    "Some of the questions leading...." Yep. Hello, Response Bias! I did the best I could with this, but I can understand V-C Walker's feelings on this issue. While I hope to do better next time and don't think it's huge factor in this survey, I encourage you to ignore/omit any questions that you feel are heavily influenced.

    Mark Moreland wrote:
    I hope that when people post this to their local messageboards it's made clear that this is an unofficial, fan-generated poll that does not necessarily reflect the specific metrics we are currently measuring in campaign HQ. If, however, the poll seems to generate a lot of interest, we may consider having a professionally designed poll with a bit more of a scientific sampling and question phrasing based on the type of things we're interested in hearing from members of the community. I would prefer that the existing poll not be purported as coming from Paizo, though, so please keep that in mind when spreading it around. Thanks!

    If and when Paizo does conduct such a survey (sounds great!), I hope it will be done in the same spirit as game design—open and transparent to all of the Pathfinder Society community. Fan input has been a great source of strength for Paizo, and will continue to be so. I choose to think that their results will mirror much of what we will see with these results.

    And next...

    Oh yeah...a *facepalmkeyboard* moment. Remember this question?

    PFS Community Survey wrote:
    The most important part of Pathfinder Society play to me is: (rank in order of priority, 1 is of highest priority, 5 is lowest):

    It lead to the following...

    Drogon wrote:
    ZomB wrote:
    Priority range 1-5 with 1 high: Eek, I am so used to surveys that have 5 high that I nearly answered those Qs the wrong way round.
    Of course, now I'm nervous that I actually *did* do it the wrong way around...
    Drogon wrote:
    I agree that it has the potential to do so. And, Pain, you know I love ya, man, but those questions probably ought to be thrown out due to bad execution.

    So...one of the questions may be screwed up. How screwed up? I dunno yet. I used the standard 1 to 5 scale that we used at Wikipedia...a scale that is designed for a Global audience. "Many/some/???" people read 1 as least important and 5 as most important. (However, I'm not so naive as to think that people wouldn't have made the same mistake with the order the other way. Stuff happens.) I believe a majority did it with the right scale, however some did not.

    This is understandable...and, in retrospect, I should have done the question using a different format (or done the questions individually...or with a more clear header). This might have increased the overall length (which, as stated above, can be an issue).

    However, I'm not throwing this question out. Heck, it's not my place to throw it out. I believe that some of you will be able to comb through the answers for this question and find the ones that are clearly wrong and re-statify things. Some of you will want to ignore the question altogether. Please do what you wish with it and post your results on the upcoming "Survey Results" thread.

    I look forward to seeing what, if anything, the Community will learn from the results or this survey. It might be a troll-augury, a Commune spell, or something more.

    Other Random Thoughts:

    Since this is a meta-discussion of the survey, I wanted to highlight a couple things that worked well.
    1) The survey software easily handled all the responses and can generate some basic statistical analysis. I was worried the server might pop...but maybe I'm just a worrier.
    2) The survey software is actually fairly robust and allowed a lot of complexity in generating questions and trees.
    3) There seems to be very few obviously redundant submissions (at least via the IP rejection filter). I will review those again to be sure that multi-submission households don't get screwed, but I'm pleased with the security against spam.
    4) I'm pleased with the Community support on this. I know a lot of people pushed it along. People were happy to give feedback and share. It was nice to see.
    5) I think I learned a lot during the construction and handling. I will do future surveys better.

    So...constructive and thoughtful feedback?
    Or...questions for future surveys?
    Or...related thoughts?

    -Pain

    The Exchange ***

    Hey All--

    Just a quick update.

    The survey remains up until Monday...we'll see if we can get a few more responses. I would have closed it and begun typing up some discussion and tried to get the data out now, but the current website issues (I *need* to be able to edit!) and time restraints means that it won't come out until Tuesday or so.

    I have DunDraCon this weekend (Friday, Sat & Sun) and will be rocking that.

    Thanks for your patience.

    -Pain

    The Exchange ***

    Hey All--

    The Pathfinder Society Community Survey closes in about 24 hours (at least that is when I'll begin final backups).

    Please forward a reminder to your playgroups to get their thoughts in.

    As an additional note: 1 = most priority, 5 = least priority, for the purposes of this survey.

    The link is: Pathfinder Society Community Survey.

    Thanks. Let's finish strong!

    -Pain

    Painlord wrote:

    Fellow Pathfinders--

    I have started a survey project with Bay Area Pathfinder Society players to learn how they feel about the Society. After some consideration, I invite the broader Pathfinder Society community to respond, as more responses lead to more data and more data can help us see trends and preferences better.

    It would make me happy for you to take this survey: Pathfinder Society Community Survey

    The survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete and ask questions about various Pathfinder Society topics: storylines, difficulty, judging and judge rewards, etc.

    Furthermore, I encourage you to forward the survey link to your local playgroup. The more responses we get from different players in different areas, the better our results will be. While I want the results of the Pathfinder Society message board denizens, I would love to reach other players as well.

    I will be posting the results on these forums and I want *your* responses and the responses of your *playgroup* as well.

    I would be honored if you would post in this thread that you've forwarded the link to your playgroup. Since this survey does not track any personal data (IP address is tracked as protection against spammers), it would be nice to know that many different regions have players that have been invited to participate in this.

    *Please do *NOT* discuss the survey questions in this thread!* I am a firm believer in giving people the chance to answer the questions for themselves without taint or influence. Maybe someone will create a separate spoilered discussion thread for survey responses/discussion.

    I look forward to sharing the results with the community. The survey is scheduled to end on February 15, 2012 (or earlier if problems arise).

    Painlord
    aka Bay Area Pathfinder Society Yahoo

    p.s. Please email me directly at painlordpfs @ g-mail D0t com if you have problems or questions with the survey. EDIT: Or use the new handy dandy Paizo Personal message system to mail me.

    The Exchange ***

    Hey All--

    Just a reminder that the survey will only be open for about another 5 days...please make sure that you and your playgroup respond.

    I would love to get a wide variety of input from different groups and players. We are still getting quite a few responses each day, but still want to finish strong.

    So...*reminder!*

    As an additional note: 1 = most priority, 5 = least priority, for the purposes of this survey.

    The link is: Pathfinder Society Community Survey.

    I look forward to a more full discussion of this survey next week.

    -Pain

    Original post:

    Painlord wrote:

    Fellow Pathfinders--

    I have started a survey project with Bay Area Pathfinder Society players to learn how they feel about the Society. After some consideration, I invite the broader Pathfinder Society community to respond, as more responses lead to more data and more data can help us see trends and preferences better.

    It would make me happy for you to take this survey: Pathfinder Society Community Survey

    The survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete and ask questions about various Pathfinder Society topics: storylines, difficulty, judging and judge rewards, etc.

    Furthermore, I encourage you to forward the survey link to your local playgroup. The more responses we get from different players in different areas, the better our results will be. While I want the results of the Pathfinder Society message board denizens, I would love to reach other players as well.

    I will be posting the results on these forums and I want *your* responses and the responses of your *playgroup* as well.

    I would be honored if you would post in this thread that you've forwarded the link to your playgroup. Since this survey does not track any personal data (IP address is tracked as protection against spammers), it would be nice to know that many different regions have players that have been invited to participate in this.

    *Please do *NOT* discuss the survey questions in this thread!* I am a firm believer in giving people the chance to answer the questions for themselves without taint or influence. Maybe someone will create a separate spoilered discussion thread for survey responses/discussion.

    I look forward to sharing the results with the community. The survey is scheduled to end on February 15, 2012 (or earlier if problems arise).

    Painlord
    aka Bay Area Pathfinder Society Yahoo

    p.s. Please email me directly at painlordpfs @ g-mail D0t com if you have problems or questions with the survey. EDIT: Or use the new handy dandy Paizo Personal message system to mail me.

    p.p.s. For best results, it is best to fully complete the survey correctly the first time. There is no way to edit your results once you submit. Thanks again.

    The Exchange ***

    Fellow Pathfinders--

    I have started a survey project with Bay Area Pathfinder Society players to learn how they feel about the Society. After some consideration, I invite the broader Pathfinder Society community to respond, as more responses lead to more data and more data can help us see trends and preferences better.

    It would make me happy for you to take this survey: Pathfinder Society Community Survey

    The survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete and ask questions about various Pathfinder Society topics: storylines, difficulty, judging and judge rewards, etc.

    Furthermore, I encourage you to forward the survey link to your local playgroup. The more responses we get from different players in different areas, the better our results will be. While I want the results of the Pathfinder Society message board denizens, I would love to reach other players as well.

    I will be posting the results on these forums and I want *your* responses and the responses of your *playgroup* as well.

    I would be honored if you would post in this thread that you've forwarded the link to your playgroup. Since this survey does not track any personal data (IP address is tracked as protection against spammers), it would be nice to know that many different regions have players that have been invited to participate in this.

    *Please do *NOT* discuss the survey questions in this thread!* I am a firm believer in giving people the chance to answer the questions for themselves without taint or influence. Maybe someone will create a separate spoilered discussion thread for survey responses/discussion.

    I look forward to sharing the results with the community. The survey is scheduled to end on February 15, 2012 (or earlier if problems arise).

    Painlord
    aka Bay Area Pathfinder Society Yahoo

    p.s. Please email me directly at painlordpfs @ g-mail D0t com if you have problems or questions with the survey. I've had it up for a full day for our local Bay Area group with no problems so far. However, that may change if 100,000 hit the server all at once. We'll see what happens.

    p.p.s. For best results, it is best to fully complete the survey correctly the first time. There is no way to edit your results once you submit. Thanks again.

    p.p.p.s. The link, one more time: Pathfinder Society Community Survey

    The Exchange ***

    13 people marked this as a favorite.

    Greetings Mortals--

    Local Coordinator:

    Definition in Process: One who advertises, musters, judges, and/or coordinates PFS play at a gamestore, convention, or home. This may or may not include setting up the Warhorn, mustering, recruiting judges, reporting sessions back to Paizo, and/or other duties to make PFS play happen. They, ultimately, have responsibility for the enjoyment of the PFS players in their group.

    From my own local coordinator experience, I really believe in setting a good example for my players [Note: I understand that I'm still growing as both a player and judge.] and communicating the communal, social nature of PFS play. This game is at its best when everyone is participating and contributing to make the group go.

    I cringe when I hear stories of local coordinators who are judging 3 or 4 times for every time they play: it means to me that they are either choosing to judge (they are like DougDougBot 3000) or they are doing a poor job of encouraging and pushing others to judge. Sadly, while they are 'taking one for the team', may be hurting their group by not spreading and sharing the judge load as well as burning themselves out unnecessarily.

    I want everyone to be better players...and I believe that being a judge is part of being a better player. I believe groups are better when the judge load is shared and everyone has a chance to bring their judge skills and emphasis to the table.

    How do you get people to judge? Here you go:

    Some of this will be a re-post of my Painlord's Guide to PFS Coordination thread. Yeah, repeating myself for emphasis.

    How to Turn PFS Players into Judges:

    #1: Ask properly:

    A personal verbal or email pitch works best. People respond better to a personal tailored appeal from a person they know. When you send a personal email, it gives both weight and credence to your ask...it gives the recipient fewer ways to ignore the appeal.

    Do *not* send out spam emails to group lists asking for judges: this is rarely effective and serves to hurt morale more than helping. It leads to confusion and uncertainty among your players. If you learn nothing else from this post than to do personal and targeted email requests for judges, this post was worth it. (Yes, it's fine to post a long schedule and invite everyone to sign up to judge, but for specific spots, direct emails are the way to go.)

    My email template for judge recruitment is spoilered at end of this post.

    #2: Promote benefits & explain needs:

    Here are some of the arguments that to make, as appropriate, to perspective judges:
    1) Do your part to help the community. When you contribute, we all succeed. (this works well)
    2) When you judge, you become a better player. I want you to take that next step. Be amazing. (this works well)
    3) Guilt. "When are you going to pull your weight?" (rarely used)
    4) External rewards. I have players in an AP who are committed to judging once a month as 'payment' for entry into the AP. Actually, any external reward (above and outside of usual GM credit) helps. Two FLGS give $5 in store credit to the judge. Another FLGS charges $6 per person to play...the judge gets it all!
    5) Outright flattery: "You're a great judge and I want this group of players to have you on this mod." "I'd like to play...and I want to play at your table. I'd be stoked!"
    6) Challenge them. "Do it so you can put your mark on this mod/adventure. Let's see what you got." Or "These pathfinders here really want a challenge. I know you can give it to them!"
    7) Highlight the GM credit rules: "You get full XP, gold, and PA for judging this. It's a great way to level!"
    8) Intrigue: "You'll learn that different parties will solve the same mod differently. You'll be awed how things turned out. Compare how this new party with how you did it."
    9) <activate Painlord Rage power> "JUDGE, YOU LAZY PIDDLESPOT OR I'LL BEAT YOU TO DEATH WITH YOUR OWN DICE!!! REALLY, HOW MANY MINIS DO YOU THINK I CAN CRAM UP YOUR NOSE!?!" (never used outside of my own head)
    10) <please add your argument/thought below>

    #3: Don't take 'no' for an answer:

    Most experienced judges know that there is a significant mental initial barrier to entry into judgeship, however, once that barrier is crossed; judging becomes much easier and less of a mystery. Most judges do not start judging out of fear...fear of not knowing the rules, not being good enough, not blahblahblah. As coordinators, we need to motivate beyond that and get the player to be comfortable enough to step up to judge.

    Excuses are excuses....they are nothing but a smokestick in the way. I try to focus on ways to assuage their worries and support them.

    Here are some of the typical excuses and comebacks that I'll use in return:

    Excuse #1: "I don't have the time." (of course, this is just a stalling tactic)
    Response: "No worries. Here's the mod now...I'll schedule you to run in a month. Surely, you can find time over the next month to prep." (Response if the above doesn't work): "You can't prepare a mod in a month. Really? How about 2 months? Or is there another issue that is really causing the problem?" (proceed to excuse 2, usually)

    Excuse #2) "I'm not good enough./I don't know the rules well enough."
    Response a: "I'm asking you because I know you know enough....you're good enough and you're ready."
    Response b: "Knowing the exact rules doesn't matter. You know enough to look things up as appropriate and find solutions. Use your players as a resource...and as a check when you are unclear. They will be happy to help...they always are."
    Response c: Here are some handy guides to help you get ready:
    Introducing Faction Missions to Players
    What makes a good GM
    Painlord's How to Be a Better Judge
    Response d:"This forum is great for additional information about the mod you're running. Check it out...the judges there have lots of insight into the mod."
    Response e: (Before they play the mod) "PlayerX, I may ask you to run this mod at a future time...be sure to pay attention to what happens." (Immediately after the mod, hand them a copy.) "Here you go...read it and see what just happened. I think you'll run it just fine."

    Excuse #3: "I don't have the supplies/mats/pens/minis/grognards."
    Response a: "Here borrow mine. Anything else?"

    Excuse #4: "I don't want to."
    Response a:"I understand that, but you're good enough and smart enough to run a fantastic mod. Sadly, if you won't contribute back to the community, I may not have room for you at my games anymore. I hope you'll want to stay playing with us and want to be part of our community. I need you to step up every once in a while."

    I suspect many of you will think this is harsh, but I don't think so. In order for the community to grow and survive, you need people to contribute...everyone has to pull their share. And, as Coordinator, you have to make it happen...there is no one else!

    It should be stated that once a judge has repeatedly given good faith efforts and failed to achieve quality judgemanship, I would relent and remove them from my judge pool. It's never happened...but I've had bad judges before and I'll try to keep them away from my players.

    . . .

    Statement #1: I know this is a hard one for some people, but it’s not okay just to show up and play all the time. PFS is a community and for the community to grow, everyone needs to contribute. And there are many many ways to contribute. Some people may need to be invited to do so...and if your PFS community has areas of need (like judging), it's up to the local coordinator to ask.

    Statement #2: You can exclude players from your games for a variety of reasons: they are abusive, they are rude/untimely/jerks, *and* if they don’t contribute back to your PFS game. If you have potential judges who just refuse to judge & refuse to participate/do anything but play (perhaps holding onto the excuses above), you should consider dis-inviting them from your games. They are doing more harm to you and the morale of your group (by being a barnacle) than is worth it. They are welcome to go start their own PFS group and organize their own games at which they don’t have to contribute: but you don’t have to let them play at yours.

    As mentioned, there are other ways for players to contribute beyond judging. As a coordinator, I will create opportunities for people to make the group better, especially if they are not a good fit for judging.

    Non-judging Ways to Contribute:
    1) Bringing foodstuffs.
    2) Managing the group Warhorn.
    3) Handling all the session sheet reporting.
    4) Tracking scenarios played and scheduling.
    5) Keeping track of judging/playing ratios so people can know when it is their turn to step up.
    6) Gameday mustering.
    7) <post your idea in comments>

    There are tons of ways for people to help…it’s up to the Local Coordinator to offer and promote those opportunities.

    Judge Recruitment Email Template:

    "Hey Joe--

    Though we haven't talked to you about this before, I wanted to touch base about getting you into the judging pool at <yourgamelocationhere>.

    I've seen you play and I know you know you stuff and so I think it's natural that you would begin to think about contributing back to the <yourgamelocationhere> PFS community. Of course, there is no pressure to do so, but the system works better when everyone judges at least once in a while. We have lots of new players and need judges to fill all the tables.

    Consider this a formal invite to getting started.

    You can find tons of information about judging at the [http://paizo.com/paizo/messageboards/paizoPublishing/pathfinder/pathfinderSociety/gmDiscussion]Pathfinder Society GM Boards[/url].

    I know you can totally make it happen and I could schedule you at an approaching game night of your choosing. You will get player credit for judging, so that shouldn't be an issue.

    You help would be appreciated. Just once every month or two would make a big difference.

    Thanks,

    <yournamehere>”

    So, my thoughts on judge recruitment. Of course there is more...what do you have to add?

    -Pain

    The Exchange

    Hey All--

    Sorry if my search fu is weak, but missed this if it exists.

    Does the witches Hex Ward (+2 to AC/Saves) apply also to CMD?

    I think I may be confusing this with this with the Cha bonus that Paladin's get to both AC and CMD, and wanted to confirm. Not sure why it would count in one instance but not both.

    Thoughts?

    -Pain

    The Exchange

    Hey All-

    I'm hearing some different feedback on things and wanted to get a general response from the community.

    When does a your typical wizard/witch/sorc/whatever start to need Mage Armor?

    Suppose 20 point builds, your 'typcial' Adventure Path, but that you're only going to be casting it upon yourself (no monks/eidolons/whatever or whatever with whom you'll be sharing).

    How much do most of you sweat AC at level 1 or 2 when you play a Wiz/Sorc/Witch?

    As a witch/wizard, I've been reluctant to 'waste' a slot into an hour buff when I could be ending combats quicker and use my intelligent positioning to keep me 'safe'.

    As a low level Sorc, do you really want to 'waste' a precious spell slot on Mage Armor?

    I like knowing the spell, but don't consider it mandatory. I might pick up a wand when I can afford it or a scroll down the line...

    I wonder and ponder.

    What do youse guys think?

    Thanks all.

    -Pain

    The Exchange

    Hey All--

    With pleasure I announce that the warhorn for Pacificon 2011 is open for sign-ups.

    Located at the Santa Clara Marriott Hotel (2700 Mission College Blvd., Santa Clara, CA), you can buy Con badges and get hotel info here: http://www.pacificongameexpo.com/

    The warhorn is here: http://warhorn.net/pacificon-2011/

    We have some of the best judges in country in the Bay Area and will be offering the following for PFS play:

    2-06 Heresy of Man pt 1 (5-9)
    2-07 Heresy of Man pt 2 (5-9)
    2-09 Heresy of Man pt 3 (5-9)
    2-10 Fury of the Fiend (7-11)
    2-12 Below the Silver Tarn (7-11)
    2-14 Chasm of Screams (7-11)
    2-21 Dalsine Affair (1-7)
    2-23 Shadows Last Stnd Pt 1 (1-7)
    2-24 Shadows Last Stnd Pt 2 (1-7)
    2-25 Only Die Twice (5-9)
    3-00 Intro 1:First Steps Pt 1:(lvl 1)
    3-00 Intro 2:First Steps Pt 2:(lvl 1)
    3-00 Intro 3:First Steps Pt 3:(lvl 1)
    3-01 FrostFur Captives (1-5)
    3-02 Sewer Dragons (3-7)
    3-03 Ghenett Manor Gaunt (5-9)
    Spec: We Be Goblins

    Let the awesome continue.

    -Pain

    The Exchange ***

    27 people marked this as a favorite.

    Greetings Judges, VCs, and Local Coordinators--

    With GenCon coming up, I have been thinking about what we teach PFS to new players. I am primarily interested in developing 'good players' in my area and teaching them to play the game 'the right way'. Of course, this means different things to different people. This is meant to be a community wide meta-discussion on how to introduce new players to the game and what is important.

    I have playing PFS for a while now and have brought in quite a few new PFS players. I have run many players in their first games, pointed countless others to the PFS online resources, and organized a fairly large community (145 members and growing!) in the Bay Area.

    I have established strong feelings about what constitutes a 'good player'. For the purposes of this post, that will what I will be referring to. Your reality, needs, dreams, and desires may differ. Keep in mind: the PFS metagame is different from what you'll have in a home campaign or previous editions of the game.

    GOAL: My goal is to have a healthy, social, and vibrant PFS (and Pathfinder) player base. I *want* to play with new, interesting, and different play styles and I want many opportunities for play. By teaching our new players correctly, we lay the foundation for that community to grow.

    Caveat #1:
    Not every new player is attracted to the same facets in PFS. Every player has preferences either for combat crunch, or fluff, or roleplaying (and those factors may change from day to day based on mood, energy level, tiredness, etc.). Of course, it is best to tailor any approach to new players building on what they have interest in.

    Caveat #2:
    Not every new player comes in at the same starting point. You could have new PFS players who:
    1) Never played any roleplaying game, let alone any version of DnD.
    2) Play in a Pathfinder home campaign.
    3) Took acting in college, played a bit of DnD in the '80s.
    4) Played DnD when it first came out, haven't played since.
    5) Come over from 4e/LFR or other living campaigns.
    So, people previous experiences should be taken into account and that should play a part in what you stress to the new PFS player.

    Here is what I would love every new player to get and understand as they begin to play PFS. Not a lot of this is Pathfinder ruleset or Golarion/Pathfinder Society trivia...this is Meta-PFS information, i.e. the stuff behind the stuff.

    Point #1: The game is about having fun, whether you like roleplaying or rolling dice. You can be into your character or into the combat or both. Play as it makes you happy and in the way that makes it fun for you while not making it unfun for others. Advanced: Trying to help others have fun, asking yourself: "What can I do to make the game more fun for them?"

    Point #2: Pathfinder is a roleplaying game. It is a social, group roleplaying game. We don't want to tell them they have to talk in a funny voice or dress up in costume, but we should stress how important the ability to build a character then be able to enact that concept at the table is. This game isn't about playing you, but playing the character. It's about reacting to situations as your character might react. It's about creating an interesting play concept then bringing that into the PFS module. I'm not saying that new players should be made to roleplay or that they need to do it on the spot, only of the importance and place in the game. Advanced: Try to bring up the level of roleplaying for everyone at the table. Roleplaying becomes easier and funner the more people are involved in doing it. And when the judge can handle and magnify it as well, the game becomes much more fun. Being able to bounce off other characters and their personalities is a key ingredient.

    Point #3: Pathfinder is a social game. Not all new players will remember any or all of the names of the other players when they sit down at their first PFS table. They may or may not...but they should remember that they were introduced to and greeted warmly by the judge and those players. Personal introductions are of *CRITICAL* importance. I have made lots of friends in Organized Play and that's why I continue to play PFS: the chance to meet and hang out with fun like-minded people enjoying a common pastime. This game *is* about making friends that you can see and play with on a regular basis. I want new players to know this the moment they sit down. And that they can expect the same warmth wherever they go to play PFS.

    Point #4: You have time to learn and people will be patient with you. I want new players to have an immediate sense of ease and comfort with their learning process and their development in PFS. There is a lot of focus on mechanics when teaching a new player to play because it's important and easiest thing to teach. The reason that we all teach the mechanics of how to attack, cast a spell, or use a skill is that it quickly allows the new player to achieve some competence in the game and allows them to concentrate on learning. However, the important thing about teaching the crunch/mechanics, is that it helps put the new player at ease. Of equal importance is teaching the new player that they have room for roleplay and creating a comfort area for that as well. Advanced: When the new player feels comfortable helping other new players get involved.

    Point #5: The importance of being flexible. After all, this isn't a living campaign, nor a home game, nor LFR, nor Living Greyhawk or Living Arcanis for that matter. It's not Xendrick Expeditations nor Living City. It's piddlespotting Pathfinder Society. We do things differently...and one of the skills that is necessary is flexibility.

    5a: Be flexible in your expectations. The rules are not perfect...neither are the other players, judges or anything else. We should all forgive, forget, and embrace that imperfection...while striving to be better. Scenarios are more likely to be difficult based on human error, either GM-side or player side, rather than mod as written difficulty. There is nothing wrong with this...we are all human. Players do dumb things. Players purposely have their characters do dumb things because of character. GMs misread or misinterpret things. GMs are imperfectly prepared. It all happens, but it is part of the game. Advanced: Realizing that those things also make the game interesting. Roll with them and learn to use them to have more fun.

    5b: Be flexible with your character and within your party. Having a 'balanced' party is much less important than having a party that works well together. You never need a 'balanced' party to succeed in Pathfinder Society play. You can succeed without a front line figther type, without a rogue, without a dedicated healer, and without any spellcasting. A motto should be taken from the Marines or even a favorite of mine, the movie Heartbreak Ridge wherein soldiers are encouraged to "Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome"...come in with the will to find a way to succeed. Avoid: I will never, ever teach a new player that you need an X, Y, or Z roles in your PFS party. It simply isn't true and leads them to the wrong expectations as they play going forward. Good experienced PFS players never ask "who is going play the healer/fighter/blahblah?" Good players and good judges find a way to work together to 'win'.

    5c: Be flexible in play style. One reason everyone plays this game is the opportunity to be the center of attention. Each player should have a chance to shine and each player needs to feel like their contributions matter. Equally important is having a play style that understand that the GM is not your adversary, but there to facilitate the fun of a well-run PFS scenario. Advanced: As AdAstraGames once wrote: "Understand that the goal is to enjoy the game, not win it without expending any resources, getting hurt, or without any challenge." I hope we teach new players the same.

    Point #6: Where to find all the tools they need to learn more. Some players like to learn by reading on their own, others want to ask questions directly to people, yet others like email, yet others want to ask anonymously...we want to be able to accommodate all of them. When a new player shows up, I want them to have a handout that gives them all the following as a way to learn more:

    # The local Yahoo! Group or email list
    # Their Local coordinator or VC's email address
    # URL of the Pathfinder Society Boards
    # Address to the Pathfinder SRD or other online resource
    # Where to download the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play

    Point #7: Understanding of the PFS volunteer community. This is a tough one to convey, but I think it's important for new players to realize that judges and coordinators are all volunteers, donating their time to make the game run. As part of this, it is important to invite new players to join the community and eventually be part of giving back to the community, whether through judging, organizng, setting up or whatever. I know this point may be hard for some people, but I can stress the importance enough to teach new players that giving back is an important part of PFS. Advanced: When new players ask what is takes to become a judge.

    Okay, those are my yahoo thoughts. What am I missing?

    What would you want to teach all new players from a meta perspective?

    -Pain

    The Exchange ***

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Best part of the banquet (for me anyway) was seeing Kyle Baird and Jason Roeder being elevated to 5 stars by Hyrum.

    Piddlespottingly awesome!!!

    Kyle and Jason have put in literally thousands of hours putting on PFS games. It's nice to see them elevated to PFS's highest honor.

    I hope to someday achieve the greatness that they have.

    -Pain

    The Exchange ***

    3 people marked this as a favorite.

    Greetings Mortals--

    As many of you know, PaizoCon is this weekend. It is being held not far from the Paizo HQ at a hotel in Bellevue, Washington.

    I was lucky enough to attend last year and this year I'm back again. I'm expecting a lot of fun and random stuff.

    As many of you know, I consider (right or wrong) PFS play to be a social game, a common pastime that I can enjoy with friends. Last year, I was somewhat new to PFS play. Over the last year, I've been to two out-of-state conventions (BashCon in OH, Neoncon in LV) as well as hosting Kublacon locally. I've met a lot of new friends at those conventions and now that I'm back at PaizoCon I'm looking forward to meeting new friends and old friends that I haven't met yet (like DragnMoon and Kyle Baird).

    Hopefully, some of my fellow PFSers at PaizoCon will want to join me in jotting down notes and thoughts about the PFS players and PFS games as they can.

    Obviously, it's not a blog. Nor will it be live, but maybe it will be interesting. If you have any questions or thoughts, please share them. I'll be visiting this page as things happen during the Con.

    I, like usual, promise nothing...except that I'll be twisting some arms of people here to join me in describing their experience playing PFS this weekend and the people that make it happen.

    -Pain


    Blades of Golarion
    a Rotating GM Play-by-Post, Part 1

    Introduction: "To Heal the Worldwound"
    by GM Painlord

    Game Thread: (let the snark ride free)

    [ Party | Aurelian | Kosz | Kergrik | Zaharin | Saiai No Kodomo ]

    [ Game | Discussion | Google Tracking Doc | Painlord Ground Rules ]

    The Exchange ***

    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Kyle Baird.

    Something is different about you. Something...regal? Refined?

    New haircut? No?
    Uh...teeth bleaching? No?
    New shoes? No?
    Decided to stop eating the souls of PFS characters and wearing their skins as trophies? No? Hmm...

    You just seem more shiny than before. More commanding. Almost worthy of respect. Almost worthy of respect, truly.

    Ah, that's it!!

    4 stars.

    4 piddlespotting stars!!

    Wow.

    Congrats.

    -Pain

    The Exchange

    Holy Piddlespot!

    A random note on the nature of things.

    Last year, I organized and ran the Pathfinder Society's first appearance at Kublacon, SF's biggest con. It was a humble affair...we scheduled to run only 14 tables over 10 slots over 4 days, last year. We ended up with 19 tables.

    Meh, right? RIGHT?!

    What a difference a year makes.

    This year is a bit different: Kublacon Warhorn.

    We already have 57+ Pathfinder Society tables set and ready to go over 10 slots...judges and players for them.

    Over 17 different judges are running multiple slots...no one (yet) is scheduled to run more than 4 slots. I can't tell you enough how happy I am with the way our Bay Area judges are stepping up and sharing the load.

    Crazy growth! 19 tables last year...this year 3x that...and a willing judge pool to make it go.

    And I'm just excited for Kublacon. Big props for Paizo for sticking Jason B on us and VC Azmyth for his promotional and support work.

    Sorry to bother...I just think this kind of growth is neat. Now back to your regularly scheduled rantings. ;)

    -Pain

    The Exchange ***

    Hey All--

    Done for now, that is. We can still make updates.

    But here you go: Community Updated Guide to PFS Play. It should load quickly and nicely to your browser.

    You can also download a copy from this PFS Yahoo Group from the files section.

    You'll see that it's both hyperlinked, has a linked table of contents, and has changes documented with links and highlighted in red print. We also appended a useful cheatsheet.

    Rumor has it that another version of the PFS Guide will be released by Paizo soon. I can only hope that the Powers That Be release any new Guides in formats that can be hyperlinked and have new changes marked in red so that our community can easily highlight and discuss changes.

    I found that this Community was receptive to a draft process--allowing for feedback before it was released. I would love to continue that.

    Thanks to community members: Verdigris, 0gre, and Zizazat for their help in making this happen.

    Enjoy the Guide peeps. I'll be passing the link on to my players.

    -Pain

    The Exchange ***

    This thread is meant to set guidelines for a community to compile an update to the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play quickly, until the new, improved, 3-part Guide is ready.

    Why update the guide ourselves?:

    While not blaming Mark or Hyrum for this, we can't wait "a few months" for a new guide. There is no need to have the continued chaos and questions when we have a community willing to update the guide.

    Let me be clear: Both Mark and Hyrum have already stated, repeatedly, that they are under sometimes severe deadlines. There is no problem with that. I believe they are both acting as their bosses would wish and, no doubt, wish they had more time to do everything that the community wants. I fully support Mark and Hyrum generating this new and awesome 3-part Players Guide.

    The difference is that I believe that this update is too important to our community to delay.

    We'll just be updating and re-writing from various posts and this is something we *can* do. Heck, these are our players, our communities that are having issues...this is something we *should* do.

    I need all you Coordinators and VCs to think about who runs PFS, who is ultimately responsible for it's success.

    It's us. We need to make this happen for ourselves and our players.

    Updating Process:
    1) Below are all the sections from the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play, labeled for reference.
    2) If you know a section has been changed or updated by Mark or Hyrum, link the appropriate section with a forum link.
    3) Then, in a spoiler, re-write the section incorporating the changes. Yes, I trust you (and the entire community will be checking what you've done). See the sample below. We are *not* writing new rules, but only compiling what Mark/Hyrum have said.
    4) Feel free to edit and constructively work on the suggestions of others.
    5) If you need to insert a new rule (from an update of Mark/Hyrum), add where appropriate with a new section number.
    6) When this complete, we'll compile to a Google Document and post. What happens from there is up to you and your local Coordinator.

    FAQ:

    1) Q: Will this document be 'official'? A: Since it's just a compiled set of the responses from Mark and Hyrum since the last update, it's as official as you want it to be.

    2) Q: How long will this take? A: I have no idea, but pretty quickly if we all help or identify links. Truly, you all know (collectively) the changes better than any one of us.

    3) Q: What if some rule is still not clear? Or something that Mark/Hyrum wrote is contradictory? A: Just like right now, we'll have to acknowledge and deal with it and do the best we can and document the inconsistencies. We won't be adding/creating any additional rules to this guide. This is only a compilation document.

    4) Q: Won't this lead to different people playing by different guides? A: Like what is happening right now? Right now some people are playing with the old guide...some others with the old guide and *some* of the unpublished updates. We can use this to get on the same guide.

    5) Q: What if I'm not willing to write something up but know of a change? A: Link to it and maybe someone else will make it happen. We work together on this.

    6) Q: When this is done, what next? A: I'll be emailing the Google Doc link to all my players and it will be law of my land in my playgroup until the new version is released.

    7) Q: What if my coordinator doesn't want a community produced, thoroughly researched, updated and collaborated document, instead wishing for darkness and confusion for their players? A: So sorry...that makes me sad. Moving or playing online will work. Also, sorry that JP is your VC. ;)

    8) Q: What about stuff Josh Frost wrote? A: Yes, I'd like to include that as well, however, I believe Mark and/or Hyrum's word supersedes.

    Player's Guide Table of Contents/Sections:

    1.0 Chapter 1: Basics of Pathfinder Society Organized Play
    1.1 Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
    1.1.1 The Core Assumption
    1.1.2 Common Terms
    1.1.3 Pathfinder Society Organized Play Basics
    1.1.4 Getting Started
    1.1.5 Organized Play Quirks
    1.1.6 Converting from 3.5

    2.0 Chapter 2: The World of Golarion
    2.1 What is Golarion?
    2.1.1 Absalom
    2.1.2 The Pathfinder Society
    2.1.3 The Pathfinder Lodge
    2.1.4 The Pathfinder Chronicles

    3.0 Chapter 3: Factions
    3.1 Faction Basics
    3.1.1 Faction Secrecy
    3.1.2 Rumors
    3.1.3 Choosing your Faction
    3.1.4 Character Class vs. Faction
    3.1.5 Faction Alignment
    3.2 thru 3.6 Various factions (no changes necessary)

    4.0 Chapter 4: Character Creation
    4.1 Step 1: Choose your Faction
    4.2 Step 2: Abilities
    4.3 Step 3: Race and Class
    4.4 Step 4: Skills
    4.5 Step 5: Feats
    4.6 Step 6: Traits
    4.6.1 thru 4.6.5 Faction traits (no changes necessary)
    4.7 Step 7: Alignment
    4.8 Step 8: Hit Points
    4.9 Step 9: Background
    4.10 Step 10: Equipment

    5.0 Chapter 5: The Rules of the Pathfinder Society Organized Play
    5.1 Play, Play, Play!
    5.2 No Player versus Player Combat
    5.3 Do Not Bully Other Players
    5.4 Do Not Cheat

    6.0 Chapter 6: Additional Rules and Clarifications
    6.1 Level Cap
    6.2 Replaying Scenarios
    6.3 Do Not Read the Scenario
    6.4 One Character at a Time
    6.5 Selecting a Deity
    6.6 No Selling/Trading between Players
    6.7 Animals and Companions
    6.8 Faction Shirts
    6.9 Spell Duration
    6.10 Critical Hit/Fumble Deck
    6.11 Wizards and their Spellbooks
    6.12 Special Rules for Alchemists and Poisoner Rogues
    6.13 Pregenerated Characters
    6.14 Retiring Scenarios
    6.15 Purchasing Potions/Scrolls/Wands
    6.16 Minimum/Maximum Table Size

    7.0 Chapter 7: Character Death

    8.0 Chapter 8: Purchasing Spellcasting Services

    9.0 Chapter 9: After the Scenario
    9.1 Step 1: Experience (XP)
    9.2 Step 2: Day Job
    9.3 Step 3: Spoils of War and Buying Equipment

    10.0 Chapter 10: Purchasing Magic Items and Equipment
    10.1 Where Can I Buy Gear?
    10.2 Always Available Items
    10.3 Other Items
    10.4 Additional Equipment Rules

    11.0 Chapter 11: Spending and Tracking Prestige
    11.1 Spending Prestige
    11.2 Tracking Prestige

    12.0 Chapter 12: Pathfinder Society Organized Play Game Masters
    12.1 What is a Game Master (GM)?
    12.2 Your Duties as Game Master
    12.3 Scenarios and Tiers
    12.4 Calculating Average Party Level
    12.5 Reward Creative Solutions
    12.6 Dealing with Death
    12.7 The Chronicle Sheet
    12.8 Reporting Scenario Results
    12.9 GM Ranking System
    12.10 Game Master Rewards
    12.11 Ordering Scenarios

    13.0 Chapter 13: Additional Resources

    * * * * *

    First update/sample:

    6.2: Replaying Scenarios:

    Replaying Scenarios
    Limited replay was introduced as of 2.2, but as of 3.0.2+ the following replay rules apply:
    • If you play you earn 1 credit that is applied to the character that played through the scenario.
    • If you GM a scenario, you earn 1 credit that can be applied to any character that hasn't played through the scenario.
    • If you spoil the plot for the table, the GM has the right to ask you to leave the table and is under no obligation to award you a chronicle sheet. Be very careful about character knowledge versus player knowledge. If you’re concerned about possibly spoiling something during the course of play, take the GM aside and ask how she would like it handled.
    • You receive GM or player credit regardless of the order you play/GM the scenario. You may not earn more than 1 player credit and 1 GM credit regardless of how many times you GM or play the scenario.

    Replay adds an extra weapon to the arsenal of GMs who run smaller game sessions and often have trouble finding a scenario that fits all of the players present. Remember: the goal of replay is to make sure fun gaming happens, not to remove the fun from gaming.

    The Exchange ***

    4 people marked this as a favorite.

    Greetings Mortals--

    Disclaimer of Pain:
    To be honest, the thoughts below are ideas that keep recurring for me and I recognize that not everything fits where it should. I share them here to gain insights from denizens of the forum and respect thoughtful opposition or further continuance of my ideas. Not all of the below are fully baked ideas, I recognize that there is much room for discussion. Please share your thoughts.

    We know that PFS is a self-described as an "Organized Play" campaign. Everybody probably has a different understanding of what that means. I probably have a different understanding built upon my previous experiences in LG and LFR than someone who hasn't played either. Which means that I have been operating under some different assumptions than most of you, and maybe most of the staff feels about the Pathfinder Society.

    I am not sure if Paizo yet has a coherent vision or overarching theory for the Pathfinder Society. Sure, they have some basic rules, but no stated or printed theory, core tenets, or goals. If they exist, I would love to have them shared with the Community.

    I think PFS needs to decide what kind of campaign it wants to be and clearly state for players, coordinators, and *themselves* upon what tenets the campaign is built. Once those tenets are posted and discussed, then the community and designers can begin working together to build the kind of campaign that PFS should be...an established goal with a set of principles behind it.

    I do feel some dissonance in both how I organize my gamedays/conventions, how I run modules for my players, and the current PFS rule set. I just believe in certain things about what PFS should be that I'm not sure that PFS is...or ever will be...but I wish they were. Let me 'splain:

    Painlord's Dream Core Tenets for the Pathfinder Society
    (in no particular order)

    Core Tenet #1: Character Choices Should Matter:
    Perhaps this is too narrow a description, but I think it's very important: player choices (in terms of the build/personality/etc.) and character choices (in terms of what they do/accomplish, brave deeds, etc.) should be meaningful for the greatest enjoyment of this role-playing game. When players know that their decisions will have impact and effect within the game, they will take more care and enjoy the outcome more. When actions/decisions have consequences, they have *value*. I want PFS to have value...and I want people to care about it.

    Core Tenet #2: Ensure Promotions of In-Game Goals and Rewards:
    PFS will thrive as long as there is very clear and meaningful goals and rewards for play. Most of the time, rewards are as simple as a good time, gold, XP, and/or PA. However, built upon that, as equally as important, is that there are additional opportunities for the player to earn more chances for rewards. There *should be* a meaning full tier system, i.e.: higher tier mods for higher tier characters only. There should be rewards for continued play. Most people will be happy to 'work' to get their reward...in fact, they will enjoy and value the experience more when they have earned their way there. Again, it's about creating *value* within the game.

    A story: My VC, Azmyth, was telling me about his experience at GenCon. One of Josh Frost's hardcore rules was that you just can't play mods out of tier. Azmyth described Josh as describing it as "earning the right to be there." I really like that...it made sense.

    Core Tenet #3: Money and Growth Flows From Happy Customers:
    This is pretty simple, but also pretty important. Happy contented players and coordinators will lead to happy full purses within Paizo. However, it doesn't mean that PFS *needs* to be structured to generate profit for Paizo, rather that profit will be a by-product of a well-run campaign.

    As PFS has grown, PFS has recruited a player base above and beyond the early converts. That is, newer players are *no* longer prominently Paizo regulars. As such, what was true 6 or 12 months ago, is less true now. With growth, timely and consistent rules updates are more necessary than ever before. The player pool is already changing and PFS needs to be able to quickly adapt and change with it. As it stands now, there is some fraying around the edges of the campaign, which causes chaos and uncertainty in the campaign. I believe it's better to address these issues in a timely manner.

    Core Tenet #4: High Value on Community Volunteer Leadership and Community Input:
    It's no secret that I played LG and it's also no secret that many people had differing views of LG and the volunteer leadership. We know that many of Paizo management started their careers with LG as volunteers. LG was able to build an amazing, if imperfect, organized play environment utilizing the talents of volunteers. I am currently unsure about what role the VCs will have in this in the near future...so far, it seems limited to outreach, promotion, and judging.

    Truth is that technology has advanced significantly over the last 5 years, as has our understanding of organized play. This is a new era and we have new chances to create a great working partnership between the volunteer community and Paizo management. A volunteer team can coordinate along with Paizo staff in ways that just couldn't be done 5 years ago.

    In the future, we can build upon what we learned in LG. I believe a cooperative team could manage:
    #1) Timely updates of the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play
    #2) Promotion and acquisition of new PFS Players
    #3) Appropriate Judge and Player Rewards
    #4) New modules and/or Community Driven Storylines
    #5) New PFS rules as necessary
    #6) Handling community inquiries about PFS play (not rules) with full authority
    When the community has more say into the campaign, they will *value* it more. It will become part of them and grow even more.

    Core Tenet #5: PFS is an open, social, consistent, and friendly play environment wherever you go.:
    As most of you know from my previous posts, I value the social, friendly aspect of PFS above all else. The game is just a vehicle for enjoying the interactions of others while enjoined in a common activity. As long as this tenet holds, things are good.

    I believe the concept of "Play, Play, Play" fits under this tenet: it makes sense and fits well. We will do everything we can to welcome and accommodate players who show up for games.

    I think it's great to promote that you can travel to conventions, play online, or play at many local gamestores and, generally, have the same experience under the same ruleset. Not is ever going to be perfectly consistent, but, generally, I think things are the same the world of PFS.

    Core Tenet #6: Reward Should Equal Risk/Don't Screw with the XP/Gold Curve:
    I believe in logical and balanced rules for advancement, risk, and reward for all players within PFS. I believe there is a wide range of feelings on this topic, but to make choices matter (and add value), death and reward must be balanced within the campaign. I am very hesitant to change anything that messes with the XP/GP/PA curve or minimizes the chance of death within the campaign.

    Core Tenet #7: New interesting, content needs to be consistently available.:
    Need more detail? Thought not. For the most part, this is well done. It is clear, however, that current supply does not meet demand. At some future time, this needs to be addressed as it is essential to keep PFS alive.

    Core Tenet #8: Trust in local coordinators to know their players, run the games.:
    I believe that local coordinators should be allowed to adjust the PFS rules to fit the needs of their players, provided they don't run afoul of the core tenets.

    Paizo seems to mostly trust (in a way, it has to) gameday coordinators to follow their basic rules. What they need to do next is realize that if they can trust coordinators to properly organize and run events, then they can trust them in others ways.

    For example, I won't kill new players at my tables. I just won't do it, though previously it wasn't discouraged.

    I will change the encounters of modules to fit the abilities and desires of the players at my tables at gamedays that I organize. And I will trust certain of my judges to do the same. There is *no* doubt in my mind that some tables are completely overpowered for the encounters in some modules....heck, the entirety of modules. And I know that my players want a good, fun, challenging module and I believe in my ability to deliver it correctly. As long as I don't mess with the XP/GP/PA curve, I think this is in the best interests of PFS.

    Core Tenet #9: Promote the purity of a well run module.:
    I believe in the infinite purity of a well run module by players playing it for the first time. This, to me, is the single biggest selling point of PFS play. As a coordinator, if I all do is make each and every single running of a module the best it can be, then I think I've given an incredible gift. PFS modules are almost sacred, IMHO, because you only get to experience them for the first time once and because there are so few.

    I believe that Paizo, in general, puts out quality modules and I want to play them once and have the best gaming experience possible. I want the same for my players and new players to the game.

    I believe in keeping this experience as pure and good as possible.

    That's just some of what I believe. I wish all of them were true for the Pathfinder Society. I would love to hear your thoughts.

    -Pain

    PaizoCon Meetup?:
    Hyrum & Mark: any chance you guys want to organize a PFS-focused discussion or Q&A at PaizoCon where we can discuss issues like this and others?

    Obligatory Pain Spoiler:

    The Exchange ***

    Greetings Mortals--

    I want to give both shout-out and encouragement to authors and future authors highlighting some encounters that I have particularly enjoyed running as a judge.

    In general, superior encounters have some parts of the following 3 concepts:
    1) Fun/interesting/different toys for the judge to run for the bad guys
    2) Freedom for how the encounter starts/terrain/setting
    3) Interesting NPCs

    I am not a killer DM, but I *LOVE* have toys and tools during encounters with which to inflict fun, pain, and challenge upon a party. As a judge, I love chances for me to use my creativity or, even better, letting the players use their creativity to get things done (which is great because the more creative my players get, the more creative I get to be). And I love having a good or interesting NPC to interact with party.

    Here are a few encounters that I think highlight what I to encourage for PFS mods.

    (As a reminder, don't read spoilers unless you've played the mod...don't ruin the best encounters in the game for yourself!)

    Frozen Fingers of Midnight: Warehouse:

    This encounter is great because it is so open ended and the party has so many options to proceed. The judge is given a map, a scout on the outside, some bad guys on the inside, and brief description of the waterfront and that's about it. The party gets to decide how and when to achieve their goals. I have yet to have two parties do it the same way.

    When I was run through it, one of our yahoos flirted with the scout while the rest of the party got into position. Of course that didn't work to well as the scout scouted us scouting him. Chaos ensued. Awesome.

    When I ran it, the party split up, some at the front door while other swam under. The swimmers were heard. Chaos ensued. Awesome.

    When I ran it again, the party drank itself near silly so it could properly start a drunken brawl on the docks. Chaos ensued. Awesome.

    And what makes this encounter extra special, is that the BBEG inside has an artifact at his disposal. The effect is somewhat minor (just freezing death & zombification), but the fact that you get to hit PCs with it? Awesome. Talk about giving the PCs a reason to want to succeed? It does it and adds a lot of urgency to the mod.

    I love running this encounter. It's very free and open and lets the party be creative.

    Among the Living: Meet Taldan Nobility:

    This is an early mod, but was my first meeting with Taldan nobility. It certainly left an impression on me when I played it...and I've passed this along as I've run it.

    The encounter pits a evil priest and some zombies against a gaggle of Taldan nobility where the party has a chance to step in. I love this fight because one of the nobles is Emperor Stavian's cousin, an incredibly pompous ass....and I love playing fun NPCS. He is one of them.

    Nothing makes me happier than being able to say things to PCs like: “A glorious strike, peasant! The divine hand of Emperor Stavian has guided you here to save me!” and "Good hit, slave!!! I'll only have you beaten once tonight after this!!!". Then this noble follows the party, 'helping' as only a pompous ass can help....with 'encouragement'.

    It's just a good, flavorful encounter because of the good NPC that encourages roleplaying (especially with Andorans).

    Blood at Dralkard Manor::

    Oh poor, lovesick Rale...I hope he finds his true love requited.

    I really hope this mod returns from the dead as it is one of my favorites. As a judge, I love that I have the opportunity to use magic to screw around with the party with illusions, sounds, glamors, whatever. It makes me very happy to create a haunted house with things that are not haunted...and to have the 'love' story told out in notes is very cool.

    There are just so many options that both Judge and Party can take that it makes things really interesting. I love getting my players to roleplay along with me as they react to different effects.

    As a side note, I love that most parties that I ran this for decided to be 'smart' and use the back door to get in. *giggle*

    Decline of Glory: Final Fight:

    Ah, goodness, I love this encounter.

    First, the party is trapped in a distillery. Awesome.
    2nd, the distillery is well drawn and has lots of good defensible and indefensible locations. Cool.
    3rd, there are waves of bad guys...so that the first set of bad guys might not be so bad compared to what is coming next.
    4th, the encounter is quite deadly for parties who play foolishly...I don't like to kill PCs, but I am happy to hand them a rope if they want to tie a noose. Such opportunities make me happy.
    5th, there is a 2nd wave of other bad guys assault the party in the distillery.
    6th, oh yeah...if the longer the party takes to defeat the bad guys, more townspeople might die.

    So good!

    This leads to interesting choices and parties deciding different courses of action. It can lead to chaos and some characters doing something that other characters just wouldn't.

    Never underestimate the fun of giving the party the chance to make choices, and then making those choices have interesting consequences.

    Citadel of Flame: Sekrit encounter:

    How many of you all know the name Gali Sinquil? If you're like me, you know the name well and have etched his name in fire across the backs of more than a few parties.

    This encounter is really well set up. Gali is well hidden and has effects to screw parties over and over again. The tension for me as a judge is using Gali's powers while trying to remain unheard and unseen for as long as possible..that is the key, because once the party figures it out, then he usually doesn't live too long.

    As a judge, I like having to play a little sub-game (keeping quiet...yet annoying) while the party explores and investigates. One time, I had the party convinced that the false idol on the desk was the cause of all the problems. *teehee*

    A great encounter.

    Jester's Fraud: Urn of Troubles:

    To be honest, the first encounter of Jester's Fraud is the inspiration for this post. At subtier 5-6, the first fight (2 annis hags) is pretty ho-hum, *however*, at 8-9, things get really really really fun. You get 3, count'em, 1-2-3, Annis Hags which makes it an entirely different fight.

    Ya'see, 3 hags makes a coven. But a coven > 3 hags. A coven gets the following cool toys: animate dead, baleful polymorph, blight, bestow curse, clairaudience/clairvoyance, charm monster, commune, control weather, dream, forcecage, mind blank, mirage arcana , reincarnate, speak with dead, veil, vision. Look at all those toys!!!

    Again, I'm not out to kill PCs (I'll let PCs kill PCs via the Charm Monster spell), but the coven (as a full round action) provides for a lot of fun actions in the combat.

    I had the hags each doing a chicken dance (ala Arrested Development) as they tried (and failed) to turn PCs into chickens. I had 5 of the 6 party members in two force cages for a few rounds. Oh, the fun you can have....I didn't even get into the Charm Monstering or high level illusionary stuff that Sir_Wulf talks about here.

    I don't think this is a particularly deadly combat (PCs are protected and buffing if they are inside a forcecage), but it so much fun.

    Jester's Fraud: Rhoetius:

    This encounter is very similar to the Frozen Finger warehouse encounter: a very open environment...and it's very good. No two parties are going to approach this the same way or in the same order.

    The set-up is simple and enhanced by the concept that if the party goes for a full frontal assault, they may bring the entire bandit camp down on them and it would not be pretty. But the party can just walk/bluff in, or sneak in, or whatever else.

    Once inside, there are several bandit groups to fight or befriend or whatever. And there is a bandit that is happy to get the party.

    Not to mention the BBEG and his flying pet keeping on eye on things. His fight is no easy task. And then there is how the party is going to get the urn. Sneakery? The auction? Fight for it?

    But what all this really makes is for an interesting encounter with lots of choices and lots of options.

    It's such a good module.

    Those are first thoughts...of course, there are many more. Anyone else have some good encounters that they want to appreciate and tell why?

    -Pain

    The Exchange ***

    9 people marked this as a favorite.

    Greeting Mortals--

    As PFS continues to expand and we welcome in new players and new groups every week, I would offer humble suggestions for PFS Coordinators.

    As usual, nothing I say is perfect, but represents my best practices to date. I encourage other game day organizers to offer their tips and suggestions as well.

    Overarching Theory:

    I want my players to have the most fun possible while maintaining my sanity and giving players an opportunity to contribute as well. I believe that organized gaming will not survive on the backs of one or two people: it takes a community of players to make things work.

    As such, most of my suggestions are about building community and creating guidelines for play within that community. A gaming community is a social group and I strongly believe that cultivating the social aspect of PFS is an essential part of the coordinator job.

    Your Players:

    Admittedly, I'm old...old and grumpy and I've lost my youthful enthusiasm so take these comments filtered by the lenses of experience and crankiness:

    As organizers, we are never going to be able to make everyone happy all the time. I will do the best I can, but recognize this is a fight that I cannot 'win'. There will be players who just won't be able to or be willing to follow basic directions or adhere to the Society rules. There will be some that will try your patience and make you sad...and others who fill you with awe.

    It's your job to makes things work for players as best you can while giving yourself the leeway to do things to keep your sanity. I find that players manage themselves better when they have clear instructions and expectations. I try to communicate that when they do their job, they make my job easier. In general, people want to help things work out.

    There will be some players who aspire to do more than just help out...they'll have to contribute in significant ways. My advice is simple: give them everything they need (advice, organizational help, whatever) to promote and grow Pathfinder in your area. One guy has even built a website for our Bay Area Pathfinder group with all the information about local game stores and whatnot.

    On Atmosphere:

    I try to create an environment where gamers are free to be gamers. I try to encourage roleplaying and free expression and individual tastes at all times. I try (but often fail...I'm getting better) to learn all my players' names and greet them when I see them. I will always try to make sure that people at tables know each other and *especially* know the GM. I will do introductions. Yeah, I know it's strange....but it helps create the friendly environment that I want.

    However <thunderclap>, part of having a safe and fun environment is setting boundaries.

    I do not feel that I need to bend over backwards for players, especially ones that repeatedly break rules, show up late, overtly metagame, or piddlespot around. There will be players in every group who do this...it's up to you to decide where your line is.

    The truth is that I do not feel like I have to kowtow to rude or obnoxious players nor subject my players to inappropriate behavior. I will give them firm warning about behaviors are unacceptable and, if bad behaviors exist, I'll dis-invite them to events that I run.

    I am *NOT* shy about protecting my players, neither should you be. If there is a player who is making you hurt inside every time he shows up OR is causing massive mustering problems because no one wants to play with him: give him a chance to amend....or get rid of him. It just isn't worth it. Mods are too few to have them ruined by bad players. Do *not* feel guilty about this. Also, if you're giving negative feedback to someone, never do it at the table or in front of others....this should be handled privately and professionally. Having open loud spats are bad for everyone around.

    (As a side note: you don't ever have to let someone play with you that you don't want despite popular belief. If you're organizing, it's your party. There is no Paizo Ninja-Pirate Police force that is going to swoop in and tell you who to play with. Handle your job as a professional, adult manner and you'll have few problems.)

    Nuts and Bolts Organization:

    For me, there are two essential tools to the being a Coordinator: our Yahoo group and Warhorn sites. With them, I am able to adequately communicate and organize with my players. You can use other tools (Google groups, etc.), but to be successful, imho, you need a way to communicate effectively (push communications) and a way to muster/sign up.

    Yahoo Group:

    I founded BAPS, Bay Area Pathfinder Society, Yahoo group, on 12/3/2009. In the first month using current contacts and players I knew, I had 29 members. After a year of inconsistent marketing and promotion, I have just under 90 members. (PFS is growing!)

    It is essential to our communication over and scheduling. Furthermore, it serves as a social focus for our community. We have banter and discussion about Pathfinder and Pathfinder Society topics....as well as off topics. The ability for anyone to participate is great...as is the daily digest or individual email options.

    We use it for:
    Posting upcoming games
    People being awesome!
    Tool tips and Info, Rules, etc.
    Special Events
    Shout outs!
    Calls for Judges
    Announcing and coordinating local Conventions
    Coordinating Adventure Paths

    Our database has all blurbs and tiers of all the mods.

    Our file section has useful downloads (blank char sheets, BAPS logos, etc.).

    The big challenge with Yahoo groups is getting people to sign up for it. However, it's power is worth the hassle of trying to get people on the system.

    Warhorn:

    Warhorn is our scheduling and mustering tool of choice. I can't imagine running a recurring game night without it. It gives our players the ability to plan and prepare their schedule and characters well ahead of time.

    Our FLGS, Endgame Oakland has THIS Warhorn site. While it's not perfectly easy to use, it helps tremendously with sign ups and mustering.

    While it can be difficult to get players on the system, once installed and the players trained on it, it is an invaluable resource.

    Random Organizational Notes:

    1) I train my judges to bring 7 chronicles, 3 copies of each faction mission, and whatever tools they need to judge. In return, I ensure a table of players, the Reporting sheet, and whatever support they need to run the mod. I also handle the reporting/data entry back to Paizo.
    2) I act as Head Judge when I am there to handle any disputes during gameplay. I pretty much *always* stand by my judge and his rulings at the table. It's amazingly rare for me to override him...in fact, I can't remember ever having done it. I try to trust my judges to run the best mod possible and give them the freedom to run it.
    3) I work hard at maintaining relationships with my FLGS...we try to foster the necessary symbiotic relationship that is, obviously, mutually beneficial: we bring in the players/customers, they provide the space and seating. Since I started at my FLGS in December 2009, I expanded to another gamestore in March 2010, and PFS has hit three more again after that. It's difficult to get all the players from the different groups to join the Yahoo Group, but that is part of the challenge of Coordinating in a big area. Your challenges may vary.
    4) Marketing is probably my weakest suit. I do what I can in terms of promotion at conventions and local game stores, but it's still slow. I probably need to do a better job of motivating my player base to help me in this process. We have a couple of local PFS all-stars (you know who you are) who are doing a lot to promote PFS in our area...and I cheer them on like no one's business. I cannot do it all alone...and that's the point of this post: we're a community and we need to work together to make things happen.
    5) VC Azmyth has been a wonderful breath of life into our community. I try to work with him often to make things happen in our area. If you don't know your local Venture Captain yet, make yourself known.

    I believe that not everyone is going to make a good judge...some players have the ability, some players do not. Not all capable players have the desire or drive to judge. As a coordinator, it is your job to help capable players become judges. I trust you to know how hard and when to push your players to become judges.

    Judges and Judge Recruitment:

    I do not like to judge too much...my comfort level is once a day at conventions, at most every other week during normal times. I stay fresher and motivated when I have a decent break between judging sessions...my sessions can take a lot out of me. As such, I've earned my first two stars over the last 12 months. I mean 30+ mods over 12 months feels right to me...but that's a slow weekend for someone like DougDoug. YMMV. I don't feel shy about trying to pace myself. And I don't feel shy about pushing others to judge.

    In general, I ask my judges to judge one out of every 4 times that they play. Yep, play 3, judge 1. That seems to be the right ratio for keeping games stocked and judges fresh.

    As Coordiator, I try to schedule myself to judge and play with every new player that comes to my games. I like to help them develop as players and scout out future judge talent. I tend to be pretty good about knowing who is ready to judge...I look for players who play nicely with others and have a character at level 4 or above. That's all it takes. Really. Charisma and a bit of experience and you're ready to go. Often, I'll give a mod that I've just run to prospective judges to get them to read it and understand what's going on behind the curtain. It's very effective in subtly laying the groundwork for a future judge invite.

    Here are some of the arguments that I'll make, as appropriate, to perspective judges:

    1) Do your part to help the community. When you contribute, we all succeed. (this works well)
    2) When you judge, you become a better player. I want you to take that next step. Be amazing. (this works well)
    3) Guilt. "When are you going to pull your weight?" (rarely used)
    4) External rewards. I have players in an AP who are committed to judging once a month as 'payment' for entry into the AP. Actually, any external reward (above and outside of usual GM credit) helps. Two FLGS give $5 in store credit to the judge. Another FLGS charges $6 per person to play...the judge gets it all!
    5) Outright flattery: "You're a great judge and I want this group of players to have you on this mod." "I'd like to play...and I want to play at your table. I'd be stoked!"
    6) Challenge them. "Do it so you can put your mark on this mod/adventure. Let's see what you got." Or "These pathfinders here really want a challenge. I know you can give it to them!"
    7) Highlight the GM credit rules: "You get full XP, gold, and PA for judging this. It's a great way to level!"
    8) Intrigue: "You'll learn that different parties will solve the same mod differently. You'll be awed how things turned out. Compare how this new party with how you did it."
    9) <activate Painlord Rage power> "JUDGE, YOU LAZY PIDDLESPOT OR I'LL BEAT YOU TO DEATH WITH YOUR OWN DICE!!! REALLY, HOW MANY MINIS DO YOU THINK I CAN CRAM UP YOUR NOSE!?!" (never used outside of my own head)
    10) <please add your argument/thought below>

    Most experienced judges know that there is a significant mental initial barrier to entry into judgeship, however, once that barrier is crossed, judging becomes much easier and less of a mystery. Most judges do not start judging out of fear...fear of not knowing the rules, not being good enough, not blahblahblah. As coordinators, we need to motivate beyond that and get the player to be comfortable enough to step up to judge.

    Excuses are excuses....they are nothing but a smokestick in the way. I try to focus on ways to assuage their worries and support them.

    Here are some of the typical excuses and comebacks that I'll use in return:

    Excuse #1) "I don't have the time." (of course, this is just a stalling tactic)
    Response) "No worries. Here's the mod now...I'll schedule you to run in a month. Surely, you can find time over the next month to prep."
    Response if the above doesn't work) "You can't prepare a mod in a month. Really? How about 2 months? Or is there another issue that is really causing the problem?" (proceed to excuse 2, usually)

    Excuse #2) "I'm not good enough./I don't know the rules well enough."
    Response a) "I'm asking you because I know you know enough....you're good enough and you're ready."
    Response b) "Knowing the exact rules doesn't matter. You know enough to look things up as appropriate and find solutions. Use your players as a resource...and as a check when you are unclear. They will be happy to help...they always are."
    Response c) Here are some handy guides to help you get ready:
    Introducing Faction Missions to Players
    What makes a good GM
    Painlord's How to Be a Better Judge
    Response d) "This forum is great for additional information about the mod you're running. Check it out...the judges there have lots of insight into the mod."
    Response e) (Before they play the mod) "PlayerX, I may ask you to run this mod at a future time...be sure to pay attention to what happens." (Immediately after the mod, hand them a copy.) "Here you go...read it and see what just happened. I think you'll run it just fine."

    Excuse #3) "I don't have the supplies/mats/pens/minis/grognards."
    Response a) "Here borrow mine. Anything else?"

    Excuse #4) "I don't want to."
    Response a) "I understand that, but you're good enough and smart enough to run a fantastic mod. Sadly, if you won't contribute back to the community, I may not have room for you at my games anymore. I hope you'll want to stay playing with us and want to be part of our community. I need you to step up every once in a while." I suspect many of you will think this is harsh, but I don't think so. In order for the community to grow and survive, you need people to contribute...everyone has to pull their share. And, as Coordinator, you have to make it happen...there is no one else!

    Feedback: I encourage my judges to ask for feedback on their judgings. Often, I'll ask how things went to offer constructive thoughts to new judges. Sometimes, when appropriate, I'll have an experienced player at the table with the new judge to specifically give feedback. I think reflection and review are essential processes for becoming a better judge. PFS will grow on the strength of its judges.

    It should be stated that once a judge has repeatedly given good faith efforts and failed to achieve quality judgemanship, I would relent and remove them from my judge pool. It's never happened...but I've had bad judges before and I'll try to keep them away from my players.

    Here is the email I send to prospective judges about becoming a judge. I usually follow up with a private conversation to reinforce what I've asked and to answer any questions. Feel free to re-jiggerify for your own use.

    Judge Email:

    "Hey Joe--

    Though we haven't talked to you about this before, I wanted to touch base about getting you into the judging pool at Endgame.

    I've seen you play and I know you know you stuff and so I think it's natural that you would begin to think about contributing back to the Endgame community. Of course, there is no pressure to do so, but the system works better when everyone judges at least once in a while. We have lots of new players and need judges to fill all the tables.

    Consider this a formal invite to getting started.

    This is what I do to prepare for a game:
    1) Read the mod and make notes on the combats and anything that I want to add.
    2) Pre-draw the maps.
    3) Re-read the mod again, paying special attention to tactics (this helps after I've drawn the maps).
    4) Plan how the monsters will fight in the different encounters.
    5) Run it and have fun with it.

    I know you can totally make it happen and I could schedule you at an approaching game night of your choosing. You will get player credit for judging, so that shouldn't be an issue.

    You help would be appreciated. Just once every month or two would make a big difference.

    Thanks,
    Pain

    Fun:

    I like to have fun with my players. I want to encourage the social aspect of the game.

    That's why I send messages like this.

    Oh well, it made me laugh. After all, if you had a player who choose to name his character "Ruddy Piddlespot", wouldn't you have some fun with it?

    Again, feel free to post your comments and ideas below. I'm a huge fan of feedback and getting multiple inputs to find solutions.

    If you've liked/hated the above, you may also love/hate the following posts:
    How to be a Better Judge
    What to Expect at a PFS Table
    How to be a Better PFS Player

    -Pain

    The Exchange ***

    59 people marked this as a favorite.

    Greetings Mortals--

    (For a thought on how to be a better player, go here.)

    I am not the best judge on the planet. But I do think upon things a bit and I have been doing this silly game for a while. This post is for those who want to aspire to be something capable of the *Amazing* when they judge.

    There are a lot of things you just can't control when you judge (the depth of the mod itself, when your mod is played, the mood of the players that come, etc.) so I try to focus on things I can control....things to make the experience the best for my players. I consider each judging experience to be an opportunity to share something amazing with them. I like to give it my all and make it as fun and challenging as I can.

    Remember, each player can only experience a mod for the first time once...and that's an awesome responsibility. I feel the need to present the story and make it as memorable as possible.

    Sometimes I succeed, and I know it. I rejoice.
    Sometimes I fail, and I know it. It hurts.
    Either way, I aspire to do it better the next time.

    (This is a long post, I make no apologies for it. I'm pretty sure this list is still just a fraction of what good judges could do. Points are noted to give weight to certain concepts and ideas.)

    Thoughts are broken down by category:

    About the Mental State:

    +2: For being awake and alert.
    +2: For being in good humor and mentally prepared to run a good mod.
    +5: When you're running this mod because you understand that giving back to the community (via judging) is important
    +5: For running to learn from your players as you judge. There are always tricks and tips to be shared and learnt.
    +3: For hoping your players do something exciting and unexpected so you can rise to the challenge and make it even better.
    +5: For embracing "losing", as in, acknowledging that the players are supposed to 'win' the day. You 'win' by making it fun for the players to win, which means your bad guys have to 'lose'. But don't worry, that means that you really win. :)

    About Starting:

    +0: For arriving at start time to begin setting up.
    +2: For arriving 10 minutes early to prep and get set up.
    -2: For showing up late.
    +1: For introducing yourself to all the players at the table.
    +1: For making sure the players introducing themselves to each other in real life (or giving a proper introduction).
    +1: For making sure the characters have an opportunity to introduce each other in character to begin the roleplaying.
    +1: If you use initiative cards, have a sample filled out for players to follow.
    +1: For getting the sign in sheet filled out and going around the table.
    +1: For asking and setting the subtier (aka APL) of the mod so that players know what to expect.
    +5: For encouraging players to play what the character they want to play in the mod, rather than some misguided notion of balance.

    On Preparation:

    +15: For reading the mod at least twice: once as a general reading, again for more detailed understanding.
    +10: For pre-researching the powers, spells, and abilities of the bad guys as to not interrupt game flow with looking up of stuff. I try to write out such things in the mod when I read the mod for the 2nd time. Sometimes, I print out the monsters directly from the online bestiary so I'll have copies to easily refer to rather than the book (I'll group them by tier or encounter as appropriate).
    +5: For pre-thinking (if you know the players in the group that you are running) of ways to customize and personalize the mod in advance. For me, I often run for a Luggish brute and a sour Sage and I make notes on how to screw with, uhm, I mean, "appreciate" them beforehand.
    +2: For having maps pre-drawn and ready to go.
    +2: For having the chronicles pre-signed and filled out (as appropriate) so you can get them out quickly should you be rushed for time at the end.
    +1: For having handouts, faction missions, and what not ready to go.
    +1: For having faction sheets for players to keep an take notes upon...for each player.
    +2: For having pre-gens and PFS numbers to hand out to new players.

    On the Setting:

    +0: For reading the box text about the setting in the mod.
    +1: For taking the time to show the players where they are and where they go on a map and describing the location with backstory.
    +2: For additional color and flavor that you can impart during the mod from external sources. (If I don't have the Paizo book, I'll often do a search on one of the many wikis to get additional info.)

    On Pacing:

    +1: For finishing a mod within the time allotted.
    +3: For stretching with color/flavor/roleplaying a 2 hour mod into a 4 hour mod.
    -10: For rushing a 4 hour mod into 2 hours when you're just trying to get it done so you can say you judged.
    +2: For politely pushing slower playing characters into action rather than having them drag the game to a halt with their indecision.
    +2: For calling a decided combat early so that you can return to the story or next important event.
    +3: For being attuned to player reactions and mood to know when to pick things up and move on and when to dally and let roleplaying happen.

    Managing Players and the Table:

    +100: For acknowledging that you're the one in charge and using that authority appropriately. It is your game to run and it is your party.
    +15: For clearly talking about your judging style and quirky rules when you start the mod.
    +10: For sharing your attention around the table so that all players have a chance to speak, act, and react.
    +10: For seeking opportunities for each player to shine.
    +5: For toning down the aggressive or loud player. "Would you mind dialing it back a bit?" usually works.
    +5: For encouraging the timid or quiet player, when appropriate. Some people need to be invited to participate.
    +5: For shooing away other players and distractions from your table. Feel free to pause and wait for the distraction to pass. I politely stare down anyone who comes and distracts me or my players.
    +5: For inviting a sleeping (really...it's happened) or disinterested player to leave your table. I like to ask them if the experience of PFS or the reward is the reason why they are there. If they answer "experience", I invite them to leave and enjoy the full experience at another time when they are rested (or mentally ready). If they answer "reward", I would give them a chronicle and gladly see them on their way (it's never happened, but I'd happily excuse a tired/unhappy player from my table). I would rather not have them drag down my table. I expect most players will perk up and re-engage when such a question and offer is made.

    In Combat:

    +10: For efficiently managing initiatives, combat actions, and the bad guys in an encounter.
    +3: For describing combat effects and the combat beyond just rolling the dice.
    +3: For describing the bad guys as they appear when they show up in combat. Example: "You see a pair of medium humanoids. Both are dressed in leather and carry clubs. The second has a few javelins nearby."
    +3: For playing the bad guys within the realms of the intelligence/nature that they have.
    +2: For using good tactics against the party where appropriate.
    +5: For clearly describing terrain and environmental effects before and during a combat.
    +2: For having minis and tiles to tactically represent an encounter and allow players to visualize the combat.
    -3: For using cheetos or M&Ms to represent bad guys.
    +5 (Tier 1-2 only): For teaching and encouraging proper tactics in new players.
    +5 (Tier 3-4 and above): Allowing players to make tactical mistakes (or intentional roleplaying 'gaffes') and then helping them learn from those mistakes through experience. "No one is going to engage the caster? Interesting tactic, here's another fireball."
    +1: For prompting players when their turn is next so they can be ready to go.
    -3: For allowing slow players to overtly slow down the game.
    +1: For rolling in the open, for better to let the fates decide.
    +1: For helping players adjudicate cover and concealment as they decide their actions. "Okay, so you're firing an arrow from there...your target has cover." Be ready to help with appropriate rulings.
    +2: For being ready to provide appropriate information based on Identify Monster rolls.
    +2: For cheering for your players when they crit or do cool stuff. Pepper your combats with "Well struck!" and "Nicely done!"

    On Difficulty Level:

    +5: For assessing (or just asking) how much of a challenge your table would like at the table. Deciding factors may include: # of players, average party level for the tier, your personal knowledge of the player's styles and preferences, understanding with the gameday or Con organizer, etc.
    +25: Adjusting the difficulty of the mod, when appropriate to the needs and wants of the party. Of course, it's unclear whether the Paizo Gods understand or approve of this, but I feel it's essential to a fun mod.
    -EleventyBillion: Adjusting the difficulty up wherein you kill a character or the party. You fail. Deaths should only happen via outright stupidity or just bad dice rolls: "Yep...I rolled it in front of you, a crit with the Great Axe from the raging Orc Barbarian. Then the '15' on the die to confirm. Sorry..." Don't ever up the difficult to an extent where players die unfairly.
    +5: Adjusting down the difficulty when you are playing with new players or a first level party.

    On Personalization:

    +5: For RetConning your players chronicles (or using personal info) to customize and personalize events and reactions from NPCs into the adventure. A venture captain might make vague allusions to previously played successes (or failures) for the Pathfinder Society. Recurring NPCs (Miss Feathers, anyone) might follow up or react to previous events. The more customization, the more living and real the campaign feels.
    +10, each instance: For adding roleplaying notes and text to a character's chronicle at end of mod. The text shouldn't be anything that adds anything other than roleplaying or fun value, but opportunities for such should be sought and cherished. Examples might include: "Commissioned the Painter of Cassomir for a portrait of his Eidolon. Paid in gold." "Burnt down the remaining story of the proposed retirement home of VC Savarre." "Engaged in turpid (but unknown) activities with Miss Feathers behind closed doors. Paid in gold." I give every personalized hook that I can squeeze out of events and reactions from a mod.

    With Box Text:

    +0: For reading the box text.
    +1: For reading the box text clearly and forcefully so players can really hear and feel it.
    +1: For repeating important box text and/or including additional flavor as you go.
    +2: For allowing appropriate knowledge checks during and after to enhance the players' knowledge.
    +1: For customizing and altering the box text as necessary to fit the mood or story you are telling.

    With Roleplaying:

    +15: For being an active, alive proponent of roleplaying at your table.
    +3: For encouraging your players to describe their actions rather than just rolling dice.
    +1: For each time you say "yes" to a player's roleplaying idea.
    +2: For each time you say "OH HECKS YES" to a player's roleplaying idea.
    +5: For each time you demand and insist that the roleplayer enacts his idea or plan and then make it even better.
    +2: For giving proper and incidental bonuses to roleplaying within a mod. For instance, I will happily give props to those who use their craft/profession/perform in the mod to enhance the party's goals. For instance, if the party starts the mod sailing from Absalom to Sandpoint, I will give a bonus to profession (sailor) rolls for those PCs what wish to use it as their Day Job roll.
    +3: For delivering Faction Missions in a way that is interesting a appropriate. This link is a good resource.
    +10: For roleplaying with each player based on the *character* that they present rather than their class. Don't assume that Paladins are brave, Clerics should heal, and Rogues should sneak. React to the character, not what you think they should be doing.

    Deception:

    +1: For realizing that players, often unintentionally, are metagamers and sometimes will do things out of character.
    +3: For keeping your players off balance and in a state of wonderment. This might include: asking to see a character's sheet and asking a random question about something, asking the party to roll d20s and write them down in front of you, taking a player aside and asking them what type of cheese they like best while pointing randomly at other party members.
    +3: For not putting down/drawing the combat map until combat is actually initiated or needed. Ask for a marching order, ask the players to describe their actions or their placement, but avoid the map until you really need it. Players are keyed to such things.
    +3: For putting down the map in non-combat situations or in situations when combat is not advisable...risky, but I believe in training the players to be honest.
    +3: For shushing or discouraging a metagamer at your table appropriately and politely. Do not let them ruin things for others. A reminder that "in-character knowledge and views are appropriate for making decisions" usually works.
    +5: For using your powers intelligently and usefully for the fun and spirit of the game to both befuddle and delight.
    +10: For making one encounter a mod seem so overwhelming and difficult that the players almost feel that they have no chance to overcome it. This could be just illusion or setting or description(or just the tough fight in the mod)...but give them a challenge and let them amaze you and accomplish the 'impossible' to win the day.

    Knowledge of Rules:

    +20: For realizing that no one is expecting you to have all the rules mastered and on the tip of one's tongue at a moments notice. Please banish any such thoughts from your mind.
    +5: For really, really understanding the above and accepting that your players will not know everything either.
    +5: For working with your players and your handy rulebooks to rule correctly on matters.
    +10: For knowing when just to make a ruling and move on, for sometimes the wait is not worth the damage to the flow of the game. Remember, you are the guy in charge. You can make decisions and push things forward.
    -5: For being too proud to acknowledge a mistake. They *will* happen but sometimes the best response is "I screwed that up. Sorry, but do you mind if we move on? I'll do better next time."
    -5: For extended arguing with a player about a rules issue at the table. At the worst, take them aside and have the discussion away from the other players, but do *not* have a prolonged argument in front of other players. If the player persists in bad spirited comments, invite them to leave the table.
    +5: For asking your players about spells/powers/feats that they are using. *Absolutely* do this...sometimes they will be using the effect incorrectly or another player may have some insight as well. I sometimes ask players how they total up to their 'to hit' and damage rolls or their AC. Asking about such things promotes honesty, lest they called out and unable to explain the numbers they are using. Also, it's a good way to learn about different classes and abilities. "Oh, so my 26 to hit misses you, eh? I'm curious, what is getting your AC that high? [Player explains while I add it up in my head.] Nicely done...I'm going to have to try the same."

    Ending the Mod:

    +5: For really tying up any loose ends, including making a full report back to the Venture Captain.
    +1: For ending before time so you have time to clean up and handle paperwork.
    +2: For filling out chronicles accurately.
    +1: For finishing up the sign in sheet and Prestige Awards sections...and turning it in.
    +10 again, because it's important: For adding roleplaying and story notes to the chronicle to help build a living, continuous feeling to the campaign.
    +5: For making a point to celebrate the key actions in the mod/fights that turned the tide or made a difference. "You, Lugg, did a good job of placing your character in the first fight. I couldn't get around your huge @## to get to the squishes. Nice work." "I would have won the 2nd fight if it wasn't for the Wizard having a scroll of fly!! Nice work, Wizard. I just had nothing to deal with the now flying *Thongar*, the Barbarian Master of Airborne Pain and Suffering." "Hey RogueyMcSneakSneak, way to scout out the bad guys for your team to go into the combat fully aware of what they were facing. Against perfect tactics, my guys were toast. Well done!"

    Feedback:

    +5: For asking for feedback after the mod (or a few days after the mod when you can, some players like to ponder and stew upon things and you'll get a better response) to help you get better.
    +5: For taking notes for yourself on things you work upon or get better at.
    +5: For adding your comments and thoughts for me to add into this post. I appreciate it.

    So, there you go. One yahoo's thoughts on how to judge.

    -Pain

    p.s.

    My usual judging speech goes like this:
    "Hi, I see that many of you are playing with me again, but, as a reminder, I'd like to go over my ground rules. First, please do not talk over me when I'm reading box text or describing the environment. It makes me sad to repeat myself. Second, I tend to talk quickly or slur when I'm really excited...if I'm talking and you're not understanding, please let me know so I can be more clear. Third, since you guys are experienced Pathfinders and since I play my bad guys with absolute and total tactical perfection (pause for laugh), I will not be going back to correct mistakes that I've made during combat unless they egregiously need to be fixed. By the same token, when you end your turn, I won't be going back to add something that you've missed...when you end your turn, be sure to be correct. Don't miss the Bless effect or the extra damage from the Bard Song. When you end your turn, you've ended your turn. Lastly, I'll let you know when your turn is coming up...please be ready to do your thing. Plan in advance. Oh yeah...let's have fun and roleplay. Any questions?"

    The Exchange ***

    150 people marked this as a favorite.

    Greetings Mortals--

    Back in the ol' days, in a realm far, far away called Living Greyhawk, a player named Ken Jenks posted what was an epic diatribe about what he expected other players to be able to do when he sat down with them at the LG table.

    The post helped me during my LG days and it still haunts during some games as I remember what I should be doing and what I should be able to do. PFS and LG as similar, but not identical. Ken's point was excellent: at certain points within the PFS game, your character should be able to do certain things and handle certain encounters.

    Here is my updated version for Pathfinder Society Play. Ignore at your leisure...but if you can accomplish the stuff below, I bet you're a pretty good, balanced player.

    What I expect:

    After your first mod:

    After your first mod, I expect you to have a Potion of Cure Light Wounds and have the foresight to mention to your traveling companions wherein it might be found on your body. The only person responsible for healing you is you. (When you have 2 PA, I expect you to get a Wand of CLW.) Everyone should be able to easily stabilize another party member.

    I expect you to have a way to deal damage at range: a ranged weapon, scrolls, wand or whatever.

    You should have a way to deal with swarms. Of course, alchemist flasks are the easiest, but you may want something else. You know and I know that PFS mods are swarming with swarms...find a solution that fits your character.

    I expect that you have a smokestick/fog effect and a way to create fire and light. Sure, a few tindertwigs and a sunrod or light spell. If you're prone to poisoning, I expect you to have antitoxin.

    I expect that melee characters will have a back up weapon and spellcasters have a backup spell component pouch/holy symbol in case something happens to the primary.

    After 2 chronicles, I expect every player to contribute to group healing...even if it's just handing off a Wand of CLW. Responsibility for your healing does *NOT* reside with any other character other than yourself. I expect you to be able to help in the healing...if the party happens to have a character who actively assumes the role, that is different. Never expect that it is someone else's job.

    At level 3:

    I expect you to be able to play your character efficiently with whatever role you choose. I expect that you will do something to help the party every round even if it is just using the Aid Another action or casting Guidance. *ALWAYS DO SOMETHING.* I expect that you will be able to properly use the Delay and Ready actions to align your character with the actions of others.

    If you have a knowledge skill to identify a monster, I expect that you make that roll before you do anything else on your turn.

    Melee types: I expect you to have a magic weapon or a way to get your weapon magicked (have scrolls of Magic Weapon to pass out). I expect you to have a secondary weapons of cold iron and silver. I expect you to be able to overcome DR to slashing, piercing, and blunt. (My personal favorite is a silvered morningstar: silver, piercing, and bludgeoning.) I expect you to be able to deal non-lethal damage.

    Ranged types: I expect you to have a magic weapon or a way to get your weapon magicked (have scrolls of Magic Weapon to pass out). I expect you to have ammo of both cold iron and silver. I expect you to have a back up plan to handle close combat and overcoming DRs to slashing, piercing and blunt.

    Caster types: I expect you to have the beginnings of a spellcasting library in scroll form so that you can handle some of the different and random situations that might come up. I expect that you will have a solution to help the party deal with swarms and invisible foes...you are the best equipped to handle them, regardless of your class. Your library should have some spells that scale nicely on a scroll: Obscuring Mist, Ray of Enfeeblement, Comprehend Languages, Endure Elements, Faerie Fire, etc.

    I expect you to know how to use your basic spells in combat and have your spell descriptions in front of you *before* you cast the spell. I expect you to know how staple spells work: Magic Missle, Glitterdust, Spiritual Hammer, Grease...whatever your butter is, be able to spread it. I expect you to know how your area of effect spells may be placed...know what a cone looks like and the area effect of a Silence.

    At level 5:

    Every character should have the ability to fly...even if it's just a potion of fly. Sure, levitate works, so might spider climb. But have something. Nothing is more saddening than watching Thongar the Barbarian sulk because his prey took to the air. A prepped player should have a potion of fly so he could become *THONGAR*, Master of Airborne Pain and Suffering.

    Every character should have a way to both breathe and fight underwater. Learn the basics of underwater combat and have a solution ready.

    I expect you to be able to overcome magical darkness, like the effect from a drow or derro.

    I expect you will start building a nice utility scroll/potion collection to handle things that might happen or could face: Protection from Evil, Lesser Restoration, Remove Blindness, Cure Disease, Restoration, etc. Included in that collection should be elemental protection as well (Resist Energy, Prot Energy) for when you know you're walking into the Dragon's Lair. What else is in your collection?

    At level 7:

    I expect every character will have a few "get out of jail" cards at their disposal...some magic item that will get them out of a jam when something goes wrong. Potions of Fly and Gaseous Form work pretty well in this regard and are 'free' (2 PA). Have ways to save yourself from needing to spend 16 PA on Raise Dead.

    I expect that players will start sharing magical items with their companions, especially items that amplify abilities. "Mr. Mage, I have here a few scrolls of Enlarge Person and a pair of Pearls of Power 1. I like to be enlarged and if there is time in or before combat to make it happen, it would make me happy. I have potions of Enlarge Person as well if you don't have the chance." "Mr. Fighter, please wear this platinum ring...I'll wear it's companion and take some of your damage in the upcoming fight." "I have an old magical Cloak that I don't wear anymore...does anyone need it?"

    I expect players to have a Potion of Invisibility or a way to sneak effectively when needed. Yep, even those wearing 50lbs of Plate Mail should have a way to sneak. There are times when sneaking when is a reasonable and fun solution to an encounter...or sometimes one just needs another escape option.

    I expect all characters to begin to formulate a plan to tackle demons and devils, elementals and constructs, blobs and oozes. Each player needs to begin working on ways to bypass various DRs, SRs, and special defenses.

    I expect players to begin to think about solutions to being grappled or helping others who are grappled. Melee types should have easy access to a light weapon, casters easy access to magical solutions (scrolls of Grease, Freedom of Movement, etc.).

    At level 9:

    Weak willed types: About now, I expect you to have solutions (or reasonable resistance) to mind influencing, mind control, and fear effects. At higher tiers, these are more prevalent and only YOU are responsible for being ready. I don't care if it's Iron Will, Improved Iron Will (or PFS faction shirt), Circles of Protection, or properly outfitted Wayfinders with Ioun Stones, find a solution. There is nothing worse than having the big beefy fighter turn against the party.

    I expect all players to have a plan to tackle demons and devils, elementals and constructs, blobs and oozes. Each player needs to have ways to bypass various DRs, SRs, and special defenses.

    After reading all that, I remember again the axiom from LG: about 10% of your gained wealth should go into consumables. Looking above, it still seems to be correct. Between spending PA and gold, about 10% of your income could be consumables.

    Ken ended his post with following (which I think is still poignant): "As you can see, I have high expectations. What are yours?"

    My characters aren't perfectly aligned with the above...but after typing this post, I'll begin to take steps to get more prepared. I expect a lot from my characters. Some of my characters, for roleplaying reasons, may or may not have some of the above...but I'll know that and accept that. In fact, I heartily accept and admire different expectations based on roleplayin.

    What about you? What do you expect?

    -Pain

    The Exchange ***

    36 people marked this as a favorite.

    Greetings Mortals--

    I've been putting some thought into my experience with PFS play and how to make it better. I've been playing this silly game for a long time...I still suck-diddily-uck as a player, but I'm striving to get better. There is a lot to learn in this game and, believe it or not, you can get better. It takes thought and practice, and luckily for us, practice is part of the fun. If you're like me, you probably put a lot of thought into this game away from the table. That's why I read these boards. I like to get ideas to ponder when I'm away from the table.

    A thought: Your character's build is the least important part of what you can bring to the PFS gaming table.

    What is more important? Firstly, a player's (real life) charisma and ability to play as part of a team. Secondly, their ability to roleplay and respond to other players' roleplaying. Thirdly, their overall Pathfinder knowledge play skills and ability to apply them during a PFS mod. After all that, then the build of your character matters.

    Charisma:

    Charisma, real life: For me, the best quality a player can bring to the table is being fun at the table. I like players who can show up on time and you can joke around with. At conventions, I appreciate players who can shower, introduce themselves at the table. and can make me laugh. I can happily play with a new player who knows nothing about the game...players with charisma can be taught, will work as a team, and accept help in making good play decisions. I like players who come to play and are respectful of the other players. Nobody likes to play with jerks...or attention hogs...or players who fall asleep during the mod...or players who don't pay attention.

    After all, the core of this game is cooperative social interaction. We should acknowledge that we play this game because of the social interactions and the randomness and unpredictability and fun of those interactions...if not, we could stay at home and play Civ IV until our eyes bleed. That's fun too, but I play PFS to meet and hang with others in a common pastime. How well that works depends on charisma, both mine and in my fellow players.

    Roleplaying:

    Roleplaying Ability: To be a topnotch player in this game, you have got to be able to roleplay. I don't mean having to talk in a funny voice or dress up in costume, but the ability to build a character and a concept then be able to enact that concept at the table. This game isn't about playing you, but playing the character. It's about reacting to situations as your character might react. It's about creating an interesting play concept then bringing that into the PFS module. You know what? Roleplaying becomes easier and funner the more roleplayers you have at the table. And when the judge can handle and magnify it as well, the game becomes much more fun. Being about to bounce off other characters and their personalities is a key ingredient. Luckily, the ability to roleplay effectively can be learned...but this is the toughest PFS skill to master.

    Awareness of Rules:

    Awareness of current PF rules and Ability to play one's character effectively: You know how important flanking is? And how to do a 5' step? And how great Protection from Evil is against certain creatures? There are people who don't. There are players who don't carry any solutions to swarms when they enter dungeons. There are characters who don't know how to grapple or tumble. There are a lot of rules in this silly game and it takes time and experience to learn them all.

    Build:

    The Build. It's surprising how little this really matters. We spend a lot of time on it because it's easy for new players to grasp onto and it's fun to think about, but, in the end, it's just not as important as the above. We probably all have seen a mutt build that is surprisingly effective in the hands of a good player. And, sadly, we've probably seen a beautifully concepted, right off the CharOps Board damage machine ruined in the hands of a novice. You can also have a strong build played intentionally and intelligently 'different' for the sake of roleplaying. You can have a DPR fiend played well by a attention hogging jerk that can ruin the fun for everyone else at the table.

    Most Pathfinder classes are designed to be at a certain power level and as long as you build within appropriate norms, it is likely that your Build will be of an appropriate power level for the game.

    My point: when you think about bringing more to the table and upping your game, there are lots of areas to work upon. Switching your weapon to a higher damage die is a step in a direction, but you might travel even further on the path of awesome by introducing yourself to everyone at the table. Or having a good backstory to your character that you weave into his motivations. Or have all your summoned monster stats on hand and ready to go *before* you cast the spell.

    On that note, this post is a great place to brush up on some good play tips.

    I might have a few more posts coming about this topic...and would love to hear the forum's thoughts on this.

    -Pain

    The Exchange

    Hey All--

    I have a homebrew evocation blaster type running around Golarion blowing things up as is his want.

    I have the option to get myself one of them pretty metamagic rods.

    I think I want either a rod of Empower or Maximize but don't know which one will be better for all my evocation spells (fireball, call lightning, flame strike, etc.).

    Which one would you suggest and why? And what math are you using behind it?

    Thanks.

    -Pain

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