|Brendan Green Venture-Captain, Alaska—Fairbanks aka Relmer|
Having played a paladin to level 11 and I have to say there are advantages (Detect Evil at will destroys some scenarios) and disadvantages (sitting out of certain parts of scenarios, choosing to fail/skip some faction missions). But that is true of all characters. Play what you want and that which is fun to you.
Rogue Eidolon wrote:
I see adding "variable XP" to the mix as an unnecessary complication to a system that is already, in some ways, bogged down by too many additional rules and choices ("Hey new player, you know how you had a hard time picking feats? Now you have to pick traits too!").
We already have two experience tracks. Adding the possibility to get more XP by playing a session "at the right tier" is just another way to "game the system"; you have changed "wealth cheating" to "fast leveling cheating."
To play in PFS you already need to play Pathfinder with an additional "layer" of complication added on top. The solution to the WBL problem should not make that worse. The solution should be simple and easy to follow at minimum (i.e. a single sentence). Ideally, the solution will also solve other problems like setting up players at tables and encouraging people to play the sessions they want by removing mechanical advantages to character advancement.
Joe M. wrote:
What to do with PP? Double it, like XP and gold.
So, just DOUBLE everything? Isnt that kind of greed the same kind that messed up the WBL curve and caused this whole mess? How about getting an expected reward and picking sessions for reasons other than "extra" reward? That sounds like fun.
Joe M. wrote:
When players have to make a choice on what reward they get its complicated for them (some players have a hard time picking their spells). I think the best solution is one that can be summed up in a single sentence, does not penalize anyone, and encourages people to play at any table that is running a scenario within several levels of their character's level.
I think the flexibility offered by a solution that does not penalize players would actually make it EASIER to form tables. Now players can play at a table for a number of reasons other than "everyone else is within one level of my characters": (1) They like the GM (2) They like the other players at the table (3) The scenario sounds cool. Wouldn't that be nice, to pick a table to sit at for a reason other than having to answer the question "What is mechanically most beneficial to my character's wealth and/or advancement?"
I understand the concern that lower level characters may risk more by playing up than they will be rewarded. But they CHOOSE to do so after talking with the other players at their table like adults. They knew the risks and the table tier was decided by everyone. Nobody should have gotten bullied and coerced; there was no tangible reward to do so.
Picking a tier should be easier. It just requires a discussion which, to some degree, already happens now. Except now there is no need for bullying or coercion in the discussion.
There are a lot of good ideas being thrown around this thread, many of which are better than the current situation and the "solution" that is being proposed for Season 5. The only negative I see is that many of the alternatives are relatively complicated (especially the ones involving variable XP).
Why not make it simple for everyone.
Rule: Regardless of the tier you play your character gets the gold for their appropriate tier.
If there is a disparity of levels at the table the GM should ASSIST the players in deciding to play up or down. Sometimes its better to play down (high level characters are being run by experienced players and the low level characters are being run by new players). Sometimes its better to play up (Challenge! Adventures! "Cooler" Monsters! RAWR!). Why not let EACH INDIVIDUAL TABLE decide amongst themselves?
How Players could still "Game the System" or "Cheat":
Playing down MAY limit use of consumables and save experienced characters money. That is it.
Problems that are Avoided:
(1) Bullying. As long as everyone at a table is civil and willing to work together (AKA what the players should be at the table to do) there will be no bullying as there is no measurable reward to play up or penalty to play down (bullying can and does go both ways).
(2) Dominance by high level characters in a lower tier. The players of the high level characters choose to play down after an equal and open discussion (and hopefully to help the lower level characters at the table). If a player is disruptive to the game for any reason the GM should deal with them (as always).
(3) Unbalanced WBL. No matter what you play you get what fits you in terms of wealth. You may save some GP on consumables by playing down, but that is all.
(1) PFS players are reasonable and play together because it is fun; nobody is out to "be a jerk."
(2) At least ONE PERSON at the table is an adult and can steer the table towards a fun outcome.
Michael Brock wrote:
Just FYI for everyone who experienced bad GMs at either PaizoCon or Gen Con last year, I wanted to assure you (and everyone who sent me similar emails and PMs), that I still have your letters of concern and some of these GMs will not be invited back for either PaizoCon and Gen Con.
Its always good to know that concerns are heard by leadership. Thanks, Mike.
It seems the real solution here is Paizo just needs to sell a new book of "basic knowledge" that by virtue of the player owning it their characters get to automatically identify a list of creatures and know specific pieces of info about them.
Paizo makes money, Knowledge Skills are still valuable because they save you money, and pay-to-win players can now make theme characters without having to worry about making them well-rounded. Everyone wins.
It would still be an improvement over what we have right now.
There will always be table variance, if only because some GMs in PFS (even those with quite a few stars next to their names, unfortunately) are DEDICATED to running the game how they think it should be despite RAW.
Sometimes its ignorance of the rules. Sometimes its stubbornness (which as gamers we have all been guilty of at some point).
Still, I am always in favor of more clarifications even if I know that some people will choose to ignore them.
There aren't only two positions. For example, neither of these summaries represent my position. This post suffers from a false bifurcation, if which it it is suggested that there are only two possible position. The problem with such positions is that western logic systems then engage in the A vs Not A forms.
The words "seems" and "boils down" caveat the post by implying that there may be more to the full discussion than just the presented summary. I suggest, simply, that the motivations of gamers is often self-serving. Some participating in the discussion are not interested in "improving" the game and seek benefit only for their individual character and/or choices.
I prefer a gaming culture with less conflict between all the players at a table, including the GM
On this I agree with you.
...it would make an interesting award for really dedicated players who put in the effort...
That made me laugh.
It would be a great idea. Until someone
1. Reads the challenge
This thread seems to boil down to
"We have rules, Knowledge checks, to find stuff out. That should be the way characters learn about their adversaries" (Translation: My character took ranks in Knowledge skills and you should not get benefits that I 'paid' for and/or I am rules lawyer when it benefits me)
"Its realistic to assume that any given Pathfinder has some information on basic threats by virtue of being a Pathfinder" (Translation: My character build does not allow me to easily take Knowledge skills but I personally have been playing for a long time and I should be able to apply my out of game knowledge due my my vast gaming experience and/or I want to be a munchkin)
Pick you poison because you don't get to have it both ways. Both sides have valid points for and against.
Kyle Baird wrote:
You mean like Beginner Box Bashes, The First Steps series, Quests, and the Kids Track program?
The Beginner Box Bashes are great as a first introduction for one game. What about the next game? You could argue that the First Steps series is there for the second game, but now you have brought that player into PFS with all the additional work associated with the PFS as I outlined above. For new players getting a hold of the rules can be hard enough and they need more than just playing through the Beginner Box before PFS adds even more things to read, understand, and retain.
Kids Track is great... for kids. What about new adult players? The spouses of existing players that may not have the same accumulated knowledge and gaming background of their partner? I think there is merit in creating something that would allow new players to get up to the same (or similar) level of the hardcore PFS gaming crowd without throwing the additional work of the PFS on them. Home games are one option, but they do not work for public play (i.e. something the less experienced player can play at a convention during a time slot when the more experienced player is participating in a PFS game).
Kyle Baird wrote:
A good GM can make ANY scenario match the style of game their players enjoy.
Yes a, subjectively, good GM may be able to make everyone at a table have fun, even if all the players at the table need different things to have fun. But anyone can GM in PFS and is encouraged to do so (often because the GM to player ratio is off, perhaps because of the reasons I stated). Not everyone has the ability to become a 5-star uber-leet GM god that is loved by forum goers and convention attendees alike. If that is what it takes to create an enjoyable experience for a table, or is merely the expectation of a GM, than that should be made a clear and upfront point in PFS.
I am all for having anyone and everyone GM. Maybe something can be done to make it easier for them to do so than what the PFS honestly requires from them in both a time and experience. The PFS, as it is structured now, is not new GM friendly.
I have always been perplexed by the uneven and often contradictory nature of PFS organized play.
How can a scenario be written to make both casual and hardcore players have fun? What about tactical players who have knowledge on (and use) combat maneuvers, delaying, etc. and players that are "there for the story" and not masters of the rules? Optimizers with their tweaked out character and someone playing an iconic pre-gen? In reality, you cant write a scenario to make everyone happy so someone is going to leave the table having not had fun. It does not help that the current replay rules punish players that are not successful during the scenario.
To GM correctly for PFS a lot of work is required. You have to be knowledgeable of several sources of information aside from just the rules of the game. You also have to prep each scenario you run which, depending on the GM and the scenario, can take hours. It seems a bit absurd to have to spend more time prepping a scenario than it will take to actually run it. Part of that is due to the incomplete nature of the scenarios themselves (missing stat blocks) and their content. I dont like seeing the same flip mat every time I go into a forest, but having a unique forest area in a scenario adds significant prep time (either at the table or before the session). So how do you keep areas in scenarios from getting stale but not adding undue prep time?
Despite all the prep time needed PFS encourages "anyone to be GM" and scenarios are often run blind at events with no prep time by a GM due to how PFS events get organized. The skills and competency of GMs vary, of course, but even the best of us would have a hard time running a scenario blind with no prep time. And if a scenario is not run properly players dont have fun and are less likely to return to the table next time. So how do you reconcile the "open" nature of PFS with the work associated to play in it?
PFS also has to cater to a variety of different clients. What you do to attract and retain hardcore gamers is different than what you do for new or casual players. Some people would argue that organized play is not for "casual" players but that is wrong, in my opinion. PFS and all the events associated with it are often how new players get introduced to Pathfinder (if you want to play Pathfinder at a convention, and often at you FLGS, its a PFS game). Maybe that is an error on Paizo's part. Maybe PFS is not how the game should be introduced to new players as it requires a severe dedication by a GM (prep time and rules knowledge) and by players (chronicle sheets, additional layers of rules). I think running the Beginners Box at the last Gen Con was a great move, but if players want to continue playing in public games at cons and stores they have to leap into PFS.
Maybe what is required is some streamlining of PFS and some honest clarification of who it is meant for. In my opinion the target audience of PFS should be knowledgeable, dedicated, hardcore players and GMs. Something else should be created and run at conventions, stores, etc. to allow more access for new and casual players. I honestly cannot recall how many times I have seen the eyes of a new player gloss over at a convention or a store when they come the realization of what it really takes to play in PFS.
Note: My 2012 boons are PHOTOCOPIES as that is how I received them from Paizo on the last day of the convention (talk to them about it).
If the Diplomacy DC is 20, and the group walk up and start talking to the NPC then the DC should remain 20. There are no modifiers unless the scenario says so. But if they smack the NPC over the head and steal all his stuff, and *then* try to sweet-talk him the DC will go up, a lot! I might allow them to mitigate it by apologising profusely and giving him his stuff back, but otherwise there's no way its DC 20. They've changed the scenario in such a way that Intimidate becomes the necessary skill, not Diplomacy, and the GM is entitled to reflect that.
I think modifying the DC of the Diplomacy roll or changing the roll to Intimidate is a perfectly fine response... in a HOME game.
But we are talking about PFS games defined by the Society guidelines that are more structured and strict than the creative games that we have all run for our home campaigns.
In league play standardization is the goal. Judges dont get to arbitrarily modify rules or the course of play from the prescribed path based on the actions of players (even if what we are all playing is a tabletop RPG that lends itself so well to such actions, due to its very nature).
Bob Jonquet wrote:
To say "punish" implies there is an adversarial relationship between the players and the GM. That should not be the case. The GM is supposed to be an impartial judge, a story-teller, etc. applying the game mechanics and adjusting the story as it progresses.
I agree wholeheartedly. But adjusting the story does not need to adjust anything mechanically. Imposing unwritten penalties and bonuses affects everyone at the table in uncontrollable ways.
Its a slippery slope when a GM running a PFS game modifies the mechanics of a session. Where is the line? A -2 penalty on a roll? A shift of an attitude in a social situation (a +/- 5 mod to a roll)? What if the players take an extra in-game day to reach their final encounter that the scenario does not account for? Maybe the BBEG should be allowed to scout out the players (using their minions) and modifies the prepared spell list written in the module with different spells (chosen by the GM). Or is that "too extreme"?
Every GM has a different "line" that they draw regarding variance. It is my opinion that when you let it stray from the common denominator (the written word of a scenario) you introduce undue variance. A player should not be "punished" or have a harder time enjoying themselves at a table just because they sat down with GM "X" rather than GM "Y". The only way to ensure that does not happen (or at least limit it as much as possible) is if GM "X" and GM "Y" run the game the same way; by following the written word and mechanics of both the scenario and the society.
If every GM gets to impose their own circumstances on a session all bets are off for the players. For a structured league like PFS that seems like a poor position to be in.
One of the sources outlined in the Society rules that the GM is allowed to use is the Corerules book. In said book, there are rules for circumstance bonuses that can affect rolls made by a player (or GM).
There are also rules for creating items, but they are not used in the PFS. Reading the Society guidelines helps clarify the specific things that make the PFS work by overriding the general rules.
The core rulebook works for both the PFRPG as a general concept (and game that you play at home with "Rule 0") and the PFS. Just because something is in the core rulebook does not mean you can wantonly apply it to PFS games, or use it as justification for your behavior as GM.
The section of the Society guide that outlines "creative solutions" gives several example on how to deal with situations that deviate from the written word of a scenario. You will notice that none of them impose any additional penalties or work on the players. They accomplish the same thing that happens in the scenario, just with other words. Nothing is added or taken away from a mechanical standpoint (like bonuses or penalties on rolls).
Or maybe I am reading the words of the guide to closely or literally. At least I am reading them, though.
For example, if a player walks up to the ferry man, who normally takes a DC20 Diplomacy to get passage, and sticks a sword through his gut, then the group now probably needs to be able to make a Profession(sailor) check to get across the river/bay they were taking the ferry for. The boat isn't going to move just because they can make a diplomacy check, and the dead ferry man isn't going to be roused to action by one either. There are other ramifications for such a random killing, but trying to keep it simple.
I think a better response that is more along the lines of the Society guidelines is the players can take another boat with another captain, equal in every way mechanically to the one in the scenario.
A poor decision would be making a table of six players, five of which did nothing wrong, make a skill roll in a trained only skill. There is a good chance that the scenario may be over at that point. That does not sound like much fun, at least for the players. But I suppose some GMs are not really concerned with them (especially if they get their GM credit).
Bob Jonquet wrote:
We all have to remember that organized play is more limiting than open-rules, home-games and attempt to stay of target from both sides of the screen
I agree; that is the crux of the argument. Playing in Society is more limiting, for both the players AND the GM (emphasis on GM). You are correct in saying that both sides have boundaries that they must play in (as outlined by the Society rules in their many forms and sources).
But just because a player steps outside those bounds (by having his character act like a jerk to an NPC, for example) you seem to see it as the player is breaking an unwritten contract between themselves and the GM, at which point, the GM is free to step outside the bounds themselves and apply whatever "circumstantial" bonuses/penalties they see fit (even though they are not in the module).
I am of the opinion that the GM, as the professional running the game, should be mature and lead by example. Yes a player may step out of bounds with their character, so guide them back using the written word of the module (and the Society). At the very least you owe that to the other players at the table that are playing within bounds and do not deserve to be penalized (by having to make harder rolls or paying more for passage - the other five players at a table are not responsible for the actions of the single out of bounds player). Its your job, as GM, to run the game; not teach lessons.
LIMIT table variance and create equal opportunities for FUN for ALL.
It seems that some GMs are more interested in their fun than the fun of the other six people at the table they are responsible for. And we are all lesser for it as a Society, IMHO.
You are correct when you state that an NPC in a scenario views the actions of players. Variance is introduced in how the NPC, as directed by the GM, responds to what was viewed. It is my opinion that the NPC should respond as directed in the writing of the module, not the opinion/feeling of the GM.
Lets give an example. The players in a scenario need to convince a NPC to ferry them to a nearby island. The scenario dictates that a Diplomacy check of DC 20 is needed to convince the NPC (and may even add "variance" such as "A 10gp bribe adds a cumulative +1 to the Diplomacy role"). This is the path the scenario presents to challenge the players; a skill check. All a players needs to do is succeed on a DC 20 check.
Things that the GM should not do to add undue variance that was not written into the module:
Even if a player were to have their character act like a total jerk such that, were they acting like that "in real life," they would never get a ride from the NPC, you as GM should not change the scenario to reflect that. The NPC could respond to poor character actions (like rudeness) in a few ways
1. Have a fit and storm off, thus making all the players fail the scenario because they cannot secure passage.
One of the above responses follows the Society guidelines and provides a fair, fun experience for the players and one response does not. I know how I would want the GM at my table to respond.
Regarding "creative solutions" I suggest you read that part of the Organized Play guide again. The section you note discusses how a GM should respond to the creative solutions that players come up with to overcome challenges in the scenario. Players get to use creative solutions to solve challenges; not GMs.
A "creative solution" in the above example would be a player saying "I have the perk that gives me my own ship. We take that to the island." A "creative solution" is not the GM saying "You made the NPC mad. I could introduce another NPC and allow you to continue (an actual creative solution as outlined in the guide), but I think I will just fail you here. Next time min-max your rolls better and watch your mouths at the table."
I have to disagree with a number of the posts I see here. When I GM for Paizo at Cons (and this is different than being a GM for a local or home game) I am being compensated to be there, volunteer or not. My job is to run the module I was assigned to the best of my ability; this includes running it as close to the written word as possible.
As a GM you should try to LIMIT table variance, not purposely add it. Increasing the DC of rolls because of the previous actions of players is nothing more than punishment, and often is the action of a power-tripping DM. In my opinion a DC should not be lessened either. The only time a DC should change is if the module itself specifically accounts for variance (i.e. If the players helped character X in Act 1, this DC is lessened by 2). I think this should hold true for all "hard" mechanics/rules; soft fluff that does not effect how the module plays out should be where the variance is (What does your character do at the party? Get drunk and starts a ruckus? Sure, go for it.)
When you are a (compensated) GM your goal is to run the best, fairest, most standardized game for your players. They should have the opportunity for the same fun experience that any other table has playing the same module. As a GM leave your lessons, rules, teaching, childishness, and vindictiveness at the door. Yes you should have fun also, but only after you have met the obligations and responsibilities of your volunteered position. You choose to do this. Act like it and be professional.
If you cant, maybe you should not GM for the Society. I dont think the Society will be any less for losing you as a GM either.
Narl, I was the Paladin at your table.
After reading through this thread I think I am even more upset than before. Other tables in part 1 that had GM problems (DQ, quitting) had them resolved. Our table was told by HQ (Jon Cary) that our only course of action was to send an email to Mike.
I am curious to know the reason for the variance in response to similar situations.
I would like to comment on the first round of the special, but I did not get to finish it as my table's GM quit running it part of the way through.
He quit running a timed scenario before the end.
So seeing as a I did not get to finish the scenario and experience the ending I do not feel qualified to comment on it.
I did get a partially filled out chronicle sheet and a dismissal by Jon Cary at the HQ, so that is something.
All I wanted to do was complete an event I paid to participate in and have an actual chance to participate in part 2. In my opinion "logistical problems" are not an excuse for a deficit of customer service and proper conflict resolution.
It seems to me that there would not have been a need for GMs to run the scenario cold if there were not so many overflow tables. Rather than trying to run the event for 600 gamers it would have been more prudent to ensure that the 450 gamers who took the time to pre-buy their tickets had an enjoyable experience first.
I have purchased the bundle and emailed Customer Service to have them transfer the PDF. Thank you very much for your assistance in this matter; I know my friend is very excited to receive the Tome of Horrors. A courteous staff is one of the reasons I like purchasing from, and volunteering for, Paizo.
I am attempting to purchase the Tome of Horrors Complete: Unlimited Edition (PFRPG) Print/PDF bundle as a gift for a friend.
Once adding the item to my cart I navigate to my cart. I check the "Show gift options during checkout" box and click "Proceed to Checkout" button.
On the following page, next to the item, under the "Recipient" header I select my friend's address. When clicking "Continue Checkout" nothing happens; the page simple reloads. When clicking "Add new recipient" under "Forgot Someone" I am sent to the "Select a Gift Recipient" page. On that page my friend's name is listed under the "Your recipients" column.
It should be noted that none of the usual pages are presented when I simply by a PDF only (not a bundle) as a gift; no gift message page comes up and no "Select" button is available next to my friends name on the "Select a Gift Recipient" page.
If I do not check the "Show gift options during checkout" box and pretend that I am buying the item for myself I can select my friends address and get all the way to the payment page. I assume doing this, however, will send the print book to my friend but add the PDF download to my account. I do not want this; I wish the download to be added to my friend's account, not mine.
Any assistance on this matter is greatly appreciated. Thank you.