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I am signing this as well. I like running PFS games, but running them can be a chore without proper prep going beyond just "reading though" the scenario. As GM you have to spend the time somewhere; either before the session clock starts or during it. I find players are happier when the game runs smoother due to the prep work being completed ahead of the session.
My usual prep involves lots of highlighting and notes in the margin. Sometimes description text for a room/person/object or important event trigger are buried in the middle of a paragraph. If I dont highlight them I often skip over them. This is especially true for some event triggers that the scenario notes as "If at any time a PC does X, then NPC Y automatically responds with action...". That really seems like the kind of text that should get highlighted or pulled out somehow.
I think players expect a certain format as they go from area to area (Description of the area w/ important details, a chance to roll automatically allowed rolls, automatic text from any present NPCs, automatic rolls in response to the NPC's tirade, etc.) Unfortunately each area of a scenario can have that information spread out in a random order over several pages requiring the GM that runs the scenario to manually stitch together the actual sequence of events in an area.
The same problem (and worse) can occur with encounters. With multiple tiers and templates a GM can use 4 Bestiaries or other resources during the encounters of a scenario (Destiny of the Sands I am looking at you). Even if you dont haul around physical books it can be a chore to switch between PDFs which is why I usually make a supplemental PDF/printout for each scenario with all the monsters/template info compiled so I only have to consult 1 other source when running. The prep work for monsters goes even further if they can cast spells; DCs are given (even though the dont list the TYPE of save) but you still have to calculate durations, ranges, etc. manually.
Scenarios that were more logically laid out and included more essential information would encourage new GMs to run more often, in my experience. I have had GMs only willing to run if I gave them a scenario I already prepped because it still took them at least a few hours to read through and understand it, even if they did not have to dig up and compile all the additional research themselves.
If getting "better" scenarios means moving to PDF only so be it.
The "super high AC" train does seem to be more prevalent today than it was even a year ago, although it has always had some presence.
I am currently playing through Eyes of the Ten with a ranged Paladin that has a 21 AC (+1 Mithral Shirt only). Her defense is not deflecting attacks but having insane Saves and being able to heal 400 HP on average every day (4x her total HP) as a swift action, with another 280 HP outside of combat. All I had to do to get that was to pick an Archetype and invest in 1 feat.
To be honest I am glad I did not invest in AC when, during the last session, one of the "Super AC Tanks" in my party (which is basically everyone but my character) nearly died after missing a save on a spell that would have required him to pay for a True Res or a Wish to get his character back (a 1/session re-roll saved him).
High AC is great, except when you have a less than a 50% chance of making saves against save-or-retire spells that a slotted Clear Spindle Ioun Stone does not defend against. Even at level 8, per the OP, I question the value of sinking so many resources into not getting hit.
But he wasn't.
Armitaje I just sent you a PM with my contact info and info on the next PFS session in Fairbanks. Jeff Mahood has it right regarding checking your messages; just click the little envelope!
Hey Zswordsman! I just sent you a PM with my contact info as well as info on the next PFS game I am running in Fairbanks on 16-Feb. Please feel free to contact me directly with questions on the local PFS scene in Alaska.
Pretty much this. My -1 character is a Paladin of Erastil. What does it mean to be a Paladin of Erastil? Depends on which books you have read. Just the CRB? Also Faiths of Purity? Every Pathfinder book that mentions Erastil?
Even before I became a VC I purchased and read a number of books with information on Erastil so that I could better shape my character. Did I have to do that? No. Should I get pats on the back, in the form of signatures on a sheet, for doing so? Probably not as it was my choice and its not required. Does having or not having those signatures make me or my character more/less valid/accurate/justified? Not in the slightest.
People play in PFS for many reasons, not just role-playing. Even if getting a signature lists for characters of only one class is optional its also still more paperwork and more rules. More paperwork and rules, unofficial or otherwise, are, in my opinion, the last thing PFS needs. Being unofficial may even make it worse.
That seems to not make any sense with language used to describe the "Inherited" Wayfinder Enhancement in the Pathfinder Society Primer p29 which implies the idea of stacking Inherited + Other.
Inherited (3 PP): A mentor or older relative who was a Pathfinder passed this wayfinder down to you, and it keeps a minor enchantment from its previous owner. When purchasing a wayfinder enhancement that would normally replace the wayfinder’s ability to cast light with the ability to cast a different spell, the wayfinder retains the ability to cast light, allowing it to cast two different 0-level spells.
Seeing as the ruling is from 2011 it may need to get updated.
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.