Rule zero is that the GM has the final say on the rules. That's a given. A player can either accept the GM's ruling, or walk away from the table. After two and a half years of playing in Pathfinder Society, I'm standing up and walking away.
I have a small blog read by almost nobody (not linked to, because I'm really not trying to drum up site traffic). I wrote a post for it a couple of weeks ago talking about my frustration with PFS, and how similar frustrations led me to walk away from LFR. Mainly the problems I have had centered on rules changing out from under players. And how whenever LFR or 4e would get a new program manager, that manager would immediately change the rules of the game to suit his vision of how the game or campaign should be. And that eventually, the fact of constant rules changes made it more and more difficult to keep interest in a character, because that character was not the same character that it was before each change.
There were other issues, like how rules changes in LFR were coming out as blog posts and tweets, and not as actual changes to the document which is supposed to contain the rules of the campaign. I expressed in my post my hope that Paizo was not walking down that same path.
Somehow Hyrum happened to read the post, and said something like “hey, let's discuss it”. And as timing is never good in my life, this week I happen to be out of town on business all this week. And I said, something like “How about when I get back in town?” and he said something like “Sounds good”. But then this week happened.
My first PFS character (who still has not hit the level 11/12 cap) started as a Druid. When Season 1 hit, I asked Joshua specifically about the rule where an animal companion with a 3 INT could take any feat. And I specifically asked about weapon proficiency feats. And I got an answer. And in the next printing of the Guide to Organized Play, there was a specific section dealing with and answering that question, that yes – animal companions with a 3 INT that can physically wield a weapon can take weapon proficiency feats. That section has been in the Guide for over a year and a half, and through multiple editions of the guide.
Yesterday, Mark made the statement that “the author” (not referring to Josh by name, which might be a Paizo thing, but really ended up sounding more like a slam) made a mistake on that ruling. He didn't say that he disagreed, and was changing the rule, which would have seemed to me like a much more civil way to phrase things, but that simply that the author made a mistake. A mistake that went un-contradicted by anyone at Paizo for somewhere like a year and a half.
This week, we also saw another major rules change. It is a rules change because for a long time (almost two years), the standard answer on the rules forum about animal companions was that handle animal checks can effectively be ignored if you invest a point of intelligence in your animal companion. This would seem to be supported by the rules that open up every feat and every skill in the book to an animal companion with a 3 INT, whereas 2 INT critters are limited to just a few skills and feats. The advice on the rules forum went un-contradicted by anyone at Paizo for a similarly long time period.
This week, with these two rulings, my 8th level cleric (nee druid) with an ape animal companion who wields a weapon (who was specifically discussed in rules threads on both the rules forum and the PFS forum after he showed up at a local gaming convention, and who no-one at Paizo stepped up then to remark that he was not legal) has suddenly become an illegal build.
And the reaction from the “usual crowd” was pure schadenfreude. Supposedly I, and anyone else who saw the versatility of such a build should have known better, even though I specifically asked and was specifically answered by the Paizo manager in charge of the program, that such a build was borderline, and it was only right and just that I be smacked down.
I've got a choice. I can either keep playing a character that is effectively castrated, and play my other characters, at least one of which was somewhat hit by ruling as well, or...I can simply stand up and walk away from the table. I'm choosing to do the latter.
I've spent a fair amount of money on the game. I have the Core rules, both Bestiaries, the APG, the GMG, the Inner Sea Guide (which I just got last weekend). I bought the complete Legacy of Fire adventure path. I've bought several (or a bunch depending on how you number it) of PDF's.
But I will not be spending any more of my money at Paizo.
I will go to DriveThruRPG or Amazon or somewhere else. I'm left with the distinct feeling that my money and my custom are not appreciated, and that perhaps it would have been money better spent elsewhere.
I'm trying not to say this in a spirit of pettiness, I've seen enough of that on these boards from players and VC's alike. I'm trying to say it in the spirit of “my gaming dollars are going to go somewhere, and I'm choosing to spend them someplace that is not and has not caused me so much frustration of late.”
Wishing everyone all the best with their game.