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Painlord has a Thought [on how to become a better player]


Pathfinder Society® General Discussion

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Qadira ***

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Jason S wrote:
duhtroll wrote:
Stuff
More stuff.

I love this discussion on how to handle Metagamers. I would appreciate you adding your thoughts to this POST here (you can see my thoughts as well on how to deal with Metagamers from a judge perspective).

I'd like to keep this thread focused on what makes a good PFS player.

I think good players play their own characters and naturally adapt to the tactics of others without a lot of overt discussion, especially metagame discussion.

As a player, I try to both avoid metagaming (really hard because my brain is usually quite active) but, even moreso, in giving away information to others. I try to focus on my character's personality what they might do within a particular situation.

-Pain

**

That's the important part -- no one gets to tell anyone else how to prepare for their character or their game. Some players are going to take longer than others, experienced or not. Some players are not going to know their own PC's abilities as well as others do.

Then again we have lots of people around who are rules elitists, but it doesn't give them right of control. To be irritated at another player because they only have 15 minutes to make a character while you had three hours (or weeks) is a bit silly. Again I say it is a game and people treat games with different levels of devotion.

I said 6 seconds of in character dialogue in each combat round, but that was just an example of reining in players who were excessively talkative during combat (in order to gain advantage, not just dialogue). That time limit restricts what they can do as far as implementing plans, but does not limit their planning time. They just need to choose carefully what they say so they don't take advantage of the mechanic.

And I am not advocating using a stopwatch -- each GM can easily know if players are taking advantage.

I also think "are we short on time" is not as important as "WHY are we short on time?" Should it be true, that is. If the players don't finish the event because they are talking too much, well that pretty much takes care of itself. Either they will learn or they won't.

As a GM one certainly has the right to enforce time limits. They might do really, really well in the first encounter or two and not finish the event.

If they are very talkative but still finish every event on time, I'd say timing is less of a concern.

Sarta wrote:

To me all of it comes down to a few key things:

1. How new is the player or how new are they to their character?

If new, I tend to let these players take their time. I offer options. I let other players offer options. I explain the mechanics. I also make it very clear that these are only options and the player is very welcome to follow or ignore any of it. Hopefully, this results in a positive experience that speeds up future rounds.

If experienced, I take perverse joy offering potentially bad advice, "Sure, you are blind, but you are pretty certain you know where they were. I'll bet you can hit them with a bomb from where you are at now -- blind or not."

2. How short on time are we?

There's nothing worse than feeling rushed. However, occasionally there are hard caps on when a session must end. If I know we are going to bump up against that time, I will appeal to the table to help speed things up a bit.

3. What improves role play and makes things more fun?

I certainly wouldn't implement a limit of six words per round or restrict players to 6 seconds of dialog. I want to encourage good role play and in character dialog.

Why would I want to clamp down on witty (or not so witty) repartee? Why would I want to prevent the player of an insult comic bard from going to town with her performance?

I will step in if a player decides to give a long speech or begins to outline a 23 step plan. In my game, role play is very welcome, but filibustering is not a valid combat tactic.

*

6 people marked this as a favorite.

What makes a good player? These are the basics. I call them "general courtesies". These suggestions aren't meant to optimize your character, they're meant to optimize the fun at the table.

Basics of being a good player:

1) Paying attention to the game: Within reason this means not fooling around with electronic devices or books. You should be thinking about your options for your turn instead of having your mind elsewhere.

2) Be Ready: Within reason, being ready when it's your turn, which means ready to drop/roll dice or to tell the GM what you're doing.

3) One Attack, One Roll: Rolling all attack and all damage dice at the same time. It saves time. And not shaking dice for more than a few seconds before rolling.
No joke, I've seen some people shake the die for 20s, multiple dice, and we basically spent the entire session in combat watching this guy roll dice. Not fun.

4) Knowing your PC: If you have a complex PC and you can't handle it (or won't spend the time organizing/reading/writing notes), play something simple.

5) Cheating and Dice: Cheating is crappy, don't do it. Do you want your GM to cheat? If not, don't cheat yourself.

If you get caught, someone like me is going to report you and you'll be kicked from the campaign forever. FOREVER.

Don't use small unreadable dice or anything that makes it more difficult to verify your roll.

6) Scenario: If you've already read or GMed the scenario, tell the GM, and don't provide much input into the scenario, mostly just roleplay.
You'd be surprised how fun it is sitting back and letting others figure stuff out.

7) Argumentative: Don't be (too) argumentative with your GM. Pointing out errors is good, but if your GM acknowledges what you say and it's not resolved within 30 seconds, stop arguing right there. Especially if there are no clear rules for what your GM is adjudicating. If you still have a problem with it, continue play and look it up in the rulebook. Ultimately it's the GMs call though.

8) Timeliness: Be "on time" for the start of the session and don't leave before the end of the session. You're wasting the time of 4-6 other people by being late and when you leave early, it's one of the worst feelings for a GM to have. Even if you enjoyed the session. Trust me.

9) Personality Conflicts: Because PF is an interpersonal game, if you don't enjoy the GM or certain players, in extreme cases it's better just not to sit at a table.
In some people's home games, it seems some people want to play so badly they'll hang out for hours with people they don't like. To me, this is a waste of time, a waste of life.

Conventions are one thing, I'll game with virtually anyone (some more enjoyable than others), but when it comes to your home game, be selective.

These are player habits that take the game to another level.

Fine points of being a good player:

1) Being "into" the game: It means being enthusiastic, like we're here to have a good time.
Every once in a while you go to a convention and you find someone who seems like they really don't want to be there, or they're having a terrible time. If you're not there to have a good time... go home, you're ruining it for everyone. One bad apple can actually ruin an entire session, at least for me.

2) Being "into" your PC: Not everyone wants to do impersonations or voices for their PCs, which is fine. Everyone however, can make up common and unique statements their PC says, to make him different than everyone else. Even if it's something simple like "Slave kill!" or a battle charge "For wrath and ruin!", it really distinguishes your character and makes him non-vanilla.

And of course, you should always act like your PC, think like your PC, and make decisions as your character, instead of thinking like yourself. That's where a lot of the humor comes from in RPGs.

3) Voices and Mannerisms: Having said that, if you can make up different voices, sayings, and mannerisms for your PC, it will definitely take the game to another level.

4) Suggestions to other Players: You can occasionally offer suggestions on what other PCs should do. For example, "Hold on, I'm casting Haste!". It's part of teamwork and when done in a friendly way, can help new players. If you're constantly telling another player what they should do and what actions their PC should perform, it's gone too far. Stop. This is in the advanced section because many advanced players make this error.

On the other hand, sometimes they make the error of saying nothing to the other PCs (and *assuming* the other players know), resulting in less teamwork.
Yes, I want to know you're about to cast Haste, I want to know about the incoming Fireball.

5) In-Combat Planning: If you want to plan, make it before combat, not during. If you want to tell the other PCs 6-10 seconds of instructions before battle, great. If you want to strategize for 2-5 minutes, it's not going to happen.

6) Limited Metagaming: When I think of metagaming, mostly I think of players who will know what the creature is (by the description), and they'll know all of the strengths and weakness of the creature. Suddenly, even without the relevant Knowledge skill (or roll!), their PC will also know this information. This player will then feel the need to shout this information out to the group (over a 30-45s period).

I know it's hard not to metagame, but don't do it. It ruins the game.

Qadira ***

From another thread:

Bob Jonquet wrote:

Remember that we all gathered to play a published scenario. We CHOSE to play. Please don't go out of your way to make the GM's job more challenging than it needs to be.

...

Feel free to come up with creative ways to deal with situations as they occur, but try to avoid doing things that bypass entire sections of the scenario or to destroy the plot.

Ah Bob...I love you, man. (Don't worry...it's man love.)

Great point.

Good players remember the above.

-Pain

Andoran

To be appreciated by both the other players and the DM, I believe that a player needs to do the following :

1) Avoid wasting time

PFS scenarios are short on time. The faster you act, the more time you have for fun things like advancing the plot and roleplaying.

- Know your character's abilities inside out. Know the pages where they appear should the DM need to check something about them. If you summon something, have their stats ready. Know your attack routine by heart (and share it with other players as soon as possible) but do not hesitate to adapt it when necessary

- Avoid delaying actions by taking too much time metagaming/preparing/planning something that will only explode when thrust in contact with reality (as plans are wont to do). Same for trying to understand the plot through complicated reasoning. A little detective-like brainstorming can be fun but too much of it is just inefficient

2) Play the part

Players around the table likely do not know each other's characters that well. Thus they will design their tactics based on what your PC appears to be and what abilities they believe him to have.

- In other words, if you are a Tank, let it show. And if you appear to be a healer, you'd better be able to cast CLW, as the other players are expecting your character to play this part.

3) Do not ruin another PC's part

That is when the necessary "metagaming" occurs in combat. Because you do not usually know what the other PCs want to do in combat, be ready to change your action when they give you their input (for example : when they ask you to delay so that you can benefit from a boost you did not even know existed).

A PC's part is how the player expects too shine during the game. If you ruin it, you're ruining his fun.

4) Look for constructive solutions to PCs' conflict

This often happens concerning faction missions, but it can happen also when trying to decipher the plot or designing a battle plan. Work with the guy you are disagreeing with on finding a solution that gives you both what you want. It usually works out quite well.

5) Play your part

- Your PC should always be able to contribute to the mission and most of all to the fights. Ergo, have a reach weapon, have a ranged weapon, heck, have weapons to bypass the most common DR. A PC who does nothing in combat because something prevented him from using his schtick is worse than useless : he is becoming a hindrance to his party.

- Your PC should be able to stand on his own without requiring the help of others. Bring your own illumination, your adventuring equipment, your wand of CLW (at least).

- If you have to use another PC's consumable, try to give it back one way or another.

Just a few words to finish. I feel that many posts on this thread are not how players should act to be good players (ie contribute to the maximum fun for everyone) but how GMs would want players to act. And then they go on describing how a GM would prevent players from doing something which they though was an abuse or metagaming or how they would try and force the players to act in the way they want.

Please do not abuse your authority as a GM. Be aware that a GM has much more power than a player to ruin the fun for the other participants.

If I feel that a GM is abusing his authority and ruining my fun while I am doing my best to be a good player, I will simply walk away from his table, even if I had to drive a hundred miles to sit there.

Cheliax ***** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

GM bribes are also welcome


Jason S wrote:

What makes a good player? These are the basics. I call them "general courtesies". These suggestions aren't meant to optimize your character, they're meant to optimize the fun at the table.

** spoiler omitted **...

You, sir, just won at Pathfinder. Congratulations.

Qadira

Todd Morgan wrote:
GM bribes are also welcome

I will remember that at my next game ;)

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Sarta wrote:
but filibustering is not a valid combat tactic.

I feel a new "Politician" PrC coming on.

*

Oh my, (sob, sob), I love you all! (grabs tissue, turns head in shame)
(And I really like that Painlord lives near me! (I'm in Sac))
I shall have to perpetually bump this thread. (I likely won't. :P)

Essentially the traits that make a good PFS player are the same that make for a good coworker or close companion.
-Attentive, both to people and situations
-Knowledgeable, or willing to pursue pertinent knowledge
-Unselfish, even giving
-Fun, at no cost to others
-Prepared, when pursuing a common goal/tackling tasks
Perhaps even:
-Insightful, but kind
-Resourceful
-Easy-Going, but energetic
Most any motivation/self-improvement book could be used.
Maybe I should bring Covey's 7 Habits to PFS sessions. ;)

Brainstorm thoughts:
I wonder if it shouldn't be 'recommended' (not mandatory) for PFS to have a 5-minute intro/tactics session.
"Does anybody plan on hasting us melee people?"
"Who can take a fireball dropped on them?"
"My preferred tactics are X & Y. Does anybody want to help me with Z, should it come up?"
This already occurs due to XP players knowing its value, but I don't just mean a freeform session (though useful), but one with leading questions to facilitate smooth functioning parties. The PFS sessions represent PC professionals being sent into the field, with deadly conflict presumed. They should have tactics, and in real world, there would be intros/strengths breakdowns done by their superiors. (Preferably in an in-character way, but whatever works fastest)

Maybe there could be a short, index-card size writeup that PFS players could bring to pass around at new tables. Heck, maybe we could learn something from those "Dating Circle" sessions where you get only 5-10 minutes per table. Only, in this case, you're reading each others' cards. There could be 'recommended' questions to address.

Example:
Single Dwarf Druid (caster build) seeking foursome for fun and good battles. (Only non-evils need apply.)
Must love bears (and beer), protecting (or at least not destroying) natural wonders, and flanking my AC who will move with me.
Teamwork skill granting a plus (I like Summoning!)
Ranged attacks a plus (I love Entangle)
Lesser Restoration spells provided as needed, and blasting happens.(Evasion anybody? Or would you prefer a Resist/Prot. from me?)
Goodberries provided all around and am willing to carry your CLW wand. Barkskin negotiable.
Willing to scout in animal form within range of party's vision/within 18 second distance. (I'm bold that way) But not to infiltrate. (I'm brittle) Can speak to many scouting summoned creatures too. Can track, but hate talking to strangers.
Most often, I start with Entangle of back enemy and bear charge. Don't wait to haste me, hit bear if you can.
I go right when I'm lost.

Okay, not like that, but maybe not so different.
As the cards get passed, others could reply. "You can blast on me. Wait, what's the DC?" "I have a Lesser Restoration wand if you want to get extra Barkskins for the frontliners."
And so forth. If written for 1-minute reading time (for normal-slow readers), it'd be worth the time saved later, no?
Thoughts?

Andoran

I really love painlord's section on roleplay. I ran into my most dreaded type of player yesterday. The person who thinks playacting like an idiot is roleplaying despite having nothing to further define his character concept.

*

Bump.
I told you I would. :)

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.

As a Game Master, I spend a couple of minutes at the beginning of each session on an in-character meet-and-greet. It's also when I fill in some aspects of the Chronicle sheets, when I have PCs make their Day Job rolls, and when I hand out faction missions.

Maybe I should ask each player to describe the two coolest / most effective things his or her character did during the last session or two. That should get the players talking in character, about tactics.

*

Chris Mortika wrote:

As a Game Master, I spend a couple of minutes at the beginning of each session on an in-character meet-and-greet. It's also when I fill in some aspects of the Chronicle sheets, when I have PCs make their Day Job rolls, and when I hand out faction missions.

Maybe I should ask each player to describe the two coolest / most effective things his or her character did during the last session or two. That should get the players talking in character, about tactics.

I like that last paragraph. It bonds the players too.

But, what about time? How much time should/can be spent on prep?
Does it pay for itself, perhaps when things run smoother later?

*

Bump.

Silver Crusade **

Castilliano wrote:


I like that last paragraph. It bonds the players too.
But, what about time? How much time should/can be spent on prep?
Does it pay for itself, perhaps when things run smoother later?

As a GM, I can say it does, especially in that it helps people better know what sort of character/player they have at the table. Are they talking about that crit for 68 damage? Probably someone who gets fired up for combat. Talking about bluffing a guard clean out of his clothes? Watch them light up when roleplay can be had. Cleric talks about stopping a bar fight with one dose of power from their deity? Probably a channel neg cleric (pantheon bless my local VC's cleric of Asmodeus!).

Shadow Lodge

I do a LOT of prep for my scenarios, and I've gotten compliments at every game I've ran. That makes it worth the time to me.

The amount of prep you should do is related to the amount of time you spend during the session looking things up or managing information like initiatives. If your combats are dragging out, make combat cards that have most of the information typed on them, roll initiative for bad guys ahead of time, and read enemy abilities prior to the session. If your constantly looking at the scenario for what comes next and spending time reading descriptions, make encounter cards that have a bullet list of the areas' descriptions so that you can quickly relate to the players what their characters see.

In-game character descriptions and greets are a great way to allow players to relate to one another (and buys you some extra time to organize any aids you're using).

All in all, find your weakness as a GM and prep for that. However long it takes, it's worth it since it's your weakness. Anything else that you'd like to prep, such as visual aids for the players, can be done if it doesn't take much time.

*

Nickademus42 wrote:

I do a LOT of prep for my scenarios, and I've gotten compliments at every game I've ran. That makes it worth the time to me.

The amount of prep you should do is related to the amount of time you spend during the session looking things up or managing information like initiatives. If your combats are dragging out, make combat cards that have most of the information typed on them, roll initiative for bad guys ahead of time, and read enemy abilities prior to the session. If your constantly looking at the scenario for what comes next and spending time reading descriptions, make encounter cards that have a bullet list of the areas' descriptions so that you can quickly relate to the players what their characters see.

In-game character descriptions and greets are a great way to allow players to relate to one another (and buys you some extra time to organize any aids you're using).

All in all, find your weakness as a GM and prep for that. However long it takes, it's worth it since it's your weakness. Anything else that you'd like to prep, such as visual aids for the players, can be done if it doesn't take much time.

Totally agreeing, but not the prep I was referring to. (I think all DMs should do such review beforehand unless conscripted unexpectedly.)

I meant 'at table' prep, re: PC/player introductions and whether preparing the random players for each other pays off for itself in the end. Them being able to relate (and more likely enjoy playing side by side) is one benefit, yes.
Does 10 minutes going around the table sharing tactics/spells/item knowledge save 20 minutes later with smoother combats? Or, I should say, "Doesn't it?"
Would PFS benefit from having a standardized 'intro' for PCs? (i.e. a small set RP-tactics/strengths-weaknesses questions)

Damocles wrote:
As a GM, I can say it does, especially in that it helps people better know what sort of character/player they have at the table.

Good point. Then you know where to flesh out and where to summarize. You get a feel for your audience, and can cater to their enjoyment.

Sczarni *

Hello,

It is true what you have written I've been playing CVPS here in Fresno California since last year.
Experiencing this role-playing game excellent and meeting new people who have the same passion on playing these kinds of games.
My most Favorited part is role-playing and when all players are doing it.
I'm going to try my hand on GM a game see how it goes the guys here are great role models.

The Power of Mosco is Rising

*****

Nickademus42 wrote:
All in all, find your weakness as a GM and prep for that. However long it takes, it's worth it since it's your weakness. Anything else that you'd like to prep, such as visual aids for the players, can be done if it doesn't take much time.

I know one of my weaknesses is applying all the different feat abilities, so for higher level scenarios I make a Feat Sheet -- basically listing out by tier and each npc what the feats are (description) so I know how I'm using them, and then also taking the time to calculate what the bonus is for the npc.

Sczarni ***

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Sir_Wulf wrote:

If metagame comments become problematic, the GM is fully in his rights to enforce that tactical communication should be done "in character":

Fighter Player: "Wizard, drop your fireball on the gnolls in front of me."

GM: "Is that what your character is telling the wizard?"

Fighter Player: "Ummm... Yeah."

GM: "Unfortunately, the gnolls go first. More afraid of a fireball than the fighter's sword, they both rush the wizard. Take your attack of opportunity."

ooh yes please all of you rush past the Combat relfexes optimised fighter to beat on the wizard, who cast mage armour, shield and false life. Do we need a bluff check to pull this off reliably?

Silver Crusade **

tlotig wrote:
Sir_Wulf wrote:

If metagame comments become problematic, the GM is fully in his rights to enforce that tactical communication should be done "in character":

Fighter Player: "Wizard, drop your fireball on the gnolls in front of me."

GM: "Is that what your character is telling the wizard?"

Fighter Player: "Ummm... Yeah."

GM: "Unfortunately, the gnolls go first. More afraid of a fireball than the fighter's sword, they both rush the wizard. Take your attack of opportunity."

ooh yes please all of you rush past the Combat relfexes optimised fighter to beat on the wizard, who cast mage armour, shield and false life. Do we need a bluff check to pull this off reliably?

One AOO per action, sadly. You'd get a single swing on each. Meanwhile, a pair of gnolls would be free to pound on the wizard for a bit. And even an armor buffed wizard wont last long against a pair of melee monsters....

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Illinois—Decatur aka TwilightKnight

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Depending on the circumstances, the fighter may be able to stop them from advancing. The Stand Still feat would be very effective with this. Or if the amount of damage the fighter does is a lot, the gnolls might reconsider their plan. Especially, if he takes more than the standard one, AoO.

In any case, this is why I recommend that the PC's all drop a rank in Linguistics and select an extremely rare language, common to all of them. That way, they can communicate in combat without tipping their tactics to the enemies.

Andoran ***

Alexander_Damocles wrote:
tlotig wrote:
Sir_Wulf wrote:

If metagame comments become problematic, the GM is fully in his rights to enforce that tactical communication should be done "in character":

Fighter Player: "Wizard, drop your fireball on the gnolls in front of me."

GM: "Is that what your character is telling the wizard?"

Fighter Player: "Ummm... Yeah."

GM: "Unfortunately, the gnolls go first. More afraid of a fireball than the fighter's sword, they both rush the wizard. Take your attack of opportunity."

ooh yes please all of you rush past the Combat relfexes optimised fighter to beat on the wizard, who cast mage armour, shield and false life. Do we need a bluff check to pull this off reliably?
One AOO per action, sadly. You'd get a single swing on each. Meanwhile, a pair of gnolls would be free to pound on the wizard for a bit. And even an armor buffed wizard wont last long against a pair of melee monsters....

IF they manage to make it past my Trip/Disarm Fighter, they're doing good. Of course, if I hit on the first AoO, they are prone, and either disarmed, if they use weapons, or have already taken some damage BEFORE they provoke again by standing up. They will have already provoked a second time by being tripped successfully (greater trip).

Greater Trip/Greater Disarm makes for very unhappy bad guys, since their weapons are likely to be somewhere besides in their own 5' square....

Standing provokes.
Picking up an item, even in your own square, provokes, if they get normally disarmed instead of using the 15' random dispersion from greater disarm.

My CM fighter has run out of AoOs, I think. Once. When the BBEG had a plethora of low-hit point minions. And most of them, along with the BBEG, were prone on the ground. Then my PC's turn came up, and he got his counter reset.

Spoiler:
Then again, his is the same character who has managed not to kill someone "controlled" by a demon; and wound up in a combat that lasted about 3 initiatives. Good NPC Cleric went (coming to attack my group's party), my PC went, tripped & disarmed the Cleric (with the Cleric's weapon dropping behind my PC), and the party Rogue came up, picked up the Cleric's weapon, and returned it to him, while using Diplomacy to make the Cleric realize we weren't the enemies he thought we were. Combat over. Heh.


.

*

Bumpitty bump

*

Bumping for Pacificon

Silver Crusade

Totally in love with this topic and the replies. This has definitely changed how I will approach my first PFS session at Gencon, and my intro ideas are a-flowing!

Cheers, all!

*

Bump in the night...umm...early morning.

*

Bump for ConQuest Sac, April 5-7.
:)

* Venture-Lieutenant, Virginia—Richmond aka Mystically Inclined

Threads like this should be collected under a document and given along with some of the other tactics or 'other' style guides in the advice forum. This is fantastic.

Andoran ***** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Fresno aka Sarta

Mystically Inclined wrote:
Threads like this should be collected under a document and given along with some of the other tactics or 'other' style guides in the advice forum. This is fantastic.

Painlord himself collected a few of these threads and put them on his profile. It's how I track them down.

*

Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber
Will Johnson wrote:
Mystically Inclined wrote:
Threads like this should be collected under a document and given along with some of the other tactics or 'other' style guides in the advice forum. This is fantastic.
Painlord himself collected a few of these threads and put them on his profile. It's how I track them down.

RISE FROM YOUR GRAVE.

Yeah, Pain has some cool ideas on RP and PFS play.

Andoran *

Lots of great info here for new and old players.

Thanks Pain Lord!

Dot.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Lieutenant, Australia—Melbourne aka KestlerGunner

Great article on how to be a better roleplayer.

I found this article to be a great read and in-line with Pain's philosophies of Pain.

Sczarni ****

If everybody followed Jason S's recommendations, the vast majority of PFS players would become better people and live more fully.

In addition to his "Fine points" I would add the virtue of table balance. Many players know other players at the table more intimately than the judge, whether that person is a friend, spouse, or family. Often that latter person is a reluctant player, new to the game, has special needs, or several of the above.

If a PFS game were a dinner party, the judge the host, and the players guests, then table balance would entail the host and guests doing what is necessary for every guest to have an equal opportunity to taste each dish and partake in the conversation. For players, particularly advanced players, that might mean the exercise of significant restraint, including, but not necessarily limited to, withholding unsought for advice, refraining from one-shotting encounters [whether by spell, skill, or combat], or hogging table time.

When the judge "bends" rules to engage or accommodate the needs of her table [that is, to balance her table], a good player should attempt a Sense Motive on the judge to ascertain if she is sending him a message [judge to player]. Said player should really think thrice before quoting chapter and verse "rules" that interfere with what the judge is trying to do.

Often by the end of a scenario, 2 or 3 of the players have made the vast majority of the decisions or rolls. A good judge will likely want to draw in those characters who have suffered low initiatives, unfortunate saves [like being Blinded or Held], unlucky tactical positioning, or simply have been bullied into doing whatever other players at the table want them to do.

Table balance is a concept that very few players will appreciate if they do not judge. For me, table balance encompasses considerably more than simply not being a jerk, which is a pretty low bar. The well equipped character might invest in Wands of Bless, Potions of Cure Serious Wounds, Scrolls of Borrow Skill [to assist others in trained only skills], Potions of Darkvision, etc. Many familiars are perfectly able to deliver potions to distressed party members.

Careful analysis of scenarios will oft reveal "treasures" in the early encounters that enhance the enjoyment of subsequent encounters, or at least prevent the later encounters from running off the rails. Sometimes those items are as simple as knotted rope, sunrods, or alchemical items like antitoxin. These are good items to buy to help other characters whose players in need.

Table balance might also direct buffs toward the disenfranchised character rather than to the "heavy hitters." Should an experienced player do this, it would reflect poor judgment to point this out as a tactical error. This would be the equivalent of taking the last portion of a choice dish when another guest at the table has not had any; tactical meta-gamers need to exercise restraint in these situations. It lies in the hands of the judge to intervene if less-than-optimal tactics jeopardized the mission or party.

In sum, exercising table balance as a player requires significant maturity [not necessarily experience], social sensitivity, and generosity.

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