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


Pathfinder Society® General Discussion

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Qadira ***

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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


My experience with PFS differs, roleplay was not priority at all, but that was at Gencon and everyone is on a '2-4 hour' schedule depending on events they've signed up for... but we did have a TON of fun! The only thing they run at our somewhat close FLGS is 4E Living Forgotten Realms and I'd simply rather not.

While playing Living Greyhawk I heard and seen many stories of people playing for the sole purpose of optimization, trying to WIN at D&D. This was not my idea of fun and I dropped after 2-3 attempts.

Paizo Employee ** Developer

What store is this, Daniel, and who do we contact there about setting up some PFS games?


Mark Moreland wrote:
What store is this, Daniel, and who do we contact there about setting up some PFS games?

It's not a matter of the store not wanting to run PFS, more of a matter having someone that will/can I believe. Besides we've been playing our regular PF game there, every other Sunday for approx. 2 years now. We just completed CotCT and there's a Kingmaker game in the works hopefully. We are not completely deprived of PF goodness, call off the hounds! :)

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

5 people marked this as a favorite.

**casts Resurrect Old Thread**

One thing that bugs me a bit when GM'ing is the combat related metagaming.

Such as, the fighter moves his character on the battle board saying, "I charge in with my [weapon]."

But the rogue jumps in and says, "no, move here so I can flank and get sneak attack on my turn."

Then the ranger jumps in and says, "no, move here so I have a clear line of sight with my bow."

Then the wizard says, "no, you should delay because I'm next in initiative and I'm dropping a fireball."

Then the cavalier says, "yeah, you should delay so I can charge and use ride-by-attack before you move in and block my charging lane."

And the sorcerer says, "delay until after me, because I'm casting Haste."

And the cleric says, "wait until I Bless the party."

And the bard says, "wait until I start my performance."

Okay, so that is too many players for a PFS event, but you get the jist.

Now, if the player is new to PFS or to gaming in general and this is a low-tier game, I'm all for helping them understand the rules. There is a good chance that the "character" knows a heck of a lot more about combat than the "player" does.

However, I see this type of thing even at mid/high tier tables. And it seems to happen most often when you have a somewhat timid player at the table with one, or more, "alpha male" types. They tend to tell the other player/s what to do. If you, as a group discuss your typical tactics, then it makes sense. But, most of the time, it's like pulling teeth just to get the players to introduce their characters, what they look like, and their roles.

IMO, it just does not make sense that one player would know the intentions of all the other players, in every situation. Not having "perfect" strategy might make some of the encounters a bit more challenging. It makes more sense to simply take your turn and make a quick announcement of what you would like someone else to do to support your next action. Otherwise, let the other players play their own character for cripes sake!

Another meta-game issue I have seen a lot of recently is prepping/buffing before an encounter. Sure, some of time, your character has some reason to expect something. But I see too much of the following, "well there is only 45 minutes left in this slot and we know the final encounter is still coming. This door at the end of the hallway must lead into the BBEG's quarters. So, we'll spend the next four rounds activating abilities and casting spells. Okay, ready? We open the door."

Gawd, this is irritating.

Recently, as a player with a paladin, we were sent to free a captured woman from some evil dude. As we approached a cavern, we saw her lying on the floor, apparently unconscious. She was too far away to tell her physical condition, but it was clear it was her. Others in our group wanted us to wait nearly six rounds while they buffed, because,
"The BBEG must be in there somewhere. There is less than an hour left in this slot."
I was soo irritated at that statement, that I charged in when I would have otherwise been at least cautious. Yes, it could have been a trap, but I am a paladin and I'm not going to wait for you to 'buff' while our 'victim' might be bleeding out.

[/end rant]

Andoran

Definitely some good points here TK...I think some strategy prep is inevitable, and good, but it can get to be too much. We had a game recently where our whole table was talking about what to do in that round for like 5 minutes....the GM finally looked at us and said, "I'm counting to 5, and if you (looking at the person whose turn it was) haven't given me an action, I'm skipping you."

At first, I think all of us were like "Whoa, back off, this is my game, what gives you the right?" And then it was more like..."Hey, good point, I like that idea." It did make us strategically rush a bit more and didn't allow for as much metagaming, so it ended up as a nice change.

On your other point,

TwilightKnight wrote:
Another meta-game issue I have seen a lot of recently is prepping/buffing before an encounter.

here's my take that I use in home games and in PFS. For every round the PCs buff...so too the baddies buff.

Yes, I'll follow tactics and gear/treasure for the most part, but I won't hesitate to throw in a little extra mage armor or stat bump potion, etc. Approaching the BBEG who can now fly, has mage armor, 3 mirror images and is invisible becomes a great deal more of a challenge even with buffed characters. Makes them think twice the next time. :)

Grand Lodge ****

Ricky Bobby wrote:
the GM finally looked at us and said, "I'm counting to 5, and if you (looking at the person whose turn it was) haven't given me an action, I'm skipping you."

Doesn't everyone do this? Seems about the only way to make time limits in most games, especially with 5+ players. I usually make the PC "delay" until after the next creature acts, rather than skipping them entirely, though... makes the same point without a crippling loss.

Although, you do have to remember that *players* don't know the things their *characters* would, so I cut them some slack at the beginning of combat to hash things out. Once things start to swing, though, it's fast and furious with less time to coordinate.

***
While on the topic of "metagaming we hate" - what about spellcasters who think that the 5' square grid is actually painted down on the in-game cavern floor? You're throwing a ranged touch attack, not targeting photon torpedoes from orbit; there should be some inaccuracy chance in spell placement, a la splash weapons. But that would probably violate PvP a lot.

Andoran *****

Lamplighter wrote:

[While on the topic of "metagaming we hate" - what about spellcasters who think that the 5' square grid is actually painted down on the in-game cavern floor? You're throwing a ranged touch attack, not targeting photon torpedoes from orbit; there should be some inaccuracy chance in spell placement, a la splash weapons. But that would probably violate PvP a lot.

Why would the spellcaster who uses a spell often be any less proficient with their casting than an archer with a bow is about telling how good their shot is/if its within a good enough range incremembet/ etc.

All seems the same to me. Are you suggesting some kinda of penalty they ought to suffer, or that you impose on them?

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

Lamplighter wrote:


While on the topic of "metagaming we hate" - what about spellcasters who think that the 5' square grid is actually painted down on the in-game cavern floor? You're throwing a ranged touch attack, not targeting photon torpedoes from orbit; there should be some inaccuracy chance in spell placement, a la splash weapons. But that would probably violate PvP a lot.

We toyed with this idea for a while in our home campaign, but abandoned it. The melee'ers were being unfairly penalized as collateral damage due to mis-targeting of spells like Fireball.

godsDMit wrote:
Why would the spellcaster who uses a spell often be any less proficient with their casting than an archer with a bow is about telling how good their shot is/if its within a good enough range incremembet/ etc.

This

Qadira ***

TwilightKnight wrote:
Spent 128 PA for a Extra True Thread Resurrection.

Word to what you said.

Also, remember the bobsie/opto twins from BashCon? They were mostly 'Build' and very little of the other three...some of the worst playing I've seen a while. Sadness.

On the otherhand, Twi-Li-Knight....I know you and Thea get it. You guys rock. You're good fun peeps, roleplay, & know your rules...builds don't mean jack.

The best players (people I really want to play with) at this silly game don't need to metagame or powergame to be good.

-Pain

*****

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm going to write an scenario where the final encounter isn't behind the last door. It's behind the door behind the door behind the last door. In other words, disguise the last encounter and get the party to waste their metagamed buffs.

Qadira ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Tennessee—Murfreesboro

Kyle Baird wrote:
I'm going to write an scenario where the final encounter isn't behind the last door. It's behind the door behind the door behind the last door. In other words, disguise the last encounter and get the party to waste their metagamed buffs.

I would have to giggle at some of the meta-gamers then .. and would so sign up with run every mod like that...

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Painlord wrote:
They were mostly 'Build' and very little of the other three...some of the worst playing I've seen a while.

Sometimes I like to get those players at my table. I don't feel as bad when I crush their soul with my evil minions.

*****

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Thea Peters wrote:
I would have to giggle at some of the meta-gamers then .. and would so sign up with run every mod like that...

Rebel's Ransom is kind of like that with the throne room. I've had parties waste their last haste or blessings of fervor only to open the door and be sorely disapointed.

****

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Might want to spoiler that Kyle. Also that adventure ate my buffs too :(

Shadow Lodge **

godsDMit wrote:
Lamplighter wrote:

[While on the topic of "metagaming we hate" - what about spellcasters who think that the 5' square grid is actually painted down on the in-game cavern floor? You're throwing a ranged touch attack, not targeting photon torpedoes from orbit; there should be some inaccuracy chance in spell placement, a la splash weapons. But that would probably violate PvP a lot.

Why would the spellcaster who uses a spell often be any less proficient with their casting than an archer with a bow is about telling how good their shot is/if its within a good enough range incremembet/ etc.

All seems the same to me. Are you suggesting some kinda of penalty they ought to suffer, or that you impose on them?

Assuming a player drops his fireball using a template to ensure person X is affected but not adjacent person Y, his wizard isn't any more proficient at 15th level than he is at 5th level. Essentially in a metagamey world the character is more proficient as the player gets more proficient and that's exactly the case here.

My second gripe is that players who do this tend to interrupt the flow of play while they fiddle with their spells to get them precisely placed. When you are fiddling with game mechanics you are interrupting the narrative flow of combat.

Much like the guy who rolls his attacks one at a time and applies them each individually this is more about fun, engaging game play than about "RAW".

Andoran *****

*Marks thread for purposes of forwarding to PFS FB page.*

Taldor **

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Companion, Maps, Modules Subscriber
0gre wrote:


My second gripe is that players who do this tend to interrupt the flow of play while they fiddle with their spells to get them precisely placed. When you are fiddling with game mechanics you are interrupting the narrative flow of combat.

When I GM, I do the same things as the players to try and exclude teammates. I interrupt the flow as much as a player. I think the key for this is to make sure that you are ready to act when it is your turn, and minimize how much time you need to declare where your template hits.

Quote:
Much like the guy who rolls his attacks one at a time and applies them each individually this is more about fun, engaging game play than about "RAW".

Again, I've been known to do this, and do not begrudge players doing it if the suspect one enemy might drop and that they might want to use their second attack against a second enemy. Again, as long as they aren't wasting too much time doing so then I really don't see a problem.

Andoran ***

TwilightKnight wrote:

Another meta-game issue I have seen a lot of recently is prepping/buffing before an encounter. Sure, some of time, your character has some reason to expect something. But I see too much of the following, "well there is only 45 minutes left in this slot and we know the final encounter is still coming. This door at the end of the hallway must lead into the BBEG's quarters. So, we'll spend the next four rounds activating abilities and casting spells. Okay, ready? We open the door."

Gawd, this is irritating.

More irritating is GMs who so far disallow it in situations when it woulfd be a good application as to have oblivious enemies come out and get a surprise round on you.

Note:
When done if the enemy "behind that final door" would be aware of the party coming, then they should be getting buffs, too.

If the party has a surprise situation, then they should be allowed to take full advantage of it.

Don't penalize the players for playing it right.

As to the "Giving other players advise", if it is a constant group, then it shouldn't happen by higher levels; but, in PFS, even in a "local" game, you aren't playing with all the same PCs every session for weeks on end. Sometimes, you aren't playing with the same PCs, even with the same players, in consecutive sessions.

So, consider it free actions by the PCs, to the currently active PC. Set a reasonable limit, but allow it to go on.

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

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Callarek wrote:


So, consider it free actions by the PCs, to the currently active PC. Set a reasonable limit, but allow it to go on.

If complicated tactical "discussions" are taking place in real time, then why doesn't the enemy get to take advantage of that too? Sure, a simple, "MR. Pink, flank to the left, I'm going right," is one thing (and reasonable IMO). However, the exchange I described above is not. It would take much more than a 'free' action to plan out those details, and within earshot of the enemy. S/he should then be able to adjust to compensate his/her tactics as well.

That's just the in-game aspect. The bigger issue is the railroading effect it has on other players. Most players are a cautious bunch. They do not want their character's actions to cause the death of another player's PC. I see it all too often where a player changes their actions, or even nerf's their PC, because another player wants to do something and they don't want to get in the way.

Some of the questions I ask myself,
"Why is the fighter with a INT of 7 and a WIS of 10, telling the wizard what spell to cast, on which targets, centered on what square? When was the last time s/he took a rank in Spellcraft?

"Does the gnomish fey sorcerer know the skills of an Inquisitor? Then why is s/he telling the Inquisitor what judgment to use and when?"

"The players failed their knowledge check and have never encountered a rust monster before, why are they suddenly switching to their 'backup' wooden weapons?"

Players are always asking for more "realism" from the GM. Shouldn't that expectation work both ways?

This is a cooperative game, yes, but it doesn't need to turn into a road crew with a supervisor directing everyone's actions. Let players play. They'll make mistakes and learn from them. And be better players for it. If the player does not see an obvious tactic, then remind them IN CHARACTER. But let's keep the table talk to a minimum, hmmm. You're spoiling my immersion :-)

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson aka Sir_Wulf

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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."

Obviously, such an approach could be obnoxious and should be used sparingly. GMs should especially be careful not to choke off advice needed to help newer players. Years ago, my wife lost her PC because the GM didn't let me warn her how dangerous a spirited charge could be (taking her from full to -27 hp in one shot...).

Grand Lodge ****

godsDMit wrote:
Why would the spellcaster who uses a spell often be any less proficient with their casting than an archer with a bow is about telling how good their shot is/if its within a good enough range incremembet/ etc.

Well, an archer still has to roll to hit - the only thing they "know" is that it's another -2 per range increment, but they may still miss. Area-effect spells *always* hit their exact target, regardless of caster level, and casters can prevent any collateral damage because they know the exact ranges of every enemy and friend from the target point. I haven't used a penalty for this yet, but I'm thinking about it for casters that spend 5 minutes figuring out the exact position for the spells, comparing to damage done to each target, etc. for the optimal effect.

*

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I solved Twilight Knight's problem with combat sequencing in Minimus

For those who can't read to the second page: Everyone declares their action, but can't put conditionals on it. GM deals out cards face down.

Everyone gets 30 seconds to look at their card, and swap - without speaking or indicating the value of the card - with other players.

It makes having a plan everybody knows ahead of time MUCH more important and makes combat feel more like combat.

When I run a table, I introduce myself as follows:

"My name is Ken Burnside. I'm your GM at the table. I have a good working knowledge of the rules, but consider them secondary to having a good time. For me, good times means everyone describes things in a fun and interesting way, has motives for their characters and follows them."

"I am a roleplaying heavy GM. If you just want to go through and kill things and play a tactical wargame, I'm going to suggest you go to <points to Kyle Baird's table> over there."

"I'd like each of your names, I'd like each of your character names - so I can write them down on the Chronicle Sheets at the beginning of the session - and I'd like each of you to tell me what your character is awesome at, so that I can make sure there's a chance for you to shine and get the spotlight during the mod."

*

Kyle Baird wrote:
Thea Peters wrote:
I would have to giggle at some of the meta-gamers then .. and would so sign up with run every mod like that...
Rebel's Ransom is kind of like that with the throne room. I've had parties waste their last haste or blessings of fervor only to open the door and be sorely disapointed.

When you are writing an adventure especially for living campaigns try making the early combat the most dangerous. Most meta-gaming groups will try to preserve their magic and combat resources assuming this to be the "obligatory thug attack". To avoid an anti-climatic ending utilize some devious traps or a very difficult puzzle to complete their quest rather then allowing them to run over it by sheer brute force and magic items. They will

Think twice about holding back so they can cakewalk the big bad at the end after an experience like that.

In regards to groups coordinating their tactics, I think as long as they are speaking in character it should not be a problem. When military units go into battle they coordinate their tactics during a fight. Now in the extreme cases like the 5 minute discussion that was discussed earlier in the thread I would not tolerate either. Tactics Planning should be done before they are even in a fight. During combat short remarks that remind players of earlier plans are not only acceptable, but are signs of experienced players using good group tactics. As DMs we coordinate tactics with npcs all the time. We just do not have to do it out loud because we are controlling all of the enemies.

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

griffy35 wrote:


As DMs we coordinate tactics with npcs all the time. We just do not have to do it out loud because we are controlling all of the enemies.

Some of us don't. We will follow the listed tactics, but that is assumed it was discussed by the NPC's before hand. However, once that is over, they have to communicate just like the PC's and the characters can react accordingly.

Qadira ***

A'ight.

***End Threadjack.***

Yeah, we all know some bad players, some players who metagame or powergame unnecessarily, but what makes a good player?

C'mon.

Why are good PFS players good?

What qualities do they have that makes them good?

-Pain

Andoran *****

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Painlord wrote:

A'ight.

***End Threadjack.***

Yeah, we all know some bad players, some players who metagame or powergame unnecessarily, but what makes a good player?

C'mon.

Why are good PFS players good?

What qualities do they have that makes them good?

-Pain

Player's Named Dragnmoon?...;)

Silver Crusade ****

Painlord wrote:

A'ight.

***End Threadjack.***

Yeah, we all know some bad players, some players who metagame or powergame unnecessarily, but what makes a good player?

C'mon.

Why are good PFS players good?

What qualities do they have that makes them good?

-Pain

Because they bring me food! (Hint Hint)

Shadow Lodge **

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Painlord wrote:
What qualities do they have that makes them good?

First, an example

I went out of town with a friend and he was playing a rogue character. Every time we came up to a door the rogue player would stop to check for traps, one of the other players would just barge through "I have enough hit points I can take the hit". In the same game a player left a room and went solo while other players were finishing their faction missions. We blew through the module and no one took any damage... not a single hit point and ahead of schedule.

On the drive home my friend says "I didn't get to sneak attack a single time". In fact, he never got to use any of his rogue abilities even though there were potential opportunities. He has not gone back with me since.

The point here isn't to harp on the BAD but to point out how easy it would have been in a scenario with very little risk to do a few things to help another player shine and give him a better play experience. There were very few encounters where the party was truly challenged, it would have been trivially easy to leave some room for a new to the area player to shine. I think the bigger 6-7 person tables make this even worse as the modules get easier it gets to a point where there just aren't enough enemies to go around.

So here is my good example:
Blazej (who posts here frequently) has a bard character who took a bunch of feats to help other characters do cool stuff. Halfling Luck, bardic finish, plus a couple others. He wasn't the most 'effective' character at the table but he made the other characters more effective and he made the game more fun for everyone. When one player failed a save and would have been out of the encounter Little Shins dove in and took the bullet. EVERYONE at the table was laughing and enjoying his antics.

The BEST players try to help bring out the strengths of the other players. We can't all be Little Shins because combat is a big part of the game but we can all do things in every game session to make sure the person across the table has a moment of glory.

*

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When you play an RPG, the rewards for playing come from three overlapping spheres of influence: The rewards inherent to the rules system, the rewards given by the GM, and the rewards given by your other players.

In a typical "home game", the rewards are generally balanced; I can argue that the GM rewards circle in that diagram might be larger than the game system reward circle.

In a "PFS game", the incentives skew, because a PFS/Living Campaign system has to have consistency of play as one of its primary goals: If the GM rewards cool play, then it's argued they're being unfair to the people who didn't trigger their 'sense of cool'. Because you likely won't play with the same group of players every time, the best strategy to take to maximize your rewards is the one that involves the least reliance on other players.

This explains why optimizer-uber-alles players tend to pop up at PFS games...and why the modules are written the way they are; modules that rely on GMs rewarding players for cool stuff (or that use the "investigate a mystery" model rather than the "assault on the temple of Big Bad Guy #27453") get mixed or poor reviews.

Optimizers show up because they're reducing the uncertainty of their outcome, and their reliance on other players ("this way, real world charisma can be a dump stat, just like it should be in the game!"). Trying to empower GMs to give more rewards leads to accusations of favoritism, or makes every module as prep-intensive as Throaty Mermaid.

The place where this cam be improved is in the social reward mechanism of PFS play. However, that's a post for a different time.

I am also of the opinion that many of the things that are in the Big Green Circle should be moved to the other two circles, and that it would be worth the effort to ask GMs which type of play style they enjoy, ask players what type of play style they enjoy, and match players to GM'd tables that way.

Shadow Lodge **

I kind of disagree.

Being a good player is a reward in itself. When there is a fun engaging player at the table everyone has more fun, including the guy who puts the work into being fun and engaging. The bigger reason I think "Good" players are less common is because it's a bit more work. You have to pay more attention to what is going on with other characters and what sort of things would make their characters more effective.

I think any gap between PFS and home play in play experience and good versus bad play is due more to the fact that in home play you know/ trust the people you are playing with.

** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Painlord wrote:


Why are good PFS players good?

What qualities do they have that makes them good?

-Pain

They're polite and respectful towards others. They pay attention even when it's not their go so they can respond quickly, stay focussed on the story, limit unrelated conversations to the barest minimum and contribute to what the party is trying to achieve.

A good player should also be trustworthy, knows the rules well or is willing to learn them, accepts when they're wrong with good grace, and is well prepared (ie knows their character).

If they can roleplay well then that's nice, but as a DM I'm just as happy with a power-gamer who has a decent attitude and pays attention...

I would say exactly the same applies to DMs as well as players. It makes for a much more relaxed and enjoyable game than an autocratic style. Especially in PFS where there's a chance that all the players at the table are DMs too!

Obviously IMHO, but that's how I like my games. :-)

*

0gre wrote:
I kind of disagree.

Oh, if only our elected officials could disagree as you and I do. :)

Quote:
Being a good player is a reward in itself. When there is a fun engaging player at the table everyone has more fun, including the guy who puts the work into being fun and engaging.

You are confusing the desired outcome (everyone has fun) with the rewards used to encourage or incent that outcome. Pathfinder (as a game) has a lot of legacy game design decisions from 3.0/3.5, and among them is a belief that "good play is its own reward", rather than choosing mechanical benefits and tying them to behaviors for good play. Instead, the most strongly rewarded behavior by the game is "Accumulate power, level in time with the plot, get kewl toys." Other aspects tend to largely be rewarded by the GM. A handful are incented by other players.

Indeed, the entire encounter design system assumes characters will have certain magic items at certain levels.

Quote:
The bigger reason I think "Good" players are less common is because it's a bit more work. You have to pay more attention to what is going on with other characters and what sort of things would make their characters more effective.

Translation - it's easier to focus on making yourself more effective than it is to plan how you're going to make a group of characters played by people you don't know more effective on 5 minutes notice.

This isn't a disagreement so much as a perspective shift. I find that game design (and social dynamics) are easier to model, predict and adjust when you look at them as a set of overlapping and competing incentives rather than obstacles to be overcome.

Quote:
I think any gap between PFS and home play in play experience and good versus bad play is due more to the fact that in home play you know/ trust the people you are playing with.

The relative size of the circles in the second Venn diagram shows the difference in trust between player/GM by making it less likely that those spheres of influence will have significant overlap, plus, the GM has a greatly reduced toolset in PFS play, unless the players are very flexible.

In the same game you mentioned Little Shins in, we implemented a sub-optimal plan, proposed by a player who was, to be honest, feeling a little useless in an encounter.

That plan was cinematic and evocative, using the local environment and some results of roleplaying against it. We expended resources to set it up, and we'd've been better off if those resources had been used more conventionally - going up and beating the encounter with sharp pointy things, rather than using the environment against it.

This is an example of both player rewards - we came up with a screwball plan - and GM rewards "Hey, that sounds cool, even if it's not quite what the encounter intended..." running afoul of the game mechanical assumptions of the rules.

*

2 people marked this as a favorite.

My read on Painlord's original question - now that I've unloaded out the incentives are suboptimal - boil down to this:

1) Understand that the goal is to enjoy the game, not win it without expending any resources, getting hurt, or without any challenge. Unlike a home game, the GM cannot tweak the encounters to match the players.

2) Part of the reason everyone plays the game is to get a chance to be the center of the show; every character needs a chance to act, and their player needs to feel like they significantly contributed to the outcome of the story/plot/module.

3) Trust that the GM is there to make sure that everyone has a fun time. The GM is not your adversary. The GM is your host at the blood-and-thunder cotillion.

4) In general, assume that the modules are built to a lower level of optimization than the CharOps boards present as 'normative'. Most of the monsters are going to be made off of the Elite Array. Most of the encounters assume four characters, usually with one front line fighter, one ranged combatant, one rogue and one healer. Yes, it's possible to build a character who uses a Huge-scale Serrated Sabre as a two handed weapon, bought as an Heirloom Weapon that you've also taken Weapon Focus in, backed by an 18 STR at 1st level. But what else are you contributing? Is that choice making the game fun for anyone else but you?

Which leads to:

5) What are YOU doing to make the game fun for EVERYONE ELSE?

Andoran *****

Lamplighter wrote:
Well, an archer still has to roll to hit - the only thing they "know" is that it's another -2 per range increment, but they may still miss. Area-effect spells *always* hit their exact target, regardless of caster level, and casters can prevent any collateral damage because they know the exact ranges of every enemy and friend from the target point. I haven't used a penalty for this yet, but I'm thinking about it for casters that spend 5 minutes figuring out the exact position for the spells, comparing to damage done to each target, etc. for the optimal effect.

An archer knows how far away from the target they are (maybe not down to the inch, but we'll still say 'exactly' how far, for the purposes of this discussion) and if it is beyond their normal targetting range (meaning theyll take the -2 for range incrememnet), and know what will happen when they shoot. They hit the single target with a single arrow, and do damage.

A caster knows how far away from the target they are, and if it beyond their normal casting range (outside the spell area), and know what will happen when they use the spell, including how big the area of effect is, therefore allowing them to place it exactly (again, maybe not down to the inch, but close enough for this arguement), where their allies are in respect to the area of effect, and what will happen to those caught IN the area of effect.

Its not exactly fair, but its the nature of the beast.

Also, if the issue is taking too long, just tell them they use the spell, and roll odds to see if the ally was in the area or if they didnt place it where it would hit them.

On topic:

1. Try to help the other players have fun. Try not to do things that are going to impede on their characters.
2. Help newer players learn the rules.
3. Be willing to give up your seat to someone who doesnt get to play as often/ drove further than you/ is new.

Qadira ***

23 people marked this as a favorite.
AdAstraGames wrote:
Understand that the goal is to enjoy the game, not win it without expending any resources, getting hurt, or without any challenge.

Sometimes I think the best advice I can give to new players sometimes is: GET FOUND!

Get Found! Story:

(Adapted from my ale-addled mind.)

The story comes from Robert Fulghum (of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarden).

Robert was watching children in his neighborhood play a game of hide and seek. Recalling his youth, Robert remembers a kid who was *really* good at hiding, so good, no one could find him. The kid hid so well that eventually the rest of kids gave up trying to find him.

Seeing the kids playing outside, Robert saw one kid hiding in a great spot, no one would find him. In fact, it looked like the other kids were about to give up trying to find him. (yeah yeah yeah...maybe this was before the time of "olly olly oxen free free free" rules were put into the official Hide&Seek players guide v1.2)

Recalling his experience from his youth, Robert yelled to the kid to "Get Found!"

The point of PFS *isn't* about hiding so no one can ever find you or having an AC so high that no one can hit you or doing 100 DPR or casting a persistent heightened Stone to Flesh with a DC of 7 gazillion...

...it's about interactions in a social environment playing a common pastime.

In fact, PFS is more like a game of Sardines than Hide & Seek. I'd rather be hiding, laughing, giggling, and trying to keep quiet with a bunch of friends than hiding alone.

If you're not building your character to both interact, help, and rely on other players, you may be playing wrong.

Get Found, you!

-Pain

Grand Lodge ***

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game Subscriber
Painlord wrote:

Sometimes I think the best advice I can give to new players sometimes is: GET FOUND!

Maybe your best post ever.

Shadow Lodge **

Painlord wrote:

If you're not building your character to both interact, help, and rely on other players, you may be playing wrong.

Get Found, you!

I'm not fond of the phrase 'you may be playing wrong' but... yeah awesome post.

Qadira ***

K Neil Shackleton wrote:
Painlord wrote:

Sometimes I think the best advice I can give to new players sometimes is: GET FOUND!

Maybe your best post ever.

Thanks, sir. :)

**

Ricky Bobby wrote:
Definitely some good points here TK...I think some strategy prep is inevitable, and good, but it can get to be too much. We had a game recently where our whole table was talking about what to do in that round for like 5 minutes....the GM finally looked at us and said, "I'm counting to 5, and if you (looking at the person whose turn it was) haven't given me an action, I'm skipping you."

I hate this tactic and I think some judges use it too often. Sometimes players are metagaming. If that is the case, deal with the metagaming. You could say something like this:

"Hey you, stop metagaming."

However, sometimes player decisions about their PC require looking up an action or spell or asking multiple questions about mechanics, and this takes a heck of a lot more than 5 seconds, especially when their action changes quickly due to something unplanned.

Lets' say the action they planned to do in their turn was just altered by the person before them.

One's character, being vastly more familiar with said action than the player, wouldn't have to look anything up in a book to know what the effect of changing actions would have. Assuming the character has used the ability in the past and lives with the ability every day of their life rather than 4 hours on a Saturday afternoon once per month, it is a credible idea to allow the player some time to catch up.

PC's "witness" events and make actions firsthand, so to speak. Players don't.

Time does not flow in-game and out of game at the same rate. Ever.

If we are going to allow the concept of the bad guy monologue while the PCs are forced to stand motionless and slack jawed, then allowing some time for player decisions about a fantasy game (which should be taking place primarily in one's imagination) a few extra seconds or even minutes.

Combats which last (in game time) only one minute can take an hour or more to describe and complete.

Don't penalize a player who is legitimately trying to plan actions based upon written descriptions, or pausing to ask questions about effects or rules during their turn.

You have to make a judgment call as a GM each time. Is the player trying to gain an unwarranted advantage by talking to everyone at the table before making an action? Are they being abusive of others' time? Or are they asking questions to help better understand a complex series of variables, many of which could affect their own action?

If the players are to be held to the 5-second rule, then the GM should also. And as a fairly experienced GM, I'd say that is a bad idea unless you happen to have eidetic memory.

Qadira ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Tennessee—Murfreesboro

duhtroll wrote:
Ricky Bobby wrote:
Definitely some good points here TK...I think some strategy prep is inevitable, and good, but it can get to be too much. We had a game recently where our whole table was talking about what to do in that round for like 5 minutes....the GM finally looked at us and said, "I'm counting to 5, and if you (looking at the person whose turn it was) haven't given me an action, I'm skipping you."

I hate this tactic and I think some judges use it too often. Sometimes players are metagaming. If that is the case, deal with the metagaming. You could say something like this:

"Hey you, stop metagaming."

However, sometimes player decisions about their PC require looking up an action or spell or asking multiple questions about mechanics, and this takes a heck of a lot more than 5 seconds, especially when their action changes quickly due to something unplanned.

Lets' say the action they planned to do in their turn was just altered by the person before them.

One's character, being vastly more familiar with said action than the player, wouldn't have to look anything up in a book to know what the effect of changing actions would have. Assuming the character has used the ability in the past and lives with the ability every day of their life rather than 4 hours on a Saturday afternoon once per month, it is a credible idea to allow the player some time to catch up.

PC's "witness" events and make actions firsthand, so to speak. Players don't.

Time does not flow in-game and out of game at the same rate. Ever.

If we are going to allow the concept of the bad guy monologue while the PCs are forced to stand motionless and slack jawed, then allowing some time for player decisions about a fantasy game (which should be taking place primarily in one's imagination) a few extra seconds or even minutes.

Combats which last (in game time) only one minute can take an hour or more to describe and complete.

Don't penalize a player who is legitimately trying to plan actions based upon...

I've used the "hey stop meta-gaming" comment before and received mixed reactions; some people laugh, some people blush at "being caught", I had one player get made at me for calling him on it when he didn't think he was meta gaming.

No one is going to fault a player for having to look up information when their action changes based on the actions of another, happens to me all the time. I see the perfect set up for a spell, plan for it, have the dice ready for it.. the other players act and my perfect set-up has changed, my spell isn't going to be as effective or be effective at all and I'm having to scramble for a new idea (lightening bolt doesn't always work). I, personally, will always allows a player time to look up spells and whatnot when they need to. I'm not 100% on the rules and I don't expect anyone (including Kyle Baird) to be either.

I think what is being referenced are the players that feel the need to sit for 30 minutes and discuss how they want to run the encounter, and telling others what they need to do to make the original players characters better, after initiative has been rolled and the combat has started. I'm a firm believer in letting each player run their character themselves as they know what feats, traits, spells etc., that they have. I generally will let said discussion go on for a minute or two and then ask what they are going to do; and yes if they are discussing at the table I consider them discussing in game and will try to adjust what my NPCs are doing accordingly. The fighter telling the wizard/sorceress to cast a fireball means my guys are going to scatter.

There is a huge difference between a player that is normally ready but once in awhile has to look up information vs. the player that sits and talks throughout everyone else's turn and then doesn't know what he's going to do because he has no idea what has happened.

There is a huge difference between the player that will talk tactics out of character and decide how to "double-team" the NPC vs. the player that discusses tactics in game and works with what other characters are doing and reacts accordingly.

GMs have to be able to adjust to both play styles and be willing to reasonably accommodate player/character personalities but there does come a time in any great discussion where the GM has to take control and force the player to make a decision -- either act or delay and come back in later when you know what you want to do.


Bob Jonquet wrote:
stuff about discussing tactics

One last thought... my first GM always told us that we had 6 words to use per round, at any time. Once they were gone, we were done speaking. That really limited things. We had to figure out ahead of time where we should place ourselves, and we had to know each others' tactics enough to work effectively. It cut down on combat rounds, and on people telling others how to act.

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Pickguy,

That's a great idea! But it's easier to implement when you have a regular group of characters who know one another's talents and powers.

It's easy in PRS to assert that, on your two-week trip out to the Mwangi jungle, you and your new best friends discussed tactics and got to know one another's abilities. It's another to spend a half hour going over which PC at the table has what combat feat.


duhtroll wrote:
If we are going to allow the concept of the bad guy monologue while the PCs are forced to stand motionless and slack jawed, then allowing some time for player decisions about a fantasy game (which should be taking place primarily in one's imagination) a few extra seconds or even minutes.

The issue here isn't players spending a few seconds to reorient themselves, or change up their battle plan. I have had players spend 20 minutes on their turn agonizing over every possible angle. That tends to add up when you have 2 or 3 players at the table doing it. Having been forced to sit through an hour-long combat round because of people abusing the exact concept you talked about, and using the argument you just gave to justify why they weren't metagaming, I can definitely tell you that there does need to be a limit placed upon things like this.


Chris Mortika wrote:

Pickguy,

That's a great idea! But it's easier to implement when you have a regular group of characters who know one another's talents and powers.

It's easy in PRS to assert that, on your two-week trip out to the Mwangi jungle, you and your new best friends discussed tactics and got to know one another's abilities. It's another to spend a half hour going over which PC at the table has what combat feat.

Very true, it really is easiest to manage this with people in in-home PFS games. I typically try to stay out of public games and con games just because it's easier to play with people who have established histories and play styles. Though I have been considering joining some away games just to change things up a bit and enjoy the outside world.

I agree with your point that people should figure their characters know one another. An armed band of warriors would not refuse to discuss tactics together. Players should have a concise description of their battle tactics ready to dish out at the beginning of games with unfamiliar players. Bestiaries and Monster Manuals often do a great job of describing basic tactics, and I try to make sure I can describe my basic strategy in a short way to give people a basic idea and set of expectations. If I build a charging-heavy, impulsive character, I make sure they know that so that we don't have to go through five minutes of people trying to position my charge, encourage me not to so I won't get hit by AoE spells, or encouraging me to charge a target in the back row instead so they get the closer targets.


Painlord wrote:

***End Threadjack.***

Why are good PFS players good?

What qualities do they have that makes them good?

I do have to share one story... not PFS exactly, it was homebrew, but it applies here.

One of my characters fell into a pit, about 40ft deep. Definitely able to get out... except that the pit was exactly large enough for one ooze, which I fell into. Brand new character, first session, lower level. This was 3.5, so gear started dissolving, character started dying. The whole group pretty much stood around the lip of the pit just watching my character die.

One of our players, a super, incorrigible power-gamer, surprised us all by tying a rope to himself and diving into the ooze. He grabbed onto me and cast dimension door, saving us both.

Not only were we pleasantly surprised to find a role player buried under that power-gamer exterior, but he saved my character. He could have written my character off and continued on, but he chose to take the RP route with it and risk himself to save a tablemate. Our group still talks about it today; it's known as, "The time that Halfling Wizard bungee jumped into the slime pit."

I would definitely say that is one of my better stories about good players.

Grand Lodge ****

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Pickguy wrote:


... I have been considering joining some away games just to change things up a bit and enjoy the outside world.

Yessss, my plan is working perrrfectly! runs off, cackling

**

Since we aren't roleplaying the several hours (or days) on the boat, the time at the inn, the time around the campfire, etc., the sharing of information between players has to happen sometime.

Such items would most likely be mentioned when they become relevant (i.e. in a combat situation). As I said, it is a judgment call.

I have a PC who casts prep spells every time we enter a cave or structure. Why? That is usually when she is ambushed.

Some call it metagaming. One GM said this to me at a game table. I say she is learning from experience, having been attacked every time her party enters a cave for the last 3 years.

Yes, that means on the open road or boat ambushes she doesn't have them up, also (i.e. she is not just casting prep spells when the map appears).

And again, combat occurs very differently than we "play" it, mechanically. PCs do not really "take turns" on the battlemat. It is all happening simultaneously. Allowing people to talk, within reason, makes sense unless there is a reason they can't.

I'd say with each combat round being 6 seconds, they have 6 seconds to speak in character each round. That is, if they are still 6 seconds -- it has been a while since I paid attention to that.

Pickguy wrote:
Chris Mortika wrote:

Pickguy,

That's a great idea! But it's easier to implement when you have a regular group of characters who know one another's talents and powers.

It's easy in PRS to assert that, on your two-week trip out to the Mwangi jungle, you and your new best friends discussed tactics and got to know one another's abilities. It's another to spend a half hour going over which PC at the table has what combat feat.

Very true, it really is easiest to manage this with people in in-home PFS games. I typically try to stay out of public games and con games just because it's easier to play with people who have established histories and play styles. Though I have been considering joining some away games just to change things up a bit and enjoy the outside world.

I agree with your point that people should figure their characters know one another. An armed band of warriors would not refuse to discuss tactics together. Players should have a concise description of their battle tactics ready to dish out at the beginning of games with unfamiliar players. Bestiaries and Monster Manuals often do a great job of describing basic tactics, and I try to make sure I can describe my basic strategy in a short way to give people a basic idea and set of expectations. If I build a charging-heavy, impulsive character, I make sure they know that so that we don't have to go through five minutes of people trying to position my charge, encourage me not to so I won't get hit by AoE spells, or encouraging me to charge a target in the back row instead so they get the closer targets.

*

duhtroll wrote:
Stuff

Regarding metagaming players:

I place a time limit on how long you can spend metagaming and thinking about a round, and I'm not apologetic about it.

That time limit varies and you want to be fair, but eventually the player has to decide. If they're still thinking after a reasonable amount of time, their PC also delays.

If everyone is waiting more than 20s to decide what your fighter does, after waiting through 5 other turns (and you've been jerking around with books or IPhones), I have no problems delaying inattentive players. I find people adapt quickly.

Unless situations have changed, people should be able to roll the dice immediately or tell me what spell they're casting on their turn.

Regarding table talk: A full round is 6 seconds, that's how long you have to talk. If you want to give directions to your fellow PCs and it's short (6s), no problem. If you go into a 5 minute strategy session, I don't think so.

I also think that if you're going to play a spellcaster, you'd better know your limited abilities. (Or hope that I do.) If you're summoning, have print outs of what you summon. Be prepared.

Honestly, PFS sessions aren't even long enough to handle this kind of mucking around. I've been in games where some players spend 20s rolling each die, and it's just not fun and it basically wastes the entire session waiting for the guy to roll.

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

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.

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