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Painlord on Local Coordination & Judge Recruitment


GM Discussion

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The Exchange ***

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Greetings Mortals--

Local Coordinator:

Definition in Process: One who advertises, musters, judges, and/or coordinates PFS play at a gamestore, convention, or home. This may or may not include setting up the Warhorn, mustering, recruiting judges, reporting sessions back to Paizo, and/or other duties to make PFS play happen. They, ultimately, have responsibility for the enjoyment of the PFS players in their group.

From my own local coordinator experience, I really believe in setting a good example for my players [Note: I understand that I'm still growing as both a player and judge.] and communicating the communal, social nature of PFS play. This game is at its best when everyone is participating and contributing to make the group go.

I cringe when I hear stories of local coordinators who are judging 3 or 4 times for every time they play: it means to me that they are either choosing to judge (they are like DougDougBot 3000) or they are doing a poor job of encouraging and pushing others to judge. Sadly, while they are 'taking one for the team', may be hurting their group by not spreading and sharing the judge load as well as burning themselves out unnecessarily.

I want everyone to be better players...and I believe that being a judge is part of being a better player. I believe groups are better when the judge load is shared and everyone has a chance to bring their judge skills and emphasis to the table.

How do you get people to judge? Here you go:

Some of this will be a re-post of my Painlord's Guide to PFS Coordination thread. Yeah, repeating myself for emphasis.

How to Turn PFS Players into Judges:

#1: Ask properly:

A personal verbal or email pitch works best. People respond better to a personal tailored appeal from a person they know. When you send a personal email, it gives both weight and credence to your ask...it gives the recipient fewer ways to ignore the appeal.

Do *not* send out spam emails to group lists asking for judges: this is rarely effective and serves to hurt morale more than helping. It leads to confusion and uncertainty among your players. If you learn nothing else from this post than to do personal and targeted email requests for judges, this post was worth it. (Yes, it's fine to post a long schedule and invite everyone to sign up to judge, but for specific spots, direct emails are the way to go.)

My email template for judge recruitment is spoilered at end of this post.

#2: Promote benefits & explain needs:

Here are some of the arguments that to make, as appropriate, to perspective judges:
1) Do your part to help the community. When you contribute, we all succeed. (this works well)
2) When you judge, you become a better player. I want you to take that next step. Be amazing. (this works well)
3) Guilt. "When are you going to pull your weight?" (rarely used)
4) External rewards. I have players in an AP who are committed to judging once a month as 'payment' for entry into the AP. Actually, any external reward (above and outside of usual GM credit) helps. Two FLGS give $5 in store credit to the judge. Another FLGS charges $6 per person to play...the judge gets it all!
5) Outright flattery: "You're a great judge and I want this group of players to have you on this mod." "I'd like to play...and I want to play at your table. I'd be stoked!"
6) Challenge them. "Do it so you can put your mark on this mod/adventure. Let's see what you got." Or "These pathfinders here really want a challenge. I know you can give it to them!"
7) Highlight the GM credit rules: "You get full XP, gold, and PA for judging this. It's a great way to level!"
8) Intrigue: "You'll learn that different parties will solve the same mod differently. You'll be awed how things turned out. Compare how this new party with how you did it."
9) <activate Painlord Rage power> "JUDGE, YOU LAZY PIDDLESPOT OR I'LL BEAT YOU TO DEATH WITH YOUR OWN DICE!!! REALLY, HOW MANY MINIS DO YOU THINK I CAN CRAM UP YOUR NOSE!?!" (never used outside of my own head)
10) <please add your argument/thought below>

#3: Don't take 'no' for an answer:

Most experienced judges know that there is a significant mental initial barrier to entry into judgeship, however, once that barrier is crossed; judging becomes much easier and less of a mystery. Most judges do not start judging out of fear...fear of not knowing the rules, not being good enough, not blahblahblah. As coordinators, we need to motivate beyond that and get the player to be comfortable enough to step up to judge.

Excuses are excuses....they are nothing but a smokestick in the way. I try to focus on ways to assuage their worries and support them.

Here are some of the typical excuses and comebacks that I'll use in return:

Excuse #1: "I don't have the time." (of course, this is just a stalling tactic)
Response: "No worries. Here's the mod now...I'll schedule you to run in a month. Surely, you can find time over the next month to prep." (Response if the above doesn't work): "You can't prepare a mod in a month. Really? How about 2 months? Or is there another issue that is really causing the problem?" (proceed to excuse 2, usually)

Excuse #2) "I'm not good enough./I don't know the rules well enough."
Response a: "I'm asking you because I know you know enough....you're good enough and you're ready."
Response b: "Knowing the exact rules doesn't matter. You know enough to look things up as appropriate and find solutions. Use your players as a resource...and as a check when you are unclear. They will be happy to help...they always are."
Response c: Here are some handy guides to help you get ready:
Introducing Faction Missions to Players
What makes a good GM
Painlord's How to Be a Better Judge
Response d:"This forum is great for additional information about the mod you're running. Check it out...the judges there have lots of insight into the mod."
Response e: (Before they play the mod) "PlayerX, I may ask you to run this mod at a future time...be sure to pay attention to what happens." (Immediately after the mod, hand them a copy.) "Here you go...read it and see what just happened. I think you'll run it just fine."

Excuse #3: "I don't have the supplies/mats/pens/minis/grognards."
Response a: "Here borrow mine. Anything else?"

Excuse #4: "I don't want to."
Response a:"I understand that, but you're good enough and smart enough to run a fantastic mod. Sadly, if you won't contribute back to the community, I may not have room for you at my games anymore. I hope you'll want to stay playing with us and want to be part of our community. I need you to step up every once in a while."

I suspect many of you will think this is harsh, but I don't think so. In order for the community to grow and survive, you need people to contribute...everyone has to pull their share. And, as Coordinator, you have to make it happen...there is no one else!

It should be stated that once a judge has repeatedly given good faith efforts and failed to achieve quality judgemanship, I would relent and remove them from my judge pool. It's never happened...but I've had bad judges before and I'll try to keep them away from my players.

. . .

Statement #1: I know this is a hard one for some people, but it’s not okay just to show up and play all the time. PFS is a community and for the community to grow, everyone needs to contribute. And there are many many ways to contribute. Some people may need to be invited to do so...and if your PFS community has areas of need (like judging), it's up to the local coordinator to ask.

Statement #2: You can exclude players from your games for a variety of reasons: they are abusive, they are rude/untimely/jerks, *and* if they don’t contribute back to your PFS game. If you have potential judges who just refuse to judge & refuse to participate/do anything but play (perhaps holding onto the excuses above), you should consider dis-inviting them from your games. They are doing more harm to you and the morale of your group (by being a barnacle) than is worth it. They are welcome to go start their own PFS group and organize their own games at which they don’t have to contribute: but you don’t have to let them play at yours.

As mentioned, there are other ways for players to contribute beyond judging. As a coordinator, I will create opportunities for people to make the group better, especially if they are not a good fit for judging.

Non-judging Ways to Contribute:
1) Bringing foodstuffs.
2) Managing the group Warhorn.
3) Handling all the session sheet reporting.
4) Tracking scenarios played and scheduling.
5) Keeping track of judging/playing ratios so people can know when it is their turn to step up.
6) Gameday mustering.
7) <post your idea in comments>

There are tons of ways for people to help…it’s up to the Local Coordinator to offer and promote those opportunities.

Judge Recruitment Email Template:

"Hey Joe--

Though we haven't talked to you about this before, I wanted to touch base about getting you into the judging pool at <yourgamelocationhere>.

I've seen you play and I know you know you stuff and so I think it's natural that you would begin to think about contributing back to the <yourgamelocationhere> PFS community. Of course, there is no pressure to do so, but the system works better when everyone judges at least once in a while. We have lots of new players and need judges to fill all the tables.

Consider this a formal invite to getting started.

You can find tons of information about judging at the [http://paizo.com/paizo/messageboards/paizoPublishing/pathfinder/pathfinderSociety/gmDiscussion]Pathfinder Society GM Boards[/url].

I know you can totally make it happen and I could schedule you at an approaching game night of your choosing. You will get player credit for judging, so that shouldn't be an issue.

You help would be appreciated. Just once every month or two would make a big difference.

Thanks,

<yournamehere>”

So, my thoughts on judge recruitment. Of course there is more...what do you have to add?

-Pain

Liberty's Edge ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Alaska—Anchorage aka Dragnmoon

*Drags himself out of Star Wars: The Old Republic

I am curious Pain... You mention Morale a lot..

Painlord wrote:
Do *not* send out spam emails to group lists asking for judges: this is rarely effective and serves to hurt morale more than helping

Can you explain that? I have done this method with good success, I am confused why you think it hurts Morale?

Painlord wrote:
If you have potential judges who just refuse to judge & refuse to participate/do anything but play (perhaps holding onto the excuses above), you should consider dis-inviting them from your games. They are doing more harm to you and the morale of your group (by being a barnacle) than is worth it.

Once again, How is a Player who does not want to GM hurting Morale?..

I definitely don't agree you should kick them out.

Shadow Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Southwest

Dragnmoon, what I believe Pain is talking about is building a community.

Building a community is how you get an ever growing Pathfinder group with a sustainable judging pool. I know it is what they do in the pain's neck of the woods and it is what we try to do here in San Diego.

If the expectation that one can only take from the community (such as by only playing) then the community will most likey not become self perpetuating. This means that players will tend to request more play opportunities without giving back. Judges and coordinators will tend to burnout as they shoulder more of the load until finally it stops being fun and they stop participating.

If instead every person who joins that gaming community understands that they will be expected to contribute then success is much more likely. In this scenario players know that something is expected of them. That they will be asked to be willing to judge. It might not be all the time but it is there.

That is what I believe Pain is talking about when he says players who don't GM hurt morale.

[edited to fix typos]

Liberty's Edge ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Alaska—Anchorage aka Dragnmoon

Eric Brittain wrote:
stuff

Yeah I still don't get it...

Edit: To me it seems it would be worse for morale to ask players to leave who refuse to GM.

Seems that setting a precedent to either do something you don't want to do or leave would actually be worse for morale and make other players worry that it could happen to them.

Edit: Pain I like your other stuff in this post.

The Exchange ** Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

When you ask someone to participate more you are demonstrating trust and confidence in them. This builds trust and loyalty. Similarly, the more time and effort someone has invested in a group (concept/ person/ whatever), the more committed they are to it.

All of this helps build a team of folks who are collectively more interested/ enthusiastic about the group which makes the group as a whole more appealing to others.

The Exchange ** Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

I'm not entirely sure I agree about asking folks to leave who won't participate. It's a tough call. Most people I know want a chance to play and I can see getting frustrated if some people in the group are just freeloading.

The Exchange ***

Dragnmoon wrote:
Eric Brittain wrote:
stuff

Yeah I still don't get it...

Edit: To me it seems it would be worse for morale to ask players to leave who refuse to GM.

Seems that setting a precedent to either do something you don't want to do or leave would actually be worse for morale and make other players worry that it could happen to them.

Edit: Pain I like your other stuff in this post.

::Painlord drags himself away from Skyrim::

Yo 'moon--

Both Dennis and Eric have both awesomely explained it.

I've never had to ask anyone to leave because they wouldn't judge (when I know and they know that they both could/should). People respond positively when asked.

However, I wouldn't hesitate to dis-invite someone who just refused to step up every once in a while. I think it is worse for morale to have the burden on a few (who can grow resentful of having to judge all the time) rather than making it a shared community experience.

Via effort and setting examples, most of my players judge (well over 75% of active, non-new players) and so we have a nice expectation that people will judge.

-Pain

The Exchange ***

On a side note for you local coordinators out there, I sent this email to my yahoo group this week.

It was written to help train our players how to make our (local coordinators) lives easier.

Feel free to reanimate/reuse/copy/steal for your own purposes. Edited a bit for general consumption.

-Pain

Email Copy: How you can help PFS play be better:

Hey All--

I would like to invite you all to help make my job (and the jobs of all our local coordinators) easier. As you know, all of us are volunteer yahoos and do the best we can to make our Pathfinder Society games the best they can be.

Here's some things that you can do to help us out:

Warhorn (the open sign-up program that most of our stores and game locations use):

1) Please sign up early. Our coordinators can usually find a judge fora particular game if we have enough lead time. By signing up the day before (or, Aroden forbid, the day of) on Warhorn, it greatly strains our ability to find a judge for every table.

2) It is preferable that you sign up, even if late, rather than not sign up at all...but if you show up at a regular day without signing up beforehand, there is usually a pretty good chance that the local coordinator will be able to seat you.

3) If you go to sign up but the table is full,sign up anyway (especially if the game is a week away). Other players may join and the local coordinator can find another judge and add the table.

4)While the Pathfinders Society play does not require balanced tables to be effective, it's nice if you sign up with a level for your desired character to play with their level on Warhorn. It helps coordinators muster tiers better.

Reporting Sheets (those things you fill out before the game starts):

Reporting sheets are used to report results of scenarios back to Paizo. These reporting sheets are linked to your Pathfinder Society number. We use these sheets to both report in results for scenarios, but also to register both XP and Prestige Award credits to your character.

1) Please be sure that you bring and fill out your correct PFS character number every time you play a PFS game. In addition, it is a great help when you write clearly...we *want* your character to get credit for every scenario they have played.

2) Please do *not* fill out the box for"Prestige Points" as that box is for the judge to fill out representing the number of Prestige Points your character has earned during the scenario.

3) Again, for the love of whatever god(s) I pray to, please write legibly.

As an addendum to the above, please register your character(s) with Paizo. Paizo tracks every game session to a character number...and if you haven't registered your character with Paizo, there is no record.

How to Register your character with Paizo:

1) Go to www.Paizo.com
2) Either sign in or create an account to sign in.
3) Go to "My Account". (top nav bar)
4) Click on the Pathfinder Society Box.
5) Click on "Register a New Character".
6) Fill out the form.

The first character you register will have a 5-digit (usually) number with a dash and a whatever character number it is. For example, your first character might be 12345-1. Your second character will end up being12345-2...and so forth. Use these numbers to identify your characters on the reporting sheets.

Judging:

Pretty much, if you do the math, you should be judging about one out of every 4 times you go to the game shop. Judging one in 4 visits is just about right. And you're ready as soon as you get a PFS character to level 3: it's time for you to take your turn behind the screen. There is no special test for judging…you just get to sign up and do it.

Benefits of Judging:

1) You become a better player. Until you work both sides of the screen, you're never going to understand the big picture.

2) You contribute back to your PFS community. We survive on the strength of our judges...and when you do your part, we all win. We become stronger.

3) Judge credits: the first time you judge a PFS scenario, you get a PFS chronicle that you can assign to a character that you have.

4) Social power: You get to know your fellow players as judge much better than you would as just a player. There is a chance for interaction and challenge that is not present as a player. I, for one, enjoy that experience.

That's what I have for now, I appreciate all y'all making 2011 so good…let's make 2012 even better! If you think of something I've missed, please let us know.

Thanks again.

-Pain

*****

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Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I have to say if I was told, judge or you can't play my response would be rude and too the point. Some people don't enjoy judging, some do.
Having a GM who doesn't want to be there and is only doing it so he doesn't get kicked out sounds like a recipe for a poor game for all.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

Let's not mis-represent this. To be fair, his list does include options for contributing without being a GM.

Liberty's Edge ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Alaska—Anchorage aka Dragnmoon

Painlord wrote:

::Painlord drags himself away from Skyrim::

I dragged myself away from Skyrim to play Star Wars: The Old Republic

*

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I just think... this is ridiculous. Sorry Pain, I like you buddy, but the idea that I should force people to GM is pure insanity. Right now at Gateway Games and More I am the store coordinator. We regularly have 18 or more players show up to play. I have a small store that I work with and we can really only fit 3 tables in there, we can SOMETIMES squeeze in a fourth if the store has NO OTHER CUSTOMERS, which is rare. I think that without a doubt, we are the largest PFS store in the Cincinnati area.

I right now have a stable of 6 GMs, but only 2 that I can rely on to run a game regularly. One of those is me. I have approached a few people in our group to run games and a few have stepped up and run some. Others seem a bit scared still and I have given them copies of scenarios(that they already played in) to read, so that they can see what they are looking at getting into. I am supportive and helpful in any way that I can be, hoping that they will step up at some point.

Never, and I do mean never, will I tell them they can't come anymore if they decide that GMing is not for them. I don't turn people away from my tables. Sometimes this means I have three tables with 7 players each, and yes it sometimes gets quite loud and almost unbearably hot. Has the owner of the store had to turn on the AC in the dead of winter because I had 23 people packed around his tables? Yes. Is that ideal? No. Will I ever tell people to go home to prevent it? Hell no. If I have to GM two tables at once I'll do it so that people can play some PFS. Sure, it may not be the best gameplay in the world but for some of my players its the only gaming they get and I will not deny them that.

Sorry, but I won't deny my players a game for any reason unless they do something drastic. (i.e. stealing from the store/players, hurting someone else, etc) I find the idea of that somewhat offensive in a way.

Sovereign Court ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Just chiming in with an observation:

I never have problems getting people to GM for me. I have a group similar in size to SirGuido, perhaps a little larger if you consider that my group is *always* 18-21 players, regardless of regularly changing faces. Usually, when I post announcements for games, I fill the GM spots well before I fill all the player spots, and am often turning GM volunteers down. I would say that I have 8-12 regular GMs, all of whom get to play regularly, as well.

That's the observation. How that happened I will have to contemplate. I certainly never told anyone "GM or don't play," and wouldn't recommend this tactic if you were to ask me what I thought. If I come up with a good answer to this that I can articulate, I'll post. In the meantime, if you have questions about what I may or may not have done, feel free to contact me: jeff(at)enchantedgrounds(dot)com.

The Exchange ***

SirGuido wrote:
Sorry, but I won't deny my players a game for any reason unless they do something drastic. (i.e. stealing from the store/players, hurting someone else, etc) I find the idea of that somewhat offensive in a way.

Lol, Guido. Of course you are welcome to read what you want into my post, place emphasis as you wish, but if you got that out of my post, you've read things differently than many have.

Like Drogon, above, I've never kicked anyone out for not contributing back (judging or otherwise). Our players have a nice, learned expectation that they will step up eventually. I've never had to even mention it.

We do a good job of setting those expectations by asking appropriately.

However, I wouldn't hesitate to dis-invite some guy who always came to play, never contributed something back, and refused to judge/contribute after being asked. It's just never happened.

However, some groups are not like Drogon's or mine....they are one or two guys who judge 90% of the games. They don't have an expectation that others judge: there are few guy who carry a heavy load.

If a local coordinator/heavy judge is looking to play more and change the expectations of the players in his group, I think my process is a good one:

1) Ask appropriately.
2) Promote benefits of judging.
3) Don't take 'no' for an answer. Excuses are excuses.

-Pain


Painlord wrote:


3) Don't take 'no' for an answer. Excuses are excuses.

I'm pretty wary of "Don't take 'no' for an answer" in any context. If someone is really opposed to doing something, respect that.

Sometimes excuses are only excuses. Sometimes they are actual reasons. And sometimes they're covering for actual reasons that the person doesn't want to talk about.

Sovereign Court ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

thejeff wrote:
Painlord wrote:


3) Don't take 'no' for an answer. Excuses are excuses.

I'm pretty wary of "Don't take 'no' for an answer" in any context. If someone is really opposed to doing something, respect that.

Sometimes excuses are only excuses. Sometimes they are actual reasons. And sometimes they're covering for actual reasons that the person doesn't want to talk about.

I don't think Painlord is saying that from a "hard liner" standpoint. I think he's saying it from a "sales pitch" standpoint. If you followed step 1 and 2 of his list, you're pretty likely asking someone who is fully capable and qualified, so step 3 is just a smile and a "C'mon, man. You know you love being the rules lawyer at the table. Use it to your advantage!" Or something similar.

As a coordinator you are pitching the idea of being a GM, and overcoming objections is part of every effective sales pitch. If they have a legitimate reason for not GMing, step 1 should keep you from asking them. Part of "asking appropriately" is knowing who to ask, I think.


Drogon wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Painlord wrote:


3) Don't take 'no' for an answer. Excuses are excuses.

I'm pretty wary of "Don't take 'no' for an answer" in any context. If someone is really opposed to doing something, respect that.

Sometimes excuses are only excuses. Sometimes they are actual reasons. And sometimes they're covering for actual reasons that the person doesn't want to talk about.

I don't think Painlord is saying that from a "hard liner" standpoint. I think he's saying it from a "sales pitch" standpoint. If you followed step 1 and 2 of his list, you're pretty likely asking someone who is fully capable and qualified, so step 3 is just a smile and a "C'mon, man. You know you love being the rules lawyer at the table. Use it to your advantage!" Or something similar.

As a coordinator you are pitching the idea of being a GM, and overcoming objections is part of every effective sales pitch. If they have a legitimate reason for not GMing, step 1 should keep you from asking them. Part of "asking appropriately" is knowing who to ask, I think.

And I hate sales pitches. I hate them partly because they work well on me. I have trouble saying no and would probably give in and agree to judge. (Or more likely stop coming to play once I realized someone wasn't taking my "no" seriously, but just as an obstacle to overcome.)

Maybe he doesn't really mean "Don't take no for an answer". Sometimes people really do mean "No" and shouldn't have to fight off the hard sell to stick to it.

Sovereign Court ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

thejeff wrote:
And I hate sales pitches. I hate them partly because they work well on me. I have trouble saying no and would probably give in and agree to judge. (Or more likely stop coming to play once I realized someone wasn't taking my "no" seriously, but just as an obstacle to overcome.)

Heh. Fair enough.

For what it's worth (and this is coming from a lifelong salesman), no one should ever apply a "hard sell" to anyone. It's cheap and dirty, and often results in exactly what you mentioned (the potential of a sale, but likely loss of a repeat customer).

But talking through objections is still something that has to be done, be it for sales, recruitment, gaining your vote...you can put a lot of things in here. Hell, right now you're busy overcoming my objections.

Better said: "No" means "no." Leave that person alone. On the other hand, "I've never done it before now" likely means, "I'm interested but need convincing."

I only made the comment because I think everyone is jumping on Pain saying he's applying undue pressure. I think he's just trying to be up front about his approach in an effort to help others. If you think he's wrong about something, don't do it. Find your own method.

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Illinois—Chicago aka thunderspirit

Drogon wrote:
thejeff wrote:
And I hate sales pitches. I hate them partly because they work well on me. I have trouble saying no and would probably give in and agree to judge. (Or more likely stop coming to play once I realized someone wasn't taking my "no" seriously, but just as an obstacle to overcome.)

Heh. Fair enough.

For what it's worth (and this is coming from a lifelong salesman), no one should ever apply a "hard sell" to anyone. It's cheap and dirty, and often results in exactly what you mentioned (the potential of a sale, but likely loss of a repeat customer).

But talking through objections is still something that has to be done, be it for sales, recruitment, gaining your vote...you can put a lot of things in here. Hell, right now you're busy overcoming my objections.

Better said: "No" means "no." Leave that person alone. On the other hand, "I've never done it before now" likely means, "I'm interested but need convincing."

I only made the comment because I think everyone is jumping on Pain saying he's applying undue pressure. I think he's just trying to be up front about his approach in an effort to help others. If you think he's wrong about something, don't do it. Find your own method.

Drogon brings up a really good point here, one that's worth re-emphasizing: it's not hard selling if you're primarily focused on problem-solving; problem-solving an essential part of any salesperson's job. (And you are selling; you're selling Pathfinder Society and all the interactive entertainment it represents.)

JMSO, what you shouldn't be doing -- and I concur with Drogon that Painlord's step 1 addresses this -- is hard-selling: that's the feeling you get when you walk onto a used car lot, and very few people actually enjoy that feeling.

That's part of assessing the individual, and is also essential. No sense in trying to sell someone who's not interested in your product.

Grand Lodge ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

What seems to be getting missed in this is the alternate ways a player can contribute to the group. Sure, GM'ing is perhaps the "best" way, but doing other things can be beneficial as well (see above for ideas). If you are not a GM-type, then do something else that supports the gaming group. The focus is on not having "free-loading" players, who do nothing but show up on gameday, play, and go home. PFS is supposed to be a community, and a volunteer one at that. Everyone must do something, anything, to support the game, and more importantly, your local game groups.

Personally, if I had a player/s like that, I could see myself, uninviting them as well. I spent too much of my own time (and money) working on this hobby to deal with unsupportive, selfish players.

Sovereign Court ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

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Bob Jonquet wrote:

What seems to be getting missed in this is the alternate ways a player can contribute to the group. Sure, GM'ing is perhaps the "best" way, but doing other things can be beneficial as well (see above for ideas). If you are not a GM-type, then do something else that supports the gaming group. The focus is on not having "free-loading" players, who do nothing but show up on gameday, play, and go home. PFS is supposed to be a community, and a volunteer one at that. Everyone must do something, anything, to support the game, and more importantly, your local game groups.

Personally, if I had a player/s like that, I could see myself, uninviting them as well. I spent too much of my own time (and money) working on this hobby to deal with unsupportive, selfish players.

Not to gainsay, but I can think of players in our group who will not GM, nor do they really do anything other than show up and play, and I won't uninvite them. Why? Because they're fun to play with.

Being an enjoyable player who always shows up to play is, in its own way, being supportive of the community.

Perhaps we should all be saying something along the lines of the Paizo message board's #1 rule of "don't be a jerk." If you have a player who is a genuine freeloader, who does nothing supportive (including just being a FUN player), who goes out of his way to occupy a spot at every game table, and is, well, a jerk about all of that, then *that* is the guy you should be uninviting. After giving him a chance, of course, to change his ways.

Sczarni ** RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Drogon wrote:
Being an enjoyable player who always shows up to play is, in its own way, being supportive of the community.

I definitely agree that a player who helps make the game better is hugely important, but I think there are other ways for people to help out without being judges. Making sure that people are well-read on the rules, and can help newer players to make characters or see options during play is vital to a good session! Being friendly and making people feel welcome is fantastic, and I will never complain about a player who brings candy and snacks to the table.

I'm certainly happy that I've gotten to the point where I feel confident enough to move into judging (and that DID happen around level 3), but allowing people to become strong and helpful players will definitely help make PFS successful.

Shadow Lodge **

In the world of gaming geeks, there are some who just shouldn't be judges.

I agree with Painlords post in general, but there are people I would never want to be a judge - and others after I've seen them judge would never ask again.

Can those folks contribute in other ways? Maybe. Should they be asked to never return because they are simply unskilled as judges? No.

But if someone is simply taking advantage of the system to come an play week in and week out and has no interest in giving anything back, well that leech I can do without...

Sovereign Court *****

::drags self away from Skyrim to comment::

Pain - Thanks for posting this. The topic of getting judges is much on my mind recently as our little group starts to grow and mature. I am rapidly running out of weekend days when I can judge and I don't want to abuse my spouse and friends by having them judge all the time as well.

Many of my players are still just a tad too new, but I am laying the groundwork now to have some judges step up within the next couple of months and your post is helpful and timely - at least for me.

It would be a long time before I got the point of telling someone: "Give back, or leave", but for a community to work, every member of the community should contribute, even if it is in a small way - and some people just aren't cut out to judge. Make it easy for people to give back,recognize those contributions and its a conversation that you can probably avoid having to contemplate.

Game on!

Grand Lodge ****

This is all really great stuff. I like that you're identifying that someone who only gets to play 1 for every 4 sessions they GM has got a problem. I'd agree totally.

I would like to see a section on a coordinator ensuring that their players get to play the sessions that excel for their character, rather than have to GM it and lose it for their own character play.

For instance, a PFS player who loves their Monk character to bits should get to play Quest for Perfection, not GM it.
A PFS player whose favourite character is a Doctor should get to play Pallid Plague, not GM it.
A PFS player whose barbarian hero was raised by Goblins should get to play Frostfur Captives.

When players and their heroes get the chance to make the most of the missions suited to their characters, awesomeness results. Similarly, if a player loves an aspect of Golarion, they can be a good choice to bring it to life in a relevant scenario.

The Exchange ** Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Drogon wrote:
Being an enjoyable player who always shows up to play is, in its own way, being supportive of the community.

I'm not sure about your group, but around here there always seems to be a shortage of GMs and people GMing when they would rather be playing and most people who like to GM also really enjoy playing and many of them are *also* excellent/ fun players. When those people get sucked into GMing every week it's not fair to them because there aren't enough GMs in the group then they miss out on some of the fun.

Its not fair to them and it's ultimately bad for the whole group when your GMs get frustrated.

So yeah, being a 'good' player by scheduling in advance, showing up on time and with all your stuff ready, and being fun at the table is awesome and a big help to the group. But if you have 30 great players and 2 frustrated GMs your group is going to suffer. Someone needs to step up to the plate.

Sovereign Court ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Dennis Baker wrote:
Drogon wrote:
Being an enjoyable player who always shows up to play is, in its own way, being supportive of the community.

I'm not sure about your group, but around here there always seems to be a shortage of GMs and people GMing when they would rather be playing and most people who like to GM also really enjoy playing and many of them are *also* excellent/ fun players. When those people get sucked into GMing every week it's not fair to them because there aren't enough GMs in the group then they miss out on some of the fun.

Its not fair to them and it's ultimately bad for the whole group when your GMs get frustrated.

So yeah, being a 'good' player by scheduling in advance, showing up on time and with all your stuff ready, and being fun at the table is awesome and a big help to the group. But if you have 30 great players and 2 frustrated GMs your group is going to suffer. Someone needs to step up to the plate.

I agree with everything you say. And, no, I don't have a shortage of GMs, at all, which certainly helps my group's outlook on this program.

Like I said, I'm still contemplating this. We have a game day tonight. I think I'm going to ask all the people who GM regularly what prompted them to do so; whether it was something to do with what we offer or something to do with "obligation." I'll post their responses tomorrow.

The Exchange ****

Recent experience.
During a game, the judge was ... ah... very bad.
Nothing prepared. No dice (I loaned him a set for the game, again. He says he lost the set we gave him some weeks ago, so now he uses an AP on his phone to roll dice unless someone loans him some). Reading the mod in a monotone - with poor reading skills. Skipping "unimportant parts" of the mod. Limited understanding of the rules - and no interest in learning them. When we were getting toword the end of the mod, I got the store owner to print up the ARs (I had to order the mod while at the table, as the store copy we were using did not have them). Handing them to the Judge during the final encounter turned out to be a problem, as he stopped in the middle of combat and started filling one out. I said "Shouldn't we do our ARs after the game?" to which he replied "I'm not doing YOURS...". This left me speechless. After he finished his AR, we were able to back to the combat and finished out the mod. He signed the blank ARs and got up from the table to go get his "Judging credit" from the store owner, leaving the players to finish out the AR paperwork.
But heck - he was doing his part... and judging games too.
By the way - he just might be a better judge than he is a player.

Grand Lodge *****

I like alot of the stuff posted here. My area doesnt have a GM shortage right now, but we do have a couple of locals that have been playing long enough that they COULD GM if they wanted to, they just dont want to.

I didnt see it mentioned above, but in the case of the person/people I mentioned above, one thing I target them for is helping younger or less experienced players level their character. Between sessions GMs have enough on their plate between filling out chronicles and trying to muster tables for the next session. If someone needs help with leveling a character or buying equipment, I turn to those players who are experienced and dont GM (or at least arent GMing that day).

Seems to work pretty well, and we can get lots of people leveled at once. Considering our group grew recently by about 10 (all of them jr. high and down), it's a big help.

Liberty's Edge ***** Venture-Captain, Missouri—Cape Girardeau aka Arnim Thayer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
nosig wrote:

Recent experience.

During a game, the judge was ... ah... very bad.
Nothing prepared. No dice (I loaned him a set for the game, again. He says he lost the set we gave him some weeks ago, so now he uses an AP on his phone to roll dice unless someone loans him some). Reading the mod in a monotone - with poor reading skills. Skipping "unimportant parts" of the mod. Limited understanding of the rules - and no interest in learning them. When we were getting toword the end of the mod, I got the store owner to print up the ARs (I had to order the mod while at the table, as the store copy we were using did not have them). Handing them to the Judge during the final encounter turned out to be a problem, as he stopped in the middle of combat and started filling one out. I said "Shouldn't we do our ARs after the game?" to which he replied "I'm not doing YOURS...". This left me speechless. After he finished his AR, we were able to back to the combat and finished out the mod. He signed the blank ARs and got up from the table to go get his "Judging credit" from the store owner, leaving the players to finish out the AR paperwork.
But heck - he was doing his part... and judging games too.
By the way - he just might be a better judge than he is a player.

Wow! Just wow! What store was this? Send me a message at my gmail account please, since your area of play falls in my territory... I am interested in helping this NOT happen again.

The Exchange ** Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Drogon wrote:

I agree with everything you say. And, no, I don't have a shortage of GMs, at all, which certainly helps my group's outlook on this program.

Like I said, I'm still contemplating this. We have a game day tonight. I think I'm going to ask all the people who GM regularly what prompted them to do so; whether it was something to do with what we offer or something to do with "obligation." I'll post their responses tomorrow.

Maybe just ask them if they would like to play more.

Personally, I think it's great to break in new GMs. While some players won't make great GMs, some of them will surprise you. Also, in my experience almost all solid players enjoy taking at least an occasional turn in the GM's seat. The big thing that holds people back is fear of failure.

The Exchange ** Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

nosig wrote:
Bad GM story

Recruitment is more than just getting people to show up. It's important to have a senior GM or organizer sit in to help out and observe. If the new GM is obviously not having fun or they are just not good at it, we don't ask them to return to the GMs seat. We make sure one of the two organizers at every event.

The Exchange ****

Michael VonHasseln wrote:
nosig wrote:
My judge story.
Wow! Just wow! What store was this? Send me a message at my gmail account please, since your area of play falls in my territory... I am interested in helping this NOT happen again.

Sent you an email - did you get it?

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Sorry, but the main thing I got from the OP is that Painlord lets people borrow his grognards.

Sovereign Court ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Dennis Baker wrote:
Drogon wrote:

I agree with everything you say. And, no, I don't have a shortage of GMs, at all, which certainly helps my group's outlook on this program.

Like I said, I'm still contemplating this. We have a game day tonight. I think I'm going to ask all the people who GM regularly what prompted them to do so; whether it was something to do with what we offer or something to do with "obligation." I'll post their responses tomorrow.

Maybe just ask them if they would like to play more.

For some reason I get the feeling you're trying to pick a fight.

Regardless, I will ask that, as well. However, I'm willing to bet that the general answer is "I get to play as often as I like." Last night I had 18 players at three tables. Of those 18, all but four of them have taken turns behind the screen. Of the three GMs, two had played during the most recent game day. The third one only GMs, now, as he does not enjoy "the paperwork" involved in playing. His words, not mine.

I'll put up more later, after I get responses to your other question.

The Exchange ** Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

No. Just offering some alternate wording which might get a different reply. Why does that seem like picking a fight? I seem to have a gift for sounding confrontational when I'm not trying to be.

Sounds like you have already gotten a lot of participation.

Sovereign Court ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Dennis Baker wrote:
I seem to have a gift for sounding confrontational when I'm not trying to be.

I have the same problem. That's why I asked rather than assumed. I often end up in fights that I am unaware of, all because no one asked what was up.

Dennis Baker wrote:
Sounds like you have already gotten a lot of participation.

True. Which is why I'm trying to help. It seems the most common problem I see for other coordinators is one I take for granted. I've *never* had that problem, so I thought I would try to find out why. So far, I've had some interesting responses, if fairly expected. I'm waiting for the replies to slow down to ask your other question, but I'm curious about that, as well.

The Exchange ** Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

So how did you get so big a percentage of players GMing?

Sovereign Court ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Dennis Baker wrote:
So how did you get so big a percentage of players GMing?

^shrug^ Dunno. I can speculate, but I do that a lot, already, and I think everyone is tired of listening to me. So, I'm asking them to see what happened here that maybe didn't happen elsewhere.

Honestly, I was surprised when I went to look at last night's list to count the number who have GM'd. Going back through all of my recent game day lists, the percentages are always well above 50.

The Exchange ** Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Our group sort of rebooted recently due to a shop closure and subsequent relocation so our numbers are weird. Our main coordinator (I sort of back her up) is very encouraging and sort of naturally does many of the things Rand suggests.

From what I've seen most good players are willing to GM and many of them require very little in the way of encouragement. Usually it's a matter of letting them know you trust them to do it and asking them when they want to step up. The biggest foot dragging I've seen has been of the "I'm not good enough" sort.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Dennis Baker wrote:
From what I've seen most good players are willing to GM and many of them require very little in the way of encouragement. Usually it's a matter of letting them know you trust them to do it and asking them when they want to step up. The biggest foot dragging I've seen has been of the "I'm not good enough" sort.

I can vouch for this, from the other side of the equation. I've probably been capable of GMing longer than I've felt capable of GMing. (I still feel a little shaky about it, actually, despite receiving some positive feedback.) Stepping into that spotlight can be downright scary, especially for introverts like myself. Sometimes all a person needs is to be asked personally.

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Illinois—Chicago aka thunderspirit

Jiggy wrote:
Dennis Baker wrote:
The biggest foot dragging I've seen has been of the "I'm not good enough" sort.
I can vouch for this, from the other side of the equation. I've probably been capable of GMing longer than I've felt capable of GMing. (I still feel a little shaky about it, actually, despite receiving some positive feedback.) Stepping into that spotlight can be downright scary, especially for introverts like myself. Sometimes all a person needs is to be asked personally.

+1 to this.

I was reticent to GM Society games too, as I'm not the sort who is capable of spouting rules at the drop of a hat. But I run a reasonably successful Pathfinder/homebrew world and I felt strongly I needed to give something back to my local gathering.

So I figured it was best to start with players who are friends, since they already know I'm an idiot. :-)

The Exchange ***

Jiggy wrote:
Dennis Baker wrote:
From what I've seen most good players are willing to GM and many of them require very little in the way of encouragement. Usually it's a matter of letting them know you trust them to do it and asking them when they want to step up. The biggest foot dragging I've seen has been of the "I'm not good enough" sort.
I can vouch for this, from the other side of the equation. I've probably been capable of GMing longer than I've felt capable of GMing. (I still feel a little shaky about it, actually, despite receiving some positive feedback.) Stepping into that spotlight can be downright scary, especially for introverts like myself. Sometimes all a person needs is to be asked personally.

+1 to both these comments.

Sometimes a person just needs and invite and a little encouragement and support.

Last night, we had another first time PFS judge: all reports were that he did a good job.

-Pain

Liberty's Edge ****

I GM for Drogon and the Colorado crowd. I tend to GM much more than play, but that is because I would rather GM than play. From the 31st of December through January, I will have run the entire Eyes of the Ten Series, one 7-11, one tier 1-5 and finished Carrion Hill. Next month I will take a seat as a player for a session or two with my kids, which is a hoot. Then judge 4 or 5 slots at our local Con. I like a mix of both, but favor GMing. There are a few of us in this area who would rather GM, which helps.

I agree that some people were not cut out for sitting behind the shield and they should not be forced to do so. But then again, until they try, you may never know.

Every movement needs a few champions to make it happen. Look at the list of players you have in your area and rank them in order that you think they would be a great GM. If they seem willing to listen, share your confidence in them and help them through a session or two. Odds are they will do great and you can add them to your list.

We recently had one of our GM's hit his second GM star. We made a big deal out of it and I gave him a few mini's from my own collection as a thank you for all he has done for our gaming community. He continues to improve, as we all do, and really runs a fun game.

The Exchange ** Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

I'm going to have to snag the idea of having a little celebration and giving prizes when GMs get their stars. We have one GM getting their first star soon I think.

Grand Lodge *****

Dennis Baker wrote:
I'm going to have to snag the idea of having a little celebration and giving prizes when GMs get their stars. We have one GM getting their first star soon I think.

We give out a certificate that someone on the Boards made for the GM stars, and make a big presentation at the end of a session. That, plus the "GM Night" we ran to help give new GMs the tools they need to start GMing, has tripled my GM pool over the past 2 months.

Care and feeding of volunteers is something that is often overlooked. Volunteers aren't free, they just don't get a salary. Someone ahs to maintain the relationship, offer perks or motivations or praise, and support when needed. If you have someone like that (officially or unofficially) you'll have more GMs than you can use.

Silver Crusade **

Scott Young wrote:
Dennis Baker wrote:
I'm going to have to snag the idea of having a little celebration and giving prizes when GMs get their stars. We have one GM getting their first star soon I think.

We give out a certificate that someone on the Boards made for the GM stars, and make a big presentation at the end of a session. That, plus the "GM Night" we ran to help give new GMs the tools they need to start GMing, has tripled my GM pool over the past 2 months.

Care and feeding of volunteers is something that is often overlooked. Volunteers aren't free, they just don't get a salary. Someone ahs to maintain the relationship, offer perks or motivations or praise, and support when needed. If you have someone like that (officially or unofficially) you'll have more GMs than you can use.

And that is why I feel that PFS play is thriving in the Bay Area. Mike does a *great* job setting events, and Pain is an excellent GM coach, RP guy, and encourager of all things pathfinder. Its amazing what happens when just one or two people really do thank their GMs. So, don't forget to thank your volunteer coordinators! Thanks Mike, Thanks Pain!

Sovereign Court ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Sorry to take so long getting any kind of response to what I said I'd do. I've been buried in new Pathfinder Minis (which are very nice) and a busy schedule.

I asked the following questions of the Colorado playing base:

1 - Why do you volunteer to GM?

2 - What do you think made the Colorado community so willing to help each other out?

3 - Do you get to play as much as you want?

I'm just going to give a summary of the responses, of course. Most of them do not come to these boards, but if they do see this and want to chime in, I'm sure they'll add anything I missed.

Question 1 got the most varied responses, of course. They ranged from the expected, "I want to give back," to the amusing: "I get to play the part an asshat for 4 hours, one that all of you get the satisfaction of killing at the end of the module." For the most part, the general consensus was that the GMs who volunteered regularly truly enjoyed GMing, and volunteered that often because they felt it was just as much fun as playing, just in different ways.

The character credit was cited, as was the fact that most stores in Colorado compensate their GMs with gift certificates to the stores they GM for ($2 is collected from each player at each table, and $10 GCs given to every GM). With only one exception, every GM said this compensation was a big factor, as it gave them credit for purchasing the scenario, itself, and curtailed the cost of printing/prepping the adventure, along with a bit of extra to get drinks or snacks.

Often, people cited the fact that they used GM time to experience different aspects of the game that they don't ordinarily get to play with (different classes and situations), and used the games to firm up their understanding of the rules. Many plan to or are already running home games, and the GMs use PFS games to keep themselves sharp.

Another good response (one that I didn't really think about, but that makes perfect sense) was the fact that a player had already played all the offered modules, so was volunteering to run one, as he still wanted to come to the shop and play with his friends.

The overwhelming response to #2 was that the players in the community are all respectful of each other. There are very few "deadbeats" in the group, and everyone truly enjoys each others' company, so the sense of community is strong. We have an active message board with questions and advice being asked, and comments given, all outside of game announcements. The coordinators in the area seem to have figured out how to work together to keep from offering the same modules all the time, or scheduling on the same day. So, communication and support is strong. This leads to a lot of people willing to help, I think.

I did not get a single person reply negatively to question #3. Every single person who replied to that said they get more than their share of playing in. I had several make the comment that they often *had* to play, as when they offered to GM, the modules were all accounted for, already.

One very interesting comment was made by a couple of the older veterans (again, one I hadn't considered, but that makes perfect sense): They mentioned the old Living Greyhawk days, and said that the player base from those days went two directions. Those who wanted to truly role play their characters (and therefore are more social and willing to be helpful toward others rather than merely occupy the spotlight) gravitated to Pathfinder Society after the death of LG. Those who wanted a strategy game where they could build the perfect character (and are therefore more "me" centric and unlikely to get involved in helping the community grow) gravitated to Living Forgotten Realms.

Because of that migration, a lot of the early mistakes that a new OP program would likely make were headed off, as there was experience coming in very quickly at the beginning. JP Chapleau (Colorados' VC) was one of that group, and he created a PFS message board that was not store dependent, but instead was focused on Colorado as a whole. We organizers use that, instead of our own insular methods that focus on our own stores' customers, and this has done a lot for keeping us all together.

I hope all those observations help. If there is anything I was supposed to answer and didn't, give me a prod and I'll put more thoughts down.

And, Pain: as always, thanks for the thought provoking posts you make. Regardless of the fact that many debates arise from them, your posts are always worthwhile. Keep it up.

Liberty's Edge **

Drogon wrote:
JP Chapleau (Colorados' VC) was one of that group, and he created a PFS message board that was not store dependent, but instead was focused on Colorado as a whole. We organizers use that, instead of our own insular methods that focus on our own stores' customers, and this has done a lot for keeping us all together.

I don't think this should be overlooked. Drogon is a store owner (in case you didn't read his title) and is completely correct in that the Colorado group crosses stores and the community of PfS gamers is dedicated to making the games at each store as successful as possible. Players go out of their way to play at the various stores, since each game is posted in the same group. I believe the PfS community thrives when it isn't fractured by store Balkanization.

(I would argue that the stores thrive as well, but that's for another thread.)

The Exchange ***

Drogon, I really liked your feedback above. It mirrors our experience in the Bay Area.

Drogon wrote:
And, Pain: as always, thanks for the thought provoking posts you make. Regardless of the fact that many debates arise from them, your posts are always worthwhile. Keep it up.

Thank you, sir. Discussion, debate, and thought are about all I can ask for. Happy it when it happens.

-Pain

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