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PFS judges changing scenarios. A polite discussion.


Pathfinder Society® General Discussion

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Shadow Lodge **

"If you don't want to follow the rules we have established for Organized Play, then don't play our campaign."
- Michael Brock

OK then. I want the community to discuss a rule change. I know this is being discussed among the VCs and I'm betting Mr. Brock has some ideas on this, but I'd also like to see where we the online community sit on the topic.

PFS Judges change Scenarios
I have done it, and I know of other judges who do it. Or did before the 'stop it or quit' mantra came down. What I want to know is under what circumstances do you think it should be allowed?

This isn't changing flavor I'm talking about - this is changing the scenario to improve the game for your players. The sort of thing that home DMs do every day. In some cases this might be making it slightly easier for a party of three players without a healer to survive that last fight. In more cases it's making a fight a little harder to balance out that 7 player table.

So. What do you think? Should judges EVER be allowed to modify scenarios? If so under what circumstances should it be permitted? Only allow experienced judges to make changes? Only permit adding an advanced template or other like limitation on what can be changed? Only permit it if the entire table approves by hidden ballot?

Please keep it civil and give your opinions. With luck maybe one of you smart folks can come up with something that strikes that perfect balance between making the game experience enjoyable - and keeping each scenario 'the same' for everyone.

...and remember, this is about the POLICY. Policy says we cannot, as judges, change the scenario in any fundamental way. What I want to discuss is not whether judges should or should not change scenarios, but if the policy should exist or not and in what form.

Andoran *****

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

I don't speak for Mike... But I doubt Policy will go away, but there may be some adjustments and rules added to allow GMs to adjust scenarios in an organized way that does not leave up to GMs random ideas on how to do it.

That is the most likely scenario, and Mike has said he is looking into ways to do that.

It is much better to give ideas on how to add rules for adjusting scenarios then question the Policy... IMO.

Most likely you would get a better conclusion with going that route.

Shadow Lodge **

I'm all for that. What do you think would be a reasonable adjustment?

Qadira ***

oookkkk - I'm against changes. Anything except "fluff", re-skinning names or maybe story line. That sort of thing. I like the current policy, just like I like the current policy about Tiers and table size and ... so much more.

Shadow Lodge **

nosig - why are you against all changes? :) Just trying to delve...

Andoran *

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When I see these, I always think back to when I first played PFS. I saw it as a consistent game setting, with adventures that were the same for everyone, regardless of the GM. That is the nature of it being organized rather then a home game. I think it would be difficult to put in ways for a GM to change it without disrupting the entire concept, having two players get a totally different experience because one GM thought it wasn't good enough and tried to make it more "fun".

As a player, I have been on the receiving end of adjusting gone aery, where a large number of expendables were exhausted and party members nearly died. A player would never know if their character died because of a modification or the normal adventure. Being a bad roll from death is not more fun than rolling over all the encounters. The level of finesse that would be required cannot be assumed to be in the capabilities of all GMS

Qadira ***

I am against judges making changes to scenarios "on the fly". The current "policy" is to run as written - not to have different judges modifing what is written, so that we have different scenarios each time it is run.

This goes back to the fundimental core of Organized Play. The world should appear the same no mater who I have as the Judge. There should be as little judge variance as possible. Each player how runs a PC in scenerio should have much the same adventure, with the only changes being those the PLAYER makes in the adventure. If one judge decides to "make the scenario better" by changing "a few small things"... and the next one does the same thing, changeing different things... Judges often learn how an adventure runs partly by the way it was run when they played it. Pretty soon you end up with a scenario the author would not recognize.

One judge likes Pharasma - but another thinks she's kind of creepy and so he replaces her in the adventure with Desna. Minor change... but wait, .... I got this cool new mini, and I can switch the monsters so that the PCs are fighting Ghouls! Now we got the "Ghouls Friends of Pharasma"...

If you had exacting guidelines for running variances in the adventures... that is not a policy change. For example, Murder on the Throaty Mermaid has variances built in, and it's part of the adventure. No change in policy. If you have rules that show what can be changed - you're still in the "run as written" policy.

Shadow Lodge *** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Silicon Valley aka JohnF

Euan wrote:

PFS Judges change Scenarios

I have done it, and I know of other judges who do it. Or did before the 'stop it or quit' mantra came down. What I want to know is under what circumstances do you think it should be allowed?

At present the only permitted variation is in tactics (and, in extreme situations, failing to confirm that critical to avoid a TPK for a table full of first-timers).

I think there's growing recognition that the current CR variance (only two subtiers, so a Tier 1-5 scenario only has two possible lineups, and yet has to be playable by anything from four newly-rolled characters to six level 5s) is insufficient. But just how to adjust the CR is not necessarily something that should be left in the hands of the individual GMs. I'm sure that a lot of thought is being put into this, and that Michael Brock will pass on any information in due time; let's see what (if anything) happens between now and the start of season 4 (and continue to agitate for new guidelines the closer we get to that date).

I'd hope that a finer-grained adjustment will become available, and that there will be clear guidelines on when it is possible to "play up" (even though that should be less common). But until then we have to abide by the rules as written.

Paizo Employee ** Developer

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Hmm, if only we had a Pathfinder Society related blog going live on Monday...


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Well, I do not know what Mark has in mind, but it would only work if it is something that can be applied to all scenarios equally. It would have to be this way because they do not have the page space or word count in the scenarios themselves to write in specific variances or adjustments allowed.

Andoran *****

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Mark Moreland wrote:
Hmm, if only we had a Pathfinder Society related blog going live on Monday...

Mark, every time you are Mike say something like this, it scares me s~+~less!!

I really need to convince Mike to make me a VC, so I don't have Surprises pop up on me like this, I don't like surprises..;)

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

From my perspective, there's a stated reason, and an unstated reason.

The stated reason is to give all PFS players the same experience. I don't this is an attainable goal -- I've run some scenarios a dozen times, and the results are always different -- and I'm not sure it's a desirable goal.

The unstated reason -- and I'm just guessing here, because I don't have any inside information -- is that some GMs are really, awfully bad at coming up with their own modifications. It's one thing when a GM breaks the rules and swaps out "kobolds" for "bugbears" and wipes out the 2nd-level PCs. It's another thing when the campaign allows him to do so.

There's no good way for Mike to say "Euan is a great GM and can monkey around with the scenarios, or with the Pathfinder game rules, to give his PCs a better experience, but Chris Mortika is a crazy, scurrilous reprobate who can't."

Paizo Employee ***** Global Organized Play Coordinator

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Mark Moreland wrote:
Hmm, if only we had a Pathfinder Society related blog going live on Monday...

If only....Tick tock.....tick tock.....

The good thing is there is an hour less to wait since the clocks spring forward tonight.

Silver Crusade **

I both love and hate it when the Powers That Be tease us with impending information. Glad to know something is in the pipeline....but I'm greedy and want it now....

Silver Crusade ****

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

TBH--The only time I modify anything is one of the three situations:

1-Players totally screw up something pivotal that changes the story altogether. Such as let an NPC die or in the case of Intros One, do something insane. Or in the case of Shadow's Last Stand where they don't roll high enough and an interview with a theater operator turns in to a burlesque show, that turns into a surprise assault. (PM me for the whole story)

2-When I read the module and see a trap or a encounter that is insanely to the point of TPK unbalanced to the party. Now if they don't use proper tactics and get killed then that's their fault. But a big baddy that has a 21 AC in a 3-4 tier, with 3d6 fireball, scorching ray,hold person and shocking grasp is a little much. Or a trap that does 3d6 damage to a bunch of 2nd levels, which I see happen a little much for a low tier trap.

3--If the plot of the module is flatter than a tortilla. Or I am missing information that may have not been covered in the module. Example: In Sewer Dragons of Absalom-Some one asked me what type of Dragon it was, and there was nothing in the module that stated it besides the fact that it is blue...Blue what?? Blue young, old, ancient?

To me, that's the only times you really *should* change anything. Although I know a lot of GM's who run the same scenarios over and over, but they never end the same way twice. And it's not the judge's doing, it's many times the players that require us to change things up a little when needed.

Change only when *absolutely* needed. Otherwise, just play straight and have a good time. That's my policy, and it should be all GM's policy.

Grand Lodge *** Venture-Captain, New Mexico—Alburquerque aka Digitalsabre

Mark Moreland wrote:
Hmm, if only we had a Pathfinder Society related blog going live on Monday...

If you are implying what I think you're implying, sir, I'll be waiting. With bells on. And ready to backlink from my own blog.

Grand Lodge *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game Subscriber

The biggest modification I'm guilty of is changing the CR of a fight so that it is more challenging to the party. Usually this amounts to adding a few more of the same monster to the combat, or giving a boss a few mooks to prevent him from getting ganged up.

I can normally tell early on if my party is going to cake walk the scenario, and adjust the difficulty level accordingly. I've found a number of PFS Scenarios too easy and definitely in need of tweaking.

Cheliax ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

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When I first started PFS I changed things every now and then. I did it because, over the course of 25 years of DM/GMing, that's what I always did (change things so that they were more interesting - and not just for the players, but for me). I had never played in organized play and had no idea I was doing something I shouldn't do.

Very quickly, I came to the realization that I shouldn't change anything except fluff. Why? Because another GM changed things for a group I was playing in, and people died. When I read the module later, I realized what he had done, and realized that he was just trying to "make it more fun" for all of us.

I really do feel that, if you're a competent GM, you can figure out how to make things fun (and fun doesn't have to equal deadly) by using what is written in the scenario. And, in an organized play campaign, the rules one person follows should be the rules everyone follows. There shouldn't be any question of, "Because I'm good enough, I can make changes." That's crap. We all think we're good enough. Some of us are wrong, as can be shown by the threads that pop up where players complain about the goings-ons in modules they've played.

However, considering Mark's and Mike's posts in this thread, I'm curious to see what's up.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Drogon wrote:
"Because I'm good enough, I can make changes."

But I am! I swear! I know that if I change the BBEG from a wyrmling to a young adult, the party will have more "fun"!

Grand Lodge *** Venture-Captain, New Mexico—Alburquerque aka Digitalsabre

Drogon wrote:

When I first started PFS I changed things every now and then. I did it because, over the course of 25 years of DM/GMing, that's what I always did (change things so that they were more interesting - and not just for the players, but for me). I had never played in organized play and had no idea I was doing something I shouldn't do.

Very quickly, I came to the realization that I shouldn't change anything except fluff. Why? Because another GM changed things for a group I was playing in, and people died. When I read the module later, I realized what he had done, and realized that he was just trying to "make it more fun" for all of us.

I really do feel that, if you're a competent GM, you can figure out how to make things fun (and fun doesn't have to equal deadly) by using what is written in the scenario. And, in an organized play campaign, the rules one person follows should be the rules everyone follows. There shouldn't be any question of, "Because I'm good enough, I can make changes." That's crap. We all think we're good enough. Some of us are wrong, as can be shown by the threads that pop up where players complain about the goings-ons in modules they've played.

However, considering Mark's and Mike's posts in this thread, I'm curious to see what's up.

Since some of us are airing dirty laundry, I'll admit that there was one scenario I ran where I changed stuff. It was the first scenario I ran, the first for all players, and honestly, it was one of the first scenarios I thought would be retired because of difficulty and had I not pulled out GM Fiat, it would have been a "party wipe" (TPK). It wasn't the pulling of punches or weakening of NPCs/monsters, either.

During Scenario #0-3 Murder on the Silken Caravan:

At the end, the combat is pretty fierce and I ran it by the book. In the end, all the party members were incapacitated and bleeding. Keep in mind that they're all Level 1. So, knowing that the caravan leader is a djanni, I had her call for help. She—essentially—made a wish on her heirloom ring and all the PCs were on their feet again, fully healed. I can no longer remember the full details of what happened (whether she summoned a djinn or just wished to the ring).

I felt that it was within her power to do this, and well within her interests.

I would have felt pretty horrible for them to have walked away from the—albeit virtual—table having all their characters die in their first scenario.

That said, I haven't done anything like it since.

Edit for wording.

Qadira ***** Venture-Lieutenant, New Jersey—West Berlin aka Drizzt1080

Euan wrote:
This isn't changing flavor I'm talking about - this is changing the scenario to improve the game for your players. The sort of thing that home DMs do every day. In some cases this might be making it slightly easier for a party of three players without a healer to survive that last fight. In more cases it's making a fight a little harder to balance out that 7 player table.

When you have a table of 3 the GM would simply use the cleric pregen to make a party of 4.

Lady Ophelia wrote:
1-Players totally screw up something pivotal that changes the story altogether. Such as let an NPC die or in the case of Intros One, do something insane. Or in the case of Shadow's Last Stand where they don't roll high enough and an interview with a theater operator turns in to a burlesque show, that turns into a surprise assault. (PM me for the whole story)

This is really the only time the GM should ever need to adjust the flow of the scenario as written. The GM nudges them back on track when the PC train falls off the tracks of the scenario, so they can complete as many of the encounters as possible. This does not include changing any encounters, traps or treasure the PCs come across. Dropping in unwritten healing items into the scenarios should not be done either. The PCs should know enough to buy enough consumables before the start of the mission.

Since GMs are running things for random groups, it is nearly impossible to tweak things for the “greater fun” without also opening up the chance of screwing over the party. Making changes to scenarios should never be done for this reason.

I remember one Winter Fantasy where a GM decided the module wouldn’t be hard enough and revised it to include a Dimensional Anchor covering the entire area the group was sent to explore. The group went from probably finishing the slot, to only finishing a small fraction of the scenario. This happened because many of the group used Bags of Holding and Efficient Quivers to hold most of their gear. With the Dim Anchor the bags were completely inaccessible. We didn’t find out about his personal tweak until later when we spoke with other tables that ran at our APL.

Did the judge have any chance of killing anyone in the group? Nope, but the module went from enjoyable to just painful after the first hour.

****

Minor on the fly changes to enhance game play shouldnt be an issue.

Players making a "rookie" mistake and you change things alittle bit to avoid a TPK, again shouldnt be an issue.

Adjusting for the 7-player table, which happens more times then it should, shouldnt be an issue.

Players doing something that allows you to set off the fight in a creative way that was going to happen anyway, again not an issue.

Changing main/key plot points, should never happen.

Problem Im having more and more is cheating players buying the scenarios themselves, reading them ahead of time, and miraculously having a solution to the problem that they normally wouldnt have. When I caught wind of this (by overhearing a conversation) I changed the way a fight happened just to try and catch them with a "not the way it was written" comment. Was I wrong ? Needless to say I threatened to kick that player out and so-far thier game-play as returned to thier "normal" sop.

To re-cap, minor changes shouldnt be an issue, major plot/storyline should be, and changing things to catch a cheating player-by all means.

**

The old "What's your security clearance again, citizen?" answer to players displaying GM-restricted knowledge in the Paranoia RPG was such a wonderful thing.

Obviously, that game's atmosphere is soooo not what they're going for in PFSOP. But without major changes to how PFSOP is run or has its sanctioned material made available, players will always have the ability to pre-read a scenario before playing it.

There should be an option shy of 'GTF off my table' when you know (or more importantly, only suspect) a player is improperly acting on foreknowledge of the script. Changing the script in such cases is the best, least disruptive option, imo.

**

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Here's another thought, before someone accuses me of wistfully missing the heady days of GMing Paranoia (because it's true ;)

Ruby Phoenix Tournament:

I played this yesterday in a 5 table, all day gala event. My table included 2 ranged characters that were each able to output 90-100 or more damage per round. 2 melee characters who could do almost as much. A tank with AC approaching 40, and getting 2 AoOs per missed attack on him. All of it PFS-legal.

Arrayed against us were numerous combat challenges. Pretty much exclusively, actually.
And what did we fight in these challenges? Mainly monks. None of which had deflect arrows. How long did anything last against our group? The longest fights lasted 3 anti-climactic rounds. One of those only lasted that long because the GM forgot to add a dragon and had it appear on turn 3. It was vaporized in 1 round. Not to brag, making an example of how outclassed the opposition was by PFS-legal PCs.

Now the important part of my example comes next.

Another player, at another table, told me how they all nagged their GM until he doubled the opposition they faced. Once he finally relented, they began being challenged. They even had a ton of fun. They still had an easy enough time of it however, that they had time to 'waste' actions gallavanting and playing up to the crowd in the scenario's performance combat.

Let's go back to my table. Our Gm ran strictly as written, as PFS dictates. I wish to hell we thought of convincing him to just double our oppposition like the other table did.. but we didn't. We quickly realized that if we wanted to earn any scenario specific victory points from performance combat, we'd only have 1 or 2 combat rounds to do so. We weren't competing with the opposition (because there WAS no competition).. we were competing with each other to see who can defeat the most NPCs the fastest. I mean.. tons of ranged DPR.. and none of the monks have deflect arrows? It was a turkey shoot.

Not only that, teamwork was disincentivized. The 'fun' aspects of playing up to the crowd was pretty much out of the question, since you didn't have any time for it.

So, to sum up (and to make a spoiler-friendly recap for those who don't want to be spoiled):

I spent 10 hours playing the adventure under a GM who ran-as-written, as PFS says you should. Had some intrinsic fun, sure, but it was a pretty dissapointing experience. While on the other hand, players at the table where the GM scaled the opposition to be more appropriate, they had a blast.

Ran as written: 10 hours of ho hum.
BADWRONG Deviation: 10 hours of fun.

*shrug*

Just sayin'. Deviations aren't always improperly done and aren't always a detriment to PFS experience.

Andoran *****

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

deusvult, using your same example...

My group went through the same Module with 7 players, and trust me my players know how to optimize...

And you know what I ran it as written and I was able to keep it challenging and Fun...

I don't know your GM, But I know it can be done as written and kept challenging with an optimized group.

You can read about my game here.

I have found it is very possible to keep things challenging and still run them as written. I am not going to say I have never had games the PCs tore through, But I am going to say as a GM you can still work with what you have.

Qadira ***** Venture-Lieutenant, New Jersey—West Berlin aka Drizzt1080

deusvult wrote:

So, to sum up (and to make a spoiler-friendly recap for those who don't want to be spoiled):

I spent 10 hours playing the adventure under a GM who ran-as-written, as PFS says you should. Had some intrinsic fun, sure, but it was a pretty dissapointing experience. While on the other hand, players at the table where the GM scaled the opposition to be more appropriate, they had a blast.

Ran as written: 10 hours of ho hum.
BADWRONG Deviation: 10 hours of fun.

*shrug*

Just sayin'. Deviations aren't always improperly done and aren't always a detriment to PFS experience.

RPT Spoiler:
Several boons on the chronicle are awarded based solely on victory points earned during the module. If the extra mooks added by the GM allowed the players to earn more VP than they would have running the module as written, then the GM gave them something they didn’t earn.

"Sarcasm on" At that point the GM might as well just fill in the chronicle sheet with full PP/GP rewards without the players even being present, and just run the slot as story time."Sarcasm off"

You said it you had an ok time because the module wasn’t as challenging as it could have been. The good part was playing a game with people you enjoy being around. Why should the cheaters get more rewards?

Silver Crusade ****

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Euan wrote:

"If you don't want to follow the rules we have established for Organized Play, then don't play our campaign."

- Michael Brock

...and remember, this is about the POLICY. Policy says we cannot, as judges, change the scenario in any fundamental way. What I want to discuss is not whether judges should or should not change scenarios, but if the policy should exist or not and in what form.

At the end of the day, all of this sounds to me like a control issue. And I have to be the blunt honest one here and say, although I understand why the rules are in place, if PFSOP is coming out of our time, energy and many times out of our wallets to pay for ink, paper, and supplies, it's kinda hard to tell me *not* to change. If I have to pay for it, then that's kinda rude to say I can't do anything but play it as is, even if it's unbalanced, or the plot is flatter than a tortilla and tasteless.

All the responses I see above, haven't fundamentally changed the module. I see us doing little tweaks here and there to meet the needs of the game. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don't. But PFSOP is already a strict format (A lot stricter then LFR/LG), so if you are going to get any tougher, then there may come a point where many people will leave the society and go play a format that allows them to have a good time without all this "restrictive politics" going on. If that's what Pazio wants to do, then these kind of conversations are going to keep popping up.

Again, I am committed to PFSOP. But my group no longer wants to play because of all of the restrictions of the game. So, they've moved onto homebrewed games, and I'm left to fend for myself. Who wins here? Definitely NOT Paizo.

**

Vinyc Kettlebek wrote:

"Sarcasm on" At that point the GM might as well just fill in the chronicle sheet with full PP/GP rewards without the players even being present, and just run the slot as story time."Sarcasm off"

You said it you had an ok time because the module wasn’t as challenging as it could have been. The good part was playing a game with people you enjoy being around. Why should the cheaters get more rewards?

I'm not sure we're on the same page.

Without amping up the difficulty, the players at my table may as well have gotten a free chronicle all filled up and spent 10 hours doing something else instead.

RPT Boon:

The boon isn't much to write home about, so if I didn't get it I wouldn't have minded. Secondly, doing 'alot' of damage qualifies for a performance check, and dishing triple digits of damage in a round counted at our table. No want for victory points.. we just wanted for anything besides nuking the hapless opposition.

Example aside, there's people who will never agree that there's ever any reason to modify or tweak a scenario. I respect that. I was just saying that I disagree with that view, is all.

I think a point that's far more interesting to discuss is players abusing foreknowledge, and whether changing what's written is appropriate in those cases as an alternative to kicking him off the table.

Qadira ***** Venture-Lieutenant, New Jersey—West Berlin aka Drizzt1080

deusvult wrote:
Secondly, doing 'alot' of damage qualifies for a performance check, and dishing triple digits of damage in a round counted at our table.

Dealing a lot of damage does not qualify for triggering a performance check. You have to deal max weapon damage (not including sneak attack, etc.). You were probably getting the checks from scoring multiple hits in a single round, or a few other circumstances that have a side effect of a lot of damage dealt.

Without knowing exactly what happened your GM may have altered how the combats were suppose to be run afterall.

Silver Crusade *

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I do not feelscaleing encounters for larger table sizes to be changing
the senario. PFS senarios are writen for 4 player tables and in my lodge I have only played on a 4 player table a handful of times in 3 years of gaming. I want my players to have a fun and chalanging time. If it is a cake walk where the players have no chalange it is no fun and my job as game master is to ensure my players have fun. If my players get banged up because of extra BG's I have added I give them some extra consumables and hint thats what they are there for

One of my pet peves for the senarios is that they don't take advantage of all the cool classes that have been added. I have never seen a BG inquisitor or gunfighter. I have seen on alchimist and he was real fun to fight try adding an antipaladin we are supposed to be good guys and we don't fight real badguys for the most part

Mark and Mike why don't you com up with a guidline for scaling encounters for 5+ man tables that would be a big help to GM's

For all of our complaining I would lke to thank the Pazio staff for putting out a good Org Palying society that I have had a great deal of fun plaing in for 3 years.

Paizo Employee ***** Global Organized Play Coordinator

Lou Diamond wrote:


One of my pet peves for the senarios is that they don't take advantage of all the cool classes that have been added. I have never seen a BG inquisitor or gunfighter. I have seen on alchimist and he was real fun to fight try adding an antipaladin we are supposed to be good guys and we don't fight real badguys for the most part

Mark and Mike why don't you com up with a guidline for scaling encounters for 5+ man tables that would be a big help to GM's

For all of our complaining I would lke to thank the Pazio staff for putting out a good Org Palying society that I have had a great deal of fun plaing in for 3 years.

The reason you don't see those classes, or archetypes for the most part, is that they are not part of the core assumption. If we started using the, all the time, we would either have to put the rules that are unique to them in the scenario itself, or would have to add additional books to the Core Assumption. While I'm all for that, I feel adding more books GMs have to purchase is unfair.

As for scaling encounters and the like to make them better, let's wait until tomorrow's blog and then chat at that time.

And thank you for the compliment.

Cheliax ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

deusvult wrote:
Ruby Phoenix stuff...

Speaking as the guy who made specific alterations to the module to make it work as a 30 player group, I probably ought to weigh in.

Keep this in mind: it was run under the "old" module rules. As those rules allow players to bring characters in without risk, adjusting any module while using those rules doesn't carry the same risk as when adjusting PFS scenarios. I.E., at no time were any of the characters at that table under any actual risk of dying because, well, they didn't actually exist (they were "created" using the module guidelines).

If this module had been run under the new guidelines (where actual PFS characters must be brought in), with the risk of dying, and the use of monetary funds and consumables actually costing the character some of its wealth, then that table would not have been allowed to "adjust" under any circumstances. I would have stepped in and said, "No."

Moreover, I wouldn't have written the extensive changes I wrote to make it work the way I did, in terms of timing and flow for 5 tables running all at the same time. I would have left it as a GM-guided sandbox-style adventure with an event driven plot, to be run as written.

The difference, of course, is the risk to the players (and their characters). Personally, this is why the old module rules needed to be changed. And, of course, why I like the change.

Also, I agree completely with Dragnmoon: this module can be made challenging by working tactics and stat blocks correctly. More than anything, it was the time-frame we were working with that kept it from being so. GMs made suboptimal choices in an effort to keep within the timing of the encounters. As well, the amount of prep in this module was huge. Being 100% familiar with all the spells, special abilities, creatures, conditions and rules was next to impossible. Then inflict the timing of a 10 hour game on them and, well, their life was difficult.

You guys just had the job of showing up with min/maxed 11th level creations and tearing them apart.

By the way: I made the GM at that table halve all the Victory Point totals for those players. This pulled them well down into the "norm" for the rest of the room. Besides, there were several characters who didn't have the three VP to qualify the table, even with double the opponents to earn points off of.

Hope that perspective helps.

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

Dragnmoon wrote:
I really need to convince Mike to make me a VC

Hopefully, there isn't enough scotch in the entire world for Mike to make that mistake? ;-)

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

Chris Mortika wrote:
Chris Mortika is a crazy, scurrilous reprobate

You said it! :-)

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

Kyle Baird wrote:
But I am! I swear! I know that if I change the BBEG from a wyrmling to a young adult, the party will have more "fun"!

Your tables are an exception Kyle. Everyone dies anyway so changing the encounter is just additional, unnecessary prep-work ;-)

**

Michael Brock wrote:
The reason you don't see those classes, or archetypes for the most part, is that they are not part of the core assumption. If we started using the, all the time, we would either have to put the rules that are unique to them in the scenario itself, or would have to add additional books to the Core Assumption. While I'm all for that, I feel adding more books GMs have to purchase is unfair.

Off Topic .... Add the APG to the Core Assumptions for GMs at least. There's just too much good stuff in there not to use. I sure someone would say it's not the case, but I think most/many PFS players have a copy of the APG. And everyone has access the the PRD with all the APG's crunchy material. End Off Topic

-Swiftbook
Just My Thoughts

Edit: I'll start a new thread to discuss this.

Paizo Employee ***** Global Organized Play Coordinator

Swiftbrook wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
The reason you don't see those classes, or archetypes for the most part, is that they are not part of the core assumption. If we started using the, all the time, we would either have to put the rules that are unique to them in the scenario itself, or would have to add additional books to the Core Assumption. While I'm all for that, I feel adding more books GMs have to purchase is unfair.

Off Topic .... Add the APG to the Core Assumptions for GMs at least. There's just too much good stuff in there not to use. I sure someone would say it's not the case, but I think most/many PFS players have a copy of the APG. And everyone has access the the PRD with all the APG's crunchy material. End Off Topic

-Swiftbook
Just My Thoughts

The question is, do we want to REQUIRE GMs to purchase another hardback for $40? I'm more than interested to hear feedback but i think the answer is to keep it as little cost as possible.

Cheliax ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Michael Brock wrote:
Swiftbrook wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
The reason you don't see those classes, or archetypes for the most part, is that they are not part of the core assumption. If we started using the, all the time, we would either have to put the rules that are unique to them in the scenario itself, or would have to add additional books to the Core Assumption. While I'm all for that, I feel adding more books GMs have to purchase is unfair.

Off Topic .... Add the APG to the Core Assumptions for GMs at least. There's just too much good stuff in there not to use. I sure someone would say it's not the case, but I think most/many PFS players have a copy of the APG. And everyone has access the the PRD with all the APG's crunchy material. End Off Topic

-Swiftbook
Just My Thoughts

The question is, do we want to REQUIRE GMs to purchase another hardback for $40? I'm more than interested to hear feedback but i think the answer is to keep it as little cost as possible.

You mean the $10 to buy the PDF? Why not?

Also - any content you put into scenarios can be looked up on the PFSRD. Why can't GMs be allowed to use that, if the material they need is listed in a non-core book? I understand making the players have the rules handy for their characters (so that it can be looked up at the table when the rule comes under question). But if a GM is doing prepwork properly for his module, he's printing stuff out and using notes, anyway. Hell, even though I own all the books, I still print stuff off the PFSRD so that I have the notes in one spot.

Qadira ***** Venture-Lieutenant, New Jersey—West Berlin aka Drizzt1080

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Lou Diamond wrote:

I do not feelscaleing encounters for larger table sizes to be changing

the senario. PFS senarios are writen for 4 player tables and in my lodge I have only played on a 4 player table a handful of times in 3 years of gaming. I want my players to have a fun and chalanging time. If it is a cake walk where the players have no chalange it is no fun and my job as game master is to ensure my players have fun. If my players get banged up because of extra BG's I have added I give them some extra consumables and hint thats what they are there for

If you are altering the number or abilities of creatures in an encounter, you are breaking the rules of the campaign, regardless of the reasons for doing so.

Players and GM make a choice to play PFS instead of the myriad of other RPG games out there. They should consider the rules of PFS before making the commitment to participate. If they are unwilling to follow the rules of the PFS Campaign why play in the first place, run a home game.

Mike and Mark have said that if you don’t like a rule, you can offer an alternative. If the alternative is workable campaign wide then it will probably be adopted. Disagreeing with a clear rule (like running a mod as written) does not give you the right to break it.

In the local game shop I frequent, there are about 30-40 people playing various RPGs in the store over the coarse of a given week. What is the number of players playing PFS in the store? The total is 6 or 7 people. The weekly PFS events are advertised in store, and the store also informs anyone buying Pathfinder books about the PFS games. The store rarely hosted one shot LG games, and no one has even tried running LFR in the store. The store does host 4-6 players a week for Encounters and Lair Assault. The rest are involved in various home games, some of which have waiting lists to get in.

The reason for this is that most of the players in the store are happy with their home game, and they are not drawn to the benefits of Organized Play campaigns. They don’t want to waste their time “playing” PFS if they are sitting there changing all the rules every game session just to have fun.

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

I think the side-topic about adding to the Core Assumption deserves its own THREAD.

**

Bob Jonquet wrote:
I think the side-topic about adding to the Core Assumption deserves its own thread.

Done. Please direct comments to the new thread.

Actually, I tried to come back and delete my comment, but Mike is just on top of everything and had already replied.


Euan wrote:


PFS Judges change Scenarios
I have done it, and I know of other judges who do it. Or did before the 'stop it or quit' mantra came down. What I want to know is under what circumstances do you think it should be allowed?

I want to ask a simple question:

If you're prepping a scenario and you don't think that it is appropriate, then WHY run it?

If it's to the point that you feel that you need to change it.. then boycott it instead. Tell your group that you don't think that this is a good scenario for them and offer to run a different one for them.

On the other hand if it's because the scythe wielding barbarian happened to roll a 20 so the BBEG is dead.. then tough that's what x4 crits are about.

-James

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

james maissen wrote:
If you're prepping a scenario and you don't think that it is appropriate, then WHY run it?

Because in many, perhaps most, situations the GM does not know who his players will be until they are sitting at the table. This obviously applies to conventions, but many local games are more than one table. And just because a player has a character that you think is too powerful/weak for the scheduled scenario, that doesn't mean they will play it. There could be other options. I can count on one hand the times where I knew, before the game, exactly who was sitting at my table and what character they were planning to play.


Bob Jonquet wrote:
james maissen wrote:
If you're prepping a scenario and you don't think that it is appropriate, then WHY run it?
Because in many, perhaps most, situations the GM does not know who his players will be until they are sitting at the table. This obviously applies to conventions, but many local games are more than one table. And just because a player has a character that you think is too powerful/weak for the scheduled scenario, that doesn't mean they will play it. There could be other options. I can count on one hand the times where I knew, before the game, exactly who was sitting at my table and what character they were planning to play.

So you're saying that there's nothing wrong with the scenario.

If the table knows that the scenario is say tier 1-2 or 4-5, they can figure out what level of challenge that they would desire. If the scenario is proper then this isn't an issue... the tier-ing should give the right indication of the challenge presented.

So then there really isn't a problem beyond the perennial problem with the APL system being a horrible metric of table power.

The table might realize that while the APL says that they should be tier 1-2 they would have more fun with 4-5, or the table might decide that while the APL says that they should be 4-5 it will slaughter them while 1-2 will give the level of challenge that they want.

It would be great if APL could be thrown out entirely. You could have the same tier system, but let the table make the call as to what tier they wanted to face based on what they felt that they could handle/the challenge that they want to have.

Really if this is the concern, see if the coordinators will consider doing away with the APL system and let PCs play tougher/easier scenarios than they would otherwise be forced to in order for everyone to have a better time of it.

But honestly, I don't think running a scenario changing it on the fly is a good thing for organized play to do en masse. For every judge that can get away with doing it once or twice there are six that can't. And even the former judges can get something wrong. Then what do you do?

Sorry the table TPKd! I thought it would be more fun that way. Did you have more fun? No? I did!

Doesn't seem like a good recipe AT ALL. Its by no means a solution, rather a jury-rigged band-aid.

-James

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

james maissen wrote:
So you're saying that there's nothing wrong with the scenario.

I don't believe I said any such thing. I merely commented that running an alternate scenario is not always as easy as you have claimed in past threads. That leaves us with three choices: (1) modify the existing scenario to match the strengths/weaknesses of the table (not legal). (2)Cancel the table. Again not the best answer since people have set aside their personal time to play and may have spent money to attend. (3) Play the scenario scheduled. Adjust tactics, fluff, etc., within the RAW, and try to make the best of it.

james maissen wrote:
So then there really isn't a problem beyond the perennial problem with the APL system being a horrible metric of table power.

I disagree. No APL system will be perfect and in the vast majority of the cases, the existing one works just fine. With the ever increasing options available to the players to create characters that can do things the author cannot anticipate it will inevitably lead to some conflicts in the system. I know that M&M are working on some solutions and I'm fairly confident that does not include scrapping the APL system.

james maissen wrote:
For every judge that can get away with doing it once or twice there are six that can't. And even the former judges can get something wrong.

I also disagree with the ratio. In my experience, the number of capable GM's vs. those who could use some more experience is much more in favor of the capable. I have no data to support my claim of course, but I would garner a guess that it would be at least 20 to 1 in favor of the capable.

*****

I think there are things that can be done to enhance a scenario such as adding a little bit of flavor to a scenario:

spoiler:
Such as in FrostFur Captives, adding personalities to the goblins

However, changing tactics, changing the number of NPC or the CR of the NPC, is something that shouldn't be done.

I figure the developers know way more than I do about how to try and make a scenario fair for the masses and who am I to change that?

As for the comments made about throwing out the APL system, well that to me smacks of someone that doesn't understand how the tier and APL system works because they don't use it.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Purple Fluffy CatBunnyGnome wrote:
well that to me smacks

Sugar Smacks?

**

Drogon wrote:
You guys just had the job of showing up with min/maxed 11th level...

I hope I didn't come across as ungrateful for your and the GM's efforts.. that is not at all the case nor what I meant to convey. I didn't mean to make the impression that it was a waste of time to attend. Very sorry if it came across that way.

Anyway, I don't mean to perpetuate the RPT as an example.. I just thought that a mea cupla might have been in order, and definately a statement of appreciation of the effort that was put into it.

Trying to change the topic:
As for 'Good GMing, not re-writing'.. the problem I have with the rule as is (as well as the reminder that we stick to PFS rules) is this: It boils down necessarily to 'don't do anything I wouldn't do.' And obviously, that's completely subjective.

Because:
1. The scenarios don't have the word space to cover every possible contingency. Even if they DID, the small staff of writer(s), proofreaders, editors, (and possibly playtesters?) are not collectively as smart as the PFS playerbase. Someone, somewhere will always think of something that wasn't written to address.
2. Since #1 is true, the GM's are trusted/empowered to handle those 'off-script' inevitables.
3. No two people will always agree on what counts as 'off-script'.

One time I saw a GM tell a player who wouldn't quit arguing about a rule that until he closed his book, the NPCs will focus all attacks on him. Is that 'good gming', in getting the game back on track, or is it 'going off script' by altering the tactics? I say good-gming. But I can see how someone would call it rewriting however, either tactics or the game rules themselves.


Bob Jonquet wrote:


james maissen wrote:
For every judge that can get away with doing it once or twice there are six that can't. And even the former judges can get something wrong.
I also disagree with the ratio. In my experience, the number of capable GM's vs. those who could use some more experience is much more in favor of the capable. I have no data to support my claim of course, but I would garner a guess that it would be at least 20 to 1 in favor of the capable.

I disagree with you reading what I wrote..

I didn't say not capable judges. Organized play has always drawn a good number of great, fantastic judges. You're off base if you believe I was saying anything against that.

What I'm talking about is a judge that can reliably run a module making things up as they go along without anything going wrong. Because that's what you're talking about.

I don't believe that the number of judges that can pull that off more often than not is 20 to 1 Bob.

And more to the point, what happens when you decide, on your own, to make things 'more fun' and stuff goes wrong? Because even the best are not going to make it work all the time. Then what?

Is it fair to the table that the judge ran twice the number of monsters as the other table and caused it to be a TPK? Is it 'fun' for the table?

I guess I've seen too many organized play GMs decide to make house rules and miss-run modules that spoiled the table's fun to think that this is a good thing to encourage. Mercifully these were always few and far between.. but the memories remain and are quite unpleasant.

-James

Silver Crusade ****

james maissen wrote:


I guess I've seen too many organized play GMs decide to make house rules and miss-run modules that spoiled the table's fun to think that this is a good thing to encourage. Mercifully these were always few and far between.. but the memories remain and are quite unpleasant.

-James

Just out of curiosity, how many PFS scenarios have you run and/or played? I'm reading what you're saying and trying to get a feel for your experience level.

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