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Or if you don't want to have the villian show up and possibly be killed by the party early, you could hint at it.
Like evil dudes confession or finding document that say he was under orders from the Mr X that will be in the finale.

Grand Lodge *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game Subscriber

Yep. This raises the premium on solid handouts (an area where PFS is weak). See, for example, my handout for Shades of Ice Part I, and Shades of Ice Part II.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

sozin wrote:
Yep. This raises the premium on solid handouts (an area where PFS is weak). See, for example, my handout for Shades of Ice Part I, and Shades of Ice Part II.

Very cool those!

Grand Lodge *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game Subscriber

Thanks, I've got a pretty big collection of Pathfinder handouts - you can find them here.

I'm more than happy to offer of my free services to create handouts for PFS scenarios (in case any Paizo folks are watching :-) ).

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

sozin wrote:

Thanks, I've got a pretty big collection of Pathfinder handouts - you can find them here.

I'm more than happy to offer of my free services to create handouts for PFS scenarios (in case any Paizo folks are watching :-) ).

Don't look at me, I'm the lowest of the low- the freelancer. ;-)

Spoiler:
We measure thanks in terms of continued existence! ;-)

But I'll take note, people like handouts! Though that's kind of an art budgety thing.

Grand Lodge *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game Subscriber

Noted :-)

Quote:
Though that's kind of an art budgety thing.

I'll contend that good handouts (taking point from Call of Cthulhu) are key to deepening the mystery/drama of a scenario, and are more than a "art" thing.

Qadira

2 people marked this as a favorite.

1. Loot on the chronicle sheet that is unique or actually worth purchasing. I don't even bother looking at the loot tables anymore because it is all the standard stuff that I can already purchase. "Wow, another +1 longsword... boring." Things like wands that have less charges than normal are awesome. Unique and possibly named things like Skywalker +1 longsword with a side effect of giving the player +2 to the fly skill (or another skill), or +1 damage when flanking or other minor bonuses would be awesome. I'd be much more inclined to purchase something if it was unique or different than the norm, and I would proudly use it in future adventures, remembering where I got it.

2. Regular magical loot on the chronicle sheet that was cheaper than the normal. Even a 10-20% discount would make me consider buying things I find on an adventure rather than just buying normal stuff. "I don't really need this decanter of endless water but it is 20% off... Ok, why not?"

3. Consumable loot during an adventure that we can use DURING an adventure. When I first started PFS one of my favorite things about it was finding potions and other consumables that I had never tried before in the middle of a mission. Then you got to try them out during an adventure to see if you wanted to buy them later on. It seems like the last 5-10 missions I have played in have had NOTHING at all to find and use during the adventure. It makes me sad to see writers ignoring this fun element of the PFS system. It would be especially fun if some of these items were hidden in secret caches that had to be specifically looked for and found, rather than all on dead body loot.

4. Something to do for the rest of the adventure when your character dies, rather than just walk away from the table. Let them be a spirit that can still communicate with the party (at the very least) but can't affect anything else. I also recently saw a "left for dead" or similar named ability in a prestige class that made it so that you don't die, but instead are left at -1 HP and wake up a minute later. Personally, I think this should be a once per scenario ability for ANYONE playing PFS. They say they want everyone to play, but they don;t encourage it very well. Sitting there doing nothing is not fun AT ALL.

Context: Last week, I played a 6 hour pickup PFS game at my local game store. I've never played with them before as I usually play in a regular home group. My character was lvl 6 playing in a tier 8-9. It was that or don't play at all. Anyhow, my character and a lvl 9 wizard insta-died on the second round of a flame oracle's firestorm attack guarding sticks (trying not to spoil anything here). There really was no way not for me to have died based on the average hp damage per round (I am VERY bitter at the Gm for not warning me that I could not survive ahead of time, or for not telling me that I could play a pregen and save my character, but that is besides the point). So anyhow, I played for about an hour before I died and then spent the next 5 HOURS on a Friday night sitting there doing nothing while the rest of the group barely managed to complete the adventure (aside from the other 2 that were killed). I couldn't help them solve any of the puzzles or influence the group in any way. This was NOT FUN and a huge waste of 5 HOURS of my life. I did not walk away from the table and my "new group" but I had considered it.

5. Make more scenarios where the players have a chance at getting the drop on enemies, or at least buff up ahead of time. It seems like I am always cresting a sand dune or walking into a room and finding the critters on the other side instantly aware of me and running towards me. Realistically, with perception I might have heard the critters before i crested the dune or had some way to make it a fair exchange for who sees who first.

6. Make venture Captains in the adventures be cordial and happy to have your party there to help them. Perhaps it is the GMs but it seems like every venture captain we meet in game is an impatient jerk so sees us as peons to do his bidding, and barely has the time to look at us. The society should be about brotherhood and common good, not jerks. (That's the other side).

7. I know this will draw a lot of ire, but I HONESTLY believe it would be a good idea for PFS in general to give a negative penalty to a GM who kills a player, and give huge penalties to GMS who have Total Party Wipes. I don't know what the penalties would be, but I have seen too many gm's in public venues who seem to take pleasure in killing players (sometimes even adding little flags to their GM screens as trophies for player deaths), and even celebrate it and boast about their player deaths to other GMs. I've even seen official Paizo employees do it at PaizoCon. They should be sad when a player dies, because the players put a LOT of real-world time into their characters and are there to have fun. Gm's should be trying to encourage players to have fun, not trying to kill them.

If you want PFS to flourish you need to give GMs the ability to do a little hand waving and bend the rules rather than follow them to the letter and kill players. In the example of the pickup game above, the GM and his fellow gms seemed pretty proud of killing all those players and played the RAW with no hand waving or consideration for their players "fun". Out of 4 tables there was a total party wipe (of lvl 2-3 characters who are permanently dead), my table lost 3 of 5 characters, and each of the other tables lost at least 1 if not 2 players. That is a HUGE ratio of deaths to players, and that is NOT the way to encourage players to play PFS.

I know I certainly will never go back to that venue for a random pickup game, and I would be very hesitant to ever play a pickup game at a local game store again with Gms I don't know. (And I am a very experienced pen & paper gamer). Want to scare everyone off and shrink your player base drastically? Continue to encourage Gms to kill players, or don't look for ways to discourage them from doing so and you will see this happen.

I understand the RAW guys, but it's no fun to have a character die. And I'm sorry, but I see the role of a PFS GM as someone who should be building the player base (a promoter) and making sure that anyone who sits at his table has fun (try your damnedest NOT to kill players). Whether the GM has fun is not really relevant. (And yes, I've been a Gm many times before in many other games). I'd REALLY like to see PFS take an official stance for their GMs to encourage Fun over RAW.

8. I briefly touch on this above, but either reduce cost for raise dead (drastically) or give every player a chance to not die when they normally would. The lvl 2 party wipe I mention above is 5 characters who are permanently dead. Being only lvl 2 they have neither the money nor the PA to get a raise dead. All the time they spent making those characters, not to mention playing 4-6 hours per session over a minimum of 15 hours playtime, are just GONE. One random game they played in to have "fun" and their characters are GONE forever. This gets progressively worse as you level up with average 15+ hours per level. Especially low level characters, but all characters, need ways to not be permanently killed.

9. Don't optimize every enemy in an encounter and don't make the difficulty so high in general. If every group consisted of players who have optimized their characters then this would be a fair deal for enemies to be optimized. Remember, however, that more often than not you will have more than half of any party with non-optimized characters. This applies to newbies or RPers, and others who just want to do something interesting. A non-optimized group facing an overly difficult scenario is not fun for anyone. We play games to have fun. We play PFS not to get our teeth kicked in, but to have fun.

I know many will disagree with me on this, but I'd rather have a slightly easier time and feel like a hero than have a total party wipe from a seemingly no-win scenario and feel like a chump. I understand that some optimized groups like a strong challenge, but these adventures should not be the norm for PFS and should be called out as challenges (with copious warnings from the GM) before players try to take them on.

10. Raise the CL of anyone doing Spell Casting services to the bare minimum of the party's level. As an example from above, on the mission where I died some of the party members contracted a very nasty curse/disease combo. When the party wanted to try and cure it after the adventure, the GM used the min caster level to cast those spells. The caster who was paid failed once or twice before succeeding (wasting money and adding insult to injury). It is ridiculous that a venture captain in the game would have sent out a lvl 6 cleric to heal and remove disease/curses from a party of lvl 8-9's. At the very least it should have been a cleric of 8-9 if not higher considering that this is what they do as a job.

11. When the adventure is "over", have the Gms let the adventure be over. In the scenario I mention above (is it becoming clear how NOT FUN it was?) We had finished the adventure out in the deserts several days away from the nearest town. We had killed all the bosses and beasties, gotten the treasure, and finished all our faction missions. One of the 2 surviving characters had the nasty curse/disease combo. Rather than just declaring the scenario "over", allow the character to survive, and pay the costs to rid himself of it, the Gm forced him to roll for each day on the way back to the rescuers coming to heal us. He had 1 con left at the end, if I recall correctly. Had the dice been one point worse his character would have been killed, and his body would have been disintegrated, making the penalties for dying WAY more severe. This was totally uncalled for IMHO. You could argue that the gm was doing RAW, but it seemed like he just wanted to kill another player. It would have been nice if he were able to call it "over" and let the character live rather than fight to survive after the game.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Holy wall of text, Batman!

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

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I agree with a lot of your points but I do disagree on the scenario difficulty and the threat of death. If GMs are penalized for killing PCs, then every scenario is going to be a cakewalk, with GMs not wanting to risk penalty.

I don't agree with GMs being proud of character deaths, but when I ran Eyes of the Ten at WhosYerCon, I let my players know that their characters would each probably die at least once, but it shouldn't be a downer because they would probably be epic deaths. You know what? I killed a player character. He accepted it and at the appropriate time, he was raised and the rest of the weekend continued without a hitch. I wasn't proud but I wasn't sad either. It happens.

As a PC, I have died as well. Tuesday night in fact. I was playing up with a 7th level Magus and got hit with 90 points of damage from a failed save.

As a Pathfinder, delving into dungeons, tombs and other unknowns, death is a real possibility and should be prepared for.

Qadira

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Thanks for the thoughtful and insightful response jiggy! ;)

Todd, If the GM is encouraged to promote fun over RAW, and is allowed to do some hand waving, then the designers of the scenarios can still make them how they want them to. It doesn't have to be a cakewalk. They can still be dangerous and tense, but the Gm has the power to prevent player death. The Gm can always make it more of a challenge as well if need be, but the goal should be to make it a challenge, not to kill players.

For the record I don't mind player deaths as long as they are fair. Players do stupid things and make choices that sometimes seem to dare the Gm to kill them. Fine, no problem. However, when the player has no chance of surviving, acting, responding, or preparing for the death in any way it feels cheap and unfair.

And like I said, personally I'd rather it be a little easier and feel like a hero than feel cheated. In this case it was my highest level PFS character. I barely had enough resources to not be permanently killed. Had I been perma killed I would not have been able to play with my normal group (since they'd be 3-4 levels above my other characters) and would probably not have played PFS again. Attrition in a group eventually means everyone is at different levels and nobody gets to play.

Another thing to keep in mind is that some people only get to play once a week or once a month. For them to lose a character they have spent months/years building up is a HUGE loss. Gamers who play several times a week usually have lots of backups so naturally it isn;t as big a deal for them to lose one.

Player death during a scenario and sitting there doing nothing is enough of a penalty in my opinion. Perma-killing characters and throwing away a significant number of real-world hours building up the character is not cool and too severe a penalty IMHO.

These are all my own opinions. Feel free to agree/disagree as you will. It's only one viewpoint of many :)

Silver Crusade ****

The scenario writers have pretty strict rules on what they can and cannot do as far as difficulty. You played up on a scenario. Something that is extremely dangerous. You're blaming your GM for not pulling punches because you chose to do something that notched up your chance of dieing significantly. You did not have to play that scenario, you did not have to play up. Your stance doesn't seem very fair to the writer, or your GM from my POV.

As far as a PK, a GM should show good sportsmanship. I empathise with my players when they lose a character, but at the same time I'm a little proud I managed to pull of something that I've only done twice in 31 tables or 6% chance of happening for number crunchers. I don't aim to wipe my players out, but I'm not pulling a punch either. Which is why I roll in the open and follow tactics and guesstimate levels of intelligence for off road tactics or lack of them.

3x, I forgot about the 4th level Valeros a gibbering mouther ate. That guy still talks about that fight and laughs it up.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

wolflord wrote:
Thanks for the thoughtful and insightful response jiggy! ;)

Hey, that's what I'm here for!

Seriously though, I'll respond when I have bit more time.

Silver Crusade **

wolflord wrote:

Todd, If the GM is encouraged to promote fun over RAW, and is allowed to do some hand waving, then the designers of the scenarios can still make them how they want them to. It doesn't have to be a cakewalk. They can still be dangerous and tense, but the Gm has the power to prevent player death. The Gm can always make it more of a challenge as well if need be, but the goal should be to make it a challenge, not to kill players.

My question is, if the players know the GM can't actually kill them, how can you make it tense? I live in the world of Risk vs Reward, and well, if there is no risk of losing anything, why should a character gain anything? If characters don't occasionally have bad things happen to them, then it cheapens what they do. No danger means that everyone should be doing what Pathfinders can do.

Personally, I don't brag about killing players, tho I do keep a tally. I try to make sure players don't die for arbitrary reasons, but occasionally that 28 point crit is going to land on a 1st level character. I have GM'd enough games to be closing in on that 2nd star, and I've killed 4 players. All of them were in situations where the dice gods landed badly and ended up annihilating the character before I could do anything as a GM to make sure they lived. I *could* have added another 4 deaths, but I let them survive. Considering it was their first adventure, I didn't want to TPK, but I easily could have.

Cheliax *

Adventuring is dangerous. Who would have thought?

Qadira

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Alexander_Damocles wrote:

I try to make sure players don't die for arbitrary reasons, but occasionally that 28 point crit is going to land on a 1st level character. I have GM'd enough games to be closing in on that 2nd star, and I've killed 4 players. All of them were in situations where the dice gods landed badly and ended up annihilating the character before I could do anything as a GM to make sure they lived.

This is exactly my point. YOU are the Gm. YOU make the rules of the world. YOU always have the power to overrule the dice or scenario. The dice are there to add an element of surprise and randomness to the game. You are there to orchestrate a grand adventure and help your players have fun. Saying that a GM couldn't do anything because the dice were rolled or the Rules as written forced your hand is a cop-out IMHO. (No offense intended). You could have just as easily said that the player takes a massive hit and is at -9 but stable and moved on. You did not HAVE to kill the player. You never HAVE to kill a player. It's your JOB to keep things fun and fair, not to sit there and throw up your hands and say sorry, the dice rolled it, you are dead. Again, just my opinion from all my years of running games and trying to keep players interested in coming back for more.

Yes, adventuring is dangerous, but I think you are missing my point here. It was asked what I would like to see be done better for PFS. Do what you want in home games or campaigns. In PFS specifically, I want to see less player deaths and permanent less loss of time and effort. I want to see players flock TO PFS tables, not be afraid to play in them because they might lose everything from some random dice roll or GM who was a rules lawyer.

Ok, I don't want to derail this topic too much with all this. (Sorry OP) Any opinions on the positive stuff I'd like to see, or any more positive things YOU all would like to see?

Cheliax ***

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wolflord wrote:
This is exactly my point. YOU are the Gm. YOU make the rules of the world. YOU always have the power to overrule the dice or scenario. The dice are there to add an element of surprise and randomness to the game. You are there to orchestrate a grand adventure and help your players have fun. Saying that a GM couldn't do anything because the dice were rolled or the Rules as written forced your hand is a cop-out IMHO. (No offense intended). You could have just as easily said that the player takes a massive hit and is at -9 but stable and moved on. You did not HAVE to kill the player. You never HAVE to kill a player. It's your JOB to keep things fun and fair, not to sit there and throw up your hands and say sorry, the dice rolled it, you are dead. Again, just my opinion from all my years of running games and trying to keep players interested in coming back for more.

I think the issue is that there are (at least) two fundamentally different schools of thought on this (possibly mirroring personality types?). One is that following the letter of the rules and the scenario is the only fair way, and one that the GM is the one that gets to decide what is fair. I don't think there will ever be common ground here, and the current PFS management appear to fall into the former camp and do not appear willing to accommodate those that fall in the latter.

We can help by understanding that there are at least two different _valid_ standpoints on this and that by rigidly adhering to one we are alienating others.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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wolflord wrote:
1. Loot on the chronicle sheet that is unique or actually worth purchasing.

I think everyone wants this. I'm drooling over a scenario I'm planning to play with my family because (having GM'd it already) I know there's a partially-charged wand above minimum caster level - of a good spell, too!

Quote:
3. Consumable loot during an adventure that we can use DURING an adventure. When I first started PFS one of my favorite things about it was finding potions and other consumables that I had never tried before in the middle of a mission. Then you got to try them out during an adventure to see if you wanted to buy them later on. It seems like the last 5-10 missions I have played in have had NOTHING at all to find and use during the adventure. It makes me sad to see writers ignoring this fun element of the PFS system. It would be especially fun if some of these items were hidden in secret caches that had to be specifically looked for and found, rather than all on dead body loot.

I'd never really looked at it that way. It's usually potions of Cure or things that help you deal with what's in the scenario. But little "try it out" options could be interesting.

Quote:
4. Something to do for the rest of the adventure when your character dies, rather than just walk away from the table.

There's still fun to be had. You can't do any metagaming, but you can still talk and joke and get in on the movie references and so forth. I'm not a fan of softening death.

Quote:
5. Make more scenarios where the players have a chance at getting the drop on enemies, or at least buff up ahead of time.

I haven't really noticed an issue with this. It's not hard to guess when there's going to be something especially nasty behind the giant ornate door or in the very last room of the building you're exploring and expecting to meet Evil NPC X.

Quote:
6. Make venture Captains in the adventures be cordial and happy to have your party there to help them.

You realize that your character is one of thousands of peons to which the Decemvirate has access, right? And until you're pretty high level, you really are a nobody. But get into a Tier 7-11 scenario and suddenly you're talking to the bigwigs.

Quote:
7. I know this will draw a lot of ire, but I HONESTLY believe it would be a good idea for PFS in general to give a negative penalty to a GM who kills a player, and give huge penalties to GMS who have Total Party Wipes.

A few things. First, most of the bragging/boasting is done in good fun. Most GMs would sing a very different tune if the affected player looked genuinely upset. But most players still have a positive experience when a character dies.

As for your anecdote, yes, that is a HUGE proportion of deaths all at once. So maybe THOSE specific GMs were honestly enjoying killing PCs. I don't know. But that's the exception, not the rule.

Locally, there's a guy who playfully brags about his four-times-dead Barbarian.

There was a girl whose very first character died at level 3, and she felt freed up to start over and make a less experimental character, that she'd enjoy more.

As for me personally, my only negative experience involving a character death has been the time a GM fudged to save my character. I feel a twinge of guilt every time I play that character now. The GM did not increase my fun.

Quote:
8. I briefly touch on this above, but either reduce cost for raise dead (drastically) or give every player a chance to not die when they normally would.

The only way that the time invested in a dead character is a waste is if your only goal was to reach retirement. If you build your characters to be fun to PLAY, then the character dying doesn't go back and erase the hours and hours of fun you had.

Quote:
9. Don't optimize every enemy in an encounter and don't make the difficulty so high in general.

The enemies aren't "optimized". The CR system assumes a party of 4 PCs with 15pt buy for stats. You've got a 20pt buy character, often more than 4 PCs, and IIRC more starting gold than the CR system is designed for.

The scales are in your favor.

Quote:
10. Raise the CL of anyone doing Spell Casting services to the bare minimum of the party's level.

An interesting idea, but I think it'd be more trouble than it's worth. You'd need price adjustments, rules for what CL to use when you have a mixed-level party, etc. Just not really worth the hassle for such a small benefit.

Quote:
11. When the adventure is "over", have the Gms let the adventure be over.

I've run a scenario where at the "end", every single PC had a disease. We resolved said diseases - which eventually involved carting one unlucky PC back to the nearest large town (a two day journey, IIRC) while being tended with medical care until he got there and paid for 3 Remove Diseases to finally get cured. He was level 2, and within another failed save or two of death from CON damage.

Whole table had a blast.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

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wolflord wrote:
Ok, I don't want to derail this topic too much with all this. (Sorry OP) Any opinions on the positive stuff I'd like to see, or any more positive things YOU all would like to see?

You're fine Wolflord, you owe me no apologies. ;-)

This is your thread to explain whatever it is that would make your experience more fun.

Nevertheless, Dan Luckett is correct though, in that there are only certain things that authors can do. But fear not! Mike and Mark are looking at this thread too.

Loot: Something I can definitely address. It really pains me to say this, but I feel honesty opens the discussion, but I didn't entirely understand the loot rules for you players. I'm guilty of spreading it out a bit too much in small piles of gold, which are unfun since you get that anyway. ::smacks forehead:: Hell yeah- we should have some interesting consumables! Given the chance that is an easy fix.

Faction Missions: I can't overhaul the guidelines for whatever Season I might write for, but I have a much better idea what is cool and what sucks for most people now (there are some differences of opinion). In any case, the community has given me some good Do's and Don't's.

Alternative Encounter Design: They all don't need to be deadly encounters. We need some variety in creatures and monsters. Having the luxury of buffing up instead of always on the edge of being in a surprise round would be a nice change of pace.

But changing how GM's adjudicate..? That's outside the scope of my authority to even comment on. :-) I can't armchair quarterback the GMs. But! I'm sure they're reading this thread too, and maybe you'll give them food for thought as well.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Jiggy wrote:

The enemies aren't "optimized". The CR system assumes a party of 4 PCs with 15pt buy for stats. You've got a 20pt buy character, often more than 4 PCs, and IIRC more starting gold than the CR system is designed for.

The scales are in your favor.

@Wolflord,

Jiggy is quite correct here. That's pretty much hard coded. Sometimes we can build a little synergy with class levels, combined with good feat selection. Sometimes you can add a little challenge with environmental conditions too... but... CR is CR. We can't put our thumb on the scale THAT much (nor should we strive to anyway).


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In my opinion, any GM who actually shows happiness at a player kill should be barred from running games for a while. That is just plain bad sportsmanship, not to mention rude.

Mechanics that detract from the fun should be looked at. While I understand that some deaths in games are unavoidable, player killing shouldn't be easy or enjoyable. A good many people invest enough of themselves in there characters that it spoils the game for them if they die. I haven't seen many player deaths in PFS, but perhaps the penalties need to be adjusted. Also, depending on the people at the table, it can be really bad to have to wait out a game after your character dies. In a perfect world, there is a lot of camaraderie to share even after the death, but it isn't a perfect world. However, I have yet to see a game that has a role for dead players, so I don't have an answer for that.

It would be nice in loot in PFS was more original and interesting. Also, instead of the page of generic crap,maybe the players should each just be given the choice of one or two adventure related items for free. It is how I generally write adventures - each person has the chance of getting something nice, balanced and unique to that adventure.

I personally think if anything, PFS needs to be made a bit easier than regular Pathfinder, just because it is supposed to be the draw to get folks to play.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Eric Poling wrote:
I personally think if anything, PFS needs to be made a bit easier than regular Pathfinder, just because it is supposed to be the draw to get folks to play.

It already is.

PCs have 20pt stats, versus the 15 against which the CR's are balanced.
There are lots of powerful options available - more than what makes it onto the NPCs.

The odds are already stacked in the PCs' favor.

*

Honestly, going forward I think Mike/Mark are going to do a good job and they’ve been listening to feedback for months. Everything has improved. They read just about anything we write on these forums… not sure how they do it (and manage to get any work done), but they do. So I’m confident we’ll see a lot of good stuff going forward and they’ll continue to listen on a daily basis.

Having said that, I think the most important aspect is the quality of scenarios going forward. And ways to make it easier for new players to enter the hobby (like breaking the Organized Play Guide into 2-3 documents).

While we’re doing personal requests :), I’d also like to see more scenarios that feature mostly roleplaying and open-ended investigation, like “The Immortal Conundrum”, and “Murder of the Throaty Mermaid”. It’s scenarios like these that make PFS worth it for me.

If we could somehow make factions better, that would be amazing, my main concern is that most PFS sessions have very limited time (4 hours), anything interesting that you do with factions is going to eat away at that time, so it’s going to be very hard to balance. To me factions missions should focus on (interesting) goals that the faction would actually want to accomplish in scenario X (with fun being the goal instead of 'making skill check Y'). But to me, factions are just a bonus.

Although I find the other thread incredibly negative, I wouldn’t worry about it, people come and go. I GMed a successful raiding guild in World of Warcraft with 100 members and assistant GM in another 2 guilds (I just want to comment that doing that was like a full time job and I have no idea what I was thinking). Over 4 years, lots of people come and go (some of them better than others), but life moves on and there’s always someone to take their place. PFS is getting large enough now that people will come and go all the time from PFS, and likely it has nothing to do with PFS, that’s just the way life is. So I wouldn’t worry about it. It’s good to find out why people leave, but you have to focus on the people that stay and forget about the past. If you have a good product that's fun, it will attract new players and old players will come back. PFS is gaining a lot of players, rapidly, that should be the focus going forward IMHO.

Cheliax *

Eric Poling wrote:
I personally think if anything, PFS needs to be made a bit easier than regular Pathfinder, just because it is supposed to be the draw to get folks to play.

Ugh, the day they slow pitch it for the noobs is the day I stop playing society. Seriously some of us want a challenge, with I don't know say life or death consequences.

If anything it should be harder. Oh that's right it is getting harder as they're assuming tables of six now. So if I play a table of four it should be just about right.

*

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
wolflord wrote:
7. I know this will draw a lot of ire, but I HONESTLY believe it would be a good idea for PFS in general to give a negative penalty to a GM who kills a player, and give huge penalties to GMS who have Total Party Wipes. I don't know what the penalties would be, but I have seen too many gm's in public venues who seem to take pleasure in killing players (sometimes even adding little flags to their GM screens as trophies for player deaths), and even celebrate it and boast about their player deaths to other GMs. I've even seen official Paizo employees do it at PaizoCon. They should be sad when a player dies, because the players put a LOT of real-world time into their characters and are there to have fun. Gm's should be trying to encourage players to have fun, not trying to kill them.

Not really ire, because I see you're trying to make sure people are having fun, but I see too many problems with such an arrangement. DM's soft-balling missions. Maybe even a DM refusing to run a table because all he's got is four underpowered characters for a combat heavy module. Bad dice happen all the time, should the DM be penalized for a player that should invest in a new bag of dice?

A little trash talk probably isn't something to get too excited about. I do worry about GM's if they truly seem glad they had a TPK or 'beat' the players. If you really think a particular GM is going out of there way to kill PCs then this should be something to talk to the coordinator about. Believe me, it will get around if a particular GM is a tool.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Alex Draconis wrote:

Adventuring is dangerous. Who would have thought?

Wait. What?! Screw this, I'm sticking with being a bartender.

Andoran *****

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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
Some call me Tim wrote:
Believe me, it will get around if a particular GM is a tool.

*Points to Kyle*

Death is part of the Game, it has been since Day 1. I have never played an RPG that did not have Death over the PCs character.

As a GM it is not our job to "Soft-Ball" a PCs death to make it not happen, it is our Job though to try to make it as Epic as possible so the Players actually enjoys it and remembers it as a good thing.

Thankfully I have never had a player that takes it bad when his/her PC died, hopefully I never will.

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

I am very concerned about all this talk of player kills. I have been gaming for a lot of years and lost many characters, but never a player. If your GM's are killing players at the table, I suggest you report it to the authorities or perhaps Mike. He is a retired police officer afterall. :-)

Andoran *****

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber

I could not help it Bob, I can not be held responsible for it! The player did bring a Paladin of Cayden Cailean, he had it coming!!! ;)

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

Dragnmoon wrote:
I could not help it Bob, I can not be held responsible for it! The player did bring a Paladin of Cayden Cailean, he had it coming!!! ;)

The paladin of Pharasma will avenge me!


Ok, I'm surprised I haven't seen something mentioned. I don't much play PFS (just occasionally) but I talk to some people that do and I hear them talk about this alot.

Tired of only playing levels 1-4.
Due to unrecoverable PC deaths and the months it takes them to gain even a few levels, they seem perma-stuck in low level mode. The couple of people that have higher level PC's only get to play them occasionally at a con because there are not enough others to make a higher level table at the shop.

No, I don't think they want it easier. They appreciate the danger. What I have heard the most are:

1) Some way for the the level 2-4 PC's to not be perma-killed so they can get to a higher level. Maybe a loan from the Society for the raise spell that they have to pay back at 50% of their take until the loan and interest are paid off.

2) Faster advancement early especially if you play 'up a level'. Say 2/3 the missions for level advancements up to level 4. Or something like that. A couple of guys were proposing some wierd sliding scale that was based on the difficulty and success rate. But that seemed like too much of a hassle to me.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Again this ain't me, just putting out some of what I heard that I didn't read on this thread yet.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Gruingar de'Morcaine wrote:

Ok, I'm surprised I haven't seen something mentioned. I don't much play PFS (just occasionally) but I talk to some people that do and I hear them talk about this alot.

Tired of only playing levels 1-4.
Due to unrecoverable PC deaths and the months it takes them to gain even a few levels, they seem perma-stuck in low level mode. The couple of people that have higher level PC's only get to play them occasionally at a con because there are not enough others to make a higher level table at the shop.

You know, I've heard this before, so you're right - it's weird it hasn't been brought up before.

In the meantime, I have the following suggestion for your friends:
The guys with the higher-level characters that they don't get to play could GM scenarios at home (instead of waiting for a game day) to help the others catch up. They could spend their GM credits on their own lower-level characters to get them safely into raise-able territory.

That should alleviate a lot of the problem you describe.

*

It'd be great if the average table size could be encouraged down to four players through some sort of incentive. Each player gets so much more time in a relatively limited timeslot for immersive roleplay, and it's definitely less of a management/presentation challenge for the GM. The season 4 change to have encounters scaled to six players is a good step for balancing scenario challenge, but it may have a side effect of restricting roleplay even more as the players rush from encounter to encounter in a time-crunch.

There aren't really any ideas I have for solutions to this, and I think the current incentive of GMing is pretty good to lure people despite the effort involved in prep and running a scenario. I just thought it deserved mentioning.

Other than that, I'd like to +1 the ideas of greater variance and uniqueness in treasure on chronicle sheets and cross-faction missions. In particular, it'd be nice to have more non-equipment rewards on chronicle sheets and effects of successful faction missions that have an influence on either future scenarios during the season or on a geopolitical region. It's always a cool thing when something your character accomplished earlier in his/her career has an impact on his current scenario.


Jiggy wrote:

... I have the following suggestion for your friends:

The guys with the higher-level characters that they don't get to play could GM scenarios at home (instead of waiting for a game day) to help the others catch up. They could spend their GM credits on their own lower-level characters to get them safely into raise-able territory...

Alot of people seem to have some sort of phobia about being GM at even a home game. They wouldn't even be able to consider being GM in front of strangers. I'll mention it to them of course. There is one guy who just might consider it, but I would be surprised.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Eric Poling wrote:
In my opinion, any GM who actually shows happiness at a player kill should be barred from running games for a while.

I haven't GM'd in 6 months, is that enough?

Eric Poling wrote:
I haven't seen many player deaths in PFS, but perhaps the penalties need to be adjusted.

If you haven't seen many deaths, why is it an issue? Why does it need to be adjusted?

*****

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Kyle Baird wrote:


Eric Poling wrote:
I haven't seen many player deaths in PFS, but perhaps the penalties need to be adjusted.

If you haven't seen many deaths, why is it an issue? Why does it need to be adjusted?

Why should the judge be penalized for having hot dice or the players having cold dice? Death and table wipes are par for the course when there is a randomness involved like dice. I, for one, don't want to be penalized on the even that a character is killed

(And yes Kyle I finally killed my first character sheesh)

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

And it was me...

*****

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Todd Morgan wrote:
And it was me...

muahahaha.... I keeled my VC!!!!!!!!!!

*Disclaimer*

I'm celebrating, yeppers I am ... Todd took it like a champ and came back a day later for another game. Death happens, especially when you fail your save. I mean... it was a 90 point finger of death right to the kisser... it was awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

And I broke my neck from a fall

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

I suppose that there are a few pockets where death is unusually high, but that does not seem to be the norm. In fact there are vastly more frequent complaints that PFS is not challenging enough. I can only recall two perma-deaths (one was a player choice to stay dead) in 200+ sessions and even death/raise is relatively uncommon.

I do not support braggart GM's who seem to take pleasure in their next character kill, nor do I believe it is in the society's best interest to incentify GM's to take extra measures to ensure survival, or at least to dis-incentify death. Adventuring is a dangerous business, otherwise everyone would be doing it. The risk for earning hundreds if not thousands of gold, compared to the average merchant/tradesman, is that there is a strong possibility you might die doing it. Its become a cliche to say it, but I think it applies, if you want your game to have a free/unlimited respawn function, play an MMO. If you remember the "golden" years of D&D, you will know that the frequency of character deaths is waaay down. If we reduce it any further, we lose the challenge, the risk, and then, what's the point?

If you are experiencing repeated perma-death in your local area, there are probably a lot of factors contributing to it, but IMO, its not the fault of the game. More likely, there is an issue with the actions of the GM and the players. Not that everyone is play BadWrongFun, but a disconnect on how to experience the game in a pure, RAW manner while still recognizing the opportunities to make adjustments to account for table variation.


Jiggy wrote:
The enemies aren't "optimized".

I've certainly found encounters that have been optimized by (a) picking a tough monster of a given CR rather than a weaker one, or (b) adding environmental factors and then not including those in the encounter CR, or (c) all of the above.

*****

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
hogarth wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
The enemies aren't "optimized".
I've certainly found encounters that have been optimized by (a) picking a tough monster of a given CR rather than a weaker one, or (b) adding environmental factors and then not including those in the encounter CR, or (c) all of the above.

a) that's pretty subjective and often the monsters aren't picked out of a hat like you make it seem. I've seen far more non-optimized class based NPCs than strong-for-their-CR monsters.

b) If the environmental factors aren't included in the CR of the encounter then it's the wrong CR. It's not a matter of optimizing. And again with a counter-point, there are plenty of encounters were the bad guys are too big for their environment and have to squeeze or there's too many and they can't maneuver properly for the given tactics.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'd like to point out, once again, that wolflord played a level 6 character at tier 8-9 in Rebel's Ransom. A very difficult and potentially deadly scenario even when not playing up. The NPC that killed him is NOT optimized by any sense of the word, it's just a difficult class for PCs to go up against (much like the Magus).

*****

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Kyle Baird wrote:
I'd like to point out, once again, that wolflord played a level 6 character at tier 8-9 in Rebel's Ransom. A very difficult and potentially deadly scenario even when not playing up. The NPC that killed him is NOT optimized by any sense of the word, it's just a difficult class for PCs to go up against (much like the Magus).

Very good point, and one I think has been either missed or dismissed across all the posts. He made the comment that it was either play up or not play at all. He MADE the choice to play up in a scenario that has been reported as being extremely deadly. Sorry, but that isn't the judges

fault, and it's also not the judges responsibility to tell the player that they can play with a pre-gen.

The judges responsibility is to ensure that as much fun is had as possible, however, if they run as RAW then that's the way the cookie crumbles.

Death happens, it's apart of life and it's apart of the game. We go into the game as adventurers knowing that death is a possibility in each adventure. If the player makes the choice to play out of tier (i.e. playing up); then the player has to understand that it is going to be easier for the character to be killed and honestly shouldn't be griping on the boards and blaming the GM when it happens.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

To add to this discussion, I'm under the impression that most (but clearly not all) scenarios are considered a little too easy?

I honestly don't know, I've only read a couple, and it's not always easy to get a feel in the abstract.

To those that have read and played many of them; is that not the case?

Because my current mindset it to write to the CR, and definitely don't undercut it.

*****

Jim Groves wrote:

To add to this discussion, I'm under the impression that most (but clearly not all) scenarios are considered a little too easy?

I honestly don't know, I've only read a couple, and it's not always easy to get a feel in the abstract.

To those that have read and played many of them; is that not the case?

Because my current mindset it to write to the CR, and definitely don't undercut it.

Season 0 and Season 1 are definitely cakey... The beginning of season 2 is a little cakey, tho towards the end -- Heresy of Man series, Rebel's Ransom and into Season 3 they are starting to challenge the players more. I think writers are beginning to respond to what the players have said in give usa challenge; the problem being there are still those few players that are used to the cakey scenarios and are not ready for the true challenges and that why we are seeing more players complaining of "death GMs".


Bob Jonquet wrote:
... If you remember the "golden" years of D&D, you will know that the frequency of character deaths is waaay down...

Personally, I do fondly remember those years.

{ I wouldn't call them 'golden' though just a long time ago. }
I do think the RPG's in general have gotten a bit too easy. I liked the feeling that there was a good chance I'd lose the character if I wasn't smart and/or lucky.

However, I also have to say, I didn't usually have to start over at level 1. If the group was at level 5 and we wanted to stay together as a meaningful group with everyone being challenged, it wasn't possible to have a level 1 character. So the GM would normally let me make a PC that was down just 1 level.
There were a couple that would make us restart at level 1 but they would help to make sure you advanced very quickly to even up with the group.

PFS currently doesn't have either of these options.

Andoran *****

What about something like "garnished wages" for dead PCs (maybe only those under a certain level)?

It is basically impossible for a PC below a certain level to afford a raise dead, and may not be possible for a high-level PC either depending on the circumstances. In this case, could there be a rule where the PC is raised, but receives one-half or one-quarter gold from adventures until the cost of the raise dead is paid off?

To make it fair, the cost for the "loan" could be higher than the normal spellcasting cost (for example, an installment plan raise dead might need to pay a total of 7500 gp rather than 5000 gp up front).

Silver Crusade ****

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Honestly, I think I'd rather play a new character than a handicapped one because I can't get my gold value due to a death.

Andoran *****

Dan Luckett wrote:
Honestly, I think I'd rather play a new character than a handicapped one because I can't get my gold value due to a death.

I'm not saying force people to keep playing a character that has died. But someone who really enjoys their character concept and doesn't mind getting less gold per module would probably really enjoy being able to keep playing.

It's not like an up-front Raise Dead is easy on the wallet or Wealth-by-level either.

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Illinois—Carbondale aka Disturbed1

I agree with pretty much everything that has been said about faction missions.

I vote for fewer (or none at all would be even better) 'waste some time' monsters.

Example: Iron Cobra. It's been in at least 3 scenarios/ modules that I can think of. It's a low tier type monster that has decently high AC for it's CR, decent HP, DR/ immunities thanks to being a construct. That combination of defenses makes it a difficult fight for a lot of parties. However when you combine that with it's relatively low attack, low damage, and a weak save dc poison (with limited uses), what you wind up with is an encounter that takes a long time for the players to overcome cause of the good defenses, though they have little to worry about cause the thing cant do very much to them. BORING!!!

Please stop including stuff like that in scenarios. Im not saying every fight needs to be a potential TPK, but a player should NEVER be bored during a fight. If they are, something is wrong.

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