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Need a DM test.


Advice


My current dungeon master is beyond incompetent when it comes to the rules. Yes, the other players have already talked to him and two chapters of the current campaigned are being skipped so it can be wrapped up and ended.

Basically I want a DM test for basic rules, so that way people can get a general idea of what the rules are before they DM even if they fail it. I would tell them what sections of the core book to read, but that doesn't help when the DM makes ridiculous interpretations. (Like you can draw a greatsword as part of a full-attack because a full-attack is a 'move') Basically I don't want to be arsed to open the rulebook three times an encounter and waste my time anymore.

There is a lot of fair cause to disagree with me and explain how better approaches through communication would work better. But I would still appreciate some sort of 3.5/pathfinder test as I feel it could be beneficial for me and others browsing this forum. I know about herald tests that wizards does but I can't access those and I'm not interested in going through and running games for their stuff just to take the test.

Andoran

Have the prospective GM run a one shot. A pre-published scenario designed for convention play (PFS scenarios are the obvious example). Then, if that works out, discuss a longer game.

Only running a game can prove someone's GMing credentials, but it doesn't need to be a particularly long game, or one you invest a lot into.

Qadira

I too would love one of these. My suggestion grab a dim screen for paizo and use it like a q&a

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game Subscriber

1) Describe how grappling works?

2) Describe how monk flurry of blows work?

3) Describe how monk flurry of blows works with a zen archer?

4) How would a level 11 gunslinger take a full attack action with two pistols?

5) I ready an action to take a running leap off the top of a 3 story building onto a dragon when it flies by. What kind of rolls do I have to make?

6) Can you enchant a magus's blackblade?

7) Do you still have any hair you haven't pulled out yet?

I just grabbed a few topics on the forums and through in a couple more. How's this?


Deadmanwalking wrote:

Have the prospective GM run a one shot. A pre-published scenario designed for convention play (PFS scenarios are the obvious example). Then, if that works out, discuss a longer game.

Only running a game can prove someone's GMing credentials, but it doesn't need to be a particularly long game, or one you invest a lot into.

That is a really good idea. You can even adjust the level of the scenario to match the level of the campaign. It doesn't prevent people from simply saying their way is right though.

Are there any particular scenarios that would be good for this purpose? Currently we are level 9/10ish.


Xzaral wrote:

1) Describe how grappling works?

2) Describe how monk flurry of blows work?

3) Describe how monk flurry of blows works with a zen archer?

4) How would a level 11 gunslinger take a full attack action with two pistols?

5) I ready an action to take a running leap off the top of a 3 story building onto a dragon when it flies by. What kind of rolls do I have to make?

6) Can you enchant a magus's blackblade?

7) Do you still have any hair you haven't pulled out yet?

I just grabbed a few topics on the forums and through in a couple more. How's this?

Grab topics off of the board, that is a good idea too. Some current topics I feel are OK to get wrong or right as some stuff really needs FAQing or comments from the designers.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

1) Will you promise to ensure that we all have fun?

2) Will you promise to take the time, before the session, to understand the potential rules you will need (environment, swimming, grapple, etc) based on what you have planned?

3) Will you promise to not make rules up on the fly?

4) Will you promise to use the Table of Contents and Index as needed to look up rules?

5) Will you promise to use the Search function on the PRD/PFD/etc?

What I'm getting at is that you don't have to be tested on your rules knowledge. That will come with time. If the group isn't having fun, that is a problem, but criticizing the GM isn't the solution. Work with him to help him learn the rules better. We all started with no understanding. We all needed different levels of help. We are all still learning, even if we've been playing the same game for years.

Andoran

Jezai wrote:
That is a really good idea. You can even adjust the level of the scenario to match the level of the campaign. It doesn't prevent people from simply saying their way is right though.

True! The point is that, if they do so, your investment in things is gonna be a lot lower, and you can just not have them GM again.

Jezai wrote:
Are there any particular scenarios that would be good for this purpose? Currently we are level 9/10ish.

This is certainly a valid idea...but not one I'd personally advise.

I'd put the current game on hold, grab some pregens, or whip up some yourself, and go through a one shot scenario with characters you aren't invested in. That way, any poor GMing has no long-term impact of any sort.

And I don't run PFS...or play in it as often as I'd like. So I really don't know, though most scenarios can be adapted for multiple levels of play, as I understand it.


Bob_Loblaw wrote:

1) Will you promise to ensure that we all have fun?

2) Will you promise to take the time, before the session, to understand the potential rules you will need (environment, swimming, grapple, etc) based on what you have planned?

3) Will you promise to not make rules up on the fly?

4) Will you promise to use the Table of Contents and Index as needed to look up rules?

5) Will you promise to use the Search function on the PRD/PFD/etc?

What I'm getting at is that you don't have to be tested on your rules knowledge. That will come with time. If the group isn't having fun, that is a problem, but criticizing the GM isn't the solution. Work with him to help him learn the rules better. We all started with no understanding. We all needed different levels of help. We are all still learning, even if we've been playing the same game for years.

I really like #2 (The rest of the rules going down follow #2.) The problem is when something out of the blue comes up, like a character drawing a different weapon.

Osirion

There is definitely a need for the GM to understand the basic rules of the game, and be willing to look up specifics as needed. Certainly at a minimum, the GM should know all the rules for the classes of the PCs and any NPCs/encounters he plans to run.

However, the difference between an okay GM and a good or great GM has more to do with #1 on Bob_Loblaw's list.

Andoran

Bob_Loblaw wrote:
3) Will you promise to not make rules up on the fly?

I'd change this one to "Will you be up front about it when making up rules on the fly?" Sometimes doing that is necessary, it's when they start acting like their own ideas are official that problems crop up.

Bob_Loblaw wrote:
What I'm getting at is that you don't have to be tested on your rules knowledge. That will come with time. If the group isn't having fun, that is a problem, but criticizing the GM isn't the solution. Work with him to help him learn the rules better. We all started with no understanding. We all needed different levels of help. We are all still learning, even if we've been playing the same game for years.

This really depends. There's a certain basic level of rules knowledge that a GM needs to have: Average for the group.

A GM whose rule knowledge is significantly below the group average is gonna be...problematic, in all kinds of different ways. Especially if he or she refuses to admit the other players know more. One or two players knowing more than the GM is fine...but when everyone does it starts to become a real problem, as the GM's mistakes are obvious and annoying to all and sundry.

Now, that average definitely varies by group and so this can be a very high bar, or a pretty low one, depending on the group in question.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

This GM needs to be a player first. Some people just are not ready when they want to be ready. I would suggest someone with more rules-fu take the GM spot for a while.

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Bob_Loblaw wrote:
3) Will you promise to not make rules up on the fly?

Now this particular rule I would quibble with. I've DM'd for many years (30 this year!) and I think I have some proficiency at it and I absolutely make up Rules on the fly when necessary. The pacing of the game is sometimes more important than any one ruling and if I can't remember a particular rule off the top of my head and the action is going well, I just wing it and look it up later. The trick is being able to do this without the players knowing you did it, or being able to do it in a way that is both fair, equitable and fast. Its not for every situation, but knowing when to make up a rule and when to look it up is part of what makes one a good DM IMO.


I think 3 is really good. I expect consistency from the GM, and the gameworld, and so do most players.
Now if there is a corner case involved I can see a GM making a ruling just to keep the game up, but when the ruling seem arbitrary it causes issues.


When I'm talking about making up rules on the fly, I'm not talking about adjudication. I'm talking about GMs that just make things up or change them on a whim. I had a GM decide that we would have a -2 to our Spot checks in 3.5 because we were using torches. He said the flickering light made it harder to see. True, but there are already rules for how far you can see and torchlight is already very limiting. The same GM decided, after we had started out on the adventure, that he was going to enforce rules for feeding our mounts. It didn't matter that a couple of us had enough ranks in Survival to feed the party. We didn't bring feed so our horses died.

It's one thing to make a quick call and keep the game moving. That is something any good GM can do. It's quite another to just change rules in the middle of a session because you can.

I'm about to finally be a player in a long term campaign. The GM doesn't have nearly my level of skill with the game. I've been gaming longer than he's been alive. That being said, I'm not convinced that he needs a rules-test to make sure that he's qualified. If something seems off, I will address it at the appropriate time.

Grand Lodge

I agree almost entirely with Bob_Loblaw, except for #3, mainly because such a promise could back you into a corner if a player asks you if they can do something the rules don't technically allow for, but would make sense in context. But basically, a DM should have an understanding of 3 things.

1.) A good DM ought to adapt his style of play so that everyone has fun. He needs to know his players and understand them. Presenting an all-evil party with a moral conundrum and then actively punishing them for solving it "wrong" (in this case, by doing the evil, or expected, outcome) is not good DMing, moist times.

2.) Understand the rules. When a player has a rules question, you should be quick to provide an answer. This doesn't mean a good DM ought to know the book like the back of his hand, but he ought to have a basic grasp of some of the most frequently asked questions, like how certain skills work, how grappling and XP and encounters work, etc.

3.) Be ready to deal with problems as they arise. A DM is, at the end of the day, the catalyst through which the players interact with his world, but at the same time, he's also their "leader." Like any leader, he needs to mediate disputes, should they arise, be open minded when players come to him with advice or suggestions, and be fair in his dealings. We're all human obviously, and I'm not saying go for a 100% consistency in help, but obviously the guy should be consistent enough so that when he makes mistakes, they are the exception, not the rule...


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Knowing the rules backward and forward is one of the least important skills for a GM to have.

Bob's comments above are much closer to the mark for having a good GM and having fun as a group.

The real questions you should be asking your prospective GMs are (in addition to the excellent ones already provided here):

1. Do you have the time and interest necessary to prepare for a session so that the game can begin on time and be run efficiently?

2. Do you have the materials necessary to accomplish the logistical duties of the GM? (Dice, battlemaps, books, adventure paths, self-created material, miniatures, terrain, etc.)

3. Do you think you will ENJOY being the GM and not being a player?

4. Do you understand that the GM's goal is to collaborate with the players, not compete with them?

Those are the really important questions


wraithstrike wrote:
This GM needs to be a player first. Some people just are not ready when they want to be ready. I would suggest someone with more rules-fu take the GM spot for a while.

I agree, but the problem is this person has been playing with other groups for years so he already has been a player. That's why we trusted him in the first place to run his campaign when he wanted to.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:

Knowing the rules backward and forward is one of the least important skills for a GM to have.

Those are the really important questions

No one is suggesting that it is the most important thing. But not knowing the rules and breaking them multiple times an encounter causes problems.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Jezai wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:

Knowing the rules backward and forward is one of the least important skills for a GM to have.

Those are the really important questions

No one is suggesting that it is the most important thing. But not knowing the rules and breaking them multiple times an encounter causes problems.

Having a test wouldn't address that though. I think you are actually addressing it better by letting him know why you don't want him to GM and then replacing him. If he wants to GM, then he will find a way to keep the group happy. That means taking more time to understand the basics.


Jezai wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
This GM needs to be a player first. Some people just are not ready when they want to be ready. I would suggest someone with more rules-fu take the GM spot for a while.
I agree, but the problem is this person has been playing with other groups for years so he already has been a player. That's why we trusted him in the first place to run his campaign when he wanted to.

I don't understand how he could be playing for years and make those types of mistakes. Either he was not educated with regard to the game or lied about his experience. It could also be that his inability to learn the rules got him kicked out of the other groups.


wraithstrike wrote:


I don't understand how he could be playing for years and make those types of mistakes. Either he was not educated with regard to the game or lied about his experience. It could also be that his inability to learn the rules got him kicked out of the other groups.

I really don't know how he could make those mistakes either, I really really don't. I don't know if he was kicked out of any groups and I don't believe he lied about game time. I think that he was in a group of people where the DM didn't know the rules and everyone just followed the leader.

@Bob
I know it won't fix the problem for me. What I need is just two seconds of rest from having to go back and forth and look up every rule, that's all I want from the DM test a slight increase in knowledge about the rules. And we have already talked to him which is why the campaign is being cut short by two chapters. I may just run the last chapter myself though and force him to quit early.


As we used to say in basic training for the military, recycle* him.

*That is when someone fails basic training and has to repeat it.

Shadow Lodge

Bob_Loblaw wrote:


3) Will you promise to not make rules up on the fly?

4) Will you promise to use the Table of Contents and Index as needed to look up rules?

5) Will you promise to use the Search function on the PRD/PFD/etc?

I have a problem with these three. Sometimes (almost always) it's better to just come up with something on the fly and move on than to spent too much time interrupting the flow of the game. Maybe it's just me, but I like a combat round to actually move quickly. I've played games where it seemed like each combat round took 30-35 minutes or more to resolve, and that's not fun, it's just g#%%@~n tedious. The lion's share was the group as a whole coming to a consensus and deciding what each character's action should be...which is NOT a good way to run things, in my opinion.

Of course, this is all a bit easier in some older systems, that didn't feel the need to codify absolutely everything; and that you could try cool things in WITHOUT having to take a feat or three as a per-requisite.


I agree it is better than using "too much" time, but most people familiar with the game can find an answer in less than 30 seconds. Only in corner cases should it take 30-35 minutes, and in that case the GM should make a ruling "for now", and then someone can check for the real answer, if there is one, after the game.


Subject him to the ordeal of boiling water; if after 3 days his wound is healing well, he may GM once more.

Shadow Lodge

If one weighs the same as a duck, they may GM.


Kthulhu wrote:
Bob_Loblaw wrote:


3) Will you promise to not make rules up on the fly?

4) Will you promise to use the Table of Contents and Index as needed to look up rules?

5) Will you promise to use the Search function on the PRD/PFD/etc?

I have a problem with these three. Sometimes (almost always) it's better to just come up with something on the fly and move on than to spent too much time interrupting the flow of the game. Maybe it's just me, but I like a combat round to actually move quickly. I've played games where it seemed like each combat round took 30-35 minutes or more to resolve, and that's not fun, it's just g$+@@%n tedious. The lion's share was the group as a whole coming to a consensus and deciding what each character's action should be...which is NOT a good way to run things, in my opinion.

Of course, this is all a bit easier in some older systems, that didn't feel the need to codify absolutely everything; and that you could try cool things in WITHOUT having to take a feat or three as a per-requisite.

If you look at the examples I gave, combat wasn't one of them. That being said, most bonuses and penalties are simply +/-2 and the GM can use that rule for the times when they can't find the exact rule and it's appropriate. Other times, you will need to look things up. I do expect the GM to be able to find the information quickly.

Tonight I finished the Age of Worms campaign. We still needed to look up a few spells and abilities. We still needed to look up how to calculate CMD (I forgot to calculate one opponent). It only took a moment and the game moved quickly. When we run into questions on how something should work, and it's ambiguous, I make a ruling and that's it. We don't tie things up for long periods of time.

The GM should know how to search quickly. No one can possibly know every rule flawlessly.

Osirion

Having skipped most of the posts:

Oh no! The DM is letting you draw a greatsword as part of a full-attack! THE END IS NIGH!

Seriously, if you think a DM is incompetent for making such minor mistakes as that, you need to give him some slack and get over it.

Heck, I allow exactly that rule because wasting turns in combat drawing weapons is BORING.


Davor that is not the case though so your sarcasm is now wasted.

Osirion

One other aspect of being a GM that has not been addressed so far is the GMs style. Some GMs like to simply tell the story, for instance. Those "narrator" GMs will fudge die rolls and create/enforce rules as it suits the direction they want the story to go. Monsters get altered stats, increased HP, access to spells or abilities that were not in the description a moment earlier, etc. This kind of GM is a nightmare for the player who likes to roll out the battlemap and use tactics and skill checks to succeed.

On the other side of the table you have the GM who runs the game like a miniatures wargame. Players who like roleplaying, speaking in character, immersion in the game world, etc., will feel like they've arrived at a military school.

There are other GM archtypes, too: the killer GM who takes defeat of one of "his" monsters personally; the GM who gives out all of his dream treasure, living vicariously through his uber-wealthy players; the GM who insists on roleplaying every last detail (haggle with the innkeeper for a beer) and requires you to state even common actions (you didn't say that you went to sleep when the group made camp for the night, so no spells for you, today!). There are plenty.

Just as important as the points made above is what style the new GM will use. Since he's been a player in your group, he is likely familliar with what the group needs to have fun. However, it's possible that he wants something different. The one-shot adventure makes a lot of sense on multiple levels. If you find your 9th level characters staring down Orcus, you'll know it's time to swap GMs.

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