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Pathfinder Society® General Discussion

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Qadira ***

23 people marked this as a favorite.

Hey All--

As you might know, I love finding ways to promote better play. I want to play with good players...and I hope by playing with better players that I might eventually become a good player myself. (Someday.)

As such, I love this thread on roleplay mastery by HolmesandWatson. I'm not sure I really understand it all, but love to chew off a piece to think about once in a while.

In addition, them Canadians up in Ontario have a local player named Mergy who has been writing some local blogs to his gaming community. With his permission, I've linked them below. I love them. They are really good introductions to better play.

Mergy’s Methods: Excellent Equipage Episode I
Mergy’s Methods: Stable Statistics
Mergy’s Methods: Excellent Equipage II
Mergy’s Methods: Excellent Equipage III
Mergy’s Methods: Tangible Tactics
Mergy’s Methods: Tangible Tactics Two
Mergy’s Methods: A Rogue By Any Other Name
Mergy’s Methods: A Multitude of Maneuvers

So...anyone else have a thread that might be good for this thread?

-Pain

Silver Crusade **

Oh, I dunno....this painlord chap has a bunch of great posts that are always a good read, perhaps link them as well?

Cheliax ****

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thanks Painlord, the praise means a lot coming from you.

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

4 people marked this as a favorite.

The best advice I can give is push to find each character's "voice". By voice I don't necessarily mean the character's literal voice, but the character's viewpoint on life in general.

It can be tricky to come by. The first thing I try to nail down is the personality I want to play and go from there:

Do I want to play a character that is boisterous and perhaps a bit short-sighted? Introverted and sneaky? Do I want to play a proactive worrier or a reactive optimist?

Character race may occur to me at this point, but it doesn't have to have any bearing on persona. In fact, sometimes going against stereotype can also be fun. A Half-Orc intellectual, gnome bully, or hyperactive dwarf would all be fun to play.

Once I have a good idea of personality type, I think about the character's early life. What sort of family life did this character have? What shaped his or her persona? What sort of early training did they have (or not have)?

Race and class can pop up here, but again do not have to have any bearing. There are no hard rules -- any of these steps can be skipped and returned to or revisited.

Next, since it is nearly unavoidable, I think about combat. How do I envision this character acting in a fight? Are they scared, fool-hardy, meticulous, calculating, berserk, etcetera? Would they be more likely to engage in melée or ranged combat? Would they use magic? Would they use magic primarily for offense, defense, or to assist others?

Now I start really pushing mechanical concepts around. I think about combinations of race, class(es), feats, traits, and even spells that will help me bring this character to life.

Again, nothing's written in stone. If a combination I'm looking at here strikes my fancy and leads to reinvisioning the character, so be it. The goal is to create a character that feels real and will be fun for me to play. Sometimes I'm not happy with the results. When this happens, I put this character idea on the backburner and work on another. I want each character to be fully-fleshed in my mind.

Now I actually build the character. I try to stay true to the past I've envisioned for the character, while also preparing for future advancement.

Before my first game, I think about how I will describe him or her to a group of fellow Pathfinders. I don't just think about what the character is wearing, but whether the character cares about his or her appearance and the state of their equipment.

Many society games have travel time built into the introduction of the scenario and many pathfinders have trained together, so I also try to think of a couple of sentences to describe the character's personality to strangers.

I also think about voice and speech patterns. I may not do a voice at the table when playing the character simply because that voice could be a stretch for me, could become uncomfortable, or even annoying as heck. However, I try to fix a voice in my own head, so I at least have a good idea what the character sounds like. I also try to stay true to the vocabulary and speech patterns my character would have.

Even with all of this done before the first game, I still try to find moments in every game I play to learn more about my character. Role play, combat, or even a simple skill check can create transcendent moments which add extra depth and dimension to a character. One has to remain open to these moments and not be afraid to allow them to shape your character and gameplay.

Anyway, this is how I build my characters. It's frankly the best advice I can offer to players within the Pathfinder Society or playing any other RPG.

Cheliax *

Advice? I would say remember it's not just about you. Your character, your role. I try and engage other players even when I'm not DM to give them the chance to roleplay.

This meshes with Roleplaying Mastery btw in rule #5. Make sure everybody (including yourself) is having fun.

I've been dissecting in my mind the past year the best Society table I've been at. Painlord was there by the way. I think what raised it to great from mediocre was the knowledge of each characters role/concept/outlook/quirks then engaging each other based on that knowledge. It was reciprocal altruism at it's finest. It was synergistic.

In short, we brought out the "best" in each other and that's what took it off the scale.

I'm looking forward to trying to capture that experience again next month. }; )

Anyway, you should recognize the effort that people put into their characters and utilize it. Playing with a cleric? Ask them about their religious beliefs. Playing with a character that is sage like in their knowledges? Ask them an esoteric question.
I've let a dwarf fighter guard me because that was his nature. I've let a scrawny wizard use my nightmare as a bargaining tool. I've discussed hacking and drinking with barbarians because that's what they enjoy.

Essentially figure out and give them what they want.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Great set of links, Painlord!

It's nice to see someone with a little implied authority advocating for the common usage of Take 10. I think the tide might finally be starting to turn; less than a year ago the mere suggestion of taking 10 was offending people in droves.

I think the next writing project is to combine these blog posts with "Painlord's What to Expect at a PFS Table" to create a single, unified guide.

Any volunteers? :)

Grand Lodge *

great stuff - please update Paizo when new articles from Mergy hit the site.

Cheliax ****

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thanks Helaman, but there's actually one coming out in about half an hour. I write and post for Fridays at noon EST. :)

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jiggy wrote:
someone with a little implied authority

LOL!

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Kyle Baird wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
someone with a little implied authority
LOL!

I don't think you can LOL without a lower jawbone.

Anyway, I figure a blog post with a following carries more weight/is more influential than just a messageboard post, you know?

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jiggy wrote:
Kyle Baird wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
someone with a little implied authority
LOL!

I don't think you can LOL without a lower jawbone.

Anyway, I figure a blog post with a following carries more weight/is more influential than just a messageboard post, you know?

Perhaps I LOL'd incorrectly. I believed you were stating that Painlord has authority. If you were implying instead that Mergy has a little implied authority then I retract my LOL and insert a *nod*.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Yes, I was talking about Mergy.

And I'm not sure you should nod, either. I don't see a neck in there - your skull might fall or something if you make sudden head movements.

Cheliax ****

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

And just like that, I no longer know what anyone is talking about.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I complimented you, and poked fun at Kyle Baird's messageboard avatar.

Cheliax ****

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Well thanks, although I think my avatar is rather smurfing silly as well.

Qadira ***

Kyle Baird wrote:
Perhaps I LOL'd incorrectly. I believed you were stating that Painlord has authority.

BAIRD!!!

::shakes fist::

//retreats back to his local demi-plane of Pain to sulk, authority-less.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Mergy wrote:
And just like that, I no longer know what anyone is talking about.

Isn't that how all threads on these forums end up?

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Kyle Baird wrote:
Mergy wrote:
And just like that, I no longer know what anyone is talking about.
Isn't that how all threads on these forums end up?

Almost-related:

I looked at the recent messageboard activity sidebar, and saw this thread, and right above it a poster named "WhipShire". My mind blended the two and I saw "Whips for Better PFS Play".

Cheliax ****

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I don't know if whipping players would make them better, but we can't know until we try!

Silver Crusade **

There is a reason PFS Bay Area is so good....why do you think he's called "Painlord"?

*** RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Alexander_Damocles wrote:
There is a reason PFS Bay Area is so good....why do you think he's called "Painlord"?

I'll be passing on the Folsom Street Pathfinder session, thank you very much.

Qadira *** Venture-Lieutenant, Washington D.C. aka Grolick

Kyle Baird wrote:
Mergy wrote:
And just like that, I no longer know what anyone is talking about.
Isn't that how all threads on these forums end up?

Funny, I actually thought the same thing Baird did. Is that good or bad? I think I'll have to ponder this...

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Grolick wrote:
Funny, I actually thought the same thing Baird did. Is that good or bad? I think I'll have to ponder this...

It means you're losing your grip on your soul.

Qadira ***

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Going back to topic, this is the best post ever for PFS play, and it isn't even written purely for PFS.

It's Gygax telling us 20 years ago what we've been telling ourselves again and again and again and again over the last 18 months:

HolmesandWatson wrote:

Gary Gygax's 17 Steps to Role Playing Mastery: Mastery?

Gary Gygax took role-playing very seriously. This should not be a surprise since we’re talking about the man who co-created Dungeons and Dragons and what is now a billion dollar industry (there’s no World of Warcraft without D&D). He differentiates Role Playing Games (RPGs) from other games played to pass the time:

Many games are mere pastime activities, but RPGs are enjoyable pursuits of a sought-after nature and are hobby-like, rather than pastime creations aimed at filling an otherwise empty period of leisure. While some games are aimed at rainy afternoons or social gatherings that might bring boredom, role-playing games are designed for and should be played under far different circumstances. Participants engage in the play of such games because they have an active desire to do so. This is because the games of this nature provide them with fun, excitement, challenge, social interaction, and much more on an ongoing basis.

Gygax establishes RPGs at a ‘higher level’ than games such as Monopoly or Sorry. They are not something you do to pass the time. They are voluntary activities that players participate in for a continuing sense of fulfillment.

He also makes a point that I feel is important: the cooperative nature of role-playing:

Role-playing games are contests in which the players usually cooperate as a group to achieve a common goal rather than compete to eliminate one another from play. Chess, board games, cards, and miniatures games all pit individuals or teams against each other. Role games, in contrast, bring players together in a mutual effort to have their characters succeed or at least survive against the hostile “world” environment.

Roleplaying games foster creativity, imagination and cooperation. If the party doesn’t work together, they usually don’t last long. I played “around a table” from middle school into grad school. After a long break from that type of RPGing (replaced with Pc games), I now play via via message board (known as ‘Play By Post’) due to real life constraints. But it is still rewarding to work together to solve problems and vanquish foes. RPGs deliver that in excess.

Regarding Mastery, he says:

As it is with other kinds of mature amusements and diversions, so it is with role-playing games: The higher the level of play, the more enjoyable the game. Simply put, mastery of role-playing is not so much an effort toward individual excellence as it is a broadening of personal knowledge, contributing to social group activity, and increasing the fun and excitement that stem from superior participation. This is when role-playing becomes captivating. When you master role-playing, you become immersed in an activity that is peerless among leisure-time pursuits.

Mastery is achieved by understanding the game system, using it fully and correctly, excelling in operation within the system, and assuring that the experience is enjoyable for all the individuals concerned.

In other words, it’s not about you. It’s excelling at the game to increase the enjoyment of those playing with you. Back to cooperation. When you have a butthead in your group, it ruins the fun for nearly everyone because they are focused on their experience, not the group’s. Mastery should not make you a ‘Rules Lawyer’ who challenges the GM and other players on every point to show how much you know. Mastery should lead to a better played game. I like that focus.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Gary Gygax wrote:
Mastery is achieved by understanding the game system, using it fully and correctly, excelling in operation within the system, and assuring that the experience is enjoyable for all the individuals concerned.

So how come every time someone demonstrates the first three of those, people assume they're oblivious to the fourth?

;)

Andoran *

Jiggy wrote:
Gary Gygax wrote:
Mastery is achieved by understanding the game system, using it fully and correctly, excelling in operation within the system, and assuring that the experience is enjoyable for all the individuals concerned.

So how come every time someone demonstrates the first three of those, people assume they're oblivious to the fourth?

;)

Because three out of four is a C. Average. Many people are average. :D

Seriously, because people in general expect others to think the best of their intentions, but tend to assume others have selfish motivations.

Taldor

I really applaud Mergy’s efforts to improve PFS players’ understanding of Pathfinder. I know I have improved my play since he began his blog. Moreover, once a week, he shows up an hour early to help tweak players’ character sheets.

thanks,

Kodger

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

Jiggy wrote:
Gary Gygax wrote:
Mastery is achieved by understanding the game system, using it fully and correctly, excelling in operation within the system, and assuring that the experience is enjoyable for all the individuals concerned.

So how come every time someone demonstrates the first three of those, people assume they're oblivious to the fourth?

;)

Because the people who engender negative comments are the ones who demonstrate their ability to meet the first three, but fail at the fourth test. Anyone who manages all four will probably pass unremarked. Human nature means that the public perception is artificially slanted to think that the ones they hear about are representative of the entire player base, not the squeaky wheels.

I've met players of each kind (and even more who fail at one or more of the other tests). I don't pretend that all optimizers are selfish egotists, but nor do I pretend that such players do not exist.

Qadira ***

Back to topic:

Mergy’s Methods: More Multitudes of Maneuvers

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

Painlord wrote:

Back to topic:

Mergy’s Methods: More Multitudes of Maneuvers

And this post talks a bit about some of problems we experience in PFS regarding the Advanced Race Guide, rules bloat, and power creep.

HolmesandWatson wrote:

A comment from Gygax's book that isn't going to be tied into a post (I think) is:

Too often, new material purporting to add to a game system is
nothing more than a veiled attempt to dominate the game milieu
through power, not skill. Such creativity, if it can be called that,
amounts to a perversion of the game. It is much like cheating at
solitaire. Understanding the scope of opportunity offered to PCs
by the game system will certainly discourage the intelligent player
from such useless activity.

Just something I got to thinking about. The core rulebook classes and races seem marginalized with paizo's ongoing rush to dump new ones into the system. And from what I see in PbP posts, there's an awful lot of power gaming on and a desire to come up with more outre characters than the last one.

Interesting to think about, no?

It was ever thus.

Some people would have you believe that min-maxers are a product of the solo-adventurer computer RPG generation and collector-deck card games, and that in the golden age everybody played well with others. A little thought suggests this is viewing the past through the typically rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia. For one thing, Gygax wouldn't have needed to take a dig at power gaming if it wasn't perceived as an issue. Even more relevant, perhaps, is that the very system that D&D grew out of - the Chainmail rules for tabletop gaming - was often used to play and replay "what if" scenarios: What if Napoleon had one more division at this battle? What if Julius Caesar had sent a larger army North to Scotland? And in a later setting, What if Rommel had a better supply line in North Africa?

This repeated play of the same scenario under different conditions encourages building the optimum army/deck/party/character, just as we quite often see today (in fact WotC have an Organized Play campaign - Lair Assault - that caters to this style of play, as well as their D&D Encounters for an experience closer to PFS).

But at the end of the day, it all boils down to the player. With a sufficiently large rule system it is all but impossible to maintain a perfect balance across multiple classes and a wide range of experience levels. Some players will want to "be the best that they can be", and build a nigh-unstoppable character that takes advantage of any and all opportunities presented by the rules. Perhaps this capability is somewhat magnified by the large number of options available, but even the core rulebook alone is complex enough to allow this kind of thing. There's nothing wrong with that in itself - it only becomes a problem if that character is then played in such a way as to compromise the enjoyment of others. And, of course, a poorly-built character is even more likely to cause problems for other members of the party; while it is possible to underplay an optimised character, there's no good way to overcome drastically poor choices in character concept (which is why resources like Mergy's columns on character creation are invaluable).

What's the point of all this rambling? I don't know - I'm not even sure there is one. I certainly don't want to lose the wide variety of options available to me when building a character for PFS. But while I might not worry too much about every last detail of a character, there are a significant number of Pathfinders who do care about that. Perhaps Paizo should offer scenarios and/or settings designed to support those players, as well as the somewhat less focused PFSOP scenarios.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

You lost me; what's "influx of new material is bad" got to do with "gamers gonna game"? Or was this just a stream-of-consciousness thing?

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, California—Los Angeles aka miniaturepeddler

Mergy wrote:
I don't know if whipping playevrs would make them better, but we can't know until we try!

Mergy, very good articles.

Ontario lodge has a very good web site with some great writeups.

Cheliax ****

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Robyn Nixon wrote:
Mergy wrote:
I don't know if whipping playevrs would make them better, but we can't know until we try!

Mergy, very good articles.

Ontario lodge has a very good web site with some great writeups.

Thank you! :)

A new one is up every Friday, and even Californians are welcome.

**** Venture-Lieutenant, Canada—Ontario aka Feegle

And I'll take that complement on the website. :)

Though I just do design and maintenance. The column is all Mergy.

Cheliax ****

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The next one is up! :)

If I get good response, I'll keep posting links on this thread as well.

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

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Mergy wrote:

The next one is up! :)

If I get good response, I'll keep posting links on this thread as well.

Please do!

Cheliax ****

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm going to continue posting weekly links until someone tells me to stop. :p But since it's not time for that yet, I'm posting a sneak peek of tomorrow's.

Mergy's Methods: The Scout Motto:
It’s that time again! This is Mergy’s Methods, a continuing series on character building and system mastery. I’ve finished with combat manoeuvres for the moment, and we’re moving onto something altogether more serious: a true life and death matter (for your characters).

I want to start preparing players for the higher tiers of play, because we’ve got a ton of new players who are creeping out of the beginner tier. There is definitely a difficulty curve to this game; it changes and the challenges ramp up as you level up. It is certainly not always going to be as easy as First Steps. Today I’m covering things that your character should be thinking about by the time he gets to level 3. He doesn’t need an answer for all of them yet, but it doesn’t hurt to pick a few so you can surprise your party by saying “Guys, I’ve got this one!” By the time you get to level 5, however, it would be a good idea to have all of these things covered.

So you can see things from my perspective, let’s talk about the tier system and how it’s structured. At tier 1-2, the hardest fight you’re likely to find is a CR 3 (for the record, the last fight of The Dalsine Affair at this tier is a CR 3). That could be a level 4 fighter, wizard or cleric; it could also be two level 2 characters, or a level 3 and a few level 1 NPC-classed enemies (warriors usually). When I consider my character’s growth, I want to be aware of the worst possible things I’ll be encountering, and for tier 1-2 I would view that as second level spells from a cleric or wizard: blindness/deafness and hold person both come to mind. There’s also the very real possibility of invisibility and maybe even summon swarm. Now at level 2, did your character have an answer for all of these? Did he have an answer for any of these?

This is what we need to work on as we move into higher tiers: look at the things you’re likely to face and be ready to face them. You’re a hotshot level 3 now, which means you’re moving up to that sexy tier 3-4; now that you’re here, we don’t want you to die, right? Let’s make sure you have a fighting chance to survive up to the levels that will really try to kill you...

More to come tomorrow, although all you experts probably know the game better than I do. Also, I'll acknowledge that I do make typos: if anyone spots one, please let me know!

All column entries are available at http://www.ontariopathfinders.com. Come join us!

*

Mergy...you...are...awesome. Love the blog posts. I am going to add the link to my Newby handout.

**** Venture-Lieutenant, Canada—Ontario aka Feegle

Lab Rat, just FYI, if you include the category tag in the URL, it'll filter all the Mergy's Method posts out, and your new players won't have to read through all our "upcoming games" posts.

This is the best URL to use:

http://www.ontariopathfinders.com/?cat=27

Cheliax ****

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thanks! :) Please leave a comment on it if you're so inclined, as I love continuing the discussion with others. This week's complete version is up at 12pm EST.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Great post Mergy, with one caveat: at the end you mention incorporeality and drowning, but don't talk about what to do about it.

Ghost Salt and Air Crystals, people. They'll save your life.

Cheliax ****

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jiggy wrote:

Great post Mergy, with one caveat: at the end you mention incorporeality and drowning, but don't talk about what to do about it.

Ghost Salt and Air Crystals, people. They'll save your life.

It's a weekly post and I was already over 1000 words! :)

Also, I need to save ideas for next week or I'll be reduced to ranting about silly things.

Shadow Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Washington—Eastern Washington aka WalterGM

Good stuff Mergy, passing the link onto some of my players tomorrow.

Keep it up :)

Grand Lodge ****

Mergy, I am loving your columns.
Can I request a column all about 'Knowledge: Local'?
My current players seem to define it as 'Knowledge: I Am A Psychic Who Knows Everything,' and as it's guidelines aren't as clear as the other Knowledge skills. It'd be great to get some guidance.

Cheliax ****

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thanks Kestler!

Um, to be honest, I get most of my own advice from these forums. I just write about stuff I see at games or read on the forums.

Knowledge: Local is the weirdest of the bunch, probably right in front of Knowledge: Nobility for the same reasons. The gist of it is that a successful Knowledge: Local check can tell you facts about a community that you have never experienced or seen before. Think of it less as Knowledge: Local, and more as Knowledge: Civilization, and it fits a lot better.

Some GMs also attribute it to finding out the weaknesses and strengths of humanoid races, which is something I can't wrap my head around. Apparently the same skill that lets me find a good bar is the one that lets me know how best to kill a gnoll.

Grand Lodge ****

Yeah, referring to it as 'Knowledge Civilisation' or 'Knowledge Cultures' would be great. Something to help players through foreign societies, prevent cultural clashes or know (based on prior reading) where they can find assistance in different cultures.

I also see it covers 'rumours', which is an area that I feel should be best left to Diplomacy (gather information). A rumour can involve anything and everything! I've almost gotten used to players using Knowledge: Local to cover 'things', 'stuff' and 'subject matter'.

Cheliax ****

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

After this week's post (which will be about threats to higher level characters, past the ones from last week), I may make a list of the most important (in my opinion only of course) skills. Knowledge: Local will be up there, but I would say that Diplomacy will be right at the top. Perception will be top three, but while I can usually rely on 5-7 sets of eyes spotting an ambush or trap, often enough there is no one who can sweet-talk the guard.

Andoran ***

Acrobatics, Climbing & Swimming can be necessities, too, in some situations.

Way too many scenarios seem to have some sort of high ledge/water hazard to deal with.

Don't forget Sense Motive and Bluff.

Silver Crusade **

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Mergy wrote:
...I can usually rely on 5-7 sets of eyes spotting an ambush or trap, often enough there is no one who can sweet-talk the guard.

I knew a rogue who called his mace "sweet talk".

Fighter: "Why don't you go sweet talk that guard into letting is in?"

Rogue: *evil grin* "Ok."

*CLUNK*

Rogue: "Door's open guys!"

Fighter: - _ -

Cheliax ****

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Callarek wrote:

Acrobatics, Climbing & Swimming can be necessities, too, in some situations.

Way too many scenarios seem to have some sort of high ledge/water hazard to deal with.

Don't forget Sense Motive and Bluff.

Agreed.

Rebel's Ransom-related stuff:
When I ran this, only the fighter had ranks in swim. Guess who got knocked catatonic, and guess which party members couldn't roll to literally save his life? Actually, they eventually managed to drag him to shore, but only because he had hot enough dice to roll five consecutive constitution checks to not drown.

Learn to swim guys, seriously.

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