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New GM troubles and advice


Pathfinder Society GM Discussion

*

I'm new to GMing pathfinder and have started running games at my local game store.

I'm also very new to pathfinder, since I have started only a few months ago. This leaves me very unaware of some of the game mechanics beyond the classes that I've played as or with during sessions. And also very unaware of some of the non-core rule book material that players use with their characters.

What frustrates me is that I'm finding players taking advantage of abilities I've never heard of and bending the rules with them so that they become completely overpowered.

For example, I did not know the rules specifics for the Bard Spell, Summon Instrument. Asking the player who wished to cast it what it did, they explained that it summons any instrument that the character has seen before as a standard action. The player, whose multi-class gave them a companion animal bird, shared the spell multiple times during a scenario to cause a Pipe Organ to appear over an enemies head for substantial crushing damage. This I later found out was complete rubbish. It in effect removed all of the challenge from the two major boss fights in the scenario using a 0-level cantrip. Needless to say I won't let it happen again. But what of all the other rules that I don't yet know?

In order to learn more rules, after I run a scenario I will take my list of questions that I have made for myself and check the rulings made during the game versus the rules as they actually are written.

It is, as I thought, the players responsibility to know the ins and outs of the rules that they character abides. And when this kind of thing happens, it's discouraging as a GM, because I feel cheated and disrespected because I've taken time out of my schedule to prepare and run a scenario for the PC's to find challenging and fun.

Another issue that I ran into was a Tower Shield Expert Cleric using total defense. They claimed that with their current set of feats, that when using a tower shield in total defense, even if something hit the character's AC with an attack roll, that they would receive no damage from it. I had no argument against it so I had all the damage that would be dealt, apply directly to the tower shield, which was futile because of some mending spell after combat.

I guess I need advice on what to do when I get the suspicion that I'm being cheated during a game?

What can I do to make sure that players are rightfully responsible for causing these breaches in the game's challenge and fun?

What are the options available to deal with problem players who abuse rulings multiple times?

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.

There is a two-word phrase that is your best friend:

"Show me."

Don't say "what does summon instrument do?"
Say "show me that spell".

That way you spot any restrictions that they might have "forgotten" (like the word "handheld" restricting what size of instrument you can summon, or the fact that it's not a spell with a target of "you" and is therefore invalid for Share Spells).

Also remember that as the GM, if someone is consistently trying to "bend the rules" (or to call it what it is, cheat) you have every right and authority to boot them from the table and never seat them again.

Naturally, though, be sure to distinguish between a cheater and an over-eager and creative player who's not very good with the rules. ;)

Hope this helps!

*****

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Jiggy wrote:

There is a two-word phrase that is your best friend:

"Show me."

Don't say "what does summon instrument do?"
Say "show me that spell".

This.. most certainly this ...

As a GM you can't possibly know the ins and out of every little nuance of the game. We rely on the player to provide information it's the players responsibility to have all the documentation with and be able to find the relavant page in said book. If they cannot show you, then they cannot do it. Plain and simple.

Don't ask what it does... that just lends itself to the player giving you their interpretation which might not be accurate to the way you would interrprete if you could see the information.

If it's complex and I'm not seeing how the player is getting their interrpretation then I will have them explain to me how they are seeing the skill/spell/power work and then go from there with a ruling.

Silver Crusade **

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

I have been running various iterations of D&D since the early nineties and have been a player for a decade longer than that.

I still say on occasion "It does what?!?" when someone produces a power or spell like that.

However if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. The advice above is all valid, check these things as they happen. Also, you will make mistakes, learn from them and always remember that it's all about fun, yours and your players.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Purple Fluffy CatBunnyGnome wrote:
As a GM you can't possibly know the ins and out of every little nuance of the game.

We can certainly try!

If something seems out of whack, over powered, or just plain weird compared to the rest of the game, chances are the player is interpreting the rules incorrectly. Just ask to see the ability they're using and make your own call to the best of your ability/knowledge on how it should work.

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I am, nonetheless, bemused by the idea of this increasingly-battered pipe organ appearing, falling with a terrible moaning sound, and taking even more damage.

Until that one last fight, when the bard casts the spell, and nothing happens. "What about that pipe organ?" "I'm afraid it can no longer be described as a musical instrument."

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

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Well, a quick check shows that the pipe organ usage of Summon Instrument is quite incorrect (as Jiggy mentioned earlier). "One summoned handheld instrument." Also, "this instrument appears in your hands or at your feet (your choice)."

Regarding the tower shield, you were right to be suspicious. First, if they're just using it for a shield bonus it is a +4 to AC, with a -2 to attacks, or an additional -10 if they aren't proficient in it (which clerics aren't unless they take a feat). Second, if he is using a tower shield with total defense and gets hit, he still takes damage. There is nothing that you have mentioned so far that would grant him this extraordinary ability. He could use the shield to, as a standard action, grant him total cover. However, this is how that ability works: "When using a tower shield in this way, you must choose one edge of your space. That edge is treated as a solid wall for attacks targeting you only. You gain total cover for attacks that pass through this edge and no cover for attacks that do not pass through this edge (see Combat)." So the creatures can just five foot step to the sides of him, and attack him without his shield bonus to AC.

As you GM, you'll come across tons of stuff that makes you go "wait a minute..." and most of the time it's not a bad idea to have the player show you where it is in a book, and read it over once before continuing.

I imagine that if you'd done that when confronted with these "mistaken" players they would have rapidly changed their tune.

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

Chris Mortika wrote:
Until that one last fight, when the bard casts the spell, and nothing happens. "What about that pipe organ?" "I'm afraid it can no longer be described as a musical instrument."

"Because of your use of it this way, the Gods have deemed all Pipe Organs to be considered bludgeoning weapons rather than musical instruments. Feel free to try to wield it, though. You'll need Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Pipe Organ, as well as immeasurable strength."

Also, I'm having fun imagining the trail of destroyed pipe organs this character has left in his or her wake.

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

It would make an obvious trail for the inquisitors of Shelyn.

Silver Crusade **

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

I want Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Pipe Organ now.

It does sound somewhat like your players may have been telling some porkies about their abilities...

Silver Crusade **

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

Can you dual wield pipe organs?

Shadow Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Michigan—Alma

Only if you're a Titan Mauler...

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

FallofCamelot wrote:
Can you dual wield pipe organs?

Sorry, but no. If you have the strength to wield them, they're considered two-handed weapons. You do get 1.5x Str bonus on damage as a result, though.

Even if this made any sense at all... I know the inner workings of pipe organs, having been hands-on involved in the professional disassembly, cleaning, and subsequent reassembly of one in Kansas City. There metal in the pipes has to be soft in order to resonate well, and thus there's no way they would stand up to even one swing.

Falling from even thirty feet, all of the larger metal pipes would collapse under the force of their own inertia. Most of the mid-sized metal pipes would fold near their bases. Many of the wooden pipes would crack. All of the smaller pipes, metal or wood, would bounce out of socket. They're not secured in any way. Just set into holes with valves that let air in beneath them.

*

Quote:
There is nothing that you have mentioned so far that would grant him this extraordinary ability. He could use the shield to, as a standard action, grant him total cover. However, this is how that ability works: "When using a tower shield in this way, you must choose one edge of your space. That edge is treated as a solid wall for attacks targeting you only. You gain total cover for attacks that pass through this edge and no cover for attacks that do not pass through this edge (see Combat)." So the creatures can just five foot step to the sides of him, and attack him without his shield bonus to AC.

This is probably what they meant. However I want to say that the player believed that total cover was 360 degrees. Because I had multiple Wargs attacking him from flanking positions.

To everyone else. Thanks for the tips.

Qadira *** Venture-Captain, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Thorkull

Matthew Pemrich wrote:
<stuff that's way to serious>

It's clear we need a Pipe Organist PrC to really make the Pipe Organ an effective weapon.

To the OP: Don't let your players bully you. If you think something is overpowered, and they cannot quickly provide documentation that supports their claim, then tell them it doesn't work the way they want and you can debate it at length after the game.

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson aka Sir_Wulf

3 people marked this as a favorite.

When someone's rule interpretation seems grossly incorrect (such as the examples provided above), you're well within your rights to insist the player show you the relevant rule. If he can't quickly come up with documentation illustrating his point, your decision stands. The game can generally go on while the player verifies the rules' exact phrasing ("OK: You say the worgs can't effectively attack you. Please look up the rule while I deal with the other players' turns").

Since your players have pulled some blatantly inaccurate interpretations, you no longer automatically owe them an explanation for your decisions. If someone pulls out something you're certain is wrong, refuse to argue it. Be humble, but firm: "I may be wrong, but that's the call I'm making right now. It's time to move on with the combat."

Although such behavior can be infuriating, they're trying to take advantage of you. Don't let such things bother you. If you keep your cool and deal with everyone courteously (but firmly), would-be cheaters will either learn to moderate their behavior or will go away.

*

I'm thinking that it might be due time to kill off a PC. That way I'm not known as a soft GM. =)

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Tucson aka Sir_Wulf

Christopher Ginn wrote:
I'm thinking that it might be due time to kill off a PC. That way I'm not known as a soft GM. =)

Don't worry about THAT! Just run your games objectively, rolling your dice in the open and not pulling any punches. They'll start dying soon enough.

** Venture-Lieutenant, Croatia—Zagreb

I had similar urges sometimes to kill of some player PCs I admit, god knows that some players deserve at least one PC death to make them reconsider stuff. Unfortunately I am too fair to do it.

Don't forget that if some spell frustrates you and they cant give you spell description, spell doesn't exist then.

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Malag wrote:
Don't forget that if some spell frustrates you and they cant give you spell description, spell doesn't exist then.

(unless it's in the core assumption)

*****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Sir_Wulf wrote:

When someone's rule interpretation seems grossly incorrect (such as the examples provided above), you're well within your rights to insist the player show you the relevant rule. If he can't quickly come up with documentation illustrating his point, your decision stands. The game can generally go on while the player verifies the rules' exact phrasing ("OK: You say the worgs can't effectively attack you. Please look up the rule while I deal with the other players' turns").

Since your players have pulled some blatantly inaccurate interpretations, you no longer automatically owe them an explanation for your decisions. If someone pulls out something you're certain is wrong, refuse to argue it. Be humble, but firm: "I may be wrong, but that's the call I'm making right now. It's time to move on with the combat."

Although such behavior can be infuriating, they're trying to take advantage of you. Don't let such things bother you. If you keep your cool and deal with everyone courteously (but firmly), would-be cheaters will either learn to moderate their behavior or will go away.

Well said Wulfy!

***

Also, if you can, you might ask one of the more experienced GMs (or even just more experienced players, as long as you can trust them to correct you and the other players) to play in a few of your games. That way, when something comes up that you're not familiar with, you can ask the experienced person if they know how it works. We try to do that with newer GMs in our group.

Edit: This, of course, is assuming you have a fairly big group of people who play regularly, with multiple GMs.

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