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What kinds of things should a GM feel free to alter in a scenario or module?


Pathfinder Society GM Discussion

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Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

@Drogon - I don't think any of us are trying to attack GMs who make mistakes. In my story, I didn't read the scenario, discover the discrepancy, and assume his motives. He said he changed it because he didn't like it.

Cheliax ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

No, you're not (and no one here has). But this could definitely go that direction. That's why I said what I said. There's just no way to police "deliberately used Improved Invisibility" versus "didn't realize casting an area of effect ended Invisibility."

I'm sorry your GM nerfed the encounter for you, by the way. But, in his defense, I think a lot more people would have been happy about that than upset. And, after all, the guy who has that feat *is* allowed to not use it, of course. Just like the guy who has Power Attack is allowed to not use Power Attack.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Drogon:
The BBEG involved is a prepared caster, and as I understand it the tactics specifically say to blow the empowered shocking grasp on the first attack.

Not that I'm "upset" per se, just would have preferred he give it to me straight and find out if I live or die, instead of having the GM decide for me. I can accept being in a minority there.

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

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Chris Mortika wrote:
In another case, I've run a scenario for a group including one player with a morbid fear of spiders. The scenario had a minor encounter in the sewers with an oversized spider.

This is a tricky one, but in the end, I think the right thing to do is run as written. It might be a harsh position, but if a player has a fear, phobia, whatever, that is soo debilitating that it would cause them to be unable to play, then IMO, it is that player's responsibility to consult the GM and avoid games with said fear. If I got migraine headaches from flashing red lights, I wouldn't go into a dance club unless I knew there weren't any. IMO, it would be bad form to expect the club operators to change their red lights to, say blue, just for me.

IMO, adult content is a different issue. PFS is established with roughly a PG-13 rating. So anyone who plays has an expectation that adult themes/imagery will not be an issue. If there is some risque material in a scenario, it is the GM's responsibility to notify the players before starting so they can make an informed decision to continue or walk away.

Threads on this topic pop up from time to time and some players seem to want a bullet list of when it is okay to break the run as written rule.

Cheliax ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Jiggy wrote:

**spoiler omitted**

Not that I'm "upset" per se, just would have preferred he give it to me straight and find out if I live or die, instead of having the GM decide for me. I can accept being in a minority there.

for Jiggy:
Depends on the sub-tier. He only empowers that spell at sub-tier 3-4. And it says "the first time he uses shocking grasp on a foe wearing metal armor or wielding a metal weapon." Emphasis mine.

Personally, I would read that as "use this against a fighter-type." If you weren't a fighter who was obviously wearing metal armor or had a nice shiny target in your big ol' meaty hands, I would have found someone else to use that ability on and assumed a normal shocking grasp would drop you. And it did, by the way, by your own account. His empower ability is a resource use, and I'd think he'd act like a PC and only use that resource when he thought it would make a difference.

In other words, I don't think your survival is "tainted," regardless of what your GM has since told you. I think he was just bragging, and assumed you would appreciate the effort on his part.

Silver Crusade

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Modules are there for inspiration.

I'd only say you need to follow the module if your running a con or pathfinder society adventure.

Other than that, everything is up for change.

As a GM/DM it is up to you to balance the storyline, encounters and treasure to suit the game and characters in the game.

It should be challenging, not deadly, fun and concentrate on what the group your playing with is interested in.

No point with lots of roleplaying if your group only wants to kill things, and no point with tweaking encounters too much if your group is able to find ways around almost all of the combat.

Most people have a mix of the two and thats where the tweaking comes in, making the story fit with the planned modules and free play (unplanned) of an ongoing story can be fun.

Adult content also comes up in some games, and if players are unhappy with it, it is modified or toned down to their comfort level while implying enough to let the imagination run. Actually I prefer implying without stating....

Taldor **

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Running my First PFS scenario So Just to Verify, And sorry if this has been already stated in this discussion, Is it legal to add fluff/flavor to the scenarios? Examples, Add more character/personality to the npcs, Elaborating on the environments/settings/monsters (adding more (flavor/fluff) information from other printed products (aka inner city world guide, campaign setting books..etc, as well as adding more details to the locations/monsters?) As long as it doesnt change the overall story/stats/setting is this ok?

Cheliax ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Jib916 wrote:
Running my First PFS scenario So Just to Verify, And sorry if this has been already stated in this discussion, Is it legal to add fluff/flavor to the scenarios? Examples, Add more character/personality to the npcs, Elaborating on the environments/settings/monsters (adding more (flavor/fluff) information from other printed products (aka inner city world guide, campaign setting books..etc, as well as adding more details to the locations/monsters?) As long as it doesnt change the overall story/stats/setting is this ok?

Wholeheartedly, 100%, yes.

Don't change mechanics. It is really that simple, I think.

What is being debated is whether a GM should or should not adhere strictly to "tactics" lines or "morale" lines, or how far you're allowed to go in changing the flavor. Again, I think as long as you are not changing mechanics, have at it. If you forget to empower a spell, so be it; even if you really just, you know, "forgot" because if you were to have remembered then that 10-year old girl's best loved halfling bard is super-dead...

Taldor **

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Awesome thanks for clarifying Dragon!

*

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
thedarkelf007 wrote:


I'd only say you need to follow the module if your running a con or pathfinder society adventure.

Well, since this discussion is on the PFS section of the boards, that's really the only relevant answer here, I suppose. :-)

Cheliax

No wishing the bard dead guys....

I got my eyes on you Drogon

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Drogon:
It was that subtier, it was that attack, I was that target. ;)

Grand Lodge ****

1 person marked this as a favorite.

One thing that comes up a lot is, "I rolled hot and killed my party, so I should have been allowed to change the tactics." If you don't like it when that happens, roll behind a screen. You have some latitude then to avoid this sort of situation. Maybe it was a 19, not a 20... the enemy still did what they were supposed to, you didn't change tactics on the fly that have a ripple effect throughout the combat... you just didn't crit. This has far less impact on consumables, etc. than changing tactics, and is also far less likely to accidentally go too far and TPK because the GM wasn't experienced enough to know whether their changed tactics were too much.

And before anyone says, "The players don't know if you're cheating or not!", don't. Seriously, the players don't know what the modifiers are anyway, so instead of adding hidden modifiers to a visible die roll, you'd be adding hidden modifiers to a hidden die roll. They still have to trust you when you tell them if they are hit or not. Except in the case of a crit, seeing the dice roll gives them very little actual information to trust. And if you roll a crit and you want them to see it, lift the screen up - simple.

Rolling behind the screen offers all the things people seem to be asking for - the ability to prevent players from getting one-shotted due to bad die rolls or bad luck - with none of the risks of changing tactics.

Cheliax ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Jiggy wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Fair enough.

You could always start doing with him what I do with my Phamet Osiriani dwarf (who wants desperately to be a Risen Guard). Start shouting, "Kill me! Kill me, you disease addled, disgusting mite! I should have been dead long before meeting your ugly mug!" during all your encounters. Sadly, I have yet to have a GM take me up on it...

Silver Crusade

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Mike Mistele wrote:
thedarkelf007 wrote:


I'd only say you need to follow the module if your running a con or pathfinder society adventure.
Well, since this discussion is on the PFS section of the boards, that's really the only relevant answer here, I suppose. :-)

Nextime - check where I'm replying...

From this perspective, I'd say most of the flavour and fluff can be changed to suit the audience, but the storyline, core plot and encounters should remain the same :)

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Massachusetts—Boston aka Rogue Eidolon

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Drogon wrote:


What if it's just mistakes, guys?

GMs make mistakes. I think everyone should cut serious slack for mistakes, particularly in complex scenarios with time constraints, like the specials. I had a GM in a special with all sorts of complex stuff going on who was really on the ball in terms of keeping up the flow and the timing of a 3D combat with multiple combatants without making it drag, but then later it turned out that the enemy's Con poison attack that it had been using during the fight was actually supposed a Cha poison, and that caused my character to die when she would have survived otherwise (barely). But you know what? Although obviously it would be better to have both correctness and great GMing, it was worth it to die in order to have a smooth experience for the whole table (I think one or two of my fellow tablemates may disagree, but they were I think generally unhappy about the push to split the Raise Dead cost, as if it was my fault for taking the front line so their archers could be safe--are people usually like that? That's probably a whole thread of its own).

Osirion **** Venture-Captain, Oregon—Portland aka Branding Opportunity

I often adapt given tactics and morale to the particular circumstances of the party and the adventure, although I try to stick with what's written unless it makes no logical sense for my group. On the other hand, I have no problem with folks who play it "by the book".

Shadow Lodge ***

Story time:

I once ran a PFS adventure with a centipede swarm. Unbeknownst to me one of the players had a centipede phobia. When I started describing the swarm they started freaking out, and I thought it was great roleplaying so I played up the ick even further. Several second later when I realized they were having trouble breathing, we stopped the game, took a break, and when we came back we re-flavored the monster as a spider swarm and continued with the adventure.

****

thedarkelf007 wrote:
Mike Mistele wrote:
thedarkelf007 wrote:


I'd only say you need to follow the module if your running a con or pathfinder society adventure.
Well, since this discussion is on the PFS section of the boards, that's really the only relevant answer here, I suppose. :-)

Nextime - check where I'm replying...

From this perspective, I'd say most of the flavour and fluff can be changed to suit the audience, but the storyline, core plot and encounters should remain the same :)

Just as a matter of informing those who may not be that familiar with PFS specifically... even the flavor and fluff should not be changed. It's really great when latter scenarios to refer back to the fluff in previous scenarios. It's a little added bonus for people who pay attention. If you change the fluff you rob people of having scenarios tie together and weaken the overall storyline.

If there is a weakness of organized play it is the siloed nature of scenarios. I do see efforts on the part of scenario authors to try to tie stories together, which makes the overall campaign that much better. From my own perspective as a player who enjoys immersing myself in the lore of the campaign and setting, please oh please don't change these things and remove those cross-scenario tie ins.

Drandle Dreng holding a mission briefing at a decent hour doesn't mean anything if the PCs haven't been woken up in the middle of the night due to his typical inconsiderateness time and time again.

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Massachusetts—Boston aka Rogue Eidolon

Mike Lindner wrote:


If there is a weakness of organized play it is the siloed nature of scenarios. I do see efforts on the part of scenario authors to try to tie stories together, which makes the overall campaign that much better. From my own perspective as a player who enjoys immersing myself in the lore of the campaign and setting, please oh please don't change these things and remove those cross-scenario tie ins.

Drandle Dreng holding a mission briefing at a decent hour doesn't mean anything if the PCs haven't been woken up in the middle of the night due to his typical inconsiderateness time and time again.

What if you have just the opposite? By which I mean, a GM who changes or more likely adds fluff in an effort to increase immersion in the lore of the campaign and setting. I know I do this a lot, especially in terms of having Venture Captains and other NPCs remember the PCs for their previous achievements and claim to have selected one or two of the PCs for this mission specifically if they have useful skills for it. "Oh, yes, Joe. We knew you've done a lot of research on Azlant, so we thought it would be good to send you with the team to explore those Azlanti ruins."

Other examples of this include using the Cities of Golarion entry for Whitethrone in order to add fluff to Shades of Ice Part II (or Cassomir to add fluff for Devil We Know).

One big one I did was run a bunch of Shadow Lodge scenarios all for the same PCs in a home PFS group with the intent of playing them through the retirement arc when they finish. To tie things together--

Eyes of the Ten, Sort Of:
Eliza Petulengro has her name badly mangled in several early scenarios, then has her name swapped with the female Varisian VC, and generally isn't very memorable. I have inserted her in whenever an unnamed Wizard is called for and had her take an interest in the PCs starting with when the Shadow Lodge is revealed. Playing to the fact that she is a Galtan Diviner, which is super high on the paranoid scale, she has given cautionary warnings that have caused my players to keep reporting each other to her as possible Shadow Lodge agents. Even my player who is terrible at remembering anything about Golarion remembers Eliza Petulengro due to the inserted cameos, and now they'll really enjoy it when it ties together and they get to work with her to stop the big plot in Eyes of the Ten.

****

Oh, adding fluff is fantastic. I love it when GMs really know their stuff and can fill in the little details the scenario doesn't provide. I don't by any means want to discourage that. But where background and other fluff is provided in the scenario, even if not in the parts revealed to the players, that should not be changed.

****

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nosig wrote:

I ran a game last night that has been giving me nightmares for weekw.

...

so... I call in a favor. I ask my son to play, and he doesn't have a low level PC ready. Sure enough, he runs the Generic 4th level "Target Class", and the game starts.

...

Final scene. Surprize round. Smack! Target PC takes 1/3 of his HP and no one sees where it came from (till the end of the round).
1st full round of attacks - Target has moved to cover (extra AC) but the first attack removed almost all his HP, and the second attack was an X3 Crit... that I never even bothered to roll damage for (minumum was 25 HP, which was 13 pts into dead).

Silence at the table.... Body nailed to the street- not even bleeding out. I feel REALLY bad. They had done everything right, the dice just rolled wrong. The monster tactics plainly say, "pick out PC class XXX. Shot them down." and the last shot was a crit.

Seriously? You're going to have nightmares because you killed a pregen being played by an experienced player who has absolutely no investment in it? I'm not saying 'rejoice,' but why is this even a thing? He was in the game for the whole scenario so he isn't shorted on plot, he's not losing out on anything he's worked on, all that he loses is the benefits of that particular chronicle.

What about this constitutes a "nightmare" scenario?

Qadira ***

Patrick - you missed the point of my story. Sorry, guess I should have been clearer.

spoiler for the scenario:
Going into the game, for weeks, I had been afread my wife would run her Aasimar Cleric, as it was the correct level and a popular character with the other players. They like playing with "the Pregnant Beer Maid". The scenario has the judge target Clerics. Shoot them dead, before moving on to any other target. The "nightmare" that concerned me was that I expected the game to kill the cleric (which it did), and that that cleric would be my wifes favorite character (one that she can NOT replace, as it requires a special Boon to run), which I avoided, thanks in part to my son stepping up and running a generic Cleric.

"Nightmare" before running the game. Big sigh of releaf on my part that I only killed a character number for my son.

On a side note, the Iconic cleric in this was played with so much personality that the other players had gotten to know and really like her. Having her shot down in the street, as she ran for cover, pointedly singled out, kind of upset them. They didn't want to stablize the BBE when they dropped it - a practice they normally do. The comment went something like "Bind wounds? Yeah, I'll bind thier wounds with razor wire."

****

nosig wrote:

Patrick - you missed the point of my story. Sorry, guess I should have been clearer.

** spoiler omitted **

Ahhhh. Yeah, that makes a lot more sense. (And explains how you were having weeks of nightmares for a game you ran two days ago; I thought that was just a typo.) My girlfriend would be pretty pissed at me in that situation, so I totally see where you're coming from. That's why I have no intention of GMing her in PFS play--I'll play at the table with her, and happily, but I don't want to be the guy who kills her wizard. ;p

Shadow Lodge ***

Rogue Eidolon wrote:


Other examples of this include using the Cities of Golarion entry for Whitethrone in order to add fluff to Shades of Ice Part II (or Cassomir to add fluff for Devil We Know).

Scenarios set in locations with books for them frequently say to look at book x for more background details. It seems to me the scenarios are encouraging you to use those extra details if available.

Paizo Employee ** Developer

nosig wrote:

Patrick - you missed the point of my story. Sorry, guess I should have been clearer.

** spoiler omitted **

Bear in mind that

Spoiler:
Parani doesn't have favored enemy (native outsiders) in either subtier, and is going to be much less effective against an aasimar than a human as a result. Her tactics also don't indicate that she attacks clerics specifically (as she'd have no way of knowing what class someone was just by looking at them). Rather, she attacks anyone wearing religious trappings. There are certainly characters of all classes that could wear holy symbols or dress like a typical priest of a given faith, while there are also clerics who may appear to be fighters, or bards, or rogues, depending on what kind of cleric they are and what god they venerate. My point is, even as written, your wife's character has at least one advantage over pregen Kyra, and possibly more (I don't know how she dresses).
Cheliax ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

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Mark Moreland wrote:
nosig wrote:

Patrick - you missed the point of my story. Sorry, guess I should have been clearer.

** spoiler omitted **

Bear in mind that ** spoiler omitted **

Wait a second, Mark...are you saying that tactics and/or morale statements are open to interpretation? Why would we want something like that?

All sarcasm aside, I think Mark's spoiler illustrates my point. Many of the things we are discussing are choices. "You may" is the opening line of a lot of abilities. Tactics and morale outline the most likely choices that NPCs will make, and I think the writers and developers are trying to give us a general rule of thumb. Slaving ourselves to them will, sometimes, have unfortunate or undesired results. If you can see that coming, why slave yourself to them?

Again, don't mess with actual numbers or mechanics. But when we have choices, I fail to see why we are not free to make the choice we think is best.

Cheliax ****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules Subscriber

I'm looking forward to running GenCon tables more and more...

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

Drogon wrote:
Jiggy wrote:

I'll respond to your earlier anecdote with one of my own:

Dalsine Affair: **spoiler omitted**

What if it's just mistakes, guys? I ran a scenario the other day and completely spaced out on one particular special ability that likely would have changed the combat a great deal. It was semi-difficult the way that I was playing it. If I had remembered the cool ability I was forgetting, I could have drawn it out a bit and potentially taken someone out. The kicker to this is: the only reason I didn't do this is because I missed it during the heat of the moment.

I.E. - Jiggy, he may have just forgotten.

I can attest to the fact that this kind of thing happens.

I ran The Dalsine Affair as the second PFS table I judged. I thought I was going to be running a low-tier table, so I had prepped for that. But we ended up with enough players for two tables, so I took the high tier (I didn't want to be responsible for killing my wife's character, and she was playing at the lower subtier). The details at the higher tier are different, and I misunderstood just what the effect was of the modification in question, as I got it confused with another enhancement. As things (and the dice rolls) turned out that was enough to make the difference between putting the party's front-line fighter at -10 HP and killing them outright. This wasn't a deliberate change - it was a result of my not being word perfect on the rules.

I haven't told the player in question, so they're not aware of any 'taint' to their character.

BTW - the reason I was judging was because I'd heard enough rumours about the scenario that I wasn't sure I wanted to risk my one and only PFS character. Once I'd read the details of that encounter I was sure I'd made the right choice; if I were to play it I'd only do it with a new-out-of-the-box character. Only if they survived the night would I put more thought into planning the character's long-term development.

Shadow Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, California—San Diego

Mark Moreland wrote:
Ryan Bolduan wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:
I think feedback is always helpful, whether it's given to a GM, a fellow player, an author, or Mike and me.
Mark, your beard is not bushy or "Grizzly Adams" enough. I think you should grow it out. Is this helpful feedback?
This is an issue I'm aware of and I've been working on it for several weeks already. This is actually one thing that's easier to make progress on during the Gen Con crunch than other tasks. Much to my wife's chagrin.

Add in my vote for mutton chops!

;-)

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Massachusetts—Boston aka Rogue Eidolon

Mike Lindner wrote:
Oh, adding fluff is fantastic. I love it when GMs really know their stuff and can fill in the little details the scenario doesn't provide. I don't by any means want to discourage that. But where background and other fluff is provided in the scenario, even if not in the parts revealed to the players, that should not be changed.

Sometimes a flat-out change is a good idea from exactly the setting immersion perspective that I think from your post you and I share. Here's an example from what is otherwise an amazing scenario (and still is but is benefited immensely from a small change--not to pick on you Mark, this scenario is awesome and the change is only in the setup at the very beginning):

Murder on the Throaty Mermaid:
The fact that the PCs have been on the same ship with everyone for the entire ride from Absalom just doesn't track from an immersion standpoint. Did the party really not get a chance to talk to every crewmember and find out that there's a rust monster aboard, that the cook is poisoning everyone, etc? It's just not OK that the VC's opening speech handwaves away a 50 day voyage. In the very GM discussion thread for the scenario, GMs who ran it recommended to have the PCs to have started in Magnimar and be switching with the original Pathfinder escorts who began in Absalom but had other business in Varisia. So in this version, the PCs start on the ship for the first time after the VC's briefing instead of having been there all along, and you have none of the verisimilitude-shatteringness of the alternate assumption.

It doesn't change the challenges of the scenario or the experience of what occurs. It just helps the players feel more like they are really there than telling them that their characters didn't meet the crew and check out the ship in 50 days while being on an escort mission. I'm under the impression that fluff changes like this are considered OK by the campaign staff, and I made this change. I later told the players how it was written originally and they told me that it would have ruined the entire scenario (which they absolutely loved) if I had gone with the original opening.

Silver Crusade *

Wow, I had completely forgotten I had even posted about this thread till just now. And while I thank you perry for jumping to defense. There is no real need. Jiggy is entitled to say whatever he wants and I take no personal offense. I felt open enough to express my own thoughts even though I knew not everyone would agree. The thread was made to gather/gain the opinions of GM's and I gave mine. If people do not care for it they are more then welcome to say so, with no risk of me becoming personally offended in any manner.

And P.S the Dasline affair was horrid, my poor players got smacked around by the end boss. Some actually ran away and those where the only ones who lived.

Jiggy wrote:
Perry Snow wrote:

Jiggy,

Edward has GM'd at my events and and he did a fantastic job promoting Pathfinder Society and encouraging growth. It is an erroneous assumption on your part that he doesn't appreciate the efforts of the campaign coordinators and completely disrespects their authority.

Your assumption of Edward's feelings are disrespectful in what is supposed to be an open discussion. I request that you apologize.

-Perry

Let me be clear:

I am in no way making any judgments as to his overall GMing ability or respectfulness or anything else. The specific action to which I replied is, in fact, disrespectful to campaign leadership. This doesn't mean he's not the bee's knees in every other way.

If someone in authority asks me to do X, Y and Z, and I go above and beyond with X and Y, but refuse to do Z; then my refusal to do Z disrespects that authority figure. Overall, things are still just fine and said superior is probably still very interested in keeping me around. Doing a great job of X and Y is great. Not doing Z is disrespectful. Both statements are true, and neither invalidates the other.

So when I mention disrespect, I am referring ONLY to the act of disregarding one specific imperative given by our leader. I maintain the assertion that said act is disrespectful, but I also do NOT wish to purport that it is in any way representative of his net contribution to PFS.

Clearer?

Shadow Lodge ***

Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Drogon wrote:


What if it's just mistakes, guys?

GMs make mistakes. I think everyone should cut serious slack for mistakes, particularly in complex scenarios with time constraints, like the specials. I had a GM in a special with all sorts of complex stuff going on who was really on the ball in terms of keeping up the flow and the timing of a 3D combat with multiple combatants without making it drag, but then later it turned out that the enemy's Con poison attack that it had been using during the fight was actually supposed a Cha poison, and that caused my character to die when she would have survived otherwise (barely). But you know what? Although obviously it would be better to have both correctness and great GMing, it was worth it to die in order to have a smooth experience for the whole table (I think one or two of my fellow tablemates may disagree, but they were I think generally unhappy about the push to split the Raise Dead cost, as if it was my fault for taking the front line so their archers could be safe--are people usually like that? That's probably a whole thread of its own).

I'm amazed this question about mistakes isn't getting more attention. It is SO important and it's a big reason as to what stops players becoming new GMs.

I don't think I know any GMs who just don't make mistakes. Even those of us who have been GMing for years to decades will still make stupid mistakes - and sometimes MANY stupid mistakes - during a scenario, regardless of how much preparation you put into it. Unexpected things can and do happen during scenarios, and you're always in the hot seat.

Nobody can be expected to follow every rule to the letter when you're running a scenario, so if it the "change" you make to the scenario is something you can acknowledge was a mistake (or ten mistakes), it's not going to be that bad. You do get better with practise to avoid those mistakes, and you're only human.

I assume the main reason for this thread was to discuss a situation when a GM is fully aware of how something should work, but feels a need to change it for a specific reason - and we need to talk about what those reasons might be and whether they're justified. Mistakes can't count here.

Qadira ***

Agreed - I've been following this and mostly ignoring the posts about mistakes. If I screw something up, mention it to me when we have time (right away if you feel the need, or as timely as you can ... after all, we may both learn something.... "yeah, you really CAN take 10 on a knowledge skill check".). Mistakes happen to everyone. This thread was about what the judge at a PFS table "...should feel free to alter...".

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Avatar-1 wrote:
I'm amazed this question about mistakes isn't getting more attention.

I imagine it's because there's universal agreement that it's okay for GMs to make mistakes, and therefore there's no discussion to be had. I'm currently not aware of anyone who is including honest mistakes in the scope of the discussion about changes to scenarios.

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

I agree.

Having said that, when I have made a mistake that is disadvantageous to the party, like accidentally using a high-tier opponent in an encounter for low-tier PCs, then I am especially careful for the rest of the scenario to avoid killing them.

And, if I'm honest, that's one of the chief reasons I avoid deciding to change a scenario. A good friend of mine, decades ago, explained her philosophy of gaming: "If you let the dice speak, listen to their story." If the party suffers bad luck, fails saving throws, can't hit opponents, take more damage than average ... then I want to feel free to let them take the hits. PFS without the chance for death, is about as thrilling as a haunted house at a carnival, where you know nothing really dangerous will happen.

If I decide that the villain from [redacted] has a woefully useless spell selection, and I rewrite the scenario, giving her some spells that use her [redacted] class abilities, then how can I let the dice fall against the PCs?

Cheliax ***** Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Jiggy wrote:
Avatar-1 wrote:
I'm amazed this question about mistakes isn't getting more attention.
I imagine it's because there's universal agreement that it's okay for GMs to make mistakes, and therefore there's no discussion to be had. I'm currently not aware of anyone who is including honest mistakes in the scope of the discussion about changes to scenarios.

I raised the question because what I am seeing is a discussion that devolves into accusations, wherein the result is a call for sanctions against those who change something.

I do not see a civil discussion of under what circumstances it is okay to make changes, and when the decision is appropriate. I see arguments about what consequences changes (or mistakes) can bring about.

I pointed out the idea that some of these things can be mistakes specifically to call attention to the fact that everyone here will think that mistakes can be made, and no one here thinks those GMs who make mistakes should be punished (whether it is officially or just by being blasted on the internet forums). But, if no one thinks that, then why is everyone starting to lean toward the idea of calling out those who, potentially, merely made a mistake?

Does this make sense?

Ignoring it doesn't make it go away.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Drogon, I think you're imagining a lack of differentiation between mistakes and deliberate alterations. No one's getting their mistakes lumped together with intentional changes and getting blasted for it. I suspect that what everyone else took for granted (that mistakes happen and that's okay) went unspoken but you interpreted the lack of verbalized differentiation between mistakes and changes as lumping them together instead of as one of them being assumed to not be the topic.

Heck, it took what, four levels of "no, really" before you believed my GM for Dalsine Affair really did do it on purpose rather than simply making a mistake? I think you just happened to come into this conversation with a different set of assumptions about the topic than what the rest of us brought in.

Which is fine. I'm just saying all this to clarify that yes, your concern about not criticizing GMs for making honest mistakes is entirely valid. I think everyone here is on the same page about mistakes being okay, and the discussion is moving forward with regard to intentional changes due to the okay-ness of mistakes being a foregone conclusion.

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Drogon, my interpretation squares with Jiggy's.

  • I don't think anybody's setting blame at the feet of a GM who makes an honest mistake.
  • The question at hand involves GMs who understand what the scenario says, and decide to change mechanics anyway.

Some scenarios have the reputation of being cakewalks. A GM might see that a party is having an easy time of it, even though they are taking the option to play at a higher sub-tier, and so the GM decides to double or triple the opposition.

Some scenarios have the reputation of being especially deadly. A GM might see that a group of new players are walking into an encounter that will likely kill the party. A group of four 4th-level PCs is legal to play [redacted], but if they don't have any [redacted], the [redacted] is going to wipe the floor with their level-drained corpses. So the GM decides to reduce the villain's stats, or eliminate one of the hench-critters.

Or, the GM just thinks it would be more entertaining if she were to replace the sphinxes in Encounter 2 with advanced worgs.

--+--+--

There have been a few people on this site who have argued that really good GMs can indeed make deliberate changes like this. These aren't yahoos, Drogon; these are people with PFS cred to their names.

And so, I'm trying to get a feel from the community, I'd been under the impression that we should not make deliberate changes to the scenarios. But I'm willing to be corrected. Maybe it's the case that, as a whatever-star GM, I should feel free to make mechanical changes to encounters, because my experience allows me to understand how to do that responsibly.

Put another way, I feel like I'm driving 65 miles an hour, and other people are announcing that they're whizzing past me at 5 or 10 miles over the limit. Jiggy is telling me that the speed limit is 65, and that, according to Officers Mike and Mark, officially, we're not supposed to exceed the speed limit. But that's what you'd expect Mike and Mark to say.

I'm asking the community if we're all obeying the rules, or if Jiggy and I are the only ones going the speed limit.

Qadira ***

obeying the rules here... Play it as written.

I'm just a table judge in PFS.

In a home game? there i'm the GM and I'll change what I want on the fly.

for months now I've read posts from Judges who say, "I'm in the 10% that are good enough to change things on the fly. I should be able to do what I want to maximise the fun at my table - I'm the GM here." I have yet to read anyone post, "I'm in the 90% that isn't good enough, but I support the rights of the 10% to change things like they want - while I can't."

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.

If I might add an additional question to the one Chris posed:

What were to happen if I explicitly wrote that the GM could adjust the tactics of the creatures in a lair, under a certain and reasonable conditions? (like being on 'high alert')

(.. and, FYI, I may have already done this, but I'm wondering now how it will be interpreted and received by the community..)

My expectation is that the GM won't change the creatures in the encounter, but I fully expect that the GM will have the creatures respond intelligently and dynamically to the circumstances. It's a tool that I mean to give to the GM, in lieu of being able to change the encounters themselves.

But my interest and concern is that the GM won't prevail themselves of that option based on these discussions.

I can only be specific with spoilers, which I'll do, but am trying to avoid.

Shadow Lodge ***

The only thing I deliberately change is flavor text for faction missions (re-skinning them for the new factions).

I make my share of mistakes (Today I ran a group through Master of the Fallen Fortress without remembering to call for a single fortitude save) but I would never change something deliberately, even if it was something I wouldn't hesitate to change in a home game. This isn't my home game, and I can't treat it like it is.

I do think some of the morale guidelines are poorly though out- specifically, when something is supposed to flee when reduced to <x hp, but is meant to be (or turns out to be) a one-shot mook- but that's what I use as my guideline.

Andoran ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Minnesota—Anoka

CRobledo wrote:

This kinda applies to this thread: I will soon be running a season #0 scenario which is of course written in 3.5 rules and not PF. Would it be ok as a GM to convert them over to PF rules (without changing spells, etc..) or just run it as written? I noticed some enemies have some contradictions (having the Dodge feat with 12 DEX), so just wondering.

I kinda wish the answer was yes, but more than likely it is a no.

The line is:

If there is a monster in the bestiary with the same CR, you can use the pathfinder version.

That's it.

Andoran ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Minnesota—Anoka

Chris Mortika wrote:

I'm glad we were able to help, CRobledo.

Back to more recent seasons, what is current practice?

Someone pointed out, on another thread, that there are folks with stars and titles after their names who've made the case that good GMs alter the written material to make the experience better for the players. (In one case, to avoid having a traplike thing kill lots of PCs.)

I don't want to argue the shoulds or shouldn'ts of rewriting the encounters. But I'm curious about common practice. If I sit down to play at your table, and then later buy the scenario and read it, what might I find that's different?

Like your examples above Chris. Fluff. That's it.

Andoran ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Minnesota—Anoka

Jiggy wrote:


As for arachniphobia guy... Yikes. I'm inclined to say that real-world issues should trump in-game rules. I would personally try to do my best to accommodate such a condition while simultaneously keeping to the scenario, as much as possible. For instance, I might start by asking him whether his fear was inclusive of make-believe (maybe only actual, moving spiders bother him). If so, then I'd ask if replacing the mini with a pog labeled "Monster 1" would help. If not, I might see if there's a table open with a different scenario. But if all else fails and it comes down to either changing that encounter or having him go home, I think a real-life condition should win out.

Yeah, I might have reskinned the spider though. Used the spider stats, but said it was a sloth or something.

Grand Lodge ****

Jim Groves wrote:


What were to happen if I explicitly wrote that the GM could adjust the tactics of the creatures in a lair, under a certain and reasonable conditions? (like being on 'high alert')

You would be (have been!) applauded by PFS GMs around the world! :)

"Motivations" instead of "tactics" is great to see, as it allows the GM to use the abilities intelligently, while still providing guidelines ("she attacks those wearing blue first", etc. Defensive prep is a good specific list, but offensive tactics are where flexibility is often required. However, a guideline for newer GMs ("she uses scorching ray and lightning bolt from behind her minions") followed by a phrase like "X is an intelligent opponent and behaves as such, doing her utmost to capture the PCs") gives me everything I need to make the encounter epic, while still giving a new GM a guideline to fall back on.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Chris Mortika wrote:
Put another way, I feel like I'm driving 65 miles an hour, and other people are announcing that they're whizzing past me at 5 or 10 miles over the limit. Jiggy is telling me that the speed limit is 65, and that, according to Officers Mike and Mark, officially, we're not supposed to exceed the speed limit. But that's what you'd expect Mike and Mark to say.

Now I'm picturing Mike and Mark in a donut shop together, wearing police uniforms but otherwise looking like their avatar images. Probably getting funny looks from the other customers.

I'm also picturing you, Chris (as represented by your avatar), driving down the highway with a cartoon lizard leaning out the window making angry squeaks at passing cars.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Scott Young wrote:

You would be (have been!) applauded by PFS GMs around the world! :)

"Motivations" instead of "tactics" is great to see, as it allows the GM to use the abilities intelligently, while still providing guidelines ("she attacks those wearing blue first", etc. Defensive prep is a good specific list, but offensive tactics are where flexibility is often required. However, a guideline for newer GMs ("she uses scorching ray and lightning bolt from behind her minions") followed by a phrase like "X is an intelligent opponent and behaves as such, doing her utmost to capture the PCs") gives me everything I need to make the encounter epic, while still giving a new GM a guideline to fall back on.

I appreciate that Scott. I can't elaborate in this thread, but I might at some point, or in a dedicated thread.

Looks like I need to find a better way to get this point across in the text. If I say it too often, it runs the chance of being cut for wordcount. I need to find a way to say it once, say it clearly, and apply it broadly. Also, such advice is still subject to the GM's ability.

::takes notes::

Thank you!

Qadira *

Scott Young wrote:
Jim Groves wrote:
What were to happen if I explicitly wrote that the GM could adjust the tactics of the creatures in a lair, under a certain and reasonable conditions? (like being on 'high alert')

You would be (have been!) applauded by PFS GMs around the world! :)

and I'd credit it as spectacularly good adventure writing. This is the sort of dynamic stuff that I love to see in an adventure.

Chris Mortika wrote:
And so, I'm trying to get a feel from the community, I'd been under the impression that we should not make deliberate changes to the scenarios. But I'm willing to be corrected. Maybe it's the case that, as a whatever-star GM, I should feel free to make mechanical changes to encounters, because my experience allows me to understand how to do that responsibly.

If something is obviously broken or nonsensical, then I feel we should be allowed to make a change to fix it on trust as PFS GMs, as long as we let Paizo know so that they can push the fix out to all GMs. No other modifications to fix a scenario that is valid but just too hard/easy for the table though. The one exception is reskinning something if a player is phobic.

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