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Change in PFS guide 4.2 - common sense interpretations


Pathfinder Society® General Discussion

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Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I have mixed feelings about how this thread has gone. On the one hand, lots of good and true things have been said. Yes, it's good for GMs to be able to make calls. Yes, there are things the rules don't cover or are unclear on. Yes, players sometimes do creative things that require on-the-fly adjudication. Yes, it's impossible to run the game "pure RAW" without that kind of adjudication.

All that is true and is good to keep in mind.

But on the other hand, how relevant is that to the OP's concern? At least three people took the time to point out the bad things that players might do at the table. How is that helpful in the context of this thread? Or what was the point of giving examples of truly ambiguous rules that require GM adjudication, when the OP's concern involves examples that are NOT unclear? (For instance, there's a big difference between the OP's "taking TWF penalties because you have a weapon in your other hand" - which is provably wrong, but held to by well-meaning GMs - and the caped cliff-jumping and "how do illusions work" examples that people used to point out the need for GM adjudication.) The OP isn't concerned about how GMs handle unclear things like illusions or creative stunts. The OP is concerned about how GMs might handle pretty basic Core rules in provably incorrect ways but still honestly thinking they're making common sense rulings. So how are people's comments - true and good though they may be - helpful to players with the OP's concerns?

If memory serves, one or two people gave the advice of reporting egregious issues to a VO or (if necessary) Mike Brock. That would be helpful to a concerned player. Describing in detail your tangentially-related GMing philosophies (as impressively enlightened as they may be) isn't really relevant or helpful.

It's great that we've got so many thoughtful and well-meaning GMs. But somehow I don't think that everyone taking turns announcing that fact is very helpful for a player with a specific concern.

Andoran *****

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Frankly Jiggy,

I don't see the point of the OP.

If they are so distrustful of GM's that they are afraid a GM is going to run a homebrew set of rules and such... then perhaps Organized Play is not for them.

And if they do run into a GM that blatantly disregards the rules of the game because of that clause, then they have recourse in going to their V-O or Mike Brock.

Its as it has always been.

That clause shouldn't be viewed as an open invitation to do whatever you want as a GM.

Andoran *****

Additionally, I don't know what you expect people to say here.

You want an oath that I will to the best of my ability not run things willy nilly?

Not gonna happen. Because that's insulting to my integrity.

Honestly, what do you want us to say if what's been said isn't what you wanted to hear?

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

Jiggy wrote:
It's great that we've got so many thoughtful and well-meaning GMs. But somehow I don't think that everyone taking turns announcing that fact is very helpful for a player with a specific concern.

It's not a specific concern, at least not as presented here. It's a nebulous concern. You're asking us to address a question that basically boils down to, "But what if someone uses this, someday, to make a ruling that I disagree with?"

The answer is, as I said, talk it out with the GM at the time (politely). Live with that GM's ruling if you can't change his mind in a reasonable* amount of time. Feel free to address it at more length with him after the game is over. Escalate to campaign management if you can't come to an agreement.

That's it. That's the whole Kit 'n' Kaboodle. It's the same process that we use to handle these issues today. Nothing has changed as a result of this wording. We were all doing this already.

Nowhere does it say that a GM can overrule RAW when the RAW are clear** on the subject. Will there be table variation? Yes. Will there be rules disagreements, disputes, wrangling, gnashing of teeth, flame wars on these boards and people running Pathfinder Society games in protest of the campaign rules and how they're enforced? Yes. If that's a game breaker for you (or the anonymous player raising the nebulous concern), then play a computer game.

EDIT: ninja'd by Andrew, and so I'll echo his question. What do you want us to say?

*For certain values of "reasonable."
**For certain values of "clear."

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Georgia—Atlanta aka CRobledo

Andrew pretty much summed up what I was trying to say earlier.

*****

I personally feel like this question boils down to "What if I have a bad GM", and please correct me if I am misunderstanding you. If your GM cannot handle "basic core rules" and rules on them poorly, it does not matter how he or she is justifying them...they're making poor calls. And they would probably be doing so regardless of the "common sense guideline".

As for how to handle a GM who you feel like is making bad calls, then it's of course highly situation dependent. If it's an inexperienced GM, you let them know about the rules as written, either when the situation occurs or afterwards (depending on the situation). That's really different from a GM who says "**** you, my table, my rules" (who should probably not be GMing PFS anyway) and that's a situation where you appeal to the chain of command, if possible.

I think the vast majority of the time, this really applies to a moderately experienced GM, who says, look I know there's a rule somewhere for this, but it would slow down play to look it up. If you, the player, can produce this rule for me in a minute, great. If not, I'm going to make a call and move on, because we have 5 hours. Ideally they would say, I would be happy to look at this rule during a break or after the game, and then I would have learned something, and will know how to correctly rule for the future.

EDIT: Ninjaed like a Damaiyo eating his yakitori in a public teahouse after issuing an edict banning ninjas.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Son of a...

Well, I realized while trying to compose a reply to Andy that I've been projecting some of my own thoughts and concerns into this discussion, attributing them to the player who PM'd me (and honestly believing it).

For this, I apologize to everyone. Perhaps later I'll make an effort to own those thoughts by detailing them in a separate thread.

Andoran *****

Nani Pratt wrote:

I personally feel like this question boils down to "What if I have a bad GM", and please correct me if I am misunderstanding you. If your GM cannot handle "basic core rules" and rules on them poorly, it does not matter how he or she is justifying them...they're making poor calls. And they would probably be doing so regardless of the "common sense guideline".

As for how to handle a GM who you feel like is making bad calls, then it's of course highly situation dependent. If it's an inexperienced GM, you let them know about the rules as written, either when the situation occurs or afterwards (depending on the situation). That's really different from a GM who says "**** you, my table, my rules" (who should probably not be GMing PFS anyway) and that's a situation where you appeal to the chain of command, if possible.

I think the vast majority of the time, this really applies to a moderately experienced GM, who says, look I know there's a rule somewhere for this, but it would slow down play to look it up. If you, the player, can produce this rule for me in a minute, great. If not, I'm going to make a call and move on, because we have 5 hours. Ideally they would say, I would be happy to look at this rule during a break or after the game, and then I would have learned something, and will know how to correctly rule for the future.

Exactly! I don't mind learning new things. I'm a very experienced GM (been one for 27 years now--since I was 14). I've moderately less experienced with Living Campaigns or Organized Play, but that's fine. I will be hitting my 3rd star this coming Sunday.

But I am not above learning something new, or finding out I was wrong. All the debate on these boards has allowed me to look up obscure things, figure out where to find them, inform my player base, GM's, and friends in my home group, how the rules really work in certain situations. I've have a much better grasp on how to find rules that are spread out into 3 or 4 different locations.

I've modified my views on certain things (i.e. Take 10) based on the discussions on these boards.

I will make mistakes. I'm human. But I do expect players to agree to abide by my judgement for the sake of game flow, when we run into an unclear situation (or a situation in which I've gotten it wrong, but the rule can't be found in a reasonable time).

*****

Nani Pratt wrote:

I personally feel like this question boils down to "What if I have a bad GM", and please correct me if I am misunderstanding you. If your GM cannot handle "basic core rules" and rules on them poorly, it does not matter how he or she is justifying them...they're making poor calls. And they would probably be doing so regardless of the "common sense guideline".

As for how to handle a GM who you feel like is making bad calls, then it's of course highly situation dependent. If it's an inexperienced GM, you let them know about the rules as written, either when the situation occurs or afterwards (depending on the situation). That's really different from a GM who says "**** you, my table, my rules" (who should probably not be GMing PFS anyway) and that's a situation where you appeal to the chain of command, if possible.

I think the vast majority of the time, this really applies to a moderately experienced GM, who says, look I know there's a rule somewhere for this, but it would slow down play to look it up. If you, the player, can produce this rule for me in a minute, great. If not, I'm going to make a call and move on, because we have 5 hours. Ideally they would say, I would be happy to look at this rule during a break or after the game, and then I would have learned something, and will know how to correctly rule for the future.

I'm with Nani on this one. I've played in a lot of PFS tables. All told, I've had only three total tables where the GM made devastatingly bad rules calls. By which I mean resulting in character deaths, though once (when the GM said "time ran out, so you TPK") reversed by the coordinator. All of these were made without the common sense ruling. All three times the GM refused to listen, even with a rules cite. So to back up Nani on this (and Jiggy, I hope you feel this is apropos to the original point), the GMs who make hokey calls and think they are how the rules work were going to do it anyway, with that clause or not, and now it opens up the ability for very lawful GMs to allow cool edge cases. Jiggy, you ask why people keep bringing up the fact that this ruling allows GMs to make good call in cool edge cases when it isn't apropos to the OP--I think, consciously or not, that everyone who used those examples was trying to show you the good side of this ruling, or how it will help PFS as a whole.

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

Nani Pratt wrote:


EDIT: Ninjaed like a Damaiyo eating his yakitori in a public teahouse after issuing an edict banning ninjas.

Damn that's one heck of a ninjaing!

Andoran *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think it is common sense when GMing with Kyle as a player that all attacks vs Kyle are Auto crits. Sorry to those Kyle's not named Baird, he screwed you over!

Makes sense to me.. ;)

Grand Lodge *****

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Tales Subscriber

Jiggy

There is only one answer I can give to the concerned player:

This is the Pathfinder Society. In a society the aim is to work together towards a common goal - players AND GM for the common goal to have a good time at the table.

In a well functioning society you slowly built up trust in each other. Once you have trust in your GM and your players any concerns about the ruling will disappear.

So then the question then becomes - what can we do to ensure the player develops the trust in his GMs that this ruling shouldn't concern him any longer.

*****

Rogue Eidolon wrote:
I'm with Nani on this one. I've played in a lot of PFS tables. All told, I've had only three total tables where the GM made devastatingly bad rules calls. By which I mean resulting in character deaths, though once (when the GM said "time ran out, so you TPK") reversed by the coordinator. All of these were made without the common sense ruling. All three times the GM refused to listen, even with a rules cite. So to back up Nani on this (and Jiggy, I hope you feel this is apropos to the original point), the GMs who make hokey calls and think they are how the rules work were going to do it anyway, with that clause or not, and now it opens up the ability...

WOW. I have nothing to say to that story. Glad that was cleared up, my god...

Not to derail this thread, but sometimes stuff happens. Like the time when I ran Blood Under Absalom for Rogue Eidolon, last Gencon. My group was asked to GM it 15 minutes before the starting bell. "Run the scenario as written" became a rough guideline (not that I am advocating that at all). I made a heck of a lot of "common sense" calls that night, though mostly on my own end, and less on player abilities. Obviously this is a pretty extreme situation (I'm pretty sure I was on a GM's high by the end of it). In the end, I think we had a blast. My point is that crazy and unexpected things happen, and sometimes as a GM you have to do the best you can with what you've got. Most GMs are there to have a great game, and WANT their players to have a good time.

*****

Nani Pratt wrote:
Rogue Eidolon wrote:
I'm with Nani on this one. I've played in a lot of PFS tables. All told, I've had only three total tables where the GM made devastatingly bad rules calls. By which I mean resulting in character deaths, though once (when the GM said "time ran out, so you TPK") reversed by the coordinator. All of these were made without the common sense ruling. All three times the GM refused to listen, even with a rules cite. So to back up Nani on this (and Jiggy, I hope you feel this is apropos to the original point), the GMs who make hokey calls and think they are how the rules work were going to do it anyway, with that clause or not, and now it opens up the ability...
WOW. I have nothing to say to that story. Glad that was cleared up, my god...

The other two tables included one where the GM said the NPC's natural 1 meant that the sword flew out of the NPC's hands and struck a random target, rolled randomly, and killed the Barbarian (it was the Barbarian player's second ever game of PFS and mine too, and we didn't know we had recourse to the coordinator. The Barbarian's player almost quit). The other involved a series of errors that led, in part, to multiple deaths. These were never reversed, though in continuity, the characters try to pretend they never happened. Sorry, though, I didn't mean to focus on the worst issues at tables I've seen--my point was that GMs don't need this clause to do things wrong.

Nani Pratt wrote:

Not to derail this thread, but sometimes stuff happens. Like the time when I ran Blood Under Absalom for Rogue Eidolon, last Gencon. My group was asked to GM it 15 minutes before the starting bell. "Run the scenario as written" became a rough guideline (not that I am advocating that at all). I made a heck of a lot of "common sense" calls that night, though mostly on my own end, and less on player abilities. Obviously this is a pretty extreme situation (I'm pretty sure I was on a GM's high by the end of it). In the end, I think we had a blast. My point is that crazy and unexpected things happen, and sometimes as a GM you have to do the best you can with what you've got. Most GMs are there to have a great game, and WANT their players to have a good time.

Yes, we certainly did have an amazing time. This right here is why Nani Pratt may be the best GM I have ever played under. I say "may be" because I'm not sure if she is or not because she was fricking running a complicated Special from out of the front of the volunteer line with basically no prep and still managed to make it into my top 5, even if I cut her zero slack at all and pretended she had as much time to prepare as needed.

I later ran that Special myself, and even with prep it was very complicated. I got cut off for time more than you did, and I was equally frustrated at losing the end of that awesome part with the costumes. If I ever play under you in more normal circumstances, perhaps I can refine my judgment. I look forward to it!

*****

/blush

I really really look forward to this year's special! And I would be more than delighted to GM for you and your awesome group again.

/end derail

Cheliax ****

Rogue Eidolon wrote:
I later ran that Special myself, and even with prep it was very complicated. I got cut off for time more than you did, and I was equally frustrated at losing the end of that awesome part with the costumes. If I ever play under you in more normal circumstances, perhaps I can refine my judgment. I look forward to it!

Yeah, as one of your players on that table at TotalCon, it was frustrating to get the setup for a very cool set of encounters, then not get to interact with them at all. Still, we got to do a hell of a lot of fun roleplaying-with-combat in the earlier parts of the scenario!

"I look around for more Aspis Consortium thugs."

** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I should probably add for new GMs reading this thread:

If you're new and not 100% on the rules, just tell your players and they'll cut you some slack. They'll even help you out if you ask.
If you're a GM who got asked to run a scenario with no notice, tell the players and I'm sure they'll cut you some slack.
If you're a GM who thinks that rolling a natural 1 on a d20 means a random character gets stabbed in the back and killed, then no, you're not gonna get any slack on that! :-)

*****

Gunvaldr Gislasson wrote:
Rogue Eidolon wrote:
I later ran that Special myself, and even with prep it was very complicated. I got cut off for time more than you did, and I was equally frustrated at losing the end of that awesome part with the costumes. If I ever play under you in more normal circumstances, perhaps I can refine my judgment. I look forward to it!

Yeah, as one of your players on that table at TotalCon, it was frustrating to get the setup for a very cool set of encounters, then not get to interact with them at all. Still, we got to do a hell of a lot of fun roleplaying-with-combat in the earlier parts of the scenario!

"I look around for more Aspis Consortium thugs."

Yeah, it didn't help either that the slot was an hour tighter than for Gencon, and that the Gencon Special had the luxury of being able to run over if necessary. It's a great setup with amazing encounters, but it needs more time to see those come to fruition.

/end threadjack

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

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Gunvaldr Gislasson wrote:
Rogue Eidolon wrote:
I later ran that Special myself, and even with prep it was very complicated. I got cut off for time more than you did, and I was equally frustrated at losing the end of that awesome part with the costumes.
Yeah, as one of your players on that table at TotalCon, it was frustrating to get the setup for a very cool set of encounters, then not get to interact with them at all. Still, we got to do a hell of a lot of fun roleplaying-with-combat in the earlier parts of the scenario!

I'd just like to point out that Blood Under Absalom is being run at Pacificon in a double slot on Monday, so there should be less of a problem with running out of time.

So if you're not busy over Labor Day weekend, and you haven't played Blood Under Absalom yet (or if you have played it, but would like to GM it), head out to the San Francisco bay area. To tempt you further, there are still seats left for "Race for the Runecarved Key" (also being run in a double-length slot). Meet Pathfinder Society Special Guest Greg Vaughan! Find out if Painlord is just as though-provoking in real life as he is on the forums! (yes ...) Kill goblins! Be goblins! (the last two are not necessarily mutually exclusive)

** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Thod wrote:

So then the question then becomes - what can we do to ensure the player develops the trust in his GMs that this ruling shouldn't concern him any longer.

Maybe change the process around a bit? If a player has something obviously wrong, such as ignoring the -4 when shooting into melee they need to be called up on it immediately. If the player is doing something unexpected but when you ask them to explain in detail it turns out the rules are ambiguous, go with the players interpretation to keep the game moving. They've almost certainly spent more time looking at those rules than you have. After the game the GM should talk to the player and ask them to explain the rules again to make sure they're clear on what the player is saying.

If the rules are still ambiguous, and the GM considers it to be an issue, then its the GMs responsibility to flag those rules up to the VC/VL. The VC/VL then needs to talk to Mike and Paizo to get a clarification added to the FAQ. I think that would reduce players' concerns that a GM might be making arbitrary rulings which seriously affect their enjoyment of the game. Talking about something like this after the game does nothing for the player as its always too late, and to be honest nothing will ever come of it - it's an exercise in futility for the player who just has the same conversation with a bunch of different GMs over and over again. But it would be a valid and useful process if it fed through to the FAQ.

Andoran *****

Not everything ambiguous is going to end up an FAQ answer though. Otherwise the FAQ would be way too cumbersome to use.

In many cases, with rules sets that are ambiguous enough that their adjudication is open to interpretation by the GM, the players who use those rules sets to base their entire character’s build, are going to have to accept table variation, and that at some point that character may become neutered.

That being said, if it came down to that, and the character became useless because of the way I understand a rule, I would work with the player, in a very quick context, to come to a compromise that alleviates my concerns about their interpretation of the rule, but also does not completely make them useless.

And again, that being said, if I feel my good faith efforts to allow players to have fun while at my table are being taken advantage of, then I won’t be so lenient the next time.

Cheliax **** Venture-Captain, Minnesota—Minneapolis aka Leg o' Lamb

Andrew Christian wrote:

Not everything ambiguous is going to end up an FAQ answer though. Otherwise the FAQ would be way too cumbersome to use.

In many cases, with rules sets that are ambiguous enough that their adjudication is open to interpretation by the GM, the players who use those rules sets to base their entire character’s build, are going to have to accept table variation, and that at some point that character may become neutered.

That being said, if it came down to that, and the character became useless because of the way I understand a rule, I would work with the player, in a very quick context, to come to a compromise that alleviates my concerns about their interpretation of the rule, but also does not completely make them useless.

And again, that being said, if I feel my good faith efforts to allow players to have fun while at my table are being taken advantage of, then I won’t be so lenient the next time.

I wouldn't worry about it, Andy. I am sure you will slaughter, naturally in a common sense/fun-crushing manner, the next PC I bring to yer table. :)

You realize yer two fer two, right?

Andoran *****

Leg o' Lamb wrote:


I wouldn't worry about it, Andy. I am sure you will slaughter, naturally in a common sense/fun-crushing manner, the next PC I bring to yer table. :)

You realize yer two fer two, right?

Oh no, I’m going to make you survive the next time whether you like it or not! I don’t care if I do have to use common sense to make it happen!

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