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When Do Party Members Receive Faction Missions?


Pathfinder Society® General Discussion

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.

In Pathfinder Society, every player character belongs to a secret society, many of them frowned upon by their superiors. Every time a Venture Captain sends the partyon a mission, each faction leader sends a note to his or her operatives, asking them to do an extra favor or track down an additional item.

As a GM, when should I give out faction missions?

It has been my practice to ask players how each of their characters receives their mission. Some of the best answers have been:

  • "I'm a blacksmith for my Day Job. After every mission, a young man comes in and buys a shovel or some other simple tool, and he pays me two silver pieces. I rub them together, which triggers a magic mouth spell that gives me my message."
  • "I go into the library in the Grand Lodge, or whichever lodge I happen to find myself at the start of the game, and look up Volume 53 of the Pathfinder Chronicles. My mission is on a slip of paper tucked in between pages 62 and 63."
  • "I climb to the top of that building across the street. A falcon arrives there, with a message tied around its leg."

There are lots of cool stories players tell.

Some GMs don't do this. In fact, I keep running into GMs who give players their characters' faction missions before the game starts. Before the mission briefing. I thought that was odd, until I've noticed that a couple of the scenarios require that. Two of them that I can think of require that a PC accomplish his or her faction mission during the venture captain's mission briefing.

So, should faction leaders be contacting the PCs before the Venture Captains?

Grand Lodge ***

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Chris Mortika wrote:
I keep running into GMs who give players their characters' faction missions before the game starts. Before the mission briefing. I thought that was odd, until I've noticed that a couple of the scenarios require that. Two of them that I can think of require that a PC accomplish his or her faction mission during the venture captain's mission briefing.

Are these from earlier seasons, or have they appeared recently?

My general rule is to hand faction missions out after the briefing (or beforehand, with instructions to the players not to read them until the briefing is over). Of course, as the GM I read them before the session, and I'd break that rule for faction missions that needed to be done in the briefing itself.

I like the idea of putting some RP around receiving the faction mission; it's not something I've done so far, but I will try to do it the next time I'm GMing.

***** Venture-Captain, Massachusetts—Boston aka Harley Quinn X

Paz wrote:

Are these from earlier seasons, or have they appeared recently?

My general rule is to hand faction missions out after the briefing (or beforehand, with instructions to the players not to read them until the briefing is over). Of course, as the GM I read them before the session, and I'd break that rule for faction missions that needed to be done in the briefing itself.

I like the idea of putting some RP around receiving the faction mission; it's not something I've done so far, but I will try to do it the next time I'm GMing.

I know of at least one of the scenarios where a faction completes its faction mission during the briefing, and it's near the beginning of Season 3.

I personally tend to give them out after the briefing or whenever it makes sense for them to getting missions, if not right after.

"You head to the boat the Venture Captain has arranged for you, and some sailors bump into you and hand you slips of paper."

**

Unless it's one of those couple of mods I ask my players what they do after the briefing. Some of them go to their faction leader and inform them what's going on. Most of the time a random person passes them the note. A regular standby is a pickpocket to slip them the note (often helping himself to a couple of coppers) and opposed stealth/perception checks.it's always fun when they fail their perception check (never had someone fail their mission as a result of this).

At cons players are surprised when I don't just hand them over. But I've never had someone complain about my style

Cheliax ****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules Subscriber

I don't generally take time from the table to allow players to roleplay in a vacuum of abstraction that, as you and David have noted, is sometimes invalidated by the specifics of the scenario.

Specific scenarios that leap to mind:

Spoiler:

Haunting of Hinojai - Shadow Lodge is a during the briefing mission.
City of Strangers 2 - letters that catch up to you in Caer Maga.
Before the Dawn 2 - You're on the trail from bloodcove....

I would think that going directly from the briefing to the divisive roleplay of a bunch of one-off character RP opportunities could either make the PCs more interesting to each other, or bog the game way down when everyone should be interested in the plot of the adventure and the mission the VC just gave them, and having to watch the spotlight bounce around the table to ... describe how someone receives their faction mission?

That seems like a net loss of momentum and good way to keep peoples eyes glazed over from wall-o-briefing.

*****

I find that if I don't hand them out before I get started that I forget. I figure if the player doesn't want to read them until after the briefing that is fine and their choie. I just know I need to hand them out before "I" become imersed in the game

Andoran *****

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I hand them out at the very start or directly after the mission brief. It depends on if the faction missions spoil a reveal in the briefing (what the Frostfur Captives are) or if it has to be accomplished during the mission brief. Some mission notes are written as if they are being delivered after the PCs have received orders, some as if they are delivered beforehand.

Cheliax **** Venture-Captain, Virginia—Richmond

Purple Fluffy CatBunnyGnome wrote:
I find that if I don't hand them out before I get started that I forget. I figure if the player doesn't want to read them until after the briefing that is fine and their choie. I just know I need to hand them out before "I" become imersed in the game

That's pretty much how I do it too and for the same reasons. If I don't do it right at the beginning, I'll forget. And I tend to run at a lot of tables with mostly new people that haven't yet been conditioned to poke me if I do forget :)

*****

Michael Meunier wrote:
Purple Fluffy CatBunnyGnome wrote:
I find that if I don't hand them out before I get started that I forget. I figure if the player doesn't want to read them until after the briefing that is fine and their choie. I just know I need to hand them out before "I" become imersed in the game
That's pretty much how I do it too and for the same reasons. If I don't do it right at the beginning, I'll forget. And I tend to run at a lot of tables with mostly new people that haven't yet been conditioned to poke me if I do forget :)

Exactly

Qadira ****

Faction Missions can be given out at one of three times in relation to the VC briefing. Before, During or After. (Yeah, I know, but listen a sec). Each has advantages and disavantages.

Before:
Pro - the faction mission often contains hints that the PCs can expand on in questions to the VC. And it lets PCs share information they might know from their faction mission with each other, and do this IN CHARACTER.
Con - Braking a bit of immersion. Your faction head knows the details of your mission before you do? Also, players may still be reading thier missions DURING the briefing and miss parts of both. Multi-tasking results in doing two things poorly.

During:
Pro - Time saver. It lets you start right into the VC briefing and get started FAST.
Con - players will be reading thier missions DURING the briefing and miss parts of both. Multi-tasking results in doing two things poorly.

After:
Pro - More relaxed start. It lets the players introduce themselves and start playing without the distraction of trying to read the faction mission.
Con - players will be reading thier missions during the game, and who needs distractions in the game? Also, we might forget to hand out the missions... And some need to be done during the briefing.

I'm sure other judges can add to this list...

Qadira ****

My wife will often not bother with her faction mission... because she has found that most judges do not provide time to read and understand it. Basicly she is handed a sheet of text in a hard to read font, in flowery language and expected to read (and understand it) while someone reads the mission briefing to her. And she is expected to hear/read and understand both? So she just sets the faction mission asside and doesn't bother with it.

*****

I think no matter what happenes players are going to be distracted at the beginning of a game. I try to allow time at the beginning for players to get settled in and get the random conversations about characters out of the way .. I'll ask if there are any questions before we get started as a way of alerting them to the fact I'm going to shortly be smacking them with a flood of information... and that still doesn't work. I've even had someone get up to go to the bathroom during the misson briefing and then ask what he missed while I was still reading the briefing (it was a stupidly long mission briefing and I was speaking slower for the hard o hearing guy at the table.

My personal opinion is to hand them out when it works for the GM. If you want to add RP to handing them out, great, that's not my personal style as a GM. As a player I personally like to get right into the heart of the scenario and having to go around the table after the briefing to discuss how I got my faction mission kills the scenario for me. Besides .. how we got it is supposed to be a secret right?

*****

nosig wrote:
My wife will often not bother with her faction mission... because she has found that most judges do not provide time to read and understand it. Basicly she is handed a sheet of text in a hard to read font, in flowery language and expected to read (and understand it) while someone reads the mission briefing to her. And she is expected to hear/read and understand both? So she just sets the faction mission asside and doesn't bother with it.

Thankfully fonts have changed for the better with the advent of season 3

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

With a few exceptions I hand them out before I start the briefing. I give them time to read through and ask any questions they might have. Once everyone has read them, then I start. I tried handing them out after the briefing, but it interrupted the flow too much. Everyone thinks that the faction leaders are clairvoyant anyways, so they might as well give their missions before the PCs know where they're going.

One exception was

Echoes of the Overwatched:
It doesn't make sense for them to be hunting down where they should be going when half the faction missions mention where they should be going. So I hand out those that don't mention it that have to do with the library, college, or museum at the beginning. Once they discover where to go, then I have a page or some other messenger arrive with the rest of their faction missions.

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

I hand them out before the briefing. I then ask if there are any questions about their faction goals and then start the mission briefing.

The one time I switched this up was for Murder on the Throaty Mermaid. Someone on the boards made a suggestion to have the faction missions given to the players near the end of the boat ride, when the scenario actually starts. This made a lot of sense and worked well.

Spoiler:
Goblinblood Dead and Tide of Twilight have faction missions in the venture captain briefing

Shadow Lodge **

I like to have the players introduce their characters before the briefing. It helps folks get into character and gets them settled down before the briefing so they pay better attention. 'course I don't always remember to do this but that's the ideal.

Then after the briefing I have a hoard of street urchins beg the party for a few coins so they can eat just one more day. As the party moves through them, they find that the poor unwashed kids picked a few coppers off them, but left the mission briefings behind. It's a little cheesy, but it gets the job done with a minimum of fuss and confusion.

While the party reads their missions I answer questions, and finish my own preparations.

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

I've started handing out faction missions right at the start, then start setting up to run. Players can read their missions while I set up and then they're ready to listen when I read the briefing.

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

All right, Jonathan, but do the characters receive their faction briefings before the VC contacts them, or are you giving the players a head's up about a contact that they won't receive until they leave the lodge?

Taldor ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Pennsylvania—Philadelphia aka Iammars

It really depends on the scenario. I usually hand out the faction missions to players before the scenario briefing unless it makes no sense for them to have it before the briefing. See Sczarni and Shadow Lodge in Goblinblood Dead.

Spoiler:
Of course, I can't give them all after the briefing. Damn Cheliax. But Ill deal with the inconvience for the mod with really good faction missions.

Grand Lodge ***

The way I see it, faction leaders have extensive networks of spies and informants both within and without the Pathfinder Society, so it's not a difficult task to know what missions are being planned and who those missions are to be assigned to. As a result, they are able to get word to their agents prior to mission briefings.

Shadow Lodge ****

Eyes of the Ten helps explain a little of the faction clairvoyance. Once you get there it's well worth playing.

Andoran ***

Usually, unless something interferes, I give the faction missions out after the VC briefing, then give the players time to read them.

Some faction missions, either through the way they are written, or when they need to be done, need to be given out early.

Spoiler:
The faction missions in The Dalsine Affair are written as though given in Absolom, or at least before going into the Catacombs, but the VC briefing goes straight into the first act, so I give those out before the game starts.

Otherwise, the PCs might not be able to get into some essential shopping that their missions make them think of.

Silver Crusade ***

I usually give them after the briefing, but if there are spoilers or there is some roleplaying reason to give them later, I do that. For example, in

Immortal Conundrum:

those PCs who have a faction representative present get their missions directly from them.

I've had some hilarious roleplaying ensue from the GM forgetting to give the faction missions, though. For example, there was one scenario where we were investigating an abandoned house, and when we were about to enter, the GM remembered that he hadn't given out the missions yet. He described something visible in the mailbox of the house. We went to investigate, and found a named letter for each of us.

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

I think it depends a lot on the scenario and a GM really needs to read the mission and see how it relates to the story so they can prep a good time to provide it to the player. If the info impacts the mission briefing and could contribute to the Q&A, it might be a good idea to issue it beforehand. Whatever, the case, it is always a great ice breaker to embellish how they acquire the mission. It really gets the players (and GM) focus and started immersing themselves in the game. Also, most missions will be provided by a delivery system in some form, but don't be afraid to occasionally have the faction head personally deliver the mission. Obviously, they would not be handing the PC a note, but actually speaking to them. This can also help a player become more attached to the faction and feel it has importance and not just a mechanic for determining spending caps and getting stuff for free.

*

I've started using the VC as the person who gives players their faction missions. After the briefing the VC casually says that "Oh yeah, I had some mail for you. Who's Bob? You've got a letter from Gueril. etc." I then give the players time to read through their missions, ask more questions from the VC, goof around, and introduce each other's characters to each other. If they get witty and make remarks about receiving this info (faction mission) at this point I've had the VC say that he/she talked about this mission just yesterday at a meeting where the faction leaders were present. To me this way seems the least intrusive and natural way to receive the missions but I can see someone arguing against it because it doesn't really fit into the "let's keep things secret" -aspect of the Shadow War.

Then again a GM whose games I've played the most uses a faction-specific quirky way (an imp pops up for Cheliax, a man jumps up from a rainwater barrel for Qadira etc.) to deliver the missions at some point after the briefing and that has worked just as well.

Either way, I think it's best to hand in the faction missions after the initial briefing and then give the players time to read through it. This way they'll focus on the briefing as a group and can then afterwards ponder about their individual missions. And I really like where season 4 seems to be going with the faction missions with the more open-ended nature of them rather than saying "if you SHOULD HAPPEN TO SEE THIS KIND OF A MONSTER BE SURE TO PICK A PART OF IT FOR ME OKAY" without the scenario hinting anything about what the players should expect.

*

I generally hand-write on the back of the mission:
"Pathfinder _______,
Venture-captain ___________ (demands/commands/requests) your immediate presence at (his/her) (office/wherever)."
(Though I have run at least 1 scenario where this didn't make sense, and did something else for that one:)

Spoiler:
2-12 Below the Silver Tarn which starts out in the field with a druid flying in and giving the pathfinders the main mission.

I figure the various factions have enough eyes and ears (and simple message cantrips) to get the faction leaders notice of where people are being sent, and get special orders back, written on the back of the "come to my office" note.

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