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How to be more descriptive when giving out Faction missions


Pathfinder Society GM Discussion

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Instead of just handing the player their faction mission, could you guys give some pointers on giving out faction missions?

Qadira ***** RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

It's up to the player, harmor.

I was at a table recently where the GM gave out faction missions "when the PCs went shopping after the VC briefing". My character didn't need to buy anything, so the GM wouldn't give me my faction mission -- nor explain to me why I wasn't getting one.

Lesson I learned: don't be too cute with the faction missions.

Instead, I ask the player how his or her PC makes contact with his or her faction. Some people come up with elaborate techniques. Other people want to play that part of the game simple. Both are cool.

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Didn't think that it should be the player's responsibility to get their faction mission. Interesting.

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This thread has some ideas on when and how to give the faction missions.

Personally I prefer either the VC or a nondescript servant deliver the missions to the PCs as "urgent mail" right after the initial briefing.

Cheliax *** Venture-Captain, Washington—Seattle aka Big Kyle

Hey Harmor

I usually hand out faction missions during the character introduction of my tables.

How I start things off...I have all the players introduce themselves AND their characters. I write down both names on a piece of paper that corresponds to where they are at the table in relation to me, and when one person is done I do a quick 30 second to 1 minute thing with them where I have a short scene where they get their faction mission.

The more you have of one faction the longer you can spend on this short scene.

For example...what I had occur for me when a table had 4 cheliax characters:

An imp tapped on the shoulder of the "lead" Cheliax character while invisible, and told him to get everyone to a secluded place. That leader then told the other Cheliax PC's "The thrice damned beckon, our mistress has need of us" and gathered the other Cheliax faction PC's. The imp then handed the scroll to the leader and underlined the importance of the last half of the message. "Do not be scene" the imp said "This includes your...other companions." And with that the imp went invisible and scuttled off.

From a GM perspective...RP was created and the faction mission handed out, immersion begun. A clarification on weird things in the faction mission and how to complete them was spoken aloud by the messenger...things like don't let others see you, or anything else you as a GM feel the need to clarify to your players about their faction mission. Finally it allows the players of certain factions to discuss anything they need to regarding their mission with each other.

While the prep time to do this is usually another 10 to 15 minutes longer on the GM's side, and maybe another 5 to 10 minutes longer at the table it sets the mind that this is a game of more then just dice rolls, and that the faction "war" is quietly still present.

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So "Imp" messenger for Cheliax.

Cheliax

Time is of the essence with these games more often than not. I usually just hand them out when they sign in to be honest, and only clarify anything that isnt clear. This is especially true with the older mods since there is two missions for each faction to complete.

Qadira ****

Chris Mortika wrote:

It's up to the player, harmor.

I was at a table recently where the GM gave out faction missions "when the PCs went shopping after the VC briefing". My character didn't need to buy anything, so the GM wouldn't give me my faction mission -- nor explain to me why I wasn't getting one.

Lesson I learned: don't be too cute with the faction missions.

Instead, I ask the player how his or her PC makes contact with his or her faction. Some people come up with elaborate techniques. Other people want to play that part of the game simple. Both are cool.

I like this part "...ask the player how his or her PC makes contact with his or her faction...". Let's the player set the tone...

I have done some of the following...

Qadirian - "Abu's used camel dealer, free test ride!" - message on the camel.

Andoran - Military messanger marches up and salutes, "Message for you SIR! Please sign here!"

Cheliax - Large scroll carried by a small imp.

Osirian - Cat with a "Magic Mouth" spell on it

Talden - overdone spy sign/countersign. Picture Get Smart, with the PC as agent 86.

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nosig wrote:

I have done some of the following...

Qadirian - "Abu's used camel dealer, free test ride!" - message on the camel.

Andoran - Military messanger marches up and salutes, "Message for you SIR! Please sign here!"

Cheliax - Large scroll carried by a small imp.

Osirian - Cat with a "Magic Mouth" spell on it

Talden - overdone spy sign/countersign. Picture Get Smart, with the PC as agent 86.

I do similar things as nosig.

Andoran - almost identical. Military messenger who salutes, speaks with SIR/MA'AM a lot, and officiously hands off a message.

Shadow Lodge - note slipped under the door. Sometimes a note "mysteriously" arrives in someone's pocket if they went shopping or wandered around the lodge for a bit.

Lantern Lodge - see Shadow Lodge.

Grand Lodge - a lodge servant hands off a note in the course of cleaning a room or doing other servantly chores. It's not secret, it's just discreet.

You guys get the idea. It's just a short, in-faction handoff of the note. It doesn't take much time and it ensures everyone gets their mission in a way that's fun and in-character.

Qadira ****

I might also do the "Military messenger" bit with a Cheliax PC. It's all about Law and Order after all...

Andoran ***

To be honest, I skimp. I find it distracting, as a player, to have the faction mission other than a mainly OOC handout. As a GM, I am usually trying to coordinate maps, minis, dice and initiative tracker, so I tend to just hand them out.

I have played with a GM who tried to increase RP with them. Not my cup of tea.

Then again, I played with a GM who gave some members of a faction their faction mission, then handed the odd man, which happened to be me, a random but not my faction mission. Overall, that did NOT help my immersion in the scenario.

Spent too much of my mind wondering, "What am I missing?!" instead of paying attention to the game. Not much fun.

So, for me, just gimme the sheet, let me read it, let me know if there is something missing (the missions so secret that even those doing it don't know that they are supposed to be secret missions stuff), and get on with the game.

Cheliax ***

Most missions are pretty obvious on exactly how you obtained them (I only really play cheliax and grand lodge though starting lantern lodge PC which might change my opinion). Some of these are obviously obtained prebriefing (Grand lodge in Golem Works for instance as it implies you were assigned the mission, and the item needed before being transfered to Magnamar).

I dont see a particular reason when I GM to enforce how the missions are obtained on the players I just provide the pieces of paper prebriefing, and know when in the mission PC's should be doing their faction missions so I can be ready with details when they attempt to do the mission as I dislike spending more than 5 minutes deciding if they pass or fail their faction mission while the other PCs have little choice but to wait. If the player really wants to roleplay how they got their mission im more than willing to give them 5 minutes but after that we are moving on.

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@Kinevon: I still hand out the little slips of paper! I just RP a tiny bit how the PC gets the note into their hands in the game, instead of completely breaking immersion by just tossing papers at players and giving their characters no way to know how they got the mission.

Osirion *****

It depends on the scenario, but I usually put in some flair depending on the faction. Nowadays, if the player is in Grand Lodge and their being debriefed by Ambrus Valsin, he may just call them aside post-briefing. Cheliax missions have a habit of appearing in a mid-air poof with a touch of brimstone. Qadirans usually get theirs while making purchases. Sczarni often get "bumped into" and find it in their coinpurse and so on. It's just an extra 30 seconds or so per faction and at this point it's just flavor, but better than just handing out pieces of paper.

Qadira ****

I'm descriptive when it's fun, not when it's not.

That's the important part for me. If it's not fun, don't do it.

Sczarni *** RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

I usually do a minimal amount of flavor around the missions. For example:

"[Shadow Lodge PC], on your way to the briefing, you spot a black ribbon tied to one of the tines of the gate around the Grand Lodge. You recognize the signal that you are supposed to pick up a dead drop, so you head over to the large tree and pick up a note hidden in a knot-hole on the south side. [Hands player the mission handout]"

or,

"[Andoran PC], on your way out the door from the briefing, a small paige-halfling tugs on your coattail. 'Scuse me, sir, I'm to give you this message.' He hands you a sealed envelope [passes faction handout]."

or,

"As you all leave the briefing, the Venture-Captain says, 'Oh, [Grand Lodge PC], might I have a word before you depart? I've been told to give you this missive from our colleague. [Hands player the handout.]"

It takes maybe one or two minutes to go around the table, everyone gets a bit of flavor, and then we can get on with the mission.

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If you really want some ideas for this, watch Mission: Impossible episodes. Stop by a liquor store, ask for an obscure vintage, the clerk takes you in the back and leaves you alone with the bottle containing your "Good morning, Mr. Phelps."

Personally, I just handwave it. "You get your faction mission through the usual contacts or dead drops." I think it would get annoying if there were more than two factions at the table.

As always, if you are caught or killed, the Paracountess will deny all knowledge of your actions.

Andoran ***

Melissa Litwin wrote:
@Kinevon: I still hand out the little slips of paper! I just RP a tiny bit how the PC gets the note into their hands in the game, instead of completely breaking immersion by just tossing papers at players and giving their characters no way to know how they got the mission.

If the players ask, I'll just say that, obviously, one of the ways the Sczarni earn a little of their money is that they make sure that everyone gets their little notes, untraceably. ;)

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Chris Mortika wrote:

It's up to the player, harmor.

I was at a table recently where the GM gave out faction missions "when the PCs went shopping after the VC briefing". My character didn't need to buy anything, so the GM wouldn't give me my faction mission -- nor explain to me why I wasn't getting one.

Lesson I learned: don't be too cute with the faction missions.

Instead, I ask the player how his or her PC makes contact with his or her faction. Some people come up with elaborate techniques. Other people want to play that part of the game simple. Both are cool.

I tried doing this and my players loved it. It was amazing to see how inventive they were. I think I will keep asking players "So what do you do to get your faction mission?"

Shadow Lodge *****

I generally have the Venture Captain who's assigning the Party to a mission hand out sealed envelopes after the briefing

the Idea for handling it this way is all of the VC's have been around the block ... and IMHO they all know the different factions have agenda's as well as have an "Unwritten gentleman's agreement" to assist and not interfere

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