|Walter Sheppard Venture-Captain, Washington—Eastern Washington aka WalterGM|
|Todd Morgan Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha|
|John Francis Venture-Lieutenant, California—Silicon Valley aka JohnF|
|Chris Mortika RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16|
That's fine...I was answering hogarth's question of how you effectively choose a strategy when you don't know the specific weakness of the enemy. I fully know that some monster's don't have a weakness. I find that a lot of new players don't invest in Knowledge skills or don't remember to use them at the beginning of combat.
I have to disagree with toning down the scenarios, in fact there should be scenarios created for those that want an extreme challenge. I have played pathfinder style games for over 30 years now and can tell you that many, many players prefer the challenge of being taken down to the line of almost being killed and overcoming the challenge then if they prance thru the encounter. There is no challenge or enjoyment if the player cannot feel that they overcame an encounter with their magic, wits, guile, or strength of arms. PFS is curently meant to be played within a 4-5 hour session, if you have role-playing be the basis then all the scenarios will be run in 6-7 hours. I happen to like role-playing and have nothing against those who make those characters, but I have sat at and GM'ed tables where the role-player takes at least 20 minutes to make a point of some time and eats up scenario time and also those players that make skill-based characters that they themselves couldn't talk their way out of a paper bag and have no social presence and the number they can generate is the only thing that shows the social interaction their character produces. The latter makes for a poor performance and is not fun while the former can make their point in their performance without reciting the entire encyclopedia.
Robin Aeronica wrote:
Ha! Says the character level 5 PC, aka dead weight. ;)
No. I think it’s indicative of the fact that scenarios are now no longer pushovers and average builds using beginner tactics are going to have a very difficult time with them.
Average Builds with superior tactics should actually fair pretty well.
Good Builds with beginner tactics are going to find it very challenging.
Good builds with good tactics shouldn’t have much trouble.
Great Builds with Superior Tactics should roll, but it will be more satisfying.
@Morganwolf: That was really hard to follow.
The points I gleaned were these:
The main point was either the first or last of those three; the most words were spent on the first, while the last received a whopping four exclamation points.
I guess maybe the first was the main point, since it's the only one that was on-topic?
I am new to PFS and have only played a handful of scenarios and GM'd 2. But as far as some of the newer write ups, I like the challenge. I play several RPG's and a few MMO's, but find myself prefering the older editions or expansions as there was more of a challenge. Yeah it can be unfortunate if a character gets killed, but part of the fun for me is starting over too.
But as far as challenges I look for the opportunity to find tactics and teamwork to overcome these difficulties - yes sometimes the dice will hate you, but that is part of the game and flavor.
I have played in only one scenario where I did not like the challenge and it was because the GM seemed to have an attitude of how many can I take out. Which I disagree with, as a GM you run the game not treat it as a death trap to kill people - unless the player or players do something incredibly stupid. But that's just my opinion though - games should always be challenging and fun, in the end.
Kyle Baird wrote:
It is the GMs job to take ANY scenario and make it enjoyable for ALL the people at the table.
But it's the scenario writer's job to make the GM's job as easy as possible.
A good GM can turn a vacuum cleaner manual into a good adventure, but Paizo shouldn't start outsourcing to Electrolux just yet. :-)
Funny story regarding that Dalsine Affair...Played it last night with my level 5 druid in a party of 6 (apl being 5), playing up to the 6-7 tier. None of them had played it before, so I let them know the meatgrinder that was in store for us at the end. I was an eagle the entire game, so I was well prepared to just fly away at the end when crap hit the fan. When the time came, we started sweating profusely, then rolled initiative for the final encounter.
Talk about alternate tactics ;)
Making the scenarios easier for GM's has virtually nothing to do with this topic of the "scenarios are too difficult."
FWIW, your statement was my #1 overarching principle when I wrote my first scenario. From the feedback I've gotten, I think I succeeded (as in every GM I've talked to said it was very easy to prep and run w/ little confusion, especially for a 7-11).
yes to all points, I brought up the role-playing aspect as a point that unless role-playing characters are created to challenge difficult encounters which most of the time they are not, they need to tweak themselves towards that challenge? anyone ever see a bard or any social class character talk down monsters somehow as opposed to melee/ranged attacks?
I see. Next time I adventure with the pasty undisciplined elf, I will see how many arrows find the wall.
Robin Aeronica wrote:
Undisciplined? Why I never!
Next time you cry out for help against the wrath of hell I shall keep my sword sheathed! I say Good Day to you Madame!
If a scenario is difficult to prep, it doesn't necessarily make it difficult for the players (maybe difficult to follow the story). It makes for more variance. Some tables will have an easy time because the GM is unprepared to handle the challenges presented. Some tables will get massacred because the GM interrupts something that was poorly written incorrectly.
Kyle Baird wrote:
What I mean is: Why do you specifically think the initial difficulty of scenarios is unrelated to how easy it is to scale them to be more easy or difficult?
From my experience, it's easier to take an average scenario and make it more difficult (play the monsters more tactically) and to make it less difficult (play the monsters less tactically). But if a scenario starts off being very difficult, then to make the scenario easy the monsters have to play so stupidly that it strains credibility (again, in my experience).
Kyle Baird wrote:
Then what does "Making the scenarios easier for GM's has virtually nothing to do with this topic of the "scenarios are too difficult"" mean?
It means that it deserves its own discussion separate from this one.
There is a huge difference between a scenario being too difficult because the difficulty inherent in the design of the scenario is too much for an average party of pathfinders or because the author wrote complications in an obtuse, ambiguous, or lazy way.
Two completely different topics of discussion.
One, Mark can fix by just not hiring those authors to write more scenarios.
The other is a more difficult question to answer and needs a year or so of game play to figure out the right formula. Then, Now, or somewhere in between?
Andrew Christian wrote:
I think that's about right. I feel that the season 4 scenarios are not overly more difficult, but they are slightly more challenging than previous seasons. This gets exacerbated when you have a table with poor GMing or poor tactics / builds. I think that's why we are seeing a lot of table variation with some people claiming TPK and others claiming a cake walk, with everything in between. Maybe season 4 scenarios are just hard enough to not let sloppy play prevail.
Never what? Hit anything with your pointy arrows? I'm glad you agree with me.
That is very much my opinion.
Andrew Christian wrote:
I think you are missing the point I raised (either that, or you are saying our party had poor build/tactics, or we had a bad GM, in which case I would disagree with you).
I'm not saying In Wrath's Shadow is too hard at all levels; I'm saying that the perfect storm of the choice of the particular BBEG, the variation between the subtiers, and the scaling for a 4-player group add up to a scenario that is very much weighted against a small low-subtier party.
It's not just this scenario; there have been complaints about Rise of the Goblin Guild as well. Many of those complaints boil down to sustantially the same issue; an encounter where most of the threat comes from a single opponent can all too easily overpower a 4-player low-subtier group.
I believe the scaling system is too simplistic, and does not adequately balance the threat across the range of tier-legal parties. This was true in previous seasons, too, but with the increase in difficulty to provide some challenge to a six-member high-subtier party the result presents the most challenge to parties least likely to be able to handle it. A party of six 7th-level characters will probably be able to compensate for a couple of unfortunate rolls early on in an encounter; at the other end of the spectrum that's going to be a lot harder to overcome.
Pathfinder: still mindblowingly easy.
I'm definitely into the roll play vs the role play side of the equation. And frankly I find role playing boring. Who cares if you go streaking with the nymph?
Pathfinder scenarios are: timed puzzles. Find a way to solve the puzzle in X hours. The puzzles involved combat (three well written encounters per mod! (with apologies to harlequin)) therefore you have a responsibility to be able to make some kind of combat contribution to your fellow players.
I'll cut almost infinite slack to newbies. But my prefered solution to roll players is just let them die and animate the body. Usually its a net plus. They shut up and become more combat effective.
So, if your ineffective in combat - play down, or at the minimum advise your fellow gamers that you are a roll player. And know that there are certain situations you should be able to handle. Fly. Grapple. DR.
That said, I second the ideat that there should be two tracks - an easy track and a hero track. Make the combats more difficult (and the rewards less) on the hero track.
I don’t know the make-up of your group. I don’t know your builds. I don’t know your tactics. I don’t know your GM. There is a lot I don’t know about your specific circumstances.
What I do know is:
In Wrath’s Shadow was easy for us despite being a suboptimal party, because we amped up our effectiveness with extremely sound tactics. Appropriate buffs, trips, grapples, and such, allowed us to mitigate the very high AC/CMD.
A nicely placed glitterdust more or less ended the threat of the BBEG in In Wrath’s Shadow for the table I GM’d.
Golemworks Incident came down to my Druid breaking containment and grappling the badguy in the form of a Huge Allosaurus. Otherwise, we were really hurting.
Going based on my experiences on both sides of the table, I would say that those having massive TPK or fleeing and thus not succeeding at the mission troubles, are not making optimal use of the skills, abilities, and tactical choices their characters have or their characters are poorly built. In either case, it is not the fault nor is it the responsibility of the campaign or the scenario to mitigate things for those who have the option, but choose not to do for themselves.
A thousand times, this! Aim for the middle, and then individual GMs can adjust up or down as needed.
The unique problem for PFS is that the GM is much more limited than usual in terms of how he or she can scale the scenario. Most of the usual tools (adding or removing enemies, changing stats, etc.) are disallowed. So scenarios need to be designed closer to what the end result will be. Going for a middling difficulty level gives the best chance that the GM will be able to adjust accordingly for whatever type of party is at the table that night.
Ryan Bolduan GM’d Golemworks Incident with a table of 4 (might have been 3 with a pregen) that was suboptimal for the challenge presented except for one very high AC fighter that does a ton of damage.
I was at that table, and holy frijoles! If we didn't have the falcata weapon master at the table, we would have been toast. The table was four PCs (might as well have been three with the part of the pregen played by my rogue; level 5 playing tier 7-9, baby! Ryan said he didn't fudge any dice rolls. I'm not sure I believe him...)
Had a ton o' fun in that one, but yeah, there were a few moments where I almost regretted my decision to play that one. Still, I did manage to help with the end fight. At least it was susceptible to precision damage unlike the earlier critter.
Going for a middling difficulty level gives the best chance that the GM will be able to adjust accordingly for whatever type of party is at the table that night.
Maybe Season 4 marks PFS finally reaching exactly that: a "middling" difficulty level. Maybe certain players/groups have gotten spoiled/lazy with other scenarios that were below that mark, and now they're having to snap out of it.
Isn't that the true question of this thread?
Leg o' Lamb wrote:
...Ambrose? Is that you?
I thought the dwarf's x3 crit weapon was an axe?
(Also, congrats on being the only person NOT caught in the
Spoiler:at the beginning of the fight!)
Yep. That mofo has defied death (and not so defied) more times than I care to count.
As for escaping the spoiler, well that is what happens when you max out dex, acrobatics, escape artist, and happened to be wearing the slippers of spider climbing.
Since the system of writing for groups of 6 then scaling back for groups of 4 is new, it may take time to get that right as well. I haven't studied In Wrath's Shadow myself yet, but it sounds like that is one of the issues.
Chris Mortika wrote:
1) Yes they are more difficult but I think that is mostly due to the switch from being written for tables of 4 to being written for tables of 6. As a whole this is a good thing as a table of 6 is much more common at our tables then 4.
2) Too difficult? Not at all. They are middle of the ground appropriate (aka - the correct CR). I have 5 characters and not a one has died. This is mostly by playing smart, however I have a lvl 12 barbarian who I played absolutely recklessly (without being that bad fun kind of player) mainly because I was curious as to whether a scenario could ever put him down. Not yet...Hush Kyle...No Care Bairds needed. I like the new feel of the scenarios. I played Storval Stairs (@10-11) recently and loved the first encounter. It had a nice WTH feel that cause the spell casters to start dropping high level spells from the get go. The scenario kept us on our seat but we all got through and had an easy time with encounters that others struggled through.
We have found the "Just right" bed without having found to "Too hard" one.
What if there was some sort of warning or tag on the more difficult modules, so people who aren't looking for a greater challenge balanced against optimized parties will know ahead of time that they probably won't enjoy the mod, or might want to wait until they are a higher level to attempt.
A similar thing could do done with mods that are social RP heavy, so the people who don't enjoy that kind of play can avoid those mods.
I pretty much agree with everything that Tamago has said, and I think that people who think the appropriate response to "the modules are getting too difficult" is "make a better character" are ignoring the realities of organized play. Organized play is explicitly designed to encourage new and inexperienced players to the game, and it is a format where table composition and player competence can not be assumed.
Pathfinder isn't difficult to break with powergaming. This is just plain impossible to avoid in organized play. If you ramp up the difficulty because powergamers and more experienced players want higher difficulty, it's going to create negative play experiences for non powergamers and inexperienced players. And this is what is happening, whether or not you believe it's the players fault for not having better character. Is it happening 100% of the time? No. Are hyper optimized characters still able to steamroll encounters? Yes. Does that mean it's appropriate to tell new and inexperienced players to sink or swim, or design scenarios with that mentality? I don't beleive so.
I very cleary understand the difficulties of designing modules. But the problem keeps popping up in the exact same way. Stop designing single creatures that are intended to be the sole challenge of an encounter. Not only is the action economy of the the powergaming end players going to steamroll the fight most every time, but against the lower end of the powergaming spectrum, the fight is going to be neigh unwinnable. More enemies instead of more power on the one enemies results in a more fun experience across the board. The powergamers get minions to mow through, which is something they are going to enjoy, but the less effective combat characters are going to have creatures they can fight and feel like they meaningfully contributed against.
At higher levels of play, more challenging experiences are to be expected. But at tiers 1-2 and 3-4 you need to be very careful. A group of 4 level 3 PCs run by characters without much expeirence with the system or even this style of gaming is going to be pounded into mush by a large earth elemental the vast majority of the time, and a large air elemental is going to kill them all with falling damage more often than not. Inexperienced players, playing a module that says it's scaled for a party of 4 level 3 characters, who get steam rolled in that fashion are fairly likely to just find other things to do with their time than play PFS again.
Warning tags on more difficult combat scenarios have prevented these kinds of problems in other sucessful living campaign style games I've played in. It helps the players know what games they might not enjoy playing, it helps the organizers who what tables to seat newer players at, even if the organizer hasn't played all the new mods yet.
If anyone is seriously interested in a more challenging experience, they can easily do what I do. Make less powerful characaters. Pathfinder isn't difficult to break if you know what you're doing, so I think that the experienced players have the least room to complain when things are too easy. I think it's a lot more reasonable to expect the experienced players to reign in their powergaming for a more challenging experience than to expect the less experienced players to make better characters if things are too hard.
JohnF, I recommend just writing a scenario review, you're not going to convince hardcore GMs or players of anything. I'm not even sure they're openminded to feedback.
Going based on my experiences on both sides of the table, I would say that those having massive TPK or fleeing and thus not succeeding at the mission troubles, are not making optimal use of the skills, abilities, and tactical choices their characters have or their characters are poorly built.
First, I'm going to assume that everyone wants new players to join the PFS community? I'm also going to assume that we want casual gamers to enjoy our hobby?
Assuming this is true, why do you think it's OK to kill a PC that uses non-optimal tactics or has a non-optimal (but OK) build? You realize that new and casual players will have neither? That they're just there to have fun?
Do some of you also realize that you have a completely different point of view compared to a casual gamer?
I think the attitude above is really bad for new players starting PFS. You should be concerned when you're killing PCs and NOT LIKE IT. It's also bad to just shrug your shoulders and pass the blame to the players. "Your build and tactics suck".
Also, your theory about only "bad builds and tactics lose" is definitely not true. My main PC doesn't not suck and I can name 3 instances lately (Golemworks, Temple of EE, and Green Market) where we barely won, and it was ONLY possible because three or more of us had optimal PCs. One bad dice roll, one less OP PC, or one passenger and we'd all be dead. (Note these were all with 4 PC groups, if we had 6 PCs we'd be fine... probably). I'm guessing some groups don't have OP PCs, players with system mastery, or they have a passenger. What then? My point is the difficulty has scaled far beyond the average player imo. So average players can't play our game?
This bad attitude is either going to make players make optimized combat junkie PCs (like previous OP campaigns, even though we say 'that's not what we want') or it's going to drive new/casual players away.
I really enjoy it when someone takes a statement completely out of context and applies it to something not being discussed /sarcasm
Seriously. You've read and responded to many other things I've written. And I've always been an advocate of helping new players enjoy the game.
As Kyle says, you HELP new players out, by suggesting tactics they may not be aware of. Giving them all their options. Ultimately let them make the choice, but you help them. This includes in helping them by explaining what different build choices might mean both short and long term.
Nowhere, anywhere, in my statement above, did I even remotely say that I'd shrug my shoulders at slaughtering a newby table. Please do not imply that my statement means such. It is unfair, and disingenuous of you to do so.
Secondly, I never TRY to kill a character. I let the dice speak for themselves. But if the group is an experienced group, and they are making poor choices, or for whatever reason want to play characters that are basically tag-a-longs (as opposed to the girl-scout cookie) but are otherwise useless as an adventurer... then yeah, they deserve to have their character die.
Victor Zajic wrote:
What if there was some sort of warning or tag on the more difficult modules
One person's easy scenario is another person's meat grinder.
This seriously happens all the time:
Player A: Wow, scenario X was a killer!
So how do we tag scenario's X and Y? You can't. They're all built around the same flawed CR system. The best anyone can do is read the reviews and hope to gauge its difficult based off personal experiences.
Kyle Baird wrote:
Sheesh... perhaps you should write a scenario that would actually allow me to kill PCs and not just tap them... eyeroll
Kyle Baird wrote:
I understand the point you are making, but I've been playing/running PFS for less than three months and I can name half a dozen more deadly mods off the top of my head, just from chatter on these messageboards and at the local gaming shop. I haven't even played/ran most of them.
The Dalsine Affair
I know a lot of players who don't read module reviews before they play them because they don't want anything spoiled. A simple [deadly] tag could give them enough information to make an informed decision on what kind of experience they would enjoy having. I know plenty of people who would played [deadly] mods on purpose for the extra challenge.
I've seen this system work decently well other organized play style games. Even if it was just something along the lines of "This module is called 'Grave of Heroes' for a reason".
Kyle Baird wrote:
Very much this.
A GM needs to be able to exercise throttle control to regulate the challenge levels experienced.
Andrew Christian wrote:
This matches what I am seeing locally.