Ratfolk and Catfolk and Race Boons Oh My

Monday, June 3, 2013

Of all the feedback I receive about Pathfinder Society Organized Play, whether it be in person when I am visiting different regions, through emails, or on the messageboards, what I hear most is that non-convention-goers have little to no chance to obtain some of the convention-only boons that are offered at regional shows. The most popular of these boons are the racial boons, which open up the player's options to choose a unique race. I have thought long and hard on how we can even out things for those players who are not able to attend a convention for whatever reason.

First, let me clarify that we will always have special boons that can only be obtained at conventions. These will consist of a multitude of various options, from extending the range of the Day Job earnings chart to unique races. Our regional and national conventions and larger game days are where we garner the biggest PR for our game. But that doesn't mean I don't want to offer the chance of getting cool boons, especially racial boons, to members of our player base who don't attend conventions.

At these regional conventions, players only receive approximately a 10% chance to receive any boon that is provided at the convention. I don't think it is unreasonable to offer a similar chance to non-convention players.

One tool that has finally been opened to me is I am able to filter play of individual scenarios, and to see every reported table and every Pathfinder Society number that was at that table. I am also able to filter dates so I can see exactly how many tables of a specific scenario were reported over a specified time. Playing around with this new tool got me to thinking about how I could utilize it for the benefit of the entire Pathfinder Society player base.

My initial thought is that when a scenario presents something unique, such as helping a race like ratfolk, catfolk, or dhampirs (and no, I am not advising one way or another whether either of these races will make an appearance in Season 5), it might be possible to offer these races (or whatever races were aided in a specified scenario) via a lottery type of system. While I certainly don't want to flood the OP with a zoo of races (such as making them available on a Chronicle sheet for everyone who plays the specified scenario), I don't think it is a bad thing to occassionally give a limited pool of players the chance to play a new race, similar to the Grippli boon at Gen Con this year, as long as we control the flow of how many become available. With that said, my thinking is that after the first month or two of a specified scenario, I would randomly select from all tables that reported success in the specified scenario. All the players and GMs of the randomly selected tables would then have the unique Chronicle sheet sent directly to them.

Maybe this is or isn't the best way to offer unique boons to the entire playerbase, especially those who can't or won't attend conventions. However, it is the start of a working idea I am still toying with that would offer an equal chance to everyone who plays the specified scenario in a specified time limit. If you think this is a horrible idea, please offer a solution for how we can make it better. I would very much like to hear your feedback on what you think of the above system, or hear your thoughts on any other suggestions you might have for how to best utilize this new tool I have been given. As always, your feedback and comments help to strengthen the community at large, and without your feedback and participation, Pathfinder Society wouldn't be as awesome as it is today. I look forward to reading all of your comments.

Mike Brock
Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator

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5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Acedio,

You almost need a big enough group to do 2 tables for that, just in case of walk ins and new people.

Scarab Sages 4/5

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If PFS decides to put out a series of 3 high level scenarios, I'd just as soon they make it a new level 12 seeker arc, rather than 10-11s.

EDIT: Locally we had the problem of our people with high level characters also being the main pool of GMs. We identified who those people were, then scheduled private games for that group to do high level play, leaving the public game days for lower level stuff. That was successful in getting two groups high enough for Eyes. The second run of it either just finished or will be finishing soon.

Sovereign Court

BigNorseWolf wrote:

Acedio,

You almost need a big enough group to do 2 tables for that, just in case of walk ins and new people.

I think I may have misunderstood because on my initial reading it sounded like they had that.


The PFS society group I knew in Bellingham required four tables at any given time. 2-3 tables dedicated to low levels, new players, walk-ins. 1-2 of those tables were for players with characters that were usually 6+. More likely though there would 3 tables dedicated to walk-ins, new players, low levels.

As the only players at the Bellingham group who had high enough level characters also was part of the rotating pool of GMs who were also GMing more often than not instead of actually getting to be players.

The low-level/walk-in/new player tables would normally have 6-7 players, sometimes even 8 players.

---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----

The only other factors that usually made it so it was somewhat hard to get to a high level were...

A) A character perma-dying. No resurrection. Having to start from the bottom, again.
B) Family.
C) School.
D) Shifting work schedules.
E) Players becoming burnt-out
F) Medical. (People getting sick, pulling a muscle, breaking a bone, appointments, etc)

Grand Lodge

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High level play around here is not all that hard to find. It took me about a year to get my -1 to 12, but in that time I also have characters at, 7.0, 6.0, 7.1, 6.1 (but as soon as he hits 7 he'll go straight to 8), 2.2, and 1.2. We are currently running two Eyes of the Ten tables (outside of our local game nights), which are runs #3 and #4 locally. Eyes table #5 already has some players lined up as well as a GM, but is probably 2-3 months away at a minimum. When we last did a high level module in store however it did take a number of local GMs away and only ran our normal number of tables as the same 3 GMs ran tables every week until it ended. Our location though is very lucky to have both a high number of players, but also GMs. I feel like having nothing but 1-5s ever available would drastically change the PFS experience, and while fun would leave a lot of builds without the ability to ever hit their stride. The only thing I can say is high level play for us, does happen at our game night, but is sometimes easier to organize as a pick game.

Edit: Over the time my -1 is playing Eyes, I'll likely pick up 11-13 tables of credit (partially due to 2 smaller cons one locally and one that I'm driving about 70 miles to GM)

As far as the actual discussion that started all this goes, and opening special boons/races. Someones else's list but in my personal order of preference.
1a. Rare-Scenario - I'm a fan of scenario rewards (especially series ones) that open up a cool option (archetype, race, AC, whatever) as a player/GM that you wouldn't otherwise have.
1b. GM - I like that there are GM rewards (even if they aren't earth shattering amazing, it's nice that there is some recognition for all the time GMs give up to not play but rather run games).
3. Convention - I like that there are convention boons (yes, I think they are inherently "unfair", and that's part of why I like them. They reward people who go out of their way to make conventions (whether it is a local one or something massive like PaizoCon) happen. (By playing at tables, volunteering, organizing, or GMing) At most cons GMs and volunteers get the "GM boon" as well as any Overseer if there is a special. Additionally a number of players get boons to drum up excitement as well as other prizes like books and such. I like the extra reward, though I don't think it is necessary. (I definitely considered writing 1c for this one)
4. Player - I like the idea of player rewards, but order it lower as players who play a lot already get or are at least more likely to get the rare scenario rewards.
5. Lottery - I think at the time I was in favor of the idea. I'm not sure I am now, I don't think at either time I was hugely in favor or against the idea. It would probably depend on implementation. (It's seemingly a moot point anyway)
6. Online Payment - I'm going to split this one, if we are talking about adding an online component to a charity auction, I'm fine with it put it up at 1c even. If we are talking about everyone gets to spend $1 to get this race boon at for such and such a period of time (be it a holiday thing, or a yearly thing) with proceeds going to X. Whether X is a charity, Paizo, or really probably anything (maybe with a small exception for FLGS's who host PFS, as hosting PFS (at least here) generates less income for the store than other events do (Magic, Warhammer, ACG, etc)). This idea turns me off to the whole idea. I don't like pay-to-win or micro-transactions in other games, I don't think I'd like them here either. (I don't mind own source material etc that makes sense, but for extra stuff, it would just start feeling bad, IMO)

Though I totally understand other views this is just my gut feeling. My 2c, do with it as you will.

Shadow Lodge

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Locally we finally got to the point where we can support a high-level table once a month. But it took being large enough to field 5 tables for us to be able to do that.

I'm sure one of these times I won't be GMing during high-level day...

Shadow Lodge

We have had trouble with this as well, often needing to have people start all over with new characters to allow new players to play, and it becomes a repeating cycle that really just reduces the number of scenarios the group can even play. We have one player that can literally play about 4 scenarios in the 1st-9th level range. The removal of the 1-7 Subtier was a terrible blow. :(

As for higher level stuff, I'm usually stuck trying to find a game online, and very time I host one, it's generally filled fast, as they are more difficult to find. A lot of the time it's by invite only just to not need to worry about 15 people all trying to get in or requesting you run a second of third table.

Locally, we only have 3 "gaming" stores, and none of them are really PF/Paizo friendly. One focuses on comic, one on Magic the Gathering, and the last on Yugio and war gaming with minis and board games. Each is okay with PF being played, but not with setting aside a decent area to do so or making room, so realistically it's a last resort option, meaning that playing at people's houses is the best option, which also effectively limits it to about 2 tables at once. 3 is really pushing it.

A lot of PFS's pushes in the last year or so (or more, season 3 on really), seem to be to try to benefit either convention or weekly gaming store play, but its been at the expense of smaller games. :(

Eventually, the only real options are going to be to tell people they cant play or to move on to another game so everyone can participate. Core is not really an option, it just divided the group, and postponed a possible valid fix till later. Online play does allow for more available tables, but we are still pretty stuck with the very limited number of options to play across the board, and so simultaneously helps in the short term, but harms more in the long term, (the next time someone new joins, that's that many les possible scenarios for everyone else to help get the new guys/gals within level range to be able to even play together).

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Agent, Nevada—Las Vegas aka kinevon

@DM Beckett: Tier 1-7 scenarios were a bad idea, used for a time period when they just couldn't create enough high teir stuff amd low tier stuff for the season, and there was no backlog of scenarios.

1-7s, in my experience, have the highest number of fatalities, bar none, and that includes scenarios like Bonekeep and The Waking Rune. As someone else has mentioned, with a 1-7, you wind up with at least one sub-tier that just doesn't work right for the sub-tier, whether it is a 3rd level negative channeling cleric in sub-tier 1-2, or a 9th level caster opening a fight with an empowered fireball in sub-tier 6-7, although that caster is broken, pretty much, in all sub-tiers.

And, indeed, in my area, we do have a problem with only single tables, usually, and new players, fairly often. My highest level PCs show a mix of convention (which has shut down) and online play, past a certain point.

The Exchange

Before Leet-Leet moved to new location, Leet-Leet noticed GMs rarely got to play unless it was home game with an Adventure Path. Many new player show up. PFS group was large yet not many table available at place.

Leet-Leet moved away and now Leet-Leet with new group, nice group, small group. Leet-Leet fairly certain with smaller PFS group that it would be easier to reach end-game content.

Leet-Leet like new players and welcome new players, however Leet-Leet find that the Player/Table ratio can be skewed in an unfavorable way. Usually not enough tables for the amount of players/gms.

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